Thursday, February 1, 2007

Learning in the Temple

I planned to go to the Temple today after work but when I got home I was so tired. I went in and got undressed and grabbed my shorts to put on and had a thought put into my mind to drop the shorts right now and start getting dressed for the Temple or you will not go. I felt that push and luckily obeyed.

I can not tell you about everything that was taught to me while in the session but so much was running through my mind. I will share a few thoughts. First of all I felt in the smallest degree how the prophet Joseph Smith Jr felt when he said,

"It is my meditation all the day & more than my meat & drink to know how I shall make the saints of God to comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge, before my mind" (WJS, p. 196).
For I felt an overwhelming need to record my thoughts for any and all that read but mostly my family can grow from these teachings, and yet I was stuck in a position that I could not record and knew that many of them will be lost from my memory. I am not by any means comparing myself to this great prophet of the restoration which the words and will of God flowed to and through him. I just had the smallest fraction of what that may of felt like.

My mind was drawn to the experience that I had when I was told, "to drop the shorts." I know that I am guilty of not being willing to do what is needed to grow spiritually. It comes in may forms whether it is just being to tired or lazy we as saints of the most High must improve our commitment to our Father in heaven. My mind was brought to think about the Stake Conference or Regional Conference the Saturday session that I had to paint faces (one of my jobs at the time) and decided not to go. One of the speakers explained how everyone has their own personal barriers that are too great to cross. He used that session to explain that those that choose not to attend this session are missing out on many blessings. This is where they should be and yet for some that commitment was too great or unimportant enough to arrange their lives in order to attend. This struck me to the very core and I knew then that we must not allow our own wills to stop us from doing the will of Him that sent us.
Luke 2:49
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? awist ye not that I must be about my bFather’s business?

John 5:30
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is ajust; because I seek not mine own bwill, but the cwill of the Father which hath sent me.
We also must not strive to do our own will but the will of the Father just like our elder brother, Jesus Christ. I also thought about a Stake President that someone told me once that he said that he does not watch TV or listen to the radio because he can't afford to lose the Spirit. Do we just not care or is that too much to ask of us. What is too much to ask of us. Do we have to be commanded in all things.
D&C 58:26
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is acompelled in all things, the same is a bslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
I thought to myself what if I were called to be a Stake President tomorrow, what would I change. Then then thought came, why do I have to wait to change. We are told to carry our cross, I see nowhere in scripture where it says to wait until called to carry your cross.
Matthew 10:38
38 And he that taketh not his across, and followeth after me, is not bworthy of me.

2 Nephi 9:18
18 But, behold, the arighteous, the bsaints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the ccrosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall dinherit the ekingdom of God, which was prepared for them ffrom the foundation of the world, and their gjoy shall be full hforever.

Jacob 1:8
8 Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men anot to rebel against God, to bprovoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his ccross and bear the shame of the world...

Alma 34:33, 35
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not bprocrastinate the day of your crepentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the dnight of edarkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
• • •
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become asubjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth bseal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
Begin today with me to carry our cross that we may be called his disciple and numbered among His sheep that hear his voice.
John 10:27
27 My asheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they bfollow me:
Another thing that I thought about was how on earth Jesus had not a place to lay his head.
Matthew 8:20
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Now he has not only over a hundred Temples on earth but He now has dominions, palaces, kingdoms, and in short all that the father hath.
John 16:15
15 All athings that the bFather hath are mine...
Let me just sum it up by saying I cried a lot and feel closer to my Father in Heaven and yet feel to repent and become better. I feel just as Joseph Smith felt when he proclaimed,
Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p47
If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from him and drawing towards the devil. Yes, I am standing in the midst of all kinds of people.
Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins.
I absolutely love the Temple and love my Savior.

Written by Craig Conover on 1/8/07.

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Talk by Cindy Conover: Discipleship

I will be giving my talk from President Faust’s talk, “Discipleship”. I really like this talk because it is something I thought about through out my entire mission. When I was in the MTC during a devotional the speaker told about a very successful sister missionary. And I really wanted to be able to be successful and accomplish what I needed to, so I said a prayer telling my Heavenly Father that I wanted to do that too, and asking how to do it. And I received a very clear answer that if I really changed my life and made up my mind not only during my mission but for ever that I would be successful and be a true instrument in the Lords hand. And that is something I thought about a lot and really worked on, to have a sincere change of heart.

So basically my answer was this very thing, discipleship. Discipleship really is obedience to the Savior. As President Faust puts it, “Discipleship includes many things. It is chastity. It is tithing. It is family home evening. It is keeping all of the commandments. It is forsaking anything that is not good for us.”

“forsaking anything that is not good for us” That is sometimes really hard, because while Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and gives us commandments for our protection and happiness, Satan tricks us to believe we can find that happiness in other ways. Its hard to choose sometimes between fake happiness, instant gratification, and true happiness, eternal joy and happiness.

President Faust also says, “Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Christ.” And he adds, “The disciples of Christ receive a call to not only forsake the pursuit of worldly things but to carry the cross daily.” That is very important to remember. Yes, resisting temptations and NOT doing things that we know are wrong, is very important. And just as important is DOING things we know we should do and keep progressing. It is impossible to just coast. We are either moving up or sliding down. I experienced that my first year of college. I was the only Mormon that lived on campus (until I finally discovered two others later in the year), and while I stayed away from all the inappropriate stuff that went on, and stood up for my standards, I felt my spirit diminish slowly because I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to progress.

Now I would like to go over some things we can be actively doing to strenghthen our testimonies and devotion to Christ. There are the three things that everyone knows, that help so much. Pray daily, Study the scriptures daily, Attend our church meetings.

President Faust mentions several things that Jesus did that we can emulate.

1st) Jesus “went about doing good. We can all do something every day – for a family member, a friend, or even a stranger- if we will look for those opportunities. Service is the secret key to happiness that Im sure we all know, but so easily forget. Not only do we lift and bless others, but we too feel great after serving someone, so we too are lifted.

2nd) Jesus was the Good Shepard who watched over His sheep and had concern
for those that were lost. We can seek out the lonely or those who are less active and befriend them. This is so important and you would be surprised what little things we do can be so helpful to someone. I worked with lots of less-actives on my mission, and just about every one of them didn’t come because they didn’t feel comfortable or welcome at church. So many people just need a good friend. I was surprised sometimes that some of the members that were so fun and bubbly even weren’t comfortable. But if we reach out to each other, we can make al the difference in the world.

3rd) Jesus had compassion on many including a poor leper. We too can have compassion. We are reminded in the Book of Mormon that we are “to mourn with those that mourn” You never know what people are going through or what trials they face. But just being a good friend and compassionate is the best help you can give.

4th) Jesus bore witness of His divine mission and of His Fathers great work. For our part, we can stand as witnesses of God at all times. Elder Ballard gave a talk called “Creating a Gospel Sharing Home” (Two conferences ago I believe) And talks about being good member missionaries, and one of the best ways to do that is by our example and how we live. If our friends and acquaintances simply know we are LDS, and then we live the gospel, our example will do much of the teaching. I always loved tracting into someone and they would say “oh I know a Mormon”. I would get all excited and say “Really, who?” And I loved to hear the members names and know that they lived amazing lives and were examples to that person, and many others.

5th) Jesus invited “the little children to come unto Him.” Our children need our attention and love as well as our care. With all that goes on in the world we want our homes to be a refuge, a place where our children (or family) feels loved and welcome.

President Faust continues, “Many think that the price of discipleship is too costly and too burdensome. For some it involves giving up too much. But the cross is not as heavy as it appears to be. Through obedience we acquire much greater strength to carry on.” I love the scripture in Mosiah 24:14-15:…….. We can always turn to the Lord for strength. He will lighten our burdens by strengthening us so that we are able to bear them.

Through our discipleship, we are able to receive the spiritual strength that we need to deal with the challenges of life.

As you strive to become better disciples of Christ pray for that help. We can pray daily to resist temptations in our lives. And we can take one day at a time to incorporate into our lives the acts of Christ. I know that He is there to help us, and that he knows us each so well, and the effort we make. I love this church and know that it is the only true and living church on the earth. That Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and continues to lead us through revelation to a living prophet on the earth. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Talk by Cindy Conover: Tithing

I will be speaking about one of my favorite commandments to teach. Tithing, that is one commandment that you can keep 100%. We can faithfully pay a full tithe. Hopefully we can say that about all the commandments, that we keep it completely, but with some of them we slip up here and there, maybe not being completely honest, or talking about someone. However we can keep tithing perfectly if we decide.

Tithing is the commandment to pay one tenth of all our interest annually, so one tenth of our income. It was revealed to Joseph Smith on July 8, 1838, after much prayer and supplication. The saints had been previously commanded to live the law of consecration which is a higher law. But they didn’t keep it and had many tribulations. So the law of consecration was withdrawn and they were given the law of tithing. In D&C 119 reads: “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people... Those who have been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever”

The law of tithing prepares us to live the law of consecration, which is to dedicate and give all our time, talents, and resources to the work of the Lord. I think another way we can prepare and practice the law of consecration as much as possible now is doing what we are asked and fulfilling our callings. That’s also a part of given of our time and talents. And with the law of tithing, we each have the privileged and opportunity to contribute our part to the work and kingdom of the Lord here on earth. That always makes me feel good, to know I’m giving a part to this great organization.

The amazing thing is that the primary purpose is for our own growth and development. Yes we are contributing to the church and all its programs, but even more that that we are strengthening ourselves and our commitment to the Lord.

Tithing is test of our faith and righteousness. Joseph F. Smith aid: “By this principle [tithing] the loyalty of the people of this church shall be put to the test. By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. By this principle it shall be seen whose hearts are set on doing the will of God and keeping his commandments, thereby sanctifying the land of Zion unto God, and who are opposed to this principle and have cut themselves off from the blessings of Zion. There is a great deal of importance connected with this principle, for by [our payment of tithes] it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful. In this respect it is as essential as faith in God, as repentance of sin, as baptism for the remission of sins, or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. For if a man keep all the law save one point, and he offend in that, he is a transgressor of the law, and he is not entitled to the fullness of the blessings of Jesus Christ. But when a man keeps all the law that is revealed, according to his strength, and his ability, though what he gives may be little, it is just as acceptable in the sight of God as if he were able to do a thousand times more. The law of tithing is a test by which the people as individuals shall be proved. Any man who fails to observe this principle shall be known as a man who is indifferent to the welfare of Zion, who neglects his duty as a member of the church… He neglects to do that which would entitle him to receive the blessings and ordinances of the gospel.”

Especially in times when we have financial difficulties we see how tithing can really be a test of faith. Each of us has either had experiences on our own or knows of family or friends that have seen blessings come after faithfully paying their tithing.

I haven’t had any amazing stories to tell but I know I have been abundantly blessed as I pay my tithing. For some reason when I am paying my tithing things seem to just work out. But if I start to forget to pay, I start to be more worried about money, and the same amount of money doesn’t seem to stretch as far. I don’t know how it worked, but I do know it is blessings from paying our tithing.

In Malachi 3: 10 it reads: “ Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there maybe meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” That is an amazing blessing. I don’t know about you but I would love to receive so many blessings that I don’t have room enough to receive them. The blessings may be temporal spiritual or both. They may come immediately or down the road somewhere. But we are promised those blessings and they come specifically for each of us by the Lords will and really, we can’t afford not to pay our tithing.

The easiest way for us to know we are full tithe payers and keep track of it is to set it aside right away. I think of it as a diner. If you invited a very special guest to your home to have diner with your family, you would want to feed the guest first and then feed your family. And there would be plenty to go around. But if you were to feed your family and make sure everyone ate all they wanted, and the try to scrape up the leftovers, you may not have a nice meal to feed him. It is the same thing with the Lord. We should set aside right away that ten percent which is really his and then everything else will work out. President Hinckley said that by paying our tithing we don’t expect to become rich and have everything we want, but we are assured that we will have what we need.

It is nice to know where our tithing is going. We know that it is sacred funds and used to build the church where needed. Shortly after the bishop receives the tithing it is sent to the church headquarters, and the first presidency, quorum of the 12 and the presiding bishopric prayerfully distribute it where needed. It goes to temples, church buildings, maintenance of our buildings, education, welfare, and all programs in the church.

There are also other funds we can contribute to. On the tithing slip there is a list of them, missionary work, education, book of Mormons, ect…. Those we can specifically and additionally contribute to if we wish, but there are 2 in bold that are commandments. One is tithing, which we already discussed, and the other is fast offerings.

A fast offering is the money we donate the first Sunday of each month as we fast. We are asked to give a generous fast offering, and to give the amount we would have spent on 2 meals. And that goes to helping those in need.

Even with fast offerings we can receive so many blessings, both temporal and spiritual. Years ago my father was the City manager in Silver City and when he took the job he was told that City Managers were on a fixed salary and they don’t receive raises. He accepted the job and shortly after that Marion G. Romney spoke about fast offerings and challenged the members to double their fast offerings. My parents looked at each other and knew they would do it. Even though it was a test of their faith they did it, and shortly after in some kind of a city council someone proposed that the city managers were given a raise every 6 months, and it was voted in. So the extra money they were giving to fast offerings was made up.

These are very important commandments that we should teach our children when they are young. Help your children to gain a testimony so when they serve their missions they will have a testimony of this principle as they teach it, and when they start their own family they will have the faith the pay even when times are tough. I am so grateful to my parents and that they taught us at a young age, so that I could experience it and the blessings that come from paying our tithes and offerings. I have a testimony in this and every commandments that we are given, and I know there are for our own good, and development, so that we can progress in our striving to become like Christ.

Talk by Cindy Conover: “An Attitude of Gratitude”

My talk will be based off of President Monson’s talk “An Attitude of Gratitude”. He starts out with the most well known example of gratitude in the scriptures, the 10 lepers. In Luke 17: 11-19 it reads… One of the most significant details of this story is that the one grateful man was a Samaritan, which seems to show how often those of lesser importance or social status are often more meek and humble.

Humility goes hand in hand with Gratitude. James E. Talmage says “Gratitude is the sister twin to humility”. In Mosiah 3:19 it says “…and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” I was curious to see what things little children are grateful for, so I asked my nieces and nephews….

I think being willing to submit to all things is one of our best ways to show our gratitude. Our obedience to the laws, ordinances, and commandments is the greatest expression of love and gratitude we can give. We know that we are given commandments and guidance for our own good, and that the Lord knows us each individually and what we need. My favorite scripture is Alma 37:37……… Because while we see what we are going through and we think we know what is best for us, the Lord sees all of our potential and what is best for us in the long run. So if we rely on him for everything, and let him be our guide (our eyes) we know that all will work out for our good.

President Monson goes on to list plagues of today, which are, selfishness, greed, indulgence, cruelty, crime, criticize, complaining, blame, ect…. Those are the opposites of gratitude. One thing that my mission President mentioned to us several times was the 3 c’s. never Criticize, compare, or complain. Not only is that amazing advice for a missionary (believe me) it is also amazing advice for our entire lives.

He continues, “This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help.”

I don’t know if I was desensitized before my mission and oblivious during m mission, or if the world and media really did get a lot worse, but when I got home I was so shocked at how bad things had become. There were so many crummy songs and advertisements. But then I watched a video called the secret, which is more like an instructional video about how to be successful in life. Its main focus was about the law of attraction and that the things we focus on are the things we get out of life. So it says to focus on the positive things and the things you are grateful for. So I set that as a goal for myself, to see the good in the world and in people. And surprisingly there really is a lot of good to see, just like President Monson mentioned, “marriages that make it, parents that sacrifice, friends who help”, and so many more.

Another thing this video mentioned was that we think of ourselves as this ( ). But we can be what we want to be and we can start now and change now. Wedon’t have to let our past choices and mistakes effect us now. We can create a new us every day. That is the beautiful thing about repentance, even for every little thing. Gratitude and humility is the foundation on which repentance is built. One counsel the mission president gave to returning missionaries was to never cease to repent. He was actually giving marriage advice to his son in law when he wanted to marry his daughter. He made him promise him 3 things, Be a better husband and father than I am, never divorce, and never cease to repent. If we repent daily, that will guard and protect us in every aspect of our lives. Because true repentance is changing our ways to align our lives with Gods will. So if we truly have that desire, our thoughts and actions will be continually on the right path.

He continues with several examples of individuals we can be grateful for.

First, our mothers. I personally look up to my mother so much. I find myself quite often praying that I can become just like her.

Second, our fathers. When I pray that I can become like my mother I also pray that I will one day find someone just like my father. Years ago in young women’s one of our young women advisers told us to pray to become the future wives and mothers that we need to be. And to pray that our future husband whoever he may be will also be preparing himself to be the husband and father that he needs to be. So I have done that occasionally since then. And Because I love my parents so much and look up to them so much, I took the liberty to add “like my mom” and to find someone “like my dad”

Third is teachers. I’m sure we all have had those amazing teachers that make you feel like you could do anything, and achieve whatever you want in life. Those are the ones we remember forever.

Fourth is friends. Some of my biggest blessings in life were friends when you need them most. I know there have been times when I was new in school or church and in meant the world to me when someone took me under their wing and made me feel welcome.

Fifth, gratitude for our country. Its hard to really feel appreciation for the freedom we have without reflecting on the preparations of God to establish this new land. The Book of Mormon gives us so much more of an appreciation for this land we live in.

There are so many more we can think of to be thankful for. I thought of missionary companions, children and their example to us, and our siblings. When I was nearing the end of my mission, I admit I was very nervous to leave there and come back here. I even dreamt (several times) of hiding in the bathroom at the airport. But the minute I saw my family and all their love that all want away. I’m so grateful for my family and that we were raised in the gospel.

The last thing President Monson mentions that we can be grateful for is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through the restoration of the gospel that we truly understand the atonement and how we can apply it in our lives. It is through His gospel that we can find that true happiness in life.

I just want to leave you with two challenges during this Thanksgiving holiday and forever.

First is to give thanks for everything. Prayer is an essential part of expressing gratitude. Christ is our supreme example of given thanks before asking for blessings.

Second is to focus on the positive and to serve others. On my mission we challenged an investigator to do an act of kindness every day, and we would do it too, and the next week we would talk about how that went . It was really cool because the more we were looking for ways to serve others, the more we noticed the little acts of kindness other people were doing all around us. And we had so much fun talking about it and the acts of kindness that other people did that we wanted to so it for another week, and another, and before we knew it we were reporting on it just about every visit.

I am so very grateful for this gospel, every part of it, and even these wonderful talks that allow us to reflect on ourselves and see where our weaknesses are. Recognizing them is the first step to changing. I am so very grateful for the atonement of Christ that allows that change, and that he knows us each individually and how to be there for us. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Awake and Arise

Trying to identify a topic is always fun and amazing how they come about. On this occasion I had some quotes and a scripture that I wanted to use in this months talk, but had not narrowed down the topic. As I was walking to my computer to sit down and type up a talk, I just knew that my topic was to be Awake and Arise, which falls in line with the scripture I had in mind but also allows for greater depth. In this talk hopefully the Spirit will take to your very soul the message and that it will cause action within us all. Moroni could no longer sit still and watch his freedoms taken from him and he took action and required all men, women, and children to come forth and take action as well (Alma 46: 12-13, 19, 21, 23). We no longer can sit still while righteousness is taken from us, we too must take action and warn others to take action as well. Awake and arise should take on new meaning in your lives by the conclusion of my talk.

The simplicity of the word, awake, causes many to miss or overlook the purpose and use of the word. We see from scriptures how simplicity can be the downfall of many.

1 Nephi 17: 41

41 And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simplexes of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Here we sadly learn that "the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished." I think that is important to note that those that perished, understood the meaning of the word "look" but failed to understand the action needed to be saved. The concept of awake and arise is equally simple, and yet we hardly give it a second thought. As I look at it one must either be asleep or awake, there is no middle ground. I believe that is why this term is used over 60 times in the scriptures. It is a descriptive word that is not open to interpretation, there is only one possible interpretation and that is one is either asleep or awake. The Savior spoke in parables, but why?

Matthew 13:34-35

34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Mark 4:10-11

10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

The Savoir spoke in parable to keep all those that had not the spirit to hear, asleep, and those that had the spirit to hear he, awoke or unstopped their ears and they were given understanding.

The key is not the meaning of the word "awake" but instead the action or act "to awake." This key will either be "asleep" to you still or the spirit will unstop your ears and you will begin to act or strive to learn how to act which is what contains the power to save.

I was having a difficult day a while back and was sitting at a river behind where I currently work. I was praying and felt prompted to open my scriptures. I opened my scriptures to the same chapter I had read the night before and my eyes caught hold of a scripture that meant very little to me the night before. I was given understanding to unlock its meaning. This scripture is found in D&C.

D&C 133: 10

10 Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.

Here we see those words "awake and arise." There a few components here that are important to point out.

1. "Yea, let the cry go forth among all people" The cry has gone forth through the Book of Mormon, but we are also commanded to do the crying or warning. Just in the D&C the Lord uses the word warn 20 times and many of them are a command for us. We must give heed.

D&C 63: 37, 57-58

37 …lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight

57 …those who desire in their hearts, in meekness, to warn sinners to repentance, let them be ordained unto this power.

58 For this is a day of warning, and not a day of many words…

D&C 88: 81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.

D&C 38: 41 And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.

D&C 112: 5 Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech.

D&C 124: 106 And in all his journeyings let him lift up his voice as with the sound of a trump, and warn the inhabitants of the earth to flee the wrath to come.

2. "Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom." I believe that this is the stage that we are in and it was confirmed to me that this was the case. We are no longer allowed to sleep and we must awake the rest of the world. I was given some insight pertaining to this stage. This stage combined with stage 4 and includes going forth to meet the Bridegroom. In my mind it was likened to getting ready for church or a wedding both similar dress and similar requirements.

At night we set our alarm to go off an hour and a half before we need to be leaving to get to church on time or slightly early. When we hear our alarm, what do you think we do several times? That is correct we hit the snooze button. This can be very dangerous and many times leads us to being late. When we finally get up, we make a mad rush bathing kids and ourselves, finding clean clothes, tights, jewelry, and shoes. It is more than just getting ourselves and girls ready, we also have to find coloring books, toys, and snacks to keep the kids stay quite during Sacrament meeting. Then comes the drive which is always fun and hectic. So that is the typical routine for Sunday morning at the Conover house.

The thought then came to me if it takes that kind of time to prepare my small family of 5, how much time is needed to prepare a ward, community, nation, and the world. Now be careful not to judge. What was given to me was not necessarily time related but rather a greater understanding of circumstances. The Prophets have already told us many times that we are at the doors. There is an urgency to prepare rapidly ourselves, families, and to take this warning to our neighbors and to the world.

3. "Behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." There is no doubt that he will come, it is inevitable. We must choose whether to have oil in our lamps or not.

4. "Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord." Once we can view the correct circumstances then we can act appropriately if we choose. Preparation is a choice. Here in lies the truth of the saying I have heard Thomas S Monson quote, "When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past." For example, if we were still asleep and kept hitting the snooze button, can we miss the wedding all together, the answer is yes. Can we take too long in the shower and just drag our feet and miss the wedding, yes. One thing to remember is that there is no late, those that are late will miss the wedding as well. We learn this from the parable of the ten virgins, five of who were late and were locked out of the wedding.

Matthew 25:10-12

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

We all know why the five virgins were late, and that was because they ran out of oil for their lamps. The oil is simply the preparation that we make. As we think of preparation, lets look at some of the times that the Lord through the Holy Scriptures tells us to awake ourselves and then to prepare.

D&C 117:2-3

2 Let them awake, and arise, and come forth, and not tarry, for I, the Lord, command it.

3 Therefore, if they tarry it shall not be well with them.

There is a powerful statement by Henry b Eyring, who said, "The danger lies in delay or drift, (Always, CES Fireside 1/3/1999).

2 Ne. 1: 13, 23

13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

23 Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

Rom. 13: 11

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

1 Cor. 15: 34

34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Eph. 5: 14

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee alight.

2 Ne. 4: 28

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

2 Ne. 9: 47

47 But behold, my brethren, is it expedient that I should awake you to an awful reality of these things? Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin?

Jacob 3: 11

11 O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

Mosiah 2: 40

40 O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.

Alma 32: 27

27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Ether 8: 24

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

In closing I would like to extend a challenge to more fully awake to your own personal standing with God and take action today. Let us no longer hit the snooze button, but let us awake and arise and be about our father's business (Luke 2:49). Let us prepare ourselves and families and get to work preparing to go forth and meet the Bridegroom. I have a testimony of this great work and know we possess inside our souls greatness and all we need to do is tap into that greatness. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Written by Craig Conover on 10/7/2006.

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Home Teaching Thoughts

After I was called as Home Teaching Supervisor I fasted and prayed about my calling. The Lord has opened my understanding to the importance of Home Teaching. I was overwhelmed with the understanding that Home Teaching is a call from Heaven and we will be held accountable for our neglect of not magnifying this great call. Late one night I could not sleep and felt to turn to the scriptures and was taken straight to D&C 45: 6 which reads, "Hearken, O ye people of my church, and ye elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called today, and harden not your hearts." Let us not harden our hearts but rather open our hearts to be taught by the Spirit.

The Lord is involved in aligning home teaching families with Home Teachers. These questions should be on your mind often:

1. For what purpose have I been aligned with this family?

2. How can I make a difference is this families life?

I was in the Temple about a week ago and had been praying for understanding and guidance in my new calling. While I was in the Celestial room I felt impressed to open the scriptures and turned to 4 Nephi. I thought to myself, Oh no, I will not find what I need here, but I kept reading. I started at verse 1 and when I got to verse three it hit me that this was specifically for Home Teachers.

"And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift (4 Nephi 1"3)."

Although we do not as of yet practice the law of consecration, we have a responsibility to our families to strive to help make them become "free, and partakers of the heavenly gift". If you look at the cross-reference for "gift" it is described as the Gifts of God. The scriptures are full of the gifts of the Spirit and our charge to obtain these gifts. The use of these gifts of the spirit are described in 3 Nephi 8:1

"... for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity."

So how do we as Home Teachers help our families to obtain these great gifts that will bless our Home Teaching Families lives and well as our own.

First and foremost we are counseled to have the Spirit with us when we teach and so we MUST live in such a way that we will have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion. If we will live this way I promise that the power of God will rest upon you as you teach and befriend your families and that the Spirit will flow into the hearts of your families as you teach.

After we have the Spirit ourselves, our focus must be on our families. President Gordon B Hinckley has taught, "the most important thing we can do for those whom we lead is to cultivate in their hearts a living, vital, vibrant testimony and knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world (Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, p. 648)." Faith on Jesus Christ is how we will help our Home Teaching Families to become free and partakers of the heavenly gift.

Home Teaching is all about the families of whom we visit. Home Teaching is almost like Friendship with an added stewardship. We are to show absolute love for our Home Teaching Families and be prayerful and listen to the Spirit so that we can have a spiritual impact as well. I was also impressed to talk about Ammon and his love for those Lamanites that he served who became the people of Ammon or the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Ammon told King Lamoni, “Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die (Alma 17:23).” He ended up converting all of the people of King Lamoni and then he met King Lamoni’s father and had the opportunity to kill him but did not because he met Ammon’s conditions. “And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly (Alma 20:25).” We learn from this account that the love of just one man can have such a powerful effect upon the hearts of so many thousands. Ammon not only loved those whom he served but he also brought the light of the Gospel into their lives which transformed them into a people of God.

It is our challenge and duty to love those whom we serve with Ammon-like love which is Christ-like love and then to bring the light of the Gospel into their lives. We must make a difference in their lives. In this last Priesthood Session, Elder Stanley G. Ellis said, "But the Spirit taught me this truth-the Lord expects a difference! I knew in that moment that each of us will one day stand before God and give an accounting of our priesthood service and steward-ships. Did we make a difference? (General Conference October 2006)”

I will close with this question, "Will you make a difference in the lives of your Home Teaching Families?"

Written by Craig Conover 10/15/2006.

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