Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy on Vacation

With summer trips coming, it's important we prepare for the Sabbath while on vacation. Just because we rest from our worldly cares does not mean we should forget about Sunday! It is very easy to keep the Sabbath Day holy while on vacation:
  • If possible, try not to travel on Sunday so you can attend church and not have to buy food or gas.
  • Find a church building and meeting times on If you must travel on Sunday, try to arrange your travel plans so that you can still attend an early sacrament meeting if possible.
  • If you cannot attend church because you have to travel or there are no meetinghouses nearby, hold your own devotional services at your hotel. Sing songs, pray, and read the scriptures or General Conference talks. Then spend time together playing games or watching LDS movies.
  • Listen to the scriptures, LDS music, or General Conference talks in the car or on the plane.
  • If you are visiting family, go to church with them--even if they are of a different faith.
My family always found a church wherever we went. I've been with the Saints all over the U.S., including in Hawaii, and in Japan and Puerto Rico. It is amazing to be welcomed and loved by people you don't know simply because you are all part of the same spiritual family. It strengthens your testimony to hear the same gospel preached all over the world.

In the December 2011 issue of the Ensign, Elder Aidukaitis shared his testimony of observing the Sabbath on vacation and the blessings it brought to his family:

"For many years my wife and children and I have had the tradition of spending summer vacation on a small beach near our home in southern Brazil. . . . Likewise, extended family members and friends would travel long distances so we could all be together once a year. . . .

"At that small beach our family had many wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth and gospel teaching. Most of our extended family members were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not share our religious beliefs. To them the Lord’s day was just another day to play and have fun. Because more of the family would be at the beach on weekends than during the other days of the week, our presence and participation in Sunday activities was not only expected but also insistently requested—including by our children.

"Our children were small and only just learning to apply the truths of the gospel. To them the temptation of participating in activities with their cousins and friends on Sundays was great. Spending time with family is an important part of the gospel, and breaking the Sabbath would have been easy to rationalize. After all, the closest unit of the Church at that time was more than 60 miles (96 km) away from the beach. Our friends and neighbors in our home congregation were far away, and none of them would ever know if we stayed at the beach instead of driving to the chapel and attending our meetings on Sunday. We went to church the entire year, and our extended family could be together only a few weeks a year.

"Nevertheless, we never missed going to church on Sundays—not even once! . . .

"We chose to keep this commandment, and we taught our children that they should keep it as well. Soon they understood that it was more important to worship God on His holy day than to please family and friends or to satisfy their own desires.

"On Sundays at the beach, we would wake up early, dress up for Sunday worship, and travel by car to the nearest chapel. During our trip and throughout the entire day, we would enjoy the peace and joy the Lord has promised to those who keep His commandments. We came to learn that this feeling of peace and joy does not come from the world.

"After several years of this routine, something wonderful happened. Our children stopped questioning the importance of worshipping God on His holy day, and several of our children’s cousins began to ask if they could go to Church with us! Little did we know that the feeling of peace and joy we felt was also being felt by our nieces and nephews upon our return from our meetings. Eventually a great blessing resulted. After some of those children became adolescents, two of them from one family told their parents, “We want to become Latter-day Saints.” Soon the entire family was baptized. Recently, one of the children, now a returned missionary, was married in the temple.
We still go to that beach every year, but everyone knows that on Sunday our family will not be there to play. Instead, we will go to church and worship God with family members who join us—a group that is becoming larger and larger every year!

"When we look back on those years and think about the choice we made, we thank God for helping us have the courage to do what was right and to teach our children to do the same. We don’t have the slightest doubt that that decision strengthened our children as well as our extended family. It gave us the Lord’s promised peace, played an important role in the conversion of family members, and blessed us with a satisfaction not found in alternative Sunday activities that do not fill the soul."

Challenge: Keep the Sabbath Day holy even on vacation.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-44 says,
"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
"By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
"Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
"That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."

Most people interpret betimes as sometimes, but that is incorrect. The Institute manual explains, "Many people assume the word betimes means “occasionally” or “sometimes,” but this is not its primary meaning. To reprove betimes means to do so “at an early time, . . . in good time, in due time; while there is yet time, before it is too late, . . . in a short time, soon, speedily” ( Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “betimes”)."

With this definition in mind, the meaning of verse 43 changes, showing how important it is to correct mistakes early on before they become too severe and harder to fix. The time to reprove someone ("when moved upon by the Holy Ghost") is as soon as they take the first step off the strait and narrow path, before they wander off too far. Then we are to show the person extra love so they know we are correcting them because we love them and want them to progress, not because we want to punish, hurt, or judge them.

Challenge: Correct mistakes, especially your own, early on.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Holy Grail
Ever wonder how the story of the Holy Grail began? Why people believed there was a cup from which they could drink and live forever? I did, and here is the answer.

One day when Jesus was teaching the people, He said,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. . . .
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and that bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:47, 51-54)
The Jews' response shows they did not understand what Jesus meant. Then, before Jesus was crucified, He dined with His apostles and instituted the sacrament, taking broken bread symbolizing His broken body and drinking wine/water symbolizing His shed blood (Matthew 26:26-28). The aspostles did not quite understand either. Not until Jesus was crucified and resurrected did His words and actions make sense.

That understanding did not last long. After the Great Apostasy, when the church fell apart and the apostles were martyred, gospel doctrine was misinterpreted, lost, and altered. The sacrament was one such doctrine that became skewed. People began to believe there really was a cup Jesus used that would give them immortality, when in reality the cup is the sacramental water we take to renew our covenants that, if kept, will give us eternal life with Christ. The immortality spoken of does not happen on this earth, but in the presence of God. (In fact, because of the resurrection, all men good and evil will be resurrected and become immortal. But eternal life--living with God forever in happiness and glory--will only come to those who are righteous.)

Each week we have this opportunity to drink from the "Holy Grail," repent of our sins, and start fresh again. This ordinance is truly sacred and important to our salvation. We should not take it lightly. Elder Andersen shared the following story in the April 2012 Ensign:
While serving as a mission president in Guadalajara, Mexico, I interviewed a missionary who expressed concern that he was not feeling the influence of the Spirit as he had earlier in his mission. I asked if he was getting along well with his companion, if he was obeying mission rules, and if he was keeping his thoughts and actions clean and pure. He responded that he was. I was then impressed to ask him if he was partaking of the sacrament each week. Surprisingly, he answered no. He and his companion were trying so hard to bring their investigators to church that they usually arrived late and missed the ordinance of the sacrament. That was our answer. Without renewing his baptismal covenant, he was losing the promised blessing of having the Spirit with him.
Let us worthily and humbly take the sacrament each week, always remembering our Savior.

Challenge: Gain a stronger testimony of the sacrament.