Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peace and Joy

Earlier this month I wrote "Peace and Joy" on the whiteboard to help me remember to focus on those qualities during this Christmas season, and look for opportunities to feel peace and joy. A few days later I was reading in the new church handbook and was struck by a paragraph that mentioned peace and joy; it also mentioned love. The paragraph was on the duty of the ward council to help new members stay strong. It says "They [the ward council] counsel about ways to help new members feel the love of other members, the joy of serving in the Lord's kingdom, and the peace that comes through living gospel principles." If we truly want to feel joy, we need to serve others, and if we want to feel peace, we need to be obedient to God's commandments. It's that simple. I'm so grateful that I have plenty of opportunities to feel love and joy and peace, particularly at Christmas, but all throughout the year as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

4 C's of Leadership

The Young Women were reminded the other night that they are leaders, and that they should work on developing the following qualities:

Courage
Candor (Integrity)
Commitment
Competence (have Confidence in your Competence)

Those are good values for all of use to work on!

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Safely Dead"

Last night we listened to the CES fireside with Elder M. Russell Ballard. Near the end he told a story about a stake conference talk he heard from his 90 year old stake patriarch on the importance of enduring to the end. Part of that story included the phrase "safely dead" and I knew I had heard that phrase before, but I remembered it being a general conference talk, and not a stake conference talk. I also didn't think it was given by Elder Ballard. So, I did some research in my old D&C seminary manual, and discovered it really did come from Elder Ballard. This isn't the first time he's told the story!

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

Eight Simple Things

A couple of years ago in stake conference, our stake presidency introduced "Eight Simple Things" that they hoped each individual and family in the stake would do. We were promised that they would provide protection for our family. They included:

•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

A Formula for Success

I had the opportunity to teach seminary one day this week, and the lesson was taken from D&C 30:1-2, which the manual called a formula for failure. It basically included fearing man more than God, relying on the things of the world, and not listening to the Spirit or your church leaders.

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
  1. Fill your mind with truth.
  2. Fill your life with service.
  3. Fill your heart with love.
I was reminded that I wanted to share these thoughts when I read today's daily "gem" - "We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit." Julie B. Beck

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

Personal Revelation (part two)

Part of our family night discussion involved recalling instances when we had received personal revelation. For example:
  • 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.)
We discussed the importance of following through on promptings we receive, and that as we do that more and more, the more often promptings come, and the more easily they are recognized.

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.

Personal Revelation (part one)

This week Steven gave a great lesson. (You can tell it's a good one when you still remember it days later!) Anyway, he chose the topic prayer/personal revelation from the new Duty to God book. The first thing he noticed was that they went together. You couldn't pick just "prayer" or just "personal revelation" and that in itself is something to ponder.

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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Consumption

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon today, I was struck by the word "consumption" and wondered what it really meant. So I looked it up. The main definition is "the act of consuming or devouring something, as by use, decay, or destruction." (It olden days it also referred to the disease tuberculosis, so I guess that involved destruction of the lungs.)

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

"I will preserve you."

Last night we read Isaiah 41 for family scripture study. The chapter heading included the phrase "To Israel the Lord says: Ye are my servants; I will preserve you." During my personal scripture study earlier in the day, I had read Alma 44:4 which states "God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him," so I was excited to see what Isaiah had to say on the subject. I was disappointed to discover that Isaiah doesn't actually use the word "preserve" in Isaiah 41. After discussion, we decided the chapter heading was probably referring to verse 10:

"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.
In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter whether I'm strengthened or preserved, it's up to me to be obedient and faithful. The Lord is always there and he'll bless me with what I truly need.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thought for the Day

Be Bold but not Bossy.

Also, be temperate in all things, be diligent and not idle.

(thoughts while reading Alma 38)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some Quotes on Obedience

"The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we "give," brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"
--Neal A. Maxwell, October 1995 general conference


"When you have done the best you can, be satisfied and don't look back. Rather than berate yourself for what you didn't do, congratulate yourself for what you did."
--M. Russell Ballard, October 1991 general conference

"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."
-- Ezra Taft Benson, April 1989 general conference

"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."
--Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 18:246


And I need to add another one, that I was just reminded of:
Elder Donald L. Staheli, a member of the Seventy, said “Regardless of our age and stage in life, daily obedience to gospel principles is the only sure way to eternal happiness. President Ezra Taft Benson put it most poignantly when he said, ‘When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 108; or Ensign, May 1998, 82 ).

Learning to Choose

Another Tender Mercy

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

Faith, Hope & Charity

"Challenging times require greater spiritual power." (3)

FAITH

"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)

HOPE


"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


"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

Resisting Temptation

We had an interesting (and very good) discussion on agency in Relief Society today. We can't have true agency without opposition, and so we spent a little bit of time discussing Satan and temptation. I was reminded of this quote by C. S. Lewis that I really like:

“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

He Cannot Desert Us

There was a quote shared in stake conference that I really liked, so I had to come home and look it up. The original quote was by George Q. Cannon:

"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

Putting First Things First, part three

The Baking Analogy

Something I've found very helpful as I strive to juggle responsibilities and set priorities is to compare each of my different roles to a baking ingredient. For example, wife = sugar, mother = flour, friend = eggs, housekeeper = chocolate chips, volunteer = milk, etc.

Some days I may use more "flour" than "sugar" and end up with rolls.
Other days may have more "sugar" than "flour" with cookies as the result.Still other days may have a lot of "eggs" and "milk," leaving no time for "sugar." (Hopefully these days are rare.)However, no matter what the proportion of other ingredients is, if there isn't any "salt" in my day, the whole day is a tasteless flop. Salt stands for my role as a daughter of God. If I make time for that relationship - through prayer and scripture study - whatever else happens turns out beautifully. Just like in baking, it doesn't take a lot of salt to make a difference. And so I find great comfort in this quote from President Packer:
"Things of the Spirit need not—indeed, should not—require our uninterrupted time and attention. Ordinary work-a-day things occupy most of our attention. And that is as it should be. We are mortal beings living in this physical world. Spiritual things are like leavening. By measure they may be very small, but by influence they affect all that we do."
Boyd K. Packer

What are you baking today?

Putting First Things First, part two

The Parable of the Walnut and the Rice

(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.")

The walnut in this jar represents the time we spend with God. The rice represents the time we spend doing other things.

If you pour the rice into the jar first, then try to insert the walnut, it will not fit.

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."

President Ezra Taft Benson

Putting First Things First, part one

While we were living in California we had the opportunity to attend a regional conference where Elder Richard G. Scott presided and spoke. His message really touched us, and it was a "tender mercy" to have him give a similar talk at the next general conference. Now we have an official transcript, which you can find here. The phrase that jumped out at us was this one:

"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

An Answered Prayer

Today I came across an old journal entry that is definitely worth remembering and being posted as a "whispering of the Spirit." Do you remember this, Brad, because I certainly didn't? 2/3/2006

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.
(They did qualify for the regional tournament.)

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

Redeeming the Dead

Doctrine & Covenants 137-138

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.

Practical Commandments

Doctrine & Covenants 136
  • 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.
Remember that if we're diligent and faithful in keeping the commandments, we will be blessed.

Joseph Smith

Doctrine & Covenants 135

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.
It's #3 - The First Vision. This is the original video dramatization of the events that led Joseph Smith to pray in the Sacred Grove, where he received the First Vision. This video can be used to teach the importance of obtaining and sharing a testimony of the First Vision. (14:42)

Government

Doctrine & Covenants 134
"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.

An Appendix

Doctrine & Covenants 133

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.

Eternal Marriage

Doctrine & Covenants 131-132

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:
"Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but eternal joys as well."

Items of Instruction

Doctrine & Covenants 130

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.