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.