Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Create Missionary Opportunities
Our stake conference today focused on missionary work, a responsibility of every member of the Church. Some of us are very enthusiastic and fearless about sharing the gospel. Others are very intimidated and clueless as to how to start. If you fit in the latter category, here are some ways you can create missionary opportunities and bring up the Church or the gospel easily by arousing people's interests non-aggressively:
  • Wear jewelry and clothing with LDS sayings on them, such as CTR or I love to see the temple. You can also put decals with LDS sayings and symbols on a backpack, tote bag, car, laptop, phone, etc.
  • When someone asks you about your weekend, talk about any church activities you attended, like baptisms, ward activities, temple weddings, and, of course, church on Sunday.
  • Display beautiful photos of Jesus and temples in your home and work area.
  • Read the Ensign, scriptures, or LDS books at the doctor's office, bus stop, and other waiting areas.
  • Invite friends to fun church activities, such as sports games, dances, a recreational family home evening, community service, or ward holiday activities. Also invite them to spiritual activities in which your family is involved, like your child's baby blessing or baptism, speaking in sacrament meeting or Primary, or participating in a special musical number.
  • Invite friends to very special Church events, like any pageants, concerts, or temple open houses in your area.
Pray to know how to answer questions people may have, for courage to answer them, and for them to feel the Spirit and let seeds be planted, if not more.

Discussion: What are other ways we can create missionary opportunities?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Laborers in the Vineyard

I have always loved the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, which I shared in a previous post. But when Elder Holland spoke in General Conference about that parable, his deeper interpretation really struck me, particularly when he said:
Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?
Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.
Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,”2 as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.
When I heard that, I immediately thought of my recent online business. I ashamedly admit I have had some envious feelings. Elder Holland opened my eyes to see that I am not diminished when someone else is added upon and that I should not be jealous because Heavenly Father chooses to be kind. Instead, I should rejoice when someone experiences success and be grateful when Heavenly Father blesses me in other areas.

Another thought that came to mind is bitterness I have been harboring for years toward another person's success. The person received a scholarship I greatly desired, and instead of being grateful for the still extremely generous scholarship I did win, I cried because I didn't beat her, or at least get the same prize. The past few years I've realized how blessed my husband and I are not to have student debts, and this talk made me realize even more how ungrateful I've been all these years for the financial blessings and college education I did receive.

Challenge: If any of you have bitter feelings as I did, let them go through the Atonement of Christ and replace them with joy for your brothers' and sisters' blessings from a generous and loving Heavenly Father. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Patriarchal Blessings

"The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage—not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. . . .

"Patriarchs are humble men. They are students of the scriptures. They stand before God as the means whereby the blessings of heaven can flow from that eternal source to the recipient on whose head rests the hands of the patriarch. He may not be a man of letters, a possessor of worldly wealth, or a holder of distinguished office. He, however, must be blessed with priesthood power and personal purity. To reach to heaven for divine guidance and inspiration, a patriarch is to be a man of love, a man of compassion, a man of judgment, a man of God.

"A patriarchal blessing is a revelation to the recipient, even a white line down the middle of the road, to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness. A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities. I say eternal, for just as life is eternal, so is a patriarchal blessing. What may not come to fulfillment in this life may occur in the next. . . .

"Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning. Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed." ("Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light", President Monson)

"These blessings . . . must be earned. Otherwise they are but empty words. . . . To look upon a patriarch as a fortune teller is an offense to the priesthood; the patriarch only indicates the gifts the Lord would give us, if we labor for them. He helps us by pointing out the divine goal which we may enjoy if we pay the price. . . . As the blessing was given through the inspiration of the Lord, so its meaning will be made clear by the same power." ("The Meaning of a Patriarchal Blessing," Elder John A. Widtsoe)

"Other priesthood blessings you recieve throughout your life may expand on themes mentioned in your patriarchal blessing. Know your blessing well enough to tell when those extra explanations come." (Liahona Oct 1997, 20.)

Challenge: Read your patriarchal blessing once a month for guidance and to remind you of your eternal potential.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Priesthood Power Is Greater

In conjunction with the articles "Priesthood Power vs. Keys" and " 'He Ain't One Bit Better' ":

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

The priesthood is greater than any of its offices. No office adds any power, dignity, or authority to the priesthood. All offices derive their rights, prerogatives, graces, and powers from the priesthood. This principle may be diagramed by dividing a circle into segments. The priesthood is the circle; the segments of the circle are the callings or offices in the priesthood. Anyone who serves in a segment of the circle must possess the power of the whole circle. No one can hold an office in the priesthood without first holding the priesthood.

“Thus it is that priesthood is conferred upon worthy individuals, and they are then ordained to offices in the priesthood; and thus it is that all offices in the priesthood and in the Church are specifically designated as appendages to the priesthood; that is, they grow out of the priesthood, they are supplemental to it, they are less than the priesthood in importance. ( D. & C. 84:29–30 ; 107:5 .) It follows that it is greater and more important to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, for instance, than it is to hold any office in that priesthood. . . .
“Further, there is no advancement from one office to another within the Melchizedek Priesthood. Every elder holds as much priesthood as an apostle or as the President of the Church, though these latter officers hold greater administrative assignments in the kingdom. It follows, also, that any holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood could perform any priestly function he was appointed to do by the one holding the keys of the kingdom.” ( Mormon Doctrine, pp. 595–96.)

Discussion: What does this quote tell you about how we should view the priesthood?

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Deal

Submitted by Brother McKnight of the Port Washington Branch in Grafton, WI.

Challenge: Live the standards in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

General Conference Favorites

My favorite moments from the 182nd Annual General Conference:

Favorite Quotes

" 'You can't be right by doing wrong; you can't be wrong by doing right.' " ~Elder Soares quoting President Monson

" 'Don't judge me because I sin differently than you.' " ~President Uchtdorf (from a bumper sticker he saw)

"If a printing shop explodes, will it produce a dictionary?" ~Elder Nelson

Favorite Talks

Sister Esplin on teaching children. She gave very touching real-life examples.

Elder Holland on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). This parable has great meaning to me (read my post on it here), so I appreciated how enlightening and in depth his talk was.

Elder Wilson on proper priesthood usage. I especially liked his opening story about driving with his wife.

Favorite Musical Number

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Sunday morning session. That hymn is one of my favorites, and it gave me chills when MoTab sang it.

Sharing Time: What were your favorites from General Conference?