Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Talks and Moments of Spring!

Flowers bloom in Spring
Oh that I could smell them now
To bring me hope's bliss

Well, I feel as though Spring finally has genuinely graced us with her presence - thank goodness! I am beyond ready for sun and warmth! I had to stop on the way home and grab some shots of the glorious blossoms around my building and neighborhood.  I'm over the snow, so if you are one of those buzz kills sent to tell me that it's suppose to snow again... just let me be. Let me dream of today and times of pure Spring bliss... Let me bask.

I actually wrote the Haiku above (yes, that's what it is...) as an example for the student's in the Creative Writing class I was subbing for the other day. I also wrote the follow one, because you have to relate to kids on their level right?

Justin Bieber grows
But he cuts his hair - that's sad
It will grow again

It was a class of eight 8th grade girls. Enough said.
(Sidenote: I love the Biebs as you all know form THIS POST. I remain unashamed.)

This week I was asked to give a talk in my ward for church today on the Gathering of Israel... HUH? Haha... I'm aware of what it is and why they were scattered. I did my research, but the hard part was figuring out a way to approach the topic and make it relateable (apparently that's a made-up word? I had no idea...). So, the result of my talk is below... I spent a chunk of Thursday writing it, and then the next 72 hours trying to think of a good intro. Haha! I ended up just jumping straight into it - no anecdote needed. Anywhere.... This isn't word for word what I said the entire ten minutes, but it's close. Just know that I know the gospel is true and that we're a part of the gathering of Israel -->

"“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the ten tribes…” – AoF 10

Going back to a time before Christ’s birth, The Lord scattered the twelve tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness. However, the Lord also used this scattering among the nations and continents of the world to bless those nations. As people learn about and accept the gospel, they are being gathered back into the fold under Christ. Our job is to help with that!

There are three specific ways that I believe we can do our part in this gathering of Israel. First, we can do missionary work. Second, we can do temple work. Third, we can work on personal development.

First – missionary work. We are the dispensation, one of the chosen generations, that have been given the responsibility and opportunity to share the gospel in a greater capacity than it has ever been shared in the past. We’ve heard it a million times before, and we’ll hear it a million times more… because it’s that important. We are the missing link for our families, friends, and those surrounding us.

“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” – D&C 4:3

Sometimes, however, you aren’t called in the traditional way….

When I was living in Germany this past year, I had the opportunity to visit The Netherlands (where my ancestors are from) and meet a lot of my family that still resides there. They aren’t members, because those who were baptized years and years ago had to flee the country in order to practice the LDS religion. So, these family members knew a little about the reason why our ancestors left, but not anything about Mormon doctrine.

So, me being who I am went to visit them with a Book of Mormon in Dutch stashed in my bag, praying that I would have the chance to talk to them about religion over the week. In that first weekend alone, and I spent three weekends with my family from there, I was asked SO many questions about our family and my beliefs. I left a BoM in my cousin’s room with my testimony inside before I left. He found it later and thought I’d left it there by accident, but I told him to read the note I left for him in the front and it was a gift.

We spent two other weekends, hanging out and always talking a lot about religion. He hasn’t read the BoM yet, but I’m content to know that my meeting him had an impact. He also made a great impact on me... After I left, he wrote me an email in which he said, “I’m proud to have a niece like you. You have such a strong passion for your church and I hope to have that someday. I’ve never seen that before. This week, I’m going to make time for God.” I have faith that he’ll get there someday, in this life or the next, and I feel SO blessed and honored to have been a part in helping him and my other family gain knowledge of the gospel.

"There are few things in life that bring as much joy as the joy that comes from assisting another improve his or her life." – Richard G. Scott

I’m glad that I was willing to simply open my mouth and share what I believe – even if I didn’t “have all the answers,” I knew that I had the spirit with me.

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" — William Carey

Every other dispensation has been limited in time and in space. For example, every other dispensation ended in apostasy, and thus, time was cut short for teaching others about the gospel. Additionally, other dispensations were limited in space – meaning, they were limited to the area surrounding them – they traveled and journeyed to different cities and valleys, but didn’t have the means to extend information through a full mail system or any kind to different nations. In years ranging from 1700 BC to 500 BC there are claims of having the first message carriers, but that could only extend so far and it took so long. In reality, people and nations of that time didn’t even know all of the other continents that existed.

Russel M. Nelson spoke of OUR dispensation – our generation and those to come – saying, “This dispensation of the fullness of times would not be limited in time or in location. It would not end in apostasy, and it would fill the world.”

Today we have boats that travel much faster than Nephi's, planes, international mail systems, email, blogs, cell phones, texting, and a general knowledge that other continents and people even exist… They didn’t have that before. We have the means to share the gospel now that no other generation had before.

Second – temple work. A great piece of the gathering of Israel is progression we make, and help others make, through temple ordinances and work. Again, we are the missing link for our families, friends, and those surrounding us.

“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord…bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” – Alma 37:6-7

I always equate this scripture to missionary work, and that’s legitimate. However, I often fail to realize that temple work IS missionary work. Missionary work is not only done by teaching in a traditional way, sitting down with scriptures and Preach My Gospel. Missionary work is furthering the kingdom of God… and that is EXACTLY what temple work is accomplishing.

My mom has always said, “I do my missionary work through temple work , because I know that they can’t run away from me! Think about it – they can’t slam a door in my face!” My mom is also a FANTASIC missionary, but temple work has always been her thing, and I’m blessed to have her example.

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “This work [being temple work], unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know.”

Finally – work on personal development. The gathering of Israel is not only about missionary work, but also working on bringing yourself to the gospel of Christ. YOU are as important as those you teach. To be the teacher, you must FIRST be the student… In D&C 132: 31-32 it reads, “This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham… Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.” You are a part of the gathering and YOU are important. Each member, each individual, has a divine reason to be here on this earth and to be a part of this gospel. Are you living up to it?

I encourage each of you to think about a way that you know you could be closer to Christ – whether it’s something you should change in your actions, or a habit you could improve upon (like prayer or scripture study – they seem so simple, but we hear them so much because they’re THAT important…), make the change this week. PUSH YOURSELF and live up to the divine heritage you’ve been given. You are a daughter or son of a true and living God. I know that’s true. I am a Child of God.

In Galatians it tells us that we are “heirs through the promise” – through Christ. You are literally an heir to God’s throne… and He loves you. He wants nothing more than to have you and His other children next to him after the final judgment, and through missionary work, temple work, and bringing ourselves closer to our Savior, we can accept that divine right He has saved for us.”

Then, I just bore my testimony fit to what I was feeling and what I know… which I’ll take the chance to do again NOW:

I know my Savior lives, and that he loves me. I know that through missionary work and temple work we can help others to know those same things. We are children of a Heavenly Father, who also loves us, and all that he does for us - all that he gives us – is for our benefit. Even our trails, as crazy as that sounds. It means that he trusts us, and knows that we can grow. He wants nothing more than for us to be happy. I know that gospel is true and I am thankful for the eternal power of the Atonement. I know that is works… I have a testimony of scripture study and prayer, as them being our link to our Father in Heaven and Savior. Use them in your life. I am grateful for this church, and I bear testimony of its truth in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I am a blessed woman.

Song of the Day: Today I was thinking I should do something that’s Top40 meets Spiritual. So, when I was listening to my IPod on the way home today, this song came on, and was perfect. Here is Regina Spektor with “The Call." Enjoy!

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