Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spiderman socks and a stuffed mouse

It occurred to me recently that yes it is entirely possible to be faced with challenges and temptations that if we attempt to face alone, on our own, without the Lord's help, will do us in.

Without the atonement we are done for. That's the whole point. We can't do it alone, on our own.

I firmly believe that if we seek the Lord's help when faced with temptation He will always provide a way out. But we also really need to want to avoid it. Not just say we do. And we also need to do all we can to avoid it.

In sacrament meeting I usually sit with a couple who are good friends of mine. A few weeks ago I was sitting the back row and the microphone was broken. I also was helping them keep three kids quiet. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the week.

I looked at the young couple. He's in the elders quorum presidency, she is a Primary teacher. They have a 1, 3 and 5 year-old. I don't know how much they really get out of Sacrament Meeting. They are usually late, but they are always there.

I think its important that we always do our best to be there so to speak. I don't just mean be at church, but just be willing to be where we need to be, where the Lord wants us to be, even if we do mess up. Always try to be where we should be even if we feel the work to get there or stay there is an uphill battle. If we are just willing to do our best to be there, He will meet us there.

While I know its often hard for them they do their best. I look at their struggles and responsibilities and I look at mine and I realize that we all need help but that's why we are friends. He is trying to run his own business. They know they can call me in a time of crisis to babysit or bring dinner over etc. I've taken the wife Christmas shopping when she wanted to get away and surprise her husband. When she was away in Utah I went over and brought him pizza and "did a few dishes" etc. They also help me.

I think that's how we need to all be for each other. This is much like our need to stand by and support each other.

I know its hard for them to always be there. Sometimes the 3 year-old ends up wear Spiderman socks or sandals because he didn't know where his left shoe was. Sometimes the 5 year-old turns up with his stuffed Fival the Mouse. Sometimes the father falls asleep because he was working until midnight. But they are there.

I think God looks at that and smiles. They are always there even with a stuffed mouse and Spiderman socks.

I find a lot of inspiration in that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

For the complete text of Elder Bruce C. Hafen's address on same gender attraction click here Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

Don't succumb to cultural confusion, Elder Hafen urges
Deseret News - By Lana Groves and Scott Taylor
Published: Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009

Individuals struggling with same-gender attraction should not let their challenges define their entire identity nor succumb to the increasing cultural confusion swirling around the topic of homosexuality.

That was Elder Bruce C. Hafen's message Saturday morning at the two-day annual conference for Evergreen International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Latter-day Saints diminish same-sex attraction. The organization, which has no affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held its conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

"You are not simply a child of God. You are a son or a daughter of God, with all the masculine or feminine connotations of those words," Elder Hafen, a member of LDS Church's Quorum of the Seventy, told conference attendees Saturday.

"That is your true, eternal identity," he said. "I urge you to seek a testimony, even a personal vision, of that identity. I ask you to take every possible step, each day, to align your physical and emotional life with the spiritual reality of who you really are."

With his background in family law, Elder Hafen, the former dean of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, listed four misconceptions that he said activists try to establish as facts to try to influence policymakers and the public:

* That same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation.

* That therapy cannot treat, let alone change, same-gender attraction.

* That most Americans favor same-gender marriage, which means the church is outside the mainstream in opposing it.

* And that there are no rational, nonreligious reasons for opposing same-gender marriage.

Of the latter, Elder Hafen said society and laws have long endorsed marriage between a man and a woman with an honored priority as a significant institution. The result is children of that marriage — the future society — thriving best in a formal family with their own father and mother in a setting befitting society's long-term interests and well-being.

Elder Hafen encouraged conferencegoers to open themselves to God's influence in their lives.

"Then your confidence will grow — not only in him, but in yourself," he said. "I am describing a process, not an event, and it can sometimes seem hopelessly long and difficult. But I promise you that as you learn to connect your righteous desires with his love, his power really will put you home — eventually, all the way home."

Individuals struggling with same-gender attraction should not let their challenges define their entire identity nor succumb to the increasing cultural confusion swirling around the topic of homosexuality.

"Sometimes that attraction may make you feel sinful, even though the attraction alone is not a sin if you do not act on it," he said. "Sometimes you may feel frustration or anger or simply a deep sadness about yourself. But as hard as same-gender attraction is … it does not mean your nature is flawed. Whenever the adversary tries to convince you that you are hopelessly 'that way,' so that acting out your feelings is inevitable, he is lying."

Jesus Christ's atonement offers two healing blessings to those challenged by same-gender attraction, Elder Hafen said.

"First, Christ helps us draw on his strength to become more at one with God, even while overcoming the attraction. He helps us bear the burden of the affliction," he said.

"As a second healing and compensating blessing," he later added, "the atonement enables the grace that assures this grand promise: No eternal blessing — including marriage and family life — will be withheld from those who suffer same-gender attraction, if they do 'all they can do' to remain faithful."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Each of us, at some time or another will have to spend some time in Liberty Jail. This is the message of Elder Jeffery R. Holland in his recent CES fireside address, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." (Sept 09 Ensign) Just like the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions, who endured the cold winter months of 1838-39 in what could only be described as a miserable dungeon for crimes they didn't commit, each of us will face things that seem unfair and unjust. How I personally handle them and what lessons I learn from these experiences depends greatly on how I choose to endure them.

While the conditions were bleak, it was during this time period that some of the most sublime passages of modern scripture were revealed to the prophet. It was during this time of desperation that Joseph pleaded with the Lord (see D&C 121:1-3). In response, the Lord replied that the purpose of our afflictions and the blessings we can obtain if we but endure (see verses 7-8). It was also during this time in what Church historian B.H Roberts calls "the prison temple"—noting the refining elements of the experience—that some of our most sacred spiritual instruction, including the Lord's teaching that "many are called but few are chosen" and the proper characteristics for exercising power in the priesthood, is set fourth (see verses 34-43).

Speaking of enduring and learning, Elder Holland promises: "You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life-in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and oppositions you have ever faced."

While personally I would never pray for bad things to happen in my life, I know I need to be prepared to face them. Elder Holland gives three keys to doing this: first, realize that everyone faces trying times; secondly, that even the worthy will suffer; and third, remain calm, patient, charitable and forgiving at all times. Finally, he concludes that we need to face all things with a cheerful spirit.

For me there are times when I've felt almost overwhelmed by my personal struggles; times when I've felt unfairly judged by others; and worse, times when I've felt used and abandoned by the very people whom I loved and viewed as a friend. At times, I've wondered, "Why me Lord? I'm doing what you asked me to do!" But as Elder Holland points out, "Why not me?" The scriptures and Church history are full of people who have suffered and endured things that they clearly didn't deserve. The atonement is the supreme example of this. According to Elder Holland, our trials put us in good company.

Ironically, the times when I feel the furthest from the Lord are the very moments when I am the closet to Him if I but reach for Him. This is one of the lessons of Liberty Jail. Sometimes these bad days are those humbling moments that I need to remind me that the same things I'm enduring now also happened to the Savior of the world as part of the great atonement—that when I plead, "Lord, how much worse can it get?", the answer is simple: "I died for you so that it won't get worse. I am with thee."