Monday, December 11, 2017

Ponderize Matthew 21:28-32 - Asking for a release

What do you do when you feel like it is time for you to be released from your church calling?  What do you do?  Can you (should you) ask your bishop for a release?

Referencing Handbook 2 - Chapter 19 under “Releasing Members from Church Callings"

"Releases from Church callings should come by inspiration, except when a person’s change of residence necessitates a release or when a calling is for a specific time period, such as full-time missionary service.
Releases from Church callings are made by the same level of authority that extended the callings."

I can not find anywhere in the handbook where it gives instructions to the members on asking for
releases.  So, what are you to do?  If feelings of frustration, bitterness, or even anger are coming because of you church calling then this is not in harmony with the purpose of the calling.  This can lead to dissension and disputations.  None of this is helpful in building God’s kingdom.

As I pondered this my mind first went to the story of the two sons from Matthew Chapter 21

28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

I thought of this verse because it reminded me that it is worse to say that you will do a calling and then not do it.  Likewise, if you have been doing your calling, have decided you are “done” and then quit doing your calling or do it halfheartedly, you are in the same situation.   After reading this verse, this quote by Sterling W. Sill came to mind:

     "You have been “set apart’ to do a particular part of the work of the Church.  His position is now yours.  It doesn’t belong to anyone else.  No one has a right to it while you have it.  If you do not do the job, the job will not be done.  This responsibility is not something to be taken lightly.  The Church is injured most by those who say, as did the vine dresser’s son, “I go,’ but went not.  Had he said “I go not” someone else would have done the job and no harm would have resulted.  (Matt 21:28-32)
     "It is hoped that for YOU to be “set apart” will mean that everyone will be better off because His work was given into your hands.  It is a great thing to be “set apart” in the work of the Lord.  We should not only pray for Him to help us do our work, but we should pray also that we may be able to help Him to His work."

With this in mind, I would suggest the following course of action if you feel like it is time for you to be released.
  1. Keep doing your calling.  Do you best.  Seek to magnify it.  
  2. Seek inspiration on what you should do.  As you honestly go to your Heavenly Father in prayer, with a willingness to do his will, you will be guided in what you should do.  
  3. Talk to the President or auxiliary leader over you.  For example, if you are in the nursery, go talk to the primary president.  Counsel with her.  She is entitled to inspiration for her calling.  As part of her stewardship, she can be inspired in what course of action would be appropriate.  Perhaps is is simply a change of class assignment, or a different teaching partner.  
  4. Talk to a member of the Bishopric.  Revelation come from many sources.  Sometimes the bishopric is not aware that your circumstances have changed.  As you counsel together, the inspiration will flow.  
  5. Finally, wait patiently on the Lord.  All things will work together for your good. (D&C 91:1-3)  You may find as you look back on this time that by continuing in your calling until the inspiration came to release you, that you had more to learn and additional growth.
Remember this passage from D&C 98:1-3
1.  Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
2.  Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
3. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ponderize D&C 11:21 - Seek to obtain

Last Sunday a teacher pointed out a very interesting word in D&C 11:21 that I had glossed over up to this point.  Re-read this scripture and think about the word “obtain” 

"Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men. (D&C 11:21)

What does it mean to “obtain my word”?  In the past I have thought that it simply meant to study your lesson so you are prepared.  

As I thought about that scripture, D&C 84:84 came to mind.  Does this scripture support or contrast with the one in section 11? 

"Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man”  (D&C 84:85)

The two key words from this scripture are “treasure” and “continually”.  The first phrase of that scripture might lead you to believe that we don't need to prepare for our lessons or talks, but it appears to be a simple juxtaposition.  Don’t just think about it, but treasure it up continually.  Perhaps that is what President Monson his trying to get us to do in his April 2017 conference talk.  Consider his statement: 

"We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you.” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Power of the Book of Mormon”, April 2017 LDS General Conference) 

Why do we need to read the scriptures every day?   I have often used the metaphor that you can’t pour water from and empty bucket.  However, It is more than simply filling our bucket of knowledge.  We need to fill our hearts and our souls.  By nourishing our spirits with the good word of God each day, our scripture study goes from reading to treasuring and obtaining.  

Elder Henry B. Eyring said:

"We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than to pass quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture. (Henry B. Eyring, “Feed My Lambs”, October 1997 LDS General Conference)

So, going back to the beginning, when we see “to obtain my word”, we are doing more than simply reading and preparing activities for our lesson, but we need to make the “word” a part of us.  It needs to become ours.  Then when we teach, our tongue will be loosed and we will receive that portion in the very hour we need it.   We will start to approach the ideal of teaching in the Savior’s way.  We will say what He would say, we will love as He loves, and we will teach what He would teach.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ponderize Mosiah 4:27

Read Mosiah 4:27 and then ask yourself the questions below. 

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."
  • What are you running after? 
  • What is it that you are chasing? 
  • Are you chasing a future lifestyle that you could have right now?
  • Is life really a path that we must complete before we die?  
  • What if you stopped viewing life as a path and started viewing it as an experience? 
  • We often visualize the analogy of putting the big rocks of our life into the jar first.  The rocks represent our activities, but what does the jar represent?  Limitations? Time?  What if there was no jar?
  • If someone was to observe my life, what would they list as my priorities?
  • Would they list the first and second great commandments as the first two items on my list of priorities?
  • Do my actions show that I love God and my fellow man? 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Using Tags in the Gospel Library App

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about using the highlight feature in the gospel library app to differentiate between gospel topics.

Why do we highlight in the first place?  The answer is simple.  It comes from the day when most people used paper scriptures.  They used colors and highlights to help you find scriptures.  Most of us do not have the time or the capacity to memorize the references for hundreds of scriptures so we relied on the our memory to get us close.  For example, the scripture about the natural man being an enemy to God, in my mind is not in Mosiah 3:19, but it is located in the first few chapters of Mosiah on the right hand page in the right column toward the top.  So, to find it I would simply flip through the first few chapters of the Book of Mosiah until I locate the highlights that I made on Mosiah 3:19.   This system served me well until we all started using electronic scriptures.  Now there are no pages or columns.  It is just one long column separated into chapters.  My whole scripture locating system is now defunct.

So, I had to ask myself, does at perfectly thought-out 10-color scripture highlighting system really serve any purpose in the electronic scriptures?  Perhaps, but now there is a much better way.  It is time to switch over to using tags.

Why tags?  Here are a few of the best reasons:
- You are not limited to 10 colors
- You can tag the same scripture with multiple key words
- It is much easier to find a tagged scripture than a green highlighted scripture buried somewhere in the book of Alma

Now what do you do about the highlights?  Simple.  Use them the same way you eat meat - sparingly.  Highlight words, phrases, and important points.  Then add some tags to the highlights so you can find them again.

Here are a few tagging tips:
- Don't get too hung up on what tags to use at first.  Just tag it with the first word that comes to mind.  You can go into the "Notes" section and edit your tags after you have done it for a while.
- Begin where you are.  Don't wait until you get to the end of the book to start tagging.  Begin now.
- Make it a daily habit. Try to find something to tag every time you read.  As you practice you get faster and better at tagging and it is less of an interruption to your reading, it simply becomes a part of it.
- Go back into the notes section and review your tags once and a while.  Keep your tag list free of typos and duplicates of similar words.
- Try not to make tags using long phrases because it will be difficult to remember the phrase.  On the other hand, a two or three word tag that speaks to you is a great idea.

Happy Tagging!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ponderize: 1 Nephi 10:17-19 - The Power of the Holy Ghost

It does not matter how many times you have read the Book of Mormon you will find something new hidden in a verse that you have read many times.  As I read 1 Nephi 10, I stopped an pondered a couple of phrases in verses 17 and 19.

After hearing about his father's vision of the tree of life, Nephi said in verse 17:

"I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him..."

Two verses later in verse 19 he restated this idea:

"For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost"

The thing that caught my attention about these two passages was the "Power of the Holy Ghost".  We often talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost, but we don't often talk about the power of the Holy Ghost like we talk about the power of the priesthood.

Think about this quote from Elder Henry B. Eyring:

Just as the Holy Ghost strengthens us against evil, He also gives us the power to discern truth from falsehood. The truth that matters most is verified only by revelation from God. Our human reason and the use of our physical senses will not be enough. We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception. (Henry B. Eyring, "The Holy Ghost as your Companion", October 2015 LDS General Conference) 

We are given the gift of the Holy Ghost with an invitation to receive that gift.  But many of us don't take advantage of the power contained in that gift because we miss the key first step.  Look back at the scriptures and note that the power of the Holy Ghost is a spiritual gift given from God when we diligently seek to know Him.

As I think about this I realize that this power is given to those who are seeking, learning, growing, and becoming.  It starts to feel almost like a bit of divine positive reinforcement to help encourage those who are pressing forward on their spiritual journey. I feel like he might be saying that if you will seek me I give you the power of discernment so that you can come to know the truth of all things, or come to know things as they really are.  As we come to know the truth of all things we are really coming to know God.   Perhaps the very power you are given as you seek to know God is exactly the the thing you are seeking in the first place.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Marking Scriptures in the Gospel Library App

The other day as I was reading my scriptures and using a few of the colors to do some highlights when I realized that I wasn't fully utilizing the entire pallet of colors.

I the Gospel Library app there are 10 colors.  Each of these colors can be used in the underline, highlight, or text color mode.

I asked extended family what they do and one of my niece's responded with this color code:
  • Red- doctrine
  • Orange- clarifications or explanations of doctrine
  • Yellow- commandments and specific instructions
  • Purple- promised blessings and how to attain them
  • Grey- power phrases
  • Blue- favorites
  • Dark blue- ones with a deeper meaning (I always attach a note with a dark blue) 
  • Pink- examples of Gods love/charity
  • Brown-specific for our day
  • Green - Not used
This "Come, Follow Me" color code seems to be all over Pinterest.  I'm not sure where it came from, but it is based on the 12 colors in a small box of crayons.

Here is also a color code based on the Seminary Doctrinal Mastery

My color code has evolved over the years.   I used to mark my scriptures much more colorfully than I do now.  When I picked up a new copy of the 2013 LDS Scriptures and started transferring some of my highlights I found my self doing less bold and fewer colored highlights.  I pretty much use a red pencil to underline in my paper scriptures with an occasional yellow highlight.

After a bit of thinking, comparing, and pondering I decided to  use the color code below for my electronic marking. 
  • Yellow - General highlights
  • Red - Love, Charity
  • Purple - Priesthood
  • Orange - Atonement of Christ, Resurrection
  • Green - Promised Land, geography
  • Gray - The devil, Satan, darkness
  • Pink - Pride
At this point, I'm not sure what to do with the brown and the two blues.   I'll leave them open and see if I find a use for them. 

Read the Book of Mormon Every Day

I've read the Book of Mormon many times.  I lost count many years ago.  Besides it doesn't really matter.  What does matter is that you read it every day.  During the October 2017 LDS General Conference, several speakers referenced a quote made by President Thomas S. Monson during the April Conference.  He said:

"I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives."

Russell M. Nelson gave a talk titled, "The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?" In that talk he stated:

"Since President Monson’s challenge six months ago, I have tried to follow his counsel. Among other things, I’ve made lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals. Looking at the Book of Mormon through these lenses has been an insightful and inspiring exercise! I recommend it to each of you."

Elder Nelson is a person who could have easily thought President Monson's counsel to read the book of Mormon every day did not really apply to him, since he was already doing it.  However, he seemed to ask himself the question, "What lack I yet?"  He received inspiration and then acted on that inspiration.

President Henry B. Eyring also addressed this topic in his talk titled "Fear Not to Do Good".

"Like many of you, I heard the prophet’s words as the voice of the Lord to me. And, also like many of you, I decided to obey those words. Now, since I was a young boy, I have felt the witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that the Father and the Son appeared and spoke with Joseph Smith, and that ancient Apostles came to the Prophet Joseph to restore priesthood keys to the Lord’s Church."
“With that testimony, I have read the Book of Mormon every day for more than 50 years. So perhaps I could reasonably have thought that President Monson’s words were for someone else. Yet, like many of you, I felt the prophet’s encouragement and his promise invite me to make a greater effort."

So, with this second and third spiritual nudge I decided I should raise the bar on my daily Book of Mormon reading.  My first thought was that it doesn't matter if you wrote the book on studying the Book of Mormon, you still need to read it every day.  As I pondered my daily scripture study habits I realized that I had not physically picked up the Book of Mormon and read it from cover to cover by myself for several years.  Most of my scripture study was topical and most of my Book of Mormon reading was with my family.

I needed a kick start.  So I looked at the calendar and realized that there were 91 days left in the year.  I sat down and read the introductory material.  Then I decided I needed a 90 day reading plan.  There are dozens of them on-line, but I found a very cool tool at Go check it out.  You can tell it what book of scripture you want to read and how many days you want to get it read.  It spits out a daily schedule for you.  My 90 day plan stated that I needed to read 2.9 chapters/day or 5.9 pages/day to finish the Book of Mormon by December 31st.  That's easy.  I printed the reading chart and I was ready.  Except for one more mall detail.  When?

Answering this question took a bit of thought.  You can't simply start doing something every day without giving up something.  15 minutes of scripture reading time just doesn't magically appear because you have a fancy new reading chart.  I thought through my day and decided it was best to read first thing in the morning.  That way there is time to recover if I forget.  I value my sleep too much to even think about giving up 15 minutes of sleep, but as I thought through my morning routine I found some wasted time that could easily be manipulated to clear 15 minutes in my schedule.  Now, with both a plan and a path I was ready to go.

Let's see what happens.  I'll post some of my thoughts here as I journey through my 90 day reading challenge.