Sunday, August 31, 2008

Unity in Marriage

My wife, Kiera, and I were asked to teach a combined 5th Sunday lesson in our ward back in August. I kept meaning to compile this lesson into a talk and still will at some point, but until then here is our lesson notes. I took the sections in black and my wife took the sections in blue. For my sections I have changed the text color to red for the things that I taught that were not in the lesson.

Unity in Marriage

The Lord has commanded husbands and wives to be one.

To begin the lesson, write on the chalkboard 1+1=1.

- How does this describe the marriage relationship?

Unity Game:

1. Have everyone take a min to think about a vacation that they have not taken but would like to. Think about how to explain it to someone in 60 seconds.

2. Now turn to whoever is next to you and I want both of you to explain your vacation in 60 seconds. You will do it at the same time and be prepared to report on the vacation.

3. Have a few explain their experience?

- How does that apply to unity in marriage?

Read Genesis 2:24 with them.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

-What does it mean for a husband and wife to be one?

Read Three Principles of Marriage

Three Principles of Marriage, Matthew O. Richardson, Ensign, Apr 2005, 20–24

Leaving

All couples can review their relationships, regardless of how long they have been married, to see if they have left or are allowing others to leave appropriately. Our personal hobbies, the choice of how we use our discretionary time, the people we choose to spend time with, or our quest and love for things may be dampening our relationships.

Cleaving

By scriptural definition… we find that God expects us to “cling” to our spouse or to “stick” with him or her. But it should also be understood that this is not a one-time event but a condition that lasts throughout a couple’s marriage.

In 1831 the Lord revealed the law of the Church to the newly gathered Saints and commanded, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). This is the only place in scripture where the Lord asks us to love anything or anyone with all our hearts besides Himself. President Hinckley has… said that a husband should regard his wife “as the greatest treasure of his life.” 8 In Matthew 6:21 [Matt. 6:21] we read, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (see also 3 Ne. 13:21).

Becoming One

When a man and a woman fully understand that they can be complete only with each other, they learn to appreciate their differences and adjust their behavior as required in the Lord’s plan of happiness… the Lord taught Joseph Smith, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).

Unity in marriage is not achieved simply by kneeling at an altar and accepting a spouse. It requires effort for a couple to become one… [It] requires a change of heart, a change of mind, and even a change of living… Today we find that too many people are trying to change the Church, the scriptures, or gospel principles to match their designs rather than changing themselves to match the message of the Savior. How many couples try to shape marriage to fit their own perspective rather than undertaking the process of trying to shape themselves to the type of marriage God has ordained?

Circles

-Many times marriage is represented by circles interlocking.

Read Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine”

The Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, said of those who would be part of His Church: “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). And at the creation of man and woman, unity for them in marriage was not given as hope; it was a command! “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.

Triangle

-Another representation of marriage puts the Savior at the top signifying our journey toward him and then the wife on one side and the husband on the other. Notice now how as we move closer to our Savior we draw closer to each other.

I personally like to visualize the circles on each corner and as we draw closer and closer to our Savior we truly become one. We become a new creature, Paul says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17), I believe this applies to marriage, we become new creatures as we become united and one with the Savor at our head.

This lesson discusses several ways in which husbands and wives can be unified.

Husbands and wives are to value each other as equal partners.

An important principle of unity in marriage is that husbands and wives should value each other as equal partners.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (“I Believe,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 6).

  • • Why must husbands and wives value one another as equal partners to be one?
  • • What are some attitudes or customs that keep husbands and wives from being equal partners in their marriage? What can husbands and wives do to overcome such challenges?
    • Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
    • “It was not meant that the woman alone accommodate herself to the priesthood duties of her husband or her sons. She is of course to sustain and support and encourage them.
    • “Holders of the priesthood, in turn, must accommodate themselves to the needs and responsibilities of the wife and mother. Her physical and emotional and intellectual and cultural well-being and her spiritual development must stand first among [their] priesthood duties.
    • “There is no task, however menial, connected with the care of babies, the nurturing of children, or with the maintenance of the home that is not [a husband’s] equal obligation” (“A Tribute to Women,” Ensign, July 1989, 75).

As I read this I thought of the Joseph Smith movie. Joseph is out cleaning the rug and one of the other brother came by and said that he didn’t think that the prophet of the church should be seen doing such menial chores. I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was something to the affect of marriage is intended to last for eternity and we should only hope that our wives will want us for eternity.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled priesthood holders: “As a husband and worthy priesthood bearer, you will want to emulate the example of the Savior, whose priesthood you hold. You will make giving of self to wife and children a primary focus of your life. Occasionally a man attempts to control the destiny of each family member. He makes all the decisions. His wife is subjected to his personal whims. Whether that is the custom or not is immaterial. It is not the way of the Lord. It is not the way a Latter-day Saint husband treats his wife and family” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 32; or Ensign, May 1999, 26).

• What are some things husbands and wives do when they value each other as equal partners? (Have Craig Right them down)

    • a. They share responsibility for ensuring that the family prays together, conducts family home evening, and studies the scriptures together.
    • b. They work together in planning how family finances are used.
    • c. They consult together and come to agreement on household rules and how to discipline children. The children see that their parents are unified in such decisions.
    • d. They plan family activities together.
    • e. They both help with housekeeping responsibilities.
    • f. They attend church together.

Husbands and wives should allow their individual characteristics and abilities to complement one another.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:11 with participants.

Nevertheless neither is the aman without the woman, neither the bwoman without the man, in the Lord.

Read Elder Richard G. Scott:

“In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. … For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73–74).

Conduct the following exercise:

Give each participant a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask each participant who is married to list some of his or her characteristics and abilities and some of the characteristics and abilities of his or her spouse. Ask each participant who is single to think of a married couple and list some characteristics and abilities of the husband and wife. After participants have had a few minutes to write, ask the following questions:

In what ways can the characteristics and abilities that you have listed help married couples be unified? (Ask participants to share specific examples.)

In what ways have you seen differences between husbands and wives become strengths in their relationship?

-My blessing that I received where the Lord told me that Kiera was my strength and that I was her strength. I can't tell you how many times my mind has reflected back on those words and now I see how true that really is. I am nothing without her.

Read the following statement by Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, about her first year of marriage:

“We loved each other; there was no doubt about that, but we also had to get used to each other. I think every couple has to get used to each other. Early on I realized it would be better if we worked harder to get used to each other than constantly try to change each other” (Church News, 26 Sept. 1998, 4).

In what ways might the results be different when couples try to “get used to each other” rather than “constantly try to change each other”?

-experience of preparing this lesson

Husbands and wives must be loyal to one another.

There is a little story I want to read from the 1982 Liahona it is by Hugh W. Pinnock:

“Several years ago while visiting in Florida I talked with Frank Shorter, a world-class marathon athlete. He won his event in the 1972 Olympics, placed second in 1976, and has won many other long-distance races. As we talked about his training schedule, I learned that he has dedicated a great part of his life to success in athletics. He knows exactly what foods to eat, how many kilometers to run each day for his needs (which is about 20 miles,) the attitude he needs to have if he expects to be victorious and a number of other characteristics relating to perfection in his chosen field.

While thinking of Frank Shorter and others who have succeeded in their chosen line of work, hobby, or profession, I asked myself, “Why couldn’t more of our husbands and wives have the same type of dedication to a successful marriage?”

I know of nothing worthwhile in life that comes easy—and nothing in life is as valuable as a strong marriage and a secure family.”

He goes on to say:

“Most strong marriages have been severely tested. Husbands and wives who encounter and surmount suffering, pain, misunderstanding, and temptation can enjoy a marriage that is beautiful and eternal. But I do not want us to look to the past—let us look only to today and the future.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Determine that there will never be anything that will come between you that will disrupt your marriage. Make it work. Resolve to make it work. There is far too much of divorce, wherein hearts are broken and sometimes lives are destroyed. Be fiercely loyal one to another” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2, 4).

  • • What does the word loyal mean to you? (Answers may include being faithful, true, and trustworthy in a relationship.)

The Lord emphasized the need for husbands and wives to be loyal to one another. Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:22 22 Thou shalt alove thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt bcleave unto her and none else.

This commandment applies equally to husbands and wives.

  • • What does it mean to cleave to a husband or wife and none else?

President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, taught: “The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 143).

  • • How can a person keep social, occupational, and Church commitments from interfering with loyalty to his or her spouse?

• What are some specific ways in which couples can show loyalty to one another?

    • a. A husband can reschedule work, recreation, or other appointments to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
    • b. A wife can pray daily for the success of her husband in his activities.
    • c. They can listen to each other, even when doing so may not be convenient.
    • d. They can speak lovingly and respectfully about each other in conversations with family members and friends.

Conclusion

This whole week my mind kept coming back to the question of why is it so important to be unified and the thought kept coming back to me that one reason is for our children. Then I found the quote that sums this up, it is by Spencer W Kimball.

When two Latter-day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring, worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them hereafter. What else could man wish? A man and a woman, in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation and glory worlds without end.

In order for us to achieve such an honor we need to learn to be united with our spouse and serve them as if their comfort is all that matters because in the eternal scheme of things that is all that does matter.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stick of Joseph

I have a non-member friend who came to church with me and really enjoyed himself. He wanted to study the book of Alma because he was intrigued by its teaching and so the missionaries got him a Book of Mormon. I started talking to him about the book and how it is a history of the stick of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. I told him about how the scriptures explains how Joseph testified how his posterity would be broken off and preserved and how this book is the history of Joseph and that the Bible is the history of Judah. He then asked me where he can find that in the Bible? I was unsure and told him that I would find out for him. That led me to a quick search during the beginning of Elders Quorum in hopes to quickly find an answer for him. I must say that my mind was given flight and the Spirit guided my search and thinking and I was able to piece together an answer for him. I found support in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Translation. I am thankful to the guidence of the Spirit and also realized that I needed to study the Bible in greater detail. This talk is the result of my search in an effort to be able to show by ways of the scriptures the reality and existence of the stick of Joseph.
Lets start by reading the prophecy of Ezekiel:

16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18 ¶ And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. (Ezekiel 37:16-19)
Mormon Doctrine explains "sticks" as follows: "Ezekiel, in foretelling the preparation and coming forth of the Book of Mormon, called it the stick of Ephraim, and the stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim. In similar imagery he called the Bible the stick of Judah. The promise was that these two records would become one stick in the Lord's hand in the day of the gathering of Israel. (Ezek. 37:15-28.)

"Here then was a symbol," Elder Orson Pratt said, "represented before their eyes in language that could not he misunderstood; it was a symbol of two records; for it is well known that records were kept in ancient times on parchment; rolled upon sticks, the same as we keep our maps at this day. All the prophecies of Jeremiah for many years were written and rolled round a stick, and were called a book; so in Ezekiel these sticks represent two records, one the record of the tribe of Joseph, and the other of Judah." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pp. 290-291.)"

Here we see only two sticks but were there not 12 sons of Jacob or Israel, which were given blessings? Yes, there were but they are the lost tribes of Israel and there in lies the secret. In order for the gathering to take place all 12 must be gathered together. It is interesting to note that many look to the Bible as the only word of God, and that is where it gets interesting because there in the Bible it talks about the lost 10 tribes of Israel and how they will be gathered again to gain their inheritance, but counting Judah and the lost 10 tribes of Israel that is only 11, why because the reminant of Joseph is not lost but is present with Judah and their history is contained in the Book of Mormon. Nephi, helps us understand this very well, even in a language which is plain that it can't be misunderstood.

To start off with Nephi talks about the Bible:

3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.
Then, Nephi explains the true gathering of the word of God:
6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

Now for what purpose are the sticks of Judah and the sticks of Joseph and some day the sticks of the lost 10 tribes of Israel brought to one? Nephi unfolds this mystery unto us:

2 Nephi 30:3-8
3 And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.
4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.
5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.
8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth."

The whole grand purpose of all of this is to bring all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people to knowledge of the Savior of the world even Jesus Christ and not just to a knowledge but to a full inheritance. What great wisdom does our Father in Heaven and His son have and what great love, that they remember all people that have ever lived upon this earth and that does now live upon the earth. It is sweet to me and it brings me great joy.

So we see that the Lord is mindful of all people, the question now at hand is where is the stick of Joseph? The Lord himself declares in D&C 27:5:

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;

Remember in Ezekiel the Lord said, "I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim." So we now see that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph. This is very well documented in the Book of Mormon but not quite as clearly described in the Bible. Why is it not as well documented or prophecied in the Bible because the prophecies of Joseph are contained in the brass plates which we know from the Book of Mormon were taken by Lehi into the wilderness and therefore were not present to be compiled into the Bible.

" 1 AND now, I, Nephi, speak concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt.
2 For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the plates of brass." (2 Nephi 4:1-2)

Even though we do not have the great prophecies of Joseph we still have evidence of the whereabouts of his posterity.

Genesis 49:22
" 22 ¶ Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:"

A bough is a vine, whose branches run over the wall signifying that his posterity, symbolized by branches, shall be led to a new land symbolized, by running over, and the wall symbolized, the land that the original vine is on. Again, the Book of Mormon is clear and uses the same type of imagery in Jacob 5 refering to the house of Israel as an olive tree. Contained in this chapter is a representation or prophecy of what is to befall the house of Israel from the begining to the end. Here we see the bough or branches being grafted into another spot of ground or land.

Jacob 5-8
8 And behold, saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself; wherefore, I will take these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will.

As I studied this parable I realized that Ezekiel used similar imagery as well in descibing Joseph's seed.

Ezekiel 17:22
22 ¶ Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

Joseph Smith by the power of God retranslated the Bible and one of the verses that was left out or removed from the original translation of the Bible is the following found in Genesis 50:24 in the JST:

25 And it shall come to pass that they shall be scattered again; and a branch shall be broken off, and shall be carried into a far country; nevertheless they shall be remembered in the covenants of the Lord, when the Messiah cometh; for he shall be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the Spirit of power; and shall bring them out of darkness into light; out of hidden darkness, and out of captivity unto freedom.
Another prophecy that I happened to stuble upon in my reading is found in Alma 46:23 and is quoted by Captain Moroni after he rent his garments and wrote the title of Liberty upon it and the people came flocking to him willing to convenant that they will maintain their freedom and fight for the cause of the Christians. Here are his words:
23 Moroni said unto them: Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.
24 Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.
25 Now behold, this giveth my soul sorrow; nevertheless, my soul hath joy in my son, because of that part of his seed which shall be taken unto God.
26 Now behold, this was the language of Jacob.

It seems to me that here is evidence that sets forth most positively the existence of the stick of Joseph and that it is in reality the Book of Mormon, but there is only one true way to know without a shadow of doubt and that is to ask Him to whom it is that knows all even our Father in Heaven. He will testify to your heart the truthfulness of this sacred record.
Ezra Taft Benson said, "We do not have to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it! The Book of Mormon is not on trial- the people of the world, including the members of the church, are on trial as to what they will do with this second witness for Christ. (also found in Conference Report, Oct. 1984)
With that I testify to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and know through the Holy Spirit that it is true and that it contains the words of Christ and it testifys of him. I would like to close with the following quote by Ezra Taft Benson which reads, "The Bible sits on the pulpit of hundreds of different religious sects. The Book of Mormon, the record of Joseph, verifies and clarifies the Bible. It removes stumbling blocks, it restores many plain and precious things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines, lay down contentions. and establish peace. (BofM Study Guide, ch 1)
Amen.