Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

10 January 2014

Gospel Doctrine Study helps ~ Preparing for #WeblogWednesday


Background: I teach Gospel Doctrine, which is a Sunday School class, for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and it has been an amazing experience thus far. Last year I was blessed to teach the History of the Church and a book of canonized scripture that we call the Doctrine and Covenants. This contains revelations, doctrine and covenants (hence the name) given through the Lord to prophets in the latter-days of the gospel to the faithful adherents of the church and the world as a whole (Specifically covering the historical time period of 1820-present while utilizing all other scriptural time-frames as well). That book of scripture contains great insight into the organization, leadership, priesthood responsibilities, and teachings that pertain to family, missionary and individual responsibilities to those who desire to live in the Gospel covenant.

That's quite a mouthful, and not even the main purpose of my post today, but wanted to give that information as background, because biographical information is fun. (light applause, laughter)
With that, when writing about this sort of subject matter, I should also put one of these:

Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 


Anyways. Time to get started. So, I teach Gospel Doctrine, as stated before. In my personal studies of the topic at hand (This year is the Old Testament, or Torah), in addition to reading certain scripture 'blocks' at a time, it is also of use to find some supplementary material to assist. While I do enjoy the occasional article or commentary, there are a couple of good ways to go about studying that may not seem as daunting or academic, while still providing a great path to Gospel Scholarship.

Seek the Spirit (Prelude)
Whether you are overly spiritual or not, there are multiple ways to follow this concept even to one who is not religious, spiritual, etc. I have attempted to do this while pursuing academics, working throughout the day, or just spending time with family and friends. Before doing something from which you desire to learn, it is important to get in a situation where you are prepared to do so. Meditation can do this; listening to peaceful, serene or appropriate music while spending a few minutes or more on something important, or nothing at all.
Practice: to better understand what I mean, take a few minutes (which, if you are a busy mom, dad, individual, etc can be a challenge in and of itself) and listen to something peaceful, joyous, and ideally without words. Instrumental. One of my favorites is "My Joy is Full"
but Paul Cardall and Lex de Azevedo are both very good, depending on individual mood and style. Orion by Metallica is also a personal favorite for obvious reasons. 
[Share your favorite meditation/uplifting instrumental music in the comments below]
Spend a few minutes listening and focusing on something uplifting, or the end result of a currently arduous task. Focus on you: First being, then becoming. 
It can be an awesome experience.
No matter what your process is for seeking the Spirit, doing it in a meaningful and prayerful way is crucial to studying, especially on concepts that are to improve oneself. Much like an athlete will do everything possible before an event besides the obvious training and repetitions, focus also centers on what goes into the body and mind during those sessions. This will make the event and trainings that more meaningful. Trust and rely on the Spirit as you study. It will be a key and a guide, and the greatest aspect of anything else I mention in this post.

Ask Questions
These can be asked through a number of ways:
a) Prayer (See James 1:5, 1 Nephi 15:8-11)
b) To yourself as you study (Journal while you do. Explore through writing. Be the Indiana Jones of words and thoughts. It's much less prestigious, but still adventurous. And without the Snakes and Helicopters.
c) Mentors, teachers, and leaders
d) Your Spouse and Children. Children provide great follow up questions and even great insight into key concepts.

Let's spend a moment on that last one: Elder David A. Bednar gave a great address relating to family study, prayer and time.

Some quotes from the address (for your journal/scripture margins):

"Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration.
"Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you bore testimony to your eternal companion? Parents, when was the last time you declared your witness to your children about the things you know to be true? And children, when was the last time you shared your testimony with your parents and family?"

What is a Testimony?
"A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). As we profess truth rather than admonish, exhort, or simply share interesting experiences, we invite the Holy Ghost to confirm the verity of our words. The power of pure testimony (see Alma 4:19) does not come from sophisticated language or effective presentation; rather, it is the result of revelation conveyed by the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost."

and finally:

"Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes. 

Study: My intent of this post was to provide study aids for the weeks lesson coming up. I will try and do this every Wednesday (#WeBlogWednesday) so that it will give people enough time to read some of the addresses, articles, and be able to study some various insights into key concepts of the weekly Sunday School Lessons seen here.

Most of the posts shouldn't be this long. They will follow more in line with 3-5 conference addresses linked to the concepts of the lesson with a few quotes attached and include some personal insight. Hopefully as we go throughout the year, I would love you to provide some great additions, insights and ways that you study and learn. They could be much different and extremely helpful to know, so feel free to request a concept to be explored more.

Old Testament Scholarly Articles from BYU Studies that tie in with the weekly lesson plan.

Neal A Maxwell Institute This contains a great number of scholarly research projects and books. (Most readable online). There is not a very definable path for lesson material, but some good articles from Apologetic scholars like Hugh Nibley, John Welch and Truman G. Madsen, along with a host of many others. They attempt to see things from the historical context more, and utilize a good amount of other sources that are contemporary with ancient church history.
Amazing Articles like this one: The Calling of Lehi as a Prophet in the World of Jerusalem.

BYU New Testament Commentary Series While this primarily contains a wealth of information regarding the New Testament, it is a key to helping understand the principles and doctrines of the Old Testament.

Scripture Citation Index: Great tool to utilize! (and there's an App for that!) 
This one's my favorite... Don't tell the others...

Just to explain this one, basically if you are fond of, or confused by a certain scripture, or just want to see who has addressed certain aspects of the verse(s) in mind, there is an extremely easy way to do that, thanks to these wonderful people.
For example, Songs of Solomon has only been mentioned once in conference since 1942. While Moses 1:39 has been referenced close to 300 times. Just that one verse! Since 1942.

That's one of the great things about it as well, is that it is able to pull entire addresses of conference since 1942 plus all of the Journal of Discourses series. (It won't print those very easily, but Conference will print, or direct to lds.org article).

In case you run out of material there, (doubtful) or want to review conference talks in full from a quote in the book/manual that you read, there's a way to review.

For example: 

If, in studying the Old Testament Institute Manual, you come across the following quote regarding the creation found here:
“I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father’s children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father.” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)

or this one regarding the lost tribes of Israel found here:

In April conference of 1916, Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke of the lost tribes and their records: “There is a tendency among men to explain away what they don’t wish to understand in literal simplicity, and we, as Latter-day Saints are not entirely free from the taint of that tendency. … Some people say that prediction is to be explained in this way: A gathering is in progress, and has been in progress from the early days of this Church; and thus the ‘Lost Tribes’ are now being gathered; but that we are not to look for the return of any body of people now unknown as to their whereabouts. True, the gathering is in progress, this is a gathering dispensation; but the prophecy stands that the tribes shall be brought forth from their hiding place … [and their] scriptures shall become one with the scriptures of the Jews, the holy Bible, and with the scriptures of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and with the scriptures of the Latter-day Saints as embodied in the volumes of modern revelation.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1916, p. 130.)
Then in October conference Elder Talmage spoke again of the lost tribes and made this remarkable prediction: “The ten tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living—aye, some here present—who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the record of the Nephites, or the Book of Mormon, even as the Lord hath predicted” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, p. 76; emphasis added).

Then you can go Right HERE!! and find the conference reports that go back to 1897. It is amazing the wealth of information that we have access to in this day and age. There are scanned PDF documents of every report, and very legible. There are audio and video recordings. Utilize the senses by both hearing and reading an address or the scriptures to capture some things that are easier heard than read or vise-verse.

In addressing all of these wonderful and useful tools, I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to find time to just be immersed in the scriptures. I would strongly encourage you to (at least one day a week) to spend close to an hour reading strictly and solely to the scriptures.  

I would encourage you to record thoughts, feelings, and insights. Journal. Personal revelation will be given, so attempt to personalize it when applicable, using "I and Me" Language. To get an idea of the blessings of this process, recall what experiences Elder Richard G. Scott had from simple yet profound promptings here.

If you made it this far, I commend you. I am here in the journey as well. I have not taken full advantage of all that has been presented, but wanted to share some ways that I have gained daily strength and insight.


1 comment:

  1. Whew indeed. It really is overwhelming how much there is to help us in our studies. It was a much simpler day when all we had was the topical guide, but the scholarship was not what it can be today with all of these study helps.

    I remember the day when many questions now easily researched were answered with, "Now that's just one of those mysteries." Of course, there are still things we don't know or understand, but far fewer as we have all these references to ponder. The Holy Ghost has so much more to work with as He tries to teach us the truths we sincerely seek.