Sunday, December 13, 2015

Who is a Modern-day Captain Moroni?

They say the Book of Mormon was written for our day. I believe that. Take a look at this event recorded in Alma 45 and 46.

“For behold, because of their wars with the Lamanites and the many little dissensions and disturbances which had been among the people, it became expedient that the word of God should be declared among them, yea, and that a regulation should be made throughout the church” (Alma 45:21).

Oh, my gosh. That sure sounds like our current situation in the church with the new regulation or guideline. It was sent out for a reason…because of "wars" with the world and little dissensions and disturbances throughout the church.

So I kept reading with increased interest. Then it gets really interesting. I won’t quote the verses in their entirety but, briefly put, “there arose a dissension among them (the members) and they would not give heed to the words….and they were exceedingly wroth.”

Some of the members of the ancient church did not like the new regulation. Sound familiar? According to the Book of Mormon, some of the members began listening to the words of others and the upset members gathered together to express their disapproval.

To try and resolve the issue, Helaman and his brethren began to reteach them the doctrine—which is exactly what the church has done. Yet, “Notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church…there were many in the church who ….dissented even from the church.”

And we have seen that very thing recently...but that is not the part I want to dwell on. I want to share with you what happened next.

A young active member, who was only about 26 at the time, rent his coat “and wrote upon it—‘In the memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.” Young Captain Moroni chose to stand with the prophet and the brethren in trying remind the people of a greater purpose. This young leader used his words to remind everyone why we are doing this whole gospel thing--for God and eternal families.

Today the men and women of the Church—especially the young members—have power at their fingertips to be like a modern Captain Moroni. They can use the internet to write powerful words like Captain Moroni reminding others of why we do the things we do. Our posts are not to satisfy our own egos and beliefs, nor defend our own monocular vision. We should be showing the Lord that we know His standards and we are willing to stand by them even if the rest of the world (which may include some of our own family members), have forgotten the purpose of our existence or have been misled by the words of others.

And the scriptures record that because of Moroni's words, “the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant.”

In ancient Israeli tradition, clothes were tied to the character of your soul. To rend another’s clothes was the ultimate insult. To rend your own, the ultimate voice.

So, led by young Captain Moroni's example, the members joined together to defend their lifestyle before the world. It wasn’t easy, for the scriptures tell us those dissenters had joined the Lamanites and “they became more hardened and impenitent than the Lamanites.” Remember, these were not faceless dissenters. They were loved family members and friends. What a heartbreak the members must have felt yet they held firm to the truths they knew.

And Moroni held firm as well, even though some of those dissenters must have been known and very dear to him, too. He heard their words and their accusations yet, instead, he focused on “preparing the minds of the people to be faith unto the Lord their God.” He helped the members fortify their weakest areas so that they could “support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God.”

Again, those with the internet at their fingertips can and should do that. They should turn their words and their efforts to fortifying, not destroying. (The hidden power of the internet is in what it says about the writer! What we write about, what we say in our posts and our comments leaves a trail that tells people more about us than the topic we select.)

Interestingly, Paul understood that youth could be powerful influences for good when he wrote to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). It is not a coincidence that this advice was given while Paul was teaching the young man about the last days! Even today, as the last days darken around us, the youthful bloggers and writers on the internet can be powerful influences for good.

Young Captain Moroni changed the outcome of an entire nation by the words he chose to write—by the stand with the Lord he chose to make. Then comes the most powerful tribute to a mortal man ever given in all of scripture. “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;

“Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.

“Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of is blood…

“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power of the hearts of the children of men”
(Alma 48:11-13 and 17).

How grateful I am for the young men and women who choose to stand by the Lord in the face of dissension. It is hard for them, I know, but if even one person says of them what Mormon said of Captain Moroni, their courage and voice has been heard and the powers of hell have been shaken.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Prophets Foresaw the Effects of the Internet

After reading Ezekiel 37:15-17, which talks about the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim becoming “one in thine hand”, a sister in Sunday School shared this thought. She held up her smart phone and commented, “They truly are one in my hand. I can hold the scriptures right here--in one hand. That prophecy is being fulfilled."

Another prophecy being fulfilled in our day is found in Isaiah. “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). Thanks to modern advancements in science, medicine and technology many of the deaf and blind are able to see and hear the truth for themselves.

But the prophets also foresaw other events in our days that are not as wonderful. They warned us that in the last days even the very elect will be deceived. And how will they be deceived? Paul may have been on to something when he wrote his second letter to Timothy.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; Having a form of godliness but deny the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses and lead captive silly women (and men) laden with sins…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).

He foresaw a day when these “despisers of those that are good” will “creep into houses” and lead people astray. What better scriptural description do we have of the internet than that!

Everything on the internet is free to "creep" into our house at any time and lead us into spiritual captivity. Where we go on the internet and what we choose to study and learn may lump us into that group which Paul said was “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Do we use our time on the internet to feast on the truth or graze on what the world has to say?

Even earlier than Paul the prophet Amos testified, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

Daniel also testified in the last days that “many shall run to and fro” in their search for knowledge (Daniel 12:4). Yes, the internet truly allows us to run to and fro, from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east without leaving our homes; yet this ability, Amos, said would leave us famished for the word of the Lord…not because it isn’t on the internet but because we are looking in all the wrong places.

Paul again taught the youthful Timothy (which is apropos for our youth), “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned onto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

With this easy access to knowledge in the palm of our hands we can be ‘turned onto fables’; we can get caught up in media frenzies and internet firestorms. It takes a wise man, indeed, to know where not to go and what not to read.

Not all knowledge or sources are equal. Having over 30 years of journalism experience I know the value of checking my sources. I have also learned this powerful truth: the source and the substance will tell me the motive.

Any source or any substance that tears down the belief of another person or shakes their faith should be avoided. Some people, however, think it is their obligation to share with others the negative they have ‘discovered’ about a religion in an effort to save other people from it. Their attitude just goes back to what Paul said about some being "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…” They obviously love their own intelligence enough to they think they are doing a stranger a great service by sharing the negative and shaking that person’s faith. These "accusers", as Paul called them are, in truth, fulfilling prophecy. “And their word will eat as doeth a canker….and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17-18).

We also know that in the last days grievous wolves shall enter among the Lord's Church, “not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Hosea prophesied more specifically about what would happen to the tribe of Ephraim. He foresaw that there would be members of the Church who “have made ready their heart like an oven…they are all hot as an oven and have devoured their judges” (Hosea 7:6-7). He saw our day--when members would be ready to criticize and condemn the Church and its leaders and they are doing it now--in church hallways, on blogs and internet forums, to friends and strangers and anyone who will click on their link.

Hosea explained why the members would become this way. “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people…strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not….they do no return to the Lord their God….(instead) they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria” (Hosea 7:8-9 and 11).

When the call comes to follow the Lord God, these members check out what the internet is saying first. They check out the headlines. They align themselves with the clamor of world who cry ‘that is not what the Savior would do!’

Does the world, bathed in sin, really know what the Savior would do?

“Woe unto them!” Hosea proclaimed. “For they have fled from me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against me; though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart…. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me….their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue” (Hosea 7:13-14 and 16).

What a perfect description of members on the internet who rage with their keyboard tongues…who repeat the lies they have heard others speak…who have imagined mischief by the Church and its leaders. They have not cried long enough unto God with their hearts. Instead, they have found their quick ‘answers’ on the internet. They would rather return to the flesh pots of Egypt than to eat the unchanging manna of the Lord’s truth. They think, as does the world, that the Lord should change His commandments to keep up with the times.

Hosea warned, “They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria….Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them.”

Thankfully, Paul told us what we need to do to stay strong during these times. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

We do need to study…the scriptures and the words of the prophets. We need to rightly divide the word of truth from the sullied version of the world, and we need to avoid anything that would shake our faith. So, in a vast internet world, how do we decide what to study?

Indeed, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul…If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

We need to drink deep from the fountain of pure light and truth. We need to speak kindness and love even if we disagree. Above all, we are not here to offend others with a word or a blog. We are not to destroy or weaken someone's faith as a means of saving them or helping them 'see' what we believe is the truth.

We also need to make sure that the sites we visit are full of light and truth, are speaking kindness and love and are not attempting to destroy anyone's faith or are speaking poorly about someone's religion or their leaders. What we post and what we view reveals our motive and our spirit.

Above all, we need to remember that negativity is a trait of Satan.

Edification is a trait of God.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Church Policy Shows Great Respect, Love

There is a big uproar over the Church’s announcement of new guidelines for dealing with the children of gay couples and much of the media is not helping. Here are three actual headlines.

“New Mormon Policy Makes Apostates of Married Same-sex Couples, bars children from rites”

“LDS Church Says Children of Same-sex Couples Cannot be Members”

“LDS Church: Mormons Bar Children of Gay Parents Unless they Reject Their Families.”

Now, here is the actual policy guideline from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"November 3, 2015, Policies on Ordinances for Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship

The following additions to Handbook 1 have been approved by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for immediate implementation.
A new section in Handbook 1, 16.13 will be added as follows:

Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship

A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing. A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows:

A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:

1. The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.

2. The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage."

Is there anywhere in that guideline the use of the word ‘ban’ or a statement that a child of same-sex marriage couples cannot become a member?


Is there anywhere in that guideline a phrase that, to become a member, children with same-sex parents have to 'reject their families' or stop loving them?

Again, no.

So, let’s break this guideline down, piece by piece, and really look at it...not just twist it around.

“A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.”

Think about this for a moment. This is a guideline for those young children whose parent is LIVING in a same-gender relationship. The policy doesn’t say anything about the child raised by a parent who has same-gender attraction but is keeping the Lord’s standards of chastity and marriage. It is only a caveat for those same-gender couples who come to the Church wanting their child blessed while they are living in open disregard of their doctrines.

Now ask yourself this, why would a same-sex couple bring their child to receive a blessing from a religion whose doctrines they do not accept and have no intention of living? If the parents are doing so to press their own agenda, cause conflict, or bring attention, then the Church's guideline is protecting an innocent child from being placed in the position of pawn or, worse, media weapon. Is it hard to understand why the Church would want to protect a child from that situation?

What about the next part of the guideline? “A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service.”

Wait a minute...don’t the headlines and the blog posts claim the children of gay parents CAN'T be baptized…that they are banned…deemed 'apostates'...and can’t become members?

That's what the headlines and blogs claim but the Church's actual policy is very clear. Children of gay parents CAN be baptized and confirmed. They can be ordained to the priesthood. They can even serve missions.

As long as they meet two basic criteria.

One—"The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage." This criteria is the same for anyone who comes in for a baptismal interview. Everyone, regardless of age and upbringing, is asked if they accept and are committed to living the teachings and doctrines of the Church. If someone has a background that may cause him special struggles, the interviewer will help that person search their own feelings about those issues. If the person cannot accept the Lord’s position on any doctrine, including marriage and same-gender relationships, then that person is not ready to be baptized at that time. Can they be baptized later if they choose? Yes.

The Church has many good, strong, baptized members who have same-gender attractions. They fill callings, serve missions, and attend the temple. I love their courage, example and their commitment. Same-gender attraction is not the problem and never has been. It is breaking the law of chastity or espousing it as acceptable that will preclude someone from baptism. And the law of chastity extends not only to those involved in same-gender relationships but to those in hetero-gender relationships outside of marriage as well. And since the Lord only accepts marriage between a man and a women, then the person being interviewed for baptism must also realize and accept that same-gender marriage, while now legal in the U.S. and some other countries, is not the standard the Lord has requested of us.

This is not a new set of standards for baptism. This is simply reiterating the Lord’s eternal standards and taking the time to ensure someone, who may feel personal conflict, is clear on what the Lord expects and why, and is willing to accept and live those standards. If they can't then they won't be baptized at that time. People shouldn’t join a religion because they think the religion needs to change. That’s rather arrogant, don’t you think? People join a religion for the change and blessing it can bring to them.

The second criteria is the child of same-sex parents “is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”

So why would the Church say children of same-sex parents should be 18 and not living with the parent involved in same-gender relationships before they are baptized?

Because the Church does not want to break apart families!

They do not want the children to 'reject' their parents, as the headlines are trying to claim. (The disavowing is of the practice, not the person.) The Church is intentionally trying to avoid putting emotional strain on a child who might be being raised and loved by same-gender parents! They do not want the child to feel conflict over what the Church teaches and what the child is living. In truth, what kind of Church would ask a child to endure that?

The Church has always put the parent-child relationship ahead of baptism and this guideline continues to do that. Parents have always had to agree to their child’s baptism and even if same-gender parents agree to let their child be baptized, the conflict between the Church’s doctrine and the parent's lifestyle could cause emotional harm and distress both to the child and the parent. Again, what kind of a Church would willingly do that?

When the child is legally an adult and not living with the parent involved in same-gender relationships, if the child still wants to be baptized and is willing to accept and live the standards, then he can. By waiting until he is an adult and out of a same-gender based home he is better able to make and keep his covenants without causing conflicts in the home where he was raised.

This guideline was issued out of respect for that home—not disrespect for it—for the Church has always respected home, family and parental authority. So, anyone who says the Church is against children of gay couples has either not thoughtfully read the guideline or does not understand that the Church is trying to protect the most valuable of all of God’s creations…His children of all ages. They are trying to do it without harming the harmony of the home, the child or the parents regardless of the relationships the parents choose. This guideline of respect protects families with gay parents from having their home and loyalties divided.

An experience of a friend of mine might be a good way to end this blog. She married a nonmember and they began to have an issue over a particular Church doctrine…tithing. She wanted to pay it, he did not. The tension built until she finally went to her bishop hoping he would talk some sense into her husband. The bishop listened to her side then simply told her, “Don’t pay it.”

Stunned, she asked him why. His answer is one we need to remember. “The Lord is in the business of building eternal families, not destroying them.”

The Lord’s Church is here to build and strengthen families…all families…not destroy them and fill them with conflict. If a child of gay parents sincerely wants to be baptized and has to wait a few years so there can be more harmony in his home and with his parents, why is there an uproar?

I am very grateful the Church has issued this guideline to protect those families with same-gender parents. I am grateful He loves those children and their parents enough to protect them from conflicts in their home and at church.

For two great articles further addressing this issue, check out

A Look at the Church's New Policy on Children of Gay Couples

The 9 Facebook Myths About the Churchs New LGBT Policy

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Other Side of the Coin and Critics of the Church

My friend is upset because he heard that Joseph Smith once said that if he lived to be 70 he would see the Son of God and the millennium would begin. This is a big criticism of the Church and Joseph’s divine calling as a prophet. After all, everyone knows Joseph didn’t live to be anywhere close to that age and, of course, the millennium still hasn’t happened yet, 170 years later.

Well, friend, the quote you heard isn't quite complete. The quote is found in our D&C. (The Church isn't hiding it.) “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man….”

That, unfortunately, is all the critics let you read or hear. After all, they can’t provide the entire quote (or other versions of it) if they want to use it as ammunition against the Church. So here is the rest of the quote, which will resolve any conflict.

“I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.” (D&C 130:14-16)

Joseph clearly said he did not what that statement meant and mused that it could mean a variety of things IF he lived long enough. (Yes, there are other versions of this quote floating around but this is the version the Prophet, himself, approved for publication. The other quotes, if they are accurately recorded, did not merit that same approval. This is the version he placed his reputation behind...the one he knew most closely represented what he was saying.)

So, from this quote you mean a prophet of the Lord doesn’t know EVERYTHING?

That's right. And it is naive to expect that they do.

Prophets are not called for their infinite knowledge. They are called for their relationship with the Lord, to fulfill other purposes.

You are also upset because the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said that men would never walk on the moon. How, then, can he be a true prophet of God if he makes such an obvious mistake. Why didn't he know the coming truth?

First off, that statement was not a prophecy nor was it made by a Prophet. Joseph Fielding Smith made that statement in a stake conference in 1961. (Not the General Conference critics would lead you to believe.) He wasn't called as a prophet until 1970. Here is the quote the critics use from Elder Joseph Fielding Smith:

“We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.”

They fail to tell you that Elder Smith was using that statement as he spoke on the faith (not space travel). His grandson, Joseph Fielding McConkie explained, “He reasoned that because the atonement that Christ worked out on this earth applies to all the creations of the Father, that our getting to other worlds and discovering that they had the same Savior and the same plan of salvation would dispense with the necessity of our accepting the gospel on the basis of faith. To dramatize the point he said, "I don't even think the Lord will let men get to the moon."

Joseph Fielding McConkie went on to say, “What he said (about faith), in my judgment, was right. The illustration he used to dramatize his point has since proven to be in error. It, however, has nothing to do with the point he was making. To dismiss everything else he said on the basis of one faulty illustration is, I would suggest, a far greater error and may frankly be grounds to question whether those saying it deserve credence, not whether Joseph Fielding Smith does.”

Yes, the “man” in Joseph Fielding Smith was incorrect. Men often are, doggonit. But that also means even critics of the Church are prone to being ‘incorrect’. Remember that if you face them and especially if you go looking for them.

But what about the Prophets, you ask. Don't they have to be perfect?

No. If we’re looking for perfect mortals to lead the Church then will have to throw out all of them. Goodbye Adam, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, Joseph Fielding Smith…

We know that Christ was the only perfect person who ever walked on this earth, therefore we know, too, that all others have made mistakes--including the men He has called as Prophets, Seers and Revelators. Yet Christ clearly taught that "by their fruits ye shall know them." He didn't say anything about inspecting their bark to see if it was free of flaws. Why, then, do we feel we must pick apart the bark ourselves?

We are not here to find fault with others. God wants us to be of good cheer, to uplift and to edify those around us. I believe critical people tell me more about themselves than about the topic they are criticizing.

So, as we seek out our own learning and knowledge we must keep keep our eye focused on God. If we are doing as He wants we will be guided to paths that strength and brighten...not darken and taint.

So how do we know if something a prophet says is from God and not his own opinion? Here is a clear guide.

If it is from God it will be presented to the entire Church. It will be spoken from the housetops. It will not be a quote or two taken out of context. Everyone will know.

Neil L. Andersen said, “A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by ALL 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.”

So, if the topic is being talked about by the Prophet, First Presidency and the 12 Apostles then you can rest assured it has the Lord’s approval. A random quote or two does not a doctrine make.

“Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church….Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted” (LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine”).

When you read a short comment that makes you question the Church, know there is more to that quote. Find the full quote, read the full talk, understand the history of the time and, above all, pray as your read. Ask God for knowledge and guidance. He is the highest source of information you can find. Higher than any blog and any Web site. If you aren't going to God you are failing yourself.

Finally, my dear friend, prophets are not perfect but they are called by God for the strengths and guidance they can give to the world. If everyone listened to and followed the Prophets as they spoke His doctrines and principles, the world would be a much better place. That is the fruit that is sweeter than all others.

Do not get upset when people, strangers or even close friends, throw comments at you to shake your faith. No matter their reason for doing so, there is a certain baseness of spirit in anyone who would intentionally try to shake another person’s faith.

I love what Elder Vern P Stanfill said in October General Conference about critics of the Church. "These ever-present naysayers prefer to tear down rather than elevate and to ridicule rather than uplift. Their mocking words can burrow into our lives, often through split-second bursts of electronic distortions carefully and deliberately composed to destroy our faith. Is it wise to place our eternal well-being in the hands of strangers? Is it wise to claim enlightenment from those who have no light to give or who may have private agendas hidden from us?"

We need to remember that--always. Let us cautiously pick the voices we will listen to. And let us also remember each time we hold some change in our hand that there are two sides to every coin...and every comment. The side you choose to view is entirely up to you. But it will also tell others more about who you are and who you are becoming than the side you are viewing.

Elder Stanfill's talk Choose The Light

To find answers to questions posed by critics or even raised by your own studies go to FairMormon


Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Sabbath is a Delight...and a Blessing

At the age of 51, when most people are mentally moving toward retirement, I gave into God’s promptings and returned to school full time. Though I was employed full time and had five children still at home, I knew I needed to complete my education. The Lord’s goal for me? To work towards becoming a nurse.

Become a nurse? At my age? Though I knew age wasn’t a factor for Abraham or Noah it was a worry for me. What would people think? Would the professors and those who selected candidates for the nursing program discount me because of my age?

With those doubts ringing daily in my mind I decided I would do as the Lord was prompting and return to school.

The week school began our tiny branch found themselves in desperate need of an early morning seminary teacher. With hesitation the calling was extended to me. My stake president, branch president and husband all voiced concerns over my ability to take on the calling with my upcoming school schedule. I told them I needed the blessings that would come from teaching seminary each morning.

So with all that on my plate I went back to school and that first weekend I found myself overwhelmed by school work and looking at using Sunday to do my assignments. Against all sense of logic I decided I needed the Lord’s help more than I needed Sunday to study or do my work. I made the commitment that, regardless of what was facing me at school on Monday morning I would not study or do homework on Sundays. If I needed more time I would get up early on Monday morning but I would give the Sabbath to the Lord.

For two and a half years I kept that promise and never once did I study or do homework on Sunday. Often that meant getting up at 2:30 or 3 on Monday morning but Sunday was for the Lord.

After two and a half years of full-time school I completed all the prerequisites to apply to the bachelor’s nursing degree program with a 3.97. My cumulative GPA for an associate of science degree was a 3.93 and earned me one of three full-tuition waivers to complete the final two years of my education.

Was keeping the Sabbath Day a delight as Isaiah said? Yes! It was a time for me to relax my mind, enjoy my family and immerse myself in the Gospel.

"If thou turn away…from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight,…and shalt honour [the Lord], not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”
(Isaiah 58:13-14)

I know that promise is true. I am absolutely delighted by the help and blessings the Lord has given to me! I know there is no way I could have accomplished those kinds of grades, been accepted into a very competitive program and received a needed tuition waiver on my own. While working full-time, teaching seminary every morning and taking care of my family I needed His help and He gave it in greater abundance than I could have imagined or even designed.

Russell M. Nelson said, “The Lord gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.”

And, at the opening of this dispensation, the Lord told the world through his prophet Joseph Smith, “For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High…And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances…the fulness of the earth is yours.” (D&C 59:10 and 15)

Elder Nelson went on to say that “Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God. A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight.”

I knew the Lord wanted me to return to school. I knew that He would help me if I honored my covenants and kept the Sabbath day holy. I have found out that a sacred Sabbath truly is a delight…not only for the spiritual blessings we receive but for the earthly blessings He gives us.

We may not readily see the miracles and blessings that come to us for putting aside the things of the world for one day but those blessings will accumulate like oil in our lamps until one day we will look back and know that because we gave the Lord one day a week He carried us and blessed us through seven days each week.

To read Elder Nelson's talk, go to: The Sabbath is a Delight