Friday, November 15, 2013

Bishop Edwards' Challenge!

Four years ago Mike was called as a bishop of our LDS ward (congregation). Weeks before he was called, we both started receiving inspiration from heaven about issuing a bishop's challenge. 

The ideas came to us separately. It wasn't my calling, but at the time I was serving as president of our Relief Society (women's group), which also allowed me to receive guidance of how to help the families in the ward.

I have the sweetest memories of our 5:30 AM jogs together, under the fall stars, marveling that God had given us the same ideas. It was a sweet and sacred experience. 

Soon Mike issued the challenge God had given to His sons and daughters in our neighborhood. People started making big and little changes, especially about media choices. It was fun to hear their stories.

Recently Mike issued this updated version of his bishop's challenge. 

I had a feeling this morning that I should post it. 

And I invite you to take the challenge too!  

1. Come unto Christ 

  • Personal & family prayers & scriptures daily
  • Follow God’s standards of media 
    • Stay away from anything vulgar, immoral, violent, pornographic in any way, drives away the Spirit, not uplifting (For the Strength of Youth, p. 11) 
    • Limit the time spent on electronic media (For the Strength of Youth, p. 13) 

2. Temple & family history

  • Go to the temple a little more often, invite your teens to do baptisms regularly 
  • Do a little more to search for your ancestors and/or do indexing
    • “I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.” (Elder Bednar, Ensign, Oct. 2011) 

3. Missionary work 

  • Reach out to neighbors in friendship
  • Pray to know who & what to say, look for opportunities, then “open your mouth” 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Upgrading our Family Battle Plan

What used to be good enough to protect our families then, isn’t good enough today. 

Captain Moroni was awesome. I can hardly wait to meet him in the next life. We can learn a lot from how God taught him to defend against his enemy, the evil Lamanite army.  

God inspired Moroni to defend the Nephite cities in ways that had never been done before. 

“Thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain ... the cause of Christians” (Alma 48:10).   

How did they defend themselves? 

They built up forts, banks of earth, and walls of stone. They dug heaps of earth around all the cities, then timbers on top of the ridges, then tall frames of pickets, and towers. There was only one way to enter the city – at it’s entrance.  He didn’t stop making preparations for war to defend his people. (See Alma 48:8, 49:4, 50:1-6).

Moroni also prepared his soldiers with armor unlike any that had been used before. This is the first time a Book of Mormon army wore breastplates, arm-shields, head shields, and thick clothing. 

Moroni also sent spies to discover the enemy’s tactics. Then he sent men to ask the prophet Alma what God wanted them to do. 

This message is BIG for us today. How?

President Kimball said, “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” He was being quoted in 1990. That’s 23 years ago. The prophet was saying we need to upgrade our battle plans. 

Last week we had stake conference. The visiting Seventy told us his parents were new converts when he was a child. They were still figuring out how to live this new LDS faith, and weed out their Catholic traditions. His parents weren’t consistent with family scripture study or family prayer. Our general authority said, “I think I turned out okay. And I think my siblings turned out okay.” 

Then he said it would be tempting to think if that worked a couple generations ago, it would be enough today. He said that is wrong. 

Here’s why. 

President Henry B. Eyring said, “As the forces [of sin] around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough. And whatever growth in spiritual strength we once thought was possible, greater growth will be made available to us. Both the need for spiritual strength and the opportunity to acquire it will increase at rates which we underestimate at our peril” (“Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9).

So our stake president invited every family in our stake to go home that day and hold a family meeting to do two things: 

1) Evaluate our battle plan. How are we doing at protecting our family against the devil and his tactics? 
2) Set specific goals. 

Here are the four areas he recommended we focus on: 

Scripture study
Gospel discussions at every opportunity
Keeping covenants and bringing the temple into our homes with temple attendance, family history, indexing

Our stake president said we are at a time where we need to prepare in ways that we never have before, just like in Captain Moroni’s time.

It’s not the first time he said it. This seems to be the theme our stake president keeps being inspired to teach us. I love this theme. I hope he keeps teaching it. We need it. Over and over and over. We need to keep “upping our game plan” as he said.  

We obeyed our stake president. We discussed and set goals that very day, and yesterday we pulled out our list to evaluate and tweak. How are we doing? What else needs to be done? What goal would each person like to set to support our “upped battle plan” to protect our family against Satan?  We wrote those down. 

These are questions we must never stop asking ourselves, and acting upon, if we want to protect our families from Satan as Moroni protected against his enemy. There really is a war going on. Just as Moroni had God’s help in protecting his people, so will we have God’s help protecting our families.

Let’s get to work.