Sunday, June 28, 2015

On Being Genuine

It is part of human nature to want to look our best. It is why many of us work so hard on the exterior of our homes and why our young Aaronic Priesthood brethren make sure every hair is in place, just in case they run into that special someone. There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smelling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the home teachers arrive. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful.

Why does this happen? Why do we sometimes try to appear active, prosperous, and dedicated outwardly when on the inside—as the Revelator said of the Ephesians—we have “left [our] first love”?
In some cases, we may simply have lost our focus on the essence of the gospel, mistaking the “form of godliness” for the “power thereof." This is especially dangerous when we direct our outward expressions of discipleship to impress others for personal gain or influence. It is then that we are at risk of entering into Pharisee territory, and it is high time to examine our hearts to make immediate course corrections.
My dear friends and fellow priesthood holders, if Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics. What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father.
It may be beneficial to search our own hearts. For example, we might ask ourselves, why do we serve in the Church of Jesus Christ?
We could even ask, why are we here at this meeting today?
I suppose if I were to answer that question on a superficial level, I could say that I’m here because President Monson assigned me to speak.
So I really didn’t have a choice.
Besides that, my wife, whom I love very much, expects me to attend. And how can I say no to her?

But we all know there are better reasons for attending our meetings and living our lives as committed disciples of Jesus Christ.
I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.
In short, I am here because I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
I am sure this is your reason too. This is why we are willing to make sacrifices and not just declarations to follow the Savior.
 . . . .this is our high and holy calling—to be agents of Jesus Christ, to love as He loved, to serve as He served, to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,” to “look [after] the poor and the needy,” and to care for the widows and orphans.
I pray, brethren, that as we serve in our families, quorums, wards, stakes, communities, and nations, we will resist the temptation to draw attention to ourselves and, instead, strive for a far greater honor: to become humble, genuine disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will find ourselves walking the path that leads to our best, most genuine, and noblest selves.
Excerpts taken from Elder Uchtdorf's April 2015 General Conference Address.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Seek the Spirit in All You Do

One sure way we can determine whether we are on the strait and narrow path is that we will possess the Spirit of the Lord in our lives.

Spirituality—being in tune with the Spirit of the Lord—is the greatest need we all have. We should strive for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost all the days of our lives. When we have the Spirit, we will love to serve, we will love the Lord, and we will love those with whom we serve, and those whom we serve.

We live in a very wicked world. We are surrounded with propaganda that evil is good and good is evil. False teachings abound that affect us. Almost everything that is wholesome, good, pure, uplifting, and strengthening is being challenged as never before.

One reason we are on this earth is to discern between truth and error. This discernment comes by the Holy Ghost, not just our intellectual faculties.

When we earnestly and honestly seek for the truth, this beautiful promise finds fulfillment: “God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:26.)

We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings. That is why spiritual promptings move us on occasion to great joy, sometimes to tears. Many times my emotions have been made tender and my feelings very sensitive when touched by the Spirit.

Read and study the scriptures. The scriptures should be studied in the home with fathers and mothers taking the lead and setting the example. The scriptures are to be comprehended by the power of the Holy Ghost, for the Lord has given this promise to His faithful and obedient: “Thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things.” (D&C 42:61.)

The following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball illustrates how we may develop more spirituality in our lives:

“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more, I find it easier to abide their counsel.” …

I do not believe that a member of the Church can have an active, vibrant testimony of the gospel without keeping the commandments. A testimony is to have current inspiration to know the work is true, not something we receive only once. The Holy Ghost abides with those who honor, respect, and obey God’s laws. And it is that Spirit which gives inspiration to the individual. Humbly I testify to the reality of this promise.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 12.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Follow the Living Prophet

Learn to keep your eye on the prophet. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece and the only man who can speak for the Lord today. Let his inspired counsel take precedence. Let his inspired words be a basis for evaluating the counsel of all lesser authorities. Then live close to the Spirit so you may know the truth of all things.

The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words. …

A revealing characteristic of a true prophet is that he declares a message from God. He makes no apology for the message, nor does he fear for any social repercussions which may lead to derision and persecution.

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness. …

As members of the Church we have some close quarters to pass through if we are going to get home safely. We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some. That’s why we must learn—and the sooner we learn, the better—to keep our eye on the Prophet, the President of the Church.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 11.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Angie's Tips for Getting Started on Family Search

Our Challenge: Sign in to Family Search and link the living to your deceased ancestors.  In general, the site is relatively easy to navigate from the beginning.  You will just need your sign in, and a completed 4-generation sheet.

In addition to exploring on your own, they have several training videos and courses in their learning center. (Can be found under the "get help" drop down menu on the right top side of the screen.)

Here you can find all kinds of video tutorial and lectures. Basic helps to specific topics, short videos to long lectures.  You can look up specific countries and watch videos on them too. Look on the left side of the screen.

Here is a look into an online course teaching how to use FamilySearch. 

Mouse Skills:To be successful in Family Tree -- good mouse skills are necessary. If you feel your mouse skills need honing, then start here and practice. If you find that you are having difficulty controlling the mouse after you start the lessons, then don't hesitate to come back and do some mouse practice.

Level one (beginning) has several individualized lessons that anyone can do to learn all of the basic functions of Family Tree. There are written lessons and videos when used together give the best learning experience. However, many individuals prefer to watch the videos or just do the written material.
Best of all, when you are finished using a file you can reset the file and start over.

Level two (intermediate) has several individualized lessons that anyone can do to learn all of the intermediate functions of Family Tree. These lessons assume that you know the skills from level one. There are written lessons and videos when used together give the best experience. However, many individuals prefer to watch the videos or to do the written material.
Best of all, when you are finished using a file you can reset the file and start over.

Level three (advanced) has several individualized lessons that give more practice in the skills used in the beginning and intermediate levels. These lessons assume that you know the skills from level one and level two. These lessons are designed as problem solving activities. Please do not look at the videos that have the solution to the answer until you have struggled with the problem that is presented.
Best of all, when you are finished using a file you can reset the file and start over.

LDS Member Section has several individualized lessons that give information and practice for finding and submitting names for the temple.

There is a feature called Sandbox - I believe it sets up mock scenarios for you practice using family tree without messing anything up because they are fake/pretend. For example, say you finish the lesson on merging duplicates. Then you could go into the sandbox and practice merging pretend duplicates.

These are just a few tips from Angie Pedersen. She is totally willing to help you get started or if you are stuck, she may have the answer!

Also, our Ward Family History Consultants are:

Helen Afana
Lila Williams
Sande Hahn

The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel

Understanding this plan of happiness provides us with an eternal perspective and helps us to truly value the commandments, the ordinances, the covenants, and the trials and tribulations.

This is one way of contemplating the Lord’s plan. We do not have to concern ourselves with each of its parts separately but rather to try to bring the entire picture into focus, keeping in mind what the final result will be. The Lord knows where each piece belongs so that it fits into the plan. All the commandments are of eternal importance in the context of the great plan of happiness.

It is extremely important that we do not make decisions of eternal value from the perspective of mortality. For decisions that affect eternity, having a gospel perspective is essential.

President Spencer W. Kimball wrote the following: “If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.”

Elder David B. Haight told a story about the sculptor Michelangelo to illustrate the importance of seeing everything in proper perspective: “As the sculptor was chiseling a block of marble, a boy came every day and watched shyly. When the figure of David emerged and appeared from that stone, complete for all the world to admire, the boy asked Michelangelo, ‘How did you know he was in there?’”

The perspective with which the sculptor saw that block of marble was different than that of the boy who was watching him work. The artist’s vision of the possibilities encased in the stone allowed him to create a work of art.

The Lord knows what He wants to accomplish with each one of us. He knows the kind of reform He wants to achieve in our lives, and we do not have the right to counsel Him. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.