Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I love teaching Gospel Doctrine! I'm really enjoying being a den leader, especially since it gives me time with my son. Yet, I have been so often overwhelmed. Consequently, I feel like my SS lesson preparation has suffered, as has the planning of den meetings. Is it all too much?
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul likens our bodies to the Church. In verse18, we learn that God has put the body together as he wants it. In other words, God has put us in our Church service where he wants us.
I must be in the right place, then.
This was confirmed to me a few weeks ago when a sweet member of my Sunday School class listened to the promptings of the spirit. She mailed me a simple thank you note--she didn't just tell me in Church, but took the time to write, address, stamp, and mail a note--telling me how much she learned from my lessons. I started to cry. Maybe, even through all my stress and feelings of a lack of preparation, I'm where the Lord wants me to be. Maybe he is still using me to build his kingdom.
And through it all, I receive an added gift. I feel his spirit carrying me through my lesson presentations. The Lord is making up the difference. I'm giving him my all, which is less than at other times in my life but still my all, and he's making it grand. The Lord is teaching my lessons. I'm just his instrument.
I still feel overwhelmed. But it's nice to be reassured that I'm where the Lord wants me.
By the way, here's something fun I learned while studying:
Earlier in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is likening the positions and assignments of Church members to our bodies. Before he does that though, he talks about gifts of the spirit. He says that there are differences of administrations. I love to look at other meanings in Greek for various NT words. For that reason, I love to read the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible sometimes. I really like the NIV wording for that verse and one one following it, verses 5-6: "there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of workings [or possibly activities or tasks], but the same God works all of them in all men."
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
|Martyrdom of Stephen|
Language is different than tongue. It involves all the customs and cultures of the individuals, especially their religious cultures in this context. As we read these chapters, we see how each taught in both the tongue and language of their hearers. Yet they all had one thing in common:
* Stephen spoke intelligently to the Sanhedrin about Jewish history. Even as he died, his testimony was of the Savior (see Acts 7:55-56).
* Philip taught the Ethiopian eunuch about the passages he'd been reading in Isaiah about the Savior (see Acts 8:32-33; Isaiah 53:7-8).
* Paul, after his conversion, taught in the name of Christ (see Acts 9:19-22, 27).
As we fulfill our callings and as the Church grows, testifying of Christ should be at the forefront -- Whether it is large or small, local or foreign, missionaries and cub scout den leaders we can all testify of Christ!
Monday, July 18, 2011
I asked this questions to my Sunday School class. One answered that he felt joy when his children and grandchildren hugged him--every time. Another related watching her grown children and grandchildren interact with each. Yet another shared the time when she was sealed to her parents. Every answer dealt with love and family.
Among the most sacred, joyful experiences of my life were the occasions I gave birth. The veil was thin as the magnificent spirits left the arms of our Heavenly Father and came to mine. Our Father's love accompanied those precious souls many days afterwards.
Birth is so sacred and full of joy that the Savior himself likened it to his impending atonement, death, and resurrection, John 16:19-22. After the pain and the travail, joy comes. And when the Savior was resurrected, he brought joy that can never be taken away. We can only give it away if we choose.
The resurrection is the culmination of the glorious plan of salvation. It is the joy that comes after the suffering. "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen (Luke 24:5-6). As Howard W. Hunter stated, "These words contain all the hope, assurance, and belief necessary to sustain us in our challenging and sometimes grief filled lives" (Ensign, May 1986, 15-16).
Oh how great the goodness of God. How beautiful the joy of the resurrection!
Christ brings "joy that no man taketh from you."
Monday, April 11, 2011
|Sea of Galilee|
Suddenly the story faded and it was as if the Savior were standing before me asking the same question.
I'm trying to so hard to exercise faith. I pray sincerely. I read my scriptures. I sing hymns when I'm discouraged. I identify specific blessings I have. Why?
As I grapled with the question, the Holy Ghost brought to my mind something I had learned in an institute class about three years ago. Brother Lee Donaldson showed us the following grid. The outside of the grid is where our focus and attention are. The inside of the grid is the result.
The light of inspiration filled my soul. I have been focusing way to much on the future and the problems. Not future and solution.
So how do we focus on solutions that yield faith. Three simple steps:
1. Learn of Christ. The more we know his character, the more confidence we put in him (see Bible Dictionary: Faith).
2. Pray for specific help with problems. It doesn't matter whether the problems are how to pay hospital bills; the best way to discipline children; or what job to take. The Lord knows everything and will help us know what to do (see 2 Nephi 9:20).
3. Get up and act upon our promptings. Take the first step and be confident that the Lord will magnify our abilities and show us the way.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
|Olive Trees at Garden of Gethsemane, Michelle; 1992|
I personalized Jacob 5 and visualized the olive tree representing me individually rather than the whole house of Israel throughout all time.
I was being pruned and nurtured, even as I sat in the hospital. The untamed fruit in my life was being cut out and burned through the trials of life right now. The wholesome good fruit was being developed. The gardener was neither leaving me nor giving up on me. Rather, the gardener loves me and wants all my fruit to be good.
The pruning, digging, and nourishing were done with purpose in Jacob 5. They were not random acts. Likewise, the pruning and digging in my life is done with purpose. They are not capricious, arbitrary acts of a vengeful God. He knows what kind of fruit he wants me to bear. He knows what needs pruned to bring about that fruit. Some of the pruning I bring on myself through wrong choices. Some of the pruning God does because in the end knows what he wants me to be.
Therefore, with diligence and patience and trust in the gardener, "by and by [I] shall pluck the fruit, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet" (Alma 5:42) and I "shall have eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7).
Monday, March 21, 2011
Have you ever felt like Bilbo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings? The other night I did. I came to the end of a long day full of worries about health, family, finances. You name it, I was worried. I approached my bedside to pray feeling weary, yearning so much for a break, for peace, for rest.
As I knelt, I contemplated some scriptures my husband and I had been talking earlier:
"Come 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30)."
The real question is, how do we come to Christ and let him shoulder our burdens. Part of this scripture gives the answer: Learn of him! When we learn of him, we know that he is a God of love, mercy, kindness, justice, compassion, wisdom. We know that he can strengthen us and help us carry our load. He won't always remove the load, because we need it to grow. But he can help us bear up the burdens that are placed on our backs, just like he helped Alma's people while they were being held captive (see Mosiah 24:14-15).
As I started my prayers that night, I prayed for the Lord to strengthen my back and my shoulders to be able to bear the burdens I'm facing right now. Even as I prayed, I felt the Lord make me stronger. Hope began to replace fear, and courage began to replace discouragement.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Although this story is funny, it also feels too true. Everywhere we look, we feel the need to be perfect. Even Christ said we should be perfect. Right? Well....not exactly. Yes, he did say that, but our interpretation is not what he meant.
Elder Nelson addressed this very topic in a conference talk given in October 1995 called "Perfection Pending." He said: In Matthew 5:48, the term was translated from the Greek which means “complete.” is an adjective derived from the noun which means “end.” The infinitive form of the verb is which means “to reach a distant end, to be fully developed, to consummate, or to finish.” Please note that the word does not imply “freedom from error”; it implies “achieving a distant objective.” In fact, when writers of the Greek New Testament wished to describe perfection of behavior—precision or excellence of human effort—they did employ a form of instead, they chose different words....
Just prior to his crucifixion, [the Lord] said that on “the third day I ” Think of that! The sinless, errorless Lord—already perfect by our mortal standards—proclaimed his own state of perfection yet to be in the future. His perfection would follow his resurrection and receipt of “all power … in heaven and in earth.”
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Over the weekend I was talking with a friend of mine about the future. She is facing the choice of blending a family. Upon contemplating the enormous task ahead of her, she wonders if she can do it. It's hard! I know! And when I started the work of blending a family, I brought only myself, not other children. But then she spoke with great faith and she commented that perhaps there is no greater thing that she has to accomplish with her life. Her comments echoed Mordecai's counsel to Esther, "who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:15)."
Esther's faith at moving forward is like that of Peter, James, and John found in Luke 5:6-11. After they had been fishing all night long with no results, the Savior told them to cast their nets again. The catch was so large the boat began to sink. Immediately afterwards, they left it all and followed Christ. Just like Esther and my friend, they showed great faith and embarked upon the course the Lord desired of them.
As I pondered their decision, I realized it was so significant because of the choices they made the rest of his life. Did they ever wonder, like I do so often, "What have I gotten myself into?! Is this really, truly, the Lord's path for me in life?"
Whether Peter, James, and John ever wondered or not, I don't know. But the answer is loud and clear to me. At a difficult time when other disciples were abandoning Christ, the Savior asked Peter is they would leave, too. Peter's answer was simple, yet profound:
Jesus Christ, the son of the living God! It is that knowledge that keeps me striving to forsake all the Lord requires and follow him to the end of my days.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Sometimes I feel so troubled and so much in need of help. One of the "remedies" we are often told for our struggles is to find someone else in a worse setting and serve them. When I do this, I often find myself feeling guilty for thinking my struggles are bad. At least I don't live in a war ravaged, impoverished nation...
However, just because their struggles may be worse, doesn't mean that mine are non-existent! Just because someone's needs are more pronounced, does not negate my needs.
In fact, we all have needs! We all need the great Physician.
The miracle is, that we all can partake of Christ's atonement and mercy. The atonement is big enough for all of us! Whether our needs are small or great, it doesn't matter. He is there. He has already paid the price.
Unlike the Biggest Loser, Christ's mercy isn't limited. I don't have to be sacrificed because my needs are smaller than another's. Someone else doesn't have to be eliminated so that I can stay. We can all be partakers of God's mercy. We just need to come to him as the publicans and sinners did.
I used to yearn for 5 minutes of peace. Now I long for a time of peace, the peace that is so elusive world-wide.
That phrase made me pause. What exactly is "the knowledge of the Lord?" Perhaps it is referring in part to his plan of life and salvation for us; the full love of God; the knowledge that he will bring us home. This knowledge brings peace and love into our hearts. When we accept the full message of Christ--accept him, his love and atonement, and his covenant--we are filled with peace. That peace then permeates around us.
"Blessed are the peacemakers" can then be read as "blessed are those who make full the message of Christ in their lives." That truly is a blessed state in which to live!
- John 14:27: "my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth..."
- 1 Nephi 14:7 he shall "work a great and a marvelous work...unto the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal."
Thursday, February 24, 2011
|Cuddling with Grandma|
|Full of Love|
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
|Temple at Tulum in Mexico|
Monday, February 21, 2011
What are you most afraid of? "days before the second coming (sometimes I think I live in a perpetual state of fear....)."
My insightful mother-in-law suggested that I read the scriptures and look for scriptures that urge us not to fear. She sited a few examples:
Below are are few scriptures that stood out to me.
…the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Old Testament | Genesis 15:1)
And the LORD appeared … and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee…. (Old Testament | Genesis 26:24)
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Old Testament | Deuteronomy 31:6)
And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. (Old Testament | 1 Kings 17:13)
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (Old Testament | 2 Kings 6:16)
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Old Testament | Isaiah 41:13)
BUT now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Old Testament | Isaiah 43:1)
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (New Testament | Luke 2:10)
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (New Testament | Luke 12:7)
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did stand forth and began to speak unto them, saying: Fear not, for behold, it is God that has shown unto you this marvelous thing, in the which is shown unto you that ye cannot lay your hands on us to slay us. (Book of Mormon | Helaman 5:26)
Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 6:34)
Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 50:41)
Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:36)
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 122:9)
Go thy way and do as I have told you, and fear not thine enemies; for they shall not have power to stop my work. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 136:17)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The obvious lesson of John 4 and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well is that the Savior is here for everyone, not just the Jews, or even just for the Mormons. He's here for us all.
- If a Jew ate food prepared by a Samaritan, it made him unclean.
- It was forbidden for a lone man to talk with a lone woman.
- It was forbidden for a clean man to associate with the unclean.
- Even touching a Samaritan's earthen or leather container for a drink made a Jew unclean.
- Living water was a common term for running water, as those running from a river. This is because running water was more clean and pure.
- Although it was shorter, Jews avoided walking through Samaria when traveling between Jerusalem and the Galilee. Instead they chose the long journey through Jericho. In part this is because they felt the Samaritans were unclean. In part, though, it was a matter of safety. Many Jews were known to be beaten, robbed, and murdered in the county of Samaria.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I had the wonderful opportunity today to take my daughter to the Salt Lake Temple to do baptisms for the dead. This was her first experience doing vicarious baptisms. Then as I got ready for bed, I opened my scriptures and found my bookmark at 2 Nephi 31. What an appropriate chapter to read.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Recently I taught Sunday School about the baptism of Christ. The lesson included Matthew 4, which discussed Christ's temptations. I never got to that point in the lesson.