Category Archives: Testimony

Can You Turn on the Dark?

One of our responsibilities on our mission in Moscow, Russia was to teach an Institute class in English each week. As part of the lesson one evening I planned to share a video. When the time came I asked, “would one of you mind getting up and turning on the dark?” As you might imagine, a fun conversation ensued. Because I’m such a teaser I egged them on, and we went around and round about light verses dark, and which has power over the other.

Let’s talk about the dark

I’m not truly afraid of the dark. Are you?  But, being in the dark is uncomfortable – even in our own homes, a familiar place.  When it’s dark we feel uneasy, we bump into things that we know are there, but we now can’t see …they become obstacles to us. We have a difficult time in making things out.

In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear, reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there, and wonder if there are things lurking that might get us.

We are easily fooled in the dark, presented one thing but told it is something entirely different.  (Think of the haunted houses you went through as a child, where peeled grapes were presented as eyeballs and wet pasta as brains). 

How about doing a simple task in the dark, like coloring a picture? We can’t see the lines that are provided for us to stay inside of to make our picture lovely.  When the lights come up we have drawn all over the page, all out of the lines; something we would not normally do.  (Well, I can only speak for myself, I’ve not seen any of you color.)

What about doing a complicated task in the dark?  Anyone here want to undergo brain surgery while the hospital is in a total blackout?

Being in the dark causes distress, confusion, and problems. Thank you,Thomas Edison.

Spiritual darkness

Could darkness also play role in our spirituality? Absolutely!

Why would the adversary want us in the dark? Because then we are more easily confused and deceived, we are more accepting of inappropriate things, more likely to question truths and standards we have known and lived by. These things make us more prone to sin, thus losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost, leaving us more and more alone to face “the father of all lies”  who, as  Nephi tells us, “…seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2Ne 2: 18, 27). It’s a terrible and predictable cycle downward. Simply put, it makes his devilish job much easier.

In his remarks to priesthood bearers of the Church, entitled “Bearers of Heavenly Light,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave these thoughts on spiritual darkness: 

 

“Darkness reduces our ability to see clearly. It dims our vision of that which was at one time plain and clear. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to make poor choices because we cannot see dangers in our path. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to lose hope because we cannot see the peace and joy that await us if we just keep pressing forward.”

 “Satan will make every effort to create a shadow or get us into a shadow of our own making. He will coerce us to create our own eclipse; he will push us into the darkness of his cavern.”

Spiritual darkness can draw a veil of forgetfulness around even those who once walked in the light and rejoiced in the Lord. Nevertheless, even in moments of greatest darkness, God hears our humble petitions, as we pray, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (1)

Journeying in the light or dark

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”

Proverbs 4:18-19

In the King James version of the Bible the footnotes for these verses clarify what is being taught. In verse 18 they tell us that “the just” are those who are righteous, and that “shineth” denotes “spiritual discernment.”  What does discernment mean?  To be able to see something clearly for what it is, not to be tricked or deceived. So, what would spiritual discernment mean then?  To see things of a spiritual nature clearly.

With these clarifications we see that those who are obedient have light to see by on their mortal journey.  Those who are wicked stumble along their paths in darkness, unable to see clearly the things around them, easily confused, deceived, or fearful.

What is the light?

So, what is the light that the obedient have?

This is the light of Christ” (2) “…which lighteth man that cometh into the world.” (3)

It is that spark of divinity within us all that prompts us as to what is right and wrong, and guides us to truth, though not to be confused with the Holy Ghost whose job it is to testify of the truth once we have found it. And surprise, we all have it! Each of us came to mortality with light. It is part of our spiritual DNA. But, its ability to illuminate things for us, as we have just learned, is dependent upon our obedience to God’s laws.

President Uchtdorf also spoke of the blessing of having this light in our lives:

 “Light, on the other hand, allows us to see things as they really are. It allows us to discern between truth and error, between the vital and the trivial. When we are in the light, we can make righteous choices based on true principles. When we are in the light, we have “a perfect brightness of hope” because we can see our mortal trials from an eternal perspective.” (4)

How bright is your light?

In speaking of spiritual sickness, he gave this simple yet profound diagnosis for those whose testimonies are weak or failing:

“Whatever causes our spiritual ailments, they all have one thing in common: the absence of divine light.” (5)

 Most of us have at some time in our lives felt distant from our Heavenly Father. At these times it is vital to remember these words:

“When the darkness of night falls, we do not despair and worry that the sun is extinguished. We do not postulate that the sun is not there or is dead. We understand that we are in a shadow, that the earth will continue to rotate, and that eventually the rays of the sun will reach us once again.

Darkness is not an indication that there is no light. Most often, it simply means we’re not in the right place to receive the light.” (6)

 “For change to take place, we need to actively let the light in.”(7)

Dispel the darkness and come into the light

“The Light of Christ fills the universe.

It fills the earth.

And it can fill every heart.

“God is no respecter of persons.” His light is available to all—great or small, rich or poor, privileged or disadvantaged.

If you open your mind and heart to receive the Light of Christ and humbly follow the Savior, you will receive more light. Line upon line, here a little and there a little, you will gather more light and truth into your souls until darkness has been banished from your life.” (8)

 Hear the Savior’s own testimony and promise:

 “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (9)

Following Jesus Christ brings us spiritual light

 We have the power to turn off the spiritual darkness in our lives by turning tothe light of the world.” Through our actions, and His grace, our path can be made clearer before us. We will see truth from error plainly. We will have hope in whatever our circumstance. We will stand firmly on the sure foundation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of the blowing false winds of society. And our light will shine brightly to others in the dark, drawing those with an honest seeking heart towards the Savior.

 

[1] “Bearers of Heavenly Light”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, Nov. 2017

[2] Doctrine & Covenants 88:7

[3] John 1:9

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[9] John 8:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Questions Arise ‘Will Ye Also Go Away’?

the 5000It was a large gathering. John calls it “a great multitude.” They had come to listen to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, hoping to see another miracle. They were not disappointed. Christ had the 5,000 sit on the grassy ground. He took five barley loaves and two small fishes offered by a lad, blessed and broke them, and the disciples distributed the baskets of food to the crowd. When all were filled, the remnants were gathered up, 12 baskets full. John records that those who witnessed the miracle then said, “this is of truth that prophet that should come into the world.” [1]

The next day the multitude followed after Him. When they confronted Him about why He had left, He answered that they were more concerned with the food that He had provided than His message. Then came the beautiful sermon on the symbolism of the manna from heaven to the Children of Israel.

 “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead…I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever…”

The crowd was mostly frustrated with this teaching. It was to be spiritually discerned, but they could not receive it. When they realized that their physical need, their bodily appetite, was not to be satisfied again, they lost interest.  John sadly records,

“from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”[2] Continue reading

Light and Dark; Don’t Flip the Switch!

light-in-the-darkI love light. But let’s talk about darkness. I don’t ever remember being afraid of the dark as a child. I mean, no more than usual. Were you? Admittedly, it’s uncomfortable to be in the dark. Even in our own homes, a familiar place. When it’s dark, we feel uneasy. We bump into objects that we know are there but we now can’t see. They become obstacles to us.  We have a difficult time recognizing our surroundings and we wonder if there are things hiding there that might GET US!

In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear. Reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there. We can be easily fooled in the dark. We might be presented one thing but told it is something entirely different. Who can forget sticking a hand into that bowl of peeled grapes and being told they were eyeballs, or the wet pasta that was brains at the elementary school spook alley as a child? That about scarred me for life! Continue reading

I Will Always Follow the Prophet

follow the prophetI’ve been thinking about the phrase I’ve been hearing a lot lately, about how children shouldn’t be “punished” for the sins or actions of their parents.  Let me clarify, as one who should know.  Children are not punished for the actions of their parents, but sometimes they do suffer for them.

Some children suffer a lot more than others, but whenever parents make choices that negatively affect their children, believe me, the children suffer.  I attended World Congress of Families IX two weeks ago.  It was a productive and enriching experience.  I learned and re-learned things and made new friends.  I came home feeling excited about what I might be able to do to curb the tide that threatens traditional marriage and family values.  Let me share with you my personal story of how I know that even though children might suffer for their parents’ choices, but are never punished for them. Continue reading

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

I remember the first time I felt like I was in over my head. I had just graduated high school and the bishop of our congregation, or “ward,” had invited me in to his office during Church. As we chatted about my plans for college and other things, he asked if I would accept a “calling,” or in other words, a church assignment. I was expecting him to ask if I would be the ward chorister or something. But instead, he asked me if I would accept the assignment to be the teacher of a group of teenage girls, or “Young Women,” in our congregation.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a girl graduates from High School or turns 18, she stops attending the teenage girls’ classes, and attends the women’s class, the “Relief Society,” in the ward. I had been really looking forward to attending the women’s classes.

Here Am I, Don’t Send Me!

I was surprised, to say the least. Though I had already graduated, I was still seventeen, which meant that there could technically be a Young Woman in the group of girls who was older than I—the teacher—was. I felt very young and unprepared. I had never taught before. And to make things potentially even more strange, because I had just left the Young Women program, that meant that I was now expected to “teach” the peers and friends I had been in the program with for years! I felt very uncomfortable giving any kind of counsel in such a formal setting to girls that I loved to chat and hang out with. Would they think I was coming off as “holier than thou?” Would it change my friendships?
Continue reading

Terrie Lynn Bittner: Faith in Terminal Brain Cancer

Terrie Lynn BittnerTerrie Lynn Bittner is the Senior Editor of the Mormon Women Stand blog. She is a technical guru who made this website possible. Terrie is an intelligent, published author with many accomplishments under her belt. She loves children, and many of us couldn’t wait every Sunday for her weekly Facebook post about her Primary class. More importantly, she is our good friend, mentor, and confident. Terrie has a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. You can read her conversion story here. She is steadfast and immovable.

Very suddenly, Terrie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is preparing to go home to her Heavenly Father. The time that she has left here in mortality, she is not wasting. On the contrary, she is showing the rest of us how to live with faith and courage. She is teaching us how to love life, love our Heavenly Father, and endure to the end.

The first article Terrie has written since brain surgery was just published on LDSBlogs, and we would like to share it here. We share it as a testimony of not only her strength, but the strength of all of us as women. We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, and together we can do anything–even write articles after brain surgery. Terrie, we are cheering you on. You are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. We love you!

The MWS Team

Click here for Terrie’s first article post-surgery.

Follow the Prophet

MonsonFollowing the prophet is not something I take lightly.  Recently, I read a few blog posts on the internet that bothered me a bit.  The writer of these posts proclaimed to have a testimony of The Book of Mormon, a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  However, he says he does not have a testimony of current living prophets.  In addition, his posts try to convince his readers that living prophets don’t exist.

In an attempt to understand this man, I reached out a few days ago to the readers of our Mormon Women Stand Facebook page.  I posed the following questions to our readers:

1) Is it easier to teach children to follow the prophet, or to follow the prophet yourself?

2) Is it easier to teach children to follow the prophet when you are following the prophet yourself?

3) Is it easier to follow ancient prophets, or modern-day prophets?

4) Is it easier to follow one prophet over another?

5) If you have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the prophet Joseph Smith, which includes the principle of ongoing revelation, is it possible to not have a testimony of living prophets?

Our Mormon Women Stand readers never disappoint, and quite a few people engaged in the conversation.  The comments gave me a lot to consider, and I learned a few things. Continue reading

Trust God, Trust His Prophet—Part One

Primary teacherRecently, the six-and-seven-year-olds in my Primary class were role-playing a situation in which they had to advise a friend who was struggling with a gospel principle. One child said firmly, “Well, you’re just going to have to call in the Holy Ghost on this project.” I thought to myself what a wise bit of advice that was. I wish someone had told me that when I was struggling to gain a full testimony. Read about why I became a Mormon without a testimony. Continue reading

Gaining a Line-Upon-Line LDS Testimony

Young woman ponderingWhen I was baptized just after my seventeenth birthday, I did not have a testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. I wanted one, but I didn’t have one. Just before I started my lessons with the missionaries, a friend taught me how to pray to learn what is true. The missionaries taught me even more about it. Since I had been seeking God’s only true church since I was a child, I set out to pray. I had never prayed for information before. I’d been raised to recite a little prayer at bedtime, but I never asked for advice or to know what is true. I didn’t know how God’s answers would come to me, and the missionaries had given me some possibilities, but told me I’d learn to recognize them with practice. When no answer came to my requests to know if the Church was true, I was afraid. Finally, I realized I was asking a question that was too hard—not too hard for God, but too hard for me. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet. I asked a new question: Should I join this Church? Continue reading

5 Common Concerns: Polygamy, Joseph Smith, and the Church

Some concerns have surfaced about the history of the Church and of Joseph Smith. Is there a way to still be a faithful believer?

 

With the Church’s recent publication of the essays about Polygamy in the Topics section of its website, there has recently been a flurry of criticism both directed at Joseph Smith, and at the Church. I had noticed some common themes in people’s statements that I thought would be good to address. Before I address those five common concerns, let me start with a fictional conversation that will hopefully help you notice a pattern that the Lord has established.

Was Nephi Hiding the Truth From Us?

Imagine you had the following conversation with a friend. (In order for the story to make sense, just know that the “small plates” of Nephi contained a more spiritual history of Nephi’s people. The “large plates” contained a history detailing the wars and other “non-spiritual” events of his people.) Continue reading