Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sons & Daughters Of God- Tempered Against Evil

 Brothers & Sisters,

There has been such an outpouring of the Spirit in my life the past few weeks, and not one that I should be surprised about. Before that outpouring of the good things, came the testing of resolve against all bad things.

In our lives, we all have this spiritual swing of ups and downs; Should we ever assume it is going to be otherwise, we will continue to live in a state of denial that will prevent much progression. Denial, fear and dismay are feelings someone else wants us to feel, but are not feelings we must feel. They will slip in, here and there- yet if there is anything I have learned as my life has progressed, it is that we have the ability to deny those feelings residence at any level and fiber of our being.

As I watched a recent Mormon Messages Video, "I am a Son of God" - which is the story of Moses as found in the first Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price- I read about and saw a personage who exhibited all those very feelings. Imagine if you will, Moses being able to look upon the very face of Satan. When Satan demands Moses to worship him, can you not help but feel the very DENIAL that Satan continued to be in at that day, many years after his fall? Think about it.

Consider then, Moses sees this, and as Moses disregards the commandment given him by Satan , imagine the visual DISMAY that must have permeated the features visible on the face of the Father of Lies- trying to fool himself, especially when thinking that Moses would resign his will to keep the commandments and fall down and worship him. Elder Jeffrey Holland said it best, when he said, "But Moses wasn't having it. He had just seen the real thing...".

I can only imagine the feeling of right, and justification that must have been native to the heart of Moses, when the last of the events he had to endure with Satan had come and gone. Imagine now, for yourself, that the laws by which Satan are bound, give us, as they did Moses, the upper hand against him. Think of the FEAR that had to be upon the face of the author of that feeling, when he was commanded " the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence Satan...".

Sure, Moses was rocked by the fear of the event for a small portion of time, and saw "...the bitterness of Hell..." but, Moses knew and felt even stronger "The Spirit Of God" dwelling within him as he did just as God has commanded him and all men, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God" not having any other Gods before Him.

What a grandeur of moments, and Spiritual glee that can come upon our souls as we read about great stories of the survival of the un-official fifth principle of the Gospel, "Enduring To The End". The scriptures are full of such blessed stories, and all of them I am grateful to God to have in my life.

I know that the scriptures are true, and through careful pondering of them... keeping them close to our hearts, we all can better understand the mysteries, wisdom, and power of God. Such is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

* Attention Friends: Many Of You Get This Via E-Mail; I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For Additional Interactive Features Such As Videos (And Many Of The Blog Entries Have Videos That Are Not Supported Through Email), News Alerts, (For Those In Plainview Branch) Lesson Schedules, Cleaning Schedules, Announcements And Much More. Find Interactive Links To Many Church Websites. To Visit The Blog, Visit The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWEQ.BLOGSPOT.COM For Additional Testimony From Personal Members Of The Branch, Visit The (Un-Official) Plainview-Review Branch Blog At The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWREVIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

Friday, January 28, 2011

Open House and Rededication Dates Announced for the Atlanta Georgia Temple

Open House and Re-dedication Dates Announced for the Atlanta Georgia Temple

News Release

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced open house and rededication dates for the recently renovated Atlanta Georgia Temple.

The temple was closed 1 July 2009 for renovation. Among the changes was the addition of large windows in the celestial room, adding more natural light, and art glass windows in other parts of the temple.

The public is invited to visit the temple during an open house from Saturday, 9 April 2011, until Saturday, 23 April 2011, excluding Sundays. The temple will be formally rededicated on Sunday, 1 May 2011 in two sessions. Both of the re-dedicatory sessions will be broadcast to congregations of the Church within the temple district.

In conjunction with the rededication of the temple, there will also be a cultural celebration featuring music and dance on Saturday, 30 April 2011.

The Atlanta Georgia Temple was originally dedicated 1 June 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency. He rededicated the temple baptistry in 1997 as president of the Church.

The temple serves more than 50,000 Latter-day Saints living in and around Georgia.

The temple is located 25 miles northeast of the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

The temple is located 25 miles northeast of the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

Latter-day Saint temples differ from the Church’s meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services.

Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where Christ's teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity.

In the temple, Church members learn more about the purpose of life and strengthen their commitment to serve Jesus Christ and those around them.

Formal temple work will commence in the temple Tuesday, 3 May 2011.

* Attention Friends: Many Of You Get This Via E-Mail; I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For Additional Interactive Features Such As Videos (And Many Of The Blog Entries Have Videos That Are Not Supported Through Email), News Alerts, (For Those In Plainview Branch) Lesson Schedules, Cleaning Schedules, Announcements And Much More. Find Interactive Links To Many Church Websites. To Visit The Blog, Visit The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWEQ.BLOGSPOT.COM For Additional Testimony From Personal Members Of The Branch, Visit The (Un-Official) Plainview-Review Branch Blog At The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWREVIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

Testimony From California: By Christopher Lloyd Graham


I opened up an invitation to all of the members of the church on Facebook, to share a portion of their testimony, (whether large or small wasn't important,) just to give them the chance to bless us with another conversion to the gospel. When we hear the testimony of another Saint, we gain an additional witness from another. Remember the words from the hymn, "The Spirit of God, Like a fire is burning..." and that fire rests within our testimonies as well! Testimony is very important brethren! It is now, that I would like to thank our dear Brother Christopher Lloyd Graham, and share his testimony with you, written below:

The lord puts me here...with many many fears... thousands of tears... and many cheers.

He sent me here for a find my tuition...put my body into make an ultimate decision,

He give me friends...some stay untill the end...some defend....other will help and recommend,

He gives us trials... Many denials... fake smiles...feeling reconcile,

He gives us blessings...moments for for moments of pressing...and examples of guessing,

He provides a family... sisters... brothers... mom and dad...all for constantly, hopefully, true feling thankfully,

He provides books...the bible it hooks... The Book of mormon you should have partook... and the guidance is more complex than it looks,

He excepts love...its a blessing from up above...small symbol is a dove...the vfeeling covers like a be a true love,

Then there is church... is to to ponder...and to see the things we cannot see--to SEARCH
he gives us the be what we have be his flammable gasoline...light us up and what us Gleam,

He gives me so many people to touch...he wants us to grab that clutch...and show our spirits a whole bunch,

He sent his son...his only begotten one...the plan of salvation won...satan is done...jesus is the greatest loved one son,

So i share this small testimony, that this church is true, and i know my heavenly father lives, and that he loves me and provides the listed above so that we can return unto him in humility, honesty, and trust. I believe that everyone that passes your life was meant to leave something, if not be your everything. With this my new years resolution to be the best i can be for all of you. A friend, a missionary, a son, a brother, a best friend or boyfriend. or just a person to talk to. I LOVE YOU ALL and wish you a great year. listen to the spirit for it will guide you and show you the right way to go. I say these things in the name of the son Jesus Christ, Amen.
Again, I'd love to thank our Brother, Christopher Lloyd Graham... his Testimony was helpful and enlightening! If you would like to speak more with this Brother in Christ, find him on his Facebook page! I invite all to share their testimony, like our dear Brother Graham did. Thanks again!

* Attention Friends: Many Of You Get This Via E-Mail; I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For Additional Interactive Features Such As Videos (And Many Of The Blog Entries Have Videos That Are Not Supported Through Email), News Alerts, (For Those In Plainview Branch) Lesson Schedules, Cleaning Schedules, Announcements And Much More. Find Interactive Links To Many Church Websites. To Visit The Blog, Visit The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWEQ.BLOGSPOT.COM For Additional Testimony From Personal Members Of The Branch, Visit The (Un-Official) Plainview-Review Branch Blog At The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWREVIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Oath & Covenant Of The Priesthood

I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For The Special Apostolic Videos Attached To This Blog:


After a super-charged, spiritually motivated meeting with our Stake Presidency this past Sunday, I took their counsel to heart. More importantly, I have found that upon our meeting this past Sunday morning at 7 a.m.- that I did not know enough about the blessings and the many great things that come with the Oath and Covenant Of The Priesthood. I think, many of us in that meeting (Elders Quorum Presidents & High Priest Group Leaders) were surprised when we we asked about what we could remember about the 84th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants.

I feel that is a great thing to ponder for any Priesthood holder. Take a moment to consider for yourself what you remember before reading on.

President Shumway had us share some of what we remembered then, and we were all amazed to see that much of what we shared concerning the Oath & Covenant of the Priesthood were the curses and detrimental things that befall those who reject it, or turn all-together from it.

He then had us prod our memory about some of the blessings that come to those who accept this great honor and Covenant. Although I'd love to list them all, I will only list one verse that President Shumway focused on before he closed counsel to us. That is the 77th verse of the 84th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants, which reads:

"And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power;"

Having shared this with you, I now wish to have you watch the following two videos, on which Elder Perry of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks on the Oath & Covenant Of The Priesthood of God.

First, we have: Elder Perry on the Priesthood, Part One: The Oath and Covenant

Next we have: Elder Perry on the Priesthood, Part Two: The Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods

I pray our understandings of the very power by which we act in His name, will become greater. I felt the Spirit stir me in getting this counsel from President Shumway, and I know you will as you study and pray about it!

I leave this with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

* Attention Friends: Many Of You Get This Via E-Mail; I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For Additional Interactive Features Such As Videos (And Many Of The Blog Entries Have Videos That Are Not Supported Through Email), News Alerts, (For Those In Plainview Branch) Lesson Schedules, Cleaning Schedules, Announcements And Much More. Find Interactive Links To Many Church Websites. To Visit The Blog, Visit The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWEQ.BLOGSPOT.COM For Additional Testimony From Personal Members Of The Branch, Visit The (Un-Official) Plainview-Review Branch Blog At The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWREVIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

Sunday, January 23, 2011

High Council Speaker- Brother Wallace : "Home & Visiting Teaching"

Brethren, We got the great blessing today of seeing Brother Wallace from the High Council. I seriously loved his talk, and felt for those of you that were unable to attend, you would love to read it, so here below, is the transcript. Thanks again to Brother Wallace, and the Lubbock Stake High Council!

Home and Visiting Teaching (Plainview Branch)

      Good morning, Brothers and Sisters.  What a blessing it is for me to be here with you in the Plainview Branch.  This is actually the first time for me to be attending your services, although I believe my wife has been here several times in calling as Stake Young Women’s President, and I am grateful for this opportunity.  I appreciate the wonderful talk by Bro. Tombs.  I have known him and his brothers since we moved here 8 years ago, and I was blessed to be one of his Priesthood leaders until about a year ago when I was called to the High Council.   
     I must admit that there are many of you here today that I do not know, but I hope that will soon change soon as we serve together as a Stake to bring about the work here in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.  I know it probably feels at times, like you are out of touch in the Stake, being so far from Lubbock, but it is my testimony, that most of the growth of the Stake is going to come and is coming from outside of Lubbock, within our branches.  I grew up in several small branches, one in upstate NY and the other while living in Philippines many years ago.  I also served in many very small branches while on my mission, and I know that when the members work together, and do all they can in their callings and in obeying our Heavenly Father, that each branch will become a ward, for that is how the Lord blesses us.  I am excited that part of my responsibilities as a High Councilor is my assignment to the Quaker Heights Spanish-Speaking Branch, and watch their growth as the Lord blesses them.
     With that, I also bring you the love of our Stake Presidency, and remind you of their great concern for you and your families.  As members of the Stake High Council we are continually encouraged to strengthen our testimonies of the Lord’s vision for this stake.  In addition, we are also asked gain a personal vision of our own callings and assignments while called to serve.  I would encourage each and every one of you, as members of this Stake and Branch to gain your own personal vision for you and your families, and especially to gather your families together and develop a Family Mission Plan so that you can share your testimonies with those you love and associate with.  As you do, blessings will be poured out from Heaven upon you and those around you, and this branch will grow.  May I also echo the words of President Shumway that every one of “you belongs here; that you belong in this church, in this ward, and with these saints”.  If there is anything holding you back from all the blessings of our Heavenly Father, I would encourage you to look inside yourself and commit to do better, to utilize your strengths in overcoming your weaknesses.  I can personally testify that while it is not always be easy, it will be worth it, and Heavenly Father will pour His blessings upon you and upon your families.  I support our Stake Presidency and their sacred callings, and know that through Priesthood authority that our Stake will grow, especially as we collectively put forth our hands, and love and serve others.
     Our message this month, as assigned by the Stake Presidency is on The Blessings of Home and Visiting Teaching, and perhaps how we as individual members can gain a testimony of this inspired program.  Now, I’m not going to stand here and tell you that we all need to do our home and visiting teaching.  Well, maybe I am, because that’s the message that our Stake Presidency wants us to give, and it is something I need encouragement with as well!  I think that what President Harold B. Lee said in 1964 is very fitting to what our Stake Presidency envisions for the growth of our stake, especially in relation to the vines.  Pres. Lee stated that “Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.”     That’s pretty simple.  As home and visiting teachers, we are as missionaries to the members, bringing our families the Word of God.
     Growing up in the church, I have been a home teacher since the time I turned 14, when I was assigned as a junior companion to Bro. Sharp, a High Priest.  It was during those days that I learned a lot about preparing gospel lessons, making phone calls to set up appointments, and I have great memories of traveling to the furthest borders of our ward (approximately 40 miles), to a small, old farmhouse where a very old couple lived.  I remember home teaching Bro. and Sis. Paige even during snow blizzards, when the snow was piled along the road side so high it was like traveling through a tunnel.  I also remember warm and tasty pies and cake that Sis. Paige would serve us.  Often, following that visit we would travel another 30 miles in another direction to visit the Bradley family that lived on the eastern shore of one of the Finger Lakes.  Our total round trip was well over 100 miles, and embarrassingly, I often fell asleep on the final leg home.
     Before continuing, I first must make a confession.  And that is, that I have not always been the best home teacher, and even today, I still struggle with this responsibility.  With our fast-paced lives, it is difficult to find the time, especially with all our family responsibilities, with school activities and work; and even our church callings many times get in the way.  When do we have time to relax?  At our house, often our home teachers want to visit us at times that are inconvenient.  At times, I feel as if I am bothering those that I home teach.  I know them well enough, and talk with them often, especially at church, so, isn’t that enough?  Why do I need to go visit their homes monthly?  And well, sometimes, I feel that we are doing it just for the numbers.  Well, Brothers and Sisters, those are my excuses, so what are yours?
    These thoughts remind me of an experience I had many years ago, which occurred before Sis. Wallace and I married, and blended our two families together, and it was one that taught me a great principle.  At the time I was a single father, living in Upstate New York trying eagerly to complete a Ph.D. at Cornell University all, while raising my two young sons.  I was living on the second floor of a tiny apartment located in a small village about 15 miles from the campus.  The apartment was old, but had a small balcony with an old iron railing just outside the living room.  Being a poor student and single father, I was pretty stressed out and needed as much sleep as I could get. 
     Early one spring morning, however, around 5:00 a.m., I was awakened by a loud rattle coming from outside my apartment.  The noise that I heard startled me enough that I was concerned that there may be construction or something else going on outside on my balcony.  As I lay there in an early morning daze, I also thought that perhaps I had been dreaming and being tired, I tried to drift back asleep.  Almost immediately, the rattling startled me again.  This time, with my heart racing, I jumped up from my bed and walked to the sliding glass door, and peered outside in time to see only the passing of a tiny bird.  Not noticing anything out of the ordinary, I wandered sleepily back to my bed.  About 5 minutes later, when I had almost drifted back to sleep, the rattling shook the house again.  Confused and annoyed, I walked back out to my living room to see what the noise was.  Again I saw nothing except a little bird flying away. 
     Now I was getting frustrated and being too lazy to walk back to my bedroom, I just laid myself down on the nearby couch.  As I lay there in an early-morning daze, I was startled a third time by the rattling.  This time, however, I was prepared to catch whoever was disturbing my early morning sleep.  Without moving, I slowly and carefully opened my eyes and was surprised to see only a tiny little woodpecker sitting on the balcony’s old iron railing.  I thought to myself, could he be making that loud racket?   
     As quickly as I asked myself that question, the answer came with a resounding boom and rattle of the railing.  I watched in amazement as this little woodpecker quite rapidly and uselessly pecked at the iron railing.  Once my amazement subsided, I started to get irritated, so I jumped up and opened the sliding glass door and scared him off into the nearby woods.  This effort of mine would have been sufficient had this happened for just one morning, but this foolish little woodpecker came back and repeated his merciless rattling every morning for the next 2 weeks.  
     I knew that my patience was being tested, but this foolish little woodpecker also got me thinking about my role and effort as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  I have often pondered to myself, why did this crazy little bird peck tirelessly at an old iron railing instead of a nice soft tree?  Am I like this little woodpecker, foolishly pounding my head against the “old iron railings” in my own life?  Am I doing all I can to increase my faith, to serve others, to be obedient and to keep my covenants?  Am I doing the best at my church callings?  Am I a good home teacher?  Or, am I making poor choices like this woodpecker by choosing “old iron railings” instead seeking out the softer wood of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing all I can to assist in bringing about the “immortality and eternal life of man”?
     As earthly members of Heavenly Father’s kingdom, and especially as home and visiting teachers, we are asked to be instruments in God’s hands.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles states:It is not … enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it…  This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ … Charity, ‘the pure love of Christ is not an act but a condition or state of being.  Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion.  Charity is something one becomes”.  How then, Brothers and Sisters, do we become “charitable” home or visiting teachers?  Does it make it harder to be charitable because we do it out of assignment?  Are we fearful to teach the Word of God?
    Alma, that great servant of the Lord in the Book of Mormon stated, and let me paraphrase him:  O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth…!  Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder… that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.”
     As instruments and servants of a loving Heavenly Father, our errand as home and visiting teachers for today is clear.  God sends us an authorized message, through living Prophets and Apostles and each month they speak to us, through articles in the Ensign and Liahona; which contain the living and  most current messages that we are asked to bring to those we visit and home teach.   When we are thoughtfully and spiritually prepared, we do speak “with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth”.
     Brothers and Sisters, none of us is perfect; we all have “old iron railings” which may be shortcomings that impede our path to receiving the full blessings of the gospel.  Some of these “old iron railings” come in the form of excuses we use to avoid strengthening our commitment to the gospel.  They come in the form of disobedience to the commandments, or by not reading our scriptures or praying daily, by not having regular family home evenings, or by not serving others by doing our home and visiting teaching.  
     Perhaps we struggle with our role as a home and visiting teachers, and don’t think that what we do makes a difference.  Perhaps it doesn’t, but more than likely it will make a difference.  We usually never know how what we do impacts those whom we serve!  I remember back to when I was living in New York, and was assigned to serve as a senior companion along with my oldest son.  Just like in my youth, again I had to travel over 40 miles to home teach, this time a single mother living out in the country.  I remember complaining silently to myself that it was a long way out there, but, having been a single father, I knew somewhat of her needs and felt a particular responsibility to her.  My son and I home taught her for over a year.  We didn’t do anything really special for her, we helped out on her house or moved a few things here and there; we gave her a blessing or two, and taught her a few gospel lessons.  But we didn’t know the impact we had in her life until just before we moved, when she thanked us for being great home teachers.  Did I do anything out of the ordinary?  Did I “go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice [that shook] the earth”?  Probably not, but just my actions of being there was enough to show that I cared, and that she felt and was loved as a daughter of God.
     Am I now perfect in my home teaching?  No, but I should be.  And it shouldn’t be that hard for me.  I am assigned to home teach my Bishop and his family, and the family of a member of the Stake Presidency, and a Sister that wants no contact from the church, and to a brother that is also assigned to visit our family as well.  It should be easy for me then, shouldn’t it?  But I still struggle to be a good home teacher. 
     In 1998, President Thomas S. Monson stated the following regarding home teaching:  Let us review the counsel of the Lord and His prophets concerning this vital endeavor.” …Priesthood holders [are assigned] as home teachers to visit the homes of members every month.  They go in pairs; often a youth holding the Aaronic Priesthood accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The home teaching program is a response to modern revelation commissioning those ordained to the priesthood to “teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties; … to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking.”
     President David O. McKay admonished: “Home teaching is one of our most urgent and most rewarding opportunities to nurture and inspire, to counsel and direct our Father’s children. … It is a divine service, a divine call. It is our duty as home teachers to carry the divine spirit into every home and heart. To love the work and do our best will bring unbounded peace, joy, and satisfaction to a noble, dedicated teacher of God’s children.”
     Finally, I have another personal story that relates to us, as Member’s of Heavenly Father’s Church, and our need to follow righteous pathways and do what is right.  I was born and raised in upstate New York, and during my high school years, our LDS ward was blessed with pretty good athletic young men.  One year, we had a very good Young Men’s softball team.  We beat everyone we played within our Stake and within our Region.  As a result, we were blessed to travel to the Church Area Championships in South Carolina.  What a great adventure for my friends and me!  Our leaders, which included my father, loaded all of us and our equipment into 3 station wagons (which were the precursors to today’s mini-vans and SUVs), and we made the long journey southwards from Upstate New York.  As luck would have it, we met our athletic match in South Carolina, and failed to move on at the tournament.  Disappointed in the loss, but happy with our adventure, we began our long journey home late in the evening after the tournament.  As luck would have it, our vehicles were soon enveloped by a thick fog that slowed our journey down to almost a standstill.  Concerned for our safety, our leaders stopped and pulled off to the side of the road to discuss our predicament (remember, it was the mid 70s and we had no cell phones in those days).  Perhaps somewhat foolishly, they decided the best course was to continue onward into the foggy night.  In making that decision, they all agreed to follow the lead car’s taillights, thus ensuring each other that this would be safest in keeping the cars together.  We traveled this way for several hours, and when the thick fog lifted, we discovered that all three cars had somehow become separated in the fog.  Without anyone to follow, our car pursued its own path and headed towards home.  Soon after our arrival home, the second car drove safely in.  But the third car was nowhere to be seen.  After almost 8 hours, the third car, with a very exhausted driver and youth arrived safely home.  But where had they been, we all wondered?  Had they broken down on the highway somewhere, or had they just pulled to the roadside and slept for a while?  Reluctantly and feeling somewhat embarrassed, they explained the reason for their lateness.  According to the plan, their driver had been following the taillights of the car in front of him.  Somehow, in the thick of the fog, he had become confused.  As soon as the fog lifted, they realized their mistake when they sheepishly noted that they were completely in the wrong state, and that what they thought were the taillights of the lead car, had actually been the taillights of someone heading in the opposite direction. 
     Brothers and Sisters, how many times do we follow the wrong taillights?  How many times are we led astray, and follow paths that lead us to a loss of the Spirit?  Only by keeping the correct taillights in front of us, will we be blessed.  There are times when the taillights are easy to follow, and there are times when Satan tries to confuse us by laying thick fog between us and the taillights.  Heavenly Father’s joy in this life is that we wade through all the thick fog, discern the correct taillights to follow, which lights, of course, are the doctrines and principles found in the True and Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those lights are followed by being obedient, by keeping our covenants, by reading our scriptures and praying daily alone, and together as a family, and yes, one of those taillights we need to follow leads us directly to those that we home and visit teach.  The Lord promises us in the Doctrine and Covenants that He is “bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”   
      I have a firm testimony of home and visiting teaching.  Again, I am not always the best at doing my home teaching, but I am very thankful to those of you that are, that emulate the Savior.  Our example of what home and visiting teachers exemplify, as even the Savior himself said: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And: “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”  We may be home and visiting teachers to lost souls, but every soul is in need of nurturing.  I am thankful for home teachers that watched over my mother in her last years while I lived and raised my family some 2000 miles away. 
     Bare a strong testimony of the calling of a home and visiting teacher.  Testimony of the love our Savior Jesus Christ, and the restoration of the Gospel on this earth.

 * Attention Friends: Many Of You Get This Via E-Mail; I Encourage You To Visit The Actual Blog For Additional Interactive Features Such As Videos (And Many Of The Blog Entries Have Videos That Are Not Supported Through Email), News Alerts, (For Those In Plainview Branch) Lesson Schedules, Cleaning Schedules, Announcements And Much More. Find Interactive Links To Many Church Websites. To Visit The Blog, Visit The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWEQ.BLOGSPOT.COM For Additional Testimony From Personal Members Of The Branch, Visit The (Un-Official) Plainview-Review Branch Blog At The Following Web-Address: HTTP://PLAINVIEWREVIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Never Leave Him" : Lesson For 1-23-11

Neil L. Andersen, "Never Leave Him", Ensign, Nov. 2010, 39–42

Neil L. Andersen
As you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.
My beloved brothers and sisters across the world, I express my deep admiration for the faith and courage I see in your lives. We live in a most remarkable time—but a challenging time.

The Lord Alerts Us to Dangers Ahead

The Lord has not left us alone in our quest to return to Him. Listen to His warning words alerting us to the dangers ahead: “Take … heed, watch and pray.”1 “Beware lest ye … be deceived.”2 “Be watchful and careful.”3 “Beware lest ye also … fall from your own stedfastness.”4

No one of us is immune from the influences of the world. The Lord’s counsel keeps us on guard.
You will remember Jesus’s experience in Capernaum as disciples who had followed the Savior would not accept that He was the Son of God. The scripture reads, “From that time many of his disciples … walked no more with him.”5

Jesus then turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”6

Will Ye Also Go Away?

In my own mind I have answered that question many times: “Absolutely not! Not me! I will never leave Him! I am here forever!” I know you have answered the same way.

But the question “Will ye also go away?” makes us think about our own vulnerability. Life is no spiritual picnic. The words of the Apostles from another setting come quietly into our mind: “Lord, is it I?”7

We enter the waters of baptism with joy and anticipation. The Savior beckons, “Come unto me,”8 and we respond, taking His name upon us. Not one of us wants this journey to be a brief flirtation with spirituality or even a notable but finite chapter. The road of discipleship is not for the spiritually faint of heart. Jesus said:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”9

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”10

As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. Approached in a worldly way, these same experiences cloud our view and weaken our resolve. Some we love and admire slip from the strait and narrow path and “[walk] no more with him.”

How Do We Remain True?

How do we remain true to the Savior, His gospel, and the ordinances of His priesthood? How do we develop the faith and strength to never leave Him?

Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”11 We need the believing heart of a child.

Through the power of His Atonement, we are to become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father.”12 This is the mighty change of heart.13

We soon see why a change of heart is necessary. Two words signal danger ahead: the words are offended and ashamed.

Choose Not to Be Offended

To those troubled by the Savior’s divinity, Jesus asked, “Doth this offend you?”14 In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned, “He … [endureth] for a while: [but] when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”15

Offense comes in many costumes and continually finds its way onstage. People we believe in disappoint us. We have unanticipated difficulties. Our life doesn’t turn out exactly the way we were expecting. We make mistakes, feel unworthy, and worry about being forgiven. We wonder about a doctrinal issue. We learn of something spoken from a Church pulpit 150 years ago that bothers us. Our children are treated unfairly. We are ignored or underappreciated. It could be a hundred things, each very real to us at the time.16

In our weakened moments, the adversary seeks to steal our spiritual promises. If we are not watchful, our injured, childlike spirit will retreat back into the cold, dark crust of our former bloated ego, leaving behind the warm, healing light of the Savior.

When Parley P. Pratt, in 1835, was judged unfairly, bringing embarrassment and shame to him and his family, the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled, “Parley, … walk such things under your feet … [and] God Almighty shall be with you.”17

Another example: In 1830, Frederick G. Williams, a prominent medical doctor, was baptized. He immediately gave of his talents and prosperity to the Church. He became a leader in the Church. He donated property for the Kirtland Temple. In 1837, caught up in difficulties of the times, Frederick G. Williams made serious mistakes. The Lord declared in a revelation that “in consequence of [his] transgressions [his] former standing [in the leadership of the Church had] been taken away from [him].”18

The beautiful lesson we learn from Frederick G. Williams is that “whatever his personal weaknesses, he had the strength of character to [renew] his loyalty to the [Lord,] the Prophet and … to the Church, when it would have been so easy to have disintegrated in bitterness.”19 In the spring of 1840, he presented himself at a general conference, humbly asking forgiveness for his past conduct and expressing his determination to do the will of God in the future. His case was presented by Hyrum Smith, and he was freely forgiven. He died a faithful member of the Church.

I recently met the president of the Recife Brazil Temple, whose name is Frederick G. Williams. He recounted how his great-great-grandfather’s decision of character had blessed the family and hundreds of his posterity.

Choose Not to Be Ashamed

Offended has a corrosive companion called ashamed.

In the Book of Mormon, we learn of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. The vision speaks of those noble souls who “[pressed] forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron,” arriving and “[partaking] of the fruit of the tree.”20

Nephi described the tree as “the love of God,”21 bearing fruit that “filled [the] soul with exceedingly great joy.”22

After tasting of the fruit, Lehi saw “a great and spacious building … filled with people … old and young, … male and female; and their … dress was exceedingly fine; and they were … mocking and pointing their fingers [of scorn] towards those who … were partaking of the fruit.”23 An angel explained that the mocking, the scoffing, the fingers of scorn represented the pride and wisdom of the world.24

Nephi declared plainly, “We heeded them not.”25

Sadly, there were others whose courage faltered. The scripture reads, “After they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those [who] were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”26

As disciples of Christ, we stand apart from the world. There may be times we feel uncomfortable as the fingers of scorn mock and dismiss what is sacred to us.27 President Thomas S. Monson warned, “Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith.”28 Nephi said, “[Heed] them not.”29 Paul admonished, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; … Be not … ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”30 We never leave Him.

While accompanying President Dieter F. Uchtdorf to Eastern Europe last year, I marveled at the faith and courage of the Saints. One priesthood leader in Ukraine told us of being called to the branch presidency in the spring of 1994, only six months after his baptism. This would require becoming public with his faith and helping to register the Church in the city of Dnipropetrovs’k. It was at a time of uncertainty in Ukraine, and openly showing faith in Christ and in the restored gospel could mean difficulty, including the possibility of losing his job as a pilot.

The priesthood leader told us, “I prayed and prayed. I had a testimony, and I had made a covenant. I knew what the Lord wanted me to do.”31 Courageously, he and his wife went forward with faith, unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where Much Is Given, Much Is Required

Some ask, “Do I have to be so different from others?” “Can’t I be a disciple of Christ without thinking so much about my behavior?” “Can’t I love Christ without keeping the law of chastity?” “Can’t I love Him and do what I want on Sunday?” Jesus gave a simple answer: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”32

Some ask, “Aren’t there many of other faiths who love Christ?” Of course there are! However, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths. “Unto whom much is given much is required.”33
The Lord said, “Thou mayest choose for thyself.”34

I promise you, as you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.35

Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.

Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts.
Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.

Will we be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak?36 Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Never Leave Him

I love these words from a favorite hymn:
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!37
Perfection does not come in this life, but we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keep our covenants.
President Monson has promised, “Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe.”38 We push our spiritual roots deep, feasting daily on the words of Christ in the scriptures. We trust in the words of living prophets, placed before us to show us the way. We pray and pray and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul. Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him.

The Savior asked His Apostles, “Will ye also go away?”39

Peter answered:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“… We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”40
I too have that witness. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"...Canst Thou Read [The Scriptures] Without Rejoicing...?"

Brethren! It's a great New Year, and 2011 seems filled with promise beyond even that of which I felt. I admit my slackened initial opinion of this year came because of my failure to live up to some of the New Years Resolutions I made. Finally, I said to myself, that the execution of it was a challenge, and in the reading of my scriptures- and the increase of daily reading- I have found that of which inspired the title to this blog.

The Scriptures are the means of us drawing closer to the Lord, and our Heavenly Father. Inside the words given us by the Lord, especially in the Book Of Mormon, is the fullness of the Gospel. The blessed knowledge that one can come to a merciful God, whom installed a plan of Salvation that through the work, order and authority of His church and His annointed- using the Priesthood, we can reach Heaven; The Lord is able to save us all.

The Gospel is so ideal to our spiritual progression, that if we treated it with the anxiety we find ourselves directing to Monday Night Football (Or any program for that matter), we might actually be continually filled, and not with any portion short of our need, causing that thirst for things of a Spiritual Nature that we seem to know we need, yet have a hard time in continually directing ourselves to, "in all diligence." . If we could drive ourselves to the scriptures, like our bodies do to food when we are hungry, we would well fit into that category of which Elder Holland spoke of when he said, quoting the Savior,

"And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived... and in the last days neither your heart, nor your faith, will fail you." (Emphasis added)

We know also very well the damaging side effects of Spiritual starvation, and it is a reprehensible list. Oft times, the lack of blessings that we suffer, whether we have come to the knowledge of it or not, is due to our lack of diligence. Indeed, as I previously mentioned, in upping my spiritual ante with goals and resolutions and then NOT acting on them, am I not inviting Satan to "call" my bluff? Like a game of poker, Satan has chips of a corruptible nature, and can seem to force the "all in" much more than any Texas Hold Em player would care to think of.

So, we need to stave the onset of those opprobrious side effects of inaction, and contentment with the one source of information and teaching that is always right, and never wrong... the scriptures.

May I recall to your mind the account of the people of Zarahemla. The people of King Mosiah, The Nephites, stumbled upon the great city Zarahemla and found a good people, who were descendants of one of the sons of Zedekiah. After finding them, the record states, "Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon." (Omni 1:15)

This discovery was a great one, worthwhile to both the Nephites, and the then called people of Zarahemla. But it was those people that taught us a lesson about the rich significance of a scriptural and genealogical record for continual reflection. As this states, we can assume that these were led from Jerusalem on or around the time Lehi was being led out. But Lehi had something they did not, the plates of brass. The effect of that difference mislead the people of Zarahemla.

The people of Zarahemla saw that "...their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them." (Omni 1:17)

This time is somewhere between 279 and 130 B.C., leaving the possibility of many hundred years of watered down stories and no record keeping.

The solution was absolute, and could go one of two ways. Fortunate for them, and the people of Mosiah, they felt that, " came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language....after they were taught... Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers; and they are written, but not in these plates."(Omni 1:18)

How neat this must have been for Mosiah and his people. Others were brought into the fold, another small portion of history learned, and a record kept of the end result in not having, and not using (should they of had it) the scriptures.

So in my personal studies, I came across that scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants, which gave part to the title of this blog, and it says this:

"Behold, canst thou read this [The Scriptures] without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?"

If we are truly seeking the Savior, we can give a resolute answer to His question. We can't help but jump for joy, and feel the Spirit testify to us of the truthfulness of the Gospel when we search, ponder and pray. I leave that message with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lesson For Sunday 1-16-11 : Chapter 26: Sacrifice

The Meaning of Sacrifice

Sacrifice means giving to the Lord whatever He requires of our time, our earthly possessions, and our energies to further His work. The Lord commanded, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God. People have always been tried and tested to see if they will put the things of God first in their lives.
  • Why is it important to sacrifice as the Lord asks without expecting anything in return?

The Law of Sacrifice Was Practiced Anciently

  • What was the significance of the sacrifices performed by the Lord’s covenant people anciently?
From the time of Adam and Eve to the time of Jesus Christ, the Lord’s people practiced the law of sacrifice. They were commanded to offer as sacrifices the firstlings of their flocks. These animals had to be perfect, without blemish. The ordinance was given to remind the people that Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, would come into the world. He would be perfect in every way, and He would offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (See Moses 5:5–8.)

Jesus did come and offer Himself as a sacrifice, just as the people had been taught He would. Because of His sacrifice, everyone will be saved from physical death by the Resurrection and all can be saved from their sins through faith in Jesus Christ (see chapter 12 in this book).

Christ’s atoning sacrifice marked the end of sacrifices by the shedding of blood. Such outward sacrifice was replaced by the ordinance of the sacrament. The ordinance of the sacrament was given to remind us of the Savior’s great sacrifice. We should partake of the sacrament often. The emblems of bread and water remind us of the Savior’s body and of His blood, which He shed for us (see chapter 23 in this book).
  • Why is the Atonement considered the great and last sacrifice?

We Still Must Sacrifice

  • How do we observe the law of sacrifice today?
Even though sacrifice by the shedding of blood was ended, the Lord still asks us to sacrifice. But now He requires a different kind of offering. He said: “Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood, … and your burnt offerings shall be done away. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:19–20). A “broken heart and a contrite spirit” means that we offer deep sorrow for our sins as we humble ourselves and repent of them.

We Must Be Willing to Sacrifice Everything We Have to the Lord

  • Why are people willing to make sacrifices?
The Apostle Paul wrote that we should become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God (see Romans 12:1).

If we are to be a living sacrifice, we must be willing to give everything we have for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to build the kingdom of God on the earth and labor to bring forth Zion (see 1 Nephi 13:37).

A rich young ruler asked the Savior, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” And the rich man said, “All these have I kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he was sorrowful. He was very rich and had his heart set on his riches. (See Luke 18:18–23; see also the picture in this chapter.)

The young ruler was a good man. But when he was put to the test, he was not willing to sacrifice his worldly possessions. On the other hand, the Lord’s disciples Peter and Andrew were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the kingdom of God. When Jesus said unto them, “Follow me, … they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19–20).

Like the disciples, we can offer our daily activities as a sacrifice to the Lord. We can say, “Thy will be done.” Abraham did this. He lived on the earth before Christ, in the days when sacrifices and burnt offerings were required. As a test of Abraham’s faith, the Lord commanded him to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sarah. The command to offer him as a sacrifice was extremely painful for Abraham.

Nevertheless, he and Isaac made the long journey to Mount Moriah, where the sacrifice was to be made. They traveled for three days. Imagine Abraham’s thoughts and his heartache. His son was to be sacrificed to the Lord. When they reached Mount Moriah, Isaac carried the wood and Abraham carried the fire and the knife to the place where they were to build the altar. Isaac said, “My father … behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb.” Then Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He bound Isaac and laid him upon the wood. He then took the knife to kill Isaac. At that moment an angel of the Lord stopped him, saying, “Abraham … lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (See Genesis 22:1–14.)

Abraham must have been overcome with joy when he was no longer required to sacrifice his son. But he loved the Lord so much that he was willing to do anything the Lord asked.
  • What examples of sacrifice have you observed in the lives of people you know? What examples of sacrifice have you seen in the lives of your ancestors? in the lives of early members of the Church? in the lives of people in the scriptures? What have you learned from these examples?

Sacrifice Helps Us Prepare to Live in the Presence of God

Only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live in the presence of God. Only through sacrifice can we enjoy eternal life. Many who have lived before us have sacrificed all they had. We must be willing to do the same if we would earn the rich reward they enjoy.

We may not be asked to sacrifice all things. But like Abraham, we should be willing to sacrifice everything to become worthy to live in the presence of the Lord.

The Lord’s people have always sacrificed greatly and in many different ways. Some have suffered hardship and ridicule for the gospel. Some new converts to the Church have been cut off from their families. Lifetime friends have turned away. Some members have lost their jobs; some have lost their lives. But the Lord notices our sacrifices; He promises, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).

As our testimonies of the gospel grow, we become able to make greater sacrifices to the Lord. Note the sacrifices made in these true examples:

A member of the Church in Germany saved his tithing for years until someone with priesthood authority could come and accept it.

A Relief Society visiting teacher served for 30 years without missing an assignment.

A group of Saints in South Africa rode for three days, standing up, to be able to hear and see the prophet of the Lord.

At an area conference in Mexico, members of the Church slept on the ground and fasted during the days of the conference. They had used all their money just to get to the conference and had nothing left for food and shelter.

One family sold their car to get the money they wanted to contribute to a temple building fund.

Another family sold their home to get money to go to the temple.

Many faithful Latter-day Saints have very little to live on, yet they pay their tithes and offerings.

One brother sacrificed his job because he refused to work on Sunday.

In one branch, the youth gave freely and willingly of their time to care for the young children while their parents helped build the meetinghouse.

Young men and women give up or postpone good job opportunities, education, or sports to serve as missionaries.

Many more examples could be given of those who sacrifice for the Lord. Yet a place in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom is worth any sacrifice we have to make of our time, talents, energy, money, and lives. Through sacrifice we can obtain a knowledge from the Lord that we are acceptable to Him (see D&C 97:8).
  • Why do you think our willingness to sacrifice is related to our readiness to live in the presence of God?

Additional Scriptures

  • Luke 12:16–34 (where the treasure is, there is the heart)
  • Luke 9:57–62 (sacrifice to be fit for the kingdom)
  • D&C 64:23; 97:12 (today is a day of sacrifice)
  • D&C 98:13–15 (those who lose life for the Lord will find it)
  • Alma 24 (the people of Ammon sacrifice their lives rather than break their oath to the Lord)