Scripture Study Interview with JamesTheMormon, Mormon rapper, songwriter, and record producer

I’ve always been curious about others’ personal scripture study and how it makes them tick. Lately I have been interviewing well known LDS people (like Lindsey Stirling and Al Fox Carray) about their Scripture study perspectives and I’ve been inspired by each of them to improve my own scripture study.

One of my favorite LDS musicians is JamesTheMormon. To be honest, I have never been a fan of rap, but I can listen to JamesTheMormon all day with his clean, inspiring, and motivating music. He recently released an album titled “PMG” that subtly goes through all the lessons in “Preach My Gospel”. He’s also well-known for his BYU song “Tellin’ you Y” that became an anthem for BYU football in 2016.

James the mormon rapper scripture study interview byu

I recently interviewed James and I’m excited to share with you some insight into his perspective on Scripture study. James is like most of us, he doesn’t always get into the scriptures every day, but they are a valuable part of his life.

What is your favorite scripture?

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.”

What is your favorite way to study the scriptures?

If I read a chapter from the Book of Mormon that day, its been a successful day!

What helps you to study the scriptures every day?

I don’t. I wish I did. But I don’t. I’m just out here trying to do my best like everyone else.

When do you do your scripture study?

No particular time.

What is one of your most favorite stories from the Scriptures?

I like the story of Alma the younger. It shows me that anyone can be a great tool for our Heavenly Father regardless of our past or our current struggles.

What are some interesting or unique ways you mark the scriptures?

I highlight meaningful passages, and if I have thought that resonates with me I write it nearby.

What is one of your first memories with the Scriptures?

The first time I finished reading the Book of Mormon I was on the flight to my mission. Nothing special happened. I just remember thinking … “awesome.. I did it.” I made it a goal to finish the BOM all the way through before I got to my mission field.

When did your love for the Scriptures really blossom?

Probably on my mission. It gave me some extra strength I needed to go out and grin, doing the hardest, yet most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.

Can you share an experience when a scripture you shared with someone helped them?

I would share this one often when talking to people to help them see that The Book of Mormon was also the words of Christ.
2 Nephi 33:10 “And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.”

Have the scriptures ever led you directly to write a song?

They haven’t. While writing “PMG” I was very prayerful, but nothing tied to the scriptures.

James the Mormon rapper scripture study interview

Thanks again to JamesTheMormon for the interview!

If you have a contact with an LDS figure you’d like to see interviewed, please connect me with them!

Scripture Study Interview with Lindsey Stirling, LDS Artist and Performer

If you’re like me you’ve been curious how other members of the Church study the scriptures in their own personal life. I have been interviewing well-known LDS people about their perspective on Scripture study in hopes to help each of us be inspired and improve our own Scripture study.

Lindsey Stirling is a world-renowned violinist, dancer, and performer. She is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lindsey is amazing to watch perform as she often performs by combining dancing and playing the violin at the same time. On “America’s Got Talent” she was often called a “Hip Hop Violinist” and made it all the way to the quarter finals. My wife and daughter recently went to one of her live performances for her “Brave Enough” tour and they both came home in awe and inspired at Lindsey’s talents.

Recently I asked Lindsey some questions regarding her own personal Scripture Study to get her perspective and experiences. I know you will be inspired just as I was by her responses:

lindsey-stirling4

What is your favorite scripture?

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

How did that become your favorite?
That scripture has provided comfort to me when life felt unbearable; when I couldn’t understand the “why’s” of it all or I couldn’t see the way out.  It reminded me that God could see the way, even if I couldn’t.  And it gave me the strength to go on.

What is your favorite way to study the scriptures?
Honestly depends on the day and my mood. Sometimes I’ll read something out of the Bible Dictionary; sometimes I listen to a General Conference talk; sometimes I start at 1st Nephi (again lol) and sometimes grab my scriptures and read the first page that falls open.  I probably enjoy reading scriptures by topic the most, because it allows me focus on a subject that I feel like I need to improve on or learn more about.

What helps you to study the scriptures every day?
My mother’s sweet voice in my head haha; she’s always asking me if I’m reading my scriptures (I love you Mom!), and the admonitions in my patriarchal blessing.  It’s one way to keep the spirit with me throughout the day, and I recognize how important that is for me.  It’s so easy to get distracted from the things that are the most important, especially as a touring musician.  I want to stay true to the Lord; true to who I am.  So I do my best to put the Lord first in my life in hopes that I can stay “grounded,” maintain my sensitivity to the spirit, and be an instrument in the Lord’s hands for good throughout my life.

When do you do your scripture study?
I try to make time for scripture reading first time in the morning.  When we come across something that “stands out” to us during our personal scripture study, my mom and sisters and I like to share those scriptures with each other via text.  So I often get “scripture thoughts” during the day too…or whenever any of my family members happen to be studying.

What is one of your most favorite stories from the Scriptures?
I have always loved Daniel in the lions’ den, and all the stories in 1 Nephi.

What are some interesting or unique ways you mark the scriptures?
If I have a burst of inspiration or a thought, while I’m reading, I write it in the margins with a pen so that it doesn’t fade.  Capturing those moments and reading them reminds me of how I felt at the time that I wrote them.  It’s so easy to forget the impact of the spirit in those moments, if we don’t continually go back to those same verses again and again.  There’s a reason we are encouraged to read every day.  It’s not always easy, but I think consistent scripture reading is one of the most important things we can do to keep the spirit with us day after day and throughout our life.  There is protection; literal power in the scriptures.  And as difficult as life can be…I need that!

What is one of your first memories with the Scriptures?
My dad was a seminary teacher and VERY passionate about the gospel; especially the Book of Mormon.  He used to read illustrated versions of the scriptures to us when my sisters and I were kids, and his enthusiasm really made the stories come alive for me.

Can you share an experience when a scripture you shared helped someone close to you?
When my sister, Jennifer, was going through a divorce, I sent her some scriptures and just wanted to let her know that I was proud of her strength, and was confident that, with her faith, God would pull her through.  I know that it meant a lot to her.  Sometimes a little comfort is all we need, and there is comfort in the love that the Lord has for us, which can be felt and understood more fully through reading the scriptures.

lindsey stirling scripture study tips


I want to thank Lindsey for this interview and sharing with all of us a bit more of a personal and spiritual look into her own life.

Be sure to check out our first interview with Al Fox Carraway, the Tattooed Mormon, on her Scripture study habits and experiences. If you have someone else you would like me to interview and you have a way to connect with them, add a comment and I’ll be in touch!

Scripture Study Interview with Al Fox Carraway, The Tattooed Mormon

Ever wondered how other people study the scriptures? Me too! I’m interviewing well-known LDS people about their perspective on Scripture study in hopes to help each of us be inspired and improve our own Scripture study. If you have someone you would like me to interview, add a comment!

Al Fox Carraway is my hero. Her love for The Book of Mormon is contagious and inspiring. If you haven’t read her story, pick up her new book “More than the Tattooed Mormon”, which is about her life’s journey of conversion, building a personal relationship with God, and her love for the scriptures.

Here’s the interview with Al Fox Carraway!

What is your favorite scripture?

Al: 3 Nephi 13:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

How did that become your favorite?

Al: It was right when I joined the church and everything started to go horribly wrong and trials came in full force and I had no one’s support. No family. Lost all of my friends. I read it and my whole body started to tingle. It was in that moment I knew that no matter what happens, if we put God first, our trials and losses, our lonely times will be made up to us. And it would be not just okay but better than what we ever had in mind, better than before the hard times had even started. It was this scripture that I held on to by my fingertips with all the energy I had left, when it felt like I was being pulled by my ankles in the opposite direction. It was this scripture that helped me to use this faith I wasn’t sure I had at times.

What is your favorite way to study the scriptures? Cover to cover, by topics, or something else?

Al: I read cover to cover. I feel like I waste too much time wondering ‘where should I start’, ‘what should I look up’, if I do it any other way other than cover to cover. And when I finish I say a quick prayer to see if I should read the Book of Mormon over again or if I should do Doctrine and Covenants. (I read the Bible regularly too, but not daily like our triple combination). And I start again that very day.

What helps you to study the scriptures every day?

Al: Contrast & passion. I have learned long ago that if I don’t read from them every day I don’t have the best days. I act and react and think differently. I’m not as patient. I’m not as happy. I don’t want to do that to myself, haha. Just set goals and make habits. The reality is we have a spirit living inside of us & it’s crucial to feed it. Scriptures heal hurting hearts and wounded souls.

When do you do your scripture study? Morning, night, or some other time?

Al: I set my alarm earlier in the day to make time to read scriptures first thing in the morning–when the world is quiet but the Spirit is not. Sets the tone for the rest of the day for myself and it’s a guarantee to make sure it doesn’t get pushed aside with other things the day brings. I wrote a blog post called 5 Ways To Make More Time For The Scriptures, which may be the best answer to this question.

Al Fox Carraway - Scripture Study Markings

What are some interesting or unique ways you mark the scriptures?

Al: Every time I read the scriptures I read a new copy (and by new I mean an unmarked set. Can be the free ones the missionaries hand out, or for like a quarter at D.I. or any kind of donation centers like Salvation Army). So that every time I read it other markings wont be there to influence my thinking, but will allow the Spirit to talk to me differently each time and I learn and notice new things a lot more that way. Then when I finish I put them into my nice leather set. I’m not shy with my markings, they’re meant to be personalized. It’s a teaching aid.

What is one of your first memories with the Scriptures?

Al: I’m a convert. So I didn’t start reading the scriptures until I met the missionaries right before my 21st birthday. I only read the Book of Mormon because I wanted to prove to them that nothing would happen form it. It didn’t make much sense to me at first, but just the act of reading gives you strength. Others noticed it before I ever did. Long story short, I got baptized, and when I did I lost all my friends, my family stopped talking to me and my co-workers would lock in my an office, tell me I’m an awful person now, and made me watch these untrue videos about the church. I would hide the Book of Mormon in my pants so I could have it everywhere I went. Every time things got hard, every single second that I had free, every day, I would pull the Book of Mormon out of my pants and I would read it. every second I could of every day. And not once did my situation change because of it, well-not really. But every single time I was given the strength & the knowledge to be able to handle what I was going through. That book, that is where strength comes from. I don’t know what I’d do without that book.

What are your traditions for watching and studying General Conference?

Al: It’s different now that I’m in Utah. Back in New York where I’m from we would go to the Stake Center to watch it and I’d get all dressed up and buy a new journal and a new dress out of excitement and would share the chapel with the whole mission and watch it with about 100 missionaries. Now in Utah as a family we stay home to watch it together. My husband and I each have a separate conference journal we use just for this. We pray together and separately before each session starts, and at the end of conference weekend we go on a walk around our neighborhood or go to temple grounds to sit, and we tell each other and go over the notes we took for each talk. I also wrote a blog post that would answer this too called 9 Ways To Get More Out Of General Conference.

Who is your favorite General Authority and why?

Al: President Packer and Elder Scott. But now I need new favorites…

Who is your favorite Prophet of all time and why?

Al: Easy. Joseph Smith. He’s who I learned about 1st as I was learning about the church. I admire him more than I have words adequately enough to express. And living in New York, about 30 minutes from the Palmyra sites, I would go to the sacred grove and Joseph Smith’s farm and the Hill Cumorah with the elders for my lessons, it’s hard to not feel connected to him.

Al Fox Carraway shares insights into her Scripture study


Thanks again to Al Fox Carraway for sharing your insight and love for the scriptures! Check out her blog for more about her, her amazing book, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Have a well-known LDS blogger, artist, or person you’d like to be interviewed about their scripture study? Let me know in the comments!

12 Ways to Add Variety to your Daily Scripture Study

We are all striving for daily scripture study, and sometimes it can be harder or easier than other times. The blessings of daily scripture study have no end, from guidance, happiness, and protection against the adversary in this life to the blessings of eternal life and becoming like our Savior.

Sometimes it can help to mix up your daily scripture study, especially when you might feel in a rut, just doing the same thing each day and plugging along cover to cover. By adding variety to your daily scripture study, you will find yourself getting more out of those precious moments you have to explore the scriptures.

1. Study all the scriptures from a single General Conference talk

Pick any General Conference (online or find a May or October Ensign laying around), select a talk, then actually look up each and every scripture cited as you study the talk. Give yourself permission to read more and wander around the scriptures instead of getting right back into the talk. Take in the full stories, lessons, and testimonies that go with each of the verses cited.

2. Pick a favorite verse, then go two levels deep with all footnotes

Start with a favorite verse (or find one from the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures), study and ponder it, and for each footnote, study and ponder those verses and do the same with that verse’s footnotes. You’re now two levels deep!

Tip: It may help to write down the first set of footnote references so you can get back to each of them after visiting each footnote of that verse.

3. Pick a favorite verse, then read all the citations

“Citations” is one of the most innovative and unique features of our app (LDS Scriptures App for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, Mac, and PC). Open the app, go to a verse (for this example I will do 1 Nephi 3:5), and then tap the grey icon with the quotes and a number, located next to the verse number. This will open up a list of citations, other manuals and resources that “cite” this verse. Tapping on any of those will take you to that content where you can read what is being said about the verse you are reading. This is a great way to get “commentary” on a verse of scripture, find stories relating to it, and to just dig deeper into a verse in general. See the below images for reference:

IMG_2373 IMG_2374 IMG_2375

4. Blank Book of Mormon, highlighting a word or topic

Elder Bruce R. McConkie has been known to use this method of studying the scriptures. He would get an inexpensive Book of Mormon without any markings in it, and then read through it cover to cover and underline with a red pencil a single word, phrase, or topic (like Jesus Christ or Faith). For a digital option, create a new account inside your LDS Scriptures App and use the highlight function to highlight (see screenshot below).

Tip: Pick a word that occurs often enough that you are actively looking for it in every verse or chapter, and mark any variation or form of that word.

Highlight Book of Mormon LDS Scriptures App

5. Pick a favorite hymn and study the scripture references

Almost every hymn in the hymn book has a couple of scriptures to go along with it. Pick one of your favorite hymns, sing it, and then read the verses in the scriptures attached to the hymn.

Scripture Study with LDS Hymns

6. Write a talk even though you aren’t speaking in Church

You don’t have to be called by a member of the Bishopric to write a talk or to prepare a lesson, just do one for fun! Pick a topic that you want to learn more about, and act like you’re giving a talk on Sunday. Work on it for your scripture study each day that week. Find inspirational stories and quotes to go along with it, and have it all ready to go. Who knows, it might just come in handy!

Tip: Did you know LDS Scriptures App for iPhone and iPad has a “Lesson Builder” for creating lessons right inside the app? Add scriptures, notes, videos, and more! It’s really handy!

7. Pick 3 people you know and find a scripture for each of them

Think of 3 people you know that could benefit from a scripture and words of encouragement from you. Find each of them a scripture that you think they would benefit from, then tell it to them or send it to them by email or text. You will be amazed at the blessings and experiences that can come from doing something as simple as this, for both you and them.

8. Read the Book of Mormon chronologically (instead of cover to cover)

Using this link to the Book of Mormon Chronology Chart, you can read the Book of Mormon chronologically instead of cover to cover. The links don’t cover the entire Book of Mormon, but it’s a great way to go through The Book of Mormon based on the timing of the actual events. You will start off in Ether and then of course finish up in Moroni.

9. Pick a person in the Scriptures and do a mini Biography report on them

Remember doing a biography on famous people like George Washington or Rosa Parks when you were younger? Time for a new assignment! Pick someone in the scriptures for your biography, and find out as much as you can about them. Break it up into sections on different aspects of their life (where were they from, who were their parents, what was life like, etc.), answer questions people might commonly ask about them, and include famous quotes (or verses!) from them.

10. Visit Mormon.org and study Values, Beliefs, and FAQ

The website Mormon.org is different from LDS.org in that it is geared towards non-members. But that doesn’t mean you can’t read it too! The sections on Values, Beliefs, and FAQ are filled with interesting narratives, verses of scripture, questions and answers, and videos on various topics. Study the verses referenced in the content as you go along.

11. Write a journal entry, blog post, or social media post about your scripture study

Writing is therapeutic, and also is a great teacher. Turn your scripture study into a writing session by writing a journal entry, a blog post, or a social media post (Facebook or Google+ let you write the longest). Choose a title, open with something to draw in a reader, and dig into what came out of your scripture study.

12. Use Preach My Gospel to guide your study

One of the greatest scriptural resources the Church has created is Preach My Gospel. While it was primarily designed for missionaries, Preach My Gospel is an excellent source of doctrine and scriptures. Pick a lesson and study with your scriptures in hand, reading the full context of the referenced verses.