Paying tithing, even in tough times

Some years ago, long after he had returned from his mission, Bishop J. Richard Yates, of the Durham Third Ward in the Durham North Carolina Stake, was out on the family farm in Idaho, helping his father milk the cows and do some of the evening chores. Because of limited family circumstances, Richard’s father, Brother Tom Yates, had not been able to go on a mission in his youth. But that disappointment only strengthened Brother Yates’s vow that what he had not been able to afford, his sons would certainly realize—a full-time mission for the Lord—whatever the sacrifice involved.

In those days in rural Idaho it was customary to give a young man a heifer calf as soon as he was old enough to take care of it. The idea was that the young man would raise the animal, keep some of the offspring, and sell others to help pay for the feed. Fathers wisely understood that this was a way to teach their sons responsibility as they earned money for their missions.

Young Richard did well with that gift of a first calf and, over time, expanded the herd to eight. Along the way he invested some of the income from the milk he sold to buy a litter of pigs. He had nearly sixty of those when his call finally arrived. It was the family’s plan that they would sell future litters of the pigs to supplement income from the sale of the dairy milk to cover the costs of Richard’s missionary labors.
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Crossing the chasm that lies between individuals

The “man of Christ” knows that only truth radiant with love can cross the chasm that lies between some individuals who are light-years apart, even though they live under the same roof.

….He is conscious of the past and present injustices, but he knows that real remedies are to be found in contemporary Christian compassion, and not in compensatory justice.

He knows that in leadership cleverness is not as important as content, that charisma and dash are not as vital as character and doctrine.

Neal A. Maxwell, “The Man of Christ,” Ensign, May 1975, 101

We are known by God

I testify that our Father in Heaven cares about each of us, individually and personally. There are many examples of this doctrine that I could share, but my son Mark recently reminded me of one. Mark served a mission to Mongolia. He served with and developed a deep love for a senior missionary couple from Idaho. They used an interpreter their entire 18-month mission. Their interpreter—a Mongolian sister—had an important story to tell. She grew up in Mongolia. The missionaries found her and baptized her. When she joined the Church, she started saving money for a full-time mission. She received a call to one of the missions in the United States, but at that time she spoke almost no English. She got on a plane in Mongolia to come to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, knowing only three sentences in English:

“I am from Mongolia.”

“I am a missionary.”

“Please help me.”

When she got on the plane, no one had explained to her that she needed to change planes to complete the flight to Utah. She landed in Chicago, but, naturally, there was no one there to meet her and she didn’t know the language. She found a chair, sat down, and prayed to Heavenly Father to know what to do. She then got up to try to find help. As she was attempting to explain her predicament to a ticket agent (using her three English sentences), a man tapped her on the shoulder, pulled out his temple recommend, and showed it to her. She recognized the temple recommend because she had been given one before she left, so she knew this man at her side was a member of the Church. He motioned for her to wait. Ten minutes later he handed her his cell phone, and on the other end of the line was the missionary who had taught her the gospel in Mongolia. The missionary told her to follow the man to the plane to Salt Lake City and get on board. He told her there would be people to meet her in Salt Lake City—and there were!

Our Father in Heaven truly watches out for His children—very often through others. But that’s not the end of the story. The man in the Chicago airport was a businessman who has flown all over the world. He was upset that day because it was the first time he had missed his connecting flight to Salt Lake City. But because he was there at the Chicago airport, he overheard this Mongolian sister trying to get help, and he knew he could help her.

I testify, as others have, that our Father in Heaven not only answers prayers but at times chooses to micromanage the details of His kingdom. This, too, is part of His divine nature. But herein lies an important lesson. It is our Heavenly Father who chooses; we do not dictate to Him time, place, or circumstance.
Andrew Skinner, BYU devotional, 11 April, 2006

Satan will try to convince you there is no solution

Speaking on two difficult topics, abuse and pornography, Elder Richard G. Scott has made some interesting observations about Satan and his approach:

Satan….has extraordinary capacity to lead an individual into blind alleys where the solution to extremely challenging problems cannot be found. His strategy is to separate the suffering soul from the healing attainable from a compassionate Heavenly Father and a loving Redeemer.

Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.
“To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” April General Conference, 2008

Seated across from me was a despondent man, head buried in hands, sobbing from the inevitable consequences of repeated violations of the commandments of God. He anguished: “I don’t know what to do. Everything is pressing in on me. I’m tired of running. There is no peace, no happiness. When I pray, no one is listening. What’s the use?”

I have known him for a long time. His parents and others have tried to give him guidance with little success. Because of his choices, he has become separated from the truths that would help him. He has not cultivated faith in the Master nor in the power of prayer. His decisions are centered on what could quickly satisfy his cravings. He either ignores problems or lies about them. He has manipulated the generosity of parents and friends to attempt a quick fix to challenges. He does not evaluate the consequences of today’s decisions on tomorrow’s life.

As my heart sorrowed for him, I realized he does not see the world as it really is—a place of joy and happiness, of true friendships where faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His teachings invite the Holy Ghost to prompt correct decisions. He lives in an environment dominated by the influence of Satan. He has not followed sound counsel, because in his world he cannot see how it would possibly work for him. This distorted view of life is reality to him. It was forged as he succumbed to the subtle temptations of “Go ahead. Try it. Nobody will ever know. It’s your life. Live it the way you want to. They can’t force you. You have your moral agency.”

These promptings and the allure of the forbidden led him down a path that seemed fascinatingly attractive. He was carried on the crest of the wave of appetite and passion, oblivious to the consequences until the inevitable crushing encounter with the laws of God occurred. That produced pain, remorse, and regret. Then Satan provided other direction: “There is no way back. You might as well keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s hopeless to try to change.” Because of his sins, he cannot see a way out of his failures. He will not see the tools needed for a new life in his current environment. His tragic, confining world has been created by the violation of eternal law, motivated by desire for a quick response.

Do you find yourself in a similar circumstance? Have you done things that you wish you had not done? Is it difficult for you to see any way to solve your problems? Does there seem to be an oppressive, crushing weight that’s always there no matter how you seek to shake it? Under the influence of powerful emotions or stimulants you may have periods where there seems to be relief. Yet in the quiet moments of reflection that inevitably come, you realize that your life is not what you want it to be. You may publicly complain that your friends and even the Lord have abandoned you, but in times of sober reflection you realize it is you that have abandoned them. Oh, please, decide now to find the way back to the refreshing peace and joy that can replace the fleeting pleasures of sin and the subsequent agony and emptiness. You have confirmed what the scriptures teach: “wickedness never was happiness.” Earn enduring joy now from a clean and purposeful life.

I know that you can escape the controlling influence of the evil one, and the repressive chains that bind your life. That relief will require you to accept a solution that is likely foreign to your current personal experience. It will require you to exercise faith in a Father in Heaven who loves you. While you may not understand why now, you must trust that the Savior has given His life so that you can make the required changes in your life, changes that will bring peace and the illusive success that always seem beyond your reach. Believe that you can overcome the depressing environment in which you live by trusting that there is a better way. You must seek the help of others who understand and live that better way, even though you cannot see it now. This will require you to learn and obey the teachings of the Lord. Once you have fully committed yourself to that change, you will find that it is not as difficult as it now may seem.
Richard G. Scott, “To Be Free of Heavy Burdens,” Ensign, Nov 2002

Learning to reclassify others

A hint from Elder Maxwell about forgiving:

In our families, in the Church, and in other relationships, will we stop letting yesterday hold tomorrow hostage? Will we reclassify others, knowing that forgetting is part of forgiving?
Neal A. Maxwell, “The Precious Promise,” Ensign, Apr 2004, 42

I suppose that reclassifying involves seeing others as God sees them, not merely as we have believed them to be.