Here is what I have come up with so far to use the Come, Follow Me Study Guides published by my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are getting the stories of Jesus ingrained into our hearts and seeing how His truths apply to us today. It’s so exciting! I am creating this plan to unify my personal, family, and congregational study of the New Testament this year of 2019.
I read the weekly assignments of scriptures on my own during my personal scripture study. Every morning I wake up most of the family for personal and family scripture study between 6 and 7 AM. I started doing this a few years ago when I still lived in Utah, after attending this event which inspired me. (My two teen boys are usually gone before then if it’s a weekday because they go to zero hour weight training and then seminary, then they come home for our homeschool day. They do personal worship on their own.) For our personal and family scripture reading (aka PoWeR Hour, for Pray, Write, Read) we each say a silent prayer, then read the scriptures silently on our own for five minutes, then write in our own journal for five minutes. (Before I assemble the family I have a lengthy prayer on my own out loud in my bathroom on my “prayer rug,” a bathroom rug to cushion my knees on the hard floor.) Then we do family reading of the Book of Mormon. We do this even if we are on vacation or visiting relatives.
I’ve had a hard time doing the actual reading of the Bible as a whole family every day, on top of our traditional family daily Book of Mormon reading. So here’s what I do, instead of attempting to fit the family NT reading into the morning scripture study, with the two middle boys gone.
I do this at night over dinner. First I briefly tell one of the stories from the weekly assigned reading to my children in my own words. Then I show my kids a Bible video if there is one to go with it. These videos are usually included in the lesson for Come, Follow Me Guide for Sunday School. Here is the full playlist. I mention the key doctrine that goes with the video/story. The key doctrines are always printed in bold in the lessons. Then I ask a question to get my kids to think of how that doctrine applies to them today. Questions are included in the lessons after the bold heading of the doctrine. Sometimes I even come up with my own questions and use those. I love to write down their answers in a special pretty notebook I have dedicated for our Come, Follow Me Family Study.
Usually each story has a video, at least one doctrine, and at least one question. I’ve noticed the stories are the same for the Family and Individuals Guide, the Sunday School Guide, and the Primary Guide, but the doctrines and questions used are a little different sometimes. For example, last week we read about how Jesus took a turn as a reader of the scriptures in the temple. He read Isaiah 61:1-2 and then announced that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy. He publicly announced that was He was/is the Messiah.
So I showed the above video. Then I shared the doctrine, “Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.” Then I asked, “When have you felt a witness from the Spirit that Jesus is the Messiah?” I always share my own answer. My husband and older kids, ages 17 and 20, usually answer. The younger kids sometimes do, sometimes not, because they don’t have as much life behind them. I love hearing what anybody shares, but it’s especially wonderful to hear from my older boys. They always have responses that give me a glimpse into what’s going on in their lives. I’ve also set up a group texting app for my older kids who are out of the nest to ask them the same question.
Here are the other doctrines we reviewed last week.
“Communing with God prepares me to serve Him. “ This is from the story of Jesus going into the wilderness before his public ministry. Then I asked the kids, “What do you do to prepare to serve God?”
“Jesus Christ set the example for me by resisting temptation.” This is also from the wilderness story when Jesus fasted and the devil tempted him. Then the question is, “As you read Matthew 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13, what do you learn that can help you when you face temptations?”
“As I trust in the Lord, He can help me reach my divine potential.” This is from the story of Peter trusting Jesus when Jesus asked him to thrust his net back into the water after fishing all night and not catching any fish. I thought of my own question for this one, but it’s similar to the one in the curriculum. My question was, “When have you trusted in a call you felt from the Savior, through the Holy Spirit, and you followed it like Peter, and you felt astonished at the results?” My older boys gave me amazing insights into their life as answers. I got that question from watching this video below, from Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler.
Do you see the basic pattern of telling the story of Jesus from the scriptures, showing the video of the story, sharing the doctrine(s) involved, and then asking a question, or two to see how we individually see the doctrine in action? I love it! One of these days I am going to ask what doctrines they see after we read the readings without telling them to get them to think more. It’s so simple, we can do it over dinner! As I said before, I love keeping a notebook to journal all the questions and answers.
Usually each story has a video from the Church’s Bible Video Collection, at least one doctrine, and at least one question. I’ve noticed the stories are the same for the Family and Individuals Guide, the Sunday School Guide, and the Primary Guide, but the doctrines and questions mentioned are a little different sometimes. For example, here are the doctrines highlighted in each guide for Week #7, about Matthew 4, and Luke 4-5.
For the Family/Individual Guide, the doctrines are:
Communing with God prepares me to serve Him.
Jesus Christ set the example for me by resisting temptation.
Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah.
As I trust in the Lord, He can help me reach my divine potential.
For the Sunday School Guide, the doctrines are:
Heavenly Father has given us the power and means to resist temptation.
Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah.
The commitment to follow Christ means accepting His will and forsaking our own.
For the Primary Guide, the doctrines highlighted are:
I can choose the right as Jesus did.
Jesus Christ is my Savior.
Jesus Christ invites us to be “fishers of men.”
See how they are all related, but a bit different, adapted to ages and groups? They all mesh together though. Just when I think I have thought of all the insights, I realize I am mistaken when I go to Sunday School at church and hear from fellow Saints about their insights in Sunday School class. So I don’t want to miss out on that part of my scripture study either, learning with my congregation. I love it!
So that’s how I am fitting in the Come Follow Me guides on a near daily basis for my family and me.
Now for Sundays at home…Al Fox Carraway talks about how she uses it for Sunday and then below that I share how we do it. She has little kids. My youngest is 9 so I do it differently.
After church on Sunday, for our “homechurching” to replace the third hour we have been accustomed to attending, since 1980 (and yes, I am old enough to remember the start of the three hour block, we lived in upstate New York at the time), before the change to 2 hours at the start of 2019, we go through the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” section in the Family and Individual Guide. Go here. scroll down, and you will see that section.
I’ve noticed that it’s best not to just plow through the reading of the scriptures that are mentioned, letting the words go through our eyes and out our brains, to be forgotten a second later, sad to say. To really get the words in our hearts so that we remember them, I like to give a question before the reading to get us all in “search” mode as we read, so we are paying attention to the words we read. The study guide usually has a question to ponder or to guide our search with each reading, so I will ask that question, before the reading. If the kids don’t answer, I will ask it again and have us read again until someone answers. Taking the reading slowly and repeating is totally OK. No sense in reading just to be reading the words. Take it slowly and really digest the truths by asking questions. That’s what Jesus did.
This curriculum is allowing me to fulfill President Nelson’s admonition to “talk of Christ and rejoice in Christ.” This is what he said in October 2018 General Conference to all the women in the church when he told us to read the Book of Mormon, “As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends. You and they will be drawn closer to the Savior through this process. And changes, even miracles, will begin to happen.”
So, we’ve been doing the Family Study of the New Testament on Sunday afternoons after church, then also later that day on Sunday nights for Family Home Evening (FHE). My husband has been gone on Monday nights lately so we do FHE on Sunday night.
OK, now for my personal study. For my personal study I am doing the following:
-document study quadrants on Monday through Wednesdays. I learned about this from taking LEMI training. I divide my page into four quadrants, and label each quadrant with the heading: “Vocabulary,” “Lines of Logic and Equations,” “Aha’s and Epiphanies,” and “I Wonders.” On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings I write these down as I read. Then on Thursday and Friday I work on completing the vocabulary definitions into the ancient Hebrew pictogram meanings of each letter and the “I Wonder” questions. (As you can see from above, I haven’t finished my definitions yet.)
Ancient Hebrew gives amazing insights! This is another post for another day, to go into depth, but briefly I will say that I got turned on to ancient Hebrew by my close friend Katie. She has a web site here for more about that. The New Testament was not originally written in Hebrew of course, it was written in Greek. Translating the words into Hebrew by using Google and then analyzing the meaning from the pictogram perspective, however, reveals rich and deep layers of meaning that I don’t get in any other way. You can get a brief idea of the deeper meanings of the pictograms in the video above. I studied the word light when I studied the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 last week.
-watching the Don’t Miss This video commentary on Mon. or Tues. morning while I exercise. I love what I learn from the Spirit as I listen to Emily and David on this show. They also provide a study sheet which I look at to give me journal writing prompts and principles to write about. Here is the page for their Come, Follow Me Resources. Scroll down and look for where it says, “Download Study Sheet,” for each lesson.
-reading Jesus the Christ to get author James E. Talmage’s commentary on the stories. Jesus the Christ is free in the LDS Gospel Library app and on lds.org here. (The fascinating story behind Brother Talmage writing Jesus the Christ is here.)
-referring to the LDS Citation Index to see what the Church leaders have said about these scriptures in General Conference talks and other writings. It is easy to get overwhelmed though when reading these, so if you are the type to get easily overwhelmed then don’t go there. 🙂
-using the seminary and institute manual commentary. Many times though those manuals don’t answer my questions. Usually Talmage’s Jesus the Christ answers them. I discovered this because I would share some of my “I wonders” during our family sharing and then my returned-missionary son has said more than once, “Oh, read Jesus the Christ. It talks about it in there.”
-listening to the related General Conference talks or Ensign articles mentioned in the CFM study guides for Ind. and Families and Sunday School as I prep breakfast in the morning or drive a kid somewhere.
-showing the related videos and listening to the articles mentioned by homeschool blogger mom Montserrat over here.
-listening to the related BYU Roundtable Scripture discussions
I love doing this! I feel my spiritual life growing by leaps and bounds! I feel so blessed to have Jesus Christ as my Savior and to know Him through the sacred words of the writers of the Gospels. My life has been greatly enriched by studying these words. It is amazing!