Sunday, June 28, 2009
First, for Sunday School, we have been attending a special Marriage & Family Relations course (taught by my friend Ryan). Today we talked about unity in marriage. My wife and I were asked to prepare, in advance, some lists of complementary attributes of each other, and answer a couple of related questions. Each of us came up with a short list of our own strengths, and a long list of qualities of the other person.
One of the most important attributes, I think, is that neither of us stays angry for very long at all - we're both very quick to forgive and don't hold grudges. This is critical. There may be only twice in over seven years together that we've gone to bed with a issue unresolved. Usually, a spat doesn't last more than a few minutes, and is never really very intense at all. I really believe this willingness to forgive - to see the other's point of view and put one's self aside, to truly FORGIVE and be selfless - is key to a lasting, healthy, HAPPY marriage.
The other topic was something from our Elders Quorum lesson, which was about the priesthood. It was mentioned that the priesthood is often referred to in military terms - we are an "army," we "battle the forces of evil," or we are "enlisted" until this great war is over. We are soldiers, we go on missions, we put on the full armor of God. These are indeed apt metaphors.
It seems to me that people are generally conflict-averse. Nobody really likes to fight. Everybody hates war. And I think that's why we, as a society, often live in a state of denial regarding conflict. (Case in point: Iran has been at war with the U.S. since 1979, killing many U.S. soldiers and civilians through various attacks - the taking of hostages, bombings of military and civilian targets, and proxy war-mongering through terror cells. They have done nothing to hide their feelings and intentions - in fact they state outright that they desire our destruction. Yet so many in America still fail to acknowledge the reality of this war.)
Likewise, another war rages in the world - one that many fail to acknowledge. It's a war that started before any human was ever born. I speak of the Great War in Heaven, in which we all fought on the same side, and after "Round One" of which, one third of the host of heaven were expelled. It continues today, right here, right now - every day, and for every person on Earth.
We are indeed soldiers, enlisted in that war. The original War in Heaven was more a war of words, ideas, and influence. The same is largely true today, only there has been a physical component added to it. But the spoils remain the same: it's a battle for the souls of men.
When you enlist in the Army, you're trained and provided with some tools - weapons. Soldiers in this Great War are trained in families, brought up with correct principles, taught to know right from wrong, and to choose the right. The priesthood is the tool we (men) are equipped with to fight this war. It's like some kind of uber-machine gun that can do anything from heal a loved one's headache to move mountains. Unlike fighting fire with fire, the priesthood fights hate with love, selfishness with service, and darkness and evil with light and righteousness. And it's more powerful, when wielded worthily, than any opposing force.
The work of God will not be stopped. Love and light and good will prevail. Let us always remember that the enemy never rests, and we cannot afford to, either. We ARE all enlisted until the conflict is over.
And happy are we.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It's based on a message from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, found in the June 2009 Ensign magazine. He talks about "Prayer and the Blue Horizon," a discussion of prayer in the familiar terms of flying an airplane (Pres. Uchtdorf often uses aviation analogies, as he used to be an airline pilot for a living).
I've flown quite a lot myself, from the time I was very young. I've been on eight flights in the last eight months. One thing I always appreciated was the fact that even when it's gloomy and rainy on the ground, you soon realize that it's only that way beneath the clouds. When the aircraft takes you up above the bank of rain clouds, it's ALWAYS a beautiful sunny day, no matter what (as long as it's daytime, of course).
President Uchtdorf uses this as an analogy to the way prayer can lift you up above the storms of life.
"In the same way that aerodynamic lift can transport us above the outer storms of the world, I know that the principles of spiritual lift can take us above the inner storms of life.
And I know something else. Although it was a breathtaking experience to break through the clouds and fly to the bright blue horizon, that is nothing compared to the wonders of what we all can experience as we lift up our hearts in humble and earnest prayer.
Prayer helps us transcend the stormy times."
I testify that this is true.
I would also like to link this message into Father's Day (which is today). In my patriarchal blessing it states that I am to lead my family in family prayer. It is often said in the Church that it is the father's place to "Preside, Provide, and Protect" (the three P's).
It is indeed the father's place to be the one who makes sure that family prayer happens daily. It's his responsibility to ensure this vital part of family life is a regular part of family life. He is to do so with patience and love, and - if needed - creativity. In my family, it's pretty easy: we only have one child, he is a very good boy, and it is part of our normal bedtime routine to have family prayer. We don't do so well in the mornings, because I leave for work before anyone is awake most of the time. We usually only get a morning family prayer on Sundays.
I know that it can be a lot harder in other families, with multiple children to wrangle and organize, but I know it can be done - else the Lord wouldn't have commanded it.
Linking this to President Uchtdorf's message: we, as fathers, are like pilots. We each are at the helm of our airliner (family) and lead the way to our common destination (the Celestial Kingdom). We are each responsible for the safety and well-being of all of our passengers (wife and children), and it's up to us to make sure we can fly above the clouds (engage in meaningful, regular family prayer).
I know that if we strive our best to do this, we will all enjoy the flight more and also enjoy a safe landing at our final destination.
Happy Father's Day, all!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Since I immediately knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, it followed logically that the Book of Mormon was true. So I was able to read it the very first time without skepticism, knowing that what I was reading was an inspired translation of actual ancient records.
I nearly finished the Book of Mormon in 1993, but unfortunately, I allowed my life circumstances to get in the way, and I put it aside until 1996, when I finished reading it, called the missionaries, took the discussions, and got baptized.
I’m so driven to bring the Gospel to my family because I know that it is true and I know that it is SO good. Have you ever come across something SO great, so wonderful, so fulfilling, that you just HAD to tell others about it – so they could share in that joy and find out for themselves how great it is? It's natural that if you've found something awesome that you would want the people you love to also be able to partake of it.
Father Lehi, the first prophet of the Book of Mormon and progenitor of the Nephite civilization, experienced a dream – or a vision – that spoke of that very feeling: tasting something spectacular and desiring to share it with his family. In his dream, he saw a tree, “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy”:
There are many ways to be a missionary besides an official call. As a home teacher, you can help folks return to church activity and the blessing of the Gospel by being their friend and providing them with Gospel messages when you visit. Or, more informally, you can reach out to people you know, give someone a Book of Mormon and invite them to church, or just be a good friend to people around you. Your example alone can go a long way. Sometimes people may just be interested to know more about your church when they see the clean, honest and upright way you live and how happy you are.
There are many opportunities to share your faith and your testimony with people. You just have to stay attuned to those opportunities, and then TAKE them when they occur.
It’s up to us, those who have the Gospel, to be instruments in the Lord’s hands in bringing it to the people of the Earth.
I find that very comforting - perhaps something we should remember as we prepare to do something missionary-oriented.