A Warning from Prophets

Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and a desperate warning for the time we live in.

Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and warning for the time we live in.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in his time, declaring to the people, “…Amend your ways and your doings, …if ye thoroughly execute judgement between a man and his neighbor; If ye oppress not the stranger, and fatherless, and the widow, …neither walk after other gods… Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:3-7)

In the Book of Mormon during a time just before the birth of Jesus Christ, we read of a civilization in dire circumstances, where many of the people had become hardened with great wickedness. Ultimately, two nations of people faced destruction at the hands of a large army of men, known as the Gadianton robbers, who had banded together to support one another as they robbed, plundered and terrorized the two nations. The people who desired peace and righteousness eventually united. Their righteous leader declared, “As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.” (3 Nephi 3:15)

In the New Testament, Jesus lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” (Mathew 23:37-38)

The people from the civilizations mentioned above who responded to the prophet’s warnings, found peace and protection in following the words of God. However, many who chose not to listen to the prophets were eventually destroyed. Will we hear the warning today?

The ancient prophet Mormon foresaw the modern world, and wrote, “…there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, …unto envying, and strifes and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; …For behold ye do love money, and your substance, … more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:36-37)

James, who is commonly believed to be the brother of Jesus, wrote: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. …Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:8,10)

King Benjamin, beloved by his people, taught them: “And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” (Mosiah 4:10)

What promise do we have if we follow the prophets’ warnings, repent and forsake our sins, and choose God? “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18)

This is not the easy path, but it is the better path and it ultimately leads to peace and eternal joy. I know that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has the power to cleanse us, heal us, change our hearts and minds, and pardon sin. He is our judge and also our advocate. His plea on behalf of those who choose to follow Him is this: “spare these… that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”. (D&C 45:3-5)

 

 

 

Greatest Happiness in life Comes from Following God’s Laws

Inmeme-monson-commandments-1578491-mobile church the other day a missionary spoke and shared the story of when his father was being taught by the missionaries. His father had been meeting with LDS missionaries for a while and was skeptical of the fact that we claim to have a living prophet that receives revelation to lead and guide the church. One day the missionary told him boldly, why wouldn’t there be a prophet alive today? With all the turmoil in the world, with all the wars and political and social conflict and unrest? With all the immorality in the world? Why wouldn’t God send a prophet like he did in other times of the world’s history to help show us the way? Why not now? He has sent a prophet today!

I share my own testimony that God loves all of his children throughout history and sends prophets, even today to teach us the truth, and sometimes just to remind us of what is right. Here’s some recent words from President Monson on the happiness that comes from following God’s laws and not giving in to voices that would persuade us to do otherwise:

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”7 We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”8

I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.

Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.

May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness.

President Thomas S. Monson, “Keep the Commandments”, Oct 2015 General Conference

Joseph Smith’s blessing from his father

Prior to Joseph Smith’s father’s death his family gathered at his bedside, spoke with him and he gave each member of his family a blessing. This account was written by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith. I find it to be a great insight into the prophet, his parents and family. This occurred about 4 years before Joseph and Hyrum’s martyrdom. Here’s an excerpt from the account:

…Hyrum bent over his father and said: “Father, if you are taken away, will you not intercede for us at the throne of grace, that our enemies may not have so much power over us?”

He then laid his hands upon Hyrum’s head and said: “My son, Hyrum, I seal upon your head your patriarchal blessing, which I placed upon your head before, for that shall be verified. In addition to this, I now give you my dying blessing. You shall have a season of peace, so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you to do. You shall be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of your days. I now seal upon your head the patriarchal power, and you shall bless the people. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

To Joseph he said: “‘Joseph, my son, you are called to a high and holy calling. You are even called to do the work of the Lord. Hold out faithful and you shall be blest and your children after you. You shall even live to finish your work.’ At this Joseph cried out, weeping, ‘Oh! My father, shall I?’ ‘Yes,’ said his father, ‘you shall live to lay out the plan of all the work which God has given you to do. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. I also confirm your former blessing upon your head; for it shall be fulfilled. Even so. Amen.'”

…he spoke to me [Lucy Mack Smith], and said:

“‘Mother, do you not know, that you are one of the most singular women in the world?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I do not.’ ‘Well I do,’ he continued, ‘you have brought up my children for me by the fireside, and when I was gone from home, you comforted them. You have brought up all my children, and could always comfort them when I could not. We have often wished that we might both die at the same time, but you must not desire to die when I do, for you must stay to comfort the children when I am gone. So do not mourn, but try to be comforted. Your last days shall be your best days, as to being driven, for you shall have more power over your enemies than you have had. Again I say, be comforted.'”

Smith, Lucy Mack; History of Joseph Smith by His Mother

Quotes from April 2014 General Conference

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A few of my favorite quotes from the recent general conference:

“In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return. You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.

–Elder Andersen, Spiritual Whirlwinds

“Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.”

–President Uchtdorf, Grateful in Any Circumstances

“Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering.”

–President Packer, The Witness

“We live in a world where moral values have, in great measure, been tossed aside, where sin is flagrantly on display …decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny… We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”

–President Monson, Be Strong and of a Good Courage

I add my testimony that I know these men are are living prophets of God, called of him to declare his words.

Quotes, Thoughts From General Conference, Oct 2013

I remember while growing up my parents would often have conference playing on the radio on conference Saturday but I wasn’t usually very excited about it. My thought was basically, church/conference on Saturday? Who would do that? But my tastes and understanding have improved as I’ve gotten older.

I watched all 5 sessions of general conference this weekend and found them all to have valuable messages I needed to hear. However it was the Sunday morning session that I found to be the most powerful. I was eagerly watching, listening for quotes that would help me– the Lord gave me something more meaningful and more lasting through the Holy Ghost that I won’t forget. As I listened to the prophet speak Sunday morning I felt an overwhelming impression from the Holy Ghost that President Monson was indeed called of God to be a prophet, and that he was prepared and lived a life consistently in line with God’s commandments, that he is guided and directed today by God through revelation to lead the Lord’s church and that he is leading us by example. No force on Earth and no power of darkness can take that knowledge from me. The Holy Ghost has borne witness to me of this and left no doubt. I already knew it but the Lord deepened my testimony. What a great blessing!

Some favorite quotes:

“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity.”
–President Monson

“…your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”
–President Monson

I don’t know a lot about Elder Vinson but I loved his talk from Sunday afternoon. I also felt bad for him having to deal with the fly buzzing around him as he spoke, how frustrating is that? But he handled it with dignity. I’m not sure but they may have edited that out in the recorded version of the video. This is the quote from him:

“[Speaking of the story of the brother of Jared] …the Lord not only left temporarily unsolved the challenge of how to provide light, but he then made it clear that he the lord would allow the buffetings and trials that necessitated its solving. He it would be, that would send forth the winds, the rains and the floods. Why would he do that? And why does he warn any of us to remove ourselves from the source of danger, when he could simply stop the danger from happening? …Rather than solve the problem himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon him in solving our problems, and trust him. Then we can feel his love more constantly, more powerfully more clearly, and more personally. We become united with him, and we can become like him.”
–Elder Terence M. Vinson

More good quotes:

“The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.”
–President Packer

“The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.
…peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. ”
–President Packer

“It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.

Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements.

…The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy …repentance is not punishment. It is a hope-filled path to a brighter future.”
–Elder Scott

“In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected.

…“The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’.
–Elder Hales (second paragraph quoting Pres. Harold B. Lee)

Reasons general conference weekend is awesome

So yes I’m copying this idea from another blog post, actually several other blog posts. I don’t mind though because I have some of my own reasons, or at least my own perspective on why LDS general conference is awesome. Here’s a few reasons, in no particular order:

1. Quotes. I need more power quotes that I can glance at daily to feel more inspired and motivated. I’ve mentioned this before, on my desk I have a stack of 3×5 cards, each card contains a quote that is meaningful to me. I flip through them often. Reading these regularly helps keep me grounded and helps bring the Spirit into my life more. The quotes are often played back in my mind when I need them. The talks given by the speakers in conference never fail to produce several powerful quotes that I will treasure for months and years to come. After all, we get to sit and listen to prophets of God give us inspired counsel and direction. Of course there will be something in there, many things in there that I need to hear personally. And there always is. Can’t wait!

2. The Priesthood Session. Ok so for the first time it will be streamed live and we don’t have to go to a chapel to watch the satellite broadcast of this session. That’s cool, but I’ve always liked getting together with my Dad and my brother to watch that session. There’s a feeling of unity that comes to us when we go together. It’s a family tradition, just like it is for my sister and Mom to get together to watch the Relief Society session. I also love the feeling of standing and singing with the congregation at the broadcast. I will miss that. But I can’t wait to see in what ways we’re rebuked and nurtured by the speakers.

Come listen to living prophets

3. No church meetings. I know other people have given this same point for liking conference. I love church, I need church every week, I look forward to taking the sacrament at church. But not having extra morning meetings, not having to work on preparing a lesson or work on coordinating other church things is nice, at least every 6 months or so. Any more than that and I would miss it.

All sessions of Lds conference are streamed live on Oct 5th and 6th this year, 2013. Don’t sleep in too late tomorrow because the first session starts at 10:00 AM MDT.

Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know

“Please don’t nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort.”

–Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to the Stature of the Divine within You,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 94

Cheerfulness vs. gloominess in religion

“I do not believe in a religion that makes people gloomy, melancholy, miserable and ascetic …Is there anything gloomy in the works that God has made? Turn where we will, we see harmony, loveliness, cheerfulness, and beauty …It is the corruption of the world, that has made men unhappy; and the corruption of religion that has made it gloomy: these are the miseries entailed by men, not the blessings of God. Talk about gloom! Is there gloom in the warbling of the birds, in the prancing of the horse, in the playfulness of the lamb, or kid; in the beauty of flowers, in any of Nature’s gifts…?”

–Pres. John Taylor, 1852

On a totally separate though somewhat related note, if you haven’t had a chance, see the series of blog posts on Goodly Pearls blog about Living a Happier Life.

5 great LDS talks

There’s certain talks from leaders of the LDS church that have influenced me in pretty significant ways. Some of these talks I listen to a lot, others just have messages that made a lasting impression and have stuck with me. Here’s 10 that have had a big influence on me, in no specific order.

  1. Elijah’s Mission Truman G. Madsen, 1977
    Amazing insights about Elijah’s mission of turning our hearts to family/ancestors– not only being grateful for the good we either inherit or learn from family but also being willing to forgive them for the challenges we inherit because of them, and how doing that can bless our family lines in both directions.
  2. See Others As They May Become President Thomas S. Monson, Oct. 2012
    I love Pres. Monson’s words about how people can change and his own experiences that he shares about how he has seen people change miraculously through the power of Christ.
  3. Forgiveness President Gorden B. Hinckley, Oct. 2005
    This talk is one of my favorites from Pres. Hinckley while he was the president of the church. It was given during his later years when it was evident that his time with us was limited so I think his insights were even more valued and had special meaning. It includes a great quote that “forgiveness may be the greatest virtue on earth”. His insights, along with the examples he gives makes this probably best sermon I can remember hearing on forgiveness.
  4. Born of God President Ezra Taft Benson, 1985
    A few words from this talk stuck with me when I heard them as a missionary, about how Christ approaches problem-solving in an entirely different way than the world approaches it. Pres. Benson, says:“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
  5. It’s True, Isn’t It? Elder Gorden B. Hinckley, 1971
    President Hinckley was always so mild-mannered and wise, he also had a good sense of humor. I often looked forward to hearing him speak. I like this particular talk because of the experience he shares of the person he met who had to make the difficult choice of giving up everything in his life to join the church.

Quotes from April 2013 LDS General Conference

Conference this weekend was so good, here’s just a few of the quotes that were meaningful to me. I like the first two quotes because of the insight they provide into the nature of God and our purpose on Earth.

“A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God …Obedience is a hallmark of prophets. It has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us to realize that we as well are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments …Obedience is the great test of this life”

Pres. Monson, Sunday Morning Session, 4.07.2013

When considering Christianity, if our actions, thoughts, beliefs in this life didn’t matter or had no eternal consequence, what would be the point of all the commandments God has given us in the scriptures and through prophets? There are commandments and heavenly laws because obedience does matter, we learn the truths of life by following God’s direction. But there’s more we have to understand, God is not some distant, uncaring being looking down on us with a furrowed brow, he is a loving parent who is there for us and who wants to help us every step of the way. Pres. Utchdorf compared us to a child learning to walk who inevitably stumbles during the learning process.

“I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so he could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring, and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward him. Even when we stumble, he urges us not to be discouraged, never to give up or flee our allotted field of service, but to take courage, find our faith and keep trying.”

Pres. Utchdorf, Priesthood Session, 4.06.2013

That quote not only reminded me of God’s love, it also helped me feel it. Although we’re required to follow God’s commandments, he knows we’re imperfect and will make mistakes. So he provided a Savior and he provided repentance so that we can change, become better people and put mistakes behind us.

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