Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mormon Messages
 On the Church Web site, at the bottom of the home page and on the right sidebar, are featured videos called Mormon Messages. They are short clips from General Conference talks with music, photos, and background videos added to them. My favorite is the one entitled "Prayer."

Mormon Messages is a great way to share short and uplifting stories, testimonies, and counsel with family and friends, whether they are LDS or not. Above the featured video on the Church Web site is a toolbar allowing you to post the video or link on various social networking sites, such as Facebook. Mormon Messages also has a channel on YouTube, with videos in Spanish, to which you can subscribe. Share the light!

Sharing Time: Which Mormon Message is your favorite?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Few Degrees

"I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees," said President Uchtdorf in General Conference April 2008. To illustrate this point, he explained that if your course flying around the world were just one degree off, by the time you got back around, you would be 500 miles (800 km) off course.

It almost seems unfair that a small mistake can have such a negatively dramatic effect on our lives. However, it is not one small error that does this, but many "small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is therefore of critical importance that we become self-disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves.

"The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming."

When we catch and correct mistakes early, we can progress more quickly, easily, and happily toward our celestial goal. When we fail to do so, we end up feeling hopeless. One of Satan's biggest and most successful lies is that it is too late and pointless to repent, because we have offended God so greatly that He will never forgive us. Refuse to believe this lie! It is in exact opposition to the purpose of the Atonement. President Uchtdorf emphasized this point: "No matter how terribly off course you are, no matter how far you have strayed, the way back is certain and clear. . . . It may not be an easy path, and it requires self-discipline and determination, but its end is glorious beyond description. You are not doomed to a tragic end."

We must constantly tell ourselves we can make it back to Heavenly Father even if we aren't perfect. "Remember: the heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways to get back in the light of gospel truth."

Challenge: Examine your life and find an area in which you feel you are drifting off course. Act now to return to the strait and narrow path.

Monday, January 18, 2010


It is no coincidence that light is symbolic of Christ, the light and life of the world (Mosiah 16:9). Every characteristic of light is also characteristic of the Son of God:

  • All life requires light for survival and growth.
  • Light dispels darkness.
  • Light makes everything visible and clear (also used in the forms of lenses and mirrors) and is used to lead the way.
  • Light provides warmth and happiness; its absence leads to cold and depression.
  • The brightest light is white.
  • The solar system revolves around a light source (and isn't it interesting that sun and son are homophones in English?).
  • Light signifies knowledge (light bulb ideas, the word enlightenment, D&C 93:36).
  • Light comes from above.

The scriptures reveal how light has been used to symbolize the Savior:

  • Before the Savior was born, the Nephites experienced a day and a night and a day of full light (3 Nephi 1:15, 19).
  • On His day of birth, a new star--the brightest and only constant star--appeared (3 Nephi 1:21, Matthew 2:2).
  • When the Savior was crucified, there was darkness, for three hours in Jerusalem (Luke 23:44-45) and three days in the Americas in which no light could be made (3 Nephi 8:20-23).

Other facts about light:

  • Things that are black do not emit or reflect light.
  • Winter has the least daylight.

Discussion: In what other ways is light symbolic of Christ?

photo from Yury Khristich on

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Sabbath

The fourth commandment is to keep the Sabbath day holy. In order to do so, we must first examine our motivation for doing certain activities. Are we reading our biology textbook because we love to study about God's creations or because we procrastinated our homework all weekend? We must be sure that the reason we do something we normally wouldn't do on Sunday is that it is necessary or unavoidable. President Kimball wrote in an Ensign article, "The Savior knew that the ox falls in the mire, and one must pull the ox from the mire when necessary. But no one deliberately puts the ox in the mire every week, or lets him get in the mire with no effort to keep him out."

This may seem hard when we want to play all weekend. President Kimball noted, "Sometimes Sabbath observance is characterized as a matter of sacrifice and self-denial, but it is not so. It is merely a matter of scheduling and choosing seasons. There is time enough, particularly in our era of the world’s history, during the six days of the week in which to do our work and play. Much can be done to organize and encourage weekday activities, avoiding the Sabbath."

On Sundays when we do not have other responsibilities to take care of, we may want to just rest on the couch all day. However, "the Sabbath is not a day for indolent lounging about the house . . . . The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it." We need to lose our lazy and selfish motivations, as expressed in Isaiah 58:13-14.

The Sabbath will become a delight to us when we do activities that keep the day holy and bring us joy. In deciding what to do, we can rely on the "good, better, best" policy, which Elder Oaks introduced in General Conference October 2007: "We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives."

We can determine if an activity is good, better, or best by measuring it to the standards presented in D&C 59:9-12, the most important being "more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world." We must also remember that the Sabbath was made for us (Mark 2:27) as a day to evaluate and improve our spirituality, a day "for consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, drinking at the fountain of knowledge and instruction, enjoying the family, and finding uplift in music and song" (President Kimball).

Challenge: Choose one bad or simply good Sunday activity you do to replace with a better or best activity. President Kimball recommended the following as the best Sunday activities: "[praying], preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which [we are] expected."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gospel Principles

I am so excited for the new Gospel Principles manual! I have always felt strongly about focusing on the basic principles of the gospel. Elder Nelson expressed the same in the January Ensign: "All Church members will benefit by a return to the basics. A careful study of core doctrines . . . will help members strengthen their understanding of the fundamental teachings of the gospel."

As time goes by, we often forget the simple aspects of the gospel and tend to only study deeper doctrine. But our understanding of deeper doctrine will increase when we understand the foundational principles upon which the deeper doctrine is built. To bake a cake, every little ingredient is important in producing the delicious dessert. So it is with developing knowledge and a testimony: every little principle is important in producing a strong understanding of the gospel.

Some members may fear there will be some redundancy. Elder Nelson said, "Of course there will! Isn't it wonderful that we can gain the added benefit of repetition. Even the Savior taught the same doctrine multiple times to reinforce concepts. . . . the Lord repeats many concepts so that we do not miss them." Talented musicians understand this benefit: the better they play and understand the basics of music, the better they will play and understand difficult music.

For those, like me, who are unable to attend the lessons, we can study the manual at home. We do not want to miss out on the blessings Elder Nelson promised: "Brothers and sisters, by reinforcing your study of the core doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, your testimony will grow, your happiness will increase, and you will find a greater abundance of the blessings of the Lord in your life."

Discussion: How will the new manual help the threefold mission of the Church (proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, redeem the dead)?