Highlights from Sunday’s Lesson: “Personal and Family Scripture Study”– 11/25/18

scripture study

This lesson was designed by the First Presidency and the apostles and they’ve asked us to talk about this today in preparation for the new year and the new direction we’re going to go with the home centered gospel learning. Today let’s focus on personal scripture study, which can also apply as you study together as a family.

Let’s start with some scriptures. Open up to Joshua and while that is being read, I want you to look for two things: things we are being instructed to do and promised blessings. This will be related to studying the scriptures.

Joshua 1:8

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

What do you see in there that we should do?

  • meditate therein day and night

What do you think that means?

  • To think about it.

Right. To think about it and have it in your mind, in your heart as you are thinking throughout the day.

What about the part that says, “observe to do according to all that is written?” So, we’re not just reading it, we also need to do something.

What do you see there that might be blessings?

  • To be successful (and that might be subjective, might depend on your day as to what success will mean)
  • Make your way prosperous

What does that mean to you?

  • That whatever you try to do it’s going to work out.

Right, so maybe our path will be cleared a little so that we can get those things done during the day that we need to.

  • I also think that a path that is prosperous may not just benefit you, but it benefits everyone around you. So, it can help those who are in your sphere of influence.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

What do you see there that we might need to do, or what might scripture study do for us?

  • For correction, to help us get better
  • For instruction and inspiration

What about blessings?

  • I think for instruction and inspiration is a blessing.

I agree! Inspiration is something we need throughout the day.

1 Nephi 15:23-25

23 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?

24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.

25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.

What do we need to do? There a couple of them in 24 & 25 that are similar.

  • Hearken unto the word/give heed
  • Hold fast

What blessings do you see there?

  • Never perish.
  • Not overcome by the adversary.
  • One of the ones I love the most in there is, “neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness.” I that sometimes as we go through life, I try to check myself and ask, ‘am I really on the right path?’ Because sometimes you meet people that it is hard to communicate with because you have totally different perspectives and sometimes it feels like blinders are over their eyes and it’s hard to connect and communicate because of that veil of blindness.
  • The heading on that chapter for 2 Timothy chapter 3 says, “the scriptures guide men to salvation and through perilous times of the last days.” So, that’s a huge promise.

2 Nephi 32:3

3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

So, what do we need to do?

  • Feast upon the words.

So, that’s like what was said earlier, it’s more than just checking it off a list. Feasting is kind of like at the Thanksgiving table. Taking it all in and enjoying every bite. So, when we’re reading, we need to have that kind of mindset of really enjoying what we’re reading and looking for something.

What is our promised blessing?

  • We will be told what we need to do.

Isn’t that a great one, because I certainly don’t know everything. My brothers may claim I know everything, but I really don’t.

D&C 11:22-23

22 But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.

23 Behold thou art Hyrum, my son; seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just.

In your mind, when you read scriptures like verse 23, say, ‘Behold thou art ______, my daughter…’ put your name in there. That’s one way to make the scriptures personal.

What should we do? Look at 22 because I think there’s something interesting when he says, “which hath gone forth” and “which shall come forth.” What do you think that is referring to?

  • Listen to the prophets.
  • I also think its church history- study what’s happened. Look at the Book of Mormon as well as, looking at the prophecies that are gong to happen.

Yes, study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and study what the prophets teach.

  • It’s an Article of Faith, ‘we believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe He will yet reveal many great and important things.’ If we believe that, we’re going to listen to our prophets.

What do you see that we should do in verse 23?

  • Seek the kingdom of God.

What is the promise there?

  • All things shall be added which is just.

D&C 33:16-18 These are short verses, but full of goodies. This is the pie of our Thanksgiving!

16 And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.

17 Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom—

18 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly. Even so. Amen.

What are we told we need to do here?

  • What does it mean to always have your lamps trimmed?

What does that mean?

  • I was thinking that we need to look at our lives and see what you need to trim out, cut out and leave what’s most important.

What does it mean to literally have a lamp trimmed?

  • To have it full and ready.

Yes, to have the oil and the wick is ready. You don’t need a lamp without a wick. You need all things related to the lamp prepared. Having your lamps trimmed and burning. So, we need our lamp burning. If it’s out, then maybe we’re not living the gospel, we’re not sharing the light of Christ. Is that what you think?

  • I was thinking of the lamp being your testimony. Having your testimony in good repair and ready to go.
  • The reference for it says ‘being prepared.’

So, let’s put that on our list: be prepared. That’s something we’re being asked to do. How does that relate to reading our scriptures? Is reading our scriptures helping us to be prepared? Is that adding oil to our lamp? To shine the light of Christ, we need to know what the light is, we get that from the scriptures.

What does, “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” mean?

  • I think the Spirit is actually intelligence. So, when we are living our lives in a way that the Spirit can reside with us, even worldly intelligence just comes faster. We’re able to do more, we’re able to understand more, not just in relation to things of the gospel, but of things in our lives that we’re struggling with or trying to figure out. It’s an overall blessing.

What do you see in verse 17?

  • Be faithful and pray always.

I don’t imagine he means for us to go into our closet and pray literally all day, though those of you with little ones may want to do that, I think that’s a prayer in your heart all the time, to be conscious of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

  • I find it interesting about the lamps trimmed – it’s burning. It’s in action and have oil with us also. I’m curious what our ideas are on this oil.
  • I heard a talk once in Sacrament meeting, and she said there was a time in her life when she was younger that she gleaned a lot and filled her spiritual reservoir, when she was less busy. It gave me hope because at different stages of your life you might be able to pull from the experiences you had when you had more time. During the good times, we need to be harvesting, we need to be learning and growing, then when we hit those hard times, when you’re raising little children or when there’s a death or when there’s a hard trial, you have that reservoir that you can pull from.
  • I also think if we document those times that we are spiritually uplifted, have you ever read your own testimony? Writing my own testimony down for the days when I don’t feel that Spirit as much, t be able to go back and reflect on that, in my own words. Talk about having a spiritual reservoir when you can read what you knew to be true in a time when you may be doubting. It’s pretty powerful.

I do think these things relate to this sister’s question about the oil. These experiences when we have time and we’re able to devote our energy to it and feasting on the word. Then we can fall back on that reservoir of oil when we don’t have as much time.

  • Sometimes I feel like I’ve depleted all of my reservoirs and that’s when we need someone who has extra oil. Obviously, the main source of oil is our Savior, so going to those sources in a time of need is important.
  • You talk about burning, it’s not just when it’s ready with oil and a wick, but they’re burning so I think a couple of things we can get from that is one, it brings us warmth and second, it’s giving light to others. We need to share that testimony maybe for others that may be having those moments that they’re faltering and we can lift them up. It’s not always bearing our testimony, but showing it. We’re not hoarding the light.

When we talk about and when we think about personal scripture study, and we can relate this to family scripture study, as we move into the new year, this is something that I want us to be thinking about now till the end of the year as we are preparing our minds and ourselves to engage in more scripture study at home, individually and as a family, if that’s possible in your home.

What do you do now to make your personal scripture study more meaningful?

  • Pray
  • We always have a morning devotional before the kids head off to school and at night when we have more time, we thought why not have them pass around the scriptures. It’s been kind of hard with all different ages, but we try to teach to the oldest and that way they can follow his example. I would suggest literally holding the scriptures, put away our electrical devices, and having the kids find the scriptures, like a treasure hunt. Getting the kids familiar with where things are located.
  • It’s really challenging when you have teenagers who want more intellectual stimulation and little toddlers who only want to read for two minutes. We do our family scripture study before the kids go to bed and sometimes this may change depending on the night, but sometimes it’s best to read the verse, say our prayer and then dad will stay up with the teenagers and I’ll go put the little ones to bed. It’s finding a balance of keeping the little ones engaged and not having frustrated teenagers because they want the little ones to be quiet like robots. Be flexible and try to make it fun, but also knowing when the teenagers need that extra depth.
  • We aren’t the greatest at it, at having family scripture study, especially because we’re all pulled in so many directions, but one thing that I think is helpful is not waiting until it’s perfect. If somebody is gone, then they just miss that part. If you keep reading the scriptures then you’re going to come back to it. It’s ok if someone misses something, you don’t have to make sure it’s perfect.
  • I am all for a captive audience and especially with a little boy, anytime we sit down to read scripture, that’s when he realizes he has to go to the bathroom, urgently! But I’ve found in the car is the one place that by law, you’re supposed to restrain your children [laughter]. It’s being a good parent to retrain them and if you can get some of that done in the car when they can’t leave, it’s helpful.
  • We got one of those Articles of Faith CDs and in the car, that’s when my kids learn the Articles of Faith while listening to a CD.

Some suggestions can be found on the church website, on the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families, I’m pretty sure that’s where I found it, here are some things they suggest that can help us while we study scriptures:

Ideas to Improve Your Personal Scripture Study

  • Look for Truths about Jesus Christ
  • Look for Inspiring Words and Phrases
  • Look for Gospel Truths
  • Listen to the Spirit
  • Liken the Scriptures to Your Life
  • Ask Questions as You Study
  • Use Scripture Study Helps
  • Record Your Thoughts and Feelings
  • Study the Words of Latter-day Prophets and Apostles
  • Share Insights
  • Live by What You Learn

These are all the things that we have talked about today. Let’s hear a quote on this subject by President Monson, “As we read and ponder the scriptures, we will experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls. We can find answers to our questions. We learn of the blessings which come through keeping God’s commandments. We gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us. When scripture study is combined with our prayers, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. … As we remember prayer and take time to turn to the scriptures, our lives will be infinitely more blessed and our burdens will be made lighter” (“We Never Walk Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 122).

What are two or three of the blessings that you heard that are promised as we read and ponder the scriptures?

  • Sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls.
  • Answers to our questions.
  • Blessings from keeping the commandments.
  • Gain a testimony of Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us.
  • Combining scripture study with prayer, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
  • Infinitely more blessed.
  • Burdens will be lighter.

Next is a quote by Elder David A. Bednar. In it, he compared consistent family scripture study and other righteous habits to small brushstrokes that make up a beautiful painting. He said, “In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

So, he describes this painting in his office of a wheat field and when he stands up close, all he sees are these brushstrokes of color. But when he stands back, he sees this masterpiece. Then he likens that to consistent study at home. What we’re creating within our families and within ourselves is this masterpiece of spiritual strength and gaining spiritual results. I love imaging the brushstrokes as we do these things, we’re not waiting for perfect family situations where everyone is in attendance and everyone has to read, and everyone has to understand every word. We’re not waiting for those perfect moments. As we can and are able, we create these brushstrokes. Believe it or not, that was an article from 2009, so he was talking back then about being more concerned at home and teaching at home.

The last quote is by President Nelson and he said, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018).

What are a couple of things that stuck out to you?

  • The Sabbath day will be a delight.
  • Your children will be excited to learn.
  • The influence of the adversary in your life and home will decrease.

That is huge. This is from our current living prophet. If you want the influence of the adversary to decrease in your home, this is what we need to do. “Remodel your home into a center of gospel learning.” He does say over time, so we don’t expect a light switch change, but we can make the effort.

I’m so glad that I got the chance to share this topic with you. I’m hoping that you feel inspired and excited to do more gospel and scripture study in your home, individually and as a family. Next week will be our last council meeting and we’ll talk about the changes that are coming in the new year and how we’re going to move forward in a positive way and I’m hoping you will come and share your thoughts. I leave you my testimony that I have experienced these blessings too and I’m excited to learn more and to keep studying and experiencing these blessings and I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Things we are instructed to do:

  • meditate therein day and night
  • observe to do according to all that is written therein
  • the law shall not depart out of thy mouth
  • observe to do according to all that is written therein
  • hearken unto the word of God
  • hold fast unto it
  • give heed unto the word of the Lord
  • give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.
  • feast upon the words of Christ
  • hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth
  • study my word which shall come forth
  • seek the kingdom of God
  • be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready (be prepared)
  • read and ponder the scriptures
  • keep God’s commandments
  • scripture study is combined with prayers
  • remember prayer
  • take time to turn to the scriptures
  • diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning

Blessings promised:

  • make thy way prosperous
  • have good success.
  • make thee wise unto salvation
  • may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
  • never perish
  • neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them
  • the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
  • then shall all things be added thereto
  • all things shall be added according to that which is just.
  • the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things
  • experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit
  • find answers to our questions
  • learn of the blessings which come
  • gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us
  • we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true
  • our burdens will be made lighter
  • your Sabbath days will truly be a delight
  • your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings
  • the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease
  • changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining

Highlights from Sunday’s Lesson: “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel” by President Russell M. Nelson – 11/18/18

BOM

President Nelson, in his talk, gave four challenges and I think that sometimes, we kind of beat ourselves up and we need a safe place to be, a safe place to gather, and I pray that this will be a safe place for us.

One scripture that has helped me is Mosiah 24:14 “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

As we go through this talk, I want you to remember that this is not another burden, this is not another thing that we have to put upon ourselves, and that we’re not supposed to guilt ourselves. We’re supposed to be unified and become stronger.

After enduring some difficult times one summer (at 17 years old), I went to Young Women’s camp. There was a dear sweet sister and she didn’t know all the things that were going on in my life, but she gave me a hug. I will always remember that hug and that strength and I felt like I was at home. I had peace, nourishment, friendship, and I truly believe that in Relief Society and in our sisterhood, you can find that. We have power and strength in Relief Society to be able to boost each other up and that love is what I would really love for us all to feel as we come and discuss the things that President Nelson talked about. I know we all have weaknesses and things that we struggle with and we’re all imperfect, but we can have a perfect love. We can love each other.

President Nelson started by talking about his children and he had a “Freudian Slip” – who remembers what that was?

  • He called himself ‘mother.’ The mother of ten children.

He did, he said he was the mother of ten children. It was kind of cute! He has this respect and this love of mothers. He said that a lot of the times that he was asked why he chose to be a medical doctor, he would answer, ‘because I could not choose to be a mother.’ He wants to make it clear that, “anytime I use the word mother, I am not talking only about women who have given birth or adopted children in this life. I am speaking about all of our Heavenly Parents’ adult daughters. Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.

So tonight, as the father of 10 children—nine daughters and one son—and as President of the Church, I pray that you will sense how deeply I feel about you—about who you are and all the good you can do. No one can do what a righteous woman can do. No one can duplicate the influence of a mother.”

And I want to convey that same message. He goes on, “Men can and often do communicate the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior to others. But women have a special gift for it—a divine endowment.” I think that is so true.

“Women see things differently than men do, and oh, how we need your perspective! Your nature leads you to think of others first, to consider the effect that any course of action will have on others.” It’s strengthening to know how much our prophet loves us.

Something that stuck out to me, before we get to the four invitations he issued, was this paragraph, “My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities. Tonight, I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so.”

The word that stuck out to me was ‘propensities.’ Does anybody know what that means?

  • It’s like a natural tendency.

Yes! I’ll read the definition and then if you can think of anything to expound upon it.

pro·pen·si·ty, /prəˈpensədē/

noun, plural noun: propensities

  1. an inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way.

Think of your propensities.

  • I think of my granddaughter and how she plays with her doll. She just naturally talks to that doll as if it were a real baby. She treats her little brother much the same way, ‘come on baby, you need to do this.’ She’s four years old and she already has that mothering instinct.

The thing that I got from this that I really liked, “you [all] have special spiritual gifts and propensities.” That means were not all the same. We each have our own special ones. So, think for a moment, what might be some of your propensities? What are your tendencies in the way you behave? Sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can be bad. Sometimes I don’t have all the good propensities and I may want to change those, but I think it’s nice that we are endowed with good ones and those are the ones I’m thinking about today. Anyone have any propensities that they enjoy seeing in themselves or others?

  • I have a propensity to be loud and bossy and sometimes that’s a really good natural gift, but sometimes it’s hard for me to know when to wield that natural inclination and when I need to back off and let others have a say and let others who know far more than I do take the reins. (But what a great gift that you can call upon and use when the Lord needs you to.)
  • Sometimes when our children can be stubborn, someone mentioned to me that that just shows that they have good leadership skills. So, I’ve tried to train my mind into thinking, ‘ok, they’re being stubborn, which means they’ve been given this gift- how do I use it and turn a negative into a positive?’ (Yeah, because there are both ends of the spectrum when it comes to a special gift, there can be negatives to it too. Like if you think of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, Paul and Saul, they were super, super amazing leaders and missionaries, but before they were, they were using their gifts in a negative way. Children are still developing, we’re still developing in our spiritual gifts.)
  • You’re talking about learning experiences and I feel like that’s one of the gifts in my life. The experiences I have had in my life helps me to have empathy for others that are going through something similar. I can relate and listen.
  • I’m sure everybody has heard the comment, ‘oh he’s changed, he’s really mellowed.’ Or, ‘she’s changed, she’s really mellowed.’ Well, if you live long enough, [laughter] that probably happens because you develop some of those skills, you have enough life experiences and hopefully, develop that empathy and to mellow a little bit.

I was talking to a family member about the purpose of the things that President Nelson has asked of us and they’re not new. They’re things that he has asked us to do before and she said, ‘I may not accomplish all of them exactly the way I want, but maybe what I can do is set a new spiritual pattern.’ I think we can all set those patterns now and eventually they will work for your good. The ultimate goal is to set a new spiritual pattern and not to shame ourselves and not to be guilty, but to have that spiritual pattern so that we can become the clay in the Potter’s hands.

President Nelson said, “[…] tonight I’m extending a prophetic plea to you, the women of the Church, to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.”

Does that sound like a call to action? What does that make you think of right now?

  • Urgency.

He says, “Where can you start? May I offer four invitations:

First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast.”

He then asked some questions intended for the end of the fast. Some of you have completed the fast and some of you need or want to do it again, or need to do it in the first place. What I need to do is to pray to know which influences to remove during the fast. I think that’s key and we might be surprised at which ones they are.

Question #1: “What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit?”

For those of you that already participated in this fast, what did you notice?

  • I’m not really a social media person, so that to me wasn’t that big of a deal. Even Pinterest I only use it a s a place to store recipes, but I decided I would fast from that too. Somebody had said [in this class] about a month or so ago about getting rid of Candy Crush, and I love Candy Crush and I realized that’s really where my weakness is. I didn’t get rid of it entirely, but I put in a folder and I haven’t touched it since and my life is not any worse off than it was before. Turns out, you don’t need Candy Crush every day. Like I said, I don’t use a lot of social media, but I did go on Facebook and Instagram the other day and I started to feel bad about myself, seeing what all these people are doing and I realized that this is what he was talking about.

Yes, so this is what I really liked he says, “[any media] that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind.” When I first heard that I thought of sexual thoughts or things that are not worthy, but when I read the talk, I thought this applies to anything that demeans your value as a daughter of God and is impure, then it should not be in our lives. That is what he is wanting us to get out of our lives- thoughts that demean our self-worth and the worth of our children and the worth of our families, or the worth of our roles as mothers, anything that brings you to feel less than who you really are is a negative or impure thought. It’s not just the moral dilemma of the world, it’s anything that brings your self-worth down. Any other thoughts?

  • I heard something really cool the other day that in the Bible whenever God refers to Himself it is “I Am.” So, when you put that in the context of taking the Lord’s name in vain when you say ‘I am stupid, I am worthless, etc.’ I just thought that was a good way to look at it.

How crushing is it to our Father in Heaven to have these beautiful women demean who they are because of social media? Because they are comparing themselves, or judging themselves, judging other people. He sees your value.

Here’s the next question: “Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy?”

I’ll just start this one off, I’m not huge on social media, I use it once in a while to check on people and I love the ward Facebook page because I do like to check things on there, so I think there’s a good use for it, but I deleted [the Facebook app] off my phone, so now when I want to check Facebook, I have to go to my computer, which is fine and not a big deal. But I was surprised at how convenient it was to have on my phone. {After it was removed] I found that I wanted to spend more time reading with my children. It’s when you have those little moments waiting to pick up a child in the car, and instead of letting the kids just sit in the back and me getting on my phone and checking something, I started talking to my child. Just having that app off of my phone, I realized how much I missed a lot of opportunities to connect with those around me. Anyone else have a change that you want to share?

  • At first, I was trying to reason with myself that he didn’t mean me because I don’t spend that much time and then I took it off and I had it off for two weeks and I realized that I spent more time than I realized. Then I put it back on and I thought, ‘it is like a crutch’ that out of boredom, what do I do? I think that again, I need to take it off and have it harder to look at because I’m reasoning back again, ‘it’s ok because I only look at it once in a while.

Do you know how often the Spirit speaks to you when you’re bored, or when you’re not being distracted? If the adversary can take those things and fill up all of your time, those are tiny moments when you might have had an impression to call someone or do something good for someone else.

Last question: “Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little?”

Does anyone have anything on this, maybe we’ve already gone over this?

So, that was the first thing he asked us to do. How does that relate to gathering Israel?

  • I feel like with this he had asked us to join the battalion, he had asked the men in the conference before, and I think he was gathering all of our attention to this calling. Get rid of social media or distractions and focus on what he is telling us to do. I have noticed that instead of grabbing my phone to go pick the kids up from school, I grabbed my scriptures instead and then I could read and that’s been more inspirational than those five minutes of checking Facebook. I do use it to keep in touch with my family because some of them live overseas and it was during some of those inspirational moments that I realized that I need to talk to someone.

It’s still there- you know when we have a fast from food, it’s not like we’re never going to have food again. We’re going to get food, but we’ll take it with more gratitude. Same thing here, we can go back to the social media and connecting with other people with a renewed effort to have it in proportion and be grateful for it and keep all the impure stuff out.

The second invitation is one that our family took to heart, but it’s also a hard one. It’s one that I pray that no one feels guilty over.

“Second, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year.”

It’s interesting that with each one of these invitations, you’ll notice he gives you a challenge or invitation and then he gives you suggestions. On this one he asks us to read the Book of Mormon and then he suggests to mark the scriptures. It was kind of an awakening to me because I was kind of overwhelmed at marking stuff and I started to feel guilty because just reading through the scriptures is a lot for me with my family responsibilities.

I was talking with a family member and she was overwhelmed by this challenge. I know that President Nelson doesn’t want us beating ourselves up. He wants us to establish greater spiritual patterns, better spiritual patterns. Reading the Book of Mormon can help you gain knowledge in a couple of ways and I had to explain this to my daughters who were concerned about reading it so fast.

Learning about truth can be imagined like this line —————————- Eventually, it will be one big circle, it goes across forever and goes down forever- just envision a big, huge circle of knowledge. Let’s say you read the Book of Mormon and study it by topics like charity and you only focus on charity and you study it deeply and now your knowledge of charity goes down deep. You get all of this knowledge and it’s great, it’s a depth of knowledge. Then let’s say you study to get breadth like reading the Book of Mormon in a short amount of time, you will get something from it. The depth and breadth will meet and the knowledge will fill in. You need both. Right now, I’m working on the breadth and that’s ok because sometimes we need that and sometimes, we need to go down deep too.

  • I remember doing a challenge a few years ago in reading the Book of Mormon in 60 days and I didn’t like it because I felt like I couldn’t get it, I was just reading. But then I realized, there is something to be said about reading it quickly because the stories become cohesive. You actually get the stories. This time I really feel like I’m getting the stories.
  • What’s been interesting to me is it has forced me to get up earlier and really concentrate on reading, so I’ve developed a better habit of reading. And another thing that’s interesting, and this has happened about three times, where I’ve read a scripture and had a better understanding and then while listening to the conference talks over and over, and the same subject was covered in a conference talk and it’s reinforced. (And that reinforces the depth because you’re getting it from another source.)

He challenges us or invites us to read the Book of Mormon and then he invites us to mark scriptures in any place where you see the Savior mentioned. I have done a little bit of that and when I do, it’s awesome. It’s so amazing to see how Christ is mentioned so many times in the Book of Mormon.

Then he said this, which I did not remember, “Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends.” To be intentional about that. Have you had an experience since this talk when you have intentionally spoken of Christ or the things that you are learning?

  • A lot of my coworkers are members and we had talked about the challenge and I just gotten the email from [one of our presidency members] with the printout of the reading schedule, so they asked me to print it off for all of them. We’ve become each other’s’ accountability partners We ask, ‘how is it going?’ ‘Where are you at?’ ‘Are you still doing it?’ I feel like this challenge in particular, I feel like President Nelson, I’ve never met him, but I feel like he knows me because he knew this challenge was for me. I needed it because in my life I have read the Book of Mormon, I’ve gone to seminary, I’ve read it and studied it, but it’s been a really long time since I read it with purpose and prayed to know of its truthfulness. I know it’s true, but I feel like we’re living in a time where we can get complacent. If we’re not off the path, maybe we’re still not going forward. We’re just coasting. I felt like this challenge in particular helped me to be intentional with my scripture study. I can share it with my kids and they will ask if I have read today. They are excited for the challenge for me. I’m not marking the scriptures as well as I probably should be, but I listen to it before my kids leave for school and it’s just me and then I go to work. I feel like it’s changing my heart in a way and I absolutely love that he did this for us. I feel like it was meant for our time and for us right now.
  • I kind of feel the same way. I printed it off and I have a couple of friends and a sister who are trying to stay together with it. We have kind of an accountability by texting, ‘this is what I learned today…’ And share some of our insights like, ‘this applied to me today,’ And it’s been really neat to be able to share that with them. I’m enjoying reading it and that cohesive story, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Awesome! You said something about, ‘changed your hearts.’ I know this challenge has softened my heart. I read this just while I was preparing this lesson, “and there was no inequality among them, the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming.” When I read that, I thought of the Second Coming. I didn’t think of His first coming which this prophecy is about. That that is what we need for the Second Coming, that our minds and hearts are prepared for what is going to be taught at the time of His coming.

What are we going to need to know in the Millennium?

What are we going to need to know when He comes?

What are we going to need to know to gather Israel?

There’s so much that our hearts and minds will need and I think that’s what these challenges are trying to do.

He talked about a faithful woman who took a phone away from her son, but the point of that story was, “she took her pleadings to the temple to know how best to help her son.” That is something we can do to know how best to help our children.

The third challenge was, “establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. This may require a little more sacrifice in your life. More regular time in the temple will allow the Lord to teach you how to draw upon His priesthood power with which you have been endowed in His temple. For those of you who don’t live near a temple, I invite you to study prayerfully about temples in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Seek to know more, to understand more, to feel more about temples than you ever have before.”

So, if you’re unable to go to the temple for whatever reason, he wants our focus to be more on the temple. In the temple is where we can find more instructions for our lives, or just studying about the temples, learning about them. I have some friends that don’t like to go because their understanding of the ordinances isn’t enough, they don’t understand why they are to do those things. It scares them and it’s not something that they really know, so gaining more knowledge about the temples. The Spirit will teach you, the Spirit will tell you what you need to know at whatever level you are. I know that. I know that the Lord takes you where you are and He helps you to move forward. I know that learning more about this holy place and attending when possible, will bring the blessings in your life, so that you can have the power bestowed upon you to do your work here on earth.

“My fourth invitation, for you who are of age, is to participate fully in Relief Society. I urge you to study the current Relief Society purpose statement. It is inspiring. It may guide you in developing your own purpose statement for your own life. I also entreat you to savor the truths in the Relief Society declaration published almost 20 years ago.”

So, our wonderful Relief Society presidency has printed these out for you. This is the Relief Society Declaration and this is the Relief Society Purpose bookmark. We can study those and as a Relief Society, I know we can bond and we can create that haven, so that when you’re having a hard time, you can come and you can be hugged and you can be loved and you can feel your heart be softened and we can receive love from each other.

Does anyone have anything they want to share about anything they’ve experienced from President Nelson’s talk?

  • This challenge has been very dear to me. I was talking to my husband about it and I told him that I feel like I should’ve included them in the challenge, but I’m feeling like it’s personal and so I’ve been doing it and I felt like it’s something that I want to do for myself and then I can bring them along with me. My husband said, ‘you know it’s going to be the women that help to get this work going, right?’ He said, ‘if you can do this first, then you’re being an example to the rest of us. I think it’s great that the prophet and Heavenly Father know us personally and knows what we need.
  • I also feel strongly that all of the challenges he gave us are so that we are better prepared as we start this new church curriculum. That we have had the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon, to be able to intentionally mention Christ, to increase our temple attendance, to know what we stand for. So, that when we are the primary teachers, the way we should always have been, but as that role comes back to us more, that we’re prepared, that we’re teaching our children and that’s a huge responsibility. I’m grateful for a prophet who has given us the ‘heads up’ and the time to get a little head start to be ready for that.

Oh yes! I’m so excited! How many of you are so excited and yet a little scared of about the new curriculum coming up? I’m super excited. I’m excited to have more discussion in my home, more purposeful, intentional discussions and teaching my children.

These children need their mothers to teach them. They need us to know first, so I’m so grateful for a prophet that is giving us a head start, that is helping us. Also, with the comment that if the women can do it then we can do it and the women are going to bring us along, we sit here and chuckle, but listen to what our prophet says to us, “My dear sisters, we need you! We “need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.” We simply cannot gather Israel without you.” I testify that that is true.

One more thing that I want to read. In the conference edition of the Ensign is this picture and I thought it was so pertinent to the lesson today. Underneath it is this quote a good summary of this talk by President Nelson, the picture is titled, “Coming Full Circle” by Jenedy Paige, and under it is this quote,

“Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand

your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than

you ever have. You will change the world as you do so. . . .

“My dear sisters, we need you! We ‘need your strength, your conversion,

your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.’

We simply cannot gather Israel without you.

“I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the

world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we

can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for

the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.”

(President Russell M. Nelson, “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” 69, 70)

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing” by Elder Dale G. Renlund – 10/21/18

Me and Yogi

Follow-up on October’s Council Meeting “How can we be more involved in family history work and temple worship?”

  • I thought the “discover” facial recognition thing was so cool. We have this giant family group text, so I asked them to go download this and send pictures back. It was amazing because [one of the family members] looks nothing like the rest of them. She thought she was just a random mishap [laughter]. The facial recognition that she got was identical to her great-great-great grandma. She texted us and we were like, ‘see, you are part of the family!’ It was so fun to go through and see all the facial similarities. It was this big family history text and we got to be in touch with each other. You not only can see who you resemble, but there are more photos and stories there that you may not have seen.
  • This year, I’ve been trying to do 1000 names of indexing every month and I have kept up, October is going to be tough, but maybe I can catch up later. But, I’ve always gone with the easier [files] in English. This morning I downloaded one from Africa that I had to go to their translation to see which ones are saying birthdays and which ones are marriages, because nobody does those. Their section is always there, so I thought, ‘I’m going to try to do these ones that are a little more difficult.’
  • [A family member’s fiancé] is from the Philippines and so I told her that there is a lot of indexing for the Philippines and I showed her how to do it. She was all excited!
  • I didn’t get a chance to say last week, but I don’t know if the family history class will still be happening next year, I don’t think it will, so take advantage of it now. Go in there and you’ll learn what you can do; it’s during Sunday school.

*****************************************************************

Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing” by Elder Dale G. Renlund – 10/21/18

I remember hearing this talk and I was really impressed with all of the promises he gave us in this talk and I put them on this sheet that we’re passing around. These are the blessings that he mentions in this talk:

“…as we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to “healing” blessings promised by prophets and apostles. These blessings are also breathtakingly amazing because of their scope, specificity, and consequence in mortality. This long list includes these blessings:

  • Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
  • Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
  • Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
  • Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
  • Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
  • Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
  • Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
  • Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
  • Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
  • Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
  • Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.

If you have prayed for any of these blessings, participate in family history and temple work. As you do so, your prayers will be answered. When ordinances are performed on behalf of the deceased, God’s children on earth are healed.”

I really loved those promised blessings and want everyone to have a copy. Look over this list and think of some ways in which you have seen some of those promises fulfilled in your life. If you’re willing to share one of those experiences then we will share them later in the lesson.

Some of you might not know, but I am going to BYU Idaho and I’m minoring in family history research, so I just love it and I have been working on it a lot the last couple of years as I have taken classes. Elder Renlund has talked before at Roots Tech before and he has shared a lot of the same topics that he shared in this talk last year.

Elder Renlund begins his talk with a story about Parley Pratt and his brother, Orson Pratt. “Family relationships can be some of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences we encounter. Many of us have faced a fracture of some sort within our families. Such a fracture developed between two heroes of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Parley and Orson Pratt were brothers, early converts, and ordained Apostles. Each faced a trial of faith but came through with an unshakable testimony. Both sacrificed and contributed greatly for the cause of truth.”

They didn’t get along very well and had some sort of public confrontation and got into a big fight in the street in Nauvoo and they had a “[a] deep and prolonged rift.”

“Parley initially wrote to Orson to resolve the rift, but Orson did not reply. Parley gave up, feeling that correspondence was over forever, unless initiated by Orson. Several years later, in March 1853, Orson learned about a project to publish a book on the descendants of William Pratt, the brothers’ earliest American ancestor. Orson began to weep “like a little child” as he glimpsed this treasure trove of family history. His heart melted, and he determined to repair the breach with his brother.”

“Orson wrote to Parley, “Now my dear brother, there are none among all the descendants of our Ancestor, Lieut[enant] William Pratt, who have so deep an interest in searching out his descendants as ourselves.” Orson was one of the first to understand that Latter-day Saints have an obligation to research and compile family histories so that we can perform vicarious ordinances for our ancestors. His letter continued: “We know that the God of our fathers has had a hand in all this. … I will beg pardon for having been so backward in writing to you. … I hope you will forgive me.” Despite their unshakable testimonies, their love for their ancestors was the catalyst to heal a rift, mend a hurt, and seek and extend forgiveness.”

Sometimes, turning the hearts to the children or turning the hearts to the fathers, is the thing that can lead people to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it can also be the thing that heals our hearts and strengthen our own testimonies. Does anyone have an example of a time when maybe their testimony was struggling, but they were able to turn to the testimony of an ancestor or the testimony of someone else that helped?

  • My testimony wasn’t struggling so much, but we just found a really neat story of one of [my husband’s] ancestors. They were in Nauvoo and he was called to go to Tahiti on a mission from Nauvoo. Who even knew about Tahiti when they were living in Nauvoo? It took him 2 ½ months to get there and then he stayed almost three years. He ended up going around the world and they said he may have been the first missionary to go all the way around the world. And he left from Nauvoo- I just think that’s so amazing. Anyway, he had eight children and once he got home, they started late for Utah and he only made it a short distance and then he died. After being gone all that time, I mean the faith he had to have had to do that and he never even made it to Salt Lake. I thought that was such an amazing story. (And the faith of his family, too.) Yes, and she never remarried.

This next quote I really like, Elder Renlund said, “When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind.” So, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. “Family history and temple work is not only for the dead but blesses the living as well. For Orson and Parley, it turned their hearts to each other. Family history and temple work provided the power to heal that which needed healing.”

Now we are back to these promises that Elder Renlund mentioned. He said, “As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby […]”

Why do you think sometimes in the church we think of family history as a hobby or we know who in our family has it as their hobby, so we just leave it to them?

  • There are a lot of people who are not members of the church for whom genealogy is a hobby and can also be an obsession. Sometimes I think that they are more diligent than members of the church.
  • I think that for many years people often get into the mindset that if it’s not one of our three-hour meetings or it’s not an assignment, then everything else is optional. I think the church is really trying to break us out of that mindset and so family history is not one of the necessary three-hour meetings and it’s not one of the specific callings that most of us get and so we view it as a hobby. Therefore, we have no guilt for not doing it.

Another thing that I found out, [my husband] and I were looking at his family history and he doesn’t have a single line that is not converted to the church in England and came across the plains. Every single one of his grandparents were converted to the church in the 1800s and then came to Utah. So, there’s been a lot of generations that have had [temple] work done in those lines. There’s just a lot of stuff that’s done. Sometimes, it kind of feels like, and this may be the case for you, that there’s nothing more to do.

  • I thought that too for a long time, until somebody told me about [looking into cousins once and twice removed]. It’s been wonderful. That’s the names we’re doing and it’s really neat.
  • I thought mine was all done, but with all the indexing that’s going on, almost weekly now I can get on there and find information that allows me to do another relative’s name. It may not be someone in my direct line, but we’re encouraged to that too.
  • I think sometimes we focus on the checklist and making sure all the temple work is done and then we think there’s nothing left to do. But the spirit of Elijah goes so much deeper than that. With the new things that technology has, like the face recognition, connecting the names, they have so many things that we can do now where you can connect and learn from your ancestors. Remember, Nephi in the scriptures, whenever he rebuked his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, he referred back to family history, he talked about their ancestors. And it’s for our benefit and profit, in a spiritual sense, to get the spirit of Elijah to bind us together, yes through ordinances, but also through genetics and through the spirit of our family. You can look and see, ‘oh my family is really strong and I can grab strength from this part. But they had this weakness there, let me be the one n the family to change that. Let me be the chain breaker. What patterns can we recognize within our own family lines? I believe as we break those patterns here on this earth, there’s a ripple that goes through all eternity. Then you can break those bad patterns for your posterity and you can help heal the lines. We’re in such a pivotal moment in this life because we have these physical bodies. There are things that we can do that we might not fully understand that affect our families. It’s like all of these promises he mentioned- I don’t understand how we’ll get all these promises, other than I know that as we do our family history and learn and grow, it affects our whole family.
  • One of the things my mom is working on, as it has been mentioned, my grandparents have done genealogy on both sides going back for generations and generations and generations, not that there’s nothing left to do, but they’ve done a lot. The rest of what needs to be done will take lots and lots of research and time and we’re not all well versed in how to do that, but one of the things my mom is working on is collecting photographs and stories and adding them now that there’s now the online database that you can put those in. So it’s not just a family tree, not just names. Now we can connect pictures, stories, and memories, so when we remember great-great-great grandma, we know more than when she was born and when she died.
  • I’m just going to be real about this… When we joined the church, I was a kid, but as far as we knew, no one in our family had ever joined [the church]. Family history work seemed pretty overwhelming because it was wide open. I felt like it just went over my head. I didn’t even know where to begin and it’s too much, and I can’t do it. Thankfully, two of my brothers have caught that spirit and over the years have done a lot of work. Our grandfather came over from Romania with his mother and there’s been this block where we haven’t been able to find out anything for a long time, I want to say my brothers have been doing this at least 15 years, we couldn’t find anyone before grandpa. One of my brothers decided to just look for somebody in Romania that could help and he found a genealogist over that speaks English, that actually knows the area that our grandfather came from, and we have finally have gotten name and we know who our great-great grandfather and grandmother is and it’s starting to spread from there, so I’ve got a little energy from that. I’m not saying that I’m doing much work, they’re giving me a lot of names to go to the temple with, but it’s very exciting. It’s been stimulating my mind to wonder who these people are or were.

I thought all the work had been done for my ancestors and I’d look and it seemed all done, but then I found out that my great-great grandmother was baptized in 1897, so she’s a convert to the church and came to Utah in 1900. I realized that I could go to her father and I could do his descendancy line. His children didn’t all get baptized and she had a bunch of cousins that I could their work. It’s cool because you can look at descendancy lines and they have tools to do that on Family Search too.

  • One other thing that we found that was really fun- we went to Google Earth and you can go in on the villages and it was so fun to see the river and the town. That was really fun because we’ll probably not get there.

Elder Renlund said, “An earlier prophet also foresaw blessings for both the living and the dead. A heavenly messenger showed Ezekiel a vision of a temple with water gushing out of it. Ezekiel was told:

“These waters issue out … and go down into the desert, and go into the [dead] sea … , [and] the waters shall be healed.

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: … for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.”

Two characteristics of the water are noteworthy. First, though the small stream had no tributaries, it grew into a mighty river, becoming wider and deeper the farther it flowed. Something similar happens with the blessings that flow from the temple as individuals are sealed as families. Meaningful growth occurs going backward and forward through the generations as sealing ordinances weld families together.

Second, the river renewed everything that it touched. The blessings of the temple likewise have a stunning capacity to heal. Temple blessings can heal hearts and lives and families.”

He goes on to talk about a family that, at that time, was not active in the church.

“In 1999 a young man named Todd collapsed from a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. Although Todd and his family were members of the Church, their activity had been sporadic, and none had experienced the blessings of the temple. On the last night of Todd’s life, his mother, Betty, sat at his bedside stroking his hand and said, “Todd, if you really do have to go, I promise I’ll see to it that your temple work gets done.” The next morning, Todd was declared brain dead. Surgeons transplanted Todd’s heart into my patient, a remarkable individual named Rod.

A few months after the transplant, Rod learned the identity of his heart donor’s family and began to correspond with them. About two years later, Todd’s mother, Betty, invited Rod to be present when she went to the temple for the first time. Rod and Betty first met in person in the celestial room of the St. George Utah Temple.

Sometime thereafter, Todd’s father—Betty’s husband—died. A couple of years later, Betty invited Rod to vicariously represent her deceased son in receiving his temple ordinances.”

So, I was confused when I first heard this story in conference, but it was probably because Todd and Rod rhyme! It really was a sweet story. And I didn’t know that Elder Renlund is also a heart surgeon, just like President Nelson.

The story continues, “Fifteen years after his heart transplant, Rod became engaged to be married and asked me to perform the sealing in the Provo Utah Temple. On the wedding day, I met with Rod and his marvelous bride, Kim, in a room adjacent to the sealing room, where their families and closest friends were waiting.” Such a sweet story.

“God, in His infinite capacity, seals and heals individuals and families despite tragedy, loss, and hardship. We sometimes compare the feelings we experience in temples as having caught a glimpse of heaven. That day in the Provo Utah Temple, this statement by C. S. Lewis resonated with me: “[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. … The Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.’”

I really love that. What a special quote, “‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.’” Jesus Christ sacrificed for us, He’s going to heal us, both ways. It’s gonna make up for that agony and that tragedy that we experience during our earthly life.

“God will strengthen, help, and uphold us; and He will sanctify to us our deepest distress. When we gather our family histories and go to the temple on behalf of our ancestors, God fulfills many of these promised blessings simultaneously on both sides of the veil. Similarly, we are blessed when we help others in our wards and stakes do the same.”

He ends with a caution made by President Russell M. Nelson, “We can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But we must do something to actually experience the joy ourselves.” He continued, “I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice—preferably a sacrifice of time—you can make [to] do more temple and family history work.”

Let’s go back to the promises on the handout and if any of you have felt inspired during this time of your testimony of the promises you have experienced or seen fulfilled in your life, I’d love to hear from you.

  • A couple of days ago, a friend shared that they recently accepted the challenge to find one name and they discovered a surprise in that an aunt needed to be sealed to her parents. This friend’s dad had not been to the temple since his own wedding 33 years ago. The friend shared what they planned to do for the dad’s favorite aunt and the dad felt motivated and for the first time, the dad did what he needed to do to join in the sealing ordinances and just cried and wept and was so happy. There’s all these levels of blessings on both sides of the veil.
  • The one that says, “Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone” – about five or so years ago I did some family history work and my mom said, ‘do this line, I haven’t done much on it.‘ So, I did it and I found out so many great things and I thought, ‘I’m the coolest person because these guys are my ancestors!’ This is why I have wanderlust, I want to move somewhere else and do something different because they constantly did that. They moved to the United States before it was the United States. They moved to Pennsylvania and settled that; they settled Ohio, Kansas, California. I just thought that was so cool. I want to be a part of that family. We can discover these people and may see things that run in the family. Like in our family, we like to go places.
  • In doing my husband’s family history work, I have seen what a noble family they are. It has helped me to be more appreciative and embrace the strengths that he has from them. It has helped me to be more loving, and kind and have a greater appreciation.

Now we’re going to use the Family Tree app and see who we are related to on the class.

 

Challenge for this next 2 weeks:

  • Find one picture or memory to add to your family tree.

  • Index one batch of names.

  • If you’re able, go to the temple before we meet again on Nov. 4th.

 

NEXT WEEK: Sunday, October 28th REGIONAL BROADCAST @ 10am (no regular classes). The next week, Sunday November 4th – Council Meeting topic: How will we share the gospel with our friends and neighbors?

Highlights from Sunday’s Council Meeting topic: “How can we be more involved in family history work and temple worship?” – 10/14/18

Family Search

Temple work and family history work go hand in hand; we can’t do one without the other. Tell me if you recognize these words- “Microfiche,” “Pedigree Charts,” “Family Group Sheets,” “Four Generations,” “Treasures of Truth.” Who remembers those? “Book of Remembrance,” “Diaries,” “Genealogy,” Some of these you might remember, some of them you may not.

What about the “Internet?”

  • Internet made me think of Facebook. In some ways you could count that as a journal.

Yes, that’s great. “Internet,” “Facebook,” “Twitter,” “Wi-Fi,” “Family Search,” “Family Tree,” “Find a Grave,” “Online Search,” “Google,” “Census,” “Apps,” This might be familiar to some and maybe not so much to others.

It has come a long way. From going to the genealogy centers, looking at microfilm with your grandma, to doing it on your kitchen table. The Lord has revealed His knowledge for us, our ancestors, and our descendants, and family history leads us to the temple.

Elder Cook who spoke at a Roots Tech conference said, “Family history work, heaven blessed by technology, has dramatically increased in the past few years. We would be unwise to become complacent about this divinely appointed responsibility and expect that Aunt Jane, or some other committed relative, will take care of it. Let me share President Joseph Fielding Smith’s jarring comments: “None is exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder [or sister]. Place, or distinction, or long service in the Church … will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.””

That is pretty profound. I don’t have an Aunt Jane, but I have a grandmother that I worked with in genealogy and she did a lot. But, it is our responsibility.

What is family history? When you think of family history, what do you think of?

  • Temple work
  • Ancestors
  • Family pictures and stories
  • Scrap booking
  • Connecting
  • A challenge
  • Salvation
  • Learning (and learning every day, because even in the last few years, the process, the technology has changed.)
  • Indexing
  • Growth
  • It’s sad to say that I learned things about my father at his funeral that I never knew before and isn’t that sad to wait until that time to find out? (You are right, because we always think there’s going to be time.)

I want to have us listen to one thing that Sister Burton talked about, “We all live busy lives. We all take care of children or aging parents or work full-time jobs. We faithfully fulfill church callings, or serve neighbors in the community. Did you ever think that while you’re raising your children or caring for a parent that you’re actually creating family history? What you’re doing is good. You’re putting an eternal puzzle together, piece by piece. It’s receiving an inspired thought here and acting on it, then receiving that gentle nudge there and acting on it. Many of you here today are young mothers. You might be weighed down by all the things you need to do, or want to do. Many of you might be single, you might be divorced, or widowed, or may not have married just yet. You may question what you’re doing with your life. You may be losing hope for the future. It’s hard to go through the daily trials of life by yourself. Just hang in there. Keep doing the simple things that you do each day and it will make all the difference. You are doing family history work as you create memories with your children.”

I thought that was cool about how we’re making family history right now. I thought that was neat how she said that. We think, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ but you are creating family history every day. It can be done on Facebook, like she said. My son-in law sends an email about his family and that’s his [record] of family history. He tells us what all the kids and his family are doing.

The one thing I did like she said, when you feel ‘a gentle nudge.’ I like those words, ‘a gentle nudge.’ You don’t have to have a lightning bolt. You don’t have to have someone screaming in your face, ‘do it, do it, so it!’ When you have that gentle nudge to do your family history. I think that’s wonderful.

I’ve asked [a sister in our ward who specializes in and teaches family history] to share some thoughts that she has about family history.

“President Nelson challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and so I have been working on that. I’ve been noticing that there always telling the people to remember their family history. Remember what happened to your forefathers, remember what God did for your forefathers. Constantly. Every time they start out on missionary work, they talk to them about the past and their family history. The Book of Mormon is one long family history.

I started a long time ago and I have seen the changes between it taking days and months to get information to now, you can get it in minutes or an hour. Huge changes. In the indexing, when it brings you a hint, it’s already searched records for that person’s name. We used to spend a lot of time and travel distances to try and find records with that person’s name in it. Right now, it’s at your fingertips with Family Search.

The changes are monumental. This is an example of the old way- this is a copy of an old land record that they used to make on a large piece of paper. They would make two copies and cut the copies in half. One party would get one copy and the other party would get the other. We found these records [in a historical society archive] written on parchment paper. We asked if we could make a copy and they told us, ‘no, you can’t make a copy because one of the reasons is our copier isn’t working.’ My husband told her if she gave him a screwdriver and a pair of pliers he would try to fix it. He then fixed their copier and his reward was a copy of these sheets.

This document is what confirmed to me that my Quaker [names of relatives] had originally come from Pennsylvania. I had originally found them in North Carolina in those Quaker records and some thought that might be a whole different line, but when I found out that he came from Pennsylvania, I found the rest of his family!  So, this is the way we used to have to do it. We had to travel to places and talk to people, to historical societies and try to get copies. Now we do it online. The digitizing and the indexing make it really simple.

Just last night I was working on a family in Delaware and I found them on a census. Whoever had entered that census had only attached it to their mainline people [connected to them]. There were other children on that census who were not listed on the Family Search tree. I attached them and then submitted them for temple work. That work [of entering the census] had been done a long time ago and that child had been missing along with other relatives listed on the census. There were stories included about these people that I found.

These are the stories that I love to find. You find them when you research. Look at the records, look at the sources, look at the records that are attached and you might get the story of their lives. The census is fun because you see the families grow as the children are born and then shrink as the children leave home and get married. It’s fascinating to see what happens in their lives. We are who we are, we are where we are because of decisions made a hundred years ago by our ancestors.

Our children need to learn this historical perspective. Things have not always been the way they are now. They need to know things have changed from way back when and things are not always going to be the way they are now. Things will change for our children and they will have a totally different experience. We need to let them know from the family stories that you just keep doing what you’re supposed to do, keep following the Savior, keep trusting in Him, you keep praying and listening to the Spirit and you will get through all the changes just fine.

My perspective from doing research isn’t that it’s hard, it may be a little time consuming and that’s one of the reasons we are getting an extra hour on Sunday so we can apply some of that time to this. You can get your kids and grandkids to spend time looking at stuff on there and especially putting on pictures, putting on documents, etc. You can put it on there and they can look at the documents from the olden days, and see that these people left a record and they actually existed, that they were real people. And when they take a name to the temple, it should be more than just a name.”

You can see that she enjoys it and that’s great! I know a lot of you have worked with family history and sometimes I avoid it because it’s so time consuming, but then I get so involved and have so much fun. Going along with the census, I enjoyed seeing what my ancestor’s livelihood was.

In your families, what have you done to make family history important in your life?

  • We’ve tried to include the kids. The kids can help us- our seven-year-old can index with us next to her. Something that I’ve thought about doing, is as I take the names through the temple, I’ve thought about making a temple journal and say that I went through for [a name] who I felt this… You’ve probably experienced this, but when you take the name through the temple, no matter what ordinance you’re doing, you can kind of sense their excitement. To individualize each one like she was saying. It’s so important to know who you’re going for and their trials and sacrifices. And to have the kids involved and to come home and say, ‘it’s completed.’ And you can learn about them one by one.
  • Serving in the temple, I’ve seen a great change. Just Tuesday I commented to my coordinator that I helped 7 sisters at the veil, I had one temple file card and the rest were all families. It’s just a short time ago that it was the other way around. We would occasionally get a family file.
  • It’s probably because I’m the youngest child, but I’ve asked my mom what was it like when you had me and she was like, ‘I don’t remember.’ So, with my kids, I started when they were born, I started their own journals. Like I wrote about the experience on a mom level when I had them. I’ve just slowly added to it over the course of the years because I’ve forgotten things that my kids have said or done. This way they can have their own and one day I’ll give it to them and they can add it to their own journals. I don’t really remember the first ten years of my life, but if my mom would’ve wrote in a journal.
  • I’ve been trying to write my own life history because I’ve been trying to get my mom who is 91 to write hers and she gets so busy. I thought maybe in a hundred years my kids or grandkids may be interested. It’s interesting as you write, different things return to your memory.

Like she said earlier, the Book of Mormon is like a journal and we’ve been told forever to keep journals. I know I’m not as good at it as I should. Any other comments?

  • My mom is really into writing and she likes to do the family history and she’s put a lot onto Family Tree. She had an uncle that died on his 20th birthday during World War II, so he wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, and one of the things she put on there was a letter from his commander to his family. It told of the circumstances of him dying and how much they appreciated his help. To me, those documents are equally important, if not more important because he has nobody to remember him. So, if we forget him, there’s nobody. I feel like having those documents is just as vital as having the personal history.
  • That just reminded me of the movie, Coco. There’s this one part where this guy and he just starts withering away because they’re in the after world and then he disappears. They said, once there’s no one to pass on their memory they are forgotten forever. There are a lot of cute little things from that movie.
  • I had gotten a couple of my cousins together, this was quite a while back, just before my grandfather died, and my dad had thirteen siblings and we started up this big reunion. We had a book made. We went to each of the brothers and the sisters that was still alive and asked them if they would write a life history. We had a couple that had passed away, so we had a son or a daughter do a history on them. I met with my grandfather and taped it, about a 4- or 5-hour interview with him. So, I wrote everything that he had talked about. He talked about his grandfather and his father. About growing up and then having 13 children. So, we got all these family histories and had it made into a beautiful family book. We’ll cherish it forever. A few years after that for the reunion, I got recipes and made up a recipe book and it’s called, “Cooking with Granny’s Kids.” I’m really proud of this family history book that we made. Now all of the brothers and sisters are gone.

And you don’t even have to get it published, you can put it on Family Search and then everyone can see it. I read a talk on family history and they said, ‘yes, you have to worry about those in the past, but start now with your family. So, I put my family pictures on Family Tree and am I correct in saying that only I can see those?

  • It’s not strictly true on the “Memories” part. You do want to be careful [with adding pictures of the living.]

There’s lots of things that you can start with- there’s your history, go to Family Search and spend a day with Family Search. Have a day, get your drink of choice and your chocolate and spend a day with Family Search [laughter]. It’s great!

  • This isn’t directly related to recipes, but things that grandparents leave behind. My grandma gives every great grandchild a blanket. So, we tell them that grandma made this and they may not remember them, but my oldest still has hers and it’s fun to remember. I can remember better than they can.

That made me think that I love cemeteries. I don’t know why it is, but my grandmother took me to all of the cemeteries and told this is where great-great so and so is, so I would try to do that with my grandkids and make kind of a fun day of it. If you start when they’re little they get used to it and by the time they’re older, maybe they’ll remember some of those names. There’s “Find a Grave” a lot of people have gone and documented all the graves.

  • My grandmother passed away when she was 98 and when my grandfather passed away he was about 64, so she was alone for a long time. I think she had been preparing to pass away the whole 34 years, but every time someone would buy her a gift, she would put a post-it note on the bottom of the item. So, when she did pass away, she had said that anybody that gave me a gift gets that back. It was kind of cool to go through and it was her family history of the five years she spent collecting China dolls and the ten years she did macrame and all those fun things. It was a fun connection in between.

Stress to your teenagers- I was a teenager when my great-grandmother lived next door and she was from a polygamous family, and I didn’t have the wherewithal or knowledge or care to talk to her about her mom and the other moms, so talk to your teenagers and make sure they talk to grandma! That’s a plug for grandmas!

  • You asked for experiences and one that is a favorite for me is my son likes to go through the library in Salt Lake and one night he was going through some records and he was looking for his family names and there were two girls names and he said that he wrote their names down, and later he found out, as he looked into it, that their family had all been sealed, but these two girls had been born across the river in another township in England. They weren’t included in the family [records]. Probably, while he was going through those records, they saw somebody there and thought, ‘here’s our chance.’ And they got their names written down and eventually sealed to their family.

There are stories like that, I mean you don’t have to have great big, grand stories, but you might get impressions about who to find and what to do.

  • My mom was doing some family history for her mom and found some things out that she never knew. I was ten when she [the grandmother] passed away and the whole time I knew her she was very sick and I didn’t know her very well. Hearing stories that my mom would tell me – her third husband disappeared in California. He was working at a gas station at night and just disappeared in the middle of one night. It turns out, grandma had a wild side, this was her third husband and they got married in Tijuana, which wasn’t legal. He was already married to someone else and that’s where he went. He went back to his wife. She [my mom] found out through family history a few years ago trying to figure out who to seal her to. He lived 40 miles away with his wife. I wish I had had a chance to know grandma when she was alive.

Family history always leads to the temple. We couldn’t do the temple work without the family history. There’s so much you could do and I could tell you all the ends and outs, but I’ll let you find it out for yourself.

How many temples are in the world today? There’s 159 right now and in Utah how many are there? 17. Under construction there are 11 and 20 have been announced.

The temple is the house of the Lord. I was thinking with President Nelson’s admonition to get off social media I thought, ‘what did I do this week?’ If I replaced it with Facebook or like my son-in-law said, ‘I don’t do Facebook, but I check ESPN every chance I get.’ I think it’s not just Facebook, but other things that may be addicting. Did we use that time to maybe do an hour of indexing, or an hour of family history, or writing your own history?

Thank you to all of those who participated and I know we’re short on time, but this family history and temple work, we could spend hours on it and next week we’ll discuss it more with our lesson. In the meantime, go to familysearch.org and look at the opportunities, even if you just read about it. You don’t have to do everything right now. Like Sister Burton said, small and simple things and changes in your life. Get your family involved in it.

What I want to do right now is if you were able to put the Family Tree on your device, go to “More” [bottom right corner], then select “Relatives Around Me” and let’s see if we’re related. You have to have it open [be logged in]. Oh! I’m going to tell you what I got… [There were sisters in the room that were related and didn’t know it! Come next week and we’ll do it again to see who is related!]

You can also go to familysearch/discovery and you put your picture in there and then you can select “Compare a Face” and then it’ll bring up who you look like. I did it and it was spot on- I look just like my grandmother. There are other things you can do on there. I do know that Family Search is important and I’m sorry we just ran through this, but make a plan for your family today. In your Family Home Evening do some family search, tell some stories, tell about yourself, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Action Plan for October:

  • Go to familysearch.org and familiarize yourself with the different features.
  • Install the “Family Tree” app on your device and discover the different things you can do on it. (We will use the last few minutes of class next week to see who we are related to in the room!)
  • As a family, establish a family history/temple work goal and then create a plan on how you will achieve it.
  • If you haven’t done so already, begin writing your own personal history.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing” by Elder Dale G. Renlund (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

Highlights from Sunday’s Ministering Topic Discussion: “The Lord wants us to accept ministering from others.” – 9/23/18

Hug

Follow-up on September’s Council Meeting “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

  • We have all sorts of filters and parental guidance apps and we pretty much control our teenager’s smart phone. She told me that her friend got a smart phone for her birthday and her mom said, ‘if you don’t follow every single one of my rules, I’m going to find out what app [your friend’s mom] use and put it on your phone.’ I’m ok with being that parent!
  • I think we’ve been made more aware of it. At least for me, when I sit down to the TV or even a book, I think about it. It makes me more aware, so I appreciate that council meeting.
  • I had found a picture of our prophet and framed it. It’s just a little 5×7 and I put it right beside the TV. It’s like a silent reminder, so that I’m not nagging the kids.

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“The Lord wants us to accept ministering from others.”

As you’ll see today, this talk from 1975, it could’ve been given yesterday. It applies to us and it is called, “We Can’t Do It Alone” by Elder Hales. It is so inspired and so great. I’m going to take a little bit of a different angle today and you’ll see what I’m talking about as we get going.

I learned so much about some things that I need to do better in my life. Especially in thinking that we can do things alone. He starts out and talks about how we all have testimonies and they’re all different because we’re all different. We all have a testimony about the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith restored the gospel, that we have the priesthood and he lists all the wonderful things that we have and believe in the church. Then he says, “Yet, my brothers and sisters, with all of this knowledge, why is it that some of us fail to learn the very critical point that we did not come to this life to live it alone?”

Then he starts talking about the “isolated self” and I might be more of this isolated type of person, so I can relate. “The “isolated self” shut off from the Light of Christ makes us become fallible—open to delusion”

What do you think that means?

  • Possibility of making errors

Yes, we can make mistakes and start to become confused. “The balance and perspective which come from caring about others and allowing others to care for us form the essence of life itself. We need the inspired help of others to avoid deceiving ourselves.”

Why is it that when we’re alone we can become so much more susceptible to making mistakes?

  • I think because all you’re doing is talking to yourself. You can imagine things and it can explode. Whereas if you have someone else that’s there, they can give their opinions. And it gives you something else to think about, something else to work on.
  • When you see kids on TV that have been in trouble, that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve cut themselves off and they start building things in their mind and they have no one to tell them [what they are thinking] is wrong. You see that very often with teenagers.

I think as women, we have the gift to be able to multi-task, but sometimes that can be a frustrating gift. I don’t know if this happens to you, but I can have so many things going on in my head, and you’re focused on your family and all the things that need to be done, and it can keep going till you almost can’t shut off your brain. If you start to isolate yourself too much, then the thoughts can turn negative.

  • I was so impressed with how informed and in tune with the general authorities. Elder Oaks recently said, ‘we know more than you think we know.’ They are constantly getting reports from the experts on everything and this is very much from the psychology of self-talk and our thoughts and how we can lie to ourselves and not even realize we’re lying to ourselves. Questioning ourselves- is our thought true? And if it is true, what does it mean? Examining these things in the light of Christ so we can get out of this deceiving ourselves and be true to our covenants no matter what is happening around us. It’s a whole realm of agency that maybe we haven’t considered. The agency of choosing how we think about the events or what someone has said or how they said it, in their tone of voice.

Just think about the misunderstandings we can have with our loved ones. It’s true that we can lie to ourselves and not even be aware, or you might be concerned with what others may be thinking about you. I think we waste so much time and energy and we fall into this trap of judging ourselves from the perspective of others and they’re probably not even thinking about us that way.

  • I think it gets even more complicated and harder if there is any kind of anxiety or depression involved. I know that is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, but especially when I’m pregnant and I’m not taking my medications for the safety of the fetus. But there are times when I need to call my husband at work or ask him when he comes home, this is how I’m feeling right now and ask is this real or is it all in my head? Every single time it is things that I have imagined in my head that are not really what is going on. I think if we don’t have someone to talk to and ask or someone to bounce ideas off, I think there’s strength in numbers. Satan is really good at getting inside our heads and letting us get inside our own heads when we don’t have anyone else to remind us.

Definitely! You’ll see more of what he talks about that is exactly along that line. He says, “It is clear to me that we have imperfections of body, imperfections of mind and intellect—that we are not perfect. And for that reason, we are dependent on others. We must be self-sufficient ourselves, but that does not mean independent of help of others.”

Here’s one example he gives, “We cannot gain a testimony without having the help of the Holy Ghost.” You can’t do that alone. At least you won’t have a very strong testimony. It might just be intellectual. Until you have the feeling and you’re reinforced like at church and someone says something and you get that feeling- that’s the Holy Ghost and it’s way stronger than anything intellectual.

What are some other things that we might the need help of others?

  • I think being a mom. When my daughter was in the hospital, the doctors would ask, ‘what support do you have at home?’ As a mom, it’s great to have other moms around like at the bus stop, in case you can’t make it one day that you know someone is going to yell at your kids to stay on the sidewalk and stay safe. As a mom at church, to have somebody hand your kid a fruit snack or a crayon. As a mom, I think we do rely on other kids to help with our kids and their parents.

Sometimes you don’t realize, you can have a house full of little kids and be super alone. I was busy in my life and so involved in my kids and all that they’re doing, but then I would have the visiting teachers come and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m talking to another adult woman and she gets where I’m at. She’s going through the same things.’ It’s so uplifting and freeing.

  • For me, this is the first year all of my kids have been in school. My husband asked me what are you going to do with 5 ½ hours of your day? That first day I just sat waiting and thinking they were going to need me. I was staring at my phone thinking someone was going to text me they forgot something and no one did. I felt alone and missed that feeling of being needed. My husband reminded me that we have 3 temples that I could go to. So, it was so cool to think I can go to Logan and meet my mom or I could go with [a friend]. So, I’ve made a goal to go once a week and that feeling of being needed- I know thousands of people up there that need me. It was a motivation for me. But you can feel alone during those times.

And, that’s a great choice. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today- the choices we can make to help us not be alone. For some of us it’s harder than for others. Maybe it’s uncomfortable to reach out or go out to do things, but we’ve got to do it.

  • I think it’s important for these mothers who are able to stay home and be with their children. I think the Lord is telling you that you do need alone time. You need to grow as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and find something that you enjoy doing. He has given us talents, you have a talent as a mom and you hold that family together, but you also have other talents. Learn what some of those are and develop them and feel some pride in some things that Heavenly Father has given you to do. As you get older, the kids are gone, finding other things that you can do, not only as a hobby, but all of a sudden you have time to do for others instead of the family. It’s all different parts of our lives and if we’re able to live long enough, we’re going to go through those different stages.

That’s so brilliant what you said because we do need to figure out what makes us happy and fulfilled on our own and not relying on somebody else to make you feel fulfilled and it’s a journey. As your kids leave you can feel kind of lost, you don’t know what you’re supposed to do anymore. Have you ever had anybody ask you, ‘what do you like to do?’ And you’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ There are inspiring books that talk about finding the thing you love to do and I think, ‘I don’t know.’ I do have some things I like to do, but really finding things that can be fulfilling for us is important. No matter what point you are at.

  • I think as our life stages change, we cannot look back and say as you’re sitting home alone, ‘my kids don’t love me, they don’t come and visit me even though they are all close around me. Nobody comes and sees me.’ You have to realize they’ve got their own lives. Every once in a while, I sit at home and think, ‘why don’t my kids come and see me other than when they need me?’ I think it goes two ways, I could go visit them and help them. Not to think that when I go into a different stage that we’re not less needed.

My kids started to leave recently and I don’t like it one bit, but it made me think, ‘I need to go hang out with my parents more.’ We get so wrapped up in our own life that we can forget how important our parents are. We need to call and communicate with our parents and appreciate everything they have done and sacrificed and be there for them.

  • I think sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns. Your kids get really busy with their lives. They’re raising kids, they’re all going in different directions. This is true in my family. My daughter was in a bicycle race yesterday, so we went down to cheer her on as she came in from the ride. We were talking and my granddaughters are growing up, they’re young women and young twenties, we need to get together once a month and have a girl’s day out. Nobody would think to mention that except ol’ grandma that would love to go out with the girls and have fun and find out what’s going on in their lives and the things they like to do. Sometimes I think it’s up to us and take the bull by the horns and say, ‘hey, let’s go do something.’ Maybe it won’t be once a month, maybe every three months, but we’re going to do it because I’m going to see to it.

That’s a huge part of this message. We have to take the bull by the horns because we each need to reach out and not stay in our own world. Reach out, make friends, and decide that you’re going to do stuff with other people. Everybody loves it when we do it.

  • I have a coworker that has a sleepover once a year with her grandkids and she talks about how they made slime and she has all of these activities like a Primary activity day and I thought, ‘I want to do that one day.’ (Yeah, having events like this can help us be more unified with friends or family.)
  • It’s interesting as we go through the different seasons of our lives how these things change. I remember having a friend that said after her husband died, and she wasn’t that old, but she made the comment, ‘I can be in a group of 10,000 people and I still feel so alone.’ I had never thought about that before.

I really think there is a lot of loneliness going on in our day and age. We think we’re connected with our devices, but it’s more artificial. We need face-to-face, we need people in our lives. It’s important.

  • I really do agree with that, but my sister lives [very far away] and my mom too, so we have a group text going that throughout the day we’ll share if we read something in the scriptures that impacts us, or my sister’s kids are the same age as mine, so we’ll mention if we actually made it out of the house, or made it to the grocery store. Little successes like that that we text throughout the day. Even though we’re far apart, it’s a way that we can still feel connected with each other. It can be easy to get lost in your devices and lost in your phone and ignore the people who are close around you, but I think sometimes we have these relationships with people who aren’t close to us geographically, and I think it’s a wonderful tool to use, but not to get sucked in and spend all day.

It is a blessing and using Skype where you can see your grandkids or your children face-to-face, it’s really awesome. So, there are really good things with our technology, I didn’t mean to imply that there wasn’t.

A couple of amazing things Elder Hales said was, “For a moment, fold your thumb under your hand and look at the back of your hand with your fingers extended. You will see a flight of four planes with a leader and three wingmen. You are protected on the left and on the right, and the leader is concentrating on his goals. If for a moment you will separate and put two fingers on either side, you will still see a leader and a wingman, one plane ahead of the other, and one plane on the wing to protect.” But, if you’re off alone, that’s when there’s danger and when you’re going to be singled out and destroyed. If you think about how important it is to have people around you that strengthen you up, sometimes correct you, or help you.

The Lord told us to come to church every week and we get this help from each other every Sunday. He didn’t say once a month, he knew that we would need it regularly, that it would be a big part of our growth. We need to be here. We need the help from each other. He set it up for our benefit.

There’s a danger in missing, because it can be easy to miss [church] a few times and to start to become a little inactive and then all those other things start creeping in, right? Those thoughts and the things that are dangerous to us.

“Why then do many of us “go it alone” and deny those who love us most the joy and blessings which come from sharing?”

“When we are marred spiritually or physically, our first reaction is to withdraw into the dark shadows of depression, to blot out hope and joy—the light of life which comes from knowing we are living the commandments of our Father in heaven. This withdrawal will ultimately lead us to rebellion against those who would like to be our friends, those who can help us most, even our family. But worst of all, we finally reject ourselves.”

I’ve never heard it put that way and I kind of needed to hear that. Especially when I start to isolate myself. It’s so easy to withdraw, for the depression to come in, and the people you need in your life can’t help you anymore. It kind of reminds me of the stuff people put out on Facebook or Instagram. They’re trying to get validation from “likes” that people give, instead of from those close to them who love them. It may be another way that Satan is trying to pull us away from getting help from the people who can really help us- our families who really love us, who really care about us, not the people that are “liking” [our posts].

Here’s another powerful quote, “Those who are alone and lonely should not retreat to the sanctuary of their private thoughts and chambers. Such retreat will ultimately lead them into the darkening influence of the adversary, which leads to despondency, loneliness, frustration, and to thinking of themselves as worthless.”

So, it always kind of starts here [when we retreat] and then we reject ourselves, or we think we are worthless. If you’re having any of those thoughts, then what do we need to do?

  • Do something for somebody else.

True, get out of yourself and serve other people. That’s why missionaries are happy.

  • It’s important to tell somebody that you’re really struggling. I have a friend that texted me her situation and said she was struggling. So, through this group chat we told her if she’s having these thoughts then she needed to do something about it. So, getting it out or writing it in a journal, or just telling someone.

Getting help, talking to people, talking to your friends, making friends, making yourself go out to lunch with somebody. We also have to work on our relationship with our spouse, especially if we’re separated a lot due to work or whatever. We have to figure out ways to come together again, how to communicate and talk. I read this article that said one thing we can do is to tell our spouse, ‘I need you to talk to me for 15 minutes a day [if that is what you are wanting or needing] and then ask your spouse, ‘what do you need?’ Each of you can then start to see the needs of each other a little bit better.

  • My daughter got remarried after being single a number of years, and she said something profound the other day. They decided that when someone says something to you and you hear something else- he may say ‘you look good today’ and she may hear ‘oh, I just look awful.’ Instead, she’ll say, ‘Ok, what I heard you say was _____’ and then she says what she heard. Then he can clarify. I thought that was a really good way to be able to communicate with someone you love.

That’s great- to restate what you think that they just said. It may be different or meant a different way. We can see things differently and that’s ok.

“After one thinks of himself as worthless, he then ofttimes turns to associates who corrode those delicate spiritual contacts, rendering their spiritual receiving antennas and transmitters useless. What good is it to associate with and ask advice of someone who is disoriented himself and only tells us what we want to hear? Isn’t it better to turn to loving parents and friends who can help us reach for and attain celestial goals?”

I see this a lot in teenagers. My husband teaches teenagers and when we talked about this, he said they all feel this way, they’re all struggling for their identity, they all have some self-esteem issues, they’re all striving to feel loved and accepted. It’s a hard time and it’s really easy for our teenagers and our youth to turn to friends who aren’t that great, because the friends make them feel accepted and loved, so they might turn in the wrong direction and get the wrong kind of validation, but they think it’s good.

I think one of the best ways to combat that is to teach your child that they are a child of God. How can we help our children to have that relationship with their Savior? Because that’s the validation they need. Heavenly Father loves them no matter what and then they can feel ok about themselves. They can make it through all of those rough waters. It’s hard and there’s not always an answer and sometimes kids won’t listen, or they won’t choose that path, so they have to take a harder path. We need to try the best we can with all of our teenagers and ourselves, to go to the Lord for our validation. Don’t go to Facebook, don’t go to sources that don’t really help. Go to Him and develop a relationship with our Savior.

As I do dishes in the morning, I’ve been listening to the Book of Mormon and usually there’s a thought, some message in there that really does apply to me. The Lord gave us the Book of Mormon for us, for right now to help us, to save us, to get us out of those the trials that we struggle with. He gave us ways to get out and we can do that.

  • Five weeks ago, I lost a cousin and she is my best friend. She has four kids and she’s a year younger than I am. She went to sleep one night and just didn’t wake up the next morning. It has been a shock to all of us. It has really impressed me to watch her family go through this experience. When we found out, I think we all felt shocked and surprised and maybe even a little bit angry. My cousin’s father is the kind of person that anytime something happens, he’ll say, ‘don’t let this shake your faith. The Lord has a plan.’ This is the first time that I have ever seen his faith be shaken a little bit. He admitted it and he said he had a couple of really rough days. But he also said, ‘we can’t stay in that dark place for too long. We can’t stay on our own in isolation for too long because then we can get stuck in the dark places and we can forget how to ask for help. We may forget what the light of Christ looks like. It’s been interesting see, she has seven siblings and see all of them go through this. It has really bonded the family and they’re even closer than they were before. Even though it shook his faith, even for the blink of an eye, he has turned to the Lord and spent a lot of time praying and reading his scriptures, not looking for answers to why she is gone, but to restore his faith in God. I feel like as parents, if we’re going to teach that to our kids, that when hard things happen that we don’t understand, I think we have to turn to the Lord. We have to be able to accept the fact that we’re not going to have all the answers and sometimes really horrible, awful, crappy things can happen. We have to trust that the Lord is looking after us. In the hard times, if we can do that as parents, our kids will see that.

I think the way Elder Hales talks, he has experienced a lot of this stuff himself. He seems to have lived it. His wife and family have chosen the ways to get out of it.

One last thought, “A hermit is one who suffers from the extreme of selfishness; he neutralizes all the gifts and talents which he has been given in this life to help others, for he is going the adversary’s cunning way. Loneliness and withdrawal take us as a pawn off the board in the game of life.”

You don’t relate to others when you’re withdrawn and we probably don’t think of it as selfishness, but it really is. We need others and others need us. Others need us in the church. I tell my married kids, ‘you need to serve. Other people need you. It goes both ways. You need to help others and others need to help you.’

He said, “[…] the greatest joy we will receive will be those acts of love and service that we do for others.” And that we can accept acts of service. I know that we can get help from the right sources if we will turn to our Heavenly Father and ask for the help we need from others and from the Lord and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Challenge for this next 3 weeks:

  • Become friends with a sister that is your neighbor, your ministering companion, or with a sister you minister to.

  • Plan an activity with this new friend- a walk in the park while the kids play, lunch together, or venture out to shop together in Logan! Any activity that you can do together.

  • Pray for opportunities to serve the sisters within your realm of influence.

  • If the opportunity arises, allow someone else to serve you or minister to you.

  • Journal the above experiences and look for ways that making a friend and spending time with her has opened up your mind and heart and blessed your life.

 

NEXT WEEK: 5th Sunday Combined meeting with priesthood. The next weekend, Oct 6-7 will be General Conference. Looking ahead: Oct 14 Fast Sunday Council Mtg Topic Discussion, “How can we be more involved in family history work and temple worship?”

Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “The Prophet of God” by Elder Neil L. Andersen- 9/16/18

Pres Nelson Family

Follow-up on September’s Council Meeting “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

  • This is just a little story, but I got such a kick out of it. My husband was working on the computer and something popped up. You know how it does? The most innocent thing in the world. He was there all alone and he hurried and closed it. He felt like he had to confess [laughter]. He was like, ‘I didn’t do anything, I promise!’ And I said, ‘Honey, it’s ok, it’s ok.’ He said he didn’t do anything and it just came up there. It was so funny because he felt the need to let me know that.
  • I’m not confessing, but the I’m the biggest dodo on computers. I can punch into Facebook because all I have to do is put an “F” in and it comes up for me. But I’m not good on the computer and one day I was looking up Martha Stewart for something that I had seen. I spelled her name wrong- Holy Cow! What came up in front of me! I was going, ‘What?! That’s not Martha Stewart!’ It just brought home to me how easy, just as innocent as I had can be typing in Martha Stewart and spelled it wrong and what popped up for me. How easy that would be for our children and grandchildren to see. My eyes got wide and it was embarrassing. Bless their hearts, these kids are just being bombarded from all directions and they’re a heck of a lot smarter than I am, so maybe they know how to block that stuff. When I think about what they’re going through as opposed to what I was going through at their age. Life was so much easier back then.
  • We’ve decided to have the X Box in our family room where everybody can see what’s being played. The kids have their headphones on and to be aware, some people, that aren’t their friends, will try to talk to them and it’s happening and that’s why we have it in the room where everybody can see it. And see what’s being typed back and forth. (How do you handle that when other people are trying to talk to your kids on there? What do your kids do?) They ignore it. Other people will ask if they can trade items or whatever on the game and they just ignore it. Make sure you have your privacy settings on that only allows them to accept their friends.
  • This isn’t a personal story, but it’s a story from a video of an interview with Glenn Beck and the guy from the Underground Railroad (organization that is working for the complete “eradication of child sex trafficking”) and Glenn Beck said that he has all this security and all these cameras and all these fences and protection so people don’t get in [to his property and home]. His teenaged son was playing a game in the middle of the night, which he shouldn’t be, but somebody tried to contact him through his game and the kid thought it was all innocent. It turned out to be one the guys that the Underground Railroad group had been watching. I just think it’s so easy and the kids don’t think anything of it at the time because they have such innocence. I was talking to my husband about it and he said that’s why he won’t play online games. There’s not always going to be a way to prevent our kids from doing that altogether, but I think it’s really cool that he’s decided that he doesn’t even want to touch it because it will lessen the possibility or at least make fewer issues with it. That’s why I don’t want my kids on those, but mine are pretty little still, so I don’t have to worry as much yet. (I think you make a good point about teaching our children how to interact with strangers online because it’s going to happen probably on these games, like you [previous sister] were talking about. I think it’s really good to educate them on how to handle that because kids are very trusting and we don’t want them trusting the wrong people.)
  • We are talking about kids here, but we do have to understand that there are adults who struggle with this. I know of someone who’s husband who had been a bishop and he’s been into pornography for years. He doesn’t want to admit it and that’s why he still gets his recommend and such because he doesn’t think it’s wrong. It’s really sad. Satan won’t let him go. It’s scary. (You’re right. Thank you for bringing that up. Pornography is very addicting, we know that. It’s very toxic to relationships and adults are vulnerable to that and we do have to be careful. Thanks for bringing that up.)

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Discussion Highlights from “The Prophet of God” by Elder Neil L. Andersen

Elder Andersen began his talk by saying that “we were part of a divinely decreed solemn assembly—solemn because the events of this past hour (during General Conference) have been anticipated in the heavens since before the world was.”

I personally have never witnessed a solemn assembly, so at first, I was like, ‘what’s going on?’ Then the Spirit was so strong to me and I just loved being a part of that. How did you feel during the solemn assembly and sustaining President Nelson? I know that this is kind of similar to last week’s lesson, but maybe you would like to share. I think the Young Women were in here last week and a couple of the girls got to go. So, that’s so amazing. What a great experience for them.

How many of you have been able to experience other past solemn assemblies? A few of you. Was the feeling the same, comparing that one to the most recent one? Did you feel the same?

  • I remember when President Monson was sustained. Do any of you remember the look on his face? His demeanor. It was like this mantle had just been set on this man. So many people talk about the change that came over him during at that time when we sustained him. You could see it, physically. It was amazing to me.

Did anyone notice President Nelson? I don’t know if they showed it on TV.

  • Over the last few conferences I believe the Lord has been preparing President Nelson to be the prophet at this time, so that when the change happened it wasn’t an automatic, ‘oh, he is now a prophet.’ He grew into it. When he had been speaking when President Monson may have, but couldn’t because he was sick. It’s just neat how they have been preparing us this change. The Lord doesn’t just rip us out and say, ‘here, we’re going to change everything all at once. It’s a gradual progression.

Elder Andersen said in the Conference Center, when they were sustaining President Nelson, the building was, “full of spiritual power.” I just imagine what it must have been like to be there. I can’t imagine how strong the Spirit would’ve been.

“The selection of a prophet is made by the Lord Himself. There is no campaigning, no debates, no posturing for position, no dissension, distrust, confusion, or commotion.”

He goes on, “The Lord’s words to Jeremiah also apply to President Nelson: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”1 Only three years ago, Elder Nelson, at age 90, was fourth in seniority, with two of the three senior Apostles being younger in age than he was.”

This shows that the Lord is prepared and He has a plan for who is supposed to be the prophet. He [President Nelson] was fourth in seniority just three years ago.

“While we sustain the prophet as the Lord’s anointed, let it be clear that we worship only God, our Heavenly Father, and His divine Son. […] A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior. A prophet’s greatest responsibility and most precious gift to us is his sure witness, his certain knowledge, that Jesus is the Christ. Like Peter of old, our prophet declares, “[He is] the Christ, the Son of the living God.””

  • I thought the sentence you said before that was really important because we do not worship our prophet. We didn’t worship Joseph Smith, we don’t worship them [prophets]. They are men. They can do things wrong. We worship God and they are God’s helpers. We love them and we sustain them, all these things, but we don’t worship them. That’s really important for us and the outside world to know.

Exactly. And I felt the same way and that’s why I wanted to include that part. I feel like people who aren’t members of the church and don’t understand, they feel like we worship our prophet and that’s not the case. They are there to help us and guide us.

  • As I was reading this and I read that same paragraph it struck me that here the prophet that we call the leader of the church, is acting on our behalf. It’s not that we worship him, but he is being that intermediary, if you will, to let us know what to do. He has been called to serve us and so when we sustain him, it’s not because of how important he is, it’s because we know that praying to help him to help us be better. That’s the way I was thinking about it. What an amazing calling to accept, that mantle of responsibility in leading all of us back to Christ.
  • I think it’s also important to remember that it’s not just us as members of the church, he’s the prophet to the world, whether you’re a member or not. He’s the prophet of God to the whole world and every inhabitant on this planet. Just like our bishop is the bishop over the whole boundaries of our ward, whether they are members or not, he has charge to take care of them if they need it, if they come to him and that kind of thing. That’s a huge responsibility, the prophet over the whole world, it’s not just us members.

Yes, it is huge and I’m glad I won’t ever have to be the prophet!

What does it mean to you to sustain the prophet?

  • We don’t vote for them. It’s not a ‘who do you like best?’ job, where you get voted in. This man has been picked by the Lord. So, we’re not holding up our hands to vote for him, we’re holding our hands up to sustain him, to listen to him knowing he is the mouthpiece from our Heavenly Father at that time. He is guided by our Heavenly Father and by sustaining we have faith, I think to follow what he says. We’re promised and told that the prophet will not lead us astray. We don’t need to worry about that. We don’t vote for anybody, we just support them in their calling like we support our Relief Society presidency.
  • I was listening to a conversation between two people when the church came out with the statement that children of same-sex couples can’t be baptized, and one person was kind of angry. When you ask about sustaining our prophet, I know that person has a testimony of the church, but I know that that’s something that they struggle with, with that part of the doctrine or whatever you call it. That’s part of sustaining our prophet is not just sustaining them, we can’t pick and choose. It’s not the prophet that decided that was what needed, it was the Lord. That’s part of it- accepting and coming to terms with and understanding that there’s a bigger picture and sustaining him as the only one that can receive revelation for all of us and sustaining him in everything that comes with it.
  • We have a son who is 31 and not married yet, but he’s looking for a wife. [laughter] One day I said to him, ‘what are you looking for in a wife?’ and he said, ‘oh mom, I know what you’re looking for in my wife.’ And I said, ‘what am I looking for?’ He said, ‘well, you want someone who will have our babies at home with a midwife and who will nurse the babies.’ I said, ‘no, that’s not it.’ He said, ‘then what do you want?’ I said, ‘when the prophet said to only have one set of pierced earrings, so if she has two, she takes one set out.’

And that’s not about the earrings, it’s about her showing obedience to the prophet and the Lord.

  • The first thing I think about when I think of the word, sustaining, is to carry, to support something or someone. When the Lord picked our prophet, he trusts him, he has faith in him beyond any measure that we can comprehend. When we sustain our prophet, we are being asked to do that to our capacity. To have that faith and trust in our prophet and to love him on any level that we can. When we do those things for our prophet, that’s what we’re doing. Sustaining in a way is a commitment to let yourself have that, to be able to feel that for the prophet and to let yours grow as well, when you sustain him with your faith and your trust.
  • When I think of sustaining the prophet, I think of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel. Laman and Lemuel obeyed their father, they did what their father said to do, but Nephi was the one that sustained his father. He’s the one that prayed, and sustaining didn’t mean that he blindly obeyed, he went and he asked for confirmation on a personal level. President Nelson, one of his biggest things is personal revelation. What are we supposed to be doing in our lives? Nephi did that. He went and he asked and he put his father’s words to the test and said, ‘show me.’ He was blessed beyond for his faith and the ability to sustain his father. When we sustain our prophet in that same manner, I believe we will be blessed in the same way, versus simply obeying. It comes from within. I think there’s great blessings in obeying. You will receive protection and guidance simply by reading your scriptures, but do you read because you sustain what the prophet said and you want to know, or do we do it out of Jewish kind of ‘letter of the law’ kind of way?
  • Nowadays there’s going to be a lot of people who are struggling with one thing or another and it’s ok. We have to remember people might have a little struggle in this part of the church or something else right now, and it’s ok. We can talk about it, they can get help with it, they can learn, they can study and they can gradually and fully come to strengthening their own testimony. There’s a lot of people right now with different issues and we have to be accepting and loving. It’s ok if they’re struggling. We’ve got to still help them rather than be shocked or judge. There’s a lot of “anti” stuff out there right now. It’s all over the internet. People are just being bombarded by stuff. It is difficult to sift through and you don’t really want to go there, but we have to let people figure stuff out and not judge them.
  • With what she just said about withholding judgements, I often think of the Savior when He withheld judgement from the adulterous woman. He did not judge her. He allowed her to have her doubts, to have her weaknesses and faults and He didn’t pass judgement. How often I have been the means of holding the stone and throwing those stones. I remember being humbled and realizing in my heart that the Lord chastised me saying, ‘people cannot grow and change if you’re constantly throwing stones at them. If you’re constantly judging them because you feel justified in your judgements.’ I think that’s kind of what [the previous sister] was saying. Am I the one throwing the stone or am I going to withhold judgement and just love and allow that person to change in the Lord’s timeframe and not mine.

Yeah, because passing judgement can be just as bad as making the mistakes. I think all of us are guilty of that. It’s a hard thing not to do.

“[…] Jesus also taught an important truth about the servants He sends to us. “He that receiveth you,” He said, “receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.””

I think we kind of already hit on that. If we’re accepting our prophet, we’re accepting Heavenly Father because he is the voice to us from our Heavenly Father.

“The most important role of the Lord’s prophet is to teach us of the Savior and lead us to Him. […] We often speak of our need to follow the prophet, but consider this heavy burden the Lord places upon His prophet: “If thou dost not speak to warn the wicked … , [and] that wicked man … die in his iniquity; … his blood will I require at thine hand.””

That is a huge responsibility that is upon our prophet. After hearing that, does that change anything about how you feel about the prophet? For me, I have more compassion for him. I knew he had a big job, but to hear that the, “wicked man … die in his iniquity; … his blood will I require at thine hand.”” I didn’t know that, so I have a lot more compassion for our prophet.

President Nelson has a special place in my heart. Many years ago, my grandpa had to have a triple bypass and my grandpa was not a member of the church, but President Nelson performed that heart surgery on my grandpa. My grandpa would always tell us that the reason he survived that surgery was because an apostle of God performed that for him. To hear that testimony of my grandpa who was not a member, was so touching to me.

So, I did know that President Nelson was a heart surgeon, but what I didn’t know was that he was, “He was a medical doctor at age 22, an esteemed cardiac surgeon, and a renowned pioneer in the development of open-heart surgery.”

For those of you who have read this talk or who listened this past conference, what are some new things you learned about President Nelson?

  • I loved the part where he talked about his daughter that passed away of cancer. He said, “I was her father, a medical doctor, and an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I had to bow my head and acknowledge, ‘Not my will but thine be done.’” I thought, ‘wouldn’t that be har?’ I read somewhere when his wife passed away, she was sitting there right by him and he was an apostle of the Lord and he couldn’t save her. Isn’t it hard when they have these callings and they’re these great, mighty men and they can’t save the ones that are near and dear to them.
  • He did a Face to Face with the youth and when they do Face to Face, you can still watch it, even if you are not the youth. Anyway, he told the story of I think it was, President Hinkley who said, if you’re going to learn a language, learn Chinese. So, he came home and he talked to Dantzel and he said, ‘we’ve just been told to learn Chinese. Do you want to learn Chinese?’ and she said, ‘sure.’ He ended up at a [work] conference and he always sat in the front row of a conference and he said in the middle of the conference and the lights had gotten dim, he got the active impression that he needed to go to the back row. So, he stood up and went to the back row and sat next to a guy and when the lights came back on, the guy was Chinese. It turned out that he was a visiting heart surgeon from China and President Nelson invited him to a class at the University of Utah and then this man invited President Nelson to come to China and do a class for them. He ended up teaching at three different universities there. I think it was the last heart surgery he did was for a Chinese opera singer who was just loved by the Chinese and that’s how he has become a friend of China. I know he is going to open up China.
  • I loved the part where he talked about the time before he was called as a general authority and he was asked when is a prophet speaking from experience and when is he talking from inspiration? President Nelson said, ‘my goal is just to be more like him.’ It doesn’t matter if he’s speaking as a prophet of Go, obviously, he’s doing what’s right and I should try to emulate what he’s doing.
  • I didn’t know that he had 10 children. When I heard that, that’s my whole life right now, taking care of my little ones and it just made me feel so good to know that our prophet, he knows, he knows what we’re doing every day as a parent. He has 10 children and all of these grandchildren and he knows what it’s like to take care of a family and to give us the inspiration and the help that we need as parents to raise our children.

It says that he has 118 great-grandchildren and it changes constantly.

  • He had 9 daughters and one boy!

I remember when they said that in conference and my son, my oldest said, ‘I’m glad I’m not in that family!’ [laughter]

  • They’re men and they have families. Like your neighbor who might have six kids. I think we forget that about them sometimes.
  • I know a lot has been said out there about the women’s place in our church and there are women who feel like they’re maybe underappreciated, under-worked, and under-serving [in the church]. I am happy if that was the case, for the record, but I don’t think that is the case. What better prophet to call than a man who has raised nine women. That’s amazing. You don’t think he knows that we’re intelligent? You don’t think that he knows that we’re organized? That speaks to the Lord’s careful planning and his mercy in giving us somebody who must appreciate the value of women in their life. I’m sure President Nelson has learned a lot from that.

Why do we follow the prophet?

  • I always have for safety. I don’t want to be the one to go find that out the hard way. I’ll do what he says because I trust him and I know that he’s there to protect us. It’s all for our good, so why not follow him?
  • I know that if I’m trying my hardest to what the prophet has asked me to do, then I’ll have the peace of mind that things will be ok. Even if it’s not ok right now, I have faith that I’m doing all that I can in following him things will be fine. For my own peace of mind.
  • I was just thinking about how different things would be if we didn’t have a prophet. Can you imagine, how would we function as a world-wide church without a prophet to lead us? I went to visit my dad in another state and they go to a different church. It was interesting because if I had gone to another church down the road that also said they were Baptist, so if there were two Baptist churches on the same road and if I went to one and then the other, it would be totally different. The things they’d be learning and teaching. So, I try to imagine how would our church even function properly? How would we all grow as a church? I think it’s a testimony of the growth of this church of having a prophet of God on the earth, a living prophet to guide us. It just makes total sense.

We follow him because, “Because the Lord Jesus Christ has called him and designated him as His watchman on the tower.” He is the watchman on our tower.

“God told Moses, “I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” We listen to the Lord’s prophet with the faith that his words are “from [the Lord’s] own mouth.””

We as Latter-day Saints all have the privilege to receive personal witness that President Nelson is called of God.

“We live in a world of reason, debate, argument, logic, and explanation. Questioning, “Why?” is positive in so many aspects of our lives, allowing the power of our intellect to guide a multitude of choices and decisions we face each day. But the Lord’s voice often comes without explanation. […] The prophet’s voice brings spiritual safety in very turbulent times. […] Anchoring our souls to the Lord Jesus Christ requires listening to those He sends. Following the prophet in a world of commotion is like being wrapped in a soothing, warm blanket on a freezing cold day.”

I love that part so much because today, with social media and everything that is out there, the world is just very chaotic. To be able to anchor ourselves to the prophet and to the Savior, we can feel that calmness and that peace.

“The prophet’s voice, while spoken kindly, will often be a voice asking us to change, to repent, and to return to the Lord. When correction is needed, let’s not delay. And don’t be alarmed when the prophet’s warning voice counters popular opinions of the day. The mocking fireballs of annoyed disbelievers are always hurled the moment the prophet begins to speak.”

I don’t want to get into it, but the whole thing with Proposition 2 [Medical Marijuana Initiative], is out of control on social media. I feel like someone may not agree with what the prophet has said to guide us to do, but we need to not listen to the negativity and what everyone else is saying and pray for ourselves to be able to follow and obey the prophet.

“Don’t be surprised if at times your personal views are not initially in harmony with the teachings of the Lord’s prophet. These are moments of learning, of humility, when we go to our knees in prayer. We walk forward in faith, trusting in God, knowing that with time we will receive more spiritual clarity from our Heavenly Father.”

I feel like that has happened to me personally a couple of times, but one more recent one is that I read on the Deseret News that the prophet had come out and said were not going to associate ourselves as the Mormons or abbreviate as LDS, that we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And it wasn’t that I didn’t agree with him, it was just like, ‘that’s just so long to say. Why can’t it just be Mormons, it’s shorter.’ But, that’s what we’re supposed to do and that’s what Heavenly Father wants us to be called and that’s what the church was in the very beginning.

  • I have to say something, I’m sure that went through many people’s minds. The thing with me, is when they came out with the new term, and I’m confessing, the term “ministering.” I thought, ‘oh my gosh! I came from the south, right in the Bible belt where ministers had on a white collar and a black coat. And I thought, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ I’m different. I’m in the Relief Society. I struggled with that, I don’t mind telling you that, I’ve struggled with that, but I also know that I want to follow the prophet and I know he’s going to stand up in October [General Conference] and point his finger at me, and he’ll probably have something to say about it. But, I know that I want to follow him, so I have been trying to be better about thinking about that name. I know that he wants us to minister like Christ ministered and that’s where that’s coming from so, I’m just going to have to work into it slowly. Get used to the name, but it doesn’t matter the name, just get out and get it done. Minister to people. It doesn’t have to be your sisters, but also other people. It’s ok, we all have to have in our heart to do what he tells us to do and some of us will get there a little slower, but we’ll get there. As long as we’re doing it and that’s all that matters.

I’m just going to end with what President Nelson said 36 years ago, “My [philosophy is to] stop putting question marks behind the prophet’s statements and put exclamation points instead.”

I want to encourage us all to be like President Nelson and not question what he’s going to say because he’s our prophet and start putting those exclamation points behind what he says. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Do as Sister Kathy Andersen did and read past conference talks by President Nelson. (See suggestions below)

  • Pray for an even deeper assurance of President Nelson’s prophetic role.

 NEXT WEEK: Ministering Topic: The Lord wants us to accept ministering from others.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-book-of-mormon-what-would-your-life-be-like-without-it?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/drawing-the-power-of-jesus-christ-into-our-lives?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/joy-and-spiritual-survival?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-sabbath-is-a-delight?lang=eng

 

Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “The Heart of a Prophet” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson- 9/9/18

presidency

Follow-up on September’s Council Meeting “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

  • I have a kind of a funny story. We had a short Family Home Evening last Monday and we read, The Wasp Trap which teaches kids what to do if they see an image and one of the questions asked, what does modesty mean to you? My eight-year-old said, ‘modesty means not wearing an immodest zucchini.’ [Laughter] She meant to say bikini. We had a good laugh about it but it’s nice to know that she recognizes when she sees something on a magazine or out in the store. Dressing appropriately makes a big difference.
  • My daughter and I were watching football games last night and some of the commercials embarrassed us. I was kind of surprised that some of the commercials were pretty bad and we had to turn the sound down. I think anywhere you are nowadays you can never let your guard down.
  • I was discussing the topic with my sister-in law and she said, ‘ironically, throughout the week she had found out that her daughter who is a senior in high school had downloaded some app that was innocent, but a stranger was trying to ask her questions. So, they looked more into it and they still don’t know because it was under an anonymous name, but the person knew her full name, where she lived, what school she went to, and it was kind of scary.’ She said that was a wide awakening for us that any app can give away all the information or when you’re posting pictures, if she’s posting first day of school and it has the big school name on it, that’s kind of a red flag that people need to be aware of.
    • There was something I meant to mention last week about those apps. Parents, you need to investigate the apps that are on your kid’s phones because a lot of them have location services already running in the background. When somebody else looks, like when they’re communicating through these apps, they can see where your child is at. They can see the address, they can see exactly where your kid is at. So, we need to really investigate those apps.

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“The Heart of a Prophet” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson

I think we are so lucky to be living on the earth at this time, for one reason is a living prophet. There were times, way back, that there was no living prophet, but how grateful and exciting to live in this time that we have a living prophet. We know that the Lord communicates through the prophet to us. We have loved President Monson. Laurels, is he the only prophet you knew?

  • (YW) President Hinkley died when we were pretty little, so we mostly remember President Monson

Of course, we were all sad when he passed away. The first prophet that I can remember was President McKay. I asked [one of our older sisters] who she remembered and what did you say?

  • President Grant and President McKay, I remember them both very well.

We have learned from and loved each prophet that we have gone through and it’ll be no different with President Nelson. Elder Stevenson said, “As each of our beloved prophets has passed on, it is only natural to feel a sense of sorrow and loss. But our sadness is tempered by the joy and hope that come as we experience one of the great blessings of the Restoration: the calling and sustaining of a living prophet on the earth.”

That is a wonderful blessing isn’t it? “President Spencer W. Kimball explained:

“As one star sinks behind the horizon, another comes into the picture, and death spawns life. […]”

Elder Stevenson said, “The period of time between the death of a prophet and the reorganization of the First Presidency is referred to as an “apostolic interregnum.””

It began when President Monson died on January 2, 2018 and it ended twelve days later on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Do you think our church is just left helter-skelter during this time? No leadership?  Definitely not. It’s put into place; the Lord has everything in order.

“[…] under the leadership of the quorum president, jointly holds the keys to administer the leadership of the Church. President Joseph F. Smith taught, “There is always a head in the Church, and if the Presidency of the Church are removed by death or other cause, then the next head of the Church is the Twelve Apostles, until a presidency is again organized.””

I was reading back, after Joseph Smith died, I think it was 3 months before they called President Young because the Twelve were out in different places and it took that long. Sill, there was leadership in place.

Just think for a minute, that Sunday morning, the apostles went to the temple. I was thinking- can you imagine being there? I can’t imagine the Spirit and the direction that was there.

“In this sacred and memorable meeting, following a well-established precedent in unity and unanimity, the Brethren were seated by seniority in a semicircle of 13 chairs and raised their hands first to sustain the organization of a First Presidency and then to sustain President Russell Marion Nelson as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This sustaining was followed by the Quorum of the Twelve gathering in a circle and placing hands upon the head of President Nelson to ordain and set him apart, with the next most-senior Apostle acting as voice.”

I think that would have been pretty special to have been there.

“President Nelson then named his counselors, President Dallin Harris Oaks, President Henry Bennion Eyring, with President Oaks as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and President Melvin Russell Ballard as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following similar sustaining votes, each of these Brethren was set apart to his respective office by President Nelson.”

Wouldn’t that be something to be set apart by the prophet? I’ve read a couple of different things that the Quorum of the Twelve have written, but this is what Elder Stevenson said, “This was a deeply sacred experience, with an outpouring of the Spirit. I offer to you my absolute witness that the will of the Lord, for which we fervently prayed, was powerfully manifest in the activities and events of that day.”

He offers his absolute witness. As soon as this ended and President Nelson was set a part, the church continued operating without any interruption at all.

Who knows what a solemn assembly is?

  • It’s at the beginning of conference where they set apart all the new leadership in front of the church members and we all sustain them.
  • I see it as a place where we as members can support and promise to give our support to the new leaders and sustain them as the head of the church. It’s a wonderful assembly where all can gather together for a special event.

“Elder David B. Haight described [it as], “[…] a sacred, sober, and reverent occasion when the Saints assemble under the direction of the First Presidency.””

At the beginning of his talk he mentioned that he hoped that everybody would see how important a solemn assembly is. He said, “As I sought guidance to know the topic the Lord would have me address today, my mind was directed to a recent conversation with the newly called First Presidency. In this discussion, one of the counselors shared […], “It has been 10 years, and many, especially the youth of the Church, do not remember or have not experienced this before.””

I was thinking back and tried to remember for myself. It struck more home to me this time. Maybe it’s being older, I don’t know. Can someone look up D&C 28:13?

“For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.”

This is why we have solemn assemblies, for all things to be done in order and by common consent. When President Hinkley was sustained as the prophet, this is what he said, “This morning we all participated in a solemn assembly. That is just what the name indicates. It is a gathering of the membership where every individual stands equal with every other in exercising with soberness and in solemnity his or her right to sustain or not to sustain those who, under the procedures that arise out of the revelations, have been chosen to lead.”

I had watched it on TV and I hadn’t remembered the different people standing, so I thought was pretty neat- the priesthood and the young women, etc.

  • This may be kind of changing the subject, but when you said that, the thought came to my mind of I wonder what kind of solemn assemblies we had in the pre-existence? We had to support Christ and I’m sure we had solemn assemblies to where we had the opportunity to sustain or not sustain. We know that we were given that ability and we had choices that we had to make. It’s the same thing as today. Do we sustain or do we not sustain?
  • (YW) I had a friend who had an extra ticket to a general conference session and it was actually the solemn assembly. I was sitting there in between two of my friends and we didn’t remember when President Monson was sustained, so we didn’t know what was going on, but my friend and I were able to watch our other friend stand with the priesthood and sustain. Then we got to stand with all the young women and sustain our prophet. The solemn assembly is a great way, it’s actually no better description because it was so quiet and reverent.
  • I can’t help but think of the turmoil that we are faced with in this time and the people who are having hurt feelings towards the church or towards family members or towards anything that the church teaches. What a great reminder as we stood together to say, ‘I support and I know that this is our prophet.’ I think that anybody who is struggling with teachings of the church, the doctrine, or their own testimony, to be able to stand and say, ‘without a doubt, this is the prophet of God.’ It’s an amazing gift that the Lord gives us to strengthen our own testimonies.
  • They encourage us that if we have issues or a problem with somebody that is being sustained, to go to your local leaders and take care of it because this is such a solemn and such a sacred place that it’s not a place to do those things. I know if I had a problem, I would want to take care of it privately.
  • As we talk about it, it just brings back the warm feelings that we felt in our home as we watched and participated in the solemn assembly. It was beautiful to watch my children and they knew that something was happening. They knew that it was different, it wasn’t just the conference, the usual thing of sustaining. They knew that it was different and even my four-year-old, he knew, he felt something. They watched their dad stand and they watched me stand and then they had their chance and it was beautiful- to have that as a family in our home and to feel an outpouring of the Spirit. It was a beautiful moment for our family. I’m grateful that we participated in that. I hope it will stay in their little hearts.

My daughter was able to go and I asked her to write what she felt. She said, “I have never witnessed it beforehand and had remembered it from when it happened in the past. It was very powerful and spiritual to be there in person. As they called each of the different groups, it was cool to see the different rows and leadership of the church stand up. I figured it was just the priesthood that was going to stand, but I don’t know why, but then they called the young women and the Relief Society. It was neat to be involved as a member of the Relief Society. I then thought it was so awesome to be able to stand up with everyone in the congregation at the conference center, all at once. They say there is strength in numbers and there was indeed strength and an overpowering Spirit while sustaining a new prophet. It was great to be there and witness such a special thing.”

It was so great to raise our hands and sustain our prophet and as President Hinkley had said, “Your uplifted hands in the solemn assembly this morning became an expression of your willingness and desire to uphold us, your brethren and your servants, with your confidence, faith, and prayer.”

What do you think it means to sustain someone like the prophet with confidence?

  • It makes me think first of all, you’ve got to be paying attention. You don’t just flippantly raise your hand whenever they say something. I think you’re probably more confident the stronger your testimony is about it. You believe and know that these people or this man, is going to lead us in the right direction. I’m sustaining them knowing that I’m going to follow them.
  • And we’re told that it’s not a vote. When we’re sustaining someone it’s more with your heart. You will give whatever you need to in your life to sustain this man as a prophet.
  • I think often it is trust. Trust that they’ll do what the Lord wants them to do. We have the confidence in them to ‘pull it off,’ that they can do it. The trust that they’re doing what the Lord wants.
  • I think we have gotten so used to when they sustain the presidency during conference, we hear those people in the background who are saying ‘no.’ We didn’t hear it during the solemn assembly. There was no outburst. That to me was a calming, peaceful feeling during that. We’re all sustaining him and there weren’t any dissenters that we could hear anyway. I appreciated that. That [the outbursts] usually takes away from it for me.
  • It feels one on one to me and how the Spirit speaks to us so individually that when we stood there and when we raised our hand and sustained him, it was personal. It was with the angels writing down our testimonies and us having a connection with the prophet in that moment even though there were millions of us.
  • I also think that with him and the other apostles in that moment to see all of the support. Not only to sustain them on our end, but for them to see the support. To do anything in life, when you have support matters and to see 21,000 hands plus millions at home that you don’t see, sustain you and support you, I’m sure that added a huge comfort and strength.

I think offering in our prayers to bless him and help him and to also do all that we can for the things he asks of us. A lot of it is faith. Sometimes it takes faith to obey and that’s part of our sustaining.

How does the pattern of the succession of the church eliminate errors, conflicts, and ambitions, and ulterior motives? You think about how the world handles putting presidents into office, or CEOs, or other political roles.

  • After the appropriate amount of time has passed, there’s no general election, there’s no campaigning, there is a way that it is done. There is a way that the Lord has said how it’ll be and they all agree on it. How much more smoothly could it go? Not saying that I’d like a say in the matter, I don’t necessarily, but it’s nice to know we don’t have to worry about choosing and researching candidates. Heavenly Father has ordained this to be the order of things. We basically know who will be the next prophet. It’s not like ‘oh your dad was the prophet, so now you get to be the prophet.’ It’s a very smooth, preordained process.

Back after Joseph Smith died, it so many months before most of the Twelve came back. If you remember Sidney Rigdon, he was in the First Presidency with Joseph Smith, and he called a meeting of people in Nauvoo and said that he thought he should be the next prophet. Then Brigham Young started talking to the people and that’s why there is order in this, to help it work out.

  • It eliminates pride, ulterior motives and miscommunications at all levels. It allows us to the peace of mind that it’s all under control. Our faith is able to build on that without the weaknesses of our personal bias and our own perceptions. Those are all taken out in this special calling.
  • I was thinking that we don’t have to wait long either. Because it’s so smooth and it happens, not right after the previous prophet dies, but we don’t have to wait several months for things to take effect. It transitions from one to the next without missing much of a beat.
  • So, it’s by seniority, right? I think it would be a fun assignment in heaven to orchestrate those apostles lives so that they would be ordained at the right time and the right one will become prophet.
  • I don’t know if I’m mistaken, so I hope that someone is far more knowledgeable than me, I thought that they had said that it has always been by seniority, but it is a decision they reach unanimously. It doesn’t have to be by seniority, but I do love that it is unanimous. It’s not like they vote and go with the majority. It’s something that the Lord gives all witness to, but I do agree, I think angels in heaven may say, ‘she can hold off for ten more minutes because he needs to be born over here.’ I do think we like an order to things. Our faith is needed more in order, so maybe that’s why thus far it has been by seniority.

In the quorum, they might have different opinions, but when they discuss things, they still meet and discuss until they all come to an agreement.

  • I always found it interesting, when I was in high school the Pope died and to see that process versus what we go through in our church. There was so much debate over who would be next and so much secrecy. They go in and there’s this vote and there’s this smoke and it’s very fascinating, but it is this long, drawn out process. In our church I feel like there is this knowledge, that we know who will be next. We don’t have to worry. There’s not this secrecy. We know exactly what happened in this meeting. That example versus what we do in our faith, the differences in how it’s done.
  • I was in high school too when that happened and to imagine if that were our church and if you could back an apostle and be like, ‘I want to take him all the way to the presidency. To think about the chasms that that would open up in our church and between members. If your apostle didn’t make it – I don’t know, I just think we’re really blessed that we don’t have that campaigning and stuff in our church.

Elder Stevenson said how he has had the chance to get an up-close glimpse of the past professional life of President Nelson. We all know that he is a heart doctor. He said he was invited to go with him to a meeting where they were honoring President Nelson [as a pioneer in heart surgery]. He said, “That evening numerous professionals stood and expressed their respect and admiration for President Nelson’s outstanding contribution to his medical specialty. As impressive as each of the presenters was in describing President Nelson’s various accomplishments, I was even more spellbound by a conversation I struck up with a man seated next to me. He did not know who I was, but he knew President Nelson as Dr. Nelson, director of the thoracic surgery residency program at a medical school in 1955.

This man was President Nelson’s former student. He shared many memories. Most interesting was his description of President Nelson’s teaching style, which, he said, brought with it a large measure of notoriety. He explained that much of the teaching of heart surgery residents was conducted in the operating room. There, residents observed and performed surgery under faculty supervision, as a laboratory classroom. He shared that the operating room environment under certain faculty surgeons was chaotic, competitive, pressure filled, and even ego driven. This man described it as a difficult environment, sometimes even demeaning. As a result, resident surgeons even felt their careers were often on the line.

He then explained the unique environment found in President Nelson’s operating room. It was peaceful, calm, and dignified. Residents were treated with deep respect. However, following the demonstration of a procedure, Dr. Nelson expected the highest standard of performance from each of the residents. This man further described how the best patient outcomes and the best surgeons came out of Dr. Nelson’s operating room.”

We know he operated on President Kimball and I also read he operated on Elder Ballard too. [Our teacher then shared a personal family story related to a heart surgery performed by President Nelson. It was not included here as this will be made public in our blog. Please reach out to her if you want to know the story.]

We know President Nelson has dealt with physically the heart and also our hearts. Elder Stevenson said, “When I envision a Christlike heart in daily practice, I see President Nelson. I have not met anyone who exemplifies this trait at a higher level than he does. It has been a remarkable tutelage for me to be in the position to observe firsthand the manifestations of the Christlike heart of President Nelson.”

I want to leave my testimony, I know that he is called of God. I hope that I can follow the things he asks of us, of me and from any prophet, not just him. I’m grateful for the gospel in my life. I am so blessed in more ways than I’ll ever know. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Reread or watch the solemn assembly from the April 2018 General Conference. Journal the feelings this relived experience has provided. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/solemn-assembly?lang=eng
  • As a family, discuss ways you have already sustained and supported President Nelson this year. Discuss ways that going forward, you as individuals and as a family can continue to support and sustain our prophet.
  • Each day this week. pray for President Nelson and those who serve with him.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “The Prophet of God” by Elder Neil L. Andersen (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

Highlights from Sunday’s Council Meeting topic: “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?” – 9/2/18

 

internet

Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can prioritize our different responsibilities?”

  • I have had a roller coaster, right when we had the lesson, I deleted all of the distracting apps on my phone. I had such a fun week, where at the end of it I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I kind of wasted time and I feel guilty.’ At the end of the week there was no guilt and then the next week, I had those apps back on my phone. I noticed, I could see the difference. Then I was like, ‘I need to get rid of these [apps].’ Then there was divine intervention and I lost my phone! And it was such a great week. 😊

I got a message from my sister and she has teenagers now, between work and school and athletics, you all know about that. One thing she sis mention, there have been so many tender mercies in trying to get her kids to all of the good places. I thought, you know, you’re trying and it may not work everyday or every week that you get everything done that you want. The one that was on the top of your list may be down there [at the bottom]. Baby steps. Just do what you can. You’re all doing great.

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I’ve spent a couple of weeks delving into this subject; it wasn’t my first time learning about it, but it has been very enlightening and in some ways depressing, but also empowering as I discovered things. This is kind of a sensitive subject, so I don’t want anybody to feel like you need to share anything personal about yourself or your family. But know that, if you’ve ever read any of the Relief Society lessons that I type up and put into the blog for everybody, I do my best to replace personal information so that anybody reading it wouldn’t know necessarily, that that was you saying that. So, I do try to help with a bit of anonymity and I will certainly do that today. But, I will need your help today as we talk about this.

As I contemplated this topic, I thought about the question of protecting ourselves. Me as an individual, me and my family together. The idea of protection. After all of the reading that I did in so many places this is kind of the gist of what I came up with, so I’m going to detail that for you now. The ways that I felt we could protect ourselves.

  1. Begin by praying for guidance from Heavenly Father. Express your concerns with Him and seek ways that you can appropriately address the issue with your family. Everybody’s family is different and composed of different age groups. So, this will be a unique experience to you. You may have already done this, you probably have, especially those with young ones in your home or teens.
  2. Become informed on the how, when, where of inappropriate media. Taking the time to delve into where is this coming from, how is it being accessed, where is it found? Read the hard statistics and realize that no one is fully safe. We can do all we can in our homes, but our kids are not in our homes 24 hours a day, every day, all year long.
  3. Create an action plan to educate your family on the subject. Again, this is going to be unique to your situation and based on the age groups in your home. How do you talk to little ones who are on the iPad? This is something we need to research for ourselves.
  4. Implement safety measures on all devices children have access to, obviously those within your control.
  5. Discuss with children how they should respond when confronted with unwanted images either from a personal device, home computer or on a friend’s device. Let them know they can come to with any concerns regarding internet images or interactions with others.
  6. Check in periodically with family members of all ages to see how things are going with their ability manage internet safety. You can decide maybe it’s twice a year and you have a special council meeting and you check in and ask how are we doing with our ability to manage this?

I have a few things I want to share with you first before we get into the meat of it and delve into- what are we going to do? This isn’t to frighten you or to disgust you, so I apologize if this is hard to hear, but this is some of the things that I have discovered and we need to be aware of it. There are different resources that I obtained this from, but here they are:

  • The average age of first Internet porn exposure is 11 years old.
  • One out of 7 kids have received a solicitation of porn and there are 100K websites that offer illegal child pornography.
  • The Crimes against Children Research Center says that 1 in 5 teenagers have received a sexual solicitation via the web.
  • and “about 25 percent of the youth who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent.”

Now these are demographics from across the country and not specifically LDS kids. I’m not sure how different it would be, but I don’t know that it is different.

  • According to LDSLiving.com “79 percent of young people’s unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home.”
  • “Nearly 60 percent have received an e-mail or Instant Message from a stranger, and half responded to the stranger’s message”
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding the law around sexting, (if you don’t know what that is it is where teenagers, predominantly teenagers will use their phone to send illicit messages or pictures of themselves to others): half of parents are unaware that it is illegal for a child to take a naked or sexual image of themselves and 28% do not know that it is illegal for a child to send a naked or sexual image to a peer. (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, August 2016)
  • More than half (54%) of young adults ages 18-22 admit to sexting as minors.
    • 28% acknowledged sending photographic sexts.
    • Girls send photographic sexts twice as often as boys. Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2014.0365

  • A recent study commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found 94 percent of children who have been exposed to pornography have that experience before age 14, and 53 percent said they believed what they saw was a realistic depiction of sexual relations.

These are alarming statistics, but I think it’s important for us to really get an understanding of what’s going on and it’s going on when we’re not realizing that it’s going on. We’d like to believe it’s not, but there’s enough of us in this room with kids, we could say there is a fair amount of kids, probably in our ward, that have been exposed to pornography or inappropriate media accidentally, maybe on purpose. I read a statistic on boys that search child pornography because they’re just wondering if they look normal for their age. So, there’s different reasons. As parents, grandparent, aunts, uncles, whatever, we need to be equipped with this information so that we can be prepared to deal with it.

I want to ask you this question now, so be ready to help me out. Tell me where are they finding inappropriate media, where could you find it or your kids? Where do you see inappropriate media or pornography?

  • Television
  • Phone
  • Music (lyrics and videos)
  • Computer/Laptop
  • Advertisements
  • Years ago, I read that a lot of young boys have problems from looking at ads for underwear. Out of innocence, but it happens.
  • My son was coming home from the bus stop and somebody’s trash can had been spilled and there were magazines on the ground. I mean, magazines are something you think they might not see – I take him to the store and I won’t let him look at them. But, there were magazines in the street.
  • Friends
  • School- you’d be surprised. My daughter saved something when she was in school when she called it back up, she got all this other stuff and she was appalled and didn’t know what to do, but she had seen it. Even though they have internet blocks we still need to talk to our kids about it.
    • The school has so many filters set up, yet as a reward for some of our kids that bring back homework, we let them get on a website called “cool math games.” Totally safe, it’s just games. The games are appropriate, the ads on the side were not. We discovered that and had to take that away.
  • One thing my mom struggles with, I have two teenage brothers back home, are the video games. Some of the characters and the games are sexual.

Yes, they are and there is a lot of research going on about the depiction of women in video games. It’s very damaging the way that they depict women, but then there are also some inuendo and sometimes outright acts going on in video games.

  • Anime (adult cartoons that primarily come from Asian countries), and some regular cartoons
  • Social media, phone, tablet, and computer
  • Tablets
  • I’m not sure if it’s really on the topic, but I was looking at all of these things [list on the board] made me think there’s so many things we can use for our kids or teach our kids with. It’s hard knowing how to find that balance. If it’s everywhere, how do we ever let them watch or do anything if it’s so prevalent? It’s hard.
  • It can also be right in plain sight in the middle of the day. It’s hard to determine what’s everyone’s definition of what pornography is. We went to the beach as a family and some of the women were wearing pretty much nothing.
  • Friend’s devices, we don’t know what other parent’s have for the settings on their kid’s devices. So, we have to be cautious and educating our kids to know what to do.

I’m going to read this to you because I feel like this is really important and it comes from Dallin H. Oaks in regards to the dangers of repeated exposure to inappropriate content, especially pornography.

“Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.”

In speaking to priesthood holders Elder Oaks continued, “The immediate spiritual consequences of such hypocrisy are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: “When we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37). Pornography also inflicts mortal wounds on our most precious personal relationships. In his talk to men of the priesthood last October, President Hinckley quoted the letter of a woman who asked him to warn Church members that pornography “has the effect of damaging hearts and souls to their very depths, strangling the life out of relationships” Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior. As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are led to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others. Pornography is also addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it “hooks” its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more.” Dallin H. Oaks (“Pornography” April 2005)

I read this [quote] because I feel like this adds gravity to the situation; not that it isn’t already. We hear the word pornography and it’s a little bit of a frightening word and can be devastating. This quote tells us how devastating it can be. This does not refer to a child who accidentally comes across one image or even a couple of images over time. This is about repeated use, this is about people who continually go back, which they will do if they are enticed to do so.

  • I was in a class one time and it was directed at the kids, and he said, ‘this is what pornography does’ and he drew a short little line. ‘That doesn’t seem to do much to you. It didn’t hurt you, so you go back and do it a couple more times and that’s not as much fun anymore, so you go just a little bit further [draws line longer than the first]. Back and forth and so on and pretty soon you’ve created or drawn a circle where nothing satisfies. I thought it was a good graphic especially for kids. We tell them how horrible pornography is for them and they look at it and go, ‘well, that doesn’t look too bad to me’ or ‘that’s not hurting me, it’s just a tiny little thing.’ But, with the graphic when you use it and say this is what happens you go back and think this feels a little good and go back again and pretty soon you are in a vicious circle. If you’re teaching your kids that might be a good graphic visual for them. It struck me. But that’s with any sin really, but pornography especially.
  • I don’t know if any of you went and saw the movie about the underground railroad, it’s about child trafficking. In the movie, and it wasn’t the funnest movie to watch, but I follow him on Instagram and wanted to know more about it. In the movie it was said, it was more of a documentary, they said that America is the biggest problem for child trafficking. America was close to other countries who buys children. So, Tim has asked these men, ‘how did you come to this point in your life?’ and they said, ‘When I was 12 or 14 I saw an image and you keep watching and watching and pretty soon those needs aren’t fulfilled, so then you need younger and younger and younger. There are these little 7 or 8-year-old children who are being sold. But, it’s where it began.
    • Even Ted Bundy said that is where he started, with pornography.

Yeah, Satan has quite the tool there, doesn’t he?

So, I’ve given you the statistics, a definition basically of what it’s going to do. Inappropriate media is in a lot of ways very much like pornography, in my opinion, in its impact. Let’s talk about some measures we can take. Some of you are probably very aware of what to do and how to do it, so I’m relying on you to join in this conversation.

First, I’d like to know what tangible measures have you taken to limit your family’s contact with inappropriate media or pornography? That means what have you physically done in your home or to your devices.

  • My son is only two, but whenever he watches anything, someone has to be with him. Even if it’s something that I’ve seen before, maybe I haven’t seen it for a while, maybe something comes up and it makes him uncomfortable. Whether its children are fighting or it ends up being something mildly suggestive. It’s been so interesting to strive to be there and to help him understand or to tell him, ‘that’s no good.’ It’s been a really big blessing. Just being there with him whenever he does get exposed to something.
  • We had some issues with my teenager’s phone and thinking I was a good parent, she lost said phone. I found that I had less control because all of a sudden, she was looking at her friend’s phone. When it was her phone I could know, we actually have something called MM Guardian it’s an app that we have and I can block every single app, approve every single app. I can turn it on and off. I can approve how much Wi-Fi time. I can read every text message she sends, not that I’m a little paranoid, but I do, I look at everything. When she lost her phone and she’s on her friend’s devices and I decided I would rather have her have her own cell phone with all of those many, many filters and the supervision. I also have a circle, it’s a Disney filter on the WIFI and it filters all of the kid’s devices as well. Even if someone comes to my house, there is a guest setting and your Wi-Fi will turn off at 8:30pm. In addition to that, nothing that connects to the internet is allowed in any bedroom, at all, ever. We have alternate eReaders, alternate music because cell phones aren’t in rooms.
  • Same thing for us, no computers, no tablets, no phones in the bedrooms. My son has a smart phone that he takes to school with him and he has data, but he doesn’t have internet. He can’t get on Safari, he can’t search the internet. If he’s on the app store, I know. Any app he wants to put on his phone, I have to approve with my thumbprint. Like on my phone, he has his thumbprint programmed into my phone, but his thumbprint can’t approve the app. Even if I was busy and my phone was there and he wanted an app, it wouldn’t approve it. It’s an iPhone thing. Family Share or whatever they call it.
  • It seems like it’s getting younger and younger and younger that I have seen parents letting their kids have the smart phone or a tablet. I’ve considered getting one with basic stuff on it, reading and school related stuff and then I think my oldest is only eight. Eight-year-olds don’t need iPhones and she’s always saying, ‘Mom, when am I going to get a phone?’ I’m like, ‘when you’re older and I have to actually get a hold of you.’ I’m trying to limit how much they’re on something. You see them push back because they want it so bad, but you have to set boundaries because if you don’t, they’ll keep trying. We’ve noticed how they react after they’re done. Like if they’re on it too long, they start to act out or get upset. But, I’ve noticed if they’re on it less, they don’t miss it.

It’s very enticing. There are some studies that have shown that the lights from the phone or tablet is very stimulating in the brain, even releasing some of those pleasure endorphins. So, it draws kids in and they want that, they want to have that feeling.

  • I think it’s really important to talk to your kids about how to handle the situation before the situation actually ever comes up. LDS.org has a great video that watch with them. It has some great advice about how to handle the situations when they come up.

I agree. I found that in my search as well, I started there, in fact. So, yes, there’s lots of resources there. I will provide you with some links when I send out the notes.

  • I feel like we could talk about this forever, but I think this all starts and I’m bringing this up because I’ve been trying to be mindful with how much time we spend on those things. Obviously, the more you drive the more likely you are to get in a car accident. The more access you have to these things, the more likely these things are going to come up. I’m guilty of spending too much time on my phone and when kids see that, they model what you do. I think that’s a big place to start. Evaluate ourselves and see what we’re doing on devices and it’s really easy to just get sucked in and waste an hour and not even know it had been a whole hour. And then I just wanted to talk about really quick, so I’m on Instagram and I follow this guy. He started his Instagram because he was poking fun at bloggers and some other things that happen on social media, anyway, he shifted his focus to make parents aware of what their kids are looking a. I was telling my parents, they’re so kind of old-fashioned, like, ‘do you know what’s on Snapchat? You don’t just send pictures on Snapchat anymore. You scroll through articles and there’s like literal pornography on Snapchat. You only have to click once.’ So, he teaches parents and shows them things. His name is COLINKARTCHNER. He’s really funny and reading his Instagram stories and seeing it has opened my mind and helped to realize that I spend way too much time on social media. I think there’s probably others too, just Google it.
  • Kind of going along with that, something that my husband and I did was to do the challenge from President Nelson with the 7 day fast. My husband and I did that a couple of months ago because we’re not immune to these things either. We’re still human. Just the strength and the power that came from that and heeding the prophet’s counsel. Mornings were really great and as far as spending too much time, one of my problems is going to this Instagram page- it wasn’t super dirty, but it wasn’t uplifting either. Before the fast, I’d find myself always going back like, ‘what’s she up to now?’ and being so curious. But, since the fast, I haven’t gone to it once. It’s not because of me, I feel like I really received help with that. My husband too. We’ve really felt blessed by following the prophet’s counsel and what with all of these filters and having strengthening our internal filters too. We just need all the help we can get.
  • I asked my married daughter a couple of years ago, ‘So, what are you and your husband doing to protect yourselves from pornography?’ She said that every week in their little couple council they check in and report to each other. So, they’re helping each other stay safe.
  • Going back to COLINKARTCHNER, what’s been super amazing about him shifting to this platform that he has is it’s actually super beneficial to kids and parents alike. He starts a conversation and asks youth to weigh in on it and you’d be amazed the stuff they divulge. They are realizing what’s going on in their life and then try to eliminate that. What’s really great is because they divulge this stuff, there’s stuff that I’ve learned about, and I was in Young Women’s for several years and there were many things that I learned form the young women that I didn’t know before, but there’s things like, youth who create two Instagram accounts, the one is fake and that’s the ones where they sext and do anything else. The other one is their good account that they allow their parents to be friends on.
  • When I was growing up, I never had “the talk” with my mom. I think I probably figured it out, I don’t know. 😊 But, I’m still waiting to have the talk. I didn’t know a lot of things as a teenager, so one thing that I’ve really tried to do with my kids is to have that open dialogue. Let’s not make things awkward, let’s not make things uncomfortable, but let’s be honest with each other and really talk. There are lines with my son where I just feel like, ‘tag [husband’s name] you’re it, you go handle that because I don’t know what to say.’ With my daughter, I think the important thing for us to remember, especially as moms that have girls, is that the adversary does not discriminate. He’s not just seeking out boys or men. I think especially with the Snapchat and the Instagram, he’s targeting our young women. My husband and I were having a talk last night and there was a show we really wanted to watch that was on one of the streaming services. We were really looking forward to it and then we looked at the show and it’s rated TV Mature. We were really disappointed because we thought this was going to be a great show and my husband said, ‘what is happening? There is going to have to be a decision. We’re either going to have to decide that we can let our morals shift or we’re just going to have to put the TV out the window!’ There’s so little for us do now with our kids. We have to have that line of communication open and I love what you said about having a council with your husband or with your spouse because we have to discuss everything, it has to be open. We have to do it prayerfully and with the Spirit.
  • I was kind of in the same boat as you, I didn’t get “the talk” so, when I got married, I was like, ‘surprise!’ There were all these new things that I didn’t really know anything about. Obviously, I figured it out, but I thought, I haven’t had to have that talk yet because my kids aren’t quite up there. But it makes me realize I don’t want my kids to have that issue too. Knowing how to approach the subject with them or if they come to you with a question, where do you even start?
    • Because they’re going to get the information. They’ll find it.

Like I said in the beginning, that boys that saw the pornography thought that that was a realistic depiction. Why did they think that was realistic? They didn’t have any information before that, probably, to base anything on.

  • I think it was already touched on by somebody, but I just want to repeat it- I think it’s important to talk to our kids before there is anything, before it’s in front of them. My daughter is 8 years-old and I was like, at what point do you have that talk your kids? How old do they have to be? It’s getting younger and younger. I actually sat down with my daughter and kept it age appropriate, but we had a talk. I dreaded it for like a week, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, what am I going to say?’ But, since I’ve sat down with her, we’ve been on a whole different field. She knows she can come to me, we’ve talked about a lot of different things and been open about it. I was like, ‘wow, I should’ve done this earlier. This is great.’
  • With my kids I told them if there’s something inappropriate that you come across, turn off the computer and come talk to me. I’m not mad that something got through our filter, I’m not angry at you. It’s not your fault. But we have a plan, like you said, an action plan. Turn it off and come talk to me. When they found the magazines, one of the other little boys didn’t want anyone else to see it, so he flipped through it all the way to his house. I realized I had never brought up magazines. That night my son said, ‘I cannot get those pictures out of my head.’ I went through and talked about how Heavenly Father helps us and what to do. He knew I wasn’t angry at him. He knew that it was ok and that I loved him and that Heavenly Father loved him. I think sometimes we put so much gravity on it because it’s serious and that’s a good thing because if kids come across it by accident that they feel like they’ve been sullied. Let them know that there is always a way back. Even if a child has started seeking it out, even if they’ve gone down that road. Heavenly Father loves us. Just like we talked about last week, repentance wasn’t the back-up plan, that is the plan. Let kids know that we all mess up, there’s an action plan and we can move forward.

Definitely, and I think that talking with your kids can happen in a set up Family Home Evening or in a council meeting.

  • Or, in the car when they can’t leave. 😊 You’re trapped, now talk to me.
  • All of these are preventable [actions] and there those who slip through and when that happens, I think we need to really show our kids that whatever they need help with, if they need support. We had an incident and the person brought our whole family together and told us because they wanted the family to help and be there, which the kids were so surprised. They said, ‘you call us up day or night if you need something.’ I think sometimes kids need to realize that we can have family to help us.

Oh yes, and we could have a whole council meeting on what to do after something has happened like that to where somebody is in danger or someone is having a difficulty. The church does provide us with those resources. I want to encourage you to look at those resources online. They’re very, very helpful. They give specific suggestion with young children, middle age children, teenagers, older kids to help you to talk to them about these sometimes very scary topics, which are sometimes hard to talk about.

I have more to share, but I’m out of time. I want to encourage you to begin with prayer with your children, I want you to think about how you want to address this with your family. I challenge you this month, at least once, have that family meeting where you talk about this. I would really love your feedback as we go through the month, when we convene each Sunday. Let us know- how did that family meeting go? Were there any revelations that came to light? Anything that came afterward, your kids expressed gratitude, or felt better, or whatever, I want to know. I think we need to know how this is going to turn out this month. You’ve probably already done it, do it again, please this month. Let’s do this. That will be our action plan this month. I’ll probably write it out a little more specifically, but I challenge you because it is absolutely imperative that we head this off. We take care of this. We as grandparents, when our kid’s kids are over, be aware, your devices need to be set up to where it’s protected.

I leave you with my testimony that Satan is not going to win if we put on our armor and if we put the armor on our kids. We need to put armor on our devices to protect our family and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Action Plan for September:

  • Pray for guidance on how you can create or improve the internet safety within your home.
  • Council as a family on the plan you have implemented. Be detailed on how you as a family will manage the internet and devices within your home.
  • Discuss with children and youth what inappropriate media and pornography is to you (define it). Give them instruction on what they should do if confronted by inappropriate images or texts. (Open the line of communication.)
  • Encourage family members to check in weekly this month on how they are doing with managing internet safety and avoiding other sources of inappropriate media and pornography.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “The Heart of a Prophet” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

Additional Resources

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865656471/Study-finds-majority-of-boys-think-online-pornography-is-realistic.html

 

https://perfectionpending.net/kids-and-pornography-the-statistics-every-parent-needs-to-know-and-how-you-can-protect-your-kids-online/

“Taming the Media”

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/08/taming-the-media?lang=eng

“Family Home Evening: What Should I Do If I See Pornography?”

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/spouses-and-families/what-do-i-do?lang=eng

“Family Home Evening: The Spirit Can Help Me Choose Good Media”

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/spouses-and-families/the-spirit-can-help-me-choose-good-media?lang=eng

 

Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “Until Seventy Times Seven” by Elder Lynn G. Robbins – 8/26/18

70 times 7

This talk is about so many things, but Elder Robbins starts the talk by saying, “Mistakes are a fact of life.” Anybody here never make a mistake? I don’t think I see any hands, Ok, good. Is there anyone here that is perfect? Again, no hands raised. 😊

A couple of examples that he talked about was first, learning to play the piano. I know we have quite a few people here that play the piano, so you think about when you learned to play the piano, how many mistakes did you make? Thousands, maybe even millions. Because it’s impossible to learn without making mistakes.

Another example he talked about was learning a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you think of the embarrassment of making mistakes as you try. Or, even the world’s greatest athletes and all the mistakes that they make because even as professional athletes perform, they still make mistakes.

With the invention of the light bulb, and I really like this example, “Thomas Edison purportedly said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”” I thought that was perfect. It wasn’t that he made that many mistakes, it’s just that that’s how many steps there were for that invention.

He said, ““Success,” it has been said, “isn’t the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.””

I don’t know about you, but for me that’s not that easy. When we “fail” it’s not always easy to maintain enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s harder than others, depending on what the “failure” is. Maybe we don’t always think of them as failures, but making mistakes isn’t always easy especially when we feel that other people have seen it. Sometimes we think that matters, but it shouldn’t.

Elder Robbins talked about a couple of examples from the scriptures. He talked about Nephi and how he failed multiple times in trying to get the plates of brass. He talked about how Moses attempted 10 times before he was finally successful in fleeing Egypt with the Israelites. These men had unwavering faith to go from failure to failure.

“We may wonder—if both Nephi and Moses were on the Lord’s errand, why didn’t the Lord intervene and help them achieve success on their first try?”

Why was it important for them to fail?

  • Maybe to learn to rely on the Lord and ask for help. You notice with Nephi, the first time they didn’t ask the Lord at all and they went and attempted and got nothing. Then the brothers thought they could do it, but got nothing. Then they turned to the Lord and were successful.
  • Another thing about these stories that we hear in the scriptures, we can learn from them, from Nephi and his brothers. They are examples to us, over and over again. If they can have troubles, so can we.
  • It helps you to have empathy for other people.
  • They learned from the whole experience.

As Elder Robbins said, there are four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences:

  • “First, the Lord knows that “these things shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good.”

 

  • Second, to allow us to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”

 

  • Third, to prove that “the battle is the Lord’s,” and it is only by His grace that we can accomplish His work and become like Him.

 

  • Fourth, to help us develop and hone scores of Christlike attributes that cannot be refined except through opposition and “in the furnace of affliction.”

 

“So, amid a life full of stumbling blocks and imperfection, we all are grateful for second chances.” Anybody here not grateful that the Lord gives us second chances?

  • And third and fourths…

That’s exactly correct. This talk is more about that. No one is more on our side than the Savior. He has given us the opportunity to have second chances, and third, and fourths, because He doesn’t count. And that’s a good thing because that would be a long list for every one of us.

“To become like Him will require countless second chances in our day-to-day struggles with the natural man, such as controlling appetites, learning patience and forgiveness, overcoming slothfulness, and avoiding sins of omission, just to name a few. If to err is human nature, how many failures will it take us until our nature is no longer human but divine? Thousands? More likely a million.”

“Repentance is God’s ever-accessible gift that allows and enables us to go from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. Repentance isn’t His backup plan in the event we might fail. Repentance is His plan, knowing that we will. This is the gospel of repentance, and as President Russell M. Nelson has observed, it will be “a lifetime curriculum.””

Every day, this is something that we need. In this talk he also talked about Peter. Peter talked about forgiving and even asked the Savior. Who did I give the scripture to?

  • I think this is interesting coming from Peter because he was His right-hand man. I wish I knew the story behind why he even had to ask. Because he probably thought, ‘I’ve forgiven this guy a lot of times.’ Matthew 18:21-22, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
  • I was just reading above that [in the talk] and I liked what he said, that Peter thought that 7 was a high number and the Savior in response told Peter not to even count. To not even establish a limit to forgiveness.

As humans, I think for us, or for me, I think when someone has wronged us, that seems like a lot to forgive somebody. To me if you think someone has done you wrong, but you turn it around, and if we want to be forgiven for something we’ve done, we’re not going to keep track [of how many times we ask for forgiveness].

  • I know that personally speaking, mistakes that I make I tend to make a lot. The things that I struggle with, it’s not something that I go, ‘I’m going to correct my path and never do that again.’ I try, but I have to because I make it over and over. But maybe the next time I make [the mistake] less severe, or maybe there’s a little bit more time in between the last time I made that mistake. How nice to know that the Lord saying, ‘I know, repentance is the plan. I expect you to learn from that mistake and move forward.’ And sometimes it takes making that same mistake a lot before we can really be finally done with it.

When I thought about this and I thought about some things that some have done to hurt me and if I’ve forgiven someone for something they did to wrong me. It’s hard. Sometimes it can be really hard. But we can’t be forgiven if we don’t forgive others.

  • We were having a discussion along this line yesterday and we were saying, is it possible to forgive, but still protect yourself. You just want to say, ‘yes, walk all over me again.’ Is that part of forgiving? Can you truly forgive and say, ‘but I need to protect myself.’ Is that really forgiving? I’m asking.
  • I have contemplated that same thing because sometimes you have to set boundaries. You have to protect yourself. I remember going through a time where I realized that in order to forgive, to truly forgive and to allow your heart to be protected at the same time, I believe it requires faith that the Lord will protect you. That’s what is going to protect your heart. That can then allow your heart to be soft and malleable and it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt every single time somebody hurts you, but I would rather have that hurt and have the Lord protect me in His own time and in His own way, than create a callous of unforgiveness and justification of my hurt, to harden my heart. That’s what creates a hard heart and then the Lord can’t help us and we’re not offering a broken heart or a contrite spirit. That’s something that I’ve thought a lot about. How do you keep and protect yourself? I think that we trust in the Lord. (And that can sometimes take a long time.) Yes, it can. And I have had a lot of hard heart moments and I can tell you that I haven’t trusted the Lord in certain scenarios, because I didn’t feel ready to trust and I was holding on to it because my heart was too hard.
  • When Elder Bednar was here and spoke, he kind of touched on this when the sister in the Relief Society, she was actually asking about people who abuse the welfare system, and he said there is a difference between forgiveness and justice. An experience with one of my extended family members that’s been in trouble with the law over and over and over again. Our other family members kept bailing her out and bailing her out and it was their stake president who said, ‘she needs to be held accountable for her choices. You bailing her out is not forgiving her and loving her. You’re enabling her to continue the path that she is on.’ So, we really have to be careful that we love and forgive how we feel, but we’re not enabling them to continue on those same paths. (And that’s a hard thing to go through.) It is.

I went through things in my divorce. It was a very hard time to get to the point where I could forgive and move on and not hate and not have that bitterness that affected my children and for them to be able to have the relationship they deserved and not have my feelings affect that relationship. It took a long time. Lots of years. It’s a hard place to get to because it couldn’t affect my life forever and it couldn’t affect theirs. Hard to get there.

  • Sometimes I think the Lord does protect us by speaking to us to remove ourselves from the situation. When you’re talking about abuse and things like it, it’s not just your heart that needs protecting, it may be your family, or your physical being, or it may be your financial welfare and your independence. If you are able to forgive and then truly seek the Lord’s guidance in what to do, His protection may be removing yourself from that person. And that’s different than always thinking, ‘oh that person’s going to hurt me’ instead it’s saying, ‘you know what, I know this is what I’m supposed to do’ and just step back. If you’re turning into the Lord’s hands, He’s going to guide you to the right path.
  • And it’s easier to do that once you’re able to let the Lord be in control. You’ll be able to see there needs to be a boundary and this is where I’m setting it because the Lord loves you both.

I thought of a scripture that goes along with this that I learned about 100 years ago in seminary, ok not quite 100 years, maybe 50. D&C 64:10

“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

That’s another one that reminds us that we can’t pick and choose. We have to forgive everybody. We can’t say, ‘oh I’ll forgive them of that, but I’m not going to forgive you.’ It’s important that we remember that.

  • I think it’s important for myself to remember that it’s not my job to decide who’s forgiven and who’s not. I’m grateful that that’s not my job to sit in judgment and decide when to forgive. I’m grateful that the Lord has the love He has for me and will forgive me and I guess I look at other people and I try not to look at them with judgment because that’s not my place. That’s not, gratefully, that’s not my job. (Yeah, we’re not in their shoes, we don’t know.)
  • I think sometimes as members, we are so excited when a convert comes into the church and are baptized and they receive that blessing of forgiveness. But we’re not always so forgiving of members who have been members all their lives and have gone astray and have come back. We should be just as happy for them. No matter what they’ve done, if they’re coming back it’s our job to welcome them with open arms.
  • And following along that train, we may forgive others, but how often do we forgive ourselves? To just say, ‘ok it’s done, we’re going to move on and try to do better.’ Then we might make a mistake again. The person telling you that you’re not good enough is not the Lord.

Presumably, as was said before, Peter thought 7 was a sufficient number, but as we all have been talking about, that’s obviously not the case. There is no number. I like the comment that Elder Robbins said in here, “Obviously, the Savior was not establishing an upper limit of 490. That would be analogous to saying that partaking of the sacrament has a limit of 490, and then on the 491st time, a heavenly auditor intercedes and says, “I’m so sorry, but your repentance card just expired—from this point forward, you’re on your own.”” I really liked that and the humor in that, to lighten it up a little.

“The Lord used the math of seventy times seven as a metaphor of His infinite Atonement, His boundless love, and His limitless grace. “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.””

Obviously, we have to go through the process, we have to be truly repentant and ask for forgiveness and really want those things.

The Savior is perfect, but none of us and He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Elder Robbins gave an example, “In 1970, as a new freshman at BYU, I enrolled in a beginning course on the essentials of physics taught by Jae Ballif, an outstanding professor. After finishing each unit of the course, he would administer an exam. If a student received a C and wanted a better grade, Professor Ballif would allow the student to take a modified exam covering the same material. If the student received a B on the second attempt and was still unsatisfied, he or she could take the test a third time and a fourth, and so on. By allowing me numerous second chances, he helped me excel and finally earn an A in his class. He was an uncommonly wise professor who inspired his students to keep trying—to consider failure as a tutor, not as a tragedy, and to not fear failure but to learn from it.”

What an amazing concept!

“Recently I telephoned this great man 47 years after taking his physics course. I asked him why he was willing to allow students unlimited attempts to improve their grade. His response: “I wanted to be on the same side as the students.”

“While we are grateful for second chances following mistakes, or failures of the mind, we stand all amazed at the Savior’s grace in giving us second chances in overcoming sin, or failures of the heart.”

It just makes you think. Have any of you had a teacher like that in school?

  • I took a chemistry class in college and you could take it up to 5 or 6 times and it drove me nuts. You still have to keep on going and then retake it. You might get worse or you may get the same [grade]. Just take it once. But it was helpful.

The fact that you would keep learning and to give you that option. Life is full of second chances obviously because of the Savior. The fact that we get to have that opportunity- every day we need second chances. The biggest thing to remember is that we give others second chances.

Does anyone have any experience they would like to share when they’ve either given someone a second chance or they’ve been given a second chance?

  • What happens in Relief Society stays in Relief Society! 😊 One of my kids, he’s an awesome kid, the best kid ever and he’s been given a challenge in life he didn’t choose, but he has a reading disability so school is hard for him. He was doing driver’s ed and it didn’t even occur to me to talk to his teacher beforehand. He went in and took the exam and failed. He was devastated. The teacher, I don’t know anything about him personally, but best teacher ever, because I called him and I said, ‘here’s the deal, he failed, what do we do?’ He said, ‘I wondered with the way he took the test, I saw that he looked defeated.’ And he gave him the opportunity to take it again and again and said, ‘I’ll do whatever I can do to help him pass this test.’ I looked at it like this teacher was being an advocate for my kid the way the Savior is an advocate for us. We have unlimited chance. We might not choose the challenges we have, but we all have them. Instead of saying, ‘well, you tried, your got one try and you’re done’ we’re given the opportunity to do it again and to maybe do it differently. That was a really tough thing for him. He had to take that test 5 times before he passed. As a mom, I prayed and my husband kept saying all of those things [the four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences]. My husband is so sensible and when he said those things it made sense, but my “mom’s heart” was breaking and wanting him to succeed, but when he passed that test, it was the sweetest moment for him and for me. I saw that he prevailed, he got through it. I’m so grateful that the Savior is our advocate so we don’t have to go through these things alone.
  • Mine’s kind of a silly story. Back many years ago there was a cute guy in the single’s ward and I thought he was pretty cool and then I found out that he dated someone that really, really, I thought went out of her way to make my life difficult. I found out that my currently sweet and wonderful husband had dated her. And I was like, ‘nope, I don’t want anything to do with that.’ They broke up and quit dating and I still thought he was pretty cute, but he had dated her. I was telling somebody, ‘I don’t know, I really liked him, but that’s who he was dating.’ She turned me and said, ‘Oh we went out a couple of times and he is amazing.’ I thought to myself, ‘he picked this one who grated on my nerves and he also picked who I thought was the coolest person ever. So, I decided to give it a chance. It is such an example of what would I have missed out if I had taken that preconceived notion? Maybe it wasn’t even a mistake that he dated her first. But if I hadn’t listened to the quiet Spirit whispering, ‘it’s ok, it’s ok, I’ve got a plan.’ And I do – I have my amazing, wonderful husband who I couldn’t have picked a better person if I had had a choice of everybody in the world. I think the point is I thought I was making a decision based on information that I thought was accurate and if I had stopped at that point, I would’ve missed out on so much. And it would’ve been to my detriment.

I’m very grateful for second chances. I’ve had many in my life. I’m grateful for a kind, loving Heavenly Father who has been patient and loving with me in so many ways. I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t get a second chance. I have a wonderful, loving husband who was a big second chance for me. We’re both here because we got a second chance because we both made some mistakes the first time. We’re both grateful for that.

I’ll close by bearing my testimony that I know this church is true, I know that God lives and that Jesus is my Savior and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Journal about an experience you have had with second chances and detail how that impacted your life.
  • Have a Family Home Evening lesson about the “four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences” that Elder Robbins mentioned.

NEXT WEEK: Council Meeting Topic, “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

Highlights from Sunday’s Ministering Topic Discussion: “True ministers focus on the needs of others.” – 8/19/18

helping others 2

Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”

  • I had forgotten to pray one morning and to ask Heavenly Father what to do [for Him] and while I was driving with my kids I offered a little prayer ‘Heavenly Father help me to figure out one thing that you would like me to do today?’ That’s something from the council meeting that I’ve tried to work on. Not long after that I had an impression to text a friend and just tell them, ‘hey I just want to let you know I was thinking of you today. Hope everything is going well. I haven’t told you that I love you lately.’ It wasn’t very long and they texted me back and said, ‘I needed that so much today. I was just praying to find direction and confirmation that what I’m doing is right and praying for comfort and assurance and right after I prayed I got your text.’

That is impressive. That’s motivational for the rest of us. We all want that too!

  • I am getting to the age where my friends and I are starting to think about going on missions. A friend of mine got online and found that one of her friends is actually over the Polynesian Center in Hawaii. So she texted them and they said we really need you and they got real excited thinking they would be going to the Polynesian Center. Well, it fell through and then some other people called and asked, ‘How would you feel about the Congo?’ They’re probably going to get their call this Wednesday, but she said they went from paradise to somewhere else. So, we just had a big discussion over the weekend about how they’re feeling about what they were hoping for. She said she doesn’t know where they’re going but you have to think in your mind and change things and be willing to go where You want me to go.

Prioritizing the Lord and where You want me to go. We can have our hopes. That’s another example for the rest of us. I’ll do what You want me to do today, dear Lord.

 

***************************************************************************

“True ministers focus on the needs of others.”

In my search, I found out that in every Ensign since the ministering program was put out, there’s an article on ministering principles and guess what September’s is? It’s about meeting the needs of others. I’m going to use this article to help me put some cohesion to this topic. This is how it starts, he says,

 “God has invited you to minister to an individual or family in your ward or branch according to their needs. How do you find out what those needs are? The principle of counseling, which has been such a focus in the Church, is key.

After discussing what we might consider counseling about, we will explore:

  1. Counseling with Heavenly Father.
  2. Counseling with the assigned individual and family.
  3. Counseling with our companion.
  4. And counseling with others assigned to the same individual or family.”

I hope this doesn’t ruin the Spirit, but I have to tell you guys that I’m a big hypocrite in this. I told my daughter this morning we’re going to minister and you’re my partner. So, this is a lesson to myself. Maybe that put you all at ease. I need you guys to teach me.

What do we council about?

 “Understanding needs is essential to ministering to one another. But what forms can those needs take, and is there something more than needs that we should find out?

Needs can come in many forms. Those we serve may face challenges that are emotional, financial, physical, educational, and more. Some needs are higher priority than others. Some we will be equipped to help with; others may require us to enlist help ourselves. In our efforts to help meet temporal needs, don’t forget that our call to minister includes helping others progress along the covenant path, preparing for and receiving the priesthood ordinances essential for exaltation.

In addition to counseling about an individual’s or family’s needs, we should seek to learn their strengths. What don’t they need help with? What abilities and gifts do they have that could bless others? How are they uniquely suited to help build the kingdom of God? An individual’s strengths may be as important to understand as his or her needs.”

A sister and I were talking about this topic this week and I asked her to help me. She told me she remembered a scripture that helped her to understand ministering. Do you mind sharing that?

  • I remember the testimony I received about ministering and it was more so about counseling and all the things the Lord has been putting together in the direction of the church. This was after they announced the new structure of Relief Society, I read a scripture, I think it was Moroni 6:9 and it talked about the church when they met together they were led by the Spirit in everything. I liken that to ministering in that when we minister to people we’re supposed to have the Spirit with us so that we can see their strengths. I minister to one sister and right now I don’t know what she needs because she is so amazing. But, to look at someone’s strengths and figure out what the Spirit wants me to know.

Moroni 6:9 9 “And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.”

  • So, it sounded like, as they gathered, they didn’t have a set curriculum. They didn’t have a set visiting teaching message. They went by the Spirit. And I think that would create a connection between us and the sisters in the Relief Society that we can’t get if we’re just going off a script because we might be distracted from what that sister needs or what I need. I think the Lord needs us to connect and that connection can happen through the Spirit.
  • I was talking to my mother-in-law about this this week and she was saying how my father-in-law is kind of sick of hearing about ministering. He doesn’t really know why we’re talking about it so much. She said ‘the reason we’re talking about ministering is because it’s the same thing that we’ve always been doing, it’s just that we don’t have to feel guilty, we don’t have to feel like we have to do it, but we serve in love. If you’re serving in love then you’re ministering.’
  • To take away the guilt!

I think it definitely puts the point of ministering with love. How better to know and love somebody than to serve them and to look for their strengths and recognize their strengths? Not to judge them.

  • You know we have so many aspects to the church and when it came to family history, genealogy stuff, they kept saying that we would get the spirit of Elijah. It never hit me. I just kept thinking, ‘what is wrong with me? I don’t get the spirit of Elijah. I don’t really care about those people.’ I was happy to go to the Temple, but as far as digging into it, I didn’t care. Then what happened to us? We are called to be in the family history! Th one thing I could care less about! I have found, and you could call this testimony, that the more you do, the more you care, the more you want to dig. You get in those stories and it gets into your heart. I think the more you do, the more you want to do. It’s probably the very same with ministering to our families and other people. We just learn to love them. We get to know their strengths and weaknesses and we can help where we need to. We can become a part of their family and they can become a part of our hearts and minds. It grows on you.

When I was preparing, I found this blog from a Latter-day Saint woman who talked about her ideas. She did have a great point when she said, ‘this is all a great idea, I get it, but what if you’re assigned to someone that intimidates you, or that’s hard to reach out to, or that makes you uncomfortable?’ She said, ‘I also know that to get to where I need to be, in order to be sanctified and become a better disciple of Christ, I need to stretch. So, what do we do? Well, I’m not a church authority by any means, but I will tell you what I do- I pray like crazy and do it scared. Yep, scared. I love John Wayne’s quote, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”’ I never thought I’d quote John Wayne in church, but there you go! 😊

So, the first point is counseling with Heavenly Father. “One of the central tenets of our faith is that Heavenly Father speaks to His children (see Articles of Faith 1:9). When we receive a new assignment to minister to someone, we should counsel with Heavenly Father in prayer, seeking insight and understanding into their needs and strengths. That process of counseling through prayer should continue throughout our ministering assignment.”

 I want to show this 2-minute video. It’s one of the videos they put out when the ministering program started. Just listen and then be ready to share some of the insights you heard.

See the video titled, “Simple, Individualized, and Led by the Spirit” (2:20)

https://www.lds.org/ministering/effective-ministering?lang=eng

 What hit you from that?

  • As I was listening, some thoughts came to mind, and it wasn’t necessarily what they were saying, was two things: the theme that we’ve had for sacrament meeting, the gifts of the Spirit and the priorities that we’ve been talking about [this month] – they can all combine. I saw probably our Heavenly Father’s desire that as we cultivate our own ability to feel the Spirit, to prioritize, to learn our own spiritual gifts, I know my patriarchal blessing came to mind and some of the gifts that I have, and what am I doing with them? Am I burying them? Am I hiding them? Or, am I using them to create a better person and then that would or should spill over into my ministering efforts. I think that’s probably what the whole program is for, is for us to minister whether we’re assigned or not. That just becomes a part of us.
  • I really like ‘keep it simple.’ Keep it simple, make it fun.
  • I loved and I’m not sure who said it, but I loved the ‘focus on outcomes.’ What outcome am I trying to get? My outcome isn’t to say, ‘yep, check it off my to-do list.’ My outcome is to make sure that sister feels welcome or to know that I’m there loving her. If I can focus on the outcome, then I can simplify it. It simplifies it a lot. I don’t need to make sure that on a certain day of the month I drop something off at her door even if I didn’t talk to her for a while. But, I need to make sure that the outcome is what I’m looking for and whether I’m ministering to the sisters that I’m assigned to, or just sisters in the ward, or just to other people. My outcome is to bring happiness, to bring joy, and to bring the Lord’s peace.
  • I think we all need friends more than we think we do. We’re all a little bit isolated in our world now. We don’t really get together with women a lot and I have great ministers that come. I know that they care about me. They’ve made it clear that they care about me. I’m just barely getting to know my sisters that I’m going to minister to and it’s neat that they’ve also shared things with me that are special. I look forward to developing those friendships as well. I just think that sometimes we don’t realize – like you said you don’t know where to start and I’ve felt that way before too- but, you’re a good friend to whoever you meet and talk to. You already do that with those you’re friends with. I think we don’t realize how alone some people feel sometimes. If we can just keep thinking about being friends to people. Try to love them and not make it complicated. Sometimes my sisters can’t visit me because I’m busy, but I still know that they care about me and that they would come.
  • A couple of examples, before my husband and I moved from our previous state, this was before the new ministering, we had a home teacher that was very consistent. He would ask to see us, or ask to bring us something. He was always consistent and we knew that he cared. I was also thinking that I really struggled with visiting teaching because I’d always dread that call of, ‘did you do it this month?’ I think switching to the way they’re wording it and the way they’re bringing about now is we’re not so focused on did we get the numbers? Did we give the assigned lesson in the Ensign? Now it’s what do they need, or hey, can I help you with this? For example, a sister came over yesterday to help us can pickles and we were like, ‘we can count this as ministering.’ It doesn’t have to be can we come and sit down and do a lesson and report it. It’s much more relaxed and we can take the opportunity to love and to serve without worrying about the stress of that part of it.
  • I was watching conference when they announced this and I was with somebody who said, ‘oh I’m glad they’re doing away with visiting teaching.’ She had the attitude and I don’t think she had the true spirit of visiting teaching, but she said, ‘I don’t want somebody coming to my house just because they were assigned to me. I don’t want them to come in acting like they’re my friends because they have the assignment to come.’ A lot of things ran through my head and I thought, ‘how can I respond to this?’ First I was thinking, ‘then she hasn’t been visit taught the right way or she hasn’t gone out and done it or felt the spirit of it.’ So, I felt it was kind of two-sided in that. So, I said, ‘I look at this as this is another step in what Heavenly Father is trusting us to do from what visiting teaching has taught is to do for so many years. It’s taking off that checklist and saying. ‘by doing the visiting teaching, I’ve shown you the way and now this is what you should be doing and how you should be ministering.’ Even though that wasn’t what it was called, that’s what we were doing.’ So, now the pressure is taken off, we really need to be friends to these sisters that we visit. We shouldn’t make the call or a text and say, ‘I’ve been assigned to come and visit you every month. We should be sisters, we should be friends, we should have genuine love and kindness. These are our friends. We should be visiting them and letting them into our home and trying to build new friendships. Not as someone we are assigned to minister to. We’re sisters, whether we’re assigned or not, we should be helping them, but more specifically, to those that we have been asked to check up on and visit.
  • Along with what she said, more of a ‘hey I’ve been assigned.’ More of a, ‘I’m your ministering sister, what can I do for you this month?’ Not so focused on the assigned part.
  • I have to say, sometimes I have to be assigned. It’s lame, but you know, if I wasn’t assigned I wouldn’t happen to go visit these two new sisters that I didn’t know. I’d stick with my oldy-goldies, you know? I’m grateful that He gets me out of my comfort zone.
  • I just had another thought that sometimes with kids and noise I don’t always get to focus on conference, but I don’t know about you, but do you remember President Nelson’s face when he announced the new program? You could tell he wanted to share this new direction and I thought if he can show enthusiasm over it, why can’t we? We should.
  • It’s a semantics thing and I understand not everybody feels the same way that I do, but it’s amazing because we aren’t assigned, we are called. That’s a very different thing. I can understand the feeling of being assigned, but we are called and with it comes a mantle of authority. It comes with a responsibility and we receive inspiration on their behalf. And I know there are sisters who are not going to let you in unless you are assigned to come. And once we are called to serve those sisters, I think we are entitled to inspiration in how best to approach that. And if that means never telling that sister that you had a little piece of paper with her name on it, but reaching out to her then absolutely that’s what you should do. That’s why we are supposed to counsel with the Lord. If that means calling them up and saying, ‘as a member of the church you’re supposed to let me in because I have this assignment.’ Then if that’s the way to get in, then that’s what you should do and that’s what’s so amazing about the program is that we have been called to have responsibility for these sisters, we’ve been called to have the authority to help minister to them. You think about how we are supposed to do it the way the Savior did it. This isn’t something that, you know the Savior never said, ‘I have been called to save you, so I’m beneath you, but He said let me wash your feet, let me serve you.’ And we have been called with that responsibility and that’s an awesome thing to be able to serve as the Savior did.
  • I think the calling, like she said, goes both ways too. We are entitled to inspiration for them, but then also, how many times have you learned from the people you were called from? I know there are times that I learn so much from the dear sisters that I was able to visit with.
  • I remember once upon a time that they said, you really need to be willing to let home teachers or visiting teachers come, don’t make it hard on them. I think when we talked about the needs, don’t make it hard on your people. If you have a need, say something. Don’t make it hard on them and make them guess. Because this isn’t a ‘let’s see if we can understand everybody’s needs all the time.’ It’s not that easy.
  • I was assigned to visit teach a sister in my ward a few years ago and she was actually the Relief Society president and she said, ‘don’t come to me, you don’t need to come because I’m fine, I already know what I need.’ I always felt kind of bad about that because she didn’t want us to come and I never really got to know her in the way that I would’ve as her visiting teacher. So, let them come, let them help you, let them come in.

I remember a lady in my ward growing up, I think I must have been old enough to be in Relief Society, but she shared what not to do and I hope you see the humor in it because it’s exactly a nice story, but she was having a regular day like fighting with her teenager and not feeling very good about things and then she found out that her father-in-law passed away. Moments after this news, her visiting teachers come and it was this assigned time they had talked about it earlier and so she answered the door and the visiting teachers perceived it was a little bit chaotic in her house and they said, ‘oh, what’s going on?’ She said, ‘I just found out my father-in-law died and this other stuff is going on at home.’ And the sister said, ‘I can see that we caught you at a bad time, we’ll let you go.’

  • What happened to me, I was sick as a dog and this lady came and she said, ‘oh I came to do visiting teaching but I can see you are really sick.’ I really needed help, but she left and I started balling. She didn’t understand that obviously, and I didn’t ask for help, but it did happen to me. Since then I’ve thought I need to be close to the Spirit and not and not judge, but I know she didn’t want to come in and get the flu or whatever. So, it does happen and I think we do need to recognize that some people really need some help sometimes.
  • I think it’s like the one sister said, sometimes we get so intimidated that we think they really don’t want us. We’re really intimidated by them, or they’re really busy and have a lot going on and I don’t really know this lady. Deep down they’re thinking, ‘please just help me, I’m really sick and need it. Or, please just come and sit with my teenagers for two seconds so I can help the other kids.’ You know what I mean? We might not see it that way, we might just see it as you’re upset right now and should leave you be, but maybe just do instead of asking. I have this friend and her sister has cancer and and she calls herself prideful because she hates asking for help and that’s hard to do. She said there’s been many, many people this whole time that they didn’t give her the choice. They said ‘I’m coming and I’m bring you this, or I’m coming and I’m picking up your daughter and we’re taking her to the park, does this time work?’ You know? Otherwise, she would’ve said, ‘I’m fine, I really don’t need help.’ When really, deep down, she was just thinking that she needs someone. And they did- they just came and did. They said, ‘I’m coming with dinner will this time work?’ Not saying, ‘What night would work?’ We don’t want to be too pushy, we’re not going to bust in people’s doors and say I’m coming no matter what, but just doing. One thing that I think is really cool that I’ve learned from my dad growing up – he just does. He just plows everyone’s snow, he does stuff without even knowing their name. He just does it. He doesn’t ask the neighbors if they need it, he just does it. I think that’s the way they’re [church leaders] are wanting this to go is just helping and learning and seeing what really needs to be taken care of.
  • I have another example of home teachers or ministers, I don’t know how many of you have had a husband in the military and deployed, but they say once they’re gone, that’s when things go wrong. It was probably not even a month after my husband had deployed and I was pulling into our garage [in the previous state we lived in] and I thought, ‘something doesn’t smell right.’ I get out and it smells like burning oil and sure enough as I pulled into the garage, oil is just pouring out from underneath. I was by myself with my two kids and I wondered, ‘what am I going to do?’ The first thing I thought of was to call my home teacher. He’s not a mechanic per se, but he came and said, ‘my friend is right over there at a garage and I’m going to take your car and we’re going to get it taken care of.’ And we got it taken care of and it was nice that I could call them and say, ‘I need help.’ I’m not normally one that will ask very often for things like that, but I was like, ‘ok, suck it up, stop being so prideful, and ask for help.’

All of your stories make me think of the times someone asked us, ‘what do you need?’ and we’d be like, ‘I don’t know, I think I’m good.’ But, there’s times when we need to call on people and that’s such a gift that Heavenly Father’s given us. It’s not just for our benefit, but we are getting these gifts that people that can come and help us and use their strengths to help us in our lives.

I have loved everything you all have said. We got through the first one, counseling with our Heavenly Father, but it’s probably the most important thing. The second thing would be counseling with that individual. I think we kind of hit on that too.

Some things you could think about as you’re getting to know this person,

  • “What are the challenges they face?
  • What are their family or individual goals? For example, do they want to be better at holding regular family home evening or be more self-reliant?
  • How can we help them with their goals and challenges?
  • What gospel ordinances are coming up in their lives? How can we help them prepare?

Remember to offer specific help, such as, “Which night can we bring a meal to you this week?” A vague offer, like, “Let us know if there’s anything we can do,” is not very helpful.”

I know that we have all been guilty of saying that.

  • I know we’re out of time, but it’s been itching at me the whole time. Our teacher today said she’s a hypocrite and I just wanted to share a time when she ministered to my grandma. My grandma shared it with me a couple of times and I don’t know if it’s cuz it was so special to her or if she’s just getting old and just forgets [laughter], but you saw that she was having a hard time with something that was going on and she got a big yellow bowl from the dollar store and filled it with a bunch of yellow things that was just bright and yellow and happy. She took it to my grandma and I don’t think she was her ministering partner at the time, and my grandma shared that with me more than once. It was so special to her that she saw someone that needed recognizing that she would do something and she brought it to her. It inspired me. I was still living in another town at the time and the point I want to get across is, when you minister and people see you ministering it inspires them to do it too. It inspired me. My husband was working at a college and one of his coworkers lost their daughter and I had been wanting to do something for the little girl’s mom and I didn’t know what to do. I knew a lot of people were around and helping them and I didn’t know what to do. So, my grandma shared that with me and their little girl that they lost, she loved pink. I went to the dollar store and I bought a bunch of pink glittery stuff and a jar of peanut butter because she had shared that had smeared peanut butter on her hair one time, and then some glitter because she sprinkled it everywhere. It inspired me to see someone else ministering and this lady wasn’t even in my ward, but I just took it and left it on her porch and didn’t say who it was from, but I left a little note. I just wanted to say that our teacher isn’t a hypocrite, she’s great. Seeing other people minister helps and it spreads the love.

I just want to bear my testimony that I think it’s things like this that Heavenly Father really wants us to stretch and grow. It’s a gift to us. It shouldn’t be a burden. We all have needs and there’s all kinds of people out there that can help fulfill our needs. We all have strengths and talents that can help fulfill other’s needs. I hope we will keep the Spirit with us, that we can be in tune to where those needs can be filled and what we can do to help. I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Counsel with Heavenly Father for inspiration as you get to know the sisters you minister to.
  • Counsel with your companion as you each contact and serve your sisters. Keep each other informed of progress in getting to know your sisters and strive to make time to visit your sisters in their homes.
  • Counsel with those who you minister to- ask specific questions to get to know them and for specific ways to serve them.

 

  • NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Until Seventy Times Seven” by Elder Lynn G. Robbins (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018).