Sunday, May 29, 2016

"If we acknowledge Him now, He will lovingly acknowledge and gladly admit us then!”


I have come to the part in the Book of Mormon where a reversal of roles has taken place. Those people(the Lamanites) that had once been taught, now become the teachers. Many of the Nephites had become prideful and ignored their own prophets, so the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet, Samuel, to warn them to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. The Nephites didn't like what Samuel had to tell them. A miracle was brought about as Samuel was divinely protected from the arrows of the angry Nephites. In thinking about these chapters I am amazed at how a righteous people, in a matter of a few short years, had come to a wicked state as to seek the death of a servant and prophet of the Lord. How can we protect ourselves from falling prey to the destruction that comes when we are stuck in the pride cycle as described in the chapters of Helaman? One of Samuel's purposes of teaching the Nephites was to remind them of the coming of Christ. Why would teaching about the Savior, Jesus Christ, be of such worth as to risk the consequences of facing an angry mob? Samuel knew of the spiritual protection that comes from such knowledge.

President James E. Faust discussed the value of knowing that one day we will stand before the Savior to account for our lives: “I recall a study some years ago that was made to determine what influences keep young people moving on the straight and narrow track. Of course there were several critical influences. All were important. They included the influence of parents, priesthood advisers, Young Women advisers, Scoutmasters, and peer association. But I was surprised to find that one golden thread of singular importance ran through this study. It was the belief that one day each of us would have to account for our actions to the Lord. Many believed that ‘the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name’. [2 Nephi 9:41]
Those who had an eternal perspective had an extra amount of spiritual strength and resolve. Feeling a personal accountability to the Savior for our actions and stewardships and responding to it provide a profound spiritual protection” (“Who Do You Think You Are?” New Era, Mar. 2001, 6–7). 

I have felt this truth confirmed in my own life. Keeping Christ in the forefront of my life, as my foundation in life, has kept me safe from the arrows of the adversary that threaten all of us. I know we will be safe as we allow the Savior to rescue each of us, all we need do is learn of Him and remember Him.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Helaman's Stripling Warriors: A Lesson on Fatherhood


I am currently enrolled in a Book of Mormon class through BYU-I. We have reached the chapters of war found in Alma. I am usually inclined to rush through these chapters to get to what I previously believed to be, the more important or applicable accounts and teachings. Being forced to give these chapters of war greater thought and consideration, I found numerous applicable lessons and counsel that I had previously missed. With such great examples as Captain Moroni, Pahoran, Helaman and his young soldiers we can learn ways to stay safe and secure in our own personal battles against the powers of evil.
I would like to focus my writings today on the lesson taught in Alma 53. This is where we read of the people of Ammon who, back in Alma chapter 24, covenanted to never use weapons again to shed the blood of men. As war rages all around them, they have thus far been under the protection of the Nephites. Watching these good men labor on their behalf to keep them safe caused the men of Ammon to be moved with compassion, and they desired to take up arms again to help defend their country alongside the Nephites. Having knowledge of the testimony and faith it took for these men to bury their weapons of war, Helaman encouraged them to stay true to their oath and covenant with God. A plan was then devised to send their sons in their stead to stand with the Nephites, and defend their country. And so the story of Helaman and his stripling warriors is born.
Many are familiar with the account of these young men and their powerful faith and testimony in God. Many know that these young men give tribute to their mothers for this knowledge and faith. While I love this account and what it teaches in regards to motherhood, as I read the account this time around I found another view of this story that is equally inspiring, that of Fatherhood.
These brave, humble men put their trust in God and gave their sons to fight for the cause of liberty. These same humble men loved their wives and encouraged them to seek their own testimony of God, and to teach it to their children. These great men kept the covenants they had made with God and by doing so aided in securing God's protection over their young sons. Tenderness fills my heart as I think of the vital part these fathers played in the protection of their families and their country through their personal righteousness and diligence to God.
Fathers, you are so important. As stated above, the calling of fatherhood is sacred. You can be a shield of protection to your families as you remain true to the covenants you have made.
I am grateful for such a father in my life. I am grateful for such a father in the life of my children. I am grateful to God for the many father figures throughout my life that have inspired me for good and, through their personal righteousness, have aided in securing a portion of heaven's protection from life's many storms.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2016 Goal in Progress: Replacing Complaining with Meekness


 As mentioned before here, I have gone back to school. Diving back into education has been very rewarding. I absolutely love taking religious courses alongside secular courses. Last semester, as part of my religion class, I had to choose a Christlike attribute and consciously work on making that attribute part of who I am. In other words, I had to become something. This is my becoming story of meekness, but it is only the beginning of my journey. Elder Neal A. Maxwell has taught: “Meekness is one of those attributes acquired only by experience, some of it painful, for it is developed “according to the flesh.” (Alma 7:11-12) It is not an attribute achieved overnight, nor is it certified to in only one exam—but, rather, “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21, 68-69)"
I have learned much, and rejoice in the many experiences I have had. I know that even though the first semester has come to a close, and a new one has begun, this was only “one exam” and my journey will continue if I allow it.

Meekness is described with words like humble, patient, docile, submissive, teachable, gentle and kind, strong and serene. With these words in mind, I began to look for examples of people who seem to posses these qualities. Prophets and apostles, both modern and ancient, seem to learn and grow in meekness as their discipleship deepens throughout their ministry. Moses was described as meek “above all the men on the face of the earth”.(Numbers 12:3) I looked to the stories of Jesus, for he was the ultimate example of meekness.

In striving for meekness, the first sign of difference that I recognized in myself was a sense of freedom. After breaking the mentioned habit of the uttered or un-uttered complaint, I experienced an immediate increase in peace and happiness. I was freed from certain expectations of mind that were limiting me in life. I immediately became more teachable and was richly rewarded for my efforts with some great study sessions taught by the Spirit. Once opening my heart, I experienced a brief period of intense pain and grief from the loss of my father and other subsequent hardships that have come since then, but I realized that by closing off my heart in order not to feel the hurt I was closing off my heart to the Lord and his healing, love and teaching. While I had experienced a small portion of the atonement working to heal, I wasn’t quite fully using this gift. I allowed the grief to work through me and received a couple of tender mercies that further proved the Lord’s awareness of me and my personal sufferings. By turning to the Savior, more fully though prayer, I demonstrated my desire to be meek and was rewarded for those efforts. Through these experiences I learned that meekness rests on trust in the Lord.

The second sign of difference that I noticed in myself was a new awareness of the attitude of entitlement I had been carrying. I realized that the grief I felt seemed so heavy that a sense of entitlement began to creep into my expectations from God the Father. I already had one very hard thing to deal with; I shouldn't have to deal with anything else of any difficulty. This sense of entitlement made me somewhat bitter, and therefore my responses to everything were somewhat bitter. Recognizing this enabled me to repent and once again turn my heart to the Lord for cleansing and healing. I learned that the weaknesses of the natural man never really leave. Instead, I felt like my "meekness muscles" were simply getting stronger; another sign of the atonement at work in me. This new enabling strength helped me to act on weaknesses rather than be acted upon by my emotions.

The third thing I learned about meekness is difficult for me. I have trouble being firm or taking a stand when necessary and feeling OK about it. In answer to my questioning I was reminded of the story of Jesus when he cleared the temple and overturned the tables. Poetically explained in Jesus the Christ: “The incident of Christ’s forcible clearing of the temple is a contradiction of the traditional conception of Him as of One so gentle and unassertive in demeanor as to appear unmanly. Gentle He was, and patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. His mood was adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself; tender words of encouragement or burning expletives of righteous indignation issued with equal fluency from His lips. His nature was no poetic conception of cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions and passions essential to manhood and manliness. He, who often wept with compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous anger of a God. But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or strongly they surged, He was ever master.”
This account made the man Jesus, which walked the earth, come alive inside my head. It gave him greater depth of character, and my admiration and love for him deepened because of it. I know, as I continue to strive for meekness, the Holy Ghost will guide my actions and I will be given strength to stand firm when necessary, and the ability to speak up, without mercilessly speaking down to others.

The fourth and final point of learning that I discovered is, since turning fully to the Savior, I have experienced a lightening of my burdens. He has kept His promise found in Mathew: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mathew 12: 28-29) I have experienced this for myself and my joy is full. Have my problems, trials, and heartaches been removed? No. They have been made light through Jesus Christ. The power of the atonement is real and brings a sense of calm within, even amidst the storms of life.

Spencer W. Kimball described the depths that we must sometimes go to find such stillness: "There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties."
Meekness is that place of stillness where the voice of God can be heard. Meekness is that quiet strength, which resonates the portion of divinity that is within each of us. Meekness is humble gratitude for the path I have been given, and a willing servitude as I continue to walk that journey. How grateful I am for the opportunity to develop, in greater measure, the attribute of meekness.