Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Brand New Year 2010

On behalf of the Plainview Texas Branch, of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, From The Elders Quorum Presidency, Happy New Years! (A little late, we know)

If you have not taken the chance to go through and "Digest" the greatest amount of wonderful Spiritual Food available on the Church websites, That being , (*AND*) .... Please do so! The information available at is frequently updated, but not utilized nearly as much as it should be! Below I will outline some suggestions that the Presidency (Of The Elders Quorum In The Plainview Texas Branch) have to better help the individual, the family and entire brethren of the Church- world wide to apply the Gospel to their lives.

Consider this Quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of The Quorum Of The Twelve;

"Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” I testify that that is God’s truth. Christ is everything to us and we are to “abide” in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him..."
With that plain explanation in mind, I now show how I feel that the above mentioned sites can better
"help the individual, the family and entire brethren of the Church- world wide to apply the Gospel to their lives."

Suggestion Number 1: The First Presidency Message

As any member of the church knows, we have a monthly magazine called the "Ensign / Liahona" in which one of the members of The First Presidency Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, print an inspirational talk. A message specially delivered through divine revelation needed for the time, (Or month) it is printed in. This is a message in which I have seen in my life, seems to always apply to something going on in my life, or in the life of family or friends both in and out of the church. It never fails to enlighten me;

Is it any wonder why this message is the grounds for our Home Teaching Lessons? Knowing that, is it any wonder why we are to take it and apply it in life and callings as Latter-Day "Scripture" ? Even more phenomenal and amazing to me, is how the first message, for the first Ensign of this new year is a back to basics message.

Although the message for this month, given By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, is labeled Hold on a Little Longer the message is really all about our ability to hang on with greater diligence if we have followed the council given us by the General Authorities. Before listing the suggestions, allow me to pull out the abundant information that I had available to use this past Sunday (January 3rd, 2010) but had time insufficient to pleasantly discuss it all. 

"In a world that is ripening in iniquity (see D&C 18:6), members of the Church face the challenge of sustaining a pattern of obedience to gospel principles that will result in their being increasingly different from the general behavioral trends of the world. This will require all of the spiritual reinforcement that can be drawn upon. Prayer, scripture study, participation in worship services, and the giving of service will become increasingly essential. The influence of the temple will be important as a part of this spiritual undergirding."  ("The Importance of the Temple for Living Members" By Elder Dean L. Larsen Of the Presidency of the Seventy; Ensign » 1993 » April)

Our strength against the wiles, the anger of others, the pains of persecution, the vast and many fingers of scorn by them whom willingly take housing in Babylon, will reside in our conviction and conversion. The courage to turn off that which is not edifying, to stop reading that that does not enlighten and encourage and to steadfastly remain resolute in our interior knowledge and understanding will be the measure of our ability to live the gospel. I have seen this to be the case in my own life. To best understand this, I'd like to use the words of Nephi:

"And men are instructed sufficiently that they aknow good from evil. And the blaw is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is cjustified; or, by the law men are dcut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever." (2nd Nephi 2: 5)

"Behold, he offereth himself a asacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto bnone else can the cends of the law be answered.
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, asave it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who blayeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the cresurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." ( 2nd Nephi 2: 7-8)

Then there is a landmark one-two (boxing metaphor) that follows, saying......

"And because of the intercession for aall, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be bjudged of him according to the truth and choliness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the dpunishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the eatonement— For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no apurpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the bjustice of God. And if ye shall say there is ano law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not bthere is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away" (2nd Nephi 2: 10-13)

I take that all, into this (very short paraphrase) "You've Been Told The Way, You've Been Shown The Way, The Scriptures Have Instructed The Way, You Can (And Must) Walk The Way".

Next, lets visit another statement:

"Nurturing our testimonies and growing in spirit require increased effort as we move up the spiritual ladder. This is hard work, and we are not always willing to pay the price of promised blessings. As we consider the atonement of Jesus Christ, which caused him, “even God, the greatest of all, to … suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18), we can ask ourselves the sobering question, Can we expect to repent of sin, overcome faults, abandon cherished but false beliefs, and grow spiritually as we desire to do without effort commensurate with the growth and blessings we seek?"

"Personal righteousness is a prerequisite to personal revelation and continual spiritual growth. In our zeal to lay a figurative pipeline to heaven, do we sometimes forget the small daily things essential to our spiritual advancement, like prayer, scripture study, acts of service and charity? Can we not be content if our pathway to progress consists of small, almost imperceptible changes associated with regular repentance?" ( "I Have A Question" [Ensign; July 1993, 54-55] )

Getting warmer in understanding? There are many things (Listed above) which are things that need be done as a pre-requisite to having all the strength needed to "Hold On A Little Longer" - [January 2010 First Presidency Message] .

"We know that our physical bodies require certain nutrients to sustain life and to maintain physical and mental health. If we are deprived of those nutrients, our physical and mental vitality are impaired and we have a condition called malnutrition. Malnutrition produces such symptoms as reduced mental functions, digestive disorders, loss of physical strength, and impairment of vision. Good nutrition is especially important for children, whose growing bodies are easily impaired if they lack the nutrients necessary for normal growth. Our spirits also require nourishment. Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit. The consequences of spiritual malnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physical malnutrition is to our physical bodies. Symptoms of spiritual malnutrition include reduced ability to digest spiritual food, reduced spiritual strength, and impairment of spiritual vision. We know the principal sources of spiritual food: prayer, studying the scriptures, attending inspirational meetings, singing the hymns of Zion, serving in our callings, fasting, partaking of the sacrament, and making other covenants, such as in the temple. We also know that some experiences can interfere with the assimilation of spiritual food, just as certain poisons can interfere with obtaining needed physical nourishment from physical food. For example, anything that drives away the Spirit of the Lord, such as pornography, profanity, or anger, will prevent us from obtaining the spiritual nourishment we need from experiences that would normally be effective as spiritual food. Some physical substances, like those forbidden by the Word of Wisdom, are harmful to both body and spirit." ( "Nourishing The Spirit" From An Address Given At Ricks College by Dallin H. Oaks on 13th February 1996 )

What a great bit of information to review, as spoken by Elder Oaks. Sadly, alot of what weakens us, we allow to do so;

One of the most impressive doctrines found in the Book of Mormon is that Satan’s power over a person increases as that person becomes more wicked, until eventually the person is “taken captive by the devil” and bound with the “chains of hell.” (Alma 12:11.) Satan’s method is to influence the thoughts of men, tempting them and enticing them, always working “in the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Ne. 28:20.) Nephi chillingly describes the method: “He whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.” (2 Ne. 28:22.)

But Satan’s power is not unrestrained. Joseph Smith taught that Satan has no power over us unless we give it to him. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 181.) And Nephi explained that the righteousness of a people deprives Satan of his power, “for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness.” (1 Ne. 22:26.)
Between the extremes of Satan’s power to captivate and his utter powerlessness stretches the spectrum of his ability to entice or tempt. As a being of spirit, he works in the realm of spirit, counterbalanced by the Spirit of God. In this way, free agency is preserved, giving us a choice between good and evil. As Lehi taught, “Man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Ne. 2:16.) If Satan entices us to do evil, so the Holy Spirit “entices” us to virtue. (See Mosiah 3:19.) Free agency demands that neither the Holy Spirit nor the evil spirit have power to control the person against his will.

Each of these forces, being spiritual, works directly on the mind of man—or the heart, as the scriptures call it—until the individual willfully chooses to obey one and ignore the other. Then the balance of power shifts and the person begins to move upward to eternal life or downward to destruction and misery. A person who has elected baptism and received the gift of the Holy Ghost has shifted the balance greatly in favor of God’s influence, whereas a person whose wickedness has caused his conscience to be “seared with a hot iron,” as Paul says (1 Tim. 4:2), may have put himself wholly within the realm of Satan’s influence. The spirit of the Lord may cease to strive with such a person. (See 1 Ne. 7:14.)

In his effort to entice, Satan has great power. As Elder Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “We should be on guard always to resist Satan’s advances. … He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–66, 3:81.) The temptations we all are subject to often take the form of whisperings and promptings to our minds and hearts. ( See Also “Questions and Answers,” Tambuli, Apr 1985, 29–31 )

Why is it important to know the mysteries of God? President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained:

“Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God: his existence, powers, love, and promises. … 

“If we spend our mortal days in accumulating secular knowledge to the exclusion of the spiritual then we are in a dead-end street, for this is the time for man to prepare to meet God; this is the time for faith to be built. … 

“Secular knowledge, important as it may be, can never save a soul nor open the celestial kingdom” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [1982], 390).

The knowledge of God and His plan of salvation is the kind of knowledge that saves, and this kind of knowledge can be obtained only in the Lord’s way.

God reveals Himself and His eternal truths—the spiritual food that the scriptures call the bread of life and the living water—to those who seek, who serve, who keep His commandments, and who wait and listen in humility for His teaching. Study and reason are appropriate to begin this process, but “the things of God cannot be learned solely by study and reason. Despite their essential and beneficial uses, the methods of study and reason are insufficient as ways of approaching God and understanding the doctrines of his gospel. We cannot come to know the things of God while rejecting or failing to use the indispensable method God has prescribed to learn these things. The things of God must be learned in his own way, through faith in God and revelation from the Holy Ghost” (Dallin H. Oaks, The Lord’s Way [1991], 56).

Only in this way can we obtain the spiritual illumination, nutrition, and power necessary to teach and transmit faith and testimony.

Gospel learning is usually initiated by study and reason, but so far as I can observe, intellectual methods, standing alone, are not effective in transmitting abiding faith and deep spirituality from one person to another or from one generation to another.

Missionary work will help in this cause, consider this:

"In this great battle for the souls of men, the rules of engagement in missionary work are more clearly defined for each of us. Members are to accompany full-time missionary companionships as they teach the lessons and play a vital role in the conversion process of others. Missionaries are “to preach my gospel by the Spirit” 17 with words from their own hearts, words of truth treasured up by much study and prayer. Our missionaries’ roles in the continuing conversion process of others do not end at baptism. They are to continue to teach new members and others who need spiritual nourishment."
"Strengthen Thy Brethren" : Robert J. Whetten [Liahona, May 2005, 91-93] )

So, to finish Suggestion 1 and to close this particular post [blog entry] I wish to extend my testimony, and heartfully bear with conviction that following the Prophets, the council of our General Authorities as well as sticking to the basics we can and will rise above the relentless assault of Satan. I know this to be true, and leave that with you brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

No comments: