“And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them…”(Doctrine and Covenants, 45:26).
Our hearts are failing us
It’s happening, wouldn’t you agree? We see it everywhere; the wars, the rumors, the commotion. I used to think that “hearts failing” meant only discouragement in the Last Days. But now when I think of our “hearts failing” us, I’m seeing it another way. What I’m seeing now is that with a cultural emphasis of making decisions solely based on our emotions, we may be in danger of making bad choices. Perhaps there’s more to be considered than just the way we feel about things.Continue reading →
Remember the “Princess Bride” when Vizzini is constantly exclaiming, “inconceivable”? Inigo Montoya calls him out by saying, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” How often do we use words that we do not understand?
Words are powerful. As mothers, we know this, right? I don’t need to *insert cute explanation here* because we live with words every day. We feel their power, their truth, and their meaning. But what if you were to wake up one day to find that all of the words you were using suddenly had a different definition? This would be a “Tower of Babel” effect where everyone around you would be speaking the same language, but no one would understand each other.
The thought of this makes me shudder!
The chaos would be bad enough, but the loss of power would be the worst. There would be no warning of danger, no asking for help, and no way to communicate with those we love most.
We have all seen the definitions of words slip away from their original meanings throughout the years. Sometimes it is easy to pass this off as a natural evolution of words. But what do we know about the importance of holding on to the correct definitions of words?
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.
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.”
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 to “the 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.
 “Bearers of Heavenly Light”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, Nov. 2017
We live in a society where it is “uncool” to be ladylike, act like a lady, and especially think like one. But don’t we secretly long to see a man honor his role and a woman honor her role according to the way God created them? Neal A. Maxwell gave an inspiring talk, in praise of women, back in April 1978, that simply makes me happy to read. I like hearing praise for women being feminine women.
First, he states, “In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.”
Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened in our world today. We don’t praise the identifying roles of womanhood or manhood. We’ve meshed them all together and created a wasteland of the human spirit, all in the name of equality.
Well, this is where I turn to the scriptures to discover what a virtuous woman should be (Proverbs 31:10-31):
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. (Women are to be honored and praised for their womanhood.)
She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. (She tends animals and gardens and clearly works hard all the day long.)
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (A woman’s work is never done. Some of us have help, most of us do not, nevertheless, we all share in the load of providing for the comforts of the home.)
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (She makes important decisions and directs the welfare of her household, which extends into the community.)
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. (Her compassion knows no bounds; she takes care of all she can who are in need.)
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (She provides for her household first, seeing that her children are dressed well and secure.)
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (Every woman has the right to see herself as royalty.)
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (She provides income through her talents and is responsible in that endeavor.)
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (She is intelligent, wise, and kind.)
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (Her children and husband recognize her worth and praise her as a woman of virtue.)
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Faith is more important to her than vanity and appearance.)
You might recognize this quote from Elder Maxwell’s talk:
“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this.”
Of all of the great counterfeits and lies Satan has told, he can never erase the true worth of the women of God. Unfortunately, he has worked hard to mix the genders and their roles. But talks like this stand through the ages, in praise of women forever. It’s as though Elder Maxwell knew what we would face in our day; a prophecy of warning to not succumb to the destroyer. He states, “It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone.” Indeed, Satan tries his best, but we will not fail God. We are His daughters and we know our royal destiny.
The other day I was talking with a friend who was explaining to me her view of the world. She said she liked to be open and learn from whatever was “out there” and she opened her arms wide to show how open she was. I appreciated and understood what she was saying, but the thought came to me that I personally prefer to look deep. I further explained that I’m honestly not interested in what the world has to teach me anymore. People are free to believe what they want, but I have learned that for me I like what the scriptures teach as I find meaning in their depth.
This week, we are covering the welfare session of the October 1977 General Conference. Pres. Kimball talks about consecration and what this principle asks of members of the church. He says,
“Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need–whether spiritually or temporally–and in building the Lord’s kingdom.”
We’ve all heard that definition most of our lives and it’s familiar to us. Earlier this year, in Sunday School, we all had a lesson on consecration. I remember hearing from a few different Gospel Doctrine teachers that they really didn’t know how to teach anything new in this lesson. However, at that time, we were all still learning how to use the new supplemental material offered in the manual. And it gives an interesting additional view of this principle and has spurred me to study it further. In the article called “The Law,” we learn a few more details.
“In these latter days, God has restored the priesthood and organized priesthood quorums and the Relief Society to help accomplish His work (see Moses 1:39). So each Sunday when we gather in Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, we gather to discuss and plan how we will accomplish His work. That is why these meetings need to be more than classes. They are also opportunities to counsel about the work of salvation, learn together from the teachings of Church leaders about that work, and organize to accomplish it. These changes to our Sunday meetings will help us fulfill these purposes.”
The phrase that sticks out to me is “these meetings need to be more than classes.” If you’re like me, you’ve been a little frustrated with Sunday lessons for a while. I’ve heard from others that they are not feeling edified enough after a lesson. We all fall into ruts, but with this new schedule we can take on Elder Bednar’s challenge and catch the vision.
During the 2014 Mission President’s MTC training, Elder Bednar asked “if they as individuals and as a Church will choose to keep pace with the Lord’s hastening. Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?” We all have a responsibility to prepare ourselves to follow the Lord in hastening the work.
In the closing session of October 1977 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball stood before the congregation and said,
“This has been a great conference and as each one of these wonderful sermons has been rendered I’ve listened with great attention, and I have made up my mind that I shall go home and be a greater man than I have ever been before.”
This is the prophet of our church inviting us to become better people.
Next year, our Priesthood/Relief Society curriculum manual will be the General Conference talks we have just listened to. Why? In hopes that we will go home, study them, and become better people.
What examples come to mind when you hear the word miracle? I think of the ancient miracles found in the scriptures: the parting of the Red Sea, the birth of Christ, Christ healing people and raising some from the dead, and Christ’s resurrection, to name a few. What about modern-day miracles? I think of beating cancer, surviving what should have been a fatal accident, or other incredible healing or protection stories.
But what if those kinds of stories don’t apply to you? What if someone you know and love doesn’t survive a terminal illness or survive a devastating accident? Can miracles still be found in your life? According to Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, of the Seventy, the answer is yes. Elder Hallstrom suggested that perhaps we need to look at a deeper understanding of what a miracle is in order to see more miracles around us. He said:
“My limited knowledge cannot explain why sometimes there is divine intervention and other times there is not. But perhaps we lack an understanding of what constitutes a miracle.
Often we describe a miracle as being healed without a full explanation by medical science or as avoiding catastrophic danger by heeding a clear prompting. However, defining a miracle as “a beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand” gives an expanded perspective into matters more eternal in nature.”
“A beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand.” That sounds a lot like a blessing. Can some of our blessings also be considered miracles? I believe so.Continue reading →
Our society today demands tolerance from everyone, however Elder Packer’s talk on The Balm of Gilead, I think, demands an even greater attribute. The Balm of Gilead is about forgiveness.
Do we really have too many haters around us? I believe none of us are true haters. We all just keep making mistakes because we’re human. The real problem is in the forgiving.
Elder Packer simply states: “Leave it alone.” By leaving it alone we don’t make things worse. We don’t let it fester and build up into some uncontrollable thing inside us. By leaving it alone, we don’t become haters. But we must become forgivers.
There are many voices that shout for our attention in the world, but there is only one voice worth listening to.
President N. Eldon Tanner spoke about “Obeying the Right Voice,” causing me to think about the voices I heed. He told story after story of those who listen to the wrong voices. Those voices always end in unhappiness.
For example, he talked about some prison inmates. One inmate, speaking to youth, said, “I’m 45 years old now and I know I’m never going to see the streets again. We’re all dying to get out and you guys are pounding on the doors, saying ‘Let us in.’” Prisons are full of people who listened to the wrong voices but wish now they had listened to the right one.
All of us are born with the Light of Christ. This is a quiet voice that tells us right from wrong. We all know the difference between the two choices. Voices call to us from all directions. Some are cunning, others are distracting. By listening to the Light of Christ within us, we can make choices that bring us happiness.