Have you ever compared our covenant with Christ to a marriage covenant? Just as a husband and wife become ONE with each other through the covenant of marriage, the Savior and a faithful follower become ONE with each other through the covenant of the gospel. Spouses renounce all other loyalties, and put each other first. One who covenants with Christ surrenders all competing claims on his allegiance, and puts God first. A bride takes her husband’s last name and becomes heir to his property. Those who covenant with Christ take upon themselves Christ’s name and become heirs of His glorious kingdom. Spouses pledge fidelity to one another. Covenant-keepers pledge enduring faithfulness to Christ. They are continent, committed, and converted. “May the joy of our fidelity to the highest and best within us be ours as we keep our love and our marriages, our society and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be” (Jeffrey R. Holland). I want more than anything to endure to the end as a faithful covenant-keeper with Christ, and remain faithful to my sacred marriage covenants. This guarantees a multitude of Reasons to Rejoice now—and throughout eternity.
I have asked myself these sobering questions: How will I be remembered when I leave this life? What do I value above all else? Which way do I face? What am I working to become? “When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. Thinking one can please God and at the same time condone the disobedience of men isn’t neutrality but duplicity, or being two-faced, or trying to serve two masters” (Lynn G. Robbins). Of course we want to respectfully coexist with others, but when fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a cleverly baited snare. The snare is approving of, or even tolerating behaviors that have been condemned by God. I choose to face the Savior, to embrace His doctrine, and to stand as a witness of His truth. It requires moral courage to stand up and speak out for truth when ridiculed or even persecuted. The easier path is silence. I want to combine courage with courtesy and compassion as I speak out and stand up for God’s eternal truths that never change.
A friend told me that before her family kneels for prayer each evening, they take a moment to reflect and share a particular experience that day which manifests Heavenly Father’s love. The person offering the prayer then includes expressions of gratitude for those specific things. In this way, family members are being made aware of one another’s kindnesses from God. This exercise also helps avoid vain repetitions and keeps expressions fresh. Though our children are now grown with families of their own, we continue the tradition of kneeling for family prayer whenever we gather together in our home. It is a sweet finish to every family activity before we hug goodbye. There is truth to the adage that “families who pray together—stay together.”
- Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior.
- Prayer is a sincere confession of mistakes, and a request for forgiveness.
- Prayer is recognition that we need help beyond our ability.
- Prayer is an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.
- Prayer is a privilege to ask God for specific blessings.
When families kneel together in humble supplication both morning and night, they enjoy a bonding spirit of love and unity.
Beautiful spring weather gives me carousel-like feelings. While the carousel lifts certain chairs high in the air, others are lowered. For me, the rising chairs represent spring. They remind me of high hopes for a new growing season in my garden, renewed faith in Jesus’ resurrection which we celebrate at Easter time, and the anticipation of hearing the Lord’s direction from living apostles and prophets. On April 4-5, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will hold a general conference for the whole world to hear. The words spoken become living scriptures to draw us closer to Christ. “When we heed the words of the prophets, we build our homes and our lives upon an eternally sure foundation, the ‘Rock of our Redeemer’ who is Christ, the Son of God” (Carol F. McConkie). When we build our foundation upon the Rock of our Redeemer, we are safe from the adversary’s grasp. “That when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to…misery and endless wo” (Helaman 5:12). I want to have ears to hear and a heart open to understand the personal revelations of God in this inspired broadcast. These are Reasons to Rejoice!
If I want to learn how to change the oil in my car, I won’t seek the answer from a medical doctor. If I want to learn how to play rugby, I won’t ask an organist. It’s obvious that when we have questions, we seek out the experts in that particular field. After teaching the people, Jesus Christ instructed them to: “Go ye and learn what that meaneth” (Matthew 9:13). The Lord likewise wants me to research out answers to my questions and ponderings. But not all resources are alike in accuracy and authenticity. If I want answers to gospel questions, for example, I will go to the official Church website (lds.org) and study what prophets and apostles have to say about my question. I will also go to my scriptures. I will check the topical guide to direct me to verses which will clarify points of doctrine. As I research, ponder, and pray for help, the Holy Ghost will verify truth to my soul. Parts and pieces will slip into place as with a jigsaw puzzle. It will be an epiphany of light and knowledge. I must exert effort and desire in order to activate God’s power. I will advance in knowledge and refinement as I research accurate sources of information to solve my questions.
“Am I getting set in my ways?” This is a question I keep asking myself because as each year clicks by, I become more steeped in habit. There are, of course, habits I will never compromise. For example, I will hold tightly to gospel principles and doctrines I know to be true from undeniable witnesses of the Holy Ghost. I will never compromise my testimony or conversion. On the other hand, I want to remain open to new ideas, learning, concepts, and precepts. I want to maintain a healthy thirst for knowledge and be interested in a wide variety of things. I don’t want to become so set in my ways that I close my mind to new possibilities, fresh perspectives, new paths and opportunities for growth. I want to stretch and forge unfamiliar vistas while remaining true to my convictions. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” (C.S. Lewis). As I press forward through the remaining years of mortality, I will trust God completely, trust His purposes for me, and trust His curriculum for my learning and refinement. Most importantly, I will trust His timetable.
“Oh, she’s so judgmental!” This common claim is against anyone looking down on another with sharp criticism. Of course that is wrong. Every soul is of great worth and should be treated respectfully. But sadly, some think that we must accept any moral perversion as acceptable behavior in order to be non-judgmental. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, clarified this issue in Matthew 7:1 [JST]. He said, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” We must make judgments constantly to differentiate between right and wrong. But this kind of judgment is not punitive; rather, it is merciful. We love the person, not necessarily the behavior. How we disagree is a measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. I can extend compassion without embracing the worldly philosophy that anything goes. “[Being non-judgmental] is a very good quality if it doesn’t mean confounding good with bad, and thinking nothing matters” (Mrs. Oliphant, The Marriage of Elinor). So, how do I make righteous judgments? Dallin H. Oaks offers these helpful guidelines:
- Seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions.
- Limit our judgments to our own stewardships.
- Refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts.
- As far as possible, judge circumstances rather than people.
- Apply righteous standards.
- Remember the commandment to forgive.