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."