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Highlights 2012 General Relief Society Broadcast: Challenges of Mortality

The long awaited 2012 General Relief Society Broadcast has just concluded, and like many of you I am left to ponder upon the counsel that was given, and how this applies to what is going on both in the world, and in my own personal life. I imagine it will take a few days to really absorb their teachings -- and I look forward to a greater understanding of what God has inspired us to know. 


I have no doubt Sister Burton and her two counselors spent a great deal of time in prayer, seeking to know what our Heavenly Father would have them convey to the sisters of the Church -- and to all women at this time in the history of the world. I include President Eyring in these same thoughts. 

Personally, I was struck with the strength of each of their witness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and their plea, to all of us, to apply its power in our lives. Our relationship with the Atonement is one of covenant, and that connection as a sister in the Relief Society came through loud and clear. Service and sacrifice are at the heart of every disciple of Jesus Christ -- male or female. Our baptismal covenant is at the center of what motivates each of our desire to become more like the Savior, as we strive to better live the gospel each day. 

If I had to express one message, or highlight, that came through to me personally, with the greatest power, it would be that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and covenants we have made with God, we are enabled to meet every challenge of mortality. And frankly, I can't think of a more potent message, applicable to every circumstance in life. How easily we can become sidetracked into thinking that the things that the world would have us focus on is important -- when in reality so very little of it actually is. 

Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, gave us three essential principles to guide us in our understanding of the Atonement and its power in our lives: 


1. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

2. There is power in the Atonement to enable Church members to overcome the natural man or women and become true disciples of Jesus Christ. 

3. The Atonement is the greatest evidence Latter-day Saints have of the Father's love for His children. 


“We have felt that Heavenly Father would first have us help His beloved daughters understand the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we know our faith will increase, as will our desire to live righteously,” she said 
“Second, as we have considered the critical need to strengthen families and homes, we have felt that the Lord would have us encourage His beloved daughters to cheerfully cleave to their covenants. When covenants are kept, families are strengthened. 

“Finally, we feel He would have us work in unity with the other auxiliaries and with our priesthood leaders, striving to seek out and help those in need to progress along the path. It is our fervent prayer that each of us will open our hearts and let the Lord engrave in them the doctrines of the Atonement, covenants and unity.” 

Read the entire summary of Sister Burton's address at LDS Church News

Updated: Complete text of Sister Burton's General Relief Society broadcast address is now available.

Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, counseled Mormon women about becoming "spiritually awake" in order to fulfill our duties, and taught that it is through our baptismal covenant that we are changed. "The things we listen to and read and say are different, and what we wear is different because we become daughters of God, bound to Him by covenant."

She said, “Like those who went before, many today live in circumstances that are not ideal. “We continue to teach and strive for the ideal because we know that continually striving will keep us progressing along the path and prepare us for opportunities to receive all promised blessings as we ‘wait upon the Lord’ (Isaiah 40:31).

“Each of us has had and will continue to have adversity in our lives. This mortal life is a time of testing, and we will continue to have opportunities to use our agency to choose what we will learn from the adversity that will surely come. … It isn’t enough to just be on the journey; we must be awake to our duty and continue with faith as we draw upon the comforting, strengthening, enabling and healing power of the Atonement.”

Read the entire summary of Sister Stephens' address at LDS Church News.


Update: Complete text of Sister Stephens' General Relief Society broadcast address is now available.

Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency stressed that sisters need to turn to the Lord for strength and comfort when they are weighed down by adversity, sin, anguish and the challenges of life. This lesson came to her through a very personal life experience of not turning to the Lord at a time that she felt that she should have. I think we all felt her sorrow and had great compassion, and this because, no doubt, too many of us have tried to do hard things on our own as well.

“Dear sisters, our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us,” she said. “They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, ‘It’s OK that you’re in pain right now, because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.’ They feel the depth of our suffering and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering.”

“He has not forgotten you,” she said. “Whatever sin or weakness or pain or struggle or trial you are going through, He knows and understands those very moments. He loves you! And He will carry you through those moments. … He has paid the price that He might know how to succor you. Cast your burdens upon Him. Tell your Heavenly Father how you feel. Tell Him about your pain and your afflictions, and then give them to Him. Search the scriptures daily. There you will also find great solace and help.”

Read the entire summary of Sister Reeves' address at LDS Church News

Update: Complete text of Sister Reeves' General Relief Society broadcast address is now available.

In a beautiful address by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, he urged LDS women to "watch over and comfort each other". But in doing so, he also stressed that we must seek the Lord for inspiration in helping us to know how to carry the burden of caring for others. He also stressed that we never judge another person and how they manage their personal trials. 

"During his address, President Eyring quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, who said Relief Society sisters need to “cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together” (Quoted in “Daughters in My Kingdom,” p. 25).

President Eyring explained, “There are three parts to that remarkable description of the qualifications to associate in a state of happiness with God. One is to care for each other. Another is to teach each other and be taught. And the third is to sit down together with God."

Read the entire summary of Presdent Eyring's address on LDS Church News.


Update: Complete text of President Eyring's General Relief Society broadcast address is now available.

Archives after the meeting

Watch video: 2012 General Relief Society Broadcast


The live video cached stream of the event will be available right after the broadcast ends.

Audio in 70+ languages will be available on LDS.org and on the Mormon Channel in iTunes within 8 hours of the broadcast.

Video in 15 languages will start trickling in after that and will fill in completely within 24 hours of the broadcast at conference.lds.org, podcasts, iTunes, and YouTube.


 

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs 

To help you get ready for 2012 General Conference you might enjoy this post: Confessions of a Prophet Stalker


Video: Taking the Mystery Out of Mormon Temple Worship

Mormonism is experiencing a surge of interest in our Mormon Temples. People are more curious than ever to know what goes on inside an LDS temple -- wondering what the mystery is all about. And mainstream media is quite effective in perpetuating the element of secrecy when it comes to Mormon temple worship. The Church has produced, the best I've ever seen, new temple video -- Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: A Conversation with a Church Leader.





The description for this new temple video: "Elder William Walker gives a tour of the temple and explains why temples are important to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". 

And may I just say, this new LDS video is unlike any other temple video I've seen. After watching it I knew I wanted to share this with everyone I know -- member or not. Beside the exquisite videography that was taken in many of our temples, the conversational tone of Elder Walker is incredibly warm and inviting. Although this is only a virtual tour of a temple, viewers will experience a very personal engagement with Elder Walker. It's a sacred glimpse into Mormon temple worship with an intimate feel -- almost hard to believe such a thing could be achieved through technology. I can't imagine anyone watching it and not coming away with a better understanding of why temples are important to Mormons, and feeling the Spirit in the process.

The other thing I really love about this temple video is the example that it sets for helping members to appropriately speak about temple worship. If those outside of our faith feel that we are reserved in speaking about Mormon temples, perhaps it's because we're not always comfortable knowing what is appropriate to say outside of the temple. After watching this video you'll more than likely have a new enthusiasm, and confidence, for helping others to better understand Mormon temple worship.


Video: Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 
A Conversation With a Church Leader





To compliment the temple video here's a very cool LDS infographic, that helps explain what Mormon temples are for -- and what makes them different from our chapelswhere we meet each Sunday for weekly worship services. (Updated 1/2014)







Make sure and visit the LDS Newsroom and read: Of Chapels and Temples: Explaining Mormon Worship Services

tMDg
Kathryn Skaggs

LIKE A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman on Facebook!

More from WBMW:









Got Questions About the Temple and Temple Worship:

Why Do Mormons Go to the Temple?

What are Special Undergarments, LDS Temple Garments or Magic Underwear the Mormons Wear?

Mormon Temples: Why Are Only Members Allowed to Go Inside?

Guest Post on Middle-Aged Mormon Man to Celebrate the Family

This year's Family Proclamation Celebration is already well underway. Today WBMW is joining in the annual event by contributing as a guest blogger on one of my favorite Mormon blogs, Middle-Aged Mormon Man.  I don't even know who he is, but as risky as that seems, the link to his blog is on on my sidebar. So La-di-da! And just so you know, this is big. MMM is the first male host (If he really is a man?) for this event and it's also the first time that I've done a guest post for a Mormon male, comedic blogger! Crazy, I know.


I'll do just about anything to support the family, as ordained by God. How thankful we are for this inspired and timely document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Here's an excerpt from my guest post:

Curiosity got the cat when I realized that the new sitcom; The New Normal -- the one that a Utah television studio has decided not to air -- was premiering, following a TV show that I do watch. I had only to view the first ten minutes to understand why that decision was made. That was more than enough. It’s really bad. A show like that is further evidence, not that we need more, of why the Proclamation is necessary, for our times. And most important, why each of us must stand ready to defend the positions that the Church does take, publicly, on moral issues that affect the family.

Gordon B. Hinckley, then current President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) gave this introduction prior to the Proclamation’s first reading, on September 23, 1995:

“With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.”

That was 17 years ago. Thank heaven, literally, for the inspired foresight given to these prophets of God, to unabashedly teach the bold, eternal doctrine of the family, to not only the membership of the LDS Church, but to the world -- and why.

“The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.



Now, head on over to Middle-Aged Mormon Man to read the entire post, 'Nothing Normal About the New Normal' -- along with many other excellent contributions to Celebrate the Family Proclamation!

And, If you happen to miss my last year's contribution, originally posted on Chocolate on My Cranium, here you go:


The Rights and Entitlement of Children

In being invited to participate in this wonderful event to celebrate The Family:  A Proclamation to the World – and given the ability to choose my topic from a breakdown of the proclamation, for me, this was a no brainer.  From the very day when I sat in that historic general Relief Society meeting, (broadcast) and heard President Gordon B. Hinckley first present and read that inspired document to the women of the Mormon Church, these are the specific words that resonated in the heart of this Well-Behaved Mormon Woman -- and continue to do so every time I read it:

“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”

As a child of divorce, and now an adult, coming to understand the eternal doctrine that I had a literal birthright to have both a mother and a father, in my life, was a profound confirmation of a truth that gripped my soul at its very core!  And not just for me, but every child, ever born on this planet -- is entitled to such an arrangement.

The Family is ordained of God, through the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.  Period.   The definition of a family is a man and woman united by marital covenant, who together create children, and live as a unit.  Granted, not every marriage is able to produce children naturally, but nonetheless this is the pattern of the family, as ordained by God.   This is the only familial unit that has the potential to be eternal and experience the blessings of living the quality of life that our Heavenly Father lives.  When we learn that our Father in Heaven has two goals for His children, which are to 1) bring to pass our immortality, and 2) ultimately bestow upon us Eternal Life -- we must accept that in order for this to come to pass, we must choose to live our lives in accordance to His authorized way.   Jesus Christ has assured our immortality -- and has made it possible for us US to claim Eternal Life!  

In 2003, Elder M. Russell Ballard addressed an audience at BYU Education Week, in a talk entitled The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood, and had this to say about the family...

“The family is not just the basic unit of society; it is the basic unit of eternity.  We lived as Heavenly Father’s spirit sons and daughters before this mortal existence.  In that grand premortal family council, our Heavenly Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and peace of His children was presented.  We understood that we would come to this earth to live as families, and through the sealing authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood we could live through out the rest of eternity as families.”

Lately we are hearing much about the negatives of entitlement, and how it is the plague of these times -- in our children.  Books are being written to help teach parents how to not raise entitled children.   It's currently a hot topic on many talk shows.  That's all well and good, when it comes to worldly possessions and rights.  However, our children need to be taught that there are positive entitlements that they should not only demand, but be prepared to claim -- if not for themselves,  for their posterity.   And this is exactly what I have done in my own life...   

When I was sealed to my husband over 33 years ago, I committed to give my children the gift of an eternal family.  Little did I know then, but this would become the challenge of my  life -- and ultimately the thing that I am most proud.  I pretty much married the perfect guy in every way,  but even with all of that going for us, I found marriage to be really hard work!  Particularly the beginning years -- these were challenging, and continued to be so until we arrived on the other side of raising teenagers!  Now, we are enjoying our grandchildren, and reaping the benefits of struggling through the challenging times of raising an active family.  I can honestly say that life is really really good -- and filled with a lot of joy!  

Children do not have advocates.  They are the recipients of the choices that adults make -- and far too often these choices are based in selfishness.   I can't help but believe, that much of societies current problems with entitlement, began with the previous generation, and so on…  The majority of adults seem to feel an entitlement to be happy.  If they are not happy, for instance, in a current marriage, then they have a right to divorce -- and find happiness elsewhere.  Some believe that they have a right to love whomever they choose, regardless of gender.  But more important than even that, is their eagerness and willingness to promote a distorted pattern of a family, by bringing children into these relationships --  where either father or mother is dismissed altogether.  Proponents for same-sex marriage would have society believe that children brought into these homosexual relationships have equal chance for becoming socially well adjusted adults, as those raised in the traditional family.   Even if that were so, which it is not, building a family in opposition to Heavenly Father's Plan will not bring about eternal happiness -- which is the purpose of life.

How blessed are those children who have loving parents, a father and a mother, to nurture and love them -- who commit to complete fidelity.  Yes, I realize that this sounds like a fairytale, and that the majority of society believe it to be just that.  But that is exactly what our Heavenly Father created His Plan to accomplish -- and ultimately will accomplish, through the Atonement!  

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

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More on The Family from LDS.org:






2012 General Relief Society Broadcast: Mormon Women to Hear From New Female Leaders

Mormon women are excited to participate in this year's General Relief Society Broadcast, September 29, 2012. A number of reasons make this LDS women's meeting particularly significant. Not only will the majority of female members in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) hear, for the first time, from the newly-called General Relief Society presidency, but also, no doubt, due to the upcoming presidential election, including Ann Romney's influence, many American women, not of our faith, will also be interested in what these Mormon women leaders have to say to the women of the Church. 

Because of this wider interest in what Mormon women leaders will teach and counsel Mormon women, I think it's important to do what we can to share the broadcast information, wherever we can -- and prior to the conference. Personally, I've received numerous inquiries by women, not members of the Church, wanting to know more about Mormon women -- what we believe, and how we feel about our roles as women in the LDS Church.

I can't think of a better way to help those not of our faith understand the role of women, as taught in Mormonism, than to invite them to listen to our General Relief Society President, Linda K. Burton, and her two counselors, Carole M. Stephens and Linda S. Reeves -- LDS women who do represent, accurately, and officially, how faithful Mormon women feel about womanhood. And probably most important, how women in the Church are counseled, and encouraged, to come unto Christ -- and emulate Him in their lives.

As we lead up to this general Relief Society meeting, I've been thinking a lot about these three women, divinely called, and how they will speak to the women of the Church, especially considering the current political climate that has brought so much attention to Mormon women. Many of us have been concerned that faithful Mormon women have not been well represented in the media. Unfortunately, as I've recently wrote about, most mainstream media outlets are much more interested in broadcasting the fringe thoughts of a few LDS women, and what they advocate -- who do not speak for, or represent, the majority of women in the Church.  

In fact, Salt Lake Tribune reporter, Peggy Stack, recently published an article entitled: Mormon women seeking middle ground to greater equality -- wherein she interviewed a number of progressive Mormon women, hoping to use outside media pressure to result in, eventually, organizational changes within the Church. 

"In April, the Relief Society lost a strong, distinctive voice when its general president, Julie B. Beck, was released after just five years — a rotation that has become the norm for such positions. Beck’s replacement, Linda K. Burton, declined to be interviewed for this story. Right now, there are no official female spokeswomen for the church."

I don't know how this makes you feel, but I strongly disagree with Stack's assertion that we are currently without an "official female spokeswoman" simply because Sister Burton chose to not lend her voice alongside of those who were interviewed for this article -- with their advocacy that, in my opinion, is oppositional to the current Church system of councils -- to say the least. Anyway, that is how I see it.

Although many LDS women did not attend this year's BYU Women's Conference, Sister Burton and her counselors did speak -- giving beautiful counsel to those who attended. And we continue to have much instruction available to us, from former general Relief Society Presidents, on the role of women in the Church -- which I seriously doubt will be much different from what our new presidency will teach. 

What I look forward to, is the much needed encouragement, to the women of the Church, to plod on in remaining steadfast in the clear doctrines and principles that we have been given, regarding our role as women, as applied to our current challenges.

My personal testimony confirms to me, continually, that this Church, and its leaders, male and female, are directed and led by the Spirit. That direction does not cease because of any change in individual leadership callings – on any level throughout the Church. This is a Church that, without interruption, of any kind, will continue to press the work of the Lord forward, in these last days.


Here is the official invitation to the General Relief Society Meeting:

We invite you to prepare and join us for the general Relief Society meeting on Saturday, September 29, 2012. All women 18 years of age and older are invited to attend. Messages will be delivered by a member of the First Presidency and members of the Relief Society general presidency. The meeting will originate from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Those who live in areas where the meeting is broadcast live by satellite are encouraged to watch it together. Those who live in areas where the meeting is not broadcast live by satellite should meet to watch it when the rebroadcast or recording is available. The addresses given at the annual general Relief Society meeting are published as part of the general conference issue of the Church magazines. For information on audio and video streams, see the Broadcast event page.

Update 9/29 via LDSTech: LDS Relief Society Women’s Meeting (Thanks Larry!)

Live

During the meeting, you can watch live in 15 languages on conference.lds.org. More languages are available in audio only.

LDS.org will stream live audio in 64 languages. Users of the Mormon Channel mobile app can listen live in English and Spanish on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc. as well as watch live on the Roku TV Mormon Channel.

Archives after the meeting

The live video cached stream of the event will be available right after the broadcast ends.
Audio in 70+ languages will be available on LDS.org and on the Mormon Channel in iTunes within 8 hours of the broadcast.

Video in 15 languages will start trickling in after that and will fill in completely within 24 hours of the broadcast at conference.lds.org, podcasts, iTunes, and YouTube.

Please share this information with family and friends.

Update: 2012 Highlights General Relief Society Broadcast


tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs


WBMW: New Relief Society President: Sad Good-bye and Happy Hello! 


One thing those of us who have been members of the Church, for many years, know, is that with every call there comes a release. Although such knowledge and acceptance does not always make it easy. Another thing I have learned is that God is in control, and it's now time to move foreward and welcome our new general Relief Society president, Linda Burton. She and her two counselors will need all of our prayers to sustain them in the great work they have been called to do.


LDS Newsroom: Relief Society Presidency


Mormon.org: What is the role of the husband and the wife in the family?


"Both mother and father have a necessary and important role in the lives of their children. Parents’ work in the home will be more effective if their first priorities are God, each other, and their children."


Confessions of a Prophet Stalker


I admit it; I'm a Prophet stalker. Yes, I religiously, and zealously, follow prophet paparazzi to find out where Mormon prophets can be seen -- and most importantly heard. Multiple times, pretty much everyday, I check LDS websites to find out where they're going, where they've been and what they've said. Some of my best sources are LDS.org, the LDS Newsroom and LDS Church News



I know -- it's a sickness. I have other ways, too, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to give those up. 

I actually hang on, believing, their every words -- looking to find every morsel of prophetic counsel to; help me be a better person; know what God wants us to do in these challenging times; and I even go so far as transcribing parts of their broadcasts' and/or speaking engagements to share with my also addicted friends, here on WBMW. (Yeah, I know who you are.) And I know that's got to be illegal!

I keep waiting for the Mormon police, or a prophet themselves, to contact me personally, and politely ask me to take down those posts -- quietly. And I would do it, too!!! But so far that hasn't happened. Perhaps they're not onto me, yet?

I know that some of you, perhaps, already suspected that I have a thing for following the prophet.  Your first indication may have been the various LDS widgets that I share on my sidebar. 

Now that I’ve decided to come clean, I realize that this has all be so obvious. Some have gone so far as to call me a TBM -- that's code for "True Blue Mormon".  Guess what?  I like it when they do that! Doesn't bother me a bit. Actually, I find it kind of flattering. Is that wrong?

I know this all sounds pretty crazy, but I have a legitimate motive for deciding to be honest about my Mormon prophet addiction. Like any addiction, it requires 'enablers', and I need more of them. I want you to be just as addicted to listening to prophets as I am -- insomuch that you’ll help me get the word out, over these next few weeks, about the October 2012 General Conference ofThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – a prophet addict's Shangri-La. 

Two days of complete and utter spiritual reverie!

I’ve made all my plans to fly up to General Conference and stay a few blocks from the Conference Center. I’ll be spending the entire GC weekend sharing Mormon prophet quotes on Twitter, Google +, etc… And following up each session with a few highlights that I'll share here on WBMW

To help get the word out, you can start by sharing this great General Conference invitation video with friends and family. With so much interest in Mormonism, because of the upcoming election, this is an excellent time for anyone interested in learning more about what Mormons believe -- to find out. 

So, don't let anyone accuse you of keeping General Conference a secret -- share it!

Video: Invitation to Watch Mormon General Conference



Members and Friends of the Church Invited to Participate in October 2012 General Conference:

"The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invite all members and friends of the Church to participate in the 182nd Semiannual General Conference on Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, 2012. 
Messages will be given by the First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other General Authorities and general officers of the Church. 
General sessions will be held on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., followed by the priesthood session at 6:00 p.m., mountain daylight time. Two more general sessions will be held on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain daylight time; the morning session includes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word."

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

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Don't miss WBMW's latest: What to Do Since We're Stuck in Babylon!

Satan does not have to work a large area of our lives to distract us from our desired destination. With that in mind, it has become even more important for me, personally, and I suspect all of us, to know, without a doubt, exactly where we are going and how we intend to arrive. In this way, even when our immediate view becomes temporarily clouded, without question or interruption, we can continue to press forward – without fear.

What to Do Since We're Stuck in Babylon!


Writing about Mormonism, specifically over this past year or so, and what we believe, and stand for, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brought me to an unexpected, temporary plateau -- a plateau that briefly made it difficult to assess my closest surroundings. I prefer the advantage of standing upon a mount, where all things are in clear view, and making decisions about how to act is made with confidence. But alas, that condition only exists in a perfect world.

I clearly see, now, that this challenge should not have come as a surprise. In fact, it is the great work of the adversary to confuse and muddy the water, so we cannot see clearly that which is immediately in front of us

Satan does not have to work a large area of our lives to distract us from our desired destination. With that in mind, it has become even more important for me, personally, and I suspect all of us, to know, without a doubt, exactly where we are going and how we intend to arrive. In this way, even when our immediate view becomes temporarily clouded, without question or interruption, we can continue to press forward – without fear. 

Our closest surroundings most always include people who believe as we do, or who profess such beliefs -- therefore included within our seeming circle of safety. And to me, this is where the waters have gotten pretty murky lately, and knowing how to continue to act is made a bit trickier. Not that it should be, but it is. 

One encounter, that immediately comes to mind, with this up-close, murky water came about when I wrote a post that identified the apostasy and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ as foundational teachings of Mormonism. Little did I know, but not all members who claim activity in the Church agree that this is a basic to what Mormons believe. In my desire to share my Mormon faith with others, I was informed that I did not represent another member’s beliefs about the Church of which we both belong. Honestly, that was the beginning of when I realized that my genuine desire to share the gospel, online, was offensive to a small minority of very vocal members -- willing to challenge me, publicly, for standing with the teachings and counsel of living prophets. 

I’m also becoming more and more accustomed to knowing that there are a small percentage of members who do not support defending traditional marriage, and believe that our current prophets are misguided in the positions they take, on most every social/moral issue of the day. As much as I find this hard to understand, I do recognize each individual’s moral agency to have different opinions – and God’s mercy to generally allow it.

What I don’t find acceptable, and/or have difficulty reconciling, is publicly, knowingly, advocating that which is oppositional to the work of the Lord. And in fact, what I do here on WBMW is often in direct opposition to such advocacy. However, when that advocacy is coming from other active members of the Church, it takes on a completely different tone – of which I am not comfortable. It’s much easier to tell a stranger why you don’t agree with them -- because the hope is that you are teaching -- than to tell a family member the same thing. Aren’t families supposed to be unified? How can we call ourselves the “children of Christ” if there is contention, or disagreement, among us?

As I was studying 3rd Nephi chapter 11, in preparation for a recent lesson I was giving in church, I was struck, in relation to these thoughts, that the Savior’s first instruction given to the Saints who had gathered at the temple, was to set in order the mode of baptism, so that there would be no further confusion or contention among the people. I came to understand, with greater clarity than ever before, that it is the Lord and His servants who determine and declare the doctrines, policies and practices that when individually embraced, create the desired and commanded unity of the Saints -- Zion.

Those who oppose their direction have no right to consider themselves unified with the Savior’s work – member or not -- nor are we obligated to make it appear otherwise. As uncomfortable as I know many of us are, with how a small group of liberal members are currently representing Mormonism to the public, via the mainstream media, that fall into this category, we must continue to share, with boldness, that which living prophets have revealed about the moral issues of our day – without apology. We are not in opposition to any specific person/member and where they are on their own personal journey of faith, or how they go about expressing it. However, we are in opposition to everything that opposes the work of the Lord. His plan is what faithful latter-day Saints should be advocating. 

Jeffrey R. Holland, speaking at a recent CES Devotional, seemed quite aware of this current dilemma: how latter-day Saints must live in Babylon, until the Savior comes again, versus fleeing into the wilderness -- as in ages past. For those who have taken the time to listen to the broadcast, which I highly recommend, most have been quite struck with the needed direction he gave to faithful members of the Church -- to boldly, and compassionately, act with charity, toward all.

I took the time to, once again, enlist my mad transcription skills so that I could share some of Elder Holland’s inspired words, here, that I find pertinent to this discussion. But as always, I caution you about re-sharing these quotes, just in case I have not done my job perfectly.

“Some principles are defended and some sins are opposed wherever they are found, because the issues and the laws involved are not social or political, but eternal in their consequence. And while not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious to not offend God -- or as the scripture says, "not offend He who is your law giver". 
There is a wide variety of beliefs in this world, and there is moral agency for all, but no one is entitled to act as if God is mute on these subjects. Or as if commandments only matter if there is public agreement over them.

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws, and circumstances, and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.

I know of no more important ability, and no greater integrity, than for us to demonstrate, in a world from which we cannot flee, that to walk that careful path, taking a moral stand according to what God has declared and the laws He has given -- but doing it compassionately and with understanding and great charity.

Talk about a hard thing to do; to distinguish perfectly between the sin and the sinner -- I know of few distinctions that are harder to make, or at least harder to articulate -- but we must lovingly try to do exactly that. Believe me, brothers and sisters, in the world into which we are moving we are going to have a lot of opportunity to develop such strength, display such courage, and demonstrate such compassion -- all at the same time."

He went on to further explain how our influence should extend beyond our close associations…

“All of us should care for the welfare of others and the moral safety of our extended community. Elder Quentin R. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve, devoted an entire General Conference talk to this very subject a few years ago.  In speaking of the need for us to influence society, beyond the walls of our home he said, "In addition to protecting our own families we should be a source of light in protecting our communities. The Savior said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven". In our increasingly unrighteous world, he continues, "It is essential that values based on religious beliefs be evident in the public square. Religious faith is a source of light, knowledge, and wisdom and benefits society in a dramatic way".”

He then gave counsel as to how we should go about accomplishing this…


“Without being naive or Pollyannaish about it, we can live our religion so broadly and unfailingly that we find all kinds of opportunities to help each other, help families, bless neighbors, protect others, including the rising generation. I've not uttered the word missionary in this context for fear you would immediately think of white shirts and name tags. Don't limit me on this one -- stay with me on the big picture -- the huge need to share the gospel always, yes as full-time missionaries, but also when you're not in full-time service.  
Latter-day Saints are called upon to be the leaven in the loaf, the salt that never loses its savor, the light set up on a hill never to be hidden under a bushel… If we do right, and talk right, and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then when the Savior cuts short his work in righteousness and says, "time is no more in this last great dispensation" and then comes in His glory -- He will find us, you and me, and all of us, doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our church and our society the best way we can. 
When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith, and doing something good if I can.  I want the Savior to say to me, ‘Jeffrey, (because He knows all of our names) I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you're trying to live and the standards you're trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you've tried to make things better first, and foremost, by being better yourself, and then by declaring my word, and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could. I know you weren't always successful (he will certainly say) with your own sins or with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.' I so want to have something like that encounter, someday, as I want nothing else in this mortal life, and I want it for you. I want it for us all.

God is calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, personally, in small ways as well as large, and then to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite like we do, and then where you can go beyond that -- to serve in the widest community you can address."

In other word, and in my opinion, Elder Holland is teaching us that God is no respecter of persons, member or not, in or outside of the Church, in expecting us to stand for revealed truth -- kindly, compassionately, boldly – with charity. I think we can do that. I think we can continue to reject any lie, intended to distort God’s plan, wherever it may be found, and whoever might be advocating it. And most importantly, if done by the Spirit, we can feel confident that we have the Lord’s blessings as we do so.

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

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Watch Video: Jeffrey R. Holland, September 2012 CES Devotional -- HERE.