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Last Sunday we were in for an interesting suprise.  At the end of our sacrament meeting, our bishop got up in church and announced that our Emergency Management Chairperson for our ward (the word Mormons use for “congregation”) had an announcement.  She got up and announced that we were having a drill for 72 hours to see if we were prepared for an emergency.  The bishop then got up and said he wanted to make sure everyone had enough and those who were properly prepared should share.  He also told us to inform those in our ward who do not attend frequently and to make sure they were prepared for an emergency as well. 

Right after church, we cut the power.  We had about 60 gallons of water stored as well as about 3 months worth of food storage, so we felt confident.  However, it was a good excersize because we noticed things that were missing that we didn’t think of.  Ironically, oil for our lamps was one of the items as well as charcoal for our grill.  Luckily, we had good friends and neighbors in our ward who loaned a grill to us and we heated our water and washed with what we had.

This experience caused me to reflect on a christian radio broadcast my mom sent me from the christian station she listens to.  The radio host discusses the financial crisis and how this could be an event leading up to the second coming.  She also invites a host on her show that talks about ways to be prepared for the events leading up to the second coming.  He talks about having enough money on hand for a disaster as well as food, shelter, etc.  I encourage you to listen to the broadcast.  Although it is a bit doomsday-ish, it is worth a listen.  Here’s the link:   Financial Crisis and the Second Coming 

The next thing I thought about was a talk given by Elder L Tom Perry, the Mormon apostle, last month in general conference.  He talks about living in simplicity and preparing ourselves spiritually and temporally for events that are sure to come.  In this talk, Let Him Do It With Simplicity, Elder Perry discusses the need for food, shelter, clothing and fuel in both a spiritual and temporal sense.  He discusses the need for each of these in a temporal or spiritual disaster.   It is very important to consider each of these items and start preparing.   I will share my thoughts on each of these items as well.

Food

We are counseled to have food and water storage for up to a year as well as money on hand.  This is to be prepared for a natural disaster, or a loss of job, etc.  Are you prepared?  If not, I suggest visiting the websites: www.beprepared.com and http://www.providentliving.org/channel/1,11677,1706-1,00.html

In a spiritual sense, Elder Perry discusses the Word of Wisdom and how if one follows this law, the Spirit of the Lord will strive with them more closely.  I would also like to add that the things we read, the shows we watch, and the music we listen to is in a sense food.  If we feed our minds with uplifting things, the spirit will be with us more abundantly.

 Shelter

In a temporal sense, Elder Perry does a very good job of discussing the importance of getting out of debt and living within our means.  This will surely prepare us for any disaster that should arise. 

In a spiritual sense, I, being LDS thought of going to the temple for shelter and into the presence of the Lord.  Psalms 61 addresses this as well with some very great temple imagery:

1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

  2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the arock that is higher than I.
  3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong atower from the enemy.
  4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
  5 For thou, O God, hast heard my avows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
  6 Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.
  7 He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare amercy and truth, which may preserve him.
  8 So will I sing apraise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
Clothing
Elder Perry discusses the spiritual implications for being modest in the way we dress.  Temporally, it is also important to be prepared and have extra clothing handy in case of an emergency.  When my wife and I did the emergency drill with our church, we came home to find that we hadn’t washed as many clothes as we should have, and we had to re-wear many of our clothes.  It is good to have an emergency bag with clothes in it designated for just that purpose.
Fuel
Elder Perry mentions the parable of the ten virgins that is found in Matthew 25:6-10.  For those not familiar with it, I encourage you to read it.  It is about 10 virgins who had oils in their lamps waiting for the bridegroom to arrive.  The bridegroom would accept all those with their lamps lit.  However, 5 of the virgins ran out of oil and had to leave.  The other 5 virgins were prepared and had extra oil for their lamps and when the bridegroom arrived those that were gone to get more oil were not accepted.
Temporally, it is clear through this parable that having extra “oil” in the form of money, food, clothing, etc. is very important.
In a spiritual sense, I encourage all of us to reflect on the things we do each day to keep our lamps filled with oil during trying times.  How is our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus?  How are our prayers?  Are we reading in the scriptures daily and thanking God?  If you are LDS, are you attending the temple and not just attending, but preparing your mind spiritually and mentally before you go? 
Finally, this experience caused me to reflect on a story in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi on a people that were saved because they were prepared.  When disaster hit, the people followed similar councel that our bisho gave us.  They gathered together and helped one another to protect themselves from the robbers that were threatening their safety.  Not only did they save enough to sustain themselves temporally with gold, food, shelter, etc. for 7 years, but as they were gathered, they prayed for strength and the Lord blessed them.  I encourage you to read the following scriptures:
Spiritual Preparation: 3 Nephi 3:12, 4:10, 4:30-33 
Temporal Preparation: 3 Nephi 3:24, 4:4, 4:18, 6:2
In conclusion, I know when one reflects on events that are sure to come before the second coming it can be overwhelming and discouraging.  However, I know that if we build our spiritual foundation on the Lord as well as prepare temporally, we will have peace of mind knowing we’ve done all we can do.  Then we can have confidence in asking the Lord to support us.

I came across notes from a talk given about 1 1/2 years ago by James E Faust, who at that time was serving as a counselor to President Gordon B Hinckley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Parts of his talk was on having a healthy self esteem.  I will list the 6 keys that he mentioned and share some of my thoughts as well.

6 Keys to a Healthy Self Esteem

  • Keep your Free-agency

In my opinion, this is one of the only things that we truly have control over.  We have the power to decide what we will do in any given situation.  I have written about controling our thoughts and how our thoughts shape who we are.  If we get in the habit of doing good things and keeping the commandments good things will come our way.  If we choose bad things or even go to the extent of using harmful things like drugs, our agency is given away.  It is our choice to either choose the will of God or not.  Those who choose to live within the commandments of God have a healthier self esteem than those who do not.

  • Humility

There are a few scriptures that point out how humility and meekness bring us joy and abundance. (Isaiah 29:19; Psalms 37:11)  Those who feel the love of God and the joy that comes from humbly following Him feel greater joy and self-worth than those who do not. 

  • Honesty

I know that when I’ve chosen to be honest in all my associations and conversations I feel much better about myself than when I’ve chosen not to.  Those who strive to be honest with themselves, their friends, their employers, and all people feel greater self esteem.  The big challenge for me and probably many other people is the small “white lies” that creep in there.  If I exaggurate a story or build myself up in a way that isn’t necessarily completly true that is lying.  Some may say it’s impossible to be completely honest.  Maybe it is, but striving to be honest will surely lead to a greater self-image.

  • Love of Work

I grew up on a farm and learned to appreciate work.  I wouldn’t go as far to say that I love it.  However, I do know that I definitely feel better about myself when I’m working for a good cause than when I’m bumming around. 

  • Ability to Love

This one is a life-long pursuit and those who are blessed with this ability to give and accept love have much higher self-esteems than those who do not.  For years I feel that I didn’t love and respect myself as a child of God.  I had negative thoughts about myself and blamed others for some of the bad things I did as a result of not respecting myself or others.  Fortuneately the Lord was there for me the whole time and helped me through this.  I learned that it is o.k. not to be perfect and to love myself for all my strengths and weaknesses.   I’ve learned that love is a choice.  In fact, loving others doesn’t come naturally for me.  I have to pray for this love every day and I feel that the more I pray to the Lord, the more He blesses me with the ability to love myself and others.  To read a list of great scriptures on love and charity for yourself and others, click here.

  • Love of God

1 John 4:8 states: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  Therefore, in order to love we must, as Joseph Smith stated in his Lectures on Faith gain a “correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.”  These attributes can be found in the scriptures and include: mercy, grace, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, constant, all-knowing, and many more.  I know that when I strive to show love towards God that I have better self-esteem and desire to do good.  I feel more grateful for the blessings that He gives me on a daily basis and realize my dependance on Him. 

 

In conclusion, I realize that we all struggle with varies things and some of us struggle with self-esteem.  I know how difficult it can be to learn to love myself, others, and God, but I also know that it is possible to overcome.  My hope is that this post helps some of you who may be struggling with any self-esteem issues and that this serves to assist you as it did me.  Feel free to share any thoughts you have.

This short video was forwarded to me by a friend this morning.  I think it is an extreme example, but one that could definitely take place should the law pass to legalize same-sex marriages.  Here is the link to view the video: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1352578267/bctid1819819843

For me the video raises a few questions.  First, this is terrible that the schools deem it necessary to “legally” over-step the parents’ role as husband and wife to raise their children.  It appears to be a serious step towards a socialist society.  Freedom seems to be wiped away from the equation in this situation.

Next, most of us have been accustomed to being tolerant for others’ beliefs.  It appears that because in Massachusetts it is legal to have same-sex marriages, there should be no tolerance for beliefs otherwise.  I find it rather ironic that those who scream for tolerance choose not to practice it themselves.  Will this be the case nationwide should the proposition not pass this November?

Third, I wonder what this father did while he was meeting with the school board about his beliefs.  I wonder if he was calm and collected, or if he became angry or lost his temper and that is why he was put in jail.  This could just be an extreme case.

If you support traditional marriage you can do so and still be respectful towards your family and friends who are gay.  View this website to learn more about protecting traditional marriage: http://www.preservingmarriage.org/

I want to thank Steve who commented on this post and gave me a great article that addresses this issue over on the Mormons for Marriage website.  I encourage everyone to read this article.  It explains and answers many questions that I asked about this.  Here is the link to the site: http://mormonsformarriage.com/?p=44

I also came across a great post over at thoughts on lds about the consequences of Proposition 8 in California.  Glenn Beck interviews Dr James Dobson from focus on the family as well as a link to David Bednar, a Mormon apostle, addressing the issue.  Here’s the link: http://thoughtsonlds.blogspot.com/

Being that it’s conference weekend, I thought I’d share some of my favorite conference talks from various LDS leaders throughout the years and how they’ve affected me for good.  So here are a few of them in no specific order:

The Grandeur of God  by Jeffery R Holland

Jeffery Holland gave this talk a few years back and it really helped me in understanding who God is and my relationship to Him as my Heavenly Father.  It helped me more realize how I can develop a personal relationship with Him and how He loves me no matter what.  It also helped me realize my relationship with other people in the world as my brothers and sisters.

This Thing Wasn’t Done in a Corner by Gordon B Hinckley

I was on my mission in Frankfurt, Germany when President Hinckley gave this talk.  I was filled with such enthusiasm and desire to share the gospel that I couldn’t wait to get out and go street contacting to share the message of the Book of Mormon to the Germans.

The Power of God’s Love  by John H Groberg

When Brother Groberg gave this talk it touched me deeply.  I was reminded of the love I had felt for the people I served while I was on my mission.  The people I taught and prayed with, my companions, and the fellow LDS church members I had served with.  I also thought of my time as a leader in the Elders Quorom and the young men I had served and loved and helped.  I’ve had many great experiences serving in the church, but these two times are the times I’ve felt closest to the Lord and felt His love for all of us.

Be Thou an Example Thomas S Monson

This talk is very inspiring and the words “fill minds with truth, hearts with love, lives with service” have helped me in many areas of my life as I try to stay close to what the Lord would have me do.

We Walk By Faith  by Gordon B Hinckely

I’ve written briefly in previous posts about depression and anxiety I had from separation as a child from a parent.  This effected me emotionally and when I met my now wife and was preparing to get married.  I had serious anxiety over getting married.  However, I knew it was the right thing and approved by the Lord and this talk by President Hinckley helped me take the step into the unknown.  I’m very grateful for the guidance the Lord gave me to get married and for the encouraging words of this talk during that time.  I can’t imagine life without my beautiful wife.

Models to Follow by Thomas S Monson

After I graduated from BYU in 2002, I enrolled into graduate school.  However, I started feeling promptings from the Spirit of the Lord that I needed to move to Washington and live with my grandmother.  I wanted to make sure though that this was the Lord’s will before I took this leap of faith and moved.  I prayed and fasted during general conference weekend to get a confirmation from the Spirit and during this talk by President Monson I felt a strong confirmation that I needed to move to Washington.  After I moved to Washington so many things came into place.  I met my wife, got a job that put me into the career I have now, and met so many life long friends that have helped me grow closer to the Lord and as an individual.

Beware of Pride by Ezra Taft Benson

When I read this the first time I read this I was on my mission.  I was very humbled as I read this and it helped me understand and love the German people and see them as God sees them.  This helped me understand the importance of humility and how the more humble we are, the more God can work in our lives.

Living worthy of the Girl you will Someday Marry  by Gordon B Hinckley

I was single for a good little while and I used this talk as an example of how I should try to live my life while dating.  It was a long time before I married my wife, but it was worth the wait.  My wife is such a great support and sweet person and I feel so grateful for her.

Life’s Lesson’s Learned by Joseph B Wirthlin

This talk is a very fun talk to listen to about Joseph B Wirthlin’s experiences playing football in high school and college and how he was able to use integrity while playing sports even when it cost them the game.  He shares a life-changing event that occurred on the football field that changed his life.

These are a few talks that have helped me throughout the years.  I’d be interested in hearing what some of your favorite talks have been and how they’ve helped you.  Feel free to share!

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