Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Are Never Lost When You Can See The Temple

A few months ago Alyssa and I drove up to the temple in Bountiful, Utah to be with a dear friend as she went through the temple for the first time. I hadn’t been to the Bountiful Utah temple since it’s dedication 12+ years ago but since the temple is clearly visible from the freeway I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find; just drive towards it.

Even with the temple situated up above the city on the side of the mountains, driving straight to it without directions was a bit easier said than done. We drove on one road until the road didn’t appear to be taking us in the direction we wanted and then turned on to a new road. This strategy worked for a while until the roads began to wind more and the streets became more suburban and covered in dead ends and cul-de-sacs. Tongue in cheek I said as our route became more and more zigzagged, “you’re never lost when you can see the temple, right?”

The dead ends were clearly marked, thus helping us avoid backtracking but once in a while I thought that I knew better and tried some of the roads marked “dead end,” hoping the dead end was the temple parking lot, and was each time disappointed and had to return to the road we knew was safe. We also thought about following other cars that appeared to be headed the same place but in the end, most of the cars were headed down their own paths to their own destinations. There was only one little blue sign in the almost 30 intersections we encountered that said, “LDS Temple ➡.”

As we got closer and the houses got bigger, we began to lose sight of the temple for a few moments at time. Losing a temple that large may seem a bit wondrous, considering the 104,000 square-foot building sits on nine acres, has its own parking garage, and a spire that tops out at 177 feet. But from our perspective the houses and trees that were much closer to us succeeded in blocking our view. During those times, despite the obstructions keeping the temple hidden from our view, we were not lost because we knew the temple was still in the same place behind the distractions. Each time we lost the temple, we continued on in the same direction until we were able to see the end of our goal once again.

Eventually, after many correct turns, a few wrong turns that required correction, and a few turns made on faith when we couldn’t physically see the temple, we did find our destination. And on time too. We met up with our friend and were able to share in her blessed experience of going through the temple for the first time and making the temple covenants vital for salvation.

As I thought of this experience on the way home, I wondered at the parallels between our journey to the temple that day and the journey being made by each of us back to our Father in Heaven in this life. At times our perspective may be clear and we feel that we can get back to our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, whose gospel shines like a beacon on a hill. There are many twists and turns along the way but we are given the tools we need to aid up in our journey. We may wonder why there are not little blue signs pointing us in the right direction at each intersection, but that is not the way the Lord works. The Lord gives us apostles and prophets, scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and loving parents and leaders that help us recognize our goal in the distance and see the clearly marked dead ends and wrong ways. However, we must make our own decisions and cannot simply follow signs or someone else all the way. We are given the tools to help us make correct decisions and we become stronger each time we exercise our faith in making a correct decision.

Sometimes, despite the direction given to us and the knowledge we have gained, we find ourselves in situations where our perspective becomes distorted and our vision is blocked by things that seem more pressing and of bigger import than the things of eternity. We may lose sight of that which is most important and feel lost and confused. In those times, if we trust that the Lord has not moved and take a faith-filled step into the dark, we will once again see His light shine forth at the end of our path.

And during those times when we go against the guidance we are given and find ourselves at a dead end, either because we think we know better or simply because we made a wrong choice in a moment of weakness or frustration, we always have the opportunity to turn around and head back to the path of safety. Admitting our mistakes may be frustrating and returning to the original path will require effort, but if we repent and start again along the path to our eternal goal, we will arrive in time and we will share in all the blessings that our Heavenly Father wishes to bestow upon us.

Just as the Bountiful Utah temple stood as a beacon at the end of our road, the Lord Jesus Christ stands as a beacon and calls to all, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.” The way requires many decisions and commitments but the Lord has provided us with all the tools necessary for our success. And should we find ourselves lost on unknown paths, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can bring us back into the light and onto the path back to our Heavenly Father.

Jeremy

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mountains to Climb

For the article this week I don't have a lot to say, I simply encourage each of you to read this talk in full. In the most recent General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring, apostle and counselor to the prophet, gave a talk entitled, "Mountains to Climb," in which he spoke about trials and how we can and should build a foundation of faith in order to endure well the trials of this life. President Eyring taught, "the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life.

"Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.

"Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles."

 Life is hard and full of challenges and trials. Some trials are the result of our own poor choices but some trials are simply a result of living in this mortal and fallen world. These trials are essential in our development in this life and our preparation to return to our Father in heaven. As we seek to do His will and live as He directs-if we have faith in Jesus Christ- "the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing."

Remember that the Savior suffered all and knows personally and intimately what each of us is going through at any given moment. President Eyring said, "There seems to me no better answer to the question of why trials come and what we are to do than the words of the Lord Himself, who passed through trials for us more terrible than we can imagine.

"You remember His words when He counseled that we should, out of faith in Him, repent:

"'For behold I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

"'But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

"'Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

"'Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men' (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19)."

I conclude with the words of President Eyring, "You and I have faith that the way to rise through and above trials is to believe that there is a 'balm in Gilead' (Jeremiah 8:22) and that the Lord has promised, 'I will not . . . forsake thee' (Joshua 1:5)."

Jeremy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why I Use My Twitter Account The Way I Do

The first week in July I spent at the World Jump Rope Championships, an open international tournament hosted in Washington D.C. This year we had ten countries and about 450 competitors participate, most of which hailed from the United States. This tournament is somewhat unique because there are no qualifying rounds and the teams that come represent themselves and not countries as a whole. Thus the tournament is very open and one thing I enjoyed most about watching this tournament was seeing competitors from different teams and different countries actually mix and match and compete with each other in one event, then against each other in another event.

The entire tournament was streamed live online across the globe and we had a giant turnout. I had the opportunity to commentate during the tournament with my friend Jimmy McCleary which was one of the most fun things I have ever done. We just sat on the microphone for three days talking about jump rope, interacting with jumpers and spectators around the world, laughing, joking, and hopefully adding some helpful insight for those watching who are not as familiar with our sport. 


As part of our responsibilities as the commentators, we utilized Twitter, Facebook, and the World Jump Rope blog to connect and communicate with our audience, making the whole event interactive and even more fun, especially for the spectators. Leading up to the tournament, we strove to build awareness about the tournament and particularly about the live stream so that we could reach the greatest amount of people, and we hit Twitter and Facebook hard to gain followers on our personal accounts and on the World Jump Rope account. 

Just before the tournament started, I was taken aside and talked to about my personal Twitter account. Outside of the tournament, I used and continue to use my Twitter account mainly to share religious and inspirational insights and quotes from the prophets and apostles, both ancient and modern, with some additional tweets about life, product reviews, and funny or fun things that happen, etc. And I guess that some people began to follow me on Twitter, then didn’t like that I was tweeting religious things and complained, not to me of course, but to the organization. (To clarify, this is not about the fact that I was taken aside and talked to. On the contrary, I am grateful that I was informed and that whole part was handled in a professional and supportive manner.)

When I was made aware of the situation I was a bit shocked at first and then realized that of course this was going to happen. A-people just like to complain, and B-I’m sharing the gospel, of course there’s going to be opposition. Nonetheless, I was bothered by the whole thing for quite a while and struggled to figure out the best way to handle the situation. I didn’t want to create problems for the organization and those who asked me to be a part of the event, I didn’t want to lose an invitation for next year, but I also didn’t feel that I should just drop my standards and duty to share the gospel at the first sign of a struggle or conflict.

As I debated and prayed about what to do, I went up to my room and turned to the scriptures for guidance because, as Nephi taught, “the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3). At that time, I had been reading the first chapters of 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. I opened to where I had left off and a line that I had highlighted years ago jumped out at me:

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth...”

I almost laughed out loud at the directness and simplicity of the answer I received. This was nothing new, but it was the reminder and help that I needed to be at peace and know what to do moving forward.

Jeremy Lindström was asked to be a commentator for the live World Jump Rope stream and to try to draw a crowd to spread the sport of jump rope. People thought Jeremy Lindström would do a good job in that capacity. And I did my best to live up to that expectation, fulfill my commitment, and do my part to add to the overall success of the event and I loved every minute of it. However, I am who I am because of the way I choose to live my life. Everything I do and who I have become is a conglomeration of everything I know and believe. Jump rope, music, schooling, family, every experience I’ve ever had, and most of all faith in Jesus Christ have all contributed to who I am today. Without one of those parts-especially my faith-I am no longer the Jeremy Lindström everyone knows. I am who I am and what you see is what you get. There isn’t a jump rope version of me, a church version of me, a weekend version of me, or any other version of me. There’s just the one version of me you know.

I am who I am because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I am who I am because His great atoning sacrifice allows me to change and always strive for perfection. I am who I am because of how I feel and the success I see when I live the standards He taught when He was on the earth.

The most important thing for me or anyone else to do is to tell the world about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The full verses that I quoted above in part read: 


“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

“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.

“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.”

The truth of Jesus Christ and His Atonement transcends any other knowledge or truth on earth. And the duty to share this truth transcends any other earthly duty. “How great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth.” I share jump rope because jump rope enhances lives and is just super fun. I share the gospel because it changes lives and is the source of true and lasting happiness.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. So yes, I am vocal about my faith on Twitter and on Facebook at times because those are virtual versions of who I am in real life. And that is no more intrusive than knowing me and associating with me in person because all of my actions are driven and guided by my faith in Christ. At World Jump Rope I decided to proceed and use my Twitter as normal and continue to do so because the greatest thing any of us can do is make known the blessings of the Atonement to all.

Jesus Christ lives. He is the Messiah, our Redeemer, and the Savior of the world. He appeared with His Father to Joseph Smith in 1820 to restore His Church as it was when He walked the earth. He gave us the Bible and the Book of Mormon and living prophets to teach us about His Atonement, repentance, forgiveness, and to guide us down the path that leads to true happiness and eternal life.


@jumpropejeremy

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Believe, Obey, Endure: Counsel from a living prophet


President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and prophet to the world, gave a wonderful sermon a few months ago entitled, “Believe, Obey, Endure.” Although this sermon was originally addressed to the young women of the Church, I believe that everyone can and should read this talk and apply the teachings of happiness to themselves, for President Monson teaches correct and eternal principles.

In his sermon, President Monson spoke of the current world conditions and told the young people that our time is, “a time of opportunity, a season of growth, a semester of development—marked by the acquisition of knowledge and the quest for truth.” He warned that while we are in our young years, we are also in prime years for Satan to tempt us and do his utmost to entice us from the path which leads us back to our Heavenly Father. “The world around you is not equipped to provide the help you need to make it through this often-treacherous journey,” said President Monson. “So many in our society today seem to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace.” 

He continued, “Permissiveness, immorality, pornography, drugs, the power of peer pressure—all these and more—cause many to be tossed about on a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reefs of lost opportunities, forfeited blessings, and shattered dreams.”
 
However, there is a way to safety as we look to the lighthouse of the Lord. President Monson offered, “three essential signals from the Lord’s lighthouse which will help you to return to that Father who eagerly awaits your triumphant homecoming. Those three signals are believe, obey, and endure.

Believe. “Believe that you are a [son or] daughter of Heavenly Father, that He loves you, and that you are here for a glorious purpose—to gain your eternal salvation. Believe that remaining strong and faithful to the truths of the gospel is of utmost importance. I testify that it is!” Believe that miracles can and will happen as you strive to follow the guidance of the Lord and live His commandments.

Obey. “Obey your parents. Obey the laws of God. They are given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. When they are obeyed, our lives will be more fulfilling, less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear. We will receive the Lord’s promised blessings. . . . You have but one life to live. Keep it as free from trouble as you can.” Obedience to God’s commandments is the one sure way to ensure lasting happiness and long-term success.

Endure. “What does it mean to endure? I love this definition: to withstand with courage. Courage may be necessary for you to believe; it will at times be necessary as you obey. It will most certainly be required as you endure until that day when you will leave this mortal existence.” Enduring may seem overwhelming at times with all of the challenges we face. President Monson counseled, “seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more and then one more after that—until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness. The Savior promised, ‘Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life’ (3 Nephi 15:9).”

President Monson closed with these words:

“You are precious, precious [sons and] daughters of our Heavenly Father sent to earth at this day and time for a purpose. You have been withheld until this very hour. Wonderful, glorious things are in store for you if you will only believe, obey, and endure.”

I know what President Monson teaches is the doctrine of our Heavenly Father and that if we live the teachings set forth in this sermon we will truly attain happiness both in this world and in the world to come. President Monson is a prophet of God, the prophet called on the earth today to teach us the mind and will of God. He speaks the truth.

Jeremy

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In His Steps

I just read an incredible talk that my good friend sent to me by one of the Lord’s prophets, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994). This talk is definitely one of the best talks I’ve ever read; President Benson was very straightforward and offered us pertinent, current, and invaluable counsel in our quest for happiness in this world and eternal life in the world to come. There are so many good things in this talk, I will be tweeting lines from it for weeks to come.

In his talk, entitled “In His Steps,” President Benson addressed primarily the young people of the Church and of the world, reminding us that we are in the last days, that the Savior will come soon, and that the battle between good and evil--between God and Satan--will continue to escalate and that we must choose our side and fortify ourselves. Said President Benson:

Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?

We are, of course, not without help in our battle and efforts to overcome Satan. God has given us help and will continue to bless us as we pray to Him and study the words of His servants the prophets, who give us spiritual and temporal guidance and counsel.

After emphasizing our purpose here in this life and the increasing importance to learn the Lord’s will and strive to live His standards, President Benson expounded upon what we know and can learn from the first 30 years of Jesus Christ’s life before His ministry, all of which is summed up in the 2nd chapter of Luke, verse 52:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Using this verse as an outline, President Benson taught what we can do to follow in the Savior’s steps and increase in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man. I will highlight a few things that stuck out to me, and then leave you to read the talk in its entirety and figure out how you can apply these teachings in your own lives.

Increasing in wisdom

President Benson taught:

Wisdom could be considered the proper application of true knowledge. Not all knowledge has the same worth, nor are all truths equally valuable. The truths upon which our eternal salvation rests are the most crucial truths that we must learn. No man is truly educated unless he knows where he came from, why he is here, and where he can expect to go in the next life; unless he can adequately answer the question which Jesus posed: "What think ye of Christ?" The world cannot teach us these things as the Kingdom can. Therefore, the most essential knowledge for you to obtain is the saving knowledge within the gospel and the knowledge of its author—even Jesus Christ.

He talked about where we can find those truths, about the best books, and also about the importance of gaining secular knowledge and vocational skills. His teachings about gaining wisdom can best be summed with this paragraph:

The most vital knowledge you can learn is the saving truths of the gospel—the truths that will make the difference in your eternal welfare. The most vital words that you can read are those of the Presidents of the Church—particularly the living prophet—and those of the apostles and prophets. God encourages learning in many areas, and vocational skills will have increasing importance. There is much reading material that is available that is either time-wasting or corrupting. The best yardstick to use in discerning the worth of true knowledge and learning is to go first and foremost to the words of the Lord's prophets.

Increasing in stature

President Benson taught, “There is no question that health of the body affects the spirit,” highlighting the importance of righteousness (“Sin debilitates; it affects not only the soul but the body”), food (“To a great extent we are physically what we eat”), exercise (“The body needs the toning up that comes from exercise”), and sleep ("Cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” Doctrine and Covenants 88:124).

Increasing in favor with God

In order to increase in favor with God, President Benson taught that we must do His will. And in order to do His will, we must learn His will for us.

God's will for you can be determined from three sources: (1) the scriptures—particularly the Book of Mormon, of which the Prophet Joseph said, "a man would get nearer to god by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:461)—(2) inspired words from the Lord's anointed—particularly the presidents of the Church and especially the living one, along with the words of the apostles and prophets (local Church leaders are also entitled to give inspired direction for those over whom they preside)—and (3) the spirit of the Lord.

Of the recognizing the Spirit of the Lord, President Benson reminded us that we must keep our lives free and from sin and those things that would interfere with our ability to recognize the promptings of the Spirit. And in order to keep our lives free from sin, we must utilize the blessing and gift of repentance daily. President Benson also highlighted the importance of regular prayer, scripture study, and service to our families, neighbors, and communities.

Increasing in favor with man

The greatest roles you can take to bless your fellowmen are to be strong missionaries and to be strong patriarchs and matriarchs—to raise a righteous posterity who will be part of the solutions to the world's problems and not part of the problems.

Our countries are only as strong as our homes and ours is the duty to strengthen our homes, communities, and nations.

Conclusion

Someone has said that happy is the man who has found his worship, his wife, and his work, and loves all three.

I will leave you to read what President Benson had to say about finding worship, a spouse, and work and I will say that the last part of his talk is just as wonderful, if not more so, as the rest of it.

The counsel set forth in this talk is more than just feel-good words from a wise old man. Yes, most if not everything President Benson taught will make sense to you on some level. You may think, “well of course we should do this or try that, that’s common sense,” and you may even be tempted to think, “well, that’s all well and good in theory, but in our day that’s not possible or realistic.”  I promise you that these are not just words of wisdom to be sorted through and applied at leisure. President Benson was a prophet of God who lead the Church of Jesus Christ and spoke the mind and will of God. The Lord revealed His secrets to President Benson (see Amos 3:7) and President Benson taught us those things that are absolutely completely essential to our eternal salvation and happiness. Those things that you may be quick to discredit or think are not applicable to you or your situation are probably those things that you need most in your life. Read this talk. Pray about how you can better apply the counsel. Read the Book of Mormon. Pray about its truthfulness. I promise you that you will never regret the time and effort spent on the words of the Lord.

Jeremy

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arise and Shine Forth

I've spoken a lot recently of the shifting and changing values of society and also of the Lord's efforts to help us safely navigate this life in the midst and clamor of the world. The Lord has given us families, taught us how happiness can be achieved through family life, and even taught us the roles each of us plays in a family to ensure our success and joy. He has given us the scriptures and the words of the ancient prophets to show us the eternal principles do not change through time so we know how we must live to return to Him. He has given us the Holy Ghost of which Jesus Christ spoke in the Gospel of John chapter 14, that does, "teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:26-27). What a wonderful gift to help guide us in these troubling times! The Lord has also given us modern prophets who help guide us through our specific, modern challenges, remind us of the importance of our families and of keeping the commandments, and help us learn from the scriptures and liken the teachings of the ancient prophets unto ourselves.

The youth today are especially under the attack of the adversary. He knows that young people are more often easily influenced, that peers are a great tool in affecting someone's agency, and if he can tempt someone when they are young and trying to find where they fit in, they could develop habits that will keep them from happiness and the Lord's path for the rest of their lives.

How blessed we are to have modern and living prophets and apostles and leaders called of God and guided by Him to teach us the true and correct path to happiness and eternal life! The weekend previous to the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the prophet and women called to lead the Young Women organization of the Church gathered and spoke to all the young women worldwide. At this meeting, the Young Women leaders showed the following video:


Just think of how this video and the lifestyles (and clothing and hairstyles) portrayed in this video differ (oftentimes drastically) from how the world tells girls to dress and act:



The Young Women leaders are so inspired and are so very concerned for the well-being of the young people not only in the Church but outside the Church also. At this meeting, each of the women in the Young Women General Presidency spoke about how the young women can arise and shine forth. Sister Ann M. Dibb, counselor in the Young Women General Presidency taught, "Heavenly Father does not want us to look to the world and follow its ever-changing trends. He wants us to look to Him and follow His unchanging guidance. He wants us to live the gospel and lead others to it by setting the standard high." Although they addressed the young women of the Church specifically, I believe most of what they taught is directly applicable to each of us.

Ann M. Dibb
Sister Dibb also taught, "One of the greatest ways we can arise and shine forth is to confidently obey the commandments of God." If we are struggling with keeping the standards and commandments, Sister Dibb taught, "I encourage you to look for support within the gospel. . . . Pray. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father, who loves you. Use the gift of repentance daily. Serve others. And most important, listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Ghost." ("Arise and Shine Forth," Ensign, May 2012, 117.)

Another counselor, Sister Mary N. Cook, taught of the duty the young women have to learn and work and be educated. "[God] has a work for you to do," taught Sister Cook. "To accomplish this work, you have an individual responsibility to seek learning.

Mary N. Cook
"Education . . . will open the doors of opportunity. As you follow the Lord's admonition to seek learning even by study and also by faith, you gain not only knowledge from your study but added light as you learn by faith." Sister Cook quoted a few prophets' counsel in gaining education and learning "marketable skills" and then said, "Young women, follow the advice of these wise and inspired prophets. Be a good student. Arise and shine forth in your schools with hard wotk, honesty, and integrity." Once again, we can all benefit from this counsel.

Sister Cook also taught of the importance and role of young women as future mothers. "We learn in 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World' that 'mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.' Providing an education for your children is part of that nurturing and is your sacred responsibility. Like the stripling warriors, who 'had been taught by their mothers,' (Alma 56:47) you will be the most important teacher your children will ever have, so choose your learning carefully. Bless your children and your future home by learning as much as you can now." ("Seek Learning: You Have A Work to Do," Ensign, May 2012, 120.)

Elaine S. Dalton
The president of the Young Women organization, Sister Elaine S. Dalton, taught that "as daughters of God, you were born to lead." She continued, "There is no more influential group standing for truth and righteousness in all the world that the young women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Sister Dalton said the call to arise and shine forth "is a call to each of you to lead the world in a mighty cause--to raise the standard--and lead this generation in virtue, purity, and in temple worthiness. If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world." ("Now is the Time to Arise and Shine!," Ensign, May 2012, 123.)

I also found it interesting that each of the Young Women leaders spoke of the importance of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and His role in helping them achieve their divine potential. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is vital for each of us.

How blessed we are to have such great leaders such as these three women and a living prophet and apostles who speak the mind and will of God. They help us know the teachings of Jesus Christ are a beacon in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us and they teach us the true meaning of happiness-a meaning much different than that taught by the world.

May we each learn the importance of obedience and our responsibility in learning and leading.

Jeremy

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mormonism 101: An Apostle's words to Harvard Law School

On March 20, 2012, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to a group of Harvard Law School students about the basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His address is all of fifteen minutes and covers the very key and core doctrines of the "Mormon" faith. (You can read the full address here.)



Elder Holland's talk is very appropriately entitled, "Mormonism 101," because he clearly and simply teaches the core doctrines and attributes of the Church. A few things I wish to highlight:
  • "God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are separate and distinct beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bone. . . . Having affirmed the point of Their separate and distinct physical nature, we declare unequivocally that They were indeed 'one' in every other conceivable way—in mind and deed, in will and wish and hope, in faith and purpose and intent and love."
  • "That is our first testimony—of Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God, of the merciful and redeeming gospel He brought from the Father to the earth to share with all of God’s children, and of the church Christ established to be the vehicle for communicating those truths and offering those ordinances."
  • "In a vision which the young Joseph Smith described as being 'above the brightness of the sun,' God the Eternal Father and that same resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to him."
  • "Young Joseph Smith’s declaration in 1820 is our declaration today and forever—that there was a true church once in the meridian of time, in which Jesus Christ was the chief cornerstone and the personification of its divinity, with mortal men called as prophets and apostles to form a foundational footing around Him."
  • "Our next testimony is that after Christ’s ascension and with the death of those early apostles the church and its divinely ordained succession of priesthood authority was lost, taken, removed from the face of the earth."
  • "Divine priesthood authority to provide the saving sacraments—the ordinances—of the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . The holy priesthood, which has been restored to the earth by those who held it anciently, signals the return of divine authorization."
  • "Every man, woman, and child who has ever lived, now lives, or will yet live so long as the earth shall last is a son or daughter of a loving and divine Heavenly Father. He is the God in whose image we were created."
  • "Because mistakes would be made in the course of that mortal education—sometimes horrible mistakes, wrenching mistakes, global mistakes—a Savior was provided in such a plan, one who would atone . . . for every individual transgression made by all those in that human family—the sins and sorrows, the disappointments and despair, the tears and tragedies of every man, woman, and child who would ever live from Adam to the end of the world."
  •  "The scriptural canon is not closed. . . . The Book of Mormon and other canonized scripture, as well as the role of living oracles, witnesses to the fact that God continues to speak."
This is but a fraction of what I originally picked to highlight so you must read the whole talk, for Elder Holland ties all of these points together and more so well.

The Church is true. Jesus is the Christ and is our Savior. God is our Father in Heaven and He has a plan that each of us, His children, may be successful and happy in this life and return to Him. Elder Holland is an apostle of the Lord.

People are listening to the Lord's servants, you should too.

Jeremy

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That the Lost May Be Found


"As you seek to live the gospel and doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost will guide you and your family."

In the most recent General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled, "That the Lost May Be Found," in which he talked about how many people today are becoming lost and confused in the widening gap between the teachings of God and the shifting trends of the world. "Everyone loses his or her way at some point, to some degree. It is through the promptings of the Holy Ghost that we can be brought safely back onto the right path, and it is the atoning sacrifice of the Savior that can return us home."

Figuring your own purpose in life and then knowing where to go and what to do to be happy can be a difficult task in current world situations. Fortunately the Lord has given us prophets and apostles and also the Holy Ghost through whom He speaks that we may know what brings true and lasting happiness. The prophet Joseph F. Smith taught that, "There can be no happiness separate and apart from the home." "It is our homes and families that need reforming in this increasingly materialistic and secular world," said Elder Ballard. "A stunning example is the growing disregard for marriage here in the United States."

Elder Ballard goes on to talk about the growing number of children born to unmarried parents, the divorce rate, and the issues surrounding those who are less educated and have lower incomes. "Opposite of what many had thought," said Elder Ballard, "prosperity and education seem to be connected to higher likelihood of having traditional families and values." One very interesting thing that Elder Ballard discussed was the cause and effect of the correlations described above.

"The real question, of course, is about cause and effect. Do some sectors of our society have stronger values and families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have values and strong families? In this worldwide Church we know that it is the latter. When people make family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well.

"And, of course, societies at large are strengthened as families grow stronger. Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect. When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase their chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly safety nets are required."

I think that's a very interesting thing to think about, yet one that I believe few really do. The family breakdown is truly causing a host of societal and economic ills and few seem to understand the correlation. However, we can reverse the trend. "Inequities are resolved by living correct principles and values," taught Elder Ballard. "The most important cause of our lifetime is our families. If we will devote ourselves to this cause, we will improve every other aspect of our lives. . . ."

So where can we look and to whom can we turn in this world of changing and shifting values, where that which brings true and lasting happiness is looked down upon and laughed at? Elder Ballard taught, "The Church is a mooring in this tempestuous sea, an anchor in the churning waters of change and division, and a beacon to those who value and seek righteousness. . . .

"The Church stands as an example of heart turning and as a catalyst for good in the world. Among Church members who are married in the temple and who regularly attend Sunday meetings, the divorce rate is significantly less than that of the world, and families remain closer and are in more frequent communication. The health in our families is better, and we live several years longer than the population average. We contribute more financial resources and more service per capita to those in need, and we are more likely to seek higher education. I point out these things not to boast but to testify that life is better (and much happier) as hearts turn toward family and as families live in the light of the gospel of Christ"

Families are where it's at. Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives as equal partners, marriage first, then family. This is the natural order of things and what will bring us lasting happiness in this life and in the world to come. The Savior seeks those who are lost. He teaches that "none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings."

Elder Ballard is an apostle of God. He teaches that which God would have us know. God loves each of us and desires our lasting happiness. As we seek to live the gospel, He will guide us through His Holy Spirit. What is lost can be found.

Jeremy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thanks Be to God

It seems to me that as time progresses, we, as the human race, digress in our understanding of who we really are and our purpose here in life. We rush about, always striving for bigger and better, giving value to things that someone else says are valuable. We want more and newer simply because more and newer exist and not because our lives are truly enhanced and bettered through our acquisition of such things. Or, and perhaps worse, we sit around and do nothing to achieve the potential of which we are capable, wasting time and energy on things of no worth. Today it is possible to live completely vicariously through other people and their feigned "realities," filling our time and conversations by "keeping up" with others' time and conversations. It seems everything these days is focused on "me" yet none of it helps us understand who "me" is.

Honestly I wonder how many people truly ponder the purpose of life or realize that their blessings come from a higher source? The article I have chosen this week directly addresses our eternal potential, the great things our Father in Heaven has done and continues to do for us, and the blessing of expressing our gratitude to Him. In a sermon entitled, "Thanks Be to God," Elder Russell M. Nelson of the quorum of the twelve apostles stated, "How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God's providence and love and express that gratitude to Him. ... Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him."

In order to express gratitude to our Father in Heaven, we must first realize all of the marvelous things He has done for us. Of these things Elder Nelson taught:

"Think of our physical sustenance. It is truly heaven-sent. The necessities of air, food, and water all come to us as gifts from a loving Heavenly Father. The earth was created to support our brief sojourn in mortality.1 We were born with a capacity to grow, love, marry, and form families."

He continued:

"We are part of His divine purpose: 'My work and my glory,' He said, is 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.'2 In order to achieve those objectives, 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'3 That act was a supernal manifestation of God’s love. 'For [He] sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.'"4

Elder Nelson then taught of different gifts we receive from God, physical and spiritual. "Our Heavenly Father loves His children," said Elder Nelson. "He had blessed each with physical and spiritual gifts. ... The many amazing attributes of your own body attest to your own 'divine nature.'"5

Of spiritual gifts, Elder Nelson taught:

"Important as is the body, it serves as a tabernacle for one’s eternal spirit. Our spirits existed in the premortal realm6 and will continue to live after the body dies.7 The spirit provides the body with animation and personality.8 In this life and in the next, spirit and body, when joined together, become a living soul of supernal worth."

...

"The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual.9 These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others.10 Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression.11 Spiritual progress is attained through the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple."12

In closing, Elder Nelson explained that, for which we should be striving each day. "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families.13 For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"

The purpose of life is clear. The challenges we face each day are to help strengthen us that we may reach our eternal potential. God has given us the gifts, both physical and spiritual, needed to return to Him to live with Him and our families forever.

Jeremy

Notes
  1. See 1 Nephi 17:36.
  2. Moses 1:39.
  3. John 3:16.
  4. John 3:17.
  5. 2 Peter 1:4.
  6. See Doctrine and Covenants 93:38.
  7. See Alma 40:11Abraham 3:18.
  8. The spirit is in the likeness of the person (see Doctrine and Covenants 77:2).
  9. The spirit, not the body, is the active, responsible component of the soul. Without the spirit, the body is dead (see James 2:26). It is the spirit, therefore, that chooses good or evil and will be held accountable for both the positive and negative attributes it possesses at the Final Judgment (see Alma 41:3–7).
  10. Spiritual attributes also include "faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence" (Doctrine and Covenants 4:6).
  11. See 2 Nephi 2:11–16, 21–26; Moroni 10:33–34.
  12. This is the doctrine of Christ (see 2 Nephi 31:11–21).
  13. “Eternal life … is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Only upon the Principles of Righteousness


Semi in conjunction with my most recent post about teaching children in their youth, I have chosen the article for this week, "Only upon the Principles of Righteousness," (Ensign, May 2012) by Elder Larry Y. Wilson. Elder Wilson spoke at the most recent General Conference about how, "wise parents prepare their children to get along without them. They provide opporunities for growth as children acquire the spiritual maturity to exercise their agency properly."

In his talk, Elder Wilson addresses the balance between helping children make decisions when they are young, and making all the decisions for their children. "If parents hold on to all decision-making power and see it as their 'right,' they severely limit the growth and development of their children." He continued, "If we wait until they walk out the door to turn over to them the reins of their moral agency, we have waited too long." He stresses the importance of helping children learn how to make decisions by learning the process by which we receive help and inspiration from God. "Helping children exercise their agency properly requires teaching them how to pray and receive answers to their prayers,..." he taught, "ultimately [children]...need to depend on the Lord, not on [parents]."

Elder Wilson also talks about "righteous dominion" and influencing others' choices not just in relation to being parents, but also in relation to being leaders and friends. He said, "anytime we try to compel someone to righteousness who can and should be exercising his or her own moral agency, we are acting unrighteously."

We have an immense ability and influence for good in the world if we exercise righteous dominion. I close with one last quote from Elder Wilson, "If we are going to help those in our stewardships make the all-important link with heaven, we must be the kind of parent and leader described in Doctrine and Covenants, section 121. We must act 'only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.'"

Let us be righteous leaders and parents and help those we love develop that ability to communicate and receive help from heaven.

Jeremy