Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mafia to Mormon by Mario Facione

 
Mafia to Mormon is the conversion story of Mario Facione. He tells of how he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had to leave the mafia.  It is a short quick book, but cool to see when God has a plan for you He will make a way for you to fulfill it. Once Mario Facione was converted there wasn't anything that was going to stop him from going to the temple. Even risking losing his life. 
 
"Everything still comes down to a deal in my life, only this time the deal is between me and the Lord. Everyone who's been baptized in this Church has made the same deal. We agree to live by the commandments and the Lord gives us great blessings."
 
"You set your sights in the way the Lord wants you to do it, not the way you want to do it, and it works out. Do it the way the Lord has set for you and you'll succeed every time."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Work and the Glory by Gerald N. Lund

 
The Work and the Glory is a nine part series written by Gerald N Lund. I have just finished the first 2 books, Pillar of Light and Like a Fire is Burning. These books take a fictional family and place them back in the 1800's at real historical events. The author tells, "as accurately as possible, the story of Joseph Smith and the rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The first book starts in 1827 after Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and is waiting to receive the gold plates, that is now the Book of Mormon and the second book takes you all the way to the first temple being built and dedicated in 1836.  It has always been amazing to me the faith the first members of the church had. To join an unknown church lead by a farm boy who saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and translated golden plates.  It seems like such a crazy story but once you know, you know! I am so thankful to be living in a time and place now where I can openly be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not fear for my life. I am not getting kicked out of my home, losing my property or being abused for my beliefs.  I am thankful for my ancestors who joined the church and passed on a legacy to me that I am proud of.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Sure Foundation by Dean M Davies

Dean M. Davies
 
In the LDS church we do not have a preacher that preaches on Sunday. The members are asked to prepare talks and share their testimony. Usually a week in advanced you are asked if you would speak, are given a topic and a time frame of usually 10 to 15 minutes. You do not have to accept and I used to say no. I have always had a fear of public speaking. About 6 years ago when we lived in New Mexico I said yes to give a talk and was so stressed out about it my mouth broke out in fever blisters and I still have a scar. So I vowed never to do that again. When we moved to Arkansas last year we ended up in a fairly small ward. It is kind of tradition when you move into a new ward they ask you to speak and also to introduce your family. So I knew they were going to ask and I had to decide what my answer was going to be. I decided to say yes this time. After all, I was almost 30! It was time to grow up! And a small ward would be the best place to start. I was still crazy nervous but didn't spend the whole week stressing about it. When they asked me to speak again this last Sunday, I didn't want to do it, but I was able to say yes with a little more confidence. I was still nervous but felt like I held it together a little better this time. I would love to one day say I enjoy speaking in church and then maybe that confidence will lead me to be able to conquer my fear of singing in public.
 
So with all that said. I was asked to base my talk on one given in this last General Conference by Bishop Dean M. Davies. You can click here to read his talk called A Sure Foundation. 
 
Here is my talk, but to warn you it is 10 minutes long:
“In the development of modern-day temples, careful attention is given to the design, engineering, and use of building materials. Thorough testing of the soils and geology takes place on the site where a temple will be built. Studies of wind, rain, and changes in the weather for the area are considered so that the completed temple can withstand not only storms and climate common to an area, but the temple is designed and positioned to withstand the unexpected earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and other natural calamities that may occur. In many temples, concrete or steel piles are driven deep into the earth to anchor the temple foundation.” (Dean M Davies)
 “About two decades ago when a temple was to be built in Mexico City, architects faced a great challenge. Because Mexico City is situated on a basin over water, some of its buildings settle and become tilted with the passage of time. Construction of a temple there required a special foundation. Two hundred twenty-one large, reinforced concrete piles were driven more than 100 feet deep into the ground. Onto those pilings, steel straps were anchored and fastened to a unit that can be adjusted if need be to keep the building level. With this unseen but sure foundation, that temple today stands steady and straight.”
“A firm foundation is necessary for any building, institution, or individual to endure.”(Russell M Nelson)
Like the temple foundations we need to build our own spiritual foundations ready to withstand not only common struggles but also the unexpected calamities.
President Monson tells us “If we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.”
How do we then develop that deep foundation of faith and solid testimony of truth? Bishop Dean M. Davies in this past April conference gave us 3 basic principals that if applied to our lives “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo.” (Heleman 5:12)
Bishop Davies gives the first principal of prayer. He says “Prayer is one of the most basic and important foundational building blocks of our faith and character. Through prayer we are able to express our gratitude, love, and devotion to God. Through prayer we can submit our will to His and in return receive the strength to conform our lives to His teachings. Prayer is the avenue we can follow to seek His influence in our lives, even revelation.”
Alma, a prophet from the Book of Mormon taught, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37).
When I was younger (probably about 12) my parents had to go into Phoenix so that meant they were going to be gone most of the day and I was in charge of my little sister. We had plans to go swimming at the neighbors for a while so we locked up the house and headed out.  When we got home we ran around back to get the hidden house key from the barn, but it wasn’t hanging on the hook. We did a quick check of all the doors and windows to see if there was a way in, but everything was locked.  My parents had always taught us to pray so my sister and I knelt down in the backyard and prayed to find a way into the house. The second we ended our prayer my little sister jumped up and ran back to the barn.  She had a thought that the key might just be hanging on a different hook…and it was! That night my mom pulled me aside and told me how proud she was that we thought to pray for help. And she took the time to teach me one more lesson. We then knelt together and she thanked Heavenly Father for watching over us and answering my prayer.  My parents started my foundation at home teaching me how to pray for things that I need, trust that Heavenly Father would answer my prayers and to remember to say a prayer of thanks.
We have all heard the saying “If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want Him to talk to you, read your scriptures.” So it is fitting that the second principal Bishop Davies talks about is scripture study.  He tells us “While reading the scriptures is good, reading by itself is insufficient to capture the full breadth and depth of the Savior’s teachings. Searching, pondering, and applying the words of Christ as taught in the scriptures will bring wisdom and knowledge beyond our mortal understanding. This will strengthen our commitment and provide the spiritual reserves to do our best in all situations.”
Elder Scott teaches that “pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior.
“Scriptures can communicate different meanings at different times in our life, according to our needs. A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.”
Over the last few months I have been doing scripture studies with Sarah Good (who just moved out of the ward). We would each on our own read a set number of chapters and then get together to discuss what we read. We were amazed at how often we both would highlight the same versus and could apply the teachings to each of our situations…Sarah a navigator in the Air Force and me a stay-at-home mom.  Both faced with different challenges and backgrounds, yet we could both find answers and direction in the same scriptures.
“The scriptures have been given to us to help us find peace and reassurance in times of crisis, to help us find solutions to our everyday challenges, and to strengthen us in times of temptation.” (Janette C. Hales)
Elder L. Tom Perry said “The scriptures are one of our greatest treasures. They contain God’s instructions to His people from the beginning of time. In a world so full of the doctrines of men, how grateful we are to have a sure anchor on which to build our faith!”
Bishop Davies concludes with the third and “one of the most important steps we can take to strengthen our lives and remain firmly attached to the foundation of the Savior. It is to worthily partake of the sacrament each week. The sacrament ordinance affords every Church member the opportunity to ponder his or her life in advance, to consider the actions or non-actions that may need to be repented of, and then to partake of the bread and water as sacred emblems in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a witness of His Atonement. If we partake with sincerity and in humility, we renew eternal covenants, are cleansed and sanctified, and receive the promise that we will have His Spirit to be with us always. Worthily partaking of the sacrament strengthens our personal connection to the foundation rock, even to Jesus Christ.”
Again, Elder L. Tom Perry teaches us that “During the administration of the sacrament, we set aside the world. It is a period of spiritual renewal as we recognize the deep spiritual significance of the ordinance offered to each of us personally. If we were to become casual in partaking of the sacrament, we would lose the opportunity for spiritual growth.”
He continues “Parents, you have the responsibility of teaching your families the importance of attending sacrament meeting weekly. It should be a regular family practice. Every family needs that time of renewing and committing to live the gospel in accordance with the teachings of the Savior. Families, properly prepared, will attend sacrament meeting with a spirit of reverence and with gratitude for the opportunity of partaking of the sacred emblems.”
As I was studying and preparing my talk this week one thing kept coming back to me. My basic gospel foundation was established at home. My parents tried hard to get all 7 kids up for family prayer before dad left for work in the morning. They tried hard to have scripture study with us and going to sacrament wasn’t an option. It was what we did every Sunday. Sometimes that meant they cut our vacation a day short so we could be home Saturday instead of Sunday. I know us kids didn’t make it easy for them and we were never perfect at it. But they started the foundation. I can only hope to have the same influence on my children.
I am thankful the gospel is in my life and for the knowledge and testimony I have of prayer, scripture study and partaking of the sacrament. I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and for my Savior Jesus Christ.