Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scripture Feasting Tool #5 - Apply

President Monson said, "The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles" (Conference Report, Oct. 1970).  Nephi told us to liken all scriptures to us so they can profit us (see 1 Nephi 19:23). 

Here are some questions you can ask to help apply scriptures to yourself. 

  • “How does this apply to me?” 
  • "What situation in my life could this verse apply to?"
  • "What does God want me to change to follow what this passage is teaching?" 
  • “Am I like that?" or “How am I doing with this?”  For example, when Nephi's bow broke (see 1 Nephi 16), Laman and Lemuel got angry, blamed, complained, and gave up. On the other hand, Nephi stayed calm, took positive action, and received God's help to succeed.  You could ask yourself, "Do I usually respond to stressful situations like Nephi or like Laman and Lemuel?"
  • Insert your name or "I" or "me" in place of scripture people. In Alma 5:19 I could insert my name, "I say unto you Becky, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands ... having the image of God engraven upon Becky's [countenance]?"

Check out a few examples of ways I apply teachings of the scriptures in my own life. 

Note: Any of these questions would make a great journal entry, asking the question in prayer and then writing down things that come to mind.
  • Captain Moroni worked hard to protect his cities. He kept upgrading his battle plan against his enemies the Lamanites. How do I need to protect my family and upgrade my battle plan against my enemy, the devil?  (See Alma 48-50.) 
  • In Ether 12:27 we're told that God gives us weaknesses as part of His plan and we need to turn to God so God's strength can turn our weaknesses into strengths. What weaknesses has God given me, as part of my plan, that He needs me to turn to Him so they can become strengths? 
  • If "the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray" (2 Nephi 32:8) how does the devil sometimes do that with me?  What ways to I find myself postponing prayer or scripture study - checking email or Facebook, throwing in a batch of laundry, answering a phone call that could be returned later, reading something with more instant gratification than scriptures? How can I not let Satan win in these small ways?  
  • In 1 Nephi 16:28 Nephi tells specific ways the Liahona worked - according to their faith, heed, and diligence. What in my life works according to those standards? The Holy Ghost does. Am I heeding with faith and diligence the messages I receive from the Holy Ghost so I will receive more messages from Him? 
  • Here is a post about applying the story of Lehi leaving Jerusalem to ways we may need to prepare before events of the Second Coming. 

President Benson showed some ways we can apply teachings of the Book of Mormon in our modern culture. 

President Ezra Taft Benson reminded us that Mormon said we should constantly ask ourselves, "Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age? ... For example, in the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming... how disciples of Christ live in times of war. ... We find lessons of dealing with persecution and apostasy ... how to do missionary work ... and the dangers of materialism" (Ensign, 1986, emphasis added).

He also said, "The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time" (Ensign, Jan. 1988, emphasis added). 

Isn't the Lord amazing to give us those things in the Book of Mormon written just for us? Are we taking full advantage of them by applying them to ourselves? 

Feel free to share a principle from your scripture study this week in a comment below! 

Oh the power of one person for good or bad - comparing Abinadi and Nehor (Day 30 of 90-day challenge)

Isn't it amazing the power and influence one person can have, for good or for bad? 

Take Abraham Lincoln, Corrie Ten Boom, or Jesus Christ. On the other hand, take Genghis Khan, Karl Marx, or Adolf Hitler. Each person had an incalculable influence for God's side or the devil's side.  

Now take two men in the Book of Mormon. 

The good guy was Abinadi. The bad guy was Nehor. They both died before they saw their influence, but each of their influence was immeasurable. 

Abinadi was awesome. He bravely returned to preach repentance to King Noah's people even after being threatened with death. He only had one convert that we know of, but that convert was amazing. 

Abinadi appears to have only one convert from his mission -- Alma. Maybe you served an LDS mission and felt discouraged that he or she had "only one convert." But you never know. What if down the road you realize you baptized an Alma? Let's take a look at this hero. First off, Alma risked his life to beg King Noah to save Abinadi. It went something like this, "King, he's right you know. We really have been naughty. And we know better. Your dad was a righteous guy. We should repent. Don't kill him. He's just telling the truth." Once Alma's life was threatened, he hid, repented, wrote down everything Abinadi had taught, and then started preaching the truth in secret. He baptized lots of people, and eventually became the leader of the entire church!  Wow, the power of one good person in the hands of God, one Abinadi.  

Now let's look at Nehor. There is only half a chapter about this man (see Alma 1:2-16). Nehor was a classic anti-Christ, a false prophet, and from what I can tell he came from within the church. Nehor preached false doctrine, got church members to follow him, and started his own church. Then another hero, Gideon, strongly reminded Nehor of the truth. Nehor didn't like Gideon getting in his way so Nehor killed this hero. Nehor was put to death for killing an innocent man. 

But the story didn't stop there. 

Nehor's influence lived on and on and on. He started a tradition of priestcraft (see Alma 1;12), of false prophets, of anti-Christs, of people who wanted to take over the government. And little did he know how many people would follow his short-lived but powerful example. In the very next chapter (Alma 2) a man named Amlici followed Nehor's lead. He started this massive war, got the Lamanites involved, and caused the death of tens of thousands of men, women, and children. And if you've ever read the Book of Mormon, you know there are many more of those wars in the pages to come. 

The power of one person! 

Sheri Dew, one of my modern day heroes, has spoken openly about the profound influence of her grandmother in her life, yet her grandmother died when Sheri was eleven. Isn't that astounding that one person can affect someone else that much even after they die? Who do you know like that, whether they are still alive or passed on, who has had a profound influence on your life? My great, great Grandpa William Budge is like that. So are my parents. So is my friend Joan Erickson.  So are many other dear family members and friends. 

What about you? Are you being an Abinadi who invites people to come unto Christ? Or are you being a Nehor, setting a bad example that will live even after you have gone?  

No matter the price or persecution, now is the time to be an Abinadi! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scripture Feasting Tool #4 - Themes

Sheri Dew taught me this colorful tool. 

Sheri had a big question for Heavenly Father, and the answers weren't coming. Then someone suggested she start asking God how He communicates to her. She started right away. Because after all, she is the amazing Sheri Dew. 

Sheri got her answer. She also started watching for a powerful theme in her scriptures. 

Sheri marked with a little x in the margin each time a passage described God communicating to His children, in whatever way that happened. Pretty soon her scriptures were peppered with little x's. I decided to take the same challenge. I have been shading red every time God communicates with His children. Have you ever asked yourself that - How does God speak to me?  

Here is a list of some ways God speaks to His children. Which ones seem to fit you? A thought or idea. Words in your mind or audible words. A feeling. A leaning toward a certain direction or idea. Peaceful, calm feeling. Visions, dreams or angels. Physical sensation. Instruments like a liahona or Urim and Thummim. A change of heart. Being filled with the Spirit. Light, feeling enlightened. Direction, instruction or warning. Prophets and scriptures. Spiritual gifts. While writing about your scripture study you start to get answers and new ideas. Click here for more about receiving personal revelation from God. 

Here are some other themes I have marked in specific colors over the years. 
  • Atonement - I shade those passages in brown because brown reminds me of the soil and olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Learning - I shade those in green. 
  • Seminary scripture mastery passages I draw a green box with diagonal stripes. 
  • As mentioned before, I mark my favorite verse or two in each chapter in orange. 
  • The American Covenant - I shade in yellow. 
  • Points of Christ's original New Testament Church - in pink with a box at the top identifying which point I'm referring to from this book. 
  • Currently I am using purple to shade passages about events surrounding the Second Coming and ways I need to prepare for them. This is the first time in 16 years that I'm marking a brand new inexpensive copy of the Book of Mormon, and it's been great! 

In Alma 7 I marked ways God communicates with His children in red, and passages about Christ's Atonement in brown. 

This is my new, inexpensive blue copy of the Book of Mormon. Red verses are ways God communicates with His children. Orange means a favorite verse in the chapter. Purple means verses about preparing for the Second Coming. This is 1 Nephi 1-2. 

Here are other people's ideas for themes you may consider marking in specific colors. You could look for multiple themes or just one each time through. 
  • Do = green, Don't = red.  Mark commandments and promised blessings green. Mark warnings red. 
  • A preparing missionary could code the Preach My Gospel lessons, one in each color. 
  • One ward or stake invited their members to use a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon (a great tool in itself) and mark the names of Christ with circles, Christ's promises in yellow, and Christ speaking in blue. This exercise has made a deep impression on those members. 
  • Author annotations - “And thus we see,” author testimonies, or authors' last words.  

I invite you to choose one theme that is meaningful to you, choose a color to represent it, and start watching for that theme today. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Self-Checklist of Four Things in Response to the Gay Marriage Ruling

After yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage some people are celebrating and some are despairing. Although I cannot control what happened yesterday, I can control my own discipleship to Christ. Here is my own personal checklist in response to this event. 

1. God created marriage and family. God created the rules for marriage and family. When God speaks do I listen to God or do I "get with the times"? 

What is my yard stick by which I measure what is right? Is it God's word or current trends of the world? 

The Family Proclamation clearly states God's doctrine on marriage and family. Through revelation to prophets, God said, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. ... God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. ... The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

And remember, all people are commanded to keep the law of chastity, not just gay people. God's law of chastity applies also to people who have never married, are divorced or are widowed. Married people are commanded to have complete fidelity within marriage. All people are commanded to keep the law of chastity in their hearts, which includes avoiding immoral and pornographic movies, television shows, books, and magazines, and not becoming walking pornography by the way we dress. (See For the Strength of Youth and Matthew 5:27-28 and "Chastity.") 

2. Am I being kind and loving to those with gender issues? 

Believing differently does not give me license to be mean. Jesus ate with sinners. Nobody is perfect, including myself. I sin. You sin. We all sin. Let's be nice to each other and understanding that many who are suffering with gender issues truly don't want to feel the way they do. This issue causes heartache for many people so let's be kind to them.  
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, emphasis added).
Yesterday the Church published this statement in response to the gay marriage ruling: 
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."
The Church has outlined its doctrine and position on marriage in the document The Divine Institution of Marriage. 

3. How prepared am I for the calamities foretold by prophets, scriptures, and in the Family Proclamation? 

Here is what the Family Proclamation says:
"Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."
If you've studied the prophesies of the Second Coming lately, including the signs in the heavens, it is easy to see we are getting close. We’ve been told by scriptures and prophets that before Christ’s coming calamities will happen. Buckle up. We’ll be seeing more of them soon. 

How prepared are you? If you knew that in nine months that you were having your first baby and becoming parents for the first time, something that will drastically change your life forever, would your priorities suddenly change?  Would that effect what you think about, talk about, read, and spend your money on? Seeing so many signs that the Second Coming is getting close, should that change how we think, talk, read, and spend money? How ready is your spirit to see the Savior again? How ready is your "supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, other necessities of life" that our prophets have commanded us to obtain? (See President Monson, Ensign, September, 2014)? 

4. Since persecution will likely intensify, how tightly am I holding on to the iron rod?  Am I ignoring the mockers in the great and spacious building, and keeping my eyes on the tree? 

Elder Robert D. Hales said, "In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected. For example, 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World' was given long before we experienced the challenges now facing the family" (Ensign, Nov. 2013, emphasis added),

Glenn Beck predicted that 50% of church-goers will stop attending church in the next five years because the persecution will be too much for them to handle. How do I prevent becoming one of that number? How strong is my own foundation in Christ and His Church? How tightly am I holding onto the iron rod -- the word of God -- found in the scriptures, modern prophets, and the Holy Spirit?  How well am I able to ignore the mockers in the great and spacious building?  Do I care more about what God thinks or man thinks?  Am I ready and willing to stand for truth, not moving, even if it means I stand alone? 

Here is an invitation to myself and to you. 

We MUST strengthen and deepen our own testimony, our own conversion if we’re going to stay strong during these winding up days when things get more intense. Satan keeps upgrading his battle plan so we need upgrade ours as well. Remember, we are at war here. 

Hold to the rod with all of your might. Feast on the scriptures, rather than just skimming the surface. Learn to connect with God and receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. Use the internet to spread truth, light, and goodness, and to defend and strengthen marriage and family. Do everything you can to strengthen your own family. Increase the light in your own life and in your family with the small and simple "Sunday School answers" of prayer, scriptures, service, kindness, holy music, family home evening, family history and temple work. Choose to be on God’s side of the line no matter how hard things get, and dig in your heels. Do not move. Stand in holy places. Stand for truth, even if you get persecuted, and even stand alone. 

Click on the video above called "Dare to Stand Alone." 

UPDATE: After I wrote this post I saw a wonderful article in Meridian Magazine that I recommend about this topic. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Scripture Feasting Tool #3 - Circles and Boxes

Grab your favorite pen (here is mine) and have some fun drawing circles and boxes in your scriptures. 

Look for one liners, which are short, simple phrases that carry a lot of power.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "The scriptures contain so many jewels over which we pass too lightly, especially some stunning one-liners" ("Unto This Very Purpose"). 
What one-liner that stands out to you in 1 Nephi 7:21? 
And it came to pass that I did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness. And it came to pass that they did so. And after they had done praying unto the Lord we did again travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.
The one-liner that stood out to me was "I did frankly forgive them." Nephi was amazing. His brothers had just tried to kill him by binding and leaving him in the wilderness to be eaten by wild beasts. Once Nephi received God's help to get free from the ropes, do you think Nephi yelled at his brothers? Do you think he planned revenge? Do you think he pouted and gave them the silent treatment for a month? Nope. He simply forgave. That's a one-liner worth circling and using in your life. Of course I'm not advocating staying in an abusive relationship! The Lord eventually told Nephi to leave to protect himself. But forgiveness is not optional even when it's really hard, and Nephi sets a stellar example of that here.

I circled "I did frankly forgive" in 1 Nephi 7:21.  
What one-liner stands out to you in Genesis 39:7-8? 
And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
I like the phrase, "But he refused." It gives us strength that no matter how strong a temptation is, if Joseph of Egypt refused it, so can we. One liners are great to memorize too. They're short, power-packed, and bring a lot of strength to get through challenging times. 

You can also use circles to mark keywords and phrases. 

In Doctrine and Covenants 121:37 I circled some keywords and phrases that describe how NOT to be a righteous priesthood holder.

One more shape I use is boxes to highlight a new person the scriptures are talking about.

 Here in 2 Nephi chapters one and two I drew boxes to clarify that it was Zoram's turn to get some last words from Lehi before he died, and then it was Jacob speaking at the beginning of chapter two. 

In your scripture study today, see if you kind find any one-liners or keywords to circle. Feel free to share one that you circled in a comment below! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beware of False Prophets from Elders Oaks and Ballard, My Testimony and Invitation

I just read about Sherem, an anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon (See Jacob 7). It made me think about anti-Christs and false prophets of our day. 

Last week I saw a news post where Elder Oaks spoke in Boise denouncing false prophets.

Then today my friend Lisa Kendall posted this great talk from Elder Ballard called Beware of False Prophets. As a prophet, seer, and revelator, this talk from 1999 was prophetic for our day! 

Click here to watch or read the whole talk from General Conference, October 1999. 

Lisa posted the summary points from Elder Ballard of many of the signs of a false prophet. 

  1. They “lie in wait to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony.”
  2. They claim to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood.
  3. They espouse an obviously false doctrine
  4. They presume to have authority to teach the true gospel of Christ according to their own interpretation.
  5. They claim, without authority, endorsement to their products and practices.
  6. They are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church.
  7. They speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce.
  8. They rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views.
  9. They “set themselves up for a light unto the world that they may get gain and praise of the word; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”
  10. They are “proud and self-vaunting, who read by the lamps of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings.”
  11. They declare Joseph Smith a duplicitous deceiver
  12. They challenge the First Vision as an authentic experience.
  13. They declare the Book of Mormon and other canonical works are not ancient records of scripture.
  14. They attempt to redefine the nature of the Godhead
  15. They deny God has given and continues to give revelation today to His ordained and sustained prophets.
  16. They arrogantly attempt to fashion new interpretations of the scriptures to demonstrate that these sacred texts should not be read as God’s words to His children but merely as the utterances of uninspired men, limited by their own prejudices and cultural biases.
  17. They argue that the scriptures require new interpretation and that they are uniquely qualified to offer that interpretation.
  18. They deny Christ’s Resurrection and Atonement, arguing that no God can save us.
  19. They reject the need for a Savior.
  20. They attempt to reinterpret the doctrines of the Church to fit their own preconceived views, and in the process deny Christ and His messianic role.
  21. They attempt to change the God-given and scripturally based doctrines that protect the sanctity of marriage, divine nature of the family, and the essential doctrine of personal morality.
  22. They advocate a redefinition of morality to justify fornication, adultery, and homosexual relationships.
  23. They openly champion the legalization of so-called same-gender marriages.
  24. They attack the inspired proclamation on the family.

My testimony and invitation.  

I know and love people who have been misled by both Denver Snuffer (mentioned in the news article above) and by anti-Mormon literature criticizing Joseph Smith. Anti-Mormon literature is spiritual poison and I won't touch it. This false prophet stuff is real. It is happening. Good LDS people are being misled by false prophets and anti-Christs TODAY. I think this will happen more and more before the Second Coming, so we need to strengthen our testimonies and those of our family members to be so connected to Christ and His Church that we won't be shaken.  

Let us be sure we are always on God's side of the line. I testify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet who restored Christ's church on the earth, His priesthood authority and power and keys, and doctrines. I also testify that President Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet today. If you doubt that, I invite you to read his biography. I haven't read the whole book, but my son and husband have read parts of it to me, and the Spirit bears a strong witness that he is the Lord's prophet today. I testify that there is great spiritual safety in staying with the prophet. My mantra in seminary this past year has been "Please follow the Lord's prophet, no matter what!" 

If your testimony isn't as strong as it should be, may I invite you to do two things:

  1. Commit to study the Book of Mormon every day. Not skim, but dig into it, write about what you're learning in your journal, and pray before reading each time that God will send the Spirit to witness that it is true.  Here are some tools to help you get more from studying this great book. Here is a Book of Mormon challenge you are welcome to join as well. Here is an interesting testimony booster about the book. 
  2. Read or listen to a conference talk a day from our current prophets, seers, and revelators. There are 15 of them including the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Technology makes this easier than ever. We must have a growing, living testimony from the Holy Ghost that both Joseph Smith and President Monson were called of God as true prophets. Just one or the other isn't enough.  

Your testimony is a precious, priceless gift!  Guard it, build it, armour it, thank God for it, and do whatever it takes to protect it. 

P.S. Here are some vital reminders about true prophets. 

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." (Official Declaration Number One, Quoting Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Make a Preparedness FUN Kit!

You've heard of an emergency 72-hour kit. How about a FUN kit?  

Laughter is medicine for the soul. When a crisis happens, children need comfort and distraction to help them calm down and cheer up. Having a portable kit filled with options for fun games and activities to bring cheer and laughter will be a blessing to your whole family. 

Here's a checklist of items I used. You may have these items already, or can easily them up on your next trip to Wal-Mart. 

1. A list of games that need little or no props.

I created the first part of this list years ago for our school's emergency backpacks for each class. I recently added more options and made the list into a little booklet. Click here for the printable list you see below. I printed mine into a booklet that is folded and stapled. 

2. Deck of UNO cards.

3. Ball(s). I found some small balls in the party favor section at Wal-Mart. 

4. Dice. You can find small sets at Walmart, or 100 dice for under $10 on Amazon.

5. Jump rope(s).

6. Something to draw with like a notebook or stack of index cards, and a few pens. 

All in a gallon-size freezer Ziplok bag or a bin. 

This kit makes a great gift for preparedness-minded friends or family! It's easy and inexpensive to put together several at once.

If you want even more options, here are other ideas you may want to add to make a bigger fun kit. 

I used a two-gallon ziptop bag for this bigger kit for my family. 

  • Print some riddles and jokes. I found some here and printed them into a small booklet. 
  • Print some conversation starter questions. I found some here and here. You could cut the questions into strips to pull out one at a time from a zip-top bag, or leave them as is. 
  • Mad Libs game workbooks. 
  • Flashcards
  • Printable games like Scrabble or ancient board games. Google will have plenty of ideas here. 
  • Mini travel games like chess and checkers
  • Look in your game cupboard to see if you already have any travel games or duplicates of favorite small games. 
  • Elastic bands for boys to flip at each other. Need I say more? 
  • A collapsible frisbee
  • Make a three-way dice for our family''s favorite party combination game of Taboo and Pictionary and Charades. We haven't figured out a name for the game, but the die has "act, draw, Taboo" written on it. Players roll the die and follow that word to help their team guess their word. You could get Pictionary or Taboo cards for this game from a thrift store, or just make up words.

May I offer one suggestion? 

You may want to show this to your kids so they're comforted and even excited to know there's something fun tucked away for emergencies, but don't let them get into it. When a crisis comes, pull out just one game or activity to keep them busy and happy. Later pull out another, and later another. This will keep the novelty and surprise factor going. And of course make time to play the games WITH your children when you can.

Click here for more ideas about preparedness. 

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts about a preparedness fun kit, or if you have another idea to add! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scripture Feasting Tool #2 - Principles

Did you know that "the scriptures have been written to preserve principles"? 
(President Marion G. Romney, CES Symposium, Aug. 17, 1979).

What is a principle? A truth you can use. 

Here is Elder Richard G. Scott's definition. "Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.” (Ensign, Nov. 1993) 

Let's use Alma 57:21 as an example.

 "Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them."

  • Here is a wonderful truth from this verse but its not put in a way that you can easily use: "Obedience."
  • Here is a truth you can use written as a principle: "Obeying with exactness brings blessings."
  • To make principles even easier to find and use, try writing them in your own words as an "if...then" cause-and-effect statement. "If I obey with exactness, God will bless me." 
Here's one more example in 1 Nephi 1:12.

"And it came to pass that as [Lehi] read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord." 
  • Here is a principle from the verse that is written as an "if..then.." cause-and-effect statement in my own words. "If I study the scriptures, I will be filled with the Spirit." 
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “One of the most important things you can do...is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles.” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, emphasis added)

Here are three tips to help you find, internalize, and apply principles. 
  • Look for cause-and-effect verses or stories that you can pull out a truth you can use, writing it like this, "If I... then I..."
  • Asking these questions can also help you find principles: “What is the author trying to teach?” "What is a life lesson I can use here?" "What does God want me to do?" 
  • Rewrite principles in your own words in a way that applies to you in in the margin next to the verse. Or in a scripture journal. 

On  page 2 of my Book of Mormon I found this principle: "Scripture feasting fills us with the Spirit."  I wrote that before I learned the "if...then..." statement concept. Now I could write it like this: "If I feast on the scriptures I will be filled with the Spirit," or "When I feast on the scriptures then I am filled with the Spirit."

Want more? Click here for some quotes about the importance of finding principles in the scriptures. 

Feel free to share a principle from your current scripture study in a comment below! 

If you want to receive all 25 scripture tools (one about every other day) I invite you to subscribe to my blog or my Facebook page

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Scripture Feasting Tool #1 - Favorites

This scripture feasting tool is easy and FUN. 

I use an orange colored pencil. Maybe you'll use green. Whatever the color, you're hunting for treasure. Hunt down your favorite verse or two from each chapter and mark it a certain color. 

Why is this such a great scripture study tool? Because it makes you think. And watch. And find. You can't just skim the surface if you're digging for a treasure. It helps you bring the scriptures down into your heart.

Happy treasure hunting. I'll be hunting too.

Here are a few of my faves that I've marked orange. I sometimes rewrite them in my own words in the margin using a phrase that applies to me. 
  • 1 Nephi 3:7 - God will always prepare a way for me to obey what He asked me to do. 
  • 1 Nephi 4:3 and 6-7 - Because God helped our ancestors we know He will help us too. Even if I don't know how it will work out, I can move forward knowing the Spirit will guide me and God will help me. 
  • Moroni 7:48 - I need to pray fervently for the gift of charity. 
  • Luke 1:37 - With God all things are possible, even if they look impossible. 

Page 8 of my Book of Mormon is marked with orange for my three favorite verses in that chapter: 1 Nephi 4:3 and 6-7. Just a note. Because I am currently doing a summer 90-day Book of Mormon challenge (which you're welcome to join me!) most of my examples of these tools will be from the Book of Mormon. 

If you want to get even more from this tool, here are a few tips. 
  • Write your very, very faves on a list in the front or back flap of your scriptures.
  • Memorize one or more of your most inspiring faves. Elder Scott said, "Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change" (Ensign, Nov. 2011).
  • Pull out a journal and jot a few sentences of why you like this verse or what it means to you. Writing helps the scriptures become a tool to receive personal revelation. 

If you want to get the 25 tools, feel free to subscribe to my blog or my Facebook page. 

Coming up: 25 Scripture Feasting Tools - I'll Post One Every Other Day

There's a big difference between reading and feasting on the scriptures, right? 

Scriptures can be nourishing and life changing, bring us closer to Christ, give us guidance and strength, and answer our deepest questions. Or they can just be a burdensome, check-off-the-list chore. A lot depends on how we study. "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6). Skimming the surface of the scriptures is like snorkeling. Get more from your scriptures by feasting and going deeper - scuba dive!

Scuba diving or feasting in the scriptures brings great treasures that skimming the surface never will. 

I felt inspired to write a series of blog posts sharing 25 tools that have helped me get more out of the scriptures over the years. I taught an institute class about this four years ago, and I'm happy to share some of these tools with you! I'll post one tool every other day this summer. If you haven't already, you may want to subscribe to my blog so you'll see all the tools. Enjoy! 

You may want to gather a few items to use some of the scripture feasting tools: 

  • A set of colored pencils
  • A quality pen
  • I keep these in a pencil case. 
  • You may also want a journal or notebook. 
  • You may consider getting a fresh copy of whatever scripture book you'll be studying, if you're reading the book beginning to end. 

My stuff in my pencil case. 

Here are a few quotes about the power of scripture feasting instead of just skim-reading. 

"Decide now to read more and more effectively than you have ever done before" (Henry B. Eyring, "Always," CES Fireside, Jan. 3, 1999).

"More than at any other time in history...we have a need for greater spirituality.  The way to develop greater spirituality is to feast on the words of Christ..." (President Benson, Ensign, May 1984, 7). 

"The treasures of...spiritual knowledge...are hidden from those who do not properly search and strive to find them. The knowledge of the spiritual will not come to an individual without effort... Spiritual knowledge is not available merely for the asking... It takes persistence and dedication of one's life" (Spencer W. Kimball, Improvement Era, Dec. 1968, 100). 

"I hope that for you [scripture study] will become something far more enjoyable than a duty...it will become a love affair with the word of God. I promise you that as you read, your minds will be enlightened and your spirits will be lifted. At first it may seem tedious, but that will change into a wondrous experience with thoughts and words of things divine" (Pres. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1995, 99). 

"I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more" (D. Todd Christofferson, Ensign, May 2004, 11). 

"Feast upon the words of Christ; for the behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" (1 Nephi 32:3).

Go here for quotes about the power of scriptures. Feel free to write a favorite quote or two in a flap of your scriptures. 

Here is a great book from which I gleaned some of the tools I'll share. I  highly recommend it! 
Click here to see the list of the scripture feasting tools so far. 

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