Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Masterpiece one brushstroke at a time for 2014

During the week of Christmas Linda and I went to the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art.  I must say that you do not want to miss this exhibit.  You need a ticket to attend the exhibit, but they are free at http://sacredgifts.byu.edu/.  The exhibit features the work of 3 late 19th Century artists, Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hoffman, and Frans Schwartz.  Their work is exquisite and inspiring.  The thing that impressed me was that based on their work it is obvious that each man had a deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that they devoted their lives  and talents to helping others come closer to Christ.  It also made me wonder what talent or gift could I share that would help and inspire others to come unto Christ.  Since I don't have the kind of talent that these men possessed I have concluded that the only offering I have is the way I live my life.  Living a life that points others to Christ is similar to painting a masterpiece.  You do it one brushstroke at a time - that is one act of kindness or one good deed at a time.  Our paintings may not be perfect - there will be mistakes along the way, but these can be corrected by properly placed brush strokes - just like master artists do.  I hope my life can become a "Sacred Gift" that will lead others to Christ.

By: Richard Noble

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's Most Important in 25 words or less

General Relief Society Meetings are a wonderful time for the sisters of our church to listen to satellite messages prepared especially for them. It seemed that the General Meeting on September 23, 1995 would be just another ordinary meeting. But what we heard that night was anything but ordinary.  Though given over 18 years ago, it seems like yesterday when for his message, our late prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley read The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Our hearts were tender as the prophet reiterated our church's stand on the issue of family and parental rights and responsibilities. As he ended his proclamation, many remembered wanting to stand up and cheer for such a declaration prepared not only for us but for the entire world.

On that monumental occasion we were scattered in Relief Societies all over the globe. And since that night, we have worked individually and collectively to implement the principles taught in that document. In turn our own families have been strengthened and blessed as have countless other families. As we study the Proclamation we are reminded of the responsibility we each have to future generations. In the sixth paragraph, it states, Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. Children are an heritage of the Lord. (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives mothers and fathers will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Now together as the Cedar Hills 10th Ward Relief Society, we recently discussed the Proclamation in one of our Sunday meetings. We talked about the blessing of having a loving family and of the words we can use to express that love. We heard a story that was told in the October 2008 General Conference by our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. In his address about Finding Joy in the Journey, he told the experience of Jay Hess, an airman who was shot down over North Vietnam in the 1960s. The story was repeated recently by the current Primary General President, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom. She said, For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words. Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote the following words: These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.

In our lesson we answered the same question, What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation as Jay Hess not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Here are our responses.

Keep your covenants.  Love each other. Serve the Lord. Nurture your testimony. Count your blessings daily.  Always remember to pray.  Remember how much you're loved!  (Lauana Allen)

Never give up. Pray always.  Families are forever & everything.  Together unstoppable.  Smile. Laugh.  Be believing.  Trust in God.  Love everyone.

Continue doing the good things you are doing.  Be supportive of one another.  Lift each other to higher places.  And remember we're an eternal family.

Remember who you are.  Remember where you came from and be faithful in where you are going.  Hold to the Iron Rod.  Trust in Christ.  (April Schultz)

Remember who you are; remember this life is a short test; remember to use your eternal perspective and remember how much I'll always love you!  (Amy Hafen)

Remember who you are!  Give freely.  Love unconditionally.  Simplify.  Count your blessings. Make your blessings count.  Love the Lord.  Love yourself.  I love you eternally!  (Amanda)

I love you with all my heart and hope that someday we will all be together in the Celestial kingdom.  (Nola Smith)

Remember: love one another, be kind, keep covenants, work hard, read scriptures, be true to self & God, laugh, you are loved.  (Kelly Ericson)

Build lasting relationships.  Stay close to the Lord.  Honor the priesthood.  Attend the Temple regularly.  Live life to its fullest.  I love you!

The gift of love last forever!  Take time to give that gift to those in your life!  Families can be together forever!  (Maureen A. Varney)

Love the Lord with all your mind, heart and strength and love everybody around you.  Read the scriptures.  Keep the Sabbath Day holy.  Pray always.  (Consuelo Briones)

Love now:  the Lord, family, those in need.  Be close to the Spirit.  Remember you are love. Make the Temple a priority.  (Erin McLerran)

Say I love you every day to your family.  Be a good friend.  Pray always.  Get a good education. Slow to anger.  Exercise faith.  (Julie Hambly)

You are my sunshine.  Remember who you are.  Look upward reach outward stand a little taller.  Keep smiling.  Love you more.  (Renee Jeffrey)

Remember faith, hope, charity.  Love one another.  Endure to the end.  Pass on the family history & photos with great emphasis.  (Ann Alton)

Respect your parents & family.  Be good & active citizen in your country.  Be protective of what you value.  Be grateful and show it.  Love God.  (DeAnn Nielsen)

Remember who you are and if you will keep the commandments you will always be happy.  You are loved and valued beyond words.  (Louise Wilhite)

The Gospel is true.  Have faith that whatever happens, Heavenly Father knows best.  Cherish your children and family times together.  Remember I love you always.  (Jan Curtis)

The Church is true.  I love each one of you.  Stay close to each other.  Serve others.  Serve the Lord  - Missions.  Be content & be grateful.  (Mary Vance)

Be nice to each other.  Read.  Pray.  Fast.  Keep God close.  Be happy & take care of Chauncey forever.

I love you so much.  (Emilie Campbell)

Love each other.  Lift each other.  Support each other.  Be LDS in all you do.  Read Scriptures. Be honest.  God will protect.  (Carole Ferguson)

Dont sweat the small stuff.  Be happy.  Smile.  Be nice to each other.  I love you.  The Lord Jesus Christ love you.

Love God.  Pray for guidance.  Be forgiving.  Be kind to yourself and others.  Do not be afraid to live your life.  Love you always.  (Jacqueline Burgess)

Keep your privilege of the Church.  Honor your Priesthood.  Be valiant in your testimony of Christ and know that I love you without measure.  (Dorothy Bryson)

Love another & let the little things go.  Remember that you are loved by a Father in Heaven and also by your earthly family.  (Diane Scruggs)

Live the gospel.  Love the Lord/each other.  Serve others.  Live so we can all be together eternally.  No empty chairs.  Im proud of you! (Susan Curtis)

Dearest Family: Stay in contact with and love each other. Remember, I will love you always. Follow the Savior. He knows the important things to do. (Shirley Condie)

These are important to me: Testimony, College, mission, Temple marriage, keeping covenants, spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, faith, love God and others, do your duty. (Janice Fuller)

I am a Child of God

This past month our Ward Primary, children between the ages of 3-11 put on a program about this year’s theme: “I Am a Child of God.” These children sang and talked about the importance of their relationship with God. As we were writing the program we felt led by the Spirit to know what to write. We feel it is very important for our children to know they are never alone, that they are actually a spirit son or daughter of God who loves them and wants them to succeed in this life.
The statement “I am a child of God” applies to all of us. We hope that each of us, young or old, can always remember this. We’ve told the children that if they can only remember one thing, remember that they are a child of God!
We know these things to be true and are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with these wonderful children.
– The Cedar Hills 10th Ward Primary Presidency

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some thoughts about the Prophet Joseph Smith

December 23 is the 208th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth. As the founder and first Prophet leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints he led a life of extraordinary accomplishments and experiences, most of which were written about extensively at the time.

Even though he had only 3 years of formal schooling at the age of 24 he published an over 500 page book that he translated from ancient plates which he said had been given to him by an angel. That he had such plates can hardly be disputed as eleven men gave sworn testimony that they had seen the plates and the engravings on them. It is true that three of those were members of his own family and one was a neighbor but the remaining seven were men whom he had never met until they heard about his experiences and became interested enough to investigate. That same year Joseph organized the church which now has a membership of over fifteen million.

During the following 14 years before his martyrdom he directed the church, sent out missionaries, wrote extensively and oversaw the building of two temples. He also founded the city of Nauvoo, Illinois which was as large as the city of Chicago at his death.

My great grandfather’s family lived close to Joseph and Emma Smith in Nauvoo. He attended the same school as their children and was baptized by Joseph Smith. Before his death he dictated a brief history of his life which included the following: "I have seen the Prophet and heard him preach many times. I have seen him on parade ... at the head of the Nauvoo Legion. ... He was the handsomest man on horse back or in any other position that I ever saw. He was a very jovial, sociable man. He loved children. If he would find some boys playing ball he would stop and take a hand a short time." I am sure he agreed with Brigham Young, who said: "I feel like shouting hallelujah all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith."

by Nola Smith a Mormon Great Grandma

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Praise to the man Art Bailey

Last night a good man passed away. After a year long bout with several complications, arising from the residual effects of open heart surgery last January, Art Bailey graduated into the next life. Art Bailey was a true friend. I got to know Art, as we served together in the Heritage Park Branch, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for three years and as neighbors.

The branch consisted of approximately 75 elderly individuals, residing in the Charleston Assisted Living Center in our neighborhood. Art and his wife Kay, along with Kurt and Noriko Whitlock, Robert and Dorothy Bryson, Bruce and Susan Curtis, Robert and Donna Brown and my wife Christine and I, had the rare privilege of serving the spiritual and temporal needs of those wonderful elderly, but that is a topic for another time. I want to talk about Art and things that really matter in life.

From time to time, I would take the time to discuss with Art many of the whys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as things of life in general. As I would ponder and think about some of the deep things of life, I would often share some of my thoughts and perceptions with Art, knowing his vast experience and knowledge of Gospel topics. Our discussions were always enlightening and helped to solidify in my own heart and mind, some of the perceptions I had.

When I think of Art, I can't help but think of things I have come to learn and comprehend in life. It has taken me a long time to understand some important things about life and about the Gospel plan. Some of the things I have come to learn and come to value are also some of the traits I found in Art.

The Savior, Jesus Christ, gave all of us an invitation. First, to come follow Him and second, "What manner of men ought you to be? even as I am." As He went about doing good, the Lord often told others to "go and do thou likewise.

These admonitions were from a loving Savior, who knew that if we were to follow His example, our lives and the lives of others would be enriched. The life of the Savior demonstrated His single minded effort to do the will of His Father in Heaven and to lift and to edify those about Him.

In a very similar way, Art did just that. All of my interactions with Art were uplifting and enriching and I always came away a better person because of them. The same thing could be said of the others we served with in the assisted living center, as well as many of those elderly we served. I say served, but the truth of the matter is, they did more for me than I ever did for them, for which experience I will ever be grateful.

I have witnessed in the life of Art Bailey, as well as in the lives of others, some basic truths. First of all, it doesn't matter how gifted one is, or how intelligent one is, or how attractive one is, or how many resources one has. Everyone can lift and edify others. As stated by President Uchtdorf, we should lift where we stand. In other words, no matter what our situation in life is, we can lift and help others. Lifting and serving others is so much more important than the many other things we could pursue in life.

This is reminiscent of what the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon warned us about. He told us not to pursue four traps in life, the seeking of power for the sake of power, the seeking of riches for the sake of gain, the seeking of popularity and the lusts of the flesh.

Such trappings are the typical tendencies of the natural man and as the Lord admonished us, the natural man is an enemy to God. We take none of the things accumulated by such pursuits in life with us to the other side, but we do take what we have become and the value of our service to others, things that neither moth nor rust can corrupt.

Art is one of those individuals who took the admonition of the Lord to heart, he went about doing good. The same could be said of others with whom I have served and come to know.

I will miss our conversations and I will miss our association, but I am happy for Art, as he most assuredly has been welcomed home by so many he helped in life. I am sure Art is one who will hear the words from the Savior we all hope to hear someday, "Well done thou good and faithful servant.

Why am I a Mormon?

That’s pretty easy to answer: because my parents were.
The better question: Why do I STAY a Mormon?

I stay a Mormon because I need the power of Jesus Christ to change my nature. That enabling power, which most Christians call "grace", is best accessed in the Church of Jesus Christ. In my experience, Grace or power from God is the only thing that can really change what a person is. Not willpower or good intentions or anything else devised by men.

I stay because I feel uplifted and happier by my association with others as fellow disciples of Christ in my local congregation. Whether serving youth, or whatever I am asked to do, I always feel good about it. Staying a Mormon gives me a network in which to serve and be served by others. Boh are things I need.

I stay a Mormon because it helps me find the good in myself and avoid more of the bad. I need that help keeping the bad elements pushed back. On my own I would wear down and crumble and devolve into darkness. But the gospel of Christ that I get in my church keeps me pointed the right direction.

I stay a Mormon because I know that God spoke to me via his Spirit and told me that He really did appear to Joseph Smith in 1820. I don't just believe; I know it to be a verity. When I feel like I don't want to make the efforts I do make, I cannot deny that I know Joseph Smith saw God. And I also know that I am responsible for my actions because of the knowledge I possess. So I go on.
So that is why I stay a Mormon.

 -Mark Robins