Friday, December 21, 2012

Prayer: A time and a place

Tonight I am reading Joseph Smith-History. I have read it many times, and have recited parts of it more times than I can count. But tonight something new jumped out at me; I love that about the scriptures. 

I think it is notable how much care Joseph put into offering up his prayer. He set aside a special time and a special place where he felt he could be apart from the world and really communicate with God to receive an answer.

During this busy time in my life, and especially at this busy time of year, it is difficult for me to be alone at any time or place. My prayers are too often hurried or drowsy or even forgotten. How much power do I miss out on when I fail to create a sacred space--both in location and time--to communicate with my Father and receive answers from Him? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And incredible time to be a young woman.

I love this quote from this interview with Elaine S. Dalton, General Young Womens President:

This is an incredible time to be a young woman and a member of the Church. The young women have been preparing for this time. They are virtuous. They are worthy to receive and use their own limited-use temple recommend, they are taking the names of their ancestors to the temple, and they continue to participate in camp, Personal Progress, and class presidencies. The opportunity to serve a mission will be one more way that a young woman can spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, become an articulate advocate for the family, and assist in hastening the Lord’s work on the earth. It is indeed an honor to serve these precious daughters of God at this time. It is humbling. Heavenly Father loves and trusts His precious daughters, and now, as never before, is the time to flood the earth with their virtue, their strong spirits, and their light. They are worthy and prepared to serve the Lord. They are incredible. And they are changing the world.

It is an incredible time to be a young woman. I love that she points out how the young women have been preparing for this time, when they are so desperately needed. I am excited that more women will have the opportunity to serve missions. I am excited that this will increase the likelihood of my sons marrying return missionaries, as those women will have had some wonderful training in becoming, as Sister Dalton says, "articulate advocates" for the Gospel and the family. In this world, my children and their children will need that strength.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Eve's Marital Counseling.

This has been on my mind since I am reading the Pearl of Great Price, and it seems fitting for this week. After partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this is what God told Adam and Eve:
 16 Unto the awoman he said, I will greatly bmultiply thy csorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth dchildren; and thy desire shall be to thy ehusband, and he shall rule over thee.
 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy awife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: bcursed is the ground for thy sake; in csorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
 18 aThorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
 19 In the asweat of thy face shalt thou eat bbread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for cdust thou art,and unto ddust shalt thou return.
That phrase, "thy desire shall be unto thy husband" has been sitting in the back of my mind for a while. Those who are looking to find offense against women will say (have said!) that this is God, or organized religion, relegating women to second class. Telling them they must unquestioningly submit to their husband's desires, and that they have no say or power unto themselves. This is so far from what I have been taught in Church and what I have understood from the scriptures! My feelings of late have been more along the lines of what President Kimball described in this April 1978 discourse (a good one on women and the Church!), which echoes a revelation to Joseph Smith recorded in D&C 83:

The scriptures remind us that “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken.” (D&C 83:2.) Women also have a claim on their husbands for respect, fidelity, and thoughtfulness for in that subtle, sweet relationship that should obtain between men and women, there is partnership with the priesthood.

I'm sure that this first instruction to Adam and Eve with regards to the mortal world was meant to help them (an us; remember this was recorded by Moses to be instructional to future generations) navigate it as a team. To remain one, as they had been commanded. And that required some division of labor. Eve is told that childbearing is going to be really hard. Her desire was going to be unto her husband. But unto her husband what? For one, I think that he desire was going to be a guide unto her husband. He needed to provide for her needs and wants. To care for her. To be her protector and aid, especially when she was in the vulnerable state of bearing, nursing, and rearing children. I think it is also a reminder to support, sustain, and respect her husband in that providing role, since his job isn't easy either, as his family's sustenance depends on "the sweat of his brow." It may be a reminder for Eve to not try to run the show and do everything, but to let her husband provide and preside as he should. It is a reminder to both that they need each other. It is good counsel. It is counsel I need a lot of the time.

In the end, I suppose my sentiment is this: if you are looking for offense, you will find it. If you are looking to feel oppressed or discriminated or put down, you will find those feelings as well. But if you are looking for our Father, to know His nature, His will, and His doctrine, that is what you will find. It may not always look like what you want to hear, but in the end it will take you where you want to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Latter-day Saint Dating"

I found this handout in with all of my old institute stuff that I have been slowly cleaning out. It doesn't have any source or reference information, but it was kind of funny to skim through.

Latter-day Saint Dating

  1. Go where you can meet people in a wholesome atmosphere.
  2. Help others get acquainted. Set people up. Where appropriate, be a matchmaker.
  3. Date people who honor the Covenant.
  4. Date with the spirit of inspiration and revelation.
  5. Don't kiss someone on Saturday and act like you never met them on Sunday.
  6. Do original and fun dates rather than just go to the movies.
  7. Realize that the amount of money spent doesn't make for a good date.
  8. Dress modestly.
  9. Double and triple date--include others.
  10. Don't share your past worldliness.
  11. Don't be a faultfinder.
  12. Stay morally clean.
  13. After you quit dating, don't share confidences shared in dating.
  14. Don't gossip.
  15. Help people who are nervous to feel comfortable.
  16. Don't look only on the outward appearance.
  17. Don't judge others motives and feelings.
  18. Be interested in others--their life, their interests, their hobbies, their family, etc.
  19. Take the spirit with you. Three is never a crowd. Pray when appropriate.
  20. Have the courage to be tactful and yet honest.
  21. Study the gospel together.
  22. If you know you are going to break it off--get it over with.
  23. Don't wear your heart on your sleeve.
  24. Be careful with the words, "I Love You."
  25. Have a reasonable curfew.
  26. Make the restored church an integral part of your dating.
  27. Other people's goals and standards should be sustained and not put down.
  28. Don't use people for status purposes.
  29. Don't "throw in the towel" at the first obstacle.
  30. Work and study together.
  31. Courtesy is a great lubricant in relationships.
  32. See only worthy movies.
  33. Be friends first.
  34. Spend more time talking. Lower the stereo while driving.
  35. Don't play games.
  36. Don't dance to degrading music.
  37. Be interested in your date's family. Share your family.
  38. Be sensitive to other people's hearts.
  39. Eliminate some role stereotypes.
  40. Introduce your date to others. Help others get acquainted.
  41. Have personal prayer before and after dates.
  42. Don't show affection to people you don't intend to date.
  43. Acknowledge that marriage is a high priority to you and to the Lord.
  44. Be an example of a believer.
  45. Improve yourself rather than looking for perfection in others.
  46. Don't disregard the teachings of the General Authorities and Prophets.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On the First Apostasy

Thus apostasy began; men fell away from the truth even in the day of righteous Adam; men turned to carnal and ungodly practices even in the day when there were living witnesses to tell them of Eden's beauty, of the fall and promised redemption, and of angelic ministrations and heavenly revelations of the mind and will of Him whose they are and we are."

Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 1:229-30

While it is entirely possible that Satan, in a literal way, came among Adam's children, i.e., appeared as a person to them, such an experience is so much out of the normal experience of students (or for that matter almost all people) that much more understanding of what happened to Adam's children may be obtained by comparing the situation to something nearer to home. It may well be that the text is personifying the spirit of apostasy as Satan. Certainly the apostate believes he is the "son of God" who is on the right track, while the Church and its leaders are accused of having gone astray.

CES PGP outline, Ellis Rasmussen

Interesting note for carnivores

There is no statement in the scriptures indicating that the flesh of animals and birds and other living creatures was used as food before the days of Noah. It was after the landing of the ark that the Lord gave his commandment concerning the eating of flesh.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:42.

Instead of our first parents eating animal food, they subsisted upon herbs and fruits of the earth, which were originally designed for the food of man.

Orson Pratt, in Times and Seasons, 6 [1 June 1845]: 918.

I am still eating chicken for dinner tonight. I just thought these were interesting and didn't remember hearing anything of the sort beforehand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


For as I, the Lord God, liveth, even so my words cannot return void, for as they go forth out of my mouth they must be fulfilled.

Moses 4:30

I think it no coincidence that one of the points that always comes up in discussions of parenting and discipline is following through and being consistent. That is how Heavenly Father parents us. If our words "return void" after they have gone out of our mouths, our children won't be able to develop trust and faith in us, and they won't be motivated to follow us.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

President Hinckley on Mothers

I need to read this about 100 times per day. There are some other good quotes/printables on motherhood here at ...and spiritually speaking.

Why Alvin?

From Revelations of the Restoration, 1140:

The question could well be asked as to why it was that Alvin would be chosen to represent these truths [redemption of the dead]? The answer is that he is the perfect example of hte kind of person to whom these principles apply. Alvin died in November of 1823. His passing had been a matter of considerable sorrow to the Smith family and to the young woman to whom he was engaged. Their wounded souls had been cut to the core at his funeral by an the unfeeling remarks of the Presbyterian minister who had consigned Alvin to hell because he had not been baptized or involved in that church.

Despite his relative youth, Alvin was a man of unusual spiritual propensity. Before his death, he called each of his brothers and sisters in turn to his bedside and gave them a parting admonition. To his eighteen-year-old brother, Joseph, he said: "Be a good boy, and do everything that lies in your power to obtain the record [the Book of Mormon]. Be faithful in receiving instruction and in keeping every commandment that is given you" (Smith, History o f Joseph Smith, 1996, 116). Mother Smith stated that "Alvin had ever manifested a greater zeal and anxiety, if ti were possible, than any of the rest with regard to the record which had been shown to Joseph, and he always showed the most intense interest concerning the matter. With this before our minds, we could not endure to hear or say one word upon that subject, for the moment that Joseph spoke of the record it would immediately bring Alvin to our minds with all his kindness, his affection, his zeal, and piety. And when we looked to his place and realized that he was gone from it, to return no more in this life, we all wept with one accord over our irretrievable loss, and we 'could not be comforted, because he was not'" (Smith, History of Joseph Smith, 1996, 119).

Nearly twenty years later, Joseph Smith recounted his feelings at the time of Alvin's death, saying: "I remember well the pangs of sorrow that swelled my youthful bosom and almost burst my tender heart when he died. He was the oldest and noblest of my father's family. . . . He lived without spot form the time he was a child. . . . He was one of the soberest of men, and when he died the angel of the Lord visited him in his last moments" (History of the Church, 5:126-127).

I love this quote; I always thought that the vision of Alvin with his parents must have been so poignant for Joseph because they had been so close.

The gates of hell shall not prevail

From Revelations of the Restoration, p. 1029:

As used in scripture, hell has reference to the place of departed spirits (Bible Dictionary, 699). In some passages, though certainly not all, it refers to the place of torment or the abiding place of wicked spirits. The point of this passage of scripture is that the keys being promised to Peter will have power to open such gates. A gate prevails when it keeps something in our out of a particular place. For keys to prevail is for them to either lock or unlock such a gate so that people can enter or leave the gated area.

Those who obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel have the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them (D&C 10:69, 17:8, 21:4-6; 98:22). This is generally thought to mean that they are safe from the threat of ending up in the place of torment when they die. it is also generally supposed that in the context of the present text it is saying that hell or the devil will not prevail against Peter. In face, what is being said is that Peter will have power to direct the ministering of the gospel in the world of the spirits and that he, and for that matter all faithful Saints acting under his direction, will have the power to move freely from one part of the spirit world to another.

Was your mind just blown? Mine was. Priesthood keys = ability to preach to and do ordinances for spirits in prison (i.e. hell) = gates of hell can't prevail against the work of the Church, which is saving souls. Here is more from Harold B. Lee in "Preparing to Meet the Lord," Improvement Era 68:122, Feb. 1965:

Because the keys of the priesthood which were restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith the gates of hell did not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding the Great Apostasy. through the saving ordinances of the gospel, work could be done for the millions who died between the time of the Church of Jesus Christ inthe first century AD and the restored Church of Jesus Christ, AD 1830.

There is a vital responsibility given to him who holds the keys, all the keys that pertain to the kingdom, even the President of the Church in each dispensation. The Lord said that in a great revelatoin. To Peter, the Master said, "And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16;19) He also said that the gates of hell should not prevail against Christ's Church. (see ibid. 16:18) Now, the gates of hell would have prevailed against the Lord's work if there hadn't been given the ordinances pertaining to the salvation of those who are dead. During those periods when the priesthood to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel was not upon the earth, there were millions who lived, many of whom were faithful souls. If there hadn't been a way by which the saving ordinances of the gospel could be performed for those who thus died without the knowledge of the gospel, the gates of hell would have prevailed against our Father's plan of salvation.

Thomas B. Marsh on apostasy

After the saints were driven from Nauvoo, Thomas B. Marsh, former president of the Quorum of the Twelve who had betrayed the prophet, went to Salt Lake City, confessed to his wrongs and pleaded for forgiveness. Speaking to the Saints, he said:

Many have said to me, 'How is it that a man like you, who understood so much of hte revelations of God as recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, should fall away?'...

I have sought diligently to know the Spirit of Christ since I turned my face Zionward, and I believe I have obtained it. I have frequently wanted to know how my apostacy began, and I have come to the conclusion that I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart.

The next question is, 'How and when did you lose the Spirit?' I became jealous of the Prophet, and then I saw double, and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil; and then, when the Devil began to lead me, it was easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger, jealousy, and wrath. I could feel it within me; I felt angry and wrathful; and the Spirit of the Lord being gone, as the Scriptures say, I was blinded, and I thought I saw a beam in brother Joseph's eye, but it was nothing but a mote, and my own eye was filled with the beam; but I thought I saw a beam in his, and I wanted to get it out; and, as brother Heber says, I got mad, and I wanted everybody else to be mad. I talked with Brother Brigham and Brother Heber, and I wanted them to be mad like myself; and I saw they were not mad, and I got madder still because they were not. Brother Brigham, with a cautious looks, said, 'Are you the leader of the Church, brother Thomas?' I answered, 'No.' 'Well then,' said he, 'Why do you not let that alone?'

Well, this is about the amount of my hypocrisy--I meddled with that which was not my business.

-Journal of Discourses, 5:206-7

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decisions, Revelation, and Self-Reliance

Some counsel from Boyd K. Packer. The entire talk is here.
When you have a problem, work it out in your own mind first. Ponder on it and analyze it and meditate on it. Read the scriptures. Pray about it. I’ve come to learn that major decisions can’t be forced. You must look ahead and have vision. What was it the prophet said in the Old Testament? “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18.)

Ponder on things a little each day and don’t always be in the crisis of making major decisions on the spur of the moment. If you’re looking ahead in life, you can see major problems coming down the road toward you from some considerable distance. By the time you meet one another, you are able at the very beginning to take charge of the conversation. Once in a while a major decision will jump out at you from the side of the road and startle the wits out of you, but not very often. If you’ve already decided that you’re going to do what is right and let all of the consequences follow, even those encounters won’t hurt you.
I have learned that the best time to wrestle with major problems is early in the morning. Your mind is then fresh and alert. The blackboard of your mind has been erased by a good night’s rest. The accumulated distractions of the day are not in your way. Your body has been rested also. That’s the time to think something through very carefully and to receive personal revelation.
I’ve heard President Harold B. Lee begin many a statement about matters involving revelation with an expression something like this: “In the early hours of the morning, while I was pondering upon that subject,” and so on. He made it a practice to work on the problems that required revelation in the fresh, alert hours of the early morning.
The Lord knew something when He directed in the Doctrine and Covenants,
“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.” (D&C 88:124.)
I have a friend who bought a business. A short time later he suffered catastrophic reverses. There just didn’t seem to be any way out for him, and finally it got so bad that he couldn’t sleep. So, for a period of time he followed the practice of getting up about three o’clock in the morning and going to the office. There, with a paper and a pen he would ponder and pray and write down every idea that came to him as a possible solution or a contribution to the solution of his problem. It wasn’t long before he had several possible directions that he could go, and it was not much longer than that until he had chosen the best of them. But he had earned an extra bonus. His notes showed, after going over them, that he had discovered many hidden resources that he had never noticed before. He came away more independent and successful than ever he would have been if he hadn’t suffered those reverses.
There’s a lesson in that. A year or two later he was called to preside over a mission in one of the foreign lands. His business was so independent and well set-up that when he came back he didn’t return to it. He just has someone else managing it, and he is able to give virtually all of his time now to the blessing of others.
I counsel our children to do their critical studying in the early hours of the morning when they’re fresh and alert, rather than to fight physical weariness and mental exhaustion at night. I’ve learned that the dictum, “Early to bed, early to rise” is powerful. When under pressure—for instance, when I was preparing this talk—you wouldn’t find me burning the midnight oil. Much rather I’d be early to bed and getting up in the wee hours of the morning, when I could be close to Him who guides this work.
Now, about revelation. We have all been taught that revelation is available to each of us individually. The question I’m most often asked about revelation is, “How do I know when I have received it? I’ve prayed about it and fasted over this problem and prayed about it and prayed about it, and I still don’t quite know what to do. How can I really tell whether I’m being inspired so I won’t make a mistake?”
First, do you go to the Lord with a problem and ask Him to make your decision for you? Or do you work, read the revelations, and meditate and pray and then make a decision yourself? Measure the problem against what you know to be right and wrong, and then make the decision. Then ask Him if the decision is right or if it is wrong. Remember what He said to Oliver Cowdery about working it out in your mind.
Listen to this sentence if you don’t hear anything else: If we foolishly ask our bishop or branch president or the Lord to make a decision for us, there’s precious little self-reliance in that. Think what it costs every time you have somebody else make a decision for you.
On occasions I’ve had to counsel people that the Lord would probably quite willingly approve the thing they intend to do even when they want to. It’s strange when they come and almost feel guilty about doing something because they want to, even when it’s righteous. The Lord is very generous with the freedom He gives us. The more we learn to follow the right, the more we are spiritually self-reliant, the more our freedom and our independence are affirmed. “If ye continue in my word,” he said, “then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32.)
There is great meaning in these words from Carol Lynn Pearson, entitled, “The Lesson”:
Yes, my fretting,
Frowning child,
I could cross
The room to you
More easily.
But I’ve already
Learned to walk,
So I make you
Come to me.
Let go now—
You see?
Oh, remember
This simple lesson,
And when
In later years
You cry out
With tight fists
And tears—
“Oh, help me,
Just listen
And you’ll hear
A silent voice:
“I would, child,
I would.
But it’s you,
Not I,
Who needs to try
(Carol Lynn Pearson, Beginnings, Provo: Trilogy Arts, 1967, p. 18.)
Laman and Lemuel complained to Nephi, “Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken.”
“Have ye inquired of the Lord?” Nephi asked them.
And think of this answer. They said to him, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known to us.”
“How is it,” he answered, “that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (See 1 Ne. 15:7–11.)
In conclusion, if we lose the spirit and power of individual revelation, we have lost much in this Church. You have great and powerful resources. You, through prayer, can solve your problems without endlessly going to those who are trying so hard to help others.
Now, if you start receiving revelations for anyone else’s jurisdiction, you know immediately that you’re out of order, that they come from the wrong source. You will not receive revelation to counsel your bishop or to correct the leaders of the Church.
If you become so dependent and insecure about prayer and the answer to prayer that you are hesitant on them, then you are weak.
This Church relies on individual testimony. Each must earn his own testimony. It is then that you can stand and say, as I can say, that I know that God lives, that He is our Father, that we have a child-parent relationship with Him. I know that He is close, that we can go to Him and appeal, and then, if we will be obedient and listen and use every resource, we will have an answer to our prayers.
I love when he says, "Think what it costs every time you have someone make a decision for you." I never thought of it that way, but the whole point of life is for us to learn to exercise our agency in righteousness. We lose spiritual vitality when we turn that job over to someone else.
And anyone who knows me knows I need that counsel about sleep =).

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Worship

I liked this quote from Bruce R. McConkie:

In other words, true and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in his Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar.
With this principle before us, may I now illustrate some of the specifics of that divine worship which is pleasing to him whose we are?
To worship the Lord is to follow after him, to seek his face, to believe his doctrine, and to think his thoughts.
It is to walk in his paths, to be baptized as Christ was, to preach that gospel of the kingdom which fell from his lips, and to heal the sick and raise the dead as he did.
To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him.
It is to walk in the light as he is in the light, to do the things that he wants done, to do what he would do under similar circumstances, to be as he is.
To worship the Lord is to walk in the Spirit, to rise above carnal things, to bridle our passions, and to overcome the world.
It is to pay our tithes and offerings, to act as wise stewards in caring for those things which have been entrusted to our care, and to use our talents and means for the spreading of truth and the building up of his kingdom.
To worship the Lord is to be married in the temple, to have children, to teach them the gospel, and to bring them up in light and truth.
It is to perfect the family unit, to honor our father and our mother; it is for a man to love his wife with all his heart and to cleave unto her and none else.
To worship the Lord is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
It is to work on a welfare project, to administer to the sick, to go on a mission, to go home teaching, and to hold family home evening.
To worship the Lord is to study the gospel, to treasure up light and truth, to ponder in our hearts the things of his kingdom, and to make them part of our lives.
It is to pray with all the energy of our souls, to preach by the power of the Spirit, to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.
To worship is to work, to be actively engaged in a good cause, to be about our Father’s business, to love and serve our fellowmen.
It is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to comfort those that mourn, and to hold up the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees.
To worship the Lord is to stand valiantly in the cause of truth and righteousness, to let our influence for good be felt in civic, cultural, educational, and governmental fields, and to support those laws and principles which further the Lord’s interests on earth.
To worship the Lord is to be of good cheer, to be courageous, to be valiant, to have the courage of our God-given convictions, and to keep the faith.
It is ten thousand times ten thousand things. It is keeping the commandments of God. It is living the whole law of the whole gospel.
To worship the Lord is to be like Christ until we receive from him the blessed assurance: “Ye shall be even as I am.”
Sometimes I feel like I am not doing as well at worshiping the Lord when I am caught up in the cares of my family or other things I am doing. But getting caught up in the affairs of a growing family is worship! All those things I am trying to do are part of my effort to keep the commandments and live my life the way that my Father would want me to. Every activity and every choice find me worshiping either the Lord or some other priority, and I hope that it is the former more often than not.
You can read the rest of this beautiful talk here.