Taking Offense

This week in our Book of Mormon class for Pathway, we are reading Alma 43-63.  As we read through the various chapters, we also have videos to watch throughout the week.  One of these videos is titled “And Nothing Shall Offend Them”, and is by Elder David A. Bednar.

I really enjoyed listening to this talk and if you haven’t seen it, I would suggest watching it.  In our lesson, it only shows a couple of minutes of the talk given by Elder Bednar, but after watching this, I had to go watch the entire talk.  I really enjoyed listening to him talk about this subject.

As he speaks about people that have become less active in the church because of being offended, it really hits close to home.  For many years I stopped going to church myself because of things that had been said or done in the past that offended me.  For a while there I thought I might never go back to church again.  Even though I feel that I had a testimony of the truthfulness of the church, I let my thinking get clouded and really started to blame others for my inactivity.

In his talk, Elder Bednar states that “ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me.”  He further states that to be offended “is a choice we make.”

This is something that I have struggled with a lot in the past.  I really believed that I was wronged by things that people have said to me in the past and I really believed that I was right in my thinking.  At one point, I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine where we talked about how I felt with people at church.  He really upset me when he said at one point, “it’s your own fault.”

I can remember being extremely upset with him and not wanting to talk anymore about it.  It has taken me quite a while, but I have come to learn over the years that when he said this to me, he was correct.  Just as Elder Bednar states, it was my own choice to be affected the way that I was.

As I have come to realize this, I have been able to make my way back to church and I am stronger in my faith than I ever was before.  I know that I have a long way to go and so much to learn, but one thing I will never let anyone do to me again is offend me to the point that I stop going to church.

I have a brother in law that really helped me come back and has helped me so much by reminding me that I am at church for myself and for my family – not for anyone else.  I will always be grateful to him for his patience and his persistence to help guide me back to the Gospel.  He really helped me to understand that what is important for me, is to concentrate on the relationship I have with my Father in Heaven and with my Savior.

As I have continued along my path back at church, I really strive to be helpful to those around me.  I really hope to be able to serve those that are in need with anything that might be asked of me.  I believe that this attitude is what the Savior would want me to do.  I believe that trying to live by His example is what I should be striving for every day.

I know that these types of situations can be very difficult to overcome.  Those that have offended others usually don’t think they have done anything wrong or they think the person offended should just get over it.  The person offended usually wants to distance themselves away from church and anybody associated with it.  This creates a horrible situation for everyone involved, but the biggest problem is for the person offended.  There’s usually not a realization that the main person they are hurting is themselves and their family.

I’m glad to have watched this video this week as it helps to strengthen my resolve to help those around me.  I know how hard it can be to come back to church, but I also know how great of a feeling it is to do so.  I hope that we can all strive to be mindful of others as we interact with them to help avoid these types of situations.  And I also hope that we can mindful of those already in these types of situations that we might reach out to them with love and friendship to help bring them back to where they belong.

 

Even as I am

As I write this entry, we are starting our 2nd semester of the Pathway program.  As it was last semester, it seems that we will be doing projects to show what we have learned from the previous weeks.  I am very grateful to be able to have the opportunity to continue with these entries as I have found them to be a great help to me in my learning.

In my last post, I mentioned how we had been working on a project where we focused on a specific Christlike attribute and how to become more like Him by striving to attain that attribute.  We will be doing a similar project this semester but we will be focusing on several attributes instead of just one.

As we began this semester, we watched a video called Christlike Attributes. If you haven’t seen it before, I would recommend watching it as it gives a great picture of the person our Savior is.

The video starts by quoting from 3 Nephi 27:27 saying, “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily say unto you, even as I am.” I know that as we study the scriptures and as we strive to become better each day, it is the Savior that we should be patterning our lives after.  We should look to His example and do what we can to be more like Him.  

I hope that as I continue along this path that I have begun, that I will be able to become more like my Savior.  I know from my previous experiences that I have a long way to go in this respect.  But I also know that with His help, I can achieve great things.

As we begin this semester, I am beginning to work on the attribute of diligence.  I chose this attribute because I believe as I become more diligent it will become easier to focus on additional attributes in the future.  I know that we can all do great things with the help of our Father in Heaven, but I also know that these things must be done in small steps.  In order to be able to accomplish something great, much diligence must be practiced in order to make it happen.

I love the scripture quoted above from 3 Nephi 27:27.  It is a direct answer to the type of person we should all strive to be.  We should all look at ourselves and see what we can do to be more Christlike.  Once we establish what it is that we can do, we should strive with everything we have to make it a reality.

I look forward this semester to studying more from the Book of Mormon and learning more about how I can become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

This week in class we have been studying Mosiah 27 through Alma 7.  One of the things I have learned from studying these chapters is taught in Alma Chapter 5.  In this chapter, Alma teaches us the things we must do in order to gain eternal salvation.

One thing he teaches us is that we need to have a change of heart.  He testifies in these scriptures that his father obtained a mighty change in his heart according to his faith.

As I read through this part in the scriptures, I am reminded of a video I watched as part of last week’s lesson with Elder Bednar titled, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”.  I would strongly recommend watching this video. In it, Elder Bednar teaches that it is not enough to not sin, but that we need to obtain the desire to sin no more.  In doing this, we obtain a true change of heart in our lives.

For our class this year, we have been working on a project where we choose a Christ like attribute that we want to try and develop for ourselves.  At this point in the semester, watching this video and reading through these scriptures, I have started to really understand this change of heart that Alma speaks of.  It truly is not enough for us to just be “good” and to not sin.  We truly have to become more like Christ and have a change in our hearts so that we will no longer have a desire to sin anymore.  We need to have the desire to do good continually.  One thing Elder Bednar says is that it is possible to have clean hands and not have a pure heart.  Searching to have this change of heart in our lives enables us to have both clean hands and a pure heart.

Alma teaches us that we cannot obtain salvation without repenting of our sins.  I know that we need to truly repent of the things we do wrong and we need to continually strive to be like Christ and obtain a change in our hearts so that we may stand before Him one day knowing that we have clean hands and a pure heart.  I am grateful for these scriptures and for the words of our leaders in these latter days.  I know them to be true and I am grateful for the opportunity to able to share my feelings regarding these teachings.

Listening to the Prophet

This week for class we read from the book of Enos through the 3rd chapter of Mosiah.  Included in that reading is the book of Jarom.  I really enjoyed this book this week and had several different discussions about it.

My instructor put together an awesome video this week talking about this book and how the Nephites during this time were able to break the pride cycle that we see repeated over and over throughout the Book of Mormon and throughout history.

As we’ve seen people go through this cycle, we see how they can be prosperous, which leads to pride, which then leads to their destruction or fall, which then points them back to humility.  As they humble themselves they get back to the point of being prosperous.  And the cycle continues.

But, as we see in the book of Jarom, it is possible to break this cycle.  We discussed in our gathering on Thursday night how the Nephites viewed the Messiah and what they did to stay faithful.  One of my classmates discussed that even though the time that this takes place is several hundred years before the coming of Christ, they acted as though He were there among them already.  They were a very humble people and made sure to keep the commandments.

As we read through the book of Jarom, we learn that they listened to the teachings and warnings of the Prophets which kept them from transgression and kept them from becoming prideful.  Because of this, they stayed humble and looked forward to the time when the Savior would come.  As they looked to Christ and tried to be more like Him, they were able to break the pride cycle, stay humble and continue to prosper.

I know that we live in a great time upon this earth where we have a true Prophet of God to help guide us and direct us.  We have all the resources available to us to learn from him, other church leaders and all those that came before them.  We need only to listen to their words, keep ourselves humble and look towards Christ with a desire to be more like Him.

Feast Upon the Words of Christ

This past week in our class we’ve been studying 2 Nephi 28-33.  In a couple of these chapters we learn about how Nephi prophecies about these last days and the false doctrines and sinful practices that will be surrounding us during these days.

As we’ve studied these scriptures, we have discussed in our weekly gathering what we can do to not be deceived in these latter days and how we can stand against these false doctrines and sinful practices.

Each week as we study the scriptures, we have a group of videos that we are able to watch to help us learn from leaders in the church.  There are a couple of videos that I watched this week that help me to understand what we can do to not be deceived.

The first talk that I watched was by Boyd Baggett and is called “Feast Upon the Words of Christ”.  In this talk, he mentions that his favorite scripture is 2 Nephi 32:3 where it says to feast upon the words of Christ. He then references a talk that Pres. Benson gave during General Conference in April of 1975.  In his talk, Pres. Benson mentions that the 2nd purpose of the Book of Mormon is that it will expose the enemies of Christ.  And that it will confound false doctrines and lay down contention.  Pres. Benson goes on to explain that the Book of Mormon will help to fortify the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies and doctrines of the devil in our day.

In our weekly gathering we discussed what it means to feast upon the words of Christ.  We recognized that feasting upon the words of Christ means for us to read the scriptures as often as possible.  In a recent meeting taught by our Stake President, he encouraged us to read from the Book of Mormon every day.  He testified that as he has committed to reading each day that he has been able to feel the Spirit guide him in his life.  I believe that reading the scriptures each day will give us the strength necessary to persevere in these last days and to be able to identify those false doctrines that Nephi prophecies about.  This will also help us to know of the sinful practices around us each day so that we might be able to distance ourselves from them. This will allow us to stand as followers of Christ and share our beliefs with all those around us.

The second video I watched that I think will help us in our everyday lives is titled “Enemy Territory”.  This is a story told by President Boyd K. Packer where he relates to us how he was protected during World War II by listening to a prompting of the Spirit.  He testifies to us that if we will live our lives worthily and if we will heed the promptings from the Holy Ghost that we will be watched over and protected.

This is a great blessing for us to be able to have in our everyday lives as we strive to live our lives in accordance with the Gospel.  As we diligently strive to read the scriptures each day and as we strive to live worthily, I know that we will have the power to be able to withstand the many forces against us in these latter days.

 

An Ensign to the Nations

This past week our class has been studying 2 Nephi 9-16.

As I’ve studied through these chapters this week, I’ve had many thoughts and many things that have affected me.  But there is one thing that has really stuck with me.  We discussed it during our weekly gathering this past Thursday.  It is from 2 Nephi 15:26.  It reads, “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth; and behold, they shall come with speed swiftly; none shall be weary nor stumble among them.”

I really like this scripture as I believe it is speaking about us in this day and how we should act as Latter-day Saints.  I believe that it is our responsibility as members of this church to act each day in accordance with our beliefs.  That we should act in such a way as to help bring people to the Gospel.

In the past I have always felt that missionary work is done by those young men and young women serving full time missions.  That it is something that is not necessarily needing to be done by the rest of us.  I have always felt that we should support our missionaries of course, but I’ve felt that this support should be done primarily by encouraging them and having them over for dinner.

There have been many instances, talks and lessons in church over the past year that have really helped to change my way of thinking in regards to missionary work.  This past weeks studying has helped to change it also.  Having my son out in the mission field has also helped to change my way of thinking as I interact with him in our weekly emails.

I have come to realize that the scripture in 2nd Nephi relates to each of us in these last days.  And that we should make every effort to help build His church every day of our lives.  It is our responsibility as members to be the ones doing the missionary work by reaching out to those around us.  We need to be the ones bringing the full time missionaries opportunities for them to teach.  We should be the ones creating the opportunities and utilizing the help of full time missionaries to help us.

Each week as we study the scriptures, I am finding ways that I need to strive to be better.  This past week has helped me to realize that I need to try and reach out to those around me and to make sure that everyone can see the type of person I am by the life that I am living.

Gratitude

This past week in our class we’ve been studying 1 Nephi Chapters 15-22.

One of the key things that has stayed with me this week is the importance of gratitude.  As we study the scriptures, we see stories from different points of views and the attitudes from the various people.  In a talk by Kirk Astel titled “Attitudes in Affliction”, he speaks of the contrasting attitudes of Nephi and his brothers, Laman and Lemuel.

Nephi always keeps a positive outlook on things, trusting in the Lord that things happen as they should and that he will be better for it.  Laman and Lemuel however, constantly murmur regarding their circumstances and what they have to endure as they wander through the wilderness.

I watched one other video this week that talks about this same topic.  The talk is titled “Grateful in any Circumstances” by President Uchtdorf.  In his talk, President Uchtdorf speaks of a waiter in a restaurant that tries to make a particular customer happy but is unable to do so despite repeated attempts.  The customer always finds something to complain about even though the waiter continues to go above and beyond with trying to provide service.

These stories really make me stop to look at myself and where I am in my life.  Am I happy?  Am I grateful for the things that I have? Am I doing the things that the Lord would have me do with the many blessings He has bestowed upon me?

I think it is easy to go through life always working towards the next goal or the next milestone and not stop to be truly grateful for what we have right now.  I know that I am guilty of this.

I look forward to the weeks ahead as I try and put the lessons I’ve learned this week into practice in my everyday life.  I know that I can be more grateful for all the things in my life for the Lord has truly blessed me in many aspects of my life.