February 29th Increase in Learning Reading Group

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(This is the text transcript from the Reading Group Discussion about Increase in Learning Chapter 4: Doctrines, Principles, and Applications. This discussion was held for Seek on February 29, 2012.)

Emily
Hi, friends! Thanks for your patience as we try to work out the technical bugs! Glad you're finding us with the new discussion link!

Beth
I am looking forward to this discussion. I have read and studied this chapter multiple times and I am still not sure I fully "get it" (:

Emily
And Beth, I totally agree with you. I think part of what makes it so magic is that you really have to puzzle stuff out in your brain.

Tina
I found the DVD segments a great help in understanding the chapter.

Emily
Hi, Tina! I felt like I understood things better after the DVD as well.

Beth
They have helped a lot, Tina, but I'm still not fully grasping it, I think.

Emily
The first thing I want to ask is, what value have you found in trying to differentiate between doctrines, principles, and applications? Why is this important?

Beth
It's increased my ability to understand and learn things of the gospel - even thing I thought I understood well enough.

Tina
I've found myself asking Why? a lot more even when dealing with my children. Instead of just telling them to do their chores, I'm explaining the why or the principle behind the jobs.

Tina
And the doctrine of obedience. :)

Emily
It just shows how much this applies on every level, doesn't it? Not just in gospel study per se but in practical experience.

Beth
It's also leading me to think about how I can be a better visiting teacher (and a better visiting teachee and home teachee, for that matter) and how I can perform my calling (though it doesn't seem on the surface to be a teaching or learning opportunity) better.

Natalie
I was talking to my husband about the idea of doctrine principle and application and he told me of the trouble he is having in his seminary classes with the kids learning how to PRAY. I found it interesting to plug that into the equation. If prayer isn't an ACTION but a DOCTRINE then how does that change the way you pray....still chewing on that one.....

Tina
It think it's important to understand the Why of what we do because it increases our motivation and our dedication.

Emily
President Packer's famous statement about "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior" has taken on a lot of new meaning.

Beth
That's the beauty of this book in general to me Emily - that it applies to more than just gospel teachings.

Beth
And yes Emily, that statement by president Packer has had a profound influence on me and I'm now using it to seek answers to questions I've had for some time.

Random
Phew, Did I make it here??

Emily
Yay, Random! You're with us!

Beth
Hi Random! You're here. (:

Random
Yay, now I must regroup my brain

Tina
I also quoted the "what doctrine and principles, if understood properly...." to my husband. He is excited to use it in his leadership position. I think it has great teach potential for members seeking answers to problems.

Natalie
@ Tina - YES.

Emily
Tina, I felt the same way about the issue of motivation. I feel like that's a lot bigger problem for me than the "knowledge." If I could do all the things I know I should be doing, I'd be SO far ahead.

Beth
(Unrelated: I rather like this format for the discussion better.)

Tina
(I do too!!)

Natalie
agree - WAY BETTER

Beth
Tina, that statement is also helping me as a regroup my efforts to find the answers to questions I've had for so long and seemed unanswered to me.

Emily
What do you think about Elder Bednar's characterization of doctrines as "a vital source of power and strength as we strive to become what the Lord would have us become"? How have you been strengthened by doctrine. Or, putting it another way, what doctrines do you find particularly strengthening?

Beth
It certainly made it easier for me to focus on more than just the applications.

Natalie
Well an obvious one is the doctrine of the atonement. I find strength in it daily.

Tina
I think it helps just to keep my perspective more broad. There is more to life than just today. And it almost always goes back to the Savior. That is always a strengthening thought for me.

Beth
It's hard to pick just one doctrine. The atonement and plan of salvation/happiness for sure are strengthening ot me.

Natalie
But it's interesting, when I understand that something is a DOCTRINE, I suddenly become less inclined to say, "I already know about that" - doctrines can be studied forever and you won't understand it all.

Stacie
I think with children & problems, applications can be such time wasters, especially if you don't know what Doctrines they are struggling with, we could applicate them to death and never have even touched upon the real problem, because we never thought about "what doctrine are they not understanding"

Natalie
I really liked how he talked about "TRUE doctrine"

Beth
I like the repetition that emphasized where the answers to our questions lie - in the doctrines and principles.

Emily
Interesting thought, Natalie. Doctrines do feel sweeping, overarching.

Natalie
gospel "hobbies" do not and cannot produce the same results

Emily
Stacie, for sure. In almost every area of endeavor, I find myself mired in applications.

Beth
Good point, Natalie! I did find myself realizing I didn't know as much as I thought I did once I started putting the framework into practice.

Emily
Natalie, how do we get ourselves out of the hobbies and into the doctrines? How do we know the difference?

Natalie
@ Stacie YES!

Beth
Exactly, Stacie!

Natalie
I don't know, because I believe that gospel "hobbies" come from scripture too.

Stacie
Of course, there are several of us in our ward reading this book and we discuss it. We've had some very interesting discussions. Which come down to the fact that while applications take a lot of time and effort they are much easier (in our minds) maybe tactile applications. While the spiritual intensity we have to invest in revelation (understanding what doctrine) can be overwhelming for people to even think about. If we spent our time "working" spiritually instead of the other - can you imagine.

Emily
Natalie, maybe it's a matter of balance. Hobbies tend to be obsessions sometimes. And Stacie, I think it's interesting to consider a shift in attention and effort and what value there might be in trying that.

Natalie
I guess you just have to ask yourself, "how does this build my faith and move me to repentance"

Tina
I think understanding doctrine and principles helps me most when we are discouraged with what we are doing for gospel hobbies.

Beth
I like that Tina!

Natalie
What are some examples of gospel hobbies?

Tina
Callings!

Emily
Being mired in the wrong thing seems to be the surest recipe for discouragement.

Beth
In some ways, Natalie, I think the applications are hobbies when we've isolated them from the doctrines and principles.

Emily
Beth, I like that definition a lot.

Natalie
Yes me too.

Stacie
Coloring, cutting and laminating 100s of FHE lessons, instead of prayerfully asking the Lord what Doctrines should be taught.

Emily
Stacie, or the clever Relief Society handouts!

Beth
I think it also goes back to what President Uchtdorf said in the RS meeting - forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a bad sacrifice.

Emily
Beth, *Like*!

Tina
Or just daily interactions with my kids. Sctipture study, prayer, FHE can all be discouraging and feel muddy if I don't remember the Why.

Stacie
I don't think the Doctrine has to be dressed up. It "speaks" for itself. We spend to much time making it look good.

Beth
I think the "bad sacrifice" is more of the hobby because we seemed to have forgotten the why. In other words, it's application separated from the doctrine and principles.

Natalie
I think it could also be having the "hobby horse" or playing the "one note" of the gospel instead of the whole thing...i.e. dedicating your life's work to understanding tithing and nothing else.

Beth
*LIKE!* Natalie

Emily
I had to giggle when I read "Some readers may eagerly anticipate an appendix . . ." with a categorized list of doctrines, principles, and applications. Because I totally wanted that. And now I see how limiting it would have been.

Natalie
@ stacie - YES! We think the more ACTION and frill we put into it the more it LOOKS like we understanding it when we "miss the mark" altogether.

Beth
That made me smile too. It certainly would have been nice to have that appendix if it existed, but he's right. It would be of no worth to us. (:

Tina
I know. I wanted all answers right then.

Beth
I think that's what we all want - the answers given to use right away. We don't want to have to work for them - we especially don't want to have to work hard to get them. Or that is a tendency among the natural man, I think.

Emily
To me, one of the most interesting things to do has been to shift things between categories. So I was thinking about "order," for instance, as a principle under the doctrine of the plan of salvation. Then I shifted it up and thought of it as a doctrine, and it raised a whole new set of questions.

Natalie
My husband has recently had to retire his mission scriptures because they are so worn out. He says he feels "naked" without them because he knows where everything is. Do we set ourselves up with our own "appendixes" by relying on previous study instead of opening up to new revelation?

Emily
So interesting, Natalie, because I'm torn between wanting to have the benefits of my previous insights and wanting to start fresh.

Sherstin
Interesting thought.

Beth
That's the main reason why the margins of my copy of Increase in Learning are blank. I've taken plenty of notes, but not in the book because I didn't want future readings/studying to be influenced by the past.

Stacie
Natalie: had this discussion with a friend last week. I don't think we want to limit the Lord to what he taught us in seminary or on our missions. Totally different stages of life bring totally different inspiration, for me at least. I want blank pages so the Lord can fill them up

Natalie
I mean, we worked hard for that previous revelation so it is ours to use DEFINETLY, but I also find I read it through the same lense as I did as a missionary instead of the lense of a mother.

Natalie
"blank pages so the Lord can fill them up." LOVE THAT!

Tina
That's why I started a scripture journal instead of writing in my scriptures.

Emily
I have a whole set of paperback copies of the Book of Mormon that I used when I was looking for different things.

Stacie
I keep the old copies because I want to remember what the Lord has told me previously but I write all over my scriptures, they are my journal for 4 years, and then a new set. Someday I want my kids to have them.

Emily
And I love reading and making notes electronically, which is what I'm doing now. Couldn't believe I would ever feel that way, but I do!

Beth
That is also why now with the Gospel Library App, I still use the hard copy for my personal scripture study and use the app to mark and notate scriptures so that when I go through the same book the next time, I can start anew. Interestingly though, I've learned that sometimes the same things stick out to me no matter how many times I go through.

Natalie
But when you are teaching a lesson it's so much easier (for me) to remember "in the very hour" a scripture that applies and I know RIGHT where to find it, what color it's highlighted etc. (which is why I can't teach with an electronic device).

Tina
I like the electronic way too.

Natalie
@ Stacie, GREAT IDEA! and @ Beth - that's true for me too.

Tina
I mark my scriptures up, but when personal revelation hits, I find I need more room so a journal works great that way.

Emily
Changing the subject a little, can anyone think of a behavior that they've been able to change by understanding a true doctrine better?

Tina
Did we just get caught up in an application? :)

Natalie
HA!

Emily
It's important to remember that applications aren't bad. It's just that we need to be sure to mix them with doctrines and principles. But it is pretty funny that that's where our minds go almost automatically.

Stacie
I use a scripture journal too. That's where I put all my questions, I put my answers in my scriptures.

Beth
I love the online study notebook

Beth
Emily, I will have a much better idea after Sunday, but there is definitely something I've been struggling with for nearly a year and I think I have broken through because of understanding the doctrine better.

Natalie
I remember a time in my life when I felt like I truly understood the DOCTRINE of prayer and my prayer changed COMPLETELY.

Beth
And I think now that this book has helped me shift my focus from applications that I will have more of those breakthroughs in the relative near future.

Beth
Scratch that - I KNOW I will.

Natalie
It's interesting though, because after a long time of not studying about prayer that doctrine has seemed to slip from me and I'm back to prayer as an action...

Tina
Getting my children to do all the after school stuff has gone a lot smoother this week as I've pondered the reasons why we do what we do.

Emily
So it's a constant process, isn't it? But one of the most exciting things about this book for me is that it makes me feel engaged in the process.

Beth
The interesting thing is, Tina, children often want to know why by nature. And now that you focus on why...

Beth
Absolutely, Emily!

Natalie
And we get so BUGGED when our kids ask why all the time. I don't get as bugged now...

Tina
Also after listening to Elder Bednar speak about the doctrine of Home Teaching, it gave me a boost in my attitude about VT. I need to focus on that more.

Emily
It feels like it takes a lot of effort to shift our focus to the why. But the more we do it, the easier it becomes, and then everything down the line runs more smoothly.

Emily
Tina, my visiting teaching has totally changed as well.

Beth
Same here Tina! I'm still new at being a visiting teacher, but I am even more motivated to do it and I want to do it far better.

Tina
Exactly, Natalie. I noticed better when they asked why and I was excited to answer. There has definitely been an improvement in behavior.

Emily
I find I'm more joyful, more caring about my sisters, more anxious to get out each month. Not that I didn't have a "testimony" of it before, but the doctrine is beginning to seep into my heart.

Sherstin
I haven't totally changed--but am more motivated to change. The doctrine of the body and overcoming the natural man. James Farrell at a TIME OUT taught this in a way that I had never thought of.."When you're up, you're down. And when your down, your up." And then in The Bonds That Make us Free by Terry Warner, He teaches the same principle.; our natural reactions aren't always truth or right.

Beth
I realized today that among the 3 best days for me this month were the days I went and visited my visiting teachees.

Natalie
Hearing him say that "True Doctrine" is found in scripture and teachings of the Lord's anointed servants makes me want to STUDY conference talks more and not just listen to them at conference time.

Emily
When it's not a task to be checked off, but a way to immerse myself in the Lord's work and thus feel closer to the Spirit, it's a whole different vibe.

Emily
Natalie, me too. I'm more motivated to study than I have EVER been.

Stacie
I did have a break through with a job chart situation (former application addict speaking). We needed to get into a better routine and I was looking for applications, and it ocurred to me what was the Doctrine of having my kids do jobs? Is it obedience, it is work..... anyway, the next day I came across something all based on eternal principles and we've been doing it for 6 weeks, feels right, working great and "an inspired application" just based on the doctrine that I had not taken the time to teach - based on the spirit and then invited my kids to act on. I'd been applicating them to death.

Natalie
@ Sherstin, reading a book by James Farrell now - the Peacemaker - and I thought the EXACT SAME THING.

Beth
I have been similarly motivated, Natalie. I am getting ready to start through the last conference issue again and not just as a ritual I practice in the month preceding general conference.

Emily
"Consistently completing the various tasks without experiencing the mighty change of heart . . . will not produce the spiritual strength we need." True of visiting teaching, of scripture study, of temple attendance, everything.

Emily
And focusing on the doctrines instead of the tasks, or applications, really, really helps with this.

Beth
Absolutely Emily!

Natalie
Confession: I used to fall asleep at the temple all the time, but now my brain is SO MUCH MORE ENGAGED because I am LOOKING.

Emily
Stacie, it fascinates me that an "inspired application" can come out of a doctrine.

Sherstin
:0)

Beth
The re-reading or studying of the previous conference issue was just an action, but now I'll be doing it with a purpose of understanding doctrines and principles better.

Tina
I think seeing our tasks this way helps us become what we should become instead of being doers of the word only.

Beth
I agree, Tina.

Tina
It becomes who we are instead of just something we do.

Stacie
It makes me so mad at myself. I have a huge file drawer full of incentive charts and other stuff. When I could have just asked the Lord what he needed me to teach them so that they would "understand". I guess I should just fell blessed that I'm getting it now.

Sherstin
Yes.

Natalie
BECOMING.

Natalie
So does "Pintrest" = application insanity?....just kidding ;)

Beth
I have found that happening in my life as I've started really applying what Elder Bednar teaches in this book to my day-to-day living as well as my efforts to continue to grow in the gospel.

Stacie
Beth: I think "inspired application" is probably the only one that's acceptable to the Lord

Tina
Haha! So what doctrine or principle if understood will help me have more time to study the doctrines and principles?? :)

Sherstin
My yes came before Stacie's post! :)

Emily
Natalie, LOL. There seems to be no "Pintrest in moderation."

Natalie
HAHA

Natalie
@ Tina - the doctrine of "tithing your time"

Beth
I guess it's been good that I've been sick lately so that I don't get too busy using Pinterest. (:

Tina
I need to remember the season I'm in too. I can't spend hours studying like I'd like to.

Beth
"A Time to Prepare" by Elder Ardern in October's conference may answer that, Tina. (:

Natalie
God can help you do more with 90% of your income than you could do with %100 alone. God can help us do more with 90% of our time than %100 alone.

Krisy
I really like that thought, Natalie!

Emily
Consistency seems better than quantity to me.

Stacie
I agree. I think spiritually framing my day through prayer, makes everything fit

Emily
A little every day is better than the sporadic spurts that I used to involve myself in.

Natalie
YES.

Beth
*LIKE!* Natalie!

Tina
Thank you, Emily. I need to remember that too.

Beth
Good point, Emily. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

Emily
I'm interested that "the world" focuses exclusively on applications (obviously, because they don't have the doctrines). And those self-help articles in the women's magazines never really help me because they don't get to the root of my problems.

Natalie
When we are busy creating worlds without end Heavenly Father will surely put his arm around us and remind us that the "consistancy" we learned in mortality is being put to good use...

Emily
I sure hope so, Natalie!

Beth
And to think I used to wonder why the self-help books and articles weren't really that helpful to me...

Tina
And because we can't ever just self-help. We need the Lord.

Sherstin
True.

Emily
Tina, absolutely.

Natalie
At Tina - YES. when we're down we're up.

Beth
Exactly, Tina! I think that is one of the main points in chapter 4.

Emily
Plus, we need the change of heart, not just of action.

Stacie
I think part of the self help problem is that the God who created our nature is the only one who can really help us change it.

Beth
That too, Emily.

Beth
Agreed, Stacie!

Natalie
So where does Principle fit into all of this - we seem to keep going back and forth between doctrine and application.

Natalie
@ Stacie YES

Sherstin
I am not as clear on principle.

Stacie
Guidelines right

Tina
I think of it like this: doctrines are the big whys and principles are the little whys? But maybe that's just me. :)

Emily
To me, the pondering that has been most beneficial on that score is to start with an application and work backward.

Beth
It seems that principle and doctrine are somewhat interchangeable in the framework. Depending on whether we list it as a principle or a doctrine, the application will change.

Emily
Beth, that's a very cool exercise, incidentally.

Natalie
A good way to find principle is to plug it into an "IF/THEN" statement.

Emily
Natalie, can you give us an example?

Natalie
"If you are righteous, THEN you will prosper in the land"

Natalie
"If you obey the word of wisdom THEN you will run and not be weary..."

Beth
Oh! That's a good idea Natalie! (The programmer in me just totally connected with that!)

Stacie
I agree with Emily. It's easiest for me to work backward from application

Emily
Maybe it's because we're so used to starting with applications. So I stop myself there and say, "Okay, now think deeper."

Beth
That's a great idea, Emily!

Tina
Elder Bednar is brilliant.

Natalie
It's so easy to find principles in the scriptures using that formula, and then (I think) we can get back to the doctrine easier.

Emily
Doctrines provide reasons.
Principles provide direction
Applications spur action.
All three are needed.

Beth
Exactly, Emily!

Natalie
Right, because I can analyze something to death and still not get off the couch and do it.

Tina
Doctrines are beliefs too.

Beth
I think we need all 3 to trully understand the gospel picture.

Natalie
I think it's a cycle. Action can help us understand doctrine, which will lead our path, which will bring more action etc. It's the meaning behind "line upon line precept upon precept"

Emily
Unbelievably, my friends, we are out of time.

Stacie
I think it's easier for me to work backward because I'm a doer - the higher up you go toward doctrine, the more patience and pondering - quiet time, asking questions. I think this is where the difficulty can lie.

Sherstin
The Becoming Cycle.

Natalie
@ Shersitn YES - the becoming cycle

Beth
Becoming cycle. Excellent, Sherstin!

Emily
We have only three more weeks left: One more week on chapter 4 itself, one on the related readings, and one wrap-up week. How can we maximize the participation, now that we've found a format that works?

Krisy
I've a few friends I've been meaning to specifically invite... I promise I'll invite them before next week!

Stacie
You could announce that Elder Bednar would be leading the discussion :)

Natalie
@ Stacie HAHAHAHAHA!

Emily
Stacie, don't we wish?!

Tina
Haha!

Beth
That would be quite the treat! (:

Stacie
You could send out the questions you want to discuss

Tina
Good idea!

Emily
Stacie, which reminds me: Next week, I would love it if everyone would come prepared to share an experience they've had with "What doctrine, if understood, would help me with . . ." I'm really, really curious to know how you've been applying this learning. And I'm anxious to share an experience I'm in the middle of right now.

Beth
Ironically, Emily, I just made a whole list of those to start working on... I hope to have some feedback for you next week. (:

Emily
See you all next week. Thanks so much for a great talk today!

Random
Have a great week all, nice to read your posts.

Natalie
See ya Random

Beth
Thanks Emily! See you next week! (:

Tina
Thanks again.

Beth
I hope to see everyone next week!

Stacie
Thanks

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