Tag Archives: Faith

Faith in Jesus Christ is the Key Defense Against Spiritual Decline

In April 2019 general conference, President Henry B. Eyring talked about the differences between a family being spiritually minded and having spiritual decline. Being spiritually minded simply requires faith in Jesus Christ and through that faith, we can feel the Holy Ghost guide us. Spiritual decline, on the other hand, comes in many different forms and branches us off onto all sorts of different paths. President Eyring used the example of the spiritual decline in the Book of Mormon 200 years after Christ visited those ancient people (see 4th Nephi):

  • Pride crept in.
  • The people stopped sharing what they had with each other.
  • They began to see themselves in classes above or below each other.
  • They began to diminish in their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • They began to hate.
  • They began to commit all kinds of sin.

Anyone can look at personal examples of spiritual decline and fit them into one of the above categories. President Eyring said that the underlying cause of spiritual decline is “Satan trying to lead good people down a path to sin and thus to lose the influence of the Holy Ghost.” No matter which category spiritual decline starts in, it all ends the same with losing the influence of the Holy Ghost. How can we prevent that from happening? How can we bring back spiritual mindedness if decline does happen? Continue reading

Calming the Storms of Doubt

Sacred GroveOftentimes I struggle to find enough self-esteem to fill a thimble. It is by far my biggest challenge. I look at various aspects of my life – everything from appearance to filling my roles as wife, mother, teacher, church member and citizen – and one phrase just seems to sum it all up: Not Good Enough. Perhaps you know the feeling. I am well aware that doubt and uncertainty are tools of the adversary, but having that knowledge doesn’t mean they are easy to overcome.

Doubt is such a powerful tool that Satan tried to use it to thwart one of the greatest events in history. We read in Joseph Smith-History about the dark moments immediately preceding the First Vision: “Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction” (JS-H 1:15). In another account of this event, we learn even more about the negative influence on the future prophet. “The adversary made several strenuous attempts to cool the passion of [my] soul. He clouded [my] mind with doubts and brought to [my] mind all sorts of improper images to prevent [me] from attaining the object of [my] endeavors…” (emphasis added)

Joseph Smith did not succumb to those doubts and neither can we. Remember why doubt comes. This account is a great illustration of a simple truth: Satan attacks what is good. Though the heavens may not be opening to usher in the restoration in our lives, the principle is the same. When we are striving to do good, live righteously, and fulfill our eternal purpose, Satan will try to derail our efforts. He knows that he can’t generally do it in the more obvious ways, so he has to subtly pick away at an individual in every way he knows how. I don’t struggle with temptations to steal, murder, commit adultery or anything like that, but I do struggle significantly with being distracted by doubts and allowing those doubts to reduce my effectiveness.

Joseph SmithIn order to stay on track and push the doubts out of my life, I rely on my feisty German side to take over and focus on another lesson learned from the First Vision. Joseph Smith said, “It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?” (JS-H 1:20, emphasis added)

A disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom.

I have always been drawn to that phrase and consider it a personal aspiration. I also want to be a disturber and an annoyer of the adversary’s kingdom. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that Satan doesn’t win a single battle within my sphere of influence. I want to actively work for the Savior and build his kingdom in any way I can. We have to choose a side; there is no place in the Kingdom of God for fence-sitters. One of my favorite quotes is from Elder John A. Widtsoe: “The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth. As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality. We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord” (April 1941 General Conference).

Being on the side of the Lord comes with opposition. We need to recognize when the adversary is trying to render us ineffective and then press forward in righteous endeavors regardless of that opposition. The Prophet Joseph set a great example for all of us. From the time he knelt in that grove of trees until the time of his death, he faced tremendous resistance and hostility but stayed on an undeviating course of righteous accomplishment. We can and must do the same because we are each helping to continue the work he started.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28 states, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” When doubt and uncertainty start to get you down, remember whose side you are on and why those feelings creep in. Don’t let the adversary win. Be a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom by following the counsel given in this scripture. Find your good cause and bring to pass much righteousness in your sphere of influence. Doing so will allow us to feel God’s love and the assurance that we are always good enough for him as we serve him and keep his commandments.

Sugar & Tuppence: Mary Poppins Teaches Eternal Truths

With the release of Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns”, I returned to the original for a bit of a brush-up and found it as delightful as I’d remembered.

Mary, everyone’s favorite hardcore yet endearing Nanny, really does know what she’s talking about when it comes to handling life’s challenges and building character.

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”

I’m a grown woman and still have a terrible time taking medicine. It’s disgusting!

After starring at the little measuring cup full of that vile tasting liquid searching for courage, I plug my nose (though my husband insists it doesn’t help), close my eyes, and throw it back hoping it doesn’t touch my tongue. Then, before I release the nostril pinch, I take several big gulps from the glass of water I’ve got at the ready right beside me. To end the ritual, I typically do a little shiver dance. I know that even though I hate it, if I’ll get through it there will be benefits in the end.

(I’m sorry if all this makes you shake your head in judgment, but you’ll just have to deal with it. At least I get it down.)

When Jane and Michael Banks had to take some pretty nasty medicine Mary knew just the trick, a spoonful of sugar would help the medicine go down. Now, that’s a sweet solution.

Life has some pretty bad tasting moments too.

Life has a way of having us gulp down some pretty bad tasting moments too. Financial stress, marital challenges, loss of employment, loss of a loved one, spiritual doubts, betrayal, health problems. But, just as medicine will benefit us, if we can dig in, cling to our faith, and get through these bad tasting experiences, they too can be for our good. The bitterness of life can be swallowed up in the sweetness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

What can we use as our “spoonful of sugar” in bitter times?

What good can come to us through difficult experiences?

How can we spoon out sugar to others in our ministering?

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My Path for Self Reliance: Take a Class!

This Summer I took the Personal Finance class as part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s self-reliance program. In the My Path For Self-Reliance pamphlet, the purpose of these classes is explained:

“The aim of the self-reliance initiative is to help individuals help themselves become self-reliant. Self-reliance is more than having a good job, food storage, or money in the bank. Self-reliance is “the ability, commitment, and effort to provide for the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others,” and work is enthroned as a ruling principle in their lives (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 6.1.1).”

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Do You Want to See a Miracle? Just Watch Россия (Russia).

lds.org

 

 

Watching a temple be built in Russia will be to us as watching the Red Sea part was to the children of Israel; an absolute Чудо (chooda – miracle). But, I believe in a God of miracles. And I believe that the Lord speaks through and directs His work through His prophets.

 

 

What a Sunday!

My husband and I found ourselves seated with Elders Gregory A. Schweitzer and Dennis B. Neuenschwander and their lovely wives during lunch between the Sunday sessions of General Conference, April 1, 2018. We had all served together in Moscow, Russia, a few years back; Elder Schweitzer as President of the Eastern European Area, Elder Neuenswchander a former EE Area President who was serving as a Senior Missionary couple with his wife while we were also there as a Senior Couple.

Elder Neuenschwander shared an interesting story with us all.

Years earlier as President of the Austria Vienna East Mission, he was visited by then Elder Russell M. Nelson. While strolling along the beautiful St. Charles bridge in the city of Prague, President Neuenschwander asked Elder Nelson if the brethren were serious about growing the small, young church in the Eastern European area. It was very difficult.

Elder Nelson turned to face him, and placing his hands on both of his shoulders looked him straight in the eye and said, “The Lord is the Master of the unlikely, and expects the impossible.”

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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. Continue reading

Responding To Revelation

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

President Spencer W. Kimball gave the closing address of the April 1977 General Conference speaking on revelation. He said,

 

“How this confused world of today needs revelation from God.”

 

Now, more than ever before, we need to listen to the voice of God that warns us, shapes us, and gathers us. Satan is doing his very best to destroy us and make us miserable like unto himself. So, it behooves us to respond well to our chosen god. My choice in responding to revelation: Obedience with pure, grateful love.

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Sacrament: An Incentive to Change My Life

This post covers the April 1977 General Conference.

 

I have always struggled to focus while taking the Sacrament on Sundays. When the kids were small, pondering was an impossibility, but now that they’re grown, I still find my mind occasionally wandering at lightening speed. It’s simply too easy to be distracted. At the recent passing of my daughter, I have a renewed incentive to change my life. There is always room for improvement and I’ve decided pondering the Sacrament is a necessary place to start.

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Courage and Commitment in the Latter Days

Handcart pioneer familyLast month we celebrated Pioneer Day. The monumental courage and commitment of those early Saints has always impressed me, and I have been trying diligently to channel my inner pioneer spirit. I want to take the legacy of faith they passed down and carry it forward because we have a work to do in our time just as they did in theirs.

The world we live in is a mess. Many people want to turn off the news for good, and who can blame them? Our society is turning away from God and insisting that absolute truth does not exist. We are changing the definition of the sacred institutions of marriage and family. We see terrorism, political corruption, human trafficking, creeping socialism, threats to religious freedom, nations on the verge of war – and the list goes on. Paul warned that “in the last days, perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Times are now perilous, indeed! How do we keep from being overwhelmed with all the evil that we face?

One of the first answers that comes to mind is to live our lives according to the commandments so that we can qualify for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in all that we do. That is definitely necessary, but we need to take it a step further. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world” (BYU Devotional, 9/17/96, emphasis added).

How do we contribute good to the world? Certainly, we start in our own homes. We MUST teach our children the principles of the gospel and give them a firm foundation centered in Jesus Christ. We cannot rely on others to do the teaching for us. Sheri Dew said, “We no longer have the luxury of spending our energy on anything that does not lead us and our families to Christ. . . In the days ahead, a casual commitment to Christ will not carry us through” (October 1999 General Conference). What strong counsel! Continue reading

The Happiness Lie Part 2: Enduring to the End

This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. Part 1 talked about the path to true happiness and can be read here.

 

“Endure to the end” is a common phrase found in LDS terminology. The dictionary definition of endure means to suffer patiently or to remain in existence. So it’s common to view the term in a negative way.  However, when applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to endure is a very positive thing. As briefly introduced in Part 1, endurance and happiness can be misconceived as opposites. I would like to use Part 2 to show how we can find happiness in the face of enduring to the end.

 

When I was younger I took swimming lessons at my local recreation center. During the final level of lessons, Level 7 (which took a few years to get to), I dreamed of getting on the swim team. I didn’t pass Level 7 the first time around, and my coach told my mom it was because I didn’t have enough endurance that passing required. I took Level 7 again, and passed the second time, but barely. The coach took pity on me and moved the brick from 12 feet to 6 feet so that I could succeed in diving to the bottom of the pool and bringing the brick to the surface – so I guess I didn’t really pass, the coach accommodated for me. The word endurance was brought up frequently that it was something that I didn’t have, so I didn’t attempt the swim team, and I hated the word endurance.

 

Luckily for people like me, it is spiritual endurance, not physical endurance, that God asks us to have. But why do we have to endure, or suffer patiently, if the gospel is supposed to bring us happiness? Because outside forces, such as temptations, trials, and the actions of others can affect our happiness. This is where enduring to the end comes in. All of the scriptures that talk about enduring to the end promise that those who endure to the end will be saved and receive eternal life. However, each scripture also couples enduring to the end with other aspects of living the gospel. This leads me to believe that in order to successfully endure the tribulations of the world, we must be living the gospel as fully as we can.

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