Monday, August 11, 2014

Week Fifty-eight

WEEK FIFTY-EIGHT   August 4, 2014

Heard from our daughter who shared that two of her daughters were having an in depth gospel discussion one their way home from EFY. Which reminded her of Elder Holland’s 2014 Auxiliary Training in which he spoke on “informal teaching.” Said our daughter, “We realized that it had happened in my family growing up and that it is a part of our family now and we definitely see the benefits. When I told the girls that it was my family growing up, Natalie mentioned that yes, that our trip to see Granny and Grandpa was one large informal gospel discussion that would have happened even if they weren't missionaries. I ended with my greatest wish for them to carry it on with their sisters and to their future families.” I thought there so many benefits but one is that it happens without even realizing it and they become a part of our lives rather than an event. I think the Holy Ghost goes back and retrieves from our memory bank such events fortifying us in the days ahead.

Brother Two sent me a note, “I was chewing on a thought. How does the temple ordinances and saved in grace fit together? The ordinances we enter into are in effect like laws, right? Does the temple ordinances we enter into detract from what only Jesus can do for us? We can never ever be good enough right? Ordinance or no ordinance. Maybe you could send me. A scripture that could help fill in the gaps to see whole picture. Focusing on just law would bring wrath, correct? I replied—

Ordinances of the gospel that have been given by the Savior are often referred to as “ordinances of salvation.” They include baptism, confirmation, sacrament, priesthood, and temple ordinances and all of them are essential. Ordinances give evidence to our conversion. As such ordinances are an outward expression of an inner commitment. The ordinances being very visible rites manifesting an invisible covenant we have made with Jesus Christ.

However, the “ordinances of salvation” are not what saves us. Indeed, such ordinances have no capacity to save. We are saved solely through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. He alone saves us! The visible nature of ordinances do point us to Christ, remind us of Christ, encourage us to come to Christ, enable us to endure, connect us with Christ, and are the channels God has determined through which His divine power is communicated to us.

LDS theology teaches that the temple is the “House of the Lord,” but it is not the Lord! The covenants and ordinances of the temple (in fact all ordinances of the gospel) are for us extensions of and manifestations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such the ordnances are necessary, but they are not sufficient. Only the blood of Christ is sufficient to save us!

As a result of our discussion with Brother Four and an observation he made about waiting for the Lord to teach him, I told him I had an idea for a presentation so he could hear God’s voice concerning the restoration of the gospel. That I wanted to think about it some more and the following visit I would share it along with his chapter on “Old Enough To Make the Right Decisions” as I thought it would fit well there. My thoughts are to present the Book of Mormon as the evidence, his reading the work, and apply the promise in the last two paragraphs of the introduction and Moroni’s promise. Hopefully the Lord will give me some guidance here.

We have made arrangements with a member family to let us bring over Sister Thirty-nine to give her the new member discussions. We had our first meeting this week on the Restoration. Apparently it went over well enough that she has changed from “why do we need to do this” to “when can we meet again.” So we are set up again for next week.

We picked up Brother Forty-two at the dealership and went over the Panera bread as usual. He flew back to see some friends and to talk with me again. His wife is sold on New York, just loves it. He is more comfortable here. He wanted to go back over much we had covered before and when I pointed that out he was still determined, “I must understand if this is right and only Doctor Haddock can teach me.” Surprisingly we then got another text to meet two days later before he flew back to New York.

Later we met with Brother Forty-two again, but this meeting was unsettling. I left drained. The spirit was so dark and heavy. Such experiences wear on you. He has decided to accept the tutoring of Walter Martin and his book Maze of Mormonism. Which is well enough, but those who do so seem to lose all reason and willingness to listen, but in his case it has turned him ugly at least today. He wanted to argue about everything. If the word in the bible didn’t suit him it was a poor translation, if the verse didn’t fit him it should be ignored. When I shared my testimony born of the spirit he said “You haven’t been born again so you can’t receive a testimony from God only from Satan.” I said then I must be in good company as that is exactly what the Jews said of Jesus, that all his works were of the devil. He had no response. Not sure how much longer I can carry this on, it is so draining. I thought I might treat some of his concerns with a little syllabus on each by email and see where that gets us, but not sure I will have the time.

Later this evening we picked up the Six family and took to the Lake Forest High Priest barbeque and social. Interestingly in sharing my exasperating meeting with Brother Forty-two, Brother Six suggested answers I should have given him in return for about thirty minutes.

Met with the Six family later regarding their daughters baptism and Brother Six questions.Learned later that night in meeting with the bishop at the monthly missionary correlation that their daughter did very well in her temple recommend interview. He had asked me if I would confirm his daughter as I had his son. I pointed out that he now holds the Melchizedek priesthood. He sent me a note, “Really enjoyed seeing you today! Thanks for typing up that page too. It’s gonna be a sad day for this family the day you leave. But we realize you need to be home.” I replied, “Thanks. Please reconsider about you confirming your daughter a member the church and bestowing upon her the gift of the Holy Ghost. There won't be a crowd there and it will be a sweet experience for you with your daughter.”

Later Brother Six wrote, “I read last chapter in D&C 138 I believe. About Christ in spirit world. Revelation given to Joseph F. Smith.” I replied how comforting this revelation was to know that Christ, anxious to bless all, organized among the righteous to make sure the Gospel was taught to everyone in the spirit world. He replied, “I agree this also demonstrates his awesome mercy and grace for even the sinner in darkness in the spiritual realms. My mom always says how death is no awareness but 1 Peter 3 disproves her view because Jesus visited those who had died, right.”

I received a note from some young elders about a family there are teaching. They decided not to use the answers I had given them from the questions they had sent me, as I had encouraged them, but said, "We do not want to go empty handed, do you have any recommendations we could mention? We were considering D&C 87, but we're not sure. I suggested, “If it were me I would use two Corinthians 9 through 16. My emphasis would be on pointing out that although there are lots of evidence in trying to find God using man’s thinking the research is problematic. The way to learn about God and his church and what he would have them do as his children is to ask God. Then I would go to the two paragraphs in the introduction and suggest that they follow the counsel of the Lord to read and prayerfully ask the Lord whether or not the book of Mormon is true and from that they will also know whether your testimonies are true.”

I keep getting the response from my text messages, “who is this?” I sent one to our new district leader, “This is Elder and Sister Haddock. What day, time and place is the next district meeting?" The answer that came back was, "Who is this?"

The Twenty-first family had a sweet experience. In relief society a couple of months ago she embarrassingly fell asleep and had a dream. In the dream she felt there was something the Lord wanted them to do. Although she argued against it she was overwhelmed that it was true. Hesitatingly she presented it to her husband. After prayer he came back and said, “Yes we need to do this.” Boy they have come a long, long way. What a wonderful blessing and we see again just how important the tender mercies of the Lord are, and how necessary.

Attended the Lake Forest block and during sacrament meeting had an overwhelming feeling about how to start the discussions with the Six family today. So powerful I had visions of its effect and shared my feelings with Sister H. The instruction was as follows: I have learned that understanding the why is crucial to understanding the what. And at least with our children, it was always important for them to learn the why in advance of hearing the what. So I was pleased in reading Alma 12 which tells us that God taught Adam and Eve the why first, the plan of redemption through the Savior Jesus Christ. Then he taught them the what, the commandments and commitments necessary to return to his eternal presence. So here is the why we have been meeting each week with your dad. About 13 months ago after an entire afternoon of knocking on doors and having no one home we knocked on this door. Again no one answered. As we were leaving the garage door opened and we were gratefully (it was so hot) invited us in. We talked so long your dad came home before we finished. You dad and I immediately hit it off. Over time I learned what a good and just man he was. My respect for him grew. There blossomed a love for him. The Lord has promised that not only families but relationships developed here in mortality can carry over with us to the other side of the veil. I found that I wanted to continue my relationship with your dad on the other side of the veil. So I have been teaching him the covenants and commitments he must make for that to occur. The reason being: I want our relationship to continue. That is the why. The what was the Restoration discussion, or part of it. I drove home feeling hurt because the response I suspected with the Lord’s guidance was far less than I saw unfolding before me. Did my expectations cause the problem? Was I expecting too much? I really thought this relationship idea would really touch him.

At a discussion this week we heard an objection saying when 8 years olds speak of the one true church it irks them “there is no way they can know that.” Another said, “Why does your church focus on being the true church. Do you have any idea how that makes the rest of us feel.” I suggested there were two instances where that arises. 1) In the First Vision the Lord says the creeds of Christendom are an abomination to him. I explained I didn’t think that meant the churches were evil or bad, or the people either, but that the creeds were not correct. 2) In D&C 1:30 we read “the only true and living church upon the face of the earth with which I the Lord am well pleased. I suggested that this could be interpreted to mean he only church which contains God’s authority.” The fellow thought he could live with that. I then said, “I think the reaction of Christendom about ours being the true church is the same as our reaction when Christendom says we are not Christians.”

I received a question “By the way, teaching a lesson to deacons on marriage and why it's important. Any ideas on how to get 12-13 year olds to listen to that?” I suggested, “Why not talk about teams hauling a load. At their age and with the loads light they can handle them alone. But as life gets more complicated the teamwork of two united is needed to effectively move the load in the right direction. God has ordained this to be accomplished by a husband and wife. Both are deficient alone but together, they complement one another, allowing the load to be moved efficiently and effectively. Then share some examples where your wife completes you. Show how sharing responsibilities teach us how to become as God. God didn't create the earth by himself. He gave instructions to his Son who in turn enlisted Michael and other to assist in the work. In a similar fashion that is how a husband and wife operate. Then go to Moses 5 showing that the worked together (1), had children together (2), prayed together (4), received instruction from God together (4), received commandments from God together (5), taught their children to believe in God, together (12) and never ceased to call upon God together (16).

Tonight we had another meeting with Sister Thirty-nine to finish the Restoration lesson. But got sidetracked by questions about patriarchal blessings and limited knowledge of priesthood, the angel Moroni and the Book of Mormon all of which will require some review.

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