His Work Embraces Eternity

I was at the Saturday session of our Stake Conference this evening. Every talk was uplifting. Each speaker left a lasting impression. All the talks had one focus – the saving of souls. These are some of the thoughts that made an impression on me.

One of the first brethren to speak reminded us of the times in the scriptures when there was a need for haste – when Noah was getting things onto the ark, when Moses led the Israelites to the Red Sea, when Lehi and his family departed for the wilderness, when Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled Herod’s bloody campaign against the innocent, when the Pioneers fled their persecutors for Salt Lake. The need for haste is upon us again. The need for our Heavenly Father’s family to come to a knowledge of His plan for them.

If we love our Father in Heaven, we will share His interest in the souls of men. Salvation is in the balance.

And how do we share His interest in the souls of men?

Another speaker answered that for us with a quote from Alma 31:34-35

O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ. Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.

The time for inviting is over. It is now time to bring our less-actives and non-members to the Lord. We do this by being their friend. By being loyal and consistent in showing our love to them. By talking to them of eternal principles. By listening to and caring for them.

The wife of the Mission President shared her thoughts on how to prepare our children and grandchildren for missions. This had my attention because it’s one of my favorite things to learn about. She said there we many who can tell us about all the physical preparations that need to be made, like how many white shirts to buys, or what sorts of things to pack. There are so many spiritual things to be prepared well before the call arrives:

  1. Challenging them to read the Book of Mormon with a missionary perspective.
  2. Making the study of  Preach My Gospel a family experience.
  3. Getting a Returned Missionary to be a mentor.
  4. Being involved in experiences with sharing the gospel with others.
  5. Preparing to enter the temple worthily – it is a far more important thing to enter the temple worthily than it is to enter the Missionary Training Center.
  6. Helping them understand that growth requires change.
  7. Teaching them the value of exact obedience. Preparing them for the boundaries in the mission field so that they will be able to be a support to those who will struggle with keeping the commandments and missionary guidelines. Practice being exactly obedient from when they get their call.
  8. Be clean!

And finally, the last remarks were about temples and how they become the bridge between heaven and earth. We were reminded of the immense sacrifices made by the early saints to build these holy edifices, of the great love and urgency that the early saints had for temple ordinances. Then we were asked this question:

What did the early saints understand about the temple that we do not understand?

I have a great love for the temple. I love knowing that there is a welding link that holds generations together for eternity. But I realized tonight that there is so much more that I need to know and value about the temple to fully appreciate the value of having one so close to me.

I left the Stake Center with a renewed desire to prayerfully bring at least one soul unto the Lord in the next few weeks. I want to show my Heavenly Father that I love him by having an interest in His work, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

 

Question: How are you helping to hasten the work?

Challenge: Bring someone to church this week, or to the next activity in your auxiliary.

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He Is Within Reach

The scriptures are a real part of my life. Most days I’m David battling one Goliath or another, or I’m Mary at the feet of my Savior learning his counsel. Some days I’m Nephi staring stalwart and defiant in the face of my weaknesses declaring ‘I know in whom I have trusted’. Some days I’m the woman who washed the Savior’s feet with her tears. And some days I’m the woman who in desperation reached through the throng of the masses to touch the hem of His garment to be healed.

He Is Within Reach

Lately I’ve found myself reaching out in sheer desperation. Sometimes because I’m weak, sometimes because I’ve done something stupid, and sometimes, just to shake things up a little, it’s a daring combination of both.

So I’ve found the greatest comfort from this picture. I don’t know who the artist is , but aside from the fact that the image is stunning, I know every time I look at it, that there is hope yet. He is always within reach!

I can’t pretend to fully understand how mercy works, but I do know that it does.

As the words of Edward P. Kimball’s hymn ‘God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son’ says:

Oh, love effulgent, love divine!

What debt of gratitude is mine,

That in his off’ring I have part

And hold a place within his heart.

My Shepherd loves me. Restores me when wandering, redeems when oppressed.

I know this of a surety. How blessed I am to know!

 

Question: How do the scriptures come alive in your life?

Challenge: Pay attention to the tender mercies of the Lord in your life and keep a record of them in your journal.

Julie B. Beck Fireside 2010

As one of the world’s leading experts in procrastination, I frequently come across ‘projects’ that I had hoped to accomplish but never quite got around to. One such project was to put together some notes for my friends after attending a Fireside where Julie B. Beck was the main speaker. Needless to say I never got around to it… until now, some four years later.

Julie B. Beck

Anyway, one of my favorite things to do is scribble. I pride myself on almost always having writing implements on me and taking notes at most events I attend. So when the first thing that Sister Beck asked was who had come prepared with notepad and pencil, I was pretty chuffed. It’s not like I’m some super organized, got-it-together kinda gal. Quite the contrary. But this was a good note to start on.

I’m just going to share some of what she said and the impressions I received during that Fireside as I noted them (in bullet form because I really can’t bring myself to do it any other way).

So, without further ado:

  • You can’t delegate your female responsibilities!
  • Every sister is expected to lead and serve for good.
  • The rising generations of Rebekahs and Isaacs are dependent on me.
  • Regarding missions: ‘The Lord has already called your sons and daughters. The Prophet had affirmed that. Your job is to “pack their suitcase” with good spiritual and temporal habits.’
  • This isn’t a time for wringing hands – It is a time for standing up in strength.
  • Women have great power through using their faith.
  • Regarding members who attend Wards and Branches as ‘out-of-bounds’ members: ‘We never turn people away!’ Help them gain their strength where they choose to go so that they can take that strength with them where it is needed when it’s their turn to uplift someone.
  • Prioritize your day – Essential (spiritual needs like prayer and scripture), Necessary (temporal needs like food), and Nice-To-Do (everything else that needs your attention or fulfills you).
  • Leave things better than when you found it.
  • Prioritize and line up behind the Lord.
  • There is not one single thing I can do to improve my stature in the the eyes of my Savior!
  • You are on the right path, just STAY on it!
  • A new season of strength and power is upon this part of Kingdom.

There were so many other wonderful things I learnt at that Fireside. I remember I was filled with a renewed desire to be counted as one of Heavenly Father’s faithful daughters here on earth.

I hope that what I’ve shared will be of some benefit to someone.

I love reflecting on each of these points and reassessing my life to see where I need to make adjustments and where I’ve acquired more strength. Even in the four short years since the fireside, I know that I’ve had a remarkable period of growth. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m definitely on my way. And that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

An Evening with Elder Russell M. Nelson

I was blessed to be able to attend a Leadership Training Meeting this week where Elder Russell M. Nelson, the visiting General Authority, was presiding.

Strictly speaking I wasn’t meant to be there, but I went, first of all to take notes for a friend who couldn’t go, and also because, who wouldn’t want to be there, really? 😉

Elder Nelson was the final speaker. He was preceded by the Area President, James J. Hamula and his wife, and Sister Wendy Nelson. I won’t share the preceding speakers’ remarks, at least not today.

It was such a privilege to hear an apostle of the Lord in the Latter Days. He is such an engaging and charming speaker.

*****

His address was basically based on this question:

What message represents the message from the Brethren?

And here it is, in four parts:

1. They pray that we may increase our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

That we not focus our attention on the programs, but on Him whose Church this is. That we make sure that He would be comfortable if he were present amongst us, in our meetings, in our homes.

That we recognize that the temple is a symbol of our membership, a sign that we believe in life after death, our link to eternity.

2. They pray that we will strengthen our families.

He urged us to understand that the family, the most essential part of the Plan of Happiness, is under attack in the sociology of the world. He emphasized that Satan is at war with God, and has been since the beginning.

“Heavenly Father wants us to choose to come home.”

He shared how since the Restoration, the kinds of adversities faced by the members have evolved. In the early days of the Restoration the attack was focused on Joseph Smith. Then the attack was on the Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon ‘is irrefutable. Absolutely irrefutable!’. The focus of the attack was then turned to the leaders and prophets, and now, ‘they are going right for the heart of the Church – the family!’

“There is a plague on this Earth more destructive than any other the world has ever seen, and that is pornography.”

And how do we combat this plague? Elder Nelson reinforced the idea of a family with both the father and the mother, focused on the temple and the sacred ordinances performed therein. I thought about that for a while, and let me tell you, there is nothing vague about that statement at all.

3. What the Brethren are hoping will happen in this Church.

That the Ward Council will hold its proper place in the Church!

4. The Brethren hope that prospective Elders will be rescued, along with their prayerful wives and pleading children.

Elder Nelson stated the need for the work of reclamation, the need to rescue that army of prospective elders. He hopes that there will be focused, meaningful appointments everyday, in reaffirming our love and our need for these brethren. That to rescue one person could mean the rescue of a whole pyramid of posterity.

*****

In his closing remarks, Elder Nelson urged:

“Wherever your influence is greatest, focus on the Lord. Teach your children principles, don’t respond to behavioral issues with behavioral solutions.”

To say that that statement hit me like a ton of bricks would be an epic understatement! How badly I needed to hear that, no-one will ever understand!

He finished off his address by evoking an apostolic blessing (and this is my favorite part), that:

  • We would be faithful, devoted, devout disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • We would be blessed to feast on the words of Jesus Christ.
  • We would have love at home.
  • We would have the blessing of healing.
  • We would be blessed with his testimony.

This part in particular gave me goosebumps. I have been facing challenges lately that relate very specifically to the blessings he pronounced, and to hear these words uttered by the mouth of a prophet, seer and revelator was nothing short of miraculous for me.

I feel so blessed to have been in the presence of so wonderful a man, foreordained to help lead the people of the Lord in such perilous times. I left the meeting feeling the sweet, calming witness of the Spirit that the words I’d heard were truly from a loving Father in Heaven for the guidance and strengthening of His children.

How blessed we are to live in a world where prophets and apostles once again administer to the people of the world!

 

 

 

 

A Kiss As My Crown

I was sitting in Sacrament meeting today listening to my friend share a talk on hastening the work of the Lord. It was a wonderful talk filled with humor and hope. She was sharing some ideas for how we can be better at hastening the work, one of the suggestions being that we should inquire of the missionaries the names of their investigators and familiarize ourselves with them if they are at church, and a statement she made was : Until you know someone’s face and name, you can’t know their heart. When I heard that, my mind was immediately turned to the lesson I was about to give in Relief Society about ‘Our Father in Heaven’.

I thought to myself, there are a myriad of scriptures that tell us how perfectly our Father in Heaven knows our hearts, which in turn led me to the next logical thought of how perfectly he must know my face and my name! I can’t explain why, but that thought had me overwhelmed with joy. I’ve always known that to be the case, but the way in which the idea was reinforced in my mind was absolutely incredible! How grateful I am for that witness of the Spirit in that moment!

As I thought these thoughts, my mind turned to what my parting from Heavenly Father and Pre-mortality would have been like. A poem started to materialize in my mind and I quickly wrote it down before it could escape me. This is what I imagined that bitter-sweet parting would have been like:

A Kiss As My Crown

‘Go, my child. You can do this.’

Reluctantly He released my hand from His.

A piercing look, brimming with love and pride

From eyes full of wisdom, where eternities abide-

Spoke to me of confidence in my ability to succeed

In all the tests He prepared for me – just as we had both agreed.

A Father’s heart trembled knowing the necessity

Of a trial by fire to gain eternal felicity.

A final embrace, pulled close to His heart,

Before the need for progress pulls us apart.

His parting gift, a kiss on my brow

I wear as a crown in the here and the now. ©

I shared this with the class, and I share it with you now. My hope is that every single person in this world will know with complete certainty that God our Father lives and loves us with an indefinably individual love. I know this to be true through His innumerable tender mercies in my life. All things testify to me of His reality.

How does your knowledge of a living Father in Heaven make you feel?

To Succeed Gloriously

At the start of this year, I wanted to do something different for my resolutions. Instead of making a list of things I would promptly discard within weeks, I wanted to do something lasting, affecting a greater change in me. So I set myself one goal – to consecrate my entire year to the Lord. I’ll spare you the long version, the short version is that I fell short – by a LOT.

As I reflected on the sorry state of my now lapsed year this morning, I felt a surge of disappointment at myself. I had a montage of images of times I conducted myself really badly, choosing the path of least resistance to ingratiate some part of the natural woman in me. I cringed to think of the times I had repeatedly wilfully chosen a worldly pursuit in the place of greater spiritual pursuits. As I tend to do in these situations, my first thought was to write down all the things I had done to come short of attaining the level of consecration I felt I was capable of. I thought of how spectacular my failures have been and how much I would have to write. And in that quiet moment that lives between bleakness and comfort, I was struck with the thought:

‘Why hold on to your failures when your Father in Heaven is more concerned with the times your have earnestly sought to succeed? Write, instead, of your many successes and progress. Repent earnestly for when you have fallen short and recommit to the same goal with a greater understanding of yourself. There are no prizes for a self-defeating demeanor.’

And just like that, there was sunshine in soul once again.

I can choose to wallow in self-loathing and self-pity, or I can choose to celebrate all my successes and progress. I can’t imagine Father in Heaven indulging in that kind of behavior himself, or even having any kind of joy watching us do that to ourselves.

It brings to mind a quote by Elder Richard G. Scott:

God did not put us on earth to fail, but to succeed gloriously!

Don’t you just love that hope-imbued statement?!

So what is the greatest lesson I learned from this past year’s efforts at consecrating my life to the Lord?

I can consecrate my life to the Lord one moment at a time by steadily making choices consistent with what I know to be true. And if I fall short, my Saviour is always there to catch me and encircle me in the arms of His love if I seek him in humble repentance.

Happy 2014 to you all. May the year bring you peace, progress and prosperity!

What are your resolutions this year? Go on, dish. 😉

 

Walking with Christ and Powerful Affirmations

If you know me then you know that I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, fit or in shape. I’m in the process of trying to change that. These last few weeks have seen me fall and pick myself up many a time. I try, I surrender to fatigue or temptation, and before you know it, my choices are inconsistent with my goals and I’m off the wagon. But the best part is, it hasn’t been a crushing fall, so to speak. I’ve just picked up where I left off as soon as I am in the right frame of mind, without any negativity toward myself (as I have frequently done in the past) and I keep chuggin’ along.

So tonight, while my daughter, Zoe, went to her ballet class, I walked around the neighborhood of the church building they use for dancing. It’s situated on a really high spot. So much so that you can see the cross from quite a distance away. It was dark by the time we got there but it was a full moon tonight, so it wasn’t too bad.

I set off with my music player (I still use my old Nokia phone which has over 1300 songs as my music player. Sad, huh? 😉 ) and walked toward a street that I knew would bring me back without any detours. It was a considerable walk for me but I decided to be brave and just give it a go.

I can’t begin to express how much I loved having the full moon within my view as I began my walk. I listened to the amazing music from favorite movie score by Graeme Revell and Thomas Newman. I didn’t want frantic – I wanted inspiring. 

Then, as I rounded my second corner some five minutes later, and in response to some fear that it might be unsafe to go walking at night, I imagined that the Savior was walking near me. I felt better already. I had a prayer in my heart and I was sticking to well-lit residential streets, so I knew I was doing my bit to stay safe.

About ten minutes in, I started to become more aware of my body and its movements. I remembered the scripture that spoke about how the Light of Christ is the light ‘which…proceededeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space– The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.’ (Doctrine  and Covenants 88:12-13) and I became more aware of the air going into my lungs, the beating of my heart, the workings of my muscles, the coolness of the breeze passing through my nose, and caressing my skin on this beautiful Spring evening. I found myself drawing greater enjoyment from the pursuit than I had imagined, simply by being aware that the Savior was involved in every aspect of it. I felt a wonderful sense of connection with Him as I marched on.

Then came the incline in the road, and my unfit body began to protest. I decided to focus on the fact that this part of the street was the most illuminated part I had come across so far, like extra light for the hardest parts of the trek. And this happened several times – the hardest parts seemed to be better lit. I love the spiritual parallel, that when we face the hardest part of our journey, we receive the greatest light if we pay attention to and focus on it.

I reached the last the corner I had to turn and then I would have the rest of the way back, which was just under the halfway mark. It was all a straight road, but a few challenging inclines and the distance was quite significant. But, it was at this corner that the view turned spectacular. As I mentioned before, the area was quite high so I had an unobstructed view of the landscape stretching out in front of me. As the stars peppered the sky above me, the lights from homes appeared to reflect the night sky. And the glorious full moon bathed the rooftops and treetop -and even me!- with her bright beams. My spirits were lifted and I soldiered on.

It was getting harder and harder to keep going but I knew I had to. And in that instant, I remembered something very specific from my Patriarchal Blessing that talked about leaden feet that would forever keep moving and I felt an overwhelming gratitude to my loving Father in Heaven for such specific blessings that not only apply spiritually and figuratively, but ofttimes, quite literally. With that thought, I kept going, and before you knew it, I could see the steeple signalling that had arrived at my destination.

I had not quit. I had persevered and was rewarded with a wonderful burst of serotonin to boost my health and happiness. Not only that, I’d had a very spiritual experience as I felt the loving grace of a perfect Savior and knew that I was known to Him and loved of Him, and that he had my very best interest at heart.

I feel wonderful. I feel blessed.

 

How do you involve the Savior in your daily life? Please share your thoughts.