Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tour Your Own Home

I really enjoyed Elder Gary E. Stevenson's talk this past General Conference. He spoke on the importance of temples, and how we need to strive to make our homes compare in sacredness. He stated the following:
Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some “home improvement”—hopefully not an “extreme home makeover.”
How does your home do with this "spiritual tour"? There are a few things my wife and I need to tweak... but all in all, we're trying hard and doing pretty well!
I really need to make the temple a bigger part of my life-- of my routine. By so doing, I will be blessed with a greater measure of the Spirit of the Lord, and me and my family will also be blessed with protection-- temporal and spiritual.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Never Alone

From Elder Holland's most recent General Conference address:
Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
... because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Patience and Diligence

This morning I read President Uchtdorf's talk in the Sunday morning session of this past April's Conference. It was simply awesome! I felt the Spirit so strongly, especially as I read the following:
A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.

I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”

Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.

Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our “faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.

But we cannot receive the fulness of those blessings if we “neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment.”

Knowing that the seed is good is not enough. We must “nourish it with great care, that it may get root.” Only then can we partake of the fruit that is “sweet above all that is sweet, and . . . pure above all that is pure” and “feast upon this fruit even until [we] are filled, that [we] hunger not, neither shall [we] thirst.”

Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.

It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.

Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach.
I love these truths. We should always be in the process of being born again, of becoming more Christlike-- if we think we're finished, then we've got a lot further to go than we think! We need to make the small, simple choices day after day that will fortify us and our families in the long run. Simply stated, we need to endure to the end.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I'm always trying to read the Book of Mormon-- once I finish, I start right up again. It's funny-- if you ask me who my hero is in that marvelous book, which of the prophets or missionaries or warriors is my favorite, my answer changes depending on what part I'm currently reading. If I'm in Nephi, it's Nephi. If I'm in Alma, it's Alma. If I'm in Omni, it's Omni (just kidding on that one).

Whenever I read the middle chapters of Mosiah, I am always in awe of Abinadi. This guy was amazing! He gave his life as a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel-- when he was threatened because of the words he taught, he did not back down, and did not shy away. How many times do we in our own lives shy away from our covenants because of what other people say? Abinadi stood up for the truth, when nobody else would. What a wonderful example of faith and courage!

Abinadi boldly testified of Christ to a group that didn't believe in Him. The wicked king and his priests lived how they wanted, and professed to believe that salvation came through the law of Moses (which they certainly did not keep). But Abinadi had this to say:
Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?

Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come— teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. (Mosiah 15:11-12, 16:14-15)