Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our Talks Given Today at Church

A couple of friends from church asked us if we could share our talks that we gave today online or via email.

I've included my talk here, which was based somewhat on the talk given by Robert D. Hales in the last general conference, titled "Seeking To Know God, Our Heavenly Father, & His Son, Jesus Christ"

Seeking To Know God, Our Heavenly Father, & His Son, Jesus Christ

  1. John 17: 3

3 And this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent.

Why do we need to know our Father in Heaven? How is knowing God connected with eternal life?

Joseph Smith taught:

1) It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another

2) To have faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes,

3) One needs to know that the course of life one is pursuing is according to God’s will.

To know another, in the scriptural sense, isn’t merely to know of them. “Hey have you met Jack? Oh yeah, we met once a long time ago, I know him.” Not the same thing.

In the scriptures, the word “know” means we embrace them, love them, and seek to be one with them. It means our thoughts and our minds are connected. Our will is the others’ will. Our eyes are single to one another.

And aAdam knew his wife, and she bare unto him bsons and cdaughters, and they began to dmultiply and to replenish the earth.

So a proper definition might be that life eternal is to be ONE with our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

My objective today is to hopefully help each of you develop a desire to draw nearer to our Father in Heaven, and His Son Jesus Christ - to know Them better.

From their testimonies, recorded in holy scripture, we know that “[God] created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness.”3 Some people may be surprised to learn that we look like God. One prominent religious scholar has even taught that imagining God in the form of man is creating a graven image and is idolatrous and blasphemous.4 But God Himself said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”5

In elders quorum last week, someone has mentioned that one of the arguments against the church and our beliefs is the doctrine that we’re created in God’s image. “What makes us so special above the other creatures that we think God has an image like that of man?” was the question brought up.

That’s a good question. Let’s look at it for a second. What makes man unique among other creatures? In Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he notes that man is uniquely equipped with FREEDOM to CHOOSE. That is to say, that when some stimulus presses upon any other creature, the creature automatically responds in it’s programmed way. Only humans have this freedom to choose, that allows us to have self awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself looking down upon your body sitting in the pew, that ability to imagine and to have an awareness of yourself – to WATCH yourself – is uniquely human. How empowering!

In Victor Frankl’s book, “Man’s search for meaning”, he noted that in the concentration camps he could tell immediately which ones would make it and which ones were going to die quite quickly. It was this ability to harness this God-given ability, what Frankl called “the last human freedom” that no solider, no prison, no amount of torture could possibly take away from those in the concentration camps. This freedom, this light, is that little piece of intelligence, or glory, or light, or knowledge, that God has given us – the Truth (for truth is light (D&C….) This spark of divinity is within each of us. For some, the space between stimulus and response is very small, and we’re very much like the natural man – reactive, carnal, animal-like. But for others, even in the midst of severe setbacks and personal challenges, they’ve overcome, and have been able to develop within them greater SPACE between stimulus and response.

So Man is equipped with some power, some light, some knowledge that other creatures lack. To the degree we develop this power within us, we become greater than the lower intelligences, and we’re more likely able, in time, to subject the elements to our will. A will that is congruent with God’s will.

The LDS doctrine of Heavenly Father has led one recent commentator to write, “The Mormons espouse a radical, anthropomorphic conception of God that sets them far apart from other religions.” 12 That concept includes the truth that man and woman are created in the image of God. (See Moses 6:9; Gen. 1:27.) These truths draw all men and women into a relationship with God built upon familial love, trust, feelings of self-worth, hope, and humility, all in proper balance.

This is the greatest, and most sacred of all the truths restored to us, according to D. Lee Tobler who served in the 70: that we are literal children of a Heavenly Father, and that we have a piece of divinity within us. And that we have potential to grow and become like Him.

How can we know God better? How do we deepen our relationship with Him on a daily basis?

What does the Lord mean when He said, “BE STILL, and KNOW that I AM GOD?”

Is being still, or creating space in our life, a pre-requisite to knowing God?

We talked about the space required between stimulus and response – that SPACE, that stillness that’s required to enlarge the gap between what happens to us, and how we choose to respond – being responsible, (response-able) people, is developed by choosing to watch, to be still, to allow whatever is to be – and to acknowledge that whatever crisis or circumstances we find ourselves in, that we’re here for a reason.

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to me means that we’re acknowledging His hand in whatever challenges we’re facing – that our life’s journey, and the challenges we have before us, all these were created by a loving Father who knew exactly what we needed to progress to the next level

That space is a pre-requisite to creation.

For it says in the book of Abraham, “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and bwe will make an earth whereon these may cdwell;

So space is a pre-requite to creation.

But how did the Lord get the elements to obey Him? Space was the prerequisite, but what came next?

We find the answer is Abraham chapter 4 verse 18

And the Gods watched those things which they had aordered until they obeyed.

Watching, allowing the elements to exersise their free agency. Letting them ‘figure out’ that obeying yields the blessings. Waiting for them patiently, to come and enjoy the blessings available to them that obey.

Just as God found space, commanded the elements to obey, and watched, and waited until they did obey – we too must take time each day to meditate, to watch ourselves, our thoughts and actions.

Mosiah 4:30

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not awatch yourselves, and your bthoughts, and your cwords, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and dcontinue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish.

There are times at night, when I’m having trouble sleeping – usually because my mind is caught up in the trivial things of the world, the cares of this world which we know can so easily choke the word of the Lord from our hearts…and I have to situp and simply dwell upon the Love of God. In these moments of struggle, when my mind wants to swell with anger or fear, I have to force my attention to the Savior – I pray, I ponder, I plead. I put my attention on His love. It is in my times of greatest struggle and trial that I feel myself yearning more and more for a connection and relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Matt 11

28 ¶ aCome unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest.

29 Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek and dlowly in eheart: and ye shall find frest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light

· D&C 84: 45

45 For the aword of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is blight, and whatsoever is light is cSpirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

1. John 8: 32

32 And ye shall aknow (develop a deeper relationship with) the btruth (the Savior), and the ctruth (again, the Lord) shall make you dfree. … what does the word free mean here? How does the truth, the spirit, make us free?

The spirit after all is truth, and the truth is what sets us free.

But what does that mean? The truth will set us free?

Alma 61: 15

the bSpirit of God, which is also the cspirit of freedom which is in them.

It is the Lord’s Spirit that, when activating or touching our spirit, sets ours on fire and we become stronger, committed, purposeful and alive.

Freedom means we’re free from habits that bind us or trap us in a destructive or damning loop. The spirit of God, empowers us to take on difficult challenges or assignments that may seem impossible at first. They’re hard. They’re fought for. They require stretch, sacrifice, pain, and purpose. If I simply go through the motions of life, without building upon what I’ve done in the past - my predecessor self if you will – if I’m doing the same thing yesterday or last month or last year, with no improvement whatsoever, then I’m living off borrowed light.

All we have to do is become a little bit better today than we were yesterday. Just a little.

Ways we can draw nearer to God:

1) Obedience

a. Sweat the small things – Saul going to make a great sacrifice, but was disobedient to the small things in the process.

b. Aston Call – didn’t leave Missouri when the prophet Joseph told him to – ended up getting severally beaten and was nearly killed as consequence of his disobedience.

c. Henry Eyring’s Dad – 80, bone cancer, could hardly move, working on the wrong weeds. “I wasn’t there for the weeds” (He was there for the Savior).

2) Sacrifice/Service

a. Aston Call – saving those in the Willie and Martin handcart companies. Going the extra mile.

b. 'Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin handcart company.'

· Mosiah 5: 13

13 For how aknoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

· Matt. 6: 24

24 ¶ aNo man can bserve two cmasters: for either he will dhate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and emammon.

In conclusion, I would like to outline 6 ways that we can draw nearer to God.

1.Desire a closer relationship with your Father in Heaven, think upon the Savior often throughout the day. Let your work and your energies be done with a heart working towards and for the Lord.

2.Seek to be one with your spouse. Love, serve, lift one another. Your spouse is a helpmeet for you, and was given to you by God for a purpose, to learn and grow.

3. Pray individually and as a family – daily, on your knees. Pray throughout the day.

4. Search, ponder, feast upon (don’t just ‘Read’) the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon) daily – individually for a set amount of time, and as a family.

5. Attend the temple as often as you’re able. Seek to understand God’s character and His attributes.

6. Strive to become a little bit better each and every day. (from this day forward I will no longer do X, and I will begin to do Y.)

Elder Hales:

Brothers and sisters, you may already know, deep in your soul, that God lives. You may not know all about Him yet and do not understand all His ways, but the light of belief is within you, waiting to be awakened and intensified by the Spirit of God and the Light of Christ, which you are born with.

I testify that I know that God lives. He watches us continually. He loves us and is aware of our every need. He created this earth for our progression. We’re here for a purpose: to grow and to become more like Him. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Oh, and here's some videos of Braelynn. I just love these videos of her talking and laughing.

1 comment:

Natalie (and Chad) said...

Kent, I really enjoyed your talk. I was just talking to someone about this concept the other day.
It seems more important than anything in the world to know that your life is going according to the will of God. Of course there are bumps along the way, and no one is perfect. It seems to be an integral part of knowing Him, to know what He wants to do with us. Your talk reminded me of the King Follet discourse:

"There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God and His existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.

If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves."

Thanks for your words. And we really liked the videos too,
Love ya'll,

Chad, Nat, Sakura.