Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Living Guide to Life

Hey. This is Ryan. I've bragged before on the group of men and boys with whom I work at church. They are a great bunch of guys and our class time seems better than anything I've been a part of before. After some confusion, though, I realized no one had prepared the lesson so I had to improvise. It turned out to be one of the better ones I've taught, if I do say so myself.

I've been trying to write any thoughts or inspirational epiphanies I've had while at church due to the fact I'm mostly concentrating on calculating the volume of Life cereal my children have ground into the chapel carpet. I figure if I can come out of the three-hour block with just one good spiritual "a ha" moment, then I've succeeded in feeling the Spirit.

Today's lesson was entitled, "Scripture Study," so instead of stumbling through the manual and reading different stories, I came up with the idea to have the men and boys go through their scriptures and find their favorite. Then, when they had found their scripture, they wrote it on the chalkboard. I called on each person to read their scripture aloud and comment why they liked it. I also asked under what circumstances this scripture became their favorite. It went pretty well. Here's what I learned:

1. Men tend to have favorite scriptures that talk about strength or advice on how to be "men." The majority of the scriptures dealt with being examples, understanding their fellow men and making weak things strong if they humble themselves before the Lord.

2. The scriptures are personal. No two boys or men had the same favorite scripture. No one even claimed that the other boy had "stolen" theirs. I supposed that because all of our backgrounds and experiences varied, the lessons learned from the scriptures varied as well. The boys and men truly "liken the scriptures" and derive personal meaning, which is the truest form of scripture study.

3. They all had a scripture by which they felt the Spirit at one point in their lives. I mean, if the Holy Spirit testified that the words could help them in their lives, they had to believe it was true at one point. Isn't the Holy Ghost the testifier of truth? Then, ergo, if that one verse is true, so is the one after it, and the one after that, etc. The scriptures are true words of God and they know it.

4. Finally, not one of the boys were afraid to get up, read and then share their feelings in front of the class. That means the scriptures unify the hearts of men. They are truly brothers in the gospel and their lack of fear proved it.

Just some things to ponder this Sunday afternoon. I want to know your favorite scripture. I'll go first: Ether 12:27 ... "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I love this scripture because I know Heavenly Father will help us be strong only when we admit and show Him we are ready for Him to make us that way. I was having a hard time on my mission; I was prideful and it impeded my progress. This scripture hit me pretty hard and I prayed to be humble. Oh boy. Never pray to be humbled. Anyway, I feel like my mission shaped my life only because I allowed Heavenly Father to mold me.

So, have you a favorite scripture? What is it, why is it your favorite and what were the circumstances by which it became your favorite? Post here. I'd be interested to know how you liken the scriptures unto yourself.


Jenn Walker said...

Hey Ryan and Lisha! My favorite is Isaiah 41:10. "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God; yea, I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." As to the rest of your questions, I am not sure why it is or what circumstances it came to be my favorite. I read it in a book when I was early high school. It has pretty much always helped me get through anything in my life. I just think that it is a great scripture filled with a lot of promises from Him to help us. I love reading your blog!

e said...

I would have to say mine is John 16:33. "I have said these things to you; my peace I give to you. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." I'm also not sure why it's my fave, especially considering my stance on religion, but it gives me a peaceful feeling when things seem overwhelming.

Sandi said...

On my mission we read 3 Nephi 12 a lot. (We also read chapter 11 a lot, with those slackers who did not complete their reading assignments. But if they DID complete their reading, we often went over what they learned and then continued reading into chapter 12.) One thing that always kind of bothered me was 3 Ne 12:48 "Be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." I was VERY aware during my mission that my obedience corresponded to my blessings (i.e. success) but I had a lot of periods of time when I could have done better, and therefore, a lot of periods of time when we weren't having success. I was so frustrated all the time. One morning during my personal study, as I was finishing the Book of Mormon for the umpteenth time, words that I had often read without incident suddenly spoke directly to me. (Darn is down, so I'll have to type this in myself!) "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ . . . then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ . . . that ye become holy, without spot." (Moroni 10:32-33) Suddenly I knew how I could obey the commandment to be perfect. It brought me so much peace.

The funny thing is, a few months after making this connection between the two scriptures, I read an Ensign article about a sister missionary who had the exact same experience! (We sisters just like to be hard on ourselves.)

Thanks for this, Ryan.

Shanakin Skywalker said...

I would like to hear about what happened when you prayed to be humbled! Was it when I got there and you realized what a real missionary is like?

Christina said...

The scripture that has never failed to inspire me is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Each time I feel I simply can’t handle a situation, I know I’m wrong. God gave me a trial only because He knows I can conquer it. He never gives us anything we can’t handle and He’s always right there to support us.

Colleen Higley said...

My favorite scripture is Alma 37:37...

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

When I was 12, I was spending the night with my cousins in Boise. At that time, all of us kids slept out on the second story deck. I was woken up with a fear that would not subside. I went into my cousin's bedroom looking for something I could read to pass the time until morning came. My eyes fell onto the Book of Mormon, so I flipped the book open. A second passed, and I read Alma 37:37. Being the sensitive soul that I am, I got teary-eyed, but I followed the directive. I got down on my knees and prayed for peace and comfort so that I could sleep for the rest of the night.

Twenty two years later and I still remember that feeling of overwhelming fear and dread that I had. I don't know where it came from or what was wrong, but I do remember that I was scared and Heavenly Father saw fit to comfort His child.

For me, I have to remember to take counsel FROM the Lord, and not to try to counsel Him. Those efforts are 100% fruitless.

Thanks for letting me share.

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