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 for family home evening. (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. (Hmm. I'm revisiting this years later and realized I never wrote part two. I guess it's not too late to do so!)