Sunday, December 6, 2015

Self-Mastery and Temptation

In a talk given by Russell M Nelson, he stated that a "pivotal spiritual attribute" is Self-Mastery.  Self-mastery, he said helps an individual build a strong conscience, and helps you "determine moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations."  I never thought of self-mastery in that  way.  A strong conscience.  But what does it mean to have a strong conscience?

I looked up the definition of the word conscience and it is "an inner feeling or voice acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one's behavior."  What Elder Nelson wants us to know and understand is that Heavenly Father implanted strong appetites within us that we must learn to control within the bounds of God's law.  I personally, had never heard of self-mastery used in this way before.  But it makes sense, right?  I mean, on a much higher level of thinking it just makes sense.  We all have the need to nourish ourselves, to find love, to gain intelligence, to find our purpose.  Seeking out the reasons for these ideals is inherently ingrained in all of us.  The need to know why we do the things we do -- some in excess, and others not at all.

As we apply these ideals, as Elder Nelson suggests within the bounds of God's law we will enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.  All are blessings predicated upon obedience to God's law.  God has established a plan whereby we (His children) will benefit from all that is available.  His plan also includes the will to chose.

According to Elder Nelson's talk, temptation, "comes from the misuse of God-given appetite."  When we give into the appetites, we become slaves to the very thing that we strive to master.  The Lord acknowledges that no one can manage self-mastery perfectly.  If we learn from our mistakes and truly repent, we allow the true meaning of the atonement to become apart of our lives.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

And I Had Faith...

In Enos 1:15 the Lord says to Enos, "whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it."  And in response Enos says in verse 16 "And I had faith."  So he preceded to put his request to the Lord.

That simple sentence "And I had faith" really got me thinking.  What quality of faith will allow a person to be able to put his request to the Lord?  Would faith the size of a grain of mustard seed be sufficient?  Or is the mustard seed merely the beginning stage of growth before one can claim to have an Enos-sized faith?  I wonder what my growth level or potential is at the moment?

Elder Robert D. Hale said in his Oct. 2004 conference talk, that Enos qualified himself to receive his answer because he hungered and thirsted "after righteousness."

There's something that I want, but I'm not sure if I really want it.  But I know that the Lord wants it for me.  It makes me feel like Jonah.  Told to do one thing, but chooses to do another until he finds himself in the belly of a whale.  I think Jonah gets a bad rap because of the whole whale thing, but he was a good prophet, he just got scared.  Who wouldn't have been afraid to face the Assyrians?  They were known to torture their enemies and captives.

I don't want to wait for a whale.  I would like to say with all confidence like Enos, "I have faith."  And then proceed to put my request to the Lord.  **sigh**  I'm thinking there might be a whale in my future.  **whispers softly** I have faith.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Little at a Time

 I had only known the bible growing up.  I went to Catholic school, where religion class was a main staple.  So, I was fairly well versed in the Old and New Testament.  About the time, I hit the sixth grade I lost a friend to a car accident.  I recall sitting in church listening to all the fine words that were spoken, but not understanding how my friend was no longer among us.  Death had taken him, and now his life was over.  Ended.  But how could it just be the end, that there was nothing left of him but memories.  How could the God that I been taught to love and fear no longer make any sense?  How could that be right?

Sitting in the pew, with my classmates, the sound of sad tears and broken hearts echoing loudly in the quiet of the church.  Slowly, each row filed past his casket to receive communion and say farewell.  A sudden sense of dread came over me.  I watched with trepidation as row after row pressed forward.  Soon it would be our turn.  I could not pass his coffin and say good-bye.  I could not even get my feet under me.  What would I be saying good-bye to?  Where would he be going that I could wish him farewell?  A huge gnawing began to grow in my stomach.  Tears began to flow, as silent prayers were offered.  The answer that came brought such a calm into my heart.  I knew it would be alright, that God would take care of my friend.  I didn't need to worry, were the whispers to my mind.  I didn't understand what was happening.  But, I knew I wouldn't have to worry.

Years later, as an adult taking lessons from the missionaries, I came upon a scripture that completely floored me.  It is found in Alma 11: 42-45 where Amulek teaches Zeezrom about death and immortality.  I was dumbstruck!  This scripture spoke to all the questions I had at the age of twelve, and dreading to say good-bye to a friend.  How could it be possible that someone had written the answers to my questions?  2 Nephi 29:10 says "Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words..."

I didn't need to worry, were the words that He whispered to me.

 "For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it, and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it (2 Nephi 29:12).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

He Knows Me

He knows me.  I believe that.  I believe that I lived before I was born.  I lived a life full of knowledge, and faith.  A life wherein I walked with the Spirit of power, confidence, and joy.  A life where I dwelt in the presence of my Father in Heaven, and I had conversations with my elder brother, and chosen Savior.

In the scriptures, we read of how God knew Joseph (Smith) more than 3,000 years before he was born, and that Joseph would "bring forth the Book of Mormon to the confounding of false doctrine."  B.J. Rowe also goes on to say, in his talk the Omniscience of God, that "God knew the minute details of the life of the prophet Joseph Smith."

There is nothing written of me in the scriptures.  I have no ancient prophetic source that reveals to the world what my purpose is on this earth.  And yet, I still believe that He knows me.  There have been moments when I have felt such a pressure in the very depths of my heart, as though it were being encompassed all around, and I had no idea why or what it meant.  I recall as a young girl, when I lost a dear friend, and could not fathom how a loving God did not have a better plan in place other than purgatory or limbo.  How my young heart, broke that sad, sad day.  And in the most dire of moments, when my heart and my mind felt such sorrow and hopelessness, I was overcome by the most enveloping sensation of light that touched the top of my head, and radiated through my body to the very tips of my toes.

That moment was an answer to a prayer.  A desperate prayer filled with countless, "please God, please, please, please, please God."  Those were the only words that could be spoken.  I didn't know what to ask or why I was asking, but He had heard the pleas of my heart, and answered me.

He knows me.  I believe that.  I believe that I lived before I was born.  I want, now to live a life full of knowledge and faith.  Faith in God.  Faith that I will again walk with the Spirit of power, confidence, and joy.  A life where I will again dwell in the presence of my Father in Heaven, and have conversations with my elder brother, and chose Savior.

In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

And She Said To Me . . .

To help decipher what we are reading in the Book of Mormon, we implemented a study skill called "Lists."  We broke into groups of twos.  I was searching, reading, calling out passages, comparing the questions while searching for the answers, I was on fire!  My brain was clicking away, bam! bam! bam!  Our group was doing so well.

When it was our turn, I stood up and walked to the front of the class, grabbed the marker for the white board, and began introducing our portion of the lesson.  When I looked around, I noticed the attention of a few of my classmates were directed off to the side -- where my group companion was still trying to make her way to the front of the class.  So, I smiled at her as she slowly walked up, I opened up the marker and handed it to her.  And away I went!

After a moment or two, I noticed a few eyes were directed behind me.  I turned and noticed that my companion was trying to write as quickly as I was speaking.  Her hands shook a little, her writing was very small, and she was diligently trying to catch up with me.  I took my cue and slowed down, repeated myself, and then asked if anyone had any questions while my companion caught up.  I glanced over at the student leader and her look said "hurry up!"  So, I did.

At the end of the lesson, I gathered up my things to move back to my seat, my companion said to me, "I'm so sorry I wasn't helpful.  It's just that I haven't really read the Book of Mormon a lot, and I feel a little insecure about talking about what I don't know."  Okay, so I felt horrible.  While everyone was headed out for a short break, I thought I could just say "oh, it's okay" and then get up and move back to my  side of the room.  But it struck me that, with all that I've learned or have tried to learn I've constantly been asking myself: "What else should I be learning?"  This was definitely a moment to ask that question.  I paused, took a breath and then took a moment to have a private discussion with my group companion.

The conversation was important for me, but not as important as the lesson.  In 1 Nephi 6:4, Nephi says that he wrote with intent "to persuade me to come unto God . . ."  That needs to be my intention as well.  It's all well and good to sit in a group or class setting and shoot out answers, ask profound questions, and bask in my own intelligence, but a true disciple of Christ will always seek to find ways to serve.  I sit a classroom surrounded by truly lovely people, all striving to be better in the ways of the gospel, the Savior, and Heavenly Father.  But I can do so much more, by being mindful of the needs of others.  And, if my intent is to be led by the Spirit so that I can become a better disciple, I need to learn to listen better.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Little Patience while I Murmur for Five Minutes. Thank you.

**So, I'm taking a religion class, Book of Mormon.  This post is part of my assignment which is to discuss related gospel topics.  There is a section in this particular lesson entitled Digging Deeper that I would like to focus this assignment on.  I want to discuss the topic of Murmuring.

Elder Neil A. Maxwell gave an address entitled Murmur Not.  He spoke that 'murmuring is defined as a half suppressed resentment or muttered complaint."  I recall when I was on my mission, my companion would always preface any negative statement, by saying "I'm going to murmur for five minutes," or "I'm going to be Laman and Lemual for a while."  She was never petty or spiteful, she had just found a scriptural turn of phrase that made it convenient for either her or I to speak without any accountability -- or so we thought.  Now, years later, I had never given our actions any thought until now.  Having listened to Elder Maxwell say, "our intentions are at least as important as our deeds" showed that there really is no such thing as slightly murmuring, even if it's only for five minutes.  And choosing to pattern ourselves after Laman and Lemuel, really showed poor judgment on our part.

In 1 Nephi 2:11, Lehi spoke of the "stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father . . . "  Perhaps they, too started with a five minute limit of murmuring, and perhaps it started off with what the brothers may have considered minor.  But Nephi recognized that "they (Laman and Lemuel) did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them (1 Nephi 2:12)."  How the Lord must have shaken his head and said, "What?! No, seriously, what?!"  Elder Holland, really hit the nail on the head when he quoted out of Ephesians 4:30-32:  "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God . . . " because surely we as mortals, must truly try the patience of the Lord and the Spirit.

I had a co-worker who was from the south, and she would always use the phrase, "bless your heart."  My co-worker said, you can cover up any type of negative or off the cuff comment, so long as you follow up the comment with "bless her heart."  Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave a talk entitled The Tongue of Angels.  He said that "the opposite or pessimistic spirit drags [you] down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield to obedience."

Towards the end of my mission, I had a different companion who had made me aware that perhaps the reason people murmur about others is because they find something lacking within themselves.  So we pondered on how we could better our attitudes and be more centered in Christ.  We came upon a passage in James 5:37 which reads: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."  We truly struggled to stay within the parameters of saying "yea" or "nay."  It is so tempting to fill the gaps of our speech with other words that neither uplift of edify.