Bible Stories: Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Bible Stories:

Dinner Topics for Monday

Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Walk with Me

Behold, my Spirit is upon you. (Moses 6:34)

And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.  And he heard a voice from heaven. (Moses 6:26-27)

What is it like to hear a voice from heaven? What is that voice like, and how can we hear it?  Elijah learned that the Lord was not in a great and strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice.

So this still small voice said to Enoch, “Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off.”(Moses 6:27)

The Lord spoke to Enoch, because Enoch heard Him, and the people did not.  What can cause people’s hearts to wax hard, and their ears to become dull of hearing, and their eyes unable to see?  The Lord is not in the shriek of cell phones, not in the din of TV, not in the foul and fake social media, not in the roar of the crowd, but in a still small voice.

And the Lord told Enoch, “Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you . . . and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.(Moses 6:33-34)

And Enoch walked with God, and built a great city, and it was called Zion.

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.(Moses 7:16)

And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED. (Moses 7:68-69)

 

Dinner Talk Topic:

Enoch accepted the invitation to walk with God.  Will we?

 

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

 

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Judeo-Christian Culture: Parenting Tips, Teaching by Example, Biblical Values in Daily Life

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Parenting Tips, Teaching by Example, Biblical Values in Daily Life

Building Spiritual Patterns

By Karmel and Lloyd Newell

You can provide safety and strength for your family by establishing patterns of spiritual living in your home.

One morning, a family was gathered for scripture study when the phone rang. The mother picked up the phone, and her sister-in-law from New Jersey spoke frantically on the other end: “Hurry! Turn on the news.”

The day was September 11, 2001. The news told of a horrifying terrorist attack in New York City. The children were shaken. Going to school seemed a little scary now.

The parents turned off the TV, and the family knelt to pray. After the prayer, the eight-year-old daughter said, “It’s going to be all right. I think the terrorists are just like the Gadianton robbers. We don’t need to be afraid of them.” Peace replaced fear. As the children left for school, the mother and father turned to each other and said, “That’s why we do this every morning.”

The family was fortified during a time of great distress because they had established a pattern of family prayer and scripture study. When fear struck, it was natural for them to pray because they prayed together every day. When world events were upsetting, they found reassurance in the scriptures because that’s where they always found reassurance.

Thankfully, events this dramatic don’t happen every day. Most often the challenges our families face are less drastic, but they are real, and they can be dangerous. You and your family can prepare to face life’s challenges by establishing patterns of spiritual living in your home.

What Is a Spiritual Pattern?

A father reads to his three young children from the Holy Bible.

A pattern in a work of art, such as a piece of music or a quilt, is a repeating design of notes or colors. A work of art is often defined by the patterns it displays.

Spiritually speaking, patterns can work in our families the same way. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) outlined some basic spiritual patterns when he counseled mothers: “Teach [your children] to pray while they are young. Read to them from the scriptures even though they may not understand all that you read. Teach them to pay their tithes and offerings on the first money they ever receive. Let this practice become a habit in their lives.”1

These spiritual habits can become such a consistent part of our families that they help define who we are. They can unite family members, continue from one generation to the next, and give us a strong sense of stability, identity, and cohesion. Most important, they bring us closer to the Savior and help us overcome trials and temptations.

Beginning to Build

The patterns we hear in a beautiful piece of music don’t happen by chance; they must be carefully planned and precisely executed. The same is true for spiritual patterns in our families. Without deliberate planning, it’s easy for other activities to creep in and take precedence over spiritual patterns. Here are some tips for creating spiritual patterns in your home:

  • Begin by discussing with your spouse the spiritual patterns you want to develop in your family.
  • Prayerfully create a plan and present it in a family council.
  • Decide on a regular time and place for the spiritual pattern. For example, one family decided to gather around the kitchen table for scripture study so there would be less contention and fewer distractions.
  • Make it fun! Nothing quite compares with marching around the kitchen table singing “We Are All Enlisted”2 after family prayer, or sipping hot chocolate together during scripture study on a cold morning, or watching your children act out an adventurous scripture story.
  • Give spiritual patterns priority. Schedule other activities around them.
  • Be creative and adapt to the needs of your family members. Scripture study for small children might last just a few minutes each day. A family home evening lesson for teenagers with lots of homework could be a well-planned 15 minutes. Remember that the length of time is not as important as consistency.
  • Pray for inspiration for successfully integrating a spiritual pattern into your busy lives.

Following these guidelines is not a quick process. But through the patient repetition of small and simple acts, we can develop reliable spiritual patterns to strengthen our families, being assured that “by small means the Lord can bring about great things” (1 Nephi 16:29).

Persistence through Resistance

Because establishing spiritual patterns takes time, the rewards aren’t always immediate. Parents may wonder if their children are really benefiting from their efforts—especially when the kids quarrel, complain, or refuse to participate. Unfortunately, too many parents feel paralyzed by the seeming picture of perfection they see in the families around them, causing them to think: “Other families don’t argue during family night.” “Other families don’t forget to pray. What’s wrong with us?”

The truth is, no family is perfect. Every family encounters resistance to establishing spiritual patterns. But when children resist, wise parents persist. Gordon B. Hinckley shared this encouraging example from his own parents, who established a spiritual pattern of family night that included musical performances:

“In the beginning, we would laugh and make cute remarks about one another’s performance. But our parents persisted. We sang together. We prayed together. We listened quietly while Mother read Bible and Book of Mormon stories. Father told us stories out of his memory. …

“Out of those simple little meetings, held in the parlor of our old home, came something indescribable and wonderful. Our love for our parents was strengthened. Our love for brothers and sisters was enhanced. Our love for the Lord was increased. An appreciation for simple goodness grew in our hearts.”4

Blessed for Your Efforts

The spiritual patterns you establish will bless your family and help you draw closer to each other and to the Lord.

Even if they don’t realize it at first, your children will be strengthened by the righteous habits you choose to create in your family. One young woman described how her parents put imaginary armor on her and her siblings before they left for school each day. This was meant to remind them of the spiritual armor that would protect them from evil. “I never really appreciated this until I was older,” she said. “I am just now realizing the significance of this ritual they created. … Even if it was something I thought was stupid, I know it had an impact on the way I lived my life.”6

Another young woman shared how she was affected by her mother’s persistence: “She constantly invited me to come to prayer and [scripture study], even when I refused to come. It was her consistency that helped me to repent.”7

When we consistently strive to strengthen our families and center our homes on Jesus Christ, the Lord will bless our efforts. We never really know when and how those blessings will manifest themselves. Perhaps your family or your children will face an intense crisis, as the family did on September 11, 2001, and the spiritual patterns you’ve established will provide the peace and strength to move forward with faith. More likely, a spiritual pattern will help you and your family withstand the temptations that subtly attack us every day. The Lord has promised, “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

To Be Given Highest Priority

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”

First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999

Judeo-Christian Culture: Free Will and Jesus Christ Atonement

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Free Will and Jesus Christ Atonement

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Free Forever, to Act for Themselves

Character-Education

Todd Christofferson

keyIt is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually.

A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme. ~D. Todd Christofferson

henryvshakespearechristoffersonWilliam Shakespeare’s play The Life of King Henry V includes a nighttime scene in the camp of English soldiers at Agincourt just before their battle with the French army. In the dim light and partially disguised, King Henry wanders unrecognized among his soldiers. He talks with them, trying to gauge the morale of his badly outnumbered troops, and because they do not realize who he is, they are candid in their comments. In one exchange they philosophize about who bears responsibility for what happens to men in battle—the king or each individual soldier.

At one point King Henry declares, “Methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king’s company; his cause being just.”

henryvshakespeare2Michael Williams retorts, “That’s more than we know.”

His companion agrees, “Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.”

Williams adds, “If the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make.”

Not surprisingly, King Henry disagrees. “Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.”1

Shakespeare does not attempt to resolve this debate in the play, and in one form or another it is a debate that continues down to our own time—who bears responsibility for what happens in our lives?

When things turn bad, there is a tendency to blame others or even God. Sometimes a sense of entitlement arises, and individuals or groups try to shift responsibility for their welfare to other people or to governments. In spiritual matters some suppose that men and women need not strive for personal righteousness—because God loves and saves us “just as we are.”

freewill1But God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”2 It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of “puppet master” in God’s place. Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.”3

So God does not save us “just as we are,” first, because “just as we are” we are unclean, and “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man [of Holiness].”4 And second, God will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels nor abandons us. Rather He helps and guides us. Indeed, the real manifestation of God’s love is His commandments.

We should (and we do) rejoice in the God-ordained plan that permits us to make choices to act for ourselves and experience the consequences, or as the scriptures express it, to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”5 We are forever grateful that the Savior’s Atonement overcame original sin so that we can be born into this world yet not be punished for Adam’s transgression.6 Having been thus redeemed from the Fall, we begin life innocent before God and “become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.”7 We can choose to become the kind of person that we will, and with God’s help, that can be even as He is.8

The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character. Justice demands, however, that none of this happen without our willing agreement and participation. It has ever been so. Our very presence on earth as physical beings is the consequence of a choice each of us made to participate in our Father’s plan.9 Thus, salvation is certainly not the result of divine whim, but neither does it happen by divine will alone.10

jesusjusticemedAtonement of Christ, Justice and Mercy

Justice is an essential attribute of God. We can have faith in God because He is perfectly trustworthy. The scriptures teach us that “God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round”11 and that “God is no respecter of persons.”12 We rely on the divine quality of justice for faith, confidence, and hope.

But as a consequence of being perfectly just, there are some things God cannot do. He cannot be arbitrary in saving some and banishing others. He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”13 He cannot allow mercy to rob justice.14

It is compelling evidence of His justice that God has forged the companion principle of mercy. It is because He is just that He devised the means for mercy to play its indispensable role in our eternal destiny. So now, “justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own.”15

jesusforgivemedWe know that it is “the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom [the Father] wast well pleased; … the blood of [His] Son which was shed”16 that satisfies the demands of justice, extends mercy, and redeems us.17 Even so, “according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance.”18 It is the requirement of and the opportunity for repentance that permits mercy to perform its labor without trampling justice.

Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save”19 in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, God enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves. Repentance respects and sustains our moral agency: “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”20

Misunderstanding God’s justice and mercy is one thing; denying God’s existence or supremacy is another, but either will result in our achieving less—sometimes far less—than our full, divine potential. A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.

 

Relativism

Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.”21 Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”22

To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God’s own power. If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions. As Lehi expressed it: “If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”23

responsibilityResponsibility is a gift

In matters both temporal and spiritual, the opportunity to assume personal responsibility is a God-given gift without which we cannot realize our full potential as daughters and sons of God. Personal accountability becomes both a right and a duty that we must constantly defend; it has been under assault since before the Creation. We must defend accountability against persons and programs that would (sometimes with the best of intentions) make us dependent. And we must defend it against our own inclinations to avoid the work that is required to cultivate talents, abilities, and Christlike character.

graveyardThe story is told of a man who simply would not work. He wanted to be taken care of in every need. To his way of thinking, the Church or the government, or both, owed him a living because he had paid his taxes and his tithing. He had nothing to eat but refused to work to care for himself. Out of desperation and disgust, those who had tried to help him decided that since he would not lift a finger to sustain himself, they might as well just take him to the cemetery and let him pass on. On the way to the cemetery, one man said, “We can’t do this. I have some corn I will give him.”

So they explained this to the man, and he asked, “Have the husks been removed?”

They responded, “No.”

“Well, then,” he said, “drive on.”

It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.

christofferson-freewillI am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”24 And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.

I bear witness that God the Father lives, that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer, and that the Holy Spirit is present with us. Their desire to help us is undoubted, and Their capacity to do so is infinite. Let us “awake, and arise from the dust, … that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto [us] may be fulfilled.”25

Related Post on Free Will

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Bible Scriptures Object Lesson

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Bible Scriptures Object Lesson

Hear the Sound of the Trumpet

 

This instrument can teach us about the role of prophets and how we should treat their words.

“If when [the watchman] seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

“… But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.”

Ezekiel 33:3–5.

Trumpet

Probably the oldest and most common instrument in ancient Israel (and certainly the one most frequently mentioned in the Bible) is a trumpet made of a ram’s horn, called a shofar in Hebrew. Sometimes it was heated to soften it so that it could be straightened or shaped. Its sound was unusual and easily recognizable. As an instrument, it was simple, producing only two or three notes.

Bible Facts

  • In ancient Israel, the shofar was blown to send an alarm or signal a gathering of the people. This was done in times of war (see Judges 3:27; 6:34; Nehemiah 4:18–20) as well as at times of celebration, such as a feast or the anointing of a king (see Leviticus 25:9; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 9:13; Psalm 81:3).
  • The Lord asked that a trumpet (ram’s horn) be sounded to gather the people of Israel around Mount Sinai when He would appear to Moses there (see Exodus 19:5–13). But when the time came and the trumpet sounded, the people removed themselves rather than come to the mountain to be in the Lord’s presence (see Exodus 20:18–19).
  • The shofar is still used in modern Jewish religious practice.
  • A few Old Testament verses also mention a trumpet made of bronze or silver (khatsotrah). It was short and straight, with a four- or five-note range in a bright tone, and was played by the priests. Its purpose was to gather the congregation to the tabernacle or temple (see Numbers 10:2–10). It was among the sacred utensils of the temple (see 2 Kings 12:13–14).

What We Can Learn

A trumpet:

Has a simple, unmistakable sound. Nephi said, “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth” (2 Nephi 33:6). Prophets teach the Lord’s word with clarity. As the Apostle Paul said, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).

Calls the Lord’s people to gather. We gather to seek refuge and strength. Our meetinghouses, temples, and homes can be places of gathering to hear God’s word so that we can combat evil and rally around the “ensign on the mountains” (Isaiah 18:3).

Warns of coming danger. The watchmen of Israel would raise the alarm by blowing the trumpet. Prophets give us clear warnings of spiritual perils in our time. And we should also remember that “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81), “in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41).

Calls to remembrance, celebration, and praise. Prophets also invite us to remember the Lord and His goodness. They call upon us to praise and thank Him and to “make a joyful noise” (Psalm 98:6) through our own prayer and testimony.

Gospel Teachings: Symbolism of Eagle Wings

Gospel Teachings:

Symbolism of Eagle Wings

eagles-wings-revisedWings of Eagles “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

Eagles’ Wings

Wing type: Broad and long, with long, slotted feathers.

Wingspan: Between 6 feet (1.8 meters) and 9 feet (2.7 meters).

Eagles’ wings are built for soaring and gliding on updrafts of warm air (thermals). The long feathers are slotted and can separate to allow air to flow smoothly and to prevent the eagles from stalling when flying at slower speeds.

The outermost wing feathers display gradual narrowing (emarginations) or abrupt narrowing (notches) toward the tip of the feathers to create greater lift during flight.

Eagles and other soaring birds have been seen at heights of over 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

Eagles’ bones, while strong, are hollow, making up less than 10 percent of their total body weight. This, of course, makes it easier for them to fly.

The slow gliding and soaring facilitated by eagles’ wings enable eagles to spot prey from afar with their keen eyes.

Bible Facts

The generic Hebrew word for eagle used in the Old Testament (nesher) could refer to a number of different soaring birds, including the golden eagle, the imperial eagle, or the griffon vulture.

The figure of eagles’ wings was also used in the Old Testament to represent the strength and loving-kindness of the Lord in delivering His covenant people (see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11).

Anciently there was a popular (though erroneous) belief that eagles would molt and replace their feathers in old age, receiving renewed strength.

What We Can Learn

Having “wings as eagles” helps us:

quote-Isaiah-eagles-wingsRise toward the heavens. When we “wait upon the Lord” by patiently trusting in Him and keeping our covenants, He blesses us with His divine help. In His strength we are lifted up so that we can receive “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23).

Move away from the earth. When we turn to the Lord, obey His commandments, and keep our covenants with Him, we separate ourselves from the world. We are less weighed down or heavy laden and are able to obtain a higher and more advantageous perspective—an eternal perspective. God blesses us with the Holy Ghost, and we feel our spirits rise above the trifling concerns of worldly living.

Find nourishment. Just as eagles’ ability to soar on their wings can help them use their eyesight to receive their nourishment, we receive spiritual nourishment as we keep our covenants and stay alert to the things of the Spirit. We see this truth particularly in the ordinance of the sacrament as we partake of bread and water and renew the baptismal covenant.

Sanctifying Renewal

“I know that in times of fear or fatigue, ‘they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ [Isaiah 40:31].

We receive the gift of such majestic might and sanctifying renewal through the redeeming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has overcome the world, and if we will take upon us His name and ‘walk in His paths’ [Isaiah 2:3] and keep our covenants with Him, we shall, ere long, have peace. Such a reward is not only possible; it is certain.”

Jeffrey R. Holland

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Judeo-Christian Culture: Passing on Gospel Teachings to Next Generation

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Dinner Topics for Monday Judeo-Christian Culture: Passing on Gospel Teachings to Next Generation The Language of the Gospel By Valeri V. Cordón No achievement in this life, important as it may be, will be relevant if we lose the language of … Continue reading

Biblical Parenting: Why Fathers Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Values, is Vital to their Future

Biblical Parenting:

Why Fathers Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Values, is Vital to their Future

 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

gospel-father-mentorHave you ever opened a box of parts, pulled out the assembly instructions, and thought, “This doesn’t make any sense at all”?

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and inner confidence, we pull out a part and ask, “What is that for?” or “How does that fit?”

Our frustration grows as we look at the box and notice a disclaimer that says, “Assembly required—ages 8 and up.” Because we still don’t have a clue, this does not boost our confidence or our self-esteem.

Sometimes we have a similar experience with the gospel. As we look at some part of it, we may scratch our heads and wonder what that part is for. Or as we examine another part, we may realize that even after trying hard to fully understand, we just can’t figure out why that part was included.

Our Heavenly Father Is Our Mentor

Fortunately, our Heavenly Father has given us wonderful instructions for structuring our lives and putting together our best selves. Those instructions work regardless of our age or circumstance. He has given us the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ. He has given us the plan of redemption, the plan of salvation, even the plan of happiness. He has not left us alone with all the uncertainties or challenges of life, saying, “Here you go. Good luck. Figure it out.”

holyspiritgiftIf we will only be patient and look with a humble heart and an open mind, we will find that God has given us many tools to better understand His comprehensive instructions for our happiness in life:

  • He has given us the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost, which has the potential to be our personal, heavenly tutor as we study the word of God and attempt to bring our thoughts and actions into alignment with His word.
  • He has given us 24/7 access to Him through prayers of faith and supplications of real intent.
  • He has given us modern-day apostles and prophets, who reveal the word of God in our day and have the authority to bind or seal on earth and in heaven.
  • He has restored His Church—an organization of believers who work together to help one another as they work out their salvation with fear, trembling, and unparalleled joy.1
  • He has given us the holy scriptures—His written word to us.
  • He has given myriad tools of modern technology to help us in our walk of discipleship. Many of these marvelous instruments can be found at LDS.org.

Why has our Heavenly Father given us so much help? Because He loves us. And because, as He said of Himself, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”2

In other words, Heavenly Father is our God, and God is a mentor to us.

Our Father in Heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving us marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him.

Every Father Is a Mentor

father-teaching-son-mirrorIn some parts of the world, fathers are honored by families and society in the month of June. It is always good to honor and respect our parents. Fathers do many good things for their families and have many admirable attributes. Two of the most important roles fathers have in the lives of their children are those of being a good example and a mentor. Fathers do more than tell their children what is right or wrong; they do much more than toss a manual at them and expect them to figure out life for themselves.

Fathers mentor their precious children and show by their good example the way an honest life is lived. Fathers do not leave their children alone but rush to their aid, helping them to their feet whenever they stumble. And sometimes when wisdom suggests, fathers allow their children to struggle, realizing that this may be the best way for them to learn.

We Are All Mentors

fathermentoringWhile earthly fathers do this for their own children, the spirit of mentoring is something we need to offer all of God’s children, regardless of age, location, or circumstance. Remember, God’s children are our brothers and sisters; we are all of the same eternal family.

In this sense, let us all be mentors—eager to reach out and help one another to become our best selves. Because we are God’s offspring, we do have the potential to become like Him. Loving God and our fellowmen, keeping God’s commandments, and following Christ’s example are the straight, narrow, and joyful path back into the presence of our heavenly parents.

If the God of the universe cares so much about us that He is a mentor to us, perhaps we too can reach out to our fellowmen, regardless of their color, race, socioeconomic circumstances, language, or religion. Let us become inspired mentors and bless the lives of others—not only our own children but also all of God’s children throughout the world.

How you can help with Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Family Values

Judeo-Christian Culture: Role of Fathers in Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Role of Fathers in the Divine Plan, and Nuclear Family

D. Todd Christofferson

I focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

fathers-matter2I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:

“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”1

father-son-cameraEqual Partners

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”2 We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3 We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”4 We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.

Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children.6 Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.

For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.7 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.

Quote-fathersPerhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.10

Accountable to teach one’s children

We find in the scriptures a repeated emphasis on the parental obligation to teach one’s children:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”11

In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.12

Fathers are to teach God’s law and works anew to each generation. As the Psalmist declared:

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should [then] arise and declare them to their children:

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.13

Children want and need a model

Certainly teaching the gospel is a shared duty between fathers and mothers, but the Lord is clear that He expects fathers to lead out in making it a high priority. (And let’s remember that informal conversations, working and playing together, and listening are important elements of teaching.) The Lord expects fathers to help shape their children, and children want and need a model.

father-son-mentorI myself was blessed with an exemplary father. I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching.

As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”15

Discipline

Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery.

fathers-matter1The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”16 Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”17 This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others. In the words of King Benjamin:

“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”18

We recognize the agony of men who are unable to find ways and means adequately to sustain their families. There is no shame for those who, at a given moment, despite their best efforts, cannot fulfill all the duties and functions of fathers. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.19

Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.

father-sonsSome men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.20

Regrettably, due to death, abandonment, or divorce, some children don’t have fathers living with them. Some may have fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent or in other ways inattentive or nonsupportive. We call on all fathers to do better and to be better. We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or “the guys who cause problems,” as fathers are all too frequently depicted.

To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.

To young men, recognizing the role you will have as provider and protector, we say, prepare now by being diligent in school and planning for postsecondary training. Education, whether in a university, technical school, apprenticeship, or similar program, is key to developing the skills and capabilities you will need. Take advantage of opportunities to associate with people of all ages, including children, and learn how to establish healthy and rewarding relationships. That typically means talking face to face with people and sometimes doing things together, not just perfecting your texting skills. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.

To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Remember the yearning hope of a father as expressed by John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”21 Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlTo my brethren, the fathers in this Church, I say, I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today’s culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit. I am encouraged by a story that appeared in the New Era some years ago. The author recounted the following:

“When I was young, our little family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. I slept on the couch in the living room. …

“My dad, a steelworker, left home very early for work each day. Every morning he would … tuck the covers around me and stop for a minute. I would be half-dreaming when I could sense my dad standing beside the couch, looking at me. As I slowly awoke, I became embarrassed to have him there. I tried to pretend I was still asleep. … I became aware that as he stood beside my bed he was praying with all his attention, energy, and focus—for me.

“Each morning my dad prayed for me. He prayed that I would have a good day, that I would be safe, that I would learn and prepare for the future. And since he could not be with me until evening, he prayed for the teachers and my friends that I would be with that day. …

“At first, I didn’t really understand what my dad was doing those mornings when he prayed for me. But as I got older, I came to sense his love and interest in me and everything I was doing. It is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t until years later, after I was married, had children of my own, and would go into their rooms while they were asleep and pray for them that I understood completely how my father felt about me.”22

Alma testified to his son:

“Behold, I say unto you, that it is [Christ] that surely shall come … ; yea he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.

And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.”23

That is the ministry of fathers today. God bless and make them equal to it.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Daily Bread 10—Small and Simple Things, Press Forward, Be not Weary in Well Doing

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Daily Bread 10—Small and Simple Things, Press Forward, Be not Weary in Well Doing

Small and Simple Things

Dallin H. Oaks

We need to be reminded that in total and over a significant period of time, seemingly small things bring to pass great things

 

10) Press Forward with Patience

In connection with the earliest attempts to establish the Church in Missouri, the Lord counseled patience for “all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:32). Then He gave this great teaching: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

I believe we all desire to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to press forward “on the covenant path.”10 Our commitment to do so is strengthened by consistently following the “small things” we are taught by the gospel of Jesus Christ and the leaders of His Church. I testify of Him and invoke His blessings on all who seek to keep on His covenant path.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Daily Bread 7—Small and Simple Things, Addiction Prevention

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Daily Bread 7—Small and Simple Things, Addiction Prevention

Small and Simple Things

Dallin H. Oaks

 

7) Small Acts of Disobedience, Bad Habits

Similarly, even small acts of disobedience or minor failures to follow righteous practices can draw us down toward an outcome we have been warned to avoid. The Word of Wisdom provides an example of this. Likely the effect on the body of one cigarette or one drink of alcohol or one dose of another drug cannot be measured. But over time, the effect is powerful and may be irreversible.