Scripture of the Month

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring


Warm weather, beautiful birdsongs, fragrant flowers--spring is here! Spring is a happy season, full of life and beauty and hope. It is no wonder that so many significant events have happened during spring.

Passover and Easter: Both of these holidays--one Jewish, the other Christian--celebrate Christ's Atonement and Resurrection, the most important parts of the plan of salvation. Also, it was on Passover that Christ instituted the sacrament before His death. [For more information on the relation of these two holidays, read this talk by then Elder Howard W. Hunter.]

Joseph Smith's First Vision: Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son amid Their wondrous creations in the spring of 1820, during the country's Second Great Awakening (a religious revival).

The Restoration of the Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized and established on April 6, 1830. The timing also coincides with Easter, and for symbolic reasons: Christ's church was dead on the earth and then was resurrected to its proper order, just as Christ died and was resurrected to His proper order.

General Conference: One semi-annual General Conference is held in spring, in commemoration of the restoration of the Church, and thus Easter.

Spring is definitely symbolic of these magnificent events. President Hunter said, "I testify that after every winter’s season there is the miracle of springtime ahead—in our personal journey through life as well as in nature. These restorations and renewals are a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate 'man for all seasons.'''

"The spring of the year is a most welcome season," proclaimed Elder Mark E. Petersen. "It is then that all life seems to renew itself, when the promise of the future appears brightest and hope rises to its zenith. Indeed it is a time of reawakened courage and confidence.

"Spring! A time of renewal, a revival in nature of the life that is all about us, but especially a reaffirmation of the divine promise of life everlasting!"

Sharing Time: What is your favorite part of spring?

photo of Temple Square from Pedrito's picture gallery.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples"

Friday evening I went to the temple with a friend. I had not gone in a long while, and I forgot the incredible peace I always feel there. I want to return soon to feel it again. But I don't have to wait until I attend the temple to feel that joy. There is another place where I can feel it every day: my home.

"Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where the Lord may visit. Only the home can compare with temples in sacredness" (True to the Faith, 170). "There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home," Elder Stevenson reminded us in General Conference April 2009. "Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple."

The purpose of the temple is to provide saving ordinances, all of which lead to the ultimate ordinance of uniting families. The home, the place of family growing and gathering, should be a tutorial for future temple attendance. The principles of salvation should "begin in sacred homes and continue in sacred temples."

King Benjamin's people showed us how: "And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple" (Mosiah 2:6). When we walk through the door out to the world, we should find a path to the temple. When we walk through the door into the home, we should feel as if we were entering the temple. Elder Stevenson advised us to evaluate our homes for these things:

"Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by . . . Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. . . . Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some 'home improvement'—hopefully not an 'extreme home makeover.'"

To make improvements, Elder Stevenson suggested we make standards for our home, just as the Lord has made standards for the temple, and rely on D&C 88:19 for guidance.

We must not take this goal lightly. President Packer said, "Temple. One other word is equal in importance to a Latter-day Saint. Home. Put the words holy temple and home together, and you have described the house of the Lord!"

Sharing Time: What do you do to make your home like the temple?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Visiting and Home Teaching

Ah, yes, everyone's favorite topic of guilt. And we have good reason to be guilty: visiting/home teaching results in more blessings than we realize, and when we do not do it we deny ourselves and others these blessings.
  1. Foremost, we learn more about the gospel from preparing the message and sharing our insights. We are supposed to discuss the message and edify one another. I think too often we do not give this part of the visit as much focus as needed.

  2. We provide or receive service by being or having a constant support system.

  3. We make friends! This is my favorite blessing of visiting/home teaching. It's fun getting to know others and becoming close to some of them.

  4. Also, the relationships we create strengthen the ward as a whole. If everyone were friends, there would be less drama, gossip, hate, and offenses. We would be unified and feel loved and cared about.

  5. We learn to be selfless by serving and we increase our spirituality by praying for those we teach. We grow closer to the Spirit and develop Christ-like qualities.

So, have you done your visiting or home teaching this month?

Discussion: What other blessings come from visiting and home teaching?

photo from lds.org

"I Will Give unto This Last, Even As unto Thee"

Often after being around people who have been righteous and valiant their entire lives, I feel like scum and I wonder how in the world Heavenly Father loves me just as much as He loves them. My justice-oriented mind doesn't understand the mercy of the Atonement and the unconditional love of the Savior. It's unbelievable that someone who has sinned so greatly can repent and receive eternal life. I know such thoughts are from Satan (see the post "Love Thyself" and this Ensign article), but I still allow myself to believe them.

Then I try to remember this New Testament parable: Matthew 20:1-16. What matters is not when I began to work in the vineyard, but that I am there working. Whether I have been like Nephi or like Alma the Younger, I will still receive the same celestial reward. That knowledge gives me comfort and the courage to strive for exaltation.

Sharing Time: What scripture story or passage inspires you to aim for a heavenly goal?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Amazing


Every day the same realization hits me as if brand new: the human body is amazing. It is amazing how our bodies work; it is amazing what our bodies can do; it is amazing how much we know about the human body and how to care for it.

Recently, the Winter Olympics has reminded me of this most amazing of Heavenly Father's creations. The speed, agility, balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, and precision the activities require our bodies can fulfill. And we take great pleasure in doing them.

There is so much our bodies can do, physically and mentally. How can anyone call it an accidental result of evolution? Only Someone amazing could create something so amazing that can do things so amazing. Even daily and normal functions are amazing: eating, sleeping, laughing, crying, hugging, walking, breathing, growing, thinking. Even bodies that cannot do these things are still amazing because of the things they can do, even if it is just staying alive.

We should never take our bodies for granted. We should be grateful for them, as imperfect as they are, and find joy in what we can do. Always focus on the blessings and the miracles; the negative things will be taken care of when we are resurrected.

Challenge: Do something you enjoy and find the miracle in it.