HOW TO USE THIS BLOG: Since this blog covers various Ward Mission subjects, I've made it easier to find exactly what you're looking for by grouping posts together by topic. On the right side of this page (above the photo of the shaking hands), you'll find the list of topics you can click on to find the information you're looking for

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"I excuse not myself"

Today for Gospel Essentials class I taught a lesson about the Word of Wisdom. We had a handful of new members, a few returning less-active members, a new investigator and her less-active husband (at church for the first time). This was the first time I've had any new investigators in the class since I started teaching, several months ago.

Many of the lessons are pretty innocuous (topics like "honesty", or "prayer" that aren't likely to upset anyone - the sort of thing you might learn about at any Christian church). Then there are the lessons that are about things particular to our church (temples, pre-mortal life, etc) that would be different concepts for investigators, but still nothing to get upset about. And then, there are the touchy subjects: Tithing, Chastity, and the Word of Wisdom.

These are the same topics that can be nerve-racking to bring up to some people when you are a missionary. Knowing that you're about to explain the law of chastity to an unmarried couple that lives together, or the word of wisdom to a heavy smoker, isn't an easy task. You don't know how they're going to take it. This can be even more awkward when a brand new investigator comes to church and is presented with important ideas that you haven't had a chance to teach them about yet.

It also reminded me of the my full-time missionary days, when I'd worry about what investigators would think about the lessons/talks at church (and hope that the members didn't say anything crazy or too "deep"). I try to consider that when I teach a lesson.

To keep myself from worrying and over-analyzing, I remind myself of two things:

#1- The first time I went to church, as an 18 year old, I went to a Young Women's class with my slightly younger member friend (we were the only two in the class that day) and was presented with a lesson on temple marriage. The poor sister teaching must have been mortified (as I'm sure my friend was) to have me there for that particular lesson when I hadn't even had the first missionary discussion. I remember feeling slightly suspicious about the whole concept of the temple, since it seemed to me that it wasn't fair that only certain people could have access to the possibility of eternal marriage (of course, later I learned that everyone will eventually have that option, whether during this life or after). However, I never could deny that it was true, even if I objected to the idea (or I thought I did, anyhow). We can't recognize the truth unless we hear it, so we can't be afraid to say it, even if we are nervous about how someone will react. Could that teacher have guessed that over the next several years I would be baptized, serve a mission, and marry in the temple?

#2- The Lord said, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38). This scripture always reminds me that the Lord is the one who gives us the commandments, not man. He doesn't change his requirements because he's worried about someone getting offended or upset. He tells it like it is, and we have to, also. We can be sensitive to the feelings of others and do our best to present our message in a way that is easy to understand, but we can't water things down to fit the ways of the world. The honest in heart will hear the gospel message and accept it, whether it goes along with their current lifestyle, or not. "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself" is a mantra that I say in my head when I start to get nervous, and that helps me. Its not my gospel, it is Christ's gospel.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Seeking and Searching

I recently came across a talk on which was given when I was in grade school (about 9 years before I even stepped foot inside an LDS church), but is still just as applicable today. I had never considered the difference between searching and seeking, but Elder Russell explains it well:

"The Lord requires us— yes, you and me— to locate the less-active members and help them to return to the fold.“For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out” (Ezek. 34:11). Yes, we are to both “search my sheep” (locate them) and then “seek out” (bring back) less-active members and families, with unending and unqualified love. And in the process, we and they shall learn the true meaning of “ye shall … find me, when ye shall search for me” (Jer. 29:13).

Elder Russell also describes the process by which less-active families can be approached and encouraged to return to activity:

#1- (The servants of the Lord fast and pray)...that the Lord (will) indicate to them the choice families to be visited

#2- The chosen families (are) then (contacted and arrangements are made) for visits.

#3- "The servants of the Lord...visit the less-active families"

#4- (The servants of the Lord) assure them of the redeeming love of the Lord and their love for them. They speak not only by inspiration, but by a higher law, in which the Spirit of the Lord speaks through them. Through constant prayer in the heart, what is said is by the Spirit of the Lord.

#5- The family remembers that the Lord truly loves them and (recognizes) that the servants of the Lord love them as well.

#6- Then the Lord returns the family to the fold.

"Touching the Hearts of Less-Active Members," Elder Gardner H. Russell of the First Quorum of the Seventy (November 1986 Ensign)