A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
Katzpur
Posts: 276
Joined: 26 Jul 2009, 08:40
Location: Salt Lake City

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Katzpur » 18 Nov 2015, 20:36

mom3 wrote:Katzpur - I second Heber13 thought. Also use other Uchtdorf talks about inclusion, not judging, etc. I also posted and LDS Living article yesterday, you could probably cheat and mention that you happened to read it at the same time you were prepping the lesson and use some quotes. Lastly Chieko Okazaki has some great quotes and pieces on inclusion. You can drop my FMH to get those lessons or face book Chieko Okazaki. Good luck.
I got out Chieko Okazaki's first book (I think), "Lighten Up!" and it had some good ideas. I didn't realize there was a Chieko Facebook page, though. Thanks for the tip! And I've pulled quite a bit of stuff from Terry Givens' "Crucible of Doubt." I'm almost afraid to give him the credit, though. I'm pretty sure a lot of people out there don't hold him in as high regard as I do.

Off topic, but wouldn't you just love to hear Chieko's thoughts on the new policy? If only she were still here. It's hard to imagine her remaining silent on the subject of children being excluded from the Church.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling ~

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3186
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 18 Nov 2015, 22:18

Katzpur asked,
Off topic, but wouldn't you just love to hear Chieko's thoughts on the new policy? If only she were still here. It's hard to imagine her remaining silent on the subject of children being excluded from the Church.
Yes I would. I desperately wish we had her voice at this time. She could clarify, instruct, mend, heal, and inspire in a way that is desperately needed now. I think she would be heartsick to think children were being excluded. She taught children all her life, she encouraged inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters, she always worked to encourage people to be their best, to live up to their best. The new policy does none of that.

To extend your off topic-ness, with each recent turn of church wheel I find myself missing her more and more. The last two Women's Essays could have used her voice. She really is a prophetess to 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

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5359
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Nov 2015, 06:36

I gave a talk about coming closer to Christ by seeking light and truth. I wish that I had found the Harper talk I referenced in another thread, but only because I would have quoted from it - I think the message is the same. I may have referenced D&C 88:118 more prominently, though.

I began by referencing the "admonition of Paul" referenced in the AofF and found in Philippians 4:8
...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I then quoted John 14:6 (I am the way, the truth, and the light...) and John 8:12 (I am the light of the world...) and bore testimony of the Savior. I reminded the congregation of something our visiting authority said at stake conference that the atonement encompasses not only the events in the garden, on which we focus, but also the suffering after that and on the cross and the resurrection and is not complete without any of those parts.

I said that Jesus was a teacher of truth and the greatest truth he taught was to love our God, our neighbors, one another, and even our enemies and then quoted Pres. Monson:
We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. The Apostle John tells us, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.

Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love. (General Conference April 2014)
Followed by Elder Christofferson (April 2012 GC):
“This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and 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.
“And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
“… And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. …
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (3 Nephi 11:32-35, 39).
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. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.
I briefly talked about my return to activity and said the first scriptures I read after deciding to return were the words of the Savior in the New Testament and that they did speak peace and truth to me.

I then said that while Jesus is the great teacher of truth, the Holy Ghost is also a witness of truth and quoted Jesus talking about the comforter (John 15:26 & 16:13) and quoted from Moroni 10.

I talked about how our interactions with the Holy Ghost are very personal and are usually cherished experiences because they are directly between us and God and quoted Elder Oaks
...we pray directly to our Heavenly Father, and He answers us by the channels He has established, without any mortal intermediary. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and He answers us through His Holy Spirit and in other ways. The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son, to guide us into truth, and to show us all things we should do. This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father. It is an essential feature of His marvelous gospel plan, which allows each one of His children to receive a personal witness of its truth. (General Conference Oct. 2010)
and Pres. Eyring (Oct. 2014 GC)
That personal revelation of acceptance, for which we all long, does not come easily, nor does it come simply for the asking. The Lord gave this standard for the capacity to receive such witnesses from God. It is a guide for anyone seeking personal revelation, as we all must.

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. (D&C 121:45)
followed by another from Oaks:
Revelations from God—the teachings and directions of the Spirit—are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. (Ensign, March 1997)
I said that my experiences with the Holy Ghost had been like those described by Eyring and Oaks, and were subtle and more of an ongoing process as opposed to events.

I talked about Peter saying God knows our hearts and how what we think we need or want is not always what God sees, and that our experiences are uniquely ours and that they color our understanding and perception and quoted 1 Cor 13:9-12 (for we know in part...).

I said we also learn from both ancient and modern prophets and apostles and said much of what we consider scripture - the Bible, BoM, and D&C - were written by men we consider to be prophets and apostles and quoted the 8th and 9th Articles of Faith followed by D&C 1:38-39 (What I the Lord have spoken...) and D&C 68:4 (whatsoever they shall speak...).

I said that while it is important to learn spiritual truths, it is also important to learn other truths and quoted from D&C 88:118 (seek ye diligently...) and talked about how Joseph smith was a seeker of truth and quoted him:
“One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from where it may.” (History of the Church 5:499)

“In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge;...” (History of the Church 5:340)
followed by D&C 130:18-19 (whatever principle of intelligence...)

I told the story of Giordano Bruno who in the 1500s had a vision of the universe being endless with endless worlds, but he was persecuted because it didn't match the church teachings of the day even though some scientists had offered the same idea and shortly after he was burned at the stake the idea became commonly accepted.

I quoted Pres. Uchtdorf:
Part of our problem in the quest for truth is that human wisdom has disappointed us so often. We have so many examples of things that mankind once “knew” were true but have since been proven false.
For example, in spite of one-time overwhelming consensus, the earth isn’t flat. The stars don’t revolve around the earth. Eating a tomato will not cause instant death. And, of course, man actually can fly—even break the sound barrier.
The scriptures are filled with stories of men and women who misinterpreted “truth.” ...

So often the “truths” we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth, and sometimes they’re not really the truth at all….

The “truths” we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as our individual characters. All too often these “truths” are based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence, and at times they serve very selfish motives.
Part of the reason for poor judgment comes from the tendency of mankind to blur the line between belief and truth. We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth or reject it—because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong. Often, truth is rejected because it doesn’t appear to be consistent with previous experiences.
When the opinions or “truths” of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or complement what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed, mentally challenged, or even intentionally trying to deceive.
Unfortunately, this tendency can spread to all areas of our lives—from sports to family relationships and from religion to politics. (CES Devotional 2013)
And Obi Wan Kenobi:
Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view.
followed by Pres. Uchtdorf from last GC:
This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime—even an eternity—of study and discovery to fully understand it.

But sometimes we take the beautiful lily of God’s truth and gild it with layer upon layer of man-made good ideas, programs, and expectations. Each one, by itself, might be helpful and appropriate for a certain time and circumstance, but when they are laid on top of each other, they can create a mountain of sediment that becomes so thick and heavy that we risk losing sight of that precious flower we once loved so dearly.
and closed with testimony.
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: 2551
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Ann » 24 Nov 2015, 09:47

Great, calming talk. Thanks for sharing it. I love the DFU - OWK - DFU finale quotes.
"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

User avatar
LookingHard
Posts: 2634
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by LookingHard » 03 Dec 2015, 07:06

I can't remember what blog had a reference to this, but I read an old talk from Stephen L. Richards - 1932! I quite like it.

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/015-43-46.pdf

I really like this
I have said these things because I fear dictatorial dogmatism, rigidity of procedure and intolerance even more than I fear cigarettes, cards, and other devices the adversary may use to nullify faith and kill religion. Fanaticism and bigotry have been the deadly enemies of true religion in the long past. They have made it forbidding, shut it up in cold grey walls of monastery and nunnery, out of the sunlight and fragrance of the growing world. They have garbed it in black and then in white, when in truth it is neither black nor white, any more than life is black or white, for religion is life abundant, glowing life, with all its shades, colors and hues, as the children of men reflect in the patterns of their lives the radiance of the Holy Spirit in varying degrees.
It did make me chuckle on the way he talks about "playing cards" and "billiards" as sins - or at least time wasters. Note that TV didn't come to Utah until 1948 - 16 years later. I wonder what he would say about social media and kids today!

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3186
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 04 Dec 2015, 11:38

I like the Obi Wan reference. :clap: Seriously, very nice address. I also enjoy reading them after, they sometimes become the best sermons I hear all week.
"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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15415
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Dec 2015, 07:06

I spoke yesterday on the meaning of Christmas.

I started by telling them my daughter's quote after attending the temple for the first time:
We spend so much time building the kingdom of God that we forget to establish Zion.
I then said that the meaning of Christmas depends greatly on how we view the Kingdom of God. I asked everyone to close their eyes and picture a kingdom. Then I asked them how they would describe what they saw in their mind's eye. I asked them if there were large castles, clean and bright streets, smiling and happy and well-fed people, etc. Nearly all of them smiled and nodded in agreement. Then I said:
So, when we think of the Kingdom of God, we usually picture a Disney movie - but that is radically different than what we see in the New Testament about Jesus, of Nazareth, his own life and the followers he gathered around him during his ministry.


I told them I believe we miss the real meaning of Christmas if we don't focus on and understand Jesus' early life, his ministry and whom he focused on teaching. The following is a simple outline of how I addressed that misunderstanding:

1) "The whole need not a physician, but the sick."

2) Mary was unmarried when she became pregnant. Without Joseph's acceptance and support, her baby probably would have been raised in abject poverty - and it is likely he either would have been discarded as trash, literally, to die or sold into slavery, as was the custom in that time and culture for babies born without available support.

3) When he was a young child (probably 1-2 years old), his parents took him and fled a terrorist attack in his homeland, seeking refuge in the strongest opposition to the Roman Empire - Egypt. We have no idea in the Bible how many others in that area learned what Herod and decreed and was doing and fled with Joseph and Mary - but it is reasonable to believe there were many.

4) When he started his ministry, he taught in the synagogues, but his followers were mostly the poor, the sick, the sinners, the publicans, the outcast, the rejected - "the least of these". In a very real way, he served those like himself in his earliest years.

I told them that I see the meaning of Christmas as the message that every person on this earth, including those whom others can't love and accept and serve, is of equal worth in the eyes of God, with equal potential - and that we will not honor the true meaning of Christmas if our congregations and dreams resemble a Disney movie more than the people whom Jesus served in his ministry. I asked them to think of persons and people whom they naturally tend to judge and avoid - and to reach out, somehow, in their busy lives, to those specific people.

The following are two posts that were the foundation of my talk:

"Thoughts on the Meaning of the Birth of Jesus" (http://bycommonconsent.com/2007/12/08/t ... -of-jesus/)

"It Is Finished: Death on Easter Sunday" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008 ... _9863.html)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

grobert93
Posts: 16
Joined: 30 Nov 2015, 16:05

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by grobert93 » 15 Dec 2015, 07:58

http://introvertedrm.blogspot.com/2015/ ... n-may.html

Here's a link to my talk I gave a while back. I will update it later with direct links to the sources I quoted. Hope you enjoy!

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5359
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 26 Jan 2016, 08:09

I recently spoke to a YSA ward with Pres. Uchtdorf's address from October GC as the assigned reference talk.

I began by introducing the topic of the talk, telling them it would sound like a glowing review of why the church is so great, but a significant portion of the talk was for those for whom it does not work wonderfully.
But I also recognize that there are some who have a less-than-fulfilling experience—who feel that their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for….
...why does it seem to work better for some than for others? What is the difference between those whose experience in the Church fills their souls with songs of redeeming love and those who feel that something is lacking?
I told them I had pondered the question and that there is no simple answer. But Pres. Uchtdorf did give two pieces of advice that apply to everybody: simplify and start where you are.
First: are we making our discipleship too complicated?
This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime—even an eternity—of study and discovery to fully understand it.
But sometimes we take the beautiful lily of God’s truth and gild it with layer upon layer of man-made good ideas, programs, and expectations. Each one, by itself, might be helpful and appropriate for a certain time and circumstance, but when they are laid on top of each other, they can create a mountain of sediment that becomes so thick and heavy that we risk losing sight of that precious flower we once loved so dearly.
I reiterated and testified of the simplicity of the gospel, then quoted 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.
and 3 Nephi 11 (the Doctrine of Christ):
And 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….
...Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
I again testified of Christ and paraphrased I Know That My Redeemer Lives:
And He lives who once was dead
He lives to bless me with His love, to comfort me when faint, to hear my soul’s complaint, to silence all my fears, to wipe away my tears…
What comfort this sweet sentence gives - I know that my Redeemer lives
I told them Heavenly Father and Jesus give so much and ask so little and quoted John 3:16-17
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.
I told them it really is that simple.

I told them I wasn't trying to say church programs are a distraction and unnecessary, but if we focus on the simplicity of the core gospel principles everything we need to do will become clear.

Uchtdorf:
Brothers and sisters, if you ever think that the gospel isn’t working so well for you, I invite you to step back, look at your life from a higher plane, and simplify your approach to discipleship. Focus on the basic doctrines, principles, and applications of the gospel. I promise that God will guide and bless you on your path to a fulfilling life, and the gospel will definitely work better for you.
I talked about us all being on spiritual journeys to discover truth for ourselves and how early in our journeys we need to rely on others like parents and church leaders but as we mature we have to work it out for ourselves.

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I said that Elder Oaks once talked about communication with heaven being trhough two lines, a pristhood line and a personal line: (GC Oct. 2010):
In the personal line we pray directly to our Heavenly Father, and He answers us by the channels He has established, without any mortal intermediary. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and He answers us through His Holy Spirit and in other ways. The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son, to guide us into truth, and to show us all things we should do. This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father. It is an essential feature of His marvelous gospel plan, which allows each one of His children to receive a personal witness of its truth.
And said most of us have had some experience with the personal line Elder Oaks describes, then quoted from Oaks in an Ensign article from March 1997:
...we should recognize that the Lord will speak to us through the Spirit in his own time and in his own way. Many people do not understand this principle. They believe that when they are ready and when it suits their convenience, they can call upon the Lord and he will immediately respond, even in the precise way they have prescribed. Revelation does not come that way.
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (D&C 88:68).
The principle stated in that revelation applies to every communication from our Heavenly Father: “It shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” We cannot force spiritual things....
Not understanding the[se] principles of revelation, some people postpone acknowledging their testimony until they have experienced a miraculous event. They fail to realize that with most people...gaining a testimony is not an event but a process.
I said that brings us to Pres. Uchtdorf's other point:
Sometimes we feel discouraged because we are not “more” of something—more spiritual, respected, intelligent, healthy, rich, friendly, or capable. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. God created us to grow and progress. But remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and turn us to Christ, who will “make weak things become strong.”
I told them I had felt that way sometimes, but eventually realized I was not alone and realized it doesn't matter what other know and believe, it matters what I know and believe and quoted John Taylor:
Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves.
I said that likewise our revelations and testimonies are ours and not our neighbor's and summarized D&C 46 where it talks about people having different gifts. I told them the list was not exhaustive and that I thought it interesting that it did not include the gift of revelation - but that's probably because that gift is available to everyone. Then I quoted Pres. Uchtdorf from Oct. 2014 GC:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.”
and
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 testified that you can find peace and truth here but you must seek it and quoted 1 Corinthians 13
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
and I concluded with Pres. Uchtdorf:
Exaltation is our goal; discipleship is our journey.
As you exercise a little faith and begin your walk as a peaceable follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, your heart will change. Your whole being will be filled with light.
God will help you become something greater than you ever thought possible. And you will discover that the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed working in your life.
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

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5359
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Jul 2016, 21:06

I haven't posted here in awhile so decided it's time to resurrect the thread. I have given talks over the past months, but I don't think I will rehash them now. I also gave one this month, though. The topic was something like coming closer to Christ by choosing to believe in Christ.

I started with saying we all make choices, some mundane (like what tie to wear), some more important, and some that may have eternal implications. Then I quoted Pres. Monson from April GC (this was a reference talk):
As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.
I then said one of the first things Jesus taught the Nephites was the doctrine of Christ and quoted from 3 NE 31-35 and 39, followed by Elder Christofferson's quote from April 2012 GC:
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. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.
I said the doctrine was simple, only asked that we believe and be baptized, and bore a brief testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

I said we symbolically profess belief in Christ at baptism and again weekly as we partake of the sacrament.

I told them that while we partake of the sacrament together, it is really a personal and individual ordinance.

I talked about wine as a symbol of the blood of Christ and why we use water instead, quoting D&C 27:2, and then said I had pondered on the significance of wine vs. water and the following came to mind:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)
and also quoted John 6:35 (I am the bread of life).

I talked about hearing testimonies of Christ from members and non-members and that what they seemed to have in common was hope and quoted from the hymn Redeemer of Israel.

I then said there were many in the world who doubted, were uncertain, or just didn't believe in Christ and quoted 1 Cor 12:3 (no man can say Jesus is Lord....) and said real testimonies come from the Holy Ghost.

Then I said I had learned two things about testimonies. The first is just because I have a testimony of something doesn't mean everyone else does.

I talked about people sitting in F&TM and hearing testimonies of what others know and thinking to themselves that they don't know that and perhaps thinking there is something wrong with them or God doesn't love them, etc., and said those ideas are false and quoted Pres. Uchtdorf:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.”
The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” The Church is for people like you and me. The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.
In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.
I told them the second thing I learned is that testimonies can be fragile and that sometimes we end up in crisis mode questioning all that we believe. I then quoted Elder Holland:
In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality...desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.
I said we might also recognize these crisis times as times of maturing and quoted 1 Cor 13:11 (when I was a child...) and talked about how as adults we recognize there are things we wholeheartedly believed as children that we can no longer believe (I was alluding to Santa Claus but couldn't come right out and say so in front of the children). I said some things we think are true are really based on incomplete information and quoted Pres. Uchtdorf:
The “truths” we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as our individual characters. All too often these “truths” are based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence, and at times they serve very selfish motives.
...We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth or reject it—because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong.
When the opinions or “truths” of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or complement what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed, mentally challenged, or even intentionally trying to deceive.
I then quoted some Pew statistics illustrating that Mormons were only a very tiny portion of Christians and Christians were only a third of the world population anyway.

I then talked about how only about a third of members are active in most places, with the exception of the Mormon Corridor which is closer to half. The other extreme has Chile where it's only about 10-15%. I then said it wasn't unique to us and that organization like Pew and Gallup demonstrate that only about a third of all Christians int he US attend church regularly, and the same organizations also show that younger generations are less likely to attend than older ones. I said we don't know why that is.

I thine talked about the domino effects we like to use - if JS was a prophet, the BoM and church are true, etc., but said dominoes can fall in both directions and sometimes people who discover things that may lead them to believe JS was not a prophet then also conclude the BoM and church are not true and talked about how I experienced a similar thing myself and told them it's not all or nothing or either all right or all wrong.

I then quoted from Pew again and talked about significant portions of members who support things like gay marriage and abortion.

I told them we're not all gingerbread men and women and we're not meant to be, that we don't have to believe all the same, and quoted Elder Wirthlin:
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
I told them we should hold on to our own knowledge, beliefs and hopes and not compare ourselves to the beliefs of others, and told them believing is not a childish thing to be put away and quoted 1 Cor 13_12-13 NRSV (for now we see in a mirror...).

I said there really isn't much we have to believe and quoted John 3:16-17 (for God so loved the world...) followed by this quote from Elder Renlund (the other reference talk):
The closer we are to Jesus Christ in the thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him. Our absolute distance from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is important, but the direction we are heading is even more crucial. God is more pleased with repentant sinners who are trying to draw closer to Him than with self-righteous, faultfinding individuals who, like the Pharisees and scribes of old, do not realize how badly they need to repent.
I said we can't buy our stairways to heaven, that only through the redemption of Christ could we return.

I said no amount of wearing white shirts, doing 100% home teaching or paying tithing on gross or a myriad of other Pharisaical rules could change that eternal truth.

Our salvation hinges on the testimony that Jesus is the Christ, but that Jesus didn't say we had to have a sure knowledge of that now but he did say over and over again that we need to believe. I said that belief could be very small, it could be nothing more than a hope or desire to believe and that your belief, hope, and desire is between you and God.

I told them that when we undertake to complicate the doctrine of Christ we risk damaging the good the gospel brings and quoted from the hymn Sweet is the Peace the Gospel Brings (which we had coincidentally sung as an opening hymn).

I closed with a brief testimony of believing Christ and finding peace.
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

Post Reply