Posts Tagged 'Testimony'



Continually Holding to the Rod

For the next Ensign article towards my Celestial University goal, I decided to read “Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod”, by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (October 2011 Ensign). This article is a great reference for some further understanding of Lehi’s Vision found in the book of 1 Nephi. I have always enjoyed trying to apply this dream to my own life and see where I am standing in my own life. Elder Bednar explains three groups of people who are heading on or away from paths in this vision. I find that through the history of my life, I have been one of those in the group which cling to the rod when it seems convenient, meaning I have previously only studied the scriptures and really listened to the words of the prophets, when I have felt it fit into my life. I was quick to follow the crowds of people who were leaving the right path to the easy road toward that great and spacious building. My hold was only occasional at times and I could not hang onto the blessings that I knew I needed in my life. One of the points that I get from this article is that I need to continually hold fast to the word of God. I can honestly say that I am holding fast to it now. I hope that I will be constant in this for the rest of my days. I can sense the joy of blessings of eternal life, which I know will come my way if I can endure. To gain these blessings, I have a goal to read the scriptures and words of the modern day prophets consistently for the remainder of my life. I know that if I can keep this goal, I will eventually be able to receive the blessings of eternal life and salvation through my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The second point is that I do not want to heed the mocking voices of the world around me. Even those voices of people who I love and admire can draw my attention and focus away from what I know is the most important. I do not want to live in a way where I may think or act like I am ashamed of the gospel. I want to stand tall in my choices to do what is right according to the Lord. I want to remain on the path that God has paved for me, and that the Savior has walked upon. I know that as my testimony grows, I am becoming firmer in my beliefs and therefore have the confidence to be happy being different from the world. I love this gospel and I love choosing the right. I am proud to say that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Courage to Testify and Follow the Prophets

In studying for the Sunday School lesson this week, I am reading part of the book of Acts. This portion is about Paul, who bore a courageous testimony of his own conversion, in the face of great persecution. I have not had to face a lot of great persecution in my life, and certainly not to the point of being imprisoned or killed for what I say, but I have faced difficult situations where sharing my beliefs has cost me friendships and strong family relationships. I have surprised myself in my will to stay firm in my beliefs and stand out from the crowd. It has been hard at times, but I have faith that I will be blessed for being immovable and firm in the gospel. I believe that this is the time when the strong are being separated from the weak and it is my duty to share the joy of the gospel with those around me. Others deserve to hear the gospel and seek out their own testimony because thy are children of God also. I am not ashamed of the gospel, and because of this blog, I find it easier every day to share what I believe and for that I am very grateful.

Another thing that I think about when reading this part of Acts, is how easy it seemed to ignore the words of Paul and how that relates to my own life. When he was traveling by ship, he warned the others that they should not cast off or they would run into trouble. The others did not listen to him, and consequently they ran into a lot of trouble. Paul may have seemed to them a visionary and perhaps a bit crazy, but I am sure that they could sense his words were true, otherwise they would not have been willing to take him to Caesar. We have prophets and church leaders today, who have given strong testimony of the gospel and of Jesus Christ. I am sure that there are many who feel the same away about these leaders. Even members of the church may not follow the counsel of the prophets. More often then not, I think this is due to pride. The easy way in life is to trust in our own understanding and logic. It takes great faith to trust in the testimony of others. I have felt great blessings in my life that have come from following the counsel of the prophets, even when it would have been easier to do my own thing. I’ve tried to live against these their teachings, and it did not bring me happiness. I have felt no greater joy in doing anything else, than I have when I have followed the prophets. I would not want anything less than that joy now. I hope that more people will read and listen to the recent words of the living prophets and apostles, because they are men of God, who He has called to lead us back to Him.

Inclining Our Hearts to God

In the October 2011 General Conference, President Uchtdorf spoke about inclining our hearts to God. When he said this, I wondered what exactly that phrase meant to me. The word incline has a handful of different meanings to it. I am focusing on those that I found online which are in reference to an action, because the phrase inline our hearts implies an action being applied to our hearts.

The first definition I found said to “feel willing or favorably disposed toward”. In this sense we should be having a favorable disposition in our hearts towards God. This means that we should naturally be content in consented to God and His will for us. Our character, mind and behaviors should naturally fall in line with the will of God by our own choice, and should not be something that we struggle and fight against. If we inline our heart to God, we will find true happiness in following his commandments and serving Him.

Next, to incline means to “tend toward holding a specified opinion”. In other words, our opinions will tend towards those of God. Our desires and feelings will be the same as our Father in Heaven. The feelings of our hearts, especially those that we commonly share with our friends and family, should have a tendency to be what God would have us share, because they are what He would share. I think mostly this means that if we have our hearts inclined to God, we will want to share His message, the gospel, with others.

Another meaning is to “have a specified talent”. I think that with this definition, we should seek for the gifts or talents that will bring us closer to God in our hearts. When I think of this, mostly I think of gaining a strong testimony of Him and his gospel. A strong and firm testimony of God, inclines our hearts to Him.

The next definition says, “Lean or turn away from a given plane or direction, esp. the vertical or horizontal. This reminds me of a talk by Mary Ellen Edmunds, where she talks about the arrow we want to be on. If we live our life on the horizontal track, we never progress or grow, we remain stagnant instead. It may not mean that we are doing things that God would not have us do, but it does mean that we are not living up to our potential. We should raise ourselves above the flat line and incline ourselves to a higher level. That level will bring us closer to God. In our hearts we should be seeking for the ways to improve, grow, and progress to the person that God knows that we can be.

In his talk, President Uchtdorf said that we incline our hearts to God through service, loving Him, and becoming His disciple in word and deed. I think that this explanation goes right along with the understanding that I am gaining. We incline our hearts by faithfully keeping the commandments, desiring to share the gospel through our actions and words, seeking to gain a strong testimony, and striving to improve and progress to become like Him. I hope that through the choices of my life, I am on the path to having my heart fully inclined to God.

The Articles of Faith

What are the Articles of Faith? The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of those things in life, that has very simple concepts, but if you look closer, you will find there are countless deeper concepts to be learned as well. The Articles of Faith simply explain the basic concepts of the gospel that we believe as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before we can get to the real meat of the gospel, we must first understand the basic principles of belief. They only touch on some of the beliefs, but I think they are the ones that tell most about the things we believe.

A friend asked a man named John Wentworth, and editor of a newspaper, to find out about the history of the mormon church and what the members believed, which was to be included in a history of the state of New Hampshire. Mister Wentworth went to Joseph Smith and asked for this information. In response Joseph wrote the Wentworth Letter, which included an account of the restoration a lot like that found in Joseph Smith-History, a description of how the Book of Mormon came to be, the establishment and growth of the church, and the Articles of Faith. He wrote them to let people outside of the church, know of our basic beliefs and what may be different about us from other churches. As far as I know, these were never published for Mister Wentworth or his friend, but they were published for the church and have been included as scripture for over a hundred years.

I think that all members of the LDS church would benefit from memorizing these 13 statements of our beliefs. Several Years ago, a talk was given by President Monson, in which he shared a story about a man he once worked with. This man had told him how he gained his testimony. He said that he was on a long road trip across the United States, and that a little primary-aged girl got on the bus in Salt Lake City, Utah, and sat next to him. He made some conversation with her that had to do with a lot of people in Utah being mormon and she said that she was. He asked her what they believed and she shared all the articles of faith with him and what they meant to her. Because of this little girl, the first thing he did when he reached his destination, was ask for missionaries to come to his home and teach him more about the gospel. He was baptized, along with all of his family. This story struck me deeply, and I made a decision then that when my children were young, we would work together as a family to memorize the articles of faith so that we could share them with others. We have been working on them pretty consistently for a long time now, and most of our family is able to recite 12 of the 13 articles of faith easily, with one more to learn.

Learning the articles of faith does more than just give us a missionary tool. When we learn and even more, study these articles, our testimony is strengthened. Every time I have the opportunity to explain to my children why we believe these things, I am confirming to myself that I know these things are true. It is so important to have a strong foundation in our beliefs, so that we can build upon it and grow in our knowledge of the gospel.

NOTE: I will be writing about each of the 13 articles in the upcoming posts.

Joseph Smith-History (Part 3)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History Part 2).

So far in this record, we have learned what kind of boy Joseph Smith was. This history has explained what happened in his vision of God and Jesus Christ. He learned that none of the churches on the earth were true. He tried to share what he had experienced and learned, but many people persecuted him for it. This record goes on to say the following:

27 I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.
28 During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.
29 In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.

Three years after receiving the first vision, Joseph continued to bear his testimony through trial and persecution due to the vision he had witnessed. He had been faced with a lot of temptations in these years and had at times given into them. No one is perfect and even the best of us will falter when faced with temptations. Joseph says that these were not some great sins, but he had sinned nonetheless. He says that he was not behaving as a man who was called of God should behave and that he felt badly for his weaknesses. He decided to pray for forgiveness of his sins. The first part of the repentance process, is recognizing something we’ve done is not right or recognizing that there are things we are not doing that we should be. I think the more faithful we are, the more we notice all the little things we don’t do quite right. These are things that the average person would see as normal and simply as part of who we naturally are. As members of the church, we are not striving to be normal, but to be better than we naturally are. Joseph recognized his mistakes and then decided, as we should, that he needed to confess them to the Lord so that he could be forgiven.

He also went in prayer to the Lord because he was still waiting for more information about the true church and gospel. Because he had been called of God and seen a vision, he knew that he would be able to have more revealed to him. This is how faith and knowledge work. At first he had to test his faith by acting without an absolute knowledge of the result. Then after receiving the first vision he knew what the outcome could be when he prayed. This knowledge allowed him to have confidence in the answers to his prayer. We can use this active pattern of faith to build upon our own knowledge.

30 While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
31 He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.
32 Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.

In answer to his prayer, Joseph was visited by a messenger from Heaven. This messenger was Moroni, who was a prophet from the Book of Mormon. With this visit came a great amount of bright light. Every time we read of visits from Heavenly messengers, they are always accompanied by a light. The footnote here, references a scripture that talks of a pillar of fire. I think that this heavenly light is probably one that cannot be truly explained in a way that we can understand, but that the closest descriptions are a brightness greater than the sun, or a fire. I think it is so interesting that Joseph would be inspired to share what the angel Moroni looked like, even so far as how he was clothed. His robe, like that of other messengers found in the scriptures, was a brilliant white. Joseph could see the glory of the angel Moroni in his appearance. I believe that we will all have a glorious countenance when we are in heaven and that those who are transfigured to witness marvelous things such as this, take on a glorious countenance as well so that they can stand to see just how bright it is.

I sometimes wonder if the fear that they talk about when heavenly messengers are seen, is more like being struck with awe or perhaps having the feeling of being less than worthy to see something so wonderful. This is a common thing for the prophets of God to feel. The accounts of angels often tell of the angel telling them not to have fear. Joseph records that the fear did not last long, and this was probably due to being changed (transfigured) to be able to witness these things.

33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

Our names have such a personal meaning to each of us. Knowing that an angel of God knew his name, must have given the value of his words an even greater meaning to Joseph. When we are addressed as a group, it can be easy to only pay attention to the things we think apply to us. In contrast, when we are addressed by name, we can know that each word is for us specifically. It is not surprising to me, that when we receive blessings through the priesthood, that they are addressed to us personally. It helps me to know that I have a purpose in God’s plan, and that God knows us personally.

The angel Moroni told Joseph that he had a job to do. This job would make his name go down in history. Some would understand the good he would do, while others would see it as evil. This is so true. Joseph Smith is a name that is known by many people today. Some understand that he was a prophet and called of God to do a great work, which has brought many people to the salvation of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who do not understand that he was a man of God. They think that the things he taught and testified of were false and some even go so far as to call him evil. There is no way that Joseph Smith could have written this revelation and known from his own mind that he would have become a name known throughout the world. To even think such a thing, especially in the time when he lived, would have been ridiculous. He said these things, because they were revealed to him by a messenger from God. I wonder how it must have been to be a boy of around 17 years old and to be told this. I would have had an overwhelming feeling and probably greatly felt the weight of that revelation.

34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

The angel Moroni told Joseph about the Book of Mormon, which is a record of the people who lived on the continent we know now as America. He told him that the gospel, which Joseph had been searching for, was in that record. He told him that the Savior had brought the gospel to those people, which is the first revelation in modern times that the Savior had indeed visited other people. Moroni also told him of the tool used for translating the record, called the Urim and Thummim. Those who used this tool, were the seers of old. The Bible Dictionary teaches us “A seer is a revelator and a prophet also”. It is completely fitting that Moroni would reveal these things to Joseph, because he was the person who had preserved the records during his own life. He had placed them in the ground many years before this, and they were kept safe from the hands of men until the perfect time according to the plan of God.

36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:
37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
40 In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.
41 He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.

The Angel Moroni quoted many scriptures to Joseph. Moroni quotes scriptures of prophecy, which were yet to be fulfilled. Joseph Smith played a key role in some of these prophecies, and in the restoration, which prepares us for the coming of the Lord and the destruction of the wicked. The priesthood was restored to the earth, through Joseph Smith and also the sealing powers which bind fathers to their children and children to their fathers. Moroni told him Isaiah 11 was about to be fulfilled, which is a chapter about the gospel being brought to the gentiles and the beginning of the gathering of Israel. It was fulfilled in the coming years during Joseph’s life.

42 Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed. While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.

The location of the gold plates was revealed to Joseph with a warning that he must not show them to anyone, but those who he would be commanded to. This seems to be pretty common when someone is shown heavenly revelations, there are things that either cannot be expressed or must not be. There are many sacred things that are not meant for the world because they would be treated lightly or worse.

43 After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him; when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.
44 I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, and marveling greatly at what had been told to me by this extraordinary messenger; when, in the midst of my meditation, I suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, and in an instant, as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside.
45 He commenced, and again related the very same things which he had done at his first visit, without the least variation; which having done, he informed me of great judgments which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence; and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation. Having related these things, he again ascended as he had done before.
46 By this time, so deep were the impressions made on my mind, that sleep had fled from my eyes, and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard. But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them.
47 After this third visit, he again ascended into heaven as before, and I was again left to ponder on the strangeness of what I had just experienced; when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me for the third time, the cock crowed, and I found that day was approaching, so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night.

Moroni left Joseph to think about the things that he had seen and heard. Then he came again and repeated the same things to him, adding information about the judgments that would come to the people of the earth. Then he left again, leaving Joseph to ponder on what he had witnessed. Then Moroni appeared a third time, repeating the same thing again and adding a warning of the temptations of Satan, which he would be faced with. Then Moroni left again. This to me is an evidence of just how important this message was for Joseph. He had to understand the sacred purposes of the restoration and specifically of the plates of Gold. He had to know that if he was not righteously prepared, he would not be able to fulfill this purpose. The idea of repeating the same teachings and lessons time and time again is so common throughout the scriptures. Heavenly Father knows that we need to have repetition to truly have eternal principles sink into our hearts and minds. In addition to the repetition, the teachings were built upon. He had time to process what he had heard the first time, and then to have it added upon. Then he had the time to process it all again, and then it was added upon again. I have learned that this truly is the pattern of how we learn in the gospel. Once we have an understanding of something, the spirit can take us to the next level and add a little more to our understanding.

48 I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.
49 The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.

Since he had not only been awake all night, but also had the draining spiritual experiences that he had, he was unable to do his daily work. He fell down from exhaustion, and was unconscious when he was visited again by Moroni. Joseph was told to go back and tell his father what he had experienced and the commandments that were given to him. In my study it seems as though he had already been told this the night before, but he did not do it right away because of the time of night that it was. I think it was extremely important for Joseph Smith to have the support and sustaining power of his family to be able to accomplish the things that would be required of him. All things in the gospel are based on the priesthood which has a patriarchal order. Even though they did not have the priesthood restored yet, I think it was perfectly fitting that he should tell his father of these things, as the patriarchal head of his family.

50 I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.
51 Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.
52 Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.
53 I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.
54 Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.

His father, in his wisdom, told him that if it was a commandment from God then he should do as he was commanded. This teaches us a bit about the character of Joseph Smith Sr.. He clearly was a man who loved his son, and respected him enough to hear what he had to say without judging him and getting back to his own work without counseling him. He was a man who understood that commandments are for keeping and supported his son in his calling. Joseph, was also an obedient son, who followed the counsel of his father and immediately went to see where the plates were hidden. They had a great relationship, which I wish more family members had today.

Joseph found the rock where the plates were hidden, and had another visit from Moroni when he attempted to remove them from their box. Moroni told him that they would not be ready to be removed for four more years and that he would need to come back annually to this place to meet with him. In my study I read that he was told that he would not able to collect the plates until he obeyed the commandment to only do it for the purposes of the Lord. Joseph was obedient and returned each year as he had been commanded. At each of these meetings with the angel Moroni, Joseph was taught how things that seem like preparation specific for the prophet of the church in the latter-days.

I am glad to know that the things of the Lord must be taken seriously and treated as sacred, or the Lord will not allow them to be had. I am grateful that Joseph Smith was a young man of good character. It is good to know that he was not perfect and had temptations to face, just as we all do. Even with his imperfections, he could be forgiven, taught and prepared for the many great things that he would do. The Lord knows our weaknesses. He knows how Satan will tempt us, and He has the power and desire to keep us safe from these temptations, if we will make good choices and obey the commandments.

Joseph Smith-History (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History Part 1).

In the history of Joseph Smith, it starts out with his explanation of who he was and the concerns of his mind when he was a teenage boy. He tells of wanting to know which church was true and after scripture study and prayer, he had the first vision. This was a vision of God and Jesus Christ, who told him that none of the churches on the earth, were the true church of God. This record continues:

21 Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
22 I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

Joseph began to tell others about the vision he had, but they did not believe him. There are many people still today, who believe that revelation stopped with the death of the apostles from just after Jesus lived on the earth. I am a firm believer in revelation from God, which continues today. I believe in direct revelation to the prophets who are called to guide all the world, and personal revelation to us individually to help us in our lives. I cannot imagine a Father in Heaven who would reveal His word to all the prophets before Christ, and to the apostles after Christ was resurrected, but would leave the rest of us to go without it. Especially when there are so many people who are trying to live good lives and follow Christ.

Persecution will come to those who are trying to do what is right. This is because Satan has influenced men to believe in false traditions and doctrine. The more seeds that Satan can plant in the hearts of men, the greater the persecution will be for the righteous. One of the things that is hard for me to grasp, is how those who claim they want to follow Christ, would think that He wants them to bitterly persecute other people for their own beliefs. I think it is really important that we allow others to believe what they want to believe. I think that the only time there should be any interference in that, is when those beliefs purposely do harm to others. I have had a bit of persecution when I have stood up for my own beliefs, and although it is difficult to experience, it makes us stronger in the end. I am grateful for what I have learned at these times in my life.

23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.

Joseph Smith was a young boy who worked on the farm with his family each day. He was not some learned man who had his own personal power to persuade others by his eloquent speech or anything of the sort. He was a boy, who had the amazing blessing to speak directly with God and Jesus Christ. His testimony gave the spirit the opportunity to touch the souls of others around him. Satan would have pushed men to persecute Joseph in hopes that he would deny the things he saw. Joseph, however, could not deny the truth and facts of what had occurred. For him, it was as plain as seeing the sun rise and give light to the earth, which we cannot deny when we see it because it is true. Had Joseph chosen to deny truth, he knew that he would be under the condemnation of God. I know that there are things that the spirit has testified to me that are true, and that I cannot deny their reality otherwise I would be openly rebelling against God. People may fall away from the gospel for one reason or another, but truth is always truth and if denied, it is a great sin against the spirit and God himself.

God chose a young boy, I believe, to produce a trial of faith for those around him. His age or knowledge should not make it so hard for any Christian who believes in the bible. It is hard for us sometimes to see that something great can come without a grand gesture from God. But, this has been the case for people since the beginning of life on this earth. There are many examples in the scriptures, of young or unlearned people being called to do great things. If we are righteous and open to the influence of the spirit, we can recognize the work of God in the simplest things. This test of our faith, makes our testimonies stronger and more firm, so that when trials come, we will not falter in the gospel. This experience for Joseph Smith, helped him to become the amazing leader and prophet that he was for the early saints.

26 I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.

With his integrity intact, Joseph continued to follow the counsel of Jesus Christ. He did not join any of the churches and waited until he received more information from God. He had tested the challenge in the scriptures, which James gives to all people. And God had proven the words of James to be true. We have the ability to test these words for ourselves. I believe that God will reveal the truth and answers that we are searching for, if we ask Him in faith and with righteous desires in our hearts. I am grateful for the strength and courage of that young boy of 14 years, because his faithfulness restored the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ.

This post will be continued.

O That I Were an Angel

I’ve been doing some personal study the last few days, while I wait for my next study manual to arrive in the mail. One of the most common messages to me throughout the scriptures that I have studied so far since I began this blog in 2008, has been the importance of missionary work. I think that I have been trying to do my own part in sharing the gospel, through these posts. I didn’t want to go without some posting, so I figured I would share my feelings right now — my testimony. I want to share some of the simple truths that I know to be true to the center of my being.

I know that there is a God. He is our supreme being, our creator and more importantly our loving Father in Heaven. I believe that I am literally a daughter of God. I know that there is a bigger plan for us than just this life. In fact, I feel in my heart that this life is really just a small portion of the life we will have in eternity. The scriptures teach about the great plan of salvation, where we have an existence before we were born here, and where we will continue on to gain glories after we die. I cannot deny the personal declaration of the spirit, which I have received about this. I know with a sureness, that I was there in heaven before being born, and that I made the choice to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ, and come to earth to gain a body and experience. I have had personal witness to me that relationships existed before this life. I believe that the relationships we form in this life, can continue after if we live worthy of it. This gives me the greatest reason for living a righteous life. I know that it can be easy to live in the moment, and to have the desire to experience immediate gratification. Knowing that I can be with my loved ones, and that the relationship that I am forming with my Savior and my Heavenly Father can continue to progress and grow, is amazing. This gives purpose to my life.

There is a song, which says “There’s a right way to live and be happy”. I believe in something that I know is not a common belief among all people. There is a right way to live and a wrong way to live. We know what the right way is because of the scriptures and because of revelations to prophets of God. I believe that not only were there prophets in ancient times, but that there are prophets on the earth now. I believe the God has placed great men on the earth, to be his mouthpiece, and that he still communicates with a prophet today. I believe that Thomas S. Monson, is the current prophet of the Lord and the president of His church. I have received a personal witness of this fact as well. I believe that Joseph Smith was the prophet of God, called to restore the truth and fullness of the gospel to the earth. That gospel is the pure gospel of Christ. In that gospel, we have been given commandments and consequences. They are written plainly to me, which I understand may not be the case for everyone. I believe that when we live these commandments through faithful actions, the spirit has the power to make these things plain. What I mean by plain, is that they make perfect sense to me. I have had to walk by faith to learn these principles. I have experienced the negative and positive consequences and have learned a lot in the process. I understand that this is a life-long process and that we must continually be moving forward with faith and trying to live by God’s laws.

In this life-long process, I know that none of us will be perfect. I know that God provided a merciful option in His plan for us. This option, meant that someone had to live a perfect life and suffer for us all to pay the price for these sins, because justice is an eternal principle. A consequence and price had to be paid for all the sins of the world. I believe that Jesus Christ chose to be that individual. I believe that he was the only person who was born of direct divine lineage. He is the only begotten of the Father. He lived a perfect life. He showed us a perfect example of how to live. He was perfectly obedient and loving. He prayed and suffered for all of our sins. He died for us, and made it possible for us all live again through the great resurrection. He gave us the choice to repent of our sins. Basically, we have the option to give our sins to him, through humbling and changing our hearts for the better. He has already paid for them, so once we repent, justice has been met. When we choose to hold on to our sins, I believe we will carry them with us after this life, and then we will have to satisfy justice ourselves through our own suffering.

I believe many things about life after we die, some are very personal and sacred to me. I know that life does not end with our death here, but that is just part of what we must go through in our path to becoming more like God. I believe that we need to make covenants with God in this life, in order to gain the blessings that he promises us in the scriptures. These covenants start first with baptism. I believe that baptism is the ordinance which prepares us to make greater covenants with greater promises. I believe that baptism and a life of righteousness will earn us great rewards in this life and after it. I believe that after baptism we are worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given only through the proper authority of God, which is the priesthood. The Holy Ghost is a teacher, comforter and guide, which I am so eternally grateful for. Furthermore, I believe that through the covenants that we can make in the temples of the Lord, we can receive all the blessings that God has promised His people. Included in those, is the blessing of being able to live with our families forever. This comes through being married and sealed in the temple. I was married and sealed to my sweetheart almost ten years ago, and my sweet children are consequently sealed to me as well. I am so grateful for this and for all the temples around the world.

There is so much more that I can say, but in short, I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my family. I love the gospel. These things give me purpose and direction. These make life worth every moment, good or bad, easy or difficult. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have gained and for the revelation and inspiration that has come from studying the scriptures. I hope that my testimony can touch someone who is searching for the truth. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! (Alma 29:1)”

D&C Section 135

The prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, were arrested for the charge of treason during June of 1844. They were taken captive to Carthage Jail in Illinois. Elder John Taylor, as well as Elder Willard Richards of the Twelve Apostles were with them. John Taylor wrote the words of this section, as a witness to the awful event that occurred on June 27th, 1844.

1 To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.
2 John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

The prophet and his brother, were martyred by a mob in Illinois. I think it interesting that years earlier, the Lord would say (Doctrine and Covenants 5:21-22), “And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to the persuasions of men no more; And that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you; and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain.” I think the prophet knew that there was a good possibility that his enemies would kill him, even from the beginning of the restoration. Even knowing of this possibility, he still did all that the Lord commanded him, and sealed his testimony as is says here.

I think that this is the evidence of God’s hand in all things. Two were martyred as a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, and two were there as a witness to it. In Matthew 18:16 we read, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” We have two witnesses of each of these things, to establish that these things are true. Based on this principle, we will all be held accountable for believing these things or not. If we did not have these two witnesses, who did not even have to be there in the jail (they had not been accused of the crime but were allowed to be there), there is no way of knowing what stories would have been made up to cover up the truth. Because of these witnesses, we have the true account, that even in the face of death, the prophet turned to God.

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

The words of this verse are so powerful to me. If there is any doubt in your mind of whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, I highly suggest studying the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, praying about the words of this verse to know for yourself. I have had a witness of the spirit borne to my soul, that this is truth. I know that the prophet, Joseph Smith did these things for our benefit and for the salvation of mankind. Because of the Savior, we will be resurrected and we have the ability to be forgiven of our sins. Because of Joseph Smith, we have the fulness of the gospel and the priesthood has been restored, which allows us the opportunity to make necessary covenants and to do the work for all of mankind. We know the true mission and purpose of the Savior, and so much more, because of the service done by Joseph Smith. All that Joseph did for the saints (and for us), was under the direction of the Lord and in obedience to the commandments given to him. Joseph’s works are the greatest of all the prophets, and his service was pleasing to God, the Father, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

4 When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.”—The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it:
5 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I … bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force.
6 Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.
7 They were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen.

Joseph Smith and Hyrum, knew that they were being set up for death, and yet they knew that they were innocent and were going to be found in favor of God. They willingly gave themselves up, knowing that they had done nothing wrong. Knowing that they were nearing the end, they said nothing to deny all that they had done and said, and standing strong in the face of death, they sealed their testimonies forever. I know that those who murdered them, will be held accountable. I also know that anyone who claims that the things they stood for are not true, after knowing the truth, will be held accountable as well. I know that Joseph Smith stands with the Lord and with God, and that he lived worthy of all the promised blessings from God. The Lord told him, “And even if they do unto you even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory (D&C 6:30).” I am so grateful for the work and teachings of the prophet, Joseph Smith. I know that he is a prophet of God, and that he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. I know that if I can follow his example, and be obedient in all righteous things, I will be greatly blessed.

Developing Testimonies of Family Home Evening

Here is the talk I’ve been working on this week:

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as followers of Christ, we should be continually working to develop our testimonies. A testimony is a made up of what we know to be true, because the spirit has borne a witness to our hearts and minds. In Moroni 10:5 we read, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” How do we develop a testimony of anything? We do it by putting our faith in action. This pattern is given to us in the scriptures. Moroni writes, “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord . . . then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, . . .”. (See Ether 4:7). So we learn from this scripture, that through exercising faith, truth will be revealed to us by the spirit.

There is a saying that goes, knowledge is power. Better yet, Proverbs 24:5 reads, “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” When we come to know something as truth, it gives us the strength to progress and to do more. This becomes a cycle of growth. We act in faith according to a principle of the gospel, we are blessed with a certain amount of knowledge about that principle, we gain strength to act even more, and this continues until that day when we will gain a perfect knowledge and, as we learn in Alma 32, faith becomes dormant. The stronger our testimonies are of something, the greater desire we will have to do that thing. This is so important. Our desire to do what is right, will keep us strong when Satan comes to tempt us. Our testimonies will keep us safe from temptation.

It is vitally important for us to be constantly working on developing our testimonies. This applies to all principles and doctrines of the gospel. I’d like to focus today on family home evening.

What is family home evening? According to the church website, “Family home evening is a special time set aside each week that brings family members together and strengthens their love for each other, helps them draw closer to Heavenly Father, and encourages them to live righteously.” In 1915, the First Presidency established family home evening. They said, “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them.” Since that time, the church has set aside Monday evenings for family home evening. This works for most members, but the exact time is not important. What is important is that we set aside a consistent time each week to be together, to learn gospel principles, and to practice service and love to one another.

Family Home Evening is about family. This will mean something different to each of us, but it is always about family. For some this means parents and children, for some it may mean you and a spouse or just you as an individual, and for others it means roommates or a ward family. Such is the case for many single adults without family members in their home. I found a testimony from Sister Nancy B. Dunton in the December 2003 Ensign. She said:

About 10 years ago, when many of the older adults without children in our ward were having a hard time holding regular home evenings, several of us realized how much it would enrich us to form a home evening group. With the approval of our bishop, two sisters called everyone in the ward that fit this category, and we began meeting Monday nights. We take turns hosting home evening in our homes.

Ranging in age from our 40s to our 70s, we’re about as diverse a group as you can imagine, with a delightful assortment of personalities. Some of us have known each other for years; others are new to our “family.”

We’ve had many spiritual evenings. . . . Through the years we’ve continued to invite others without children at home to attend our family home evenings. We now even have two women of other faiths who come! Words cannot express the fellowship and love we have developed for one another. We have stood by each other through joys and sorrows, through life and death. Just as prophets have promised, family home evening is truly an inspired program that blesses all who participate.

So whatever family means to you, it is a time to grow and learn with those we love. Why family? Because the “family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” (Family: A Proclamation to the World) Everything about the gospel revolves around our earthly and heavenly family.

Family Home Evening is about home. In a letter from the first presidency in 1999, they wrote, “The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place . . .” (1999. Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust) Likewise, President David O. McKay said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (General Conference, April 1964, IE 67 [June 1964]:445). There is no better place to learn than in the home. Again, this may mean different things to different people, and it doesn’t mean that we are tied to being within the walls of our home every Monday night. Instead it is really about being in a place where we can focus on family and the gospel in our lives.

In the October 2005 Ensign, I read about Sister Maribeth C. Clark and her family.

[She] found life hectic after her marriage to Michael, who had four teenage children. He had returned to school, they were in the process of building a new home, and one of his daughters, Katherine, had come to live with them.

“A regimen of daily family prayers, regular scripture study, weekly family home evening, and ample neighborly service was a challenge amid our other heavy time demands,” writes Sister Clark. “One Monday night at the dinner table, we discussed going up to the site where we were building our new home. I suggested we stop and get an ice cream cone on the way and make it a family home evening. We all laughed, and throughout the rest of the evening, I continued to imply with each new activity that we were doing it for family night.

“That was our first family home evening as a married couple and Katherine’s first family home evening in more than five years. We tried in the busy months that followed to teach gospel lessons for family home evening, but occasionally we called whatever we were doing a family night activity and just enjoyed the time together.

“At the end of the school year, Katherine went back to live with her mother. I gave little thought to what our weekly efforts at family home evening might have meant to her.

“Then, quite unexpectedly, eight months later, Katherine and her younger brother, David, came to live with us. On the first Monday night we were together, David asked what we were doing for family home evening. I looked at him quite startled. He told me that Katherine said we always had family home evening.

“It was then that I realized the time we spent together every Monday evening learning the gospel, even in our “impromptu” family home evening activities, had left an impact on Katherine. Thus, we continued our Monday night tradition.”

Sometimes being out of the home for family home evening will work better, and part of keeping family home evening fun for everyone is to keep it from becoming strict and over structured. I think of the song “Home”, from the Children’s song book, which says, “Home is where the heart is and warmth and love abound. Home is where warm circling arms go all the way around.” Family Home Evening is done where love can be shared. I know that my girls will happily remember the time when my husband and I dressed them all in pajamas and went out for ice cream together. It was a great evening for all of us and it was outside of our house.

Why do we want to develop a testimony of family home evening? The prophets and other church leaders have given us plenty of reasons, including that it strengthens love, draws us closer to God, helps us to live righteously, adds greater obedience, faith, and more power to resist temptations. They have said that it develops “increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellow men, and trust in our Father in heaven.” (Family Home Evening, 1976 — Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney) President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.” (Salvation; A Family Affair, Ensign, July 1992, p. 4) These sound like pretty good reasons to me. Each of these things applies to families as a whole, but also to us as individuals. When we participate regularly in family home evening, these blessings will be ours personally. I could use these things in my life, as I am sure you can as well.

Moreover, we want to develop a testimony of it, so that we will make it a part of our lives. As we see the blessings come into our lives, our desire to be with our families will grow. Growing up, whenever my parents needed to see better, meaning they needed their glasses, they would say that they needed to put their eyes on. So, join me and put your eternal eyes on for a moment. It is my understanding that the things we desire for in this life, will be those things we desire after this life. When you look at your priorities now, do they translate into what you want to see in Heaven? Do you see the people you love around you? Can your family members tell that they are more important to you than the other things in your life? Imagine that great family reunion in Heaven. Are you the one sitting at Father in Heaven’s feet listening intently to the lesson that He has for you? Or the unwilling participant? Are you gathering your eternal posterity around you in love and unity? Or are you busy tending to other things? We need to ask ourselves now, if we are preparing ourselves to be with our loved ones forever.

There is a hymn that helps to add to my thoughts. The title is “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth” and the first two verses read,

1. Home can be a heav’n on earth
When we are filled with love,
Bringing happiness and joy,
Rich blessings from above—
Warmth and kindness, charity,
Safety and security—
Making home a part of heaven,
Where we want to be.

2. Drawing fam’ly near each week,
We’ll keep love burning bright.
Serving Him with cheerful hearts,
We’ll grow in truth and light.
Parents teach and lead the way,
Children honor and obey,
Reaching for our home in heaven,
Where we want to stay.

With this eternal perspective in mind, how do we develop a testimony of family home evening? Our testimony will come as we exercise our faith in it as a principle of the gospel. So how do we exercise our faith, so that we can know the truth about this principle? We start by scheduling and prioritizing our time. The key to acting upon on principles of the gospel is to work your life around them, not to work them into your life. I think that is important to realize. Work your life around having family home evening. Do not work family home evening into your already hectic life, it won’t work. We cannot develop a testimony of something that we don’t value and give its proper priority.

Next, we exercise our faith by planning for family home evening. Plan what you will do. Spend some time thinking about your lesson or the scriptures you want to study. Think about what songs you might sing (if you aren’t comfortable singing, then plan what songs you will listen to). Come up with ideas for service you might do, or a game to play, or some other kind of activity that all can do and enjoy. Plan who will handle certain assignments, or plan how you will help whoever is leading family home evening, so that you will get something out of it as well. Taking the time to plan, physically, mentally and spiritually is another way that our testimony will grow.

Finally, do it. If you haven’t tried Family Home Evening before, try it this week. Take the time and do it. Gather together, pray together, teach and learn together, counsel together, sing together, play together, work together, eat together, testify together, have fun together, love together, and grow and progress together. Every time we do it, we exercise that faith. Through this, we can develop our testimonies of family home evening.

I grew up in a home, where family night worked for seasons. It was never a consistent part of my life. When I got married, I did not understand the concept of having family night just for the two of us. Then, my first daughter came along and I was sure she wouldn’t get anything out of it, so it was not a priority, but I was wrong. It wasn’t until later, when I taught a lesson in Relief Society about it, that I realized that it is for everyone, no matter what our age or where we are, and that we should do it. It was hard at first, to figure out how it would work for us, and I’ll admit we were not consistent, but, whenever we took the time to do it, I could feel our family love each other more. Over time, it has become a priority and because we are now consistent with it, I have seen that my family wants to share more with each other about the gospel. I can see excitement in our girls because they know this is their special Mommy and Daddy time. It doesn’t seem to matter what topic our lesson is on, or what activity we decide to do, it is our special time.

I know from experience that it won’t always go as planned. There will be times, when some of us won’t want to listen or participate. There will be times when it will feel crazy and out of control. There have been plenty of times when my husband and I have wondered why we even tried, but I know there are blessings in consistency and obedience to this principle. It warms my heart, when my oldest daughter comes home from school and tells me that she told her teacher that ghosts are real, because she knows about the Holy Ghost from what we have taught her.

Among the many testimonies I read of family home evening I found this one from Sister Jenell Hansen, which illustrates this point exactly. It is also in the December 2003 Ensign:

Years ago as we were listening to general conference, it struck us as interesting when Elder LeGrand R. Curtis of the Seventy said, “We have found that the child who is rolling on the floor during family home evening listens and learns more than we think possible” (“Happiness Is Homemade,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 13).

Several weeks later, our seven-year-old daughter, Brittany, was giving the lesson during home evening. Our three-year-old, Alex, was behind the couch playing with some small toys, and since this was keeping him quiet, we allowed him to stay there.

Brittany began relating a Book of Mormon story. In her nervousness she forgot the name of one of the characters. “Nephi and his brothers went back to Jerusalem,” she said, “to get the brass plates from … um … um …”

“Laban!” said a small voice from behind the couch. We were astonished. Not only were we surprised that Alex was paying enough attention to follow the lesson, but he was familiar enough with the scripture story to supply the forgotten name!

The experience reminded us that we often don’t realize the impact of what we teach in family home evening. Whether they are toddlers “rolling on the floor” or bored-looking teenagers who act like they’d rather be someplace else, what our children are learning is “more than we think possible.”

Even though the focus of our family home evenings seems to be on what our girls are learning, it has allowed my husband and I the opportunity to learn from one another as well. In our family home evenings, we include opportunities to share testimonies and other special thoughts. One time, my husband told of how he had prayed for a testimony of the Book of Mormon while on his mission, and how he had received his answer. I had never had the opportunity to hear this before. I learned something about where his strength in the gospel came from, and in that moment I could feel my love for him grow. It was because of the setting of family night that it came up. This gave me joy in my heart, to know that we could grow together in the gospel by setting aside this time to share and learn together.

We will build our testimonies by making family home evening special to us. One of my favorite things that we have done as a family, came from an idea I got at a stake Relief Society workshop I attended. A story had been told about having a family home evening quilt. I wanted to make that idea a part of our family home evenings. The following week, we picked out a pattern and took our family to the store to buy material that we thought represented our family night. After I had sewn the top of the quilt together, we spent the next family home evening tying our quilt together. It was our special quilt and my girls know that it is special. When we get it out, we all know that it is the time to sit together as a family for our special family home evening.

Having family home evening has brought me great comfort. Because of it, I know that no matter what happens out in the world, my home is a happy place with people who love me. My home is being fortified with strength and love. I know that because of this special time with my family, I have a greater desire to do what is right so that I can continue to be with them forever. What a blessing it is to realize that if I can feel this, then my husband and children can feel it too. I am so grateful for the wisdom of modern church leaders, who knowing that the family would need to be strengthened and unified, established such a wonderful principle for us to follow today. I know that my family has been blessed by family home evening and that we will continue to be blessed by it.

D&C Section 100

The prophet, Joseph Smith, and Sidney Rigdon had been on a mission in New York and although they were feeling well about the work and their safety, they were feeling concern for their families back home. This was at a time of great persecution and things such as mobs attacking the mormons. This revelation was given to them to comfort and guide them.

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.
2 Therefore, follow me, and listen to the counsel which I shall give unto you.
3 Behold, and lo, I have much people in this place, in the regions round about; and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land.
4 Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.

The Lord assured them, his friends, that their families were in his protecting hands. He reminded them that there was a lot of work to be done in New York and the areas around it. They needed to focus on saving the souls of these people. I am sure that it was never easy to leave their families behind while they went about preaching all over the land. They did not have the conveniences that we have today, and we do not suffer from the same kinds of physical persecutions that the early saints did. I am sure that a great sense of comfort came in knowing that the Lord was looking out for their loved ones. It is so touching that the Lord would call these men His friends. Knowing that a friend is someone that you can love and trust, I am sure that this gave them added strength of heart. This comfort and strength helped them, because days after this revelation, they went on to serve the people in Canada and the door was opened there.

5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
6 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
7 But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
8 And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.

If they would be in the right frame of mind and heart, focusing their attentions on the work of the Lord, they would be able to speak with the spirit. The spirit would be able to tell them what they should say to the people as long as they were solemn and meek in all things. Their calling at this time, was to actively preach the word of God to the people where they were, and the spirit would bear record of the truth of it.

9 And it is expedient in me that you, my servant Sidney, should be a spokesman unto this people; yea, verily, I will ordain you unto this calling, even to be a spokesman unto my servant Joseph.
10 And I will give unto him power to be mighty in testimony.
11 And I will give unto thee power to be mighty in expounding all scriptures, that thou mayest be a spokesman unto him, and he shall be a revelator unto thee, that thou mayest know the certainty of all things pertaining to the things of my kingdom on the earth.
12 Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.

If Sidney would be meek and solemn, and faithfully serve, he would be given the power from God, to “be mighty in testimony”. We become mighty in testimony as truth is revealed to us. The prophet, would be the revelator of all things about God’s kingdom, and this would strengthen his testimony and give him the ability to be a spokesman and preach to the people with great power.

13 And now I give unto you a word concerning Zion. Zion shall be redeemed, although she is chastened for a little season.
14 Thy brethren, my servants Orson Hyde and John Gould, are in my hands; and inasmuch as they keep my commandments they shall be saved.
15 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church.
16 For I will raise up unto myself a pure people, that will serve me in righteousness;
17 And all that call upon the name of the Lord, and keep his commandments, shall be saved. Even so. Amen.

The saints needed to be chastened for not keeping the covenants that they had made. The Lord promised though, that Zion would be redeemed and their would be a pure and righteous people that would be saved by God. The prophet, Joseph Smith, had sent Orson Hyde and John Gould to advise the saints in Jackson County regarding the enemies that were planning on going against them. The Lord says here that as long as these men were obedient, they were in His hands. This promise is true for us as well. We are kept safe in the Lord’s hands when we do as we are asked. This does not mean that everything will go the way that we want or expect it to. This means that the will of the Lord will be fulfilled and if we are righteous, we will be able to finish our work in this life.


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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