Friday, July 27, 2012

Come Listen to an Apostle of the Lord

Just listened to this episode of "Conversations" on the Mormon Channel with Elder and Sister Christofferson. My kids have been listening to this with me. We all feel so blessed to personally know this great man and his wonderful wife.

I loved from 2:57 to the end of this segment of their interview. We all have rainy days and bad moments where we falter and stumble. Keep trying, keep going, and let go of the bad moments, move on and learn from our mistakes and Praise the Lord that God's made more out of us.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To Heaven and Back

I took this book to scout camp yesterday and finished it, then passed it to Corey and he got half way through while the boys swam. It was a quick and enjoyable book. I thought it was fun that they went to Pucón, Chile, cause we've been there too! That is a treasured memory and a beautiful country. to heaven and back mary c. neal m.d. mary neal mary c neal
My favorite take away from her book is this insight: (bottom pg. 148) She was speaking with the Savior and asked him why everyone on earth isn't given the opportunity to have the same experience that she was having of seeing heaven and feeling God's love there...

It seemed that if everyone shared this experience, hatred would disappear, we would be better stewards of the earth, eradicate hunger, no longer wage wars, and generally treat one another better on a daily basis. I no longer remember his exact words, but his amused response reiterated his comments to Thomas ~

Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

I liked that part, cause that is me! I haven't seen heaven, but I believe it in just as much as Mary does. And in the Book of Mormon Christ says that if when we are humble and believe on the testimony of others without seeing, that is even more blessed - 3 Nephi 12:2 - So he's giving all the rest of us even more blessings! Isn't that nice? :)

Another part I liked was where she talks about forgiveness and shares Father Ubald short story - he's a Catholic priest from Rwanda who had 80 members of his immediate and extended family massacred. I thought this message was timely given the movie theater shootings in Colorado last week.

So, only one part in the book that I totally disagreed with was on page 12 -

It has taken me many years to truly learn that when everything seems difficult and feels as though you are swimming upstream, it is usually because you are not following the direction of God's will. When you are doing God's will, everything seems to happen without much effort of many obstacles.

As she tells her story though, she faced a lot of trials and obstacles while still doing her best to follow God and her faith grew during those experiences, so I think she'd probably disagree with herself there too, and maybe just forgot to edit that part out. :)

This talk above by Elder Bruce C. Hafen defines my position on trials and opposition pretty well. Quoted from Elder Hafen's talk:

Adam and Eve learned constantly from their often harsh experience. They knew how a troubled family feels. Think of Cain and Abel. Yet because of the Atonement, they could learn from their experience without being condemned by it. Christ’s sacrifice didn’t just erase their choices and return them to an Eden of innocence. That would be a story with no plot and no character growth. His plan is developmental—line upon line, step by step, grace for grace.

So if you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. 7 If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.

And on a final note, as I looked for an image of her book on google, I came upon these two reviews and I thought they were pretty harsh - one and two - Number two there won't read her book yet says it's "pure junk". That's a pretty strong stance to take especially for not having read it. Reminds me of people who discredit and deny the Book of Mormon and refuse to read it. 2 Nephi 29:3. The Book of Mormon is good and true, all who read it can SEE and KNOW of that Truth for themselves.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Being Distracted by Insignificant Things

We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - April 2009

I'd never heard about or heard this talk until today, where have I been?!? This is an amazingly wonderful message! Wow.  Hope it hits you like a ton of bricks too.  We are doing a great work!  I want to help build the city of Zion - Let's all be busy doing this great work, don't come down to the callings and distractions of things that try to hinder the work.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Prophets of God

As I've been pondering the ten virgins and wondering how it's possible that members of the church could be deceived, I read this post today to find what I think is an example of someone who I believe claims to be a faithful member of the church, yet I was amazed that he thinks the Proclamation is not a revelation from God and thus discounts it.  I quote from that post:

More relevantly to my own religious tradition, if I had a deep conviction that my church’s Proclamation on the Family was a revelation from God, then opposing same-sex marriage would continue to make good politico-theological sense; after all, if God in His goodness makes all His children eternally male or female, with pre-ordained and naturally validated sexual roles, then legitimating same-sex marriages might well be a matter of legitimating a mortal possibility which could only result in deep spiritual confusion and harm. .... But fortunately for myself in this matter, as I’ve long kind of felt that much–not all, but much–of what some Mormons like to claim regarding divine embodiment, the sociality of eternally gendered beings, and endless procreative expansion, was both scripturally unwarranted and kind of dumb, not taking the (non-canonized!) Proclamation’s theological claims, and all the arguments about them, particularly seriously has been easy for me. 

Amazing to me. We need to be very careful to not be deceived.  We need to take the Holy Spirit as our guide, we need to give the Lord the reigns, as Elder Watson counsels in this talk:

From this talk above we can know that the Proclamation is a Revelation from God, not of man.  As Elder Watson teaches: 

Prior to his passing in December 1973, President Lee, speaking to an assembled group of Church employees and their families, posed the question after giving a history of the Church’s welfare program: “Do you believe these prophets knew what they were talking about?” Later in the same address, concerning the Brethren’s counsel to guard against the permissiveness invading the home through inappropriate literature and television, he asked, “Are you too close to the Brethren [so that you] think of them not as prophets but as men just guessing [such counsel] might be a good thing?”

The prophets and apostles are NOT just guessing about Marriage and Family.  They are giving us counsel that will keep us safe if we have ears to hear.  Awake and arise!

Foolish or Wise?

Most all Christians are familiar with the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25.  I've been studying and pondering it today and found this article, I thought it had some great insights ( driving around with an almost empty tank in the car.  I was unprepared with gas in my car yesterday and we had to go on an hour long drive for a baby blessing, and I bought gasoline on the Sabbath, I was foolish and was not pleased with myself.)  And this post also about Christ coming like a thief in the night.

From the book "Following the Light of Christ into His Presence" - page 61 - 62:
The parable of the ten virgins teaches a powerful lesson and echoes a solemn warning to those who have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  A virgin is one who is pure and unsullied by the world.  They are those who have diligently kept themselves clean.  They are the faithful, and the good.  they are members of the church who actively pursue their assignments, pay their tithing, and raise their families n righteousness.  they are you and me, and most everyone you sit next to in church. Still, half were turned away because they did not have oil in their lamps and were walking in darkness.  They were not tuned away because they were impure, they were turned away because, without the Holy Spirit, they were unprepared to meet the Lord. 

And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.  For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver. (D&C 45:56-59)

Notice that those who are the wise virgins have all received the truth, and were not deceived.  They are not only members of His true church, they have received the truth.  They accept something which the foolish five do not recognize as truth.  Whatever it is, it has taught them how to take the Holy Spirit to be their guide.  This is what the foolish five do not know, and for which they will be turned away.  The wise virgins will have leanred the lessons of the tree of life, which taught them how to take the Holy Spirit to be their guide.  They wil have firmly clasped the rod of iron, and will not have been deceived.  

The foolish virgins have been deceived!  What is the deception which has cost them so much?  It includes the lie that one can succeed spiritually without taking the Holy Spirit to be your guide.  This is obviously what the foolish five believed, and what cost them their place at the wedding feast.  They thought that being a virgin alone was enough...

The wise virgins were different from the foolish in that they:
1) Had received the truth,
2) had taken the Holy Spirit for their guide
3) had not been deceived.

So, yesterday during our drive to the baby blessing, we listened to conference CDs, and this talk "His Servants, the Prophets" gave me some answers I was pondering as thoughts of the ten virgins was on my mind and this part caught my attention:

The answer to these searching questions comes from the prophets throughout ages past who taught the importance of searching the scriptures, along with a promise: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.”
In each dispensation, the Lord has given commandments to the prophets “that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled.  Doctrine and Covenants section 1 constitutes the Lord’s preface to the doctrines, covenants, and commandments given in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. Of specific mention are verses 37–38:
“Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

We will not be deceived if we treasure up His Word.  How do we treasure up his word?  I'm trying by flooding my life with it.

Joseph Smith - Matthew 1:37
37 And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

For more about The Word Of God - read "Following the Light of Christ into His Presence" by John Pontius.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Glimpse of Heaven

Here's my short review of A Glimpse of Heaven by JoAnna Oblander - This book is a quick read, just 110 pages and I'm almost finished with it.  Two parts I really liked:

First is from the story of how they adopted two children from Russia - (what a rollercoaster of an experience!  It made me realize 9 months of pregnancy isn't so bad.)  They were able to find and adopt them as soon as they became available for adoption, but she had been working on it for over 6 years before they were even available, so she wondered why she couldn't have just been told to find them once they were available - why the extra years of work and worry and exhaustion? 

"However, I knew the answer even before I asked the question.  I knew I needed to have the learning experiences that my search provided me with.  Heavenly Father does not construct our life's experiences with convenience in mind.  He utilized the experiences we have as opportunities for growth.  If efficiency in getting the job done was Heavenly Father's primary concern, I could have been told to find Andrew at the time he and Dina became available for adoption.  Additionally, God could have provided me with their location and all other pertinent data He wanted me to have.  However, Heavenly Father is a master teacher.  He is completely aware of both my shortcomings and my strengths.  I am convinced that He used the experience of finding my children to further enhance my strengths and to provide me with opportunities to overcome my weaknesses."

The other part I liked is in Chapter 9 where she shares some of her experiences and tips regarding Prayer and Personal Revelation - After I'm done with the book I'm going to re-read that part with a paper and pencil in hand, as Prayer and Personal Revelation are two things I've been thinking about from the other book I'm in - Following the Light of Christ into His Presence.  I loved the things she shared about how important it is to write down our impressions and revisit them and how to say your prayers out loud (I'm going to do that more) and to take time to meditate and listen for the answers to your specific questions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Faith and Trust

I think I made huge progress in learning to have Faith in God when our family took a 9 month business/leisure trip to Costa Rica and Chile.  I think I learned through the experiences and people we met there.  I'm reading the book Following the Light of Christ into His Presence and am loving it, it's helping me to add on to that faith line upon line.  This book is great just like his other book, the Triumph of Zion.  Quoting from page 74:

"Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21)

Faith does not bring a perfect, irrefutable knowledge.  It is essential to our progression that we not know perfectly until we have learned to submit ourselves to His guidance and have become like He is.  Faith somes as a result of contact with the Holy Spirit, which descends upon us because of obedience.  This divine contact brings us faith, hope and all other spiritual gifts.  These gifts purify and refine.  As spirituality grows, we are further refined, and we become more and more like Him.  When we have finally arrived at a point where we are ready to know with an absolute surety, our faith is so strong that it is a small step from faith to knowledge, and we are as nearly like Him as we can become in this life.  When we have become so purified by the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we ahve become like Him, then we will be readyt o be in his presence.  Once we have entered His presence, our faith in him will become dormant.  It will no longer even be possible to have faith in His existence, because faith will have been replaced with absolute knoweledge.  

It is the uncertainty of faith that motivates us to seek further and greater blessings.  Believing, but not knowing for sure, teaches us trust in Christ. We can't know the outcome of our obedience beforehand.  But we do learn by repeated experience that the Lord always blesses us when we obey.  He never sends us on a mission we are not equipped to complete.  He never asks us to do the impossible.  It is not possible for God to give us a goal we could never reach.  "All things are possible to them that believeth." (Mark 9:23)

Jesus Christ is faithful to deliver, and quick to honor those who love and obey him.

Not knowing of a certainty also give us both the opportunity to fail--and a pathway to succeed.  The very definition of agency is that we always ahve two paths to choose from-- right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice. (See 2 Nephi 2)

An absolute knowledge would effectively end our agency because we would have no reasonable choice.  Only the spiritually suicidal would choose to disobey such knowledge. 

The English language does not give us appropriate different words for intellectual faith and faith as a gift from God.  Intellectual faith is nothing more than a strong belief.  While it is possible to believe something so strongly you are willing to die for it, such belief is not faith.  One can believe a stone statue is God, and be willing to die for it, but this is not faith.  This type of belief is a logical conclusion and has no saving power.  It comes as a result of the churnings of the human mind.  

True faith, that which has power to heal, comfort, exalt, and raise the dead, is a gift of God and fills the soul with power and spiritual motivation.  Faith comes from the Holy Spirit as a result of righteous obedience to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  Since it is a gift from God, it only remains as long as we continue withing the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More is Less, Less is More

As Corey does his computer programming, sometimes he hits road block and is stuck about what to do in the computer code.  During one moment of being stuck last week, he does what he often does and turned into the news to try to help as he figuratively bangs his head on the wall.  Part of the news that day was the latest of reality tv's Bachlorette show.  So he let me know what's going on there, and it's interesting.  I'm sure I could let it suck many hours of my life away if I didn't fight it.  It's like our modern version of the Hunger Games.  If we yield to our "natural man", we'll want more more more of what Hollywood seeks to entertain us with.  And sadly the natural man will never get enough of it. 

"You'll never get enough of what you don't need, cause what you don't need never satisfies."  - Mary Ellen Edmunds

Less is more.  Less of the world will give us more of the spirit of God.  Less Babylon will build more of Zion.  Let's strive for more holiness, not more drama.  More gospel study, more doctrine.  Less tv and less Hollywood.  More of that which edifies and inspires, less of that which is meaningless and is quickly forgotten.  Spend your time on that which will improve you and make you better. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mother's Who Know

This talk is a classic, I love it.  I love Sister Beck!

The website is down for maintenance, but when it's back up, I'll paste my favorite parts of this talk. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Forget Not To Be Happy Now

We had a neighborhood fun run today.  I was hoping to win the women's trophy, mostly to impress my boys, but alas, I came in 3rd.  But I will forget not to be happy now, my heart is not set on a golden trophy or a golden ticket.  :)

So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket—the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about. For some, the golden ticket may be a perfect marriage; for others, a magazine-cover home or perhaps freedom from stress or worry.

There is nothing wrong with righteous yearnings—we hope and seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy." The problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event—our golden ticket—to appear.

The tragedy of this is that if we focus all our attention on our disappointments about our missing golden tickets, we will fail to notice the blessings we DO have. 

The lesson here is that if we spend our days waiting for fabulous roses, we could miss the beauty and wonder of the tiny forget-me-nots that are all around us.

This is not to say that we should abandon hope or temper our goals. Never stop striving for the best that is within you. Never stop hoping for all of the righteous desires of your heart. But don’t close your eyes and hearts to the simple and elegant beauties of each day’s ordinary moments that make up a rich, well-lived life.

The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spiritual Crocodiles

We listened to this talk last night for Family Home Evening with our kids - I'd heard the shortened version of this parable in seminary and institute when I was younger, but hadn't listened to this full talk before.  Corey and I and the kids all really enjoyed it.

I thought it was interesting and also, considering the analogy, symbolic that the crocodiles were always around water.  I think that Satan is always lurking around the church and trying to take down anyone who comes to the gospel for living water. 

It seems almost to be against our natures to accept much guidance from others. But there are times when, regardless of how much we think we know or how much we think we want to do something, that our very existence depends on paying attention to the guides.

Listen to the prophets.  I know Elder Packer is a prophet of God, and I know that he is a good man.  He is one of the inspired leaders sent to us in these last days to guide us to safety.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Pearl Within The Box

Today at church Elder Christofferson and his wife Kathy, who teaches the Sunday School class, shared with us a little bit of their recent visit to Russia ~ You can read about it here.  In this picture he and Elder Gregory Schwitzer, the Eastern Europe Area President, where shaking hands with members.

Elder Schwitzer is my old Stake president, he's the one who I had an interview with when I got home from my mission and before my marriage.  I love that man.

My favorite part from this article was how Elder Christofferson said that "The gospel of Jesus Christ is the “pearl” within the “box” of the Church. Eternal families and the gift of the Holy Ghost are part of that pearl."

Amen!  I pray the Lord will continue to help me and all of us understand and appreciate how beautiful and amazing the pearl is.
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