Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Ideal Family

September is the anniversary month for The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and in honor of that fact there's a celebration going on.  Go to these following blogs to find posts filled with wonderful thoughts and activities.

Middle-aged Mormon Man

Anyway, while I've been pondering the importance of the family over the past few days, my thoughts were drawn to a talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott in the April 2011 general conference titled "First Things First."

He started by reminding us of our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness for each of us:
"One of the most exhilarating moments of your life—when you were filled with anticipation, excitement, and gratitude—you are not able to remember. That experience occurred in the premortal life when you were informed that finally your time had come to leave the spirit world to dwell on earth with a mortal body. You knew you could learn through personal experience the lessons that would bring happiness on earth, lessons that would eventually lead you to exaltation and eternal life as a glorified, celestial being in the presence of your Holy Father and His Beloved Son. You understood that there would be challenges, for you would live in an environment of both righteous and evil influences. Yet surely you resolved no matter what the cost, no matter what the effort, suffering, and testing, you would return victorious. You had been reserved to come when the fulness of the gospel is on earth. You arrived when His Church and the priesthood authority to perform the sacred temple ordinances are in place. You anticipated being born into a home where parents would be expected to love, nurture, strengthen, and teach you truths. You knew that in time you would have the opportunity to form your own eternal family as husband or wife, father or mother. Oh, how you must have rejoiced with that prospect." 

Then he outlined the definition of the ideal family:
"The pattern of families essential to Father’s plan of happiness was established, and our need to continually 'call upon God' emphasized. You are in the midst of living that plan. Through the restored gospel we learn there is an ideal family. It is a family composed of a righteous Melchizedek Priesthood bearer with a righteous wife sealed to him and children born in the covenant or sealed to them. With a mother in the home in an environment of love and service, the parents teach their children, through example and precept, the ways of the Lord and His truths. They fulfill their divinely appointed roles mentioned in the family proclamation. Their children mature by living teachings instilled from birth. They develop characteristics of obedience, integrity, love of God, and faith in His holy plan. In due course, each of those children seeks a companion with similar ideals and aspirations. They are sealed in the temple, bear children, and the eternal plan continues, with generation strengthening generation. Throughout your life on earth, seek diligently to fulfill the fundamental purposes of this life through the ideal family. While you may not have yet reached that ideal, do all you can through obedience and faith in the Lord to consistently draw as close to it as you are able. Let nothing dissuade you from that objective." 
He mentioned that some of us may not live in an ideal family now, but we shouldn't become discouraged over that fact, or use it as an excuse to prevent us from striving to reach that goal.  
And he concluded with a challenge:
"Find a retreat of peace and quiet where periodically you can ponder and let the Lord establish the direction of your life. Each of us needs to periodically check our bearings and confirm that we are on course. Sometime soon you may benefit from taking this personal inventory:
What are my highest priorities to be accomplished while on earth?
How do I use my discretionary time? Is some of it consistently applied to my highest priorities?
Is there anything I know I should not be doing? If so, I will repent and stop it now.
In a quiet moment write down your responses. Analyze them. Make any necessary adjustments.
Put first things first. Do the best you can while on earth to have an ideal family. To help you do that, ponder and apply the principles in the proclamation on the family."

I feel extremely blessed that my parents and grandparents had examples to follow, so that they wanted to create the pattern of the ideal family.  Even though it's still constant work, It makes it easier for me as I strive to follow in their footsteps.
1972 - youngest generation
2004 - middle generation
2011 - oldest generation
And I hope it makes it easier for the next generations.  However, I'm also grateful for the gospel and its teachings, and for the knowledge that if we don't have an ideal family now, we can in the future.  I'm in awe of the many friends I have who are the first generation to really know and understand these important principles and doctrines.  The family truly is ordained of God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Gift of Peace

Galations 5:22 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace."
Isaiah 32:17 - "And the work of righteousness shall be peace."
John 14:27 - "My peace I give unto you."

Peace comes from living gospel principles and joy comes from serving others. It's really that simple. And it hasn't changed since I wrote about it a year ago: Peace and Joy

Henry B. Eyring - Spiritual Preparation
"The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage."

Music with a Message - Messages of Peace

"Peace - real peace, whole-souled to the very core of your being - comes only in and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When that precious truth is discovered and gospel principles are understood and applied, great peace can distill in the hearts and souls of our Heavenly Father's children. Said the Savior through Joseph Smith, 'He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come' (D&C 59:23)."

"The ability to have an unsettled conscience is a gift from God to help you succeed in this mortal life."

Richard G. Scott - The Path to Peace and Joy
"Peace is the precious fruit of a righteous life. It is possible because of the Atonement of the Savior. It is earned through full repentance, for that leads to refreshing forgiveness."

Thomas S. Monson - Treasured Gifts
"The passport to peace is the practice of prayer."

Basically the answer is to simplify, serve others and remember the Savior through prayer, worship and expressing gratitude.

Oxen

A couple of resources for Matthew 11:28-30 - "take my yoke upon you"

 

Team Building by Martien Eerhart

There is a story about a contest in Canada for the strongest ox. The  winning ox could pull 8,000 pounds  and the runner-up pulled just a little less than that. The owners of the oxen wanted to know how much the two oxen could pull together. Most observers placed a bet around 16,000 pounds. Some bet a little more, some a little less. When they actually put the two oxen in front of the weights, they pulled over 26,000  pounds!  That is true synergy: the sum is more than the components together. That is why team playing is so much more effective.


Equally Yoked Together by Boyd K. Packer

Several years ago . . . I went to a country fair in New Hampshire. It was a beautiful fall day and a delightful old-time country fair.The center of attraction was the oxen pulling contest. Several teams of oxen with heavy wooden yokes were lined up to compete. A wooden sledge was weighted with cement blocks: ten thousand pounds--five tons--to begin with. The object was for the oxen to move the sledge three feet.

I noticed a well-matched pair of very large, brindled, blue-gray animals. They were the big-boned, holstein, Durham-cross, familiar big blue oxen of seasons past. Because of their size, of course they were the favorites.  Each team was given three attempts to move the sledge. If they were able to do so easily, more weight was added until the teams were eliminated one by one. In turn, each team was hitched to the sledge. The teamster would position his animals carefully, pat them, chortle to them, whisper to them, and then at a goad and a loud command they would slam forward against the yoke. Either the weight would move or the oxen were jerked to a halt.

The big blue oxen didn't even place! A small, nondescript pair of animals, not very well matched for size, moved the sledge all three times.  I was amazed and fascinated and turned to an old New Englander in the crowd and asked if he could explain how that could happen. He said, "E-yeh." (That means yes in New England.) And then he explained. The big blues were larger and stronger and better matched for size than the other team. But the little oxen had better teamwork and coordination. They hit the yoke together. Both animals jerked forward at exactly the same time and the force moved the load.

One of the big blue oxen had lagged a second or pushed a second too soon--something like a football player being off side--and the force was spent in a glancing blow. The yoke then was twisted and the team jerked to one side and the sledge hardly moved. If I were to moralize, I would begin in typical Book of Mormon language, "and thus we see" that size and strength are not enough. It takes teamwork as well.

And one thought from me (and the seminary lesson manual, and Mosiah 18:8-10, and Elder McConkie):  We join our Savior in the yoke when we are baptized and covenant to take upon us his name.  As we keep the commandments, and in particular serve others, our own burdens become lighter.  What an amazing blessing!