By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Living Right

In the January 2007 Ensign there is a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It is titled "Living Right", and is from a commencement address delivered in 2004 at BYU.

An apostle is also a prophet, seer, and revelator. Elder Scott gives us much to think about in this talk--things that apply to us all, at whatever stage in life or spiritual development we are. He says:
This world is in serious trouble. The fundamental values of our society are being undermined. There is a continual crumbling of principle, virtue, integrity, and religious values—the foundation stones of civilization and definitive ingredients of peace and happiness. I will share with you as simply and as clearly as I am able a pattern for success and happiness in life despite these conditions.

God has given you the capacity to exercise faith so that you may find peace, joy, and purpose in life. However, to employ its power, faith must be rooted in something secure. There is no more solid foundation than faith in the love Heavenly Father has for you, faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the willingness and power of Jesus Christ to fulfill all of His promises.

Some of the principles upon which faith is based are:

• Trust in God and in His desire to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.

• Obedience to His commandments and a commitment to living a life that demonstrates He can trust you.

• Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Spirit and courageous follow-through.

• Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.
We do face a serious erosion in eternal values in our world. It is up to each of us to strengthen these values in our own life and set the example for others to help them along their way. Here is what Elder Scott says about character and faith:
You must understand and use the power of the interaction of faith and character. God uses your faith to mold your character. Character is woven patiently from threads of doctrine, principle, and obedience. Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming. Your character will be the yardstick that God will use to determine how well you have met your mortal probation. Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life. Such choices are made with trust in things that are believed and, when acted upon, will be confirmed as true.

As you walk to the boundary of your understanding into the twilight of uncertainty, exercising faith, you will be led to find solutions to the challenges of life you would not obtain otherwise. No matter how strong your faith is, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather He will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you. Your exercise of faith will forge strength of character available to you in times of critical need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used.

The bedrock of character is integrity. Worthy character will strengthen your capacity to recognize the direction of the Spirit and be obedient to it. It is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished. Your consistent exercise of faith builds strong character. In turn, fortified character expands your ability to exercise faith, thereby enhancing your capacity and confidence in conquering the trials of life. And this strengthening cycle continues. The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith.
Those are some profound words that give us some guidance and direction. One last quote:
As an exceptional son or daughter of God, you are sorely needed. There is an urgent need for men and women who will stand for principles against the growing pressures to compromise those very principles. Men and women are required who will act nobly and courageously for what the Lord has defined as right, not for what is politically correct or socially acceptable. We need individuals who have the spiritual, righteous influence that will motivate others to enduring good. We need politicians of integrity, businesspeople who are honest and morally clean, attorneys who defend justice and the legal system, and government officials who preserve principle because it is right. Above all, we need mothers and fathers who will preserve the sanctity and safety of the home and the integrity of the family, where faith in God and obedience to His commandments are taught as the foundation of a productive life.
Even in our most everyday activities, we must obey the Lord in faith and trust. The Lord is the head of our church and guides President Hinckley and other leaders and they pass His word on to us. Take time to read Elder Scott's talk. It has been helpful and instructive to me and I believe you will find it so, as well.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Spiritual Maturity

I like to look around in the old Ensign magazines and read pieces that catch my attention. Besides being fun and interesting, I am reminded of some important insights into living the gospel.

One conference talk from November 1982 caught my attention. It is titled "
The Meaning of Maturity" and was given by Elder Derek A. Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy. In this talk, Elder Cuthbert lists ten qualities of maturity--five are childlike and five are acquired later in life.

The first five, the childlike qualities, are innocence, humility, simplicity, faith, and love. The second five are wisdom, leadership, accountability, dependablity, and self-mastery. Elder Cuthbert comments on each of these ten qualities in an insightful way. For example, here is what he had to say about wisdom:
Sixth, then, we need to acquire wisdom, that which Solomon desired so that he could make righteous judgments. Many of us are not wise, for we are blinded by the material world around us. Wisdom comes from a realization of true values and priorities. It is a spiritual quality, for it is founded on discernment and an understanding heart. Great is the wisdom of the prophets, and all who heed them are blessed.

The Lord has counseled us to “seek not for riches but for wisdom.” (D&C 6:7.) In this general conference, pearls of wisdom have come from those who have spoken under the inspiration of the Spirit. We would all do well to study and apply the truths that have been declared.

Knowledge by itself can be dangerous, and he who seeks to acquire knowledge must also be helped to obtain wisdom. Wisdom is a sign of maturity. It is usually related to age and experience, but not necessarily so. When serving as a mission president in Scotland, I saw the Lord quicken the understanding of many young missionaries so that they developed beyond their years. Now, less than five years later, six have been called as bishops and two into stake presidencies in the British Isles, and all are giving fine leadership.
There is a lot more in Elder Cuthbert's talk, of course, but I think it is a useful guide for me and maybe some of you will find it useful, as well.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Searching for Happiness

In the October 2000 Ensign President James E. Faust wrote a message entitled "Our Search for Happiness". It's a great article filled with quotes and examples and I hope you will read it.

President Faust begins by saying:
I wish to discuss our search for happiness. Having lived quite a few years now, I have concluded that since we don’t always desire that which is good, having all our desires granted to us would not bring us happiness (see Alma 41:3–7). In fact, instant and unrestrained gratification of all our desires would be the shortest and most direct route to unhappiness. The many hours I have spent listening to the tribulations of men and women have persuaded me that both happiness and unhappiness are much of our own making.
We do make a great deal of our own happiness or unhappiness by our choices. It is true that things beyond our control happen to us and around us, but if we do our best to make correct choices, we will have happiness and joy and serenity in the midst of life's ups and downs.

I have lately been learning to be humble and to rely completely on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It isn't always easy. I am used to not being humble and to not relying on the Lord, thinking that I must work things out on my own all the time--thinking that that is what is required before I can ask the Lord for help. Not true, but difficult for me to learn and incorporate into my life. We need the Lord's power and strength and guidance as we go through life, so we need to humbly rely on Him first.

There is a book available online at Meridian Magazine that is a great help to me. It is an LDS 12-step book based on the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. It is not just for those struggling with addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc., although it will certainly help them, too. It is a book for those with such issues as overeating, overspending money, perfectionism, overemphasis on work or career, and other such everyday compulsive/addictive behaviors that many of us experience in our lives. It is also a book for simply seeking to be close to the Lord. It is called He Did Deliver Me from Bondage (I'm linking to the last part because it has links to all the other parts in the righthand sidebar.) and was written by Colleen G. Harrison. You can read it online and, if you like it enough, you can buy it from Deseret Book or LDS bookstores or other places referred to at Meridian Magazine where the book is online.

There are, of course, many sources of help, the chief ones being scriptures and prayer, and also the words of our prophets. The book, though, gathers a lot of help in one place. One lesson I learned from it (a lesson I didn't realize that I needed to learn) is that I cannot "mess up" more than the Lord can fix. Sometimes we get to thinking we are too unworthy to approach the Lord, but that is what Satan wants us to think. We need to go to the Lord always with everything.

Back to President Faust's article, he quotes the Prophet Joseph Smith as follows:
As the Prophet Joseph Smith told us, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).
I am sure that we would all like real peace and happiness and joy in our lives. It is attainable. I sometimes think we try so hard to be good that we forget to enjoy the peace and happiness and joy of the gospel. We can remedy that--with the Lord's help.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

“Throughout our history, America has been protected by patriots who cherished liberty and made great sacrifices to advance the cause of freedom. The brave members of the United States Armed Forces have answered the call to serve our Nation, ready to give all for their country. On Veterans Day, we honor these extraordinary Americans for their service and sacrifice, and we pay tribute to the legacy of freedom and peace that they have given our great Nation.”—President George W. Bush, 2007 Veterans Day Proclamation

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends. (
John 15:13).

Remember Veteran’s Day today.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


Yesterday I had an opportunity to serve the Lord by performing a small service for my fellowman. Every year our stake sets aside two days, called Days of Thanksgiving, wherein we concentrate on temple work. Everyone who can goes to the temple as often as they can to participate in ordinance work. Needless to say, the temple workers are very busy.

What we do, because our temple is small and has no cafeteria, is prepare and serve meals to the temple workers as they have time to eat. We set up in the waiting room. Caterers who are members of the church donate the wonderfully prepared food and others of us serve the meals and clean up. This gives the temple workers the opportunity to refresh themselves without having to leave the temple, which often they really would not have the time to do. I helped with this last night.

I really appreciate the service the temple workers provide and so to be able to help in a small way with providing them with a needed service makes me feel good. Ultimately, we are all serving the Lord and it's a wonderful feeling to participate in this.

After last night's dinner was finished, we packed up all the leftover food and sent it to a local charity called The Jesus House, which feeds the homeless. That was another way to serve the Lord by serving our fellowman. I was happy to be sending so much nutritious food to them--soups and salad from last night plus an assortment of other good things--as they are feeding those who often don't have much opportunity for healthy eating, or any eating. As I helped pack the food, I thought of those who would be eating it and hoped that it would brighten their spirits as well as help them physically.

There are many ways to serve and many people to serve. Whether it is someone in our family or a neighbor or a stranger, any little thing we can do can help in some way. If we will take opportunities for service as they arise, whatever they might be, we will have a chance to cheer others along their way and brighten their lives a bit. I am sure this pleases the Lord more than we can imagine.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

About Fear

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30)
Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come. (Doctrine & Covenants 68:6)
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. (Mark 5:36)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

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