Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FHE on Prayer

I had to pull together a last-minute FHE lesson after dinner last night.  I usually will find a Friend article, in these situations, and read the article and discuss it.  So as I was flipping through the Friend, I found a nice short article on prayer.  It was about a couple of kids who used prayer in their lives.  The article also had some activities that you could do to help re-inforce the message.  One of these had an activity to find examples of prayer in the scriptures, but a better idea came to me and it turned out really well.

I asked my son to get the "blue box" of Church pictures.  I put the box in the middle of the floor.  Then, before I read the article, I told the kids that I was going to start a sentence and I wanted them to finish it.  I started the sentence, "Prayer is ..."  They each came up with their ideas ... beautiful, reverent, talking to God, quiet.  Then I read the article.  We talked about it a bit and then each of them wanted to share their own experiences with personal prayer and so we all listend to their personal experiences.

Then we all sat on the floor around the "blue box."  I split the pictures up between everyone in the family.  I then asked them to put the pictures that dealt with prayer in one pile and then put all the other pictures in another pile.  Then I took all their non-prayer pictures and put them back in the box.  Then I showed them how many scripture story pictures were about prayer.  I quickly went through each one; briefly recounting the story or having one of the kids recount the story.  Then I asked them, "was their prayer answered?"  Of course they were!  And just seeing all the stories in the scriptures and talking about how those prayers were answered not only helped the kids, but it really strengthened my faith too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Israel Surrounded

This article, by Victor Davis Hanson, really raised my eyebrows ... especially the last paragraph.

So brace yourself. The next war against Israel is no longer a matter of if — only when. And it will be far more deadly than any we’ve witnessed in quite some time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recap of April 2011 Conference

With the October 2011 General Conference a couple of weeks away, I thought I'd do a recap of all the Apostle's talks - with emphasis on what we should do.

President Monson - opening remarks
pay your tithes and offerings and be generous with them.  contribute to other funds of the church.  consider making a donation to the general missionary fund of the church.

Elder Perry - The Sabbath and the Sacrament
commit to study and treasure the new testament.
go to the house of prayer (sacrament meeting & church meetings).
avoid worldly distractions, business and recreational activities on sunday.
confess & forsake our errors to heavenly father.
dress appropriately on the sabbath.
teach our children to love the sabbath by going to church

Elder Cook - LDS Women Are Incredible!
wives are equal to their husbands.  marriage requires full partnership - husbands and wives work side by side. to meet the needs of the family.

President Eyring - Opportunities to Do Good
consecrate your time, means and yourself to serve others.
keep your covenants by acting on feelings of sympathy.
provide for youself, your family and then reach out to help others.
spend less than you earn; with the surplus, give to others.
draw your family into the work of helping others; so they can learn from your example.
seek out the poor - it is a commandment.
prepare yourself.  be pureified, strengthened; serve god and others

President Packer - Guided by the Holy Spirit
refer to members of the church properly i.e. latter-day saints
be responsible, caring, devoted to your wife and children and revere womanhood.  nurture spiritual growth in your children.
love one another and frankly forgive offenses.
leave it alone ... forgive, forget and leave it alone.
mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that need it, be a witness of god always.
do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting.

Elder Nelson - Face the Future with Faith
combat fear by strengthening your faith.
strengthen the faith of your children.
focus your faith on heavenly father and jesus christ.  teach children they are a child of god.  teach faith in the plan of salvation; that this life is a probation - a trial - a test.
keep all of god's commandments.
faith and obedience will provide physical and spiritual protection.
faith is fortified through heartfelt prayer - intense & impassioned prayers.
enduring commitment to being a full tithe-payer is essential.
why do we need faith?  because difficult days are ahead.
the saints will suffer persecution - how you react to that persecution will either crush you or motivate you.
the future is as bright as your faith.

Elder Oaks - Desire
search your heart to determine what you really desire; determine how you rank your most important desires.
you develop desire when you have a vision of what you can become.  when you have that vision, your power to act increases enormously.
desires must be heartfelt - unwavering - permanent.
deliberately decide to lose wrong desires.
insist over and over again what you desire to become and you will become it.
work for the qualities required to become an eternal being.
do all that you can do to preserve your temple marriage.

Elder Ballard - Finding Joy through Loving Service
strive to keep your life simple and unencumbered by extraneous influences; focus on those things that matter most.
love god & christ with all your heart and share that love through acts of kindness.
when charity envelops us, our motivation and heartfelt desires are like christ's.
let the golden rule govern your home.  speak words of support and encouragement; be sensitive to other's needs.
kindness is the essence of greatness.
discern needs and then respond to those needs.
be sensitive to the promptings of the holy ghost.
help with mundane tasks.
unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.
desire the gift of charity.

Elder Anderson - Preparing the World for the Second Coming
sidney going (rugby star athlete) said, "the blessing of bringing others into the gospel far outweighs anything you will ever sacrifice.
thousands have not asked "what will i get from my mission" rather they've asked "what can i give?"
prepare for service as a missionary - keep clean, pure and worthy to represent the lord.

President Uchtdorf - Your Potential, Your Privilege
partake of the abundant feast of spiritual opportunities and universal blessings the priesthood provides.
when impressed upon by the spirit, do it now.
read the scriptures - listen to the prophets with all your heart and mind.
don't let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the holy ghost.
commit to reading the scriptures and handbooks with more purpose and focus.
read d&c 84, 107, 121
study the purpose, potential and practical use of the priesthood.
become experts in the doctrines of the gospel - especially the doctrine of the priesthood.
seek personal revelation.
plead with the lord to provide us with a spark of faith that will enable us to receive revelation.
experience the bliss of daily, practical priesthood service.
never become hardened at the wonder and awe of what the lord has entrusted to us.

President Eyring - Learning in the Priesthood
learn your duties in the priesthood and grow in the power to perform them.
love each other and don't find fault with each other.
be a peacemaker - someone who helps people find common ground when others see differences.
with enough desire to be a peacemake and to have charity, unity is possible; but it takes patience and humilty.
labor for the salvation of men.
"in the priesthood we share the sacred duty to labor for the souls of men.  we must do more than learn that this is our duty.  it must go down into our hearts so deeply that neither the many demans on our efforts in the bloom of life nor the trials that come with age can turn us from that purpose."
be determined to do something that matters.

President Monson - Priesthood Power
"the moral compass of the masses has gradually shifted to an 'almost anything goes' position."
do not subject yourself to the innuendo and outright filth from today's media (tv, movies)
stay completely away from pornography.  avoid alcohol & tabacco, drugs and addictions.
read the book of mormon.
keep your testimony alive through obedience and regular prayer and scripture study and chuch attendance.
cease any unrighteousness.
reject false concepts and teachings; and remain true to god's commandments.
get married.
in most cases, divorce does not have to be the outcome.
choose your love; love your choice.
be the right person in your marriage.  do your part.
be committed to your wife.

President Uchtdorf - Waiting on the Road to Damascus
look back on your life experiences and see that the savior has been with you.
move forward with faith and do not wait too long.
turn down the volume control on the worldly noise in your life.
learn to hearken to the promptings of the holy ghost and then be eager to heed them.
rely on and respond to the promptings of the holy ghost.
study it out in your mind, pray for guidance.
often the answer does not come on our knees, but on our feet while we are serving the lord and those around us.
open your mouth at all times.
"preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words."

Elder Bednar - The Spirit of Revelation
the spirit of revelation typically functions as thoughts and feelings that come into our minds and hearts from the holy ghost.
consider seriously and ponder prayfully how we can reject the devil's enticements
revelation comes in small increments according to our desire for it, our worthiness and preparation.
appreciate and don't overlook the customary pattern by which the holy ghost accomplishes his work.
keep pressing forward obediently.
trust in god - pray to him.

President Monson - The Holy Temple - a Beacon to the World
temples are filled with faith and fasting; built by trials and testimonies; sanctified by sacrifice and service.
set aside time in your busy life to visit the temple regularly.
there is no more important goal for you than to be worthy to go to the temple.
secure a temple recommend and regard it as a precious possession.
always have the temple in your sights.
indoctrinate your children to love the temple.

Elder Scott - The Eternal Blessing of Marriage
don't waste your time on idle pursuits if you are a young man and are not married.
be faithful to your wife - mentally, physically.
support your wife and children.
lead in scripture study, family prayer, fhe.
tell your wife, often, that you love her, hug her, express gratitude, don't hold back heart-felt expressions of love.
give, share, don't think of yourself first.
get married early in life so as to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change.

Elder Christofferson - As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten
"the god portrayed in both the hebrew and christian scriptures asks, not just for commitment, but for our very lifes.  the god of the bible traffics in life and death, not niceness, and calls for sacrificial love, not benign whatever-ism."
be willing to accept and even seek correction.
rejoice that god considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.
repent; refine yourself; sanctify yourself; redirect your life course when god knows a better path.
parents can and must correct and even chasten.
"when a person in a position to correct another fails to do so, he is thinking of himself."
"if we resist correction, others may discontinue offering it altogether.  if we repeatedly fail to act on the chastening of a loving god, then he too will desist."
become self-correcting
analyze your peformance in every assignment and task; determine what could be done better.
pray for god's love-inspired correction.

Elder Holland - An Ensign to the Nations
elder holland's talk is one of those talks that you just have to listen to.  it can't be summarized.  his talks are always powerful and inspiring.  with that said, there was one part i felt was especially good.
"as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets ever more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle of the sermon of which elder christofferson just spoke: 'be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.'  what was gentle in the lowlands of initial loyalty becomes deeply strenuous and very demanding at the summit of true discipleship.

President Monson - At Parting
be good citizen of the nations and communities.
reach out to those of other faiths as well as those of our own.
be examples of honesty and integrity wherever you go and whatever you do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Temple, Family and the Power of Prayer

Our family drove to Salt Lake City last month to attend two weddings; one for my sister-in-law and another for my niece.  I had quite a few powerful spiritual experiences there.

First off, I want to make a simple comment on the power of prayer.  Time and time again, I have seen our family "rally around" someone who needed our faith.  We prayed faithfully, as a family, for something we knew was a righteous desire.  Often, we would pray for months and even years for the desire of our hearts.  It worked.  Our prayers were answered.  Prayer works.

In the weeks leading up to my sister-in-law's wedding, we all were discussing if and how we would pull off doing a session together as a family in the SLC temple.  The challenge was finding someone to babysit the kids, get to the temple in time, then pick up the kids before making it on time to the wedding dinner.  There was discussion about whether it was even prudent to do a session with the family.  But in the end, things worked out.  It was a bit stressful ensuring the kids were ok and then getting to the temple, but in the end, we all made it there on time.

We sat together.  The image of seeing us all together in the SLC temple in the various rooms - especially the Celestial room - was powerful.  My wife's family, growing up, had a motto that was reduced to CKOB - Celestial Kingdom or Bust.  Seeing them all, with their spouses in the Celestial room was a preview of what is to come.  I felt privileged to be a part of that session.

Looking back, I understand precisely why my father-in-law and mother-in-law desired to do a session so badly.

And now a quick word about the Temple - as we walked to the different rooms in the SLC temple, I was overcome with powerful emotion as I felt the collective spirits who have walked those halls all these past years.  As I examined the intricate designs and architecture, I realized the profound dedication and sacrifice those saints made to build the SLC temple.  They too desired the blessings of the temple for their posterity and they wanted to pass that legacy on to their children and grandchildren.  That legacy lives on today as we see the explosion of growth of temples throughout the world.  And we have as many temples in the world today because of the sacrifice of those saints who built the Kirtland, the Nauvoo, the St. George, the Manti, the Logan and Salt Lake City temples.  I will never forget those feelings I felt in the SLC temple ... they will always come back to me each time I attend any temple.