This past Sunday James and I had the chance to give talks in church. For those who aren't familiar with an LDS church service we have a sacrament meeting where we have the opportunity to renew our covenants with the Lord by taking the sacrament which is bread and water. We also have the chance to listen to our fellow ward members talk about different principles and topics of the gospel that is assigned to them by or Bishopric. Usually when someone new moves in, they like them to speak so everyone can learn a little more about them as well. I just wanted to share the talk that I prepared, minus all the get to know you stuff at the beginning. :p
The inspiration for my talk is from Elder L Tom Perry's conference talk "Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families." As Latter Day Saints one of the blessings we are able to receive is an eternal family. As a former missionary this is one of the topics we would often feel inspired to share a lot. It would help open doors and introduce the gospel to the wonderful people of the Philippines.
The phrase Families are Forever is so common in the LDS culture that at times its a shock when this phrase doesn't apply. As an example of this, my brother has been inactive from the church for years. His wife is a devoted christian with no real organization that she's apart of. Before they were married here and I were talking one day about religion, she started asking questions. Being inactive my brother couldn't answer a lot of her questions and had referred her to my parents and other siblings.
The topic of the temple came up and the usual question of what its for? or What do we do in the temple? was asked. I told her about the sealing power of marriage through the priesthood authority that allows families to be together forever, not just in this life but in the next. She immediately asked if she could call and schedule an appointment to get married there. Which lead into a whole new conversation. That experience got me thinking about how truly blessed we are to have the blessings of an eternal family.
In Elder Perry's talk he focuses on how to find peace and spiritually build our eternal family. He quotes Charles Edward Jefferson. In part of that quote he says "...The world is crying out for something, it scarce knows what. Wealth has come, ...The world is filled with inventions of human skill and genius, but...we are restless, unsatisfied, and bewildered."
Elder Perry then says "Men and women are shaped partly by those among whom they choose to live. Those to whom they look up and try to emulate also shape them. Jesus is the great exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to him and live. The gospel of our Lord and Savior provides a sure and solid foundation. It is constructed piece by piece as we gain knowledge of the Lord's eternal plan for his children. The Savior is the master teacher. We follow Him."
As we continue to come to church, pray, read our scriptures, and build up our testimonies through those things and more, it not only builds our individual and personal spirituality, but our families as well. When kids grow up they may forget particular events from their childhood, but spiritual experiences , righteous habits and family practices stay with them through out their lives.
I remember my parents waking us up at 5:30 to read scriptures and say family prayers before my dad went to work. I also remember not being able to see what Santa brought till we all knelt down and had our Christmas morning prayer. All of us, as a young kid being the last in a family of 8 kids, that was a killer.
Elder Perry says "Our homes must be holy places in order to stand against the pressures of the world. Remember that the greatest of all the blessings of the Lord come through and are given to righteous families. We must carefully continue to evaluate our performance as parents. The most powerful teaching a child will ever receive will come from concerned and righteous fathers and mothers..."
Elder Perry talks about a story of a mother and her sons, but I'd like to share one of ours. Our little girl is starting to understand the basics of giving a prayer and now asks to say prayers herself. Her prayers are a typical 2 year old, she thanks Heavenly Father for things like her books, toys, door, light, socks and such and then asks to bless her books, toys, door, light, socks and occasionally throw in things like mommy and daddy or her grandparents.
For awhile I would try and hurry her along or what I thought was help her, but was really just telling her what to say. One particular night, I was really trying to rush through the bed time routine to go and have some me time. Time to myself to read, sew, craft, whatever I wanted. I was trying to rush Avery through her prayers and both her and I were getting frustrated.
Then she started to push me away and told me "no mommy it;s my turn not yours." I realized that in my haste, I had interrupted my daughters opportunity to talk to her Heavenly Father and start to cultivate her relationship with home. This is so important even for young kids; to start to gain their own testimonies and build their spirituality piece by piece.
In Helaman 5:12 it says:
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
This scripture reminded me of the leaning tower of Pisa. Part of a beautiful architectural church structure the bell tower for the catholic church was the last building to be built. Construction began in 1173, the bell tower was to be 8 stories tall or 185 feet high and build using marble which makes the total weight of the tower 14,500 tons. the base dug and the first few stones laid, but what the architect didn't know is that he was going to be building this massive building on shifting sands, shells and clay. The progress of the tower was going smooth until the tower started to sink, causing it to lean.
Construction ceased to see if the ground would harden and allow the tower a more firm ground to continue. Due to war it was 100 years before construction resumed, but the ground had not hardened. Causing the tower to continue to lean. The architect in charge now decided to shorten the arches on one side and elongate them on the other side so that the tower wouldn't bear so much weight and could stake the rest of the 4 stories. The Italian government over the years have continued to use different tactics to preserve this beautiful piece of history.
There is a primary song that reminds me both of the tower and was written with the scripture in mind, to help teach the importance of building upon the foundation of Christ. The song is The wise man and the foolish man, it goes like this:
LyricsWhen we build ourselves and our families upon the foundation of Christ and his teachings, we can find peace and strength for our families. So when the rain come tumbling down or the world starts to press in on us, we can turn to our foundation and the strength we have in Christ for our support and refuge from the harshness of the world.
I know god lives, I know that he loves us all. I know that Jesus lives, he is the Christ and the Savior of the world. I know and can testify of these things. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.