Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scripture Marking Success

After years of trying to figure it out, I have discovered a scripture marking system that is working for me. I've been meaning to share it with you for months, so here it is.

My old set of the 1979/1981 editions of the Standard Works have seen better days. There are some pages I wish I could tear out and replace because the markings are so, so, er, distracting. I got a new set of scriptures when I was called as bishop, but was reluctant to put a mark in them until I figured out a workable system. I have found one and have been using it for months now.

The system uses a spectrum of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and black. Each color represents a set of topics. On one end, red is dedicated to Christ and His atonement, the gospel, salvation, and the resurrection. On the other end of the spectrum is black which is for Satan and his minions.

Here is how the colors are organized:
  • Red: Christ, atonement, gospel, salvation, resurrection.
  • Orange: Covenants, laws, revelation†, commandments, doctrine, history, prophecy†.
  • Yellow: Light, truth, wisdom, faith, inspiration, testimony.
  • Green: Promises, blessings, obedience†, prosperity, abundance.
  • Blue: Prophets, priesthood, keys, ordinances, temple.
  • Purple: Temptation, sin, evil, darkness, fear†.
  • Black or Gray: Satan, evil spirits, evil doers. 
Added in 2011
    I underline the verses with a pen of a given color (PaperMate Profile pens write smooth and don't bleed through pages), and highlight important words in the verses with pencil of the same color. For pencils, I am using Prismacolor Col-Erase, which you can buy individually at the BYU Bookstore.

    I love having a plan for marking my scriptures, especially one that makes sense without being overly complicated. It's a delight to rediscover the scriptures by marking a new set as I am now. I recommend it.

    P.S. For a post on studying the scriptures as a family, see "How Our Family Does Scripture Study."

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    My Dog Sooty

    I've been thinking about a dog I had when I was a teenager. We called her Sooty because of her smoky coloring. She was a little dingo, a cow dog with no tail. I've never had a dog who was smarter or who had more try. I loved that dog more than any other I've had. (Sorry, Riley.)

    This little upstart had more cow in her than a cow. She could read your thoughts from a hundred yards away. She knew exactly where you wanted cattle to go, just by a nod or a wag of the hand. We hardly had to train her to do anything. I remember lightly touching the side of the pickup truck and bang! she was in the bed of the truck, ready to go. Nobody had to teach her to do it. She just knew what you meant.

    And she was so happy to see you when you came out the door. She always put me in a better mood because she was such a genuine dog.

    Then came a fateful day. It was in the fall of 1974. I was working in a pasture on the ranch, pushing slash piles (old tree branches) together to burn, with a Caterpillar D6C tractor. All of a sudden, the tractor hesitated long enough for Sooty to jump into the cab with me! She had been just waiting for the chance to bound up and say hi. Well, it scared me. I was afraid she would get hurt, so I yelled at her and told her to get off the tractor and get way. She was liable to get killed doing what she did.

    That was the last time I ever saw her. After that incident on the D6, she disappeared. She never came back. I thought I might have run over her accidentally, so that evening I searched and searched the pasture, the slash piles, my tread marks. Nothing. My once in a lifetime dog had vanished into thin air.

    That was 34 years ago, and I've never been able to shake it. She was sensitive and I sent the wrong message. I was upset with her (I think that was the first time I had ever really yelled at her) because I was afraid she might get hurt. She took it hard, and was gone.

    Be kind to those you love. Make sure they know what you really mean, that when you get upset sometimes it's only because you really care. If you don't, they might disappear, and decades later, you'll still ache to have them back.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Two Important Questions

    Since our multi-stake conference in early September, I have been thinking about two questions that President Dieter F. Uchtdorf posed during his talk:

    1. What are you personally doing to increase your faith in God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ?

    2. What are you personally doing to strengthen your marriage and your eternal relationships?

    I can hardly imagine two more important questions to be asking ourselves today. It may not come as a surprise that I feel a great urgency about preparation now, especially spiritual preparation. I must admit that spiritual and temporal preparation are on my mind constantly, and there must be a reason behind that.

    As with my own family, I urge everyone in our ward, to have a primary focus on fulfilling our spiritual and family duties and doing everything we can to set our houses in order, to set aside three months of food (and then work on a year's supply), to reduce and ultimately eliminate our debt, and to save against a rainy day.

    I promise you that if you are sincere and prayerful in your desires to prepare, and you show faith by paying an honest tithe, you will have the physical strength and the financial means to set your house in order. "Therefore, dearly beloved..., let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" (D&C 123:7). "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come" (D&C 87:8).