Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sustaining The Great Plan of Happiness

I believe that one of my favorite scripture passages comes from the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. In fact, it is even a Scripture Mastery scripture from the Seminary list of 100 important scriptures to know.

Abraham 3:22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

President Spencer W. Kimball expounded more fully on that scripture when he explained, "A passage of scripture familiar to all of you . . . reads as follows: '. . . intelligences that were organized before the world was and among all these were many of the noble and great ones . . . and he said: These I will make my rulers;' These leaders whom Abraham referred to were noble, good and they had been proven, thus God could entrust them with great responsibilities in his Kingdom on this earth. Were you among those who were noble, good, and tested? The Prophet Joseph Smith said, ' Every man who has a call was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of Heaven.' Yes, you were among those rulers . . ."

I do believe that each of us was there among those noble and great ones. We heard the plan presented by the Father and "sustained" it.

So what was the plan for us, His spirit children?

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

Our Heavenly Father, through His son Jesus Christ, desired to provide us with the experience we needed to show our obedience, by way of proof. This required an experience in which our faith could be tested; therefore an “earth” was created for us to dwell on, to prove our faith and obedience in all that He commanded us. We know that we heartily “sustained” the plan in this “first estate” because of the glory that was added upon our spirit called a body. This body is our very own earth, and it is certainly glorious. Those who did not keep the “first estate” or "opposed" the plan, were never given the glory of their own earth, or in other words, they were not provided with a body in which they could progress.

Now we are living in our “second estate”. By having our body we know we made a righteous decision to sustain our Father in His plan, and therefore are given another opportunity to do it again. Every time we choose to obey and walk by faith, we are in essence raising that sustaining hand, like we do in Sacrament meeting. Conversely, each time we choose to sin we are exercising our right, given to us because of the gift of agency, to “oppose” His plan. In this estate we are constantly reminded of what was told as Adam and Eve in the Garden by the Father, to “choose for ourselves” with the caution of “nevertheless I forbid it” attached. The promised blessing of having been proven in this “second estate” is the “glory added upon our heads forever and ever.” This is the promise of Eternal Life.

Will we mess up at times? You Heavenly Father’s plan included a way to repair the mess.

27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

By applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives we can continually become perfectly obedient and faithful in this “second estate”. It is the proof that the Father requires to show we are responsible and worthy of added glory. It is our way to show Him that we “sustain” Him and His plan for our happiness.

Are there any opposed?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Prayer For America

I testify that America is a choice land. God raised up the founding fathers of the United States of America and established the inspired Constitution. This was the required prologue for the restoration of the gospel. America will be a blessed land unto the righteous forever and is the base from which God will continue to direct the worldwide latter-day operations of His kingdom.” Ezra Taft Benson

"Now, what of America’s future? How can we best show our appreciation to God for these marvelous blessings of freedom, of a place where his true and everlasting gospel was restored, of the preparation and divine guidance in every event leading to that most significant event? We must remember what the Lord told the Jaredites when they were first brought to this land: “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” (Ether 2:12; italics added.)

Many years ago in a volume entitled Beacon Lights of History, Dr. John Lord, referring to the discovery of America, said, after speaking of her great potential, “The world has witnessed many powerful empires which have passed away and left ‘not a rack behind.’ What remains of the antediluvian world? … What remains of Nineveh, of Babylon, of Thebes, of Tyre, of Carthage—those great centers of wealth and power? What remains of Roman greatness even, except in laws and literature and renovated statues? … What is the simple story of all the ages?—industry, wealth, corruption, decay, and ruin. What conservative power has been strong enough to arrest the ruin of the nations of antiquity?

“Now if this is to be the destiny of America—an unbounded material growth, followed by corruption and ruin—then Columbus has simply extended the realm for men to try material experiments. Make New York a second Carthage, and Boston a second Athens, and Philadelphia a second Antioch, and Washington a second Rome, and we simply repeat the old experiments.

“But has America no higher destiny than to repeat the old experiments and improve upon them and become rich and powerful? Has she no higher and nobler mission? If America has a great mission to declare and to fulfil, she must put forth altogether new forces, and these not material. And these alone will save her and save the world. … The real glory of America is to be something entirely different from that of which the ancients boasted. And this is to be moral and spiritual—that which the ancients lacked.”

We are all a part of America’s future. Our job is to learn and benefit from the past and to go forward in righteousness, keeping the commandments of God. In this connection the prophet Lehi said, “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (2 Ne. 1:7.)

As we pray daily to God for guidance, we should all make the same plea as George Washington did in his prayer for our country:

“Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage, we humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.

“Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning and pure manners.

“Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way.

“Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought out of many kindreds and tongues.

“Endue with the spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be peace and justice at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.

“In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail.

“All of which we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”"

Excerpt taken from a speech given at April Conference 1976 by President N. Eldon Tanner.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sustain or Oppose

Isn’t it interesting to note, that anytime someone is given a calling in church, it is announced over the pulpit and, as a congregation, we are asked to “sustain” or “oppose” the call. This act, that might seem insignificant to some, is really a great way to “jog our memory” or teach us about the pre-existence.

Despite what is sometimes taught for truth, there really was only one plan when it came to our salvation and progression on this earth. That one plan was presented by God the Father. We were given a choice to either “sustain” or “oppose” that plan.

Daniel H. Ludlow explained:

“In the process of time each of our intelligences was clothed with a spiritual body by heavenly parents, and we became personages of spirit with bodies of eyes and ears and hands and feet. All of us on this earth had the same Father of our spiritual bodies, and because he lives in heaven, we have been rightfully taught to refer to him as “our Father in heaven.”

Our spirit bodies were capable of tremendous accomplishments, but they also had some serious limitations. There were some laws that they could not obey, and therefore there were some blessings not available to them. Thus, our Heavenly Father called us into a grand council in heaven where he proposed a plan that would give us further opportunities of growth and development by giving us further opportunities of choice. There the importance of moral free agency and its four necessary and essential conditions were explained to us: first, we must have the opportunity of choice—that is, the operation of law; second, there must be the possibility of the existence of opposites—good and evil, virtue and vice; these two make possible the third, the freedom of choice—that is, free agency; then finally, a knowledge of the law and its consequences. All four of these conditions are necessary in order to accomplish the progression that would enable us to become as our Father in heaven, which was the main purpose of the new earth plan that he proposed.

When we lived with our Father in heaven, we did not need to exercise a fullness of faith in whether or not he existed. We knew that he lived because we saw him; we walked and talked with him. We knew he existed and were convinced of his existence, but we were not necessarily converted to him and to his great principles because our knowledge of him had come from external sources without virtually any effort on our part. So that we would come to a knowledge of him in and of ourselves, our Heavenly Father proposed that when we came into this earth life a veil of forgetfulness would be placed over our minds so that we would not remember our pre-earthly existence with him. Only then could the choices that we made here upon this earth truly come from within us. Our Father in heaven then promised us that while we were here on earth he (1) would give us law, (2) would provide the possibility of opposites, (3) would give us free agency, and (4) would send angels and prophets to teach us and give us scriptures so we could learn the laws and understand why we should keep them. Thus, he promised us the necessary conditions on this earth so that we could become morally free.

The nature of law was more than likely explained in that pre-earthly council—that each law has consequences, opposite and equal. Whenever a law is kept or obeyed, the consequence is a blessing which results in joy or happiness. Whenever a law is broken or disobeyed, the consequence is a punishment that results in misery or unhappiness. This simple and perhaps over-generalized explanation of the law of justice portrays how order is accomplished, for in the payment of the law of either obedience or disobedience, the law is brought back into a state of balance and thus order prevails. The law of justice, then, always requires a payment.

But another law also operates in the moral realm—the law of mercy, which in no way robs or violates the law of justice but which makes possible the vicarious payment of broken law. For example, the law of mercy permits the disobedience of a person to be atoned for or paid for by the obedience of the Savior, providing that the person who disobeyed the law will cease being disobedient—in other words, providing that the person repents.

The great plan of salvation and exaltation must also have been explained to us including an explanation of why the possibility of opposition must exist upon the earth and how it would occur through the fall of man, how the law of justice would require a payment for the broken law and how the law of mercy would make the Atonement possible.

When this great plan was presented to us, it was soon evident that because of the Atonement and the principle of free agency, this earth life could become a great testing and proving period. If we proved faithful to all the laws given to us by our Heavenly Father, we would become even as he is and share with him his power and glory. Perhaps it was when we realized this that the “sons of God shouted for joy,” as recorded in the book of Job. (Job 38:7.)

There were some, however, in that pre-earthly council who did not shout for joy. They either lacked faith in our Heavenly Father, in the Savior, or in the gospel plan, or they lacked faith in their own ability or willingness to keep the law that would be given to them. Thus, they actively opposed the plan of our Heavenly Father. Their leader was called Lucifer, “the son of the morning”; he is also known as the devil or Satan.

Lucifer not only opposed the plan of our Heavenly Father, but he sought to amend and change the terms of salvation by denying men their free agency and by preempting our Heavenly Father. The exact words of Lucifer’s boast are contained in the book of Moses: “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1.)

We do not know all of the details of Lucifer’s amended proposal, but we do know from revelation that he “sought to destroy the agency of man.” (Moses 4:3.) This could be accomplished in many ways, including denying us either the opportunity of choice or the freedom of choice. In either case, not “one soul” would have been lost. It is sin that causes a soul to be lost, but how can a person sin if he does not have the opportunity to sin? That is, how can a person disobey a law if he does not have a law?

Lucifer’s proposed amendment appealed to some, but it did not appeal to any of us in this audience. We saw that under his plan we would lose the challenge of growth and progression. We did not want to live in a world where we would be on the same plane forever. We had enough faith in our Heavenly Father and in his plan, in Jesus Christ, and in ourselves that we wanted to live in a world where there would be opportunities for further development. At the same time I am sure we realized that if we were not faithful to these laws and opportunities we might even be worse off than we had been before.

Thus there was a great war in heaven, and a key issue in that war was whether or not man was to be a morally free agent while upon the earth. A vote was taken. (By the way, that in itself indicates that we had our free agency there; in a sense Lucifer exercised his free agency in an attempt to deny us the right to exercise our free agency.) Two-thirds of those present voted for the plan of our Heavenly Father; one-third voted against the plan and did not participate in it.”

Remember...there was only one plan, and it was presented by our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ said He would sustain the plan, and Satan opposed the plan, or created opposition to the plan. We had the opportunity to “sustain” or “oppose” that plan just like they did. Because we have a body, we evidently “sustained” the plan set forth at that time. Today we still have the choice and obligation to “sustain” that plan. When we look at disobedience as “opposing” the plan, it puts our actions in a very different light, don’t you think?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Family: Under Attack

I have decided that the two best ways to learn how to practice the law of consecration are marriage and family experience. Is it any wonder that both are under attack so fiercely?

Today the most watched talk on BYU Broadcasting was the one given by Julie Beck at the BYU Women’s conference, May 1, 2009. Her talk was called “Nourishing and Protecting Home and Family.”

In her talk she emphasized the doctrine of the family as summarized so beautifully in the Proclamation on the Family. She also explained the theology of the family, or as it is more commonly referred to, the great plan of salvation or happiness. The three pillars of this theology are:

1) The Creation- of this beautiful earth for families.

2) The Fall- as a means for families to grow and increase.

3) The Atonement- as an event that will tie families together forever.

Elder Robert D. Hales explained, “In the beginning, Adam and Eve were married for time and all eternity by the Lord. The organization of the family existed in the heavens before the world was formed and was historically started with Adam and Eve on the earth, as recorded in Genesis. The family will exist eternally.”

Both Adam and Eve had leadership roles in their family as given to them in their assignments. They got their responsibilities by virtue of that celestial marriage and sealing.

Ezra Taft Benson taught that this was the order of the priesthood. He said, “This order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government. When a man and a women enter into a covenant with God, just as did Adam and Eve, to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout mortality. This order of the priesthood has been on the earth since the beginning and it is the only means by which we can see the face of God and live.”

Sister Beck explained that marriage is an order of the priesthood, which prepares us for the blessing of Eternal life.

Elder David A. Bednar has taught us two important reasons why marriage is essential. “Reason one, is because the natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation. And reason two, by divine design, both man and woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children.”

Elder Boyd K, Packer said, “The great plan of happiness, revealed to prophets, is a plan for a happy family. It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, that renews itself through the ages. Nothing is more important to the Church, and to civilization, than the family.”

Sister Beck very beautifully explained that families are about “us” and “we”, while the world preaches about “I” and “Me”. It is apparent to me that Satan wishes to dissuade us from living the Celestial law of consecration. “Anti-Christ teachings and principles are always Anti-family and that Anti-family teachings and policies are also Anti-Christ.” I believe that Satan wants us to be unwilling to submit and to be proud and unteachable. Families are the place that we learn how to be consecrated to the Lord, by practice daily, in lessons of unselfish behavior and charity to others. It is no wonder the family is under attack, the importance of the lessons learned in the family are Eternal.

Sister Beck then shared a statement from a talk given in 1980 by Spencer W. Kimball, called “Families Can Be Eternal”.

“There are those who would define the family in such a nontraditional way that they would define it out of existence.

We of all people, brothers and sisters, should not be taken in by the specious arguments that the family unit is somehow tied to a particular phase of development a mortal society is going through. We are free to resist those moves which downplay the significance of the family and which play up the significance of selfish individualism. We know the family to be eternal. We know that when things go wrong in the family, things go wrong in every other institution in society.

Furthermore, many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.”

This was such a testimony for me of how a prophet of God surely saw our day. As a watchman on the tower, he warned us of the attack that would come upon this Eternal unit. Our salvation and exaltation depends on how we view the doctrine of the family.

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this amazing talk on the doctrine of the family, please take the time to do it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brain Sweat

In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 100 we read:

5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;

6 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I love the comfort that this scripture gives to me when I am prompted to share my testimony of certain principles of the gospel with others. But, as comforting as it is, I believe at times this scripture may be used by some as a way to excuse their lack of study of the scriptures themselves.

Elder B. H. Roberts, who was one of the seven presidents of the seventy during his life time, who also wrote the Comprehensive History of the Church, and was known as the “war horse” for the church, shared his thoughts on this scripture in this way.

“He constantly reminded the Brethren that the Spirit would not draw on an empty well. The divine promise, which he took literally, ‘it shall be given you in the very hour’ what you shall say, had an absolute precondition: ‘Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life.’ He stressed the ‘continually.’ ‘Mormonism is for thinkers!’ he often said. He loved the statement of the Prophet on the things of God: ‘Time and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out.’ To him that meant ‘brain sweat.’ ‘Eternal, restless thought that keeps out from the frontiers of discovery is as much a weariness to the slothful, as it is a joy to the alert and active and noble minded.’ (As taken from the book Defender of the Faith, The BH Roberts Story by Truman G. Madsen)

From one who hates to sweat from physical exertion, “brain sweat” seems like a great form of exercise to me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Priesthood: Sworn By An Oath

In Biblical Old Testament times the process of swearing by an oath was common practice. It was a way to assure another that you “gave them your word.” Unlike most situations today, your word was your bond. There was no signing of contracts with notaries involved, it was simply your word or oath, that sealed the deal. We can see this very clearly displayed from an incident in the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi chapter 4 the Lord commands Nephi to kill Laban so that they can retrieve the plates. Zoram, who was the servant of Laban, is tricked into getting the records and following Nephi out of town. Upon seeing his great mistake he contemplates going back to get help.

1 Nephi 4:31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.

32 And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth, and as I live, even so that if he would hearken unto our words, we would spare his life.

33 And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.

34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.

35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.

36 Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.

37 And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.

Even though an oath was fixed and sure, there were different levels of oaths. When they swore by an oath they would swear upon something that was important to them. For example, they would swear by their family, their life, or their Lord. The strongest oath was the one taken that was upon the Lord because it was of greatest value. The terminology would be something like, “I swear by my life that I will do this thing, and if I do not, then I would suffer my life to be taken as payment.”

Notice when Nephi made the oath to Zoram he used the words “as the Lord liveth, and as I live”. This terminology would have been the highest oath that could be given. Zoram’s fears completely left him upon hearing this oath, and he too entered into an oath that he would “tarry with them from that time forth.” Instantly all their “fears did cease concerning him.” The oath, or word, was unshakable.

When it comes to the Oath that is involved in the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, God is the one swearing the oath. It is also important to note that “He swore by himself”.

Genesis 14:30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself;

This is the highest form of an oath that could be given, God swearing by God. This is to let us, as His children know that this priesthood power is “sure”. How blessed we are to have this priesthood “after the order of the Son of God” with the promises that it brings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What is The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood?

Where do you find the actual "Oath and Covenant" of the Priesthood?
Who makes the covenant?
Who takes an oath?
Why is it called the “oath and covenant of the Priesthood”?

These and many more questions plagued me the first year I taught Doctrine and Covenants in early morning seminary. I had come to Section 84 where the Lord outlined the beautiful patriarchal order of the priesthood, but still could not find the answers. In Section 84 we are instructed regarding the blessings for obtaining and magnifying the priesthood.

Section 84:33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

It even refers to the “oath and covenant of the priesthood”, but still not a clue is given to what is meant by that terminology. I asked everyone I could find, and believe it or not, the answers I got would surprise you. The funniest one I think I got was, “That is just what they call it!” These questions were never fully answered until I was privileged to teach Old Testament. Among the “sealed portion” of the scriptures, known as the Joseph Smith Translation in the book of Genesis chapter 14, Joseph Smith adds back 15 additional verses that containing the plain and precious truths lost to the world concerning the “Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.”

Some background information leading up to this point: Lot, Abraham’s nephew had just been captured by a league of five kings who were in the surrounding area of Sodom where Lot dwelt. Abraham formed a group of men to go and battle these kings and rescue Lot. With the Lord on the side of righteousness, Abraham who was still at this point known as Abram, was successful and conquered their enemies. He subsequently had received goods referred to as “spoil” because of the conquest. Instead of keeping it for himself, he went to pay “tithes of all” to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Joseph Smith then adds back this beautiful description of Melchizedek and the priesthood which he holds.

As you read the following verse... look for who specifically makes the oath.

25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.

26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.

27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,

28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;

29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;

31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.

32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.

34 And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;

35 And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire.

36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.

37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;

38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.

39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.

40 And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.

God, who swore by Himself, made the oath. Suddenly the words in Section 84:40 became more meaningful to me, “Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” His promises are sure, least He cease to be God. He has sworn by an oath, that the covenants entered into are made sure by that eternal power called the priesthood. We are simply made beneficiaries of that covenant by obedience to the terms. The terms He has set are to make Him our God, submitting all that we have to him. If we can do that... the promises are sure.

After all God swore by an oath.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Queen of Alll Things Awe-Summ!!!

When Nancy from the Blog Something Marvellous sent me the notice that she had awarded me the most coveted Queen of Alll things Awe-Summm award I simply chuckled and thought to myself, she doesn’t know me very well, does she! LOL But then I simply took a moment to ponder this award as a symbol as it applied to a very important gospel principle. The principle I am thinking of is that of the importance of covenants.

As a member of the LDS Church who has entered into the Temple and made covenants with the Lord, I have actually been given the possibility of this award, as set by the terms of the covenant. This covenant, formally named the Abrahamic Covenant, outlines the terms of the relationship of the Father with the children of Abraham, requiring those who wish Him to be their God, to “walk with Him” in obedience to His Word. In reward for this submission of will, the Father has promised all that He has.

To receive the award, or for symbolic purposes the promise of being the “Queen of all things awesome”, I must simply bind the Lord, or hold Him to his word, by my obedience to my end of the deal. I really do have the potential to become literally a “Queen of all things awesome”, and a priestess by right. This thought is boggling to my mind at times, but therein lies my hope as well. Perhaps Nancy does know me better than I think!

So to all my female friends and fellow saints who have entered into sacred covenants, I award this honor of someday being Queen of Alll things Awe-Summm, but until then, this cute honor, to remind us to be obedient, must suffice!

Here are the rules:

List 7 things that make you Awe-Summ and then pass the award on to bloggers. Make sure to tag your recipients and let them know they know. Also link back to the QUEEN that tagged you.

1) I am a daughter of God and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

2) I understand my divine role as wife and mother and am thankful to be both.

3) One of my favorite things to do is study the scriptures, especially with "study buddies."

4) I am a Family History freak! I love to do genealogy...really anybodies!

5) I belong to a Young Adult Branch even though I am a "Old Dog".

6) I love spending time in The Doghouse, real and virtual.

7) It is easy for me to love others, and I am a "hugger".

I guess it is now my turn to pass on the crown....but my Queenly friends have made it clear it is to stop here!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Vow of A Nazarite

Numbers 6:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord:

3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.

4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.

5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.

7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.

8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord.

A Nazarite is a consecrated man or woman. According to the bible dictionary “it is a man under a vow to abstain from wine, from any cutting of the hair and any contact with the dead. The vow might be lifelong, or for a short, definite period.”

“Nazarite, Hebrew nazar, dedicate, is a vow of a peculiar kind which may be taken by either sex that sets them apart from others for the service of God. The vow may be for life or a definite period of time.

The term "nazarite" comes from the verb nazar meaning to separate, or with persons, to separate them from others, so they are distinguishable, and consecrated to God (Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:16). Others hold that the word nezer, a diadem, contains the orginal concept of nazar, which will then radically signify a crown, and the hair is regarded as a crown to the person. In accordance to this view, the Nazarite is a crowned one, because he has "the crown of God upon his head" (Numbers 6:7), evidently in allusion to the mass of uncut hair, which was considered an ornament (2 Samuel 14:25, 26).

The Nazarite, the one taking the vow, separated himself from others while remaining in the world by consecrating himself to God for a certain period of time, although there have been life-long Nazarites. The uncut hair of the Nazarite also distinguishes him as being consecrated to the Lord, and signifies his vital powers which he rendered to God. The hair is his diadem of consecration, and like the anointed priest he must not defile it by approaching the dead. Some rabbis discouraged the taking of the Nazrite for more than thirty days because it is against the spirit of Judaism. The Nazarite laws could only be kept in Erez Israel (the promised land).”
(Sources:Unger, Merrill F., Unger's Bible Dictionary, Chicago, Moody Press, 1966, pp. 779-780
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 689 )

Are we all not attempting to become consecrated to the Lord? As LDS members we too have a food requirement, known as the Word of Wisdom, and are also instructed in the manner in which we should dress, or given council on our appearance. The “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet outlines that code very beautifully and it applies to all members of any age. We are also cautioned about those with whom we associate and encouraged to surround ourselves with others who are like minded in their beliefs and values.

In fact, these three requirements are very specifically discussed previous to entering into the House of the Lord or the Holy Temple.

Do we strive to keep the Word of Wisdom?
Do we wear the clothing we received?
Do we associate with any organization or individual who would be in conflict with our beliefs?

By becoming consecrated in these ways we are allowed to “separate” ourselves from the world and enter into a Holy place, perhaps even our very own Erez Israel.

Monday, May 11, 2009

One LDS Bloggers Journey

Even before Elder Ballard gave his talk called “Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church” to the graduates at BYU Hawaii back in December 2007, I was involved in On-line discussions about the LDS Church and some of the core doctrinal beliefs we have. My friend Kathryn, LDS Nana, was the one who persuaded me to get involved and “speak out” to teach correctly so that “others would not have a chance to define our beliefs for us.”

My first experience with On-Line discussion came in a forum called On-Faith with Michael Otterson. On-faith discussions are facilitated though the Washington Post, so needless to say it was like being thrown to the wolves! (I wouldn’t suggest it if you are new to On-Line conversations!)

My next experience with the Internet was through a website called Hubpages. It was at Hubpages that I became In The Doghouse and started writing small articles on several different subjects. At the time Kathryn and I were the only ones there who published positive articles about the LDS Church. Hubpages has been a great place to learn about Internet etiquette and community involvement. To date I have published 104 Hubs with 64 of them being directly related to the Church.

Sometime after my adventure started at Hubpages, I decided to write some of my more personal observations and feelings I have about LDS principles and doctrine in a different avenue, and that was the beginning of this BLOG. I have really been having the most fun writing here, in my own little corner of the Blogosphere. Besides writing on this BLOG I have actively searched for other LDS Blogs, and have been really inspired by reading the insights that these great LDS Bloggers share On-line.

My most recent publication on Hubpages is a Hub called, LDS Bloggers. It is simply an article sharing a list of my favorite LDS Blogs. Perhaps you might be interested in seeing what places I haunt on the Blogosphere... if so go and check this link for more information!

I give a big thank you to all LDS Bloggers who willingly share their insights and observations about the LDS Church in a positive way to the world, and encourage others to do the same.

From the words of Elder Ballard:

“Now, to you who are graduating today and all other faithful members of the Church, as you graduate from this wonderful university, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including Newsroom at, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church, and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you, all members of the Church, understand the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel.

We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us. Far too many people have a poor understanding of the Church because most of the information they hear about us is from news media reports that are often driven by controversies. Too much attention to controversy has a negative impact on peoples’ perceptions of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is.”

If you are not quite ready to take this challenge yet, there is still a great work you can do...may I suggest that when you read information On-line that is “of good report” take time to add a “second witness” to the truth being shared by way of a comment. It will encourage those who are trying to share, and also add your testimony to that which has been given.

Perhaps together we can really make a difference one reader at a time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother Is Another Word For Teacher

Firstly, I want to send a Happy Mother’s Day greeting to all the wonderful Mothers out there. Yesterday I posted my feelings about my Mother-In-Law and how it took me a lifetime to come to understand and fully love her. She was simply a harder woman to love than some, but by doing research into her life I came to respect her for who she was. I believe that was the way the Lord helped me to strengthen my Eternal family ties. So if you are struggling with a Mother-In-Law/ Daughter –In-Law relationship, have patience and understand that this is a refining process for both of you. Perhaps a story of one who loved their MIL tenderly may brighten your day. The story is the one of Ruth and Naomi. For a brief synopsis of it please feel free to go here and read it.
Secondly, today is my mother’s Day. Oh, how grateful I am to my very own mother. My mother has always been a teacher in the very sense of the word. Not only did she willingly sacrifice to teach her own children and grandchildren, but for over thirty years she taught other children too. She was probably the best kindergarten teacher the world has known. Yes, my mother is definitely a teacher! She has taught me so many things; mere words can not express my feelings for this great woman.

Gordon B. Hinckley once gave a talk called “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother” where he stated, “I know of no better answer to these foul practices that confront our young people than the teachings of a mother, given in love with an unmistakable warning.”
He then gave a list of things that a mother needs to teach their children.
  • Teach your children when they are very young and small, and never quit.
  • Teach them to seek for good friends.
  • Teach them to value education.
  • Teach them to respect their bodies.
  • Teach your sons and daughters to avoid illegal drugs as they would the plague.
  • Teach them to be honest.
  • Teach them to be virtuous.
  • Teach them to pray.
These things and many more, my dear mother has taught to me.
Near the end of his address he gave a prophetic warning to all mothers, “Do not trade your birthright as a mother for some bauble of passing value. Let your first interest be in your home. The baby you hold in your arms will grow quickly as the sunrise and the sunset of the rushing days. I hope that when that occurs you will not be led to exclaim as did King Lear, ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!’ (King Lear, I, iv, 312). Rather, I hope that you will have every reason to be proud concerning your children, to have love for them, to have faith in them, to see them grow in righteousness and virtue before the Lord, to see them become useful and productive members of society. If with all you have done there is an occasional failure, you can still say, ‘At least I did the very best of which I was capable. I tried as hard as I knew how. I let nothing stand in the way of my role as a mother.’ Failures will be few under such circumstances.”

For heeding the words of this great prophet of God, my dear mother, I simply must say “thank you”. For teaching me all I need to know to be a mother myself, I can say no other praise but “I love you”.

Your great work is shown by the lives of your children and grandchildren. I am assured that when the great day comes, you will hear the words of the Father praising your works, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother-In-Law Is Now Mother-In-Love

I suppose I must confess that this tribute to my Mother-in-law was conceived because of an article I read called Turning Mother-in-law into Mothers-in-love. After reading the article memories of my Mother-in-law flooded my mind. My relationship with my MIL was tentative at best for most of my married life. I suppose I could say it was all her fault, but as the article explains, “Life is often a series of epiphanies, little revelations that can change lives and relationships if we apply those new interpretations to our life experiences. The Apostle Paul said in Corinthians: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11). For me, putting away my childish attitudes regarding my MIL came as I began to know her better by studying her life. A beautiful sense of understanding filled my heart and, at last, I was at peace with my relationship with her, unfortunately this only came shortly before she passed away.

Upon her passing I was privileged to be the one chosen to compose and deliver the eulogy at her funeral. If you ever have feelings of unkindness towards someone, attempt to write only good things about them. It is a healing process I recommend to all.

As Mother’s Day approaches I felt compelled to share the story of my Mother-in-law, and take joy in the wonderful woman she truly was.

Phyllis Margaret Bjorkman Dowden was born at home, on a Wednesday morning in Logan, Cache County, Utah, on February 21, 1917 to Cyril Oscar Bjorkman and Arlene Eliza Checketts. Her mother said she had a full head of black hair with bangs that looked as if someone had taken scissors and cut them.

Phyllis was the middle of three children born into the Bjorkman family. Her brother Lloyd was born two years before her, and her sister Berenice came two years after her.

While a small child, Phyllis lived the first five years of her life in Utah. Both sets of her grandparents lived very close to her and played an important part in her life. Her Grandma and Grandpa Checketts lived on a farm in Providence, near Logan, a place she loved to visit. Her grandmother had a beautiful flower garden to which she attributed her great love of flowers. Her Grandma and Grandpa Bjorkman were also near to her. Her Grandpa was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he joined the church and immigrated to America. He was a fun loving man with a thick Danish brogue; he taught her a Danish song that she never forgot. Her Grandmother was a young woman, just in her forties when Phyllis’ mom and dad made her a grandmother. Consequently, she thought she was too young to carry the title and insisted that the grandchildren call her “mother”. Phyllis said this was quite confusing to such a small child. Many a time, Phyllis would go to meet her grandmother as she came walking home from a session in the Temple.

When Phyllis was five years old her family left Utah and went to live in Bend, Oregon. Her Grandfather managed the Knitting Mills in Utah and her father worked as a traveling salesman for him. When the company built a new mill in Oregon the family moved there to work. This did not prove to be a promising venture and they “lost everything.” They stayed only a short time there and moved on to California.

As a child Phyllis was shy. She spent many a time hiding in the broom closet when anyone came to visit. She was also very strong willed. One time at her own birthday party her mother did something to displease her and she wouldn’t join her guests for a long time.

In California the Bjorkmans lived for a year in Venice. Phyllis’ mother would take the children down to the beach almost every afternoon to play. Here she developed her love for the ocean. The year was 1923 and the beaches were clear and uncongested.

This was the beginning of her long established residence in California. From Venice they moved to a cleaning establishment on San Fernando Road that her father’s Uncle George had purchased. Her mother and father ran the business and lived with the children in the rear of the plant until the “law said they couldn’t live there anymore.” They moved across the street and rented an apartment in the back of a store. It was while living here that her brother Lloyd was hit by a teenage driver while crossing the street and was nearly killed. The rear wheels of the vehicle narrowly missing running over his head. He was left with a scar on his upper lip from the accident. Soon the laundry business failed and they moved to Eagle Rock.

In Eagle Rock they lived in the back of a restaurant that her Grandma Bjorkman was running. Her mother and grandmother did the cooking, while her Aunts Alta, Portia, and Mary waited on tables and did the cashiering. One day her mother had had enough and took the children and started walking towards Glendale to meet dad who was driving home from an errand he was on. When they all met up they drove to Glendale and rented a house on Elk Street, and this is where they stayed.

In Glendale, Phyllis’ mother went to work for a laundry and her father became a salesman for them also. It was here that Phyllis started school at Pacific Grove Elementary School and continued on in the Glendale school system until she graduated from Glendale High School. While in high school she took a sewing class and loved it. In sewing class she finished her project first before anyone else so she was given a pattern and material to make a white pleated skirt. The skirt was so wonderful it was sent to the Pomona Fair and won first prize. This started her long grand adventure as an accomplished seamstress. Phyllis was very artistic and creative. She designed and sewed all her own clothes and hats.

After graduation from High School she went to work as a salesperson in a sports shop called the Dotty Lee Shop on Brand Blvd. This was during the depression and jobs were hard to find. Phyllis made her mind up to get a job and she did. She worked in this shop for about eight years and made $16.00 a week including working all day Saturday from 9 to 9. Here Phyllis was in the height of fashion. She designed clothes and sewed for many people. She was never seen in anything but the best attire, everything matching from her hat to her gloves, from her purse to her shoes. She even made clothes for her sister Berenice. At this time in her life she continued her education by attending night school.

While working and going to school Phyllis was also very active in her church. When Phyllis and her family moved to Glendale, they attended church in an office above a drug store on Brand and Chevy Chase Drive, the office was a meeting place for a Carpenters Union during the week. At that time there were no chapels in the area and very few members of the church. Phyllis was baptized in the old Adams ward in Los Angeles. Because her family moved around so much when they came to California, she did not get baptized until she was 10 years old. She and her sister Berenice were baptized at the same time and have never been separated in any endeavor since.

After meeting above the Drug store, the church services were moved to the Steppers Auditorium on Broadway, it was here she attended Mutual in her teen years and also went to church dances. Then the church moved to meet in the Masonic Hall on Brand Blvd., they met there until the first official chapel in Glendale was built.

While attending the Glendale West Ward Phyllis' Bishop, Reid Callister, introduced her to a dapper young man who had just moved here from Utah to attend The University of Southern California, Lynn Jensen Dowden. In September 1945, she married Lynn at the Wee Kirk of The Heather Chapel, in Forest Lawn Glendale. They were then given a reception in their honor at the home of her bishop Reid Callister and his wife Norinne. Lynn and Phyllis wasted no time in sealing their union for eternity and set immediately out for the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed there. President George Albert Smith, the Prophet of the church performed the ceremony. After the ceremony, Lynn's parents had an open house for them in Salt Lake. When the celebration was over they jumped in Lynn's Plymouth Coupe and headed for Yosemite National Park for their honeymoon.

Next Lynn and Phyllis lived in an apartment in Glendale on Stocker Street while Lynn worked for Bendix Aircraft Corporation. They spent many happy years together enjoying the company of one another in such hobbies as golf, badminton, and "doing the town." During this time Lynn moved into a couple different job situations until he met his long time business partner Bob Garrett, and started Paco Plastics and Engineering.

The year of 1957 was an eventful one for Phyllis. It was in this year that they started their business, built their first home in Arcadia on Fifth Avenue, and were blessed with their first child, Deedra Lynnai. Dee Dee was the joy of their life. Within the next twenty months their lives would change again and their precious son, Gregory Kevin, would join their family. Such happiness could never have even been imagined.

For Phyllis her husband and her children were the light of her life. She prided herself as being an immaculate housekeeper and blessed mother. Many loving hours were spent in the care of her family. She lived to serve them with her whole heart. One of her many great homemaking skills included the art of cooking and entertaining. She was an incredible cook, always trying to please the palate. She would slave for hours in the kitchen making her family's favorite meals with nothing more in mind than pleasing them and expecting nothing of them but a hardy appetite. Her table, when set, was a masterpiece, and her manners impeccable, as well as her children's. She was always the last to be seated at the table and the last one to leave as she took her time to "Enjoy Her Food!"

Being a wife and mother left Phyllis completely fulfilled. She knew the importance of her children and the great responsibility she had to teach them of our Heavenly Fathers Plan for them and how to Choose the Right. She spent many hours reading to her children, making sure they were practicing their piano, dressing them in the finest clothing, (many of which she made) and taking them to primary and church. She was ever steadfast in the everyday practices of the Gospel. They never missed prayers or family night. She was a true Christlike servant to her family and was a genuine follower of the prophet as he advised us to put our family first.

Phyllis was always an active member of the church, holding many different callings, from Relief Society to one of her favorites as a Primary Teacher, with President James Corrigan and Elder Doug Callister being two of her prized students. One of the highlights of Phyllis' life was her experience of being a worker in the Los Angeles Temple. She and Lynn were called to work together there and she recalled those times as some of the most joyous times in her life. She was so contented doing the Father's work and helping others to be able to accept his plan.

The year of 1984 was the beginning of one of Phyllis' favorite adventures, the joy of being a Grandma. Gregory was the first grandchild to enter her life and the "Sun rose and set in him." She experienced this joy again with Andrea, Molly, Emma, Hanna, and Bailey. There were never six more perfect children in the world in her eyes. As she cherished the title of mother she lived for the one of Grandmother.

Phyllis was a woman who was very private, but classic. She spoke her mind, but always held fast to her beliefs. She loved her country and upheld the constitution. If she didn't like you, you knew it, but if she did, you felt it. She loved the gospel and shared it with everyone. She served her God as she served others.

Her goal in life was sketched in one of her journals. It was quoted by one of her favorite speakers, Cleon Skousen;
"Live to Learn-from all that is good and uplifting,
Pause to Pray- asking for help and acknowledging our dependence on the Lord,
Strive to serve- be our brothers keeper, possess charity, the Pure Love of Christ
Think to Thank- Morning and night to our Father in Heaven and to all others for any kindness given to you."

Mom you did truly strive to live your goals and with that as an example at this time, we too wish to Live to Learn, Pause to Pray, Strive to Serve, and lastly, Think to Thank You for the love and example you gave to us.

Remembering you on Mother's Day and always.... Daughter, Wife, Mother and Grandmother.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mothers, Called and Elected

Before the world was created, in Heavenly councils, the pattern was set and the role of women was prescribed. Called by God, to be wives and mothers in Zion, the blessing of exaltation was to be the reward, only predicated on the faithfulness to that calling. Each woman who is on this earth today chose, or elected, to follow this plan and were rewarded with the tools to make it possible, a body of flesh and blood.

As a woman, ours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all living, the one who understood that she had a calling to fulfill and elected, by choice, to do so. Her choice made it possible that “man might be” so that there would be a fullness of joy.

Ours is the grand tradition of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, without whom there would have been no magnificent patriarchal promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which bless all of us today.

Ours is the grand tradition of the mothers of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors from the Book of Mormon, who taught their sons to have great faith.

Ours is the grand tradition of Mary, chosen and foreordained from before this world was, to conceive, carry, and bear the Son of God Himself. We have been called and have elected to help with the divine work of the Lord in “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Elder Matthew Cowley taught, “Men have to have something given to them in mortality to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be saviors of human souls… and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “God planted within women something divine”. That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood.

This eternal calling extends far beyond this life, but is one from which no official release is given. Obedience to the plan that the Lord has set forth in His gospel instruction of discipleship as one who “receiveth His law and does it” makes the promises of Eternal Life sure. Mothers in Zion therefore have received their calling, have elected to fulfill it, and by obedience have made the blessings or promises for doing so sure.

It is such a privilege to be a Mother in Zion.

The picture is of my dear friend Annie, she is to me, a beautiful example of a woman who understands her role as a wife and mother. Thank you Annie for the great example you are for me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Consecration: Part of A Mother's Love

In the book of 1 Kings in the Old Testament we learn of a beautiful story about mothers. King Solomon, who had just received the gift of an understanding heart, has a case brought before him of two mothers arguing over the possession of one single child. The story is as follows:

1 Kings 3:16 ¶ Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.

19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it.

20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.

21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.

22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

Such is the beautiful quality of a mother in Zion. She is willing to consecrate all she has been given for the sake of her children.

On another level, perhaps this division of the “child” could be seen as the impending doom that awaited the children of Israel with the division of the kingdom. Certainly the gift of a child would be the only way to save these wayward children of the Lord as well. Oh, but that is another thing to ponder all together, call me crazy, I simply loved this illustration of the qualities of sacrifice, love, and consecration found in a mother. By the way, try not to get hung up on the fact that these women were harlots....

I like to believe this mother, this woman, was simply one of the "Mothers who know" that Sister Julie Beck referenced in her much debated conference talk. Please take time to read it as Mother's Day approaches. It is a gift you can give to yourself as a mother.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Providing In The Lord's Way

What is the Lords way?

The Lord’s way is so simply yet so perfect. It weaves together the principles of self-reliance and charity to form one beautiful whole. The Lord’s way embraces welfare, meaning the temporal and spiritual well being of the individual. When we provide the Lord’s way it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.

Spencer W. Kimball explained it as such, “Providing for the poor and needy in the Lord’s way means that the giver helps those who are less fortunate by giving according to what he has received from God. He gives freely and with a true spirit of love, recognizing that his Heavenly Father is the source of all his blessings and that he is responsible to use those blessings in the service of others.
The receiver accepts the offered help with gratitude. He used it to release himself from the bondage and limitations of his need and become more able to rise to his full potential, both temporally and spiritually. He then reaches out to help others.
Providing in the Lord’s way humbles the rich, exalts the poor, and sanctifies both. Both are blessed as they keep the Lord’s commandments. Both become more able to give as Christ gives.
Isn’t the plan beautiful? Don’t you thrill to this part of the gospel that causes Zion to put on her beautiful garments? When viewed in this light, we can see that welfare is not a program, but the essence of the gospel. It is the gospel in action. It is the crowning principles of a Christian life.”

The Lord said, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C52:40)

As Disciples of Christ, we should give of ourselves—our time, talents and resources—to care for those in need. We are better able to fulfill this responsibility if we are striving to become self-reliant, for we cannot give what we do not have.

Each member of the Church has individual welfare responsibilities, these are:
(1) To become self-reliant.
(2) To care for the poor and needy.

Father in Heaven has blessed us with everything. He has given us all our resources and material goods and has given us stewardship over them. He never forsakes us but he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves. He has commanded us to use the things we receive from Him to take car of ourselves and our families. We when do so, we are self-reliant.

“The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.

No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life.” ( Spencer W. Kimball, Oct 1977)

Marion G. Romney also stated, “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation, in temporal as well as in spiritual things.”

There will be times in our lives when we will not be able to meet our needs without the help of others. In these circumstances, we should turn first to our families for help. If necessary, we can also turn to the Church. As part of His Church, the Lord has organized a way to help members as they work to regain their self-reliance. We should determine that we will use the help we receive to become more self-reliant and more able to give to others. We cannot be self-reliant without being willing to work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. The Lord has commanded us to work, for work is the source of happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. It is the way we accomplish good things in our lives.

As Disciples of Christ, we should honor our covenants to consecrate ourselves to build up the kingdom of God and to care for those in need. Nearly all of us can give or do something for others, no matter how little we may have. When we strive to give and serve as Christ did, we are abundantly blessed. We overcome selfishness and greed, and we temper our appetites and passions. We develop the desire to give all that we have to the building of the Lord’s kingdom, we retain a remission of our sins, and our confidence grows strong in the presence of God, and we are filled with joy. These are the wonderful blessings that come from giving.

J. Reuben Clark Jr. stated, “The real long term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.”

The message of the beautiful handbook of the Church called “Providing In The Lord’s Way” can even more fully help us to understand the beauty of the Church welfare program. Along with an updated version of this handbook, the Church has just released a DVD called, “In the Service of Your God” to help us learn and apply these welfare principles in our lives. If you haven’t visited the Provident Living website in a while, it is a really great place to receive information in this area.