April 30, 2015

Visiting Teaching May 2015


Visiting Teaching Message May 2015 - Filling Our Homes with Light and Truth

By Cheryl A. Esplin

Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

 

In order for us and our families to withstand the pressures of the world, we must be filled with light and gospel truth.
My heart filled with the Spirit as I listened to these families teach that sacred truth: “The family is of God.”1Inspiring music is just one of the many ways we can feel the Spirit whisper to us, filling us with light and truth.

The concept of being filled with light and truth became particularly important to me because of an experience I had many years ago. I attended a meeting where members of the Young Women general board taught about creating spiritually strong families and homes. To visually demonstrate this, a Young Women leader held up two soda cans. In one hand she held a can that was empty and in the other hand a can that was unopened and full of soda. First, she squeezed the empty can; it began to bend and then collapsed under the pressure. Next, with her other hand, she squeezed the unopened can. It held firm. It didn’t bend or collapse like the empty can—because it was filled.
We likened this demonstration to our individual lives and to our homes and families. When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us. However, if we are not filled spiritually, we don’t have the inner strength to resist the outside pressures and can collapse when forces push against us.
Satan knows that in order for us and our families to withstand the pressures of the world, we must be filled with light and gospel truth. So he does everything in his power to dilute, distort, and destroy the truth of the gospel and to keep us separated from that truth.
Many of us have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, whose role it is to reveal and teach the truth of all things.2 With the privilege of that gift comes the responsibility to seek truth, to live the truth we know, and to share and defend the truth.
One place where we best seek to be filled with light and truth is in our own homes. The words in the chorus of the song we heard remind us, “God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be.”3 Families are the Lord’s workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel. We come into our families with a sacred duty to help strengthen each other spiritually.
Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take each member of the family doing his or her part. Every home is different, but every home where even one individual seeks for truth can make a difference.
We are continually counseled to increase our spiritual knowledge through prayer and through studying and pondering the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. In his general conference talk about receiving a testimony of light and truth, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
“The Everlasting and Almighty God … will speak to those who approach Him with a sincere heart and real intent.
“He will speak to them in dreams, visions, thoughts, and feelings.”
President Uchtdorf continued: “God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice.”4
A short family history story illustrates this counsel.
Several months ago I read the testimony of my great-grandfather’s sister Elizabeth Staheli Walker. As a child, Elizabeth immigrated to America from Switzerland with her family.
After Elizabeth married, she and her husband and children lived in Utah near the Nevada border, where they ran a mail station. Their home was a stopping place for travelers. All day and all night they had to be ready to cook and serve meals for travelers. It was hard, exhausting work, and they had little rest. But the greatest thing that concerned Elizabeth was the conversation of the people they associated with.
Elizabeth said that up to this time she had always taken for granted that the Book of Mormon was true, that the Prophet Joseph Smith had been authorized of God to do what he did, and that his message was the plan of life and salvation. But the life she was experiencing was anything but what would strengthen such a belief.
Some of the travelers who stopped were well-read, educated, smart men, and always the talk around her table was that Joseph Smith was “a sly fraud” who had written the Book of Mormon himself and then distributed it to make money. They acted as if to think anything else was absurd, claiming “that Mormonism was bunk.”
All this talk made Elizabeth feel isolated and alone. There was no one to talk to, no time to even say her prayers—although she did pray as she worked. She was too frightened to say anything to those who ridiculed her religion. She said she didn’t know but what they were telling the truth, and she felt she could not have defended her belief if she had tried.

Later, Elizabeth and her family moved. Elizabeth said she had more time to think and was not so distracted all the time. She often went down in the cellar and prayed to Heavenly Father about what was troubling her—about the stories those seemingly smart men had told about the gospel being bunk and about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
One night Elizabeth had a dream. She said: “It seemed I was standing by a narrow wagon road, which led around by the foot of a low rolling hill; halfway up the hill I saw a man looking down and speaking, or seemed to be speaking, to a young man who was kneeling and leaning over a hole in the earth. His arms were stretched out, and it looked as if he was reaching for something from in the hole. I could see the lid of stone that seemed to have been taken off from the hole over which the boy was bending. On the road were many people, but none of them seemed to be at all interested in the two men on the hillside. There was something that came along with the dream that impressed me so strangely that I woke right up; … I could not tell my dream to anyone, but I seemed to be satisfied that it meant the angel Moroni [instructed] the boy Joseph at the time he got the plates.”
In the spring of 1893, Elizabeth went to Salt Lake City to the dedication of the temple. She described her experience: “In there I saw the same picture [that] I had seen in my dream; I think it was [a] colored-glass window. I feel satisfied that if I saw the Hill Cumorah itself, it would not look more real. I feel satisfied that I was shown in a dream a picture of the angel Moroni giving Joseph Smith the [gold] plates.”

Many years after having this dream and several months before she died at nearly age 88, Elizabeth received a powerful impression. She said, “The thought came to me as plain … as if someone had said to me, … ‘Do not bury your testimony in the ground.’”5
Generations later, Elizabeth’s posterity continues to draw strength from her testimony. Like Elizabeth, we live in a world of many doubters and critics who ridicule and oppose the truths we hold dear. We may hear confusing stories and conflicting messages. Also like Elizabeth, we will have to do our best to hold on to whatever light and truth we currently have, especially in difficult circumstances. The answers to our prayers may not come dramatically, but we must find quiet moments to seek greater light and truth. And when we receive it, it is our responsibility to live it, to share it, and to defend it.
I leave you with my testimony that I know as we fill our hearts and homes with the Savior’s light and truth, we will have the inner strength to withstand in every circumstance. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Note: On April 4, 2015, Sister Esplin was released as second counselor in the Primary general presidency and sustained as first counselor.
 
“Light and Truth”
 
cji
5/1/15
 
We’re what we teach others
either by example or words
we teach and we teach others
especially within our homes
with our children and families
others watch us and who we are
light and truth evolves from us
or what else might we teach
accountable unto Father
light and truth fills homes
homes raise families
families teach values
families are eternal
eternal always-forever
light and truth!
 
 
 
Copyright © 2015 – cji


Home Teaching May 2015

Home Teaching - The Plan of Happiness

By President Boyd K. Packer

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

 

The end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity.
Many years ago, after World War II, I was attending college. There I met Donna Smith. About that time I read that two essential ingredients to a successful marriage are a cookie and a kiss. I thought that was a pretty good balance.
I attended college in the morning and then went back to Brigham City to work in my father’s auto-repair garage in the afternoon. Donna’s last morning class was home economics. I stopped by her classroom before leaving. The door had a frosted glass window, but if I stood close to the glass, she could see my shadow outside. She would slip out with a cookie and a kiss. The rest is history. We were married in the Logan Utah Temple, and that began the great adventure of our lives.
Over the years I have frequently taught an important principle: the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity.
In the beginning:
“The Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.
“And the Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Abraham 4:27–28).
And so the cycle of human life began on this earth as “Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.
“And … the sons and daughters of Adam began to divide two and two in the land, … and they also begat sons and daughters” (Moses 5:2–3).
The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth has never been rescinded. It is essential to the plan of redemption and is the source of human happiness. Through the righteous exercise of this power, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy, even godhood. The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness.
The desire to mate in humankind is constant and very strong. Our happiness in mortal life, our joy and exaltation are dependent upon how we respond to these persistent, compelling physical desires. As the procreative power matures in early manhood and womanhood, very personal feelings occur, in a natural way, unlike any other physical experience.
Ideally, mating begins with romance. Though customs may vary, it flourishes with all the storybook feelings of excitement and anticipation, even sometimes rejection. There are moonlight and roses, love letters, love songs, poetry, the holding of hands, and other expressions of affection between a young man and a young woman. The world disappears around the couple, and they experience feelings of joy.
And if you suppose that the full-blown rapture of young romantic love is the sum total of the possibilities which spring from the fountains of life, you have not yet lived to see the devotion and the comfort of longtime married love. Married couples are tried by temptation, misunderstandings, financial problems, family crises, and illness, and all the while love grows stronger. Mature love has a bliss not even imagined by newlyweds.
True love requires reserving until after marriage the sharing of that affection which unlocks those sacred powers in that fountain of life. It means avoiding situations where physical desire might take control. Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple are those procreative powers released in God’s eye for the full expression of love. It is to be shared solely and only with that one who is your companion forever.
When entered into worthily, this process combines the most exquisite and exalted physical, emotional, and spiritual feelings associated with the word love. That part of life has no equal, no counterpart, in all human experience. It will, when covenants are made and kept, last eternally, “for therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory” (D&C 124:34), “which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19).
But romantic love is incomplete; it is a prelude. Love is nourished by the coming of children, who spring from that fountain of life entrusted to couples in marriage. Conception takes place in a wedded embrace between husband and wife. A tiny body begins to form after a pattern of magnificent complexity. A child comes forth in the miracle of birth, created in the image of its earthly father and mother. Within its mortal body is a spirit able to feel and perceive spiritual things. Dormant in that mortal body of this child is the power to beget offspring in its own image.
“The spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15), and there are spiritual and physical laws to obey if we are to be happy. There are eternal laws, including laws relating to this power to give life, “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated” (D&C 130:20). These are spiritual laws which define the moral standard for mankind (see Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 7:14–15 [in the Bible appendix]; 2 Nephi 2:5;D&C 29:34; 134:6). There are covenants which bind, seal, and safeguard and give promise of eternal blessings.
Alma admonished his son Shiblon, “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). A bridle is used to guide, to direct, to restrain. Our passion is to be controlled. When lawfully used, the power of procreation will bless and will sanctify (seeTeachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith[1998], 158).
Temptations are ever present. Because the adversary cannot beget life, he is jealous toward all who have that supernal power. He and those who followed him were cast out and forfeited the right to a mortal body. “He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27). He will tempt, if he can, to degrade, to corrupt, and, if possible, to destroy this gift by which we may, if we are worthy, have eternal increase (see D&C 132:28–31).
If we pollute our fountains of life or lead others to transgress, there will be penalties more “exquisite” and “hard to bear” (D&C 19:15) than all the physical pleasure could ever be worth.
Alma told his son Corianton, “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5). We cannot escape the consequences when we transgress.
The only legitimate, authorized expression of the powers of procreation is between husband and wife, a man and a woman, who have been legally and lawfully married. Anything other than this violates the commandments of God. Do not yield to the awful temptations of the adversary, for every debt of transgression must be paid “till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26).
Nowhere is the generosity and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.
Our physical bodies, when harmed, are able to repair themselves, sometimes with the help of a physician. If the damage is extensive, however, often a scar will remain as a reminder of the injury.
With our spiritual bodies it is another matter. Our spirits are damaged when we make mistakes and commit sins. But unlike the case of our mortal bodies, when the repentance process is complete, no scars remain because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The promise is: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).
When we speak of marriage and family life, there inevitably comes to mind, “What about the exceptions?” Some are born with limitations and cannot beget children. Some innocents have their marriage wrecked because of the infidelity of their spouse. Others do not marry and live in single worthiness.
For now I offer this comfort: God is our Father! All the love and generosity manifest in the ideal earthly father is magnified in Him who is our Father and our God beyond the capacity of the mortal mind to comprehend. His judgments are just; His mercy without limit; His power to compensate beyond any earthly comparison. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Reverently now I use the word temple. I envision a sealing room and an altar with a young couple kneeling there. This sacred temple ordinance is much more than a wedding, for this marriage can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, and the scriptures declare that we “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions” (D&C 132:19). I see the joy that awaits those who accept this supernal gift and use it worthily.
Sister Donna Smith Packer and I have been side by side in marriage for nearly 70 years. When it comes to my wife, the mother of our children, I am without words. The feeling is so deep and the gratitude so powerful that I am left almost without expression. The greatest reward we have received in this life, and the life to come, is our children and our grandchildren. Toward the end of our mortal days together, I am grateful for each moment I am with her side by side and for the promise the Lord has given that there will be no end.
I bear witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He stands at the head of the Church. Through His Atonement and the power of the priesthood, families which are begun in mortality can be together through the eternities. The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, He has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity.
I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the power of procreation, for the power of redemption, for the Atonement—the Atonement which can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated. The Atonement can put you free again to move forward, cleanly and worthily, to pursue that path that you have chosen in life.
I bear witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Atonement is not a general thing that is for the whole Church. The Atonement is individual, and if you have something that is bothering you—sometimes so long ago you can hardly remember it—put the Atonement to work. It will clean it up, and you, as does He, will remember your sins no more. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
“Sealed For Eternity”
cji
5/1/15
Unlocking the key of happiness
eternal and unending forever
what the world searches always
while right there in the Scriptures
Psalms 73 – 1 Peter 3:7
and so many more to be found
family it’s all about family
our family – generations ago
generations still to occur
knowing who we are and why
children of our Heavenly Father
mortal probation to be proven
worthy of eternal progression
sealed for eternity within family!
Copyright © 2015 – cji
 
 

 

April 29, 2015

“Rains”



“Rains”

 

cji

4/30/15

 

Torrential in beating down

cleansing–flooding-crashing

cooling and freezing

washing away the grime

only for the moment to be

till downstream found

rains coming in storms

others in the sunshine

rains for the growing time

rains after the harvests

lost in the forests of time

millennial of seasons

far out into the seas

some darkening the skies

cooling and freezing all

to cleanse to flood

beating down torrential!

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 – cji


April 28, 2015

“Unless”



“Unless”

 

cji

4/29/15

 

What a simple abused word

‘unless’ unless you do what

for Heavenly Father one thing

each must repent of their sins

given the exception of children

under the age of eight years

those with mental incapability’s

those who’ve heard not the law

otherwise all must be obedient

and then continues the word

‘and come unto to God’

all clearly explained truths

mis-represented today by most

asking pelf or other obligations

then offering not the fullness

bits and pieces of doctrine

mixed with drama/pretense

holy relics – clerics – rhetoric

gilded over by stolen gold

statutes and fine apparel

the world filled with explainers

while none return to basics

instead preserving positions

logismoi of foolishness

making millions for some

and saving absolutely none!

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 – cji


April 27, 2015

“To Love As”



“To Love As”

 

cji

4/28/15

 

We’ve been so commanded

simple concise Scriptures

the 1st Great Commandment

and the 2nd like unto it for us

to love as the Savior loved

willing to sacrifice our all

enduring to the end always

seeking pure religion fully

so commanded so to obey!

 

Copyright © 2015 – cji


April 26, 2015

“Each Has a Song”



“Each Has a Song”

 

cji

4/27/15

 

Different rhythms heard

beating tempo’s vary

words many different

same sounds often

weaving movements

life’s music of a one

each has a song

alone and within

seldom song aloud

measuring heart beats

short and furious

slow and tender

lullaby’s of birth

silent songs of death

which hearing today

mindful of mortality

fully alive in music!

 

Copyright © 2015 – cji


April 25, 2015

“Intimate Feelings”



“Intimate Feelings”

 

cji

4/26/15

 

Delicate and sensitive

understanding truth

right and with the light

coming into the Sabbath

putting aside the worldly

allowing preciousness

entering within quietly

intimate feelings

treasuring Father

especially his Son

not only on the Sabbath

but everyday within

private and sacred

understanding truth!

 

Copyright © 2015 – cji