1. Do I listen to the temptation not to pray...or not to read my scriptures for that matter? (See 2 Nephi 32:8-9)
Satan knows I won’t fall for blatant temptations like “Never read your scriptures again for the rest of your life – in fact, just toss them in the trash.” So does he give up? Of course not.
- “Check email first, then get distracted looking at cute pictures of your grand baby on Facebook, and then other people's posts."
- "Put in a batch of laundry first, then get distracted cleaning the bathroom."
- "Grab a snack first, and then forget you were going to read scriptures.”
Will I give up? Never.
2. Am I planting “testimony time bombs” in my children like Jacob planted in his son Enos? (Enos 1:3)It appears that Enos hadn’t been valiant in his faith for a time, but alone on a hunting trip his father’s words about eternal life and the joy of living the gospel sunk deep into his heart. In other words his father’s seeds sprouted and surfaced after being planted long before. The law of the harvest still works, even if the harvest comes later than expected. You could call this the law of the late harvest, which is pretty much describes parenting to a tee.
3. What life lessons do I learn from seeing how God delivered two groups of good people from bondage, after letting them wait a while? (Mosiah 21-22, 24)
My opinion is that God doesn’t want us to suffer in vain. He wants our suffering to give us the lessons, growth, and Christlike character traits the trial is meant to give us. So one thing I like to pray for during a trial is that I can gain the growth, lessons, and character the trial is meant to give me. And that when it is His will, He can help me move beyond the trial. I felt this same flavor during both the stories of deliverance of King Limhi with Ammon (Mosiah 21-22) and of Alma (Mosiah 24).
Sometimes God chooses to help us by lightening our load or strengthening our backs to carry the load, rather than removing the load altogether...at least for a while. Ever lifted weights? Notice they made you stronger?
Another reason I think God waits to deliver people is so we see His power in an unmistakable way. That we can’t take credit for the deliverance ourselves.
My son had a mini experience with this yesterday. He saved up a bunch of money and recently bought himself a Kindle. Then this sweet eleven-year-old lost it. After much discouragement and searching the house from top to bottom, we said one more prayer. I asked if he had searched the couch cushions yet. Not every cushion, said he. Voila, there it was! In my opinion, had my son looked and found it himself right away, he would have missed a faith-building experience of God showing His power. God is the one who prompted me where to look for the lost item. God knows where everything is...even little Kindles. He sure is smart.
4. Do I realize the power of a parent’s faith-filled prayers? Alma did. (Mosiah 27:14)Alma's son was being a stinker, even if he was named after his father. Finally, on one of his rampages to persecute the church with his buddies, an angel interrupted their plans. “Your dad prayed me here,” the angel said in so many words. An angel came to answer a father’s faith-filled prayer, to convince Alma the younger about God. And it worked. Not only did Alma stop persecuting the church, he became an extraordinary leader for the government and the church. Do I pray with Alma-like faith over each of my children? I want to more often.
5. Do I “touch not the unclean thing?” (Alma 5:57)If a wolf tries to come into my little flock and devour my little sheep, do I keep watch, drive him out, and destroy him? (Alma 5:59.) Do I study the enemy’s plans and plots so I know how to prevent and defend the enemy from getting my family? (Alma 2:21.)
I’ve been reading 1776 by David McCullough lately. An interesting parallel to these verses is how General George Washington was intensely interested in gathering intelligence about the enemy’s plans. British General Howe seemed not to care much about gathering intelligence about his enemy. Guess who won that war? With nothing short of miracles from God, for sure. I’m following Washington’s example.
What unclean things or wolves or enemy’s plans do I need to be aware of and protect my family from? The media is a big one. Although there are some great things available, most media is an enemy. Here are a couple reasons why.
First, "Satan’s greatest threat today is to destroy the family, and to make a mockery of the law of chastity and the sanctity of the marriage covenant."
A prophet of God said that -- Harold B. Lee, to be exact, in 1972. Question: Do you think Satan uses the media as one of his most powerful tools to accomplish his goal? Do you think the media is worse today than it was in 1972?
Second, the media is a powerful teacher, and people often deny they're being taught by it.
I want to teach my children to follow God, love family, respect others, live honestly and morally, invest in education, use wholesome language, and serve others. I teach them these values and so does my church. But TV generally teaches all the opposite messages. Most media teaches not to follow God, to disrespect family and others, to lie and cheat, to break the law of chastity, to pursue entertainment, use vulgarity and violence, and to be self-centered. These themes are even seen in many “family friendly” shows, if you watch for them. This is why my family hardly ever watches TV and why we’re really picky about movies. Great, uplifting, wholesome ones are really worth watching. The rest just aren’t.
Third, listen to this scripture.
"Thou shalt not ... commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it." (Doctrine & Covenants 59:6). I know many, many people who would never consider actually killing or committing adultery, but they do things "like unto them" every single day. They watch others do those things. They fill their minds and hearts with things "like unto" adultery and killing. That's not to mention "like unto" breaking all the other ten commandments like taking God's name in vain, stealing, dishonoring parents, having other gods of materialism, and so on.
Repeated exposure makes things seem more normal. Ask anyone who has committed adultery or been violent to someone if they have repeatedly watched others do those actions.
Fourth, here is our church’s standard.
“Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.” (For the Strength of Youth, bold added)
Another great standard is this question:
“If Jesus were standing next to me, would I watch, listen, read that?”