Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to be preserved from the influences of Satan.

 I was reading 1 Nephi 15 today and came upon one of my favorite promises.  The rod of iron is the word of God Nephi said "and whoso would hearken unto the word of God and hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."

There you have it - one of the great keys to success in this life - how to make it through safely.  There are others and I love them too.

One is found in D&C 10:5-6:  Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.

Another in Alma 34:39: "Yea I would exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day . . ."

Another in D&C 21:4-6: ". . . thou shalt give heed unto all his [the prophet] words and commandments which he shall give unto you . . . his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.  For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before  you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory."

All the Sunday School answers - all the things I need to know to succeed in this life - I learned in Primary.  But the promised blessings of being protected from all that the adversary may throw at you is a beautiful promise.  We will be able to avoid the deception that will afflict even the very elect in the last days!  Oh how I hope and pray that I and all I love - will heed and all my grandchildren will be taught and guided in these habits as well - in ways that will invite the spirit to witness to them and to be a companion.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Clinging or holding fast to the rod of iron?

I used to think that "clinging to the rod of iron" was a really good thing - "clinging" is a strong term so it must be a good to do.  But I have now come to think of it differently - now I see a mental image of someone hanging on in desperation from a high ledge - fingers about to slip off because of the weight and the pull of gravity.  Their hands may be clinging but their feet are either about to fall off or are hanging off now and then.  Not a very secure position.  Their heart and their eyes are focused elsewhere and while they know where they should be and are making an effort, they just can't make the full commitment to get completely and whole heartedly and safely on the path. Therefore when they partake of the fruit and try to repent and try to live according to the Savior's way - they are ashamed, embarrassed - the opinions of the world - it's fashions and ways are, in the end, just too important to them.

While those who continually hold fast to the rod of iron and who humbly fall down and partake of the fruit, who recognize the value of the tree and its fruit or in other words - those who humbly and gratefully partake of the Savior's Love - His atonement - are unfazed by the scorn of the people of  the world.  They heed them not.  They are steady, constant, faithful, committed, devoted.

The great and spacious building = short term gratification, long term sorrow

Elder Glenn L Pace of the Seventy said "To those of you who are inching your way closer and closer to that great and spacious building, let me make it completely clear that the people in that building have absolutely nothing to offer except instant, short term gratification inescapably connected to long-term sorrow and suffering.  The commandments you observe were not given by a dispassionate God to prevent you from having fun, but by a loving Father in Heaven who wants you to be happy while you are living on this earth as well as in the hereafter. . . " (Ensign, Nov. 1987, 40)

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned that preoccupation with material possessions is a behavior typical of those people in the great and spacious building: "The current cries we hear coming from the great and spacious building tempt us to compete for ownership in the things of this world. We think we need a larger home, with a three-car garage and a recreational vehicle parked next to it.  We long for designer clothes, extra TV sets . . .the latest model computers, and the newest car.  Often these items are purchased with borrowed money without giving any thought to providing for our future needs.  The result of all this instant gratification is overloaded bankruptcy courts and families that are far too preoccupied with their financial burdens."  (Ensign, Nov 1995, 35)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Way to Judge

Moving right along in the New Testament - I was reading 2 Corinthians 12.  Verse 20 is the one that inspired me today.  It seems to me there are a lot of references in 2 Corinthians to signs of apostasy occurring in the church.  After some discussion of one of those signs, Paul expresses concern that if he were to come to them in person, things might not go so well.  He fears he would be disappointed in them and they would be disappointed in him.  He is concerned there would be debates (disputations and contentions), envyings (resentful, grudging, covetous feelings towards others who are seemingly more fortunate), wraths (exhibitions of violent anger and rage), strifes (altercations, conflicts, fights), backbitings (slanderous and evil speaking about absent people), whisperings (gossip, speaking ill in secret, conspiring, criticizing), swellings (being puffed up or inflated with pride), tumults (violent outbursts, violent agitations of mind or feelings; also commotions involving multitudes, usually attended by great uproars and much confusion). (Definitions come from DNTC vol 2, p 450-451).  Paul says that some are even involved in fornication and lasciviousness (lustfulness, lewdness, wantonness).

This is a list of qualities that begin to creep in and can lead to apostasy or are signs that apostasy has already happened.  And this because the spirit of God leaves when we engage in these things.  3 Nephi 11:29-30 says " . . . he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away."  "True ministers of Christ always preach against all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and malice, and revilings, and stealing, robbing, plundering, murdering, committing adultery, and all manner of lasciviousnesss, crying that these things ought not so to be. "  (Alma 16:18, quoted by Bruce R McConkie, DNTC, v 2, p 451).

This is a list of qualities that can be used to do what Moroni tells us we must do in Moroni 7:14-19.  "Take heed my brethren . . . It is given unto to you to judge . . . wherefore I show unto you the way to judge; . . But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; . . see that ye do not judge wrongfully; . . .search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil;"

We cannot judge a movement or a person by their words because people always cloak their words in pleasing ways to sound just the way we like them.  We have to look at a deeper level, on a personal level does this person or movement condone or participate in the things listed above?  Those things are evil and "whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil . . . is of the devil."  You may know that with a perfect knowledge.

Paul goes on in 2 Cor 13:5 to say "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. ."  How often do we do any of the things listed?  Do the people we associate with do any of them - how often?  Hopefully we try to move away from and not toward such activities because having the Spirit with us is an "unspeakable gift" from God - the greatest gift we can receive in mortality.  "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." !!!  (see 2 Cor 9:15 and D&C 121:26-46)  And I say AMEN to that!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are my weaknesses fulfilling their purpose?

I was reading 2 Corinthians 12 today.  In verses 7-10 Paul refers a "thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me" that he has been given and how he besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from him but it wasn't.  Then I read in the Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol 2, p 448 this quote:  "Weaknesses cause men to rely upon the Lord and to seek his grace and goodness.  If all men excelled in all things, would any develop the humility and submissiveness essential to salvation?  As shown by Paul's life, even the greatest prophets - for their own benefit and schooling- though strong in the Spirit, are weak in other things."

That inspired several a couple of thoughts.  The first being that a prophet isn't perfect ~ and imperfection isn't a sign that someone isn't a prophet.  We see this many times with Joseph Smith and those who were disillusioned by his weaknesses or perceived weaknesses.  I don't believe it diminishes the testimony I have that Thomas S. Monson is THE true and living prophet on the earth today by believing there are others with prophetic callings of a different sort.  The scriptural definition of a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Christ by the Holy Ghost.  Moses told those who were concerned that others were prophesying and thought that Moses should forbid them - "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! " (Numbers 11:29)  I believe that  Glen Beck is that sort of prophet.  He has a true testimony of Christ, which he shares with an audience that isn't and wouldn't listen to Thomas S. Monson.  I believe that God loves all his children and is trying to warn and prepare as many as he can.  Glen Beck certainly isn't a perfect messenger but he is a messenger of truth.

The other thought that I had this morning was that we need to recognize and admit and seek to understand our own weaknesses so that we can develop humility and submissiveness; we need to turn to the Lord and rely on Him to help us be better - to overcome those weaknesses.  If even the greatest prophets have weaknesses - we certainly do too.  Yet I think many of us try to ignore or deny them or at the very least we just don't make the effort to try to see them or understand them.  We have weaknesses for a purpose - for our "benefit and schooling".  So are our weaknesses fulfilling their intended purpose?  Are we learning from them?  Are we benefiting from them?  Are we willing to see them so we can be made stronger? Are we allowing the Lord to make them strengths as it says in Ether 12:27and 12:37?  Look at them squarely ~ head on.  Pray to know what they are, to see them and understand them.  Be humbled by them and then in faith rely on God to help overcome them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pictures from 2011

Sledding over Spring Break
Watch out Bryan!

Beautiful Ally

There he is!!!
At the Railroad Museaum

Jane loves her Daddy!
Beautiful Jane

The Biker Bowns

What adventure is Billy Roundup having now?

Power to resist temptation comes from B of M

“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance”  ( Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5–7).

Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not.  ( Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan 1988, 3)

I challenge you all to make a goal to personally read the Book of Mormon again at least once this year and hopefully read at least part of it with your children too.  

"Be willing to take reasonable risks"

“Be willing to take reasonable risks.  We live in an age of reason, logic, facts, and figures.  These can be useful if kept in subjection to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  But if they ever take precedence over faith in Him, then they are not useful and can be very harmful.  I have found in my life that most of the good decisions I have made may not have been made if they were based solely on logic or reason. . . .”
“. . . Nephi was determined to do what God wanted him to do, even with logic to the contrary.  The scriptures tell us in 1 Nephi 4:6 that he went forth not knowing beforehand what he should do but knowing he should obey God and get the plates. . . .
“I suspect had he listened only to reason, Nephi and his brethren would still be waiting outside the walls of Jerusalem.  I sometimes wonder if by our listening to reason and logic too much, and not trusting God enough, we may find ourselves waiting outside the walls of His holy city.”
-Elder John H. Groberg, ( “Trust in the Lord”; [CES Fireside, May 1, 1994], 3, www.ldsces.org)

I really like this quote.  I think it is so easy in our day to rely too heavily on our own strength and on the wisdom of man to the point that our faith in God's willingness to provide miracles grows weaker.  It is good to be self reliant and I am a big proponent of that too so I guess we have to find a balance.  When we are doing our best to take care of ourselves and to help others - the Lord will provide a way for our needs to be met.  And it always works out better than we could ever have worked it out on our own.  I have seen that happen so I know it's true!  God is aware of us and our needs so let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power and then stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the arm of God revealed.  (See D&C 123:17) - Trust in the Lord = Have Faith!