The Fabulous (Fantastic) Four

Just something that’s been stuck in my head all week.  During sacrament last Sunday, the Bishop spoke to us about what he called:

THE FABULOUS FOUR!

I like how he put it.  It immediately got everyone’s attention and then he told it how it was…

If you are not doing these four things in your life, DO IT.  Don’t do it half way, do all of it and you will be blessed.

  1. Go to Chuch EVERY Sunday, to EVERY meeting.
    Do all three hours, don’t pick and choose.
  2. Daily Prayer
    Say your prayers daily.  Say them in the morning, at night and throughout the day.
  3. Daily Scripture Study
    As you read and study your understanding and faith will grow.
  4. Pay a Full and Honest Tithe
    “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  (3 Nephi 24:8–10; Malachi. 3:8–10)

There you have it.  The fabulous four… or what I like to call the fantastic four.  I personally feel it is wise advice in which my Bishop addressed head on.

Father and Sons Campout – Priesthood Fireside

This weekend, our ward had a Father and Son’s Camp out. I drove myself and my three sons over 90 miles to our destination on a Friday afternoon. I had tried to get out of work early, but it didn’t work out that way and by the time we left my house it was already 6pm.

I was worried that there wouldn’t be any light left to set my tent up but didn’t worry too much, having faith that things would work out. It was dark and overcast at my house when we left and by the time we reach our destination, there was literally a column of sunlight gleaming down from between the clouds. Just as I had trusted would happen.  It had shed enough light to set up the tent without difficulty.

There was already a group playing kickball, but I decided to just sit by my tent and relax while my three sons would squeal and cry over the red kick ball that I had brought. Besides, if I had played kickball it would have been completely unfair to the opposite team!

The fireside seemed to be exactly what I needed. It was, of course, about the Priesthood and service.   There was a great lesson presented.  In a nutshell, those successful people around us that were known to give generously had done so before the fact that there were successful.

They were also great leaders, but not for the reasons why you would think. They were kind and generous, which in turn had people gravitate towards them. Their genuine willingness to help and give their time, money and talents had brought them blessings of true happiness. True happiness is being in the service of your fellow men. The Priesthood brings happiness by its sole purpose of serving others.

This has had me pondering the whole weekend about the things I can do to help those around me.

My Family
I can be a more loving husband and patient father.

My Friends
I can be more bold in bringing up the gospel in day to day situations.

My Ward Family
I can get over my habit to float to the side and stay unnoticed and make a better effort. I can find ways to serve them. I can try to take my callings to the next level.

The Blessings from service are evident as I had arranged to go visit a family today with my home teaching companion.  I had received good news upon my visit that the father had received a great job offer, ending a period of worry.  I was uplifted to hear about the blessings they had received through prayer, obedience and faith in Heavenly Fathers.

I am excited and filled with enthusiasm as this month, I am going to concentrate on service to my fellow men.

Remembering and Recommitting

April has been a month of recommitting and remembering.

Let’s all face it.  When we’re following the straight and narrow path, you are the most happy.

This is done by following the commandments, daily prayers throughout the day, following family home evening, putting effort into your callings, giving thanks and remembering Christ.

Heavenly Father knows our hearts and our needs and he listens to our prayers.   When we are weathered from the world and feel that we are not 100% and yearn to be, he will bless us and give us a way.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  (Matthew 21:21-22)

Throughout the Book of Mormon we consistantly see the word “Remember.”   Searching on scriptures.lds.org for “Remember” shows us at least 88 results.

Recommitting is remembering.

Remember the baptismal covenant.

Remember the plan of salvation/happiness.

Remember to pray.

Remember the scriptures.

Remember Heavenly Father and his love.

Remember Jesus Christ and the atonement.

Remember and be blessed with peace and happiness.

My Preparation for the Temple: Are you kind to your family?

At times I questioned myself if I can answer those temple recommend interview questions with no issues.  I remember the last time I went for a temporary temple recommend interview back in March for Baptisms for the Dead.  I caught myself being harsh when asked questions.  I attribute it to judging ourselves and we are our own worse judge.  My Bishop agreed.

I often find myself self-interviewing on one particular question:

Are you kind to your family members?

Am I?  What does that mean?  It means, do I treat them as Christ would during the good times and the bad times?  Do I display patience with my family at all times?  Am I a good Father and Husband?

For a while, I was in a cycle of confusion and this is how it went:

  1. Despair

    I feel like I am in a deep hole, looking upwards at the sky and that I can’t make it out.I feel that my family deserves better than I have given in the past.  I have only been at it for over 18 months and I thought I was changing.  I’m not sure sometimes.  At times I feel like I really have changed.I am not always patient or soft spoken in stressful situations.  I seem to let the worst come out of me only in front of my spouse and children.   In my early twenties, I picked up the bad habbit of swearing.  My language has cleaned up over the past 18 months but I have those moments of relapse.

    I expect so much from my family (from expecting the same strictness that I had to follow when I was younger) at times that it only leads me to anger and fits of yelling when things aren’t going well.

    I’ve been taught that true conversion happens over time.  Am I converted?  Am I converted enough?

    Could I stand tall with my fellow brethren who are temple recommend holders?

  2. Hope

    Every Sunday, I feel energized and I believe that I can climb my way out of this deep hole.I realize to myself that I cannot be perfect and Christ-like at all times.  That is why we have the atonement.I am thankful for the atonement and the fact that Jesus Christ took upon himself my sins, my sadness and my pain.  I am thankful for the ordinance of Sacrament where I can renew my baptismal covenants and be forgiven for my short comings.   During Sacrament, I feel true sorrow and pain.  I then feel forgiven and my burdens lifted away.

    I love the feeling of being clean and renewed for another week.

    I pray for long suffering, patience, being a good example for my children and to be a better Father and Husband.

    I love feeling I can start over with myself and my family.

  3. Confusion

    I feel like the moment that I slip, no matter how high I have made it I fall to the bottom of that deep hole and I have to start over.  Maybe I’ve raised my voice to my kids or handle a stressful situation very poorly.  When growing up, my parents were very strict and always yelled.  I see myself doing that sometimes.  I see my oldest son yelling at his brothers sometimes and I see myself in him and I become deeply saddened.With the atonement comes repentance.  I truly feel sorry for the mistakes and actions that make me feel like I am not kind enough to my family.  But true repentance means taking steps to not do it again and then, not do it!

    But when I falter I feel like I have failed at repentance.  I take my prior transgressions from the week before and add it on to this week as well.  That deep hole is getting even deeper.

    What if it has been months that I feel I’ve been doing a good job and then I mess up by losing my temper and swear up a storm and scream and yell?

    When do I become better?  How long do I go without slipping before I can answer “Yes” to the question “Are you kind to your family members?”   It can’t be one week.  A Month?  Two Months?

    How can I live higher laws if I cannot live these lower laws?

    Am I ever going to make it to the Temple?

    Go to back to Despair

I feel like I have finally broken out of this confusing cycle by realizing that during this journey of life every day we build ourselves up to be much more righteous and when we falter we have the atonement and repentance to lift ourselves up and try again.  As long as we are on the upward climb we are doing well.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times that by doing in faith the following: Daily prayer, scripture reading, and keeping our minds constantly on the Savior Jesus Christ and the Savior make a very, very large difference.

A Convert’s Survival Guide: Getting Your First Calling

Soon after you are baptized, you will receive a calling in your Ward.  A calling is an assignment, usually in a Ward where you help it run smoothly and serve each other.

Since I’ve been a member a little over a year, I’ve held a few callings: Assistant Cub Master, Cub Master, Webelos Leader and Ward Website Administrator.

I admit that I struggled with my first two callings two the point where I felt like I failed in the end.  Shortly after, I realized why this was.  Here are some things I’ve learned about callings:

Examples of Church Callings

  • Bishopric (Bishop and his two Counselors)
  • Elders Quorum Presidency
  • Relief Society Presidency
  • Ward Clerk (Finance and Membership)
  • Ward Bulletin Editor
  • Ward Librarian
  • Sunday School Teacher
  • Nursery Worker
  • Chorister
  • Piano / Organ Player
  • Cub Scouts Leader

It Is What Heavenly Father Wants You To Do

In my calling, my young son asks me why I do what I do.  My answer is simple:

It is what God wants me to do.

Before you are extended a calling, your Bishop and others will ponder prayerfully what you should do.  I know how much your Bishop loves and cares for you and seeks nothing but good for you.  Your Bishop is really in tune with the Spirit and only after spiritual confirmation does he extend the call to you.

It Is Voluntary

You have your free agency. Your calling can be accepted or denied.  Your participation is voluntary.  You can say yes or no.  Just remember however, this is what God wants you to do.  I haven’t yet declined a calling as I recognize its divine origins.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not seek, nor do we decline, callings that come from God through inspired priesthood channels.  (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 178th Annual General Conference, April 2008, Sunday Morning Session)

No one in the Church is paid for their calling.  The payment for performing your calling is blessings for you and your family.

A Way Has Been Prepared

When Nephi and his brothers were asked to bring back the brass plates from Laban, his brothers did not think it was possible.  However, Nephi sagely replied:

I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.  (1 Nephi 3:7)

Heavenly Father knows you intimately and does not give you more than you can handle.

Magnify Your Calling

I remember when I first heard my Bishop use this phrase: “Magnify your calling.” What does Magnify mean?  President Gordon B. Hinckley interpreted it as to enlarge, make clear, bring closer, to strengthen.  (Ensign, May 1989) More simply said by President Thomas S. Monson:

How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it.

Consecrate Thy Performance

When you receive a calling, pray over it.  A brother in my ward has told me a few times to consecrate thy performance:

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (2 Nephi 32:9)

Finally, in my Stake Conference Adult Session last night, I heard the following four truths about callings:

Callings Do Not Last Forever

There was a story that went with this, basically this brother was called to be a primary teacher for a class and every year he was called to teach the same group of children.  He was blessed in that his callings only lasted a year, he got to watch these children grow up as he progressed through Primary, to the Bishopric and finally to Bishop.  He got to see these children off to a mission and also have them return as a Bishop.  You will no doubt have many callings over your lifetime.

Great Associations Are Created In Callings That Strengthen One Another

His calling had him nourish an everlasting friendship to where his friend would call on him years later, from another state for help.  This was a blessing to both himself and his friend.  Callings are a good way to get to know your new Ward Family and visa-versa.

You Are Usually Helping Those Who Are Helping Others

Callings are all about service to others.  You could be in Nursery watching the children of a Gospel Doctrine Teacher who is teaching your family.  Once again, callings are all about service to others, period.

You Are Doing Something That Someone Else In The Ward Cannot Do (at that time, with those people)

You were called for a reason, whether it be a talent you know you have or didn’t know.  A way has been prepared for you.

I’d like to give my testimony that accepting and taking your callings to heart and magnifying it does bring blessings, joy and immence pleasure as you are serving those around you.  You are doing the your part in building up the Kingdom of Heaven.

The 178th Annual General Conference: Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ Talk

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Besides President Monson’s talks from 178th Annual General Conference weekend, Elder Dallin H. Oaks who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is the one that has stuck with me the most.

One of the first things he said that has been ringing in my head ever since was what he said on bearing testimony, which was actually quoted from Spencer W. Kimball:

The minute we begin preaching to others, our testimony has ended.

That took me a few moments of pondering, but it makes absolute sense! Preaching is not bearing our testimonies.

The Truth

During a testimony, what do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? When we say “I know this church is true,” what does that mean?

Elder Oaks compares it by two examples:

  1. Scientific- “I know it is cold outside.”
  2. Personal and Subjective – “I know I love my wife.”

Scientific knowledge is based on actual facts. We know it is cold because we can measure the temperature and our bodies react the freezing cold. We can prove this to others easily.

Personal and Subjective knowledge is something that others must trust you on. Knowing you love your wife is only something you could really know. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. You can’t say that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence.

Scientific methods will not yield spiritual truths. To gain knowledge – you must desire it, then you ask for it.

  • If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal (D&C 42:61)
  • Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit (Alma 5:46)

Testimonies

  • Testimonies are gained bearing them rather than on your knees asking for it.
  • We need to partake of the Sacrament every week to qualify to have his spirit to always be with us. That spirit gives us testimonies.
  • Children should hear us bear our testimonies frequently. Let them define themselves by bearing their own testimonies and building.
  • When we have a testimony of the restored gospel we also have a duty to share it.  We have a duty to clarify doctrine for others, rather than let others misrepresent. We should speak in mildness and meekness, never be overbearing, shrill or reviling. We should speak the truth in love.
  • Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony but no one can refute it.

Obedience and Knowledge

  • Members who have a testimony and act upon it under direction of church leaders are accused of blind obedience.  Our obedience is not blind but comes from the knowledge we gain through our testimonies.
  • When it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel, our personal testimonies, we all have a personal witness of the Jesus Christ and God through the power of the Holy Ghost.
  • We can be united in following our leaders and independent for knowing for ourselves.

Two Channels to God

  1. Through our Leaders and Prophets. This channel has to deal with doctrine, ordinances and commandments. This results in obedience.
  2. Personal Testimony. The existence of God, our relationship to him and the truth of the restored gospel.
  • These two channels are mutually reinforcing.
  • Knowledge encourages obedience and obedience enhances knowledge,
  • Obedience is not blind when done in knowledge.
  • Choice to follow teachings is not blind obedience.

I began writing this post write after this session but never got around to finishing it until now. Since then, the actual transcript of Elder Oaks’ talk can now be found on lds.org by clicking here.

Truth Restored on YouTube

I remember visiting mormon.org a few months ago and I believe this is the same woman (Jennifer) that impressed me with what she had to say. Click here to view the video on mormon.org.

More of what she has to say has been posted up on YouTube a few hours ago, here they are:

Jennifer: Return to be with God

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-9_ErZBGGM]

Jennifer: Marriage is Eternal

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuGC__XDLd4]

The next video is about Oscar, a Mormon who talks about his mother passing away when he was five years old. Even though it was not enough time for them to be together, he knows that families can be eternal and that he will see her again.

Oscar: Families Should Be Eternal

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4GcBrsmwqE]

The final video is Issiah speaking about his observations of life. The monotonousness of life, the tragedies on this world and seeing the misery around him makes him realize that there has to be more to life. And I believe he is right, there is!

More to Life Than This

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8V0oh2lNA0]

These are very good videos about the questions that everyone has in life. I am glad to see the Church putting these up on YouTube to share with everyone.

 

An Amazing Sabbath Day

This weekend was an amazingly spiritual one. Having the Aaronic Priesthood, I was blessed to participate in the sacrament ordinance and perform the blessing of the bread.

What is said during baptism, blessing of bread, blessing of water are the only three ordinances that must be said word for word in the church. Anticipating this day, I have been studying the sacrament bread blessing prayer and sacrament water blessing prayer for over two months and had it down to a science.

Of course when I was driving to church and walking down the hall to the Bishop’s office for a quick meeting, I ACTUALLY FORGOT THE WORDS! “It figures” I thought. However, having faith that I would be able to perform this ordinance by the grace of Heavenly Father, I did not fear.

Before discussing what is done for the blessing of the bread with the Bishop, we knelt down and he said a wonderful prayer: That I may be able to officiate successfully, have clear thought and speak clearly and precisely. This eased my tensions further.

After the meeting, I must’ve drank from the water fountain at least ten times, trying to thwart off a dry mouth. When my mouth is dry, my speech suffers. It didn’t work. I had a card that the ward mission leader gave me when I was conferred to the Aaronic Priesthood. It was titled “Suggestions for ordinance work” and it had the list of blessings and prayers in it. I read off the bread prayer over and over. It made me feel a little bit better.

Sitting up in the stand during sacrament meeting was going fine. The church was unusually crowded that day. The entire church was filled. So much that I could not see my family anywhere; they were in the lobby. “More people to witness me messing up and saying the prayer twice” I thought.

And then I found out why it was so crowded-there was a baby being blessed and there were a lot of people in town visiting. When the Bishop asked that the people participating in the blessing to come forward, two full middle rows stood up! It was revealed to me later that day that 320 people attended sacrament meeting.

The second hymn started and my heart started to beat faster. Nervousness set in. We all stood up in unison. We approached the table and uncovered the bread. I began breaking the bread…I got the end piece again! Those things are harder to break apart. While breaking the bread, I had the epiphany to make it the pieces slightly smaller so we could have enough for the entire congregation and so I would not have to prepare and bless the bread TWICE. I successfully got two trays done, the other three priest handled the rest.

I finished first and stood there reverently. The other priest continued breaking the bread until they were done. The hymn was finished and the sister playing the organ concluded the song. Panic set in!

Having been on the end of the line and wanting to avoid running into the priest next to me, I carefully moved back until I was clear and then proceeded forward and to the middle of the line. They raised the cloth up and held it for me. I proceeded to kneel down on my left knee and slide out the microphone tray.

The little light turned red-the mic was hot! “Here we go, you’ll do fine.” I said to myself. Now the microphone tray has a tiny microphone in it and has the bread prayer and water prayer so you can read it while speaking. In my opinion, it wasn’t designed very well. Having to put your mouth right at the microphone, you cannot really read the prayer very well. The words are too close.

All of the sudden, peace and calm came over me. I began to speak:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (D&C 20:77)

It was a miracle! I made it through and I think I didn’t mess up. I looked to my right at the Bishop for approval that I said it correctly.

He nodded his head “yes.” I had made it. I was even more relieved when I found out there was enough bread and the Teachers and Deacons began their way back to the sacrament table.

Later that afternoon, I was interviewed by my Bishop for receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was an amazing Sabbath Day.

Strengthening Our Families

Last Sunday during Elders Quorum, we had a lesson on Strengthening Our Families out of the Book Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.

Within this lesson we discussed how the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. We, as parents, need to “build reservoirs” of spiritual strength when our children for the tough times they may face. It is our responsibility to make sure home is a refuge for our children from the outside world.

Home is where our children should be nurtured: both in temporal things and spiritual things. The lesson also teaches how important it is for: scripture study, family activities, just spending time with them and having family home evenings. Prayer in our homes should done in the morning and in the evening and be a common event, not reserved for special occasions.

One of the men in Elders Quorum mentioned a book in which one of the quick things they do during the morning and evening is read from a devotional book: Stand a Little Taller: Counsel and Inspiration for Each Day of the Year by Gordon B. Hinckley, the current profit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This book came highly recommended.

This definitely seems to be a book that I have to get as soon as I can.