Come Follow Me

In our Stake, we had a Stake Auxillary Training yesterday and we covered the new youth curriculum for 2013. It is entitled “Come Follow Me” and looks like it will be a great new way to teach the youth in the Church. It looks to be more focused on helping them gain their own testimonies and to learn how to share the Gospel and to teach others. I think if done properly it can be effective and can be a game changer for all involved.

Here’s the link to check out the curriculum for yourself!

 

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Eternal Happiness Requires Sacrifice

On Saturday, I went to the St George Temple to watch my brother in law get sealed to his fiancé for time and all eternity. It was a long road for them to get to that point, but well worth it.

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The Light of Christ

I really enjoyed this video from Mormon Messages and Elder Bednar on how everyone is born with the light of Christ and is susceptible to His influence. The more we listen and act on promptings that come from this light, the easier it becomes to follow His example.

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President Monson’s Conference Talk in video form.

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As For Me…

Joshua 24:15
“…choose ye this day whom ye will serve;… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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This is one of my favorite scriptures. I remember having a similar plaque in my home while growing up. Now that I have my own home I needed one. This is one of those scriptures that can become a Theme for your life.

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We Are All Enlisted

The following is from a talk I gave to our Ward Congregation on Sunday (March 11, 2012):

Brother Jeffrey R. Holland delivered a speech entitled “We Are All Enlisted”, in the Priesthood Session of October 2011 General Conference[i].  He spoke mainly to the Young Men of the Priesthood, but his message pertains to all members of the Church.

… Satan, or Lucifer, or the father of lies—call him what you will—is real, the very personification of evil. His motives are in every case malicious, and he convulses at the appearance of redeeming light, at the very thought of truth.

As Latter Day Saints, we believe in the words of the Book of Mormon Prophet, Lehi, that there is “opposition in all things”, he also taught “an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.” .  (2 Nephi 2:11,17)

If you believe in the Holy Ghost, if you have felt the influence of the Holy Spirit in your lives, then is it possible that we can feel the influence of the power of Lucifer? Only if we let him by not following the commandments of our Heavenly Father.

(Satan)…is eternally opposed to the love of God, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the work of peace and salvation. He will fight against these whenever and wherever he can. He knows he will be defeated and cast out in the end, but he is determined to take down with him as many others as he possibly can.

So what are some of the devil’s tactics in this contest when eternal life is at stake?

Apparently his effort to stop the work will be reasonably well served if he can just bind the tongue of the faithful. Brethren, if that is the case, I am looking tonight for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up. We are at war,….

If part of Satan’s tactics are to try and silence Latter-Day Saints, then we must speak up for our beliefs and speak out against the evils of the world. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for.

We can read about a similar war for the souls of men and women in the Book of Mormon.  In the year 74 BC, the Nephites were attacked by the Lamanites.

Alma 43:29-30:

…Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land;

30 And he also knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem; 

Prior to this attack, the Prophet and military leader, Moroni had prepared his people by providing them with certain advantages.

Alma 43:19-21 and  37-38:

19 And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing—

 20 Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites;

 21 But they were not armed with breastplates, nor shields—therefore, they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites because of their armor, notwithstanding their number being so much greater than the Nephites.

This preparation of his people by Moroni led to an undefeatable advantage for the Nephites:

 37 And the work of death commenced on both sides, but it was more dreadful on the part of the Lamanites, for their nakedness was exposed to the heavy blows of the Nephites with their swords and their cimeters, which brought death almost at every stroke.

 38 While on the other hand, there was now and then a man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by their breastplates, and their armshields, and their head-plates; and thus the Nephites did carry on the work of death among the Lamanites.

Two years later, the Lamanites came again to attack the Nephites.  This time they had copied the armor of the Nephites.  But to their disappointment, Moroni had prepared the Nephites even more:

Alma 49:6:

Now the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers, yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and withbreastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.

Imagine the surprise of the Lamanites, as this time not only had Moroni given his soldiers armor, this time he had prepared and fortified their cities and homes to repel the Lamanite attackers.

Alma 48: 7-9:

7 Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.

 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.

 And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

Alma 49:1-5:

 1  …the armies of the Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah.

 And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows.

 Behold, I said that the city of Ammonihah had been rebuilt. I say unto you, yea, that it was in part rebuilt; and because the Lamanites had destroyed it once because of the iniquity of the people, they supposed that it would again become an easy prey for them.

 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance.

 Now at this time the chief captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security.

Modern Day Application

What can we do today to prepare our cities and homes from the attack of the adversary? This type of preparation takes time and planning and effort. In order to bind the tongues of men from speaking truths and to stop them from declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who would hear it, Satan is attacking our homes, our cities and our nations. He is spreading his lies throughout all of society. By preparing our homes, we are defending our homes from the armies of evil and their destructive influence.

We can prepare our homes by having family prayer, having Family Home Evening, reading scriptures as a family and individuals, monitoring what type of media is allowed into the home, and dedicating our homes with the power of the priesthood.

Does any of this sound familiar? These are strategies that our Prophets have been teachings us for decades, they are important.  We learn these strategies in Primary, we have been taught in our youth how to defeat the Adversary.  Latter Day Saints should be the most prepared people on earth to defend their homes and families from these attacks.

Elder Holland goes on to say:

we want battalions who will take as their weapons “every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” So I am looking tonight for missionaries who will not voluntarily bind their tongues but will, with the Spirit of the Lord and the power of their priesthood, open their mouths and speak miracles.

The Miracle isn’t that angels will come and teach others for you. The Miracle is that YOU will speak, with the power of the Holy Ghost, and the other person will feel that Spirit and will realize you speak the truth. There is no greater miracle than the conversion of one’s soul. In speaking with the Spirit, the Spirit will prick other’s hearts and open their minds to the light of the Gospel.

From every man, young and old, who bears the priesthood, I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil and him who is the personification of it, but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God. Brethren of all ages, unbind your tongues and watch your words work wonders in the lives of those “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.”

Last year, our Stake President spoke of how the recent trends in the Church are that of all the young men who receive the Aaronic Priesthood and start out as Deacons at the age of 12; by the time they are 19 and of the age to serve a Mission, only 1/3 of them are worthy to go on missions.  Is this an acceptable statistic for The Church, for our Stake and for our Ward? Do we want only 1/3 of our current Deacons Quorum who so diligently pass us the Sacrament each week to go on missions? No, definitely not!  We want 100% of them to serve missions! We must do better and we will do better.

In the same Spirit that Elder Holland gave his speech on the veracity of the Book of Mormon two years ago in the October 2009 General Conference[ii], he delivered this speech to the Priesthood Brethren. He did this impress upon our minds that it is the sacred responsibility of the Men and Women of the Church to prepare their homes.  Brethren and Sisters, I urge you to be wise, stand up and take the lead in preparing your homes and families to defeat the influences of the Adversary in your home.

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Keys to Reading The Book Of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a complex book of scripture that has been written for our day and time. The Book of Mormon contains the teachings of ancient prophets regarding our Savior Jesus Christ and his Atonement. The Book of Mormon was hidden away in ancient times so that it could be brought forth in the latter days.

A lot of work and sacrifice has gone into the preparation of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Many men and women have sacrificed their time, their personal interests; some have even sacrificed their lives for the coming forth of this important book of scripture.  All this sacrifice was for our benefit in increasing our knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the early days of the Restored Church, the Saints were reprimanded by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith for “treating lightly the things you have received” and that the Saints would “remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon” (D&C 84: 54,57).  In modern times a modern Apostle, Ezra Taft Benson, echoed a similar statement:

Now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, etc. Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are “hissing forth” with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fullness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains. Our Church classes are not as spirit-filled unless we hold it up as a standard. And our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations.  – Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign May 1975, pg. 65

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we must ask ourselves, are we taking the reading of the Book of Mormon lightly?

Reading the Book of Mormon is not an easy thing to do, it will take effort, planning and dedication.  You will have to sacrifice something that you are currently doing, and like doing, in order to successfully read the Book of Mormon.  Whether it be time spent watching a favorite TV show, reading a book, playing video games, exercising, work, etc.  You will have to make a conscious decision to choose almost every day, “Do I read the Book of Mormon, or do I do (whatever it is that you are currently doing).”

Some keys to successfully reading the Book of Mormon are as follows:

  1. Plan a time of day, or night, when you will be able to give the Book of Mormon your full attention, free from the cares of work, family and other important responsibilities.  Heavenly Father knows your situation and knows how busy and stressed you are in your lives. He will bless you in ways you don’t currently realize as you sacrifice your time to read the Book of Mormon.  Set aside a pre-determined amount of time each day or night to read so that you will have enough time to focus on your reading and understand the concepts that are being taught. A lot of the stories and sermons in the Book of Mormon can carry over through multiple chapters.  Reading for a set amount of time will help the reader better understand what is being taught.  Just as an FYI, the average half hour TV show is about 22 minutes of story without the commercials. 🙂
  2. Say a prayer before you open the book to read. Ask Heavenly Father for the Holy Ghost to assist you while you are reading and to help bring peace of mind and the ability to focus on what it is you are reading. Ask Heavenly Father for additional knowledge for questions you have regarding the Gospel, the Book of Mormon, or for any trials you are currently experiencing.  Give thanks for the Book of Mormon and the teachings it contains. Give thanks for the untold efforts of others who have sacrificed to bring this book to you.  If we pray for knowledge and understanding the Lord will give it to us line upon line. The prophet Nephi understood this when he said. “Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.  And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high;” 2 Nephi 4:23-24.
  3. Be careful not to read the Book of Mormon the same way you read novels, newspapers or magazines. The Book of Mormon is a unique book and requires us to ponder AS we read. We must pay attention to every word and sentence and how it fits into the preceding verses as well as the verses that follow.  The prophet Mormon had a limited amount of space to write a thousand year history of his people and had to carefully choose what he wrote and how to write it.  After Mormon’s death, the prophet Moroni stated in Mormon 8:5, that the plates he was to write on only had a small amount of room left to write and that he didn’t have enough ore (at the time) to make more plates. He then proceeded to give a powerful closing (at least what he thought was at the time) testimony regarding Jesus Christ.
  4. Pay attention to how you feel during and after you read the Book of Mormon. You will notice that the Spirit of God is present and that it will influence your thoughts, words and deeds over the course of the day. President Marion G. Romney once said regarding the blessings of reading the Book of Mormon:

“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.”Pres. Marion G. Romney – Ensign, May 1980, 67

Recognizing this incredible influence in your personal life and in your family’s lives can be a great motivator for individuals to keep reading the Book of Mormon. These are some of the greatest blessings the Book of Mormon can bring into one’s home – the blessings of peace and charity, or the love of Christ.

Reading the Book of Mormon regularly will bless your life and help you gain a better understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I liken reading the Book of Mormon to the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. If we build our testimonies upon the rock of Jesus Christ by reading the Book of Mormon, we will not fall when the storms of temptations come.

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