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By Small Deeds Hearts Are Revealed!

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Many years ago I was attending a Stake Priesthood Executive Committee Meeting. Time had been set apart for a report to be given by the President of the Young Women’s organization. At the appropriate time she was called into the room and given the opportunity to give her report. A few weeks later I happened to be in a meeting where this sister was addressing an audience of young women leaders. She told of her recent experience of giving a report to the Stake Presidency and the High Council at the above-mentioned meeting. Then with great emotion she said, “When I came into the room every man there stood up and waited for me to take a seat before they sat back down. I tell you sisters I have never felt more touched by this simple gesture, which testified to me of the respect that these priesthood leaders have for women.” As I sat and listened to her testimony I became acutely aware that by small deeds hearts are revealed. It had never occurred to me, and I’m sure to the other men in attendance at that meeting, that we needed to do that in order to show her respect. It was simply a natural act that came spontaneous to us all.

“Many years ago, during the time of President Heber J. Grant, the First Presidency wrote: ‘The true spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives to woman the highest place of honor in human life. To maintain and to merit this high dignity she must possess those virtues which have always, and which will ever, demand the respect and love of mankind…. (because) a beautiful and chaste woman is the perfect workmanship of God”. (James E. Faust, April 2000 Sessions, “Womanhood: The Highest Place of Honor”).

I am grateful to a church, which has taught me from infancy to respect womanhood and to honor the important role they have in society. I have always been impressed by the sincere manner in which good men of the church honor their wives and daughters. It is seldom that I hear unkind words spoken by men towards their wives. Amazingly, I don’t ever recall a disparaging word said by any man in a church meeting towards womanhood. What a remarkable thing! It is made more remarkable seeing as I have participated in thousands of meetings attended solely by men. What a contrast to the business world!

Jesus Christ himself is the ultimate role model in how to honor womanhood. Living in times that I’m sure relegated women to a submissive role in society; he always treated the women in his life with the utmost respect and honor. I’m glad to belong to a church that has restored that honor to woman the way the Lord and Savior intended! An understanding of the great role of women is a part of the wonderful restoration that is often overlooked.

 

washington prayer

I Never Gained A Testimony Sitting In The Pews

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Harold B. Lee had these words of wisdom. Said he:

“I read recently from a column in the Washington Post, by George Moore, who styled himself as the “hermit of Mount Vernon.” (Mount Vernon, of course, was the ancestral home of George Washington.) In this article he said, “I have spent the last twenty years of my life at Mount Vernon reducing my ignorance.” He claimed that a person never learns anything until he realizes how little he knows. In this article he makes this most illuminating observation about George Washington:

“Washington never went to school. That’s why he was an educated man, he never quit learning.”

Therein…is the challenge to all who achieve distinction in any field. Some quit learning when they graduate from a school; some quit learning about the gospel when they have completed a mission for the Church; some quit learning when they become an executive or have a prominent position in or out of the Church. Remember, as George Moore said of Washington, “We can become educated persons, regardless of our stations in life, if we never quit learning.” (April 1971, GC)

Over the years, during interviews, I have often heard repeated the lament,  “I just haven’t had the same spiritual experiences since coming home from my mission.”  It appeared to me that this person felt they had reached their pinnacle in the gospel at the young age of 21. While I understood that the mission did provide a wonderful environment for spiritual growth, I never understood how some didn’t feel they were progressing. However, upon further conversation, it was evident that many were not “creating” an environment of learning. Most were not praying on a regular basis nor reading in the scriptures or other uplifting books. They seemed to have quit learning! Somehow they had forgotten that learning is a journey. No matter how many missions you serve or letters you accumulate after your name, the message from the Lord, through living prophets is to make learning a lifetime career. A career that has no retirement!

A number of years ago, a brother quoted me in a meeting. He said that I once stated that we would never learn the mysteries of the kingdom sitting in the pews! I hope he understood that the point I was trying to make was that the strength of my testimony was gained on my knees and not from just sitting in the pews of church listening to the testimonies of others. Only after reading, pondering and contemplating the things of God did I receive the confirmation that the restored gospel is true. Sitting in the pews is wonderful for gaining support of our beliefs, but it will never substitute for the strength of testimony you gain through diligent effort and sincere prayer. I have found that answers to the hard questions of life have come during quiet moments of meditation and petition; seldom by just listening to a talk in Sacrament Meeting.

There is no diploma or “Doctorate of Testimony” because the learning never ends!  Evidence of a strong testimony is not found written on a piece of paper mounted in a frame on a wall, it is mounted in one’s personage and made known by one’s style of living! Never quit learning” is a good motto for us all. We must be willing to seek the Spirit’s counsel on a daily basis in order to keep learning. We must put forth the effort it takes if we want to learn the mysteries of the kingdom. It’s a wonderful feeling to have a strong testimony. But that strength needs to be continually fed in order for it to grow or even maintain itself.

 

christ-in-synagogue

Doth This Offend You?

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We live in a ‘time of offending.’ It seems many of us get ‘offended’ over what other people think, say, and do. A careful study of history reveals to us that every age is a ‘time of offending.’ From the beginning becoming ‘offended’ has been with us. Cain was ‘offended’ when the Lord did not accept his less than heart-felt ‘offering’ leading to the first recorded murder. In the exchange between God and Cain he was told, ” If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (Gen. 4:7)

God was explaining to Cain that if did well, he would be praised for so doing but if he wasn’t doing good things, he would be held accountable. Cain became ‘offended’ and turned from the Lord leading to him murdering his brother. It seems the nature of man from the beginning is to become ‘offended’ when he is corrected. Admitting that we conscientiously choose to do wrong things is something we don’t like to hear. It ‘offends us!’

Jesus Christ dealt with the same problem when he gave directions and commandments to the people of His day. John records that Christ gave a healthy sermon in the synagogue of Capernaum regarding his identity and what was required of those who were worthy to be His followers. In verse sixty and sixty-one it is recorded:

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?” In verse sixty-six it says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”

Our Father, the Savior, and all the prophets from the beginning have said things that ‘offend’ many. But the question we should ask ourselves the next time we don’t like what the prophets have to say is the question asked by the Savior to the twelve way back then.

“Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67)

And if we decide to ‘go away’ a great follow-up question that was posed by Peter back then was:

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” (vs.68)

Peter answered his own rhetorical question with a resounding declaration of: “…thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

God has always used prophets throughout time to lead, guide, and direct his followers. They will always say things that ‘offend’ us. But if we listen with a contrite spirit we will recognize that the ‘words of eternal life’ are found therein, and we will swallow our pride and seek the will of our Father. By so doing this ‘eternal life’ of which Peter spoke, will be ours!

alls well

All’s Well That Ends Well

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I have repeated the above words, “all’s well that ends well”, without much thought as to the origin of its meaning. It is the name of a Shakespearean play from 1602 as well as a line spoken in that play by the character Helena. She is quoted as saying, “Yet, I pray you: But with the word the time will bring on summer, When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns, And be as sweet as sharp. We must away; Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us:  All’s well that ends well; still the fine’s the crown;Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.”

Often as we travel through this life we encounter obstacles, bumps, bruises and many times we see and feel of the injustice of mortality. It is hard to remember that we are on a journey and that “all’s well that ends well”. That is, we should have faith and take comfort in knowing that we should have few concerns if all turns out well in the end. This doesn’t mean we need rejoice in the pains along the path. However, we should keep our eyes focused on the fact that the Lord is in control and that all will turn out for our good, if we hold our faith and persevere to the end.  Joseph Smith once said:

“We hope to persevere on in every good and useful work, even unto the end, that when we come to be tried in the balance we may not be found wanting.”

He also said: “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.”

Each of us is given a gift in this life from a loving Father. The gift is wrapped differently and the package may be big or small. But inside each package the gift is the same. It has been engraved with our name and when we are born it is automatically opened. It is our own personal “Set of Trials”. It is meant to strengthen us and give us the needed experience for eternal progression. Again quoting Joseph Smith:

“Hold fast that which ye have received so liberally from the hand of God so that when the times of refreshing shall come ye may not have labored in vain, but that ye may rest from all your labors and have fulness of joy in the kingdom of God.”

Remember, “All’s well that ends well!” “A good man will endure all things to honor Christ, and even dispose of the whole world, and all in it, to save his soul.” ( Valiant in the Cause of Christ,” NewEra, May 2009).

 

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