Stop it.

Stop it NEWToday’s post is a little different from my others in form, but certainly not in content or validity. When you first read it you might wonder how it fits into this month’s doctrine from Come Follow Me, but ponder on it and I think you’ll agree it has a place in every doctrine and principle taught in the Church. It’s consumed my thoughts for a month now and I know it’s something every single one of us has experienced or felt at one point or another. Let me add, I only know a small percentage of the readers of this blog. In fact, I bet I could count those individuals on one hand. It means a lot to me that each of you, with varying religious practices and beliefs, are trying to live their lives the best way they can and taking time to read this blog. Thank you. That thought is really quite humbling to me. Although we do not know each other on a personal level, our beliefs unite and make us the same. We believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. We look to him as our example in all things. So really, when you think about it, we are more alike than different, we have more in common than not, and each one of us have the ability to make things better in the world. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice has enabled us with the power to do it. We must use that strength every day and make a difference – We are the difference!

A few weeks ago I noticed something as I was pulling out of the Lone Peak High School parking lot. I know I’ve seen it a thousand times before, but today it hit me. The word “JUDGING” spelled out with stickers and stuck to the STOP sign. (I wonder if it was the same individual whom at another popular STOP sign in Highland put the name “Voldemort.” I honestly laugh every time I stop there.) But after that momentary stop, I was compelled to share something. Utah is a place numbered with so many GOOD people. Truly, if there was one society – one population of non-judgmental people it should be here! Yet it still exists. You’re judged if you’re successful, you’re judged if you’re a failure or have had a run of bad luck. You’re judged if you ask too much help from others and you’re judged if you don’t ask for enough. You’re judged if you’re too happy and you’re judged if you’re depressed or withdrawn. You’re judged if your kids make good decisions and appear “perfect,” but you’re also judged if they struggle and have gone astray. Maybe we all need to be reminded of President Uchdorf’s wise words – “STOP IT!”

President Uchdorf:

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven? . . .

The people around us are not perfect (see Romans 3:23). People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.

Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way. (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

Some of you may be familiar with Dale Partridge, a well-known blogger. He put it this way, “Every human life is worth exactly the same. And any action or behavior or statement that leads anyone to believe otherwise, is wrong. Culture encourages us to discuss other people’s faults. To tear each other down based on looks or the mistakes of our past. But are we not human? Have we not failed as well? Is determining someone’s worth not more than the clothes they wear or the scars on their life? It reminds me of a statement I’ve read in the Bible, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing this…maybe it will help you change the way you truly “see” others today.

Teaching Tip: Write down a few questions before class begins that invite discussion and personal experience based on judging. For example, What do the scriptures teach about judging others? How might judging someone stall or stop your efforts in making friends or caring for those around you? What can we learn from the Savior’s example about not judging others?

Photo Handout (PDF): Stop it

Now go and do!

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How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?

What an inspired group of topics we have to choose from this month from Come Follow Me.  Today I’ve been studying a bit to help my hubby with his Priest Quorum lesson for tomorrow, and felt compelled to post a few thoughts. Maybe it will help one of you with your lesson preparation also.  I’ll be honest, after I read through all of the suggested resources I took a nap (I’m still in recovery mode from a little surgery I had last week) but the nap served me well, because as I was drifting to sleep a memory from the past played out in my mind.  As a young mother I loved telling my children stories, including favorites I had treasured growing up from the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. However, where I would merely tell the story to my children my husband would take it a step further.  He was famous for acting out full renditions of stories such as, “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” On his own, he played every character in the biggest and best way possible.  Night after night the kids sat and laughed and laughed on the opposite side of the bedroom (it required a lot of space for the one man show).  This soon became part of the bedtime ritual, requested after teeth were brushed and beds undone. But today, before I waited for sleep to come, the classic “The Shoemaker and the Elves” returned to me.  Are you familiar with this timeless tale?

A shoemaker, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that he had only leather enough for a single pair of shoes. He cut them out one evening, then went to bed, intending to finish them the next morning. Having a clear conscience, he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. The next morning, after saying his prayers, he was about to return to his work when he found the shoes on his workbench, completely finished. Amazed, he did not know what to say. He picked up the shoes in order to examine them more closely. They were so well made that not a single stitch was out of place, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. A customer soon came by, and he liked the shoes so much that he paid more than the usual price for them.

The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.

One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, “Why don’t we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand.”

His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.

The next morning the wife said, “The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with [next to nothing] on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them.”

The husband said, “I agree,” and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on and sang as they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did.  (Source: Authorama)

I thought about each character’s significance in the story.  What role did the father have?  The mother?  The elves?, How are the elves like a father?  A mother?  Our Heavenly Father?, and How did they help one another?

These questions hit me.  I began seeing symbolism everywhere in the story, even down to the perfect workmanship of the shoes; the divine potential of each child of God, nurtured and raised in a successful, loving, hardworking home.  What more did you discover?

Consider using the following activity in the learning experience you provide for your class or quorum.  Read additional ideas here from Come Follow Me:

Proclamation 1 It would work well to split the class in half and have one side study the “Fathers” section and the other side the “Mothers” section.  Have them report back what they learned, encouraging them to answer the question, “How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?”  If time allows, you could show one of the following videos to reinforce the doctrine:  “The Women in Our Lives” or “Let Us Be Men.”Proclamation 2 PDF versions: Proclamation 1, Proclamation 2 (Print on both sides of the paper or cardstock)

Encourage your students to apply what they have learned (suggestions taken from Come Follow Me):

 

  • Thank their mothers and fathers for specific ways they have been blessed because their parents fulfilled their divine roles.
  • Select a phrase from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that would remind them of their divine roles as mothers or fathers.

 

Now go and do.

 

What does it mean to take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ?

Take Upon His Name

Original image from LDS.org

Covenant.  Renew.  Fulfill.

When we are baptized, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. We renew this covenant when we partake of the sacrament (see D&C 20:77). We fulfill this covenant by putting the Lord first in our lives, by striving to think and act as He would, and by standing “as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). -Come Follow Me, July

Object Lesson:  As a class, look at the several popular company logos (or others they are familiar with) and discuss why logos are important for a company and what specific attributes and qualities make each company exceptional and unique.  Finish with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints logo.  Consider asking, “Why is the font size of Jesus Christ largest on the logo?” and “What part do each of them play in building up ‘the brand'” (so to speak) or in even better words, “How have they taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ?” Walt-Disney-Screencaps-The-Walt-Disney-Logo-walt-disney-characters-31872968-2560-1440   FERRARI__1_-Wallpapers4Desktop.com_ Apple-logoLDS Logo

Building a Brand - NAME

Read the following verses in Mosiah 5 together as a class:

Introduction: King Benjamin has finished giving his address and desires to know if his people believed the words he had spoken.

2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought (caused) a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (conversion). Have you felt this mighty change in your heart? Are you working toward conversion?

5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant (sacred promise) with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment (knowing we did not receive celestial glory), as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him (spiritually) and have become his sons and his daughters. How has your heart or actions changed because of your faith in Him?

Each time you read the word “name” in the following verses, think of Jesus Christ:8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free (Jesus Christ). There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

9 And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. Who will be found on the right hand of God?

10 And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

11 And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.

12 I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain thename written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you. Do you know of Christ? OR Do you KNOW Christ?

How can I fulfill the covenant I have made? 15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his (children of Christ), that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.

I renew the covenant I made at baptism.

I become a member of the Church that bears His name.

I publicly proclaim my belief in Him.

I am willing to do the work in His Kingdom.

I will participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through his name and authority.

I commit to do all that I can to achieve eternal life in the Kingdom of our Father.

I do all that I can to be counted among those whom he will choose to stand at his right hand and be called by his name at the last day.

*     *     *

Download the worksheet What does it mean to take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ for each classmember.

Additional quotes to reinforce the doctrine and create further discussion:

Wilson 2 - NAME Wilson 1 - NAME Sacrament - NAME Eyring - NAME Authority - NAME

The following enrichment material comes from church addresses I found while studying, see references below:

Name on the Temple (Each one of us is symbolic of a temple):DSCN3688-768x1024

When the children of Israel were still on the other side of the Jordan, the Lord told them that when they entered the promised land there should be a place where the Lord their God would “cause his name to dwell.” (Deut. 12:11; see also Deut. 14:23–24; Deut. 16:6.) Time after time in succeeding revelations, the Lord and his servants referred to the future temple as a house for “the name” of the Lord God of Israel. (See 1 Kgs. 3:2; 1 Kgs. 5:5; 1 Kgs. 8:16–20, 29, 44, 48; 1 Chr. 22:8–10, 19; 1 Chr. 29:16; 2 Chr. 2:4; 2 Chr. 6:5–10, 20, 34, 38.) After the temple was dedicated, the Lord appeared to Solomon and told him that He had hallowed the temple “to put my name there for ever.” (1 Kgs. 9:3; 2 Chr. 7:16.)

Similarly, in modern revelations the Lord refers to temples as houses built “unto my holy name.” (D&C 124:39; D&C 105:33; D&C 109:2–5.) In the inspired dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord for a blessing upon “thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house.” (D&C 109:26.)

All of these references to ancient and modern temples as houses for “the name” of the Lord obviously involve something far more significant than a mere inscription of his sacred name on the structure. The scriptures speak of the Lord’s putting his name in a temple because he gives authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house. That is the meaning of the Prophet’s reference to the Lord’s putting his name upon his people in that holy house. (See D&C 109:26.)

George_Albert_SmithPresident George Albert Smith, the 8th president of the Church, told of the following experience:

Six years after being called to be an Apostle, President Smith suffered a serious illness, which made it impossible for him to actively serve in his calling for more than two years and which weakened him physically for many more years. He moved to St. George, Utah, to take advantage of its warmer climate. While recovering there he had a remarkable dream:

These are his words: In St. George we arranged for a tent for my health and comfort, with a built-in floor raised about a foot above the ground, and we could roll up the south side of the tent to make the sunshine and fresh air available. I became so weak as to be scarcely able to move. It was a slow and exhausting effort for me even to turn over in bed.

One day, under these conditions, I lost consciousness of my surroundings and thought I had passed to the other Side. I found myself standing with my back to a large and beautiful lake, facing a great forest of trees…. I realized, or seemed to realize, that I had finished my work in mortality and had gone home….

I began to explore, and soon I found a trail through the woods which seemed to have been used very little, and which was almost obscured by grass. I followed this trail; and after I had walked for some time and had traveled a con­siderable distance through the for­est, I saw a man coming towards me. I became aware that he was a very large man, and I hurried my steps to reach him, because I recognized him as my grandfather. In mortality, he weighed over three hundred pounds, so you may know he was a large man. I remember how happy I was to see him coming, I had been given his name and had always been proud of it.

When Grandfather came within a few feet of me, he stopped. His stopping was an invitation for me to stop. Then, and this I would like the … young people never to forget, he looked at me very earnestly and said:

“I would like to know what you have done with my name.”

Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen–everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said:

“I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”

He stepped forward and took me in his arms, and as he did so, I became conscious again of my earthly surroundings. My pillow was as wet as though water had been poured on it–wet with tears of gratitude that I could answer unashamed. [George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others, pp.110-12]

Sister Gertrud Barthel (East Germany)

Let me share with you the story of an sister from the former communist East Germany, Sister Gertrud Barthel. I believe Sister Barthel has truly taken upon herself the name of Christ.

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity on several occasions to travel to the former East Germany. When I have visited there, I have particularly enjoyed meeting those who were members of the Church during the communist times. They had to deal with a government that taught that there was no God and actively discouraged religious activity.

In addition, the government officials were concerned about potential threats to their control, so they organized a secret policy force, the State Security force, better known as the Stasi. The Stasi collected records of activities of individuals they considered as possible threats. They collected this information through a huge network of informers. The informers were sometimes volunteers but many were coerced into spying on their neighbors. Often the informers provided information on the activities of other informers. One could describe East Germany as a nation of spies spying on other spies.

Sister Barthel joined the Church as a teenager in the late 1940s as the communist government was initially coming into power. Since the Communists had prohibited the printing of religious texts, she did not have her own scriptures until several years after she was baptized. She watched the separation of Germany into two countries, one communist and one democratic, from the east side of the wall. In the early 50s she married. Her husband was not a member of the Church and still is not a member. Her daughter followed the communist anti-religion dogma and did not become involved with Church. Despite this lack of support, Sister Barthel remained an active member of the small Werdau Branch throughout the communist era. This dedication to the Church during the difficult and challenging Communist era in and of itself might be a demonstration of her commitment to taking upon herself the name of the Savior. However, there is more to this story.

In 1989, the wall came down, and the East Germans were finally free. As it became clear that the communist regime was crumbling, the Stasi officers attempted to destroy the huge volume of files that they had accumulated on their fellow citizens. This was an act of self-preservation for them. They didn’t want the East German citizens to discover what they had done. However, the citizens were well-aware of the Stasi’s activities, and they rushed to the Stasi offices to prevent the destruction of the files.

Most of the files were saved, and they are now public records open to anyone who wants to look at the information that the Stasi collected from their network of informers. Included in the files are the names of those informers who reported on their fellow citizens.

When I spoke with Sister Barthel about her life and experiences under the communists, I asked her what information about her Church activities the Stasi had collected about her. She said that she didn’t know. Although she was confident that the Stasi had collected information about her and had a file on her, she had never looked at her files. When I asked why, she responded that there was no reason to look at the files. She said that it was possible that some of her friends had been coerced into providing information about her and their names would be in the files. She said that she didn’t want to know who might have reported about her. Her words were, “Nothing good could come of that.”

Nothing good could come of that! What a remarkable attitude of love and forgiveness from a remarkable sister. Has she adopted the attributes of being a disciple of Christ in her life? Absolutely! Has she differentiated herself in her attitudes and behavior? Definitely! Has she consistently lived according to her beliefs? Certainly!

“Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Dallin H. Oaks, April General Conference 1985

 “Take Upon Ourselves His Name” Brent Wilson, Dean of the School of Business

 

What is the Priesthood?

The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of our Heavenly Father. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children. He gives worthy priesthood holders authority to administer ordinances of salvation. All of Heavenly Father’s children can qualify to receive these ordinances and access the power and blessings of the priesthood. – Come Follow Me

Study the Doctrine of the Priesthood.

God our Father is a glorified, a perfected and an exalted being who has all might, all power, and all dominion, who knows all things and is infinite in all his attributes, and who lives in a family unit.

God our Father enjoys this high status of glory and perfect and power because his faith is perfect and his priesthood is unlimited.

Priesthood is the very name of the power of God, and that if we are to become like him, we must receive and exercise his priesthood or power as he exercises it.

Given us an endowment of heavenly power here on earth, which is after the order of his Son and which, because it is the power of God, is of necessity without beginning of days or end of years.

We can enter an order of the priesthood named the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.

The priesthood is patterned after the family of God our Heavenly Father.

We have power by faith, to govern and control all things, both temporal and spiritual; to work miracles and perfect lives; to stand in the presence of God and be like him because we have gained his faith, his perfections, and his power, or in other words the fullness of his priesthood.

Power we gain through faith and righteousness. Power to do all things!

– The Doctrine of the Priesthood, Bruce R. McConkie

Object Lesson.  Open up an umbrella and ask the youth how the umbrella is like the priesthood.  Give them time to think and share responses then read the definition of the priesthood (see handout):

What is the PriesthoodWordstrip Game.  What do you already know?  Make wordstrips similar to those shown in this picture.  Place them on the floor of the classroom (I had my Mia Maids get on the floor to sort through them together – it was actually quite fun and we stayed there for the rest of the lesson).  Invite class members to organize the definitions and callings of the priesthood by placing under “Aaronic” or “Melchizedek.”  You’ll be amazed at what they already know!  When they are finished placing all of the wordstrips, make the necessary corrections, using this as a great teaching moment – adding details and answering questions they might have.  This is when your studying beforehand becomes invaluable!  Who are the great men that these priesthoods where named after?  Share bits and pieces of the molding that took place in their lives in becoming the amazing individuals they became.

IMG_1281I asked one of the young women in my class to carry out the following activity on her own.  We need to get the youth teaching more! 

Optional Activity. (Suggestion taken from Come Follow Me.)  Divide the young women into groups. Assign each group to search one or more of the scriptures suggested in this outline or a section of M. Russell Ballard’s talk “This Is My Work and Glory,” looking for things they learn about the priesthood.  Invite them to share what impresses them.  What experiences have the young women had with the priesthood?

What is your testimony of the priesthood?

What are the keys of the priesthood?

Keys PageIn what ways have you been blessed by the service of those who hold priesthood keys?

Priesthood keys are the authority Heavenly Father has given to priesthood leaders to direct the use of His priesthood on earth. Jesus Christ holds all priesthood keys. “The keys of this dispensation,” which are necessary to lead the Church, were conferred on the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 110:16). Today the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold those keys. Priesthood keys are also given to the Presidency of the Seventy; presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents—including Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents (Come Follow Me, What are the keys of the priesthood?).  All of the priesthood keys have been restored to the earth (D&C 65:2, 42:11, 132:7).  Their “key” purposes are:  the power to seal, power to administer to the sick, power to baptize, power to administer the sacrament, power to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Oftentimes the keys of the priesthood are confused with the duties that come from holding the priesthood.  Approach the teaching of this doctrine with simplicity and clarity.  Consider using the phrase “Keys are Conferred” or writing it on the board to help the youth better understand.  You might also use this excerpt from Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 8–18:

“A key unlocks the door to a house. We cannot appropriately enter a house unless we receive the key or the owner’s permission. Likewise, except for the right that husbands and fathers have to bless their families, a man who holds the priesthood can use it only when he receives proper permission. A priest, for example, has the authority to ordain another to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, but he cannot do it without receiving permission to do so from his bishop or branch president. This power to give permission is called the keys of the priesthood.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: ‘These keys are the right of presidency; they are the power and authority to govern and direct all of the Lord’s affairs on earth. Those who hold them have power to govern and control the manner in which all others may serve in the priesthood. All [worthy men] may hold the priesthood, but [it] can only use it as authorized and directed so to do by those who hold the keys” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 98; or Ensign, July 1972, 87).”

Peter is shown holding his keys in the picture of Thorvaldsen’s statue (right). Do you remember when President Packer shared the wonderful story about President Kimball?

Before Christ was crucified, he gave the keys of the priesthood to Peter, James, and John. Pictured: Thorvaldsen's Peter found in the Vor Frue Church in Denmark.

Before Christ was crucified, he gave the keys of the priesthood to Peter, James, and John. Pictured: Thorvaldsen’s Peter found in the Vor Frue Church in Denmark.

From President Packer’s April ’08 general conference talk The Twelve:

In 1976 an area general conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Following the closing session, President Spencer W. Kimball desired to visit the Vor Frue Church, where the Thorvaldsen statues of the Christus and of the Twelve Apostles stand. He had visited there some years earlier and wanted all of us to see it, to go there.

To the front of the church, behind the altar, stands the familiar statue of the Christus with His arms turned forward and somewhat outstretched, the hands showing the imprint of the nails, and the wound in His side very clearly visible. Along each side stand the statues of the Apostles, Peter at the front to the right and the other Apostles in order.

Most of our group was near the rear of the chapel with the custodian. I stood up front with President Kimball before the statue of Peter with Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Johan Helge Benthin, president of the Copenhagen stake.

In Peter’s hand, depicted in marble, is a set of heavy keys. President Kimball pointed to those keys and explained what they symbolized. Then, in an act I shall never forget, he turned to President Benthin and with unaccustomed firmness pointed his finger at him and said, “I want you to tell everyone in Denmark that I hold the keys! We hold the real keys, and we use them every day.”

I will never forget that declaration, that testimony from the prophet. The influence was spiritually powerful; the impression was physical in its impact.

We walked to the back of the chapel where the rest of the group was standing. Pointing to the statues, President Kimball said to the kind custodian, “These are the dead Apostles.” Pointing to me, he said, “Here we have the living Apostles. Elder Packer is an Apostle. Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder L. Tom Perry are Apostles, and I am an Apostle. We are the living Apostles.

“You read about the Seventies in the New Testament, and here are two of the living Seventies, Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Elder Robert D. Hales.”

The custodian, who up to that time had shown no emotion, suddenly was in tears.

I felt I had had an experience of a lifetime.”

Activity Suggestion:  Print out each of the keys below and cut out to make key shape. During class, pass them out to as many students as possible (or have the youth pair up).  Ask them to read and ponder the quote and teach what they learned to the class.  You might also encourage them to answer the question found at the top of this post. By posing the question at the beginning of class, it will help them think on it throughout the learning experience.ProperOrder Preside PowerandAuthority Delegates D&C1327 Governing Lead D&C652 Communication Bless BestowPDF Files:  Proper Order, Preside, Power and Authority, Lead, D&C 6:52, D&C 13: 27, Delegates, Governing, Communication, Bless, Bestow.

 

How do I receive personal revelation?

Faith to Ask.  Power to Act.

Our Father in Heaven knew that we would face challenges and be required to make decisions in this life that would be beyond our own ability to decide correctly.  In His plan of happiness, He included a way for us to receive help with challenges and decisions during our mortal life.  This assistance will come to us through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance.  It is a power, beyond our capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants us to use consistently for peace and happiness.

Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven’s view.

Let the Holy Spirit guard;
Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead us safely home
If we listen to his voice.

Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle pow’r.
May we purify our lives
To receive him hour by hour.

Hymns 143, “Let The Holy Spirit Guide”

 Another favorite church hymn that teaches this principle is “Choose the Right.” Through the verses we learn that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we make righteous choices; His light will continue to shine over us and our hearts will confide truth and right to us.  Wisdom will mark the pathway we are to follow and God will bless us. We can take comfort in our knowledge that we are not left alone to make decisions in life, that we have His Spirit.  Just as we sing – we will be led to the light as we choose the right and His Spirit will be a companion to guide and confideAs we choose the right way and follow the personal revelation we have been given, we will discover the most important truths of our existence: the living reality of God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ; the truthfulness of the restored gospel; and God’s purpose and direction for us.

Ask yourself, Do I have the faith to ask THEN the power to act?  

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon comes from the Book of Ether and teaches of Jared and His brother, Mahonri Moriancumer, say it fast three times :), who is otherwise known as the Brother of Jared.  His faithfulness recorded in chapters 2 and 3 is inspiring!  The Lord gives us much by way of commandments and instructions.  If we choose to follow His counsel we will have the ability to solve situations and trials in our own life, just as the Brother of Jared did.  Mahonri’s faith led him to the “promised land” and our faith will lead us to heaven.  The Lord will answer our questions, but also expects us to work for the solutions.  In this work we gain a greater humility and faith.  The Brother of Jared had perfect faith; faith that led him to a perfect knowledge and introduction to the Lord, Jesus Christ.  We will build our faith as our efforts in asking are as great as our exertions in acting.  It has been said, “We must pray like everything depends upon the Lord, then work like everything depends on us!”

Read through the following chapters of Ether with a purpose in mind – What can you learn about seeking and receiving revelation in your life?  How can you help those you teach to recognize personal revelation in their own life?

The Book of Ether

Chapter 2

The Jaredites prepare for their journey to a promised land—It is a choice land whereon men must serve Christ or be swept off—The Lord talks to the brother of Jared for three hours—The Jaredites build barges—The Lord asks the brother of Jared to propose how the barges will be lighted.

 JMORFINGAnd it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.  This journey required great work on their part.

 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.

 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.

 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.

 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

 10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

 11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.

 12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

 13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.

 14 And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.  A good reminder – don’t forget to pray.

 15 And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.  The Lord commands the people to build another set of ships in which they will cross the ocean to America.  Once again, work is required to accomplish the Lord’s will.

 16 And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.

 17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and thejaredite-barges-ocean-book-mormon-158492-wallpaper sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.

 18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.

 19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.  The Lord answer’s the concerns the Brother of Jared has. The first problem of receiving fresh air:

 20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.

 21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.  Second, the problem of light:

 22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

 23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.  The Lord does not give the Brother of Jared the solution.  He wants him to discover one on his own.  Third, the problem of reaching their destination:

 24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.

 25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

Chapter 3

The brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord as He touches sixteen stones—Christ shows His spirit body to the brother of Jared—Those who have a perfect knowledge cannot be kept from within the veil—Interpreters are provided to bring the Jaredite record to light.

The following is taken from “The Book of Mormon Made Easier” written by David J. Ridges:

“There are many lessons for us in this chapter, both instructional and doctrinal.  Among other things, we will be taught the work ethic for receiving desired blessings. Imagine how much work it would require just to be able to form the sixteen small, clear, white stones mentioned in verse 1, next, he would likely have to hunt animals from which to obtain hides from which to make bellows to heat the fire hot enough to melt the rock to form the stones.  The hides would probably have to be tanned to be workable as bellows.  Perhaps he would have to make tools and mold in which to pour the white hot molten rock…plus the energy and effort to climb to the top of this mountain of “exceeding height” to pray and tell the Lord what he had in mind for the white stones as a means of light for the eight ships.”

 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:

 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.

 Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.

 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.

 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.  A prayer of great faith.

 Brother+of+Jared+stoneAnd it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.  Look for the teaching method the Lord uses in the next several verses of asking questions and getting answers (great teaching tip for us):

 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?

 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

 10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.

 11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

 12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

 13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

 14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

 15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

 16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

 17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.

 18 And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.

 19 And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.  The most powerful part of the chapter, the Savior shows all things, including himself, to the Brother of Jared, because of his great faith:

 20 Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

 21 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man.

 22 And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read.

 23 And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write.

 24 For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write.

 25 And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.

 26 For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things.

 27 And the Lord said unto him: Write these things and seal them up; and I will show them in mine own due time unto the children of men.

 28 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that he should seal up the two stones which he had received, and show them not, until the Lord should show them unto the children of men.

Now it’s time to “experiment on the words” and discover God’s plan for you by asking then acting.Let The Holy Spirit Guide

The teaching ideas below will help class members understand how to receive personal revelation.  Following the direction of the Spirit, choose one that will work best for your class.

(Suggestion taken from Come Follow Me) Before class begins, write on the board “I know I am receiving personal revelation when __________.” Ask the youth how they would complete this sentence. Invite them to continue to ponder this statement during the lesson and look for additional answers.

Show the following video, “Hearing His Voice,” and ask the youth to look for things the youth in this video did to prepare themselves to receive personal revelation.  What are some other ways we can prepare ourselves?  (see Nephi 17:2-3; D&C 9:7-8).  Encourage class members to accept the challenge that the youth in the video accepted, and invite them to share their experiences in a future class.

TEACHING TIP:  After sharing portions coming from the 2nd and 3rd Books of Ether, invite class members to share experiences to increase understanding and testimony of personal revelation.  For example, give each class member a piece of paper or an index card and something to write with.  Ask them to write down an experience when they received personal revelation and how they knew it was from the Lord.  Did they have courage to ask and the power to act?  Invite students to share their experiences with the rest of the class.

Revelation is communication from God to His children. (Preach My Gospel, 45; True to the Faith, 140)
The Lord blesses every faithful individual with the spirit of inspiration. (James E. Faust, “Communion with the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 7)
The word of God is in scripture, words of living prophets, and personal revelation. (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word”, Ensign, May 1986, 80)

Now go and do.

The Infinite Atonement

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ? 

“To atone is to suffer the penalty for sin, thereby removing the effects of the sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God.  Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making a perfect atonement for all mankind.  His Atonement included His suffering for the sins of mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, the shedding of His blood, His suffering and death on the cross, and His Resurrection from the tomb (see Luke 24:36-39; D&C 19:16-19).  The Savior was able to carry out the Atonement because He kept Himself free from sin and had power over death.  From His moral mother, He inherited the ability to die.  From His immortal Father, He inherited the power to take up His life again.” – Seminary Study Journal.

One of my most beloved gospel teachings comes from a book entitled, “The Infinite Atonement” by Tad R. Callister.  Elder Callister’s ability to convey the meaning of the Atonement is powerful and has a lasting impact.  Below I have taken some of my favorite selections from the book to share.  I know these words can strengthen your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as they have mine.

Many prophets in the Book of Mormon refer to the Atonement as being “infinite.”  Jacob taught, “It must needs be an infinite atonement–save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption (2 Nephi 9:7).  Nephi taught that the atonement would be “infinite for all mankind (2 Nephi 25:16),” and Amulek declared, “It must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice . . . Therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world (Alma 34:10, 12).”  The prophets teachings express the idea of the completeness, the power to restore all that was lost – both spiritual and physical, as well to express the rank and dignity of him who would make the Atonement.  It covers all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon. It reaches out into all time and eternity.

“The Atonement is not a doctrine that lends itself to a singular approach, like a universal formula.  It must be felt, not just “figured;” it must be internalized, not just analyzed . . .The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe will ever know.”

It is infinite in the divineness of the one sacrificed.

It is infinite in power.

It is infinite in in time.

It is infinite in coverage.

It is infinite in depth.

It is infinite in its degree of suffering endured by the Redeemer.

It is infinite in the blessings it bestows.

It is infinite in love.

Atonement

Image taken from LDS.org

“No matter how lost the world at large may be, no matter how depraved or degenerate it may become, there is yet a bright light of hope for those individuals who have faith in Christ.  Those who focus on him and his atoning sacrifice, who let these glorious truths rest in their minds continually, will find that Christ’s power to lift the human soul transcends even the weightiest burdens the world may thrust upon them.  There is certain spiritual buoyancy that attends the study of, and the reflection upon the Atonement.”

“As a result of his mortal experience, culminating in the Atonement, the Savior knows, understands, and feels every human condition, ever human woe, and every human loss.

He can comfort as no other.

He can lift burdens as no other. 

He can listen as no other.  

There is no hurt he cannot soothe, rejection he cannot assuage, loneliness he cannot console.  Whatever affliction the world casts at us, he has a remedy of superior healing power.”

Image taken from LDS.org

Image taken from LDS.org

As part of His Atonement, Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins but also took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and infirmities of all people (see Alma 7:11-13).  He understands our suffering because He has experienced it.  His grace, or enabling power, strengthens us to bear burdens and accomplish tasks that we could not do on our own (see Matthew 11:28-30; Philippians 4:13; Ether 12:27).

Through grace, made available by the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, all people will be resurrected and receive immortality.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ also makes it possible for us to receive eternal life (see Moroni 7:41).  To receive this gift we must live the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting or our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring faithfully to the end (see John 3:5).  Read more on grace here.

Words alone cannot express my deep appreciation and gratitude of the Savior’s Atonement for me.  I know that I must exercise my faith daily in His matchless gift by repenting of my sins, receiving forgiveness and spiritually returning to Him.  Many of the blessings of the Atonement I have seen and felt in my life, but I know many more are still meant to be discovered.  The same blessings are available to all who follow Him.

Teaching Tip.  Consider using the following questions to create discussion for your Sunday class:

How does Christ’s Atonement provide the means to overcome physical and spiritual death?

Why did Christ suffer for you? (See D&C 19: 15-19)

What do you need to do to experience the full effect of the Atonement in your life?

How can your understanding of the Atonement help you exercise faith in Christ?

Read more on The Atonement of Jesus Christ.