What are the most common verses of scripture? What I mean is, what verses have you heard or read more than any other? First Nephi 1:1? Maybe John 3:16? I am willing to bet that the most common verses to you are the sacrament prayers. I’m sure you have heard them hundreds and hundreds of times more than any other verses. Perhaps you have been hearing them every week, for as many years as you have been alive; that is a lot. So what do the prayers say? Could you quote them? Ok, maybe not, but could you say the promises you make that are stated in the sacrament prayers? The promises you are supposedly recommitting yourself to each week since you were baptized?
This brings us to the second part of the last blog post about how we can find greater power in our lives through the gospel ordinances. If you remember, we talked about those silly Israelites who finally learned to perform the outward aspects of the ordinances, but had forgotten the inward things that are to happen. Are we any better with the way we participate in the ordinances? What I mean is, what was going through your mind during the sacrament on Sunday? I know it can be difficult to concentrate. I’m sure my family has been responsible for distracting more than a few through the years. But what were you thinking about? When the sacrament prayer was prayed, was your mind engaged or on an autopilot stupor?
Again, what are the three promises we make? Take upon us His name, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. On Sunday when you took the sacrament, did you think about those things or just go through the outward motions of worship? Were there motions without emotions?
How do you think our Heavenly Father feels about the sacrament if we are just going through the outward actions of worship, without our hearts being engaged? On the other hand, how would He feel about the following thoughts while the sacrament was being passed, “Lord, I know I was far from everything I should have been this last week, but help me to do better. Please help me to act more like the Savior this week. Help me to keep my thoughts more on Him more. And help me to overcome my struggles with…” How would God feel about such a prayer? With such a prayer, do you think the sacrament would bring more power into the life of such a believer? Instead of just one, what difference would it make in our wards and stakes if every one of us, every week, was consciously pleading for the Lord’s help to be better that week with the three promises of the sacrament? Would it not transform with power, our lives and our wards and stakes?
This power isn’t just with the sacrament. When you see a baptism or do baptisms for the dead, are you also trying to put to death your old natural man, and coming forth in a newness of life (Romans 6:4; D&C 20:37)? When you see the Gift of the Holy Ghost given, do you also recommit yourself to “receive the Holy Ghost” in your own life? When you go to the temple, do you inwardly reconfirm those beautiful promises with yourself? If you do, then there is power there.
In carefully doing these inward aspects is where the Power is to live the lives we should; when both the inward and outward of the ordinances are happening properly. This is when lives are transformed with God’s power. So when will you be participating in the next ordinance? How will you be worshipping?
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 30th - June 5th
Monday Memorial Day
Tuesday What You Think Upon Grows Day
Wednesday Say Something Nice Day
Thursday National Running Day
Friday Donut Day
Saturday Drawing Day or Pencil Day
I’ve been taught that blogs should be short and to the point. Yet some worthwhile thoughts combine with others and take a bit more to share. So I’ll break this thought into a few posts. The ideas comes from an EFY talk I have used for years.
Do you ever struggle to be the follower of Christ you want to be? Usually the problem is not knowing what we should do, but rather, having the strength to be what we know we should be. Where do we get the power to live the lives we know we should? Doctrine & Covenants 84:20 has part of the secret of where we can have the power to live the way we should. It says:
“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest”
But you might be wondering, “I took the sacrament Sunday. I’ve had every necessary ordinance but don’t always have the power I need. How does the power come from the ordinances?” Isaiah 1:11-15 gives a hint to this. Speaking to the Israelites, the Lord says about their temple sacrifices:
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Strange enough, it was actually the Lord Himself who asked them to perform these sacrifices, and here He is condemning them for doing what He asked them to. But the next verses tell why He is upset.
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
The ordinances had become “vain oblations” to the Israelites. It has to do with what an ordinance is. One definition of an ordinances is “and outward sign of inward change”. So every ordinance has an outward part, and an inward part. The Israelites have become very good at performing the outward elements of the ordinances of the Law of Moses. The performed every outward detail of burn sacrifice with great precision. But what about the inward part? What is the inward part that should be going on with burnt offerings? It was to point their hearts to the Son of God. The animal on the alter was also to represent the death of their own natural man and his sinful ways. Neal A. Maxwell taught:
“So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” -‘Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,’ Ensign, May 1995, 68.
Yet the Israelites had gotten to the point that they could vainly perform the whole ordinance outwardly, without ever thinking of the inward covenants with God. Silly Israelites!
But are we any better? For instance, how are we doing in our wards with the ordinances such as the sacrament? If your ward is like ours, I bet the Aaronic Priesthood does a great job with all outward elements: proper authority, prayers verbatim, etc. But how about the inward aspect of the ordinance? What should be going on inwardly in the heart of church members as we take the sacrament? What promises should we consciously be making?
Part 2 next week: “Sabbath Motions Without Emotions”
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 23rd - 29th
Monday National Taffy Day
Tuesday Hug Your Cat Day
Wednesday World Multiple Sclerosis Day
Thursday Scripps National Spelling Bee
Friday National Wig Out Day
Saturday International Jazz Day
Sunday Indianapolis 500
Church leaders have repeatedly taught that the main way Satan tries to destroy God’s kingdom, and the souls of men, is by destroying the family. Chewing on that great truth, it occurred to me that most often Satan tries to destroy the family by first destroying the husband wife relationship. If that is true, then it would seem that in order to save our families, we must have as the foremost focus in our family the blessing of our relationship with our spouse. But for many it can seem so natural to focus on children long before spouses.
Furthermore, it seems that having a strong relationship with our spouse is one of the most important things we can do for our children. David O. McKay taught that, “A father can do no greater thing for his children than to let them feel that he loves their mother.” What a gem of a quote! It got me thinking, as I love, and cherish my wife, what lesson will that teach my daughters about the kind of men they should seek? Likewise, as I am kind and good to my wife, what will that teach my sons about how to treat women? Surely the opposites are also true.
There are so many things we can do to bless or marriages. But here is just one thought. Strengthen healthy communication. When dating and first married, it is a time of getting to know each other. But as time goes on, communication can turn into problem solving and only talking about children and family needs. So often communication becomes like agenda items in a business meeting. Then after the kids have grown, there can seem like nothing left to talk about. We don’t want to become that couple that are silent in the restaurant.
So how about purposely putting aside the agenda, needs, and conflicts, and take time to get reacquainted. “But what are we going to talk about?” you ask. How about some questions to get reacquainted? Some of the best dates Tina and I have been on are when we have taken some questions and just talked. Here are some questions you could try:
1. If you were forced to leave the country with your family and never return, what other country would you choose to live in and why?
2. If you could choose to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
3. “My most embarrassing moment was when ___________.”
4. If your house caught on fire and you could only save one non-living item, what would it be? Why?
5. What are the two biggest future events you are looking forward to in your life?
6. What are the two biggest events you have experienced so far?
7. If you could have a personal servant do any of the following things, which would you choose?
A. House cleaning
B. Chauffer the whole family
8. What is the strangest or most exotic food you have ever tried? What exotic or strange food do you think would be fun to try?
9. What is something that can always cheer you up?
10. If you knew you were going to die very soon, what would you want to say or write to your family?
11. “The most daring thing I have ever done was when _________.”
If nowadays you find it difficult to have conversations like those questions would bring out, try reading the following past blog post first.
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 16th - 22nd
Monday National Sea Monkey Day
Tuesday World Hypertension Day
Wednesday International Museum Day
Thursday Boys Club Day
Friday National Bike to Work Day
Saturday End of the World or Rapture Party Day
Sunday Neighbor Day
When I was a full-time seminary teacher, each semester we would have parent teacher conferences. Most were wonderful experiences but others were heartbreaking. There would be some parents asking “What do we do? We are losing our daughter (or son). All they listen to anymore is their friends. When they were young they were doing great but now…”
So I decided to ask my students. I anonymously surveyed my 150 students and asked them a simple question: “Who has the greatest influence in your life for good?” I figured their valiant seminary teacher would get a few votes, considering how many hours I taught them the gospel each week (and I was the one giving the survey). Not even close! The number one response of these 150 students, by far, was “Mom” and in a close second place, “Dad”. Some form of parent took 60% of the responses. Next, Grandma or Grandpa. Then came some other form of family member such as siblings, uncle or aunts… Ten percent went to Coaches, Scoutmasters, YM or YW leaders, Bishops, Seminary teachers. And then finally 5% said their friends were their greatest influence for good. So parents, you have a greater influence than you know, or than your kids might let you know.
The scriptures say the same thing. It wasn’t the words of the angel that changed Alma the Younger. When he was suffering for all his sins, it was the words that he had heard his father speak about the Savior that came back to his mind at that critical moment (Alma 36:17). When Enos’ soul hungered from the emptiness of the world, it was the words of his father that came back to his mind (Enos 1:3-4). Same with the Stripling Warriors and their mothers (Alma 56:47-48). It was the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother that brought him the knowledge of the Lord (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). And the list goes on and on of parent’s teaching their children in the scriptures.
Parents, you many not feel like any great teacher, but your kids will learn better from you than any other person, good or bad, whether you like it or not. So there is the challenge. Teach your children the gospel of Jesus Christ by word and example. And its impact will go further than anyone else. For some tips, on how to teach as a parent, Elder Bednar gave an incredible talk on this matter at
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 2nd through 8th
Monday National Play Your Ukulele Day
Tuesday Paranormal Day
Wednesday Star Wars Day
Thursday Cinco De Mayo
Friday Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Saturday Astronomy Day
Sunday Mother’s Day
“An Ordinary Mom” has won the gift wrapped and signed copy of “Impractical Grace” for Mother’s Day! (silent cheer by all!) She has a fun blog at http://anordinarymom.wordpress.com/. So congratulations. To everyone else, don’t worry. There are still copies left you can buy J. The Seattle Deseret Book seems to have problems stocking enough, but I am sure you will be fine at most other LDS bookstores or online. Click for more details.
I'll post my regular blog post later today.