Archive for the ‘faith’ Tag

Honoring Pioneers

Today is Pioneer Day, and here in Utah it is a statewide holiday. Most communities have big celebrations going on, and most people get the day off of work. In Utah, Pioneer Day is a pretty big deal.

This is a great day to reflect on the pioneers who have affected our lives. As Elder Oaks says in the following video, a pioneer is anyone who forges on ahead in order to show others the way. Pioneers live in every time, including ours.

Today I am going to think about my ancestors, and others in my life who have shown me how to live, as I celebrate.

What pioneers have shown you the way?

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Commitment to Covenants

Reading: Alma 24

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon has always been the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.  These were the Lamanites converted by Ammon who covenanted with the Lord that they would never again kill people in an effort to repent of their murderous ways before their conversion. When the other Lamanites decided to attack the Anti-Nephi-Lehies they remained true to their covenant, even though it meant allowing their attackers to kill them without fighting back. In verses 17 and 18 it says:

And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth. And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.

When the Lamanites attacked many of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were killed, but they were happier to die remaining to their covenant than they would to live having broken their promise with God. Because of their example many of the attacking Lamanites were converted, which made the Anti-Nephi-Lehies very glad for their choice. In verses 26 and 27 it says:

And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved. And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people.

The scriptures make it clear that God does not ask all us to be pacifists like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, but rather to defend our families if absolutely necessary, but God does require that all of us keep our covenants that we have made with him. Today we make covenants when we are baptized and when we go to the temple. When I read this story I hope that I can be so committed to my covenants that I would rather die than break them.

Today I am going to think about the covenants that I have made and make a short list of the things I have promised to do in my journal, and see if there are any places where I am falling short.

Is there any other lessons you learn from the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies? Can you think of the covenants you have made, and how you are keeping them?

Giving One’s Life For the Gospel

Reading: Alma 14

In the gospel we are taught to trust in the Lord and we will be provided for.  However, what the Lord has in mind for us and what we think we should receive are often very different. Sometimes we are asked to give up everything, including our lives, for God.

Today I read about the women and children burned in the fire by the people of Ammonihah because they would not deny the gospel.  It made me think more deeply about what it means to find peace in the gospel.  God had the power to stop the murders, but did not.  Alma explains:

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

God allowed this to continue for two reasons: First, the people who were burned would be rewarded with great blessings in the next life. Second, the people causing the murders could only be held accountable for murder if they actually committed the murder.  For example, you can’t punish someone for looking like they might break into your house – they have to actually commit the crime to receive the punishment. God was allowing the wicked people of Ammonihah to bring upon themselves their own condemnation.

This is still a hard thing to swallow – that God would allow good people to suffer.  Yet, good people suffer all the time in varying degrees.  In the scriptures we learn that in life we must “taste the bitter so that we may know the sweet” – that part of the purpose of life is to learn what pain and wickedness is like so that we can learn to value goodness and righteousness.  Part of that is also being ready to give up what we have for something greater, whether it is as small as giving up some of your own time to serve someone else, or whether it is as big as giving up your life as testimony of the gospel.

Today I am going to watch for times when I feel like God should bless me with something, whether it is more time, more cooperative children, or great insight, and instead thank the Lord for all that I am blessed with.

Do you know good people who have suffered bad things, yet remained with strong testimonies? How did they keep their faith?

Defying Logic

Reading: Helaman 16

As I read the stories in the Book of Mormon leading up to the coming of Christ I often find many parallels to our day. Today as we were reading Helaman 16 I was struck with the similarity between the way people rebelled against Samuels prophecies and the way people today often feel about religion. The people reasoned that the prophecies were not logical, and were designed to keep them oppressed.  They reasoned that any miracle was just a trick to keep them hoodwinked. The people explained,

And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives
Today many people feel the same way about religion.  They feel that religion is just a tool for controlling people and keeping people ignorant.  While it would be easy for me to flippantly dismiss their opinion, it is true that religion is sometimes used just that way.  We see in the news all the time about cults or very conservative countries where religion is used to justify horrific actions. However, they are wrong in thinking in that because some religions are used in a despicable way, that all religions are the same.
I think the only way to combat the idea that religion is controlling, oppresive, and silly is for the members of the church to strive ever more vigilantly to exemplify the Savior. The Savior was loving, forgiving, patient, and never controlling. The true gospel is enlightening and uplifting and ennobling, and while many will reject our telling them, if we can show them in our lives they will see the truth eventually.
Today I am going to think of some scriptures that show how the gospel is not a tool for controlling others against their will and write them in my journal.
What experiences have you had that have shown you that the church is trying to help you and not trying to control you or “keep you down”?

Sunday Will Come

Reading: “Sunday Will Come,” Mormon Messages Channel, YouTube.com, shown below

All of us go through hard time in our lives.  Yet we can all look forward in faith to a time when things will be better, and we will have peace.

As I watched this video featuring Elder Wirthlin I felt that he was someone who knew about hard times.  While I really don’t know much about his personal life, you can see the effects of age as he speaks.  When he says, “Someday we will be free from pain,” you get the sense that here is a man who knows what pain is.  He has found peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ, so it helps me to believe that I also can find peace.

Today I am going to take a few minutes a few times throughout the day to think about the Savior and the promises he has made to his faithful servants.

What peace have you found in your life through the gospel?

Faith and Knowledge

Reading: Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the following:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In my experiences with faith I have come to understand that an important aspect of faith is the sharing of knowledge.  For example, someone must explain to me who God is and what his role is for me to have faith in him.  Or, taking what may be a more familiar example, if I was sick and someone explained to me that a medical procedure could cure me of my sickness then I could have faith in that procedure.  It would take my faith in order to go through with the procedure.

This example shows how faith can be a source of power.  Through my faith in the medical procedure I am then saved from my sickness.  Without the faith to go through with the procedure, that idea would be worthlesss to me.

Having faith in God can also be a great source of power in our lives. When we act with the knowledge that God is there and that He loves and us and wants the best for us we gain great blessings.

Today I am going to look for examples of faith as I read the scriptures.

What actions of faith have brought great blessings to your life?

A Story Of Faith

Reading: Conversations Podcast, Episode 3, Interview with Herbert Klopfer

I have been very much enjoying the new podcasts available through the Mormon Channel. The podcasts go into greater depth than a simple rebroadcast of a previous talk.  One podcast I especially enjoy is Conversations, where people with a special perspective or interesting story are interviewed about their lives.

One interview I particularly enjoyed was the story of Herbert Klopfer.  Herbert Klopfer lived in West Germany first through World War II and then through the communist occupation.  Herbert Klopfer’s father was the mission president for the area before he was recruited into the German army and died on the Russian front.  Klopfer’s mother raised him and his siblings alone.

Practicing the Mormon religion under Communist control was a tricky and often dangerous endeavour.  While still a teenager, Klopfer’s mother risked a daring escape from West Germany.  Klopfer continued to serve the church in Europe until he eventually moved to the United States.  He became very involved in a musical capacity and wrote the hymn “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth” which is in the current hymn book.

All of this is just a summary from my memory of listening almost a week ago, so I encourage you to listen to the whole story by clicking the reading link above.

Listening to Herbert Klopfer’s story helped me to see how blessed I am, but also showed me how we can continue to live the gospel even while there are incredible forces fighting against us.  I hope that I can continue to have faith like Herbert Klopfer even while my own society become more and more opposed to religion.

Today I am going to thank Heavenly Father for the privelege to live in a country where, at least for now, I am free to practice my religion without interference from the government.

Is there anyone who stands as an example to you of faith?  What about their story makes it special to you?

Good Cheer in Hard Times

Reading: “Be of Good Cheer,” President Thomas S. Monson, April 2009 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

In this talk President Monson shares three stories of people who suffered incredible hardship.  One story was of a family who lost a child while crossing the ocean to join the Saints in Nauvoo.  Another story was of a man who lost his sight and sought a blessing, but also saying that whether or not he received his sight back he was still grateful.  The last story was of a woman forced to walk from her home in East Prussia to West Germany and who buried each of her four children along the way.

All of these stories President Monson shared do not have a traditional happy ending.  We don’t know if the man ever received his sight back.  We don’t know what happened to the woman after she arrived in West Germany.  Instead each story ends with the person or family being of good cheer despite their hardship because of their faith in God.

When I first heard this talk I was deeply touched and realized on a deeper level that the most important things in life are our families and the gospel.  Sometimes I get discouraged too easily because I am focused on fleeting things that don’t matter so much, like possessions, comfort, or pride.  I can learn from these stories to focus on the important things and to trust in God more readily.

Today I am going to watch what disappoints me or stresses me and see if maybe I can be more focused on family and the gospel in those areas.

When you read or heard these stories, what did it bring to your mind?  Have you ever felt joy through the gospel at a time when you would have expected to be sad?

A Time For Faith

Reading: “Be Your Best Self,” President Thomas S. Monson, April 2009 General Conference, Priesthood Session

In times of trouble many of us may start to fear the future.  After all, we believe that terrible things will happen before the second coming of Christ.  It is easy to forget that often troubles can also bring great blessings, and that we are also looking forward to an end of suffering in this earth life.  President Monson encourages us to choose faith over fear in this talk:

This is not a time for fear, brethren, but rather a time for faith—a time for each of us who holds the priesthood to be his best self.

President Monson then lists three simple ways for us to become that best version of ourselves.  These include:

  • Study dilligently
  • Pray fervently
  • Live righteously

President Monson’s advice was part of a main theme of the last conference, as far as I can tell.  Rather than become fearful and depressed about the troubles we face, we should use these times as a motivator to increase our faith an righteousness.  With faith we can face any trouble knowing that God is with us.

When bad things happen sometimes I especially feel the pain of my own weaknesses and shortcoming and rush into a flurry to fix my problems before they balloon out of control.  However, an attitude of faith for me means having faith that God will help me through my problems, that I can repent, and that I don’t have to fix everything right this second.  Sometimes having faith means believing that I am a daughter of God, and as such I have the potential to, over time, become like Him, even though right now that seems nearly impossible.

Today I am going to pray “fervently” for greater faith to see me through the current times of trouble in the world.

How does faith see you through times of trouble?  What exactly do you have faith in that helps you?  How can you increase your faith?  Of President Monson’s suggestions for self-improvement, what area do you need most to improve in?

Faith Through Adversity

Reading: “Faith In Adversity,” Elder Rafael E. Pino Of the Seventy, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

In the current times of difficulty we have a rock hard foundation on which to stand.  Although we will still experience tragedies, the power and knowledge of the gospel can help us weather any storm.  In his talk Elder Pino shares several stories that illustrate this truth.

One story that stood out to me most of all was the story of a family who lost their little girl.  He shared the following story, written by the girl’s father:

As soon as we arrived at one of the beautiful Venezuelan beaches, our children begged us to let them go out and play in a small river near the beach. We allowed them to go. Then we started to get some things out of the car. Two minutes later we noticed that our children were starting to get too far from the shore.

As we went toward them to bring them closer, we noticed that our three-year-old daughter was not with the other children. We looked for her desperately, only to find her floating near the place where the other children were. We quickly pulled her out of the water. Some people came to try to help save her, but nothing could be done. Our youngest daughter had drowned.

The moments that followed were extremely difficult, filled with anguish and pain for the loss of our youngest daughter. That feeling soon turned into an almost unbearable torment. However, in the midst of the confusion and uncertainty, the thought that our children had been born under the covenant came to our minds, and through that covenant, our daughter belongs to us for eternity.

What a blessing it is to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and to have received the ordinances of His holy temple! We now feel that we are much more committed to be faithful to the Lord and endure to the end because we want to be worthy of the blessings that the temple provides in order to see our daughter again. At times we mourn, but ‘we do not mourn as those without hope.’

I cannot imagine how hard it would be to lose my daughter or my husband.  In fact, when I was first married, I was often scared that something would happen to my husband because I feared how hard it would be to lose him.  However, as my faith has grown, I have grown less fearful.  Although I know that such a loss would be incredibly difficult, I also have faith that we will be together forever and that God will help me through my grief.

Today I am going to go on a walk up by the temple and think about what the temple means, and how grateful I am for those blessings.

Have you experienced tragedy?  How does your faith in the gospel help you deal with tragedies that have happened or tragedies that may someday happen?