Sunday, April 24, 2016

Talk - Motherhood Is Sacred and All Women Are Mothers

I was already planning to cover the topics I am going to talk about today when I heard it mentioned last week that the Church is often cheering up the women and chastising the men.  It gave me pause to reflect on my life in the Church and my life as a man.  Over my time in the Church, especially in my adult years I have also noticed this pattern.

This is something that often would put a burr under my saddle in my younger years.  If I was really honest with myself, once in awhile I'm probably still a little petty about it.  Thinking about this last week confirmed to me that I needed to continue doing the research I was doing for my talk, because I needed to improve more.
One large part of my coming to terms with this injustice I felt I was seeing, is something that can be a tough thing for people to comprehend.  The thing I had to figure out was…males and females are different.

That’s right.  Boys are not the same as girls and men are not the same as women.

I think sometimes we spend time and energy comparing ourselves to the other gender.  We perhaps see things that appear unfair when looking at each other. So I wanted to get that out of the way up front.  Males and females are different.

Males and females are different, but Equal.  Equal does not mean the same.

Let’s imagine for a moment a quarter and then also imagine 2 dimes and a nickel.  The value of a quarter, 25 cents, is equal to the value of 2 dimes and a nickel, also 25 cents.  

Now imagine a person walks up to a 25 cent gumball machine.  The person reaches in their pocket and pulls out 25 cents, two dimes and a nickel, which is equal to the value the gumball machine requires.  Nonetheless, the task the gumball machine performs is designed to only work with quarters.  WELL THAT’S NOT FAIR!.  And yet, that’s how it works.  It would be a great challenge to get a gumball out of that machine with two dimes and a nickel.  Likely when trying it one would damage the machine or damage the money.

Elder M Russell Ballard said:
“Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women and Priesthood Power, Ensign September 2014)

Elder Ballard also said:
“Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean that they are the same. Although responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature, they do not differ in their importance or influence.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women in the Work of the Lord”, New Era April 2014)

He further points out:
“Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women and Priesthood Power, Ensign September 2014)

There was a lot in Elder Ballard’s words about husband and wife relationships, but let’s remember that men and women are different even when they are single.  We must not beat ourselves up if we struggle when we are single to perform both genders’ responsibilities.  We can still draw on the strength of others of the opposite sex in our life.  Because of the natural order of things, we can not do it alone.

I believe the reason the brethren are called to repentance in Conference and the reason the sisters are told to be of good cheer is because generally neither group understands their roles.  

For the sake of time I will only go into two things in this context today, the sacredness of motherhood and that all women are mothers.

Generally, I believe that people do not fully comprehend the sacredness of mothers.  I believe they also generally do not fully understand that all women are mothers, no matter if they have children or not.

All Women Are Mothers
A single woman, a married woman with no children, a woman with children, and a woman whose children are grown all are mothers.

Let’s review a portion of the the family proclamation:
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."

I would propose that for a mother the meaning of the word children extends to neighborhood, city, state, and so forth and that a mother’s stewardship becomes greater the closer she gets to the house she lives in.

A mother’s role is primarily to nurture.  Fathers are to preside, provide, and protect, which I believe translates to doing whatever is necessary to make it possible for the work of motherhood to thrive.

Sister Marriott, second counselor in the young women general presidency, in the women’s session of general conference stated, “The Relief Society general president Eliza R. Snow declared to sisters almost 150 years ago, ‘The Lord has laid high responsibilities upon us.’2

Sister Marriott pointed out that sisters, not women who are married or who have kids living at home have high responsibility.  She said that sister Snow was addressing all sisters.  All women.

Sister Marriott continues, “The Lord’s Church needs Spirit-directed women who use their unique gifts to nurture, to speak up, and to defend gospel truth. Our inspiration and intuition are necessary parts of building the kingdom of God, which really means doing our part to bring salvation to God’s children.”

Mothers have stewardship over the nurture of children.  Not just their children, but all of God’s children.

So far my evidence for all women being mothers may be a little thin, so let’s go back for more words from Sister Marriott, “Mothers literally make room in their bodies to nurture an unborn baby—and hopefully a place in their hearts as they raise them—but nurturing is not limited to bearing children. Eve was called a 'mother' before she had children.4 I believe that 'to mother' means 'to give life.' Think of the many ways you give life. It could mean giving emotional life to the hopeless or spiritual life to the doubter. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can create an emotionally healing place for the discriminated against, the rejected, and the stranger. In these tender yet powerful ways, we build the kingdom of God. Sisters, all of us came to earth with these life-giving, nurturing, maternal gifts because that is God’s plan."

I would note that Sister Marriott’s stewardship is over the young women of the Church and yet she is speaking to the role of mothers.  I propose again that all women are mothers and have stewardship over things of motherhood.  Young women are still women.

I believe the young women theme gives us a view into this concept: “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will 'stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places' (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation."

Standing strong in the stewardship of motherhood can be hard.  The world or a woman’s peers or maybe even the men in her life may have incorrect ideas on what her responsibilities are.  They may apply pressure to her to spend time on things that have nothing to do with what God has called her to do.  This pressure sometimes changes as they changes phases and circumstances in life.  A young woman may feel pressure to pursue things in her youth that get in the way of her calling as a mother now and perhaps in the future as well.  A married woman without children may feel the pressure to be engaged in other things that get in the way of her calling as a mother, simply because she has not children in her home.  Mothers that have children may get grief from people that do not understand the sacredness and stewardship of motherhood.  A mother with children that are grown may feel an emptiness from not being able to nurture full time, because they do not realize that children leaving the home does not remove the stewardship of mothers to nurture children full time.  Again, the definition of children extends to all of God's children in a woman's neighborhood, city, state, and so forth, and that stewardship becomes greater the closer she gets to the house she lives in.

Sister Marriott said this:
“Being distinct and different from the world will draw some criticism, but we must anchor ourselves to eternal principles and testify of them, no matter the world’s response.”
“Women and sisters, we can do these things! Primary girls, is there someone in your family who needs your love and kindness? You build the kingdom by nurturing others too.”
“Our high responsibility is to become women who follow the Savior, nurture with inspiration, and live truth fearlessly. As we ask Father in Heaven to make us builders of His kingdom, His power will flow into us and we will know how to nurture, ultimately becoming like our heavenly parents.

Carole M. Stephens in April 2015 General Conference was telling the story of a sister that understood the concept of being a mother beyond just our home.  She had this to say:
"Sister Yazzie doesn’t limit her love and influence to her biological family. She understands what it means to expand her sphere of influence as she goes about doing good, blessing, nurturing, and defending the family of God."

Women Are Sacred
Motherhood is sacred and all women are mothers, thus all women are sacred.  Let’s dig into that concept a bit.

President Gordon B Hinckley stated, Quote “When you save a girl, you save generations.”

Rosemary M Wixom when she was Primary General President said:
Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity.

Elder Russell M Nelson said on the sacredness of our duty towards women:
“Let us speak about our worthy and wonderful sisters, particularly our mothers, and consider our sacred duty to honor them.”
“if one dishonors mother, one dishonors the commandments of God.”
“the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother.”

Many years ago, the first presidency issued the statement, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”

Let’s hear that last part again, “It places her... who honors... its holy calling and service next to the angels.”

Elder Nelson shared more on the sacredness of women, “Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.

How is Satan trying to destroy the family?  Through influences that come into our home.  Through men demeaning women.  And through women demeaning themselves.  Sometimes the idea is expressed “I am only a mother.”  Which is like saying “I am only one with power given by God.”

More from Elder Nelson:
“We who bear the holy priesthood have a sacred duty to honor our sisters... We respect sisters—not only in our immediate families but all the wonderful sisters in our lives. As daughters of God, their potential is divine. Without them, eternal life would be impossible. Our high regard for them should spring from our love of God and from an awareness of their lofty purpose in His great eternal plan.”

We have a tradition of men holding doors for women when they enter or exit a building.  Clearly women are capable of opening a door, after all they are mothers who are given power directly from God. But consider the symbolism of this with regard to our responsibilities as men and the sacredness of women.  Men are to preside, provide, and protect.  We take responsibility and preside over the task of opening that door.  We provide a way for a sacred mother to enter or exit.  We protect in that we pay attention that it is safe for her to enter and that after she is in there is no danger behind her.

This may seem a bit silly that entering a church building in Layton, Utah requires that much security. The point is that in this simple act we can take the opportunity for both the man opening the door and the women entering or leaving to take a moment and recognize that which is sacred.  It is also an opportunity to ingrain the sacredness of women into our youth.  Boys need to understand to respect sacredness.  Girls need to understand their great worth.

I often see young women adopting behaviors of boys who are behaving badly because they want to be close to those boys.  Young women are mothers and are sacred.  They do not have time to waste with crude boys.

I often hear phrases like boys will be boys.  The entire phrase should be boys will be boys until they are taught to be men.

1 Corinthians 13:11 states:
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I hope putting away childish things doesn't include my Star Wars action figure collection.

Nonetheless, when young women stand firm in their values without judging others, young men eventually figure it out and change their behavior.  Young women, the boys you want to date and the men you want to marry should be those boys that figure it out quickly or better yet, that have already figured it out.

If women and men really understood the importance of motherhood and the scope of what motherhood entails and that women are sacred, many more things in life would make a lot more sense to us and would be a lot easier for us to deal with.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Youth Lesson - How can I recognize the difference between truth and error?

What have you been learning in your personal gospel studies?

What did you hear in general conference?

Do you have any questions about the apostasy or restoration? What have you been learning about apostasy and restoration in priesthood and young women's?

How can I recognize the difference between truth and error?  We could also call this how do I receive personal revelation.

One way to understand the difference between truth and error is to know what truth sounds and feels like and what nonsense sounds and feels like.  Read your scriptures and listen to general conference talks. When you come across something you already know it's true pay attention to what the spirit tells you about that in your mind and in your heart.  Have you had anything when reading your scriptures or listening to Conference that just all of a sudden made sense to you?

Do the same when you go through the day at school or while watching videos or listening to music. When you see or hear something you already know is wrong or not true, pay attention to what the spirit tells you about that thing through your mind and heart.  Have you ever seen or heard something left your brain and your gut feeling like, “yeah that just doesn't sound right”?

Once we understand better what truth sounds and feels like and what things that are right sounds and feels like the more quickly we can spot either of them.

Does that make sense?  Have you ever had tell you nonsense that you could could feel something was messed up about what they were telling you?

Satan tries to make us doubt what the spirit is telling us. He will try to confuse us and get us to not pray attention to the spirit and makes us rely on man's wisdom.

What are some ways that Satan tries to confuse us?  One of the ways I see a lot today is trying to make us feel that our beliefs are mean and that those belief are wrong because it is infringed on people’s rights.

When Alma and Amulek taught the people of Ammoniha they were angry with Alma and Amulek because they spoke plainly to them about their sins.

Often I see people be critical of current apostles when they speak directly about behaviors that are against God's law.

What are some issues that the world does not like to be told are wrong?  Things they say it is mean to list as wrong. Abortion, homosexuality, marriage

The world would have us feel that we are being mean to a woman by telling her if she chooses to do the thing that causes a baby to start to grow inside her that she has to carry a baby in her body until the baby is born.

They would tell us it is mean to teach that marriage is between a man and  a woman.

They would tell us out is mean to say that people shouldn't have sex when they are not married.

Even in the Church we sometimes put what we want ahead of what the truth is.  Sometimes we do things on the sabbath that are not sabbath worthy, because we are spending time with our family while doing it.  We often justify not keeping the sabbath holy, because we are with family and family is the most important thing.

If we humble ourselves we can see past wanting to have fun with our family to the truth that the sabbath is the most important thing.

The scriptures tell us in Matthew 10:37
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

To find truth we have to look beyond what we want in order to see what is true.   We have to set aside our own wants, our own pride and be humble if we want to be able to understand that which is true.

I heard a quote last week and I don’t remember who said it, but it goes like this, “You can have what you want, or you can have something better.”  Let’s pause and think on that a moment, “You can have what you want, or you can have something better.”  What do you think that means?

Let’s read the hymn Be Thou Humble:
Hymns, Be Thou Humble, no. 130
1. Be thou humble in thy weakness, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee,
Shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.
Be thou humble in thy pleading, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee,
Shall bless thee with a sweet and calm assurance that he cares.
2. Be thou humble in thy calling, and the Lord thy God shall teach thee
To serve his children gladly with a pure and gentle love.
Be thou humble in thy longing, and the Lord thy God shall take thee,
Shall take thee home at last to ever dwell with him above.

Conference Talks on pride and humility.

Joseph Smith history 1:8-20 - How did Joseph Smith try to figure out what was true?
8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?

Moroni 7:12-19
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

When we are trying to decide what is true we have to decide if it is helping us to do good or if it is helping us to be selfish.

Spiritual Stability - new Era 2016
In the 1700s the king of Sweden ordered a shop to be built.  He wanted lots of cannons and other things for his own gratification. Unfortunately what he wanted violated the laws of physics and wouldn't allow the ship to sail far. On its first voyage it floats a ways and then tipped over, filled with water, and sank.