Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Light You Seek

Recently I was having a conversation with a good friend.  He was going through a bit of a faith crisis and was considering asking the bishop to release him from his calling.  As we were talking I had a rare, but poignant flash of inspiration.  I told him that the light you are seeking is at the other end of the tunnel, not the end you just came from.  As we discussed the challenges he is facing we both came to realize that the way out of this frustration is not found in turning back, but by pressing forward.

Elder Vern Stanfill spoke about a similar topic in the October 2015 General Conference (Choose the Light)  He talked about bicycling with some friends into a long dark tunnel.  At first they could see the light from where they came into the tunnel, but eventually they were enveloped in darkness.  Those with insufficient lights had to rely on those who had more powerful lights.  Eventually they saw the pinpoint of light from the exit of the tunnel.  The anxiety of the darkness melted away as they felt the reassurance of the light and were able to ride into the warm glow of the sun.

To develop a spiritual gift, that gift must be exercised, tried, and stretched.  For example, to develop patience we our patience must be tried.  How can you possibly develop patience if you patience has never been put to the test?  We must be tried in all things (D&C 136:31)  That is how we grow.   Likewise, if we want to develop greater faith, we must allow or faith to be tested.

What do we do when we temporarily enter a place where our faith is being tested.  Do we try and turn back to where we came from and avoid the test?  Do we sit in the darkness refusing to move?  Or do we look for others who have greater light and rely on their light as we press forward through the challenge?

Remember what is says in Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-14.  Sometimes the gift we are given is simply the gift of believing in other's words.
 11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
 12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
 13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
 14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
We are to commanded to covet the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), but that does not mean that we will gain all of those gifts at once.  There will be times in our lives that we will need to exercise the gift of believing on other’s words that we might have eternal life if we continue faithful.  (D&C 46:14).

In that same conference talk, Elder Stanfill said:
"We live in a world in which we will experience challenges to our faith. We may feel confident that we are ready to face these challenges—only to find that our preparations have been insufficient. And just as my friend had warned me about the darkness, we are warned today. Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength.
"Likewise, we might feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or confused spiritually when we encounter a challenge to our faith. Generally, the intensity and duration of these feelings will depend upon our reaction to them. If we do nothing, doubt, pride, and eventually apostasy may drive us from the light.” (Elder Vern Stanfill, “Choose the Light”, October 2015 General Conference)
Press forward.  The light you seek is at the other end of the tunnel.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chapter 4 - Leadership Principle #4: Lead Fairly and Kindly

Lead Fairly and Kindly

Most leadership books list several styles of leadership.  They have different names, but some of the main categories are the leaders that coerce and drive their people to “Do what I say”.  Another style may be the “Come with me” approach.  There are those leaders that take a “People come first” style.  Others my lead in a more democratic fashion.  Or they may view themselves as a coach.  The hypothesis is generally that an effective leader can readily switch between styles when needed.  
While this may be necessary, this principle of leadership applies to all of them.

The leader has a responsibility to maintain and sometimes set the standards for the organization or the team.  Inevitably someone breaks the rules and the leader is left with the responsibility to “Deal with it”.   A leader that is both fair and kind has to strike that balance between the justice and mercy part of leadership.  A leader sometimes has to make judgments about people, events, ideas, direction.

This goes beyond the golden rule “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).  It is more than that.  It is balancing their desire to be treated as they would like to be treated with the necessity of fairly applying the rules to everyone.

In my life, I have found that more leaders have difficulty with the kindness part of leadership than they to with enforcing the rules.  We would all do well to remember this poem.
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.
Author unknown, in Richard L. Evans, “The Quality of Kindness,” Improvement Era, May 1960, 340
We need to remember that our team members are children of our Heavenly Father.  President Thomas S. Monson exemplifies this principle better than anyone.  He said:
"May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers. As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way. (Thomas S. Monson, Love-the Essence of the Gospel, April 2014 General Conference)
Finally, I would like to conclude with this scripture.  May each of us seek to be merciful.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:7.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chapter 3 - Leadership Principle #2: Lead with Integrity

Chapter 3 - Leadership Principle #2: Lead with Integrity

     This next principle is called "Lead with Integrity".  To be an effective leader you must have person integrity.  If my 20 years as serving as an Air Force Officer taught me one thing, it is this, personal integrity is the key to leadership.  Perhaps this deep anchor of personal integrity comes from the Air Force Core Values - Integrity First, Service before Self, Excellence in all we do.  Effective leadership always means first having integrity.

     My favorite scripture on integrity is the statement about Hyrum Smith in the 125th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.  
15 And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord. D&C 124:15
     Think of how wonderful it would be if the Lord could say that about each of us.

Referencing the definition of integrity you will generally find two definitions. 
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness 
2. the state of being whole and undivided.
     While honesty is part of integrity, I think we sometimes miss the second definition.  To have integrity your heart needs to be whole and undivided.  Without hypocrisy.  The bottom line is that your insides need to match your outsides.  There needs to be no duplicity in your life.  There is not one life you live as a leader and another life you lead when you are not in front of those you lead.  Without this internal congruence, your true self will eventually be revealed and the fraud you perpetrated will become evident.   Once I heard a description of the the difference between honesty and integrity.  Honesty is when your words match what you did and integrity is when your actions match what you said.  Or, in other words, honesty is backward looking and integrity is forward looking.  Integrity is about what is in your heart.  

    Another scriptural example of a person with integrity is Job.  He said:  
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. 
5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. Job 27:4-5
     Job’s integrity was demonstrated when he was faced with trials.  Like us, trials are when we demonstrate our integrity, not when we develop it.  Integrity is developed in the quite moments of personal reflection when we decide who we are, who we will follow, and what we intend to be.  

   I will conclude with this quote from Elder N. Eldon Tanner: 

“Let each of us begin with himself to find out how he stands on the principle of integrity. Let us make an honest assessment of our hearts, our lives, our desires and goals, involving a recognition of all our faults. Then we should make a serious effort to set them right, to change directions toward the ideal of integrity and its associate virtues. (N. Eldon Tanner, “Integrity”, April 1977 General Conference)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chapter 2 - Leadership Principle #1: Aligning our with with our Heavenly Father

Chapter 2 - Leadership Principle #1: Aligning our with with our Heavenly Father

The first step in leading like the Savior is understanding how he wants us to lead.  How do we do that?  How do we align our will with his.  Consider the definition of “Prayer” in the Bible Dictionary.

Prayer: As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

A couple of key points are worth repeating.  First, we use prayer to help align our will with the will of the Father.  Second we are not trying to change God, we are trying to change ourselves.   We must submit our will to His will.  This concept was best articulated by Neal A. Maxwell.

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!  Neal A. Maxwell  “Swallowed up in the Will of the Father”, October 1995 General Conference

Additionally, we come to know our Father’s will when we serve him.  Mosiah 5:12-13 states:

12 I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.
13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?
Mosiah 5:12-13

So, through serving our Father in Heaven we can come to know him and by knowing him we can align our will with His.

Finally Elder Uchtdorf gives us a pattern to follow:

"We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again … [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” Moses 6:59. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God", October 2009 General Conference)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

For the next 9 weeks I am going to take a slightly different approach to my ponderizing post.
I will still be including my thoughts about a scripture, but it will be related to what I call my personal leadership pattern.  This pattern is broken into 9 chapters.  Today is chapter 1.  

Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

We have all heard many definitions of what leadership is.  If you asked 100 people to finish this statement “Leadership is . . .” you would likely get 100 different answers.  The problem is that each leader is defining leadership based on what has made them a better leader.  While there are many people who have been successful leaders that are worth emulating, I don’t think that a particular CEO, military leader, religious leader or politician is able to perfectly model the kind of leadership that that is life changing, or better yet, soul changing.  Only by modeling the leadership style of the one perfect being can we begin to approach real leadership.  I have heard the term “Lead like the Savior, but that statement never really resonated with me until I read a passage in  Neal A. Maxwell’s book “A More Excellent Way”.  He said:
"Leadership is love in action. Most human situations in which we are called upon to exercise leadership are in fact those in which there will be little recognition and small applause. Our encounters are apt to be frustratingly drawn-out rather than rapidly performed."  Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way – Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints
This definition, "Leadership is Love in Action", really spoke to me.  This is a powerful principle.  Leading with love is at the core of being able to lead like the Savior.  You can only truly lead like the Savior when you strive to love those you lead like He loves us.  With that type of love in your heart you are more concerned about the flock than you are about yourself.   This principle was demonstrated by the prophet Mormon.  Notice how it says in Mormon 3:12 that he had loved his people according to the love of God that he had within him.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.  Mormon 3:12
Consider this quote by Elder Maxwell.
     The prophet Mormon unselfishly consented to lead a people who were in steep decline. He prayed for them, but confided that his prayers were without faith because of the people’s wickedness (see Morm. 3:12) Other times a visionary leader, like Joseph in Egypt, lifts people out of the endangered routine they’re in by preparing them for the specific challenges of the future (see Gen. 41:46–57 A few, like Lincoln, though in a political role, provide spiritual leadership as well. Lincoln, by the way, warned of how individuals of ambition and talents would continue to arise and that such an individual “thirsts and burns for distinction, and if possible … will have it,whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen” (cited in John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln—Man of God [1927], 74; emphasis in original).
      No wonder we have been told, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and this includes self-worship! Ex. 20:3 emphasis added). One way or another, the grossly selfish will finally be shattered, whimpering, against the jagged, concrete consequences of their selfishness.  (Neal A. Maxwell "Repent of our Selfishness" April 1999 General Conference)
     Of unselfish George Washington it has been written: “In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind” (James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man [1984], xvi).
     Power is most safe with those, like Washington, who are not in love with it! A narcissist society, in which each person is busy looking out for number one, can build neither brotherhood nor community. Aren’t we glad in this Easter season and in all seasons that Jesus did not selfishly look out for number one?
This idea that leadership is love in action is obvious in the scriptures, but it is often overlooked because we don’t see the words “Leadership is” at the beginning of the scripture.  But if you re-read 1 John 4:7-11 with the question in your mind, “What is Leadership?” then you can easily see what he is trying to communicate to us.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might alive through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  
He is telling us to love one another, but not simply to simply love them, but to follow his example and act in love.  When we have love, then we have a desire to serve.  Elder Russell M Nelson said:
Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (3 Mosiah 2:17)  (Russell M. Nelson, "Teach us Tolerance and Love", april 1994 General Conference.)
A review of the greatest passage of scripture on leadership reminds us that "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood . . . only by love unfeigned".  (D&C 121:41)  N. Eldon Tanner helps us understand what that means.
"To be an effective leader or teacher one must show love and actually feel love for the person he is trying to instruct. No power is as motivating as the power of love. Christ loved everyone—the weak, the sinner, the righteous. Sometimes the ones who need to be loved most are the ones who seem to deserve it the least. Though we may not appreciate or approve of what someone does, we must still show love for the individual". (N. Eldon Tanner, Leading as the Savior lead,)
To truly lead as the Savior lead, we must try to emulate the one characteristic that drives all of his other actions.  He is love.  His leadership is based on love.  He cares for his flock because he loves them.  He loves each of us in was that are incomprehensible to our finite view of eternity.  As we learn to act in love we will become someone who leads more and more live the Savior.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ponderize Alma 31:19-25 (12-18 June 2016)

The Rameumptom and Fast and Testimony Meeting

I heard a comment the other day that sometimes fast and testimony meeting looks like the rameumptom experience described in Alma Chapter 31.  Has your fast and testimony meeting become a rameumptom type experience?

     19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
      20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
      21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.
      22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
      23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.
     24 Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.
     25 Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.

Note some of the characteristics of this type of worship.  
- Everyone gets up and says the same thing. 
- Their “testimony” was based on pride, not gratitude
- They only thought of spiritual things on the day of worship and never spoke of God outside of that worship day.   
- Their hearts were set upon the things of the world
- They were boastful and prideful.  

How do we keep our testimony meeting from becoming like this?  
What is the purpose of fast and testimony meeting?
Let’s reference  Handbook 2. 18.2.3

     After the sacrament, the bishopric member who is conducting the meeting bears a brief testimony. He then invites members to bear heartfelt testimonies  and to relate faith-promoting experiences. The bishopric encourages members to keep their testimonies brief so more people may have the opportunity to participate.
     It may be best to have young children learn to share their testimonies in settings such as family home evening or when giving talks in Primary until they are old enough to do so in a fast and testimony meeting without assistance from a parent, sibling, or other person.

Some key points:
- Testimony comes from the heart
- They are based on faith.
- They are simple and short
- The point about having young children learn to bear testimony before doing it is fast and testimony meeting may be to help prevent the “look at my kid” syndrome that could distract from the spirit.  

What can we do?  Here is a quote by Elder Uchtdorf:

     "Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror.
     "Pride is the great sin of self-elevation. It is for so many a personal Rameumptom, a holy stand that justifies envy, greed, and vanity. [See  Alma 31:21) In a sense, pride is the original sin, for before the foundations of this earth, pride felled Lucifer, a son of the morning “who was in authority in the presence of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 76:25 
     "If pride can corrupt one as capable and promising as this, should we not examine our own souls as well? (Deiter F. Uchtdorf, Pride and the Priesthood, October 2010 General Conference)

   So, here is the bigger question.  Is there room at the pulpit during fast and testimony meeting for those who’s heartfelt testimony is not as strong the “standard” testimony that we have labeled acceptable.  Can someone stand and say “I believe”, “I hope”, “I wish”, or “I think" rather than “I know”? What if a member is struggling with doubts?  Are we able to listen with love as they pour out their heart as they struggle through what will someday become a faith-promoting experience?  Perhaps there is room at the pulpit for those who’s testimony is based on faith, comes from the heart, and is simple and short.  

Cross References:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ponderize Alma 12:9-11 (5 - 11 June 2016)

  9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.  
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.  
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.  Alma 12:9-11

Here are a few of my thoughts about this passage of scripture. 

  • I understand this scripture to mean that we are to be very careful who we share our spiritual experiences and personal revelation with.  We would be particularly leery of sharing with those that are not spiritually mature.  Generally it does not help them, it only causes them to harden their hearts. 
  • I find it interesting that lack of the knowledge of things of God is what allows us to be taken captive by the devil.  Ignorance appears to equate with the chains of hell. 
  • Remember that the mysteries of God are the knowledge of God.  It is an accurate knowledge of who he is.  (D&C 84:19-22) This is critical to understand when seeking revelation.  We are seeking to know God, who he is, how we can become like him.  When we receive this knowledge, we must be willing to act upon it and not harden our hearts.  I am thinking particularly of the circumstances relating to the 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants.  



Quote:
     Occasionally during the past year I have been asked a question. Usually it comes as a curious, almost an idle, question about the qualifications to stand as a witness for Christ. The question they ask is, “Have you seen Him?”     That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my brethren in the Quorum, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration, indeed, some authorization, even to ask it.     There are some things just too sacred to discuss. We know that as it relates to the temples. In our temples, sacred ordinances are performed; sacred experiences are enjoyed. And yet we do not, because of the nature of them, discuss them outside those sacred walls.    It is not that they are secret, but they are sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and to be protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence. (Boyd K. Packer, “The Spirit Beareth Record”, April 1971 LDS General Conference)

Cross References:
D&C 84:19
D&C 46:9
D&C 8:11
Luke 2:19
1 Nephi 15:3-11
2 Nephi 1:23

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ponderize 3 Nephi 18:12-13 (May 29 - June 4, 2016)

This week’s ponderize scripture came to me as I was listening to Elder Renlund's last conference talk.
I call it the principle of more or less.  Or, looking beyond the mark.

In his talk he quoted 3 Nephi 18:12-13
12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
 13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.
As I read this scripture I thought of the many times I have seen people look beyond the mark. (Reference Jacob 4:14) Or they do more or less than intended.  This includes gospel hobbies that set aside the plain and simple truths of the gospel for some missing mystery.  The gospel is intended to be so simple a child could understand it, but with such eternal meaning that a lifetime of study will only bring a modest understanding.  Our goal is not to root out some deep doctrine that was somehow missed by the brethren, but to come unto Christ and be perfected in him.

Jacob 4:14
 14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
Quote: 
     Certain members have wanted to add substantially to various doctrines. An example might be when one advocates additions to the Word of Wisdom that are not authorized by the Brethren and proselytes others to adopt these interpretations. If we turn a health law or any other principle into a form of religious fanaticism, we are looking beyond the mark.
     Some who are not authorized want to speak for the Brethren and imply that their message contains the “meat” the Brethren would teach if they were not constrained to teach only the “milk.” Others want to counsel the Brethren and are critical of all teachings that do not comply with their version of what should be taught.
     The Lord said regarding important doctrine, “Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me” (D&C 10:68) and “That which is more or less than this cometh of evil” (D&C 124:120). We are looking beyond the mark when we elevate any one principle, no matter how worthwhile it may be, to a prominence that lessens our commitment to other equally important principles or when we take a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Brethren.  (Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Looking Beyond the Mark",  March 2003 General Conference)

Cross References
Jacob 4:14
D&C 3:2
Joshua 1:7
D&C 10:4
Mosiah 4:27
Alma 41:1
John 7:45-53
Jacob 5:48
Mosiah 9:3
3 Nephi 11:40
Hebrews 12:1
Exodus 18:18
1 Timothy 1:3-4

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ponderize (22-28 May 2016)

The slow stain of the world

  20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?
  21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.
  22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?  Alma 5:20-22

Quotes:

In the October 1995 women's conference President Hinckley said:
"With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history". (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Stand Strong against the Wiles of the the World", October 1995 General Conference)

Here is a second quote by Elder Uchtdorf:
     We are created by the Almighty God. He is our Heavenly Father. We are literally His spirit children. We are made of supernal material most precious and highly refined, and thus we carry within ourselves the substance of divinity.
     Here on earth, however, our thoughts and actions become encumbered with that which is corrupt, unholy, and impure. The dust and filth of the world stain our souls, making it difficult to recognize and remember our birthright and purpose. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2016 general conference)

This quote by Elder Russel M. Nelson points out some of the worldly things that have insidiously and slowly stained many people.
     In the century that has elapsed since the last meeting of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, there have been notable advances in virtually every field of human endeavor. Think of the progress made in transportation, communication, commerce, agriculture, medicine, science, and electronics.
     But spiritual progress has lagged behind. We see evidences of increasing ethnic strife and hatred. Nationalism seems to be taking priority over brotherly love. Violence and civil wars are raging. Divorce and diminishing regard for the sanctity of human life have eroded the strength of the family—the basic unit of society. Immorality, infidelity, and promiscuity—once shunned—are now tolerated and even condoned. We have witnessed the insidious intrusion of pornography, with its attendant denigration of the human soul. And gambling, which preys upon the poor and the compulsive, has crept from the realm of the illegal into the arena of governmental sponsorship.  (Russell M. Nelson, "Combating Spiritual Drift-Our Global Pandemic", Address given at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, Illinois, 2 September 1993)

Questions for additional thought:

  • How does sin stain our garments?
  • In what ways to we allow the world to slowing stain us?  
  • What does it mean to be cleansed from all stain?
  • How does Christs blood cleanse our stain and make our garments white?  


Cross References.
Isaiah 63:2-3
D&C 133:48, 59
1 Nephi 12:10
Alma 13:11-13
3 Nephi 27:19-20

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ponderize D&C 89:18-21 (15-21 May 16)

 18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
 19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
 20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
 21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.  
D&C 89:18-21

When I read the promise of the Word of Wisdom I tend to take the pragmatic view:  Can you run and not be weary?  If not, then perhaps you need to check your obedience to the Word of Wisdom.   However it goes deeper than that.  
In years past the Mormons where held up as having better health than the average American.  This is no longer the case.  We are not singled out as having better health as a people than any other group.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is that most of the people in the United States have come to the realization that smoking is bad for you and it causes cancer and heart disease.  Many people in the US have stopped smoking.  This has narrowed the gap.   Unfortunately the standard American diet has also become the standard for the LDS community.   This poor diet is known to be the primary cause of the increase in obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.   The majority of LDS members in the developed world have chosen to disregard verses 10-17 of this “principle with promise”.   Simply applying the principles in these verses would reduce the instance of these preventable diseases.    Who is the destroying angel in our day?  Just as there were plagues in Egypt called down by Moses, so too there are plagues in our day.  These plagues are causing unnecessary disease and death.  We think the benefits of the word of wisdom are limited to preventing lung cancer from not smoking.  However, it is more than that.  If we seek to obey all of the Word of Wisdom we will be spared from a whole list of chronic (yet preventable) illnesses. 

Quote:  
The Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law,a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.  (Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom, The Principle and the Promises”, April 1996)

Cross References:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
2 Timothy 3:1-7
D&C 93:35
Alma 7:23
D&C 104:17
Genesis 9:3-4
Abraham 4:29
1 Timothy 4:3
Daniel 1:8, 15-21
D&C 59:16-20
D&C 49:18
Romans 14:23
D&C 42:43
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Leviticus 11:43-44