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
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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
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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: 2549
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
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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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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Sep 2017, 05:25

A recent talk, pretty much verbatim.

Like most of us, I’m not one that feels the Spirit all the time.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I experience what I think is the feeling of the Spirit several times per day or for extended periods of time in a day.
Other times I can go days without having any such feelings at all.
And sometimes the feelings or inspiration are particularly relatively intense.
Very frankly, I often don’t see much rhyme or reason to it.
I can go about my daily routine of doing the same things I do every day and sometimes have experiences but more often don’t - yet I haven’t done anything significantly different or “sinful.”
I don’t want to portray the idea that I’m a sinful person nor that I am more or less spiritual than anyone else, I’m just another average guy.
Nor is it my aim to judge anyone else about their sinfulness or lack thereof based on whether or not they have spiritual experiences.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
But I do want to make a few points upfront to frame the basis of what I’m about to say, and I feel somewhat like Elder Oaks in doing this.
1. We cannot argue that there are things that make us more likely to have spiritual experiences, inspiration, or simply “feel the spirit” or recognize God’s hand in our lives.
It is these things I will address today.
2. Very similar to the first point, there are things which we do or experience which can make us less likely to have spiritual experiences, inspiration, feel the Spirit, or recognize God’s hand in our lives.
3. Neither of these two points are guarantees one way or the other.
That is, there are individuals who, as far as we can tell, live very righteous lives and are not always accompanied by the Spirit and have relatively few Spiritual experiences while conversely there are those who we might think would not be worthy of the Spirit’s influence who do have spiritual experiences.
I have worked in a maximum security prison and I currently work in secure juvenile justice and I bear you my witness the Spirit can be felt - sometimes very strongly - behind those bars and razor wire.
4. Directly related to this, God’s love for his children does not depend upon the righteousness or worthiness of those children.
President Dieter Uchtdorf in a talk entitled “The Love of God” said:
"Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked." (GC Oct. 2009)
5. And directly related to number 4, sometimes we are so hard on ourselves that we forget how much our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us and we block the feelings associated with that love, as if using an umbrella in the rain, and thus do not feel the love our Heavenly Father constantly rains down upon on us through His Holy Spirit and through His Son, Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.
Very close to the Savior’s crucifixion, John records a discourse about the Comforter.
It includes this well known statement.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:27 NRSV)
As I have aged, I have come more and more to an understanding that what everybody really seeks in life is peace.
But peace can be very difficult to find and once found very difficult to hold on to.
Many times have I prayed about something troubling my heart, looking for an answer to prayer and found the only answer I get is a peaceful feeling that it’s going to be OK.
Very honestly sometimes that is frustrating.
However, I have learned to accept peace for an answer, even when I think I need much more than peace.
In a blog posted on the LDS home page a few months ago, Liz Stitt eloquently worded it like this:
"Not as the world giveth. Not a quick answer. Not a list of five things we can do to solve our problem. Not a historical overview in our minds. Not a method to turn our symptoms into a diagnosis. Not a cure. Not someone brought back. Not immediate restitution or reconciliation. Not always a phone call when we need it. Not always someone reaching out at just the right moment. Those moments do happen, and I am grateful for those moments.
But at times, all I need is a great calm. When the answer is peace."
I believe this is exactly what Jesus meant.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
"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)
I’m not going to make any promises that by doing certain things you will without reservation have a more spiritual life.
But I can say that I believe there are things that can bring more spiritual power into our lives.
In his General Conference address this past April, Pres. Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked about one way to bring more spirituality into our lives.
Noting John 3:16-17 I just quoted, Pres. Nelson said:
"His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. All so that we could have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day."
That power is often nothing more than the peaceful assurance that we feel.
We Latter-day Saints can be very hard on ourselves and sometimes others.
There are so many things we feel like we have to do, and so often we feel like we fall short in many areas of our lives including church, family, and work.
We can easily dig ourselves into a pit of believing we are not good enough for or worthy enough of God’s love, mercy, and grace.
Pres. Uchtdorf said:
"How do we become true disciples of Jesus Christ?
The Savior Himself provided the answer with this profound declaration: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This is the essence of what it means to be a true disciple: those who receive Christ Jesus walk with Him.
But this may present a problem for some because there are so many “shoulds” and “should nots” that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.”
This was one of the Savior’s criticisms of the religious “experts” of His day, whom He chastised for attending to the hundreds of minor details of the law while neglecting the weightier matters.
So how do we stay aligned with these weightier matters? Is there a constant compass that can help us prioritize our lives, thoughts, and actions?
Once again the Savior revealed the way. When asked to name the greatest commandment, He did not hesitate. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” He said. “This is the first and great commandment.” Coupled with the second great commandment—to love our neighbor as ourselves—we have a compass that provides direction not only for our lives but also for the Lord’s Church on both sides of the veil.
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.
When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden. "(General Conference Oct. 2009)
In order to love as the Savior does, we must learn of and try to understand Him.
Pres. Nelson said:
“It is impossible for [us] to be saved in ignorance.” The more we know about the Savior’s ministry and mission—the more we understand His doctrine and what He did for us—the more we know that He can provide the power that we need for our lives.
He goes on to tell about a challenge that he gave to young adults earlier this year to “study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.”
He also said that he had completed the challenge himself and that he is a different man because of it.
Let me tell you of a somewhat similar experience I had.
Some of you may know that only about three and a half years ago I was not active in the church, and I had not been active for a number of years.
I had undergone what I and some others call a crisis of faith.
About four years ago, several months prior to my return to activity in church, my faith moved from a crisis mode to a transition mode.
I should note that faith transitions and growth can occur without a crisis, but that’s not how mine worked.
Like the crisis itself, there was not just one thing that brought about the transition, but there was a very important undertaking that enabled the transition.
That undertaking was similar to what Pres. Nelson spoke of.
I had decided that if I wanted to rebuild my faith in Jesus Christ, I needed to know more about Him.
And I had decided the best way for me to do that was to study Him in the four gospels.
So I did.
Like Pres. Nelson, I changed.
I came to a greater understanding of Jesus Christ’s role as the Redeemer and Savior of the world.
And I likewise came to a clearer understanding of Our Heavenly Father’s love for us.
That love for us is no more evident than during the almost weekly rite of partaking of the sacrament.
It is during this short time on Sunday that through the partaking of the bread and water we renew our commitments to remember the body and blood of Jesus Christ given for us, and witness that we will remember him and keep his commandments that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.
There is no “if” in there my dear brothers and sisters, the blessing is to the souls of all those who partake and drink of it.
I have known people who because of little things they have done during the week prior decide they are not worthy to take the sacrament and thus abstain.
Unless you have committed a grievous sin, one for which your behavior might be the cause of church disciplinary procedures, it is a mistake not to partake of the sacrament.
Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve said:
"It’s my observation [too] some members of the church, especially very conscientious members, can be way too hard on themselves, and so they may have had an inappropriate thought or a fussy word with a member of the family before they went out the door and then they think “I’m not worthy to partake of the sacrament.”
That’s why we take the sacrament.
Now if we do something that potentially affects our standing and membership in the church, then there should be a real reservation. Otherwise we should do what we need to do and be prepared…. The sacrament is to help and we should not withdraw ourselves from that blessing needlessly."
The sacrament is directly related to the atoning sacrifice of the Savior.
President Nelson taught:
"As Latter-day Saints, we refer to His mission as the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which made resurrection a reality for all and made eternal life possible for those who repent of their sins and receive and keep essential ordinances and covenants.
It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice by shortcut phrases, such as “the Atonement” or “the enabling power of the Atonement” or “applying the Atonement” or “being strengthened by the Atonement.” These expressions present a real risk of misdirecting faith by treating the event as if it had living existence and capabilities independent of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Under the Father’s great eternal plan, it is the Savior who suffered. It is the Savior who broke the bands of death. It is the Savior who paid the price for our sins and transgressions and blots them out on condition of our repentance. It is the Savior who delivers us from physical and spiritual death.
There is no amorphous entity called “the Atonement” upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source. Sacred terms such as Atonement and Resurrection describe what the Savior did, according to the Father’s plan, so that we may live with hope in this life and gain eternal life in the world to come. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him."
What I am about to say is not at all an exaggeration.
I once sat through an entire sacrament meeting where the topic was the atonement and where there were three speakers - only one of which even mentioned Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and then only in passing.
We can do better than that in this meeting which is aptly named sacrament meeting.
When we focus our talks on the Lord and His atonement we provide another vehicle which invites the Spirit to bring the peace and love of God into our lives and the lives of those who have joined us seeking the sweet peace the gospel brings.
Our dear president, Thomas S. Monson managed to speak twice to us in our last General Conference.
With the next one being only a few weeks away, it seems unlikely his health will allow him to do so again.
If indeed April was the last General Conference in which we will hear him speak, his words become all that much more meaningful.
In priesthood session President Monson admonished us:
"...let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home."
You may recall that in April 2014 President Monson delivered an address entitled “Love, The Essence of the Gospel.”
In that address he said:
"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."
In his tenure as president of the church and his many years as an apostle, Pres. Monson has frequently talked about simple acts of kindness and love.
What a fitting topic for such a servant of the Lord.
In his Sunday morning address last April Pres. Monson spoke about the power of the Book of Mormon.
"My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives."
Another way to bring more spiritual power into our lives is through prayer.
"My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return sweet hour of prayer
And since he bids me seek hi face
Believe his word and trust his grace
I’ll cast on him my every care
And wait for thee sweet hour of prayer." (Hymns 142)
I have felt that my prayers bounce off the ceiling as much as anyone’s.
Nevertheless, I have also often felt the peace that comes as He has answered privately, reaching my reaching in my own Gethsemane. (see Hymns 129)
Finally my friends, the hymns are a wonderful way to feel more spiritual power.
The First Presidency concludes the preface to the Hymnbook with these words:
Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, “and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads.”
Channeling Elder Oaks again, let me summarize:
We can bring more spiritual power into our lives by:
1. Studying the scriptures, particularly the words and deeds of our Savior Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon
2. Loving God and loving our neighbors - being more kind, loving and charitable.
3. Weekly partaking of the sacrament and remembering our Savior’s atoning sacrifice.
4. Praying regularly, even when we don’t feel powerful instantaneous answers or the answers we think we should get.
5. Learning, singing, and pondering the words of wisdom contained in our beautiful sacred hymns.
Friends, even if we do all of these things and don’t feel any differently I bear you my witness that God lives and loves you.
If all else fails, be still and know that [he] is God (Psalms 46:10) and you will find 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

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Heber13
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Heber13 » 24 Sep 2017, 13:24

Great talk!
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Roy
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Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Roy » 24 Sep 2017, 14:42

Very Nice!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Sep 2017, 17:17

Thanks for sharing that, DJ. Wonderful!
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

Bear
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Bear » 11 Oct 2017, 11:38

I just want to thank everyone. The talk went well.. I was very nervous, becuase it was a very "out of the box" talk, and i think people see more who i truly am, which is scary but great at the same time.

I don't know if you want to read it, but if you want to, here it is. I put it through google translate because i was lazy, so some things might be very weird:)

Thanks again everyone, for your great input!




Opposites (so we can be one?)

Present the subject.
When we talk about this subject, almost everyone thinks about this scripture that I want to read now:
2 Nephi 2:11

Because it must necessarily be such that there is a contradiction in everything. If it were not my firstborn in the wilderness, justice could not be provided, nor wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor evil. Everything must therefore necessarily be a blend in one; If that were one, it would necessarily have to be as dead as it had neither life nor death nor neglect or immortality, happiness or misery, neither feeling nor insensitivity.


As we read this, we are talking about trials here in life. That it should be nice to feel it sour. Death for life to exist. Make sure there is happiness. And that without these contradictions it will all be dead.

We have heard that a couple of times before, so I've tried to ride a little bit inside my brain and see what new angle is on things.

I want to take a different angle and think about it in relation to the church and our relationship with each other and how much we embrace diversity.

Without diversity, without our individual different opinions and hence opposites, I think it would be, as in the scripture I just read, dead and our church will be dead because there would be no development.

What contradictions are there in such a congregation as ours (and everyone else)? I think we have a very nice compassion, I just hurry to say.


I think some of these contradictions can make a difference between us if we use them as a checklist on each other and also create a gap within us if we use them to have a checklist of ourselves.



examples:

-We have a temple recommendation or not
-We have been on a mission or not
-We pay tithing or not
-We overcome the word of word or not
Do we have an office in the church or not?
"We" know that the church is true or not
Do you have to drink Cola or not?
Do you want to take the sacrament with one hand or does not matter?
-The orthodox
-The unorthodox
-The progressive
-The "only" cultural mormon most comes to church because his / her family and friends do it.




All these different people are mixed around in a big pear wrap. How can we be without conflicts due to our contradictions in our understanding of the gospel?

I see things from my point of view and have opinions about things that may not be the same with another member, who sees things from his point of view etc etc.

And that will somehow create opposites. Especially because we may each think that there is only one way to see / understand things in the church and that's my way.
Sometimes you may feel that you have other attitudes / understandings of things and you are afraid to say it in a class in the church.
That's a bad thing. Not only do not talk about things, the classes may also be locked to some extent in standard answers, as we all know.
And it may mean that we never have the live discussions we could really have. And it can mean that we, as single people, churches and church, do not have the development we could have.

Hugh B. Brown, counselor in First Presidency, Speech at BYU, March 29, 1968
"I admire men and women who have developed a spirit that questions things that are not afraid to use new ideas as a stepboard for progress. We must, of course, respect each other's opinions, but we should not be afraid to differ - if we are informed. Thoughts and expressing themselves compete in the free market we call "thoughts", and in that competition the truth can only win at last. Only mistakes fear freedom of expression. This free exchange of ideas is not something we should look down on as long as men and women remain humble and can be taught. Neither fear of consequences nor any form of compulsion should ever be used to make sure we all think the same in church. People should be able to express their problems and attitudes and not be afraid to think about the consequences. We must maintain the freedom of the mind in the church and resist all attempts to suppress it.


So, do we really think so?

Two months ago, I was really happy because a church article circled on facebook that actually referred to the "Fowler's stages of faith", which I have chosen to translate as "faith stages". Not something most people have noticed, but Fowler's stages of faith explain how / why we think differently, and that it is quite common development. It's a theory that I found a few years ago, and that helped me in my own faith journey.

James Fowler is a professor of theology and human development, and pastor of a methodist church.

He published in 1981 a book, which became one of his most famous books, titled "Stages of faith", in which he tries to find systems in human spiritual development. There are different stages from 0-6 and you can read more about yourself if you are interested in development in psychology and spirituality. Different studies have been made of human development from child to adult in psychology, but this applies to spirituality instead.

In this article, there are excerpts of presentation given by "Scott R Braithwaite" as a psychology professor at BYU.

So in short: On the church's website there is an article that has an excerpt from a presentation at BYU where Scott Braithwaite, explains James Fowler's beliefs stages.

"These beliefs, I think, are a great help to us because they help us realize that there is not only a way to believe."
According to Braithwaite, most people remain in Fowler's Stage 3 throughout their lives, which is a conventional belief, characterized by conformance to an authority that is a strong cultural element in religious life. A "us" against "them" worldview, while ignoring all conflicts in the person's own faith, because of fear of the discrepancies in this belief.
"Stage 3, is where I think we are most vulnerable to ending up in a crisis because there are expectations that are impossible to meet," said Braithwaite. I think they live in a world that is binary, it is black and white, where the church is only good and impossible to do anything bad and vice versa where the world is evil and in decline.
"The perfectionist idea can be dangerous because most beliefs have different human elements in themselves." says Braithwaite. "
Here he only explains about a stage out of 7.
Should we all have faith / understanding together? I simply do not think it's possible. We are all unique. And that should not create conflicts with us.
I am convinced that some of my attitudes / understandings about some subjects would make the bishop go to head. And guess what that applies to us all.

So there's only one way to see things in the church? Should it create contradictions between us?
Not according to the church's article. And in fact, according to the church's history,


You can just look at the history of our own church and see the contradictions that have been in how our own church leaders have understood things. Which really shows that there is not only, or has been a way of looking at things.

In the 1850s and until the late 1800s, Brigham Young and the subsequent Church leaders taught that Adam was our God. That Adam was literally God for our earth. Also known as the Adam-God doctrine. If some have heard of it before. This was positively received by some leaders while it was directly rejected by others, among others. Orson Pratt, who was one of Brigham Young's apostles at that time.
Adam-God's doctrine was later publicly stamped as false teaching by Spencer W. Kimball, who was the leader of the church at the time in the 1970s.

Another example of opposites is that:
From Brigham Young's time until 1978, they could not have the priesthood or come to the temple because, according to the church at that time, they were descendants of Cain.
Today we can read from the church website that the official position is now:

"Today, the church rejects the theories (and teachings) stated in the past that colored skin is a sign of divine misery or curses or that they are an expression of unfair actions in the past that race-mixed marriages are a sin or that colored or people of any other race or ethnicity are in any way laquered. Today, the leaders of the church condemn all racism, in the past or present, in any form.

When we know that church leaders have had different interpretations and understandings of core topics in the church throughout the ages, (and there are more than those here) we should also have an understanding of each other's different understandings and interpretations of things today. Despite contradictions, there must be room for everyone in the church.
Both Brigham Young and Spencer W Kimball.


Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said at the General Conference in 2008 about those who think "different". And we'll do that all in one way or another.

"They feel like they do not belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves drifting away from the flock. They act, think, speak and look different than people around them, and this sometimes causes them to assume they do not fit in. They conclude that there is no need for them.
Along with this misconception there is the wrong belief that all members of the Church should speak, be and look alike. The Lord did not populate the earth with a sound orchestra of personalities to exclusively appreciate the world's piccoloflots. Any instrument is precious and adds more to the symphony's complex beauty. All of our Heavenly Father's children are somewhat different, yet each child has its own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.

We are all unique and all voices should be heard. I think it is important that we in the church's I think it's important that we in the classrooms and elsewhere do not just stand for standard answers because we feel different but really have genuine discussions about topics. I think we will find that we all have a lot to contribute and that we do not have to be the same.


Have you ever been to the hospital?
A few years ago I got meningitis.
I was in church, felt a bit sloppy. We went home, I lay under the quilt and Anna went out with my parents to my brother.
2 hours later I was screaming because my head was about to explode and I had to call an ambulance.
After a while, they found me in the neighborhood and I drove off.
Imagine if we had stopped at the hospital entrance, where there were some doctors and they had told me:

"Doctors here are healthy and healthy, we know a lot about making people healthy, we are very clever. You can be like us if you just try more. When you are as healthy and as clever and know the very right things like us, you must come in and we can treat you.

It may not be the best way to run a hospital, nor a church.

President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said in October 2014

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all sorts of testimonies. There are some Church members who have a sure testimony that burns within them. Others strive to find out. The church is a home where everyone meets regardless of the depth or the strength of their testimony. I do not know any signs at the door of our church buildings, where it says: "Your testimony must be so high that you may come in."
The church is not only for perfect people, but it is for all who want to "come to Christ, and be perfect in him." The church is for people like you and me. The church is a place that embraces everyone and takes care of them, not somewhere that separates or criticizes. It is a place where we strive to encourage, elevate and help each other when we each strive to seek divine truth.
In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God's light on the journey through the path of the disciple. We do not condemn others for how much light they have or do not have. Instead of nourishing and encouraging all light, until it grows clear, glorious and true. "
I think it's a reminder that witnesses, attitudes and understandings of things are available in all sizes, colors and frames.

And it is not our job to judge who is wrong or right. There is already one that has as job description and I do not think any of us are so much better than him.

Everyone is welcome as they are.
-The orthodox
-The unorthodox
-The on with the with blue shirt
-the one with the white shirt
-THe one with with long hair
the one who believes
the one has doubts
the one who does not believe

I hope we can all remain unique.

There are things in the church / gospel (I'm not sure where one term stops and the other begins), which I neither understand nor agree with, there are other things I have hoped for and so there are things I have one deep faith in. One of the things is that we have a God who loves us more than we can ever understand.
"If I speak with the tongues of humans and angels, but do not have love, I'm a resounding ore and a whining bell. v2 And if I have prophetic gift and know all the secrets and possess all knowledge and have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. v3 And if I divide all that I own, and give my body to burn, but not love, I will not profit. "


My hope is that we must have love for each other and give room for everyone's interpretations and points of view in the church. That we must know that we do not have to talk and think the same and that knowing this, we can *be*can be *one*, instead of being the same.

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