By Study and Also By Faith

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

Monday, January 28, 2008

President Hinckley

There are so many nice tributes to President Hinckley around the Bloggernacle and in the newspapers. I really don't have anything to add. I did want to say, though, that President Hinckley was (is) a dear man who will be greatly missed. He was wonderful for the Church and for the saints. I appreciated his traveling so much so that he could visit the saints all over the world.

As sad as I am at his passing, however, I am happy for him. I would guess that he was tired and ready to move on to the next life. We all know that he missed Sister Hinckley a great deal and I am happy that they are together again.

My prayers go out to all his family and friends and fellow saints.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Random Ramblings

I am already tired of winter weather, although here in Oklahoma we have had some nice, mild days intermingled with the cold ones. Summer is too hot, winter is too cold, but spring and fall are just right, as far as I'm concerned.

There are some things about the internet that are just so much fun! Sometimes I will recall a food that my mom prepared when I was a child, but that I don't have a recipe for. (Maybe she didn't, either!) I can search online and find similar recipes which will lead me in the right direction. The most recent one was a chicken and rice soup which featured--besides chicken and rice--carrots and celery. Mom made it with cut-up chicken pieces (bone-in) rather than chopped up boneless chicken. It was really more of a stew or a stove-top casserole because it really wasn't very thinned down with liquid. I don't remember Mom's version having onions in it, but mine certainly will! I do think she used garlic (probably garlic salt). It was absolutely delicious and an excellent winter meal. Of course, we all know that no one cooks like Mom, but at least we can find similar recipes and have fun in the process!

I think cooking (and even just looking for recipes) can be good therapy when you need to rest your mind from everyday concerns. You can also find new and different foods to fix and healthier ways to fix them. You can find less expensive ways to fix meals, too. Having access to the millions of recipes on the internet is useful as well as fun.

I took a vacation day from work today. I've had some sort of respiratory ailment for the last 9 days and, while I am definitely better, I'm still weary and can't quite shake the cough and congestion. Maybe that's why I was thinking longingly of Mom and her chicken-rice soup! Getting older is definitely not for sissies, as the saying goes. It gets harder to recover from things.

My apartment needs cleaning. I hope to feel energetic enough tomorrow to do something about that.

Even my brain is not up to par. I've written posts for all three of my blogs today, but they aren't terribly inspiring.

Tomorrow will be better.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Endure to the End

So, how do you endure to the end? Or is just the thought of it so intimidating that you immediately stop thinking about it? It does sound overwhelming--endure to the end. Why, that could be years and years! And exactly what does it mean, anyway, and how can a human being possibly do such a thing?

In the October 1993 Ensign Stephan E. Robinson has an article titled "
Enduring to the End" which offers some perspective on this phrase. He talks about what it is and how to do it and how to get back to enduring to the end if you slip away from it.

Sometimes we may think of the word endure as meaning getting through afflictions and trials. While that is a part of it, Brother Robinson says, "The fact is that enduring affliction is only a small part of what “enduring to the end” means. Most frequently, the scriptures use the term endure to mean “to last,” “to continue,” or “to remain,” rather than “to suffer....Thus, to endure is to continue in the path we adopted at baptism by keeping our commitments to Christ, until the end of our mortal life."

That has a more positive feel to it, doesn't it? We commit to Christ and then continue with that commitment. We make covenants (baptism, sacrament, temple) and then keep them. In addition, as Brother Robinson says, there is:
Besides keeping the commandments, other component parts of remaining faithful to our covenants include:

• Looking unto Christ (see 3 Ne. 15:9)

• Taking upon us the name of Christ (see 3 Ne. 27:6)

• Feasting upon the words of Christ and pressing forward in steadfastness, hope, and love (see 2 Ne. 31:20; Moro. 8:26)

• Offering our whole souls to Christ and continuing in fasting and prayer (see Omni 1:26)

• Following the example of Christ (see 2 Ne. 31:16)

• Worshipping the Father in the name of Christ (see D&C 20:29)

• Seeking to bring forth Zion (see 1 Ne. 13:37)

• Being patient in afflictions and humble in repentance (see Alma 32:15; D&C 24:8)

Notice that the common focus of all of these exhortations is loyalty to Christ. Consequently, enduring to the end is more than just “being active” in the Church. Enduring to the end requires a personal awareness of obligations made to the Savior and a personal determination to keep those covenants faithfully. While the term “being active” describes visible behavior, “enduring faithful to the end” describes an inner commitment to the gospel and to the church of Jesus Christ. It’s possible to appear to be an active member of the Church without such a conviction.
Brother Robinson ends his article by saying:
Even when one’s endurance has failed before the end, repentance can bring about a new beginning.

Trials, deception, and iniquity—these are the enemies of endurance. Those who can bear the pain of trials, who can ignore alternate voices, whose loyalty can’t be bought with sin—these are they who will not betray their Master’s trust. They will faithfully maintain the charted course. They will endure.
So there is a way to correct errors and to recommence in the right path. That is a great comfort. The article contains so much more and I hope you will read it all. In addition, if you go to the link I've provided, it will link you to all the scriptures mentioned in the article. I've skipped that step this time (linking to the scriptures) because I am not enduring being sick very well today, but I did want to share this wonderful article with you. Read it, ponder it, apply it to your life.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

What About the Desires of Our Hearts?

In the November 1996 Ensign a conference talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell is reprinted. It is titled "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts". Elder Maxwell has this to say about desire and its effect on our agency and accountability:
Exemplifying this happy reality are the doctrinal teachings concerning desire, which relates so directly to our moral agency and our individuality. Whether in their conception or expression, our desires profoundly affect the use of our moral agency. Desires thus become real determinants, even when, with pitiful naivete, we do not really want the consequences of our desires.

Desire denotes a real longing or craving. Hence righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. Of course our genes, circumstances, and environments matter very much, and they shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability.
He also has this to say:
Mostly, brothers and sisters, we become the victims of our own wrong desires. Moreover, we live in an age when many simply refuse to feel responsible for themselves. Thus, a crystal-clear understanding of the doctrines pertaining to desire is so vital because of the spreading effluent oozing out of so many unjustified excuses by so many. This is like a sludge which is sweeping society along toward “the gulf of misery and endless wo” (Hel. 5:12). Feeding that same flow is the selfish philosophy of “no fault,” which is replacing the meek and apologetic “my fault.” We listen with eager ear to hear genuine pleas for forgiveness instead of the ritualistic “Sorry. I hope I can forgive myself.”

Some seek to brush aside conscience, refusing to hear its voice. But that deflection is, in itself, an act of choice, because we so desired. Even when the light of Christ flickers only faintly in the darkness, it flickers nevertheless. If one averts his gaze therefrom, it is because he so desires.

Like it or not, therefore, reality requires that we acknowledge our responsibility for our desires. Brothers and sisters, which do we really desire, God’s plans for us or Satan’s?
Do we recognize our responsibility for our desires, or do we think they just happen and there is nothing we can do about it? I think that often, we do have a tendency to think, "This is just the way I am and I can't change it." That really is not true, though. With God's help, we can change. If we trust Him and rely on Him, we can transform our lives.

Elder Maxwell has this to say:
What we are speaking about is so much more than merely deflecting temptations for which we somehow do not feel responsible. Remember, brothers and sisters, it is our own desires which determine the sizing and the attractiveness of various temptations. We set our thermostats as to temptations.

Thus educating and training our desires clearly requires understanding the truths of the gospel, yet even more is involved. President Brigham Young confirmed, saying, “It is evident that many who understand the truth do not govern themselves by it; consequently, no matter how true and beautiful truth is, you have to take the passions of the people and mould them to the law of God” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:55).

“Do you,” President Young asked, “think that people will obey the truth because it is true, unless they love it? No, they will not” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:55). Thus knowing gospel truths and doctrines is profoundly important, but we must also come to love them. When we love them, they will move us and help our desires and outward works to become more holy.

Each assertion of a righteous desire, each act of service, and each act of worship, however small and incremental, adds to our spiritual momentum. Like Newton’s Second Law, there is a transmitting of acceleration as well as a contagiousness associated with even the small acts of goodness.
And this:
Some of our present desires, therefore, need to be diminished and then finally dissolved. For instance, the biblical counsel “let not thine heart envy sinners” is directed squarely at those with a sad unsettlement of soul (Prov. 23:17). Once again, we must be honest with ourselves about the consequences of our desires, which follow as the night, the day. Similarly faced with life’s so-called “bad breaks,” the natural man desires to wallow in self-pity; therefore this desire must go too.

But dissolution of wrong desires is only part of it. For instance, what is now only a weak desire to be a better spouse, father, or mother needs to become a stronger desire, just as Abraham experienced divine discontent and desired greater happiness and knowledge (see
Abr. 1:2).
I like this next statement very much:
It is up to us. Therein lies life’s greatest and most persistent challenge. Thus when people are described as “having lost their desire for sin,” it is they, and they only, who deliberately decided to lose those wrong desires by being willing to “give away all [their] sins” in order to know God (Alma 22:18).
There is much more to the talk, of course, and reading it in its entirety will give you a better idea of the points Elder Maxwell is making. The point I want to make is that we can change. If we do not desire to change, we can change that! What it requires, to start with, is an honest assessment of ourselves and where we are now, and where we wish to go. It requires thinking about the consequences of our desires and deciding which desires are right and can stay and which are wrong and have to go. Not easy, I know, but then we are here to learn and to grow, not to have life easy.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Manuals Online

There is an institute manual online called Teachings of the Living Prophets. It teaches about everything from why we should heed the prophets to succession to sustaining to analyzing General Conference talks. Combined with our series of Relief Society and Priesthood manuals containing the teachings of various modern prophets, it can help us understand the role of prophets in God's plans for all His children. Check it out.

All of the institute manuals are online and give instruction on a variety of topics, from scriptures to doctrines. There are manuals on marriage and missionary work and leading a productive life. Good reading for all.

The seminary manuals are also online and consist of four guides to the scriptures. They are geared to high school students just as the institute manuals are geared to college students, but all these manuals have a lot to offer all of us in learning more about the gospel and how it applies to our lives.

Our newest RS/Priesthood manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith is available online in various media formats (such as html, pdf, and mp3). Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Language of Prayer

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have very few set prayers (the Sacrament prayers are two examples of those we do have). For the most part, we strive to pray from our hearts. We do encourage the use of thee and thine rather than you and your. It makes for a special language of prayer, language we use only in praying and language that shows reverence and respect and closeness. We also have a pattern of prayer in which we address our Heavenly Father, thank Him for things, ask Him for things, and close in the name of Jesus Christ.

Obviously, our Heavenly Father would rather hear from us than not, regardless of the language we use, but it really isn't that difficult to use the special language of prayer. For me, it makes communing with my Father in Heaven appropriately different from ordinary conversation. Two Ensign articles can help you and/or give you some help in teaching your children the language of prayer. They are:

"The Language of Formal Prayer" by Don E. Norton, Jr.

"The Language of Prayer" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

These articles also talk a bit about the whys and wherefores of using formal language in prayer.

One thing to keep in mind is that we should never allow feelings of unworthiness to keep us from praying to our Heavenly Father. It is through prayer (and scripture study) that we learn to order our lives and make those changes we need to make.