Covenants are Tools

I’m studying the covenants associated with baptism. As I pray about the significance of covenants, it strikes me that covenants are tools given to us that clearly spell out the terms and bounds within which we are able to receive blessings and protection from God. They are instruments of safety fashioned by God to guide us safely through the confusing challenges of our days. Their power and strength are not able to be discerned by the proud and ungodly, but to those who have experienced their power know that covenants indeed are a shield, a safety net, and shelter from adversarial storms of our days.

“Low Estate”

Luke 1:46-55

I think that no where in all of scripture is a more profound statement of humility found than that given by Mary as she contemplates her part in God’s plan. The Spirit of the Lord is trying to tell me of something which is profoundly significant. I think it is in understanding who Christ is, partly because of who His earthly mother was, the humility and meekness possessed of a God.

I desire to be possessor of this humility and meekness.

A quote from David H. Burton:

Meekness is vital to becoming more Christlike. Without it one cannot develop other important virtues. Mormon indicated, “None is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart” (Moro. 7:44). Acquiring meekness is a process. We are asked to “take up [the] cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Our lifting should not be an occasional exercise. More meekness does not translate to weakness, but “it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness. It reflects certitude, strength, serenity; it reflects a healthy self-esteem and a genuine self-control” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Meekly Drenched in Destiny,” in Brigham Young University 1982–83 Fireside and Devotional Speeches [1983], 2). More meekness will allow us to be tutored by the Spirit.

 

Last night in my journal, I made this longing observation: “And then there are those who are humble enough to be truly effective servants in the work of God.”

The humble, meek, those of “low estate” are those that understand the reality of things as they really are, their utter dependence upon God, their own nothingness.

Reading “Meekness – A Dimension of True Discipleship” by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, I am realizing that there is something about the family life that I have created that is amiss.

I am taken back to this post about Mosiah 4:11-12. Then Moses 1:10 also reminds me of my own nothingness in comparison to God and his works. This reminder seems to be crucial to my understanding of meekness.

A Creed for Preparation

In light of new assignments, and stemming from recent conversations, and in light of scriptures such as this one:

But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the aelders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to bconduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. (Doctrine and Covenants 46:2)

The need to be spiritually prepared is presently before me, as an ongoing and constant need. This need is not only in personal preparation, but now spreads to a larger realm of duty, for which I too must prepare.

To accomplish these ends, the proposed daily routine should include the following:

  • Review of General Handbook 2 instruction.
  • Review of Preach My Gospel instruction
  • General Conference Addresses
  • Scripture Mastery/Memorization

This should happen immediately following your half hour of personal study, on a daily basis for another half hour. Specific lesson preparations may be included as part of this time.

 

The natural man cannot see the opportunities to do good.

My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates. (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, General Conference, October 2011, Sunday Morning Session)

I passed over the full implication of this statement in the first reading. Many activities that have to do with money and how to spend it, how to beautify one’s self, and one’s surroundings.

I like the quote from CS Lewis where he talks about how our charitable contributions should cause us to experience a degree of discomfort or sacrifice. (Find the quote.) I also like the assurance recently offered by Pres. Eyering who reminded me of the words of other inspired leaders:

President Marion G. Romney said of welfare work, “You cannot give yourself poor in this work.” And then he quoted his mission president, Melvin J. Ballard, this way: “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return.”

 

I have found that to be true in my life. When I am generous to Heavenly Father’s children in need, He is generous to me.

 

A second gospel principle that has been a guide to me in welfare work is the power and blessing of unity. When we join hands to serve people in need, the Lord unites our hearts. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. put it this way: “That giving has … brought … a feeling of common brotherhood as men of all training and occupation have worked side by side in a Welfare garden or other project.”

 

(Pres. Henry B. Eyering, General Conference, April 2011,  Saturday Morning Session)

 

To Do: I am reminded of the importance of studying and understanding welfare principles. I need to become better minded in these matters.

5.2 Convert Retention

Three things that converts, and all members of the Church, need to stay active:

  1. friendship
  2. opportunities to mature and serve in the Church
  3. nourishing by the word of God.

Bishopric’s responsibilities to accomplish this includes

  • facilitating fellowshipping opportunities
  • assigning callings to each new adult member.
  • ordaining worthy male converts to priesthood office.

Ward Council helps by discussing ways to help new members feel:

  • the love of other members.
  • the joy of serving in the Lord’s kingdom.
  • the peace that comes from living gospel principles.

Ward council can also discuss possible service opportunities in family history or temple work.

The bulk of the work of convert and new member retention should rest on the Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders.

Gospel Principles Class should be attended by new converts for a few months. No specific time frame is given beyond that. It impresses me that there should be an emphasis on teaching from the Book of Mormon in this class using it as the main support to the lesson manual. Another aspect of this class is to encourage members to be reading regularly from the Book of Mormon.

 

 

 

First Presidency Message: The Choice to Be Grateful

The Choice to Be Grateful, by President Henry B. Eyering, Ensign December 2011

This past week, I had the opportunity to put this teaching into practice in my own life. I prayed specifically to know who I could go and help. When the answer came I was able to go and spend time with that person.

From my journal entry “7 & 8 December 2011” –

Yesterday, in my prayers, I was following the counsel from Pres. Eyering’s message in the December Ensign, specifically to pray for others who I might be able to help. Doing so, Pres. Eyering promised the blessing of gratitude for acting on such promptings

 

I felt strongly that I should go follow up with [a family in the ward]. Being there I don’t know if I actually helped any, but afterwards and this morning, it became more apparent to me the blessings that I am enjoying which probably could be had more abundantly in their home. This realization caused me to cinsider even more the blessings that are mine, so much so that at one point in my work day today I felt nearly overwhelmed with joy as I realized that my happiness can be directly attributed to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps, overwhelmed with joy is the wrong way to state that, but I know now why am able to feel joy and peace. It is yet another reminder of the abundant blessings of the Lord that no matter how hard I try I will not be able to repay.