Friday, July 21, 2017

Back to Blogging Earlier

Yesterday, I proved that it is still (or again) possible for me to blog in the morning before I leave for work, at least some of the time. On days I'm not scheduled to work, blogging before midnight should be even easier. Perhaps it's time I recommit to that goal. When I started blogging, the goal was to blog about a General Conference talk each morning before noon. I don't think I'll hold myself to the "Conference Talk" part, and I probably won't hold myself strictly to that "noon" part, either, but when I manage to blog before work, and particularly on days when I don't have work, I can certainly blog much earlier than I have been blogging, and I think my blog posts and my spirituality would improve as a result.

So, I'm going to try to blog earlier tomorrow and for at least the whole following week. I have specific deadline timestamps in mind, but I don't want to reveal them for fear of being held to them. At any rate, I should hopefully be able to have a blog post uploaded each day by dinnertime. As with any goal, I could easily fall short, and I apologize if (or when) I do, but also like any other goal, it could help me develop a habit which, in this case, could help me drastically in many areas of my life, and may give you better posts to read as well. Blogging has, for the last few years, always had a positive impact on my life. Hopefully, going back to blogging earlier will make that positive impact even stronger and make my blog posts better as well.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reserving Judgement

Yesterday, a student came in with a paper about social media, judgement, and discrimination. His main argument is that people are too judgemental of each other, and I agree. People often judge other people harshly, even to the point of exhibiting rude and unfair treatment, when it's really not our job to see to it that people get what (we think) they deserve. God doesn't want us to judge each other, at least, not in that sense. God has reserved the right to pass judgement, and I say let Him have it! Without His eternal perspective and His accurate view of people's hearts, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for us to judge each other fairly, which is why, with few exceptions, we probably shouldn't try to judge each other at all. Judgement is God's job, and we should leave it to Him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Developing Sin-Resistance

Sister Joy D. Jones spoke of raising A Sin-Resistant Generation. In doing so, she said something that has since become a picture quote that I saw and shared on Facebook recently:

Being sin-resistant doesn’t mean being sinless, but it does imply being continually repentant, vigilant, and valiant.
In the same paragraph, she goes on to say:
Perhaps being sin-resistant comes as a blessing from repeatedly resisting sin. As James said, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
There are at least two lessons in this. One is that we become good at something by doing it. Practising doing something, like resisting sin, is one way to become better at doing that thing. That is one of the ways fasting can help us. Fasting gives us the opportunity to resist the temptation to eat so we can learn to effectively resist the temptation to sin.

A second lesson we can learn from this quote is that, though we cannot become perfect in this life, we can become better by repeatedly trying. We are all human. We all have shortcomings. None of us are going to become sinless any time soon. Yet, those shortcomings can help us improve ourselves by showing us areas in which we can improve. If we are vigilant, valiant, and willing to repent, we can learn from our (oft repeated) mistakes and eventually learn to stop making them. That is how we will ultimately become perfect: With focussed effort, we can learn to sin less and less frequently until we eventually don't sin at all. This requires diligent and continuous effort, but it is possible.

Sister Jones' talk shared other good tips on how to become sin-resistant. It was worth revisiting. I'll have to listen to it again another time. Until then, I can attempt to develop sin-resistance by continually trying to resist sin and by learning from my mistakes whenever I fall short. I may not become perfectly sinless within my lifetime, but if I am vigilant and consistent in my efforts to resist sin and repent of it, I am confident that I can become sin-resistant.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

At the Behest of a Prophet

I just reviewed President Thomas S. Monson's talk The Power of the Book of Mormon, and I'm glad I did. His message didn't contain anything new, apart from the announcement of some new temples, but despite the repeated nature of his message it was still one that I needed to hear again.

We who have been raised in the church have always been told how important it is to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon daily, but how many of us actually do it? I can only speak for myself, but, to put it lightly, my studies of the Book of Mormon could be improved in frequency, consistency, length, depth, prayerfulness and basically every other way.

And the blessings being offered for prayerfully studying the Book of Mormon daily are ones that I could really use. President Monson concluded his talk by saying "I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so," he promised, "we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives."

I would love to hear the voice of the Spirit more often and have greater power to resist temptation. I have a few fears and doubts I could stand to overcome, and we could all use heaven's help from time to time. All these blessings and more can be ours if we prayerfully ponder the Book of Mormon daily, as we've been counselled to do by our current prophet and probably every other modern-day prophet before him.

The counsel to study the Book of Mormon each day is nothing new, but I find that I frequently need to hear it. Reading the Book of Mormon daily is a habit that I fall out of far too easily, which is a real shame, considering the blessings I miss out on by not reading the Book of Mormon frequently. So, starting again tonight, I'm going to try to follow President Monson's counsel to study the Book of Mormon prayerfully. I can't promise that I'll read the Book of Mormon faithfully every night from now on, but I can try, and when I fail, I'll probably be reminded again by another message like this one.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Help of the Holy Ghost

Having and keeping the Holy Ghost as a constant companion is harder than it sounds. It requires frequent prayer and careful living, but the blessing of having the Holy Ghost with you is well worth the effort. The Holy Ghost can lift your spirit and offer inspired guidance. He can even semi-dictate a blog post, when you need Him to. I am thankful that I was baptised and confirmed and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Now, it is my responsibility to keep the Holy Ghost with me so He can help me when I need Him most.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sinning in Ignorance

One thing I've thought about in preparation for the Word of Wisdom I taught today is the concept of sinning and ignorance. Before the bretheren received the Word of Wisdom, many of them used tobacco, and possibly even drank alcohol occasionally, and this both was and was not okay.

Sin has at least two kinds of consequences: eternal consequences and temporal consequences. If one is sinning in ignorance, the eternal consequences will largely be mitigated. God doesn't punish people for breaking commandments they don't know about. If a person doesn't know that it's a sin to play sports on Sunday, God's probably not going to be too hard on them for doing so. So, unless I'm wrong, sinning in ignorance doesn't carry very many or very strong eternal consequences.

The temporal consequences, however, remain fully in force. The early saints, or anyone else who used tobacco before the Word of Wisdom was revealed, may not have been punished for it, but the tobacco would still have had negative effects on them. It still would have been harmful and potentially habit-forming. Thus, even though their eternal welfare wasn't at stake, it was still good for the early saints to learn about the dangers of tobacco.

God's commandments aren't just rules that God punishes us for breaking. They're warnings about things that are inherently harmful to us. Not knowing about those commandments might spare us from the eternal consequences of ignorantly breaking them, but it won't spare us from the temporal consequences of those actions. Sinning in ignorance isn't as bad as wilfully sinning, but that doesn't make it harmless. There are consequences for sinning, even if a person doesn't know they're doing it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

WoW! A Lesson Plan!

Here's the plan:

I'll start, as usual, by asking (and, if needed, reminding) my students what last week's lesson was about. This tends to be a good way to refresh their memory, and talking briefly about the Three Degrees of Glory will help me transition to another important, modern-day revelation: The Word of Wisdom.

I'll explain the situation with many of the Bretheren experiencing a Word of Wisdom issue, but I'll explain that this was before the Word of Wisdom was revealed, and well before conventional wisdom caught up with it, so the Bretheren didn't know they were doing anything wrong. From here, I might add a side-note about sinning in ignorance (which I should probably blog about) and/or the fact that we can learn from both good and bad examples of behavior, even in our role models.

Once I've established the need for inspired correction, I'll invite the class to read the inspired correction found in D&C Section 89. The youngsters like reading, and there are many good passages in this chapter that teach the Word of Wisdom directly from its source. As we read, we'll pause occasionally to discuss what the verses say and/or leave out. We'll especially want to mention that illegal drugs, on top of being illegal, are also against the Word of Wisdom, even though they're not specifically mentioned. We'll also take a moment to explain what hot and strong drinks are, in case there's any question. And we'll certainly talk about following the spirit of the Word of Wisdom being equally important as following the letter of it.

I'll end the lesson with the bottom line that the Word of Wisdom basically means to take care of our bodies, and if we do that, our bodies will also take care of us. Then, time permitting, we'll play a few rounds of hangman using words and phrases from the lesson until it's time to head into sharing time.

It's the same basic structure as most of our lessons have been: Recap, Overview, Story, Reading, Discussion, Activity, usually (though not always) in that order. I hope that this structure and the fact that we have a regular structure help the children follow the lesson and learn from it. If not, perhaps the structure itself should be revised.

Anyhow, that's my lesson plan, and I think it's good enough for now, so I'll ask for God's blessing and/or feedback on it, possibly make a few inspired tweaks, and prepare to follow the plan (as much as the kids allow me to) tomorrow.