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Friday, July 11, 2014

Elder Holland ~ The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship

Taught by Jeanine M.

Elder Holland gives a very encouraging talk for us to “be strong and live the gospel faithfully.”  We loved the story he shared of the Sister Missionaries attacked by mashed potatoes.  

*Our ward sisters shared experiences when they had to stand up and defend their faith as well.  One was working in a hospital when someone kept ranting about different beliefs ‘those Mormons’ had.  Finally this sister said, “I’m a Mormon and those are the things I believe and I really believe them”.  Another sister firmly stood her ground when a committee was considering a Mormon couple for a position of leadership.  The discussion was more about their faith than their qualifications.  This sister stopped the committee and kindly but boldly encouraged the discussion to be about their skills and talents they could bring to the job. 

There are opportunities all around to be courageous and 
stand in defense of our faith. 
We can do so with 
“courage and courtesy.”
~Elder Holland~

Elder Holland said in the story about the harrased missionary, “To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”

Later he quotes the scripture, “…thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37-38)

Hens are great guardians for their chicks.  They gather them to keep them warm and if danger is near, they call for them, open their wings and provide protection. Christ used this scripture several times to chasten those he loves. 

Where do we fit in His circle of wings?  Are we close to Him? Do we hear his call and gather under His protection?

Drawing upon the power of the Atonement, we can all feel close to our Savior as we search for our purpose and seek to know what He would have us do. Becoming one with Christ the Redeemer is what will make us a true disciple.  Being a disciple of Christ requires action as well as faith.

The end of the scripture (Matt. 23:37-38) says, “Behold your house is left unto you desolate.”

We may wonder if the effort to become a true disciple and take courageous moral stands is worth it. “Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our “houses” left unto us “desolate”—desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations.” (Elder Holland)

Can you be be ‘at one’ with the Savior if you are not fully aligned with the prophets and apostles?

Elder Holland refers to King Noah who rejected the prophet Abinidi. This true disciple did not waver in delivering the message he was sent to deliver.  He responds to Noah, “Because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. … Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad”.  Elder Holland responds to those who might question our current prophet and apostles with, “we might add, provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded, and elderly.”

He goes on to say that many in the world today want, “comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”

Even these same individuals and groups invoke the name of Christ as one who accepts and loves everyone and everything.  Elder Holland then asks, “Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?”

He defines the Love that Jesus taught as that of obedience and keeping His commandments. Then he states, “Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once).”

I bear testimony that we as sisters in the gospel need to know how the world thinks about current social issues.  Even if we don’t question or struggle with them ourselves, our children and children’s children do and will.  So many of our youth pick and choose what they like about the gospel, our church and what our prophets and apostles teach.  We need to know what the doctrine is so that we can teach it and defend it. We are responsible for future generations!

Neal A. Maxwell said, “The disciple must not only stand in ‘holy places’ but on ‘holy issues’ and not be moved.”

Becoming a true disciple is a journey that takes time.  
It requires effort, patience and constant maintenance.

This story is told by Phillip Allred in Meridian Magazine.

“A group of young college students were helping measure range damage after a wildfire raged across the prairie outside their university town. As they walked over the expanse of blackened earth, they noticed a cluster of small smoldering mounds. One of the volunteers was particularly interested in the unidentifiable heaps and asked one of the more experienced range managers what they were.

“This veteran of many range fires replied that he had seen this phenomenon on a few occasions and suggested that the young man turn over one of the piles. He did. To his great surprise several sage grouse chicks ran out from under the upturned mound. He was fascinated. How incredible, he thought, that these little chicks had known to find and run underneath this mysterious shelter.

“The young man asked what the mound was and how the chicks knew to take refuge there. To his amazement, he was told that the smoldering heap was the remains of their mother. When there is danger the mother hen instinctively calls out to her young ones and stretches out her wings for them to run under and find protection in her embrace. The young man was profoundly moved by this symbol of a mother’s innate love and protection.”

The visual imagery of these mother hens protecting their young chicks under their wings, even to their own deaths, is so symbolic of the way that Christ gave His life to save each one of us from death – both physical death and spiritual death.

In D&C 103:27-28, we read, “ Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.”

Wow! Do we have the faith to be as Abinidi and many others who truly are in that inner circle of Disciples of Christ? Could we be as the Hens and give our lives in defense of our faith?

Just as one of those mother hens, Christ knows each one of us by name – we are that dear and precious to Him. So precious, He willingly gave His life so that we may have ours!

May we strive to make the day to day decisions that will draw us closer to Him on our journey of true discipleship.

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