Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: Pres. Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson:

"The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page , is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’

“The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon.

“Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament.

“He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83 ).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“Live in Thanksgiving Daily”

By Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, Sep 2001, 6

Think for a moment, if you will, of someone you know who is truly happy. We’ve all met those who seem to radiate happiness. They seem to smile more than others; they laugh more than others—just being around them makes us happier as well.

Now think of someone you know who isn’t happy at all. Perhaps they seem 10 years older than they are, drained of energy—perhaps they are angry or bitter or depressed.

What is the difference between them? What are the characteristics that differentiate the happy from the miserable? Is there something that unhappy people can do to be happier? I believe there is.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate this observation.

A long time ago in a faraway village lived a man who everyone did their very best to avoid. He was the type of person who believed that there was only one competent person in the world, and that one person was himself. Consequently, he was never satisfied with anything. His shoes never fit right. His shirt never felt comfortable. When his food wasn’t too cold, it was too salty, and when it wasn’t too hot, it was too bland.

If a field wasn’t sowed by himself, it was not sowed well. If he didn’t close the door, the door was not closed properly.

In short, he made a career of frowning, lecturing, criticizing, and mumbling about the incompetencies of every other person in the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, the man was married, which made matters all the worse. No matter what his wife did, in his eyes it was wrong. No matter what the unfortunate woman cooked, sewed, or cleaned—or even when she milked the cow—it was never satisfactory, and he let her know it.

She tried very hard to be a good wife, but it seemed the harder she tried, the less she pleased him. Finally, one evening she could take no more.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” she told him. “Tomorrow I will do your chores and you will do mine.”

“But you can’t do my chores,” the man replied. “You don’t know the first thing about sowing, hoeing, and irrigating.”

But the woman was adamant. And on top of that, she was filled with a righteous anger that frankly astonished and frightened the man to the point where he didn’t dare disagree.

So the next morning the wife went off to the fields and the man began the domestic chores. After thinking about it, he had actually convinced himself he was looking forward to it. Once and for all, he would demonstrate to his wife how things should be done.

Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. In fact, nearly everything the man touched turned into disaster. He spilled the milk, let the pig get into the house, lost the cow, burned the dinner, and ultimately set the house on fire, narrowly escaping with his own life.

When his wife returned, she discovered her husband sitting on a pile of ashes, smoke still rising from his clothes. But the woman wasn’t the type to rub things in. She helped him up, wiped the soot from his beard, fixed him a little something to eat, and then prepared a bed of straw for them to sleep on.

From that day forward, the man never complained about anyone or anything else for as long as he lived.

What do you suppose this story teaches us?

For one thing, it teaches that those who complain make their own and others’ lives miserable. The story also teaches humility. It reminds us that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). It teaches us not to judge others until we walk in their shoes for a while.

In addition, the story illustrates a quality that the Roman orator Cicero claimed was “not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others” (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio, 54 b.c.). It is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of this virtue, there is happiness. Where there is an absence of this virtue, there is often sadness, resentment, and futility.

The virtue I am speaking of is gratitude.

In our story, it was the absence of gratitude that made the man miserable. His inability to appreciate others caused him to be critical of their efforts. Not only did he not empathize with them, he could not allow himself to acknowledge their contributions.

The disasters that confronted him surely made him humble, but, more particularly, they made him appreciate and be grateful for his wife.

Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable.

You might be surprised to know that gratitude is a commandment of the Father. “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7), the Lord has commanded in these latter days. Even further, He has admonished that “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).

In the Book of Mormon we learn that we should “live in thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38). Isn’t that a wonderful thought to live in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if you lived in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if others did the same? Do you think the world would be a happier place? less stressful? less angry? more spiritual?

President Joseph F. Smith proclaimed: “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 263).

Earlier I asked you to think of someone you knew who was truly happy. Think of the person again, if you will, and grade on this principle: Does he or she live in thanksgiving daily?

Now think of someone you know who is unhappy or resentful. Does this person live in thanksgiving daily?

It is difficult to even imagine a resentful person who is grateful or a grateful person who is resentful. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said:

“Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. …

“Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without it there is arrogance and evil” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 117).

I believe that many people are unhappy because they have not learned to be grateful. Some carry the burden of bitterness and resentfulness for many years. Some pass their days as though suffering a deep sadness they cannot name. Others are unhappy because life didn’t turn out the way they thought it would.

“If only I had money,” some might say to themselves, “then I could be happy.”

“If only I were better-looking.”

“If only I were smarter.”

“If only I had a new car, a college degree, a job, a wife, hair that wasn’t so frizzy.” (Or, in my case, if only I had more hair or I were 12 inches taller.)

If we only look around us, there are a thousand reasons for us not to be happy, and it is simplicity itself to blame our unhappiness on the things we lack in life. It doesn’t take any talent at all to find them. The problem is, the more we focus on the things we don’t have, the more unhappy and more resentful we become.

Over the course of my years, I have met thousands of people. I have dined with the prosperous as well as the poverty-stricken. I have conversed with the mighty and with the meek. I have walked with the famous and the feeble. I have run with outstanding athletes and those who are not athletically inclined.

One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: You cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame, or power a person has. External conditions do not necessarily make a person happy. The Brethren who have had assignments in poorer countries report that despite the abject poverty, the people are very happy. The fact is that the external things so valued by the world are often the cause of a great deal of misery in the world.

Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world’s happiest people. And they make others happy as well.

Years ago Elder J. Golden Kimball (1853–1938) of the Seventy was traveling with one of the presiding Brethren in southern Utah. In those days meetings often didn’t have a time limit; they went on as long as the speaker wanted to speak. For those of you looking for something to be grateful for, perhaps I’ve just given you one idea.

One fast Sunday they had been preaching nearly all day. Everyone was hungry, especially Elder Kimball, who felt that he “was pretty nearly dead.”

Finally, at about four o’clock in the afternoon, the presiding Apostle turned and said, “Now, Brother Kimball, get up and tell them about the Era.”

The Improvement Era magazine had just been launched, and the Brethren wanted to encourage subscriptions. Elder Kimball approached the pulpit and then, after a short pause, said, “All you men that will take the Era if we will let you go home, raise your right hand.” There was not a single man who did not raise his hand that day to subscribe to the Era (see J. Golden Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1932, 78).

You see, the power of gratitude is immense.

Rulon Gardner grew up in the small town of Afton, Wyoming. He is one of nine children. His mother and father are faithful members of the Church and instilled proper values in their children.

But because Rulon was so large, his classmates teased him. The taunts and name-calling troubled young Rulon, but he never became angry or resentful. He could have withdrawn and become bitter. Like so many others, he could have counted all the things that were going wrong and simply given up.

Instead, he used the insults as motivation. He determined he would use his size to his advantage. He would make something of himself.

“I would go out, as a kid,” Rulon said, “and I could barely pick up a bale of hay. By the time my senior year came around, I was grabbing four bales of hay at a time, each 100 pounds. Just grabbing them and walking with them and seeing how physically strong I could be” (quoted in Alan Robinson, “Wrestler’s Magic Moment,” Associated Press, Sydney, Australia, 28 Sept. 2000).

He milked cows twice a day, often in subzero temperatures. He lifted frozen bales of hay to feed the cows. At times he would carry a newborn calf into the safety of a warm barn. He got up early in the morning, did his chores, then went to school. After school he either went to wrestling or football practice, then back to the farm to do more chores.

Rulon found that his size wasn’t a disadvantage for him as an athlete—in fact, it was an asset. Wrestling particularly came easy to him, and he became the Wyoming state champion. After graduating from high school, he decided that perhaps he might be good enough to compete in the Olympic Games.

In Atlanta in 1996, due to a miscommunication, he arrived at the weigh-in 22 seconds too late and missed his chance to compete. Again Rulon could have despaired. He could have cursed his luck. He could have become embittered and resentful.

But do you know what he did? He worked harder. Instead of burying himself in self-pity, he began speaking at youth firesides about his experience. “I missed the Olympic Games by 22 seconds,” he told his eager listeners. “Don’t you let anything keep you from your goals.”

After four years of hard work, Rulon Gardner wanted to compete in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The only trouble was, he couldn’t afford the trip. That’s when the members of his hometown rallied to his side. They held bake sales and potluck dinners and raised enough money to allow Rulon and his family to make the trip to Sydney.

This time he did not miss the weigh-in. He advanced through the preliminary rounds until he reached the final obstacle to his gaining a gold medal.

That obstacle was a man the world called the Siberian Bear, Alexander Karelin. This Russian bear is considered by most as the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler in the history of the sport. Not only had he not lost a single match in 13 years, but no one had scored a point on him in more than a decade. Karelin had won the gold medal in three previous Olympic Games and was the heavy favorite to win an unprecedented fourth gold medal.

But at the end of the gold-medal match, it was the farm boy from Afton, Wyoming, who stood triumphant in what many consider the greatest upset of the summer Olympic Games.

“The reason I think I won,” Rulon said, “is because I work harder than anyone else, train harder. And every day I live my life, I do everything I need to do to put my life in order” (quoted in Robinson, “Wrestler’s Magic Moment”).

Waving an American flag, a grateful Rulon Gardner thanked his family, his God, and his hometown of Afton, Wyoming, for their helping to make the moment possible.

Winning the gold medal in such a stunning way made Rulon an instant celebrity. Sometimes this sort of attention changes people. Sometimes people become more calloused. Sometimes they forget those they owe the most to. But not Rulon Gardner.

Later, while Rulon was a guest on an evening talk show, the host invited him to watch some highlights from his Olympic victory. Without warning, the picture changed to a live shot from Afton, Wyoming. It seemed that the entire population of the town had assembled in the high school gymnasium. They cheered and shouted and held up signs that said, “Rulon’s got milk!” and “My uncle rocks!”

As this man—one of the strongest men in the world—looked into the television monitor at the faces of the people he loved, tears of gratitude came to his eyes.

In a letter written to his stake president, Rulon Gardner said: “The Lord has given me the chance to work for all my dreams. I feel the Church has helped me to focus and live my life in the ways that have helped me to train and become an Olympic champ. … I am blessed … to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (letter to President Val J. Call, Afton Wyoming Stake, 20 Oct. 2000).

Rulon Gardner knows what it means to be grateful.

Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration.

Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love. But how do we make this part of who we are? May I suggest three things that will help as we strive to live in thanksgiving daily?

First, we must open our eyes.
I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote, “The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life” (Quotationary, electronic quotation dictionary). Unfortunately, because the beauties of life are so abundant, sometimes we take them for granted.

Our minds have a marvelous capacity to notice the unusual. However, the opposite is true as well: The more often we see the things around us—even the beautiful and wonderful things—the more they become invisible to us.

That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds—even those we love.

Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.

Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, have a way of opening their eyes and seeing the wonders and beauties of this world as though seeing them for the first time.

I encourage you to look around you. Notice the people you care about. Notice the fragrance of the flowers and the song of the birds. Notice and give thanks for the blue of the sky, the color of the leaves, and the white of the clouds. Enjoy every sight, every smell, every taste, every sound.

When we open our eyes and give thanks for the bountiful beauty of this life, we live in thanksgiving daily.

The second thing we can do is open our hearts.
We must let go of the negative emotions that bind our hearts and instead fill our souls with love, faith, and thanksgiving.

Anger, resentment, and bitterness stunt our spiritual growth. Would you bathe in impure water? Then why do we bathe our spirits with negative and bitter thoughts and feelings?

You can cleanse your heart. You don’t have to harbor thoughts and feelings that drag you down and destroy your spirit.

You can repent of uncleanliness. That is the miracle of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. You can become clean. You can cleanse your heart of impurity.

Begin the process today. Repent of those things you should repent of. Drink deeply of the living waters of the gospel. These latter days are a time of great spiritual thirst. Many in the world are searching, often intensely, for a source of refreshment that will quench their yearning for meaning and direction in their lives. The Lord provides the living water that can quench the burning thirst of those whose lives are parched by a drought of truth.

Pray with all your heart. Consider the love your Heavenly Father has for all His children. Open your heart to His cleansing word. Feast on the words of holy writ. Cherish the messages of modern-day prophets and apostles. Forgive others who have offended you. Don’t waste another moment feeling self-pity. Every day drain from your heart the feelings of resentment, rage, and defeat that do nothing but discourage and destroy. Fill your heart with those things that ennoble, encourage, and inspire.

The great Book of Mormon prophet Nephi certainly had reason to be resentful. Hated by his brothers, bound and beaten and nearly murdered, he had plenty to be bitter about. After his father died, Nephi must have felt completely alone. He surely felt threatened. He surely felt discouraged. He surely felt troubled. But when it came time for him to communicate his feelings, what did he write?

“Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard” (2 Ne. 4:16).

Yes, his path had been difficult. Yes, his heart groaned because of mistakes he had made, but he did not allow himself to linger in negativity. Instead, he told himself:

“Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

“Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

“Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee” (2 Ne. 4:28–30).

The third thing we can do to live in thanksgiving daily is open our arms.
One of the best ways we show our gratitude is by blessing the lives of those around us. The great King Benjamin taught his people:

“If you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice. …

“… If ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20–21).

And how do we render thanks unto God? King Benjamin told us that as well: “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

We can live in thanksgiving daily by opening our arms to those around us. When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone who has always been there for you, someone who has sacrificed for you, someone whose heart has always been filled with hopes and dreams for you?

When was the last time you unselfishly reached out to help another in need? Every time we cheer another’s heart, every time we ease another’s burden, every time we lift a weary hand, we show our gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are.

Not long ago a mother and father from the Republic of Georgia faced a terrifying reality. The doctors told them their baby had a heart condition, and unless he had surgery he would die. Because they did not have adequate facilities in Georgia, the mother and father walked across their country and all the way to Yerevan, Armenia, seeking medical help.

The Armenian doctors examined the child and agreed that the baby needed heart surgery. They knew how to perform the surgery and they had the necessary facilities, but they couldn’t perform the operation because they didn’t have the right tubing. As much as they wanted to help, there was nothing they could do. They told the couple to take their baby home to die.

As you know, the Church—through its humanitarian service arm—sends millions of pounds of food, clothing, and medical and educational materials throughout the world each year. As it so happened, Elder Robert H. Sangster and his wife, Sister Sandra Sangster, were serving a humanitarian mission in Armenia, and they had just received a container of medical supplies.

You may have already guessed that tucked away in this container of medical supplies was a box of precisely the kind of tubing needed for this child’s operation.

When the doctors discovered the tubing, they rushed the baby into surgery and performed the operation.

That’s a wonderful story and one that repeats itself daily as a result of the tremendous humanitarian help that is given to many nations in the world. The great welfare effort given by the Church benefits members and nonmembers during times of need. It reaches out to care for others. But what happened later makes it an even better story. One day, soon after the operation, Elder and Sister Sangster heard a knock at their door. When they opened it, this loving mother and father fell to their knees and wept as they thanked the Sangsters and their church for supplying the precious tubing that had saved the life of their child.

The blessings that come from opening our arms to others are among the choicest this earth has to offer.

As we strive to open our eyes, hearts, and arms, our step will become a little lighter, our smile will become a little brighter, and the darkness that sometimes broods over our lives will become a little lighter. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been an especially grateful person. Rejoice and think of what an impression you will make on those who thought they knew you. Think of how delightfully surprised they will be.

Be grateful. Every day is a new canvas—a new opportunity. Our beloved President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “My plea is that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort” (Standing for Something [2000], 101).

Choice blessings await those who live in thanksgiving daily. “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness,” the Lord has promised, “shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

Don’t wait to start. Open your eyes, open your hearts, and open your arms. I promise that as you do so, you will feel greater joy and happiness. Your life will have a new level of meaning. You will forge relationships that will transcend this life and endure through the eternities.

I am grateful for this experience of mortality. I am grateful for the gospel and for the life and testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am grateful for my wonderful wife, my dear children and grandchildren. I am grateful for the support and love shown to me by countless friends and members of the Church throughout the world. I am grateful for life and even more grateful for the glorious promise of eternal life to come.

Not everyone can be a star quarterback; not everyone can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company; not everyone can win a gold medal at the Olympics; but everyone—everyone—can live in thanksgiving daily.

As a special witness, I bear solemn testimony that Jesus is the living Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. He asks that we believe in Him, that we learn of Him, that we strive to follow His teachings, and that we adhere to the teachings of our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. He inspires him in the direction needed for this life and life eternal.

May we follow our Savior in all we do is my humble prayer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mormon Messages: In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Quote of the Day: James E. Faust

James E. Faust
James E. Faust, “Gratitude As a Saving Principle,” Ensign, May 1990, 85

"A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.
But there is a truism associated with all types of human strength: “Use it or lose it.” When not used, muscles weaken, skills deteriorate, and faith disappears. President Thomas S. Monson stated: “Think to thank. In these three words are the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness.” (Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 254.) Said the Lord, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” (D&C 78:19.)

Latter-Day Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 88:33

“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.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote of the Day: Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

"Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges each of us enjoy. The Lord has said that the meek shall inherit the earth. (See Matt. 5:5.) I cannot escape the interpretation that meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments. This is the beginning of wisdom. Walk with gratitude before him who is the giver of life and every good gift. "

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quote of the Day: Pres. Joseph F. Smith

President JosephF. Smith.

"I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude. ... God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things [see D&C 59:21 ]" ( Gospel Doctrine, 5thed. [1939], 270–71).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quote of the Day: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Those who are my regular readers are probably beginning to notice that I have a special like of Elder Holland's talks. :)
Part of this quote is with reference to this scripture:
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Matt. 5:45

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"One of the challenges of the faithful is to realize that sometimes those who are not obedient and worthy seem to receive as many or more of the temporal blessings of life as do those who sacrifice and serve. ... The Saints are to be faithful to the end without too many sidelong glances at their neighbors. ... Undoubtedly the unfaithful will also have the sun shine upon them, perhaps at times even more abundantly than on the righteous. But the faith and devotion of the faithful is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life, and the day will come when they will be included among God’s jewels. In that day it will matter very much who was righteous and who was wicked, who served God and who did not. In the meantime, all must remember that God does not settle his end-of-year accounts in September" ( Christ and the New Covenant, 296–97).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Godhead

As I was searching my posts to see what I had already written on the subject of the Godhead, I found that I haven't written much about our view of the "trinity". I did post an excellent talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland on this subject, and it can be viewed by clicking this link. But I would like to write a little more about this crucial doctrine.

In our religion, we believe that the Godhead is made up of three separate, distinct personages. We believe that they are one in purpose, thereby making up the Godhead, but they are separate physically. It's interesting to me that some religions believe that they are one being, with three separate identities, and refer to this as one of the "mysteries". I believe that understanding the nature of God is essential to our understanding of the plan of salvation, and that it shouldn't be a mystery.

The first personage in the Godhead is God the Father. He has a physical, glorified body. He is the literal father of our spirits, and we were created in His image. He is the literal physical father of Jesus Christ. All that Jesus did while on this earth was to carry out the Father's will. The Savior said, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." John 5:30 His actions were in such perfect alignment with what the Father would do if He were on earth, to the degree that Jesus said, "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." John 8:19

The second personage in the Godhead is Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world, because of the atonement that He made for all mankind. He is our spirit brother, and advocate with the Father. When we pray to Heavenly Father, we do so in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our mediator. He also has a physical, glorified body of flesh and bone, just as we will have one day because of the resurrection that Jesus brought to pass.

The third personage in the Godhead is the Holy Ghost. He does not have a physical body as yet. He is a personage of spirit. His mission is to testify of truth. Because He is a spirit, He can communicate with our spirits. He can bring the comfort promised of the Savior. He can reveal all things to us.

One of the greatest examples in the scriptures of the separate nature of the Godhead is found in the account of Jesus' baptism:
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt. 3:16,17
This account records that Jesus was in the water, while the Father spoke from heaven, and the Dove lighted upon him as a symbol that the Holy Ghost was present.

Another great scripture talking about the separateness of the Father and the Son is found in the account of Stephen who personally saw them.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Acts 7:55,56
Clearly Stephen saw two personages, Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. This account is very similar to the eye witness account of Joseph Smith who also beheld their glory and saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. The position of standing on the right hand is one of honor.

In His great intercessory prayer, the Savior prayed:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
John 17:11,21-23

We believe that Jesus wasn't suggesting that the apostles become one entity, but that they become one in purpose, just as He and the Father are one in purpose.

I encourage you to also read the talk I linked above by Jeffrey Holland. And I also encourage all to study these things out in their mind, and ask God the Father, with a sincere heart, about the truth of these doctrines. Understanding the true nature of God can help us more fully understand the plan of salvation that He has established for us.

Quote of the Day: The Prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith:

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God....
"... He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed" ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: Neal A. Maxwell

Neal A. Maxwell

“My young brothers and sisters, you live in a world which, as prophesied, is often confusing and perplexing. By combining true education and true religion, you will be able to distinguish between what are merely today’s trends and the eternal truths, and between celestial sense and secular nonsense. . . .
“Those individuals who are illuminated, spiritually and educationally, will help to show the way in a world darkened by despair.
“God bless you in these days, which are your days in the history of the kingdom of God”
(Neal A. Maxwell, Seek Learning Even by Study and Also by Faith, 1994 videocassette).)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Take the Challenge!

If you were the last writer in the scriptures, what would you want to say to the world? What would you want the world to know about what you had written? How would you convince the world to believe what you had written?

The last writer in the Book of Mormon was a man named Moroni. He faced these same questions, and his answer was to issue a sort of challenge. In the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni reminds us that as Elder Boyd K. Packer taught, "No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than 'Ask, and ye shall receive.'" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 26) Moroni calls upon us to remember that the Lord throughout time has been merciful to those who plead unto Him.

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. Moroni 10:3

But the Lord requires more of us than just faith. He requires action. In this verse, Moroni mentions two actions that are required to know the truth of the Book of Mormon. One is to "read", and the other is to "ponder it in your hearts". Many people skim through the Book of Mormon without really reading it. Many people read the Book of Mormon without pondering it in their hearts.

Moroni goes on to say,
"4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Moroni 10:4,5

Here he gives us one more important action that we need to follow to know truth. He exhorts us to pray and ask God if the things we have read are true. Moroni teaches us that by the power of the Holy Ghost, we can know the truth of all things. Part of the mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26 Many people read the Book of Mormon without praying to know if it is true.

There are those who will discount the Book of Mormon without reading it. There are those who will discount the Book of Mormon without pondering about it in their hearts. There are those who will discount the Book of Mormon without praying to God to know if it is true. In addition, Moroni counsels us to "ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." To me this means in part that we should be honestly seeking to know if it is true, and have an open mind. How can the Lord reveal a truth to us if we have a closed mind?

So my challenge to you today is to take Moroni's challenge. I want to testify to you that I have taken the challenge and I have received an answer that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and a second witness of Jesus Christ. You may not accept my testimony, but I encourage you to try this challenge yourself and find out once and for all for yourself if the Book of Mormon is true. If you follow the steps that Moroni outlined: read, ponder, and ask God with a sincere heart and real intent, I know that you will receive an answer. The Lord pleads often with us in the scriptures to "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" Matt. 7:7,8

Take the challenge! Then come back and tell me how it went!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book of Mormon Sampler: Omni 1:26

Omni 1:26
26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.

Quote of the Day: the Prophet Joseph Smith

Prophet Joseph Smith:

"Faith ... is the moving cause of all action"

(Lectures on Faith [1985], 1–2).

Seeking Wisdom and Learning

Elder Sterling W. Sill, Assistant to the Twelve:

“A young man came to Socrates one time and said, ‘Mr.Socrates, I have come 1,600 miles to talk to you about wisdom and learning.’ He said, ‘You are a man of wisdom and learning, ... and I would like to have you teach me how to be a man of wisdom and learning.’ Socrates said, ‘Come follow me,’ and he led the way down to the seashore. They waded out into the water up to their waists, and then Socrates turned on his friend and held his head under the water. His friend struggled and kicked and bucked and tried to get away, but Socrates held him down. ... And after this man had stopped struggling, Socrates laid him out on the bank to dry, and he went back to the market place.

“After the young man had dried out a little bit, he came back to Socrates to find the reason for this rather unusual behavior. Socrates said to him, ‘When your head was under the water what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?’ And the man said, ‘More than anything else, I wanted air.’ Socrates said, ‘All right, when you want wisdom and learning like you wanted air, you won’t have to ask anybody to give it to you.’” (“The Five Fingers of Leadership Success,” in Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [9Feb. 1965], 9).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Book of Mormon Sampler: Alma 37:46

Alma 37:46
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

Profile of a Prophet

After preparing my lesson for tomorrow, I decided that I wanted to post about some of the attributes of a prophet mentioned in my lesson. The first attribute I want to highlight is that a prophet is a man, with weaknesses that are common to all men. I don't mean to insinuate that they have any gross sins, but they aren't perfect people. I especially liked these quotes from Joseph Smith on the subject.

“I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they gave no rain for the space of three years and six months; and again, in answer to his prayer, the heavens gave forth rain, and the earth gave forth fruit [see James 5:17–18]. Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any [dealings] with his Maker.”11
“When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?”12

“Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.”13

Joseph Smith’s journal for October 29, 1842, records: “I … went over to the store [in Nauvoo, Illinois], where a number of brethren and sisters were assembled, who had arrived this morning from the neighborhood of New York. … I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.”14

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Latter-Day Hymns: I Am A Child Of God

This morning in our inservice meeting our teacher asked us to look in the hymn book and pick out what we felt was the most important hymn (message-wise). Obviously there isn't one right answer, but a couple of people picked this hymn, that started out in the children's song book.

Hymns, I Am a Child of God, no. 301

1. I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

2. I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

3. I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I’ll live with him once more.

Text: Naomi W. Randall, 1908–2001. © 1957 IRI

Music: Mildred T. Pettit, 1895–1977. © 1957 IRI

Monday, November 2, 2009

Your Input About Prophets

I'm teaching a lesson this Sunday about Prophets, and I was hoping to have some of your input. In our church we are very accustomed to the idea of prophets, especially living prophets. I would like to ask you your idea of what a living prophet would be like. Would they look a certain way? Would they speak a certain way? How would you distinguish them from other men? I want to explore this from the point of view of someone who isn't accustomed to the idea of living prophets. I hope to use these ideas in teaching my lesson on Sunday. Thanks in advance for your input!