A Thread For Talks and Lessons

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DarkJedi
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Feb 2017, 14:03

Yesterday's talk, pretty much verbatim. You'll need to translate the sheepese on your own. :D

I am grateful to have sat at the Table of the Lord’s Supper with you today.
Taking the sacrament is the most important thing we do each week.
It is important to me because it is a time specifically set aside for remembering the Savior.
Indeed his own words at instituting the sacrament were “this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
While the sacrament is blessed for the congregation, it is itself a very personal ordinance.
Paying attention to the words, the promises are profound.
The sacrament is a symbolic manifestation of God’s love for us and partaking is symbolic manifestation of our love for Him.
We needn’t be perfect to partake of the sacrament, in I fact I think the exact opposite is true - it leads us toward perfection.
Jesus brought hope to those whom he taught in the ancient world.
This hope that we can overcome our sins and imperfections through his grace exists and is as relevant in our day as it was in
the days of Peter, Paul, and Nephi.
As we remember Him, as he asked, our weekly partaking of the sacrament brings that hope to us individually.
I like to ponder.
Some people might think I ponder too much, and maybe they’re right.
But I have grown in my understanding of the sacrament by pondering the words and promises of the prayers, and I recommend it.
My wife is a note taker, she takes notes in General Conference and during stake conferences and sacrament meetings.
I sometimes see the notes she takes.
Sometimes after reading through her notes I think to myself “Did she just hear the same talk I did?”
Or, “I don’t remember him or her saying that.”
If it’s a general conference talk where I can go back and review it, I generally see how she got what she got or that the
speaker really did say that.
However, that doesn’t change what I think I got from the talk.
I have come to realize that each of us hearing a talk gets our own message - we sort of hear what we want to hear or
sometimes hear what we are supposed to hear.
Sometimes what we hear has very little to do with the actual words spoken.
It is my hope and prayer that you will hear what you are supposed to hear this morning.
I don’t usually include stories in my talks, but I’m going to today.
This is the story of a man who had what some refer to as a crisis of faith.
The circumstances that led to the crisis don’t really matter, nor do all the specific questions or doubts.
The center of his crisis was a doubt that God really was not as he had always believed he was - that, among other things,
God doesn’t help us find our lost car keys, or more pointedly did not seem to help this man when he thought he needed it
most.
He began to doubt his testimony, believing that he could no longer trust what he had previously perceived as manifestations
of the Spirit or what he thought he knew about God.
We often hear in the church statements like “If Joseph Smith was a prophet then the Book of Mormon must be true and thus
so is everything else” or “If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet and everything else is also true.”
This man discovered that the opposite perception is also true - if he came to believe Joseph Smith was not a prophet, then
the other things, including the Book of Mormon, could also not be true in the way he thought they were.
With no evidence other than the feelings he now doubted, the dominoes began to fall.
On this slippery slope, the man came to a place where he doubted the very existence of God.
He was at least agnostic and quite probably an atheist.
For those who were at our recent stake priesthood meeting, I think Brother ***’s use of the word “pain” was very fitting
for this case.
With no one to talk with, no one who would listen, and other resources inadequate or grossly negative, this man lingered in
this state of pain and grief for several years.
I’m sure some of you who are more perceptive here have figured out the man I speak of stands before you.
So how did I get from there to here?
The truth is it hasn’t been easy.
I didn’t stop what you would call “living the gospel” except that I didn’t attend regular church.
I also didn’t stop pondering just because I didn’t go to church or questioned God.
At one point while pondering I realized that I didn’t believe creation was a random or spontaneous event.
I really did believe that there was some sort of creative higher power responsible all of this.
I didn’t and don’t know how the Creator did it, I only believe He did.
Certainly a belief in God was not by itself enough to return to a belief in all of the other stuff.
And quite frankly I still don’t “know” there is a God or any of the other things - but I do believe them.
I have become content in my understanding that
...all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the
sins of the world.
14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful. (D&C 46)
I have learned that it is not necessary that I know all the answers.
I was sitting at my computer on Saturday, October 5, 2013.
General Conference was on the nearby television and I was half listening.
As the morning session was drawing near its end, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was speaking.
I was drifting, not particularly interested in what he was saying about what a great institution the church is when something he
said caught my attention.
Pres. Uchtdorf said
"The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are
some who leave the Church they once loved.
One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”
Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there
is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.
Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the
Church.
In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and
sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them
away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to
the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.
I was surprised at the rhetorical question of why anyone would leave, and heartened by the assertion that being offended,
lazy, or sinful is an assumption."
You see, I was neither offended, lazy, or sinful - but many people assumed I was at least one of those.
At this point I was enwrapped in his words.
I stopped doing whatever I was doing on the computer and intently listened.
He talked about unanswered questions and the possibility that some members or leaders might have made mistakes in the
past 200 years.
Pres. Uchtdorf continued
"To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.
Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result.
Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?”
It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of
understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or
sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the
sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ."
I think before that time I had seen the church as an all or nothing proposition.
Although common in other churches, the idea that there was room in this church for those of us with different points of view,
or different opinions, or who don’t know all of it is true was novel to me.
I add my witness and stand here today as one whose great oaks of understanding are firmly planted in the sandy soil of
doubt and uncertainty.
I understand that there are many in and outside the church who believe that doubt and faith cannot co-exist.
I respect that opinion and belief and don’t totally disagree with it.
However, it’s my opinion that doubt and faith are two sides of the same coin, like good and evil, light and dark, or warm and
cold.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so...righteousness could not be brought to pass,
neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound
in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor
incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2NE2:11)
None of us are all good or all evil, and there such things as twilight and dawn.
I don’t believe I would have faith were it not for my doubts.
I would not know the light without having experienced darkness, nor the warm without having experienced cold.
Near the conclusion of Pres. Uchtdorf’s remarks he said:
"In spite of our human imperfections, I am confident that you will find among the members of this Church many of the finest
souls this world has to offer. The Church of Jesus Christ seems to attract the kind and the caring, the honest and the
industrious.
If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed. But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of
God “which healeth the wounded soul,” and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them. In
this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace—here you will find a people
who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us!"
I believe this to be true.
Despite some trying to appear more perfect than they are, there are good people here who do seek pure doctrine and who
seek to be closer to their heavenly Father and their Savior and who serve their fellow humans.
So one might think that the next week I got up and went to church.
Indeed I did not, nor did I for many Sundays after that.
I was, however, undertaking the task of rebuilding my faith.
I think of it as sort of a building, lying in ruins.
My refound belief in God had become a new foundation, and I was realizing there were other parts of the building that could
be reused, there were parts that needed to be retooled altogether, and there were parts that at least for that time would not
be a part of the new.
I appreciate your indulgence today in allowing me to talk about this very personal story.
I have not in a setting like this told the story in this way before.
In rebuilding my faith there are other foundational parts.
It did take me a bit to come to terms again with the concept of the Savior.
An undertaking of the study and pondering of the gospels helped in that respect.
The mercy, grace, hope and love taught and expressed by our Savior during his mortal ministry brought me the hope that I
needed.
I do have a testimony of the Jesus Christ, of his ministry, and of his saving grace.
To the woman who was to be stoned for adultery Jesus said “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more;” (John 8:11)
He healed the son of him who asked “help thou mine unbelief;” (Mark 9:24)
To the woman who anointed his feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee, Jesus said “Thy sins are forgiven” and “Thy faith
hath saved thee; go in peace;” (Luke 7:48, 50)
to the leper he said “be thou clean” and it was so; (Mark 1:41-42)
to the woman who touched his robe and was healed he said “Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
And to the man with palsy brought to Him, Jesus said “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to
forgive sins... Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.” (Matt 9:6-7)
He said to those in the Old World: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have
the light of life. (John 8:12)
And to the Nephites the Risen Lord said: “This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me;
…and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me…. And whoso
believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (3
Nephi 11: 32-33)
In his April 2012 General Conference address entitled “The Doctrine of Christ” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles referenced 3 Nephi 11 and said:
"This is our message, the rock upon which we build, the foundation of everything else in the Church. Like all that comes
from God, this doctrine is pure, it is clear, it is easy to understand—even for a child.
Indeed, the gospel is that simple."
It really is that simple.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might
be saved. (John 3:16-17)
In his conference address this past October, Elder Quentin Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked about
stumbling blocks.
He said:
"A stumbling block is “an impediment to belief or understanding” or “an obstacle to progress.’ To stumble spiritually is “to
fall into sin or waywardness.’ A stumbling block can be anything that distracts us from achieving righteous goals.
We cannot afford to have our testimonies of the Father and the Son become confused and complicated by stumbling
blocks. We cannot fall into that trap. Our testimonies of Them need to remain pure and simple…."
In speaking of the specific stumbling block of the philosophies of men, he said:
"...the Apostasy occurred in part because the philosophies of men were elevated over Christ’s basic, essential doctrine.
Instead of the simplicity of the Savior’s message being taught, many plain and precious truths were changed or lost."
And in speaking of the stumbling block of looking beyond the mark he said
"While there are many examples of looking beyond the mark, a significant one in our day is extremism. Gospel extremism
is when one elevates any gospel principle above other equally important principles and takes a position that is beyond or
contrary to the teachings of Church leaders….
In addition, some members elevate causes, many of which are good, to a status superior to basic gospel doctrine. They
substitute their devotion to the cause as their first commitment and relegate their commitment to the Savior and His
teachings to a secondary position. If we elevate anything above our devotion to the Savior, if our conduct recognizes Him
as just another teacher and not the divine Son of God, then we are looking beyond the mark. Jesus Christ is the mark!"
The church does hold as its core doctrine that Jesus is the Christ and that we must believe in him - and nothing else really
matters.
I reiterate Elder Cook’s words: Jesus Christ is the mark.
Said the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that
He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our
religion are only appendages to it….(Teachings of the Presidents, Joseph Smith, Chapter 3)
I come to church to seek the pure doctrine of Christ which does heal wounded soul (Jacob 2:8), to know and draw closer to
him, and to find hope, peace and happiness in him.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Ann
Posts: 2547
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Ann » 21 Feb 2017, 02:30

Very brave. Was it hard to be so open? Did how you were received matter, or was it just important to hear yourself telling the story?

:clap:
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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DarkJedi
Posts: 5169
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Feb 2017, 04:48

Ann wrote:Very brave. Was it hard to be so open? Did how you were received matter, or was it just important to hear yourself telling the story?

:clap:
I think it was good for me to tell the story in public like that, even though I was quite vague about the circumstances and depth of the faith crisis and my current level of belief. I actually don't consider it all that brave. As soon as I was given the topic I knew I was going to tell the story. The topic was finding happiness through Christ (Cook's talk was one of the reference talks, that's why I used it). It was very well received, The bishop profusely thanked me and said it was just what he and his ward needed, the SP was pleased, and I spent SS talking to people - that was all better than I anticipated.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Ann
Posts: 2547
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Ann » 21 Feb 2017, 08:49

DarkJedi wrote: I was quite vague about the circumstances and depth of the faith crisis
I see what you're saying
and my current level of belief
and that this would have made things quite different.

But what you did really spoke the the topic. I'm glad it was so well-received.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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mom3
Posts: 2986
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 21 Feb 2017, 13:17

DJ - That is beautiful on so many levels. Because I know more of your story, it made me cry.

I pray for the day when many more talks and lessons like this will be shared. It's not just for faith crisis experiencer's but for the friends and family of those of who have one. In the past 3 months I have heard multiple mentions from ward members, including 2 Bishopric members, about cousins, mission companions, siblings who have recently "lost their faith". The conversations always end their. Everyone turns to the assigned answers and personal relationships just die.

Thank you for posting the entirety of it. I needed for me.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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