Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mark 10:42-44,52

Jesus has just been talking to His disciples about His soon-to-be death and resurrection, when they cut in to ask Him selfish questions as to whether they can sit on His right and left hand.

So Jesus decides to teach them a true principle:

"Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

"But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."

And then, what I love so much, is that Jesus never tells people to do things He wouldn't do Himself. The next moment they happen upon a blind man, crying out for Jesus of Nazareth to heal him.

Those around Jesus, most likely including the apostles, "charged [the blind man] that he should hold his peace." But Jesus did not tell the man to hold his peace. He said:

"Be of good comfort, rise...Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole."

And the man immediately received his sight.

Service is one of those principles that is essential to not just be discusses, but must be lived! If we preach and teach about serving others in our church classes or talks, and then turn out backs on the blind of the world, we cannot count ourselves in the ranks of Christ -- a man who lives what He preaches.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"An Ensign to the Nations" -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

In this talk, Jeffrey R. Holland is explaining how all the conference talks are inspired, and that the speakers have the members of the church in mind as they prayerfully select their topics.

He also talks about discipleship. He quotes President Harold B. Lee, who said:

"the gospel is 'to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable]'".

Elder Holland explains that by saying:

"Obviously as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets even more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle of....'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."

See, the act of getting on the good path is not too hard. If may not seem like it, but they Lord does not give us too many commandments. For instance, the requirements to be baptized. A baptismal candidate does need to clean up their life, but we do not expect them to be perfect on their baptismal day. However, as they continue on the path of righteousness, they will expect more of themselves, and the Lord will expect more of them too. For "unto much is given, much is required."

That goal of perfection has the power to "afflict" us, or to uplift us. Eliminating bad behaviors and habits is a tough job, but relishing in the results of living a cleaner life is so much better.

Lastly, this is an amazing point made by Elder Holland:

"in matters of discipleship, the Church is not a fast-food outlet; we can't always have it 'our way'. Some day EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation can only come HIS way."

I add my testimony to his. We are not to shop around and choose a church that meets OUR needs, we have to fulfill what HEAVENLY FATHER needs of us. And because He knows all and loves all, that path will, actually, fill OUR needs, because He wants the best for us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Miracle of the Atonement" -- Elder C. Scott Grow

I believe that the only reason people sin, is because they cannot understand the eternal consequences of sin. Or, they believe the "reward" of the sin is greater than the punishment in the consequence.

In Doctrine and Covenants 19:15, the Savior says:

"Repent -- repent lest....your sufferings be sore -- how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea how hard to bear you know not."

This warning is so chilling. The only person in the universe that "knows" is Jesus Christ. He suffered all our pains and afflictions and understands the excruciating pain is associated with bearing them.

This is why He is the only one we should listen to! Our friends may say "one drink of alcohol won't matter", but our Bishops, or parents, or prophets teach that one drink WILL matter, and that we need to dispise ALL sin.

I cannot understand all the eternal consequences of sin myself, but I trust the Savior and His words through the scriptures. However, I have so far to go before I am entirely rid of sins and the Savior can help me get there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Looking for Something"

My friend Ali wrote a gospel insight post on her blog off a thought I had, so I thought I would post it here too.


"Tonight while eating dinner with the sister missionaries at the Peterson's,
Ashley shared a thought that I really liked.
So I'm re-sharing it.

Do you ever notice when you're looking to buy something, you see it everywhere?
Say you're looking into buying a red Jeep;
you start to see red Jeeps all over the place.
It's not that there actually are more red Jeeps, you are simply more aware and notice them more easily.

The same is true with the Godhead; our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
When we are looking to invest in a relationship and seek them out,
we become more aware of their existence in our lives.
We see their workings all over the place.
We more easily recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost,
we see the Lord's hand in our everyday life,
and we notice the blessings that come each and every day.

I am so grateful for the Gospel. For the blessing it has been in my life, and the happiness that it brings to so many others. I was able to attend a convert baptism today of a girl only a year younger than me. Even though I don't know her at all, I was so touched by her spirit and glowing countenance. I am so happy for her. I know she has begun a loving relationship with her Heavenly Father, has felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and knows and appreciates the sacrifice that our brother Jesus Christ made for us. I am so excited for the life that is before her, for the outpouring of blessings that will come from her choice to be baptized. This Gospel is true. I know it in my heart. I see the joy and happiness that comes from the knowledge of its truthfulness. I personally feel that joy and happiness every day. I am so grateful for the blessing that this knowledge has been in my life; I would not be who I am today without it."

Friday, August 12, 2011

"What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?" -- Elder Lynn G. Robbins

This entire talk is talking about the difference between doing and being. They both go hand in hand. Elder Robbins says:

"To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not -- a pretender...Be without do really isn't being -- it is self-deception."

I feel a lot of people, including myself sometimes, fall victim to this disharmony between doing and being. Sister Helton, a senior missionary in Winnipeg, declared that true happiness is found when what you say and what you do are the same. And I might add that what you do and who you are are also the same.

Elder Robbins puts out an interesting thought:

"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do's are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can't earn checkmarks with to be's. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature -- my character, or who I am."

Ya know, I think this idea of a "to be" list is a great one. Here are just a few of mine:

1) BE a great friend -- think of other's first

2) BECOME a caring wife and patient mother

3) BE a disciple of Christ

Obviously there is so much more to become, but those were just a few thoughts.

To be is much more difficult than to do; however, to be begins with to do. For instance, Elder Robbins talks about being a good husband. How does he become a good husband? By doing things for his wife and family. His character, his being, causes him to do good things in the home, thus reinforcing his being as a good husband.

This is why to do and to be must be in harmony, because they work together.

I hope that I can do many good things in order to become who I want to be.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"The Lord's Richest Blessings" -- Elder Carl B. Pratt

This talk is a great reference in the study of tithing. So if you or anyone you know has questions about tithing -- direct them to this talk!

Elder Pratt tells us that "we are all indebted to the Lord."

When I was younger, probably in middle school or so, my family took a trip to Alberta, Canada to visit our relatives. While there, we made a stop at the "Real Canadian Wholesale Club" to pick up groceries.

In the check-out line, grandma said I could pick out a candy bar and she would buy it for me. I chose my favorite Canadian candy bar -- a Caramilk. Yummmm. And this was not normal size. It was Real Canadian Wholesale size! I was so excited to dive into it.

Once we got in the car, and I was quickly consuming my treat, my grandma leaned over and asked, "can I please have a piece of your candy bar?"

This question shocked me! COULD she have a piece of MY candy bar?? Well of course!! I said, "grandma, you bought me this bar! It is yours! You can have the whole thing if you want! Just tell me how much you want and I'll give it to you." She replied that she just wanted one square and that would be good. So I willingly have her that square.

This is a parable of tithing. Each day we walk through the "wholesale club" of life and Heavenly Father fills our cart with great things and hands us His credit card to pay. None of the things in the cart are ours. Heavenly Father owns them all because He paid for them.

But then, to check our faith, because Elder Pratt says, "tithing is not a matter of money really: it is a matter of faith -- faith in the Lord", He asks for some in return.

How selfish would I have been to refuse my grandma a piece of my Caramilk? Terribly! And so it is as we refuse to give back to Heavenly Father what is rightfully His.

I have a testimony of tithing because I have seen the blessings in my life. I know that paying a full tithe does indeed open the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing upon us (Malachi 3:10).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten" -- Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Understanding, learning from, and being thankful for hard trials is a tough thing. But Elder Christofferson says:

"Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct."

This is so very true. He is indeed a loving Father. An earthly father can show love for his children by providing for them, but not crippling them by providing too much. A good father allows his children to struggle and experience hardships, so they can deal with that problem, or a myriad like it, on their own the next time it comes around.

Elder Christofferson also points out 3 purposes of chastening:

"1) to persuade us to repent
2) to refine and sanctify us
3) at time to redirect out course in life to what God knows is a better plan."

The last one is interesting to me. Have you ever felt "derailed"? That the path you thought was good suddenly was ripped out from under your feet? I believe this happens to all of us. And the most natural reaction is to be angry at God for the misfortune. Although it seems contrary to reason, we should rather praise God for the blessing He has given us in removing us from a bad place and giving us a chance to start over.

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is when the people of Alma are in bondage to Amulon as their slaves, and are commanded not to pray or they will be put to death.

Those wonderful people did not deserve that trial they were given -- but that is not how trials work. They are given to all to refine and make us stronger.

So they could not pray aloud, but they prayed in their hearts and the Lord could hear their pleas for help and pledged to deliver them from bondage. But in the interim, the Lord promised to make their slave labors light, so they could not even feel the burdens on their backs.

Lo and behold, the Lord did provide them with inspiration and knowledge on how to escape and they went free.

What I glean from this story is:

1) Bad things happen to good people

2) Instead of always saying "help me outta this trial!!" try asking "help relieve my burdens in this trial."

3) The Lord is always mindful of our condition. He never leaves us.

This talk just really helped me to better understand why we have to endure hard times and has hopefully prepared me better for the tough times ahead.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"The Eternal Blessings of Marriage" -- Elder Richard G. Scott

This talk is so fabulous. I could underline every work and comment on every sentence. The world today, including the church, constantly needs to be reminded of the beauty in marriage, especially eternal marriage.

He talks about reaching out to your spouse. He says:

"Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful."

Then he shares how he showed love for his wife; by painting a valentine on the fridge, or taking hole punch holes and writing a message across them, or placing a message inside the glass of the kitchen clock saying, "Jeanene, it is time to tell you I love you."

Each of these gestures is so simple -- so why don't we do them more often? We don't have to be married to write sweet notes. A roommate, ward member, teacher, mother, father, sibling, would ALL appreciate a thoughtful note!

He also spends considerable time talking about those who are not yet married.

"If you are a young man of appropriate age and are not married, don't waste time in idle pursuits. Get on with life and focus on getting married. Don't coast through this period of life. Young men, serve a worthy mission. Then make your highest priority finding a worthy, eternal companion. When you find you are developing an interest in a young woman, show her that you are an exceptional person that she would find interesting to know better. Take her to places that are worthwhile. Show some ingenuity. If you want to have a wonderful wife, you need to have her see you as a wonderful man and prospective husband."

and to the sisters he says:

"my heart weeps for the sisters who haven't had the opportunity to marry. Some of you may feel lonely and unappreciated and cannot see how it will be possible for you to have the blessings of marriage and children or your own family. All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. Eternity is a long time. Have faith in those promises and live to be worthy of them so that in His time the Lord can make them come true in your life. With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy."

When I read these two quotes, I think, "yes, the prophets and apostles are in tune with my generation and my situation" because this is spot on.

I have felt time and time again that maybe I will never get married, because I cannot seem to find the right man at the right time. And this discourages me and gets me wondering what is wrong with me. But I read this and remember that it is the Lord's will that I be married and raise a righteous family, and know He has so much in store for me that I do not yet understand.

But he says that we will receive each promised blessing for which we are worthy. What is the definition for worthy here? I believe, in this instance, that it is more than just keeping the commandments. I believe it is being willing to accept faults in other, to be selfless, to understand and to love someone else. Once these are worked on, then that "worthiness" is there and meaningful relationships can begin to develop.

I have many friends who are married and have beautiful families. To them I say -- cherish what you have. Take today to show your spouse how much you love them, and show patience to your children. To all my single friends, I say -- you are wonderful. Keep hanging in there. There is so much to learn and discover in single life that can strengthen a future family. So soak up every second while still being "worthy" of marriage. Some day your prince (or princess) will come!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"The Holy Temple -- A Beacon to the World" -- President Thomas S. Monson

President Monson is such a fabulous story-teller. In this talk, he specifically tells several stories of faithful saints around the world who have sacrificed so much in order to take part in the blessings of the temple.

But then he says:

"Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings."

I have always have relatively easy access to a temple all my life, even if it required driving a few hours. There was only one instance I have of "hardship" to get to the temple.

The spring of 2007, I studied abroad in London, England. Yes, London does have a temple. No, it is not IN London. Our stake was having a temple day, and me and my roommates wanted to attend. First we needed to meet at the church building, which by foot, underground, bus, and more foot would take 2 hours and 4 or 5 transfers. Once at the church, we loaded into rented vans and drove another 2 hours to where the temple is really in the middle of no-where.

The Primary was having an activity on the lawn, and the adults were going in for an endowment session. So, me and my roommates entered the temple with out limited-use recommends to do baptisms for the dead. That was when the Brother at the recommend desk informed us that our stake was not doing baptisms that day, and that another group was using the baptistery and it was completely full.

Our emotions were so mixed. We were mad we didn't make a reservation, and sad we could not go farther into those doors after making such an arduous journey.

Our stake was planning to stay the rest of the evening, and we needed to get back to the city. So we walked in our painful church shoes several miles on country roads to the train station to take us back to London.

It was not nearly what those saints had to endure, but even seeing that remarkable and historic temple up close was worth all the sacrifice. I could feel the spirit of the temple, just like those primary children, by just being near the temple.

I so love the temple. It is a place of worship, of peace, of service, of love, of family. I need to do better in making the Lord's house my second home.