Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Prophet's Words

What the prophet is asking us to do from last conference:

  • Keep the Commandments
Blessings from doing this:

  • Safety
  • Peace
  • Lives are happier
  • Lives are more fulfilling
  • Lives less complicated
  • Challenges and problems will be easier to bear
  • Will receive His promised blessings
More Counsel:

  • Be strong
  • Be alert to anything that would rob you of the blessings of eternity
  • Turn the volume down and be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety
  • Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth
  • Avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come
  • Determine right here adn now to take the steps necessary to fully repent
  • Nurture strong testimonies by studying the scriptures and by praying and by pondering the truths of the gospel

Choose To Believe

I've been reading over the talks in the Priesthood session of General Conference the last few days. As always, I love how blunt and straight forward they are with their messages. They don't mince words, but just tell it like it is and how things should be. And then they tell of the blessings that follow for being obedient. 

President Uchtdorf gave a great self-examination interview in his talk Be Not Afraid, Only Believe:
Do we stand loyal to God?
Do we practice what we preach, or are we Sunday Christians only?
Do our daily actions reflect clearly what we claim to believe?
Do we help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted”?5Do we just talk the talk, or do we enthusiastically walk the walk?
Am I rising up to the challenge to "...daily practice the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to live true to God's commandments"? If not, how do I do that?

  • Stay calm under pressure
  • Don't be impressed by popular trends or false prophets
  • Disregard the ridicule of the ungodly
  • Resist the temptations of the evil one
  • Overcome your own laziness
 In the past, it has been extremely important for me to have a strong foundation as my testimony. I've learned from my seminary years, EFY classes, Youth Conference and General Conference talks that relying on a sure foundation of a testimony will be what carries me through the hard experiences. And it has. The strongest testimony that helped sustain me was knowing who I am and who I belong to. Who am I?
[I am a DAUGHTER] of our Heavenly Father, who loves [me], and [I] love Him. [I] WILL “STAND as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as [I] strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue
[I] BELIEVE as [I] come to accept and act upon these values, [I] WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
 Why is it so important to know this? Because when we know who we are, then we know our potential and can work on that as our goal. Satan would have us believe that we can't achieve our potential. President Uchtdorf said this concerning "Satan's deceptions: that belief is available to some people but not to others." Believing takes work and is attainable by anybody.

  • Desire to believe.
  • Scientific curiosity to exercise a particle of faith
  • Requires humility
  • Requires an open heart and an open mind
  • Requires seeking for it
  • Requires patience and waiting upon the Lord
When we decide to stop doubting, fearing, or being lazy but instead start to believe, we are open to the blessings our Heavenly Father is waiting to bestow upon us.

  • Opens our spiritual eyes to splendors we can scarcely imagine
  • Faith grows stronger
  • Discover the dawn of light
  • Discover truth
  • Find peace
  • Never hunger nor thirst again
  • God's grace enables us to be true to our faith
  • Soul filled like a well of water springing up into everlasting life
  • Experience true and lasting joy
We are beckoned to have courage to believe and not to be afraid. And when we do, the blessings will come!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Answers and Strength Do Come As We Study His Words

As I have been diligently striving to study the scriptures and/or the General Conference talks every morning, I have come to know that Heavenly Father really does speak to me through His words. Answers do come and knowledge is given before it is needed. I have been having discussions with friends where I have known exactly what to say from my morning studies. I am seeking knowledge myself and His words answer them.

Elder Randall K. Bennett's talk Your Next Step couldn't have been named more perfectly! I just want to write down the points that really stuck out to me from his talk.

  • When faith is exercised, faith increases.
3 Principles to Help Us Return To Our Heavenly Father

  1. We need to do what we did as children -- childlike humility and willingness to focus on our Father in Heaven and our Savior, we take steps toward Them, never giving up hope, even if we fall.
  2. Be willing to act with faith in Jesus Christ and take another step and we may be blessed with strength.
    • Strength is given to those who keep seeking and trying.
    • 2 Essential weekly signposts that mark our journey back to our HF are the perpetual covenant of the ordinance of the sacrament and our Sabbath day observance -- sign to the Lord that we love Him.
    • Blessings from these signposts -- Holy Spirit's influence improves, strengthens, teaches, and guide us.
    • Devoted Sabbath day observance brings the fullness of the earth to be ours.
    • Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into God's presence.
  3. We must counter the natural man's tendency to procrastinate, to put off, or to give up.
    • Faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ is a principle of ACTION and POWER
    • If we are willing to act, we will be blessed with the strength to repent and with the strength to change.
    • We fail only if we fail to take another faithful step forward.
In this talk he prompts us to do a couple things.

  • Become as a little child - humble and meek. 
  • Willingly act in faith in Jesus Christ and take that next step! Don't wait! Take it now!
  • Be worthy of and use our temple recommends to serve regularly.
  • Partake of the sacrament weekly and observe the Sabbath Day
Has there been a thought, a decision or a prompting that you've been sitting on for a bit that needs attention? Have your procrastinated in studying it over and pondering on the right direction to go with that? Elder Bennett says that we should not wait to act upon it. We need to act now, even if it is only through faith and he promises us that the Lord with strengthen us through the Holy Spirit to continue to act and guide us in the right direction we need.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Death, Sin, and Mortal Challenges

Piece by piece I'm learning a little more about the Atonement. We learn that it can used to repent of our sins and be forgiven of them. I then learned that the Atonement can also be used to help me forgive others as well. Now I'm learning that it can be used to lift the burdens and pain from the challenges that we face here on Earth.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. (Alma 7:11)
Whatever struggle I am struggling with at this very moment, whatever intensity of pain I am feeling, or whatever burden I feel is dragging me down, I can be given the strength to overcome all of it. Any stresses, pain, or burdens I experience have been felt before. My exact trials were His as well. Just like we learn in the Book of Mormon with Nephi, anything is possible when we ask the Lord for help. In Elder Dallin H. Oaks 2015 October General Conference talk Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he says,

What cures us is our Savior and His Atonement...He willingly experienced them all as an essential part of His Atonement. And because of this, His Atonement empowers Him to succor us--to give us strength to bear it all. 
 One of my favorite lines in his talk was where he said that ...even when that behavior has been repented of, the addiction may remain. We can ask for forgiveness, we can be repent and be forgiven, but that's when the guilt should stop for us. Even when we still feel the pull of our sins, we shouldn't let them control us and our worthiness. They don't determine our worthiness, it is the cleansing power of the Atonement that it does.

Because of His atoning experience in mortality, our Savior is able to comfort, heal, and strengthen all men and women everywhere, but I believe He does so only for those who seek Him and ask for His help. The Apostle James taught, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). We qualify for that blessing when we believe in Him and pray for His help.
 This brings a lot of comfort knowing that even though we have the desire to do what is right but still feel the pull of our sins we wish to forsake, that the Atonement can save us from those sins and give us the strength we need in order to truly let go of them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Modern Day Sacrifices

If you were asked by our Heavenly Father to sacrifice something, or in other words, giving something up, what would be the hardest thing for you to give up? Do you think you could let go of it? Why or why not?

Our Heavenly Father doesn't require us to sacrifice animals like in olden days, but He still requires sacrifice from us. In what ways do we hand over things to Him in today's world?

One of the biggest things I can think of is your TIME. You often hear that "time is money!" Let's think of how much time we are willing to give to the Lord each week.

  • Sleeping 8hr/night is 33% of your weekly time
  • Eating 15 min meals is just over 3% 
  • Taking 15 min showers every day is just over 3%
  • Your 5 day work commute of 20 minutes each way is just under 2%
  • Working 8 hr days 5 days/week is almost 24%
  • Working out for 30min/day is just over 2%
You've used 67% of your time with just these. You have 33% of your time left to use for yourself or for giving to the Lord. What can you use it for?
  • If you go to church for 3 hours on Sunday, that is less than 2%
  • Reading your scriptures for 15 minutes/day is just over 1%
  • Visiting with other church members or friends to check up on them and fellowship them is just over 2% for each person if you only visited with them for 30 minutes. And that wouldn't be each week. If you visited 6 people each month for 30 minutes (that is less than 2 people a week), that would only be 3 hrs/month or 0.4% of your monthly time. 
  • Reading a novel for 1 hour each night before bed is just over 4%
How much time do you suppose that you are on that smartphone, watching tv, or playing video games? 1 hour each day? 2 hours? 4 hours? 4 hours each day is 16% of your time each week! That's half your free time.

With our time, we can give of ourselves through service. We can share our talents through our callings or service to our church or our community.

The biggest sacrifice that has been given was by our Savior who died for us. Let's think about someone who was also asked to give a great sacrifice. In Genesis 22, Abraham was asked to give his most important thing to the Lord, his son Isaac. And he would have if not for the angel that stopped him just in time. Maybe you are asking yourself why the Lord asked such a huge sacrifice from Abraham? I love this quote by George Q. Cannon that explains it so well.
Why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity, he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge; for He knows all things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do. But He tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves. … He required Abraham to submit to this trial because He intended to give him glory, exaltation and honor; He intended to make him a king and a priest, to share with Himself the glory, power and dominion which He exercised” (George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, Apr. 1899, 66).
One question that I'd like for you to ponder about today is what you are sacrificing in your life to give to the Lord? 

Have you set aside time to ponder and study the scriptures? Do you take a few minutes each morning and before bed to talk to Him through prayer? Are you willing to accept any church callings and perform them? Do you go to church each week? Are you paying your tithing 100%? 

These are just a few questions to help you answer the question. Maybe you have others you are asking yourself. Think them through as see what it is that you can be sacrificing to the Lord this week. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Praying For Answers

One thing that I love the most about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that as I study and learn different topics, they all build on each other. (Isaiah 28:10, 2 Nephi 28:30) Someone asked a question on my FB news feed the other day and my answer came from a plethora of things that I had been studying lately. The point that I wanted to make came into focus as all these little things came together as my answer. I love it when that happens!

Today I studied a talk by Elder James B. Martino called Turn To Him and Answers Will Come. He discussed what conditions need to happen in order for God to answer our prayers. Mainly, if we don't have a sincere heart and real intent, He isn't going to answer merely on curiosity. As in the last few posts, the outcome depends on how prepared we are! What are you doing in preparation to asking Heavenly Father something? There are some promises and blessings given if we come prepared to ask our God questions.


  • Obedience to commandments
  • Remember past spiritual experiences
  • Soften your heart and ask in faith, believing you will get your answer
  • Continue to hold fast to the iron rod by daily scripture study
  • Turn To Him
  • Call on the Lord through prayer and fasting
  • Be ready to act on promptings
Promises and Blessings

  • Your answer will come and be made known unto you -- sometimes right away, sometimes not as an event but as a process
  • Feelings of love and peace from the Savior
  • Words of Christ will tell you what you should do
  • Doors of revelation will open
  • You will be susceptible to spiritual promptings
  • Strengthened to withstand temptation to murmur and doubt
  • Faithfulness will grow
If we seek an answer to something, it is our responsibility to act on any promptings we receive. As we do so, answers will come as we act on faith. without faith is dead. We must have faith with works to receive answers.
When we show forth effort on our part, Heavenly Father will reach out to us. We do our part, He does his. It is easier to help someone else when you see they are trying their best to accomplish something. But it is harder to help someone if they don't want to help themselves. When we act upon promptings or show faith in going forward, I know our Heavenly Father is able to make up the difference and help us gain that answer or reach that goal that we are seeking.

When I was a teenager in the Young Women's program, I had the chance to go to a few Especially For Youth camps. I had some pretty spiritual experiences while there. While I attended them, those spiritual experiences helped solidify my testimony of who I am and where I wanted to go. I learned that I was a daughter of God and my goal was to enter the temple with my eternal companion. At times when I feel less than what I feel I should, I remember that spiritual experience. That foundation of my testimony is what kept me going and helped me to not give up when I felt like everything around me was falling apart. I've had several ups and downs since that experience and every time, I think back on it. It strengthens me to know that I can get through anything because I am a daughter of God who loves me. It is so important to have that knowledge. When we have a strong foundation to our faith, it can withstand even the hardest of times. Heavenly Father promises us that!

Can you remember a time when you had a powerful spiritual experience? Do you remember that and hold on to that testimony of it when times get hard? all of us, if you "have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" If you do not feel it now, you can feel it again...
What do we need to change in order to feel that redeeming love again?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's Your Choice

With every general conference I talk I think to myself "This is my favorite talk so far!" Every talk doesn't just have nuggets but CHUNKS of inspiring words! I love studying these talks and hearing what the Lord is trying to say to me. They are encouraging, they are pact full of knowledge, and they are full of light.

This morning I was studying over Elder Vern P. Stanfill's October 2015 General Conference talk "Choose the Light". He says that "Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength." Like we learned in our last talk, we need to be prepared before we act. He says we need that spiritual strength BEFORE the trials and tough experiences come. He gave three strong points on how we can do this.

  1. No matter how intense the darkness of doubt, we choose how long and to what extent we allow it to influence us.
    • There is nothing wrong with relying temporarily upon the light of those who love us and have our best interests at heart
    • It is not wise to place our eternal well-being in the hands of strangers, those who claim enlightenment who have no light to give at all, or those who have private hidden agendas (aka: social media influences hiding behind a screen)
    • Those who truly love us can help us build our faith
  2. We must trust in the Lord in order to develop spiritual strength within ourselves.
    • We must act, expecting the Lord will fulfill His promise to lift us from the darkness if we draw near unto Him
    • "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" (Uchtdorf)
    • When faced with questions or tempted to doubt, we should REMEMBER the spiritual blessings and feelings that have penetrated our hearts and lives in the past and place our faith in Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ
    • To ignore and discount past spiritual experiences will distance us from God
    • A Promise to those who accept it: That which is of God is light; and he that received light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day
    • His influence will bring us confidence, determination, comfort, and --most important -- the power to know that He lives
  3. There is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light.
    • The Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling
    • The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight
We have the power to choose belief over doubt. In order to access the promised compensatory spiritual power, we must choose:
  • to heed prophetic counsel
  • recognize and act upon spiritual promptings
  • be obedient to God's commandments
  • seek personal revelation
We must choose. May we choose the light of the Savior. 

Agency. When it comes down to it, agency is what all of it is about. We choose to be prepared. We choose to act this way or that. We choose which kind of people influence us and for how long. We choose to seek out His light or be lead down a path of no light. We choose to follow His commandments or not. We choose to make Him our top priority or something else. He gives us commandments and He also gives us tools and ways to follow them. He does not leave us alone!

So, are we going to answer His knocking on our door and let Him in? It's your choice.