Friday, March 31, 2017

Armed with Righteousness

As we went over the home teaching message for this month, Wayne was reminded of a quote by President Packer:

The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now they are spread across the world, and they are among us.

We looked for the source and here it is: "The One Pure Defense" (an address to CES teachers in 2004)

Here's some more from his talk:

You, with the leaders and teachers in the priesthood and auxiliaries, are not the first line of defense. The family holds that line. Satan uses every intrigue to disrupt the family. There is “the shield of faith wherewith” the Lord said “ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (D&C 27:17).

This shield of faith is handmade in a cottage industry. What is most worth doing ideally is done at home. It can be polished in the classroom, but it is fabricated and fitted in the home, handcrafted to each individual. Many do not have support in the family. When that shield is not provided at home, we must, and we can, build it. You and the leaders and teachers then become the first line of defense.

He quoted a lot of scriptures:

In preparation for what is coming, the Lord warned, “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation” (D&C 89:4).

Paul prophesied, “In the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1), then word by word and phrase by phrase, described exactly what our present conditions are now. He spoke of:
“Blasphemers, disobedient to parents, … unholy,
“Without natural affection, … incontinent, … despisers of those that are good,
“… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; …
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and other things (2 Timothy 3:2–4, 7).

Which reminded Wayne of these scriptures:

Ephesians 6
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

This must be an important concept, because I've written a couple of posts on it! You can find them here and here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Great Divorce

I can't remember now when or how, but someone* quoted something from the book The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis that intrigued me enough that I wanted to read it myself. So I did. I'll admit I was curious as to what the great divorce might be, and fortunately Lewis tells us in the introduction. Basically he says that many people are trying to "marry" good and evil and make them one, but that can never be. It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah of those who call good evil and evil good. I agree with Lewis. We want to make the divide between good and evil in our own lives as great as possible.

I liked his allegory or fable or story or whatever you want to call it, but I'll let you read it for yourself. The one line I want to remember, and it's near the very end of the book when he's talking about the dimension of time, is this: "The Lord said we were gods**. How long could ye bear to look (without Time's lens) on the greatness of your own soul?"

Isn't that a wonderful thought to ponder? Maybe not the "bear to look at" part, but the "greatness of your own soul" part. It's something I need to do more often.

Imagine her eternal possibilities and potential! It's the same for us.

* I remembered because I came across it again; it was in the notes of Elder Renlund's last conference talk on repentance, where he quoted the same line Sister Kapp did below.

** Psalms 82:6 - "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."

The Great Divorce is quoted, among many others, in the following talks and speeches:

Education: Molding Character by Elder Backman in 1991
     with an oft-quoted sentence“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.”

Please Forgive Me by Sister Kapp in 1976 
     with another oft-quoted sentence: “A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point.

Come Joyfully and Partake of the Gospel Feast by Sister Brown in 2004
      with the following summary:
"In his fable The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis described a busload of souls from hell who travel to the outskirts of heaven. Without exception, they have the opportunity to dwell there permanently and experience the eternal joy available to all our Father’s children. But the invitation is conditional. In order to stay, they must give up something they hold dear: one desires popularity and fame; another continues to nurse a grudge; one is committed to a false principle; another wants the power felt through selfishly manipulating others. Unfortunately, most of the travelers from hell are so immersed in their self-centered preoccupations that they don’t recognize the beauty, abundance, glory, and, yes, the joy of heaven! They refuse to see that what they would have to give up is nothing in comparison to what they would gain. Most of them choose to cling to their misery and return to hell. (See C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996].) The point here is that we are free to choose the comfort, peace, and joy of the gospel—or we can choose otherwise."

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Kids' Irish Ancestors

When I mentioned my Irish grandmother at breakfast this morning, Wayne reminded me he had an Irish grandmother as well. I haven't written much about the Youkstetter family on this blog, and so it's time to do something about that.

If Youkstetter doesn't sound Irish, that's because it really isn't. It's German. William Gottlieb Youkstetter moved from Germany to Ireland, stopping in England to marry Marie Speidel in 1898, and changing the spelling of his name somewhere along the way. That's what the dates tell us; it would be fun to look up some of the stories behind the dates, but I'm running out of time to do so today. You can find lots of neat pictures, though, on FamilySearch.org! This one's from 1905 when Grandpa Jauchstetter visited Dublin.
Grandpa Jachstetter visiting his son William Youkstetter's family in Dublin, Ireland in 1905.
Back row: William, Marie, Georg Michael Jauchstetter
Front row: Dorothy, Lena, William, Nellie
William was a butcher and owned his own shop.
W. Youkstetter Pork Butcher Shop, 21 North Strand, Dublin, Ireland around 1910
21 North Strand, Dublin - around 1910
William and Marie joined the LDS Church in 1901 and were stalwarts of the Dublin Branch. We'll add more of those stories as well some day. This is a picture of the branch in 1917.
Dublin Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sunday School.  1917.
Dorothy Youkstetter is the girl on the far left near the back with the big bow on her head. She would have been about 14. Her mother is in front of her holding her baby sister and her dad is in the center back with the mustache.
This picture was taken in 1918, so all nine of their children can claim to be Irish if they want. In 1922 the family moved to Huntington Park, California.
Youkstetter family in summer 1918
Back row: Marie, William, William (Dad), Dorothy
Middle row: Lena, Nellie, Marie (Mom), Fredrich
Back row: Frank, Pearl, Minnie

Ireland

I like celebrating St. Patrick's Day because it reminds me of my grandmother and her parents, specifically Florence Rebecca Wilson, for whom I'm named.
Last year I did some family history research in honor of them (see here and here), and I thought it was interesting that my heart turned to that again this week. This post will contain maps I've found to help put things into context. Here are the counties in Ireland (with Northern Ireland in a lighter color).

My great-grandfather, James Wilson, was born in Legnabraid, County Donegal.
You can't really tell in the above map, but it looks like Legnabraid was a part of Castlefin, and very close (less than ten miles) to Castlederg in County Tyrone, which is where Great-grandma was born, and where they were married.
Castlederg is a little town in the county of Tyrone, which is part of Northern Ireland. This site tells a little about the geography of the county; apparently "Tyrone is mainly a farming county, it has hundreds of small farms which mainly produce cattle and dairy produce. They also grow oats, barley and potatoes."

From the Irish census records we learn that Grandma was a seamstress and Grandpa was a carpenter, and they were both Presbyterian. I suspect this last fact* contributed to their decision to immigrate to America in 1916. With their three children - John, Florence and Norman - they arrived at Ellis Island on the ship Philadelphia. They lived in Hudson City, New Jersey for a few years, where twins Dorothy (Dot) and Winifred (Lin) were born, before settling in Middlesex County, Connecticut.


This photo, from ancestry.com, showed up in today's search. It's titled "Ashvale Farmhouse - 1896" and is attached to John P. Wilson, James' father. I'm not positive it's John's family, but it looks like the names and ages could match up correctly. Even if it's not my relatives, it's still a great picture. [Note that it was common for 3 year old boys to have long hair and wear "dresses".]
John P. Wilson (1838-1918) and his wife Margaret Kerr Wilson (1852-1928) and their children:
James (1877), Susan (1878), Annie Jane (1880), Robert (1883), Fanny (1887), John (1890) and William (1893).

*This site gives a good synopsis of the political history of Northern Ireland - mostly Protestant and wanting to stay part of the United Kingdom - and the rest of Ireland - mostly Catholic and wanting to be separate. Northern Ireland was created in 1921.

Another site has an even shorter synopsis:
It's time for a quick history lesson, the contents of which might sound familiar if you happen to have a love for European history (as the writer of this article does). Back in the seventeenth century, when the English empire was taking strides to conquer as much of the world as it could, they succeeded in capturing Ireland, and proceeded to settle it heavily in the island's north. Most of these English settlers were Protestant, while most of the original Irish inhabitants were Catholic. (Remember that, it's important.)

As northern Ireland became more prosperous and industrial, southern Ireland, particularaly the Catholic masses, became poor and malnourished under the ownership of English, Protestant land owners. This led to many issues, including eventual political divides between the two religious factions; Irish Catholics wanted independence from the British, while the Protestants (now both Irish and English) feared being under the home rule of a Catholic majority. Tensions rose until, in 1921, Northern Ireland was made a part of Britain and the rest of Ireland was declared a free state; enter a short period of peace, right up until the 1960's, when riots, terrorist attacks, and other bloody violence. These conflicts have continued ever since, with a bit of a stale mate since the 1990's.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Stir Thee Up in Remembrance

Not too long ago, I was reminded of an experience I had many years ago. I wrote briefly about it here in a "Scripture Study Insights" post:

Alma 4
It doesn't take long to go through “The Pride Cycle." In the 6th year the people were humbled and many joined the church in the 7th year. In the 8th year they began to wax proud which brought contention, envy, and persecution. By the 9th year, Alma had turned over the judgment seat and devoted his time to “bearing down in pure testimony” to stir the people up “in remembrance of their duty.”

One month the visiting teaching message was on this idea of “stirring up in remembrance.” The night before my visiting teacher had made cornmeal crepes for dinner. She noticed that the cornmeal settled to the bottom of the batter very quickly, and that before making each crepe she had to stir it to mix it back in. Gospel truths have a tendency to do that also. We need to constantly be doing things – prayer, scripture study, attend meetings, serve others – so our grains of testimony stay sprinkled throughout our daily lives. It’s too easy for them to slip down and be overcome by the “busyness” of the world.

Since in that post, I didn't record the scriptures with this phrase* I wanted to do that here. (And I also posted a recipe over here if you want to try making your own cornmeal crepes.)

2 Peter 1:13
"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance."

2 Timothy 1:6
"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

The Book of Mormon has a lot of examples as well, although most of them are a warning of what will happen if the people don't remember.

2 Nephi 5:25
"And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction."

Mosiah 1:17
"Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty."

Helaman 11:4
"O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee."

"When we are inclined to think it is vain to serve the Lord, we should stir our faith, believe in the rich promises of God, and obey - and patiently wait. The Lord will fulfill all his rich promises. To the faithful, lavish rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one's understanding will come. Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come." (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 305-6)

* Actually, there are four pages of references with the word "stir" but many of them are talking about "stirring up to anger or war" and this post is about remembering God constantly.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts

While studying 2 Corinthians 10:5* today, I was reminded of a talk President Packer gave years ago in general conference which was turned into a filmstrip and shown to the youth of the church. The idea that I can  have control over my thoughts, along with a tool to help me succeed in that, has stuck with me ever since, and has been of great benefit to me. In the hope that it might be of benefit to you as well, here's a small collection of internet resources for the talk.

The original talk - October 1973 General Conference

A condensed version - April 2008 New Era

And a YouTube creation of the original filmstrip - Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts



*"Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."