Posted in Family

My mam – 5 March 1939 to 3 March 2017

Mam002.jpg

My mam, Isobel, passed peacefully away this morning after a short illness. She would have been 79 on Sunday.

She was a beautiful, hard-working, intelligent, talented, humorous, kind, sometimes fiery woman. Until recent years, she had a hard life, often scrambling to make ends meet. In later years she was able to live more comfortably but her ‘golden’ years were marred by the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Mam was not one to talk about the past – maybe because she was often focussed on getting through the present. I would have liked to know more about her childhood but it was not something that she ever talked about. She was born in Great Lumley to Colin and Elizabeth Owens. A sister Doris  was born 2 years after mam but she sadly died at 2 years old and her brother Colin was born when she was 8 years old.He tells of how she looked after him and he would follow her around almost like a little puppy.

At the end of the War the family moved from Great Lumley to Billingham where Granddad got a job at ICI.

Mam was a very intelligent woman and in different times and different circumstances she could have gone to University, instead it was left to her younger brother Colin to achieve that.

Mam married my Dad, Raymond, in January 1957 when she was only 17 and I was born just over a year later. When I was no more than a couple of months old she flew with me to Cyprus where Raymond was stationed in the RAF. My sisters Julie and Lauri were born there in 1959 and 1960 respectively. I have always thought it was a very brave and hard thing for a 20 year old girl to leave her parental home and fly with a babe in arms to a foreign country.

By 1962 our little family was back in England and my sister Melanie was born in Stockton. At some point Raymond was stationed near Lincoln and we lived for a short while in a double decker bus parked in a field!

My mam would never talk about my father, Raymond, but he left our home when we were very young children and was never seen again. I have no clear memories of him – my earliest memory is a vague one of him and my mam arguing, him slamming the door behind him and my mam sitting in a chair crying. Mam must have only been about 24 or 25 when she was left a single mother with 4 very young children.  We went to live with her parents in Billingham. This was not great for us children as while grandad  was a kind gentle man, Nana was an eccentric battle axe with a propensity for corporal punishment.

mam004

Mam always worked hard to support the family. She worked at different times as a waitress, a dental nurse, a betting office clerk and a transport manager at a crisp factory. Eventually she could afford to move us into our own home. We lived in a house in Tilery for a while.We had an outdoor toilet and took our baths in an old tin bath in front of the fire.

Eventually mam met my step-dad Malcolm Bird and in 1966 my youngest sister Tracey was born.  We then lived in a succession of houses in Old Billingham. We moved so often that sometimes I would come home from school and go to the wrong house!

Money was still tight but mam always did her best for us. She worked hard and scrimped and saved so that we always had a good Christmas and we always had a summer holiday even if it was usually Whitby out of season when we should have been at school.

In 1968 the Mormon missionaries knocked on the door and mam let them in. We were taught the gospel and mam, me, Julie and Lauri were baptised. Mam had always had an interest in religion and we had at various times attended the Church of England, the Methodists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mam was never really active in the Church but I think she would have liked to be but Malcolm was not interested and didn’t want her to go.

Mam had many talents, some born out of necessity. She was a very good seamstress and knitter and made most of our clothes when we were young. I particularly remember her making me a very striking pair of purple flared trousers – all the rage in about 1974! She had a knitting machine and would make jumpers for all of the family and to sell. She was also a good cook and an expert decorator. Sometimes the urge to decorate would descend upon her and we would go to bed with one sitting room and wake up to another.

She was a kind woman. Even while living with dementia in a care home, her kindness was apparent in the way that she looked after and fed the other residents. She did however, have a fiery streak. She was protective towards her children and would tear a strip off any teacher that she felt was less than fair to any of us.

As we children got older and left home, mam and dad had more money for themselves and enjoyed their holidays in Spain and Florida. Mam always liked to travel and visit different places until later in life when she began to lose her confidence.

wp_20150725_19_13_46_pro

Malcolm died in 2000 and mam was again on her own. She then met Ken who was her kind and loving partner for the last years of her life. They loved to go on trips into the countryside in their car or campervan and their daily routine revolved around their beloved dog, Beauty.

Mam was beautiful right to the end. She was always the most beautiful, glamorous mother at parents evenings and she retained her beauty into her old age. Last night, as she was sleeping, she looked deeply peaceful and relaxed and young. I know that she now lives on in the spirit world with all of her wit and intelligence but without the mental shackles that restrained her these last few year.

Love you mam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in prayer, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 6: How Mighty a Thing Is Prayer

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

‘Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of him: “He is a bright man with extraordinary judgment, but when he comes up against an insoluble problem, he goes to his knees.”’

What does this insight teach us about prayer?

Would our lives be different if prayer was an element in our decision making?

4037-jesus-understands_edited-630w-tn

1 God is our Father, and He invites us to pray to Him individually.

From the manual:

‘We can draw nearer to the Lord in our prayers. These can become conversations of thanksgiving. I can never fully understand how the Great God of the Universe, the Almighty, invites us as His children to speak with Him individually. How precious an opportunity is this. How wonderful that it actually happens. I testify that our prayers, offered in humility and sincerity, are heard and answered. It is a miraculous thing, but it is real.’

Why should some prayers be “conversations of thanksgiving”?

‘For what should we pray? We should pray about our work, against the power of our enemies and the devil, for our welfare and the welfare of those around us.  (Alma 34:20, 22–25, 27) We should counsel with the Lord pertaining to all our decisions and activities.  (Alma 37:36–37) We should be grateful enough to give thanks for all we have.  (D&C 59:21 )We should confess His hand in all things. Ingratitude is one of our great sins.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1977)

See The Sin of Ingratitude

 

prayer-hero

2 Family prayer leads to miracles for individuals, families, and society.

Watch video: Prayer. Learn from a humble woman’s example how the power of prayer can work miracles in our lives.

From the manual:

‘If there be any among you who are not having family prayer, let that practice start now, to get on your knees together, if you can possibly do it, every morning and every evening, and speak to the Lord and express your thanks, invoke His blessings upon the needy of the earth, and speak to Him concerning your own well-being.

I give you my testimony that if you sincerely apply family prayer, you will not go away unrewarded. The changes may not be readily apparent. They may be extremely subtle. But they will be real, for God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6.)’

What are some obstacles to consistent family prayer? How can family members work together to overcome these obstacles?

Brigham Young: ‘If I did not feel like praying, and asking my Father in Heaven to give me a morning blessing, and to preserve me and my family and the good upon the earth throughout the day, I should say, ‘Brigham, get down here on your knees, bow your body down before the throne of him who rules in the heavens, and stay there until you can feel to supplicate at that throne of grace erected for sinners’. (Discourses of Brigham Young p46).

What does President Young’s statement mean to you? What if we only talked with our loved ones when we felt it?

See Alma 34:17-28

“…May I ask this important question: How many families in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have regular nightly and morning family prayer? Those who neglect to do so are displeasing the Lord and are entitled to the same rebuke which the Lord gave some of the leading elders of the Church in the early days. No parent should depend solely on the organizations of the Church for the training of the children. They should be taught to pray regularly, secretly as well as in the family circle. The counsel that Alma and Amulek gave to the straying Zoramites is just as essential to the Latter-day Saints today as it was two thousand years ago.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:48)

3 We need to be prayerful and listen, for our prayers will be answered.

Watch video: The Hope of God’s Light. Many of us have wondered if God knows us or if He even exists. Todd was someone who wasn’t surprised when he didn’t get an immediate answer to a prayer. But could God be giving us small but obvious answers? And how patient do we need to be?

From the manual:

‘Believe in the power and majesty of prayer. The Lord answers our prayers. I know that. I have seen it happen again and again and again. Prayer brings us into partnership with God. It offers us an opportunity to speak with Him, to thank Him for His magnificent blessings, and to ask Him for guidance and protection as we walk the paths of life. This great work, which is spreading over the earth, found its roots in the prayer of a boy. He had read in the family Bible, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5–6). That is the promise. Is there any greater promise anywhere in the world than that promise?

Why does prayer have the power to bring us “into partnership with God”?

combination-lock-icon-1

Neal A Maxwell: Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings is to be opened only by a combination lock. One tumbler falls when there is faith; a second when there is personal righteousness; the third and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God’s judgement – not ours – right for us. (New Era, April 1978)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People”

1. The Lord is gathering His people.

See Encyclopaedia of Mormonism: ‘Gathering’

D&C 45:71 The righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations

‘This revelation was given March 7, 1831. The Church was not then a year old, and but very few had accepted the faith; but the Lord revealed through His servant, the Prophet Joseph, the glory that should come unto Zion, and He told him that the people of Zion should be gathered from every nation. Think of this young man called to lead the Church, then but twenty-five years of age, given this promise that there should be established a Zion to which the people should gather out of all nations! What likelihood was there for him to imagine this himself, when he looked at the small flock around him that believed in his words? But it was not his imaginings; it was the revelation of God unto him that there should be established a Zion to which people should come from out of all nations. It was the fulfillment of the prophecies in the second chapter of Isaiah, and fourth chapter of Micah, in language similarly worded, when they looked down through the vista of time and saw there was to be a gathering, and that the people would go up to the “mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” in order that they might learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Isaiah prophesied to this effect, and we bear testimony it is coming to pass.’ (Anton H Lund, Conference Report, April 1908, First Day-Morning Session. 11.)

D&C 29:8 They shall be gathered into one place

“The spirit of gathering has been with the Church from the days of that restoration. Those who are of the blood of Israel, have a righteous desire after they are baptized, to gather together with the body of the Saints at the designated place. …

“… The Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfilment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1948, p. 55.)

D&C 110:11 Keys of the gathering of Israel

moses2

‘Moses, who in the majesty of the Melchizedek Priesthood led enslaved Israel out of Egyptian bondage into their promised Palestine, brings back those very keys….

These keys empower those who hold them to lead all Israel, the ten tribes included, from all the nations of the earth … to the mountains of the Lord’s houses, there to be endowed with power from on high.’ (Bruce R McConkie, “The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign May, 1983, p. 21-23)

2. The Saints gathered in Ohio.

D&C 37:3 Assemble together at the Ohio

‘Oliver Cowdery had been on a mission to the Lamanites since 15 October 1830 (see D&C 30:5–6; 32:2). This mission took him and his companions on a fourteen-hundred-mile journey through New York and Ohio to Missouri. The Saints were commanded to move to Ohio in preparation to receive further instructions concerning the establishment of Zion after Oliver Cowdery’s return from “the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9).’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 38:32 For this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio

As early as January, 1831, at Fayette, New York, looking forward to the erection of a temple unto the Most High in Ohio, and of ordinances to be performed therein, this revealed statement from the Lord concerning the endowment was given to Joseph Smith: “for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law (D&C 42); and there you shall be endowed with power from on high.”  ‘

At Kirtland, Ohio, in December of the following year, the Lord gave the commandment to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his followers to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, (temple) even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) One of the purposes for the erection of a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, the first in this present dispensation of the gospel, was to bless the faithful saints with the sacred ordinance of the endowment. While the temple was in process of erection, the Lord again refers to the blessing of the endowment: “But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful.” (D&C 105:18)’ (Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I?, p.376 – 377)

D&C 39:15 I have kept in store a blessing

‘The Lord told us, when we were living in the State of New York, to go to the Ohio; there to build a Temple to the name of the Most High. And there the Lord condescended to bestow upon his servants and people a great endowment, (D&C 38:32) a blessing such as was not known among the children of men.( D&C 39:15) And from thence they should go the nations of the earth and publish these things. (D&C 38:33 D&C 110:7-10) We went to the Ohio; and after we had been sufficiently taught and instructed, the Lord commanded us through Joseph, to build a Temple, (D&C 88:119-136) giving the pattern thereof, and the size thereof, the size of the inner and outer courts, the size of the several rooms and apartments, and the form of the pulpits and everything pertaining to it, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty that rested upon Joseph, and upon those associated with him. (D&C 95:1-17) When the Temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the Endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little. No rooms were prepared for washings; no special place prepared for the anointings, such as you understand, and such as you comprehend at the period of the history of the Church! Neither did we know the necessity of the washings, such as we now receive. It is true, our hands were washed, our faces and our feet. The Prophet Joseph was commanded to gird himself with a towel, doing this in the Temple. (John 13:1-17 D&C 88:140-141) What for? That the first Elder might witness to our Father and God, that we were clean from the blood of that wicked generation, (D&C 88:138-139) that then lived. We had gone forth according to our best ability, to publish glad tidings of great joy, for thousands of miles, upon this continent. After this we were called in, and this washing of hands and feet was to testify to God that we were clean from the blood of this generation. (D&C 88:138-139) The holy anointing was placed upon the heads of his servants, but not the full development of the Endowments in the anointing. (D&C 132:41) These administrations in the Kirtland Temple were revealed, little by little, corresponding with what I have already been saying, that the Lord does not give the fullness at once, but imparts to us according to his own will and pleasure. Great were the blessings received. We were commanded to seek to behold the face of the Lord; (Ps. 24:6 1 Chr. 16:11 D&C 101:38) to seek after revelation; (D&C 42:61) to seek after the spirit of prophecy, (Num. 11:29 1 Cor. 14:39) and the gifts of the Spirit; (D&C 46:8) and many testify to what they saw.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

D&C 95:8 Power from on high

‘An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a “partial endowment,

the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.

The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10).'(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

220px-kirtlandtemple_ohio_usa

D&C 38:27 Be one

‘Satan would segregate Father’s children into groups with strongly held individual interests. He would encourage a tenacious preservation of those interests regardless of the consequences to others. Father’s plan is expressed in His Son’s words, “Behold, … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).’ (Richard G Scott, “Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 86)

D&C 38:39 Pride and riches

“There is something in the human heart of that character that when human beings are prospering they are apt to be lifted up in pride and to forget the cause or the source of their prosperity; they are apt to forget God, who is the fountain of all their blessings, and to give glory to themselves. It requires a constant preaching of the word of God, a constant pleading with the people, a constant outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people to bring them to a true sense of their real condition. … Is it right that we should be prudent, that we should take care of those gifts and blessings which God has given unto us, that we should husband our resources, that we should be economical, and not extravagant? Certainly; this is right, this is proper, we should be culpable if we were not so. But with this there is also something else required, and that is, to keep constantly in view that the management and care of these things is not the object that God had in sending us here, that is not the object of our probation. … I have been in reduced circumstances; been on missions when I did not know where to get a mouthful to eat; turned away by the people who dare not entertain me because of the anger that was kindled against us. I could stand by and weep, being a boy and away from all my friends. But I, nevertheless, was happy. I never enjoyed myself in my life as I did then. I know that happiness does not consist in the possession of worldly things. Still it is a great relief when people can have the means necessary for the support of themselves and families. If they possess these things and the Spirit of God with them, they are blessed.” (George Q Cannon, In Journal of Discourses, 22:100–101.)

3. The Saints gathered in Missouri.

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

“Independence was then a raw frontier settlement, the final ‘civilized’ stop for Santa Fe traders. One of the elders in Joseph Smith’s party described the village as ‘a new town containing a court-house built of brick, two or three merchants’ stores and 15 or 20 dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.’ Both residents and visitors praised the country’s astonishing beauty and productivity. The famous writer Washington Irving passed through Independence the next year and wrote, ‘The soil is like that of a garden [and the] beauty of the forest exceeded anything that I have seen.’

“For the Latter-day Saints, however, both Jackson County’s newness and its fertility were secondary to its sacredness; for in July, the Lord spoke to the Prophet: ‘Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-house’ (D&C 57:3)…

“‘Gathering to Zion’ immediately became a topic for Church leaders and missionaries. W. W. Phelps gave the [Evening and Morning Star] a strong ‘last days’ emphasis with articles in every issue about the new revelations, Enoch’s Zion, the Second Coming, or disasters that would befall a wicked world.

“But more than a refuge against calamity, Zion was to become headquarters for the millennial government of Christ, wrote Phelps… Thus, the Saints gathering in Jackson County could rightfully feel the worth of their labors and the immense importance of that location.” (Max H Parkin, “Missouri’s Impact on the Church,” Ensign, Apr. 1979, 59)

christensen-pioneers

D&C 28:9 Zion

‘The Church had its beginning in New York. Persecution came upon the Saints from the beginning, and they were driven out. The Lord gave them a commandment to assemble in Ohio  D&C 37:3 They established their headquarters at Kirtland in that state. No doubt they had no intention of leaving, when they first went there, but the Lord revealed to them that there was another place, the place which he called “Zion,” on the borders of the Lamanites  D&C 28:9 and so their hearts were turned to that place; however, they never had intended to forsake altogether their headquarters in Kirtland, but persecution came upon them, and they were forced out. With rejoicing they assembled in large measure in Jackson County where it had been made known to them that the great city, the new Jerusalem or Zion would be built  D&C 101:70-71 and they rejoiced over it, but they were not privileged to remain there. Their enemies came upon them with hatred and bitterness in their hearts and drove them out. They moved to another part of the state of Missouri and there again intended and tried to establish themselves, but persecution still followed them, and the hatred of the officials in that state resulted in their banishment and an edict coming from the governor of that state that they would have to leave or be exterminated. They went back eastward, crossed the great river, and made their settlement at Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois. For a season they prospered but not without persecution, not without hatred, and finally that hatred reached its peak, and their prophet and his brother, my grandfather, were martyred. Their enemies thought that would be the end of the Church. The papers so declared it. Their enemies rejoiced, but it did not bring the end. Still the Church grew. So also grew the animosity and the hatred of their enemies, and finally the Saints were driven from their homes, robbed of practically all that they possessed and thus set upon their journey to this western land, destitute, in poverty, and the world said they had gone to their destruction, and rejoiced.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1947)

D&C 30:5-6 Take your journey with your brother Oliver

“Oliver (D&C 28), Peter Whitmer, Jr. (D&C 30), and then Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32) were called in October 1830 to go to Missouri as special missionaries to the Lamanite nations.

“Their knapsacks and satchels loaded with copies of the Book of Mormon, the quartet headed west. After a stop at the Cattaragus Indian reservation in western New York, they made a second proselyting stop at the door of Parley’s former pastor, Reverend Sidney Rigdon, at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney listened, let them preach to his congregation, and two weeks later became a Latter-day Saint. His conversion was considered the most effective advertising received by the Church since its inception; and it triggered a chain reaction which resulted in 130 baptisms before the missionaries departed, and hundreds of others later as the new Ohio converts themselves turned into missionaries. (Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church,” p. 281-84; Journal History, Oct. 1830.) On the Missouri frontier, however, government agents refused to allow Indian tribes to listen to the missionaries.

“While the Lamanite missionaries worked in the west, new converts Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge traveled east in December, met Joseph Smith, and added their labors to the New York missionary work. Sidney, probably the most culturally eloquent speaker the young Church had, drew crowds in many important towns before he and Joseph journeyed to Kirtland in January.

“Because of the work of these first missionaries, and others whom records do not identify, the six-month-old Church by December 1830 had about 190 members in New York and hundreds more in the Kirtland area. The white field was being harvested, and the Church stepped unhesitatingly into the role it has never since relinquished, that of a missionary Church committed to preaching the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people.” (William G. Hartley, “Every Member WAS a Missionary,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, 24)

D&C 32:1 Be meek and lowly of heart

“Parley P. Pratt was admonished to be meek and lowly of heart. In the year 1837, there were ‘jarrings and discord’ in the Church at Kirtland, and he was overcome with that spirit. He even tried to turn John Taylor from the Prophet by pointing out to him what he regarded as Joseph’s error. Elder Taylor rebuked him as a brother, and Parley P. Pratt went to the Prophet in tears and confessed his sin, whereupon the Prophet frankly forgave him, prayed with him, and blessed him. This was meekness. It was also manliness. Only a really strong character can possess true humility.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, pp. 170–71.)

D&C 52:2-5 Journey to the land of Missouri

“In the same revelation, twenty-six other elders were called to start on missions to the West. They were to travel by twos, preaching the gospel on the way. All were to meet at Independence, Missouri, where the Lord would reveal the location of the New Zion.

“The idea that there would be a New Zion upon the earth in the latter days may be obtained from a reading of the Bible. It was not the study of ancient prophecies, however, which so fired the Saints with a zeal for Zion. To them God had spoken anew. Zion was to be realized.” (William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 7th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1953], 118.)

D&C 54:8 Unto the land of Missouri

“Revelation given through the Prophet Joseph to Newel Knight sent them ‘westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.’ (D&C 54:8) They arrived in Independence on 25 July 1831 and helped the Prophet ‘lay the first log as a foundation for Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence,’ on 2 August 1831. Newel notes that the first log ‘was carried by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ At least five of those twelve were Colesville Saints and members of the Knight family: Joseph Knight, Sr., Aaron Culver, Hezekiah Peck, Ezekial Peck, and Freeborn DeMill. Newel Knight stood with a small group clustered around the Prophet the next day when he dedicated the temple site in Independence.

“Mother Knight had been seriously ill on her journey to Jackson County, but refused to give in to her sickness, even though Newel, deeply concerned, bought lumber to have on hand for her coffin while they travelled. But ‘her greatest desire,’ he says, ‘was to set her feet upon the land of Zion and to have her body intered in that land. … The Lord gave her the desire of her heart.’

“She was the first Latter-day Saint to die in Missouri, and the Prophet preached her funeral sermon on August 7. Father Knight’s record contains a poignant notation: ‘She was Burried in the woods a Spot Chosen out By our selves. I was along By where she was Buried a few Days after and I found the hogs had Began to root where She was Buried. I Being verry unwell But I took my ax the next Day and went and Bilt a pen round it. It was the Last I done for her.’

“She was the first to die but not the last. Her daughter Esther soon followed her, then their uncle Aaron Culver, leaving his wife, Esther, in Newel’s care. Newel’s record shows no complaint. He simply says that the frontier life was ‘new and strange … yet we took hold with cheerful hearts, and a determination to do our best.’ Conferences with the Prophet Joseph left them feeling ‘renewed in spirit.'” (Larry Porter, “The Joseph Knight Family,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 43)

4. The Saints now gather to the stakes of Zion in their own lands.

D&C 115:6 A refuge from the storm

‘The Lord will stand by His Church and people and keep them in safety until His coming. There will be peace in Zion and in her stakes, for He has proclaimed “that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth”  (D&C 115:6) (Bruce D Porter, General Conference, April 2013)

The Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times, faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion. The Lord has decreed that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth until it has filled the whole earth (see  Daniel 2:31–45  D&C 65:2 And no human power can stay its course, for God is the author of this work and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine -Lesson 11: “The Field Is White Already to Harvest”

embarkmormonad

1. “Serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.”

D&C 4:1 A marvellous work

“Can you think of a time in the earth’s history greater than this dispensation? Could there be a greater cause than to prepare the earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ? As a stone rolls on until it becomes a great mountain, the kingdom rolls on to its divine destiny-a great movement with great momentum and steady acceleration. When the Lord says “a marvelous work is about to come forth,” he is saying that something wonderful is going to happen, and more importantly, he is giving us the opportunity to be a part of it. “The work is so marvelous that the Lord is going to give us the privilege of participating in it with him, but only if we desire to. He does not twist arms or preach duty or try to instill obedience through guilt. He simply tells us that the work itself will be its own reward. In fact, it will be marvelous.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 126 – 127.)

2. Prepare to serve the Lord.

D&C 4:3 Desires

‘Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of our brethren….

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.’ (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], p.248-249)

D&C 11:8 If you desire

‘So many times you and I have been called to serve in positions and places for which we knew we were unqualified. But the Lord never cares about that. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he knew nothing about dividing seas or building tabernacles. What he had was a desire to serve God. We must have a great desire to serve and and proceed with a perfect confidence that the Lord will sustain us in our efforts.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

D&C 4:5 Faith, hope, charity and love

‘…labor with love. There is no substitute for love. Often this love is kindled in youth by a mother, expanded by a father, and kept vibrant through service to God. Remember the Lord’s counsel: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” Well might each of us ask himself: Today, have I increased in faith, in hope, in charity, in love? When our lives comply with God’s standard and we labor with love to bring souls unto Him, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20)’ (Thomas S Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 49)

D&C 12:8 Humility

‘Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.

Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.

My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2010)

D&C 11:6,20 Keep my commandments

‘President Heber J. Grant used to tell us…that as he approached the end of his ministry, knowing that his life wouldn’t be too far prolonged, he thought if there were some unusual thing that the Father would like him to do, he would be so pleased; and so he sought earnestly to know what would the Father have him do during his remaining years, thinking, I suppose, of some outstanding thing, like the building of a temple or something of the sort. And in answer to his inquiry, the Lord said that the most important thing that he could do as president of the Church was to teach this people to keep the commandments of God.’ (Harold B Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 11)

D&C 11:21 Obtain my word

‘Hyrum’s life is a witness to his obedience to this instruction. To the very last day of his life, he devoted himself to obtaining the word through study of the scriptures. In Carthage Jail, he read and commented on extracts from the Book of Mormon. The scriptures were obviously part of Hyrum’s being, and he turned to them during times when he needed comfort and strength the most.

Just think of the spiritual strength we could gain in our lives and how much more effective we would be as teachers, missionaries, and friends if we studied the scriptures regularly. I am sure we, like Hyrum, will be able to endure our greatest trials if we search the word of God as he did.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm As the Pillars of Heaven,’ ” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 7)

3. “The field is white.”

D&C 4:4, 11:3, 33:3 The field is white

10153

‘Brothers and sisters, all of you out in the wards and stakes and in the districts and branches, I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. “The field is white [and] ready to harvest”  D&C 4:4 The Lord has repeatedly declared this. Shall we not take Him at His word?’ (Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999)

D&C 60:1-3 They will not open their mouths

“It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

4. “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”

D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 15:6 The thing which will be of most worth

‘There is nothing in all this world that can be compared to the value of a human soul, redeemed, sanctified, and made worthy to receive the blessings of God our Father. There is no investment which you men can put your money or your time into that will pay you so well in time or in eternity as to invest in a human soul, whether that shall be in the missionary field or at home, in the care of those precious ones who have come under our supervision. We have already heard scripture in this conference, from the Lord Jesus Christ, wherein he declares that the worth of souls is great in his sight, and if we should labor all our days and as the result of that labor bring, save it be but one of those precious souls, how great will be our joy! I know that I need not convert you to the fact that this is a true doctrine, but we constantly need to be appealed to, to be willing to give ourselves and our means in the accomplishment of this, the greatest work there is in all the world.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, October 1925, Afternoon Session 129.)

D&C 18:6 The world is ripening in iniquity

‘During our Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said the great difficulty with our country and our people was, “We had forgotten God.” In a modern revelation to you and to me and to the people of this generation the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Joseph: Smith, has said, “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity; and it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance”  D&C 18:6 Let us therefore as a nation return to church, let us partake worthily of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, let us, come into closest possible communion and cooperation with God, the Eternal Father, and pray that freedom and liberty, that gift of God by us so highly prized, may come to all the people of all nations of the earth. And I pray humbly that we in this land, choice above all other lands, may be a righteous people who deserve the blessings the Almighty has promised to those who love Him and serve Him and keep His commandments, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.’ (Richard R Lyman, General Conference, October 1942)

D&C 31:3-4 Our message

‘This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. We as a people are Latter-day Saints. We testify that the heavens have been opened, that the curtains have been parted, that God has spoken, and that Jesus Christ has manifested Himself, followed by a bestowal of divine authority.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this work, and it is built upon a “foundation of … apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

This wondrous Restoration should make of us a people of tolerance, of neighborliness, of appreciation and kindness toward others. We cannot be boastful. We cannot be proud. We can be thankful, as we must be. We can be humble, as we should be.

We love those of other churches. We work with them in good causes. We respect them. But we must never forget our roots. Those roots lie deep in the soil of the opening of this, the final dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

What an inspiration it has been to look into the faces of men and women across the world who carry in their hearts a solemn conviction of the truth of this foundation.

When it comes to divine authority, this is the sum and substance of the whole matter.

God be thanked for His marvelous bestowal of testimony, authority, and doctrine associated with this, the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

This must be our great and singular message to the world. We do not offer it with boasting. We testify in humility but with gravity and absolute sincerity. We invite all, the whole earth, to listen to this account and take measure of its truth. God bless us as those who believe in His divine manifestations and help us to extend knowledge of these great and marvelous occurrences to all who will listen. To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 2002, 78)

D&C 33:10 Make his paths straight

“Eastern potentates, when traveling from one part of the kingdom to another, would proclaim their coming and order their subjects to prepare the way for them, by building roads where there were none, if necessary; by leveling hills and filling up depressions, and straightening out the winding paths. Semiramis is said to have had roads constructed especially for her journeys. In modern times the Turkish government built a good road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, when the German Emperor signified his intention of visiting the Holy City. To prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to make all necessary preparations for His reception. He will not come to reign until all necessary preparations for his coming have been made. ‘Hear this, O Earth! The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843 … nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready’ (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 291.)” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 174.)

D&C 42:12 Teach the principles of my gospel

‘Teachers who are commanded to teach “the principles of [the] gospel” and “the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.

Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching, and we enlist the faith of our students in seeking the guidance of that same Spirit in applying those teachings in their personal lives.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79-80)

D&C 52:9 Saying none other things

 “The truth of all things is measured by the scriptures. That which harmonizes with them should be accepted; that which is contrary to their teachings, however plausible it may seem for the moment, will not endure and should be rejected.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 765.)

D&C 18:20-21 Contend against no church

‘When we are commanded to “contend against no church save it be the church of the devil,” we must understand that this is instruction to us to contend against all evil, that which is opposed to righteousness and truth. James declares, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” and the scriptures also teach “for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” (Omni 25.) All who go forth to teach should do so in wisdom and not contend with the churches or engage in profitless debates, but teach in the spirit of kindness and try to persuade people to receive the truth.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 78.)

D&C 38:41 In mildness and in meekness

“We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness”  (D&C 38:41) We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see  Ephesians 4:15) Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony, but no one can refute it.” (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2008)

D&C 14:8 The Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance

‘Now we want to carry this message to the world in the way that the Lord wants us to carry it. We want to preach the truth in purity and in perfection, and to do it in the way the Lord wants it done. The only single formula whereby we may do this is for us so to live (and our elders in the mission fields so to live) that we can be guided by the Holy Ghost. We must be guided by the Spirit. We have to have the Lord tell us how he wants us to teach the message of the restoration, and every doctrine of the gospel, and he will do this by revelation from the Holy Ghost if we are worthy to receive it.

One of the chief differences between us and the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, is that the Holy Ghost gives us utterance  (D&C 14:8) if we are faithful, but that the people in the world teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth utterance  (2 Ne. 28:4). (Bruce R McConkie, General Conference, October 1949)

D&C 31:3 Lift up your heart and rejoice

‘Your level of spirituality is also directly related to how well you fill the Lord’s commandments to “Be of good cheer” and “Lift up your heart and rejoice” (D&C 31:3). How many times in the scriptures did the Lord command us to be of good cheer? He didn’t say, “Be of good cheer if everything is going well, if you have enough money to pay all your bills, if your biorhythms are up,” or whatever. No. For us to be of good cheer is a commandment and not merely a suggestion.

Here is a practical suggestion that has helped me in the past. Take a sheet of paper and write on it a list of the blessings you consider to be important in whatever order they come to your mind. Then place them in order of priority. What is your most precious blessing? Probably somewhere near the top of your list will be the big “Four Fs”-your faith, family, freedom, and friends.

Note how many blessings you have at the top of the list for which you would hope to have the courage to give up your mortal lives to protect. Then note how far down the list you go before you come to any blessing that you can buy for money. The most precious blessings are without price; they are priceless.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 59)

5. The Lord promises great blessings to those who labor in His service.

D&C 75:5, 31:5 Sheaves

‘Anciently, grain was cut by hand and tied into large bundles or sheaves which were then carried to the place of threshing. To see a person or an animal “laden with many sheaves” (D&C 75:5) was proof that the person had reaped an abundant harvest and would now enjoy the fruits of his labors.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 18:15-16 How great will be your joy

‘This is God’s work. He wants us to participate with Him and His Beloved Son in bringing the gospel into the lives of all of His children. The Lord has promised us that our joy will be great if we bring just one soul unto Him (see  D&C 18:15–16) Let us exercise greater faith and work together, members and missionaries, to bring many more souls unto Him. Let every family in the Church include as part of their daily family prayers a plea with the Lord to go before your family members and help them to find someone prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 71:10 If any man lift his voice against you

‘President Harold B. Lee explained that what the Lord “is trying to have us understand is that he will take care of our enemies if we continue to keep the commandments. So, you Saints of the Most High God, when these things come, and they will come—this has been prophesied—you just say,

“‘No weapon formed against the work of the Lord will ever prosper, but all glory and majesty of this work that the Lord gave will long be remembered after those who have tried to befoul the name of the Church and those of its leaders will be forgotten, and their works will follow after them.’

“We feel sorry for them when we see these things happen.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 167; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 126.)’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 84:80 Shall not be weary

‘One major cause of real fatigue, little appreciated by those so afflicted, is trying to serve two masters. This is devastating double duty. If so divided, one inevitably ends up being ineffective, even disloyal, in respect to one master or another-a most fatiguing circumstance.’ (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 115.)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 5: Daughters of God

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section talks about the great blessings that came into President Hinckley’s life through his mother, Ada, and his wife Marjorie Pay.

Video: President Hinckley – The Women in Our Lives

From the manual:

“How thankful I am, how thankful we all must be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith.”

Who are the great women who have blessed your life?

1 Women have a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God.

The Church is publishing a series of in depth essays on its website on certain gospel topics. One that may be relevant to this lesson is on Mother in Heaven.
From the manual:
‘You are very precious, each of you. … You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.’
Why is it important for us to understand the “high and sacred place” of women in God’s eternal plan?

2 The Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith applies to all.

For useful background information on Emma Smith and D&C 25 see the Revelations in Context article Thou Art an Elect Lady
emma-smith
From the manual:
What aspects of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith are especially helpful to you?

3 Mothers have a sacred calling to bring up their children in righteousness and truth.

From the manual:
‘I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world.’

Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles): The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. (“Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, p. 93)

For parents, why is “no obligation more binding” than rearing their children “in love and peace and integrity”?
af3e4d37e33629e396dc21248e2d80e6

4 Women have great responsibilities in the work of salvation.

From the manual:
‘Women in the Church are associates with their brethren in carrying forward this mighty work of the Lord. … Women carry tremendous responsibilities and they are accountable for the fulfillment of those responsibilities. They head their own organizations, and those organizations are strong and viable and are significant forces for good in the world. They stand in an associate role to the priesthood, all striving together to build the kingdom of God in the earth. We honor and respect you for your capacity. We expect leadership, and strength, and impressive results from your management of the organizations for which you are responsible. We uphold and sustain you as daughters of God, working in a great partnership to assist him in bringing to pass the immortality and the eternal life of all of the sons and daughters of God.’

‘Blessings of the priesthood are shared by men and women. All may qualify for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. All may take upon themselves the name of the Lord and partake of the sacrament. All may pray and receive answers to their prayers. Gifts of the Spirit and testimonies of the truth are bestowed regardless of gender. Men and women receive the highest ordinance in the house of the Lord together and equally, or not at all (see  D&C 131:1–3)

Opportunities for development of spiritual and intellectual potential are equal. Masculinity has no monopoly on the mind, and femininity has no exclusive dominion over the heart. The highest titles of human achievement—teacher, educated professional, loyal employee, faithful friend, student of the scriptures, child of God, disciple of Christ, trusted companion, loving parent—are earned under a uniform requirement of worthiness.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, October 1989)

Why is it important that men and women work together to move the Lord’s work forward? What are some examples you have seen of this?

5 Relief Society is a source of immeasurable blessings.

Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:

  • Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement;
  • Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and
  • Work in unity to help those in need.
    Handbook 2: Administering the Church, [2010], 9.1.1
From the manual:
‘God bless the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May the spirit of love which has motivated its members … continue to grow and be felt over the world. May their works of charity touch for good the lives of uncounted numbers wherever they find expression. And may light and understanding, learning and knowledge, and eternal truth grace the lives of generations of women yet to come, throughout the nations of the earth, because of this singular and divinely established institution.’
How can you strengthen the Relief Society in your ward?

6 Rise to the stature of the divinity within you.

We know we shall reap
Whatsoever we sow
We promise, we keep
Wherever we go
We need not look far
To find gratitude
We share a bright star
For good attitude,
To live as we should

It’s time to rise
With stature divine,
With virtuous eyes,
And a wholesome mind
With love for the land
And the sky above
We labor by hand,
We give and we love,
And we do not shove

A struggling mother
Much marred by abuse,
Needs hope not smother
To feel she’s of use
As a morning star
We shouted for joy
For just where we are-
With life to enjoy
For each girl and boy

With minds full of light,
We’re full of glory
The oppressed now bright
Know a new story
A broad horizon
Can master one’s fate
For daughter and son-
It is not too late-
For love’s bloom, not hate!

We can cultivate
Beauty all around
Through prayer and not fate
We are safely sound
To safeguard from sin,
Stand above evil
And rise and begin (clean the drab within)
Speak against what’s ill-
And, harvests then fulfill

– Gordon B Hinckley

From the manual:
‘I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.’
img

Patricia T. Holland:

“On a pristinely clear and beautifully bright day, I sat overlooking the Sea of Galilee and reread the tenth chapter of Luke. But instead of the words on the page, I thought I saw with my mind and heard with my heart these words: ‘[Pat, Pat, Pat,] thou art careful and troubled about many things.’ Then the power of pure and personal revelation seized me as I read, ‘But one thing-only one thing-is truly needful.’ (See Luke 10:40-41.) …As I sat pondering my problems, I felt that same sun’s healing rays like warm liquid pouring into my heart, relaxing, calming, and comforting my troubled soul.

“Our loving Father in heaven seemed to be whispering to me, ‘You don’t have to worry over so many things. The one thing that is needful-the only thing that is truly needful-is to keep your eyes toward the sun-my Son.’ Suddenly I had true peace. I knew that my life had always been in his hands, from the very beginning! The sea lying peacefully before my eyes had been tempest-tossed and dangerous-many, many times. All I needed to do was to renew my faith and get a firm grasp of his hand, and together we could walk on the water.” (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 81.)

How can we gain a better vision of what God sees our potential to be? How can we progress toward reaching our potential?
Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 10: “This Is My Voice unto All”

1. Husbands and wives should support and comfort each other.

D&C 25:5 Consoling words

‘There is so much of argument in the homes of the people. It is so destructive. It is so corrosive. It leads only to bitterness, heartbreak, and tears. How well advised we would be, each of us, when there is tension, when there is friction, when there is affliction, to speak with consoling words in the spirit of meekness. ‘ (Gordon B Hinckley, “If Thou Art Faithful,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 91)

husband-wife-love

D&C 25:14 Spirit of meekness

“Let us continue to live in humility and meekness before God, seeking in faith and good works to get an increased portion of his Holy Spirit, that we may comprehend the laws of God and live according to the principles of eternal truth….” (John Taylor, JD, 18:334-335, December 31, 1876)

2. We should be meek and avoid pride.

images

D&C 23:1 Beware of pride

‘Three times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord uses the phrase “beware of pride,” including a warning to the second elder of the Church, Oliver Cowdery, and to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet. (D&C 23:1; see also D&C 25:14; D&C 38:39.)

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. (See Mosiah 3:11; 3 Ne. 6:18.) In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride-it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3-7; Alma 5:61.)

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity-enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)

Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.

The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Hel. 12:6.) They pit their perceptions of truth against God’s great knowledge, their abilities versus God’s priesthood power, their accomplishments against His mighty works.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4)

D&C 38:39 Beware of pride

‘Let us note that, although the Lord can bestow on us ‘the riches of the earth,’ the riches he most wants to bless us with are ‘the riches of eternity.’ As he counsels elsewhere, ‘Seek not for riches, but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.’ (D&C 6:7.)

“One of the problems with material wealth is that it sometimes corrupts those who have it. It is for this reason that the Lord’s promise of riches in section 38 cited above ends with the warning: ‘But beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.’ (D&C 38:39.)

“If we set our minds on the ‘treasures of earth’ rather than on the things of eternity, we will lose our spirituality and begin to rely on our own wisdom. Indeed, it was the Nephites’ pride and lust for riches and their failure to dedicate their blessings to the Lord’s work that stirred Jacob to condemn them for failing to ‘think of [their] brethren like unto [them]selves’ and for not being ‘familiar with all and free with [their] substance.’ (Jacob 2:17.)” (Alan Webster, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Apr. 1990, 52-53)

“Some fall victim to greed when they think that the Lord and his church are failing them economically. Paul describes the result in his love-of-money passage: ‘They have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.’ (1 Tim. 6:10.)

“… Our greed begins when we think more about what God owes us than what we owe him. The Lord has promised the faithful the ‘riches of eternity.’ We should be content with that promise and serve for the joy of serving.” ‘(Richard Tice, “Greed: When Enough Is Not Enough,” Ensign, June 1989, 34)

D&C 90:17 Be admonished

‘Although this counsel is valuable to all members of the Church, it was perhaps especially significant for Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, who both later opposed the Prophet and left the Church, though Frederick G. Williams eventually returned.’ (D&C Institute Manual)

D&C 98:19 I, the Lord, am not well pleased

‘On the 11th of December (1836), the Prophet sharply rebuked the Kirtland Saints for their sins and backsliding. He warned them to repent, lest judgment should come upon them as it had come upon the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri. Those were trying times. They were days of separation when it became necessary to separate the unworthy from those who were of the household of faith. Kirtland was not to be the abiding place of the Saints. They must give up their possessions and their love for the city they had striven so hard to adorn.’ (Wilford Woodruff, His Life and Labors, comp. Matthias F. Cowley [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1916], 65 – 66)

D&C 1:28 They were humble

‘Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught us that “all progress in spiritual things is conditioned upon the prior attainment of humility.1 [Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (1966), 370.] Humility has been described as having the “desire to submit to the Lord,” the “desire to seek the Lord’s will and glory,” and the “desire to remove pride.”2 [Gospel Principles (1997), 4.] King Benjamin told his people that they should “always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility”  Mosiah 4:11 The Lord counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants that “inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time”  D&C 1:28

May we each develop our humility by submitting to the will of the Lord in all things so that we may retain a remission of our sins.'(Keith Crockett, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 19:23 Learn of me, and listen to my words

‘These words give me the feeling of such closeness to, such intimacy with the Savior, looking at him, listening to him, learning from him, walking with him, and feeling his peace like his very arms around me. Within each of us is an intense hunger for this intimacy with and closeness to him. I think we all want to feel his spirit around us.’ (Chieko N Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 199.)

D&C 112:10 Be thou humble

‘I believe, brothers and sisters, that only those who are humble are able to acknowledge and understand the Lord’s answers to their prayers. The humble are teachable, recognizing how dependent they are on God and desiring to be subject to His will. The humble are meek and have the ability to influence others to be the same. God’s promise to the humble is that He will lead them by the hand. I truly believe that we will avoid detours and sadness in our lives as long as we walk hand in hand with the Lord.’ (Ulisses Soares, General Conference, October 2013)

3. We should rejoice and be of good cheer.

D&C 29:5 Your advocate with the Father

‘Jesus Christ came upon the scene as the Mediator between man and God, and the Advocate for man with the Father. He pleads our cause. As our Mediator, through his ministry, he labors to reconcile us, to bring us into agreement with God his Father.

An advocate is one who defends or pleads for or in behalf of another. A mediator is one who reconciles or brings about agreement between parties.

That is part of his great mission. He stands between the Father and man. When he was upon earth, he prayed frequently for his disciples, pleading with his Father in their behalf, and he has been pleading ever since, and he stands between us and God our Father.’  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 26.)

D&C 6:36 Be of good cheer

‘If we by nature are not happy, something is wrong with us. We ought to find out what it is and correct it as soon as possible, because until we do, we will not enjoy the Spirit with us as much as if we were of good cheer. Developing an attitude of gratitude for our many blessings can be a giant step forward in fostering happiness.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Toward Greater Spirituality: Ten Important Steps,” Ensign, June 1983,9)

names-jesus-christ-bible-list-meaning

D&C 68:6 I the Lord am with you

‘You are not alone on this journey. Your Heavenly Father knows you. Even when no one else hears you, He hears you. When you rejoice in righteousness, He rejoices with you. When you are beset with trial, He grieves with you.

Heavenly Father’s interest in you does not depend on how rich or beautiful or healthy or smart you are. He sees you not as the world sees you; He sees who you really are. He looks on your heart. [See  1 Samuel 16:7 And He loves you [See  1 Peter 5:6–7 because you are His child.

Dear sisters, seek Him earnestly, and you will find Him. [See  Jeremiah 29:13

I promise you, you are not alone.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2013)

D&C 78:18 I will lead you along

‘Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony to the Church that the Lord will lead us along, just as promised. He balances giving to the Church and its people the needed, specific directions, with providing the relevant learning experiences, including having our faith and patience tried in order to be strengthened. Thus He leads us along, but He desires that during that process we take His yoke upon us in order to learn of Him by our personal experiences. We surely feel the weight of that yoke at times, but the path is clear.

Jesus, our Shepherd, has “marked the path and led the way, And ev’ry point defines” (Hymns, 1985, no. 195). His clearly defined footprints are easy to see. They are pressed distinctly and deeply into the soil of the second estate, deeply and distinctly because of the enormous weight which pressed down upon Him, including the awful burden of all of our individual sins.’  (Neal A Maxwell, “For I Will Lead You Along,” Ensign, May 1988, 9)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 9: “The Only True and Living Church”

1. The Church is organized in the latter days.

D&C 20:1 Being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years

“Does this give the exact year of Christ’s birth? That calculation places too much weight on what may have been an elaborate phrase of dating or an incidental statement. The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Hyrum M. Smith) cautioned against using this to prove that Christ was born at the exact beginning of the Christian Era; so have Bible scholars J. Reuben Clark and Bruce R. McConkie. Part of the problem is that Christ was alive at the death of Herod the Great, an event of 4 B.C. in careful chronologies.” (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 114 – 115.)

D&C 21:3 6th April 1830

See The Sixth Day of April 1830 by Howard W Hunter

joseph-smith-organizes-restored-church-of-jesus-christ

D&C 20:9 The fulness of the gospel

“Our revelations say that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel. (D. & C. 20:9; 27:5; 42:12; 135:3.) This is true in the sense that the Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and therefore the laws and principles leading to the highest salvation are found recorded in that book.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine)

What changes have been made in the name of the Church? Its full designation does not appear in the revelations until 1838. (D&C 115:4)

Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of religion and history, Brigham Young University A concise answer to this question is found by comparing the name of the Church on the title pages of the first three printings of the revelations: ‘The Church of Christ’ (Book of Commandments, 1833), ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835), and ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1844).

“The Savior told the Nephites that his church should be called in his name. (See 3 Ne. 27:8.) As a result, the restored Church’s official title from 1830 to 1834 was ‘The Church of Christ.’ That title is found in the revelation on the organization and government of the Church (D&C 20:1) and in early minute books. During this period, however, members of the Church regularly called themselves ‘saints’; the word saint is used approximately three dozen times in the D&C before 1834.

“On 3 May 1834, official action modified the name of the Church. In a priesthood conference presided over by Joseph Smith, a motion passed ‘by unanimous voice’ that the Church be known as ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ (See The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 2:160.) This alteration was not seen as a de-emphasis of Christ; on the contrary, it was done in hopes that the name of the Church would more clearly reflect the fact that Christ was at its head.

“In the same issue of the Kirtland newspaper in which the announcement appeared, an editorial explained that the change stemmed from a misleading nickname: the ‘Mormonite’ church. The new name also had these advantages: (1) Since American Christians, including Congregationalists and reformers, frequently designated themselves as ‘The Church of Christ,’ that title did not distinguish the restored gospel from a host of Protestant sects. (2) Since Paul and Peter used the Greek word saint (‘a holy person’) to refer to believers in Christ, the term Latter-day Saints implied that Church members were modern followers of Christ. Thus it also asserted the claim of restoration.

“Just as the term saint flourished when the official name was ‘The Church of Christ,’ the name of Christ regularly supplemented the official name of ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ For example, in 1835, the church was referred to as ‘the church of Christ’ and the Twelve apostles were commissioned as ‘special witnesses of the name of Christ.’ (D&C 107:59, 23) The Saints certainly did not feel that the Church was leaving out the name of Christ.

“Sometimes during this period the first and second titles would be combined-‘the church of Christ of Latter Day saints’-as they were in priesthood minutes (Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1836, 2:266) and in the publication of the first high council minutes (see headnote, D&C 5, 1835 edition).

“A vivid illustration of the way members then understood the official name of the Church is found in a letter from John Smith, the Prophet’s uncle, to his son Elias before the latter was converted. Writing 19 Oct. 1834, Uncle John answers the question of why the name could be changed:

‘The Church of Christ is the Church of Saints and always was. This is the reason why the apostle directed letters sometimes to the Church of God, others to the Church, and again to the Brethren, sometimes to the Saints, always meaning the Church of Christ.’ (Archives, University of Utah)

“Thus, the final version of the Church’s name was no radical shift from the previous practice of using both ‘Christ’ and ‘Saints’ in designating the restored Church and its members. Revealed on 26 April 1838 (D&C 115:4), the full title, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ is striking by comparison to the names of the scores of churches that obscure their Christianity under the label  of their founders or of some characteristic belief or aspect of church organization. It is a highly effective name, for while it is distinctive, it indicates that Jesus is at its head. It is also descriptive of divine restoration. And it is more than a name-it is a public commitment to a holy life through the Savior’s power.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 13-4)

2. The Lord commands Church members to follow the prophet.

D&C 1:38 Or by the voice of my servants

‘I do not believe members of this Church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining His living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly.

In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time…This process of revelation comes to the Church very frequently. President Wilford Woodruff stated, “This power is in the bosom of Almighty God, and he imparts it to his servants the prophets as they stand in need of it day by day to build up Zion” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 56). This is necessary for the Church to fulfill its mission. Without it, we would fail.’ (James E Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 5)

D&C 21:4-5 Give heed unto all his words and commandments

‘Brigham Young was a great defender of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There were Judases in the ranks in that day, just as there were in the Savior’s day, and just as we have today, some who are members of the Church who are undercutting us, who are betraying their trusts. We are shocked when we see the places from which some of these things come.

Brigham Young was invited by some of these men who were trying to depose the Prophet Joseph from his position as President of the Church; but they made a mistake by inviting President Brigham Young into their circle. And after he had listened to what their motives were, he said something to this effect: “I want to say something to you men. You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.”‘ (Harold B Lee, “Admonitions for the Priesthood of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 107)

thomas-s-monson-large

D&C 21:6 The gates of Hell

“The gates of hell are the entrances to the benighted realms of the damned where the wicked go to await the day when they shall come forth in the resurrection of damnation. Those beckoning gates prevail against all who pass through them. But those who obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel have the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:388–89.)

D&C 21:9 Believe on his words

‘We must learn the will of our Father in Heaven by earnest study. Next, we must act upon it. Study alone is not sufficient; we must act upon the words of revelation before we know of a surety of the truthfulness of the doctrines. On the day the Church was organized in 1830, the Lord gave a wonderful promise to those who labor in the vineyard:

“For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his [Joseph Smith’s] words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.”

If we will follow, with diligence, the counsel and instruction that is the united voice of these Brethren, we will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether they speak of themselves.’ (L. Aldin Porter, “The Revelations of Heaven,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 64-5)

3. The Lord encourages Church members to meet together often to partake of the sacrament.

D&C 20:75 The sacrament

‘Usually once a week, for a little more than an hour, we have the opportunity to attend sacrament meeting and reflect on the life of our Savior; to recall with deep gratitude and reverence His life of purity, kindness, and love; to reflect upon the great atoning sacrifice; and to partake of the broken bread, symbolic of His torn flesh, and drink of the cup, symbolic of His blood that was shed on the cross.

The Savior taught the Nephites that ‘I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

‘And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that I might draw all men unto me.’ (3 Ne. 27:13-14.)

As we partake of the sacrament and reflect upon His sacrifice for each of us, we make a solemn commitment to keep the commandments which He has given us, that by so doing we might always have His spirit to be with us. By partaking of the sacrament each Sunday we receive the encouragement and strength to keep the commandments of God, to live uprightly, virtuously, and honestly. Did not Jesus Himself sum them all up as follows: ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’ (Luke 10:27.)

This is what every person who partakes of the sacrament is committed to do. Living God’s commandments obligates a person to a life of goodness-goodness to society and a genuine helpfulness to humanity, and excluding from one’s life hatred, enmity, immorality, selfishness, drunkenness, jealousy, and dishonesty.

May we experience the joy of regular attendance at sacrament meeting and feel the blessings of eternal progression in our personal lives through wholehearted compliance, in spirit and actions, with the sacred words of the sacrament.’ (David B Haight, “The Sacrament,” Ensign, May 1983, 14)

prepare-for-sacrament-517x268-option-2-2011-11-14

D&C 20:77,79 The sacrament prayers

‘Because of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel, another blessing we can count is that we have the opportunity to take the sacrament each week—prepared, blessed, and passed by authorized servants of God. We can be grateful when the Holy Spirit confirms to us that the words of the sacrament prayers, offered by those authorized priesthood holders, are honored by our Heavenly Father.

Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.

The blessing of love we receive will make it easier for us to keep the commandment to “always remember him.”  Moroni 4:3 5:2  Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 You may even feel love and gratitude, as I do, for the Holy Ghost, who Heavenly Father has promised will always be with us as we remain faithful to the covenants we have made. We can count all those blessings every Sunday and feel grateful.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, October 2016)

D&C 27:2 Always remember him

My brothers and sisters, I solemnly witness to you that these doctrines and principles are true. In view of these truths, I plead with all members of the Church, young and old, to attend sacrament meeting each Sabbath day and to partake of the sacrament with the repentant attitude described as “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”  (3 Ne. 9:20) I pray that we will do so with the reverence and worship of our Savior that will signify a serious covenant to “always remember him” ( D&C 20:77) The Savior himself has said that we should partake “with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins”  (D&C 27:2)

4. The Lord explains the duties of Church members.

D&C 28:68-69 A godly walk and conversation

“The call to discipleship is a call to a higher righteousness. The Saints are asked to put off the natural man, put away the toys of a telestial world, and grow up in the Lord. They are summoned to be obedient, to keep the commandments, to manifest ‘by a godly walk and conversation that they are worthy’ of membership in the Church and kingdom of God (D&C 20:69). They covenant to take upon them the sacred name of Jesus Christ, to bear the same with fidelity and devotion, and to behave as becomes Christians. In short, they covenant before God and man to see to it that their actions evidence their Christian commitment. Disciples are expected to have clean hands.” (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 55.)

 

Posted in Inspirational, New Testament, Symbolism

Caravaggio’s ‘The Martyrdom of St Matthew’.

Last year I posted about Caravaggio’s ‘Calling of St Matthew’ which we saw in a chapel in the San Luigi dei Francezi church while in Rome on holiday last year. In the same chapel there are two other Caravaggios – ‘The Inspiration of St Matthew’ and ‘The Martyrdom of St Matthew’. This post is about the ‘Martyrdom’ which was the first of the three to be displayed, having hung in the chapel since July 1600.

martyrdom-of-saint-matthew-1600

The theme of the painting is triumph over death.

The painting is based on the tradition that Matthew was murdered at the behest of the king of Ethiopia, Hirticus, who wanted to marry his niece Iphigenia, the abbess of a convent. When Saint Matthew forbade the marriage, Hirticus had him killed.

In the painting we see  Matthew about to be stabbed to death. He is lying on the ground at the edge of a sunken baptismal font. Apparently, baptism by immersion was the norm in Milan during Caravaggio’s childhood rather than the baptism by sprinkling performed in Rome. Baptism by immersion symbolises death, burial and resurrection. Paul said:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:3–5).

Matthew appears to cower at the feet of his executioner who is ready to strike the fatal blow. However, closer examination suggests that Matthew is not cowering in fear but is reaching up to grasp a palm branch thrust towards him by an angel. With its association with Palm Sunday, in Christian iconography the palm branch symbolises the victory of martyrs and the victory of the spirit over the flesh. This is not a moment of terror but a moment of triumph. Matthew’s body may die but his spirit will live on.

Matthew has already been wounded, there is a trickle of blood coming from his side, reminding us of the wound in the Saviour’s side. The juxtaposition of the blood and the baptismal font points towards the saving and cleansing power of Christ’s blood.

martyrdom_matthew_blood

The altar appears to have a Maltese cross painted on it – the Maltese Cross is said to be the symbol of the ‘Christian warrior’. Some commentators have interpreted the single candle burning on the altar as representing the all-seeing eye of God, ever present and aware of His martyr’s sacrifice or, perhaps, the fugitiveness of human life.

Just behind the assailant we glimpse a dark-haired bearded figure in dark clothing over a white loin cloth – this is a self-portrait of Caravaggio. British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon wrote:

“The self-portrait, in this instance, reads like a mea culpa. If Caravaggio had actually been there, he suggests, he would have had no more courage than anyone else. He would have fled like the others, leaving the martyr to his fate. According to the logic of his own narrative, he remains unbaptized and therefore outside the circle of the blessed. He is a man running away, out of the church and into the street.”

Posted in Faith, LDS Church History, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

“Whether you have pioneer ancestry or came into the Church only yesterday, you are a part of this whole grand picture of which those men and women dreamed. … They laid the foundation. Ours is the duty to build on it.”
As the Church becomes an increasingly global organisation and overflows its Rocky Mountain home, an increasing proportion of its members will not have ancestors who crossed the plains or founded small communities in the desert. Many, however, will be gospel pioneers in their families, schools, work places and communities. We may not all have great ancestors, but we can all become great ancestors.

From the life of Gordon B Hinckley

President Hinckley speaks about his pioneering ancestors and then honours those who are gospel pioneers around the world today.

1 With vision, labor, and confidence in the power of God working through them, the early Latter-day Saint pioneers brought their faith to reality.

From the manual:
Behind us is a glorious history. It is bespangled with heroism, tenacity to principle, and unflagging fidelity. It is the product of faith. Before us is a great future. It begins today. We cannot pause. We cannot slow down. We cannot slacken our pace or shorten our stride.
6f6d39580308bbfd0e010a1fc1680f92
How do you feel when you consider the legacy of faith and sacrifice that pioneers and other Saints have given us?
Who are the pioneers of the Church in your area? (See my blog Saints ain’ts and complaints for some of the pioneers in my area of the church.)
How can we pass on this same kind of legacy to those who will follow us?
2 Early Latter-day Saint pioneers looked to the future with a grand dream of Zion.
From the manual:
I stood the other day on the old docks of Liverpool, England. There was practically no activity the Friday morning when we were there. But once this was a veritable beehive. During the 1800s, tens of thousands of our people walked over the same stone paving on which we walked. They came from across the British Isles and from the lands of Europe, converts to the Church. They came with testimony on their lips and faith in their hearts. Was it difficult to leave their homes and step into the unknown of a new world? Of course it was. But they did it with optimism and enthusiasm. They boarded sailing vessels. They knew the crossing at best was hazardous. They soon found out that for the most part it was miserable. They lived in cramped quarters week after week. They endured storms, disease, sickness. Many died on the way and were buried at sea. It was an arduous and fearsome journey. They had doubts, yes. But their faith rose above those doubts. Their optimism rose above their fears. They had their dream of Zion, and they were on their way to fulfill it.
pioneer-immigrants-on-ship-276477
What dream or vision drives you forward and helps you to endure the difficult times?
The LDS hymn ‘Come, Come Ye Saints was written by English pioneer William Clayton on the plains of Iowa while concerned about his family back in Nauvoo. See: William Clayton and Come, Come Ye Saints in the Friend magazine.
‘Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. Always, there is a Devil’s Gate, which will swing wide open to lure us in. Those who are wise and faithful will steer a course as far from such temptation as possible, while others—sometimes those who are nearest and dearest to us—succumb to the attraction of ease, comfort, convenience, and rest. Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!” (Hymns, no. 30).’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, May 1997)
3 The rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers speaks of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the manual:
My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.
What can we do to rescue and lift those who are in need today?

“I received a letter this morning. I think I would like to read it to you. I hope that you will not consider it egotistical for me to do so.

“What a wonderful Conference! Your closing remarks concerning Brigham Young’s rescue parties touched our family’s heart and we resolved to set out on our rescue mission without delay. We pulled out of the stake center [Sunday afternoon] and headed directly to the humble home of a struggling single parent mother of two who hasn’t been out to Church in years (and who has carefully evaded her visiting teachers). We happened to catch her in her driveway, and we told her that you and the bishop had sent us. Her heart was touched. She said that she works at a hospital till 2 A.M. most Sundays. When we asked if we could bring her children to Church with us, she explained that her ten-year-old daughter has no Sunday clothes and that her fourteen-year-old son had felt embarrassed to attend because he felt he didn’t fit in. We told the mom we would take care of the needed clothes. We then invited them to Sunday spaghetti dinner that took place thirty minutes later, introduced the boy to our nephew who is in his quorum, and arranged to pick the boy up for Mutual this week. The mom and sister promised to go to Church with us in two weeks when the mom has her Sunday off. (Don’t worry, we won’t let them forget!)’

“That is the whole thing, when all is said and done, to go out and get in our cars and drive from a Church parking lot to someone who has been neglected for a long time and needs a little attention, to lift and cheer and comfort and love and bless. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Matt. 25:40).” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 224.)

4 Each of us is a pioneer.
From the manual:
It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world.
In what ways is each of us a pioneer?
pioneer1
In a sense, each of us is a wanderer far from home, crossing a  wilderness in search of a promised land. This theme is repeated in the stories of the Jaredites, the family of Lehi, the children of Israel and Brigham Young and the pioneers. To get to our promised land we will each of us have to make sacrifices just as the pioneers did.
5 We honor the sacrifices and heritage of the pioneers by following their example and building on their foundation.
From the manual:
With so great an inheritance, we must go forward. We must never let down. We must hold our heads high. We must walk with integrity. We must “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow”
How can the examples of the early pioneers help us as we face challenges?

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 8: The Restoration of the Priesthood

1. Definition and purpose of the priesthood

D&C 107:8-12 Right to officiate

‘This high priesthood, we are told, has held the right of presidency in all ages of the world. But there is a difference between the general powers of the priesthood, and the particular office and calling to which men are set apart; and you, when I tell you, will understand it very easily; for instance, the presidency of the priesthood, or the presidency of the church, are high priests. The Twelve are high priests. The presidents of stakes and their counselors, the high council of a stake, and of all the stakes, are high priests. The bishops are ordained and set apart through the high priesthood, and stand in the same capacity; and thus bishops and their counselors are high priests. Now, these things you all know. There is nothing mysterious about them.

ALL PRIESTHOOD FUNCTIONS UNDER DIRECTION IN CHURCH CAPACITY.-There is another question associated with this matter. Because a man is a high priest, is he an apostle? No. Because a man is a high priest, is he the president of a stake, or the counselor to the president of a stake? No. Because he is a high priest, is he a bishop? No, not by any means. And so on, in all the various offices. The high priesthood holds the authority to administer in those ordinances, offices, and places, when they are appointed by the proper authorities, and at no other time; and while they are sustained also by the people… It is not because a man holds a certain class of priesthood that he is to administer in all the offices of that priesthood. He administers in them only as he is called and set apart for that purpose.’ (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 202.)

2. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

D&C 13 Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

‘What a glorious day it was for Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May 1829 when they went into the woods to pray about the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins that they had read about while translating the Book of Mormon. There were many teachings about baptism being taught by different churches in the early 1800s, and Joseph and Oliver knew they could not all be true. They wanted to know about the correct manner of baptism and also who had the authority to baptize.

In answer to their petitions to the Lord, a messenger from heaven, John the Baptist, appeared to them. He placed his hands on their heads and conferred upon them the authority to baptize with these words: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron”  D&C 13:1

What a marvelous day in the history of the world! The priesthood was restored to the earth.

When we receive the priesthood, we receive the authority to act in the name of God and lead in ways of truth and righteousness. This authority is a vital source of righteous power and influence for the benefit of God’s children on earth and will last beyond the veil. It was necessary for the priesthood to be restored before the true Church of Jesus Christ could be organized.’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2013)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

D&C 84:26-27 The children of Israel

‘If they had been sanctified and holy, the children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood. But they could not receive them, and never did. Moses left them, and they did not receive the fullness of that Priesthood…. The Lord told Moses that he would show himself to the people; but they begged Moses to plead with the Lord not to do so.’ (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6:100; Address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, by Pres. Brigham Young; November 29, 1857)

D&C 107:14 The lesser priesthood

‘The fact that it is called the lesser priesthood does not diminish at all the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood. The Lord said it is necessary to the Melchizedek Priesthood. (See D&C 84:29.) Any holder of the higher priesthood should feel greatly honored to perform the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood, for they have great spiritual importance.

I have, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed the sacrament. I assure you I have felt honored and humbled beyond expression to do what some might consider a routine task.’  (Boyd K Packer, “The Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 30)

3. The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

06500_all_02-06-james

D&C 27:12-13 Priesthood keys

‘One of the remarkable evidences of the Restoration is the testimony of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery regarding the manner in which the priesthood and its directing powers were returned to earth. In each case, priesthood and priesthood keys were restored by divine messengers who had held them in earlier times. John the Baptist brought back the Aaronic Priesthood with the keys of repentance and baptism.See D&C 13  JS—H 1:68–72 Peter, James, and John restored not only the Melchizedek Priesthood but also “the keys of [the] kingdom.”See  D&C 27:12–13Moses and Elijah returned with the “gathering” and “sealing” keys.See  D&C 110:11–16 The events describing the return of the priesthood are remarkable in that they conform precisely with the biblical pattern of priesthood restoration in earlier dispensations. For example, consider the restoration and transfer of priesthood powers during the Savior’s time.

Near the end of His ministry, Jesus promised Peter “the keys of the kingdom,”See  Matt. 16:19 knowing that Jesus would soon leave and that priesthood keys were needed by the Apostles if they were to direct the work after His ascension. In order for them to receive the keys, Matthew records that Jesus took “Peter, James, and John … up into an high mountain” where He “was transfigured before them” and Moses and Elias “appeared unto them.”  Matt. 17:1–3 Shortly after this event, the Savior declared that the Apostles now had the keys to direct the ministry.  Matt. 18:18  D&C 7:7 The Prophet Joseph Smith states that “the Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 158.]

The pattern of priesthood restoration described by Matthew is the same pattern followed in our dispensation. Apostles and prophets designated by the Lord to hold keys in earlier dispensations returned them to earth as this dispensation began.’ (Merrill J Bateman, General Conference, October 2003)

jesus-christ-and-the-priesthood

D&C 84:19-22 The power of godliness

Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, “the power of godliness” (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power.

In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This “power of godliness” comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is part of the new and everlasting covenant. It is an essential part of our baptism, the baptism of the Spirit. It is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us (see 2 Nephi 31:17). (D Todd Christofferson, Ensign, May 2009)

D&C 110:11-16 Elias

‘After Moses, came Elias. We know not who he was in mortality. There were many prophets who bore that name and title. One was Noah. Apparently this Elias lived in the day of Abraham, and may even have been Abraham himself. In any event he “committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (D&C 110:12)—not, be it noted, the gospel of Christ, for that had already been received, but the gospel of Abraham, meaning the great commission which God gave Abraham in his day. That commission dealt with families, those of Abraham and his seed, who were and are promised continuance “in the world and out of the world … as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them” (D&C 132:30).’ (Bruce R McConkie, “This Final Glorious Gospel Dispensation,” Ensign, Apr. 1980, 22–23)

D&C 107:18 The keys of all spiritual blessings

“Priesthood is given us for two purposes, first, that we may ourselves receive exaltation, and, second, that we may be the means of helping others to obtain like blessings” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [1932], 221–22).