Archive for the 'Gospel Principles' Category



Signs of the Second Coming

To view the entire lesson, go here: Signs of the Second Coming

The Second Coming is something that I personally look forward to with great anticipation. In Matthew 16:27 we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Second Coming is the time when Christ will return again to this earth and rule over all the nations of the world. It is a time when great work will be accomplished. It will mark the beginning of the Millennium, when saints will work hard to complete temple work for all who have ever lived on the earth. It will be a time of great peace and joy.

What are some of the signs of the Second Coming?

The scriptures teach us of several known signs of the Second Coming. In Matthew 24, the Lord taught his disciples about the signs of his return.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Some of the signs include false Christs who deceive, wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, killing of the saints who stand for truth and righteousness, offenses, betrayals, and hatred, false prophets, and great amounts of sin and cold-heartedness. A great sign will be that the gospel will be preached to all the world, which is only made possible by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Then there will be great destruction through all the world both physically and spiritually. Then at the time of His coming, the sun and moon will be dark, the stars will fall from their places, and those who remain will see Christ coming again, with the elect of heaven at his sides. It may seem like a lot of doom and gloom, but the hope and excitement come in the outcome of these signs. In particular, the spreading of the gospel will bring great joy and happiness to people all over the earth, and even more to those who have already died and are waiting for work to be done on their behalf. As the gospel spreads, testimonies of Christ will be strengthened and faith will displace the fear of the awful destruction that is to come.

Another sign of the second coming, was foretold by the prophet Malachi. In Malachi 4:5-6 we read the following:

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

This has happened already. Elijah appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and to Oliver Cowdery, in the temple. He restored necessary keys for the sealing powers of the priesthood. This sign has been fulfilled and we are now preparing for the Savior’s coming by doing work in the temple.

We also believe that before the Lord comes again, the city of Zion will be built upon the American Continent (see Article of Faith 10). This is a sign that the saints of the latter-days have been anticipating since the restoration began.

What evidence do you see that the signs are being fulfilled?

It doesn’t take much effort to see the calamities of the world getting worse and causing more destruction and casualties than they have in years past. Natural disasters are happening often all throughout the world. Transgressions and sins are becoming popular culture and those things that are good are painted as wrong by the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a righteous individual without ridicule and hardship from others. On a more pleasant note, temples are being built more frequently and in more places around the world. The church continues to grow and the gospel is being taken to most of the world. I truly believe that the Second Coming is not far from us.

How can we remain calm and at peace even when some of the signs are terrifying and dreadful?

In Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 we read, “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” There was a time, when thinking of the signs of the Second Coming, brought me fear and discomfort. I have learned now, that this was because I was living in a way that caused me to fear what would happen for the things I was doing wrong in my life.

Faith is a Sunrise

Faith cannot coexist with fear. When we work to strengthen our testimonies and focus on preparing ourselves, fear is wiped away and faith takes its place in our hearts. I believe that this is true. In simpler terms, I think about how it feels to take a test when I am unprepared and have little faith in my own abilities. I am fearful that I will not do well, and I struggle greatly. When I study and become confident in my knowledge of the material, I do much better and I have a faith that I will do the best I can. This principle is the same for the feelings that come when we think about the Second Coming and the signs that precede it. We remain calm and at peace, when we try to follow the commandments, study the gospel, attend the temple, and follow the counsel of preparation given to us by the church leaders. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read the following:

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

We would do well to use wisdom in all that we do. We should not be wasting away our days, thinking that we can do whatever we want and prepare later. We need to be prepared for the signs that are negative, because something will effect everyone of us. We also need to prepare for those positive signs as well, because it is the duty of every disciple and follower of Christ to do their part in the work. It is through this preparation and active participation, that we will find a sense of security and peace.

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The Gathering of the House of Israel

To view the entire lesson go here: The Gathering of the House of Israel

This week in our Relief Society lesson we are studying the gathering of the house of Israel. I think to understand this, we have to understand that the house of Israel was scattered. The house of Israel are the descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel because of his righteousness. He had twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel. They were the covenant people of God during biblical times. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” The scattering was promised long before it actually occurred. The people fought amongst themselves and divided into two. This led to more fighting and eventually caused the scattering that had been promised to them. In 1 Kings 22:17 we read, “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” The descendants of Israel were scattered to all the world because of unrighteousness. In Romans 11:20, we read, “. . . because of unbelief they were broken off . . .”. The promises of the prophets of old, are only available to those who keep their covenants with the Lord. As latter-day saints, we believe that those who become covenant people of the Lord now, are in a sense adopted into the house of Israel.

What responsibilities do God’s covenant people have to the nations of the world?

In Matthew 28:19-20 we read the following:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

God’s covenant people have made covenants with the Lord, to be a light to the world. This means that they are to be an example of righteousness and have the duty to teach the gospel to all people and to bring them closer to God. In order for the world to be blessed as a whole, the covenant people of the God, must keep the commandments and stand for truth and righteousness.

What benefits have come to God’s children because His covenant people have been scattered throughout the earth?

Some of those who were scattered, such as Lehi’s family, brought the gospel with them to other parts of the world. Because of the scattering, much of the world has been able to learn of some portions of the gospel. The blessings of the house of Israel are not for only those who live where ancient Israel once was, so many people all over the world have the blessings available to them if they choose it.

Why does the Lord want His people to be gathered?

The Lord made a covenant with the house of Israel, that they would be gathered again. In 3 Nephi 20:29 we read, “And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.” The Lord wants to keep his covenant with his people. There has always been strength in numbers. We are constantly in a world-wide war against Satan and his angels. When we gather together as covenant people, we have the strength to overcome. In Jeremiah 12:15 we read, “And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.” The tribes of Israel need to be gathered so that the inheritance that God has promised them, can be received. It can only be received when they willing accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and so part of the reason for the gathering is to bring the people to Christ so that they can have salvation.

How will the house of Israel be gathered?

The gathering, which began with the restoration of the gospel, is done through missionary work. In 1 Nephi 15:1 we read, “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—”. As people are brought into the fold of God through baptism, they are gathered into the house of Israel. This gathering started with the gentiles when Joseph Smith was instructed to organize the church. It will continue until the second coming of the Lord, when all will be made aware of Christ.

In what ways have you been gathered spiritually as one of the Lord’s covenant people?

I made the choice to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a member I have made covenants with the Lord. Through these covenants, I have been spiritually gathered with other saints who are all striving to live righteous lives and become more like Christ. As I draw closer to him, through my choices and understandings of the gospel, I am gathering closer with the saints. I have been able to make more covenants because of living worthy to enter the temple of the Lord. These covenants and blessings are eternal and sacred to me.

UPDATE: The more I thought about this, I realized that even though I was raised in the church and baptized at age 8, I have since had the opportunity to be gathered spiritually. There were many things that I took for granted about the gospel, when I was young. Then, when I was 19 years old, I went out with a friend and we sat looking at the temple. We talked about the choices we had made personally and how we felt about our own levels of righteousness. He challenged me to be a better person than I was at the time and I challenged him to do the same. We made a pact to work on it together. In that very moment, I had a change of heart and I started my own personal gathering with the saints.

In what ways have you participated in the gathering of others?

In one way, I have tried to share my testimony with others. This is done both in word and in my actions. When we live a righteous life, firm in the truth of the gospel, we have a joy and a light that is an example to those around us. I am striving daily to be a light to others so that they will want to find the joy that comes through this gospel. In another way, I am helping to gather others, by going to do temple work. Those who are dead, are hearing the gospel through the missionary efforts going on beyond the grave. These people need people like me, to go and do the physical work for them in the temple, so that they can be baptized and make additional covenants. I am so glad to have the opportunity to share my testimony and to do work for those who have died. I know that these things bring me great blessings in this life and I have a great hope in the blessings that this will bring after this life as well.

UPDATE: I think it would be interesting to hear from Jews, who have a lineage of living as practicing Jews, about their feelings about the gathering of Israel. I am sure these promises are discussed for them today. This should be a source of great anticipation and excitement for those who are devout. I would love to know how they feel, so that I could understand even more, the blessings that will be when the gathering has been finished.

The Postmortal Spirit World

Read the entire lesson here: The Postmortal Spirit World.

There are three big questions of life, where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? One of the best things about the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that the answers are there. I’ve never had to wonder about these things, because the scriptures tell me exactly what I need to know. This lesson discusses that which happens after our mortal life.

What happens to us after we die?

When we die, our bodies and spirit separate from one another. The body is left in the mortal sphere, or the grave, while our spirits move on to the spirit world. We will each have the opportunity to work and learn in the spirit world. Those who did not have the chance to learn of the gospel in this life, will have that chance. Those who were covenant people of Christ in this life, will have the opportunity to serve and to teach others. At some point, we will all have the opportunity to be reunited with our bodies through the power and gift of the resurrection, which has been provided to all men by the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are resurrected, we will never experience a physical death or a separation of our body and spirit again. In addition to experiencing resurrection, we will also be judged for our works in this life. Each of us will be brought before the judgement seat, to determine what glory we have earned for our choices in life. Then we will receive the reward that we have gained. We learn of life after death throughout the scriptures. In Alma 11 we read the following:

42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

There will be nothing unknown by God or ourselves and I believe that we will be completely reconciled with the reward we receive and will find our greatest joy no matter what that reward may be.

What comfort do you receive from your knowledge that there is life after death? How can we use our understanding of the postmortal spirit world to comfort others?

I think that the passing of our loved ones would be unbearable if we did not have a hope in life after death. Having the knowledge that there will be work to do, lessons to learn, blessings received, and mostly forever families, gives me the hope to live life the best I can. I know how to live here because I know what is in store for me there. There can be great comfort in the trials, hardships and losses of this life, when we know these things. Those of us who have an understanding of these things, can help bring comfort to others by teaching them. We can honestly support and love others through their difficult times even if they do not understand. Our hope and happiness can help to lift the most burdened souls if we are willing to share it. It is the duty of all people who have made the covenant of baptism with the Lord, to comfort those who are in need. In Mosiah 18 we read the following about this:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

We have the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should share that with others.

Where Is the Postmortal Spirit World?

It may be difficult for some to understand, but I believe that the spirit world is very near to us. There are countless experiences of people feeling the presence of their loved ones, and I believe that these experiences are real. I think that at times the veil which covers our minds and separates us from the truths of an eternal nature, can be very thin. I think that our loved ones are truly near us, and that even though they are probably hard at work, they are watching over us and even guiding us at times.

What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?

One of the understandings that I have gained about the nature of our spirits, is that we will continue to have the same appetites and desires after this life, as we have during this life. In Alma 34:34 we read, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” For example, if we seek to gain power in this life and that is the desire which drives our actions, we will continue to seek that after this life. The difference is that everyone will have a full knowledge and those desires will not be able to be acted upon. I think that our own desires will bring our own torment and so we must attain to have righteous desires, which will be completely realized after this life.

Why is it important to know that our spirits will have the same attitudes in the spirit world that they have now?

This knowledge should lead us to live a righteous life. Our state in eternity, depends upon the attitudes that we gain here. If we have a knowledge given to us in this life, about what types of attitudes we should have, then we need to seek to gain those attitudes now.

What Are the Conditions in the Postmortal Spirit World?

Before we receive our reward, we will either go to spirit prison or spirit paradise. In Alma 40 we read:

11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

Paradise is a state of happiness. I think it comes from having an understanding of the plan of salvation which all will have at that point. The righteous will know that they have been seeking for those things that were right and good. In paradise, they will have happiness and find joy in working and serving God. This service will come through teaching others the gospel. Meanwhile, the unrighteous, will know that they have been living a life of little worth and will feel the torment of that in darkness. There is a difference between outer darkness and spirit prison. Spirit prison is for those who are damned because they did not accept Christ in this life, but who have the opportunity in the spirit world to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept him as their personal savior. In Moses 7:57 we read, “And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The wisdom and mercy of God, is that we will continue to have the opportunity to progress after this life, as long as a physical being has performed the necessary ordinances in the flesh. Those who are not cast to outer darkness, may learn of the gospel and with the full truth in front of them, choose for themselves if they will accept it.

How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?

First of all, we will continue to have our agency. We will choose for ourselves, the reward which will bring us happiness knowing fully our own flaws and mistakes. Agency is an eternal principal and it will continue forever. Second, we will continue to learn and progress. In this life, we are constantly learning new things. These things are both religious and secular. Both are important in our overall knowledge. Our learning will continue after this life. The difference there is that truth will be plain. Something I read while studying said that our spirits will still have the ability to be persuaded towards good or evil, so that is also a condition that will continue which we know well today.

I am so grateful for the knowledge of what is to come after this life. I am glad that death of those I love, does not cripple me. I find joy in my loved ones moving on to work for the Lord on the other side of the veil. I know that death is a welcome part of our eternal life and the eternal plan of God. I look forward to meeting many who have gone before me and sharing my testimony and understanding of the gospel with them. I love knowing that God is so kind and merciful, and yet that he is consistent and stable in his plan. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I hope that I can live my life in a way that will make me a worthy spirit in the life to come, so that I can help further the work of the Lord.

Temple Work and Family History

I’ve been studying this topic a lot this week, because my husband and I have been asked to speak on it in Sacrament Meeting. I am grateful for the opportunity to study it, because I absolutely love doing temple work and the family history work that makes it possible. I know that it is an important topic for our area, because I live where a new temple has been announced and I know that we need to be prepared for the opportunity to serve there.

Why are temples important in our lives?

Temples are the key to our exaltation and eternal life with our families. All of the ordinances of God must be done after the manner which He has given us. In Doctrine and Covenants 22 we read the following:

1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.
3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.
4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.

We must perform our ordinances to make covenants as He has commanded. There are certain ordinances which we can only receive in the temple, which has been dedicated for those purposes. These ordinances include washings and annointings, endowments, and sealings for the living and all necessary ordinances for the dead, including baptism and confirmation. If we did not have temples, these ordinances would not be able to be recognized and accepted by God, which means they would not be eternal. The temple is also the only place where we can gain a full understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are certain truths found in working in the temple, which cannot be found any where else in the world.

What does it mean to be sealed?

In Matthew 16:19 we read, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” To be sealed is to be bound on earth and in heaven. The kind of sealing that occurs in the temple, means bonded for eternity. It must be done in the temple and by the proper sealing power and authority of the priesthood. Families are bonded as families for eternity, when they make covenants in the holy temples. As eternal families, we are able to receive the blessings which were promised to the ancient prophets, including exaltation and the ability to progress through the eternities.

What must a couple do to make the sealing power effective in their marriage?

The way to make this power effective is to live worthy of the promised blessings. If we are living unrighteously, the blessings will not remain intact for our family. A couple needs to honor one another, continually strive to have the influence of the spirit in their home, seek for greater personal righteousness through prayer and scripture study, and mostly be completely faithful to one another. In Mark 10:9 we read, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” If anything other than God, meaning anything of man, is allowed to come before our spouse, the sealing power cannot remain effective.

What responsibilities do we have toward our ancestors who have died without receiving priesthood ordinances?

After our spirits pass from this life, we are no longer able to physically perform the ordinances necessary for our salvation. Therefore, anyone who has died without receiving these sacred ordinances is unable to progress any further. This would be a huge hinderance for the majority of mankind, if it weren’t for the ability to do work for the dead. The responsibility of acting as proxies for those who have died, rests with the faithful and worthy saints of these latter-days. In Doctrine and Covenants 128:15 we read, “And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” The salvation of our ancestors is dependent on our willingness to do the work for them. We in effect will act as Saviors for them by doing something for their salvation that they cannot do for themselves. In doing this service, we keep the sacred covenants we have made with God in the temple, and are therefore able to be saved. Our own salvation depends on our willingness to help others to be saved.

How does the doctrine of salvation for the dead show God’s justice, compassion, and mercy?

God gives us every opportunity in this life and the next to make the choices which will lead us back to Him. He is no respecter of persons. There is no discrimination in the eternal plan, which would prevent some from the blessings he has in store for all of His children. If our lives give us the opportunity to learn and choose while we are living, great. But if we do not have the opportunity because of the circumstances we are living in, we will still have the opportunity to learn and choose after this life. In 1 Peter 4:6 we read, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” God’s merciful plan allows those who are living to provide the way for the dead to progress no matter what the circumstances of their lives. In Doctrine and Covenants 138 we read the following:

32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

To me, this shows the beauty and glory of His plan for every individual who will have ever lived on the earth. It also stands as a great reminder to me that we are all His children and we all were given the same promises in the pre-mortal existence. We all have the opportunity to choose if we will believe or not, and if we want to follow Christ or not. I am very glad to have the knowledge of agency and the incredible power it gives each of us over our eternal destiny.

What experiences have you had doing temple work for your ancestors?

I have had some good experiences in doing temple work for my own ancestors. There is something completely different between doing work for someone who has died that we do not know, and doing the work for our own ancestor. I have literally felt the love and joy of others and I look forward to being able to reunite with them after this life. The joy that I have felt doing this work for others is beyond any joy I feel in the normal everyday life. It is truly amazing to assist God in His work.

A Family Tree

What are the basic steps of doing family history work?

I have been working on my own family history for a while now. It is such an exciting work for me, and a passion I hope to continue with for the rest of my life. The basic steps of this work are searching for our direct ancestors, finding out a bit about who they are and preparing their names for temple work if necessary, and then finally performing the work that is necessary for their salvation. I would highly suggest that there be more effort in coming to understand and learn about the life and experiences of those ancestors, because it makes the temple experience and our lives in general much more meaningful and joyful.

How has the Lord helped you or members of your family find information about your ancestors?

The most recent example I have of the Lord helping my family to find information about an ancestor, has to do with the work of indexing. Because countless individuals have volunteered their own time and energy to helping index records, I was able to find a birth document, which my family had not been able to locate before. I know that the indexing program has been inspired by God to further the work of salvation and I am very grateful for it.

What are some simple ways for someone with many other responsibilities to participate in family history work?

Like I mentioned above, there is a great program called indexing. If there are too many responsibilities in our own lives and we are unable to take the time to seriously look for our own ancestors, we can take 10 minutes or so every so often, to index for others. Also, a huge part of family history work is recording our own personal and family history. This is just as necessary as doing work for those who have died because our work will benefit our posterity. Writing a journal, recording important family events, taking pictures and so on should be simple enough for us to do with our own families. Another thing is to go to the temple to do work even if it is not for our own family members. I believe there is a season in life for everything, and family history is one of them. All faithful saints should be engaged in the work, but we all can find the part which works for us in our lives at this time.

I love the knowledge that we can help our family members who are the reason that we are born into the life we have. I am in awe of the strength and courage that my ancestors have had and I am so glad that I can learn and grow from their experiences. I am so grateful that I have had the experiences of serving them by doing work in the temple. I believe in eternal families. I believe that I will someday be able to be with my loved ones again and that we will all be able to rejoice together in the saving power of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the merciful and loving plan of our Heavenly Father and for the opportunities that I have to help in His great and marvelous work.

The Law of Chastity

View the entire chapter here: The Law of Chastity

Why should parents teach their children about procreation and chastity? How can they appropriately do this?

My children are still pretty young, but I understand the importance of teaching our children correct truths and principles related to these things as appropriate. Procreation and chastity are sacred things. There are strong consequences, both good and bad in nature, if we do not follow the plan as it has been laid out by God. Our children need to know and understand what God’s plan is for us and what his laws are regarding procreation and chastity. If they do not learn it from parents, they are likely to learn it from the world. The view of the world is perversely distorted and wrong. Satan uses a wide variety of tactics to get people to go against the laws of God with regard to these things.

We appropriately teach our children by turning to the word of the Lord. This teaching takes sincere prayer and guidance of the spirit. Each child is different and each should be taught in a way that would suit them best. Parents are blessed with a calling and stewardship which allows them the ability to know how each child would learn these things in the best way.

I think it is important for all of us to understand the why of this. Why do we procreate? We do this because the Lord has commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth. There are many souls waiting their turn to gain a body and live on this earth. We allow them this opportunity through multiplying. We learn about this commandment when we read of Adam and Eve and the first commandments that were given, which still apply for us today. In Moses 2 we read the following:

27 And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.
28 And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Why do we only procreate within the bonds of marriage? Adam and Eve were first brought together through marriage, which was ordained by God. We are taught throughout the scripture that procreation should remain between a married man and woman. Furthermore, every child has the right to be born into a loving family environment. In the the proclamation to the world on family we read the following:

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

Marriage is just one of the boundaries which has been taught throughout the scriptures, with regard to procreation. We need these boundaries because we have natural passions and desires within us, which we must learn to control. The boundaries our given to us by God and anything outside of them is not chaste and pure. Anything outside of these boundaries will bring us into the captivity of Satan and his evil ways. Therefore, we are given the law of chastity.

What is the law of chastity?

The laws of chastity, is the law from God which says that we should not have any sexual relations with anyone other than our spouse who we have legally married. (This legal marriage must also be recognized by God in order to remain true to this law.) In Doctrine and Covenants 42 we read the following:

22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.
23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.
24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

That seems pretty straight forward to me. Anything outside of that is against God’s law and therefore it is a sin. Relations of any physical nature, before marriage or with another other than our spouse during marriage, are serious transgressions of this law. This sin makes us unholy. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we read, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” If we are unholy because of the sin of immorality, we cannot have the Holy Ghost with us. Furthermore, if we commit this sin without proper repentance, which is difficult and painful, we cannot hope to return to live with God again.

What are some ways Satan tempts people to break the law of chastity?

This is so huge today. Satan was working hard on people when I was a youth, and now just over a decade later, he is working so much harder. I think one of the biggest ways that Satan attacks people with this is that he wants it to be the normal standard in the world today. There was a time, when anything outside of chastity was a faux-pas in the mainstream of life. Now, you are mocked and made fun of if you remain a virgin until marriage. Now, the icons of everyday life are commonly committing adultery and having children outside of wedlock. There are countless tv shows that include immorality and situations where there are children born outside of marriage, as if these are all expected of a normal life. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be modest in our appearance, and immodesty leads to problems with chastity. If we hope to avoid these temptations, we need to do our best to live in the world, but not of the world. We need to be willing to excuse ourselves from the standards of society, and stand firmly for the standards of God.

Besides the societal norm, Satan tempts people to break this law through our natural urges and passions. If we develop innocent relationships with others and allow ourselves to be placed in situations where we are alone and emotionally or physically vulnerable, he tempts us through these natural desires. He tempts us through other forms of entertainment, such as pornography, which is extremely addicting and difficult to break free from. He tempts us to head towards breaking this law, through other means as well, such as using alcohol which lowers our inhibitions. This is why we must be constantly guarding ourselves from these situations and any others that may lead to breaking this law. There are great blessings in store if we remain chaste and virtuous. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 we read, “. . . let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.”

How are modesty and chastity related? How can parents teach their children to be modest in dress, language, and behavior?

When we dress or behave immodestly, we lessen the value of the temple which God has given to us. It is like walking around with an invitation for others to think about us in unholy ways. Inviting others to think of us that way, is not only giving us the temptation to break the law of chastity, but it encourages others to think and act differently as well. Immodesty is an act of more women than men, I think, because society would have us believe that we are a product of our sensuality. In Jacob 2:28 we read, “For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” Chaste women will be modest, and will be valued for much more than their physical body alone.

We can teach our children by example. Teach them how to dress by dressing appropriately. Teach them by explaining what certain things show to others. Teach them how speak with respect for others by speaking respectfully yourself. Teach them how to behave modestly, by being modest in your own behavior. We can teach them by using the information provided by the church leaders. There are great resources in the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. I have also seen some great videos and such on the youth section of the lds site (lds.org/youth). We can teach our children by communicating openly and honestly with them about the reasons we want to be modest. If we do not teach them, they will learn from somewhere else, and it will mostly likely be the teachings of the world.

How can we fight the spread and influence of pornography?

As parents, we need to do all that we can to safeguard our homes against pornography. This includes limiting what is viewed on tv, what sites are accessed online, and so on. It also includes teaching our kids about the evils of pornography, so that they know what they should do if an unexpected situation arises. We fight the spread and influence, by standing up for what we believe while we are out in the world as well.

What promises has the Lord given us to help us overcome Satan’s temptations?

The Lord has promised us that we will not be given any challenges that we cannot handle without his help. In 2 Peter 2:9 we read, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations . . .” The Lord gives us tools to keep us strong. If we make it a priority to study the scriptures, pray, attend church, and listen to the words of the leaders of the church, we will be worthy of the spirit, which can warn us of tempting situations. If we are firm in our testimonies, and trying to live righteously, we will recognize and discern when there may be a danger in our path. In Alma 13:28 we read, “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;”.

In His infinite wisdom and mercy, God has given us a way to return to virtue if we have fallen into Satan’s evil web of temptation. Through the incredible sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have the atonement. The atonement allows us the opportunity to repent and be forgiven of our sins. It is never too late in this life, to repent of any sins against the law of chastity. In the first chapter of Isaiah we read the following:

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; . . .
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

In Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” If we truly and fully repent, we can return to the state of virtue through His eternal forgiveness. Then we can receive the amazing blessings that come from living the law of chastity.

What blessings do we receive as we keep the law of chastity?

As I mentioned above, when we are pure and avoiding sin, we can be blessed by the companionship of the spirit. This alone is worth living this law to me. There is also the blessing of peace of mind that comes when we are following the laws of God. Immorality is accompanied by the heavy weight of guilt and sadness. On the other hand, being chaste brings freedom from guilt and as was written in Doctrine and Covenants 121 (see above), confidence in the face of God. Relationships with those we love, will remain strong and good, when we follow this law. I know that countless families have been ripped apart by acts of immorality. Shames causes those who break this law to separate themselves from others who they hurt by their actions. These separations and breaks in the ties and bonds of a family can be avoided if we live a virtuous and holy life. Moreover, we can be blessed to live with God and our families again after this life, if we can obey this law.

I have seen both sides of the law of chastity in my own life. I have witnessed the heartbreak, guilt, and shame of breaking this law. I have seen the amazing blessings that come from obeying this law. I can say with every fiber of my being, that I am grateful for this law and I know that it is better to be obedient to it. I know that by living this law I will be blessed for eternity and that my family will also receive amazing eternal blessings.

Eternal Marriage

View the entire chapter here: Eternal Marriage

The scriptures teach us of the plan of salvation, which includes what we did before life on this earth as well as what we will do after this life. Marriage plays a huge part in the outcome of the plan of salvation, specifically eternal marriage. I believe that marriage is ordained by God and that we have the opportunity to be married for eternity, not just in this life (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Why is it important to know that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God?

This knowledge gives greater value to marriage. In the world today, there are many who treat marriage lightly. A lot of people think that marriage is something that we is meant to be temporary. Knowing that marriage is ordained of God, is an indication that God approves of it and therefore it should mean more to us. I believe that it is not only ordained by God, but that it was created by God for us. I believe that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were married by God. In Moses 4:18 we read, “And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.” Under its creation, marriage is a commitment entered into by a man and a woman. Nothing else fits within the definition of marriage that God has given us. Marriage will only be ordained by God, when the participants are a man and a woman. Marriage will only have the opportunity to be eternal when it is between a man and a woman.

What is the Lord’s doctrine of marriage, and how does it differ from the views of the world?

To the Lord, marriage is much more than a piece of paper or contract that allows us privileges in this life. Marriage gives a man and a woman the opportunity to work together as one. In Matthew 19:4-9 we read the following:

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

God said that a man and a woman should cleave together as one and should not be separated by any man. It is only because of the wickedness of man, that divorce became something that was done. The world would have us believe that marriage is not meant to last and that divorce is a completely normal outcome.

In the Lord’s doctrine, marriage is something that we can only do before our resurrection. In Matthew 22:30 we read, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” After we are resurrected, we are either blessed for making this sacred covenant with God by the proper authority, or we are allowed the opportunity to be angels. God’s doctrine is that it is better to have the blessings of an eternal marriage because that is how we can have the ability to progress and be like God. In Doctrine and Covenants 131 we read the following:

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

The world would have us put marriage off until all other things are in order, but this is giving it the least priority. Because our eternal progression depends upon us being married it should be on the top of our priority lists. We may not all be able to married physically during this life, but I believe that the opportunity will be made available to all who have the desire to be married and who make it their priority now.

Why must a marriage be performed by proper authority in the temple to be eternal?

Marriage is a covenant. The specific covenants we make with God, such as our baptismal covenants, must be done as he has commanded. The only way that this covenant of marriage can be eternal, is if it is performed by one who has the priesthood authority and power to seal on earth and in heaven. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 we read, “And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power …, are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.” This eternal covenant is only available to those who are worthy to enter the temple, because this is how the Lord commanded it to be. This covenant is the most sacred covenant that we can make, and the promises made by God in this ordinance are the greatest that we can receive from this life.

What are the blessings of an eternal marriage in this life and in eternity?

One of the blessings from eternal marriage in this life, is the companionship of God in your married life. Knowing that my Father in Heaven will be there to help us at all times, is a huge comfort to me. As with all other covenants and promises we make with God, he will bless us according to our faithfulness. If we our faithful to our covenants, our relationship with our spouse will be watched over and guided by God. It is a blessing as well to know that our marriages can last after this life and that death will not separate us.

The blessings of eternal marriage extend by definition into eternity. They are revealed to us in Doctrine and Covenants 132:19.

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, … and if ye abide in my covenant, … it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

These blessings include eternal life and exaltation, in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. Those who righteously remain true to their eternal marriage covenants will have the opportunity to raise spirit children forever, and truly become like God.

How can an eternal perspective influence the way we feel about marriage and families?

Not only is this perspective a great source of strength and security, but it helps us to have the drive and determination to choose the right. I want to live a better life because I am the only one in control of whether or not I will be with my husband and children forever. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 we read, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” Because the relationships formed in our family can last forever, I want to strive harder to make them as strong as they can be. When we see the bigger picture, we should have a greater desire to live so that our spouse and children will want to live with us forever.

What can we do to help youth prepare for eternal marriage? What can we do to encourage young people to set a goal to be married in the temple? How can we help them prepare for this?

I think that the greatest thing we can do to help them to prepare is to teach them by word and by example. We need to live in a way that shows that an eternal marriage is the greatest relationship we can have in this life. We also need to spend the little time we have with our youth, teaching them of the blessings and responsibilities that come with an eternal marriage. A huge thing today, is the need to teach our children the proper priorities they should have in this life. Too many youth are making their careers and education the most important things, and they are setting their minds on putting off marriage until they have these things accomplished and settled. These goals are good, but our youth need to have the goal of eternal marriage and starting a family as the priority. This does not mean that it has to happen first, or that it is a guarantee that it will ever happen, but our frame of mind truly is everything. If our youth continue to put off marriage until their other goals are met, they may miss the opportunities that the Lord has in store for them.

“And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise (1 Nephi 7:1).” There is nothing in the scriptures that teach us to value career or education over marriage and family. There are however, many examples of the prophets of God teaching us that it is very important to do these things. From the beginning, this was given as a commandment from God. In Genesis 1 we read the following:

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth …

We need to teach as the prophets taught their own children. We also need to encourage that they seek the guidance of the spirit. No one should make quick, unwise decisions about who or when they should get married. We should teach them to live so that they are worthy to meet the right person and to be able to marry them in the way that God intended for all of His children. If they are on the right path because they are living righteously, the spirit will guide them to know when it is right for them.

I am so grateful for being sealed to my husband in the temple. My life has been so blessed from this decision. I know that there is no greater joy than that which comes from this choice. I hope that I can live as a good example to my children and that they will learn from me in a way that encourages them to make this same choice.

Family Responsibilities

View the entire lesson here: Family Responsibilities

What responsibilities do husbands and wives share in raising their children?

My family has recently studied “The Family: A Proclamation to the World“, which teaches us that parents share the duty of loving and caring for their children. It says, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” Every parent should work to find opportunities to teach their childrenIn Deuteronomy 32 we read the following:

45And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
46And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.

We need to specifically teach our children to keep the commandments of God. We should do our best to teach them whenever the opportunity presents itself. As parents, I think we sometimes feel like our kids should already know things that they haven’t been taught. Then sometimes our kids are forced to learn things the hard way, through making mistakes that they could have avoided if they had simply been taught.

Parents need to do their best to provide for their necessities of life. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Heavenly Father is the spirit Father of our earthly children, as much as He is of each of us. He puts His trust in us, by allowing us the privilege of raising His children. We deny our faith in God when we do not do all that we are able to provide for our children, because we choose to not recognize His children for what they are.

Children also need to be shown how to be and to help them to know how to be honest and faithful people. They learn this by example from their parents. In Mosiah 4:15 we read, “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness …”. Parents are responsible for living an honest and true life that their children can follow. This teaching must be done out of love, and parents should recognize that everyone will make mistakes and will need love, guidance, and support to do the best they can.

How can husbands and wives support each other in their roles? Where can single parents turn for support?

Every home is different, but the ideal situation has the father taking on the role of provider, meaning he works to provide the necessities for his children, and a mother taking on the role of nurturer. Sometimes the situations of the family do not allow for this, and it is then that things must be adjusted so that both the physical and spiritual needs are met. Husbands and wives can support one another, by allowing their spouse to do their part. One should not be in control of everything or telling the other how they should do everything, but they should work together to fulfill these responsibilities. Parents can support each other by being grateful for the things done by their partner. Showing this gratitude and helping children to show their gratitude as well, will go a long way in strengthening the relationships in a family. Single parents can turn to other family members and to their ward family for support. Most of all, parents can turn to the Lord for support, whether they are married or single.

What positive examples have you seen of fathers raising their children?

In the scriptures there are many great fathers. Alma the elder is a great example to me, of a father doing his best to raise a wayward son. We learn from him, that we should not give up on our children and stop praying for them. Lehi is another good example of a father. He was an example to his sons of following the spirit, and having faith in God. He had a great love and desire for all his children to follow the strait and narrow path.

In my own life, I have seen many examples of good fathers. The one that comes to mind right now is my grandfather who passed away last year. He was an extremely loving father, who made teaching his children a priority in his life. He worked very hard to provide for his family, but did not let work get in the way of spending quality time with his kids and grandkids.

What positive examples have you seen of mothers raising their children?

One of the best examples in the scriptures, is from the story of the stripling warriors. In Alma 56 and 57, we learn of the teachings of these mothers and the example of faith in God that they were to their sons. In Alma 56:47 we read, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” It was by their teaching and example, that their sons were able to have faith and not fear.

I have seen many examples in my life as well. The best examples have been of love, patience, and kindness. I have witnessed sweet moments of teaching and love that come from soft spoken words to little children. I have seen countless sacrifices by loving mothers who give up their own wants and needs to bless the lives of their children. I am so grateful to the many examples of good mothers in my life.

How do children help their parents build a happy home?

I often wonder what I did in my home growing up, to help my parents have a happy home. I can recognize the things I should have done more, now that I am a mother. For me, the greatest things that children can do is to love each other. My hardest moments as a mother, come when my children are fighting and unhappy. Happiness in the home, is greater when children obey their parents. In Colossians 3:20 we read, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” This does not mean that parents should force their children to do things or exercise any unrighteous dominion over them, but that children should do the things their parents ask of them. Children can help by being an example as well. When my girls remind me to say a prayer, or want to share the things they have learned at church, and so on, their example teaches me more then I think I teach them. Children help by being willing to participate in family activities and in taking care of the house and needs of one another. A happier home will come when children serve and love one another and their parents.

What should children do to honor and respect their parents?

As I mentioned above, children should obey their parents. Another way they can honor and respect their parents, is to live in a way that would never bring shame to their parents. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” Children who are righteous and live wisely will live to make their parents proud, which is a great way to honor them. Children should show respect in their words and actions, both in the home and outside of it. How we speak about our parents can affect how others see them, and we should not do things that would cause others to judge them.

What did your parents do that led you to honor and respect them?

My mother has made family history a priority in her life, which is something that I have admired and loved in her. Her example has pushed me to do what I could do as well. I want to continue to do this work, so that I can make her proud and honor her. My father has taught me the value of music and meaning the things that I sing. These lessons have strengthened not only my performances, but my testimony as well. I have a great respect for my Dad’s musical talents and I hope that my desire to follow his instructions will honor him as well. Most of all, I hope that I honor my parents by how I am raising my own children. I am far from perfect, but I hope that I have learned from the examples that they have shown me, because I am truly grateful for them and the person I have grown up to be because of them.

What can each member of the family do to make home a happy place?

Using all of the things mentioned above, will make a happy home. All family members should follow the commandments, listen to one another, respect and love one another, serve each other, be kind and considerate, and so on. A happy home is a home of peace, love, laughter, enjoyment, health, and more. We need to do as the Savior taught us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” This is an active love that comes through doing our part.

What are some traditions and practices that can make home a happy place?

Things that make a happy home include family prayer and scripture study, family home evening, and going to church together. It is also very important that we find ways to have fun together through playing games, doing projects, and so on. I am so grateful for the family and for the opportunity to learn and grow because of the responsibilities that I have to my own family.

The Family Can Be Eternal

View the entire lesson here: The Family Can Be Eternal

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in the family unit as the most important group we can be a part of. Our leaders have said, “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

Why did our Heavenly Father send us to earth as members of families?

The principle of the family is an eternal principal. In the Bible Dictionary, under “family” we read, “The Bible is family oriented. … Latter-day revelation confirms all that the Bible teaches about the family and adds the most important truth that through the gospel of Jesus Christ the family can be sealed together in a permanent relationship for time and all eternity.” We were created spiritually as part of Heavenly Father’s family and we are working towards returning to that family after life. Therefore, it would be strange to be completely separated here from a family. Families help us to learn and grow and they should provide a feeling of safety and security that cannot be felt elsewhere. We are not all born into a strong family, or one that is whole, but we all can work towards finding and strengthening the familial relationships we do have even if they are not those related to us by blood or marriage.

Why is the home the best place to prepare for eternal life?

In Doctrine and Covenants 49:15 we read, “And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.” I believe that marriage is a sacred institution in which a man and woman can make promises to each other and to God. When able, they are given the opportunity to partner with God to bear and raise children. Parents are given the divine calling to love and teach their children in a way that no other people can. When accompanied by righteous living, the spirit can dwell in the home and strengthen the family as well as each member of the family. This is no doubt the best environment to learn about the principles of the gospel and how we can be more Christ-like.

How can we help the youth of the Church understand the sacredness of the family and the marriage covenant?

There is so much in the world today, that teaches false things about family and marriage. Doctrine and Covenants 93:40 says, “But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” Parents have the responsibility to teach the correct principles related to marriage and family with the help of the spirit, so that children can learn why these are so sacred. Showing the youth that we hold these things sacred, by our actions and words is very important. Confusion begins when we do things that teach our children we teach one thing and do another. I think that teaching our youth about temple work and devoting time regularly to go to the temple, shows the youth that we value the eternal relationships of family and marriage above our own time and other things we may be interested in.

How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?

In Doctrine and Covenants 132 we read the following:

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life … if ye abide in my covenant … it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

I believe that if we make and keep sacred covenants in the temples of the Lord, we will be able to be with our families in the eternities. Moreover, I believe that we will be able to progress as a family and continue to grow spiritually as well as in number. I also believe that our attitudes are part of our soul and therefore will carry one with us after this life. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 we read, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” If we do not work towards having harmony in our home now, we cannot expect to be able to live together in harmony after this life. One of the best ways to develop greater harmony is to pattern our lives after the Savior’s life. If we can learn to have a greater love for one another, and a deeper understanding of who each member is, our compassion and charity will grow. I believe that we can learn to love others more, when we willingly serve them. We have more compassion when we put the needs and desires of others ahead of our own. When our focus is on the happiness of those around us, there will be a greater harmony in our home.

What can parents do to encourage their sons and daughters to be good friends with one another? What can brothers and sisters do to nurture their friendship with one another?

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (1 John 2:10).” When I was growing up, the times I was closest to my siblings was when we had found things we could do and share together. I think that parents can help their children to be good friends by encouraging them to do activities they can enjoy together. This can be simply during family night activities, or in more time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Taking time for everyone to learn more about each other is also a good way to encourage friendship. One example I heard is on birthday or special days, the family can focus on that individual. They can do things like ask them all of their recent favorites or what they want to be when they grow up and so on. As brothers and sisters, we can nurture our friendships by practicing good communication skills, especially by listening to one another.

What can husbands and wives do to help each other be happy?

The most important relationship that we can have is the one with our spouse. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Our energies should go first to making each other happy and then to others in our lives. Date night is a big help in the happiness and strength in a marriage. Taking the time to share interests, hopes and dreams can also help. We should be regularly thinking of how to show our love and then doing just that. The times when I see my friends the most unhappy, is when their spouse is critical and unsupportive of them. We should really try our best to see the good in our spouse and take unnecessary judgement our of our marriage.

What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (D&C 88:119)”. Some things that seem to help our family, are regular scripture study, prayer and family home evening. We find greater strength when we work or play together. Eating dinner together and taking the time to listen to the lives of one another, is also a big help in our family. Also, making it a priority to talk and get together with other relatives is a great thing for our family. We are no longer very close physically to most of our family, but we are working hard to keep in touch still.

What can families do to work through difficult times?

I think that one of the most important things to do during difficult times, is to strengthen our families spiritually. We should focus on prayer and scripture study, as well as make sure that we attend church meetings together, especially sacrament meetings. Learning together and making sure that we can still have the spirit to guide us, gives families a strength to get through any difficulties that may come.

What evidence have you seen that efforts such as family prayer, family scripture study, family councils, family meal times, and family home evening make a difference?

Family prayer is a consistent reminder that we are mindful of one another. I love to hear my husband pray for me in front of my children or when we pray as a couple. When we pray for specific things as a family, it has helped us to be more understanding of one another and more mindful of how we can serve others. Family scripture study has brought my family a lot closer together, especially when we take the time to discuss what we understand from what we read. Family councils have helped us to be a better organized family. They help us to talk about everyday issues within our family that need to be worked through. Family meal times has given us the chance to share the best and worst parts of our days outside the home. It is a place where we have been able to really listen to what we each face during the day and we can discuss how to deal with those situations that the world presents to us. Family home evening has really brought our family together. It is almost always crazy, because our kids are little, but it is special to us and really helps us to have fun together and enjoy learning from one another. All of these things together have brought my husband and I closer together than we ever were before.

I am so grateful for my family. I am thankful that I have been sealed to my sweet husband in the temple and that I have the opportunity to be with him and my beautiful children forever. I know that our families should be our greatest priority. I love my parents and my siblings and care for them deeply. I know that I can be with them after this life, if I do my part and live worthy of the blessings promised to me in the temple.

Obedience

Note: I’m going to try to do more than one chapter from the Gospel Principles manual this week, because I just moved to a new ward and they are a bit ahead of where I was.

To read the entire lesson go here: Obedience

When I was in my youth, this principle was often referred to as the big one and was discussed often. What is obedience? It is “the trait of being willing to obey“. To obey is to follow a command, rule, direction, etc.. We can obey anyone. Part of the test in life is for us to discern right and wrong, and then choose to obey either God or Satan. Our hope should be to be obedient to God, so that we can return to live with Him.

What difference does it make to obey willingly rather than unwillingly?

The gospel is based upon one of the greatest eternal gifts that we have been given, which is agency. Our willingness to obey, shows that we are using that agency to choose to follow the plan that God has provided for us. Anything we do unwillingly is a forfeit of that gift of agency and entirely against the design of God for our eternal happiness. If we do all that is right, with an unwilling heart, and earn the reward for our actions, we will not experience the full joy of the reward because our hearts were not in it. However, it would be a shame not to obey God at all, because disobedience to God’s commands means obedience to the desires of Satan and great suffering beginning at the day of judgement. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “… Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (v. 13). For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

Our duty in this life is to keep the commandments, because that is how we will be judged. In the lesson we read the following:

It is better to obey the commandments because we fear punishment than not to obey them at all. But we will be much happier if we obey God because we love Him and want to obey Him. When we obey Him freely, He can bless us freely.

The state of our happiness during as well as after this life, will depend on if and how we choose to obey in this life.

How can we increase our desire to obey?

There are a few ways that I can think of to increase my desire to obey. The first, is to discover the love I have for the Lord. I do this by learning of Him, the plan of salvation, the atonement, and so on, through scripture study and study of other words from church leaders. The more I learn of the reasons that God has done what he has, for me, the greater my desire is to obey. Second, is that sometimes I don’t know why I should obey something, but I understand that being obedient is better than being disobedient. In this case, I increase my desire by putting the commandment to the test. Every law that is given by God, has a blessing that will come from it. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 we read,

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Sometimes if I need the desire to obey, I will try following that law with the hope that I will be blessed for my faithfulness. Then when I see the blessings come, which I always do in some way or another, my desire to follow that commandment is much greater.

Why do we not always need to understand the Lord’s purposes in order to be obedient?

As part of our learning process in this life, God gives us the opportunity to grow and progress. One of the ways He does this is by giving us commandments for which we may not understand the purposes. In these cases, it may be several years before we understand why we have been told to do something, if we understand at all in this life. In Abraham 3:25 we read, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”. Our obedience to the commandments, especially when we do not understand the purpose, proves to God that we have faith in Him. It also proves to God that we can be trustworthy. The Lord can trust us to do His will, and therefore to help Him accomplish His great work.

When has the Lord prepared a way for you to obey Him?

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi was a great example to us of how the Lord prepares a way for us to be obedient to his commands. In 1 Nephi 17:3 we read, “And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.” As I have thought about this question, I have realized that the personal preparation that the Lord provides for me to obey Him, usually comes when I have been given direction by the Spirit of God. Years ago I was given the prompting that I needed to be the person to take care of my daughter during the day, and at that time I was working full time and had a friend watching her. It was weighing heavy upon my heart and mind. I honestly thought that it would be an impossible thing for our family, but I wanted to be obedient to that inspiration. The next thing I new, I had the impression to do something that took me away from work for several days. Our family was able to manage fine and so I took a leap of faith, quit work, and have found that everything has worked out by following this direction. It has not been easy, but we have been greatly blessed. This experience has felt like a stepping stone to many other promptings that have come. This one experience has prepared me for other promptings, and has given me much greater faith and hope in being obedient no matter what.

When have you received blessings as a result of your obedience to commandments that seemed small?

“And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever (D&C 103:7, emphasis added).” Not all of God’s commandments are written out plainly in the scriptures. Some of His commandments are given as direction from our modern prophets, who he has said our His mouthpiece on the earth. One of the things that the prophets have said is for us to have family home evening. This seemed like a small thing to my family, that we did not decide to make this a regular thing in our lives until a few years ago when we realized its importance. As I have heard many say, the blessings don’t usually come from the particular lessons that we have in family night or the specific things we do, they come from being together and taking the time to strengthen our relationships through learning and growing together. I believe this to be true. One of the greatest blessings I have seen in my family, is the desire that my children have to be together as a family more often because they have enjoyed being together for family night.

What examples come to mind when you think of Jesus Christ obeying His Father?

The Savior was continually living by obedience to His Father. He was mortal and experienced temptation just as we do. The salvation of all mankind was dependent on his willingness to be obedient. In 2 Nephi 31:7 we read, “Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.” The greatest example to me, was in the garden of Gethsemane. The record in the scriptures teaches us that the Savior asked for the cup to be removed from Him if possible, and yet he continued through the Atonement, humbly and in complete obedience to the directions given to him by God. Even the Savior had to prove Himself by being obedient.

How can remembering the Savior’s example help us be obedient?

In 2 Nephi 31:16 we read, “And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” It helps to remember that Jesus Christ did all that He did because he loved us. His love was expressed through obedience. This example should inspire us, because no matter what is asked of us, we will never be made to experience the things that He did for us. If He was willing to be obedient to save me, than I should be willing to be obedient to keep His suffering from being in vain. When we remember His example and then try harder to do what is right, we show our love in return. John 14:15 reads, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I want to show my love, by not being the reason for more of the Savior’s pain and suffering.

What are the consequences of obeying or disobeying the Lord’s commandments?

Both obedience and disobedience bring consequences to any commandment of the Lord. Some of the consequences of obedience are blessings that the Lord knows we need, unrestrained agency, and the opportunity to progress and do more. In John, Chapter 8, the Savior teaches us one of the consequences of obedience.

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

When we are obedient, the spirit can teach us truth, which will keep us free from Satan’s deceptions. The Lord has also promised us the opportunity to prosper is we are obedient (see Mosiah 2:22). In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we read, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” For every promised blessing that is given to us by God, He is bound to His end of the promise, but when we choose to disobey, He does not have to give us anything. Consequences of disobedience include this forfeiting of those same blessings God has planned for us, separation from the Lord and the Spirit, giving Satan allowance to bind us to his will, and halting our own personal progression (D&C 1:14; 93:39; 132:6).

What does the phrase “endure to the end” mean to you?

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that eternal life is the blessing of keeping the commandments and enduring to the end (see D&C 14:7). To endure to the end, is a phrase we use a lot in the gospel, and to me it means that once we’ve made all the covenants we must make in this life, we need to remain firm in the faith and be continuously striving to follow the commandments until the end of our mortal existence. It doesn’t mean being perfect every day, otherwise there would be no reason to be here any longer. It means trying our best and then repenting and making things right when we make mistakes, which will happen. It means getting back up and going forward again, every time we fall or take a step off of the path that God would have us follow.

What can we do to stay true to gospel principles even when it is unpopular to do so? How can we help children and youth stay true to gospel principles?

We all have a natural desire to be loved and accepted by others. When we make the gospel principles a priority in life, we will often times be faced with decisions to do what is right or do what is the popular thing to do. I believe that this will continue to be more difficult in our time because we are getting so much closer to the second coming. The things that I believe will help us to stay true, is to read the scriptures, pray regularly and often, attend church and partake of the sacrament every week, have family home evening, go to the temple, serve others and so on. If we do the more simple things, our testimonies will be strengthened and we will be able to remain strong and true even when others mock us for doing what is right. As parents and leaders of children and youth, we need to help them to remain true as well. Some things we can do include living by example, giving encouragement for choosing the right, teaching true gospel principles and also teach how they can discern for themselves when other situations arise. Even the Savior had seen the example of His mother. In Luke 8 we read the following:

19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

We need to follow the example of loving parents and also our leaders, such as King Benjamin, who said the following:

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

We need to teach the younger generations that keeping the commandments will make them the happiest that they could possibly be.

I know that in my own life, I am the most happy when I am doing what is right. Being obedient to the commandments has helped my faith to grow, my relationships to be strengthened, and my hope in the plan of salvation to become rooted in my heart. When I have chosen to be disobedient, I have consistently become unhappier and more withdrawn from those that love me. I know that enduring to the end through obedience to God, is the only way to remain on the path that will lead me to return to my Father in Heaven and my Savior.

Developing Our Talents

To view the entire lesson go here: Developing Our Talents

This is a principle that I have a firm testimony about and I am so glad to read and study this chapter today. One of the great things about Heavenly Father’s plan, is the fact that each of has different qualities and abilities that make us unique. Yet, with our differences we have the opportunity to grow closer together and all become more like God.

How have you benefited from the talents of others?

I think I benefit from others talents every single day. Some provide me with the blessings of entertainment and lifting my spirit, others bless me by teaching me skills and giving me an understanding of many diverse secular things, and still others share the talents of love and kindness, a positive attitude, and so much more. The biggest blessing to me, has been that through the talents of others, I have become a much better person. When others share with me, I find it easier to come closer to Christ.

How can we develop our talents?

In my own understanding, the best way to develop our talents is to practice their use often. There are some natural talents that we are born with, which sometimes don’t take a lot of work, and there are those that we have to search for. In D&C 46:8-9 we read, “. . . seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given (v. 8); For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me . . . (v. 9)”. Either way, natural or sought after, the way that these talents are really developed into what God wants for us, is for us to find ways to strengthen them and then use them for good. The best way to develop a talent for charity, is to learn how to be charitable and then do it. The best way to develop a talent for playing the piano, is to practice and then perform regularly.

I know that when we do not use our talents, we loose them. The parable of the talents told in Matthew 25 is directly related to these gifts that are given to us from God. If we choose to hide them, we cannot improve upon them or use them for good. The Lord will take them from us and give them to another so that they will be used to help further His work. There are certain things that came naturally me in my youth. I did not make it a habit of developing those things and as I got older, I realized I was no longer good at them. It is a challenge for me, to try to have those abilities or qualities now when I have the desire to use them.

How can we develop our talents in spite of our weaknesses?

Here is where my testimony really comes from. My most obvious talent to others is the ability to sing, but this has not come easy to me. Some may think that it has, but the fact is that I was born hard of hearing. To sing well, is something that takes a lot of concentration and practice for me. I don’t always trust what I hear and it can be extremely frustrating and difficult. The best answer to this question, in my opinion, is to seek the help of the Lord with our weaknesses. If we have righteous desires, the Lord will help us to become strong in all thing that we want. If we have faith in Him, he will give us the ability and tools to become better. I have tested this for myself and have been blessed by the outcome.

What are some examples of people whose talents have been magnified because they used them wisely?

I have seen many people who have been strengthened in their talents as they have used them wisely. Some of the best examples are those who use their talents on their missions. Most obvious to me has been the ability to speak other languages fluently to share the gospel. My daughter is a great reader. I have seen her talent for reading, especially her vocabulary, grow as she has made reading the scriptures a regular part of her life. My husband is a wonderful artist and I have watched his talent improve greatly as he has willingly given service to others that have used his abilities. There really are examples all around us of the strength in wise use of our talents.

I am so grateful for the talents that the Lord has given me personally. I want to discover more and I look forward to becoming better at those that I have been given already. I know that God wants to bless us with more and even greater talents than we already have. I know that gaining talents can be as simple as asking Him in faith with the intent to share them with others in good ways. I am so glad that I have been blessed by the talents of others who have courage to share them openly.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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