Covenant Daughters of God

COVENANT DAUGHTERS OF GOD

Young Women Lesson for July 2016

Sister Jean A. Stevens said, in October 2014 General Conference, “My mother lived a rich life, full of happiness, joy, love, and service. Her love of the Savior was reflected in the way she lived her life. She had a remarkable connection to heaven and a gift and capacity to love and bless everyone around her.”

Isn’t that the kind of life we would all like to live: “Full of happiness, joy, love, and service?” That sounds like an easy life! And isn’t that the kind of woman we would all like to be: Having “a remarkable connection to heaven and a gift and capacity to love and bless everyone around her?”

How did this woman become this way? She must have had a fairytale life, with a wonderful wedding, and all the things in life to make it comfortable and enjoyable, right?

(Have girls read aloud the story from paragraphs 9-12, 15-16, and then read this quote: “In all the seasons of her life, Mother was strengthened and blessed by her love of the Lord and by the covenants she faithfully made and kept.”

Was her life perfect? Did everything work out just as she had planned? And yet, did she live happily ever after? Then covenants must be awfully powerful, if they can bring happiness, joy and love into our lives despite heartbreak, war and loneliness.

THE COVENANT PATH

President Eyring told us, “You were tutored by [Heavenly Father] before you came into this life. He helped you understand and accept that you would have trials, tests, and opportunities perfectly chosen just for you. You learned that our Father had a plan of happiness to get you safely through those trials and that you would help bring others safely through theirs. This plan is marked by covenants with God.” (April 2014 Conference)

So the plan of happiness follows a pathway of covenants.

Let’s draw a picture of happiness. This is our real-life fairytale.

[Draw a stick figure princess in the lower center of the chalkboard. Have each girl copy what you draw onto her own piece of paper for a do-it-yourself handout that will keep them engaged and help them learn kinesthetically.]

This is the princess. That would be you. We all live in a dark world with evil and sorrow, but there are stars to guide us, points of light from the heavens. And we each carry a light, the light of Christ, to light our path.

[Draw a scepter in her hand with a star on the end.]

[Draw a path from the stick figure to the lower center of the picture.]

This is the strait and narrow path. It is strait (not “straight”) which means it is restricted. We don’t get to choose your own path or how to walk it; we follow exactly as it is designed. This path is the Gospel Path, and our part to play in the gospel is basically the 4th Article of Faith. We exercise faith, repent, get baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We are allowed to enter into the kingdom of God on the earth (the church). We take upon ourselves Christ’s name and become members of his family, with the possibility of inheriting what he has. We act in his name, in other words we do what he would do if he were here. We promise to keep the commandments, to bear each other’s burdens, and to stand as witnesses of God. (Mosiah 18:8-11)

[Write BAPTISMAL COVENANT on the path.]

So where does this path lead? Well, a kingdom has to have a castle, right?

[Draw a temple outline.]

In fact, it is the House of God. By entering into the temple and making covenants in which we are initiated, endowed with power, and sealed together as families, we join the covenant that God made with Abraham and become members of the House of Israel. Abraham is now our ancestor and we belong to his family (Read Bible Dictionary, Abraham, Covenant of, paragraphs 2-3.) The terrestrial world is symbolized by the moon, and we enjoy the greater light that the moon has as it reflects the light of the sun into the dark world.

[Draw a moon by the temple.]

Keeping our temple covenants helps us become a terrestrial society: good people trying to help each other become better. As children of Abraham, we are obligated to “bless all nations of the earth” through the Priesthood (the power of that runs His church), and “gather Israel,” or seek, teach and invite others to join the House of Israel in this life and vicariously through family history and temple work.

[Write HOUSE OF ISRAEL (ABRAHAM) on the temple.]

Before Abraham’s time, Heavenly Father made a covenant with his ancestor and the symbol of that covenant is the rainbow.

[Draw a rainbow over the temple.]

I know you are thinking that the rainbow covenant was made with Noah after the flood when promised God wouldn’t flood the earth again, but that was just a renewal. The original covenant is found in the Joseph Smith Translation appendix and not many people look there so not many are aware of it. It is also mentioned in D&C 76. Enoch led an city entrenched in wickedness, and he taught them through Priesthood power so well over a long period of time, that they became too holy for this earth and the City of Enoch was taken up to heaven. Let’s read the covenant made with Enoch. (JST Gen. 9:21-25.)

When the people on earth have created a Zion society by “embracing the truth” (which we do when we are baptized) and by looking upward, the City of Enoch will come down from heaven and join Zion on earth. We look upward when we keep our temple covenants. All the symbolism in the structure and the interior of the temple pulls our eyes upward, just as the ceremony pulls our perspective heavenward, and the covenants will fit us for a Zion society, where everyone is equal and there are no rich or poor.

Article of Faith 10 relates to both Enoch’s and Abraham’s covenants: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the ten tribes, that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be established upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally on the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive it’s paradisiacal glory.” In fact, the temple connects heaven and earth even before the final days. Angels minister to us, miracles happen, prayers are answered every day as we keep the covenants we have made. The heaven we create on earth, Zion, will eventually be joined by the City of Enoch and become the real Heaven.

[Write ZION COVENANT (ENOCH) on it. Under it, write “Create Zion.”]

The first covenant of all was made with Adam and Eve when they left the Garden of Eden.

[Draw a sun above the rainbow.]

We came to this earth by “falling” from heaven. We were separated from God, and we were no longer pure and holy because this world is full of sin and error. But this was necessary to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become like God so He allowed the Fall to happen, and then provided a Savior for us. Jesus Christ would “fit us for heaven” as the Christmas carol says, through His Atonement, which would free us from our sins through repentance, and the sins of others against us through forgiveness, and make us holier and better than we could be on our own, so that we could become Celestial beings and enjoy Eternal Life, or God’s Life, ourselves. (Read 3 Nephi 27:13-14.)

All of these covenants are only possible because of Christ’s atonement, His part in the Gospel covenant. Article of Faith 3 says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

[Write GOSPEL COVENANT—ATONEMENT (ADAM) by the sun.]

Each of these covenants is part of the New & Everlasting Covenant of the Gospel (Elder Marcus B. Nash, December 2015 Ensign), and the whole thing operates by love: God’s love for us, and our love for him and for our brothers and sisters on earth.

[Draw a heart around the entire picture. Write NEW & EVERLASTING COVENANT above the heart.]

God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Our love: The statement that love is the sum of all the commandments is found in every book of scripture. (Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-31; D&C 59:5-6; Moro. 10:32) I like the way it is stated in Romans 13:8-9 “…He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law…if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Keeping the New and Everlasting Covenant does not just bring us happiness in the next life; it makes us happy here, because the most joyful experience in the world is to feel and share God’s love.

As Elder Nash said, “For all who abide the terms of the new and everlasting covenant, the reward is joy and peace in this world and eternal life in the next.”

Paul wrote to the Romans, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Read Romans 8:35-39) As long as we have the love of Christ, we will have happiness, despite times of trial.

Everything that happens outside our power will be a blessing to us, even things we might term as “bad.” As Paul taught, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So the great news of the gospel is that a life of happiness does not depend on everything working out the way we plan, and no bad things happening, and being able to follow all our dreams and hopes, and having enough money to buy what we want, and getting the exact number of children we want, and never having a crime committed against us, and having perfect health and beauty, and any other things that we don’t have control over. It does not depend on WHAT HAPPENS TO US. It depends on something we have total control over: THE KEEPING OF OUR COVENANTS to love God and our fellow human beings!

Now we can see how Sister Stevens’ mother lived a life filled with “happiness, joy, love and service,” despite missing out on some of her fondest dreams and enduring great periods of loneliness and trial at what should have been the most pleasant time of her life. There is no permanent disappointment or sorrow on the covenant path.

It is the love of God and for God and others that brings us the greatest joy, the greatest happiness and the greatest peace in this life.

[Share a personal experience about any of these covenants that will help you testify that the keeping of covenants brings joy.]

covenant

Smiling is not the universal language

Very interesting article on cultural differences in smiling.

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/05/culture-and-smiling/483827/

Girls Camp Testimony Meetings

A great article by MiddleAgedMormonMan about what pure testimony is.

http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2016/06/beyond-crickets/

Feeling Overwhelmed? This is for You

April 22, 2016

Letter to Southern Utah University students from my brother, the president of SUU

 

Hello students,

I wish I could visit with each of you personally to provide some encouragement as you prepare for and work through finals next week. Since I can’t, I have decided to send you all this little note of support. Some of you will be graduating on the 30th and I look forward to exchanging great big smiles and shaking your hand as you walk across the stage to receive your diploma. For those of you who have further to go before you complete your studies—please come back next fall. Please keep working toward your degree with us here at Southern Utah University.

It was not too many years ago when I was in your shoes. I remember watching the homework pile up and feeling overwhelmed as finals approached. (The truth is, some days I still feel overwhelmed.) May I tell you one of my favorite stories from one of America’s best writers of the 20th Century? Remembering this story always helps me feel better.

John Steinbeck wrote and published nearly 30 books. You might remember him as the author of Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath, for which he was awarded a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. In his last decade of life he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President of the United States.

My point is—Steinbeck was a good writer. No, he was a great writer. In fact he was one of America’s best!

One of his last books is called, Travels with Charley. He had been writing for decades and was looking for something new. So he loaded up his pickup truck, with a camper on the back—you don’t see these so often anymore but these campers used to be very popular back in the day—anyway, he loaded up his truck and camper with a typewriter and paper and everything else he needed, and took as his only companion his dog named Charley.

His plan was to drive across American and write a book about his experiences. In total he drove about 10,000 miles.

Okay, are you with me? He was a great writer. He received the best awards a writer can be given. He was very successful! Keep this in mind while you read the next paragraph, which is from the book, Travels with Charley. (This is very cool.)

Steinbeck wrote, as he began his drive across America and felt overwhelmed about the project, “I pulled [my truck] into a small picnic area maintained by the state of Connecticut and got out my book of maps. And suddenly the United States became huge beyond belief and impossible ever to cross. I wondered how . . . I’d got myself mixed up in a project that couldn’t be carried out. It was like [okay—pay attention to this part] it was like starting to write a novel. When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure fall on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing.”

Wow, did you get that? He was a great writer—the best. He had written almost 30 books by this time. And yet he still felt completely overwhelmed every time he started to write another book! The only way he was able to do it was to “write one page” and remove from his mind the “possibility of ever finishing.” It was too overwhelming. For some, things may seem easy, for others it is almost too much. If you are one of the later you just might become as successful in your life as Steinbeck was a writer!

If one of America’s best writers could feel completely overwhelmed doing what he did so well, then it is okay for you and me to feel overwhelmed. Remember what Steinbeck did? He stopped thinking about everything he had to do and just focused on one thing—one page. He just wrote one page. And then he wrote one more page. And pretty soon the separate pages came together to make a book—a fabulous book—one page at a time!

If you ever feel a little overwhelmed looking at all of the work you have to do. If you think you can’t do it all. That it is simply too much or too hard—stop thinking, as Steinbeck did, about the whole book—and just focus on one page. Take your homework one assignment at a time—one problem at a time—one test at a time—one day at a time. Maybe when it gets very hard, take things one hour at a time or five minutes at a time. Just stop. Take a deep breath and do one problem, read one page, do 10 minutes. You don’t do anything big and worthwhile all at once. Just take it one day at a time.

I promise you the reward of finishing this semester and coming back for another, and then another until you graduate will be worth it. Let me assure you—you can do it. Never give up.

With my warmest regards,

President Scott Wyatt

I Am a Mormon Because I Am a Feminist

http://mormonscholarstestify.org/1718/valerie-hudson-cassler

BYU Education Week 2015–The Great Visions of the Pearl of Great Price

The Great Visions of the Pearl of Great Price–Michael Wilcox

  • Education Week 2015
  • Keys of,Leadership,Priesthood

THE VISION OF ABRAHAM

All of the visions in the Pearl of Great Price have to do with the cosmos and the broad expanse of eternity. God elevates man to the status of great things, such as the stars: eternal, celestial, glorious. Elevating man does not diminish God, because the greater multiplication still exists, as he teaches in this vision.

The key to Abraham’s life is found in verse 2, that he sought for the blessings of the priesthood.
–having been a follower of righteousness
–desiring to possess knowledge
–to be a greater follower of righteousness
–to possess greater knowledge
Righteousness and knowledge are linked, like a stairway, growing grace for grace. The key to gaining knowledge from God is to be true to the knowledge he has already given you.

The reason the scriptures begin with accounts of the Creation is to instill in people the understanding of how great and intelligent God is, that this greatness is illustrated all around them, and to know that he is smart enough and clever enough and amazing, and can be trusted and worshipped.

To teach us about the stars and their light and their relationship to Kolob and Kolob’s relationship to God, is to teach us about ourselves and our intelligence and our relationship to the church leaders, who have greater light, and who orbit Christ, who is a twin star with Heavenly Father. Each time we look at the light of the stars in the heavens, it will be a reminder that we also are beings of light (intelligence), we have our place, we should stay close to our leaders, who will stay close to Christ. There are 15 apostles who are fixed like the 15 stars in the figure illustrating this scripture.

These noble and great ones have more light because they were righteous and light was added to their righteousness, as in Abraham 1:2. Intelligent people recognize that others have more intelligence than they do. A “fool” according to Shakespeare and the Bible, is one who thinks he is the most intelligent.

In life, we have rock stars, movie stars, athletic stars. These stars are not stars–they are not fixed. They are not safe points from which to navigated.

By following the stars of God (the 15 apostles), we can “hie to Kolob” or come unto Christ.

Our temples have star stones, sun stones, moon stones, which represent Revelation 1, the different lights God sends into the word.
Guiding light = stars (12)
Clarifying light = sun
Soft, gentle light, the gentle commandments = moon
These are the lights that generate out into the world from God.

Lucifer’s great mistake was that he could not orbit.

D&C 21 “Wherefore, meaning the church, though shalt give heed unto all his words (the seer, now there are 15 seers)…you shall receive his words as if from mine own mouth…by doing these things, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you, the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness, and the heavens will overflow…”

BYU Education Week 2015–Doubt and Questions

Doubt and Questions–Michael Goodman

  • Education Week 2015
  • Doubt

Doubt should be neither lionized nor villainized.

The scriptures continually tell us to “doubt not.”

There is not one scripture that references doubt positively.

“Where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time.” –Lectures on Faith

Yet, doubt and faith do exist in us, and counter each other.

Heavenly Father commands the positive not to make us feel guilty for the negative but to help us escape the suffering which inevitably flows from the negative. So he always pairs “doubt not” with “be believing,” “fear not” with “be of good courage”, “weep not” with “be of good cheer,” etc. because doubt does not lead to light.

The lionizing of doubt is very troubling to the leadership of the church. It’s taking a wrong direction. Lots of blogs say doubt is virtuous, but there is not one scripture that backs it up.

Doubt rightly done is a temporary condition. “Doubt as an objective of life is an intellectual and a spiritual offense.” John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations.

THE SPECTRUM OF BELIEF

Unbelief – Doubt – Hope – Belief

Where does asking questions fit in this spectrum? Everywhere! Asking questions does not equal doubt.

“Revelation almost always comes in response to a question.” –Elder Holland

We want to encourage those with doubts to inquire successfully.

(He had the missionary discussions all the way through 5 times before joining the church. Mission president at age 33, in Thailand.)

“There are some truths that you can’t think your way into, you have to learn from experience.”

If any man will know the doctrine, he must do it.

Belief is necessary in the learning process. Doubt does not lead to positive action. Belief should also be temporary, and lead us to knowledge. Alma 32. Belief leads to action, leads to faith, leads to knowledge. Doubt leads to inaction.

Blind faith has never been encouraged in the scriptures. It is supposed to be experimented upon. We are to be investigators.

We should not make people feel guilty when doubt comes, but help them know what to do at that point.

(BTW: Social science bears out that if you want to be successful in life, be a Mormon. In every category, we are at the top.)

June 28, 2014 statement by First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve: Asking questions is not apostasy, but is encouraged. Leading people astray is apostasy.

Alma: “Teach nothing but repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

Seer stones first appeared in the Ensign 45 years ago.

Apostles are not historians they are witnesses of Christ. The are not trying to “cover up” anything, their focus is to bring people to Christ, and to preach “nothing but repentance and faith on the Lord.” They are called to be apostles, not historians.

D&C 21:1 commanded a record of history. There was no effort to distribute it, or any effective way to distribute it, until now. Of course, the internet changed everything–made it possible to distribute information (true, false, or out of context). On LDS.org all the essays on “Topics” are not signed by the Apostles and First Presidency, but they are all read by ALL of them, according to the church historian Brother Snow, who gave all the details on this to Bro. Goodman. Bro. Goodman is on the Church Correlation Committee.

Joseph Smith Papers started 15 years ago, it is only 2/3rds of the way done, it is being done by a large team, full-time. This was started before the current fever of doubt started, not in reaction to it.

“Massacre at Mountain Meadows,” by Walker, Turley and Leonard, was put out by the Church History Dept.

The hot topics are all now being taught in the Seminary curriculum. The Church is making a good faith effort to put out all information.

PROPHETS AND DOCTRINE

“I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations.” JS
“A prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such.” JS
“When God makes the prophet, He does not unmake the man.” David O. McKay, April 1962 General Conference
Brigham Young at General Conference in the morning called the people to take on Johnson’s Army. In the afternoon session, he said Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, and the Lord would be speaking now. And he reversed what he taught. –Teachings of Harold B. Lee

Brigham Young’s essay on Race and the Priesthood was wrong, but it did not lead the church astray. What is the key to discerning? You have to differentiate between Doctrine/Principles and Policies/Practices. Policies and practices are the best efforts of mortal leaders to implement true doctrines and principles. The Brethren rarely speak in technicalities. They interchange sin/transgression, fornication/adultery, immortal/eternal, ordination/setting apart, doctrine/principles/teachings/truths/commandments. Sometimes they call something a doctrine that is just a practice. They aren’t that picky in their speech.

HOW TO DETERMINE STATEMENTS OF DOCTRINE
HERE IS ONE SET OF CRITERIA FOR DOCTRINE
1. Is it an eternal issue? Doctrines are eternal.
2. Did come from a united voice of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve? “It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk.” –Neil Anderson, October 2012 General Conference
The doctrine is found in scripture, official declarations and proclamations, and the ARticles of Faith. (LDS.org newsroom)
3. Does it pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of the children of Heavenly Father? The doctrines are few and foundational, fundamental, and comprehensive. “The core doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ are relatively few in number.” –David Bednar, “Increase in Learning” book

Todd Christopherson “Doctrine of Christ” sermon

BASIC DOCTRINE LIST from LDS.org
1. Godhead
2. Plan of Salvation
3. Atonement (this includes Grace)
4. Dispensation, Apostasy, Restoration Cycle (not the individual ones, but the pattern God uses to dispense truth, deal with apostasy, and apply the concept of restoration)
5. Prophets and Revelation
6. Priesthood and Priesthood Keys
7. Ordinances and Covenants (not the individual ordinances and how they are done, but the concept that ordinances bring us to God)
8. Marriage and Family (including law of chastity)
9. Commandments

So, for example, the plan of salvation is doctrine. The creation is doctrine. How the creation happened is not doctrine. We do not know how it happened. We have theories. The prophets/apostles have theories.

The Word of Wisdom is not a doctrine. It is a practice put in place for our day. It is still true and required. A practice can still be necessary for our salvation, even if it is not eternal.

How to keep the Sabbath day holy is practice. The sacrament is a practice. Tithing is a practice, and it has at times been closer to the Law of Consecration. Family Home Evening. How the endowment is done. These practices are not eternal. Don’t base your testimony on how we currently do these things.

Priesthood is doctrine, eternal. Who holds the priesthood is practice, revealed by God.

Training for Asia mission presidents. “If you knew the price that the Brethren pay to receive the revelation they receive, you’d be embarrassed by how little research you do.” –President Eyring.

“In less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons…Some people put reasons to the one we’re talking about here, and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that.” (Speaking of blacks and the Priesthood)
Elder Oaks, “Life’s Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections,” this particular quote was from a press conference when dedicating a monument or something to Elijah Abel.

“Blacks and the Priesthood” on LDS.org gives all the spectacularly wrong reasons that the Brethren gave for the practice. Who has the right to exercise priesthood has changed a dozen times in the scriptures. It could change again, but if so, it will be taught by the entire 15 apostles, unitedly. Brigham Young taught from the beginning that the ban for blacks from the priesthood would end.

Don’t gain or lose a testimony over evolution or creation or how creation happened. It has not been revealed how the creation happened. We don’t know if there were species that died before Adam and Eve. There has been no doctrinal statement from the united voice telling us one way or another.

Things we do not know:
Nature of the flood, local or world-wide
Location of Book of Mormon lands
Lehites alone in the Americas
How Christ was conceived
Priesthood ordination specifics