Sunday, December 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Competence (have Confidence in your Competence)
Those are good values for all of use to work on!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Here's the quote:
"We are a covenant people. If there is a distinguishing feature about members of the Church, it is that we make covenants. We need to be known as a covenant-keeping people as well. Making promises is easy, but to follow through and do what we have promised is another matter. That involves staying the course, being constant and steadfast. It means keeping the faith and being faithful to the end despite success or failure, doubt or discouragement. It is drawing near to the Lord with all our hearts. It is doing whatever we promise to do with all our might -- even when we might not feel like it.
"I once attended a funeral service with Elder M. Russell Ballard. A statement he made there has remained with me to this day. He said, 'Life isn't over for a Latter-day Saint until he or she is safely dead, with their testimony still burning brightly.' 'Safely dead' -- what a challenging concept. Brothers and sisters, we will not be safe until we have given our hearts to the Lord -- until we have learned to do what we have promised."
Elder F. Burton Howard, April 1996 general conference
Friday, October 29, 2010
•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
Because these are so important, every once in a while we review them and see how we can improve. One of the more memorable of these sessions resulted in more frequent family dinners, and I was amazed at how trying to be more effective in that really made a difference in our family life. It always pays to follow your leaders.
We reviewed them again for our family night lesson last week, focusing on how it takes faith to be obedient. Faith is a gift from God, but it's one we can each receive. Faith is an action word; it takes effort to increase our faith, and yet increasing our faith makes the effort easier.
Remember to do the little things (no matter how tedious or repetitive they may seem) that bring such great blessings!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
However, we don't want to dwell on that; we want the formula for success. The class agreed that doing the opposite would bring success - trust in God, follow the prophet, listen to the Spirit. I also discovered a couple of quotes that said the Lord's formula for success could be found in Matthew 6:33 -"Seek ye first the kingdom of God."
President Monson also taught a formula for success. It is
- Fill your mind with truth.
- Fill your life with service.
- Fill your heart with love.
Our definition of success may be different from the world's definition of success, but I know that putting God first in our lives will bring true happiness and real success.
Friday, October 1, 2010
- Brad lost his shoe on the hike. David prayed. We found it under a bush.
- Someone didn't want to come to family prayer. Mom was prompted to take family prayer to him. We had family prayer.
- The Holy Ghost told Becky that she would marry Wayne during their very first phone call. (See lesson #5 in this post. It was good this came up, because the kids hadn't heard that before.)
Then a couple of days later a friend shared an experience that perfectly illustrates this principle, as well as how the Lord uses us to serve and help others. That morning she was out running errands, had a conversation with one of the store clerks, and was prompted to share information learned in that conversation with another friend. She figured she'd do it the next time she saw him, but the thought kept returning, and finally she realized she better follow through on it right away. During the course of that phone call, the conversation turned to another topic - the youth temple trip that afternoon. She realized that this friend, a new convert, was under the impression that there wasn't time for him to prepare family file names. He was excited about going to the temple with his (also newly baptized) son, though, and they were hoping to be able to go again later to do the work for their grandparents. At that point this sister realized why she had been prompted to call him. She explained that since he already had the information, it would take just a few minutes to print out the request and they could be baptized for his relatives that very day. So they were, and it turned out to be a special experience for all involved.
Moral of the story: Sometimes you learn right away why you were prompted to do something. Sometimes you don't. But it's always a good idea to be obedient to the Spirit. And the more you practice, the better you get.
Part of the assignment in learning more about the subject was to compile a list of questions someone might ask as you taught them what you learned. I thought the older brothers might appreciate knowing those questions, and the answers we came up with. And feel free to add your own thoughts.
Question #1: How can you tell if it's your thoughts or promptings from the Holy Ghost?
Answer (from Michelle): It doesn't really matter. If it's an idea to do something good, just do it. It doesn't matter if you thought of it all on your own or not. Remember that everything that is good leads to more good.
Answer (from Mom): You practice and practice and practice listening. And you do what Michelle suggested. Eventually you'll learn how the Holy Ghost speaks to you and it will quite obvious. And if it isn't, that doesn't really matter either (see Michelle's answer and Moroni 7:16).
Answer (from Dad): If you totally understand what you're thinking, but can't explain it to another person, it's likely personal revelation meant just for you and no one else.
Question #2: What do you do if you pray and pray and don't get an answer?
Answer (can't remember who said what but it includes): Don't give up. Remember that stupor of thought is an answer. Remember that "not now" is an answer. Make sure you're asking the right questions. (Have you done your part to study and make a decision?) Remember this quote from Brigham Young:
"If I ask him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, those that I preside over, and get no answer from him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, he is bound to own and honor that transaction, and he will do so to all intents and purposes." (DBY, 43 or Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 46)
And then I found a more current quote on the same subject as I read an article by Elder Christofferson in the October New Era this morning. He was quoting Elder Richard G. Scott:
"What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior's teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Sprit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace of the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision." (April 2007 general conference)
I find those two quotes quite comforting.
Next up: some examples of this put into practice. (Hmm. I'm revisiting this years later and realized I never wrote part two. I guess it's not too late to do so!)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I'm still trying to figure out how the righteousness part of the phrase relates to destruction. 2 Nephi 20:22 states "the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness." The cross reference is to Daniel 9:27 which uses the word "consummation" (instead of "consumption") which means "completion, perfection, fulfillment." Another cross reference I found goes to D&C 87:6, 8. In this section the Lord is talking about the end of the world, the destruction that will come, and our need to "stand in holy places" so that we can avoid it. I guess that's where the righteousness part comes. Isaiah (and Nephi), along with Daniel and Joseph Smith, were helping us prepare for the Second Coming by warning us of the dangers and reminding us of what we need to do.
All of that was a long introduction to say we're still being reminded. Here's a great talk I found by President Eyring which I wanted to share. I hope you enjoy it!
"As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough. Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground."
(from talk given by Henry B. Eyring at BYU-Idaho January 2005)
Friday, May 14, 2010
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
During times of trial, I appreciate the fact that I can turn to the Lord and receive strength, help and support to be able to handle the challenges I'm facing. However, preservation seems to be a greater blessing. I'd rather be protected and sheltered - removed from the storm instead of receiving strength to withstand it.I loved the way Michelle put it. She thinks of canned fruit when she hears the word preserve. It's like Heavenly Father seals us in a jar while the commotion of the world swirls around us, and when everything's calmed down he'll take off the lid and let us out.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Disobedience is essentially a prideful power struggle against someone in authority over us. It can be a parent, a priesthood leader, a teacher, or ultimately God. A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his positiong. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble."
"All that the Lord requires of us is strict obedience to the laws of life. All the sacrifice that the Lord asks of his people is strict obedience to our own covenants that we have made with our God, and that is to serve him with an undivided heart."
And I need to add another one, that I was just reminded of:
Several years ago I remember being impressed with a thought while listening to general conference, and that was that we weren't given the gift of agency so we could choose whatever we wanted, but Heavenly Father bestowed this gift on us so that we could prove to him, and ourselves, that we would choose what he wanted. I was pretty sure that Elder Bednar taught that, but I couldn't find where.
So, fast forward to 2010 when we started having a series of lessons on agency in Sunday School and Relief Society. I tried looking for that quote again, but wasn't successful. Then it became my turn to prepare the lesson and the Spirit said it should be on obedience. One of my favorite scriptures on that subject is D&C 11:20 and I knew that Elder Bednar had talked about that in relation to Moses 1:39. So, I looked up that talk, and, lo and behold, found that "lost" teaching. You can find it yourself, in the "Tender Mercies" talk from the April 2005 general conference. What a wonderful example of the Lord's tender mercies.
Here's the passage so you don't have to read the whole talk if you don't want to:
God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.
Enoch was instructed by the Lord on this very point of doctrine. Please note the use of the word choose in these verses: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father” (Moses 7:32–33; emphasis added).
As we learn in these scriptures, the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God.
One of the most well-known and frequently cited passages of scripture is found in Moses 1:39. This verse clearly and concisely describes the work of the Eternal Father: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (emphasis added).
A companion scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants describes with equal clarity and conciseness our primary work as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. Interestingly, this verse does not seem to be as well known and is not quoted with great frequency. “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20; emphasis added).
Thus, the Father’s work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. Our work is to keep His commandments with all of our might, mind, and strength—and we thereby become chosen and, through the Holy Ghost, receive and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
"Challenging times require greater spiritual power." (3)
"Faith is much more than passive belief. You express your faith through action - by the way you live." (2)
"Faith is a principle of power." (1)
"Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: 'Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws the greater will be the endowment of faith.' If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient." (3)
"Faith requires an attitude of exact obedience, even in the small, simple things." (3)
"Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other." (3)
"When we have hope, we trust God's promises." (2)
"Hope is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance." (1)
"Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness." (4)
"Hope is a gift of the Spirit." (4)
"We grow in our ability to 'abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,' as we more perfectly live the gospel." (4)
"Charity is a gift from God." (1)
"Charity, like faith, leads to action." (1)
"Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity." (5)
"Love is the greatest of all the commandments - all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives." (5)
These are some quotes that I really liked. We found them while discussing "faith, hope & charity" in FHE last night. Our resources were
1 - Preach My Gospel
2 -True to the Faith
and three conference talks
3 - "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Elder Kevin W. Pearson, April 2009
4 - "The Infinite Power of Hope," President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2008
5 - "The Great Commandment," Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 2007
Sunday, February 21, 2010
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.” (It was quoted in the January 2007 Home Teaching Message by President James E. Faust.)
I also thought it was interesting that several of the comments shared in our class contained ideas that President Faust mentioned in this article, like “The devil is not smart because he is the devil; he is smart because he is old.” He's been around a long time, and knows what works and what doesn't as he tries to get people to join his side.
And, "However, we need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. . . . Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us that we do not give him. The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: 'All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.'"
One of my favorite "rediscovered" scriptures is 1 Nephi 14:12-14, which reminds us "that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions . . . were small." However, "they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." In spite of the fact that the devil's followers are growing ever larger in number, the winning side is Christ's side. It's empowering to know that we've been given the tools to defeat Satan. We know the outcome of this battle, and we can choose the winning side.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
"No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is [against] His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being. . . . He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and the purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland quoted it in his October 1997 general conference talk, where he also added this:
"Those who will receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the source of their salvation will always lie down in green pastures, no matter how barren and bleak the winter has been. And the waters of their refreshment will always be still waters, no matter how turbulent the storms of life. In walking His path of righteousness, our souls will be forever restored; and though that path may for us, as it did for Him, lead through the very valley of the shadow of death, yet we will fear no evil. The rod of His priesthood and the staff of His Spirit will always comfort us."
It's a comforting reassurance to know that no matter what trials and challenges we face, we are never alone.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Boyd K. Packer
What are you baking today?
(an object lesson to go with Matthew 6:33 - "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.")
If you put the walnut in first,
then pour the rice around it,
there is a perfect fit!
Likewise, if we spend time doing other things first, we will never find time to spend with God. If we spend time with God first, there will always be time for other things.
The key to making that happen is found in the second half of this quote by President Benson:
"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives."
"In quiet moments when you think about it, you recognize what is critically important in life and what isn’t. Be wise and don’t let good things crowd out those that are essential."
Over the years I've gone back to that thought over and over again as I strive to find the right balance between all my choices between good and good. Essential things must come first.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I had a prayer answered yesterday in an unusual way. Well, really it was the usual way, but an unexpected answer. On Tuesday Brad asked me to get a doctor appointment for him concerning his ringworm. I wasn't sure how serious he was and I felt it was kind of late anyway - that there was no way a doctor could treat and clear ringworm in a couple of days. I questioned him on it Wednesday night and discovered that he really was serious. In my Thursday morning prayer I prayed specifically to know what to do, remembering the promise in 2 Nephi 32:5 that we can know what we're to do. The answer was very clear: "This is what Brad's prayed about and you need to make the apointment." I still didn't think it would work, but I figured I better be obedient, so at 8:00 AM I made the call. It turned out they had a 9:45 appointment so I took Brad down. Now, here's the amazing thing - there is a drug that can kill ringworm quickly - and it takes 36 hours. So, the doctor signed the note saying Brad is not infectious as of 9 AM Saturday, which is exactly when he needs it (well, 10 AM Sat.). I am so grateful I didn't procrastinate any longer. I've done what I can do. Now it's up to Brad & Jeff to get themselves qualified for regions.
This is an amazing example of the scripture I re-learned this week: 1 Nephi 17:13 - "I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments." We can't see beforehand what the Lord is placing in our paths, but we can be assured that he's watching over us carefully and wants to bless us.
Monday, January 4, 2010
I love doing family history and going to the temple. Maybe that's why I love these sections as well. They validate for me that time spent in those activites is valuable and of great worth.
When I glance at these sections, the words that jump out are "joy" and "rejoicing" and "peace." That's great encouragement to not give up when I hit a roadblock in research or trying to find time in a crazy schedule to make it to Orlando on a regular basis.
Okay, I probably should have spent more time pondering this subject. After all, it was because President Smith took the time to reflect and ponder and pray that we even have Section 138. I'm glad I was able to complete my goal to read the Doctrine and Covenants in 2009, but now it's time to once again move on to something else.
- Be organized.
- Provide necessities for yourselves.
- "Do as I have told you."
- Use edifying words.
- If you borrow something, return it.
- Take care of your things.
- Pray to turn sorrow into joy.
I always love reading John Taylor's testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. And I'm grateful that I have a testimony as well. Mine came during a seminary class when we watched "The First Vision" movie. If you have a copy of the Church History Collection dvd, you can watch it too.
"A Declaration of Beliefs"
"We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man."
"We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers" (but they should be equitable and just).
"We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside. . . . Sedition and rebellion are unbecoming."
"All men should step forward" and work towards peace and tranquility, bringing offenders to justice, and encouraging leaders to be righteous.
It's nice to be reminded that good citizens are proactive.
I couldn't remember why this section was called the appendix, so I went searching and found an explanation in the institute manual:
Elder John A. Widtsoe explained that “the ‘Appendix’ [ D&C 133 ], supplements the introduction [ D&C 1 ]. The two sections together encompass the contents of the book in a condensed form. An appendix is something which the writer thinks should be added to amplify that which is in the book, to emphasize it, to make it stronger or to explain the contents a little more completely.” ( Message of the Doctrine and Covenants, p. 17.)
The scriptures form a great latticework of gospel concepts. Rather than collect gospel concepts by topic, the Lord chose to scatter them throughout the sacred writings, here a little and there a little. Only by diligent searching and studying can we come to a fulness of understanding. The more we immerse ourself in the scriptures, the more familiar we become with language and concepts that trigger a host of associations.
Section 133 contains an unusual number of such concepts that presuppose a knowledge of other scriptures. If one is not familiar with such principles as the Lord coming to His temple (see D&C 133:2 ), Babylon (see vv. 4–7, 14 ), the parable of the ten virgins (see v. 10 ), the story of Lot’s wife (see v. 15 ), the Lamb standing on Mount Zion (see v. 18 ), or the time when Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives (see v. 20 ), one will miss significant insights into what the Lord says in this section.
Well, that helped me and I hope it helped you. Here are some of the phrases that jumped out to me on this reading:
verse 3 - "make bare his holy arm" - We need to roll up our sleeves and get to work!
verse 4 - We prepare for the future by gathering together and sanctifying ourselves now.
verse 19 - It is our responsibility to GO to meet the Bridegroom. Am I always striving to be in the right place at the right time?
verses 39-40 - Prayer and worship are important.
verse 71 - We can't expect to be rescued if we're not willing to be obedient.
There's a lot that could be said about celestial marriage, and I'm grateful that I've been taught this principle. And I'm grateful for a husband who has the same goal to spend eternity together. But I'm not very eloquent myself, so here are some talks by people who are:
Elder Bednar - "Marriage is Essential to His Eternal Plan"
President Hinckley - "The Marriage that Endures"
President Kimball - "Temples and Eternal Marriage"
Elder McConkie - "Celestial Marriage"
And here's a favorite quote from President Spencer W. Kimball:
I like that concise phrase in the section heading; what a simple way to describe what could be considered a hodge-podge of doctrine. And all of the doctrine is profound. We can tell that this was given near the end of Joseph's life when he had great maturity and understanding. So, here are a couple of things that stood out to me as I read this section.
Cross references for D&C 130:7 - Moses 1:6, D&C 38:2. Here are the scriptural references for the doctrine that Joseph Smith taught (see here) that God can behold the past, present and future all at once.
Revelation and answers to questions come "while praying earnestly."
Knowledge is important.
Blessings come after obedience, not the other way around.