Friday, April 29, 2011

"Beware of Pride"

In a revelation to Joseph Smith for Oliver Cowdery, the Lord said, “Beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:1). Most of us battle pride daily. It is the stem cell of all other sins. 

In his classic discourse on pride, Ezra Taft Benson said,

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance…. In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby….
Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.
The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. ( )

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said of pride:

Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride.
This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.
For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer. ( )

Again “Beware of Pride.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

“I will prepare the way before you”

The record of the Book of Mormon began when the Lord commanded Lehi to take his wife, Sariah, and their children and leave Jerusalem. Lehi obeyed and spent the next eight years traveling in the wilderness with his family. Not long after leaving their home and possessions, the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to get a set of scriptures written on plates of brass and kept by a man named Laban. As the sons tried to obey this commandment and obtain the plates, Laban confiscated all of their property, tried to kill Nephi and his brothers, and drove them into hiding outside the city. At this point, Nephi’s older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, grew discouraged and were ready to give up without getting the plates. Nephi nevertheless persevered and pressed forward until he fulfilled the Lord's commandment. Having secured the plates, the brothers returned to Lehi’s camp. While the brothers were away on this mission, Sariah’s faith wavered as she grew fearful that something terrible had happened to her sons. Her fear caused her to complain to Lehi and doubt his inspiration.
Throughout the eight year journey, Laman and Lemuel complained about having to leave their home and losing all their possessions. Their complaints eventually turned to the verbal and physical abuse of Nephi. At times the family faced trials of almost insurmountable proportions. Sometime during their journey, the family faced near starvation when Nephi’s broke his bow and couldn’t obtain food; at this time even Lehi doubted. Through all of these trials though, Nephi never doubted or complained but continued to faithfully trust in the Lord.
Upon the family’s safe arrival a place named Bountiful, eight years after leaving Jerusalem, Nephi reflected upon their journey and wrote the following:
“And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness" (1 Nephi 17:3).
Nephi never doubted who led them. Despite troubles and daunting problems, Nephi remembered that the Lord had nourished, strengthened, and provided for them; for Nephi the formula was simple—have faith and keep the commandments.
From Nephi’s experiences, we learn that the Lord will give us the strength and knowledge to overcome our difficulties if we just remain faithful and obey His commandments. At times it may seem like we too are wandering in a wilderness. Doubt can cloud our mind, weaken our faith, and cause us to become fearful.  Weakened faith and a lack of understanding can cause us to complain and struggle to follow the Lord.  We may even become angry and rebel.  Tough economic times may put our jobs, homes, and fortunes in peril. Sickness, pain, and loneliness can turn hope into despair.  As with Lehi and his family, our journey can be long, difficult, discouraging, and just as perilous; but if we remain faithful, the Lord will also bless us as He did Lehi and his family.
The point is do I believe Him when He declares:
I will be you light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. (1 Nephi 17:13)
It really comes down to trust. I know that if I trust in Him, He will bless me and my family just as He blessed Lehi's family. Nourishment, strengthening, and being provided for can also be my blessings, all I need to do is remain faithful, keep God’s commandments, and trust in Him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Thought for the Day

“While we place all our confidence in God, we must act as if all depends on ourselves.” Catherine McAuley

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Thought for the Day

I love these words spoken by Alma to the people of Gideon. They show the way of a disciple. 

“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works. And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out….And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses…according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and forever.” (Alma 7:23-27)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

“He Is Risen”

When the grieving Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visited Christ’s tomb on the Sunday following the Savior’s horrific crucifixion on Friday, an angel declared: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen. . .” (Matthew 28:5-6; emphasis added). 

These words are particularly meaningful to Kathy and me. On October 28, 1983 our first son, Andrew Christian, was born. We called him Andy because the nickname fit him perfectly. He was a cute, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little boy. When he was two months old he became seriously ill, and we rushed him to the hospital. After 24 hours in the emergency room and intensive care unit, the doctors determined that he had biliary atresia—an incurable disease that destroys the liver’s bile ducts. Andy had two major surgeries to slow down the progress of the disease, but neither of these was successful. His only hope was a liver transplant. The doctors added his name to a transplant list, but it was too late and at 8 months of age he passed away. 

We buried Andy in a cemetery near our home, and we frequently visited his grave. About the same time he died, an unmarried girl in her twenties died. Her parents also buried her in the same cemetery, not from Andy’s grave. We often saw them by her grave at the cemetery. It was interesting to contrast how each of us were grieving. Because we had faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, we believed with every fiber of our being those words—“He is risen.” Hope softened our grief because we believed in the resurrection. Though we were sad, the hope expressed in the words “He is risen” brought light to the darkness of grief. The girl’s parents, on the other hand, didn’t have faith in Jesus Christ and didn’t believe in the resurrection. They lacked hope. Bitterness, anger, and confusion flowed from their grief. 

I echo the following words of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin that express my hope:

Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But…Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Sunday Will Come”, Ensign, November 2006, 2006 /11/sunday-will-come?lang=eng )

Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25-26).  

I am grateful for my faith in Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the “perfect brightness of hope” that flows from my faith. I know that because “He is risen” our little boy lives and will also be resurrected, and that we will all live together again.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Thought for the Day

“We may turn from Him, but He is still there. We may feel that He is hidden from us because of the cloud cover of our concerns, but He is still close to us. We—not He—let something come between us, but no lasting eclipse need ensue. Our provincialism cannot withstand His universalism. Our disregard of Him is no match for His love of us. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth lived! He lives now!” (Neal A. Maxwell, “All Hell Is Moved,” 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1978, p. 181)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Thought for the Day

 “Of Him who delivered each of us from endless death, I testify He is a teacher of truth—but He is more than a teacher. He is the exemplar of the perfect life—but He is more than an exemplar. He is the great physician—but He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord….Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!” (Thomas S. Monson, “He Is Not Here, but Is Risen”, Ensign, April 2011, 5)