Monday, January 9, 2017

Teach youth to look for answers in the best books

"For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the “best books,” as the Lord has directed (D&C 88:118). The “best books” include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available. Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and by faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half-truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down.

"Teach them about the challenges they face when relying upon the internet to answer questions of eternal significance. Remind them that James did not say, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him Google!” (see James 1:5).

"Wise people do not rely on the internet to diagnose and treat emotional, mental, and physical health challenges, especially life-threatening challenges. Instead, they seek out health experts, those trained and licensed by recognized medical and state boards. Even then, prudent people seek a second opinion.

"If that is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental, and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake. When something has the potential to threaten our spiritual life, our most precious family relationships, and our membership in the kingdom, we should find thoughtful and faithful Church leaders to help us. And, if necessary, we should ask those with appropriate academic training, experience, and expertise for help."


"Church leaders today are fully conscious of the unlimited access to information, and we are making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of the teachings of the Restoration. A prime example of this effort is the 11 Gospel Topics essays on that provide balanced and reliable interpretations of the facts for controversial and unfamiliar Church-related subjects.

[As a teacher of youth] "It is important that you know the content of these essays. If you have questions about them, please ask someone who has studied them and understands them. In other words, “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118) as you master the content of these essays."


"In addition to becoming lifelong learners, you must also be doing those things in your personal life that allow the Holy Spirit to work within you. Such things include sincere daily prayer, faithful fasting, regular study and pondering of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, making the Sabbath day a delight, partaking of the sacrament with humility and always remembering the Savior, worshipping in the temple as often as possible, and, finally, reaching out to the needy, poor, and lonely—both those close by and across the world."


"...Avoid anything that drives away the Spirit."

- By Elder M. Russell Ballard, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "By Study and by Faith," Ensign, December 2016, p. 25

Friday, January 6, 2017

“The Lord loves you!”

"He Loves You," Alice Victoria Weston-Sherwood, Latter-day Saint Voices, Ensign, October 2014 
(Article copied in its entirety below)

I was sitting in the corner of the celestial room by the organ during the dedication of the Memphis Tennessee Temple. President James E. Faust (1920–2007), a member of the First Presidency from 1995 to 2007, had come to dedicate the temple. He and several other leaders were seated behind the microphone. A local Church choir filed in and stood behind them.

A young woman I visit taught was a member of the choir. Throughout the meeting, I prayed that she would receive what she had come for. She had confided in me that she came to the temple dedication that day to find out her standing with the Lord. She had committed serious sins in the past, and though she had repented, she still struggled to feel good about herself. She even struggled to feel good about singing in the choir.

I stared at President Faust, feeling that he, as a representative of the Lord in the First Presidency, ought to be able to do something. But how could I tell him, and how could he do anything? After the meeting, he would file out of the room just as he had come in, and there would be no introductions, no handshakes, and no words exchanged. I understood that he was busy and had travel arrangements, but still I prayed.

President Faust, deep in thought, looked at me for a while—the muscles in his eyebrows were knit together. When the meeting ended, a happy expression flooded his countenance with light.

He looked at me again and then suddenly stood up, turned around, and stretched his arm forward as far as it would go. He pointed directly at my friend. Then he said firmly and loudly, “The Lord loves you!”

President Faust’s gesture was small and simple yet so powerful that it could have come only from the Holy Ghost communicating to him what I could not. Those few words blessed my friend and continue to sustain my faith that the Lord is mindful of the details of our lives and “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

Sin and enticements compared to ant poison

"Highly Attractive Poison," Alison L. Randall, Latter-day Saint Voices, Ensign, October 2014, 
(Article copied in its entirety below.)

When I stepped out the front door to get the newspaper, I saw an unpleasant sight. A reddish mound of fire ants had formed in the night, rising through the crack between the lawn and the sidewalk.

Though my husband and I hadn’t lived long in Texas, USA, I knew from painful experience that the ants’ stinging bite, not their color, had earned them their nickname. I headed for the garage, where we kept the pesticide. I then read the instructions on the label.

“[This pesticide] is highly attractive to fire ants,” it read. “They will carry it into their mound, feed it to their queen, and the colony will die.” The label instructed me to sprinkle some granules on and around the mound. The ants would do the rest.

I was skeptical. The fire ants seemed pretty clever to me, able to build tall mounds in a single night. I doubted they would fall for disguised poison, but I sprinkled it on anyway.

A short while later I found the mound bustling with activity. I kept my distance but stooped to watch the fuss. They were as ecstatic as if it had just rained manna from heaven. They were hoisting the white granules in their tiny pincers and knocking over one another in their haste to get the poison into their mound.

I watched in horrified awe. They were willingly taking poison into their home. Apparently, the words “highly attractive” had not exaggerated. Somehow the pesticide company had been able to make something bad—lethal even—look extremely good.

I had never seen a more striking example of how bad could be made to look good. It made me think of how Satan does the same thing. I was comforted to realize that although he can sprinkle his disguised poison around my home, he can’t bring it in—unless I let him. So how could I keep it out?

One of my favorite scriptures came to mind: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” With that Spirit, Mormon explains, we “may know with a perfect knowledge” whether something is of God or of Satan (Moroni 7:16).

That experience of watching those doomed ants filled me with gratitude that my husband and I could judge and know for sure whether to allow something into our home. Our job was to teach our children to follow the Spirit of Christ so that they too could know poison when they came upon it.

As I stooped there, watching those insects transport every last granule into their mound, I vowed to do all I could to keep poison out of my home.