Archive for the ‘Scripture Study’ Category

Keep My Commandments

Reading: “When the Lord Commands,” Elder Bruce A. Carlson of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

The Lord has given us a set of commandments in order to help us to be safe and happy. Sometimes we may think we don’t need to follow a certain commandment. Elder Carlson discusses three reasons people have for not following a commandment. These include:

  1. This Commandment Doesn’t Apply to Me
  2. This Commandment Is Not Important
  3. This Commandment Is Just Too Hard

Elder Carlson discusses a story in the scriptures of people who used these excuses, and then suffered the consequences. He encourages everyone to weed out such thoughts and to obey all the commandments of God.

Recently I have been renewing my efforts to establish a home food storage. As I have been planning my efforts (so that I can do so wisely and efficiently) I have been plagued with thoughts that it’s not really important, and that we don’t have room (we have plenty, but will have to sacrifice some space) for storage, or time to go down to home storage center (which is about an hour away) just to buy things I can by at the grocery store across the street (items bought at the grocery store, though, would be more expensive and would not be properly packaged for long term storage). I also have thought that since it hasn’t been mentioned in General Conference lately, maybe it’s not important anymore. This talk, and my own pondering, helped me to realize that it is still a commandment even though it may not be convenient. If it hasn’t been talked about in our meetings, it’s probably because so many people right now are not in a position to collect a food storage. We, however, are in the perfect position to build a food storage, despite my little excuses, and so I will continue to work on it.

Do you have any commandments you are ignoring right now for one of these reasons? Would you benefit from a re-examination of your reasoning?

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Helping Hands

Reading: “Helping Hands, Saving Hands,” Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Aoyagi knows the importance of reaching out to our fellow members in the church. In his own crisis of faith it was the kind encouragement of his future wife that brought him back to the church. In his talk he encourages all of us to reach out to others:

Sometimes we feel that we are weak and lack the strength to rescue others, but the Lord reminds us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Sometimes I feel like I am unable to help others because I am too shy, or too busy, or lacking in some other resource. Reading Elder Aoyagi’s talk helped me see that even I can help others when I listen to the Spirit. Heavenly Father wants to help us keep all of his commandments, especially his commandment to help others.

Have you ever been the recipient of someone’s kindness? What did it mean to you?

Searching the Scriptures

Reading: “The Blessing of Scripture,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

In 1536 William Tyndale was put to death for publishing and English version of the bible. Today, the bible is available in almost every language and anyone can obtain a copy for not very much money. Modern media outlets such as television, magazines, and the internet make it possible for us to hear an unprecedented amount of information from our spiritual leaders. However, today fewer and fewer people are interested in hearing the word of God. Elder Christofferson says,

Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.

For the past few days I have been listening to an audiobook about the recent subprime mortgage loan crisis. This was largely caused by banks giving loans to people who could not afford them so that they could then sell those loans to others for a profit. As a result, many of the recipients of those loans went bankrupt, as well as the companies who bought the loans, and our entire world financial system was shaken. It seems to me that it is through a lack of scriptural truths, which teach respect and love for your neighbor, that our financial institution was wounded. As our society continues to disregard scriptural truths we can only expect such deterioration to continue.

The scriptures have been a great source of help in my life. Through the scriptures I have learned how to make choices that will make me happy in the long term, instead of choosing instant gratification that will lead to trouble eventually.

Can you think of any other examples of society problems being caused by a lack of scriptural truths? How can you personally better build your life on the foundation of the scriptures?

Home School

Reading “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Perry had a marvelous mother. Elder Perry shares stories that show how her constant dedication to teaching her children manifested in their lives. Families today also need to teach their children the gospel. He says,

Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.

My children are two years old and three months old. Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is much teaching going on because things seem to be so busy. Another diaper, another meal, another mess to clean up. However, as I read this I realized I am teaching my children, especially my two year old, things all the time. She is too young to understand deep gospel topics, but I am teaching her about love and respect and kindness all the time. I also thought of many things I could do to better to teach her about the gospel, such as being more diligent about scripture study.

Here’s a more practical question for today: How do you get a two year old to do scripture study? We were doing it right before bed, but then she figured out that scripture study = going to bed, which is something she usually doesn’t want to do, so she absolutely refuses to sit still and listen, even though she normally likes to read books. If any moms read this, I could use some advice.

Here’s a more regular question: What things did your mother do that taught you? Even if your mother (or other primary guardian) wasn’t religious, how did she teach you about what was important to her? How can you help teach little children, in your family or outside?

Leading the Youth

Reading: “Help Them On Their Way Home,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Cousnelor in the Presidency of the Church, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Yesterday I wrote about Elder Ballard’s talk about mothers helping their (mostly) teenaged daughters. Today I am writing about Elder Eyring’s appeal to the general membership of the church to help all the youth. He says,

Brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father wants and needs our help to bring His spirit children home to Him again. I speak today of young people already within His true Church and so are started on the strait and narrow way to return to their heavenly home. He wants them to gain early the spiritual strength to stay on the path. And He needs our help to get them back to the path quickly should they begin to wander.

The youth today face a great deal of temptation. I was only a youth 10 years ago, and I know that they have it much harder than I did. When I think of the temptations I faced as a youth, I am extremely greatful that I did not give into those temptations because it has made my life right now infinitely easier. Protected by good habits, a good marriage, and faith in God I feel secure and safe.  I hope that I can find ways to help other young people make it through that hard time of tempting choices.

What temptations did you face as a youth that you are glad you did not give in to? What can you do to help the youth in your life make good choices?

Mothers and Daughters

Reading: “Mothers and Daughters,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the past few conference Elder Ballard has focused on family relationships. Last time he spoke to father and sons, so this time he chose to speak to mothers and daughters. He first encouraged daughters to listen to their mothers. He then encouraged mothers to teach their daughters important lessons. These inlude:

  • Find joy in nurturing children
  • Don’t gossip or casually criticize others
  • How to nurture others (by example)
  • About sexual matters
  • To be modest
  • How to recognize the spirit

My own daughter is only two years old, but I can already see her emulating my example. I am often humored, and sometimes bothered, when she says to me the things I say to her all the time. I hope I can be a good example for my daughter, and provide the nurturing that she needs to grow up wise and strong.

What things did your mother do that helped you learn the most? How can you better reach out to the young women in your life to help them learn these important concepts.

Hope

Reading: “The Rock of Our Redeemer,” Elder Wilford A. Anderson of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

As the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo and started their trek to Utah they had hope that the future would be better than the present.  Likewise, Saints who survived the recent earthquake in Haiti also have hope even in the midst of great tragedy. In his talk Elder Wilford encourages us to have hope like these courageous Saints. He says,

These early Saints were indeed homeless, but they were not hopeless. Their hearts were broken, but their spirits were strong. They had learned a profound and important lesson. They had learned that hope, with its attendant blessings of peace and joy, does not depend upon circumstance. They had discovered that the true source of hope is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His infinite Atonement, the one sure foundation upon which to build our lives.

I remember during a time of discouragement feeling even more discouraged because I thought that having hope means never feeling discouraged.  The instruction to have hope felt like a condemnation in the midst of an already trying time. However, despite my discouragement I still continued to pray, ready my scriptures, and look to the Savior as a source of help and solace. As I stepped back and looked at my actions I realized if I truly did not have hope in the Savior I would not be doing these things. I learned that having hope is much more than just a feeling – it is a result of believing in the Savior – and it is what allows us to continue to soldier on in the midst of difficulty.

Let Me Talk About Duty

Reading: “Our Path of Duty,” Bishop Kieth B. McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishophric, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Each of us has a duty to obey God in return for all that he has done for us. Bishop McMullin states,

The duty of which I speak is what we are expected to do and to be. It is a moral imperative summoning forth from individuals and communities that which is right, true, and honorable. Duty does not require perfection, but it does require diligence. It is not simply what is legal; it is what is virtuous. It is not reserved to the mighty or high in station but instead rests on a foundation of personal responsibility, integrity, and courage. Doing one’s duty is a manifestation of one’s faith.

Bishop McMullin refrains from giving a list of our duties, or specific instructions on how to fulfill our duties. Instead he asks us to pray for that instruction, and to pray with the Spirit:

It is as important to be guided by the Holy Spirit while praying as it is to be enlightened by that same Spirit while receiving an answer to prayer. Such prayer brings forth the blessings of heaven because our Father “knoweth what things [we] have need of, before [we] ask him,” and He answers every sincere prayer.

Just this afternoon I felt a prompting for a specific prayer. For the past two days my two year old has refused to take a nap. She has played by herself in her room for hours rather than go to sleep. Today as I was putting my daughter down for her nap I felt a prompting to say prayer with my daughter that she could sleep. And, today, she went right to sleep and is sleeping right now. This may seem silly to you, but it was a huge help to me. First of all, it has been a stressful week of very little sleep (for me) and it was an encouragement to see an answer to prayer like this. Second, after those two days I was seriously wondering whether she was starting to outgrow her nap and whether I should stop trying to get her to nap altogether (which would mean a huge change in her daily schedule and mine), but today I am sure that she still needs a nap and I should not give up on them.The Spirit can guide us to pray for the right things so that we can get the answers we need to fulfill our duties, such as making sure a two year old is getting the rest she needs to be happy and healthy.

Has the Spirit ever guided you to pray for something that helped you? Has the Spirit ever helped you to fulfill your duties better than you could by yourself?

To the Mothers

I would like to keep track of all the things said to mothers in April 2010’s General Conference, so I will do that here. Check back, as I will add quotes while I write about each talk.

Some years ago I gave a talk entitled “What Every Elder Should Know: A Primer on Principles of Priesthood Government.” Later, when it was to be published, I changed the title to read “What Every Elder Should Know—and Every Sister as Well.”

I include the sisters because it is crucial for everyone to understand what is expected of the brethren. Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters—who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers—we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected.

– President Packer

There has grown in me an overwhelming testimony of the value of daughters of God. So much depends on them. In my visits with the sisters, I have felt that there has never been a greater need for increased faith and personal righteousness. There has never been a greater need for strong families and homes. There has never been more that could be done to help others who are in need. . .

A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently. . .

When women nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. . .

The second general Relief Society president, Eliza R. Snow, said this to the sisters: “We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the Gods and Holy Ones. In an organized capacity we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves, and whether few or many come forward and help to prosecute this great work, they will be those that will fill honorable positions in the Kingdom of God. . . . Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.” . . .

We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us.9 Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly.

– Sister Julie Beck

Thoughts on General Conference

Reading: April 2010 General Conference

This past weekend I was uplifted and inspired by our General Conference. The unmistakable theme in this conference was family.  I remember in a previous general conference being very excited when a single talk was directed at mothers, but in this conference it seemed like every other talk had quite a bit to say to mothers. Since being a mother pretty much encompasses my whole life at the moment, it was great to have so much instruction and encouragement.

Listening to this conference has made me feel more confident in my choice to be a mother in a time when motherhood is not greatly valued by most of society. I feel more keenly the importance of what I do every day with my little children. I also feel motivated to try harder to teach my children about the gospel, and especially talk more about Jesus with them.

One thing about having little children is that I don’t get to sit and just listen to conference like I did before I had kids.  So, I am really looking forward to going through each talk and writing about it here on my blog.  I look forward to digging deeper into what the leaders of the church had to say to us.

What messages did you get from conference? There was a lot said to mothers compared to other conferences, but there was still plenty said for everyone else, too. What changes do you feel inspired to make after listening to conference?