History of the Gospel January 3rd

In 1521 – Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo X as a result of Luther not retracting what the Church saw as 41 errors in this 95 Theses written in 1517. Two of the errors might have been used to give Luther a “taste of his own medicine” (so to speak) which were:

  • Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.
  • Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them.

President Monson states why this act is important to the Church of Jesus Christ:

“The reformers were pioneers, blazing wilderness trails in a desperate search for those lost points of reference which, they felt, when found would lead mankind back to the truth Jesus taught.

“John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, Jan Hus, Zwingli, Knox, Calvin, and Tyndale all pioneered the period of the Reformation. Significant was the declaration of Tyndale to his critics: ‘I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou doest’ [see Roger Hillas, “The History of the Book,” Washington Post, Apr. 10, 1996].

“Such were the teachings and lives of the great reformers. Their deeds were heroic, their contributions many, their sacrifices great—but they did not restore the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “They Showed the Way,” Ensign, May 1997, 51.

Studies Prove the Power of Forgiving

"As long as we blame others for our condition or circumstance and build a wall of self-justification around ourselves, our strength will diminish and our power and ability to rise above our situation will fade away. The poison of revenge, or of unforgiving thoughts or attitudes, unless removed, will destroy the soul in which it is harbored." ~H. Burke Peterson

We are currently moving and that means going through all the stuff I have attached emotions to and actually getting rid of it (much to my wife’s joy). I have binders upon binders of gospel stories, poems, doctrines, and well, anything else I thought was inspiring.

I’ve decided that the time has come to either throw it out or digitize it. So, my plan is to add as much as I can on to LDS Friends. If it is already online I will probably just link to it, but if not I hope to share the things I find inspiring.

Below is an article on forgiveness I’ve had for 15+ years (I think). I did a search and all I could find was a yahoo page that only shared part of the article and then linked out to USAToday. Unfortunately, the link is dead, so I have typed it out and pasted it below.

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness, so it is appropriate that this is my first archive article to share. This article hits home with me because I saw (particularly in one situation) that I fit the mold they are talking about here:

“…self-righteousness prevents letting bygones be bygones. Jealous people find it very hard to forgive … These are the ‘am I getting mine or are you getting too much of yours’ kind of people . . .”

Yeah, as much as I don’t want to admit it I am being this way with an old friend. So, even though this isn’t a General Conference talk, hopefully you will find some inspiration from it as well! ~Paul

View Image of Scanned Article

Learning to forgive can benefit the forgiver

By Marilyn Elias (USA TODAY)

SAN FRANCISCO — Forgiving others is a valuable gift for yourself, and even the most grudge-bearing people can learn how to do it, new studies suggest. Mounting evidence shows there are emotional and physical health payoffs from the act of forgiveness, says Stanford University psychologist Carl Thoresen. He spoke on a weekend panel at the American Psychological Association meeting. But forgiving doesn’t mean condoning or deciding to forget offenses, or even necessarily reconciling with offenders, he says. “It means giving up the right to be aggravated and angry, and the desire to strike back.” Thoresen’s team has developed a six-session group treatment that helps people to forgive. It emphasizes:

  • Shifting rigid personal “rules” for how people should behave to “preferences” and accepting that no adult can control another’s behavior.
  • Looking at the hurtful incident in perspective, seeing it from the other person’s point of view or at least from a neutral viewpoint.
  • Moving away from blame to acceptance, and then moving on.

A new study of 259 adults who took part in the program found that past incidents no longer stung them as badly and they felt more likely to forgive in the future, compared with a control group that didn’t participate. The positive effects remained six months later.

Those who learned to forgive also saw stress, anger and psychosomatic symptoms — headaches, stomach up-sets, etc. — go way down, significantly lower than for the control group.

Thoresen says his team has used the techniques successfully with parents of murder victims in Northern Ireland.

Writing emotional letters to hurtful people also can hasten feelings of forgiveness, says psychologist Julie Exline of Case Western University in Cleveland.

She has done studies on the comparative benefits of just writing about a painful incident, writing a letter (and not sending it) or not writing about it at all.

Verdict: The letter works best to dispel bad feelings, as long as it isn’t hostile. Letters seething, with hostility “seem to lock in the lack of forgiveness,” Exline says.

Another report on the same panel explored personal qualities that made it easy or difficult for several hundred adults to forgive others.

Empathy and a modest amount of personal guilt promote forgiveness, says George Mason University psychologist June Tangney. But self-righteousness prevents letting bygones be bygones. Jealous people find it very hard to forgive, she adds. “These are the ‘am I getting mine or are you getting too much of yours’ kind of people,” she says.

A forgiving nature may improve intimate relationships. Compared with people reluctant to forgive, the forgivers saw romantic partners in a more positive light and reported a more loving relationship with them, she says. Religious people are more forgiving than the non-religious, if they’re motivated by inner spiritual convictions, but not if they’re driven by the desire to be seen at church.”

And people of different religions are equally likely to forgive. “No set of religious beliefs gives one a corner on forgiveness,” Tangney says.

General Conference Infographic

The Two Christmas Lists

I grew up in Denver, Colorado in a family of nine. Usually with a family that size you can guarantee difficult times, and for my family this was often the case.

To help make ends meet my entire family did a newspaper route. This was no ordinary paper route, in which you see in paintings depicting a young boy riding his bike throwing papers. Rather our paper route had hundreds of papers (sometimes over a thousand) to deliver, which canvassed a significant amount of area.

It required all of us to rise around three in the morning to roll, and by the time we were done our hands were black with ink. To speed up the laborious process, we laid a blanket to collect all our papers. After a paper was rolled we placed it into the middle of the blanket with the mountain of other rolled papers. Often throughout the early morning hours we would need to stop, each grab the edges of the blanket, and carry the papers out to be loaded into the car for delivery.

A system was devised in delivering the papers as well. Each child had a day that he or she was assigned to go out with mom and dad to throw the papers. One parent would drive, the other would throw, and the assigned kid would push the papers up to the front seat to give easier access to the papers for the parent who was throwing. We had a light blue station wagon for many of the years we delivered papers, which made this delivering process run much smoother.

Yet, even with our family’s well-oiled-paper-throwing-system my parents barely scrapped by. There were many wants we children went without because feeding us was the greatest need to be attended to.

As one might imagine Christmas seemed to be the hardest time for my parents. Trying to provide for the basics—and at the same time keeping alive the dream that we can receive anything from Santa as long as we were good—often was hard.

Looking back on my Christmas memories I am amazed at how well my parents made each Christmas magical on such little means. Obviously, they were never able to give us lavish gifts, but there was never a Christmas we went without. Often, though, this was through the help and assistance of anonymous individuals.

This Thanksgiving my parents came to visit my little family. As we talked about the hard times of the past my mom told me some details of one Christmas, which I wasn’t aware of.

She shared that this particular Christmas was a struggle for them to make ends meet. Her and my dad sat down and made two lists. The first list was the needs of the family, which had small, necessary items like socks, t-shirts, and gloves. The second list was the numerous desires and wants of the family and included items like new coats and wanted toys.

With the little newspaper income they had my parents knew it was going to be a stretch to provide for most of the family needs this Christmas. If by chance they were able to meet the needs of the first list they planned to only buy one gift off of the second list, in order to be prudent with any extra funds.

After my parents made these two lists the Bishop of our Ward approached my dad. The Bishop shared that there was a family in the ward who wanted to help with our Christmas and asked my dad for a list of what our family would need. My dad provided him one of the two Christmas lists that he and my mom had created.

It wasn’t until he returned home, and to the horror of my mom, that he realized he had given the Bishop the wrong list. He gave the list that held our family’s numerous wants and desires; not, the list with the much cheaper necessities.

My mom, without wasting a moment after hearing this, went straight way to the Bishop and apologized profusely. The list he had was not the right list, and asked the Bishop to give the generous family the less expensive list. She requested that this anonymous family provide only a little of what we needed and nothing more.

Two nights before Christmas one of my older sisters went to my mother sobbing and quite angry. She felt that no matter how hard we worked the Lord was unaware of us. We rolled papers every morning and paid tithing on our meager earnings. To her it seemed the Lord was blind to our sacrifices and offerings.

My mother and her sat on the stairs that led from our living room to our front door, and while my sister was lamenting there came a quick and rapid knock to our door. My sister immediately opened the door and much to her and my Mom’s complete surprise there was a porch full of many beautifully wrapped presents. Her tears of anguish turned to tears of astonishment and joy.

It wasn’t until after we opened our presents on Christmas day that my parents discovered that this forever-mysterious family purchased every single item on both lists. No matter how much my parents saved with our family’s paltry paying paper route they would have never been able to afford what this family brought to us this Christmas.

So it is with Christ. No matter how black our hands become with the hard work of this world, we cannot return to our loving Heavenly Father without the most cherished gift of the Atonement. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob teaches us, “…wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost” (Jacob 7:12). It is Christ’s eternal gift of the Atonement that will always fulfill the list of our needs.

Yet, often, unbeknownst to us until the end, our loving Savior stands on our doorstep with the gifts found on our list of wants as well. These too are fulfilled by the Atonement, and the only requirement to receive these gifts is to ask. Luke writes, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). This is a recurring promise that is stated numerous times throughout the scriptures.

Finally, James shares that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). The Lord does not wait until Christmas or for us to give Him lists. Instead His eternal love seeks to continually bless us.

I have learned that life is hard at times, but I have also learned that the Lord is aware. He does care, and loves us infinitely more than we will ever know. As we strive to drink deeply from the Atonement, the greatest gift of all, we will come to see that there are always treasured gifts waiting for us on our doorstep.

Merry CHRISTmas from the Wilson Family!

The Santiago Temple Stands Firm During the Chile Earthquake

03/01/2010 Update: New York Times Photo Gallery of the Earthquake

I thought you all might be interested in this—an account of the Chile earthquake from the Santiago Temple President’s wife.

…we heard from our Santiago Temple President, Tom & Cheryl Lyon, written by his wife, Cheryl:

Thanks to all of you who have emailed your concern for us. We can state unequivocally that we’re fine. We can also state with the same emphasis that riding through that quake in our rocking fourth-floor apartment was for me the scariest experience I’ve ever been through!

I was sure we were about to die – that either the ceiling would fall on us or that we’d collapse through the floor. It truly was an emotion I’d never experienced before. My whole body shook for the next two hours, and after that I couldn’t stop crying.

We didn’t even have the presence of mind to get out of bed during the quake. I felt paralyzed, staring at the ceiling and wondering when the earth would stop rolling. It was the longest two minutes of our lives! We could hear things falling out of cupboards, and pictures falling off the walls. But the sound and the movement was the worst.

Our sturdy building held up fine. Just lots of dust and a few broken dishes. But elsewhere, as I’m sure you’ve seen on the news, people didn’t fare as well. Lots of damage. Virtually no stores open. Most parts of Santiago still have no electricity. Collapsed overpasses have closed major highways. The airport is closed because of damage, and planes have been rerouted to northern Chile or to Argentina. Our new missionary doctor was to arrive this morning, so I don’t know where he and his wife have ended up.

What a joy to walk into the temple and find it in perfect condition. We just had to close a few drawers and straighten a few crooked pictures. It felt so good to be there in that peaceful refuge and find normality. Moroni did lose his trumpet, however! That was the only noticeable damage.

How grateful we are for how well the Church takes care of us. We’ve often thought the 24-hour emergency lights in our building were excessive, but we were surely thankful for them at 3:30 this morning as everyone was evacuating the building – including the missionaries downstairs in the MTC. It was so disconcerting to get out of bed in the dark and stumble over fallen items in the bathroom. We got just a taste of what the Haitians have suffered, though their damage and deaths have been so much more devastating, even though their quake a weaker one. So far here they’re reporting 123 deaths, but we assume the toll will climb.

We had to decide what to do about the temple. We had every session booked for the day, and wondered if people would arrive. We met with one of Tom’s counselors – who had arrived at 5:00 for the early shift, as faithful as ever – and our registrar. We knew it would be difficult for the employees and workers to get to the temple and there was not electricity at the time. One faithful laundry sister came a great distance to help, but there was no gas for the dryers, so she had baptismal clothes from last night lying out all over the laundry.

The temple has an emergency generator which roars into action the second the power goes out. But we learned that it runs on petroleum which lasts only four hours. By 8 a.m. we knew we were about to go dark again, so we made the decision to simply close the temple for the day. Then, just in the second that the lights began to dim, the power came back on! (We’ve learned since that we’re the only section of Santiago that has power yet.) So then we decided to hold just one session, since we had three out-of-town couples staying in the hospedaje who were expecting to receive their endowments and be sealed today. We mustered all the missionary couples, along with a group of faithful sisters who work the late shift on Fridays and then stay over for the Sat morning shift. We had a most moving morning. The quake had brought such a sense of unity to workers and patrons, and the Spirit was amazing. I’ve seldom had such a moving experience at the veil – with three consecutive young sisters who were receiving their endowments.

Right now we’re sleep-deprived, and Tom has already gone back to bed. The stress has left us exhausted – but we’re alive and well! We’re still feeling aftershocks – called “replicas” in Spanish. They’re reported about 25 of them. One just rolled by as I was writing this.

So, that’s the report. After some rest we may venture out and about to see what we can see.

Thanks for your love and concern.

Tom and Cheryl
President of the Santiago Temple

Hope Arises from the Ruins of Haiti

I’m not sure who to credit for recording these tender moments in time. This article truly is a great example of how the Lord gives light to his children in their darkest moments! ~Paul W.

Much of Haiti lies in rubble. Collapsed roofs lie at angles, smashed against the floor below them. Cinder blocks slant in heaps along the roads. Some streets in Port-au-Prince look like old pictures of bombed-out Berlin after World War II. It’s a horror, an apocalypse.

Yet, amidst a shoddy neighborhood stands a jewel, the Croix-des-Missions LDS church and sounding through the air is a hymn: How Firm a Foundation.

It is a particularly well-chosen song in a land whose physical foundations could not stand the earth’s tremors, but whose Latter-day Saints have proven to be remarkably resilient. They know that though all but a handful have lost their homes, their foundation is in the gospel of Jesus Christ and that is firm.

Attending the 3-hour church block on Sunday felt remarkably normal to us. There were the Saints dressed well, many in crisp, white shirts that looked newly ironed. The deacons wore their white shirts and ties as they reverently passed the sacrament.

How can this be? Without homes, they are living on the street in hastily-assembled, makeshift shelters on any flat land that is available. Their walls may be sheets hung over ropes or pieces of cardboard. Their beds are concrete or hard earth. Everything they owned—and that already wasn’t much—has been stripped from them by an initial quake that lasted about 45 seconds and after shocks that continued for days.

Haiti, right now and for the foreseeable future, is a land sleeping out. People fill the church’s courtyards at night—and instead of woe, they laugh and talk. They have shanties on the median strip between two lanes of riotous traffic.

We asked member after member, how can you be so beautifully groomed on Sunday, given your conditions? They answered that because most everyone is now living in the street, they are indeed dirty during the week, plagued by all the ills that befalls a newly-made street person, but, they added that though they had no water to drink, they had water good enough to wash their clothes.

So there they were singing about what really is their firm foundation and looking like any other LDS congregation across the world—except they are homeless.
Their Lessons and Talks

That is not all. Their lessons and talks were sophisticated and scripturally based, as if they had a library and computer at their fingertips to prepare instead of the side of the road.

The sacrament meeting began with strains of “Come, come ye Saints, no toil, nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way.” For most of us who come from other nations, we would be hard-pressed to find joy in impoverished and broken Haiti before the earthquake, let alone now, but they sang like they meant it, “Happy day, all is well.”

They prayed, “We are all thankful to be counted among the living. We are grateful to know of thy truth. There are many outside the walls of this church who do not have this truth to sustain them through the trials. We know we were kept alive because we have a mission to complete. Bless us all that we can be strong and take care of each other.”

We listened tearfully. The sacrament was passed and each of the seven children sitting on the row next to us took not a single piece of bread but a scoop each. They are hungry.

Then we heard a talk, a surprising, enriching talk from France Nathalie Desir—so beautifully done.
She told the audience:
“For some of the adversity we face, we can place the weight on our own shoulders because we are not obeying God’s laws. That adversity we can control, but there are some kinds of adversity we can’t control like the earthquake. We didn’t do anything to attract it. We all had friends and families who were killed. A lot of people are discouraged and have lost faith, but we as members of the Church now have a mission.

“We know why we have adversities. They are to make us stronger. We have the freedom to either let them overcome us or to make us strong. Just as we send little children to school, the Lord has sent us here for a school.

“Our big enemy is our pride that keeps us from loving our neighbour and obeying the commandments…Since January 12, we all have experienced sleeping outside. As I was lying in the courtyard looking up at the stars, I knew this was the time to manifest charity and mourn with those who mourn, give food to those who need food.

“We have a certain joy, and the joy is knowing these things are temporary. The trials we are given on earth are for us, and the Lord knows everything we are going through and they are to augment our faith and bring us to God.”