Thursday, June 28, 2012

Understanding the Book of Mormon

I stayed up a little too late last night reading this book - so far, it's excellent.  Hardy encourages us to approach the Book of Mormon at face value - no matter who wrote it, Joseph Smith or ancient prophets, whether it's a true book of scripture of a fictional work, let's review it based on it's own merits.  This book makes a strong case that when examined closely, the Book of Mormon "exhibits a literary exuberance that frustrates quick judgments and reductive analysis" (267). By shifting "attention away from Joseph Smith and back to the Book of Mormon itself, a common discourse becomes possible" through literary analysis (xvi).

I'm excited to continue reading, it's already brought me new insights and opened my mind to things I'd never notices or considered before. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Be of Good Cheer

We heard this talk in April 2007 when we were living in Brazil and I was Com-Plain-Ing with a capital C.  Elder Holland's talk that conference was for me:

Two favorite parts -

I love what Elder Orson F. Whitney once said: “The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience.” We should honor the Savior’s declaration to “be of good cheer.” (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!) Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. 

Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Strengthening The Family

Pondering today about what I can do to make this summer and our home better for my kids - heard great advice here by Elder Robert D. Hales -

I will continue to ponder these things and evaluate how I'm doing.  I bolded things that I think I'm doing well and highlighted in pink things that I want to work on.  Today I'm going to focus on giving a soft answer.
  • Make our homes a safe place where each family member feels love and a sense of belonging. Realize that each child has varying gifts and abilities; each is an individual requiring special love and care.
  • Remember, “a soft answer turneth away wrath” (Prov. 15:1). When my sweetheart and I were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, Elder Harold B. Lee gave us wise counsel: “When you raise your voice in anger, the Spirit departs from your home.” We must never, out of anger, lock the door of our home or our heart to our children. Like the prodigal son, our children need to know that when they come to themselves they can turn to us for love and counsel.  
  • Spend individual time with our children, letting them choose the activity and the subject of conversation. Block out distractions.
  • Encourage our children’s private religious behavior, such as personal prayer, personal scripture study, and fasting for specific needs. Measure their spiritual growth by observing their demeanor, language, and conduct toward others.
  • Pray daily with our children.
  • Read the scriptures together. I remember my own mother and father reading the scriptures as we children sat on the floor and listened. Sometimes they would ask, “What does that scripture mean to you?” or “How does it make you feel?” Then they would listen to us as we responded in our own words.
  • Read the words of the living prophets and other inspiring articles for children, youth, and adults in Church magazines.
  • We can fill our homes with the sound of worthy music as we sing together from the hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook.
  • Hold family home evening every week. As parents, we are sometimes too intimidated to teach or testify to our children. I have been guilty of that in my own life. Our children need to have us share spiritual feelings with them and to teach and bear testimony to them.
  • Hold family councils to discuss family plans and concerns. Some of the most effective family councils are one on one with each family member. Help our children know their ideas are important. Listen to them and learn from them.
  • Invite missionaries to teach less-active or nonmember friends in our homes.
  • Show that we sustain and support Church leaders.
  • Eat together when possible, and have meaningful mealtime discussions.  
  • Work together as a family, even if it may be faster and easier to do the job ourselves. Talk with our sons and daughters as we work together. I had that opportunity every Saturday with my father.
  • Help our children learn how to build good friendships and make their friends feel welcome in our homes. Get to know the parents of the friends of our children.
  • Teach our children by example how to budget time and resources. Help them learn self-reliance and the importance of preparing for the future.
  • Teach our children the history of our ancestors and of our own family history.
  • Build family traditions. Plan and carry out meaningful vacations together, considering our children’s needs, talents, and abilities. Help them create happy memories, improve their talents, and build their feelings of self-worth.
  • By word and example, teach moral values and a commitment to obeying the commandments.
  • After my baptism and confirmation, my mother drew me aside and asked, “What do you feel?” I described as best I could the warm feeling of peace, comfort, and happiness I had. Mother explained that what I was feeling was the gift I had just received, the gift of the Holy Ghost. She told me that if I lived worthy of it, I would have that gift with me continually. That was a teaching moment that has lived with me all my life.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Search Me, O God, And Know My Heart

Love this talk by President Faust - text here.  I found this conference cd while cleaning my desk, it is wonderful ~

My favorite part:

We should always honor and keep sacred the saving covenants we make with the Lord. If we do, He has promised, “Thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”
Paul spoke of those in his day who demonstrated that “the work of the law [was] written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.”For members of this Church to enjoy the blessings of a covenant people, the law of the Lord must be written in their hearts. How can they do this when so many voices tell our children and grandchildren that evil is good and good is evil? (I see that so much, it is frustrating...) We would hope that all fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, would be better examples in keeping the commandments of God. We ask husbands and wives to try a little harder to be loving and kind with each other. If both parents will insulate their family as far as they can from the many influences that prey upon us, their children are more likely to be safeguarded. Daily scripture study, daily prayer, regular family home evening, obedience to priesthood authority in the home and in the Church constitute a great insurance policy against spiritual deterioration.

Who wouldn't want a spiritual insurance policy?  Here it is again - 4 steps to help us safeguard our children from evil:

Daily Scripture Study
Daily Prayer
Regular Family Home Evening
Obedience to Priesthood Authority in the Home and in the Church

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Living Water

Here's another amazing talk by Elder Bednar -

Text of the talk here.

Thank you Nicole for sharing this with me.  I love the gospel, it is delicious to me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Understanding Is A Wellspring of Life

This is an amazing devotional address by David A. Bednar, given when he was the President of Ricks College, now BYU Idaho.

Here is the first part below:


Proverbs 16:22
Ricks College Campus Education Week Devotional
June 3, 1999
Elder David A. Bednar
© 1999 by Ricks College. All rights reserved

Good morning, brothers and sisters, and welcome to our Ricks College Campus Education Week. Sister Bednar and I are delighted to be with you. 
I pray for and invite the Spirit of the Lord to be with each of us today, that we may truly understand one another and be edified and rejoice together (D&C 50:22).

During my remarks this morning, I will refer to a significant number of scriptures— many more than we could possibly read together in the allotted devotional time. Some of the references I will specifically ask you to look up in your scriptures and read along with me; other verses I will quote directly and provide only the reference. For your convenience a number of scriptures and key concepts will be projected on the large screen directly above me. In addition, a handout sheet detailing all of the scriptural references I will use can be picked up at the conclusion of today’s devotional. You may find it helpful to study the quoted verses in more detail at a later time.

As Susan mentioned, the theme for our Campus Education Week this year is taken from Proverbs chapter 16 verse 22: "Understanding is a wellspring of life . . ." For some time I have been thinking about and working to understand the scriptural meaning of the word understanding. Today I would like to address two fundamental questions related to this important concept: (1) What is the scriptural meaning of understanding, and (2) what key principles are related to understanding?
Question #1 — What is the scriptural meaning of understanding?

In the scriptures, understanding is frequently linked to and associated with both knowledge and wisdom. For example, Exodus chapter 31 verse 3 describes an inspired artisan who helped to build and furnish the tabernacle.
And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.
In Proverbs chapter 4 verse 7 we read:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
In Proverbs chapter 9 verse 10 we learn:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Job asks in chapter 28 verse 12:
But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
Job then provides an inspired answer to his own question in verse 28:
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
Mormon, as he finishes his record, indicates that he writes . . .
. . . according to the knowledge and understanding which God has given me. (Words of Mormon 1:9)
Clearly, understanding cannot be understood apart from knowledge and wisdom.
Interestingly, understanding is also commonly described in the scriptures in relation to the heart. For example:
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?(Job 38:36)
My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.(Psalms 49:3)
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding. (Proverbs 2:2)
Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. (Mosiah 12:27)
. . . but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. (Mosiah 2:9)
And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed. (3 Nephi 19:33)
You may now be asking yourself, Elder Bednar, what is the point? What are the relationships among knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? And why in the scriptures is understanding frequently associated with the heart? Let me try to briefly explain.

Knowledge typically is the foundation of understanding. We use our minds and our intellect, our experience, and the process of reasoning to acquire information, to analyze facts, to recognize patterns and relationships, and to summarize what we have learned and know about people, places, and events. As we learn in the ninety-third section of the Doctrine and Covenants, "Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come" (verse 24; emphasis added). Knowledge in and of itself does not guarantee understanding, but understanding cannot be obtained without knowledge.

Understanding is built upon knowledge and precedes wisdom. As described in the scriptures, we use our hearts and the process of revelation to obtain a confirming spiritual witness concerning the truth of what we have come to know. In and through our hearts the Holy Ghost certifies more completely and helps us to feel deeply the truth of what we have come to know intellectually. Understanding grows out of knowledge that is certified as true by the Holy Ghost and produces an illumination, a comprehension, a perspective, and a depth of desire and commitment not obtainable through reason alone. As President Harold B. Lee frequently taught, "When your heart begins to tell you things that your mind does not know, then you are getting the spirit of the Lord" (New Era, February 1971, pg. 3).


Love that last quote!  I think I'm starting to get the spirit of the Lord!  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Come To Zion

This is one of the talks that began my study and pondering of Zion:

"Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, “the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen."

"The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 186)."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Triumph of Zion

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this book is amazing and wonderful, please read it.  I cannot recommend it enough.  5 out of 5 stars.  I'm almost through reading it, and I've been taking it slow, cause I usually need a day to ponder in between each sub-heading.  Last time I went to the temple, after what I've read in this book, I felt like such an idiot, cause the temple is teaching amazing things that I thought I knew and understood, but now I realize that I have probably been pretty much clueless and have known nothing.  I've had a change of heart, probably have been born again, cause I feel like I've been turned into an infant regarding my knowledge and understanding.  I know nothing, well I still know what I know, but now I also know what I don't know, and the things I don't know are so much more in quantity and grandeur than what I do know that I now know that I don't know jack.

(read this book!!!!)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

There Are No Problems

Back in 2008, I was struggling ~ crying, searching.... and knew in my head I had no real reason to be sooo grouchy and in such a bad mood, but didn't know how to get out of it.  As I searched for answers from the scriptures, conference, friends and books, I remember reading in a book by Eckhart Tolle, that "There are no problems, just situations.  Situations to be dealt with" - something like that, and it's stuck with me.

I've been thinking about that again the past few months and wanted the reference... I have googled it, but couldn't find it.  I've been re-reading "A New Earth" to try and find it cause I thought it was in that book.  Gave up today on New Earth and started to browse through his other book "The Power of NOW" and there it was ~ allow me to share from pages 64-66
Q: It feels as if a heavy burden has been lifted.  A sens of lightness.  I feel clear... but my problems are still there waiting for me, aren't they?  They haven't been solved.  Am I not just temporarily evading them?

A:  If you found yourself in paradise, it wouldn't be long before your mind would say "yes, but..." Ultimately, this is not about solving your problems.  It's about realizing that there are no problems.  Only situations - to be dealt with now, or to be left alone and accepted as part of the "is-ness" of the present moment until they change or can be dealt with.  Problems are mind-made and need time to survive.  They cannot survive in the actuality of "the Now"

Focus your attention on the NOW and tell me what problem you have at this moment.

I am not getting any answer because it is impossible to have a problem when you attention is fully in the Now.  A situation that needs to be either dealt with or accepted - yes.  Why make it into a problem?  Why make anything into a problem?  Isn't life challenging enough as it is?  What do you need problems for?  The mind unconsciously loves problems because they give you an identity of sorts.  This is normal, and it is insane.  "Problem" means that you are dwelling on a situation mentally without there being a true intention or possibility of taking action now and that you are unconsciously making it part of your sense of self.  You become so overwhelmed by your life situation that you lose your sense of life, of Being.  Or you are carrying in your mind the insane burden of a hundred things that you will or may have to do in the future instead of focusing your attention on the one thing that you can do now.  

When you create a problem, you create pain.  All it takes is a simple choice, a simple decision: no matter what happens, I will create no more pain for myself.  I will create no more problems.  Although it is a simple choice, it is also very radical.  You won't make that choice unless you are truly fed up with suffering, unless you have truly had enough.  And you won't be able to go through with it unless you access the power of the Now.  If you create no more pain for yourself, then you create no more pain for others.  You also no longer contaminate the beautiful Earth, your inner space, and the collective human psyche with the negativity of problem-making.  

If you have ever been in a life-or-death emergency situation, you will know that it wasn't a problem.  The mind didn't have time to fool around and make it into a problem.  In a true emergency, the mind stops; you become totally present in the Now and something infinitely more powerful takes over.  This is hwy there are many reports of ordinary people suddenly becoming capable of incredibly courageous deeds.  In any emergency, either you survive or you don't.  Either way it is not a problem. 

Some people get angry when they hear me say that problems are illusions.  I am threatening to take away their sense of who they are.  They  have invested much time in a false sense of self.  For many years, they have unconsciously defined their whole identity in terms of their problems or their suffering.  Who would they be without it?

A great deal of what people say, think, or do it actually motivated by fear, which of course is always linked with having your focus on the future and being out of touch with the Now.  As there are no problems in the Now, there is no fear either.  

Should a situation arise that you need to deal with now, your action will be clear and incisive if it arises out of present-moment awareness.  It is also more likely to be effective.  It will not be a reaction coming from the past conditioning of your mind but an intuitive response to the situation.  In other instances, when the time-bound mind would have reacted, you will find it more effective to do nothing- just stay centered in the Now.

There are some things and conclusions that Tolle reaches in both of his books I don't agree with, but he still has some good points and thought provoking ideas.  This little gem of their being no problems in life is one that I remember and am happy to be doing pretty good at applying to my life.  If you have read his books or want to re-read them together, let me know and we can discuss.  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We Are At WAR

Corey and I listened to this conference talk this morning, I hadn't heard it before - it is amazing!  Everytime he speaks you're in for a spiritual smackdown!

Totally in line with some of my thoughts lately about life being black and white, opposition, and those two cannibal guys in the news (did you hear about these two stories 1 and 2?)  Satan is real and following Him leads down a path where there is nothing good or desirable - drugs, pornography, murder, cannibalism? (is it really necessary to point these things out?!?!) - they will all leave you in hell, spiritually and physically.

This is a war - Good vs. Evil, God vs. Satan

God = life, creation, love.

Satan = death, destruction, hate.

Choose God and righteousness! It leads to a beautiful family, friendships, joy ~ it is desirable and good! But I guess if people want to keep wallowing in the mire, I guess that's their choice, but I don't understand why anyone would want that.  It also made me think of how important it is for us to use our words to help gather in God's elect.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, I love Jesus Christ and his Church and am thankful for his Atonement - EVERYONE can be forgiven from ANY transgression - that's the miracle of the Atonement, and it comes with an active commitment to the gospel and repentance.  Leave behind the filth - You know more than anyone that it's not bringing you happiness.  I love living in my Zion and invite you to COME TO ZION!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Awake and Arise!

The Triumph of Zion is such a good book and has given me a lot to ponder in my mind.  I'd love for someone else to read it and discuss it with me!  Any takers?  Please, it is so profound ~ For example, from page 171:

As an organization, the Church will not begin to build the actual cities of Zion until the Lord instructs His prophet to do so.  It is improbable that the Lord will instruct His prophet to build a city until a city-sized group of people are worthy to enter it.  Thus, building Zion, it if is hindered in our day, would be because it is high centered upon our own unbelief, not upon some theological or ecclesiastical misstep of the church.

In that light, it seems quite astonishing but true that the Church has, for the moment, reached it's full potential regarding Zion.  What remains to be done is for a million members to awaken and claim the blessings being offered.  That isn't something the Church can control or even influence more profoundly than it presently is.  When we are ready and sanctified, then the Church will have something more to do regarding Zion. 

The next few pages have more insights that are deep and profound.  This cause, the Building of Zion, the City of the Living God, is our mission in our day!  This is what we have been called to do!  We have to become worthy to receive the City of Enoch, a city of translated individuals - meaning we have to be on equal standing with them (or worthy of the gift of translations!) and - Christ cannot return until Zion exists to receive Him.  So we could, through our slothfulness or ignorance, be delaying the Second coming.  It is time for us to awake and arise!  I think many of us are.  I love the Young Women and Young Men theme this year "Arise and Shine Forth - that thy light may be a standard for the nations"

From President Hinckley ~
"I need not remind you that this cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause.  It is the cause of Christ.  It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father.  It is the building of Zion on the earth, the fulfillment of prophecy given of old and of a vision revealed in this dispensation"

This is serious stuff, the most important thing, the big climax to the whole history of the earth!  And we're the ones for the job!  Awake and arise!
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