commandments

“Don’t touch that!” “Be careful!” “Don’t climb up there.” “Don’t eat that plant!” “Stay where I can see you.” “Don’t bite her!”  “Be kind.”

Isn’t it interesting how parents universally have expectations for their children? Even before they can express themselves and begin to crawl rules and guidelines are set in place to ensure their safety. If those rules are obeyed life is much simpler—for everybody!

No good parent would leave his two year old to run on the road, or let him touch a hot stove. And we would not think much of a parent who didn’t love and care enough to protect and keep their children safe and happy.disciplining-children

I read the following on Facebook some days ago.

“Religion says you need to straighten up and serve their church and pay tithes to be saved. God says you need to accept his free gift of salvation and told his church to SERVE YOU until you accept. I’m sorry that the church isn’t fully obedient and for some reason they expect you to be, but just ignore them, don’t believe the lie you need to serve them and obey their rules to be saved. Just accept the free gift.”

I didn’t feel inclined to comment on my young friend’s post that day. Perhaps I was too tempted to pick it totally apart. However my thoughts keep returning to his sentiments. I do find it interesting that he included a phrase to ponder– “for some reason they expect you to be (obedient)”.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrines and Covenants 130:20-21

So many people’s hackles go up when confronted by rules. Especially the laws and commandments taught as part of religion. It truly is a testing ground for some. My way? Or God’s way?

Perhaps it’s our pride or rebellion. Perhaps it’s the belief that we are powerful and able to rule our own world. We want to change the rules to make them comfy and palatable-to match our desires. Maybe in the same way that children think they know better than their elders and fight to be independent, we fight being obedient to Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Today we find ourselves in …a war of thoughts, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.” L. Tom Perry

Because I had never considered them closely in light of today’s practices, I was fascinated with a portion of a General Conference talk, “Obedience to Law is Liberty” given by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the Ten Commandments. He said:

“One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man—the Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.

In my judgement, four of the Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture we disdain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.

But as a larger society we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:

–  If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other gods” we put before the true God.

–  We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.

–  We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.

–  We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.

–  We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.

–  And coveting has become a far too common way of life. (see Exodus 20:3-17)

…A useful way to think about the commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.”

I am grateful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of obeying all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. For many years I admired the writer of Psalms and marvelled at his expressions of deep praise, love and gratitude for the laws and commandments of God. Psalm 119 comes to mind.

We admire Abraham for his faith and obedience. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18) and other great ancients-Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Moses and many others- because they heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set us a perfect example of obedience. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:28-29

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11

We parents plan to protect our children from all dangers. And we have desires and aspirations for them to be filled with happiness and well being. Would not a Heavenly Parent even more so  plan for the protection and happiness of His sons and daughters?

“In the universe, too, where God is in command,

there is law—universal, eternal …law—

with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”

It makes us sad to watch a child deliberately shatter a guideline and hurt himself. I wonder how it makes our Father in Heaven feel when we use our agency to completely disregard His guidelines. We miss out on the countless blessings He might have showered upon us.

“The Lord will not force himself upon people; and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate. . . . 

“The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God. If men could just realize that there may be sound even though few ears hear it. There are revelations even though most minds be materialistic and most hearts impenetrable” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 454

Over the years, I’ve often wondered why the predicated blessings are not listed with each commandment to answer my ‘whys’. Several times I’ve been enlightened with the reasons for a particular commandment after I have determined to keep it.

It may take years to recognize the promises and blessings attached to Heavenly Father’s commandments but when they are received, they are sweet indeed.

How have you been greatly blessed for keeping one of God’s commandments?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE General Conference! I know I’m not alone when I say I love our leaders, love the uplifting lasting spirit that they bring, love their encouragement that permeates my being. I love that each conference there is something totally unexpectedly directed personally for my ears and heart! And that is true for each of us who choose to make the time to enjoy the feast!general conference

There may not be any brand new teaching in the words of the speakers, however as each expresses the message the Lord has impressed on their heart, truth is magnified and anyone, Latter Day Saint member or not, cannot help but be edified and filled with sweet morsels of truth to carry on until next time.

I would never be able to choose which my favorite talk was. I delight in feeling the depth of each speaker’s spirit, their genuine desire to communicate truth, matters of great importance impressed on their hearts by God, and their fervent love of the gospel. They teach and help us prepare for the days ahead. We are filled with hope and faith and each buoyed up with courage and truth eternal which will never pass away.

Not because I deem them favorites but because their messages did resonate with me, I’ve chosen to list the promises I heard from two of the talks.

 “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” Doctrine and Covenants 38:30

I believe we are living in the longed for end days prophesied since the beginning. I recently have renewed my interest, passion and desire to be as informed as possible regarding the coming days so that I may be prepared.

Elder Bruce Porter addressed these turbulent, uncertain, and difficult times. Feel free to ponder the meanings that these promises hold for you. 🙂 May each one serve to uplift and be an encouragement to you.

  1. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world
  2. If they seek prayerfully for help and guidance they shall be given power over adverse things
  3. We need not fear the future nor falter in hope and good cheer because God is with us
  4. Be of good cheer and do not fear for I the Lord am with you and will stand by you
  5. The Lord will stand by His church and people and keep them in safety until His coming
  6. There will be peace in Zion and in her stakes for He has proclaimed that the gathering together upon the land of Zion and upon her stakes may be for a defense and for a refuge from the storm and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth
  7. The church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members
  8. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times faithful Latter Day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion
  9. The stone cut without human hands shall roll forth until it has filled the whole earth and no human power can stay its course for God is the author of this work and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone
  10. In the last days the power of the lamb of God will descend upon the covenant people of the Lord and they will be armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory
  11. Every one of us and our families can be armed with the power of God as a defense if we will but remain true to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and let the Spirit be our guide
  12. Trials may come and we may not understand everything happening to us or around us, but if we humbly and quietly trust in the Lord He will give us guidance and strength in every challenge we face
  13. When our only desire is to please Him we will be blessed with deep inner peace

“When surrounded by mobs with death and destruction threatening on every hand

I am not aware but that I felt just as joyful and well  in my spirit as I do now.

Prospects might appear dull and very dark but I have never seen a time in this gospel

but what I knew that the result would be beneficial to the cause of truth” Brigham Young 

14. Even in a darkening world we as Latter Day Saints may sing with joy knowing that the powers of heaven are with God’s church and people

15. We may rejoice in the knowledge that a beautiful morning lies ahead-the dawn of the Millennial Day when the Son of God shall rise in the east and rein again on earth

 

Which of Elder Porter’s promises do you feel is most comforting?

 

As I began to list the promises in President Henry B. Eyring’s talk, I realized that so very much of it is promises-more than one per minute! Can you find more?

  1. I will draw near unto you
  2. Ye shall find me
  3. Ye shall receive
  4. It shall be opened unto you
  5. In our service to Him He comes to us
  6. I will encircle thee in the arms of My love
  7. We will feel our love for Him. It will increase because we will feel His power and His drawing near to us
  8. I will go before your face
  9. I will be on your right hand and on your left
  10. My Spirit shall be in your hearts and mine angels around about you to bear you up
  11. As we give devoted service to Him, He draws closer to those we love in our families
  12. I will do for (your families) as seemeth me good for in Me there is all power
  13. The prayers of those who exercise their faith will bring the Lord’s servants to help your family members
  14. They will help them choose the way home to God
  15. I can promise you that the Savior will draw close to you and bless you and your family with what is best
  16. You will have the comfort of His love and feel the answer of His drawing closer as you reach out your arms in giving service
  17. The Lord’s power will sustain you
  18. There is a glorious homecoming prepared for us
  19. We will then see fulfilled the promises of the Lord we have loved
  20. If ye keep my commandments and endure to the end ye shall have eternal life which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God
  21. Those that live shall inherit the earth
  22. Those that die shall rest from all their labors
  23. They shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father which I have prepared for them
  24. Every covenant servant of His within His Kingdom on earth and in the spirit world will receive His guidance by the Spirit as they bless and serve others for Him
  25. And they will feel His love and find joy in being drawn closer to Him
  26. (The judgement) will be a time of joy for those who have drawn close to Him in His service in this life

What did you most like about this General Conference?

I GET it! I FINALLY GET IT!! After nearly 40 years of questioning the why, I’ve got my answer. How subtly it appeared. I almost missed it!

Religious teachings were almost nonexistent while I was growing up. Even so, I was vaguely aware that sex outside of marriage was not accepted by the ‘older generation’.  And our generation was pushing our willful belief to the max, to the point of being thrown out of our parents’ homes.

Most of us didn’t see anything wrong with sexual relations because ‘we were in love’. Love is a good thing. Love is mutual. So what’s the harm?

I can tell you that I learned the hard way what the harm can be. But that pain is not today’s topic. I became pregnant and chose to live with a man in a common law situation. When that relationship fell apart, I moved away and soon afterwards became a Christian.

Reading the scriptures taught me the Lord’s commandments. I love to know the mind and will of the Lord; however I had the most difficult time understanding the laws of fornication.

I like to know the whys in life. For me, it makes the experience and knowledge that much richer. The assurance in my heart is much stronger making me feel invincible.

One day several friends were sitting around a table visiting. My ‘why’ was heavy on my mind and heart, and I blurted out. “What’s wrong with having sexual relations before marriage?”

Usually mild and sweet, my good friend, a man in his late thirties, harshly and abruptly slammed the table hard as he uttered each word a bit louder than necessary, “Because the Bible says so!”

Shocked at his violent response, I shut down. I’ve obeyed that commandment since, hoping that no one would ever ask me the “why”. And I do believe there are immeasurably sweet blessings for those who choose that high road.

In the process of planning this week’s post I pondered on the article in February’s Ensign by Tad R. Callister, preparing to parrot his seven awesome points. (It is such marvelous teaching that I actually considered making this a 7 part series.)integrity3 (2)

Most persons desiring success in life have learned or heard that acquiring integrity is of foremost importance. I believed myself to be quite intimate with the truths of integrity. I tended to think of integrity as a step above honesty. In fact, the online dictionary lists ‘dishonesty’ as an antonym for integrity. Today that antonym seems very inadequate. It is more – so much more than that.

My heart overflows with joy and gratitude for the mellow sweetness of understanding!  (See # 2 -emphasis mine)

Tad R. Callister’s Seven Principles of Integrity

1.  Integrity is the foundation of our character and all other virtues.

“If there are cracks in that foundation, then it will not support the weight of other Christlike attributes that must be built upon it. How can we be humble if we lack the integrity to acknowledge our own weaknesses? How can we develop charity for others if we are not totally honest in our dealings with them?… At the root of every virtue is integrity.”

2.  Integrity is not doing just that which is legal but that which is moral or Christlike.

“It may be legal to commit adultery, it may be legal to have premarital physical relations, it may be legal to gossip, but none of those actions is moral or Christlike. Integrity is not just adherence to the legal code; it is also adherence to the higher moral code.”

“Every young man has the moral duty to protect and preserve the virtue of his date, and every young woman has the reciprocal moral duty for her date. It is a test of his or her integrity. The man or woman who is striving for integrity will develop a resolve and a discipline that transcend even the powerful passions of physical emotions. It is that integrity to God and to self and to others that sustains them and empowers them even when Satan unleashes his arsenal of moral temptations upon them.”

3.  Integrity makes decisions based on eternal implications.

“Integrity is not short-sighted—it is not just a temporary change of behavior; it is a permanent change of nature.”

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble patient, full of love, wiling to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” Mosiah 3:19

4.  Integrity is disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

“I believe the Lord can live with our weaknesses and mistakes, provided we demonstrate a desire and effort to repent. That is what the Atonement is all about. But I do not believe He can easily tolerate a deceitful heart or a lying tongue.”

5.  Integrity knows no alibis or excuses.

“There is something ennobling about the man or woman who admits his or her weaknesses and takes the blame square on without excuse or alibi. On multiple occasions Joseph Smith recorded his weaknesses in the Doctrine and Covenants for all to read. This tells us he was not perfect, but it also tells us he had nothing to hide—he was a man of integrity.”

Integrity

6.  Integrity is keeping our covenants and our commitments, even in times of inconvenience.

“Integrity is the courage to do right regardless of the consequences and the inconvenience.”

“One of the acid tests of our integrity is whether we keep the commitments and promises we have made or whether there are loopholes in our word.”

7.  Integrity is not governed by the presence of others. It is internally, not externally, driven.

“Would you watch pornography in front of your mother, your date, your spouse, or your bishop? If it is wrong in the presence of others, it is just as wrong in their absence.”

“May the integrity of our souls have a sign that reads in bold black letters “NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE””.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More

A Man for all Seasons” is one of my all time favorite plays. Very soon-I intend to renew my acquaintance with Sir Thomas More-that man of absolute integrity. 🙂

 

Do you have an experience or thoughts you’d like to share with us? When you hear the word “integrity” what comes to your mind?