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Rating My Relationship With the Lord

I had one of those eye-opening moments Sunday morning. I LOVE those moments.

While everyone was busily getting ready for church, I popped in The Best Three Hours of The Week, a DVD recording of a youth fireside by John Bytheway. The thing that struck me was something he quoted from a talk by Russel M. Nelson. Elder Nelson gave a 2 question test he said we could use as a “spiritual yardstick” to rate our relationship with the Lord. The questions were…

1. What do I think about during the Sacrament?

2. Do I keep the Sabbath Day holy?

I thought those questions were interesting. Notice that the questions weren’t “How often do I attend the temple?” “How many times have I read the Book of Mormon?” Or even, “Do I pray everyday?”

I know from my own life and experiences that I can have a testimony, go to church, faithfully attend all my meetings, really magnify my calling, truly love those I serve, attend the temple, pay my tithing, faithfully have FHE and family scripture study and prayer, and all the while NOT be faithfully saying my own personal prayers, not be thinking about the Savior during the Sacrament, and come home from church on Sundays and have the TV on all day. I know other wonderful members who are the exact same way.

But is the opposite true? Are there people who truly ponder the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior during the Sacrament but who don’t go to the temple or pay their tithing? Are there people who honestly focus on the Savior during the Sacrament and spend each Sabbath Day NOT just avoiding all the “no-no’s” but rather spend the day studying the scriptures, visiting the sick, preparing or studying the next week’s RS or Sunday school lesson, working on geneaology, writing in their journal, having an investigator in their home, yet don’t have prayer, or pay their tithing? I guess it’s possible. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem as likely to me. One seems to beget the other.

So much of our faith is seen by others. Attending our meetings, giving talks, teaching classes, answering questions in class, performing in our callings, going to the temple, giving compassionate service. Many of our “fruits” are visibly hanging on the tree for all to see, or at least, a few to see. And you can see whose mind is where it should be during the Sacrament. (Okay, maybe not. Half of those with their heads bowed and eyes shut are probably napping, right?)

I’m not suggesting that we magnify our callings or go to our meetings or to the temple TO be seen of others. Surely, those are done out of our faith and devotion to the Lord. Most of the time, when my family goes to the temple, no one in our ward knows we’re going. And no one but my family knows when we’re having family home evening and if we’re really reading the scriptures together every night.

But even then, I admit that alot of that is a mixture of my devotion to the Lord AND trying to nurture the growth of my childrens’ testimonies and help establish the pattern for them, as it should be. But isn’t a major portion of the measure of our devotion what happens on the inside where no one can see?

If I didn’t have children, would I be so insistent on having scripture study and prayer every night? To be honest, I don’t think I would! How do I know that? Because we are *perfect” at having FHE each week and *perfect* at family scripture study and prayer everynight. But I do NOT have personal reading time and prayer as often and as faithfully as I do with the family. Knowing me, if I didn’t have children to be teaching and nurturing, I would likely be on the couch every night, dozing off to the FOX News channel before having said my prayers.

I considered Elder Nelson’s questions and tried to focus on the Savior during the Sacrament this Sunday and did a little self-evaluation. Here’s what I came up with.

I’m often trying so hard to make sure my children are being reverent and quiet, that I’m not being very reverent myself. I fold my arms, bow my head and close my eyes. I begin to think of the Savior, then I hear a paper rattle or hear my kids whispering and my focus immediately turns to them. The truth is, I really don’t need to be doing that. From all the comments I get about how well-behaved my children are in church, I sincerely doubt that my kids are as disrupting to everyone else as they are to me. But I’m always so concerned about them disrupting the spirit in the room, or distracting other ward members around us that I’m hypersensitive to it.

I admit that I get easily distracted by other children walking around, making noises or crying, (not a little noise, jibber jabber or cry here and there, but constant noise, a baby that is continually crying, constant shuffling of papers, kids walking back and forth in the pew or up and down the aisles, up and down the pulpit stairs, etc). It distracts my children. Their distraction, distracts me. I’m always worried that my kids’ whispers and such are distracting someone else. My paranoia about their behavior and reverence practically takes over my ability to focus on what I should be focusing on.

Sabbath observance is easier for me. I can easily go without watching TV, though I could watch church films all day, which isn’t necessarily a good thing when there are better things I could do. Sometimes I plan my next Sunday School lesson or work on Stake YW things, visit other wards YW programs, go to youth committee meetings, etc. But often, I find myself sitting on the couch with kids watching The Work and The Glory, John Bytheway, The Testaments, etc. Those are all great things. But I’m not sure that sitting around watching films all day, despite their religious nature is really what Heavenly Father would have me do.

I should write in my journal. I should work on geneaology. I should spend some real intense time in personal study and prayer. I should visit less-active members.

The amazing thing is, that the closing speaker this Sunday was a Stake High Counselor and he gave a great talk based on Elder Dallin H. Oaks conference address entitled “Good, Better, Best”.

Our guest speaker quoted Elder Oaks:

“We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it… Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”

Our high councilman then talked about “good, better and best” in regards to Sabbath day observance. He said that he and his wife had been sitting on their front porch with his wife last Sunday, talking about the day’s Stake Conference with L. Tom Perry in attendance. A neighbor happened by and they ended up having a great discussion about the Church. He said that watching a church film that day would have been “good”. But having that discussion and doing some missionary work was a far better way to spend the day.

I consider it a little miracle that our high councilman just happened to give this talk on the very day that I was pondering Elder Nelson’s “spiritual yardstick” questions and my own habits for Sabbath Day worship. Yes, it’s good to watch a marathon of faith-building films like The Work and the Glory that reaffirm my testimony of the restoration and the prophet Joseph Smith. But it would have been better if I’d been sharing that testimony with a neighbor or less active member and helping to build their faith.

I’m actually a little excited to make a more conscientious effort to let go of my concerns during the Sacrament and allow myself to really focus on the Savior and his atoning sacrifice. I’m pumped up about really making the Sabbath Day a truly “holy” day by worshipping more outside of church through intense prayer and scripture study, working a little on my personal history or geneaology, and making a sincere effort to visit less actives, particularly those on my Visiting Teaching route.

Now that the weather is warm, we can even take a walk around the block each Sunday with a prayer that the Father will give us opportunities to have gospel discussions with our neighbors.

Adam offered the best of his flock to the Lord. The sacrifice we’re asked to make today is a different one. But maybe it’s about time I turned my “good” sacrifice to a “better” and “best” one.

{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Tinkerbell May 28, 2008, 10:51 pm

    Really good post. Thanks. I think that keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is huge in terms of our own spiritual development. We have members of our family who are good members but who shop on Sunday. They didn’t used to, and it has made a difference in their personal commitment and the personal commitment of their children to the gospel.

    That said, I think I fail miserably at answering both questions. During the sacrament, all I think about is how awful my kids are behaving. And I’m still trying to figure out how to get through a Sunday without breaking down and crying at the end (since my husband got called into the Bishopric). Sunday used to be my favorite day when he was home. I would write in my journal, read books, all sorts of wonderful things. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated – ready to take on another week. Now I just try not to cry. This Sunday at about 8 p.m. I decided I was tired of trying to keep my kids reverent. I turned on a CD of music from my college days (LOUD) and we all danced around until dad got home after 9. I figured it was better to play and be happy with my kids then beat them.

    But, despite my shortcomings, I know they are good questions to ask and areas that I need to work on.

  • jennycherie May 29, 2008, 4:45 am

    Beautifully written, Tracy! This topic was on my mind last Sunday as I was driving up to my mom’s. I think this will be a topic for our next FHE or two because this is something we dearly need to work on as a family. It reminds me of a quote from our SS lesson:

    President Ezra Taft Benson said: Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. ? Men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. ? Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him ? (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5 ?6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

    That last part “they want to live for Him” is the part that has been on my mind all week, particularly concerning observance of the Sabbath.

    Posted By: TinkerbellI figured it was better to play and be happy with my kids then beat them.

    good choice, Tinkerbell! Do you mean that you are trying to keep your kids reverent all day on Sunday, even at home? This is one of the parts that confuses me where the Sabbath is concerned–children aren’t expected to just sit around and be reverent all day, are they? I mean, is it breaking the Sabbath if I send my (hyperactive and generally very wild) children out to jump on the trampoline on Sunday (and tell them, “don’t come in until you’ve broken a sweat!”)? Or would it be better for us to take long walks on Sunday instead of sending them out for vigorous activity? I haven’t ever worried about the “resting” portion of the Sabbath for my kids, just because they are so active and I am afraid if I don’t wear them out, NO ONE will rest at night!

  • facethemusic May 29, 2008, 7:25 am

    I should clarify that my kids are older– my youngest is 9 years old. What I expect of them on Sunday NOW is different than what I expected of them when they were younger.
    I used to allow my kids to bring papers and crayons, church-related books, etc to keep them occupied during Sacrament meeting. But I figure that once you’re old enough to be baptized (and when I know that they can sit through 7 hours of school and behave perfectly well) then I expect them to sit quietly, without any entertainment for a one hour Sacrament Meeting.
    And Tink– we’ve listened to music and danced around on Sundays, too. There’s so much good faith-based music out there with upbeat tempos, I don’t think you have to be listening to the MoTab just because it’s Sunday. I don’t think the STYLE of the music is as important as the CONTENT. Remember, the STYLE of music we listen to and sing during Sacrament meetings does NOT set the standard for the entire day. The music during Sacrament meeting is chosen to refelect the sacred nature of a meeting where an ordinance is being observed.
    But that same night there could be a musical fireside with dancing and music with drums and guitars. In fact, musical firesides can be held in the CHAPEL, with trumpets, saxophones (instruments that aren’t reccommended for use during Sacrament services) complete with ….get this….CLAPPING!! :shocked:
    We’ve also gathered around the piano and a had a big hymn-sing. We should do that more often.
    And I have to agree– I think dancing with the kids is far “better” than beating them. You can only beat your kids on NON-Sabbath days. :tooth:
    When it comes to teaching our KIDS to honor the Sabbath, I think that’s a LONG process that changes over time as they mature. Whether we let them go outside, or what we let them DO outside, etc is a matter for mom and dad to discuss together and determine what works best for their kids.
    For example, when my kids were really little it was EASY for me to say, “No, we don’t play outside on the Sabbath”. It was easy to distract them with something else– playing with playdough on the kitchen table, watching the Primary songbook videos or a Animated Stories from the Bible (or Book of Momron) videos, reading, etc. It’s as they got OLDER that those other things became less attractive to them. When they got older, and the kids on the street kept knocking on the doors asking them to come and play, THAT’S when it got harder.
    Now, we DO let them go outside, BUT they’re not allowed to do any “rough play” kind of stuff. No football in the backyard, no skateboarding or bike riding, etc. BUT they CAN go out and do the things that they’d be doing INSIDE anyway. Example– they can take their lunch outside and have a “picnic” on the lawn. They can sit on the porch bench or on a blanket in the yard and write in their journals, color, draw, read, chit-chat etc. We’ve actually found that this works BETTER than inviting their friends in to watch a church-related film WITH them. Their friends didn’t want to come in for that, but they DO sit with the kids on the porch, in the backyard or on blankets in the front and draw with them, etc. And they’ve had several good gospel discussions with their friends this way. And they DO still watch church films on Sunday.
    Really though, this blog was more about ME and what “I” do on the Sabbath. What “I” should be doing instead of watching a church-related DVD. If the kids are watching church movies, (or even if I WAS letting them skateboard)– what am I doing???? I can watch the movies WITH them, OR I could call someone who I noticed wasn’t at church that day, work on geneaology, write in my personal history, spend some intense time on my knees and in the scriptures, do you see what I mean? Since I know that learning to honor the Sabbath is a process for the kids, that should be evolving into more personal worship and a more productive day for personal, spiritual growth as they grow and mature…well, here I am at almost 40 years old. If I’m still doing what my KIDS are doing, than I think I’ve become a little stagnant in my growth. :shamed:

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 7:50 am

    Our rules for Sunday are no playing with friends, only church videos. We let the kids play outside in the backyard. We used to have a rule about no jumping on the trampoline on Sunday, but now that my husband is gone all day Sunday, I let that one slide. We weren’t allowed to ride our bikes on Sunday when I was growing up, so we’ve had that rule, too, but my friend told me that her whole family goes for bike rides. I am thinking I might want to give that a try. Or at least I walk a stroller while some kids ride bikes. The hardest part for me about Sundays is just being home most all the day alone with the kids. My oldest goes bananas. He’s the reason why I have to plan somewhere to go every single day of the summer and why I don’t homeschool. Ever since he was little, he just can’t stand to stay home.

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 7:55 am

    At BYU women’s conference, the Nadaulds spoke about raising boys. They have 7 sons. Sister Nadauld talked about how she first tried to keep the kids inside and quiet all day on Sundays while her husband was gone and then the progression they went through – slow walks, then fast walks, etc. I can’t remember all of it, but their point was that boys can’t sit inside and be quiet all day, so it is possible to honor the Sabbath while letting them get their energy out (like several of you said, too).

  • Ray May 29, 2008, 9:02 am

    Family time is sacred time, as long as it really is focused on the family.

    If your family time is harming your family, that’s not keeping the Sabbath Day holy; if your family time is strengthening your bonds, that is. I wish people would move away from lists of do’s and don’ts and just focus on trying to live the principle of resting from all your “worldly labors”.

    I personally have NO problem taking my family to a public park and just enjoying time together. We don’t get that chance during the week, so that opportunity is sacred to me.

  • davidson May 29, 2008, 10:53 am

    Tracy, I thought your article was thoughtful and well-written. It tells me something about your heart. You are in the growth phase. You’ve been doing well, but now the Spirit whispers that it’s time to take it up a level. I love to see that in people.
    I think everyone who stays close to the Spirit receives those invitations to progress, to step up, and the wise answer them with, “Here am I; send me.” The voluntary journey of consecration. Nobody twists your arm; you go when you are ready and willing . I admire you, dear.

    HA! I told my Sunday School kids once that the acid test for a Sabbath day activity was whether or not it would bring you closer to the Lord. One teenage girl told me that jumping on the trampoline was okay, then, because every time she jumped, she was “closer to the Lord.” Hmmmm. Tink, I love you, and I want to say this carefully. It’s a hard question. Could it be that your children’s behavior on the Sabbath is a reflection of your own dissatisfaction with your current situation? (And I don’t blame you for being dissatisfied; it’s a tough situation. Hugs to you.) I only ask because I know from personal experience that your children will develop the attitude you have about the Sabbath. With some careful planning, you could turn things around. For instance, you could tell your kids that you want to improve in the principle of Sabbath day observance. Tell them that you love your husband for being so willing to serve the Lord, and you are glad he is gone doing that. It helps them form an attitude. (If you don’t feel that, you can pray for the Lord to put it into your heart. I’ve had to do that, and I can testify that if you ask for it, He will send it.) Tell your children that from now on, at least part of Saturday will be a time to get ready for Sunday. Their participation in that process is important. Assign them different aspects of preparation according to their ages and abilities. Have them help prepare a simple meal in advance for Sunday. Help them prepare their Sunday clothes and lay them out, shoes, socks, the works, so all they have to do on Sunday is put them on. Take the Saturday opportunity to teach them to wash and iron clothes, and tell them that while you are glad to help them, ultimately their appearance is their responsibility. Make a “Sunday Box” filled with quiet activities they can only do on Sunday, things they really like, and bring it out each week. Change the contents from time to time. Play gospel music while they do them.

    Maybe have “bedroom interviews” with them. These are pretty informal at our house. We call one kid at a time into our bedroom, and he lies on the bed between us. We give him a piece of candy, and while he’s eating it, we tell him what we noticed that he’s doing well. We ask him if there is anything he is concerned about or anything he needs. We question him about his own personal prayer and scripture study, (which we never seek to enforce; after all, it’s personal. But we let him know it’s important to us. If he tell us that he’s not doing it, we express our belief in him and tell him we know he can and will do it, eventually, and how much it will please the Lord and us when he does. We tell him to keep trying and not give up.) We give assignments for the days ahead. We tell him how much we love him, how important he is to us, and we give him a hug. Oldest to youngest, these interviews are priorities for our kids. If we go too long without them, they request them. They enjoy being “an only child” for a few minutes. We have learned some amazing things in these interviews, things we never would have known if we hadn’t had that one on one time. Consequently, when they have problems, they ask if they can see us alone in our bedroom. They know they can talk to us. Ideally, this would involve both parents, but if one parent consistently can’t be there, it would be a good thing for the other parent to continue. (Maybe ESPECIALLY if the other parent can’t be there, so some stability remains for the kids.)

    Read to your kids on Sunday. We also watch lots of “Mormon movies” on Sunday, and I sit with them, because on weekdays I am too busy to park in front of the TV, and I find myself rarely sitting down with my kids! For a few years, I hid in my bedroom and studied scriptures and prayed and wrote in my journal, and after awhile, the Spirit whispered that while I was growing spiritually, they weren’t. They need me to sit with them. They seem to love watching good movies together. We also have a select few “worldly” movies we allow on the Sabbath: Fiddler on the Roof, the Sound of Music, The Hiding Place, a few others–movies in which real people really pray, and their lives are guided by their trust in God. The kids sit by me and lay their heads on my shoulder. I hold their hands (even the teenagers) and kiss the top of their heads, and we revel in the opportunity to relax together for awhile. I realize we never do that any other time during the week. I don’t consider that a waste of time. To me, it is one of the “best” things you can do, (not a good or better thing.) Taking time to be there. Taking time to express love. Taking time to learn important principles in a non-threatening way. Even the really silly LDS movies have good messages in them about staying faithful, serving missions, praying, repenting, etc. The sheer repetition of those good messages is forming quiet attitudes for the future.

    As long as the brethren continue to give lists, Ray, I haven’t got any problems with lists. The overriding principle is to be led in all things by the Holy Spirit, but it is too easy for parents to fall into the trap of thinking, “If we are both agreed on it, it should be okay.” We need to have parental agreement fall squarely and carefully within bounds set by the Lord. And those bounds can only be set when priesthood leaders suggest them, and when parents study their words so they can know what the suggestions actually are. Not knowing is not an excuse for not obeying, when the counsel is readily available to us. I’m going to include excerpts from this article in my next post. It is rather long, but I can’t think of anything better for a parent to spend time on than direction from our leaders. The article is full of lists, examples both of things to do and not to do on the Sabbath day, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact, I appreciate it. Examples tend to clarify points made and give us road signs to help us know when we are on the right path.

  • davidson May 29, 2008, 10:56 am

    Earl C. Tingey, Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, ? Ensign, Feb 2000, 49

    Prophets such as Moses and President Gordon B. Hinckley have repeatedly testified of our need to honor the Sabbath.

    Several years ago I accompanied President Gordon B. Hinckley to a regional conference in which he expressed to the priesthood brethren some of his concerns about members of the Church. One of his concerns was our tendency to take on the ways of the world. ? He then said: We don ?t adopt them immediately, but we slowly take them on, unfortunately. I wish I had the power to convert this whole Church to the observance of the Sabbath. I know our people would be more richly blessed of the Lord if they would walk in faithfulness in the observance of the Sabbath ? (Heber City/Springville, Utah, regional conference, priesthood leadership meeting, 13 May 1995).

    The Lord counseled us that we as a people may keep ourselves unspotted from the world ? by properly observing the Sabbath. As a community of Saints, we should emulate the righteous traditions of our fathers and be known as a people who honor the Sabbath. There should be no misunderstanding among our associates and friends, whether members of the Church or not, about how we, individually and as a community of Saints, observe the Sabbath day. This example of our people should reflect how we act as well as what we teach. While others may watch how we observe the Sabbath day, we should not be self-righteous or appear to elevate ourselves in the eyes of others. We should simply observe the Sabbath day in the proper manner because we know it is correct and because we receive personal joy and strength from doing so

    President Spencer W. Kimball said that the Sabbath contemplates quiet tranquility, peace of mind and spirit. It is a day to get rid of selfish interests and absorbing activities ? (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], 215).

    Early Sabbath Observances
    I learned to observe the Sabbath day from my parents. I grew up on a large farm where we had animals to feed and care for, cows to milk, and vegetables to pick, harvest, and market. It would have been very easy for our family to break the Sabbath day. Although we attended to essential chores on Sunday such as feeding the animals, milking the cows, and taking the water turns when they came we never did farmwork on Sunday that could be done at other times during the week. Our tractors were turned off, and no plowing, planting, or cultivating were done on the Sabbath. We never hauled in the hay before a coming storm. My parents had a very simple philosophy: The day we violate the Sabbath day and have to miss our Sunday meetings to care for the farm is the day we sell the farm. ?

    As I grew up, married, and had a family of my own, my wife and I taught these same principles to our children. When our family was young, we lived in Connecticut and were the only members of the Church in our small community. When our oldest son was nine years of age, he was invited to play Little League baseball. He was outfitted with a complete baseball suit, and he practiced very hard to be a good member of the team. Several days before the first game was to be played, the coach of his team came to our home and informed us that due to a recent scheduling change, all games would be played on Sunday. Our son was devastated. We convened a family home evening the next Monday and discussed the matter and left the decision to our son. Knowing of our heritage and principles, he made the decision that he would not play. I can still recall his heartbreak as I drove him to the coach ?s home where he turned in his newly acquired baseball uniform.

    I recall reading a talk by President Hinckley in which he spoke of the faithfulness of our pioneer forefathers in their observance of the Sabbath. He said: May I take you back 142 years when there was, of course, no tabernacle here, nor temple, nor Temple Square. On July 24, 1847, the pioneer company of our people came into this valley. An advance group had arrived a day or two earlier. Brigham Young arrived on Saturday. The next day, Sabbath services were held both in the morning and in the afternoon. There was no hall of any kind in which to meet. I suppose that in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath then or in the future ? ( An Ensign to the Nations, ? Ensign, Nov. 1989, 51; emphasis added).

    Imagine how tempting it must have been for our pioneer forefathers to break the Sabbath day. Their survival depended upon the food they could grow and harvest. Yet their leaders counseled them to exercise faith in the promises of the Lord and to respect the Sabbath day. Church members are the beneficiaries of that heritage and of the promises of the Lord to those who are faithful. We must always remember who we are and that we are different from the world.

    Modern-Day Counsel
    Once again the promise is that all things which come of the earth ? are for our benefit if we will observe the Sabbath and other commandments. I believe that we as a people, a community of Saints, would be entitled to the marvelous blessings pronounced by the Lord if we would keep the Sabbath day holy as required by Him


    President Kimball taught how we might observe the Sabbath: The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord. It is a day on which to fast in ?sackcloth and ashes. ? It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, ? a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family and get acquainted with our children, a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of his sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father ? (Teachings, 216).

    President David O. McKay said: Sunday is a day when we change our clothes, put on clean linen. It is truth that ?cleanliness is next to godliness, ? and the Lord said, ?Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord ? ? (in Conference Report, Oct. 1956, 90).

    We have always tried to teach our children that perhaps we can better observe the Sabbath by the manner in which we dress on the Sabbath. It may not be that we would always remain in our white shirts, ties, and suits all day Sunday, but it may be that we would not quickly change to our grubbies ? or commonly worn workaday clothes on Sunday. We ought to consider dressing better on Sunday than we do the rest of the week. This will help us to properly observe the Sabbath and to do the things that ought to be done on the Sabbath.

    A member of the Seventy once shared that in his home the family observed the Sabbath by trying to focus on reverence in three areas: attitude, appearance, and activity. President Kimball reviews some excellent suggestions of the Brethren on what types of activities we might consider doing on the Sabbath: ?As we plan our Sunday activities, we may want to set aside time for our family to be together, for personal study and meditation, and for service to others. We might want to read the scriptures, conference reports, and Church publications; study the lives and teachings of the prophets; prepare Church lessons and other Church assignments; write in journals; pray and meditate; write to or visit relatives and friends; write to missionaries; enjoy uplifting music; have family gospel instruction; hold family council meetings; build husband-wife relationships; read with a child; do genealogical research, including the four-generation program and family or personal histories; sing Church hymns; read uplifting literature; develop our appreciation for the cultural arts; plan family home evening study and activities; plan other family activities; friendship nonmembers; fellowship neighbors; visit the sick, the aged, and the lonely; hold interviews with family members ? ? (Teachings, 217).

    Elder Ezra Taft Benson gave similar counsel:

    Engage in activities that contribute to greater spirituality.

    Attend essential Church meetings in the house of prayer.

    Acquire spiritual knowledge by reading the scriptures, Church history and biographies, and the inspired words of our Church leaders.

    Rest physically, get acquainted with your family, relate scriptural stories to your children, and bear your testimony to build family unity.

    Visit the sick and aged shut-ins.

    Sing the songs of Zion and listen to inspiring music.

    Pay devotions to the Most High through prayer (personal and family), fasting, administration, and father ?s blessings.

    Prepare food with a singleness of heart: simple meals prepared largely on Saturday.

    Remember that Sunday is the Lord ?s day, a day to do his work. ?

    The above suggestions of the prophets, on how we may observe the Sabbath, are modern-day applications of ancient scriptural admonitions. As members and families, we ought to start by selecting the one or two suggestions that best accommodate our needs and then incorporate additional suggestions, from time to time, to the point where we more completely keep the Sabbath day.

    Some may ask, What about the Sabbath and television? Is it right or wrong to watch television on the Sabbath? Speaking to fathers, President Harold B. Lee once said, The most important of the Lord ?s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes ? (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 255). Parents are best equipped to answer this question. The gospel principles are known. What activities may occur in the home, in harmony with gospel principles, is the responsibility of the parents and the family.

    One way to more effectively keep the Sabbath day holy is to prepare in advance. Elder Benson gave us the following additional suggestions. These practical suggestions might well be performed by all members of the family, with husband and wife and all children cooperating together before the Sabbath in order to be prepared and ready for the Sabbath:

    Houseclean, straighten up, refuel the car, and prepare clothing and meals in advance on Saturday.

    Provide for recreation and amusements during the week and provide for a holiday during the week, if possible.

    Get a good rest on Saturday night. ?

    We might also consider what activities do not fit the spirit or purpose of the Sabbath. Elder Benson offered the following suggestions of what to avoid:

    Overworking and staying up late Saturday so that you are exhausted the next day.

    Filling the Sabbath so full of extra meetings that there is no time for prayer, meditation, family fellowship, and counseling.

    Doing gardening and odd jobs around the house.

    Taking trips to canyons or resorts, visiting friends socially, joy riding, wasting time, and engaging in other amusements. ?

    Engaging in sports and hunting ?wild animals ? which God made for the use of man only ?in times of famine and excess of hunger ? (see D&C 89:15). ?

    Reading material that does not contribute to your spiritual uplift.

    Shopping or supporting with your patronage businesses that operate on Sunday, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and service stations ? (Ensign, May 1971, 6 ?7).

    Shopping and Working on Sunday
    I would like to discuss the matter of shopping on Sunday. When President Hinckley counseled the priesthood leaders that he was concerned that our people would become like the world by not properly observing the Sabbath, he made the following additional statements:

    There isn ?t anybody in this Church who has to buy furniture on Sunday. There really isn ?t. There isn ?t anybody in this Church who has to buy a new automobile on Sunday, is there? No. There isn ?t anybody in this Church who, with a little care and planning, has to buy groceries on Sunday. No. Most of us have refrigerators. A quart of milk will hold, insofar as the bacteria go, from Saturday till Monday. There is no question about that. You don ?t need ice cream to be bought on Sunday. You don ?t need to buy groceries on Sunday, brethren. You don ?t need to make Sunday a day of merchandising. I don ?t think we need to patronize the ordinary business merchants on the Sabbath day. Why do they stay open? To get customers. Who are those customers? Well, they are not all nonmembers of this Church. You know that and I know that ? (Heber City/Springville, Utah, regional conference, priesthood leadership meeting, 13 May 1995).

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said: Modern-day prophets have encouraged us not to shop on Sunday. ? Those of us who shop on the Sabbath cannot escape responsibility for encouraging businesses to remain open on that day. Essential services must be provided, but most Sabbath transactions could be avoided if merchants and customers were determined to avoid doing business on the Lord ?s day ? ( Brother ?s Keeper, ? Ensign, Nov. 1986, 21).

    The Lord taught us that principle many years ago. In the 10th chapter of Nehemiah, verse 31, the people were taught to observe the Sabbath with the following instruction: And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day. ?

    Let ?s not shop on Sunday. One way we avoid this is by planning ahead. Fill up the gas tank of your car on Saturday. Acquire the needed groceries for the weekend on Saturday. Don ?t be the means of causing someone to work on Sunday by patronizing their establishment. Of course, we know that there are essential services that must be open on Sunday, such as those serving emergency, medical, and transportation needs.

    President Kimball tells of interviewing a man when he was reorganizing a stake. ?What is your occupation? ? And he said, ?I operate a service station. ? And I asked, ?Do you operate on the Sabbath? ? His answer was, ?No, I do not. ? ?Well, how can you get along? Most service station operators seem to think they must open on the Sabbath. ? ?I get along well, ? he said. ?The Lord is good to me. ? ?Do you not have stiff competition? ? I asked. ?Yes, indeed, ? he replied. ?Across the street is a man who keeps open all day Sunday. ? ?And you never open? ? I asked. ?No, sir, ? he said, ?and I am grateful, and the Lord is kind, and I have sufficient for my needs ? ? (Teachings, 227).

    Nearly 125 years ago, Elder George Q. Cannon (1827 ?1901) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following counsel: A man deceives himself when he thinks that by working on Sunday he advances his labor or his interests. So also with those who take that day for excursions and pleasure hunting. A man who strictly confines his labors to six days, and will not work himself, not suffer his animals to work on Sunday, will perform more labor during the year and be prospered to a far greater extent than the man who is careless upon this point.

    So also with those who seek pleasure; they lose by using the Sabbath for that purpose. If they would select some other day, they would find themselves better off at the end of the year than they would be in using Sunday for this purpose. It should be an inflexible rule with every man, woman and child in the Church to hold Sunday sacred for the worship of the Lord and never to perform any labor on that day if it can possibly be avoided ? (Gospel Truth, 2 vols. in 1, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist [1987], 394 ?95).

    For those who work on the Sabbath when it is not necessary, President Kimball said, I wonder if money earned upon the Sabbath, when it is unnecessary Sabbath earning, might not also be unclean money. ? To students, he said: I hope students will use the Sabbath for studying only as an emergency. ? I believe that generally, with careful organization of time through the week, most studying can be done on weekdays, leaving the Sabbath for worship. ? There might be times when one would feel forced to study, when he might feel that it was an ox in the mire. I am expressing only my personal opinions on this matter, but since we are talking to students, it would be my hope that your studying could be done in the season thereof and not as a cramming process just before you go on Monday mornings ? (Teachings, 227, 229).

    There are personal goals to be set and achieved in the spirit of humility and meekness and not in judgment of others. When we can achieve this level of Sabbath observance, we will experience quiet strength, knowledge, and peace. I like the statement of Elder Mark E. Petersen (1900 ?84) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    We can readily see that observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion.

    Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us ? ( The Sabbath Day, ? Ensign, May 1975, 49).

    I bear witness that observing the Sabbath day is a commandment of the Lord and that the Lord is very displeased when we do not honor His day. If we as a people, and each of us as an individual, will follow the counsel of the prophets, we will truly be unspotted, that is, in the world but not of the world, and we will be blessed.

    Tracy, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I need to make some changes. I appreciate your bringing the subject up. Time to grow.

  • facethemusic May 29, 2008, 11:36 am

    Davidson– just wanted to say that I agree with you completely about actually sitting WITH the kids and watching a church-related film. My whole family can tell you that I almost NEVER watch anything on TV. I’m just too busy. By the time I DO sit down, the kids are in bed and all I really care about is catching the news. Sometimes I watch whatever my husband is watching on the History channel, Discovery, etc.
    However, on Sundays, I could watch Called To Serve, How Rare A Possession, The Work and the Glory , The Testaments, or Ensign To The Nations on a continual rotation. I LOVE those! It’s one thing for me to sit with them for a couple hours and watch one of those films– it’s another thing for my rear to be glued to the couch. :shocked:

  • Michelle D May 29, 2008, 12:04 pm

    I have discovered that the older my kids get, the easier it is for me to focus on the Savior during the sacrament, instead of on my kids’ behavior. Agency and accountability play a role in that. They are learning to be reverent without having to be told to hold still and be quiet. They aren’t perfect at it, but they are better than they used to be. Seeing the way my older kids behave gives me hope for the ones who are still young enough to be earlier in the learning process.

    I have also learned that, in general, the noise coming from your kids in sacrament meeting is louder to the parents (who are trying to teach their kids to be reverent and not to distract others or themselves) than it is to those 4 or 5 rows away (who are dealing with their own noisy kids and not paying as much attention to yours as you think). Those of you who struggle – especially with Dads up on the stand or serving in capacities that take them to other units and meetings – Don’t give up hope! It really does get a little easier!

    I worked on improving my personal scripture study by telling myself that I couldn’t pick up the book I wanted to read until I had read my scriptures. It was an easy way to remind myself to prioritize. And I love to read sections of scripture stories, rather than a chapter at a time. For example, I read all of King Benjamin’s address in one sitting. I read about Abinadi’s prophecies and martydom. I read Christ’s visit to the Nephites – though that one takes a bigger chunk of time to accomplish. The scriptures have become more inter-related to me this way, rather than chopped up mini-stories. I am not always able to read that way. Sometimes I read a favorite verse and call it good for that day! Currently, I read first thing after helping my client get ready for bed at work. Since I work overnight 3x a week as a caregiver and need to stay awake in order to assist the client when necessary throughout the night, I have time to read several chapters at once. (I also get a lot of sudoku puzzles solved, books read, and blog post ideas formulated!)

    As for keeping the Sabbath holy, I think what works for one family might not work for another – the trampoline examples come to mind. I think this post is a good reminder to evaluate how we are doing individually and as a family, and make improvements where necessary. I think it’s important to realize that what works for our families will evolve over time. We used to not go outside; now we do, though the activities are more limited than they would be on a weekday. I think there are a lot of similar “return and report” situations in living the gospel. (evaluate, make changes, be accountable)

    Good post, Tracy. Thanks for the motivation to evaluate again. πŸ™‚

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 12:10 pm

    Davidson, yes, you nailed it on the head. I hate Sundays now, and it is affecting my kids. I know I need a major attitude adjustment. Everytime I think I’ve done it, I get another challenge to humble me further. :tongue: Thanks for the suggestions. And now, sorry I distracted the discussion from Tracy’s thought-provoking point on what we as adults should do on the Sabbath. (In fact, perhaps if I actually did some of the things I want to do – like write in my journal – the kids might learn from that?)

  • facethemusic May 29, 2008, 1:06 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions. And now, sorry I distracted the discussion from Tracy’s thought-provoking point on what we as adults should do on the Sabbath.

    No need to apologize– conversations evolve all the time! I just wanted to make sure that everyone understood that the post was about me evaluating MYSELF as an adult, and not a critique of what other adults do or allow their childrento do on the Sabbath.

  • marathonermom May 29, 2008, 2:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Tracy. I’ve been troubled lately about my own and my family’s Sabbath observance, and you’ve helped me clarify some of my thinking. My husband and I haven’t quite figured out yet where to draw the line on the kids playing outside on Sunday. A couple of Sundays ago, we had our first warm day in what seemed like forever, so we let the kids play out front. Of course, all the other neighborhood kids were out enjoying the nice weather, too, and they all played together. DH and I were chatting with the other parents, life was good, and then things kind of evolved, and before we figured out how to gracefully control the situation, all of the kids were in their swimsuits playing on the neighbor’s trampoline with the sprinklers going. That felt so wrong for a Sabbath day, but we couldn’t figure out at the moment how to extricate our family without offending our wonderful neighbors. Life’s tricky, huh? We need to spend some quality FHE time discussing our family’s Sabbath standards.

  • davidson May 29, 2008, 3:52 pm

    Sure they would, Tink! If your children see you writing in your journal because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to, you have taught them better than words ever could. One year for Christmas I gave each kid a matching journal and photo album, and I filled their photo albums with pictures of them. I was surprised to learn that the photo albums and journals took the attention away from the shiny, glitzy (more expensive) things under the tree! They spent more time with their journals and photo albums than with anything else. Really shocked me. (Putting pictures in a photo album and journaling about them is a good Sabbath activity.)

    I like to read scriptures when I am alone so I can really concentrate, but I realized that if I always do that, my kids will never see me reading, and if they never see me reading, I won’t seem qualified in their eyes to tell them they need to read their scriptures. So sometimes, while the kids are getting ready for school, I sit in the living room and read my scriptures. I may have to read the same verse over and over again! but the important thing is, they can see me doing my personal scripture study. I also share with them the things which I find fascinating in my reading, and they are learning the value of the AHA! moments to be had in the scriptures. Actually, now they are telling ME when they find some of their own.

    Here’s what I think about activities for the Sabbath day. Hold the Lord to His word. Experiment–but after the experiment, BE SURE you ask for the confirming witness, especially if it doesn’t come readily. Wonder about letting your kids jump on the trampoline on Sunday? Tell your children you’re going to conduct an experiment, and tell them what your hypothesis is. Go a week or two allowing them to jump on the trampoline on Sunday, then invite the family to join you in asking the Lord if it is right. If you ask and receive the witness that it is, more power to you. If you don’t get an answer, go another week or two without allowing them to jump on the trampoline on Sunday. Then again invite the family to join you in asking the Lord if it is right. If you receive the answer that not jumping on the trampoline is proper for the Sabbath, don’t jump. But tell your children that they can’t ask unless they are willing to live the answer they will get. If they won’t live the answer they get, there will be no lightning from the sky–but they WILL limit their ability to receive future answers, and soon they will be operating on their own without the guidance of the Spirit, without even knowing it. Elder Tingey talked about losing the Spirit little by little. I also think that we need to be careful to not let the answer be based on which is easier or more pleasing to US, but rather, which would be more pleasing to the Lord. And don’t underestimate your kids or lower the level of your expectations for them. Don’t underestimate yourself! You may not think you can stand having the kids in the house all day on the Sabbath, but it might just mean you need an attitude adjustment and some prior preparation. I don’t buy it when parents tell me their kids can’t sit in the house and do quiet activities all day long. Yes they can. They are required to do it for school, which means they are capable of it. It may not be their favorite thing to do, but what parent allows their children to do only things that are their favorites? I think we can expect them to make sacrifices. If they get bored with one activity, change the activity. If they aren’t cooperating, invite them to take a nap. Maybe it will take years and years of “practice” before they learn the value of keeping the Sabbath day holy, but we can’t give up and quit, just because it isn’t easy. “Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion” and all that. “Attitude reflects leadership” and all that.

    Another quick trick I use: if they aren’t cooperating on a Sunday, I tell them that if they are breaking the Sabbath anyway, they might as well have a productive way to break it. I don’t get angry. I say it calmly, and I follow through. Tell them, “I will have to control you until you can learn to control yourself.” They know if they act up in Sacrament meeting or start running through the house with a football on Sunday, their “energies” will then be redirected to doing the dishes or straightening rooms or other necessary activities that we tend to let slide on the Sabbath. They are free to choose their actions, but they are not free to choose the consequences of their actions. If we don’t provide consequences, we fail to teach. The Lord has some pretty stern warnings for parents who fail to teach, especially covenanted parents who have the truth available to them.

    Last of all, (can you tell I feel strongly about this? soon I’ll shut up. :bigsmile:) We as parents have an obligation to make keeping the Sabbath day holy as pleasant as possible. Concentrate on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t. Notice and praise any efforts to improve. If you will be happy about it, they will learn to be happy about it. If you will show them that it does good things for you, they will learn it can do good things for them. And just TRYING will ensure that you have the hope and help of the Lord. He will support you in this. A way will open up.

  • davidson May 29, 2008, 4:06 pm

    Liked what you said, Marathonermom, especially your last line. We need to teach by example, but that doesn’t preclude us from teaching by precept, too. We may think our children know what our Sabbath standards are and why we should keep them, but unless we tell it to them plainly, they may not know. Thanks for the idea. We haven’t had a FHE about Sabbath day standards for a long time, and this Monday night might be a good time to have a review, while it’s still fresh on my mind. Thanks for all your input, everyone. I will use it.

  • jennycherie May 29, 2008, 4:07 pm

    Davidson – I’m just no sure I see the *benefit* to having them sit in the house and do quiet activities all day long. That is not best, in my opinion, for any of us. I also think that you cross a line when you say

    Posted By: davidsonI don’t buy it when parents tell me their kids can’t sit in the house and do quiet activities all day long. Yes they can. They are required to do it for school, which means they are capable of it.

    That is assuming way too much. Many kids struggle mightily to get through a day of sitting for school and even school has recess and PE.

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 4:23 pm

    davidson, I really like and appreciate your comments. My kids CAN sit through a Sunday of indoor activities. How do I know? Because we’ve done it for the past 7 years – it is just the last 6 months that I am on my own on Sundays that we have had a problem. My husband used to take them for long walks on Sundays. That was wonderful. It would give me a chance to get things cleaned up or dinner finished or whatever with them out of the house. But, now that it is me, me, me from sunup until sundown, it is chaos. So, attitude adjustments, schedule adjustments, whatever we need – I know we are capable of keeping the Sabbath more holy than we are currently doing. Same goes for reverence at church and during the Sacrament. We are capable of being more reverent. Honestly, most of the time I just give up because I am tired of trying. What was that again? Endure to the end? Oh, ENJOY to the end.

    And I really like the concept of learning self-control. Great idea!

  • davidson May 29, 2008, 8:39 pm

    Yes! Yes, Jenn, that is exactly what I want to do. Cross a line! And I don’t mean it in a snippy way, and I don’t mean to upset you. I know you are a good and conscientious mom. If the proverbial line is drawn in the sand, I want to cross it and be on the Lord’s side, wherever else I am not, whatever else others might think, and I wholeheartedly encourage others to do the same. His opinion matters; none other. Surely children who have never been required to be indoors and do quiet activities will find being indoors and doing quiet activities very difficult, whether for school or for Sabbath day observance or for anything else. That’s a good reason to start when they are very young to teach them that all flavors aren’t vanilla. There are times to be silent and times to speak. Times to worship and times to play. Times to be outdoors; times to be indoors. Times to be silly and times to be sober. Parents can teach children that not everything has to be “fun” to be worthwhile or enjoyable. Parents can teach them to switch gears gracefully. It takes lots and lots and lots of purposeful practice, and it can be exhausting for everybody. That doesn’t mean we should quit! Even handicapped children can learn to make improvements. I watch with interest every Sunday as devoted parents in our ward teach their little boy (who is severely autistic) to control himself as much as possible. They work within the framework of his limitations, but they also don’t give up just because it is difficult.

    Actually, I’m a great fan of varying the activities. If the kids are too rambunctious in the house, you could take a toned-down family walk to look for God’s handiwork, to build family unity, and to relieve some tension. Talking about sacred things while you’re walking makes it even better. I have wondered about taking walks on Sundays. Today I looked up several articles in the Ensign, and different writers suggested that a quiet family walk was appropriate. I know that had to be approved before it could be published. It used to be that our church building was within walking distance, so a walk to and from our church meetings was a great way to expend some energy. Now we go to a building five miles away, so that isn’t as practical. Sometimes we take our kids to walk around the Idaho Falls Temple on the Sabbath, and they love that, especially at night when the temple is lit. If you feel the need to leave the house, you could take them to visit an older relative or ward member who is lonely or sick. But I think a home is a good place to keep the Sabbath day holy. As Marathonermom pointed out, the temptations increase as you leave your home, even if it is to go to your own yard! Sometimes my kids ask if they can go outside and sit quietly on a Sunday afternoon, but they are rarely able to do that. It always leads to something else, because they have learned by association that the yard is a place to play.

    Tink, I love your humble heart. We all get tired of trying. I guess that’s why we have so many Sundays, so we can keep practicing and keep trying. Another Sunday always comes. You will never feel better than when you and your family finally succeed at doing something that has been difficult for you. The witness comes AFTER the effort. Sometimes just the passage of time will solve some Sunday problems. ENJOY to the end is a great idea! With your permission, I will tell others.

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 9:29 pm

    I copied it from someone else. πŸ™‚ I should probably paint it on the wall to remind myself. That’s a good way to look at it: “We blew it this Sunday – good thing we can practice again next Sunday!” (instead of, “Oh no! Not another Sunday!”) Sometimes it’s all in the attitude.

  • spitfire May 29, 2008, 9:44 pm

    I’m intrigued by the challenges of having children at home & the Sabbath day struggles. I am an empty nester & only have my own experience to offer. One of the greatest regrets I have as a mother is how I did/did not keep the Sabbath day as my son was growing up. At the time, I was separated from my husband & working full time. As an RN, I worked everyother weekend. What this meant was church in the morning & then off to work in the afternoon. Because we had limited time (that’s my excuse & I’m sticking to it!), we would eat lunch/dinner out & then I would drop my son off @ home & go to work. Rather than wag my finger at myself, I now have a son (29 y.o.) who is active in the church but every Sunday is busy with non-church activities (after he attends church). I realize some of this is due to him being single, working full time & working on a second masters i.e. the grocery store run, etc. But I know many who do it & keep the Sabbath holy. So, I’m making excuses for him. But I have to tell you that every Sunday when I talk with him & he relates that he has gone to lunch with friends or to a showing @ the museum, etc, I get stabbed in the heart. His activites on the Sabbath are a CONSTANT REMINDER of my choices as a parent. So, ladies, trust me, no matter how hard you struggle, if you are striving to do what is right & accomplish it, it will ultimately reward you bu your adult children’s obedience to the Law of the Sabbath.

    Hang in there..you are all doing the right things!

    The article was wonderful & gave me great pause for thought. Now I strive every Sunday to live the Sabbath as best I can. But let me tell you, having 2 adults at home does not make it easier. It is actually more difficult in someways as there is no one to be an example to!! My DH watches certain TV shows that I do not consider appropriate on any given day (HBO type stuff) but especially on the Sabbath. But he is an adult, what can I do? I have expressed my desires, but this is his home as well. I can only do so much….

    I think all of you are the right track…keep at it!

  • Tinkerbell May 29, 2008, 9:54 pm

    spitfire, your comment reminded me of back at the beginning of my marriage when my husband would turn on the t.v. and watch an “inappropriate” show on Sunday. I remember making eye contact one time as I walked out of the room, and I could tell he was ashamed. More recently (when he was home and putting the kids to bed), I would sneak into my room with the door shut and lights out and watch “Cold Case” with the volume turned down. Didn’t want my kids to know I was watching it, but didn’t want my husband to know either! I knew I’d get the evil eye right back at me. LOL In fact, thinking with longing back to when I did sneak in the t.v. on Sunday (can’t do it now – my kids would know) makes me wonder why exactly I am in this “trial” – perhaps the Lord is refining me since I wouldn’t refine myself? πŸ™‚

  • Ray May 29, 2008, 10:24 pm

    Fwiw, the Jews at the time of Christ had built up the rules for proper Sabbath worship to the point where they knew how many steps they could take (walks OK; LONG walks not OK), and Jesus was criticized for allowing his disciples to pick food and eat it.

    I repeat, if an activity draws you closer to each other, to others and/or to God, it’s appropriate for Sunday. I don’t want a list; I want the principle so my wife and I can construct an appropriate list for our own family.

  • facethemusic May 30, 2008, 6:38 am

    I think Ray’s brought up a a very important point, and it’s THAT point that demonstrates WHY parents can determine for themselves what works for their children.
    You can’t do that with ALL gospel standards, some are very clear cut. Some aren’t and so they require us to interpret and apply them to our lives as we feel inspired to do so. Some parts of Sabbath Day worship are clear cut– there ARE some things that we KNOW are inappropriate on the Sabbath. But then there are things that CAN vary from family to family depending on what works for their children.
    For example, Davidson said “sometimes my kids ask if they can go outside and sit quietly on a Sunday afternoon, but they are rarely able to do that. It always leads to something else, because they have learned by association that the yard is a place to play.”
    But my kids do it perfectly fine. I told them the first time I let them do this, that if it was too much of a temptation to them and I looked out and saw them playing basketball or whatever, that they’d have to come in. They explained it to their friends, and now their friends know, too. My kids LOVE being able to be outside even if it’s just to sit on a blanket in the yard or on the porch and snack while they write stories and illustrate them.
    It was actually my 13 yr old son (who says he wants to be a pilot but will probably end up being a lawyer) who made the argument, asking why they couldn’t go outside to do the SAME things they were doing inside. It was something like “If we’re allowed to draw or read INSIDE on Sunday, why can’t we do it OUTSIDE on Sunday. Just BEING outside on Sunday isn’t “breaking the Sabbath”, right? ” or something like that– the little smart alec.
    But, we thought he made a good and reasonable argument. It was just a matter of whether or not they’d put down the paper and books and start skateboarding when their friends happened by. So we laid down the rule– told them we’d be watching, and so far, they’re sticking to it.
    Tink brought up a presentation by the Nadauld’s who said that “boys can’t be inside and be quiet all day” — that’s true for SOME boys, but for many, it’s not. How many million boys sit in front of a computer or play video games ALL day? My nephew is one of them. He would literally do it ALL DAY LONG if his parents let him. He’s practically anti-social. Granted, I don’t know if someone would WANT their kid to be on the computer all day on Sunday- but I’m just emphasizing the point that there are MANY boys who CAN be inside or sit all day long.
    Just last night I was at Jennycherie’s and she was telling me how all her son wants to do all day is read. That even at school when they’re just walking in the hall from one room to another, he takes his book with him and walks and reads at the same time. She said she was the same way as a child and her mother was always having to PUSH her to go outside and do something other than sit inside and read all day. (Her son is also one who can spend hours at the computer, as well) She talked about her daughter’s reading and how she reads every single little thing, paying super close attention to the pictures, etc, etc.
    Not MY kids!! My kids are the COMPLETE opposite. The only time they’re interested in the computer or reading is if they’re doing homework. They have a Gamecube but it’s hardly EVER been used. My kids are outdoor kids. We go to the library and they excitingly check out books but they hardly EVER read them! They get home and want to go outside! It’s one of the tactics I USED for helping them keep the Sabbath Day holy. “You run around and play outside all week, you checked out all those books from the library and you never read them. So Sunday is a GREAT day, to calm things down and read all those books!” But then my son and his attorney-brain came up with the “well what’s the difference between reading INSIDE and reading OUTSIDE” argument. And it works for THEM, even though it might not work for other kids.

  • Tinkerbell May 30, 2008, 7:59 am

    How do you get one of those kids who want to read all day long? I want to place an order . . . My oldest loves to read – in his closet, late at night when he is supposed to be asleep. That’s pretty much it.

    IMO, there is something about video games and t.v. that suck in active boys. It does something to their brain that seems to meet their need for activity in the short term. If I would let them, my boys would play all day, and then bounce off the walls all night. Some people seem to handle video games okay and are able to keep moderation in all things. My kids aren’t like that. Sorry for the threadjack.

  • jennycherie May 30, 2008, 10:17 am

    Posted By: davidsonJenn, that is exactly what I want to do. Cross a line! And I don’t mean it in a snippy way, and I don’t mean to upset you. I know you are a good and conscientious mom. If the proverbial line is drawn in the sand, I want to cross it and be on the Lord’s side, wherever else I am not, whatever else others might think,

    davidson, I was not speaking of you crossing a line to do the right thing but rather crossing a line in your judgment of others. You say you don’t buy it that some kids can’t

    Posted By: davidsonsit in the house and do quiet activities all day long. Yes they can.

    I know of two families off the top of my head (not my own – – Tracy mentioned that two of my kids, in particular, will sit forever–though I do not believe that is best for them) who have children who can NOT sit all day long, or even for an hour sometimes. One of the little boys I know is extremely sweet. He *looks* normal and he talks like all of his friends but his family recently found out he has Asperger’s syndrome. Many people, not knowing them, think he is wild and that his parents are permissive. To *you* it might look like he could do reverent, calm activities all day but he cannot and trying to insist is disastrous. The other family has a son who is severely autistic. His poor mother has barely had 5 minutes to sit down since he was born! These parents aren’t lazy or unfaithful. You are not in a position to tell anyone else that you know what their children can or cannot do. I love your suggestions for things to do on the Sabbath and it is great to hear what works so well for your family because much of it will work for my family and other families. But that does not mean that other families who do differently or who have different issues are wrong. I think that is the only danger in lists. It gives us a measuring stick that we too often hold up to others instead of ourselves. I’ve noticed that when the general authorities do give lists, they are very, very basic lists.

    Posted By: RayI don’t want a list; I want the principle so my wife and I can construct an appropriate list for our own family.

    I think that is really important – – we want to take responsibility for our own family’s observance of the Sabbath. The ideas here are wonderful, but not universally applicable.

    Posted By: facethemusicShe said she was the same way as a child and her mother was always having to PUSH her to go outside and do something other than sit inside and read all day.

    and the cycle goes round. . . now I am the one pushing my kids outside!

    Posted By: TinkerbellHow do you get one of those kids who want to read all day long?

    Tinkerbell, I really think this just has to do with personality and preferences! I could loan you mine and introduce you to the problems associated with this behavior–namely, the dangers of walking while reading!

  • davidson May 30, 2008, 11:47 am

    Ray, I appreciate what you’re saying, and I agree that parents should be actively involved in deciding what will and will not happen for their families as far as Sabbath day worship is concerned, but all within the realm of guidelines. It’s the good old “letter versus the spirit of the law” discussion. Tell you what I think about that, and I believe it with all my heart. People act as though one can only choose BETWEEN the two options–letter or the spirit–and that simply isn’t so. The Israelites were famous for their one-sided living of the “letter” of the law; they had lost the interpretation of the symbols. But I submit that if we live the spirit of the law, we become more and more anxious to live the letter of the law with exactness, being fully aware of what the symbols mean. We develop the desire to be as obedient as possible, and we say to the Lord, “Thy will be done, not mine,” just the way the Savior did. We look for ways to improve our obedience. We seek to be led by the Spirit, but we don’t ignore the suggestions the Brethren have given for our benefit. Being led by the Brethren is part of being led by the Spirit. That means SEARCHING for the directions the Brethren HAVE given, and being willing to comply. If the Brethren have given lists, I don’t think we can conscientiously say we don’t want a list, can we? Well, I guess we can, but not in the name of obedience. If you have a question about a Sabbath day activity, seeking to know if the Brethren have already spoken on the propriety of that particular activity is a worthwhile exercise. Perhaps an answer will not be given directly through the Spirit if the Brethren have already given sufficient instruction on the matter. I expect the Lord would want us to avoid being lazy and work to dig some answers out ourselves.

    Some also assume that if a specific direction isn’t given, the rightness or wrongness of the matter doesn’t exist; it’s all up to preference. Maybe that isn’t so. Maybe the rightness or wrongness exists, but the Lord is waiting for us to ask before He reveals it. Not commanded in all things, so to speak. I am certain He has opinions about children jumping on the trampoline on the Sabbath day. The rightness or wrongness of it isn’t open to individual interpretation, as some believe, but since there is no general rule “Thou shalt not jump on the trampoline on Sunday,” the askers are the ones who get the very real answer. It is possible to displease the Lord without knowing we are doing so; the Doctrine and Covenants is filled with specific examples of that. We toodle on our merry way thinking that what we are doing is acceptable without ever having the forethought to ask specifically.

    “I feel good about it” is not always a great indicator of rightness or wrongness. As we develop the attitude of “Nobody is going to tell me specifics!” we lose the Spirit to that degree. He won’t force himself on anyone. Rationalization is a great anesthetic, taking away the discomfort of disobedience we would normally feel. Lots of people feel great when they are anesthetized. One thing about anesthesia I know for sure; it tends to muddle your thinking.

    Hey, I’m convinced that you and your wife are good and obedient people, and you teach your children to be the same. Additionally, I think we all have different strengths of testimony on different gospel subjects. We make discoveries as we go. In the next post, I am going to share a paragraph about how one prophet’s grandfather had progressed in his desire to live the law of the Sabbath with exactness. His strictness would seem over the top to many. Pay attention to Elder Faust’s commentary.

  • davidson May 30, 2008, 11:50 am

    James E. Faust, The Lord ?s Day, ? Ensign, Nov 1991, 33

    My brothers and sisters and friends, for some time I have pondered what I might speak about today. I seem to have been led in my thinking by a concern that so many in our generation are missing great blessings by not honoring the Lord ?s day.

    I confess that as a young boy, Sunday was not my favorite day. Grandfather shut down the action. We didn ?t have any transportation. We couldn ?t drive the car. He wouldn ?t even let us start the motor. We couldn ?t ride the horses, or the steers, or the sheep. It was the Sabbath, and by commandment, the animals also needed rest. We walked to Church and everywhere else we wanted to go. I can honestly say that we observed both the spirit and the letter of Sabbath worship.

    By today ?s standards, perhaps Grandfather ?s interpretation of Sabbath day activities seems extreme, but something wonderful has been lost in our lives. To this day, I have been pondering to try to understand fully what has slipped away. Part of it was knowing that I was well on the Lord ?s side of the line. Another part was the feeling that Satan ?s influence was farther away. Mostly it was the reinforcement received by the spiritual power which was generated. We had the rich feeling that the spiritual fulness of the earth ? (D&C 59:16) was ours, as promised by the Lord in section 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

  • Tinkerbell May 30, 2008, 11:52 am

    jennycherie – watch out, I just might take you up on that! (But only if you take mine in return). πŸ™‚ Actually, reading that comment of mine (and yours in return) reminded me of something I talked about in my VT message this morning – about how we tend to look around and compare ourselves and our kids to all the BEST qualities of everyone else. It is easy to see everyone else’s best qualities and our own worst. I bet if we took an honest look at all of our own qualities and those of our kids, we’d say, “Yeah, I’m pretty okay and so are my kids. I’ll just keep ’em”.

  • Ray May 30, 2008, 5:27 pm

    Davidson, I respect that completely. What I’m saying is that the “letter” of the law regarding the Sabbath, is:

    “Thou shalt rest from all thy labors”.

    Everything else is an interpretation of that letter of the law; everything else is the spirit of the law.

    For example, where does it say that the Sabbath MUST be observed inside? Where does it say that long, slow walks are not a rest from our labors. Some of the most relaxing, restful times of my life have been walking hand-in-hand with Michelle – and NOT inside the house. Some of the best bonding times I have had with my kids were while we walked around the neighborhood talking about whatever was on their minds.

    I need to drive to visit the sick and the afflicted – the widow and the fatherless. Should I avoid that on Sunday, since I have to drive to get there?

    Etc., etc., etc.

    I agree we need to follow the letter of the law, but I don’t believe the details are the letter. I believe they are the spirit – or the lack thereof.

  • mlinford May 31, 2008, 1:02 am

    Tracy, I loved this post! Thank you.

    As to letter vs. spirit, I believe this is a key part of life – to figure out how to interpret and live the counsel we receive. I like the lists from prophets because they give us some good ideas, but I do think we ought to keep from dictating specific lists or condemning (or condoning!) specific activities for others.

    I’m a pretty strict Sabbath person — have always been (like the one who stayed back from Disneyland on our HS choir tour (with kids from mormonville, utah), the one whose family members (including parents) would sometimes get annoyed with the fact that I wasn’t thrilled with traveling on Sunday or didn’t watch football with them, etc.) But I get uncomfortable with comments like “”I am certain He has opinions about children jumping on the trampoline on the Sabbath day.” (Sorry, davidson, but that one really stuck out at me — and remember, I am strict about the Sabbath so we don’t do tramps (we actually don’t do them at all!))…but I am not convinced that God really would draw that line for everyone, point blank, no exceptions.

    I dated a guy who whose dad was an anti. We got close to marriage, so we were having discussions about what to do on Sundays, like a boat ride with the dad while together with his fam over a weekend. We felt peaceful about it, like holding up the Sabbath no-no list would have made things worse with his dad. Never in a bazillion years would I even consider that with my family situation now…just an example of how different situations could result in different specific decisions.

    We have run into struggles when extended family gets together and we don’t want to make a scene. (We ended up deciding as an extended fam to move family parties to Saturday to avoid this kind of thing.) My hubby and I end up having different thoughts about specifics, even, and I’m not sure it’s about absolute rights and wrongs.

    We all have the ability to read the counsel, pray about it, and get answers. We shouldn’t expect that all of our answers will look the same, and I’m pretty sure they won’t. What might be right for one family may not be for another. And what might be right for one family at a certain time may not be the same later on. I believe God knows where we are, knows the personalities in our families and the situations and everything, and can help us discern and figure out what works. And some of that will be through trial and error. πŸ™‚

  • davidson May 31, 2008, 9:36 am

    I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Ray and Mlinford. Everybody’s, in fact. I guess at this point we’ll just have to agree to disagree. To me, Ray, the spirit of the law is the very general direction given, “Keep the Sabbath day holy.” The “letter” is the details, and if you read President Faust’s article about his grandfather again, he seems to agree. The “letter” was not driving on the Sabbath day, not riding the animals. He hated it as a child, and as he grew, he came to appreciate his grandfather’s strictness and exactness concerning the details, and the spiritual strength it brought.

    I figured you’d say what you did, Michelle, and we’ve had this discussion before in many ways. You thoroughly believe that “What might be right for one family may not be for another.” I thoroughly believe that there are more absolutes than we realize. And certainly there are exceptions, but God decides what the exceptions are, not men, and they are more rare than we think. “What might be right for one family may not be for another,” is, to me, the summary of rationalization and a pretty dangerous theory to espouse. Satan is anxious to help us lull ourselves into a sense of carnal security. I think there is black and white, right and wrong, and much less gray than most people believe. When I was a kid, my dad loved to take us out to eat on the Sabbath day.
    After I married, it slowly occurred to me that even though it was a generous act of love on my father’s part, and it drew our family closer together, IT WAS STILL WRONG. It was one of the things explicitly forbidden in the infamous “lists.” When my dad invited us to go to dinner after that, I told him, as lovingly as I could, that while we appreciated very much his love and generosity, we didn’t feel good about accepting that invitation. I’d like to say that he understood and agreed with us. He didn’t. He was hurt, and I ached over his being hurt. Recently I’ve been hearing from the brethren that we can’t expect to be applauded every time we choose the right. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” Certainly some of what we choose to do in the name of the Sabbath day, or keeping any other commandment, is going to be very offensive to some. If we have to choose between pleasing God or pleasing man, I think the wisest thing is to please God. Do what is right, let the consequence follow. And ouch, that hurts. On all sides.

    To use our little example, I think it would be interesting to gather up the General Authorities, bring them into a room one by one, and ask them one simple question, “Is it okay for children to jump on the trampoline on Sunday?” I think you’d get a one-word answer before each of them departed, “No.” I bet they’d be unanimous in that respect. I don’t believe they would say, “Well, if your children are young and full of restless energy, it might be okay.” Here is one reason why I think it. As I’ve mentioned before, articles published in Church magazines undergo rigorous scrutiny before they are published, mainly to keep the doctrine true. Every word is examined. This was a little article published in the Friend magazine a few years ago, based on a true story, that actually addressed the trampoline matter.

    “Stacie A. Heaps, Sammy ?s Sabbath Dilemma, ? Friend, Apr 2006, 34

    (Based on a true story)

    Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8).

    You be good and mind your aunt and uncle, ? Dad said.

    Sammy gave his dad a big hug and then gave his mom an even bigger one. I will, ? he promised, waving good-bye as his parents left for a weekend out of town. Sammy was happy to be spending Saturday and Sunday at his cousin Joey ?s house. There were so many fun things to do. There were board games and video games. There was a swing set, a trampoline, and a barn with a loft. Playing in the loft was Sammy ?s favorite thing.

    Sammy had a great time. He and Joey played catch in the morning. After lunch they bounced high on the trampoline and soared even higher on the swing set. Later in the afternoon they played hide-and-seek in the barn. For dinner they had sloppy joes, Sammy ?s favorite. After dinner, Joey and Sammy watched one of their favorite movies and then fell asleep in the family room.

    The next morning, Sammy enjoyed going to Primary with Joey. Brother Clark, the CTR 5 teacher, was kind. Sammy liked hearing the stories in the lesson.

    After church the boys changed their clothes. What should we do now? ? Sammy asked.

    Joey thought for a minute. What if we play at the park? Or we could watch a movie or take turns riding my bike. Or we could play video games. What would you like to do? ?

    Sammy wondered what to say. None of those activities seemed like the best ones for Sunday. Sammy ?s parents had taught him that the Sabbath was a special day that should be different from other days. But his parents weren ?t here, and he didn ?t want to offend Joey. Maybe it would be OK. Joey ?s mom and dad must think so.

    Sammy decided to tell Joey that all the ideas sounded fun. He started to form the words, but he just couldn ?t say them. He knew it wasn ?t right. What if we color the pictures we got in Primary today? ? he asked instead. Then maybe we could draw pictures and send them to Uncle Nick on his mission in Chile. ?

    Yeah, I guess that sounds pretty fun, ? Joey agreed. Let ?s go get my crayons, and we can color at the kitchen table. ?

    Sammy gave a silent sigh of relief. He knew that Mom and Dad would be pleased, and he was glad that Joey wasn ?t upset. But most important, he knew that Heavenly Father was happy with his choice. That was what really counted.”

    I think it’s interesting that missionaries are given very specific lists of mission rules. Some of them are surprising. But I think they are all inspired, and the fruit of obeying exactly is an ABUNDANCE of the Spirit, as President Faust suggested, which they really need if they are to be successful in bringing souls unto Christ. They do not say, “What might be right for one missionary may not be for another.” The rule is the same for everybody, and if individual adaptations must be made, they are made, but again, they are rare and have more to do with real physical limitations than with “not quite there spiritually yet.” It requires some to grow at a pace faster than they are comfortable with, but it is a quick means to an end. In the mission field, they don’t have time for a missionary to saunter into his spiritual growth; his mission could be over and his opportunity wasted if they waited for that. He is expected to step up to the plate from the beginning. Exact obedience yields fruit.

    I know you don’t agree with what I’m saying; that’s a given. We could contest this forever, but you wouldn’t change my mind, and I wouldn’t change yours. Probably best to just agree to disagree. I do love and admire you all, and I hope I haven’t made too many enemies.

  • Ray May 31, 2008, 2:14 pm

    No enemies, davidson. Just different perspectives. It’s good we belong to a church that permits that. πŸ˜‰

    We actually agree on the basic outline 100% – that the Sabbath should be kept holy as a day to rest from our labors. We just disagree on some specific things that might or might not keep it holy. I would be very surprised – and disappointed, actually – if we agreed on every little detailed possibility. How boring would that be? :bigsmile:

  • mlinford May 31, 2008, 6:23 pm

    To use our little example, I think it would be interesting to gather up the General Authorities, bring them into a room one by one, and ask them one simple question, “Is it okay for children to jump on the trampoline on Sunday?” I think you’d get a one-word answer before each of them departed, “No.”

    Actually, I am not so sure. But like you said, we can agree to disagree, even though, again, I personally agree with you about trampolines. πŸ™‚ (If I were wanting to rationalize, wouldn’t I be trying to protect my own choices? πŸ™‚ ) And I’m all for exact obedience, but we can’t determine those rules for others.

    I think it’s sort of funny, though, because again, I am one who is deeply concerned about rationalization, but that is not what I am espousing. I’ll clarify this in case someone else is wondering where we might differ. I’m talking about respecting the process of figuring out answers, and that THAT is a key part of why we have these commandments, and why we have agency. If all life was was about a checklist, we wouldn’t really have much of a test. Obedience is not just to a list, but to the Spirit. Our leaders have told us to keep away from trying to make these kinds of decisions for others, and respecting their agency. For example, Elder Oaks says this to teachers, so I suspect it applies to us as parents and friends, too, no? (Again, davidson, if you don’t want to read, that’s fine. Sometimes I will include things not to ‘convince’ the person who might have a different point of view, but simply to include another point of view in the discussion as others might read.)

    Teachers who are commanded to teach the principles of [the] gospel ? and the doctrine of the kingdom ? (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don ?ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.

    Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching, and we enlist the faith of our students in seeking the guidance of that same Spirit in applying those teachings in their personal lives. Dallin H. Oaks, Gospel Teaching, ? Ensign, Nov 1999, 78

    And this from a manual:

    We live in a world in which the sanctity and importance of the Sabbath day as a holy day are rapidly losing ground to the idea of the Sabbath as a day of work and recreation. Young people are tempted in many ways to break the Sabbath. They might feel more secure if they had a list of rules for keeping the Sabbath holy, but no list of dos ? and don ?ts ? could cover every possible situation. The spiritually mature person has learned to judge the appropriateness of Sabbath activities by applying scriptural guidelines and listening to the promptings of the Spirit. (Lesson 28: The Sabbath, ? Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, 105)

    Again, all I’m trying to do is underscore the importance of ‘applying guidelines and listening to the promptings of the Spirit’ — not trying to support justification of wrong behavior. The only stewardship for determining wrong behavior any of us have, though, is for ourselves and our families. Personal revelation won’t apply to others, or doesn’t create an absolute that we can tell others is God’s standard, because that isn’t our stewardship. That is the difference between what we are talking about here and what rules missionaries are to follow. Missionaries’ rules come from those who have the authority to outline those rules. We all have such rules and standards (think For the Strength of Youth). But there is lots of room for personal revelation even within the doctrines and the standards and specifics. That is something that I’ve only really started to understand the past few years, and it’s changed the way I think about things and how I view agency.

  • mlinford May 31, 2008, 7:07 pm

    When my dad invited us to go to dinner after that, I told him, as lovingly as I could, that while we appreciated very much his love and generosity, we didn’t feel good about accepting that invitation.

    BTW, had I married that man, I suppose it is very likely that we would have ended up drawing some of these kinds of lines. But we did in that instance what felt right. I don’t want to be misunderstood that I think boating is an appropriate Sabbath activity. I don’t, but for whatever reason, we felt all right about this on this occasion. I also recognize the risk of rationalization and I am usually the one first to be concerned about that in discussions! But I do think there needs to be room for the concept of ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ and let the Spirit guide.

  • jennycherie May 31, 2008, 7:44 pm

    Posted By: davidsonThey do not say, “What might be right for one missionary may not be for another.”

    and yet – the rules are NOT the same in every mission. As a matter of fact, specific mission rules vary greatly from one mission to another.

  • facethemusic May 31, 2008, 8:07 pm

    Good point, Jenn.

    And I liked your thoughts about the “process” Michelle. (Where have you been, anyway? Haven’t seen you around in awhile. Everything okay??)

    I love these kinds of conversations. You have two views, each somewhat opposing the other, but BOTH sides have very valid points. You read one person’s view and go “wow.. yeah, that’s true. Oh, wow. I didn’t think about that. Good point.” Then you read the OTHER view and the SAME THING happens. So you just have to take it all in, do some musing and figure out how you feel about it all, and ask for some confirmation. I like stuff that really makes me THINK like this– you sense your own growth, know what I mean?

  • mlinford May 31, 2008, 9:57 pm

    and yet – the rules are NOT the same in every mission.

    Excellent point. General rules are the same (the little white handbook) and then specific mission presidents will sometimes have other rules or standards, OR even modify what is in the little white book in order to fit the area.

    Tracy, you are sweet to ask. I have had a really rough few weeks.

    And yes, the stretching can be a good result of discussions. This very fact that there are things to gather from different perspectives suggests to me that part of what we are supposed to do is study these things out and find out what God has to say to us about them.

  • nanacarol June 1, 2008, 12:43 am

    “and yet-the rules are Not the same in every mission”

    And why is this-because man in his imperfectness can interpret the rules his own way. It is the same with rationalization. We can rationalise to jusitify a point. And I am really good at this and admit at times I am ashamaed of myself for doing it!!! I listened to my two kids tell me of the differences in their mission and how mission presidents set the rules. See it so many times when we see a rotation of missionaries here!!! Admit it, when a mission president is changed the rules in the mission change-because the president has his way of doing things!!! It is also the same when new Bishops and Stake Presidents are newly called. They have their style and they put their stamp on their reign. And you learn their idosyncrasies!!! Case in point-some Stake Presidents will allow Boy Scouts to go to camp on a Saturday and have their own worship service with the Sacrament. I have seen others who won’t allow it. Please tell me why!!!!!! Another good discussion point-Lights on Christmas Trees. Boy that one can sure create havoc!!!!

  • nanacarol June 1, 2008, 1:05 am

    Now on the Sabbath. Some great things of been said. I have sure pondered. In our Family it has been a topic that has caused some really hard feeling. We have had quite the discussions-some friendly and some not so friendly and the non friendly ones sure has caused hard feelings. I must say that over the years my opinions of changed.
    Thursday night we had Stake Meetings. Our Stake Education spoke for a few minutes on doctrine. I think some of the wards are having trouble with Teaching the First Sunday Lesson. The leader tried to make the point to move off the fluff and get more into the “real” doctrine. So—since I am teaching tomorrow I changed my subject to none other than keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. I am using the talk by Earl Tingey, John H. Grober1984, and can’t remember the other one!! Papers are in with sleeping hubby! I feel in all the reading I was doing that alot of the points made by several, were valid. We can not judge another. We need to set the standards for ourselves.
    Neal A. Maxwell said it was great to really get into doctrine and sometimes we get mired down in it. However, he said we need to put it to work in our lives. Not just talk about it-but do it. Apply it. I think when we start living the law of the Sabbath the way the Lord intends, then it will begin to work in us and the Lord will reveal the way he intends for “me” to live it. I know that I want peace and happiness in my life and I must keep the Sabbath Day Holy.
    I loved the Quote by Pres. Kimball(and this is for Ray because I was impressed by his opinion) in the Modern Day Counsel secction of Elder Tingey’s talk that says-“a day to visit with the family and to get acquainted with our Children, a day for proper Courting.” A man needs to do that every day with his wife!!!!!! Go Ray!!!
    These are just my opinions! Takes me days to ponder but I finally can contribute wisely sometimes!!!

  • facethemusic June 1, 2008, 1:39 am

    Another good discussion point-Lights on Christmas Trees.

    Maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but I don’t understand this. Is there a controversy about lights on Christmas trees that I don’t know about?

  • jennycherie June 1, 2008, 5:15 am

    Posted By: nanacarol“and yet-the rules are Not the same in every mission”

    And why is this-because man in his imperfectness can interpret the rules his own way.

    I suppose that is one perspective. I really think the rules are different in each mission because the mission presidents are inspired to set different rules for their particular mission. Some are the same throughout the world and some are specific to one (or a few) mission–those are extra and not required of all.

  • Ray June 1, 2008, 10:48 am

    face, I think the lights on Christmas trees is a reference to some meetinghouses having lights at Christmas and others not having them. There are budgetary an dfire code issues to consider, and some leaders decide differently than others.

    How do we view blogging on the Sabbath? I look at it as gospel-centered discussions with friends that help teach me and strengthen my testimony; others might forbid it as not edifying and sanctifying and “different” than their other daily routine. I can respect both views.

  • nanacarol June 1, 2008, 4:08 pm

    Ray-you stated it right. It is that I started a huge discussion for the sake when an ex-bishop took me to task for letting the lights go on a tree for an enrichment meeting right after thanksgiving. Our RS president took the matter to the Bishop and the Bishop to the Stake President. They came down and said no lights. But, then our Stake did Journey to Bethlahem and had lights on the trees lite up at the Stake Center. Then the usual festivities in Utah in the Conference Center and all the decorations. I very quietly took exception to me being told no and then the Stake turning around and lighting up the Stake Center to show off for non members and our observance of Christmas. And very quietly it came down, yes we may have lights!!! There are rules to follow and I am willing to follow the rules when all have the same rules!!!! I just feel that what is good for the goose is good for the gander!!!

  • nanacarol June 1, 2008, 4:11 pm

    Next point about blogging. I feel it is okay to blog because we are discussing gospel issues most of the time. However here is the yard stick, (in my simple opinion) to follow …”It is a day to get rid of selfish interests and absorbing activities.” Pres. Kimball

  • mlinford June 1, 2008, 5:17 pm

    Admit it, when a mission president is changed the rules in the mission change-because the president has his way of doing things!!!

    Hm. Do you really think this is the only explanation for difference between missions or leaders? Isn’t it possible that different leaders are brought to their calling at different times because the Lord WANTS some difference along the way, since none of us has a corner on talents, gifts, abilities, understanding, knowledge, experience, etc. etc. etc.? We see prophets making changes in things, why not other leaders? Is change always evidence of mortal error, or isn’t there room for adaptation as the work moves forward, as people grow and change, as the world around us changes?

    I have come to believe that sure, sometimes people can do things in error, but I think a lot of times different people are brought to leadership positions particularly because the Lord wants to use their unique talents, abilities, expeirence, knowledge, etc. Different leaders and styles and approaches can reach different people. I know from my own missino experience that the changes between my two presidents made a HUGE difference in my mission, even my life.

    Again, I’m not advocating artificial, inappropriate, or unnecessary changes in things. There is a difference between looking for reasons to justify wrong behavior, and truly seeking to follow God’s spirit and doing all one can and doing one’s best. Neither will be fault-free, but the latter will be sanctified by God’s grace and counted for good. We can’t tell where people are in their hearts simply by looking at their outward choices.

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