Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Church and Kingdom of God

I led the discussion this past Sunday for this chapter in Teaching of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.  This chapter is FULL of wonderful information about our church organization.

via
From the Life of Joseph Fielding Smith
The thing that impressed me most from this section was that President Smith grew up with an excellent example of righteous living and dedication to God.  His grandfather, whom he never met, was martyred for his testimony of the Gospel.  His father was dedicated to the church and eventually became a prophet.

I really appreciated the story in this section about President Smith's dedication to church service.
A simple and unassuming man, Joseph Fielding Smith never sought these positions. But when the Lord called him to serve, he willingly and enthusiastically obeyed. He quietly exhibited this dedication one day when, at age 89, he went to a meeting. Walking from his home, he slipped and fell down a flight of steps. Although he hurt his leg, he walked about a quarter of a mile—“limping like an old man,” he said—so he could fulfill his responsibilities. After the meeting, he walked back home, where he finally allowed a doctor to examine him. The doctor found that President Smith’s leg was fractured in multiple places. President Smith later commented on the experience. “The meeting got a little long,” he said. “But then, most meetings do.
What a great example!  I sometimes complain that I can't go to meetings when I have a headache or my stomach hurts.  This servant of God went with what I am sure was a very painful broken leg.

I love this sentence:
Through these service opportunities, Joseph Fielding Smith came to appreciate the Church’s inspired organization and its role in leading individuals and families to eternal life. 
Do we allow our service in the church to lead and teach us to appreciate the Church's organization?  Or do we question leadership decisions because we don't understand and agree? Do we allow our service to teach us how the church leads individuals and families to eternal life?  Or do we grumble about the time and energy it takes to complete our church responsibilities?

On to section 1: After centuries of spiritual darkness and apostasy, the Lord has restored His gospel and organized His Church on the earth.

In D&C 1:30, we are told that the church would be brought "forth out of obscurity and out of darkness".
The Lord [has] restored the gospel and organized again his Church upon the earth. The reason for such organization and restoration is the fact that for centuries the world had been in spiritual darkness, without the authority, and without the understanding; they knew not how to worship the living God. …
Without organization comes chaos.  Without authority and understanding there can be no ordinances performed and no progression. 
The everlasting covenant had been broken; the correct understanding of gospel principles had disappeared through apostasy; the right to officiate in the ordinances of the gospel had ceased among men. It became necessary that all this might be restored, and that faith might increase among the people through an opening of the heavens and a restoration of the gospel.
[correct understanding] - during the apostasy, part of the information (knowledge)was on the earth, but it had been corrupted and polluted by the philosophies and teaching of men.  The teachings were not understood correctly and the authority of God to act on that knowledge was not present.

[right to officiate] - there was no priesthood authority and no priesthood keys.  There was no prophet to direct the work.

No authority.  No understanding.  No organization = Apostasy.
So the Lord sent his messengers from his presence, with the fulness of the gospel, and with power, and the authority of the priesthood to bestow upon men, and gave them commandments … because the Lord knew the calamities which were to come upon the world, and it was his will that a proper warning, and the opportunity to receive the gospel be given unto men...
In order for a complete restoration to take place, we needed 3 things.  
  1. The fulness of the gospel brought back.  We needed to have a knowledge of Jesus Christ, his atonement and resurrection, and we needed to know and understand how that applies to us individually.
  2. We needed the priesthood power restored to the earth.
  3. We also need authority and priesthood keys to perform saving ordinances.
We announce that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth, the only place where men may come to learn the true doctrines of salvation and find the authority of the holy priesthood.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth!  This means that in this church we are taught not only what we need to know, but also what we need to do to gain eternal life and exaltation.

Section 2: The Lord Himself directs the work of the Church, and it is our privilege to have membership in it. 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in literal reality the kingdom of God on earth.
I desire to say that no man of himself can lead this church. It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ; he is at the head. The church bears his name, has his priesthood, administers his gospel, preaches his doctrine, and does his work.
If this were the work of man, it would fail, but it is the work of the Lord, and he does not fail...  It is the Lord’s work, and do not forget that it is the Almighty who is going to do this work, and not man. 
So many times I think we as church members need to remember this.   The service and work that we perform in our wards and stakes is not our work.  It is not up to us.  It is not for our glory.  

A few years ago, I was called as the Camp Director for our ward.  I had two camp assistants and one food assistant.  About six weeks before camp, one of my assistant's stopped returning my calls, quit fulfilling assignments I had given her, and then abruptly moved out of the ward.  About the same time, my other assistant was called to be the Young Women's president.  Two weeks before camp, a new camp assistant was called, but she told me up front that she would help out where she could, but she wasn't planning to attend camp.  

I struggled, a lot!  First, I didn't want to judge these sisters, but it was hard.  Second, I worried.  I worried that camp was going to be bad.  I worried that the girls were not going to have fun.  I worried that the girls wouldn't feel the spirit.  I worried that things wouldn't go perfectly.  I did the best I could, I prayed to my Heavenly Father, and went to work.

You know what I learned?  I learned that it wasn't up to me!  The girls had the experience that their Heavenly Father wanted them to have.  He loves them.  He knows what is best for them.  I just needed to do my part and leave the rest up to him.  If we are trying our best, striving to listen to the spirit, and working towards a worthy goal, Heavenly Father will do the rest.
...this church has a divinely appointed mission to perform under the direction and leadership of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and that nothing will stop his plans pertaining to it. It will fulfill the designs of our Father in heaven.
This church, under Christ's direction will fulfill its divinely appointed mission, which is to fulfill the designs of our Heavenly Father.  Reminds me of Moses 1:39.

Section 3: The Church is organized to help members find joy and happiness in this life and eternal life i n the life to come.
The Lord has established all things in order and has given us a perfect system. Men cannot improve upon it. If we would carry out that which the Lord has revealed, as he has revealed it, then all things would be perfect, for the organization is a perfect organization; the theory of it—the plan of it—is without flaw.
There is a big "if" in that paragraph.  "IF" we would carry out that which the Lord has revealed, the Church organization would run perfectly.  All too often we let ego, agenda, judgement, self-promotion, weaknesses, anger, the list goes on....  get in the way of us carrying out that which the Lord has revealed in a perfect way.
In every gospel dispensation there are special needs to be met, problems to be solved, and help that must be given to assist and aid the members of the Church in working out their salvation.. Hence we have auxiliary organizations [Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School] to aid and assist the priesthood. They are so organized as to meet the needs of the people in whatever social conditions may exist. They are part of the government of God and are set up to help members of the Church perfect their lives and do those things which assure them of joy and happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come. …
What social conditions exist where you are that are met by the auxiliary organizations of the Church?  What social conditions exist in our world today that are met and corrected by these auxiliary organizations?
The Church and its agencies constitute in effect a service organization to help the family and the individual. Home teachers, priesthood leaders, and bishops are appointed to lead those with whom they labor to eternal life in our Father’s kingdom, and the auxiliary organizations are appointed to aid and assist in this great work of salvation.
The priesthood leads and provide structure, the auxiliary organizations aid and assist.  This is the way the Lord has set up this perfect system.  What would happen if we were all trying to lead?  
We cannot stress too strongly the great need to utilize all of these programs for the benefit and blessing of all our Father’s children. …
If all of us do all of the things we should in carrying forward the programs of the Church, the Lord will bless and prosper us so fully that success shall attend our labors, and out of it all peace and joy will be our lot here and eternal glory hereafter
Now to section 4: Our service in the Church expresses love for others and appreciation for the Lord's infinite service.

Normally when we talk about service in Relief Society we are talking about individual service to individual members.  Not so with this section.  We are talking about individual service within the Church.
The man who does only those things in the Church which concern himself alone will never reach exaltation. For instance, the man who is willing to pray, to pay his tithes and offerings, and to attend to the ordinary duties which concern his own personal life, and nothing more, will never reach the goal of perfection.
Never refuse to serve. When a presiding officer asks your help, be glad to accept and give the best you have to that labor. The Lord expects this of us, and we are under covenant to do so. This course brings joy and peace, and at the same time those who serve receive the greatest blessing. The teacher gains more than the one taught; the blessing returned to us when we accept a call to work in the Church is far greater than the blessing we can impart to others. He who refuses to perform any labor or shirks responsibility when it is given him in the Church is in grave danger of losing the guidance of the Spirit. Eventually he becomes lukewarm and indifferent to all duties, and, like the plant that is not cultivated and watered, he shrivels up and dies a spiritual death.
Harsh, but true words!  But always remember this next piece of counsel:
Your able service does not go unnoticed by that God whom you serve and in whose work you are engaged.
And finally, section 5: In this dispensation, the kingdom of God and the work of the Lord will spread throughout the world.
The gospel itself has been the same in all dispensations; the plan of salvation is the same for all our Father’s children in every age. From time to time it has been lost by apostasy, but whenever the Lord has had a people on earth, they have been offered the same laws and truths of salvation that he has revealed to us.
But there is one great added thing we have received in this age that has never been had before. In this dispensation the Lord has decreed that the Church shall never again be led astray; this time the gospel is here to stay. This time the revealed truth is destined to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man, and the Church will be established in all parts of the earth when the Lord comes to usher in the millennial era of peace and righteousness.
We don't have to worry about the Lord taking the church from the earth.  What we do have to worry about is our own personal apostasy.  In most cases, personal apostasy comes from one of two things: 

  1. apathy towards our personal duty/testimony
  2. criticizing/judgement of church leaders, members and/or doctrines
How do we protect ourselves from personal apostasy?

Closing with the testimony of President Joseph Fielding Smith:

I know and testify that the Lord’s purposes on earth shall prevail. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is here to stay. The Lord’s work shall triumph. No power on earth can prevent the spread of truth and the preaching of the gospel in every nation.
I leave my blessing with you and my assurance that God is with his people, and that the work in which we are engaged shall triumph and roll forth until the eternal purposes of the Lord are fulfilled.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Carter Easter Party

This past Sunday, we went to my mom and dad's house for the annual Carter Easter dinner.  After dinner we continued our tradition of "Egg Bashing"

Jared prepares to roll his egg 

 Isaac ready for some egg rollin'

 This was the first year Clara actually understood what she was supposed to do, so that was fun.

 Amelia is ready to roll!

Nathan rolls his egg

At one point Jared and Isaac rolled against each other.

Clara made it pretty far in the bracket, but eventually lost.

 The champion turned out to be Eric, who was thrilled!

After the egg bashing, Grandma gave each child a picture of Jesus and they explained what was going on in their picture.  Meanwhile the men were outside setting up the Easter egg hunt.



 And this is what it looks like trying to get a picture of this many children.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last Night We Had a Windstorm



This occurred:

It blew out our fence.  Not just on this side of the house either.  The gate on the other side of the house was on the ground also.

A few years back, in September 2007, another wind storm wreaked havoc at our house, knocking over our largest tree.

Stinkin' wind!  

Good thing I am married to such a handy guy though.  I'm sure he'll have it better than ever as soon as he has time to get to it!

BTW - look how awesomely green my lawn was back in 2007.  I am pretty positive it hasn't looked that great since then.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Isaac in Romeo and Juliet

Earlier this morning, Nathan and I went to the elementary school to watch Isaac perform with his class in the play Romeo and Juliet.  Isaac played the role of Friar Lawrence.

Isaac speaking with Romeo

Isaac at the Capulet's Masquerade Party

Dancing at the Capulet Party

Isaac (Friar Lawrence) talking with Romeo and Juliet's nurse.


Isaac marries Romeo and Juliet


Isaac giving Juliet the sleeping potion

The whole cast

Isaac did such a great job memorizing his lines and I'm not sure where the accent came from, but I loved it!

Isaac and "Tibalt"



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where's the Bishopric?

A few weeks ago, Nathan and I participated in a fun Young Men & Young Women activity for the youth in our ward.  It was called, "Where's the Bishopric" and was based upon the books, "Where's Waldo".

The Laurel leaders had asked a group of adults from the ward to dress up as much or as little as they wanted and go to the mall at a certain time.  We were allowed to wander in the halls and small stores, but large department stores were off limits.  The last 20 minutes of the game, the leader with each group of youth could text us and ask for one clue to where we were.  At the end we all met at a predetermined spot in the mall.

The "Waldo's" drove directly to the mall while the youth gathered at the church for opening exercises.  Before heading out to the mall, each youth group was told the rules, assigned a leader and given a sheet that looked like this (except no initials):


Once a group located you, you put your initials next to your phone number on the sheet.  This way, they could text you and ask for a clue during the last 20 minutes and also, the youth weren't really sure who they were watching for at the mall.

We had a great time!

Nathan and I dressed up

Just me

 A group shot of the "Waldo's"

 
 Me an one of "my girls"


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Mini Vacation in Logan, Utah

Last week the kids were out of school for spring break.  We mostly hung out at home, but decided to take one day and go see some things.  So Friday, we got up and drove to Logan, Utah.  

Our first stop was a place called Herm's Inn (1435 Canyon Road, Logan, Utah 84321).  I had read some reviews online and knew we had to give it a try.  It was definitely worth it.  Just remember that they are only open from 7 am - 2 pm.

I wanted to get a picture outside, so Nathan snapped this picture of us.  You know he's really there because he got his finger in the picture :)

The food was delicious!  Here is Amelia attempting to eat the whole Cinnamon Swirl Pancake.  It was huge and so tasty!

I tried the Eggs Benedict and it was delish!

Nathan had the Meat Lover's Skillet and he really liked it.

Clara got the Strawberry Stuffed French Toast.  Nathan helped her finish it off.  Super good.

The boys split a Cinnamon Swirl Pancake and a side of bacon and couldn't finish it off.

They also have a lunch menu with some really great looking sandwiches, but we all opted for breakfast food.

Amelia, with a little help from me, ate the majority of her pancake.

We really enjoyed Herm's Inn.   The food was very good, the portions were large and the prices were very reasonable.

Next we were off to USU's Nutrition & Food Science Building for an Ice Cream Tour.  The only give ice cream tours on certain days and at certain times.  They also give cheese tours on different days.  The cost of the tour was $4 and included a cup of ice cream at the end.

The 2014  ice cream tours will be held on April 4th, 11th, 18th, &25th @ 1:00, 2:00, &3:00 p.m. and June 21st, July 19th, & August 16th @ 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, & 4:00 p.m.

Here are Jared and I waiting for the tour to start.

Here we are at the end of the tour eating our ice cream on the steps of the Nutrition & Science building.  (I am told this is a tradition for a lot of Aggie alum.)


 Clara loved her chocolate ice cream!

Amelia enjoys Cookie Dough

Me with my Famous Aggie Ice Cream!

What a gorgeous day too!

Next stop was the Logan temple.  Wow, what a gorgeous building!



Next stop on our tour of Cache Valley, was Gossner Foods, Inc.  You can't really tour the cheese factory, but there were big windows to view the production area.  I would suggest going earlier in the day.  By the time we got there, they were done for the day.  The kids were happy to look at all the different kinds of cheese and milk flavors.  There was also a sampling table.


Just a few miles up the road is the Pepperidge Farms factory and Thrift Store, you can't tour the plant, but you can pick up crackers, cookies and all things Pepperidge Farms for pretty cheap.  The address is 901 U.S. 91, Richmond, UT.


Just a hop skip and a jump from there is Casper's Ice Cream - they make Fat Boys!  We picked up a bunch of discounted ice cream sandwiches.  If you are going to go there, remember to bring a cooler to store your products for the drive home!


On our way back home from Logan, we drove by the Brigham City temple.


And made a quick stop (is that possible?) at Smith & Edwards.  We didn't plan this stop correctly, they closed shortly after we arrived.  They are only open from 9-6 Monday through Saturday.  It would seriously take you a couple of hours to see everything.

After stopping for dinner, we finished our drive home with this beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

General Women's Meeting

Amelia and I watched General Women's Meeting together this past Saturday.  I am not normally one to stay home and watch these meetings, but I was not feeling well.  I still wanted it to be a special thing for Amelia, since this would be the first time she would attend.  I asked Nathan to keep the boys occupied and quiet while Amelia and I watched the broadcast together in my bedroom.  Clara joined us.

I always try to take notes at these meeting and so I got out my notebook.  Amelia decided she must take notes also, so she quickly went off to get her notebook.  Not to be left out, Clara also went and got a notebook and pencil.

I thought that Amelia would pretty much copy whatever I wrote down, but she didn't.  She only copied the person's name.  Every so often she would say, "Have you written anything down yet?"



Nathan snapped a picture for me right as it was starting.

The meeting was amazing!  Such great counsel and such uplifting messages of hope.

This video had me in tears. It reminded me that life is not always easy, but we can find lasting happiness and peace through making and keeping covenants and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

A couple of my favorite quotes from the evening were these:
"While Satan is attacking sisters at earlier ages, the Lord is lifting sisters to higher and higher levels of spirituality."

"Keeping covenants protects us, prepares us, and empowers us."

#inspiredby #womensmeeting

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