Friday, March 29, 2013

General Conference & How I Came To Be.

My parents are 17 years apart.  Mom was 21 they got married and dad was 39.  They have 5 kids right away and really close together too.  The cord was wrapped around Cindy's neck and there was worries.  Everything turned out just fine though, but they decided to stop with 5 kids.

Fast forward 9 years to April 1971.  It's General Conference time and dad is in Priesthood session.  The prophet is Joseph Fielding Smith.
Joseph Fielding Smith 

"I call upon the Church and all it's members to forsake the evils of the world.  We must shun unchastity  and every form of immorality as we would a plague.  We must not dam up the wellsprings of life by preventing childbirth.  We must not be guilty of unrighteous and evil acts of abortion."
The underlined sentence is what pricks my fathers heart goes home and as I like to say had a little "talk" with mom. One year and four months latter Rebecca Lynn enters the world.  18 months latter my sister Sarah comes.  

In recent years I've realized that I owe my life to: 
1. A prophet of God. 
2. My father being in the right place at the right time. 
3. My father listening to the words of the prophet and ACTING. 
4. My Mom (last, but not least!) 

Not only do I owe my life to these things but so does Sarah and her 5 kids.  I'm sure Blake (Sarah's husband) is appreciative. 

My testimony is that General Conference is important and may alter your life in significant ways.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

DI: It's Not Just a Thrift Store

I’m wearing everything from a thrift store.  Even my shoes.  Why would I tell you this?  I’m here to tell you about the deep doctrine of DI.  DI is more than a thrift store and yes, that probably has been a tag line or in a commercial, but it’s true.  DI is self sufficient and runs only on donations.  There are 43 DI stores in 7 western states: WA, OR, CA, ID, UT, NV and AZ.

2 things are unique about our DI here in Twin.  We employ the largest amount of refuges  except for the ones in Utah than all the others.  Twin DI is not self supporting which means we have to do “donation sharing.”  We get things from the humanitarian center in SLC.   So, lesson one- bring in your stuff! 

Twin DI has community partnerships with about 30 programs/ agencies in Magic Valley. One of those places is TF School district.  For example.  My friend who is a single mom with 5 kids and has 1 daughter.  Her teacher noticed that she had only 2 pairs of pants.  One day she came home with 3 pairs of pants.  Where did her teacher get them?  DI. 

The bishops can use DI to help families in need.  For instance, take my friend Cyndy who is a manager of low income housing.  One family, not LDS, had a fire in their dryer.  ALL the kids’ clothes were burned up.  ALL of them.  ALL that was left for the kids was what they were wearing.  Cyndy went to the Bishop, told him the situation and he wrote out a voucher for 200 dollars worth of clothes for the family.  The bishop is the bishop for everyone within the ward boundaries- even those not of our faith.

Another bishop wanted to help a man here with a ½ way house he was starting.  He got the man vouchers for 15 beds for this house.  These are not old mattresses.  The church has a factory in SLC that makes them.  All mattress companies send their merchandise to  Missouri to be tested with a gigantic roller.  LDS mattresses are with the same quality and caliber for companies like Serta!  Seriously!  And for 2/3 of the price!!!!  
This is an example of the actual furniture!

The church also has a furniture factory that makes solid wood NICE quality tables, chairs, and bed sets and frames.  You can see them in the store and ask for one.  They are in the back- ready to be bought! 

DI also squashes bundles of clothes into ½ a ton barrels and sells them to other companies or it goes to the humanitarian center for the 3rd world countries we send aid to.  We give stuff to Catholic charities and let them put their name on it, not ours. 
DI, pays for the employee’s salary, the building, the lighting, etc.  But when there is extra money it goes to help others get jobs.  We help members as well as non-members. 48% now at DI  in Twin Falls are not of our faith.  The extra money goes to help those workers go to school and get jobs. 

Our own Merna was employed at DI and needed to call her Bishop.  She was not a member (yet!).  Everyone that works there needs to get a hold of their bishop and get his help with goals and what that person wants to accomplish.  One of the people that have worked at DI walked across the Sahara desert, then floated on something in the ocean till he was picked up and brought to America.  He was escaping a war torn land.  He worked here in Twin Falls.  He told a manager that he would rather face the desert than the ocean! (not to self) 

Here are few stories to help you understand what this DI, this “more than a thrift store can do.”   Take Wes.  He’s a excellent swimmer, so much so that he is in the junior Olympics’ and goes to Paris to compete for the USA.  He has offers from colleges for full ride scholarships, but Wes, gets into drugs.  It becomes so bad that his family tells him to not come around.  He cannot see his nieces and nephews and Wes gets in trouble with the law and finds himself in prison. Part of Prison is drug rehab and before he can even leave, he has to have a job!  It’s pretty hard to find a job when you’re in jail!  But his bishop comes to visit him and gets him a job with DI.  He can leave.  Part of the DI program is for each person to have a mentor.  The bishop feels inspirited to have a man his age but married with kids be his mentor.   His mentor, not knowing what to do at first, invites him over for dinner, for barbecues and becomes his friend.  Wes needs new friends, he can’t go back to his old friends or he’ll get back into drugs.  Wes now has a friend, and a job.  DI has strict rules.  You have to show up on time and be there 96% of the time.  Absolutely no cell phones on the job.  These are rules that most companies have and that for most of the employees need to learn.  Each employee goes through reviews.  Goals are set by the employee and he/she evaluates himself on how he is doing.   Goals can be get a driver’s license, get a GED, become A CNA.  They pay for training programs nearby colleges have.  Wes now has a good job with a good company and he is successful.  That is why DI is more than a thrift store.  The money only goes to do good.  The money goes to help the poor and needy. 

Another story:  Mari Smith and her husband have triplets, her husband is a contractor building million dollar homes and then the economy goes bad and they can’t even pay their own rent.  The husband is depressed.  He finally went to the bishop, who sent him to the stake president (both to see if they knew of anything one or anything that could help him get work)  He goes back to his bishop and he gives his a recommendation to DI.  He gets him a job at DI.  Can you imagine the humility it took to go from building million dollar homes to working at DI?  DI can see this man has potential and skills.  To reestablish himself, the bishop needs to know exactly what he wants to do.  He decides he wants to become a Nursing assistant.  DI splits the cost with him for the schooling and now he is standing next to heart surgeons holding the heart, because he became an orderly first.  This man when he was working at DI had a friend there named Bill.  Bill had become homeless and this man went and found him and got him back on at DI and made sure Bill was OK! 
behind the scenes with the donations.  

One person Crystal from Peru doesn't speak much English.  Her job coach sees more in her, treats her with respect, helps her get in English classes, which in some areas DI offers.  Helped her get a GED and then she become a CNA.  The more resources the better you can help a person.

Another sister who says about herself she had no friends in HS and was not very smart so she dropped out.  She gets a job at DI and blossoms and 2 years later she is training those that are new at DI.

Carlos had a pharmacy for 28 years in his country.  He comes to the USA and all he can do is clean the floors in Rite Aid.  He thinks he can get a job as a driver.  He goes to the bishop and the bishop sees that he is more than a day laborer and helps him get a job at DI who then pays for him to go to become a pharmacy tech.  DI pays his wages for 3 months.  The pharmacy hires him on, because his people skills are awesome.  Everyone knows him and loves him.  This leads him to his wife getting a job there too, and then his daughter goes through the program and becomes a CNA.   They all testify to there being a light in their lives now.  They have someone who cares.

Community partnerships that will help families with rent, food, clothes and shoes, also helps with self-esteem.  Giving them a gift card is no guarantee that they will get what they need.  Taking them there, helping these children pick out their first coat, their first pillow, their own blanket.  When money is low for those community agencies, Di will raise their grants.

There are no DI thrift stores outside of those 7 states I mentioned, but the program is everywhere.  There are offices, (23 I think) in places like Texas, NY, Mexico, and the Philippines that do the same thing- help pay and train and work with people that need help. It all works through the bishops! The miracles can happen anywhere! 

DI is more than a thrift store because it transforms people’s lives.  The savior was always encouraging, helping and serving the individual.  That is what DI does.  You bring in old things and they become new to someone else.  DI does that with clothes and people as well!  

How is this all done?  How it all is paid for?  From the sales of those donations!  When we donate we are helping in more than one way.  We are helping many, many people’s lives to change for the better.

“Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6–7 The Book of Mormon) 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Knowing God, REALLY knowing him!

Moses Ch 1does the most damage to Satan and his goals. Besides showing us what a tantrum thrower he is, he tries to discredit that we are sons and daughters of God.  He addressed Moses by saying “son of man, worship me”.  Son of man is not even in caps. 

Today most people on the earth do not know that they are children of God and most refuse to believe in a God and if they believe in a God he is without body, parts and passions, perhaps just an idea, a higher power of sorts that can’t be explained or described, let alone prayed to. 

As latter-day Saints we know who he is and how he works.  Elder Hales, an apostle of the Lord give us the admonition to gain a testimony of God and his Son (Oct 2009)   in General Conference. Then He specifically tells us about them.  Here are a few items Elder Hale mentions  about the father and the son: 

He starts off by telling us that: We know he lives because we believe the testimonies of His ancient and living prophets, and we have felt God’s Spirit confirm that the testimonies of these prophets are true. (2 witnesses) 

  • ·         From their testimonies, recorded in holy scripture, we know that “[God] created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness.”3 Some people may be surprised to learn that we look like God. One prominent religious scholar has even taught that imagining God in the form of man is creating a graven image and is idolatrous and blasphemous.4 But God Himself said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”5
  • ·         From the New Testament we know that Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have a physical presence. They stand in one place at one time, as the New Testament disciple Stephen testified: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”7
  • ·         We also know that the Father and the Son have voices. As recorded in Genesis and the book of Moses, Adam and Eve “heard the voice of the Lord God, as they were walking in the garden, in the cool of the day.”8
  • ·         We know that the Father and the Son have faces, that They stand, and that They converse. The prophet Enoch declared, “I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another.”9
  • ·         We know that God and His Son have bodies, in form and parts like ours. From the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, we read, “And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood.”10 Later the Lord revealed Himself, saying, “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and … I [will] appear unto my people in the flesh.”11
  • ·         We know that the Father and the Son have feelings for us. The book of Moses records, “And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept.”

    • And we know that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, are immortal, glorified, and perfected beings. Of the Savior Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith recounts, “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters.”13     No testimony is more significant to us in our time than the witness of Joseph Smith. 

These qualities and attributes to us are common sense, we hear them, think about them and know them, but in the outside world they are unknown and thought as blasphemous.
Elder Hale sets the record straight – right from the scriptures he says this: I testify that the way to know the truth about God is through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead, is a personage of spirit. His work is to “testify of [God]”19 and to “teach [us] all things.”20JS said the following: If men do not understand the character of God, they do not understand themselves.  TPJS p. 343
These qualities and attributes to us are common sense, we hear them, think about them and know them, but in the outside world they are unknown and often thought as blasphemous.

I’m going to guess that most of us, if not all of us here today know and understand this list.  If we do then we can take it a step further.

JS said the following: If men do not understand the character of God, they do not understand themselves.  TPJS p. 343

I’m going to enquire after God: for I want you all to know him and be familiar with him. TPJS p. 245

Paul explains in Ephesians Ch 4: 
11 and he agave some, bapostles; and some, cprophets; and some, devangelists; and some, epastors and fteachers;
12 For the aperfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the bedifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the aunity of the faith, and of the bknowledge of the Son of God,

All the things the prophets tell us is to help us get to know God. 

Paul, Joseph Smith and Elder Hales want us to know God and his Son. (3 witnesses) Why is knowing them so important?  I believe D&C 76 tells us why? 

While there are many lists in that revelation that qualify or disqualify us for each kingdom the word “testimony” is present in all 3 of the lists.  

The Telestial Kingdom: v74  They received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh.
The Terestial Kingdom: v79. They were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus.
The Celestial Kingdom: v51 They are they who received the atestimony of Jesus,
The difference between the Cel and Ter kingdom is how valiant we will be to our testimony of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ and their gospel.  

In Rev 12: 11, John The revelator tells us the weapons used in the war in Heaven.  There are three:  1. Blood of the Lamb, 2. “the word of their testimony”3. They loved not their lives unto death.  Our testimonies is what helped win the war!  Brothers and sisters, the war goes on and so must our testimonies!

Elder Hale give us a pattern to receive a testimony:  1. Desire to know  2. Ponder on the things of heaven- let the evidences of God touch your hearts 3.  Once our hearts are softened, we can then Search the Scriptures.  4. Ask if the things we have learned are true. 

Out of these 4 steps I can only help with number 3: study the scriptures. At the Utah State Institute I learned a way to study the scriptures that changed me for forever and strengthened my faith in the Godhead. The only part I can explain now is that I circled every time it mentioned any name of the 3 members of the Godhead, even the he’s, him’s, thy, etc.  

 As a side note:  Scholars have told us that the savior is mentioned 3471 times in The Book of Mormon, a book with 6580 verses, that is every other verse.  No wonder that book has the potential to get us nearer to God than any other book.   Also, Some form of “come unto Christ” can be found 43 times.  I then, used a specific color, for me teal, for their qualities and attributes.  It started off with the qualities and attributes as found in lecture 3 and 4 of Lectures on Faith.  

1. God before the world was create
2. Merciful and Gracious
3. Changes not 
4. Truth- cannot lie 
5. No respecter of persons 
6. Love 
7. Knowledge- he knows all 
8. Faith or Power 
9. Justice
10. Judgement 
11. Mercy 
12. Truth

As I did this over the years, I started to see more than just these words, I even saw whole paragraphs!  

It’s interesting to note that Laman and Lemuel in The Book of Mormon, didn’t understand anything their father or brother were telling them or why they left Jerusalem because they “KNEW” not the dealings of God.  See another great conference talk about those 2 men given in 1999, by Neil A. Maxwell. 

In Oct 2006 Elder Bednar gave 2 invitations in his talk “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.”  His first was to learn about and apply the Savior’s teachings about interactions and episodes that can be construed as offensive.  This could be another way to know him.

Here are some helps in our study: In the Topical Guide, the word  Jesus Christ takes up 18 pages of entries.  The entry God has 12 pages.  I encourage you to look at them and maybe you’ll learn something from just the list itself. 

Elder Hales finishes his talk with this: 
1.      Gaining this knowledge is ultimately the quest of all of God’s children.
2.      Your personal knowledge of God is not only the greatest Gift you will ever give, but it will bring you the greatest joy you will ever have.   ( I Love this!)
3.      He then testifies as a special witness of Christ, that God lives and that HE KNOWS!

 A song from Sheri Call about the Names of Jesus Christ: