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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Benson Quote: Turn Lives To God

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace." — Ezra Taft Benson

Monday, October 11, 2010

Talk of the Day: Good, Better, Best

Last week for FHE, I taught a lesson about making priorities in life. I have recently decided to give up on some things in my life that have been a huge part of my life for many years and I wanted to teach the kids the reason I have done so.

This morning in Institute, I was reminded of the excellent talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks from October 2007 called "Good, Better, Best".  (Link)

Here are some of the things that I would like to point out from this talk.

We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.

I know a person that loves family history work. It is a huge part of their life. Family history work is, without a doubt, one of the best things we can do in this life. However, if family history work is cutting into your family time - time spent with your living family - is it really the best thing? We need to choose what things are better for us.

Right now in my life, school is a pretty important thing. I am trying to do at 38 what I should've done at 23. I made mistakes earlier in life and I am paying for them now. A few months ago, I was doing a homework assignment in which I was to interpret a song. I chose "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. Ironically, as I was typing this fantastic essay about how the son in the song wanted to spend time with dad, but dad was too busy, my son asked me to play Jedi with him. "I can't right now, I am doing homework." My son left the room deflated.

At that point I realized that playing with my son at that moment was more important than any homework I could possibly do. I saved my work and played Jedi with him. Then, later that night when everyone else went to bed, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing my essay.

I think I chose the better route.

Continuing with Elder Oaks:
As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.

Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118).
There is NOTHING wrong with taking some "me time". However, it has been said that the earth is a school, not a playground. The Lord says it better: "Thou shalt not idle away thy time." (D&C 60:13) We should spend our time on things that are better or best, not just on good things.

In a talk given to the Church Educational System, Elder David A. Bednar said, "Initially the investment of time may seem relatively harmless, rationalized as a few minutes of needed relief from the demands of a hectic daily schedule, but...progressively, seemingly innocent entertainment can become a form of pernicious enslavement." (Link)

Continuing with Elder Oaks' talk.  He then talks about how even church callings can take away time. He warned that Church leaders should "exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their 'divinely appointed duties.'"

He continues:

But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members — especially parents — vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.

I'm sure you have all had this happen to you. You are barely surviving on an income and then you get a raise, which should help out. Instead, you are in the same boat because you say to yourself, "I have more money now" so you spend it on frivolous things.

The same can be said with time. We say, "If only I had more time I would do my family history, read my scriptures, play with my kids more and serve my fellow man" and then we get that "extra time" and we sit down to watch a Batman movie fest or play the Wii for three hours or catch up on our friends' lives on Facebook for hours because, hey, we earned that "extra time".

Like I said, none of these things are bad, but there are better things that we can be doing during our "extra time" that will bring us more joy.

One last quote from Elder Oaks: "Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families."

In one of the great revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you. (D&C 88:67-69)

Later in the chapter it continues: "Organize yourselves...and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High. Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.  Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another...Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.  (D&C 88:119-126)

I hope that you and I will strive to find the best things to do with the time we are given, instead of using them on "good" things.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Great Thou Art

One of my favorite hymns has always been "How Great Thou Art".

It is based on a poem called "O Store Gud" (O Great God) written by Carl Gustav Boberg, put to a Swedish folk song.

A British missionary, Stuart K. Hine, translated the song into English and added a couple of additional verses.

My most favorite version of this hymn is performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

(Fast Fact: In his life, Elvis Presley only won three Grammy Awards - all for Best Sacred Performance. Two of those wins were for a recording of this hymn.)

Since I can't find the version that I want from the Tab Choir on YouTube, here is a link for you to download the song.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kimball Quote: The Adversary is Subtle

The adversary is subtle; he is cunning, he knows that he cannot induce good men and women immediately to do major evils so he moves slyly, whispering half truths until he has his intended victims following him, and finally he clamps his chains upon them and fetters them tight, and then he laughs at their discomfiture and their misery.

- Spencer W. Kimball

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Does a Prophet Speak as a Prophet?

The following comes from John A Widtsoe:

This is an old question. It was asked of the Prophet Joseph Smith and answered by him. He writes in his journal, "This morning . . . I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such" (Joseph Smith, "History of the Church", 5:265).

That statement makes a clear distinction between official and unofficial actions and utterances of officers of the Church. In this recorded statement the Prophet Joseph Smith recognizes his special right and duty, as the President and Prophet of the Church, under the inspiration of the Lord, to speak authoritatively and officially for the enlightenment and guidance of the Church. But he claims also the right, as other men, to labor and rest, to work and play, to visit and discuss, to present his opinions and hear the opinion of others, to counsel and bless as a member of the Church.

Whenever moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord, the man called to the Prophet's office assumes the prophetic mantle and speaks as a mouthpiece of the Lord. He may then interpret the word of God, apply it to the conditions of the day, governmental, social, or economic, warn against impending evil, point out the better way, bring to light new truth, or bless the righteous in their endeavors. Such inspired deliverances are binding upon all who believe that the latter-day work came and is directed by revelation. There is no appeal from them; no need for debate concerning their validity. They must either be accepted or be subjected to the dangers of private interpretation This has been made plain in modern revelation: "Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his (Joseph's) words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

'For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith' (D. & C. 21:4, 5). In this commandment there is no limitation upon the prophet, as to subject, time, or place.

Such official prophetic utterances to the Church are usually made in the great general conferences of the Church, or in signed statements circulated among the people. The phrase "Thus sayeth the Lord" may at times be used; but is not necessary. When the prophet speaks to the people in an official gathering or over his signature, he speaks as the Lord directs him. If a new doctrine or practice be involved in the revelation, it is presented to the people for acceptance, in recognition of the free agency of the Church itself, but once accepted, it is thereafter binding upon every member.

Though the prophet may step out of his official role in dealing with the daily affairs of life, he can never divest himself of the spirit and influence which belong to the sacred office which the Lord has placed upon him. . . .

. . . How may the rank and file of the Church recognize the prophetic voice, whether official or unofficial, when it speaks? The answer is simple enough. A person who is in harmony in his life, in thought and practice, with the gospel and its requirements, who loves truth so well that he is willing to surrender to it, will recognize a message from the Lord. My sheep know my voice, said the Savior in the Meridian of Time. In this day, the Lord has given the key for our guidance.

I know that some people would choose to overlook some things that may be said at General Conference with an "Oh, they are not talking about me," or "He's getting old and doesn't know what he's talking about." To those people, may I suggest you remember the scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 1:38, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

We raised our hands to sustain the Prophet, First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as "prophets, seers and revelators." We must assume that the words they speak in General Conference are the words that the Lord has inspired them to speak.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said during his closing remarks of the April 2007 Conference, "We hope that you will use the May edition of the Church magazines as a text for your family home evenings, to review that which has been spoken in this conference. What has been said by each of the speakers represents his or her prayerful attempt to impart knowledge that will inspire and cause all who have heard it to stand a little taller and be a little better."

Six months later, he said, "All of the proceedings of this conference will appear in a subsequent issue of the Ensign and Liahona. We encourage you again to read the talks in your family home evenings and discuss them together as families. They are the products of much prayer and meditation and are well worthy of careful consideration."

Doubting their words - even a little - will only put you on a path that you don't want to go down.