Friday, May 9, 2014

Thoughts from "Increase in Learning" by David A. Bednar--Part 4

Chapter 4: Doctrine, Principles, and Applications: A Framework for Gospel Learning

"In the times in which we do now and will yet live, only the restored gospel of Jesus Christ provides the answers to the eternally important why questions--the questions of the soul. Answers to all of the why questions we might ask have not been revealed, but the answers to the most fundamental why questions are readily available in the doctrine of Christ."--P.154

Yep. Not much more to be said, other than that I know that I have found many answers to the why questions from studying AND living the Gospel. It is both an intellectual knowledge and an experiential knowledge.

"Do not be too concerned or worried about quickly finding the right answer. Rather, focus upon asking the right questions. If the questions are right, then we are much more likely to obtain inspired and insightful answers as we work, ponder, search, and pray."--P.161

This is one of my favorite quotes of the entire book! I have seen this time and time again in my own experience of studying the scriptures, serving in the church, studying church history and seeking to better understand how to become more like Christ--there is an entire blog post in the works on the power of right questions. The right questions and the best questions lead to the right answers and the best answers. Everytime. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the just because you ask the right or best question that the answer will fall in your lap, some of these answers take YEARS to finally get or even properly understand, but asking the right questions can prepare your mind to be accepting of the right answers, no matter what they may be.

I have a brief example of how asking questions improves our scripture study. I was listening to a podcast about the influence of Hugh Nibley in the church (there is a blog post in the future about some of my favorite LDS podcasts) and a story was shared where Hugh Nibley discussed Moses 1:1 for an ENTIRE semester!  I’ve been studying Alma 32 quite a bit recently and have just been blown away by how much there is contained in a single verse. This morning, I was going over Alma 32:16-22 and I was trying to ask better questions about these verses than I have before. I ended up asking, “What am I missing here?” because I felt like there was something going on that I was missing. After asking this, a couple things stood out as it caused me to slow down and scour the verses. I didn’t find everything, and I’ll keep combing them over, but I did find this in verse 22, “I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.” I’ve read that many times, but today, it struck me after asking an initial question of “What was I missing?” I now see that this verse is telling me that God wants me to just believe His word so that He will pour out His mercy on me! Simple, but prompted by a question that caused me to read slower.

"...the purification, the joy, the happiness, the continuing conversion, and the spiritual power and protection that come from "yielding [our] hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:35) cannot be obtained merely by performing and checking off all of the gospel things we are supposed to do. Consistently completing the various tasks without experiencing the mighty change of heart and becoming more devoted disciples will not produce the spiritual strength we need to withstand the evils and opposition of the latter days."--P.163

Beautifully stated. The Gospel is not a checklist. It just isn’t. We want to systematize things sooo badly, but the Gospel resists this because God wants us to live, grow and ultimately experience the mighty change of heart and receive the power we need. Doing, following, blessing, serving, lead us forward on the path of becoming. This is where true Gospel power lies.

"Programs and meetings are not events to be managed; rather, they are opportunities to minister to individuals and families."--P.165

What a positive way (and, I believe, the correct way) to look at meetings and to make sure that our meetings are ALLOWING us to do these things! Meetings for the sake of meetings is gross. Meetings where we are able to organize and bless the lives of individuals and families is power. The beginning, “Programs and meetings are not events to be managed” reminds me of Hugh Nibley’s classic talk “Leaders and Managers” that can be found here: