Sunday, November 18, 2018 2 comments

“A delicate thing…to act in an organized capacity”

I was reading one of the neat talks in the new book At the Pulpit which is a compilation of different talks Latter-day Saint women have given in meetings throughout history. I ran across something that Eliza R. Snow said back in 1869. She said:

It is a delicate thing for us sisters to act in an organized capacity. Our brethren are accustomed to move in organized bodies—we are not, and we need a great deal of the Spirit and wisdom of God to direct us. Although we should meet with difficulties, let us never be discouraged, but move forward in the path of duty, and through the blessing of God and the encouragement of our brethren, we shall surmount every obstacle. (“Let Us Cultivate Ourselves”)

It is hard to imagine a day in the church when the brothers were more accustomed to act in an organized capacity than the sisters. But over time, with practice, through a variety of projects, that ability has come to the sisters as well, and each successive generation has learned from those that came before how to organize and work together in unity.

Why would Eliza R. Snow have called it “a delicate thing” to act in an organized capacity? Perhaps she saw so many ways that things could go wrong. People might step on each others’ toes, people might drop the ball, or try to take over, or criticize the one in charge or cause any number of problems.  She saw delicacy was needed to avoid those errors, errors which could turn potentially turn people off from continuing to organize.

I’m thankful to be part of the Relief Society and for the way it organizes to serve others.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 2 comments

Status update on counsel from general conference

I feel like I want to share some things I’ve been doing since general conference in October. For a long time I’ve felt that I needed to do something to get better at following the prophet. For years I have typed so many notes in conference, and then I have never looked at them again once conference is over. Yes, it is sad, but I'm being real here. I could remember the really general counsel...if it got repeated over and over by members around me.  But I lacked initiative and focus. 

This year I felt it was important to figure out a way to make sure that I captured a list of things they counsel us to do and then work that stuff into my task list so that I actually do it.  An urgent feeling has grown in me lately of how important it is to follow the prophet’s counsel. 

So after October conference,  I made the list, and I put them into my task app on my phone and decided on when I would complete them and how often. So far I feel pretty good about how that is working in my life. There are a few things that I haven’t been able to implement as completely as I would like, but I am still trying. 

One of the things President Nelson challenged the women of the church to do was read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and mark all verses mentioning Christ as we read. At the time, I made a note of the reading, but not of the marking aspect. I started reading, but I was kind of mechanical about it, just trying to get through the 6.5 pages I needed to read for the day. (Eventually I started just reading 7 pages to be safe.)

 I think it was mechanical at the beginning for me because I already read my scriptures every day, so I started it wondering what this was going to do for me more than I was already doing. It forced me to push through more pages than I usually read, and I think I had a hard time continuing the movement when I usually like to ruminate over things that catch my attention. 

Then someone at church mentioned they were doing the marking as President Nelson had said. I went back to look at the talk to verify that's he’d said, and it was. So I decided I needed to do that too so that I could be complete in my obedience. I started just marking instances of “God” and “Lord” and “Christ” and the various pronouns used for God. The first day I did that, I felt something special from that. But then the next days afterward it went back to feeling like a mechanical exercise. But I persisted. And then I got the idea that I should mark everything that God did and said too (not just the whole verses; I wanted to be targeted with my marking). And that made it more special, but I still felt I was missing something. (It was also difficult because I was using a dying highlighter that barely showed much. Once I switched highlighters, marking got easier.)  Eventually I realized that after having read and marked the requisite number of pages, I also needed to look back over the pages to see what I could learn from those markings. That has made it even more special.

The fascinating thing is that this marking exercise is the same thing I would do if I were trying to revise a book to fix a particular problem. (When I was trying to revise some of my fiction (still unpublished), on one of my passes I marked all instances of scenery description to see if I had enough of that and then added when there wasn’t anything there.) 

What President Nelson’s marking exercise is doing is getting us to notice all instances of God’s dealings with the Book of Mormon peoples so that we can learn more about His character and what He can do for us. It is a prophetically-mandated scripture study program to help us notice principles that we might otherwise pass over. The principles we learn will help increase our faith in God.  We need that increased faith in this day and age.

What have you learned from that challenge?
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Friday, November 2, 2018 0 comments

By the Power of His Word

  Here Alma reminds the people of Zarahemla of what the Lord did for their fathers:

And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also. (Alma 5:5)

What strikes me as neat in this verse is this—“the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word” (emphasis added). It was simply by telling them “tomorrow you will be delivered” that the Lord was able to save them. The spent the whole night gathering their flocks together to prepare for this (and may have completely worn out their taskmasters who couldn’t keep going) and then when their taskmasters went into a deep sleep, they left and kept going as far and as fast as they could. Because they prepared for the Lord’s promise, they were ready to go. If they hadn’t prepared, they would have had to stay there.

It seems to me that so many of the Lord’s commandments deliver us out of bondage by the power of His word. Tithing delivers us from a bondage to our goods. Chastity delivers us from bondage to our carnal desires. Repentance delivers us from bondage to all sin. Fasting delivers us from bondage to our appetites for food. Service, charity, and families deliver us from bondage to selfishness and self-centeredness. Prayer delivers us from a bondage of emotional separation from God. Are there any commandments that don’t in some way deliver us from some sort of bondage?

I’m so thankful for the freedom that comes from the Lord’s words.