First Presidency message for September urges preparedness

I have heard people say that the Church is not emphasizing preparedness as much these days as it has in the past. The September First Presidency message says being prepared and out of debt is urgent.

We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free.

I repeat what the First Presidency declared a few years ago:

“Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.

“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.”1

Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?

We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.

Into the Darkness and the Light

Pondering death can be tricky. There are several emotions that are involved with the thoughts, from hope of an afterlife to the fear of pain and suffering. Hearing about a person who took their own life, was killed by actions that could have been avoided, accidents and disease, or at the hands of another is always unpleasant. The saying, “they are resting and in a better place,” can be slightly reassuring, but that doesn’t take away the fact the person is still gone. Grief felt by the survivors heals over time or destroys the soul. Those who are religious believers are not alone in facing emotional pain. All people must face death eventually.

The beauty of most religions is a faith that there is much more than this life to look forward to experience. Every good and bad time here in mortality can be worth much more than what currently can be imagined. For Christians, this idea comes from the the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ where his mortal teachings are more than morals to live by because, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinth. 15:19). How precious it can be to open the scriptures and read about Angels and Visions given to mortals as a witness that our person continues long after death. Joseph Smith said, “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God” (History of the Church, 3:295). To live by faith is life eternal.

Despite the great blessings promised with faith, everyone experiences doubt. Perhaps all that we have been taught and come to believe is not true. The alternative is absolute darkness. Once our lives are over there will be nothing. It is a scary and sobering thought. While Joseph Smith discussed a vision he had of seeing family and friends rise from the graves on the day of resurrection to once again meet and hug them, he said, “More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 295). It is hard to imagine living with the idea that first we are here conscious of existence and then some day we are not. Continue reading

Elder Bednar’s Social Media Guidelines

Elder BednarElder David A. Bednar spoke yesterday at the BYU Education Week on using social media to “flood the earth” with the message of the Restored Gospel. After listening to his remarks, I felt, more than ever, the excitement of the times we are living in. We are literally watching, and taking part in the fulfillment of revelation and scripture.

Read and watch his address HERE, on LDS.org

He quoted Brigham Young, who said, “Every discovery in science and art that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan.” When I think of how this has come to pass it is humbling. Things like the internet, satellite, radio, television; the ability to record and save audio and video of General Conference, all have a place in spreading the Gospel. We can send and receive messages, pictures and video instantly as well. Twenty years ago when I was a full time missionary in Bulgaria, it would take six months to get a VHS tape of one or two sessions of General Conference into the country. Now, members can watch Conference as it happens on line, and the following week in their meetinghouses as a Branch. It is truly amazing! Continue reading

Elder Bednar calls for using social media to spread the Gospel

Elder Bednar, speaking during Education Week at BYU, called on members to use social media to spread the message of the Gospel. Here are some key excerpts from his talk:

“Approximately 40 percent of our worldwide missionary force soon will be using digital devices as tools in the work of conversion, retention, and activation,” he said. “I am confident all of us also recognize how technology has accelerated family history and temple work, our individual and family study of the restored gospel, and made it possible for us to learn about, see, and experience the world in remarkable ways.”

Elder Bednar pointed to recent social media efforts by the Church and its members, including an Easter video, Because of Him, which was viewed more than five million times in 191 countries and territories around the world during Easter week.

He cited other examples, such as the hundreds of people who used the #didyouthinktopray hashtag to share a photo with a placard telling when they pray, which led to more than 40,000 conversations about the need for prayer.

And this:

“I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood,” urged Elder Bednar. “I pray we will not simply participate in a flash flood that rises swiftly and then recedes just as rapidly.”

Elder Bednar encouraged listeners to be authentic and consistent when using social media and to only share content that uplifts and edifies. “We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not. Our content should be trustworthy and constructive. Anonymity on the Internet is not a license to be inauthentic.”

“We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than to argue, debate, condemn, or belittle,” explained Elder Bednar. “Be courageous and bold but not overbearing in sustaining and defending our beliefs, and avoid contention. As disciples our purpose should be to use social media channels as a means of projecting the light and truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into a world that increasingly is dark and confused.”

Watch the talk: http://www.byutv.org/watch/event/852b379b-54c5-468b-97b2-ea221b4a56c1

From Mormon Newsroom: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/apostle-calls-for-social-media-messages-sweep-earth?cid=social_20140819_30077876

Promo for new Church movie “Meet the Mormons:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOEA3nVMngA

Endowed with Power

France Paris Notre-Dame-Adam and Eve

The Temptation of Adam and Eve, bas relief, Notre Dame

This week as I attended the temple, I realized I failed to include in my Faithful Joseph series any description about the introduction of the temple ceremonies.

Members of the LDS Church don’t talk much about what happens in the temple. As is often said, we regard these things as sacred. I submit at the time the endowment was introduced there was also a need for secrecy, since it was not known who was true and who was traitor.

The ceremonies of the temple involve preparation to become servants of God. The instructions given and covenants made in the temple are towards this end of preparing individuals for eternal life.

As discussed in the Bible and argued by Jesus in John 10: 34-38, the Jewish law taught that mortals could become gods. 1 The purpose of the temple would be to allow individuals to enter into those covenants and perform those ordinances that would prepare them to becomes the gods the Bible speaks of, holy beings who serve God, the Father of all. These individuals would, if faithful, reign and minister in God’s heaven.

The instructions form a basis for understanding God’s work and salvation: our existence before mortality, the fall of Adam and Eve, the purpose of our mortal lives, the reality of resurrection after this life, and the possibility of returning to live with God in his kingdom. 2

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Psalms 82: 6.
  2. See Endowed from On High: Temple Preparation Seminar Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 1: The Temple Teaches about the Great Plan of Salvation, available online at lds.org, retrieved 18 August 2014.