Sunday, October 28, 2012

Two Trees: Another awesome view on motherhood and priesthood

Okay, just one more. I promise you'll like it.

Update: Here is another version that is more readable:

I think it is so funny to me that the world sees the Church as subjugating women. I am so much more free having a husband and a whole Church network to support me in my responsibilities. I am free because I love and take care of my body, and use it for its ordained purposes instead of as a tool or an object. I am free because I don't have to compete with men to be complete as a woman. I am free because I don't have to do and be everything in order to legitimize my gender. I don't have to bear the weight of the whole world; I can rely on my companion and help meet to do his part so I can do mine.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blessing Inventory

President Monson's counsel from October 2012 Conference:

As I have reviewed the past 49 years, I have made some discoveries. One is that countless experiences I have had were not necessarily those one would consider extraordinary. In fact, at the time they transpired, they often seemed unremarkable and even ordinary. And yet, in retrospect, they enriched and blessed lives—not the least of which was my own. I would recommend this same exercise to you—namely, that you take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received.

This is a big job! I started to try to do it, and realized it wasn't something I could sit and do at once; who can number how many blessings I've received, how many little experiences have turned out a great good, when my whole life has been influenced by the Gospel and the Holy Ghost? It's really impossible to catalog them all, particularly in one sitting. So I have been trying to think of something to record each time I pick up my journal, and it really is remarkable what I remember and recognize. Seeing what a profound impact earlier blessings have had in my life makes me want to try harder to recognize and follow the guidance that I am receiving now and to appreciate the blessings more as I receive them. It has invited the Spirit to teach me, helped me see things that I want to instill in my children, and just made me happy.

So a big thank-you to President Monson for his inspired counsel. I will probably look back someday and be amazed at how this little recommendation made a significant difference in my life thereafter.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

If there is not a sufficiency...

I thought it interesting that in the guidelines for the high council of the Church in Doctrine and Covenants 102, verse 23 states:

In case of difficulty respecting doctrine or principle, if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the minds of the council, the president may inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation.

The first step is not to ask the Lord to spell out the answer to the problem. The first step is to study EVERYTHING that is written to find if there is sufficient prior revelation to clear up the difficulty of doctrine or principle. Then the president can ask the Lord for additional revelation.

I am reminded of a missionary that was serving in our ward. He said publicly that he was having a hard time because he didn't know that he had ever had a testimony of modern prophets. But when my husband was driving a group of missionaries to the temple, this Elder was reading a Men's Health magazine while the others were studying the Book of Mormon. Something tells me that perhaps this Elder had not studied to find out whether there was a sufficiency written to make clear his questions and doubts before he simply asked for a manifestation from the Lord. And I think we can all be a little guilty of that same rashness in our relationship with our Father.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Declaring the Revelations of the Restoration

Proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you. The Church is charged with the responsibility to declare the message of the Restoration among those of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Here, the missionaries are reminded that they are to declare that message from the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. it is offensive to the Spirit when missionaries seek refuge and respectability on the Bible rather than declaring the message the lord gave for our day. The Book of Mormon is the perfect evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet, not the book of Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Daniel. The testimony of Christ as found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is nothing short of marvelous, yet even their testimonies take on greater meaning when read by the light of modern revelation. While we value that which God spoke to the ancients, we treasure even more the knowledge that he has spoken again in our day, restored his priesthood, and given anew all the ordinances of salvation.

Ours is a testimony of a God who speaks, of prophets who live, of scripture penned in our day, of angels ministering in our midst. Indeed, "we believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth" (Article of Faith 7). Ours is a living Bible; it cannot be sealed; there can be no end to the revelations it contains. . . . There is a spiritual power known to missionaries who teach and testify of the Restoration, doing so from its revelations, that is not experienced by those who seek to justify our doctrines or give credence to our message by use of Bible texts.

Revelations of the Restoration, p. 508-9.

A really interesting statement. I don't think the direction of Preach My Gospel is quite the same, but that is part of continuing revelation too =). Still, I appreciate and agree with the sentiment behind it.

Vision of the Book of Mormon

I have a vision of homes alerted, of classes alive, and of pulpits aflame with the spirit of Book of Mormon messages.

I have a vision of home teachers and visiting teachers, ward and branch officers, and stake and mission leaders counseling our people out of the most correct of any book on earth--the Book of Mormon...

I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.

I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon."

-Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1986, pp. 5-6.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Having latter-day boys

I don't know when I came to know it, but for several years before I was married I knew that I would have a houseful of boys. I have joked that I like the idea of having boys, so then my husband has to do all the hard and awkward things, where with girls I would actually have to teach them how to be girls.

Last week's reduction in the age of eligibility for missionary service was another reminder of how much responsibility and trust I really feel in having boys to raise and teach. I know that they have an important work to do, and they are going to be required to prepare more fully in a shorter time than any past generation. While the focus of my high school career was getting ready for college and then seeing what would happen from there, they will need to be fully prepared for a lot of responsibility right away. There is a good chance that all of my boys will turn 18 before they graduate high school, so they could potentially be leaving immediately after graduation, then returning ready to jump in to college, seek out their eternal companions, and start family life. They will have to learn earlier than I did that the world doesn't have much of value to offer, and that they can't come unto Christ while remaining in it. They will need a depth and breadth of spiritual knowledge sufficient for the Spirit to be able to draw upon it to fill their mouths in the moment when they open it to teach. They will need maturity to go out on their own and trust in the Lord.

None of this is easily attained in high school, and I can only imagine that it has gotten worse since I have been there. I am inspired by the faith that our inspired leaders put in these boys and grateful for the call that makes it clear to them what their priorities should be from the beginning. I truly have a lot of work to do as the mom of boys! I have to prepare them to prepare the world for the Coming of the Savior. Quite a job!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An innumerable company of angels

It is a false notion, one not worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that only a few of God's children will be saved in the kingdom of God. in his vision of the redemption of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith saw an "innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality" (D&C 138:12). All these awaited a glorious resurrection....

When Christ said, "In my Father's house [kingdom] are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place of you" (John 14:2; see also Smith, History of the church, 4:184), he was not suggesting that there were various degrees of glory. At that moment he was speaking to the Twelve, and though one of them would betray him, he was giving them the assurance that there was room for them and as many as would believe on their word in his Father's kingdom. There is no boundary to the heavenly city, no limit that needs to be put on its population. There is room in his Father's kingdom for every one of his children, if they will but choose to abide there. Were this not the case, were it true that God did not desire to save all of his children, Christ said, "I would have told you" (John 14:2).

Revelations of the Restoration, p. 533

Motherhood and Priesthood

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook recently:

Empowering LDS Women: Motherhood is the Equivalent of Priesthood?

I am often a bit hesitant or skeptical when I read articles with these kinds of titles, because it seems that the internet has too-often become a forum for women to criticize our priesthood leaders and propose myriad ways that they should have more "power" or "say" in the Church. But I appreciated that the author of this article seems to have spent a lot of time trying to reconcile her understanding to the revealed word and the direction of modern Prophets rather than doing the opposite: trying to make the doctrine conform to her notions of fairness or equality. As a result, she has some really interesting and lovely insights.

"Received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name."

I had never made this connection as it relates to this phrase from D&C 76:51:

"Received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name. Two separate concepts are mentioned here. First, those who obtain a place in the celestial world will do so on the strength of their testimony of Christ. In addition to that testimony, they must also believe on the name of Christ. That is, they must also accept and reverence those who come in the authority, or the name, of Christ. They must respect the authority of the priesthood and all of its offices. Not only must they have accepted Christ, but they must also have complied with all the laws and ordinances of his gospel. They must accept and sustain the president of the Church, the Twelve Apostles, and all those who have been called to preside over them in the government of the kingdom of God. In the true and proper sense of things, one cannot accept Christ and at the same time reject those he has sent to act in his name. In the meridian day one could not truly profess to accept Christ while rejecting Peter, James, and John. Similarly, in our day people cannot genuinely profess to accept Christ but reject the testimony of Joseph Smith or his lawful successors in the presidency of the Church, nor can they reject the ordinances of salvation as they are found in that Church. Only by accepting these things can one take upon themselves the name of Christ and believe on his name."

From Revelations of the Restoration, p. 527

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Learning and Little Ones

I feel that in today's General Conference sessions, as well as in April Conference, there was a lot of focus on children. And right now, little children are my life. I have to admit that I don't always relish that fact like I should. I am not very pleasant when I am sleep deprived, and I have a rather low tolerance for whining. These combined facts have lately made me guilty on a daily basis of that sin for which it is said that being tied to a millstone and drowned would be a merciful punishment: offending my little ones.

I seem to be always snapping or losing patience with some little fellow, always getting on the wrong side of the line between disciplining and punishing, always forgetting that these are pure and innocent beings that I am dealing with. And I think that motherhood is meant to be that way. If anything has shown me my weakness, it is being at home all day with three boys three and under. Most of the time I feel like I am a disaster. But at the same time I know that this time is precious, both because of the sweetness of being with these little ones and because of the joy that comes from turning to the Lord in my weakness and receiving the comfort that I can be made strong through Him.

So I'll keep reminding myself that babies sleep eventually, that my bathroom won't be a cesspool forever (they are bound to learn to aim at some point, right?), that one day my house will actually stay clean after I clean it and I won't find Cheerios in every nook, cranny, and crevice, and that when that day comes, I will cherish and miss these sweet days surrounded by little ones--diapers, Cheerios, and all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Valiant in Testimony

From Bruce R. McConkie, "Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith," Ensign, Nov. 1974, pp. 33-35.

In this war all who do not stand forth courageously and valiantly are by that fact alone aiding the cause of the enemy. "They who are not for me are against me, saith our God." (2 Ne. 10:16)


Members of the Church who have testimonies and who live clean and upright lives, but who are not courageous and valiant, do not gain the celestial kingdom. Theirs is a terrestrial inheritance. Of them the revelation says, "These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God." (D&C 76:79)

Now what does it mean to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus:

It is to be courageous and bold; to use all our strength, energy, and ability in the warfare with the world: to fight the good fight of faith. . . . The great cornerstone of valiance int eh cause of righteousness is obedience to the whole law of the whole gospel.

To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to come unto Christ, and be perfected in him; it is to deny ourselves 'of all ungodliness.' and 'love God' with all our 'might, mind and strength.' (Moro. 10:32)

To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to believe in Christ and his gospel with unshakable conviction. It is to know of the verity and divinity of the Lord's work on earth.

But this is not all. It is more than believing and knowing. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only...

To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.' IT is to 'endure to the end.' (2 Nephi 31:20.) It is to live our religion, to practice what we preach, to keep the commandments. It is the manifestation of 'pure religion' in the lives of men; it is visiting “the fatherless and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.” 

To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to bridle our passions, control our appetites, and rise above carnal and evil things. It is to overcome the world as did he who is our prototype and who himself was the most valiant of all our Father’s children. It is to be morally clean, to pay our tithes and offerings, to honor the Sabbath day, to pray with full purpose of heart, to lay our all upon the altar if called upon to do so.
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to take the Lord’s side on every issue. It is to vote as he would vote. It is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A law unto themselves.

An interesting passage from Doctrine and Covenants 88

And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. 

And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

My first thought was that this reminds me of one of the most-oft-repeated quotes from A Man for All Seasons:

"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

There is a great protection to be found in the rule of law. How much more so when that law is established by God!

But the thing that resonated most with me  was the verse about those who seek to become a law unto themselves and willingly abide in sin. I have to say, I don't know of anyone who fully meets this description, but I daily observe people doing this in little ways--willing to justify their individually breaking commandments that are generally applicable.

Now I am not one to judge others for commandment-breaking; regretfully, I do it all the time. Every day, in fact. The thing that bewilders me is the attitude that we so often meet with regards to obedience. The world's view clearly leans toward the idea that everyone can decide for themselves what their law will be. But even within the Church I so often see people flaunting with pride the fact that they break laws that they deem to be of lesser importance. There is almost an attitude of showing, "See, I can do this, that, or the other, and still be spiritual, or righteous, or what-have-you. I'll show you that I don't have to be a 'Molly Mormon' or 'Peter Priesthood' to be righteous." This runs partially on the assumption that those who are strict in their obedience do it only for show, and that image must be countered. It is built on comparison and competition.

Of course in the end, this attitude is self-defeating. It distracts us from the reason that we obey. Our obedience isn't for others to see; it is for our own blessing and protection, and recommended by an all-knowing Father who loves us more than we can comprehend.