Because of Him

Because of Him, I was born into a loving family, with a mother and father who lived and loved the gospel, and were committed to each other and to raising a righteous family.

Because of Him, my parents taught me the truths of the gospel. They taught me to study the gospel, and to pray and listen to the Spirit. They taught me to find out the truth of the Gospel for myself.

Because of Him, I have attended Church all of my life. I accepted and served in various teaching and leading capacities in my ward (congregation). I served a mission to teach the gospel to others. By teaching and leading, I learned the gospel more fully, and learned that service and example are the best forms of leadership.

Because of Him, I have learned that I am a child of a loving father in heaven. I am not the result of chance or even an interesting experiment. I existed before I was born, and will continue to exist after I die. I have learned that we are all children of God, and the God loves each and every one of us.

Because of Him, I have learned that I (as well as all of the human race) have been sent to Earth to gain physical bodies, as well as to gain knowledge and experience. We are to use this time to become more like our Heavenly Father.

Because of Him, I have learned that we live in a fallen world, and are subject to pain, sorrow, death, temptation, and carnal desires. We sin, and separate ourselves from God.

Because of Him, I have an example of a sinless life as a guide and a lesson.

Because of Him, sin is conquered. I can repent of my sins. I can be made clean again. And again. And again.

Because of Him, sorrow and pain are conquered. While this life is certainly not fair, in the end all wrongs will be made right.

Because of Him, I can receive grace to do more good than I could on my own.

Because of Him, I can make covenants with my Father in Heaven, and return to live with Him again.

Because of Him, I have been sealed to my wife and children. My wife and I are married for time and all eternity. Our children will always be our children.

Because of Him, my wife and I are raising our family in the gospel. We work together to love each other and our children, and to strengthen each other.

Because of Him, I have experienced joy in this life through my family and my faith.

Because of Him, death is conquered. I and everyone on earth will be resurrected, as He was. We will all live again.

Because of Him.

We wrestle against the rulers of the darkness of this world

A little bit ago I wrote about trusting God. I indicated that we who call ourselves Christians should remember that there is a God in Israel, who won’t do our work for us, but will strengthen and increase our efforts to the point that miracles can be accomplished.

I’d like to follow up on that theme a little.

My examples for that post used stories of courageous soldiers and battles from the Bible. Those stories are inspiring and meaningful.

There are other great examples from the Book of Mormon, particularly Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty:

In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children

Captain Moroni wrote those words to remind people what it was that people needed to fight for. What was at stake. Why it was so important for people to risk their very lives in battle–to preserve these ideals.

Isn’t it still just as important?

The nature of the wars and battles are certainly different–we are not fighting other armies.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Our challenges are not as straight-forward as a mighty army intent on our destruction. Our time is not as much like Captain Moroni’s as it is like a generation or so later. Actually, President Benson mentioned this in a talk he gave in 1987:

The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming.

So what was life like at that time? There were secret bands scattered throughout the nation, seeking (and gaining) positions of power. Corrupt judges ruled the land. Righteousness was looked down on and mocked.

Sound familiar?

President Benson expanded on this in 1988:

I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world.

President Packer in 2007:

Atheists and agnostics make nonbelief their religion and today organize in unprecedented ways to attack faith and belief. They are now organized, and they pursue political power. You will be hearing much about them and from them. Much of their attack is indirect in mocking the faithful, in mocking religion.

Ideas, philosophies, slogans, ridicule, misunderstanding. These are our enemy today. These are what we must fight. These ideas are not new. Immorality is not new. Faithlessness is not new.

I am reminded of the scene in Ben-Hur, where the retiring commander demands, “How do you fight an idea?” and is given the response, “With another idea.”

We have another idea. It also is not new. It is tried and tested and true.  The armor of God; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through Him miracles can and do happen.

Through Him we can quench the fiery darts of the adversary. “The righteous need not fear.” We may not be able to solve every problem or right every wrong, but as we stand for the right, we can make a difference. We can have that faith that there is a God in Israel, who will guide and encourage us and magnify our efforts.

When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work? Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2014

 

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. A long history of inspired voices… point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.

Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2014

A Spiritual Feast

I got a lot more from this conference than others, I think mostly because this conference I was particularly looking for guidance. And boy, did I ever get it. What a wonderful opportunity General Conference is! I am so grateful to live in a time where we not only have prophets and apostles, but we have such access to their teachings as has never been available on this earth before. Who could have thought that a prophet’s voice could be heard by so many people (What would King Benjamin have given for satellite reception, eh?). Who would have thought that I could search, study, highlight, annotate, comment on, and read not only the scriptures, but the words of the prophets and apostles for the last 40 years? As well as manuals, magazines, references, study guides, and other resources? Oh, and that all fits in a hand-sized computer that I carry in my pocket everywhere I go.

As cool as the golden plates are; at about 50 pounds, I’d rather not have to take them to church every Sunday.

There wasn’t just one or two talks that really spoke to me, there were so many that I have a hard time keeping them in my head.
I absolutely loved Elder Holland’s talk on defending our faith. And the many talks that continued that theme. I was tempted to take a nap when a few 70’s were lined up (maybe I’m the only one who mistakenly says, “OK, he’s not an apostle, so it’s not as critical for me to listen”), but Elder Zwick’s talk was really powerful for me.

I loved Sister Reeves’ talk about pornography and it’s dangers, and things we can do to avoid it. This is particularly close to me as I attended an anti-porn conference recently.

I loved how Elder Uchtdorf loves to mention planes in his talks, with “Dieter, don’t even think about it” being one of my favorite lines–it’s not only funny in the context of the story he was telling, it also speaks to the need for us to control our appetites and desires, lest they begin to control us.

I loved his later remarks about the importance of gratitude. Of simply being grateful to the Lord for what you have, and making gratitude a defining characteristic of your personality, and allow other virtues and righteous traits to come to you more easily.

It was really, really, powerful.

I’ll finish with a drive-by-shooting-style set of one-liners from my notes:

Defend your faith with courage, courtesy, and compassion.
Disciples of Christ are also called on to worry, warn, and sometimes just to weep.
To sustain a leader is to help them bear their burden.
String winds can cause trees to grow their roots deep, and to strengthen their trunks and branches. We can similarly be prepared for adversity through the gospel of Christ.
Whatever civil law may say, God’s moral law does not and can not change.
When teaching and encouraging others, keep the short and long views in mind.
Even if everyone is doing it, wrong is never right.
Gives others questions to ponder, and time to do that pondering.
Our family history centers are now in our homes.
Once you conclude “That’s just the way I am,” you have given up the ability to change (or be changed by the atonement).
What we insistently desire becomes, over time, what we will become. Therefore we must educate our desires.
The restoration is not an event that is over. It is a process that we are in the middle of. God has yet many great things to reveal.
Don’t sleep through the restoration.
Be specific in your prayers and in your expressions of gratitude. This will take more than a few minutes and more than a little thought.
We need to have courage to do the right thing because it is right.
A grateful heart is the parent of all virtues.
God helps us. Not necessarily in the way we want, but in the way that will help us grow.
This life is our Olympic four minutes.
Happiness is not the absence of a load.
We cannot keep either the first or second great commandment without keeping the other.
There is much knowledge that can only be obtained by study and prayer.
Obedience is an emblem of our faith in the power and wisdom of God.
Opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to truth.
Faith requires work.
May we realize how close God is willing to come to us, and how far He is willing to go for us.
These talks are worthy of our careful review and study.