Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Do Your Children Know That You Know?"

Well, I have had this post on my mind for a couple of months now. I was so impressed by this talk and the important nature of the message that it shares that I just haven't known where to begin in expressing my thoughts, but it is time and I guess I will just say whatever comes to mind.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy gave a talk entitled, "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" this last conference and I enjoyed it when I heard it but it was when I read it that the message had a profound effect on me. It is powerful and life-guiding. (I'm sorry that it is such a long post but I couldn't do it any other way :) I hope you will read on or if anything simply go read his talk.

A Commandment to Teach Faith -

He shares so perfectly the importance of teaching our children Faith in Jesus Christ, "As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of . . . faith in Christ the Son of the living God” (D&C 68:25)...faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little."

I love that last statement. We live in times of chaotic and full schedules. We live in times when people measure themselves on the total of their material possessions. We live in times that urge us to give our children both experience and material things. But are we making sure that during this time we are taking the time to give them faith? He clearly states that those other things add up to be much of nothing, that if we give them those things without faith "we have given little".

Throughout the rest of Elder Pearson's talk I have pulled 3 ways to build and strengthen the faith our children (all along the way strengthening our own faith in Jesus Christ):

1 - Bear Testimony to Your Children (this stirs up a seed of faith)

“Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith” (Bible Dictionary, 669; see also Romans 10:14–17). Do your children know that you know? Do they see and feel your conviction?"

I love the use of the word 'kindled' here. As we simply give our children opportunities to hear us bear our testimonies or to hear the testimonies of others their faith will light up, it will start burning, it will be ignited.

Do Your Children Know That You Know?

2 - Be an Example of Exact Obedience (this strengthens faith)

"If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient. When we teach our children by example or precept to be casual or situational in obeying God’s commandments, we prevent them from receiving this vital spiritual gift. Faith requires an attitude of exact obedience, even in the small, simple things."

I was struck by the bolded phrase above and particularly the word PREVENT. This thought simply multiplies the feeling of obligation we as parents must have be strictly and exactly obedient in our example because when we as parents are examples of casual obedience we are responsible for preventing our children of receiving the vital spiritual gift of faith. We rob ourselves of more faith and as our children follow our example we prevent them from gaining their own personal faith. What a responsibility the Lord has entrusted us with.

3 - Avoid and Overcome the Forces that Erode Faith

"Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan’s direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change. I will refer to these influences as the “Six Destructive Ds.” As I do, consider their influence on you or your children."

You may watch this video of the 6 Destructive Ds or read a short definition of each below:

  1. Doubt - Lack of confidence in one's self or abilities

  2. Discouragement - Missed expectations

  3. Distraction - A lack of focus

  4. Lack of Diligence - A reduced commitment to remain true and faithful

  5. Disobedience - Lack of obedience

  6. Disbelief - The state of having CHOSEN to harden one's heart.

I find it powerful that each D leads to the next. It makes it simple to know that if we stop the destruction early we will never reach the state of disobedience or disbelief. If we recognize and avoid the work of Satan in our lives and overcome the bad personal tendencies that we have formed we will never be lead to the destruction of our faith and we can help our children to avoid and overcome these influences in their lives.

The D's are a well thought out plan or map in watching ourselves and our children. It is a guide to checking where we are at and where we should be. I will use these 6 Destructive D's in my life and as a parent. I am so excited for such a simple list because looking back on my life I can see some of the steps taking place little by little and I wish I would've caught them sooner.

I also find it interesting that the destruction begins with each of us personally and our faith in ourselves, it does not necessarily begin with the eroding of our faith in Christ, although they are so closely connected. Elder Pearson doesn't explain the first D of Doubt as doubting our faith but simply the lack of confidence in ourselves. Satan works in such small ways to bring us down in such big ones. He starts with confidence in ourselves to eventually lead us to a state of disbelief.

But just as Elder Pearson said, sometimes "we have no one but ourselves to blame". We must make sure that we both avoid the influences of Satan as well as overcome our own bad tendencies and habits.

The Savior's Promise

"Challenging times require greater spiritual power. Consider carefully the Savior’s promise: “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33)." What a wonderful promise.

I don't think that I have even skimmed the surface of explaining what this talk has taught me and the profound effect it has had on me, I don't know how. I do know that it was a powerful message, one that we as parents need to listen to and follow. With all that is going on in the world today adding more faith to both our own and our children's lives will be essential.

Let us strive to bear our testimonies to our children more often. Let us strive to be more exact examples of obedience. Let us recognize, avoid, and overcome the destructive influences that attempt to erode our faith. Let us remember that these thoughts are not only to help us gain stronger faith but that it is a commandment to teach our children the doctrine of faith. "Challenging times [do and will] require greater spiritual power."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Surviving a Temple Open House

We had the opportunity to go to a Temple Open House a few days ago. It was beautiful. We were rebels and skipped watching the video at the beginning and just went straight into the temple. We figured this would relieve us of our little boy's potential antsiness.

He loved the chandeliers because they were "sparkly" and had "lots of colors, green, blue, pink, etc." He also wanted to go see the oxen up close and even take a swim in the baptismal font. It was pretty cute. He really did quite well until... he wacked his head on the metal handle of a door which created a crying fest right before we sat down to listen to a couple in one of the sealing rooms. We fought the whining and squirming and little smackings (from him to us not from us to him :) for a few minutes and it was soon over and he was excited to reach the destination of cookies and so was I. We survived.

It really was fun but by the end we were ready to head home. As we got in the car our little boy said, "I wanna go in the temple again." Yeah, right. :) As we pulled away from the temple I realized that we didn't take one single picture of our trip to the temple. I wanted at least one of us outside of it but don't worry we got a few pictures from our trip.


And this...

And This...

Don't worry, we are all okay. So here is what happened. On the way to the temple we felt a little rattle in the car but nothing to be too worried about, or at least we thought. Then on the way home the rattling became more of a shaking and definitely more concerning. Before we knew it our tire had blown into shreds with a loud gun-like sound and we had four lanes to get across. There was smoke and the scraping sound of our front bumper and lack of much of a tire dragging on the ground. Luckily my husband was able to remain in good control of the car and we miraculously had openings to get across the freeway safely. It was getting close to rush hour so the freeway wasn't packed but more congested then it could've been. We were so blessed to not have our car spiral out of control, to not be swiped by another car, and to be able to make it across all of the lanes as smoothly as we did.

We felt so blessed to have a screaming child in the back seat not because of injuries from a horrific accident but simply because he was ready to get out of the car and go play at Daddy's work. The Lord truly is mindful of us and we are so grateful that we were so blessed to be so safe in a scary situation. We also luckily have a ward friend who works at a car place near where we were who was able to send a car to pick us up and a tow truck to get our car. It was indeed an adventure.

Our little boy and I will be carless for the next little while, but we're not complaining. We're just glad we survived a trip to the temple. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life Is O'erflowing with Beautiful Things

My little boy loves this video. We have watched it every day since we discovered it on the Friend's main page. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. It has brought some fun snuggly moments and of course it is a great message of the the many beautiful things we have to be thankful for.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Temple Covenants

Well, it is time that I come back and give one of my follow up posts to Covenants for All Members: It's Time for a Review (you can read about the covenants that all Church members make at this post). I thought it was fitting to post about the covenants we make in temples after my last post.

Again I hope that sharing these covenants will serve as a review to all of us. Elder Ballard's words truly show how important this is, “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort” (Ensign, May 1987, 14).

Again the list of covenants and promised blessings comes from the Eternal Marriage Student Manual.

Temple Endowment -

We covenant to:

“Observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ” (James E. Talmage, House of the Lord, 84).

Blessings Promised:

1. “With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions” (Talmage, House of the Lord, 84).
2. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the endowment was designed to give us “a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 324), “to prepare the disciples for their missions unto the world” (p. 274), to prevent us from being “overcome by these evils” (p. 259), and to enable us “to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn” (p. 237).
3. President Gordon B. Hinckley in the dedicatory prayer of the Vernal Utah Temple said, “We pray that Thou wilt visit it, and may Thy Holy Spirit dwell here to sanctify it and make it holy unto all who enter its portals” (“We Thank Thee for This Sacred Structure,” Church News, 8 Nov. 1997, 4). Through the temple endowment, we may seek “a fulness of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 109:15). Temple ordinances are seen as a means for receiving inspiration and instruction through the Holy Spirit and for preparing to return to God’s presence.

Celestial Marriage -

Couples who promise to abide the law of celestial marriage:

• Covenant in pure love to remain faithful to each other and to God through all eternity.
• Covenant to confine their intimate affections and sexual relations to each other.
• Commit to live in ways that contribute to happy and successful family life.
• Covenant “to ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth’ (Gen. 1:28). A primary purpose of temple marriage in this life is to grow and mature in sharing God’s creative work in raising a family in righteousness. Parents enter into a partnership with God by participating in the procreation of mortal bodies, which house the spirit children of God” (in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:859).

Blessings Promised:

1. Husbands and wives will receive eternal life in the world to come, the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 88:4; Moses 6:59).
2. They shall become gods with all power and “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers” (D&C 132:19).
3. They shall obtain exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial glory (see D&C 131:1–4).
4. They will come to know God the Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 132:48–50).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Between Heaven and Earth - Temple Worship

"This video recording features religious scholars of various faiths describing ancient and modern temples. They discuss the importance of temple worship from the time of Adam to our day and provide insight into the purpose of temples. The video also includes the testimony of several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding temple work."

In addition to this video I just wanted to share one of my favorite stories from this last General Conference about temples. This story was told by Elder Gary E. Stevenson. I love the simple reply of a young child that reminds us of the guide and director the temple can be.

"I remember a warm, sunny afternoon when spring was trying to nudge its way through a long winter in Cache Valley, Utah. My father, whose Saturdays were always filled with chores for his grandsons, stopped by our home with an offer to “go for a ride.” Always happy to ride in Grandpa’s truck, our four- and six-year-old sons scurried into the back jump seat, and I joined my father in the front. Our drive took us through the streets of downtown Logan, which wrap around the Logan Temple, prominently situated on a hill, centered beautifully in the city. As we moved further away from the city, we turned from paved, busy streets to seldom-used dirt roads, where we crossed old bridges and weaved through trees far into the country. We were far from any other traffic and all alone.

Realizing his grandsons were in a place they had not been before, my father stopped the truck. “Do you think we are lost?” he asked the wide-eyed boys as they gazed out the windshield across the valley. Followed by a moment of silent assessment came the profound reply of a young child. “Look,” he said, pointing his finger, “Grandpa, you are never lost when you can see the temple.” Our eyes turned, focusing with his, seeing the sun glistening off the spires of the Logan Temple, far across the valley.

You are never lost when you can see the temple. The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos. It is an eternal guidepost which will help you from getting lost in the “mist of darkness.”1 It is the house of the Lord.2 It is a place where covenants are made and eternal ordinances are performed."

If you live in or near Utah (or are willing to travel) there is currently a temple open house that you can attend to see the inside of an LDS temple. Click HERE to read more about the open house and to make reservations to attend the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple Open House. The Open House runs from Monday, June 1 - Saturday, August 1, 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Question Asked: What does it mean to be "worthy"... for God's presence?

The full question went as follows (this question was asked in a comment on this blog):

"OK, so what does it mean to be "worthy" and to "qualify" for God's presence in the life of an LDS church member?

What about the grace of God? None of us are worthy, doesn't the Bible say that we all fall short?"

My answer would not fit as a comment so I decided to post the answer here for the commenter and all to read. Please feel free to add to the conversation and to assist in answering these questions. Thank You.

I appreciate your question. It is a very valid question. It was interesting to read portions of a few talks and scriptures about your thoughts. It was a learning experience.

First, to answer your last question, we all, of course, fall short. None of us are perfect, but we can be worthy. I think that the confusion here may lie in our definitions of the word ‘worthy’. I loved this quote that I found by Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy that clears up the confusion of our view of being worthy.

He said, “Occasionally, for well-motivated and highly devoted Latter-day Saints, confusion occurs about the differences between worthiness and perfection. Worthiness and perfection don’t mean the same thing! All of us are “works in process.” We can be worthy while still needing improvement.”

So basically our view of being worthy or qualifying to be in the presence of God does not mean perfection it simply means that we are doing our best and are repenting and using the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives. You mentioned grace. And yes, we believe that the grace of God is crucial.

In the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 2:6–8) it states,

“6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

A further description on our belief of the need for grace I found under Gospel Topics on LDS.org and it shares this:

“Grace is a gift from Heavenly Father given through His Son, Jesus Christ. The word grace, as used in the scriptures, refers primarily to enabling power and spiritual healing offered through the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

Everyone on earth experiences physical death. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, all will be resurrected and will live forever (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–22; 2 Nephi 9:6–13).

Because of personal choices, everyone also experiences the effects of sin (see 1 John 1:8–10; Mosiah 16:4). These effects are called spiritual death. No one can return to the presence of God without divine grace. Through the Atonement, we all can be forgiven of our sins; we can become clean before God. To receive this enabling power, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives (see Ephesians 2:8–9; James 2:17–22; 2 Nephi 25:23; 31:20).

The grace of God helps us every day. It strengthens us to do good works we could not do on our own. The Lord promised that if we humble ourselves before Him and have faith in Him, His grace will help us overcome all our personal weaknesses (see Ether 12:27).”

So as it stated in bold, “No one can return to the presence of God without divine grace.” We all must do our part to be “worthy” and the Lord’s grace will fill the void. We must be obedient. We must have faith in Christ. We must repent of our sins. We must be baptized. We must receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. And then we must endure and follow the commandments, the teachings of Christ, for the rest of our lives.

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said, “So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.

I pray that we will choose to obey the Lord quickly, always, in quiet times and in storms. As we do, our faith will be strengthened, we will find peace in this life, and we will gain the assurance that we and our families can qualify for eternal life in the world to come.”

So in conclusion, we believe that we all can be worthy and qualify to be in the presence of God if we do our part by doing our very best “in the midst of the storms of life”. Our worthiness may not mean perfection but it is what we should be seeking for. But even after we have done our best we believe and know that we must rely on the mercy and grace of God. We are imperfect and carnal people and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only way that we can be forgiven of our sins and make it back to and qualify to be in the presence of God.

I know that God loves us. I know that he wants all of us to return to Him and to dwell in His presence. I know that there has been a Way provided for us all to return to Him and that is through our individual obedience and continual repentance and more profoundly through the grace of God granted by the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I hope this has answered your question. Feel free to ask for clarification if my words were confusing in any way.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spiritual Hugs

Several weeks ago our Stake President spoke in our ward. He gave a great talk. He briefly mentioned that we each need and that we each do receive "spiritual hugs". I liked the thought of that.

I often stand in need of an emotional hug. I often stand in need of an appreciative hug. I often stand in need of a loving hug. And I often stand in need of a comforting hug. But I never really thought of the idea of needing spiritual hugs but it is so true. And I now I have noticed them more in my life.

I think that spiritual hugs can come in many forms. Sometimes they come when we seek them and sometimes they come when we least expect them.

There have been many times when reading my patriarchal blessing that I have received a spiritual hug of reassurance and peace that I am doing what I should be doing. Other experiences have come while reading my scriptures or saying my prayers. I think we have all experienced these types of spiritual hugs when we need them most. Sometimes these hugs come in the form on an answer, sometimes they come as a feeling of peace, sometimes they are simply there to let us know that we are loved and that we are known. Whatever the form I hope to more often seek for and recognize the blessings of these "spiritual hugs" in my life.

One experience that I had a few months ago brought a spiritual hug in an interesting moment and way and looking back it was indeed a hug:

It was a Sunday afternoon after our early Sunday dinner. My husband and little boy were spending time together in another room and I was doing the dishes. Just to give my husband some credit here, this was by my insistence...he really is good at helping or simply doing the dishes, but this particular day our little boy was demanding some extra attention and so I sent the two on their way.

So I was chipping along in our messy kitchen and before I knew it I was singing Hymns as I went (not a typical task). I quickly felt a great source of peace as I cleaned up (also not a common occurence). I felt so blessed to have all that I have. I felt the Spirit touch me deeply and it almost brought me to tears. I felt warm and happy inside. I was unloading and loading the dishwasher, clearing off the leftovers, wiping the counters and yet at that moment the Lord saw an opportunity to reach me and to teach me and to remind me of how much I am loved and blessed. It was a wonderful Spiritual Hug when I least expected it.

I am grateful for the Holy Ghost and I am grateful for spiritual hugs. I know that the Lord truly is mindful of us. I know that He knows each one of us and knows when we need Him most. He knows when we are down in the dumps. He knows when we struggle to make the right choices. He knows that all along our journey we will need spiritual hugs or spiritual boosts to bouy us up. Often these moments are given freely and without a request by our part but sometimes we must ask and He will promptlygive us or lead us to where we might find a spiritual hug.

In Psalms 115:12 it says, "The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us;" The Lord is indeed mindful of us and He does so abundantly bless us. How and when have you received spiritual hugs in your life?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Freedom To...

I think I often lose sight of the many freedoms that I enjoy. I forget how blessed I really am. But in this moment as I think about my freedoms I am so grateful for freedom of religion. I am so grateful for the freedom of making my own choices, of having my own agency. I am grateful that I know the things that I need to do, that I know the commandments and principles that I must follow in order to stay free from the bondage of sin and to feel the complete freedom that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

There are so many freedoms that we all enjoy and I am grateful for the message and the reminder that the video below shares - "People from all over the world share their gratitude for the freedoms they enjoy." What freedoms are you grateful for?

Hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July!!!