Reading, writing and discussion

Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

Sir Francis Bacon

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Meeting and mastering troublesome trials

Marvin J. Ashton In the book of Isaiah the Lord speaks about the purposes of adversity: “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10) Elder Marvin J. Ashton wrote:

Those who yield to adversity become weaker. To the valiant it is a stepping-stone to increased power. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and God-fearing people worldwide will not pray for freedom from trials. They will not surrender or panic. They will strive to put themselves in condition to meet and master troublesome trials.

Marvin J. Ashton, “Adversity and You,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 54

A great story about an answer to prayer

Here is a terrific story about a 17 year old young man who received a very powerful answer to his prayer. It comes from a BYU devotional given by E J Caffarro on June 24, 2008.

I would like to share with you a personal experience I had with prayer when I was in my youth. The setting was my junior year in high school. I was making plans with my friends to attend the junior prom. We already had in mind what we were going to do before and during the prom, but we had not finalized plans for after the prom. It was common, growing up on the East Coast, to drive down to the New Jersey shore and spend the night on the beach as an after-the-prom activity. We had the location mapped out and the cars and drivers prepared to make the trip. As the date approached I thought it would be a good idea to run these plans by my mother. I explained to her what we had planned to do after the prom. She could see that I was filled with enthusiasm but said with no hesitation, “I don’t think it is a good idea that you go.”

I said, “What? I have waited 17 years for this event to take place in my life. I am going to the New Jersey shore.”

She replied, “I don’t think it is a good idea, but can you do me a favor and pray about it?” Continue reading

Faith and obedience are the answers to our concerns

In the early 1950s the United States was at war on the Korean peninsula. Because of the draft policy of the government at that time, young men were not allowed to serve missions but instead required to join the military. Knowing this, I enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps when I went to college. My goal was to become an officer like my oldest brother. However, during a visit home for the Christmas holiday, my home-ward bishop, Vern Freeman, invited me into his office. He advised me that a young Church leader by the name of Brother Gordon B. Hinckley had negotiated an agreement with the U.S. government permitting each ward in the Church in the United States to call one young man to serve a mission. This young man would receive an automatic deferment from the military during his mission.

Bishop Freeman said he had been praying about it and felt he should recommend me to serve as a full-time missionary representing our ward. I explained to him that I had already made other plans—I had enrolled in the Army ROTC and expected to become an officer! My bishop gently reminded me that he had been prompted to recommend me to serve a mission at that particular time. He said, “Go home and talk to your parents and come back this evening with your answer.”

I went home and told my father and mother what had happened. They said the bishop was inspired, and I should happily accept the Lord’s invitation to serve. My mother could see how disappointed I was at the prospect of not becoming an army officer right away. She quoted:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

That night I went back to the bishop’s office and accepted his invitation. He told me to go to the Selective Service Office and advise them of my decision.

When I did so, to my surprise the lady who was chairman of the Selective Service Office told me: “If you accept a mission call, you will receive your draft notice before you can reenter Army ROTC. You will serve as an enlisted man, not as an officer.” Continue reading

Elder Christofferson on studying the scriptures

…for the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. When I say “study,” I mean something more than reading. It is a good thing sometimes to read a book of scripture within a set period of time to get an overall sense of its message, but for conversion, you should care more about the amount of time you spend in the scriptures than about the amount you read in that time. I see you sometimes

      reading a few verses,
      stopping to ponder them,
      carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean,
      praying for understanding,
      asking questions in your mind,
      waiting for spiritual impressions, and
      writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more.

Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you. Remember Alma ‘s description of what it feels like: “It beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” You will know that the gospel is being written in your heart, that your conversion is happening, as the word of the Lord from His prophets, past and present, feels more and more delicious to your soul.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign, May 2004, (formatting my own)

Staying in the saddle until the job is done

Elder Monte Brough tells this story of a young man’s commitment to follow with exactness the instructions he was given:

Manasseh Byrd Kearl, born in 1870 and raised near Bear Lake in northern Utah, tells a wonderful story that might be instructional to his descendants, of which I am one. Let me read from his journal:

“That fall father bought some cattle for John Dikens, a very large herd. Dikens had a large ranch on Bear River. … I remember Jimmie was down north buying cattle and he sent father that he needed more money. So father toled me to take some money to him. Mother sewed six hundred dollars in my under clothes, and father put me on a horse and said, ‘Now Byrdie my boy, don’t you get off this horse till you find your brother Jimmie, and keep your mouth shut, and if any one asks you questions don’t reply or tell them where you are going, and do not give this money to any one but Jimmie, no matter what any one tells you.’ Well, when I got to DingleDell, I was toled Jimmie was in Montpelier. So to Montpelier I went to Joe Richs, a friend of father’s, he toled me that Jimmie had gone home. Brother Rich wanted me to go in the house and get something to eat. I toled him no, that father toled me not to get off this horse till I found Jim, and here I stayed. I turned around and headed for home. When I got to Bears Valley, … I could hardly walk. Mr. Potter tried to get me to stop and rest, but I could not stay. At last I got home. Jimmie took me off the horse and carried me into the house. Mother cried to think I had been in the saddle while the horse went over eighty miles.”

Monte J. Brough, “Search for Identity,” Ensign, May 1995, 41