Sunday, June 16, 2013

 Since the last posting we have . . . planted a garden. 
 blown out a tire
 Ridden bikes in Jackson Hole
 Celebrated 32 great years of marriage
Canoed Big springs (see the mama and baby moose in the background)

Life is soooo good.  

Here's my latest talk . . .  so stop reading now if you're not interested.

Yesterday Nancy and I road bikes from Wilson to Teton Village and had lunch there to celebrate our 32 wedding anniversary.  It was a beautiful day.  After lunch we browsed through some of the shops.  I saw a shirt in one of them that said:  On Sunday, I’d rather be fishing and thinking about God than in church thinking about fishing.  I hope we are in church today thinking about God.

The seventh Article of Faith says:  We believe in the gift of  . . . revelation.  My assigned topic is “how do we receive personal revelation?”  So how do we?
You’d think I’d know better, but in younger times on a beautiful, warm, Sunday afternoon instead of going to church, I chose to drive a few hours from San Jose to the Stanislaus river in California with some friends. The plan was to run some “hairy” rapids we’d done before.  We had done these rapids earlier in the year in rafts and kayaks, so I and a couple of others decided to run them in a different way - on an inner tubes.  About half way down, I went over a powerful drop and got caught in a hole that held and recycled me like a ragged T-shirt in a washing machine.
After what seemed like an eternity of spinning up and down, breathing a frothy mixture of water and air, fearing for my life, praying frantically, and thinking this was the end . . . BOOM, I had a revelation . . . I shouldn’t do this kind of thing on Sunday. 
At this point, by an act of providence, I was spit out of the hole.  I floundered to the bank of the river, crawled out, and to the dismay of my friends, who thought I was a gonner and were laughing hysterically, walked the rest of the way down. I promised my Heavenly Father and myself that I would never do this again on Sunday.  To be clear . . . This is a very bad example of how to receive revelation about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.  I hope to give you some better things to think about.
Sister Beck, the previous General Relief Society president says “The ability to qualify for, receive and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.”
Elder Gerald N. Lund says that “One of the most important challenges of our mortal probation is learning to hear, recognize, and then follow the voice of the Lord.” 
I’d like to speak to the youth and invite the adults to listen.  Then, encourage you to talk around the dinner table together about personal revelation . . . because sometimes adults and youth see things differently.  For example:
A teenager lost a contact lens while playing basketball in his driveway.  After a brief, fruitless search, he gave up.  His mother took up the cause and within minutes found the lens.
“How did you do that?” he asked.
“We weren’t looking for the same thing,” she explained.  “You were looking for a small piece of plastic.  I was looking for $150 dollars.”
My daughter, who is one of my favorite people in the world, asked why she didn’t feel the spirit more strongly, and why she didn’t receive more personal revelation?
That’s a good question and some of us might have the same one. 
Elder Bednar said:
“I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions. Perhaps as we consider the experiences of Joseph in the Sacred Grove, of Saul on the road to Damascus, and of Alma the Younger, we come to believe something is wrong with or lacking in us if we fall short in our lives of these well-known and spiritually striking examples. If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal. Just keep pressing forward obediently and with faith in the Savior.”

End Quote.

Many of you young people are like my daughter, you are good obedient people who are trying your hardest and doing your best to live the gospel, but are frustrated because you think you don’t feel the spirit or receive personal revelation.  I want to tell you that you do receive it, but you might not always recognize it.  So how do we receive personal revelation and how do we recognize it? 
Elder Bednar went on to say:
“I invite you to consider two experiences most of us have had with light.

The first experience occurred as we entered a dark room and turned on a light switch. Remember how in an instant a bright flood of illumination filled the room and caused the darkness to disappear. What previously had been unseen and uncertain became clear and recognizable. This experience was characterized by immediate and intense recognition of light.

The second experience took place as we watched night turn into morning. Do you recall the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon? In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun did not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light increased, and the darkness of night was replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light.

From these two ordinary experiences with light, we can learn much about the spirit of revelation. (April 2011 General Conference Elder Bednar gave a great talk titled “The Spirit of Revelation.”) 
President Joseph F. Smith explained how revelation occurred in his life: “As a boy … I would frequently … ask the Lord to show me some marvelous thing, in order that I might receive a testimony. But the Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line … , until He made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and until doubt and fear had been absolutely purged from me. He did not have to send an angel from the heavens to do this, . . . By the whisperings of the still small voice, He gave to me the testimony I possess.”(in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 40–41).
End quote.

We know that marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations are the exception for most of us and not the norm.  (Bednar)  So how can we receive revelation?

FIRST, we must be obedient to the commandments.  We need to make sure we are partaking of the sacrament worthily each week. Because then, we can have His spirit to be with us as the sacrament prayers promise.
SECOND, we must seek revelation.  The scriptures say “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be open, ask and ye shall receive.” 
They go on to tell us:  If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation . . .  (D&C 42:61)
I testify this is true, but always in the Lord’s way and in the Lord’s time.
THIRD, we must listen.  Remember when the Savior visited the people in America and they heard His voice . . . “It was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice, but it was a small voice.”  We are counseled, “Be still and know that I am God.” 
Elder Calister told us in conference: 

“We live in an action-packed, fast-paced world where bright lights and high-volume speakers are the norm. But (we need) to know that this is the world’s way, not the Lord’s way. The Savior was born in the relative anonymity of a manger; He performed the most magnificent and incomparable act of all time in the quiet of a garden; and Joseph received his First Vision in the seclusion of a grove. God’s answers come by the still, small voice—feelings of peace or comfort, impressions to do good, enlightenment—sometimes in the form of tiny seeds of thoughts . . . “(Elder Tad R. Callister, General Conference, April 2013: The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy).

Fourth:  We must Forgive.  I love what Elder Boyd K. Packer said:
“Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the testimony that you did not know existed.  You will be watched over and blessed—you and yours.”  (Boyd K. Packer, Guided by the Holy Spirit, General Conference talk, May 2011 Ensign, Saturday Afternoon Session)
Part of the miracle of forgiveness is that when we extend it to others we gain peace and increase our connection to the Holy Ghost and our ability to receive personal revelation.
At one time, Joseph Smith was trying to receive inspiration to translate the Book of Mormon, but he couldn’t.  He excused himself and went to talk to Emma.  They had had a misunderstanding earlier.  He apologized to her, and I’m assuming she apologized to him.  They forgave each other.  Then he went back and was able to receive revelation to continue translating.
Fifth, we must act.  The scriptures tell us that when we act on the light we’ve received, then we will receive more light.  

Sixth:  We must recognize how we personally feel the spirit and recognize revelation.  This takes work and effort.  I can’t tell you how you feel the spirit, or how revelation will come to you because we are all different.  

Learning to recognize the voice of the Lord is a personal journey of discovery, but here are a few ways some say they hear it, or in other words receive personal revelation. 
One:  We receive personal revelation through other people.  In 2008 Elder Holland said about angels:
“I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need.  But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil.  Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day.  Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods.  Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me.  Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind.”  (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Ministry of Angels given in the November 2008 General Conference.) 
End quote.
You priesthood holders will remember when President Monson counseled us in General Priesthood Meeting of a sure way to receive revelation if we could handle it.  He said, if you want to receive personal revelation, go home after this meeting, make sure you have plenty of time, and ask your wife what you can do to be better.  Then listen to her.
I want to add that you young people can go home and ask your parents what you could do to be better sons and daughters.
Your parents love you and care about you.  They pray for you every day.  They want to do what is right for you and they have stewardship over you.  They seek revelations concerning things that will help you the most.  Listen to them.
Two:  We receive personal revelation through Meditation.  President Hinckley said:
“I heard President David O. McKay say to the members of the Twelve on one occasion “Brethren, we do not spend enough time meditating.”
President Hinckley continued, “I believe that with all my heart.  Our lives become extremely busy.  We run from one thing to another.  We wear ourselves out in thoughtless pursuit of goals which are highly ephemeral.  We are entitled to spend some time with ourselves in introspection, in development.
Your needs and your tastes along these lines will vary with your age.  But all of us need some of it (time to think).  I decry the great waste of time that people put into watching inane television.  I am not antisports.  I enjoy watching a good football game or a good basketball game.  But I see too many men who become absolutely obsessed with sports.  I believe their lives would be enriched if, instead of sitting on the sofa and watching a game that will be forgotten tomorrow, they would read and think and ponder.”  (President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Message, Life’s Obligations, Ensign February 1999)
Three:  We receive personal revelation through writing
A New York Times article pointed out that our minds are wandering 47% of the time. 
Writing is our thinking and feelings put on paper.  As we focus on our thoughts and feelings, process them, and put them on paper, we learn to pay attention to what we are thinking and feeling and may sift out and recognize revelation.
Remember, we are told in our minds (thoughts) and our hearts (feelings) by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon us and which shall dwell in our hearts.  Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.  (D&C 8:2-3)

Writing can help us recognize what’s in our minds and hearts. Keep a journal or just write when you need to think and feel.

Four:  We receive personal revelation through reading
When the Lord called Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Pererson, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer to take the gospel to the Indians on the western frontier, he told them that they should read and pay attention to what had been written.
And they shall give heed to that which has been written, and pretend to no other revelation; and they shall pray always that I may unfold the same to their understanding.  (D&C 32:4). 
Scripture reading.  “When you want to talk to God, pray.  When you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.”  For example:  From 3rd Nephi Chapters 13 and 14 we receive revelation about:
                                                               i.      Do not our alms before men
                                                              ii.      Use not vain repetitions when we pray
                                                            iii.      If we forgive others, Heavenly Father will forgive us
                                                            iv.      Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also
                                                             v.      Judge not that ye be not judged
                                                            vi.      Ask . . . and receive; Seek . . . and find; Knock . . . and it shall be opened
                                                          vii.      All things whatsoever we would that men should do to us, we should do the same to them.
We may not recognize, or think of these things as personal revelation, but they are.
Five:  We receive revelation through believing
Remember what Jesus told the Nephites about why the people in the Holy Land did not receive more revelation about who the “other sheep” were.  He said:  “And, now because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.” (3 Nph 15:18)  If they had believed more, they would have received more. 
When we believe, we will also receive more.
Six:  We receive revelation through trials
Life and receiving revelation are about learning and growing and it’s often through trials that we learn and grow the most.  So, if we think and feel deeply and carefully, personal revelation can come from our trials.
To conclude, remember one of the reasons we are on earth is to learn how to use our agency.  Sometimes we need to move forward in faith even if we haven’t had revelation knowing that the confirmation of our actions will come later.

The Lord has said:  For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.  Verily, I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.  (D&C 58:26-28)

It comforts me to know that if we have prepared ourselves by living well, thinking things through, and seeking revelation, but then get none, we can move forward with our best judgment and Heavenly Father will bless us.

I testify that President Monson is a prophet.  He receives revelation for the church and the world.  He also receives personal revelation as we can tell from his many stories of being prompted and acting on those promptings to serve the one.  I believe he tells us these stories to teach us that everyone can have the influence of the Holy Ghost to help them.  As baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we have the gift, the privilege and the responsibility to receive and act on personal revelation, or where none is received and we are living worthily, to move forward in faith.  

It is my hope that we will have desires to improve our abilities to receive, recognize, and act on personal revelation every day.  Then, acknowledge this great gift with grateful hearts and move forward to become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become.

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