Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sacred: Savior of the World

This summer, Woody has been teaching a six-week summer institute class at church titled "Savior of the World." You can actually get links to download audio of the classes here:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lessons 5 and 6

I am, naturally, a bit biased, but even those who are not said that the summer institute course was a wonderful blessing in their lives. I most heartily concur. I thoroughly enjoyed ALL the sessions, and was, as Woody also expressed, sad to see them come to an end. But, though the classes have ended, my desire to learn more about and draw closer to our Savior has been reborn.

The direction Woody was given for this summer institute was to use the script for the Savior of the World production as a foundation, and then to provide a historical and spiritual background in order to help prepare the members of our stake to participate in the presentation of the production during the spring of 2009. You can download that script, and even the score and accompaniment and choir rehearsal tracks here.

If I had to come up with just one word to summarize, that word would be JOY!

My personal testimony and love for the Savior has grown so much. I do KNOW (through a personal witness of the Spirit) that Jesus' part in the Plan of Salvation makes it possible for us to have hope! There is so much in this world that causes us grief and pain, but it doesn't have to end there.

For example, how can we get through heart-rending grief? There are so many of our own family and friends that are suffering and have heartaches that seem beyond bearing. We can, here and now, have a personal manifestation of the Spirit that will bear record to us of the truthfulness of our Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation.
That personal testimony of a loving Father's awareness of each of His children, and of a blessed reunion in a heavenly hereafter can not only give us peace, but JOY! Instead of being distraught, we can be eagerly awaiting that reunion!

In the summer institute lessons, we discussed the fact that Mary always kept things and "pondered" them in her heart as she witnessed and experienced events in the life of her Son. What an amazing example that we should follow! Like Mary, we can also come to a real understanding of these life lessons.

As we learned of the time Jesus spent with his disciples before His Ascension, some other things spoke to my heart.
- Charity is not a single act, it is a state of being.
- It doesn't matter what others do, our purpose in life should be to focus on our personal mission.

I'm taking these verses as MY mission:

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88 verses 118-120, 123-126:

118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
119 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
120 That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.
123 See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
124 Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.
125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.
126 Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.

Though I'm not (after three years) teaching monthly lessons in Relief Society anymore, I had the opportunity to substitute teach today. The topic was "Testimony," and was based on a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in conference this past April 2008. I closed the lesson by sharing my testimony, and I'd like to do that again now.

I know that our Heavenly Father’s Plan is in place because of His love for each one of us, His children. I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our elder brother, and that the Atonement assures us the opportunity for eternal life. I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, and restored the fullness of the gospel. I know that we have a prophet now, President Thomas S. Monson, who leads and guides us on our journey toward life with that same Father and Son. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What does all this mean? The absolute bottom line is LOVE - sharing it, showing it, living it!

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