Greed

Standard

In 1 Nephi 3:25, we see Laban’s lust for things of this world. He so desires the riches that Nephi and his brothers have that he would kill to obtain it. This greed is not something that besets only those with dispositions such as Laban. Every man, woman, and child is subject to feelings of greed. In the talk, “Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence”, given in the April 1999 General Conference, Elder Joe J Christensen said, “Our prosperity brings some real challenges because many are getting rich, more of us are waxing fat, and as a result of greed, selfishness, and overindulgence, we could lose the Spirit and literally kick ourselves out of the Church.” As seen in this quote, one of the results of greed and selfishness is a loss of the Spirit. It is not the money or material things themselves that causes this loss; it is the love of these things. Exodus 20:3 says, “Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.” We can’t let things of this world become a God or have a higher priority than Heavenly Father.

Elder Christensen goes on in the same talk to give four suggestions on dealing with materialism and avoiding greed. The first is to not confuse our wants and needs. So many times in a store you hear a child say, “But mom, I need it”. The child does not need the new action figure; they only want it. As adults we often do the same thing. We convince ourselves that we need a new pair of shoes, or we need the latest cell phone. The basic human needs are food, shelter, and clothing. We must learn to separate our wants from our needs.

The second suggestion given by Elder Christensen is to avoid spoiling our children. As parents, we have the opportunity to shape our children. Much of what we do and teach them at a young age will translate into behavior later in life. If we teach our children that they will have a lot of things, then they will most likely continue in their lives thinking that they should have those things. If we teach them young to give to others instead of always receiving, they will be better equipped to avoid the trap that greed is.

The third suggestion is to avoid debt. I have what has been called, an “all-or-nothing” personality. So, for me Avoiding debt is really important. I fear that if I got into debt, my mindset would shift to, “Oh well, I am already in debt so what would another (insert amount here) matter?” Not only can debt pile up quickly, but it can also take away some of our agency. When we are in debt, we are subject to the demands of the lender. This is not what Heavenly Father envisioned for His children.

The last suggestion Elder Christensen gave was to be generous. In the scriptures is given the example of a poor widow; “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” She had little, but was willing to give all she had. The Lord does not expect us to sacrifice our needs, but where we can, we must be generous in our giving. These suggestions will help us to avoid greed and by so doing keep the Spirit with us.

“Hope Ya Know We Had a Hard Time”

Standard

This is an amazingly poignant talk that applies to each of us at some time in our lives. This may seem like an odd post for the Christmas season, but I think it is especially important now. Christmas is often a time of perceived joy and gladness. How often is this joy a facade? So many people go day to day with a plastic smile to hide the turmoil inside. I think during this time of the year, we should be mindful of those who may not feel the joy that is associated with this season.

In our lives, we will each go through hard times. These times are given to us to strengthen us and help us grow. It may not seem so at the time, but the trials are for our good. Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and our limits. He will push us to our limits. There will be times when we don’t think we can bear it, but our Heavenly Father knows how far He can push us. The scriptures give us comfort and a promise, “. . peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:1, 7–8).

I know that there are dark days, days when the light seems unattainable, but we have a promise from on high. If we can but make it through those dark days, we will eventually find the light again.

Suicide and the Lord’s Judgement

Standard

In my struggles with depression there have been times when I wondered if the world would be better off without me. These thoughts and feelings are not only common with depression, but they are one of the 9 symptoms the DSM 5 uses to diagnose major depressive disorder. The DSM says, “Recurring thought of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without specific plan, or suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.” Having a religious background, there was always the question of what happens to people who commit suicide in the back of my head.

There are definitely some extreme ideas out there in the religious world about individuals who take their own life. Let’s pause and think about this for a little while. . . In order to get to the point where you want to take your own life, your view of reality has likely been distorted. Are you really thinking clearly? Would you even entertain the thought if you were? The answers to those questions, for me at least, are no.

Elder M. Russell Ballard gave an address entitled, “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not” in the October General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I feel that he made some amazing points.I would love to share those with you here.

Elder Ballard relays a story about an older gentleman confined to his home. Elder Ballard says, “This good brother felt his earthly life no longer had any value, and he wanted to join his beloved wife. . The more he thought about death, the more appealing it became to him. . . as he thought about the release he would find through death, his mind became muddled. He. . concluded that taking his own life would solve his problems.” One thing that I have heard professionals say is that having too much time to think is a bad thing for those suffering with depression. Just as this story illustrate, the more the man gave thought to death the more it seemed like the right decision.

Elder Ballard was approached by the family who said, “‘There is no hope for dad now, is there? All the good things he did throughout his life don’t matter anymore.'” This is a concern held by many in the religious community. There have been many statements by religious leaders over time. Some of which have been rather strong such as one made by President George Q. Cannon of the first presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He said, “Man did not create himself. He did not furnish his spirit with a human dwelling place. It is God who created man, both body and spirit. Man has no right, therefore, to destroy that which he had no agency in creating. They who do so are guilty of murder, self-murder it is true; but they are no more justified in killing themselves than they are in killing others. What difference of punishment there is for the two crimes, I do not know; but it is clear that no one can destroy so precious a gift as that of life without incurring a severe penalty.” This may seem a hopeless statement, but it does not confine those who take their own lives to what the LDS community calls the Telestial kingdom, or hell.

Another general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.” The Lord is the only one who knows our hearts. This quote gives me such hope for those who were struggling so much that they felt to go to this extreme. The Lord is and always will be a just and fair judge. A person who lived a life filled with good in the sight of the Lord will not surely be condemned because of an act committed in such a clouded state.

Elder Ballard concludes, “Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person’s circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act.”

Of suicide, Elder Ballard said, “The act of taking one’s life is truly a tragedy because this single act leaves so many victims: first the one who dies, then the dozens of others—family and friends—who are left behind, some to face years of deep pain and confusion. The living victims struggle, often desperately, with difficult emotions.” I encourage anyone who knows someone struggling with these thoughts or is struggling themselves to read this wonderful talk. It is given in a way that illuminated so many things for me.

“Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not”

Scripture Mastery

Standard

Many high school aged, LDS youth sacrifice every week day to learn the gospel. Around the world, you will find 14-18 year-olds getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go to seminary. This class begins around 6 am and focuses on one book of scripture each year for the four years of high school.

Seminary has been a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for over 100 years! This video features a young man who sacrificed to attend seminary and saw the blessings that come.

One thing that seminary students are encouraged to do is to memorize certain passages of scriptures. These are called scripture mastery scriptures. I did not attend seminary as a high school student. So, I did not memorize those verses. I want to challenge myself to now begin to memorize those.

In the October 2011 general conference, Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk titled, “The Power of Scripture“. In this address, he said, “Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high.” He also spoke of the power that comes from memorizing scripture. He said, “Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.”

This year, seminary students are studying The Book of Mormon. So, I want to memorize those scripture mastery. You can find the list of these verses here. Join me in this endeavor! I know that blessings will follow.