Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

"In our world today, each child, each young man and young woman needs his or her own conversion to the truth. Each needs his or her own light, his or her own “steadfast and immovable” (Alma 1:25) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, independent of parents, youth leaders, and supportive friends."

In the article this week we are again reminded of the importance of teaching children and training up our children in the way. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk during the April 2010 General Conference called, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus," in which he taught how the stories about and life of Jesus Christ can and should be used to bring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strength to the foundation of testimony.

Said Elder Andersen, "We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith." He continued, "The stories of Jesus can be like a rushing wind across the embers of faith in the hearts of our children."

We are continually warned by the Lord's servants that these are perilous times and that, "A stronger personal faith in Jesus Christ will prepare [your children] for the challenges they will most surely face." Teaching our children the stories of Jesus enable them to fall back on the example He lived when they wonder what to do in their own lives.

Read and/or listen to the talk; each parent has wondered and worried or currently wonders and worries how to best do their job, that is, how to be good parents that their children avoid the worst of mistakes and do not suffer needlessly. All can learn and benefit greatly from the stories and life of the Savior. We can learn more so that we can help our children make better decisions and think of the Savior in times of need. He is perfect, He loves us, He entreated all to follow His example and as we do we find the true joy and happiness in life.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Gentle God's Commands

The invocatory hymn this week at church was “How Gentle God’s Commands.” Today may be the first time I’ve ever paid attention to the lyrics and as we sang, a few lines from some of the verses stuck out to me.

Hymns, How Gentle God’s Commands, no. 125

How gentle God’s commands!
How kind his precepts are!
Come, cast your burdens on the Lord
And trust his constant care.

Beneath his watchful eye,
His Saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard his children well.

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav’nly Father’s throne
And sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I’ll drop my burden at his feet
And bear a song away.

Text: Philip Doddridge, 1702–1751
Music: Hans Georg Nägeli, 1773–1836; arr. by Lowell Mason, 1792–1872

The author suggests that we cast our burdens on the Lord and trust His constant care. Some think that the commandments of the Lord are grievous, or burdensome and oppressive. This simply is not the case. The love of God is this: that we keep His commandments. God’s commands are gentle. His commands outline how we can live a joyous life, free from unnecessary trials and burdens. We must trust Him and trust that keeping His commandments is the best choice. As we trust Him, He will give us strength as we strive to withstand the temptations of the adversary.

Christ has commanded us to come, follow Him. He offers us comfort and rest. Why should our anxious loads press down our weary minds? As soon as we kneel before our Heavenly Father in prayer we will receive comfort. He will not necessarily take our burdens from us but He will lighten them.1 Remember the command of our Savior: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

The Lord knows how to succor us according to our infirmities (see Alma 7:12). He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (see Isaiah 53:3-5) and knows best how to help each of our individual situations. So come, heed the Master’s call; drop your burden at His feet and bear a song away!


1. Read the story of Alma and his people when the Lord lightened the burdens placed upon them by Alma’s former friends and colleagues found in Mosiah 24.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We Follow Jesus Christ

Today is not Easter, nor is Easter even a close holiday, but this month is kind of Easter's half birthday and either way any month or day is perfect for discussing the Easter message. We rejoice in all the Savior has done for us--that He has made possible for each of us to gain our salvation and exaltation if we but seek the higher ground.

Six months ago Easter morning, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled, "We Follow Jesus Christ," which highlights certain events and attributes from the final days of the Savior's life about which we should learn more and from which we can benefit as they help us gain higher ground. I've read this talk a couple times but a few things stuck out to me tonight in particular as I reread the words of this apostle.

First, Elder Cook discussed the sacrament. I love that he pointed out that while the adversaries of Jesus Christ were plotting His unfair trial and death, Christ was thinking about us and our salvation and instituted the sacrament. Said Elder Cook, "If we are to be His disciples and to be committed members of His Church, we must remember and reverence the sacrament."

Second, Elder Cook emphasized that, just as everything the Savior did in life, Christ reiterated that we love one another. "This was the Son of God pleading with His Apostles and all disciples who would come after them to remember and follow this most central of His teachings. How we relate and interact with each other is a measure of out willingness to follow Jesus Christ" (italics added). Also, pay particular attention to his counsel on disagreements.

Third, Elder Cook talked about the blessings of slowing down, pondering, praying, and otherwise living so that we are worthy to receive and act upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Reception of the Holy Ghost is vital to our eternal salvation and is of utmost necessity if we are to weather the seemingly unbearable temporal and spiritual storms that inevitably come to each of us.

"The Savior's example and life teach us to spiritually avoid the low pathway, where the things of this world dominate." Let us get to higher ground by gaining a stronger appreciation for the miracle of the sacrament, striving to live with more love for our fellowmen, and living in a such a manner that we may recognize and follow the promptings of the Comforter, even the Holy Ghost. In doing so, we can receive the greatest of all the gifts of God--Eternal Life.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cleansing the Inner Vessel

During the most recent General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a talk entitled, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel.” (The Church also has a new site in which makes watching and listening to past General Conference talks easier.)

In his talk, President Packer reiterated teachings about temptation, sin, the degradation of the conditions of the world in which we live, the power of the devil, the love our Heavenly Father has for us, the power we have to resist temptation, and the wonderful rewards available to those who repent and strive to live righteously.

He spoke of the blessings of procreation and said of such power, “Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy.”

He spoke of those who wish to, “change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature.” Of such laws he said, “There are both moral and physical laws ‘irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world’ that cannot be changed (D&C 130:20). . . . To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.”

Of repentance President Packer taught of the help of angels and the lack of power the adversary has to hold us when we repent. I love the way he taught repentance! “Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance. Do you understand the consummate cleansing power of the Atonement made by the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer? He said, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). In that supernal act of love, the Savior paid the penalties for our sins so that we might not have to pay.” He continued, “I know of no more beautiful and consoling words in all of revelation than these: ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ (D&C 58:42).”

Repentance is real! The laws of God are before us and we have the opportunity and ability to choose happiness and eternal life or captivity and death. When we find ourselves becoming captive, the Lord, our Savior, is there to help us return to His arms of safety and love. Read and/or listen to the talk. Pray for the Spirit to speak to you and tell you how you can best apply the teachings of the Lord’s apostle that you may qualify for the promise of “peace and happiness for you and your family.”

I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He loves us enough to give us commandments and laws that we may know how to receive a fullness of joy in this life and in the life to come. I am grateful that God calls prophets and apostles that we may know of His will and commandments and laws. I know that President Packer is His apostle and that what he says is the word of God.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

General Conference Highlights

This past weekend we were privileged to participate in the 180th semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People from all over the world gathered in Salt Lake City or in their own homes and meetinghouses across the globe to be uplifted and edified by the words of prophet and apostles and by the beautiful music.

The talks were wonderful. Each talk was perfectly suited for us in our day. The speakers expounded the scriptures and taught us the Lord's will concerning us today. They are mindful of our needs and concerns and their counsel is very timely.

This is a highlights video from conference. I encourage all to read and/or listen to each of the full talks, for they contain the words of Christ and the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. The Lord speaks through His servants so we are overcome by our trials and not lost amidst the shifting and changing values and morals of this world.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief

I think blog a lot about trials and finding happiness, joy, and comfort in life. This post is also about how faith can sustain us in our trials and offer us comfort in life, but the featured article focuses more on the level and devotion of our testimonies and how we can strengthen our faith so that it becomes the comfort we seek.

President James Faust (1920-2007), counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley, taught, "Sustaining faith can be the ultimate comfort in life. All of us must find our own testimonies." If we seek that ultimate comfort and not simply the temporary, counterfeit comfort offered by the world, we must seek to strengthen our faith and thus grow our testimony of the Lord and what He has done.

President Faust continued:

A testimony begins with the acceptance by faith of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, the head of this Church; and the prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith. The gospel as restored by Joseph Smith is either true or it is not. To receive all of the promised blessings we must accept the gospel in faith and in full. However, this certain faith does not usually come all at once. We learn spiritually line upon line and precept upon precept.

We learn line upon line as we strive to live according to the ever-increasing light given to us. And the deeper our faith in the Savior and His gospel grows, the more comfort our testimony affords us.

The article this week is a talk entitled, "Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief," given by President Faust in the October 2003 General Conference. President Faust taught how we can have a testimony without knowing everything or having a complete understanding of all gospel principles. He also taught, "those who believe but wish their belief to be strengthened, I urge you to walk in faith and trust in God. Spiritual knowledge always requires an exercise of faith. We acquire a testimony of the principles of the gospel by obediently trying to live them."

And so we must be constantly striving to increase our faith if we are to endure our trials well. The Lord loves each of us and suffered for us that He may know how to succor us in our infirmities. All He asks is that we come unto Him; that we get down on our knees and speak with our Heavenly Father, that we strive to do as He asks, and that we strive to make others' journeys more pleasant. We can find joy in the journey if we but believe.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Baptism: Our First Covenant

We learn from Jesus Christ in the Bible that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (see John 3:5). Indeed, Jesus Christ Himself was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (see Matt 3:15; 2 Nephi 31:5).

But why baptism? Why the act and why is simply accepting the covenant in prayer or being born again by some other means in our own way not enough?

To answer these questions, we must begin with the foundational principle of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Faith is active and requires action that leads to and involves repentance (see Mosiah 4:10). The prophet Alma taught that we must repent and be born again: “therefore come and be baptized into repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, . . . And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God . . . shall have eternal life, . . .” (see Alma 7:14-16).

Baptism serves as a witness to the Lord that we have entered into a covenant with Him to serve Him and keep His commandments and that we desire the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit in return (see Mosiah 18:8-10; Alma 7:14-15).

As the people of King Benjamin heard the words of the Lord through His living prophet (see Mosiah 2-5), they  experienced a mighty change of heart and were willing to enter into covenant with God to do His will and to be obedient to his commandments that they might have eternal life. King Benjamin then promised:

7  And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

8  And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

9  And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. (Mosiah 5).

Baptism is the first saving ordinance after which we straightway receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and begin on the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:17-18). As we continue down that path repenting along the way, we become clean through the Atonement of Christ.

Yes, we must be born of water and of the spirit that we may enter into the kingdom of God. As we do so, we are blessed with His Spirit, we receive strength each week as we renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament, we receive the opportunity to make additional covenants with the Lord in His holy temples, and through His Atonement we come closer to obtaining the greatest gift God can bestow upon us: the gift of eternal life (see D&C 14:7).

I am grateful for the decision I made when I was eight years old to be baptized by my grandfather into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for the gift of the Holy Ghost which I received by the laying on of hands by my father and other priesthood holders shortly thereafter. I am grateful for the infinite mercy of my Savior Jesus Christ that I may continually repent and renew my covenant with Him that I may constantly be edified by His Spirit and be guided through the trials and travails of this life. I know that He lives and that He loves us. I know that He desires for each of us to make this covenant with Him through baptism that we all may return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father for eternity.


See also: