Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gospel Doctrine OT C3: The Creation

Gospel Doctrine OT C3 -- The Creation

How much information you would give if you were trying to answer one of the following questions for a preschool child:
How does an airplane stay in the air?
How does a television set work?
How do plants grow?
Where do babies come from?

You might even have to dummy down the answers for me, a grown woman. For a preschool child, we would only give the basic, fundamental answer and general concepts, leaving details until the child is more mature.
So let’s talk about questions: (“In the Beginning: A Latter-Day Perspective, Ensign, Jan 1998)
The six basic questions often asked about the Creation are when, how, where, what, why, and who. The first three of these—when, how, and where—are left obscure by the Lord in all the accounts we have of the Creation. He gave us only this point of reference concerning when the Creation took place: “in the beginning” (Gen. 1:1). We look with genuine interest at the work of persons who attempt to determine the age of the earth, but the answer may escape us all until the Savior reveals all things concerning this earth after the Second Coming (see D&C 101:32–34). In describing how the Creation was accomplished, he told us that he spoke and it was done (see, for example, Moses 2:3, 5–6, 9). As to where the Creation took place, we only have statements by early leaders that it was in the presence of God. 12
The overall answer to the last three questions—who, what, why—is that our Father in Heaven created all things for his own eternal purposes (see 2 Ne. 2:14–15). We know from both latter-day revelation and the Bible that God did not act alone. Speaking to Moses, he said: “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33).

Keep that in mind as we discuss the creation of the world.

The Creation account is recorded by Moses found in Moses and Genesis. Abraham also records his vision of the creation.

Moses asks the question and gets the preschool answer.  
Moses 1:30-31 – Moses asks how and why did God make all of His creations. 
ANSWER: For a purpose and in wisdom. Repeats in v33. This is not the only world He has created. (This is not His first rodeo). Created for a purpose.

What do we know about God’s purpose?  Moses 1:9 and Abraham 3:24-25. ALSO Moses 1:31, Isaiah 45:17-18, 2 Nephi 2:11-15.

How is it comforting to know there is a purpose and a plan? Is there a pattern to be learned from there? (D&C 52:14, God declares that he will “give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.”)
The Creation:
Who created the earth? 
Joseph Fielding Smith said, “It is true that Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have a strong view or conviction that there were others also who assisted Him. Perhaps Noah and Enoch; and why not Joseph Smith and those who were appointed to be rulers before the earth was formed? (Doctrine of Salvation, 1:74-75)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that a day in the creation accounts “is a specified time period, it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes…There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the six days involved in the creation was of the same duration.” (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, June 1982).

Identify periods of creation: Moses2:1-31
Day 1- separate light and dark
Day 2- divide water and land
Day 3- plants created after their kind (Moses 2:11-12)
Day 4- sun, moon and stars
Day 5- animals created after their kind (Moses 2:25)
Day 6- Adam and Eve

Pattern of Creation? (D&C 52:14, God declares that he will “give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.”)
Spiritual first
All planned out, with the purpose of gaining a body, eternal life
Organize and divide elements
Order: Planet, then plants, then animals, then the crowning creation, Adam
Look back on what you’ve done and see that it is good (Moses 2:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31)
There was purpose in creating all of God’s creation, not just man.  
In what ways do you see purpose in ALL of His creations? 
How do His creations bear record of God? 
How do God’s creation influence you? (Moses 6:63, Alma 30:44)
God created Man and Woman Moses 2:26-27
The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “All human beings- male and female- are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.”

What traits did you inherit from your parents? 
What do you want to emulate? 
How does that apply to being created in God’s image?

In 1909, the First Presidency stated: “It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of man, the word of the Lord declares that Adam was the first man of all men, and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race.” (The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov, 1909.)
Ted L. Gibbons (LDS Living Magazine, Jan 2013)
On the matter of the age of the earth, for example, Brigham Young taught:
I know that a great many of the scientific men of the world philosophize upon this, that and the other thing. Geologists will tell us the earth has stood so many millions of years. Why? Because the Valley of Western Colorado, here, could not have washed out without taking such a length of time. What do they know about it? Nothing in comparison. They also reason about the age of the world by the marvelous specimens of petrification that are sometimes discovered. Now we can show them plenty of places where there are trees, perfect stone, running into the solid rock, and perhaps the rock is forty, fifty, or a hundred feet above the tree. Yet it is a perfect tree. There is the bark, there is the heart, and there is the outer-coating between the heart and the bark, all perfect rock. How long did it take to make this tree into rock? We do not know. I can tell them, simply this--when the Lord Almighty brings forth the power of his chemistry he can combine the elements and make a tree into rock in one night or one day, if he chooses, or he can let it lie until it pulverises and blows to the four winds, without petrifying, just as he pleases. He brings together these elements as he sees proper, for he is the greatest chemist there is. He knows more about chemistry and about the formation of the earth and about dividing the earth, and more about the mountains, valleys, rocks, hills, plains, and the sands than all the scientific men that we have. This we can say of a truth. Well, if it takes a million years to make a perfect rock of one kind of a tree, say a cedar tree, how long would it take to make a perfect rock of a cottonwood tree? Let the chemists tell this, if they can, but they can not tell it. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.125-127, August 11, 1872)
To understand this idea, compute the time it took Christ to make wine at the wedding feast at Cana. Good wine is a product of good ingredients and age. But the six water pots of wine Christ made were created in an instant. Your friendly neighborhood chemist, however, if charged to determine the age of the liquid, would certainly have arrived at an age of several years, for the governor of the feast said it was “good wine.” (John 2:10)
The message is clear enough. President Young’s meaning is that we will not discover the mysteries of the matter until the Lord wants us to discover them. Until then, we must be satisfied (and we must rejoice) in what the Lord has taught us.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gospel Doctrine OT C1: Work and Glory

Gospel Doctrine Old Testament
C1 “This is My Work and My Glory” (Moses 1)
“Remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” Moroni 10:3

Bro. McConkie (1st couns gen sun sch pres) said: “We’re an Old Testament church.  This is illustrated by the fact that the powers and keys we profess to have today were turned to the Prophet Joseph Smith by….Elijah, Elias, and Abraham.” (Church News Jan 4 by R Scott Lloyd)

Start with a review of the preview

Video: “Importance of the OT”

*Gen Sunday Sch Presidency encourages us to study/read OT. (Church News Jan 4 by R Scott Lloyd)

Bro. McConkie (1st couns) said: “When the Church did that (study aids: footnotes, cross references, Topical Guide and JST), it was one of the most important things to have happened, certainly in our lifetimes, and probably in this dispensation. The study aids tie the Standard Works together as a unit to augment one another in teaching and clarifying gospel precepts.”

Bro. Osguthorpe (pres) said, “Church members have what a friend of his characterized as ‘an embarrassment of riches’ in the array of scriptures that are available to them. “What that means is, if you’re having trouble understanding, say, Isaiah, there’s help on the way. And the help is right there in those footnotes. That’s why we have these additional books of scripture, to help understand these principles of the gospel.”

Bro. Richardson (2nd couns) said, “There is great power when we use scripture to help us understand scripture.”

Class activity 
Select two class members and hand them a bag that contains a few everyday items. Tell them they are going to play a game, but do not give instructions or explain the object of the game. Ask participants to open the bag and begin playing. (Bags contain no instructions and participants wonder what to do). 

To understand a game, we must understand its object or purpose. Similarly, to understand our lives on earth we must understand the object or purpose of our lives. 

  1. ??What is significant about the book of Moses? Out of all the scriptures, these books of Moses were completed lost, deleted. No record whatsoever. Joseph Smith translated Book of Mormon from written record. Book of Abraham is also a translation. JST comes from the bible. But the book of Moses was revelation. ??What makes this book and this chapter specifically so important? We’ll find out!

Video? : “Plain and Precious Truths”

1N13:29  - “-because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God-because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.”

Moses 1 answers a few important questions:
1-Who we are, who God is, who Satan is
2-Why we are here, How to overcome the influence of the adversary
3-What we are supposed to do and how

C1 is a vision given to Moses. It is believed to have happened between Moses’ experience with the burning bush and the exodus.

Video“I Am a Child of God”

??What truths do we learn in v1-6?
-Face to face talk
**Who God is! v3 “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years;” v6”mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me,” All things are present, He knows all.
**Who we are! v4 “Thou art my son;” v6 “Thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten;”
-Our place- v4 “I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands;”
-God’s works are numerous, without end and never cease
-v6 “I have a work for thee”

??What difference does it make for us to know who we are? It gives us confidence and an understanding of our worth. Example? If we know who we are-then we know who we are not!!! Example?
It helps you know where you belong. Media fast then when you turn TV or movies back on, its like an assault on your spirit. Or when you watch something with your kids. You would watch it but you wouldn’t want your kids to watch it.

Elder Dalln H. Oaks: “Consider the power of the idea taught in our beloved song “I Am a Child of God.” … Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, ‘Who am I?’  I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a …person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God, and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life.” (Gen Conf Oct 1995).

The principle is, not only am I a child of God, so is every one else.  ??How does this influence how you treat relationships in your famiy, with your children, spouse, siblings, neighbors, friendships?
God builds him up, then, v7- he shows him the world so he can place himself in it, gain perspective. Remember he was raised in the royal courts, then fended for himself in the desert for a while. Now he understands he is a child of God. v10”Now for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” How is this concept true?
Natural vs spiritual/ Deep Concept! v11

Then Satan comes. Moses has already learned who God is and who he is. Now we learn who Satan is.
v12 “Moses, son of man, worship me.” Knowing who we are also helps us know who we are not.
v13 “Who are thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?”
** If we could answer challenges with that response, what a difference it would make. Depression, anger, fear, social media, chastity, word of wisdom.

**Moses’ rejection probably hurt Satan deeply, hitting him where it hurts the most. For 3 verses Moses goes on, twisting the knife. v16 “Get thee hence, Satan;”

**What is Moses doing here? He is learning to discern. ??How do we learn to discern? Scripture study, repentence, trust the Spirit, put the Lord first in our lives, take sacrament, be obedient

??What does Moses do in his battle with Satan?
-knows who he is   -knows who God is   -keeps commandments(v17)   -will not cease to call upon God (v18)
-fears then calls on God (v20)    -received strength (v20)    - rejects again (v20)
??What does Satan do?
-cried w/ a loud voice, ranted, demanded worship (v19)    -tremble(v21)    -cried w/ a loud voice, weeping, wailing gnashing of teeth(v22)

??What do we learn about fighting Satan from Moses’ experience?
-- Rejection v16, 18, 20, 21
– what is the pattern? v20 Moses began to fear, THEN he called on God, THEN he received strength.
-- After the battle, Moses gets the comfort and confirming of God’s love and mercy. v26 “And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days;”

v8 he saw the world  AND   v27-29 he saw the world
** Its like a retake on an exam. This time Moses asks, “Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?” (v30)
The answer, “For mine own purpose have I made these things” (v31) He mentions worlds without number, and creating Adam, and the involvement of His Only Begotten.
Moses asks, “tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof,” (v36) Essentially, tell me about me.
The answer, “The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.” (v37)  “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (v39).
-Don’t let v37 get lost.

What’s the difference between the two? On the 1st take – Moses learns that he is nothing compared to what he had seen. On the retake – he learns that his immortality and eternal life, (his happiness and return to Heavenly Father) is God’s work and glory. Essentially God tells Moses, man is not nothing, man is everything!

“Remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” Moroni 10:3

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Said It In Sacrament Meeting

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting and admitted that I struggle with depression. Yes, it’s true. I said it in front of everyone- men, women, and children. And the response was interesting.

When I give a talk, I often feel like an observer myself and when I sit back down, I come back to myself. It’s a strange feeling and difficult to explain. In the middle of the moment, my only focus is getting the correct words out of my mouth in a logical way. I'm so fixated on that, that I'm not very aware of anything else. My point is that I do remember the feeling in the room when I started talking about being depressed, because it changed. I said:

"I have suffered with depression occasionally. There have been times when I have looked out the window and it’s beautiful out there. But I just knew that the moment I walked outside, it would all fade to gray. I didn’t know how that could happen. I only knew that it would. I’ve been afraid to go to sleep, I’ve been afraid to wake up. I have felt hopeless with no reprieve. I have had loving people all around me and still felt lonely and hopeless, despite their love and encouragement."

I didn't delve into any specific experiences. I simply shared that I struggle. As I prepared the talk, I envisioned the whispers and conversation that would likely ensue. “Did you hear what Sister Brown said? Did you know Sister Brown is depressed?” But I felt strongly that this was the time to talk about it and I was rewarded with an outpouring of the Spirit. When I acknowledged my own experience with depression, the energy in the chapel changed.
The quiet but animated chatter of children seemed to hush for a moment and a feeling of focus overcame me. Clarity entered my mind and I felt as if I were talking to each person in the chapel individually.
My husband mentioned it to me right after the closing prayer. He’d felt it too. And then sisters began to approach me and thank me for saying what I did. The unseen wall of secrecy and shame surrounding depression had been broken for us. I was taken aback by how many members talked to me, not just during the church block, but throughout the rest of the week. Some knew others who struggled, some struggled themselves but everyone seemed relieved to talk about it.

As the week progressed I couldn’t help but wonder why it was such a big deal for me to talk about depression in sacrament meeting? Why do we work so hard to hide depression behind fake smiles and closed doors? I, myself, must admit to working hard on my skill to hide my own depression in a charade of “I’m fine.” When I feel myself sliding down into depression, I plaster on my own perfected mask of all-is-well-in-Zion and hide behind the mundane motions of motherhood. I can put on a good show at church, carpool or playgroup. The show holds up OK until I find myself crying in the shower or asking my young children to fix their own meals while I crawl back into bed. Then it becomes evident that I need help. The very help I should have openly asked for from the beginning, from my husband, my neighbors, or my extended family.

The fact of the matter is, I trick myself into thinking I’m good at hiding my depression. I’d like to think that I can pull it off and everyone thinks I’m doing fine, until I hit my breaking point and the truth comes out despite my best efforts.
After my third child was born, I struggled quite a bit. The slide into depression was subtle, slow and easy. So easy, I didn’t even know I was falling. Early one summer afternoon, my emotional reserves were already spent and I sent my two older children outside to play, so I could cry in private. All too soon, I heard a knock at the door.
Wiping a fresh pool of tears from under my eyes, I answered the door to find my smiling neighbor.

“If I don’t give these away, I’ll eat them all myself,” she said, handing me a plate of cookies. “Are you OK?” she added, tilting her head, looking at me too intently for my comfort.

“Yes,” I smiled, nervously, unsettled by the confused looked on her face. “Yes, of course.”

“Are you sure?” she asked again, smiling wider.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” trying my best to mimic her smile. I placed my hand on the door, indicating it was time to go. She took the cue.

“Let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” she said and I recited along with her the well-worn line in my mind.

I closed the door and let the emotion wave over me again. Five minutes was too long to put on a show today. My eyes drifted to my reflection in a decorative mirror in the entryway and I stared, paralyzed. Squinting, I leaned in to get a good look at the reflection. Red eyes stared back, blank and baffled. When I dried my eyes, I had forgotten to wipe my face. Mascara still ran down my blotchy cheeks. Despite my smile and assurance that I was just fine, the truth was running down my cheeks, calling my bluff in dark, wet streaks. I had been caught in my own deception.

Help was standing on my doorstep and I had turned her away. Looking back, I’m sure it was no mere coincidence that she had knocked on my door with cookies during the middle of my cry. God had provided help. In my refusal, He also provided an experience for me to learn how useless it is to reject help and insist on hiding behind my charade of being “fine.” Hiding my depression from others only makes me feel worse and actually separates me from those who care.

There was another time God knew I needed intervention. This time my help wasn’t just on my porch and I was an even worse actress. The day before my newborn turned one month old, I was notified that he was not covered on our health insurance plan. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. After dealing with lost emails, broken faxes, and disconnected long-distance phone calls, I completely lost it. I felt so empty, drained, and vulnerable; I could do nothing but fall apart. As if my body were made of a delicately balanced puzzle, pieces began to fall and I began to crumble. I couldn’t stand for anyone to see the mess I knew was coming. I ordered the children outside and told them not to let anyone in the house. “Just tell people I’m not even home,” I blubbered, barely holding it together. I then collapsed on my bed in body-racking sobs. They were loud and physical, the kind that no one should ever see or hear. What I didn’t know until later was that my neighbor, and close friend was in the hallway and heard everything. She quietly took my children to her house and gave me the privacy I needed. Again, I had been caught when I was trying to hide.

Of course-there are many other experiences, too numerous to count. They are scattered through the history of my life like clouds across an expansive sky. Almost every time the clouds darken and the downward spiral begins, I am tempted to hide the struggle and depression that drowns me. I am learning that, not only am I a terrible actress, I limit my relationship with others and isolate myself when I hide. Instead of being open to the support and strength of caring friends, I sink deeper into the gray, desolate confines of my depression.
So the time has come, for me, to talk about depression, whether in sacrament meeting or the walls of my own home and stop the charade. Sometimes it’s hard and embarrassing to get the words out at first, but the response is always receptive and warm. When I am honest about my human experience, and put away the shame and embarrassment society has heaped on depression, I am stronger. My relationships are stronger. Love and support are rendered in both directions.
I’m a believer that knowledge is power. Admitting and recognizing I get depressed was a freeing process. When I finally labeled it and I talked about it, I was free to ask for help. I was able to recognize when I was getting seriously depressed more easily and start to do something about it before it got worse.
Asking for help is the strongest thing I can do to help myself. The very act of asking shows extreme faith and trust in the person being asked for help and in my case, they respond in kind. Our relationship becomes stronger, just as a braided rope is stronger than a single strand.

Let’s support each other. Stand on the doorstep or in the hallway and say something. More importantly, let’s ask for the support we need. And if you see mascara on my cheeks, you will know I am up to my old charade again. You’d better say something, if I don’t say it first.