Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Angels

Doctrine & Covenants 129

As I was preparing for a Relief Society lesson last week, I was reminded of a talk on angels given by Elder Holland. He had this to say:

"From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children. . . .

"As Mormon said to his son Moroni, who would one day be an angel: “Has the day of miracles ceased? “Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? “Behold I say unto you, Nay; for … it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men. … “For behold, they are subject unto [Christ], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.” (Moroni 7)

"Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.
. . . We are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. . . . Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind.

(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, general conference October 2008)

I decided that a lesson on angels would be perfect for the Christmas season. Here's another quote I found:

"Miracles during [the] Christmas season require our faith and works. As we sing the hymns of Christmas and speak of angels sent to earth to witness the Savior’s birth in the meridian of time, may we rise to the occasion and minister to those in need in our day. . . .

"I bear witness that Christmas is a season for angels. As they ministered to the Savior and others in the “meridian of time,” may we, as angels of mercy, minister to other families and to those in need in the “fulness of times” so that the Lord’s work may move forward.

(Elder Merrill J. Bateman, Ensign, December 2007)
So, I thought it was quite appropriate to re-read section 129 this week later this week and be reminded of the role of angels in our lives.

A Voice of Gladness

Doctrine & Covenants 127-128

Sister Menlove, when she was serving as General Primary President, used the ending verses of these sections as a reminder to share the "voice of gladness" with others, particularly our children. The gospel really is the good news, and we should be excited about it. And one of the things that we should be excited about is that the sealing power has been restored and we have the opportunity to do temple work for our deceased ancestors, forming that eternal chain to bind us all to each other. It will take deligence and perseverance and patience, but it's exciting work.

Take Especial Care of Your Family

Doctrine & Covenants 125-126

I love these two short sections, one with a reminder to just be obedient and follow the Lord by following his prophet, and the other explaining a blessing Brigham Young received because he did just that. Am I laboring diligently enough that my offering is acceptable to the Lord?

A Delightful Habitation

Doctrine & Covenants 124

Isn't this a beautiful description of an ideal home? - "Let it be a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveler, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion" (D&C 124:60). Actually it's a description of an inn the saints were to build in Nauvoo, but I think "a delightful habitation for the weary" is what I want my home to be.

This is a long section, with a lot of information, particularly about the priesthood, and other people of done a great job of explaining it. Go here to see what the institute manual has to say.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Adversity

Doctrine & Covenants 121-123

These first two sections are fairly well known, and they've been quoted a lot in the recent general conferences. But I think Section 123 isn't as well-known. It contains, however, what I think might be my favorite phrase in the scriptures - "whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions." Don't you love all those big words!!

It also contains the reminder that little things make great differences (a small helm moves a large ship) and that we should attend to things "with great earnestness" and "cheerfully do all things that lie in our power."

Whenever I'm struggling with that precept, I try to remember President Eyring's counsel from the October 2005 general conference:

"So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage."

And he said basically the same thing the year before: "But the test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tithing

Doctrine & Covenants 119-120
Tithing

These are the sections you turn to when it's time to teach a lesson on tithing. And we've all had dozens, if not hundreds, of those lessons, haven't we? So, even though I'm not a great story teller, I thought I'd share a couple of personal experiences/memories about the importance of paying tithing.

As I recall, I started getting allowance when I was 3 years old. I got a whopping 30 cents! And I had three little jars - one for tithing, one for savings, and one for spending. Tithing and savings were 10% each and I got to spend the rest. So, first of all, I'm thankful that my parents taught me well right from the start and paying tithing became a habit.

Habits are good, but everyone needs to have a testimony of gospel principles as well. I can't remember a specific time when I gained that testimony, but I do remember recognizing an obvious blessing, which certainly strengthened my testimony. We had been married about a year when we had an unexpected car repair of $50. As we were trying to figure out how to pay for it, one of the options was to postpone our tithing, yet we knew that was not the correct choice, and we decided to cut corners elsewhere. Right after we paid our tithing, we received a belated wedding check for $50. What a miracle!

Several years later we became friends with an older, single sister who had just joined the church. I was amazed at her faithfulness to keep this commandment. She was living paycheck to paycheck and didn't have a lot, yet she was determined to pay her tithing. She even made arrangements with her landlord to pay her rent weekly instead of monthly so that her cash flow would work better. I could see the sacrifices she made, but they were all worth it to her. Her goal was to be temple worthy, and she accomplished it.

One last story (there really are a lot more) is really our son's story. The summer after high school he worked hard, and just before he left for college, he put together a budget. After going over it, he noticed that if he didn't pay his tithing, there would be exactly enough money to last for two semesters. If he did, he'd have to get creative and probably find a part-time job during the school year. He chose to pay his tithing. Then, just a couple of days later, he received notification of a scholarship - for the exact amount of his tithing check.

As President Hinckley was fond of saying, it doesn't take money to pay tithing, it takes faith. I know that's true. And I also know that "faith precedes the miracle" and that the Lord's blessings are predicated upon obedience to his commandments.

A Favorite Story

Doctrine & Covenants 118
The Apostles and Far West

So, it's taken me nine months to "catch up" with Michelle, but I'm making progress, and this week I read D&C 118. And it contains one of my favorite church history stories. I've already written about it here, so that saves me some time this month!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"I Know Thy Heart"

Doctrine & Covenants 112-117

Isn't it great to know that, just like the early members of the church, Jesus Christ knows us individually? Here are some phrases that give me hope in the midst of my challenges:

"I have heard thy prayers." (D&C 112:1, and more)
"All thy sins are forgiven thee." (D&C 112:3)
"Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (D&C 112:10)
"An effectual [which means energetic and efficient] door shall be opened unto you." (D&C 112:19)
"Trouble not yourselves." (D&C 112:27)
"Be faithful until I come." (D&C 112:34)
"To put on her [Zion's] strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood." (D&C 113:8)
"Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations." (D&C 115:5)

There's a really neat "end of the story" to section 117 and Oliver Granger, where he is promised that "his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever." President Packer gave a talk on this in October 2004 and reminded us that we will fail, but that as long as we remain true and faithful, that's okay. He said, "Let no one underestimate the power of faith in the ordinary Latter-day Saints." That promise also gives me great hope.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Treasures

Doctrine & Covenants 111

Be sure you read the introduction before reading this section, because the background history is important, but I like the thought that the Lord is "not displeased" with us even when we try something that backfires. I do that a lot. And we don't always recognize where true treasure lies.
This morning I read an old Christmas message where President Monson mentions that each December he reads three "books" - Luke (in the Bible), "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and "The Mansion" by Henry van Dyke. I hadn't heard of the last one, so I went searching and found it online here. It's a nice reminder of where our treasure should be.

Elijah

Doctrine & Covenants 110

This is the section that records the marvelous vision Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery witnessed after the Kirtland Temple Dedication. I always find it fascinating that the Lord timed it so that Elijah came to bestow the sealing power of the priesthood on the exact day that Jews set a place for him at their Passover Seder, anxiously awaiting his arrival to herald the coming of the Messiah. Elijah did come in 1836 to fulfill that prophecy from Malachi, but he came to the Kirtland Temple.

Another thing that helps me understand this section a little bit better is to correlate it to the three-fold mission of the church. The "gathering of Israel" is "proclaim the gospel," the "gospel of Abraham" relates to his patriarchal responsibility to strengthen families and is "perfect the Saints," and Elijah's "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children" is "redeem the dead."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Kirtland Temple

Doctrine & Covenants 109
This section contains the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple. I love the promised blessings, and the reminder to make our homes as temples - houses of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, and God. Did you know that you can find the dedicatory prayers of ALL the temples online? Go to the LDS Temples website and click on the individual temple and you'll find the link on the left. Here's a sample:

Orlando Florida Temple - Dedicatory Prayer
Dedicated 9–11 October 1994 by Howard W. Hunter

O God, Our Eternal Father, thou Great Elohim, we bow our heads before thee in reverence and love. We are met to dedicate this thy holy house.

We thank thee for this beautiful structure, and for the purposes for which it has been built. We thank thee for the eternal priesthood restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, which will be exercised herein. We thank thee, above all, for the atonement of thy Beloved Son through whose sacrifice salvation and eternal life are made possible. We thank thee for the ordinances of this house which will be administered in behalf of the dead as well as the living. We thank thee for the great vicarious work which will be carried on within these premises.

Father in Heaven, we note the beauty of this thy temple, and thank thee for the consecrations of thy faithful people throughout the world which have made possible this sacred house of peace and divine love.

Now, acting in the authority of the Holy Priesthood which has come from thee, and in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, we dedicate this the Orlando Florida Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We dedicate it as thy house and the house of thy Beloved Son, and pray that thou wilt accept it as the consecrated gift of thy people. We pray that it may be acceptable unto thee and unto Him, and that thy Holy Spirit may hallow it at all times. We dedicate the structure from the footings to the statue of Moroni which crowns its steeple. We dedicate all of its facilities, including the dressing rooms, the fixtures and appointments for the washing and anointing ordinances, the endowment rooms, the beautiful celestial room, and the sealing rooms with their sacred altars where under the authority of the Holy Priesthood there will be bound in the heavens that which is bound upon the earth. We dedicate the grounds on which this temple stands with the vegetation growing thereon—the trees, the flowers, the shrubs, the lawns.

We pray that thy watch-care will be over this thy sacred house. Preserve it by thy strong arm from storm and tempest, and above all from the defiling hand of man. To all who look upon it, including those who reside in this area, may it ever present a picture of peace and beauty, a structure partaking of thy divine nature.

Bless all who shall enter its portals that they may come with clean hands and pure hearts, setting aside the cares of the world as they engage in the sacred service to be performed herein. Grant unto them a greater understanding of things divine and things eternal. Bless them with joy in the service which they give. May the generations of the families of thy sons and daughters be joined in unbroken linkage that thy divine purposes may be brought to pass concerning the immortality and eternal life of thy children. We pray that all who covenant with thee in the sacred endowment service will stand ever true to their promises.

Bless the youth who will be baptized for the dead. May this sacred service instill in their minds a greater understanding of thy divine plan, and a stronger resolution to live worthy of every blessing which eventually may become available to them in this thy holy house.

May those who come to be sealed in marriage kneel at these sacred altars and resolve within their hearts to be ever true and faithful, that the sacred relationships here solemnized may continue with happiness throughout all eternity. May the spirit of the prophet Elijah rest upon thy people that the hearts of the children may turn to their fathers that the earth shall not be wasted, and that thy divine will may be brought to pass for the blessing of thy sons and daughters of all generations.

Our Beloved Father, we pray for all who have responsibility in thy kingdom, including the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the Seventy, the Bishopric, and for all who serve in any capacity throughout the world. May all be faithful and true and work with a spirit of love and dedication. Prosper thy faithful Saints in their temporal affairs. Bless them in their homes and in their hearts with peace and gladness. May they walk in thy divine favor as they walk the paths which thou hast marked for them.

We ask it all, Beloved Father, as thy thankful sons and daughters, and on this day of dedication, we dedicate ourselves anew to thy service through service to our fellow men, both the living and the dead, in the name of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lyman Sherman

Doctrine & Covenants 108

This section is given to an individual, Lyman Sherman, but as usual it contains counsel and advice that is applicable to all of us. We learn what it takes to be forgiven of our sins - obedience in coming to church to receive counsel from our leaders, and patience in keeping our covenants. We also have a responsibility to strengthen others in everything we say (including our prayers) and do. And when we do that, the Lord is able to bless us in return.

Priesthood

Doctrine & Covenants 107

When you have questions about the priesthood, this is the section to turn to. Just a couple of quick summaries:

  • The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency and administers in spiritual things.
  • The Aaronic Priesthood is an appendage and ministers in outward ordinances. These include baptism and the sacrament.
  • Priesthood leaders work in unity and need to be upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of others.

We're taught some of the fruits or gifts of the Spirit in verse 30 - righteousness, holiness, humility, meekness, patience, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, godliness, kindness and charity.

This section also teaches a bit about the patriarchal order and that God's plan includes fathers passing blessings on to their children.

It ends with the reminder to work hard and be diligent. Priesthood means service. Service means work, but what a glorious work it is.

Children of Light

Doctrine & Covenants 105-106

It takes work ("gird up your loins") to become the "children of light" (D&C 106:5). And in section 105 we're giving some encouragement to help us do that.

10 - be prepared, have experience, know duty
11 - attend the temple
18 - hearken to God's words
23 - be faithful, prayerful and humble
24 - gather together
31 - become sanctified
37 - "inasmuch as they follow the counsel which they receive, they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things"

So, don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get to work. The blessings that follow righteousness are incredible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stewardships

Doctrine & Covenants 104

This section starts off with another promise of "multiplicity of blessings" if only we'll be faithful and obedient. I love that phrase!

When I was in seminary, one of our scripture masteries was found in verses 15-17. It brings me great peace to know that "the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare." It's probably not going to be effective in a debate with those who are adamant about the need for population control, yet it is effective in sharing with our children so they don't have to be concerned as they are bombarded with such teachings in school. (Someone's taking Environmental Science right now and the text book is definitely biased.) Heavenly Father knows what he's doing.

Stewardship and accountability are important in the Lord's plan. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and our families, yet we also need to remember that everything we have belongs to God ("if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards" vs. 56). We have been admonished to be wise and improve the talents we have been given, and then to share them with others. I liked the idea that we don't hold onto things - "cast into the treasury as fast as you receive moneys" (vs. 68). That's a scripture we can use to motivate us to pay our tithing frequently, and not save it up for the end of the year!
Remember how we can find answers to everything in the scriptures? Here's one for financial management: "Behold, it is my will that you shall pay all your debts" (vs. 78). Yet we're not left without guidance in this matter, we will be able to pay our debts as we exercise diligence, humility, prayer, and faith (see verses 79-80).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

100% Obedience

Doctrine & Covenants 103

We have here another reminder of the importance of 100% obedience. The early saints were "chastened for a little season" because they did not "hearken altogether" and keep the commandments they had received. We need to remember that Heavenly Father wants to bless us, but he can't when we're being disobedient.

"All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith" (D&C 103:36).

The High Council

Doctrine & Covenants 102

While this section is really a revelation on how to form a high council, it also contains an excellent example of how you can find the answer to anything in the scriptures.

A few years ago I had a church calling that included collecting monthly reports from several people. Some were more prompt than others in that responsibility. It was exciting to discover a motivational tool for those that struggled. In verse 26 it states to "transmit, immediately, a copy of their proceedings" which is exactly what was supposed to happen. It's been too long to remember if this scripture really helped me get attendance rolls more promptly, but I do remember being grateful that it wasn't just me asking for reports, that it's actually a commandment in the scriptures.

This isn't just for high councils or seminary classes. Oftentimes a meeting isn't really over until the results of that meeting have been communicated to those who need to know. And it's always better to do it immediately!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Overcoming Adversity

Doctrine & Covenants 98-101

These sections were given during times of great trial and adversity. They are still very pertinent to our lives now! Here are some ideas to help us as we deal with our challenges:
  • Fear not (98:1)
  • Rejoice evermore (98:1, 100:12)
  • Give thanks (98:1)
  • Be patient (98:2)
  • Renounce war and proclaim peace (98:15, 34)
  • Repent (98:21)
  • Revile not, neither seek revenge (98:23)
  • Family comes first (99:6)
  • The Spirit can guide us (100:6)
  • If we won't endure chastening, we can't be sanctified (101:5)
  • Be still and know that God is God (101:16)
  • Stand in holy places (101:22)
  • Our prayers are answered (101:27)
  • See the face of the Lord always (101:38)
  • Prepare in advance for trials (101:72)
Remember "all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good" (98:3, 100:15).

The Pure in Heart

Doctrine & Covenants 97

I've gotten a lot of use out of this section recently, because that's where the bookmark's been for a while! I love the beginning phrase - "my friends" - isn't it great that the Savior considers us his friends? And he reminds us that it is through his Spirit that we can know his will concerning others. That's been a comforting thought as I struggle to fulfill my church calling. Another comforting thought is found in verse 8:

"All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice - yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command - they are accepted of me."

I have notes by verse 4 reminding me of Elder Holland's "Abide in Me" talk. We need to "be permanent" in the gospel and remember that "He who picks up one end of the stick, picks up the other." Let's keep the promises we've made to ourself and our Heavenly Father.

Finally, we're reminded that Zion is the pure in heart, that the pure in heart shall see God, and that Zion shall escape the Lord's wrath "if she observe to do all things whatsovever I have commanded her."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Quickly I'll Obey"

Doctrine & Covenants 94-96

Remember the children's song? "When my mother calls me, quickly I'll obey, for mother knows just what is best each and every day." I just discovered it's been changed! And I guess it's for the better.

Quickly I'll Obey

When my mother calls me,
Quickly I'll obey.
I want to do just what is best
Each and every day.

When my father calls me,
Quickly I'll obey.
I want to do just what is best
Each and every day.

Heavenly Father loves me.
Blesses me each day.
I want to do just what is best
Each and every day.

Anyway, in section 94 the saints in Kirtland are given the assignment to start building the temple. In section 95 they're rebuked because they hadn't started yet. There's less than a month between the two revelations! When the Lord asks us to do something, we better do it - right away, promptly, and without delay. To their credit, the foundation was started just a couple of days after the second revelation. They did "take heed that ye see to this matter" (D&C 96:4). And I should diligenty take heed to accomplish the matters I've been assigned.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Light and Truth

Doctrine & Covenants 93

Here's another section that is so full of instruction and insights that it would be impossible to even scratch the surface in a little blog post. However, I guess I can write something to share a few things I've learned.

Verse 1 is one of Wayne's favorite scriptures: "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am." Prayer, repentance, obedience - the steps to knowing God are outlined for us so simply, aren't they?

Our family home evening lesson a couple of weeks ago (the best one ever) was on intelligence, and we read and discussed verse 29: "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be." That was a wonderful discussion. And then just a few days after that I was flipping through an old Ensign and found a terrific article by President Eyring. After quoting D&C 93:28 ("He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light."), he noted that we need to build our lives on a sure foundation of truth. As we learn of Christ and obey his teachings, we gain even more truth and light and knowledge. The key is obedience.

I like this quote from that talk: "You will notice that the work is simple obedience. It is not complicated things; it is not fancy things or getting great spiritual manifestations. This is work within the abilities of the most humble and the least educated."

Verse 31 reminds us that we have our agency. We can choose to accept light and truth, and thereby gain even more, or we can choose to ignore it. We also have a responsibility to teach these things to our children (verse 40), in fact, it's a commandment. And that's the best way to prepare them for their futures, and ours as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Work and Live

Doctrine & Covenants 90-92

One of my favorite phrases in the Doctrine & Covenants is found in one of the shortest sections - 92:2 - "You shall be a lively member." Isn't there a lot of meaning in that? Am I really a living, lively member, and not a dead, lifeless one? Am I doing my part to bring life and success to the kingdom of God? For some reason the phrase strikes me as being just a touch silly, which makes me want to ponder it more, and that's a good thing.

President Howard W. Hunter taught: "To answer affirmatively the question, 'Am I a living member?' confirms our commitment. It means that we now and always will love God and our neighbors as ourselves. It means our actions will reflect who we are and what we believe. It means that we are every day Christians, walking as Christ would have us walk."

And in Section 90 we learn some additional things that we need to do to be a contributing member of the church and of society -
  • set things in order
  • study and learn
  • search diligently
  • pray always
  • be believing
  • look for the good in all things
  • stay away from pride
  • "keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you"

And so now I guess I should go clean the bathrooms, wash the dishes, and vacuum the floors!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Power Phrases

Jeff requested a list of the power phrases we used in seminary as a tool to help the students discover principles and doctrines on their own. I thought it might be a good idea to post them here so others can find them as well. As teachers we'd assign a short scripture block to each student or pair of students. Then they had to pick one of these statements and share with the class. It led to some terrific discussions. They really work, because even if the student didn't understand anything, they could fall back on #3.

POWER PHRASES
  1. I want to make a comment on this verse.
  2. I have a question about that scripture.
  3. I don't understand that verse.
  4. Look! I found a principle.
  5. Hey, look down. There's a helpful footnote.
  6. There's a scripture mastery verse that goes with that.
  7. I want to bear testimony about the principle in that verse.
  8. I know another scripture that goes with that verse.
  9. I just had an epiphany.
  10. That scripture makes me feel good because __________.

One day we brainstormed some additional "power phrases" and when I find that list, I'll add them. In the meantime, feel free to add to the list yourself!

The Word of Wisdom

Doctrine & Covenants 89

What could I say that hasn't already been said hundreds of times before? Probably nothing, but I know obeying the Word of Wisdom brings great blessings. I love that it's "adapted to the capacity of the weak" and that we're to use everything with "prudence and thanksgiving."

Some may wonder why the Word of Wisdom isn't more detailed or explicit. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: The Lord has not given a revelation forbidding use of such harmful drugs as cocaine, LSD, hashish, marijuana, and others, because "such revelation is unnecessary. The Word of Wisdom is a basic law. It points the way and gives us ample instruction in regard to both food and drink, good for the body and also detrimental. If we sincerely follow what is written with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, we need no further counsel. . . . Thus by keeping the commandment we are promised inspiration and the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord through which we will know what is good and what is bad for the body, without the Lord presenting us with a detailed list separating the good things from the bad that we may be protected. We will elarn by this faithful observance that the promises of the Lord are fulfilled" (Improvement Era, Feb. 1956, pp. 78-79).

It's actually a good thing that it's not more explicit. In the 50 years since President Smith made that statement, many more "bad" things have come on the scene. We just need to use some common sense, and listen to the Spirit, and we'll be able to obey the principles of the Word of Wisdom.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Olive Leaf

Doctrine & Covenants 88


This section, given during a time of turmoil for the saints, was entitled "The Olive Leaf" and so I thought I'd share some of the peaceful and comforting parts of it.

First of all, Jesus Christ is the light of truth. This light is in all things and "is the law by which all things are governed." We can have confidence that God is in charge.

Next we have the promise of the resurrection, and the knowledge that if we're worthy we can return to the presence of Heavenly Father and live on this earth forever, in a magnificent, glorified state. God understands everything. All we have to do is follow his laws, just as the earth and planets do, and someday we'll be able to understand as well.

"Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you." "He that seeketh me early shall find me." God keeps his promises.

We don't have to do things alone - "teach one another," "seek learning," "that all may be edified of all" - we're all working together.

I have the ability to establish a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, God. It's comforting to know that praying comes before cleaning! Yet I need to have a house of order in order to have a house of God. That's strong motivation for me.

Lastly, charity is the bond of perfectness and peace. (See Colossians 3:14-15.) As I strive to become more Christlike by developing charity, I can find peace.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stand in Holy Places

Doctrine & Covenants 87

After prophesying about the "War between the States," Joseph Smith says, "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved." I just love that reminder. We can find holy places in several locations, the most important of which is our home. To me, having our hearts are "fixed and established" on the Savior and his gospel means we're standing in holy places. (See also Psalm 15:5 and 112:6.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Importance of Genealogy

Doctrine & Covenants 85-86

Section 85 talks about the inheritance of "the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God." I want my name in that book!

It continually amazes me, although it shouldn't, how relevant the scriptures can be to our daily lives. Tomorrow is our stake's Spirit of Elijah Day and we're going to spend all day in the temple doing work for our own families. Reading this section helped remind me of the importance of that.

Verse 6 also has a wonderful definition of the Holy Ghost: "the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake."

Section 86 continues the theme with a reminder of the parable of the wheat and the tares, and our responsibility to be a "light unto the Gentiles" and "a savior unto my people Israel."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A New Beginning

Doctrine & Covenants 84
The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

I took my scriptures on vacation, but not my computer. And now I know why it's taken so long to get back to this - section 84 is LONG. However, so I don't procrastinate any longer, here are just a few of my favorite phrases from this section:

verse 1: "united their hearts and lifted their voices" - Working together, whether as a family or ward or any other group, causes great things to happen.

verse 19: "key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God" - We had an interesting discussion on this a couple of months ago. We had always interpreted "knowledge of God" as knowing about God. However, it can also mean knowing what God knows. Isn't that a cool concept? (See D&C 107:19.)

verse 33: "renewing of their bodies" - Seeing how elderly prophets and apostles can continue to work hard is a testimony of this principle. But it can also be seen in our own lives.

verse 77: "I shall call you friends" - Who could be a better friend than Jesus?

verses 79-85: wonderful missionary blessings and promises!

verse 112: "searching after the poor" - We were reminded of this in our last Welfare Meeting. It's not enough to just take care of the poor and needy who show up at our door, we should be looking for those who need our love and help.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A New Quote

Today in Relief Society we had the lesson from the Joseph Smith manual on temple ordinances and blessings. The teacher shared that she wondered why Joseph Smith was killed before the Nauvoo Temple was completed, particularly since it was so vital to him that the saints sacrifice and work to accomplish that task. She came across the answer in a quote by Wilford Woodruff that I had never heard and yet is just perfect. So, I thought I'd share it just in case someone else had wondered the same thing.

"I used to have peculiar feelings about his [Joseph Smith's] death and the way in which his life was taken. I felt that if, with the consent and good feelings of the brethren that waited on him after he crossed the river to leave Nauvoo, Joseph could have had his desire, he would have pioneered the way to the Rocky Mountains But since then I have been fully reconciled to the fact that it was according to the program, that it was required of him, as the head of this dispensation, that he should seal his testimony with his blood, and go hence to the spirit world, holding the keys of this dispensation, to open up the mission that is now being performed by way of preaching the gospel to the 'spirits in prison.'"—Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 24:54, January 27, 1883.

Joseph Smith had accomplished everything he was sent to earth to do, and the spirits in prison were waiting for him to bring light and knowledge to them. They needed to be prepared to accept the ordinances that those on earth would do for them when the temple was completed. So, Heavenly Father allowed Joseph and Hyrum to be martyred. Isn't that a wonderful testimony of the love of God for ALL of his children?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Responsibilities and Stewardships

Doctrine & Covenants 82-83

We all have responsibilities.  It's good to be reminded of them occasionally.  And we need to remember that the more we know we ought to be doing, the more we'll be held accountable for actually doing it!  

Here is some wisdom from God: "You are to be equal."  He goes on to explain that this is for the benefit of the "church of the living God" and also for our own benefit, "that every man may improve upon his talent."  We are to be seeking the interest of our neighbors and doing everything with an "eye single to the glory of God."  Thinking of it that way seems to make it feel a bit easier.  We don't want our children to be in need.  Heavenly Father doesn't want his children to be in need.  And, at least while we're here on earth, he needs our help, particularly with widows and orphans.

Advice

Doctrine & Covenants 79-81

Advice for missionaries (and all of us):

Proclaim glad tidings of great joy.
The Comforter teaches truth and shows us the way to go.
Let your heart be glad.
Succor the weak; lift up the hands which hang down, strengthen the feeble knees.
Promote the glory of God.

And then the blessing that comes from obedience: "And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and aeternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Equality and Unity

Doctrine & Covenants 78

This section contains one of our family's favorite promises:
"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more" (D&C 78:19).


Part of the commandment to be equal in earthly things is to prepare us to be equal in heavenly things. If we can't get along and share with each other here and now, how are we going to feel about doing it forever? So, I appreciate this reminder to prepare. I guess this commandment also deals with helping us overcome feelings of selfishness. I'm working on that, and it's hard, isn't it? However, I've learned that as we develop charity for others, we want to have more so that we can share more. And that's what the Lord wants for us as well.

Revelation

Doctrine & Covenants 77

This section is a compilation of question about Revelation answered by the Prophet Joseph Smith through revelation. I learned something new when I substituted in seminary a while ago. For some reason I thought the "beasts" in John's vision (Revelation 4:6) had a negative connotation and I struggled with that. However, they really don't. They represent the highest and most majestic in each class - the lion of wild animals, the calf (or ox) of domesticated animals, the eagle of birds, and man. (Unfortunately, I was reading a lot of material, and I couldn't find the exact resource when I realized that this was something I wanted to remember.) And each of these "beasts" - the best of the best - worshipped God. What do we learn from that?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Delight to Honor"

Doctrine & Covenants 76


Last week I attended my first Sunday School lesson in years, and was reminded of the wonderful things found in this section. What do you first think of when you hear the words Section 76? We asked that question in family night last night and the first answer was "He lives!" - referring to the scripture mastery found in verses 22-24. The second answer was a long spiel from Jeff (I wish I could remember it all!) that basically meant "the three degrees of glory." Are those the answers you came up with?


However, our lesson was on verses 5-10. When was the last time you looked at these marvelous promises?


"For thus saith the Lord - I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

"Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

"And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

"Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

"And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

"For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will - yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, not yet entered into the heart of man."


Of course, there are some things we need to do in order to deserve these blessings, but they're things we should be doing anyway. Wayne cross-referenced these verses to one of his favorite ones: D&C 93:1 -


"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."


We defined those five phrases to include repentance, change of heart, baptism, attending church, prayer, reading scriptures, following the prophet, listening to the Holy Ghost - and then doing all the things we learn.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Stewardships and Missionaries

Doctrine & Covenants 70 - 75

70: Ideally we should all be equal in temporal things - "none are exempt" - and we should reach this state ungrudgingly! This commandment was given as a reward for diligence and faithfulness. That's something interesting to ponder.

71: We are to open our mouths in porclaiming the gospel. If we keep the commandments, "no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper."

72: The Lord requires accountability for our stewardships. Those that are faithful and wise won't shirk from this requirement.

73: "Gird up your loins and be sober."

74: "Little children are holy."

75: The Lord expects us to labor in his kingdom. We are also to take care of and provide for our families. If we are faithful and diligent in these responsibilities, we have his promise that he will always be with us. We can be "filled with joy and gladness."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Record Keeping

Doctrine & Covenants 69

We are to make a history of all important things - "writing, copying, selecting and obtaining all things which shall be for the good of the rising generations."

And another thought from President Kimball:  "A word about personal journals and records: We urge every person in the Church to keep a diary or a journal from youth up, all through his life. Would every family, as they now hold their home evenings, train their children from young childhood to keep a journal of the important activities of their lives, and certainly when they begin to leave home for schooling and missions?"

Thoughts from President Kimball

Doctrine & Covenants 67-68
Fear, Faith, Prayer and Children

Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  Sometimes we don't realize that because of the fear we have in our hearts.  If we "strip" ourselves of jealousies and fears, and practice humility and patience, it will be easier for us to recognize God's hand in our lives.  And we have a responsibility to teach these principles (along with faith, repentance, baptism, and obedience) to our children.

I found an incredible talk by President Spencer W. Kimball, given in the April 1973 general conference.  It's just filled with memorable, helpful phrases:

“Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” 

“If your knees are knocking, kneel on them.” 

"Preparation comes from infancy and childhood training, when faith is born and character established. It is a bit late to try to build faith when the ship is sinking or the plane is falling or the head-on collision is certain."

“Courage is said to be fear that has said its prayers.” 

"Security is not born of inexhaustible wealth but of unquenchable faith. And generally that kind of faith is born and nurtured in the home and in childhood." 

"Prayer is the passport to spiritual power."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cumbered

Doctrine & Covenants 66
"Seek not to be cumbered"

cum·ber, cum·bered, cum·ber·ing, cum·bers
verb:
To weigh down; burden: was cumbered with many duties.
To hamper or hinder, as by being in the way: was cumbered with a long poncho.
To litter; clutter up: Weeds cumbered the garden paths.
Archaic - To bother; distress.
noun:
A hindrance; an encumbrance.
from : Middle English combren, to annoy, from Old French combrer, from combre, hindrance,

I'm intrigued by this word and what it means, maybe because I have a great tendency to cumber up my life. Here are some quotes that help me as I strive to put my priorities in better order. (The Mary and Martha story is found in Luke 10.)

On one occasion Martha was making dinner and, as the scripture says, “was cumbered about much serving.” In other words, she was stressed out! Mary, on the other hand, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word,” while Martha became increasingly upset that no one was helping her. Does that sound familiar? Do you think she was thinking, “Why is Mary sitting there while I’m sweating over this stove?” So Martha turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” The Lord’s gentle invitation to Martha may have surprised her. “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” The Savior’s response strikingly clarified what mattered most. On that evening in Martha’s home, the good part was not in the kitchen; it was at the Lord’s feet. Dinner could wait.
Bonnie D. Parkin

Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources. We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was “cumbered about much serving," her sister, Mary, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing but taught her that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” It was praiseworthy for Martha to be “careful and troubled about many things”, but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more “needful.” The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others.
Dallin H. Oaks

How are we “cumbered” today? Are household tasks a hindrance and burdensome? Are we disorganized, frustrated, overstressed? Are we victims of crises, reacting to pressures of time and circumstance rather than acting to control them? And, conversely, are we so involved with learning or outside interests that we do not honor our domestic responsibilities? There are times when the work must be done. But it can be done with a positive attitude and without martyrlike complaining. There is a principle to be learned here. Obviously, Martha felt anxiety. Was she placing more emphasis on the food than on the person she would serve? Elder Neal A. Maxwell observes: “The conversation that night was eternal; the calories were not. When we get filled with Martha-like anxiety, it usually stems from failure to establish proper priorities.”
Evelyn T. Marshall (This whole article was excellent with a lot of good insights; it was difficult choosing just one paragraph!)

A couple more links--
Wisdom and Order by Neal A. Maxwell
The Stresses of Life by Lili De Hoyos Anderson
The Needful Thing by Ben H. Dorsey III

Final side note from verse 11 - Sometimes in order to "magnify our office" we need to "push many people to Zion" but "with songs of everylasting joy upon their heads!"

Repetition is Important

Doctrine & Covenants 64-65
Important Principles

Forgiveness
Repentance
Sacrifice (tithing)
Obedience
Prayer

Remember that little things turn into big things. Be careful. Do we really want to do anything that would offend our lawgiver?

The Word of the Lord

Doctrine & Covenants 63

The early saints had "great anxiety to obtain the word of the Lord upon every subject that in any way concerned [their] salvation." Do I? Do I really search the scriptures often? Do I listen to the words of the living prophets? Do I recognize personal revelation?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Worship

Revelation 4-5

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to teach seminary for a day. They've made it to Revelation and we were able to spend some time discussing some of the symbolism of John's vision. However, the main point of the lesson was the need we have to worship God. In the past I've struggled with what exactly it means to worship. Here are some of the things I've learned that have helped me.

Webster's definition of worship: honor, devotion, respect, reverence
The definition in True to the Faith: "To worship God is to give Him your love, reverence, service, and devotion."


Scripture references from the Topical Guide:
Deuteronomy 10:12 "serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart"
Matthew 2:2 "we have seen his star and are come to worship him"
2 Nephi 25:29 "worship him with all your might, mind and strength"
Alma 33:3 "prayer or worship"
Alma 34:38 "worship God in whatsoever place ye may be"
D&C 93:19 "know how to worship and know what you worship"

Here are a few quotes:

The temple is a place of worship. Reverence is a supernal form of worship. It is the form of worship that is found in the celestial kingdom. . . . True worship of the Lord in His holy house means that we should enhance our temple experience. We can obtain a rich spiritual experience in the temple by doing the following: First, we must leave the world behind as we enter the temple. Second, we must seek to gain added light and knowledge. (Elder L. Lionel Kendrick)

Sacrament meeting is the most important meeting of the week, the one the Lord has commanded us to attend. It’s a time to worship the Savior. What does that mean, to worship? It means to reverently show love and allegiance to him, to think about him, to honor him, to remember his sacrifice for each of us, and to thank him. In sacrament meeting we often do this through prayer, music, talks, scripture, and our testimony. His Spirit should be there. (Elder W. Mack Lawrence)

Worship "is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so. … If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Jan. 1978, p. 5.)

We are to worship God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. (See D&C 4.) We should go to where God is found. We are to worship all of the time and wherever we are, but particularly in church on the Sabbath. Service is a form of worship. Prayer is a form of worship. Singing praises is a form of worship. The more we know God and understand his attributes, the easier it is to worship him.

Agency Again

Doctrine & Covenants 60 - 62
"It mattereth not to me"

One of my vivid recollections as a teenager took place one Saturday (or summer) morning. I was in the kitchen helping my mom when she looked out the window at my sister who was doing something outside. (I think she was raking our dirt driveway.) Mom said, "Oh, that's not the way I said to do it!" She put down her dishtowel and started going outside when she stopped and said, "But the job is getting done." And Mom returned to what she was doing. That made a strong impact on me. My mom was willing to recognize that there is often more than one way to accomplish something. Your way isn't necessarily the only way, or even the best or right way.

Heavenly Father feels the same about many things. He gave the commandment for the missionaries to return to Missouri, but it really didn't matter to him if they went together or in small groups, if they bought a boat or made one themselves, if they walked or took the stage, or even which route they took, as long as they were being righteous and went quickly. The Holy Ghost would be there to guide them if necessary.

More Blessings

Doctrine & Covenants 59

We are blessed when we:
  • have an eye single to the glory of God
  • stand upon the land of Zion
  • obey the gospel
  • are faithful and diligent
  • love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength
  • serve God
  • love our neighbor
  • thank the Lord in all things
  • offer a sacrifice unto God, even a broken heart and a contrite spirit
  • keep the Sabbath day holy, use it for a day of worship
  • confess the hand of God in our lives
  • keep the commandments
  • do works of righteousness
The blessings include the good things of the earth, peace in this life, and eternal life later.

Agency is a Gift

Doctrine & Covenants 58
Blessings from Agency

"After much tribulation come the blessings."
Be obedient and prepare your hearts for that which is to come.
We have the gift of agency and can choose to do good without having to wait for someone to tell us what to do.
We will be held accountable for how we spend our time and the choices we make.
All things are to be done in order.
It's impossible to hide our sins from God.
Those who choose to keep the commandments are "exceedingly blessed even above measure."

Instruction for Today

Doctrine & Covenants 53-57
Instruction for Today

53: 2 - Forsake the world.
54:9 - Seek ye a living like unto men.
54:10 - Be patient in tribulation.
55:4 - Little children need to receive instruction.
56:8 - Repent of pride and selfishness.
56:17 - Rich men should be willing to give to the poor.
56:18 - Poor men should be satisfied with what they have.
57: 6 - Purchases should be done in wisdom and righteousness.
57: 9 - Get the proper licenses.
57:12 - Obtain all that you can in righteousness.
57:14 - Plant yourself with your family in your community.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Know What to Do

Doctrine & Covenants 52
A Pattern from God

We can always know what we should be doing. The key is to be humble, prayerful, and obedient. As we ask for guidance, it comes through the Spirit.

2 Nephi 32:5 (one of my favorite scriptures) -
The Holy Ghost "will show unto you all things what ye should do."

The pattern - given to avoid deception - is:

"He that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.
"He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.
"He that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom."
(D&C 52:14-19)

"Act upon this Land as for Years"

Doctrine & Covenants 51
Faithful Stewards

"I commend to you the revelations of God as the standard by which we must live our lives and by which we must measure every decision and every deed. Accordingly, when you have worries and challenges, face them by turning to the scriptures and the prophets" (President Howard W. Hunter).

I know that this counsel works and just thought I'd share one example. Before we moved here, we lived in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Wayne accepted the job in Clearwater in June 2001 and we put our house on the market. When school started at the end of August, it still hadn't sold. Although Wayne was already working here, he was able to use a company apartment during the week and come home for the weekends. It wasn't ideal, but it was working.

I had made it a practice to volunteer in the school and my biggest concern was whether to do that again for that school year, knowing that as soon as we sold our house I would have to quit. I didn't want to start something I couldn't finish. Yet I had no idea how long the situation would last. It was very probable that we'd spend the whole school year there and then I'd feel badly for not volunteering (and I'd also be pretty bored with nothing to do except keep the house "prospective buyer" ready).

One day as I was reading the scriptures the following phrase jumped out at me - "wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good." (D&C 51:17 - given to the Saints in Kirtland who knew that eventually they would be leaving) So, I joined the school committee and worked in the classrooms and had some great experiences. And, yes, I did have to resign half-way through the school year when we finally moved in February, but it worked out.

You really can find answers to current concerns in the scriptures.

This is just another example of the little miracles you find as you read and study the scriptures. As I prepared my visiting teaching message for April I was reminded of this experience with finding answers in the scriptures. Imagine my delight when I went to re-find the verse (I don't keep the reference memorized, just know that it's somewhere on the right hand page, top right, in the middle of the D&C), and discovered it was at my bookmark, to be read next!

Endure to the End

Doctrine & Covenants 50
part two

A few weeks before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren went to visit him in his home. Before the man left, President Grant prayed, “O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!” Can you imagine President Grant, one of the great prophets of the Restoration, the President of the Church for nearly 27 years, praying that he would keep faithful to the end?No one is immune from Satan’s influence and temptations. Do not be so proud to think that you are beyond the adversary’s influence. Be watchful that you do not fall prey to his deceptions. Stay close to the Lord through daily scripture study and daily prayer. We cannot afford to sit back and take our salvation for granted. We must be anxiously engaged our whole lives. These words of President Brigham Young motivate and remind us that we can never give up the fight to endure: “The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day [for this sacred goal].” (Elder Wirthlin)

Seek the Lord

Doctrine & Covenants 50
Counsel for Today

vs. 3 - "Satan hath sought to deceive you."
vs. 5 - "Blessed are they who are faithful and endure, for they shall inherit eternal life."
vs. 9 - "Let every man beward lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me."
vs. 22 - Teachers preach by the Spirit; students learn by the Spirit; and "both are edified and rejoice together."
vs. 24 - "God is light."
vs. 25 - "Chase darkness from among you."
vs. 29 - "If ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done."
That's a cool promise, but note how it happens:
vs. 30 - because "it shall be given you what you shall ask."
vs. 41 - "Fear not, little children, for you are mine."
vs. 44 - "I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beware of False Prophets

Doctrine & Covenants 49
"is not ordained of God"

Watch out for the wisdom of the world. Those who say you shouldn't marry or eat meat are giving false advice. Marriage is ordained of God. God also ordained animals for the use of man. However, we should be wise and use what has been given prudently.

President Boyd K. Packer taught:

"Young people, learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition, and particularly in medication. Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist.

"For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that 'whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God' (D&C 49:18).

"Another scripture counsels, 'Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated' (D&C 88:124).

"Honor the principle of the Word of Wisdom and you will receive the promised blessings. 'All saints,' the revelation promises, 'who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments,' are promised that they 'shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones' and 'shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint' (D&C 89:18, 20).

"The Word of Wisdom does not promise you perfect health, but it teaches how to keep the body you were born with in the best condition and your mind alert to delicate spiritual promptings."

(Note: Tthis was the same talk with the coach driver story.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson taught:

"I know 'that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.' I know that the earth was created and that the Lord’s Church was restored so that families could be sealed and exalted as eternal entities. And I know that one of Satan’s cunning methods of undermining the work of the Lord is to attack the sacred institutions of marriage and the family.

"Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully."

Good Counsel

Doctrine & Covenants 48
Saving Money

Here's some great advice to us all:
"It must needs be necessary that ye save all the money that ye can, and that ye obtain all that ye can in righteousness." (verse 4)

Journals

Doctrine & Covenants 47
Keep a Regular History

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Our Hearts Knit as One"

I thought Wayne had some great insights in a talk he gave this month, and thought his kids ought to hear them as well. He wrote his talk after reading talks by Elder Christofferson and President Eyring from the October 2008 general conference.
"Picture Zion, if you will, as a large tent. Maybe you picture a circus tent or a large army tent. The tent covers a piece of ground. In like manner, Zion covers portions of the earth. Now to hold the tent in place there are a number of stakes that pull the sides out and secure the tent. Notice that we spell stake, s-t-a-k-e, not s-t-e-a-k. S-t-a-k-e is spelled like tent stake, and I believe it is so for a purpose. Our family was camping one summer in Shenandoah National Park. While we were there a hurricane headed our way. One night it hit us as a tropical storm. The wind was a fierce 45 miles per hour and we had 8 inches of rain. But we were dry and safe inside our tent, in part because we had staked it well and the stakes were firm and secure. Have you ever seen what happens to a tent in a stiff wind when one of the stakes comes out of the ground or is missing? It is not long before the tent is ripped and blown over. In the same way that stakes hold up and protect a tent from the winds of a storm, a stake of Zion, when firm in the ground, holds up and protects Zion. For this reason it is so important to have strong and firm stakes of Zion."

"Leo Tolstoy once wrote in Anna KarĂ©nina, 'All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Now let me connect this truth by scriptures. In 2 Nephi 31:9 and 21 – 'And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.”\' In other words, there is only one way to be happy. In Mosiah 4:29 – 'And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin, for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.' Or, in other words, they who are unhappy, are unhappy in their own way. As we and our families follow the eight simple things* the stake has encouraged us to do, our families will be happy and resemble one another in this pattern of righteousness."

"President Eyring said, 'With unity the Lord will be able to perform what the world will think as miraculous. The saints can accomplish any purpose of the Lord when fully united in righteousness.' I was privileged to taste in a small measure this great promise while I was serving on my mission. I was a member of a small district of 6 missionaries, 3 companionships. We were together for 3 months. There was an incredible sense of unity, love, oneness, righteousness, and selflessness within that little district. There was a great deal of respect for all those in that district. During the 3 months we were together we were privileged to bring into the waters of baptism 179 people. That was a miracle. Because of our love for each other we felt that there was nothing we could not accomplish for the Lord. An interesting sidenote: I couldn’t tell you how many baptisms my companion and I had during those 3 months. I only remember what we accomplished as a district."

"One outward manifestation of unity in a ward is how close together families sit. Are there large gaps in the pews between families? Do people try to sit as far back as possible? While not as easy or evident, family unity can also be gauged or detected in this same way. Are husband and wife sitting next to each other or on opposite ends of the family? Is one child at the end of the row trying to distance themselves from the rest of the family?"

* Brandon Stake 8 Simple Things (to protect our families)
  • family prayer twice a day
  • personal prayer twice a day
  • family meal times
  • family scripture study five times a week
  • daily personal scripture study
  • family home evenings on Mondays & regular family councils
  • family attendance at all Sunday church meetings
  • temple attendance monthly

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26th

Doctrine & Covenants 115, 118
Being Obedient

Michelle just came in to say she read two sections that mention today's date. (She's a little further along in the book than I am.) And that gave me a chance to share one of my favorite church history stories with her. Maybe you're familiar with it.

On April 26, 1838, Joseph Smith received a revelation commanding the saints to start building the temple at Far West in exactly one year. A few months later, the 12 Apostles were told to depart on a mission "over the great waters" on that same date. When these two revelations were given, the saints were living in Far West. However, by the next spring, the saints had been driven out of Missouri and Joseph Smith was a prisoner in Liberty Jail. Here's the story from the seminary student guide:

"As the time drew nigh for the accomplishment of this work, the question arose. “What is to be done?” Here is a revelation commanding the Twelve to be in Far West on the 26th day of April, to lay the cornerstone of the Temple there; it has to be fulfilled. The Missourians had sworn by all the gods of eternity that if every other revelation given through Joseph Smith were fulfilled, that should not be, for the day and date being given they declared that it would fail. The general feeling in the Church, so far as I know, was that, under the circumstances, it was impossible to accomplish the work; and the Lord would accept the will for the deed.’ (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:159.)

“But the Apostles were not to be put off their commanded duty: ‘On the night of April 25, 1839, the little band of apostles with a small company of faithful brethren, high priests, elders and priests, arrived at Far West. Shortly after midnight, on the morning of April 26th, they assembled on the temple lot in Far West, and there they held a conference.’ (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, pp. 196–97.)"

After singing, praying, setting apart new apostles, and laying the cornerstone, Brigham Young and his brethren safely left for their mission to England.

When the Lord asks us to do something, if we have faith, we can accomplish it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gifts of the Spirit

Doctrine & Covenants 46

I love this quote by Elder Marvin J. Ashton (October 1987 general conference):

"Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important:

"The gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bering a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Favorite Phrases

Doctrine & Covanants 45

Here are some of the phrases that I like:

vs. 32 - "My disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved."
vs. 35 - "Be not troubled."
vs. 44 - "They shall look for me, and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off."
vs. 49 - "They that have laughed shall see their folly."
vs. 55 - "Satan shall be bound" because no one will let him in their hearts.
vs. 58 - "Their children shall grow up."
vs. 62 - "Great things await you."
vs. 66 - "The New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of regufe, a place of safety for the saints."

And one thought, from verse 70: The wicked are really afraid of the righteous. They know it takes great strength to go against the majority and so they are envious of others' convictions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Assemble

Doctrine & Covenants 44
Meeting Together

One of the blessings of meeting together is that as we unite in faith, the Lord can pour out his Spirit upon us. One of our favorite scriptural accounts of this is found in Acts 12 where the united prayers of the Church help Peter escape from prison.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Humor in the Scriptures

Doctrine & Covenants 43
Funny Phrase

For some reason I just found this humorous. Maybe you will too.

vs. 18 - "Ye saints arise and live; ye sinners stay and sleep."

(That night we were reading in the Old Testament and all got a giggle out of the name Zeboim - Nehemiah 11:34. We don't mean to offend anyone, but that just struck us as an unusual name. However, it's also so unique one of our kids might actually use it when naming their child!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Law

Doctrine & Covenants 42
Hearken, Hear, and Obey


vs. 14 - Don't teach without the Spirit. In fact, you can't teach spiritual things without the Spirit, because he's the real teacher, not you. For a couple of great talks on this subject, try Elder Holland and Elder Perry.

vs. 29 - "If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments."
I love this poetic version of the Ten Commandments. You can find it set to music here.

Thou shalt have no gods but Me.
Before no idols bow thy knee.
Take not the name of God in vain.
Do not the Sabbath day profane.
Honor thy parents all thy days.
Take not life in wanton ways.
Be faithful in thy marriage trust.
And never steal or be unjust.
Always tell the truth—and love it.
What is thy neighbor’s, do not covet.
And the greatest commandments of all:
With all thy heart, love God above;
And as thyself thy neighbor love.

vs. 36 gives us the reason for the welfare program - "That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple." The riches of the Gentiles are to be used to help the poor of the house of Israel as we strive to become a Zion people.

Isn't it neat how the scriptures give us practical, useful ideas and counsel?
vs. 40 - "Let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the work of thine own hands."
vs. 41 - "Let all things be done in cleanliness."
vs. 42 - "Thou shalt not be idle." I love this quote by Elder Maxwell, and also President Kimball: "Even if work were not an economic necessity, it is a spiritual necessity."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Without Guile

Doctrine & Covenants 41
"no guile" Whenever I hear the phrase "without guile" I think of Brad. This is one of his special characteristics.

Edward Partridge was told he had a pure heart and was like Nathanael of old (see John 1:47) because there was no guile found in him. Guile means skillful deceit or treacherous cunning; artifice, slyness, fraud, duplicity, trickery. "No guile" would be the opposite of that - openness, candor, honesty, sincerity. To me it also has the connotation of seeing only the good in others, and I think that's a wonderful quality to develop.

James Covill

Doctrine & Covenants 39-40
His heart WAS right.

We don't know too much about James Covill. Apparently, he heard and accepted the gospel and was promised great blessings. However, he later let temptations and the cares of the world lure him off the gospel path, and the blessings were revoked. It's not enough to believe once, we have to keep our hearts "right" until the end.

Alma 5:26 - "If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"

Great Eternal Now

Doctrine & Covenants 36-38

I remember being intrigued when I first heard the following thought and it really makes a lot of sense. It's definitely something to ponder!

"The Lord Himself said that He `knoweth all things, for all things are present' before Him. (D&C 38:2.) We read, too, that `all things are present with me, for I know them all.' (Moses 1:6.) Therefore, God's omniscience is not solely a function of prolonged and discerning familiarity with us-but of the stunning reality that the past and present and future are part of an `eternal now' with God! (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:597.)"
(Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pp. 7,8.)

Read another great talk by Elder Maxwell describing how this principle relates to the doctrine of foreordination.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Open Your Mouth

Doctrine & Covenants 29-35
"Open your mouth"

D&C 28:16 - "Thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing."
D&C 29:7 - "Mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts."
D&C 30:1 - "You have feared man and have not relied on me for strength as you ought."
D&C 31:3 - "Declare glad tidings of great joy."
D&C 32:3 - "I myself will go with them and be in their midst."
D&C 33:8, 9, 10 - "Open your mouths."
D&C 34:10 - "Lift up your voice."
D&C 35:4 - "Thou shalt do great things."

I'm seeing a theme here - open your mouth and share the gospel. Elder Perry gave a great talk on this last week at general conference. Here are his suggestions for what to say when we open our mouth:

What would each of us say if we had to open our mouth three times? If I may, I would like to offer a suggestion. First and foremost, we should declare our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. His redeeming act blesses all mankind with the gift of immortality and the potential of enjoying God's greatest gift to man, the gift of eternal life.

The second time we open our mouths, we should tell in our own words the story of the First Vision—that is, our knowledge of a boy not quite 15 years of age who went into a grove of trees and, after sincere and humble prayer, he had the heavens open to him. After centuries of confusion, the true nature of the Godhead and God's true teachings were revealed to the world.

The third time we open our mouths, let us testify of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon complements the Bible in giving us a greater understanding of the doctrines of our Savior's gospel. The Book of Mormon is the convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is truly a prophet of God. If the Book of Mormon is true, there was a restoration of the priesthood. If the Book of Mormon is true, then with the power of that priesthood, Joseph Smith restored the Church of Jesus Christ.

The Armor of God

Doctrine & Covenants 27
A Prophecy and an Exhortation

Verses 5-14 describe one of my all-time favorite prophecies. Here's what Elder Bruce R. McConkie had to say about it (quotes from the seminary teacher manual):

"The sacrament is to be administered in a future day, on this earth, when the Lord Jesus is present, and when all the righteous of all ages are present. This, of course, will be a part of the grand council at Adam-ondi-Ahman."

"Every faithful person in the whole history of the world, every person who has so lived as to merit eternal life in the kingdom of the Father will be in attendance and will partake, with the Lord, of the sacrament."

Don't you want to be part of the meeting? Verses 15-18 give us a clue to the preparation we need. And here's a quote from President Harold B. Lee that explains how and why putting on the armor of God will help us:

“We have the four parts of the body that . . . [are] the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity. The heart typifying our conduct. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life and finally our head, our thoughts. . . .
“We should have our loins girt about with truth. What is truth? Truth, the Lord said, was knowledge of things as they are, things as they were and things as they are to come. . . ‘Our loins shall be girt about with truth,’ the prophet said.
“And the heart, what kind of a breastplate shall protect our conduct in life? We shall have over our hearts a breastplate of righteousness. Well, having learned truth we have a measure by which we can judge between right and wrong and so our conduct will always be gauged by that thing which we know to be true. Our breastplate to cover our conduct shall be the breastplate of righteousness.
“[By] what shall we protect our feet, or by what shall we gauge our objectives or our goals in life? . . . ‘Your feet should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’ . . .
“How fortunate are you if in your childhood in the home of your father and mother you were taught the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ, the son of the living God, the meaning of baptism and what you gain by the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Fortunate is the child who has been taught to pray and who has been given those steps to take on through life. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace! . . .
“And then finally the helmet of salvation. . . . What is salvation? Salvation is to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from death and saved from sin. . . .
“[The Apostle Paul] had his armoured man holding in his hand a shield and in his other hand a sword, which were the weapons of those days. That shield was the shield of faith and the sword was the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. I can’t think of any more powerful weapons than faith and a knowledge of the scriptures in the which are contained the Word of God. One so armoured and one so prepared with those weapons is prepared to go out against the enemy that is more to be feared than the enemies of the light. . . . More to be feared than the enemies that come in the daylight that we can see are the enemies that strike in the darkness of the night that we can’t see with our eyes.” (Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 9 Nov. 1954], pp. 3–7.)
And here's a link to a FHE idea using these verses.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Study the Scriptures

Doctrine & Covenants 26
"Let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures."

Trying to be like Emma

Doctrine & Covenants 25
Counsel for Women

  • Walk in the paths of virtue.
  • Murmur not.
  • Seek learning.
  • Write.
  • Comfort husband.
  • Delight in him.
  • Don't worry about the world.
  • Seek for heavenly things.
  • Cleave unto covenants.
  • Keep commandments.
  • Rejoice!

Important Counsel

Doctrine & Covenants 23-24

Pray vocally.
Provide for our families, but also magnify our callings. We'll have enough strength to do it.
Be patient in affliction, "for, lo, I am with thee."

(Great message from Elder Holland.)

Prophets

Doctrine & Covenants 21-22

Don't seek to counsel God, but instead give heed to the prophets. He will bless all those who labor in his kingdom.

Friday, April 3, 2009

We can do it!

Doctrine & Covenants 20
Christ is the perfect example

verse 22 - "He suffered temptations, but gave no heed unto them."

1 Corinthians 10:13 - "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able."

1 Nephi 15 :24 - "Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."

verse 33 - "Pray always."

Repentance

Doctrine & Covenants 19
Repentance is Greek for "to have a new mind." (Elder Eyring)

"Canst thou be humble and meek and conduct thyself wisely?" Isn't that a great question from verse 41.

As we follow the counsel we find in this section:

repent
learn of me
listen to my words
walk in the meekness of my Spirit
pray vocally
pray always
declare glad tidings
trust in me
have faith
be baptized
receive the Holy Ghost
pay our debts
share with others

we'll gain that change of heart and mind and receive the blessing of peace.