Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Deadly Combination

I read 1 Nephi 12 tonight - this is Nephi's vision when the angel explains the meaning of the tree of life. This chapter spans the coming of Christ to the American Continent until the apostasy and death of Moroni at the end of the Book of Mormon.


When Nephi observes his seed being destroyed by the seed of his brethren, he comments, "and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.


I thought, "Now there's a deadly combination." Like drinking and driving or hair dryers in the bath tub, pride coupled with the temptations of Satan are a death wish. And more than just physical death.

Pride and sin create a spiritual death as well. Think of what happened to Lucifer in the pre-existence. He was so prideful that he couldn't accept God's plan for us. He wanted to do things his way, without any pain, and he wanted to take all the credit.

When we let pride enter our hearts, Satan can easily take hold of us. He knows pride so well. It is the thing that kept him from God, and he wants to use it to keep us from returning to our Father. It is a struggle for me each day to keep my heart soft and put away my pride so that I can learn from those around me.

"Pride and temptations of the devil" - how much easier is it to succumb to temptation when our hearts are filled with pride? It is much harder to resist the evil one when our hearts imitate his.

Do you find it harder to resist temptation when your heart is filled with pride? How do you keep from getting puffed up? How do you stay humble and teachable?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Part in the Prophecies

Book of  Mormon Papers - a series of posts
containing papers I wrote for a
BYU Religion class my freshman year of college.

(Note: There are several examples in the scriptures of events that happen to prepare a prophecy of the Lord – or commandment – to come forth. Every Christmas I think about Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to be counted. I am pretty sure they didn’t have to go to Bethlehem in person, with Mary so close to delivery. I imagine they could have gone to their Rabbi and let him know Mary was going to have a baby any day now, so they were prefer to be counted by proxy. Like absentee voting. I am certain there wouldn’t be that big a problem. But Joseph knew who the child was the Mary was carrying, and he also knew that the baby Jesus was supposed to be born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. We have the opportunity to help bring to pass the prophecies of the Lord. We know what they are (the gospel will be preached to all the earth – so serve missions!; the constitution of the United States will hang by a very thread and the Elders of the Church will rise up to save it – so get involved in the government of our nation!) I am sure you can think of several others. I think this is part of the importance of studying the words of Isaiah – not only so we can know the prophecies of the Lord, but so that we can take part in them. And be on the Lord’s side of the prophecies)

Throughout the entire journey of Lehi’s family in the wilderness, Laman and Lemuel murmured against Nephi and their father. Angels, shocking and other miracles failed to convince Laman and Lemuel of the power of God. When Laman and Lemuel were rebellious and desired to return to Jerusalem, why didn’t the Lord simply let them go back and destroy Laman and Lemuel along with the wicked of Jerusalem? Nephi testifies of the purpose of God saying “thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.” (1 Nephi 17:3) In addition to strengthening Nephi and his family through afflictions brought on by the two, Laman and Lemuel would play a part in the prophesies that were shown to Nephi concerning the destruction of his seed and the apostasy which would eventually lead to the opening of the dispensation of the fullness of times.

The weaknesses in Laman and Lemuel’s testimonies caused Nephi to become a more faithful servant of the Lord. Nephi prayed often on behalf of his brothers and cared about their salvation a great deal. He was constantly reproaching his siblings because of their wickedness and rebelliousness. However, even when his whole family seemed to be murmuring against the Lord, Nephi’s faith was strong enough to withstand that temptation. It could have been difficult for Nephi to continue in the ways of the Lord when even his father, a great prophet, murmured against the Lord; however, Nephi not only showed his faith in the Lord, but he showed faith in his family when he asked his father “Whither shall I go to obtain food?” (1 Nephi 16:23) Nephi’s faith in the Lord was strengthened because of his family’s weaknesses. Nephi did not have the luxury of his family’s testimony to rely on all the time. His family was weak in their testimony, so Nephi was required to have a stronger testimony of the things he knew were true.

Although it may have been easier for Nephi and his family to get through the wilderness without the constant bickering and murmuring of Laman and Lemuel, the Lord needed Laman and Lemuel to play a special part in the plan that would include the apostasy and eventual restoration of the gospel. In 1 Nephi 12:15, Nephi sees in a vision the seed of Laman and Lemuel coming against his seed to war. This war led to the utter destruction of the righteous and the seed of Laman and Lemuel to be a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” Nephi showed his understanding of the necessity of his afflictions when on the ship Laman and Lemuel bound him with cords. Nephi recorded, “Nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.” (1 Nephi 18:11) Nephi understood that he was being used as an instrument in the Lord’s hand to bring to pass the judgment of his brothers.

Nephi’s blessings were great because of the afflictions brought on his family because of his brothers, and Nephi understood the commandments and prophesies of the Lord wherefore he “did not murmur against the Lord because of [his] afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:16) Laman and Lemuel may have made the journey difficult, but the Lord has said “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) It may have been easier for the Lord to let Laman and Lemuel return to Jerusalem and be destroyed or carried into captivity, however the Lord is all knowing and “thus we see that the commandments [and prophesies] of God must be fulfilled.” (1 Nephi 17:3)

Have you ever felt like you were part of a prophecy? Do you think you have seen others who are part of a prophecy? Have you ever had to rely on your own testimony because your family didn’t have a strong enough testimony to sustain you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

You Know What is Right

Today I am guest-posting over at The Life of a Mormon Teen about the divine nature in all of us.

Whitney asked me a tough question. She asked me what I wish I had known as a teenager. This post was geared mostly toward teens, but everyone would benefit from a little reminder about their divine nature.

“… you know what is right. I am sure that most of you teenagers already know, deep inside, what is right, what is true, and what is good. That’s because Heavenly Father planted a seed of divinity in you.”

Read more over at Whitney’s blog.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hand Plays for Church–The Testimony Glove

When I was little, one of the ways I remember my mom keeping us quiet during sacrament meeting was with hand plays. The one I remember the most (besides her simply tracing my hands) was “Here is the Church House”. I taught it to my little girl a few weeks ago, and she loves it. I can occupy her for 5-10 minutes with this hand play alone! In fact, just tonight as I was putting her to bed she asked to do it over and over again. The first part, where you interlace your fingers backwards, was tricky when I first taught her but tonight she was doing it like a pro! She knows the whole thing and can do the hand motions herself (although she needs a little help with the words). In case you don’t know how it goes, I took pictures of her doing it (yes… during sacrament meeting… is that bad?) so I could teach you.

churchhousehandplay

After playing this for a while, and realizing that it had no gospel application other than that we pray at Church (which is good), I decided that I should make some hand plays that were gospel related. So I did. First I looked up “The Testimony Glove” which I figured was a good place to start.

I came up with three hand plays that go along with the five parts of the “testimony glove”, which are

1. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.

2. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.

3. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.

4. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today.

5. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.

Some of the rhymes are better than others, and some of the hand motions might seem little ambiguous, but it’s been a while since I did anything horribly creative, so you get what you get. I’m excited to start using these with my kids. I made them up a few weeks ago, but I forgot about them until tonight when J was asking for the Church house game over and over again.

Without further ado, here are the three hand plays that I came up with. Feel free to share these hand plays and enjoy them with your kids.

atonementhandgame

josephsmithhandplay(yes, I know that Moroni actually gave the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith,
but since this is for very small children,
and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ ultimately
were the ones who blessed us with the Book of Mormon,
I feel like this is still accurate)
LDSChurchhandplay

I am also going to do some scripture stories hand plays in the near future. I’ve got some ideas floating around up there. I was thinking today that I might even publish them in a book. I have a fun book of hand games and finger plays for kids, but is is strictly secular, and I really like having ones that I can use to teach the gospel to my kids.

How did your parents keep you occupied during sacrament meeting as a toddler/preschooler? Do you remember the Church house hand play? Do you think you will use these hand plays with your kids? If I make up hand plays for scriptures stories, would you like to see them?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sunday Study–Scriptures

DSCN3800

Welcome to the Sunday Study link up! This week, I was inspired by a post by Jocelyn at We Talk of Christ, We rejoice in Christ about reading your scriptures. There’s just something about studying the paper scriptures that I don’t think will ever be replaced by technology.

With that in mind, my study this week will focus on the words and life of the Savior. I had made a goal to read about the life and words of Christ by April General Conference, but that might not happen. But I think I will make my best effort!

My study on Sunday will be focused on:

The Four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

The Savior’s Visit to the Americas – 3 Nephi 11-26

What are you studying tomorrow? Do you have some good reads you want to share? Link up below!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gospel Art Kit–There’s an App for that!

(link to download at the bottom of the post)

This past Sunday I was sitting in sacrament meeting and I reached in my Church bag to pull out my gospel art book and realized that I had left it at home! It has become one of my most powerful tools for helping my kids be reverent during the sacrament. I will usually turn it to the pages with the Savior in Gethsemane and the Savior on the Cross, and often we end up in the “Gospel in Action” section to look at pictures of the sacrament being blessed, and little children being reverent while they take the sacrament.

So, you can imagine my horror when I realized it wasn’t in the bag. What would I do now!?

Thankfully, I had my handy-dandy iPhone, and I thought “Oh, maybe the Gospel Art Book is available in the Gospel Library app!” Willing to stomach any possible data charges, I headed to the app, but no luck. Desperate, I resorted to Safari and lds.org and quickly found the gospel art book online. I loaded a few pictures and saved them to my phone (for easy access next time I forgot the book).

Today I was just sitting around thinking “I wonder if someone has made an app for that.” I did a quick search in the app store, and sure enough! There it was, for $1.99 (updated 4/28/13 - it's now $2.99, but still worth it, in my opinion). I immediately downloaded it (that’s cheaper than the paper book from the distribution center), and upon browsing through the app, I realized that this app is not just the gospel art book, but the entire Gospel Art Kit! Remember, that big box of something like 600 pictures, all 8 1/2 x 11 size? I grew up with those as a Family Home Evening staple, so I was really disappointed when they discontinued the kit in favor of the gospel art book. I still wish I had all those pictures.

Well, now I do, sort of! I am really excited to have all those pictures (it has the picture of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s burying their weapons, which is one of my personal favorites). Especially now in an easy app on my phone. You can sort the pictures by number (which is somewhat choronological) or by name, and there is also a search function.

So when Sunday rolls around and my kids are fighting over the gospel art book during the sacrament (yes… it happens) I can just whip out my phone and let one of them look at the pictures on there! Although, I am also considering giving the kids their very own gospel art books for their Church bags, since they are only $3.50. Then no fighting over the iPhone either.

And when we’re waiting in line, or sitting somewhere with nothing to do, I can pull out my gospel art kit app and we can choose a picture and talk about the scriptures! Yay!

Download the app here: Gospel Art Book App by Standard Works LLC

Have you found any useful gospel-related smartphone apps? Which are your favorite? Would you like me to share more reviews of my favorites?

I do not know the meaning of all things

I commented the other day on a post over at That Good Part and I think I mentioned in a previous post how I have felt stagnant in my personal growth - which was easy to live with because my "level of righteousness", so-to-speak, was relatively good. I am far from perfect, but I have meaningful prayers, meaningful scripture study, and I do a pretty good job with my relationships, and loving others. Not perfect.



In fact, I have a long way to go. And that truth about if you're not moving toward the Savior, you're moving away from Him always hits me at this point in my thought process.

I have been trying to be really mindful of the things I don't know, and the many areas of my life that can use improvement.

I echo Nephi, who said, "I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

I have a sure, strong testimony of the gospel, of Jesus Christ, and His atonement, of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and of God's love for us. But I do not know the meaning of everything. Honestly, I don't know the meaning of a lot of things, really.

One of the areas in my life that needs improvement is faith. Which may sound silly because I have such a strong testimony - but I think that my testimony has been more knowledge than faith.

Alma said, "And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginners to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant". (Alma 32:33-34)

Because of my great parents and leaders when I was young, I think that my faith has been dormant in a lot of things, and because it has been dormant for so long, I have almost forgotten how to exercise faith!

Along with working this year on learning God's will for me, I think that I need to practice having more faith. Which kind of go hand in hand anyway.

How do you find the things you don't know? What do you do about it when you realize you don't know something? Is your faith dormant in some gospel principles because you have already received a perfect knowledge of that principle?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Think Ye of Christ?

(find the talk here – Teachings of Jesus)

I have mentioned before that I have always enjoyed Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talks. When I was little and General Conference was … well, a little boring, I would color or maybe play a little conference bingo, but when I heard Elder Oaks’ voice, my ears would perk up, and I would listen to his whole talks.

I think that my favorite talks from General Conference are usually those given by Elder Oaks, and this one was no exception. I love how clearly he speaks, and how logical his arguments are (must be because he’s a lawyer). There is just something authoritative in how he speaks. As if he’s just daring someone to contradict him.

And how could you contradict what Elder Oaks testifies of in this conference talk?

“What think ye of Christ?”

(Image credit)

How do you answer that question? Here’s how I answer it.

I am so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. While I will admit that I do not know everything about Him, what I do know, what I have learned about Him, I know is true. He is my Savior. The most significant part, to me, of His mission was His willingness to suffer for my sins, to take upon Him my infirmities, in the garden of Gethsemane, and then do give His life for me on the cross. And it didn’t end there. After three days in the tomb, the Savior took up His body again and was resurrected so that we can all live with our Father in Heaven again. I know that He has “engraven [me] upon the palms of [His] hands” and will never forget me.

Elder Oaks’ talk was a wonderful reminder to me of how I need to study the life of the Savior – the prophesies concerning Him, and most importantly, His own words. I made a goal after October General Conference that I would try to read all four gospels and the Savior’s ministry in America in 3 Nephi before April General Conference. I guess I have one more month. Better get down to business!

I would also like to really read and study Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage. I have read parts of it before, but I have never really done an in depth study of the Savior, and I think that it would be really beneficial.

The challenge Elder Oaks gave at the end of his talk to have citizenship in Christ’s Church and not use a visa to visit Babylon, have a second residence there, or act like one of its citizens, really called my attention to the ways in which I am not fully a member of Christ’s Church. I need to be constantly “examin[ing] [myself], whether [I] be in the faith.”

I need to have that examination daily. I know there are ways in which I let Babylon creep into my life, and I really do want to be a true follower of the Savior.

What think ye of Christ? Do you do a “self-examination” to determine if you are “in the faith”? How do you keep yourself away from Babylon? What is your testimony of the Savior?

Find more great comments and insights
into this and other talks from General Conference
at Stephanie’s General Conference Book Club

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Joseph Smith and a Personal Relationship with Christ

Today the Relief Society lesson was Chapter 4 from The Teachings of George Albert Smith manual. The entire lesson was about Joseph Smith and the restoration, and it was a really good lesson for me. I have always believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and when I was a teenager I think I started understanding the significance of the First Vision a little more, but I never really had a “missionary” testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. You know – when the missionaries teach about the First Vision and the spirit is so strong it almost knocks you off your feet. I’ve always been able to feel the testimony of others, but never been really able to feel that testimony coming from within. You know the difference.

A few weeks ago I was looking at the lessons in the manual and checking out which lessons I would be “teaching” in Relief Society (I feel it’s more like leading a group discussion than actually “teaching” – especially because I am one of the youngest members of our ward’s Relief Society). I noticed that last week was a lesson on the Savior and then my lesson was going to be on Joseph Smith, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to lead discussion about the Savior! I love the Savior! I feel like I know Him! What a great topic!

But I had to teach about Joseph Smith. This somewhat mysterious man to me (even though I have read biographies about him, and I even took a History of the Church religion class at BYU – and I still didn’t really feel like I knew him very well) I would have to teach about and talk about for about 45 minutes. I didn’t think I could do it.

Then I started reading the manual. Wow. Talk about good stuff. And did you know that the Spirit will guide you as you prepare lessons? Just sayin’.

My favorite part of the lesson (after the part where I read Joseph Smith History 1:10-19 and had to choke back tears because the Spirit was so strong) was the part where President George Albert Smith said,

It was a very natural thing that Joseph Smith should seek the Lord. He came of a … people who believed in our Heavenly Father, in the divine mission of the Savior, in the efficacy of prayer, and that God would hear and answer his people if they went before him with a proper spirit. It was easy for this young man to believe, because he had been born and reared in a believing household; and when he went out into the woods in response to the injunction of the scripture (James 1:5): “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” he believed that his prayer would be answered, and our Heavenly Father has promised his children from the beginning, that, “by faith ye may know all things.”

This brought back a flood of memories of things that I had learned about Joseph Smith’s family. He came from a very faithful family – on both sides. His ancestors and his parents were men and women who believed in God and had great faith.

And then I thought, “Would it be (is it?) natural for my children to seek the Lord when they have a question? Do they have faith that Heavenly Father loves them and will answer their prayers?”

I realized that I am not doing nearly a good enough job raising my children in a “ believing household.” Sure, we have family prayer and read the scriptures together, but do I tell my children every time the Lord answers my prayers? Do I lead by example by going to the Lord when I need help or answers?

From Rob Gardner’s “Joseph Smith the Prophet”

I have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that he is a prophet of God. I know that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove, just as he said he did.

On a different note, if you checked out the Sunday Study link-up yesterday, you’ll know that I was going to study this (somewhat ancient) talk by President James E. Faust. Well. I did. And wow. Now you need to go read it.

If you struggle with your personal relationship with Christ, go read that talk. President (well, then Elder) Faust has some great instruction to help you figure it all out. I want to have a more personal relationship with the Savior, and this talk has helped me clearly see the way I can do that.

Also, Chocotania’s post today about becoming something better than you are, three weeks at a time, was really well written and very motivating. I am going to follow her example and change one habit for three weeks, every three weeks (hopefully for the rest of my life). Can you imagine the impact that could have on your life? There is always something we can change, and as I mentioned in the comments on that post, I have been on a “personal improvement plateau” for the past year or so. I mentioned that my “status quo” has been pretty good. I read my scriptures daily, study the gospel mostly daily (in addition to the scripture study), I prayed daily, I basically did all the “basics”. But that’s not enough. I need to be moving forward. If you’re not moving toward the Savior, you’re moving away from Him, right?

So my plan is to change a habit or start a new habit for three weeks, every three weeks. I am going to spend this week praying about what to do first, because it has to be small and simple – line upon line. But I want to make sure that it is a really significant thing, and because my goal this year is to find out what Heavenly Father wants for me, I am going to make sure that I get His input on my first task.

How do you change habits or make new ones? How do you develop your personal relationship with the Savior? What is your testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sunday Study link-up

(Image credit: LDS Media Library)

Can you believe the weekend is here already? Time has been going so fast for me lately, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Here’s this weeks’ lineup!

Cyber-Minutes and Light-Years – at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ: about serving our families and our children

The Mormon Moment – at Meridian Magazine: by Jocelyn, a great post. I really liked how she talked about the significance of the “individual” Mormon moment – the moments when we feel the Spirit.

A Personal Relationship with the Savior – from 1976 General Conference – President James E. Faust

Science and Religion – topic study after reading Fred’s comments the other day about science and religion

Now it’s your turn!

What have you read this week that you would like to share? What are you planning on studying on the Sabbath? Add your link below!

If you need ideas of what to link up, check out the first Sunday Study link up.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Forgetfulness and the Holy Ghost

I just can't get enough of the Book of Mormon. I get sucked in and can't stop reading. I can't stop asking questions while I read, either.


For example, I was reading 1 Nephi 7 and I came across Nephi's little lecture to Laman and Lemuel - "How is it that ye have forgotten that ye have seen and angel of the Lord?" "How is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord has done for us?" "How is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things?"

This is the first time I realized that no one ever really answers those questions in the Book of Mormon. Laman and Lemuel just end up angry with Nephi and they tie him up. (more about that later)

Well, as I was reading, I thought of the scripture John 14:26 which says the Holy Ghost will "bring all things to your remembrance". In context, the Savior was telling his disciples that the Holy Ghost would help them remember the things He had taught them, even after he was gone. In the same way, then, the Holy Ghost can help us remember our blessings. But we will not have that remembrance without the Holy Ghost, and we need to have faith and be living worthy of his companionship.

From observation, we can tell that Laman and Lemuel didn't always have the Holy Ghost with them. They lacked the faith necessary for that gift, and so it was easy for them to forget the blessings and promises of the Lord.

I know that the Spirit has helped me remember my blessings and remember ye promises the Lord has given me. I hope that I can always remember the role the Spirit plays in helping me remember.

Have you ever forgotten blessings and promises you have received from Heavenly Father? Has the Spirit helped you remember those things?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fulness of his Intent

Post have been few and far between this week. I have been catching up in a lot of areas of my life and now I am getting back into posting. At least a little. I still need to do GCBC this week!

I have been reading the Book of Mormon every day, but not my one and a half pages, so I will probably spend some quality time in its pages this weekend.

Have I told you how much I absolutely love the Book of Mormon?

Here's part of why:


I have been learning that every page of this book has a purpose - and that purpose is to draw people to Christ and the Father and to salvation.

Faith in Christ. Repent. Be baptized. Receive the Holy Ghost. Endure to the end.

There is a reason we call them the "first principles and ordinances of the gospel". They are the ones that are plastered on every page of the Book of Mormon.

How are you doing with your Book of Mormon reading? Are you trying to finish by a certain time? What is your favorite message from the Book of Mormon?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Father's Testimony

We hear a lot about how the stripling warriors were taught by their mothers and that is why they had such great faith. This story is a favorite among Church members, especially mothers. In fact, when it comes to parents teaching their children the gospel, this is probably the most quoted scripture story.

But there is another, less well-known story I would like to share. This is the story of Helaman and his sons Nephi and Lehi.

Helaman was a great chief judge who was very righteous. The Nephites were mostly righteous and prosperous while he was the chief judge. After he died, his son Nephi became the chief judge.

While Nephi was the chief judge, the Nephites started getting more and more wicked (although Nephi was a very righteous judge - "he did keep the commandments of God, and did walk in the ways of his father.") After a while, Nephi got sick of all the wickedness, and he got out of government and went back to missionary work (probably with his wife at this point, I imagine this was like him serving a couples' mission after retiring from the senate in the United States). He and his brother Lehi "took it upon [themselves] to preach the word of God all the remainder of [their] days". They made this decision because they remembered the testimony of their father, Helaman. "For they remembered the words their Father Helaman spake unto them."

And it turns out that what Nephi and Lehi learned from their father Helaman is almost as famous as the story of the stripling warriors.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
"And it came to pass that they did preach with great power," and they were able to teach the Nephites who had left the Church "insomuch that they came forth and did confess their sins and were baptized unto repentance."

I love this story as much as I love the stripling warrior story. It is interesting to me that in both cases, the young men were taught about faith and prayer and the Savior (basic principles of the gospel), but while the stripling warriors used their faith to fight valiantly in a war to defend their freedoms, Nephi and Lehi used their faith to powerfully preach the gospel.

How were you taught by your parents? Were both of your parents equally influential in your gospel learning? Were you more like the stripling warriors, who were taught by their mothers? Or did your father teach you the basic doctrines of the gospel? Or were you like Abraham, who didn't learn the gospel from his parents at all?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Families are Forever

 

RossP1010031We had a very merry Christmas for 2011, with the presence of every member of my parents’ family – even my oldest brother was there was there. Well, his picture was there, and we thought about him and talked about him a lot.

We took some family pictures (thanks, Victoria!) and when it was time for us to have the “mom and dad and offspring” picture, I kept looking around for my brother. There was someone missing. It was kind of hard. We really miss him.

 

1227_0356

As I was thinking about writing a post today, I remembered this oldy (but goody) from the LDS Church back in the 70s. The first time I heard it (when I was a kid) I cried my eyes out, and I still can’t get to the end without bawling.

It is a lot more poignant for me now. And I am so grateful for the testimony I have that families are forever.

“Dad, dad, it’s alright! Families are forever!”

“And he said, ‘Dad, dad, it’s alright! Families are forever!”

Do you have a testimony of eternal families? Have you lost a family member and been comforted by the knowledge we have that “families are forever”?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Have not Required it, But the Lord

When Lehi told Nephi and his brothers to go and get the brass plates from Jerusalem, he said





(1 Nephi 3:5)

Lehi told Nephi that it wasn't a commandment from him (Lehi), but rather a commandment from God.

This prompted me to ask the question, "How can I make sure that my children understand that the commandments are from God rather from us as their parents?"

I imagine that principle can easily be missed by children and their parents when parents seek to limit their children's agency, rather than teaching them the gospel.

I am reminded of my favorite scripture to read to my kids - Mosiah 4:14-15

"And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit... He being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another."



(my 4 year old almost has that scripture memorized... I really like reading it to them...)

Maybe this scripture holds some of the answer to that question.

How do you teach your children that the laws of God are truly God's laws, and not "mom and dad's" laws? How do you help them understand that what you are teaching them is not what you require of them, but rather, what God requires of them?

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elder David A. Bednar’s Regional Conference Talk

I have noticed that a few people have been finding my blog looking for Elder Bednar’s Regional Conference talk for the South Salt Lake Valley regional conference. Not sure if he has given another talk at a different conference since then, but I figured I should post the notes from ours. Our conference was on Sunday, October 23, 2011.

I actually found a website with an audio file and transcript. However, I am hesitant to post a link to it here because of a Church policy that says “Church members should not record the talks or addresses that General Authorities… give at stake conferences, missionary meetings, or other meetings. However, members may record broadcasts of general conference on home equipment for personal, noncommercial use.” I am going to send an email and figure out if it’s okay to post that, and I will get back to you.

Now I wish I had taken more notes. I am sure I took notes during the conference, but I can’t find them, and I am sure that I was more occupied with trying to make sure my children didn’t smash cheerios in the carpet of the Conference Center (our stake was invited – and encouraged – to attend at the Conference Center), or throw fits disrupting the people behind us. So I probably didn’t take very many notes anyway. However, apparently I either remembered a lot, or by some stroke of inspiration by the Holy Ghost I wrote here on the blog a lot of the things Elder Bednar said – most of the things I just mentioned in passing in another post, but I’ve collected them all here for you.

Sacrifices and Things That Matter

I made it home and we went to our Regional Stake Conference on Sunday where we listened to Elder Bednar. The first thing out of his mouth was a story about how his son chose not to play in a football tournament that was going to be on Sunday. And then how his sons gave up attending a college basketball game they wanted to attend – because it was going to be on a Sunday. Can I tell you how relieved I felt that I wasn’t driving up from Las Vegas during his talk? I don’t even know what those stories had to do with the rest of his talk (wrestling a four year old and two year old during conference might have had something to do with that) so I almost felt like his words were so that I would feel as if the Lord noticed my decision and approved of it.
Being With God

We had the privilege of listening to Elder David A. Bednar at our Regional Conference on Sunday at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He spoke about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck with me the most was his admonition to study the life and character of the Savior, because we need to receive His image in our countenance – and in order to become like the Savior, we need to know the Savior.

I thought it was interesting that Elder Bednar specifically mentioned studying the gospels and 3 Nephi, because during the Relief Society Broadcast I felt a distinct prompting to study those exact scriptures – to really study the life of the Savior so that I could become more like Him.

Elder Bednar pointed out the translation of verse 11: “Then the devil leaveth him, and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and behold they came and ministered unto him (John).” This translation is significantly different than the Savior having angels minister to Him. The Lord knew that John was in prison, and he had just been fasting for forty days and forty nights and had been dealing with the father of lies, and instead of worrying about himself, the Savior sent angels to minister to John.

The Time Shall Come

At our Regional Stake Conference yesterday, Elder David A. Bednar talked about this principle. We cannot be converted to programs, people, or policies. We are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ – which is that He lives and that He atoned for our sins. Sometimes I think that we lose sight of the “most important message” of the Church. We need to remember that our message is of the Savior – and that is the message that we need to take to the world.

Yesterday Elder Bednar testified that He alone does not have any of the capacity or ability to be an apostle – but that through the atonement of the Savior and through the power of the Holy Ghost, he is made to be more than he is. I loved Elder Bednar’s thoughts about that and I think they fit in with Elder Clayton’s testimony that this work is God’s work. We participate in God’s work as we allow the Savior to make us more than we are – and God does his work through us, but it is still God’s work. And we would do well to remember that.

In case my notes aren’t enough, I found a few other people who wrote about Elder Bednar’s talk:

Mormon Wookiee: Regional Conference with Elder David A. Bednar
Mormon Angst: A Testimony is Not Enough
LDS Freedom Forum: Notes from Jason

Here are some links to a few similar talks from Elder Bednar:

In the Strength of the Lord” (BYU speech, 2001)
The Character of Christ” (BYU-I Symposium , 2003)

Is this what you were looking for? If you attended, did you have any other notes from Elder Bednar’s address? Please share them here if you did!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

That He May Prove Us

Book of  Mormon Papers - a series of posts
containing papers I wrote for a
BYU Religion class my freshman year of college.

(Note: This paper reminds me of a midterm that I wrote for this class about the Church of the Lamb of God. I can’t wait to post that paper – it was really long, so I might have to post it in parts. While reading the part where I say Heavenly Father “will give His children many opportunities to accept [the gospel]” I was reminded of something a friend of mine said during a Relief Society lesson. She said that before the judgment day “Each person will be taught the gospel in a way that they perfectly understand what they are accepting or rejecting.” I think that is pretty true, and kind of what I was saying in this paper.)

Nephi received a vision of many prophesies of the latter days. In these prophesies Nephi was shown the loss of many plain and precious parts of the gospel through the formation of a great an abominable church. Nephi was also shown the restoration of the gospel to the earth and the work that would spread the gospel to the world. The Lord also taught Nephi that some of the children of men would not accept the gospel. If the Lord knew who would accept the gospel and who would not, why did He not judge those He knew would not accept the gospel? Not only is the Lord merciful in that He will give His children many opportunities to accept and come unto Him, it is expedient that He should provide a way to test and try the children of men so that He may prove us – whether as followers of Him or followers of the “great and abominable church.”

The Lord told Nephi that “because of these things [the plain and precious parts of the gospel] which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, and exceedingly many do stumble…insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (1 Nephi 13:29) This may seem like a hopeless situation for those who never receive the plain and precious parts of the gospel. However, the Lord also states that He will be merciful unto the Gentiles and “bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel.” (1 Nephi 13:34) The Lord goes on to describe to Nephi the restoration of the gospel. The Lord wants His children to know of His gospel and would not let them perish in ignorance.

However, as more knowledge is revealed to the children of men, they have a much more crucial responsibility. The Lord said to Nephi that He would “work a marvelous work among the children of men.” (1 Nephi 14:7) This work is to be “everlasting” – or to be an eternal judgment. The Lord’s purpose in bringing forth the gospel in the latter days is to prove the children of men, either to convince them “unto peace and life eternal” or “unto their bringing brought down into captivity.” (1 Nephi 14:7). “Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? Now is the time to show!” (Hymn No. 260) The Lord has revealed His gospel in the latter days to prove the children of men and to separate them into those on His side and those against. The Lord has said that “whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations.” (1 Nephi 14:10).

Although the Lord is merciful and wishes all of His children to return to live with Him again, there stands the eternal truth that “the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God.” (1 Nephi 15:34) Therefore, the Lord has prepared a way to prove the children of men and judge them according to their hearts by bringing forth the gospel in the latter day, requiring man to choose between “liberty and eternal life…or captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

What things do you learn about from the revelations that were given to Nephi? Do you think each child of God will have every opportunity to accept the gospel? What is the great and abominable church? What is the Church of the Lamb of God?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stand in Holy Places

(find the talk here)

I didn’t get a chance to read this talk this morning, but I was super tired (my wonderful husband surprised me on Saturday with a brand new computer(!) and I spent most of Saturday and Sunday evening trying to get all my photo albums switched over to the new computer) – so I am trying to make up for it now.

I really enjoyed this talk. I am pretty sure that it was one of the first talks our ward Relief Society studied for our Teachings for Our Times lesson.

It’s not hard to see that what President Thomas S. Monson said about the “moral compass of society” is absolutely true.

“Also evolving at a rapid rate has been the moral compass of society. Behaviors which once were considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated but also viewed by ever so many as acceptable.”
It’s interesting that there are a lot of things that made people uncomfortable decades ago and now are mostly the “norm” – and some of those things are good (interracial marriage, women’s suffrage, etc) and some of those things are bad (views on homosexuality, skewed priorities of mothers, financial miseducation, etc).

“Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant.” The bishop of one of my student wards in college drew the two lines as pictured above on a chalkboard during a combined Relief Society and Priesthood meeting. Actually, the first time he drew the lines, the top line ran parallel to the bottom line. He discussed with us how the world’s morality has always been slightly lower than the morality of members of the Church, but how members today are letting their standards fall along with the world – even though our standards are still higher than those of the world. Then he erased the top line and drew a straight line across like the one I have pictured. He then taught us about the constancy of God and how His laws never change, and so our standards should never be lowered. The gap between the standards of the Church and the standards of the world should be growing if the standards of the world are declining.

Most of us probably experience feelings of uncertainty when we think about raising children in today’s society, which is only getting worse and worse. President Monson asks the questions:IMG_0397-001 “Do we wring our hands in despair and wonder how we’ll ever survive in such a world?” His answer is an emphatic “No.” And I echo that sentiment. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, and we know how to keep our families safe from the storms of the world. President Monson’s message is that the way to keep our families safe is by maintaining a close relationship with our Father in Heaven.

This is something that I frequently “wring my hands” about teaching my children:

“It may appear to you at times that those out in the world are having much more fun than you are. Some of you may feel restricted by the code of conduct to which we in the Church adhere. My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates.”

I am always concerned that my children will feel this way – that the laws of God are restrictive. I want to teach them that obedience to God’s laws brings “more joy into our lives [and] more peace to our souls”.

Just tonight I had a conversation with my four year old, who is having a really hard time learning how to obey rules. He tells me all the time that he wishes there were “no rules” and that he could just do “whatever [he] want[s]” to do. We talked about how kites fly by being held by a string, and that if we let go of the string, the kite will fall down to the ground. Then we talked about how following God’s rules helps us feel the Spirit and how obeying our parents keeps us safe, and how obeying the rules to a game helps us have more fun.

I hope that bedtime conversation will have an impact on him. I know that just one conversation will not be enough – I will have to show him by my obedience to God’s laws, and other important “rules” and we will talk about this concept frequently. I still can’t help but worry about him.

On a concluding note, I have to say that I wish I could say that “not a day has gone by that I have not communicated with my Father in Heaven through prayer.” I want to make a goal to communicate with my Father in Heaven every day.

How do you keep your family safe in this morally declining world? How often do you communicate with your Heavenly Father?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sunday Study Link-up

Welcome to the first edition of my Sunday Reads Link-up! I am very excited about this (mostly because it will give me a place to stick talks that I want to remember to study on Sunday but also because you get to participate!).

Here’s how this is going to work. Each Saturday, I am going to post a few links to some of the talks/articles/blog posts/scriptures that I read/found that week that I either read and want to share, or were shared with me and I want to read. Does that even make sense? I think you’ll get the hang of it.

And I want you to share, too. I want you to link up talks/articles/posts/scriptures that you think would be appropriate Sunday reading material. Since I kind of have a thing with keeping the Sabbath day holy, I like to be armed with lots of good study material, so I don’t waste precious Sabbath study time (i.e., the kids’ nap time).

I haven’t really come up with a theme for this week, but some weeks I might have a theme. On “themed” weeks you don’t have to link to a talk/article/post/scripture that goes along with the theme. Anything will do.

I have a folder on my Bookmarks bar that says “Good Reads” and I bookmark things that I want to go back later and read, but I usually forget to do that. So this link-up party is more for me, I guess.

Without further ado, here are my Sunday Reads:

Teaching the Doctrine of the Family – Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President

Baptismal Talk on the Holy Ghost – Scriptorium Blogorium

The Remnant in the Book of Mormon – Feast upon the Word Blog

3 Nephi 20-21

What are you going to be studying this Sunday? Link up here!

What should you link up?
1.) scriptures – link to the specific scripture at scriptures.lds.org
2.) talks/articles from Church magazines
3.) anything you can find searching on lds.org
4.) gospel related blog posts (try stuff from Women in the Scriptures, Diapers and Divinity, Scriptorium Blogorium, We Talk of Christ We Rejoice in Christ – there are lots of great blogs out there, just make sure the posts are gospel related)
5.) BYU/BYU-I/BYU-H devotional addresses, or Women’s Conference talks, or notes about talks from General Authorities
6.) anything else gospel related/Sunday appropriate reading material

I look forward to reading things you share!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Fragments

I’m going to do a little break from the ordinary here, mostly because I need it, and list 5 things I am grateful for (not necessarily in order of importance).

-1-

My Family.

Not just my family – everything about them. My heritage. The values my parents and my grandparents have instilled in their children and grandchildren. I am a member of a very giving, open, loving, caring, generous family. I could go on and on with examples of ways the Joseph Theron Smith family is amazing, but I’ll just say they are wonderful. Amazing and wonderful.

-2-

My husband.

Although he isn’t always very patient with me, he does help me see my weaknesses, and I can’t change what I don’t know is wrong. Marriage has been a great tool to help me grow and develop my personal characteristics. I just hope my husband can stand me long enough to let me grow.

-3-

The gospel.

Just read my blog. You’ll know why. I’m particularly fond of the Book of Mormon lately.

-4-

Search Engines.

Particularly the one on LDS.org, but any one that assists me in a search for knowledge and information.

-5-

My body.

I am always amazed at the ingenuity of our physical bodies. Their ability to heal themselves is miraculous to me. I wish I could say I take excellent care of my physical body, but sometimes I let it slide… and there really isn’t a good excuse. I need to take better care of it. Speaking of which… I better go get some breakfast so we can go the the gym! We’re going as a family today, with my sister and her husband, too! It’s going to be great (I hope – I’m still pretty sore from pump class on Tuesday…)

What are you grateful for?

Find more random bits of Friday
over at Women in the Scriptures

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow morning and link up your Sunday Reads!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reading Again and Again

If you missed my post yesterday – I finished the Book of Mormon on January 31st at 11:30pm! I made my goal of finishing by the end of January (although my goal changed a few times along the way).

As I was reading about the destruction in Ether and Moroni, I started getting really excited to start at the beginning again. photo (1)I already had a brand new economy copy of the Book of Mormon ready for service! Doesn’t it just look like it is ready to be devoured?

I did the calculations, and including the title page, witness pages, and Joseph Smith history pages, I need to read approximately 1.6 pages of the Book of Mormon every day in order to finish by the end of the year. I decided that I am going to round up to two pages, that way if I miss a few days, or if I can only read one page, or half a page, some days, I’ll be fine.

My desire to read the Book of Mormon each year stems from a desire to be like Elder Richard G. Scott’s wife. In October General Conference, Elder Scott said this about his wife:

“For I don’t know how many years, as the end of the year approached, I would see [my wife] sitting quietly, carefully finishing the entire Book of Mormon yet another time before year’s end.”

I want to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover every year. I can’t remember where I read it (probably on the Book of Mormon Forum blog hop last year) (edit 2-3-12: turns out that was Cocoa from Chocolate on My Cranium! Thanks, Cocoa!), that someone mentioned keeping a scripture journal each time she read the Book of Mormon, and that she wanted to give one of the journals to each of her kids. Instead of keeping a separate journal, I use an economy copy of the Book of Mormon each time I read it, and I just use a regular old ball-point pen and underline, box, and circle words, draw, and write notes in the margins of the pages. By the time I am finished with the economy copy of the Book of Mormon, it is my scripture journal. But I loved this sister’s idea to give a copy to each of her kids. I think I will do this with my economy copies of the Book of Mormon. Since I will have a copy of the Book of Mormon for each year, I think I’ll have plenty of copies to share with my children.

As I write my thoughts and insights and questions in the margins of the pages, I think about this scripture:

“And upon these I write the things of my soul… for my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.”  (2 Nephi 4:14-16)

As I write my thoughts and feelings and questions in the Book of Mormon margins, I feel like I am writing my own scriptures for my children. And I hope that I can teach them to love the Book of Mormon as much as I do.

How do you study the Book of Mormon? How do you motivate yourself to read it over and over again? Do you read the Book of Mormon every year? How many times have you read the Book of Mormon cover to cover?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Finished!!

I finished the Book of Mormon!



I did it! I finished the Book of Mormon! I wish that I could say I have read it cover to cover countless times, but this is only the third time I have. However, I made a goal at last General Conference to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover every year.

I want to be like Elder Scott's wife.

After October General Conference, I was determined to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of 2011 so that I could start again in January. The holidays were crazy at our house, and so that didn't quite happen. Then I was determined to finish by last weekend, and I got so close, but it still didn't happen. Finally, I knew that I could finish by the end of January, and last night around 11:30pm I finished reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover.



It was a really interesting experience for me to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover in such a short amount of time (at the beginning of last year I was only in 2 Nephi).


I shouldn't have been surprised to find that every page of the Book of Mormon is a call to come unto Christ. There is a distinct theme to the Book of Mormon - it is: believe in Christ, have faith in Him, come unto Him, repent, be baptized, and endure faithfully to the end.

I know that the Book of Mormon is of God. I know it with a perfect knowledge. How? Why? This is what I wrote in my journal last night:

"for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the powe and gift of Christ; wherefore ye maknow with a perfect knowledge it is of God."
Moroni 7:16

I believe that no one can read the Book of Mormon and not come to that knowledge that it is of God. You cannot do it. You can deny your feelings all you want - but you will "know with a perfect knowledge" that it is true. Don't believe me? Go ahead - prove me wrong. I dare you.

Want a copy of the Book of Mormon? Just email me your mailing address and I will put one in the mail for you - with a personal message to you from me.

You can also request a copy from the Church by using the Book of Mormon link on the side bar -->

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Filled by the Sacrament

I don't know about you, but one little piece of bread and one sip of water has never really filled me up. (not that it should).

But in 3 Nephi 18, when Christ administers the sacrament to He disciples and to the multitude, the scriptures say the disciples and the multitude "had eaten and were filled" and then later "they did drink, and they were filled."

Apparently taking the sacrament "filled" the Nephites. Filled their bellies? Probably not. I imagine that what the scriptures mean here is that the were "filled" with the Spirit of Christ and with the covenant they were making with the Father to "always remember" Christ.

Do you ever feel "filled" when you take the sacrament? Do you take the sacrament while thinking about the promise that you are making to "always remember Him"?


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