Friday, October 3, 2014

Week Sixty-five

WEEK SIXTY-FIVE September 29, 2014

Having finished the Restoration lessons with Sister Sixty-five before learning of surgery in two day, we offered to give her a blessing. She however demurred, saying “it was not necessary.” She did accept our invitation to pray in her behalf that evening and thereafter and on the day of her surgery wrote, “Hi, I'm done with the procedure and am fine, just resting. Wanted to let you know. Thanks for the prayers and kind thoughts.”
The next afternoon we met with her and had a nice social visit. [So happy to hear that Julie. Can we stop by tomorrow day for a short visit?

One of the member families we have been visiting are shut in’s and told us that they hadn’t received the sacrament in the last couple of weeks. Concerned I contacted the YM president who informed me the “bishop asked that we take it by once a month.”

Our topic for our Bible study this week was sharing the Gospel, suggested by our investigator Brother Four. Then learned a day later that Brother Two needed a ride to the hospital in Long Beach where he learned the “early prognosis is dehydration and pneumonia with malnutrition.” He thought he was coming home after the IV but they kept him the night and he missed the Bible study.

We were able to attend the screening of the new movie “Meet the Mormons.” This was a terrific presentation of six vignettes of Mormon life dispelling many wrong ideas. There will be a nationwide rollout 10 and 11th October and the Church is encouraging everyone to invite others that first weekend. In focus groups over 74% of non-member viewers said they would recommend it to a friend.

At the Bible study I started by reading Doctrine & Covenants 123:12-13, “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—“

I suggested that too often paradigms, preconceptions and premises which can sometimes guide, also act as philosophical strait jackets limiting or impeding inquiry. For those who encounter the gospel with such preconceptions it is very difficult for them to step outside those paradigms, but necessary if they are to discover truth.

I shared a few examples, when the paradigm was that everything revolved around the earth, astronomy had a difficult time grappling with understanding; likewise when the earth was flat and the paradigm was that ships would fall off the edger, sailors sailed within the sight of land.

Preconceptions can send us in a wrong direction, for example:

                  If one believes there is no God, difficult to find God
                  If believe God and Christ no longer speak then restoration and modern day prophets hard to digest
                  If believe only in a Church of Believers, then necessity of priesthood authority hard to understand
                  If believe Bible is the only word of God other scripture and continuing revelation impossible to grasp

If our paradigms, premises and preconceptions are wrong we may never find the truth as truth requires a willingness to question, to consider, and open one’s mind. I concluded with this statement by Elder Holland, “In our heartfelt devotion to Jesus of Nazareth as the very Son of God, the Savior of the world, we invite all to examine what we have received of Him, to join with us, drinking deeply at the ‘well of water springing up into everlasting life,’ (John 4:14) these constantly flowing reminders that God lives, that He loves us, and that He speaks. I express the deepest personal thanks that His works never end and His ‘words … never cease.’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May 2008)

The Lord has never revealed the whole at once, rather his plan has always been to give us line upon line giving us the opportunity to act upon that truth before additional truths are given. Thus the words of God never cease. We don’t have all the truth today although we have more than was apparent in the days of Joseph Smith. So we too as members must willingly accept new or additional truths as God reveals them.

The Twenty-one family cancelled for the third time in a row. Since school has started they have picked up every bug running through that elementary school.

Saw somewhere during the week this quote that has given me considerable pause and reflection: “The world is bad enough as it is and you have no right to make it worse!" I think I could have used that in counseling others and myself over the years.

Received from the Aaronic priesthood son of the Two family a request to join him in prayer as he had another test and was seeking a blessing from the Lord.

Friday we received a call from Brother Four asking us to come to Long Beach to pick him up. We arrived about 1 and about 2:30 were finally ready to leave with the required meds. Had a good visit which took about four hours of our day. It is a different kind of missionary work we do as a seasoned couple. He is in good spirits.

Sister Two has been struggling with some issues recently. Jan and I watched the Women’s Conference on TV which was very well done then heard Sister Two and her son had watched as well. The whole theme was on things that had rested heavy on her heart so when I saw her I asked, “Did you think we had some sort of connection and geared the women’s conference to you.” She smiled and then laughed, “No, but it was very pointed wasn’t it?”

Taught the lesson in gospel essentials class in the Lake Forest Ward, with two of our investigators there. Knowing they were going to be there felt impressed to really focus on the blessings of the Gift of the Holy Ghost rather than the mechanics. Later in the day when teaching them I asked if they had any questions about the lesson today. Brother Six responded stridently and loudly, “Oh, I think I got what you were saying alright.” We presented the Book of Mormon to sister Sixty-five had a good discussion about the same. She promised to read it as she has every pamphlet we have given her. Sister Six after I had explained the writings of Isaiah to Sister Sixty-five said, “You have a gift in explaining the scriptures in a simple way. I read and am confused. But when I hear you teach so simply and clearly, it all makes sense to me and I find myself wondering why I didn’t see that.” I responded, “I’m thinking that since I’ve probably never had an original thought I have tended to look at things simply.”

During the gospel essential class in the Lake Forest ward I first shared some personal experiences I had before my mission and how it became apparent to me that commandments were but invitation from Heavenly Father to enjoy certain prescribed blessings. Somehow I was able to make that connection at an early age. Then on my mission I heard Elder Marion G. Romney’s talks at October conference when he said you need never made a wrong decision if living to be guided by the Holy Ghost which also had a profound effect on me. Marion G. Romney: “You can make every decision correctly by following the Holy Spirit I tell you that you can make every decision of your life correctly if you can learn to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.... When you learn to walk by the Spirit, you never need to make a mistake....The key to happiness is to get the Spirit and keep it.” (CR Oct 1961)

Then, also on my mission I came across a talk by President Wilford Woodruff in the late 1880s in which he shared a number of experiences with angels and concluded that the gift of the Holy Ghost was more important than the ministry of angels. President Wilford Woodruff: “The gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we can receive in mortality” (see The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham [1990], 5).

We talked about the 4th Article of Faith in some detail and then the same with this quote from Elder Joseph b. Wirthlin, paragraph by paragraph: The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, a separate and distinct member of the Godhead.  He is a witness or testifier of the power of God, the divinity of Christ, and the truth of the restored gospel....

The gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, is obtained only upon condition of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands by authorized servants endowed with the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is a most precious gift available only to worthy members of the Lord’s church.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord calls the gift of the Holy Ghost the unspeakable gift.”  It is the source of testimony and spiritual gifts. It enlightens minds, fills our souls with joy, teaches us all things, and brings forgotten knowledge to our remembrance. The Holy Ghost also “will show unto us all things what we should do.” (Ensign, May, 2003, 25-28.)

We spent some time on the requirement of worthiness after receipt of the gift. I shared this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “The Holy Ghost never waits to leave until he is formally asked to leave, for his influence has already departed even as we, by our thoughts, slide toward sin.” (That My Family Should Partake, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], 86.)

We then reviewed in detail 2 Nephi 32:1-3; 5-6 and the difference between being told and being shown, followed by a discussion on why we each need the Gift of the Holy Ghost, in which a lot of examples were shared by the class.

I concluded that the greatest witness one can receive is the Holy Ghost confirming to them the words they have spoken are true and that developing a relationship with the Holy Ghost may be the wisest choice we ever make.

There was a special spirit throughout the class, mentioned by the brother in the closing prayer. I remarked to Sister H what a privilege it was to be there and feel that spirit in such rich abundance.

We attended the Aliso Creek ward for the split and realignment of the Ward. They split it along the north to south boundary which was good because the ward before was so long east to west. Bishop John Bennett was called to preside over the new Altisima Ward on the hill and Bishop Jeff Robinson was called to preside over the Aliso Creek ward. Several in what is now the Altisima Ward came to me wanting to assure themselves that we were staying with “their ward.” I simply told them that decision was in the hands of the Mission President. The young missionaries are wondering what the realignment means for them having heard nothing from the mission yet so I sent an email to the MP about their concerns and received “would you be kind enough to contact the Assistants and review the details with them?” Which I did after giving the matter prayerful consideration.

Received a nice note from one of my former counselors which gave us a great lift. Of all the blessings the Lord has shared with us we greatly prize the wonderful relationships that have been ours along the highway of life.

Received word that Sister Sixty-six concluded that she was not welcome at Bible Study and wasn’t going to come again unless she was invited. We are thinking perhaps since she shared so much at the last meeting she is wondering if she wore out her welcome, so a special invitation is coming to assure her that she is welcome.

Sister Thirty-nine missed her second consecutive appointment even after confirming with her face to face the day before. Cancellations are not much different as a seasoned couple than as a young missionary.

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