Forgiveness is the answer to family problems.

Lately I’ve been working on getting negative feelings out of myself. It is a difficult thing to do; especially when you have to regularly listen to other people’s negative rants. We have a commandment to give forgiveness to everyone, and it’s also important for people to express their feelings. Still, when conversations are just going downhill, sometimes it’s best to just stop, give everyone time to cool off and try to deal with the issue later from a different perspective.

In our families, this can often be an ongoing struggle as well. We often get stuck in negative thought pasterns that trick us into projecting
our own feelings on others; instead of taking ownership of them. Trying to let it go of those feelings, and preventing other people’s problems from become our own is extremely difficult. Especially when the other people are very important to us.

Lately I’ve found the key to getting negativity out of myself seems to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving, it’s to help you get the negative feelings out of yourself. When we truly forgive, we are giving ourselves permission to let go of the past, and move forward with a new perspective.

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What should this new perspective be? I’ve found it’s much better in the long run to show love and understanding; especially to those you are close to, despite how hard it sometimes is to do so. Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, and until we can do that, forgiving others will continue to also be difficult.

In a recent conference talk  gave an example of this by talking about a woman who kept finding fault with her husband:

“in an effort to help her husband understand how she felt, she began to keep an electronic list on her phone of things he did or said that irritated her. She reasoned that when the time was right, she would have compiled written proof to share with him that would make him want to change his ways. However, one Sunday while partaking of the sacrament and focusing on the Atonement of the Savior, she realized that documenting her negative feelings about her husband was truly driving the Spirit from her and was never going to change him.”

You’ll never get anyone to change in a positive way by beating them down with negativity. In fact, trying to forcefully change others never truly works, and often backfires. The only person we can be certain to change, is ourselves. We can then use our improved example to help others realize things they may want to change within themselves as well. Just as the Lord told Alma:

“Go forth … and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”

The Sin of Fornication

The act of sexual intercourse is a very intimate thing that has spiritual significance. It also involves the power God has given us to create life. Using this power for personal pleasure is not what it was intended for, and cheapens love and personal respect.

Sexual intercourse is intended to be used to create life, and children deserve to have a father and a mother joined together in unity with dedication to the upbringing of their children. This gives the children the best possible advantage for their future, and despite what socially acceptable theories or ideologies might say, there are studies and statistics to prove children have a better chance at life when their parents are married and living together as a family.

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Sexual intercourse is also intended as a way of bringing a husband and wife closer together. Their scientific evidence that the hormones released during sex help bond the two people together. Trying to pretend this doesn’t or hasn’t happened after sex in a casual, uncommitted, or less committed relationship results in emotional stress. This stress is often dealt with by having more sex (or pornography and masturbation), creating a cycle that leads to overstimulated emotions, broken relationships, and unhealthy behaviors.

Abusing sex for recreational or self-gratification purposes cheapens its true purposes. The emotional complications mentioned above will make family more difficult when/if that occurs, and take away from future opportunities and personal growth.

The ability to deny one’s self of personal gratification now, for a better future, is truly an excellent growth experience, and a sign of maturity. You’ll be better off waiting for that special someone, as it will make it that much more meaningful, and help strengthen that relationship beyond what it otherwise could be.

Building Christ-Centered Homes

One of the purposes of this life is to learn how to cultivate Eternal Marriages; which of course means learning how to have a proper family and home life. Often our families have problems that lead to contention and anger among family members. God does not want our families to be this way but wants us to have Christ-centered homes full of peace and harmony. The below list of scriptures is meant to help us understand how to have Christ-centered lives and homes. Much of it has to do with following Jesus and his commandments, as well as preventing contention by being forgiving and having charity toward others.

Scriptures

We are likened to a branch and Jesus is to a vine or main trunk of the plant. If we are not disciples Jesus he will not nourish us and we will not bear fruit. If we beareth fruit it’s because Jesus has nourished us. We become disciples of Jesus by keeping his commandments. In this way, our joy can be full. – John 15:1-5, 10-11

Jesus is the Rock and our Redeemer. If we build our foundation on the rock the devil will have no power over us. – Helaman 5:12

God has given us the freedom and knowledge that we can choose for our selves good or evil; however, we will receive the consequences of our choices. Helaman 14:30-31

Contention comes from the devil. God does not want us to be contentious, nor angry with each other. 3 Nephi 11:29-30

Being angry with other people puts ourselves in danger of going to Hell. Instead of asking God to fix the other person, we should forgive them, and focus on our own salvation. – 3 Nephi 12:22-24

Having charity is the key. Pray to God for charity. – Moroni 7:45, 48

Be forgiving of everyone. If you do not forgive others, you have a more serious problem then the one you need to forgive. Let God be the judge.  – D&C 64:9-11

Keep your home in order by having regular and consistent prayers, fasting, learning, faith, etc. within your home. Be loving, giving, and charitable to each other. Don’t look for faults in each other. Take care of yourselves and your surroundings to stay healthy and clean. – D&C 88:119, 123-25

Peace at Home

The late Richard G. Scott, in April 2013 gave a General Conference speech titled, “For Peace at Home“. In his talk, he points out that having Christ-centered homes is the greatest blessing we can offer the world. This gives us a place of refuge from the frantic world outside its walls. A place where we can feel peace and love while we “reset, regroup, and reenergize.”


Elder Scott gave the following suggestions on how to accomplish this by having Christ-centered homes:

  1. Make Good decisions based on what the Savior would have you do.
    • Follow Christ’s commandments.
    • Listen to prophetic counsel.
  2. Teach children to recognize how their actions affect others.
    • Children who are accountable for their actions become trustworthy.
    • Teaching children to be Christ-centered is one of the main purposes of the family.
  3. Cultivate good habits.
    • Have daily personal and family prayer and scripture study, and weekly Family Home Evenings.
    • Little Things lead to big things – Don’t let small indiscretions or neglect lead to big problems.
  4. Monitor and use technology wisely
    • Use technology to help you study and listen to good things.
    • Avoid time wasting and filthy content.
  5. Do all you can to invite the influence of the Holy Ghost into your life.
    • Be obedient to the prompting of the spirit.
    • Cease to fear, instead place your trust in the lord.
  6. Serve others
    • Selfishness is the root of great evil.
    • Focus on others through unselfish service.
  7. Welcome friends into your home that also need to feel the peace of a Christ-centered home.
    • Be a true friend to those who need to be strengthened by such an experience.
  8. Recognize the good in others.
    • Don’t focus or faults, but help each other to overcome them.
    • Build on the virtues of others.

Christ-Centered Homes

A Christ-centered home is a great resource that we can use to help strengthen our families and help those around us. As you center your home on the Savior, obeying his commandments and serving others, the natural outcome is an increased ability to do more. God blesses us with greater insight, improved talents, and abilities to do his work. Your home will become a refuge not only for your family but for your friends and neighbors.

Don’t worry if you can’t do everything we Christ has counseled us to do. There’s a time and a season for everything. Pray for guidance and he will direct you towards what you need to focus on in your current phase of life. Be sure to continually learn and grow one step at a time.

Nurturing the Marriage Relationship

Unlike many fairy tales, when the prince and princess get married, it is not a simple matter of living happily ever after. Marriage Relationships require nurturing. Without working at it, married couples can find themselves becoming more distant; instead of growing closer together. Here are some scriptures and other information that can help us understand how important it is to continually nurture a marriage relationship.

Scriptures

  • In Matthew 19:3-9 we learn that men and women are to be companions in marriage. Once God has joined together a couple in marriage, they become as one flesh. Jesus also makes it clear that once a marriage covenant is with God, the only justification for divorce is fornication. There does seem to be an exception to this “because of the hardness of your hearts”, but Jesus further explains this is not what was originally intended.
  • In Ephesians 5:25, 28-31 husbands are commanded to love their wives as themselves. I would assume this also works both ways, as it further explains that you cannot nourish and cherish something you don’t love. It again gives the analogy of becoming one flesh.
  • Emma Smith is given a charge in D&C 25:5, 13-15 to be a comfort to her husband as he endures afflictions. She is to use “counseling words, in the spirit of meekness.” She is also told to stick to the covenants she has made, and delight in her husband. She’s promised that by doing this she will receive “a crown of righteousness”.
  • D&C 42:22 tell men to love their wifes with all their heart, and no one else. Subsequent verses refer to the sins of lusting after other women and adultery. Again I would assume this also applies to how women feel about their husbands.
  • We learn about the creation of woman in Abraham 5:15-18. Taking a rib from Adam’s side to create woman. Once again we see that men and woman are to become one flesh.

There’s a lot of references to becoming one flesh. A topic I’ll cover in another post as part of the Eternal Marriage series of posts.

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The Marriage Relationship Check List

During the April 2013 General Conference, then president of the Seventy, L. Whitney Clayton, gave a speech named “Marriage: Watch and Learn,” (see Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 83-85) The main idea from this talk are the principles President Clayton has observed in good marriages:

  1. Both husband and wife both give infinite value to their relationship.
    • No other relationship of any kinds can bring as much joy, goodness or personal refinement.
  2. A strong relationship is based on faith in Christ; which is “the foundation of every virtue that strengthens marriage.”
    • Study and follow Christ’s teachings both together and individually.
    • Teach each other and your kids in weekly family home evenings.
  3. Happy marriages rely on the gift of repentance to restore and maintain harmony and peace.
    • Spouses should conduct honest self-examinations and take necessary action to improve.
    • Be selfless, humble, meek, and understanding; helping to bless, and to lift each other.
    • You cannot change someone else, but you can use repentance to change yourself.
  4. Treat each other with respect, as equal partners, with complete transparency and fierce loyalty.
    • Make decisions unanimously, then act with full participation and cooperation (not negotiation), working side by side.
    • Focus first on the home, making family time the center of your day and the object of your efforts.
    • Retire to bed together as a couple (a good time for studying together).
    • Keep no secrets about relevant matters; including on the internet, and with finances.
  5. Live together in Love.
    • Completely devote yourself and be faithful unto your spouse and none else.
    • Serve and love each other by keeping the covenants made between each other and God.

Happy Marriage Relationship

Pulling all this material together, it seems that the answer to having a happy marriage relationship is one of complete fidelity, mutual respect, adornment, trust, and being equally committed to helping your spouse through trials as they help you through yours. Working side by side towards a common goal is the biggest strengthening bond; especially if that goal is to keep the commandments of God and striving for eternal life.

No relationship is perfectly happy all the time. We all encounter hardships. Other circumstances can occur that cause people to stay or become single again. These circumstances can change as we stay focused on our goals and continue to work together, things will improve.

The Sabbath Day

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8; see also D&C 68:29)

For the next few months on the fourth Sunday of each month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be discussing keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.

History

Sabbath is a word derived from the Hebrew language that means “rest”. This idea of resting one day out of seven is directly tied to The Holy Bible, particularly Genesis 2:2–3:

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested … And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it”

Through Moses, Jesus commanded the descendants of Israel to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), and they designated that 7th day to start on Friday evening at dusk until Saturday evening. Such a tradition, however, is not unique to the Jewish religion as various cultures and people around the world have maintained similar traditions; Including the Nephites (see Jarom 1:5). To the Israelites, it was a sign that they were God’s covenant people (see Exodus 31:12–13, 16Isaiah 56:1–8Jeremiah 17:19–27).

While Jesus was upon the earth, he also followed the Israelites tradition of honoring the seventh day as the Sabbath. Jesus was crucified on Friday and put in the tomb before the Sabbath began that evening. It was then on Sunday that he was resurrected. Since then, Sunday has been observed by Christians as the day of worship to honor the resurrection (see Acts 20:71 Corinthians 16:2); making the Sabbath the first day of the week instead of the last (see Mark 16:2).

In this dispensation, God has once again commanded that we should remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (see D&C 68:29,  D&C 59:12).

Origins

Even today, the Jewish religion sees the Sabbath day as one to commemorated God’s day of rest after He finished the Creation; which is why they celebrate it on Saturday as it’s traditionally recognized as the last day of the week. This is also where the name Sabbath comes from as it’s derived from the Hebrew verb “שַׁבָּת” or “sabat”meaning to stop, to cease, to rest, or to keep. Christians obviously observe the Sabbath day differently, by commemorating Jesus Christ’s Resurrection from the dead which occurred on Sunday.

While there are secular attempts today to try to redefine the beginning of the week to be Monday, and ending on Sunday, mostly for connivance in accounting and for the standardized Monday through Friday work weeks, and has little bearing on Christian and Jewish cultures.

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

While the Jewish culture created many rules to follow on the Sabbath day; mostly to restrict what can be done or to limit their activities. Jesus, however, taught that the Sabbath day was made for our benefit (see Mark 2:27); basically telling the Jews they were looking at it backwards. Jesus also taught through his example that serving others was an acceptable task to perform on the Sabbath (see John 5:1–18). It is a day we set aside to rest from our usual daily activities. To give our minds time to focus on spiritual matters without the usual distractions of the world. It’s a day we use to renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls the things of the Spirit.

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12 revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith, we learn that we should go to church (the house of prayer) and offer up their sacraments, rest from their labors, and pay our devotions to God (the Most High). Similarly The Lord told the Israelites, “Thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle” (Exodus 20:10).

Isaiah said we should “call the sabbath a delightthe holy of the Lord, honourable” (Isaiah 58:13). In the LDS Church we are encouraged to spend the day being productive with things such as: attending Church meetings; reading the scriptures and other spiritual resources; visiting the sickaged, and loved ones; listening to uplifting musicsinging hymns; prayingperforming service; doing family history work; spending time with our families engaged in spiritual activitieswriting letters to missionaries and loved ones; fasting with purpose; and other things the spirit may direct us to do.

While we should not engage in activities that promote businesses to be open on Sundays, some people do have legitimate needs to work on Sundays. in these situations, it’s often recommended that they still attempt to participate in Sunday sacrament meetings, and do other things to help them observe the day as a holy day.

Also see For the Strength of Youth: Sabbath Day Observance.

Preparing for the Sabbath Day

There’s an old primary song called Saturday. It calls it a special day because it’s the day we get ready for Sunday. While it may seem a bit antiquated by today’s standards, the song certainly drives home a good point. We need to be prepared if we want to get the most out of our Sabbath day worship. While simply showing up is always good, if we are not ready to focus on the meetings, sacrament, and other spiritual feasts that are available to us on Sunday, we are likely not going to get much out of it.

Being prepared the day before makes the morning of go more smoothly. When we aren’t stressed out over getting to church on time or having some other issue occupying our mind, it’s easier to focus on our worship. Knowing there are things we simply do not do on Sunday can also help us to not think about them throughout the day. That’s why it’s always good to finish up projects and homework the day before.

If we have things that are constantly coming up on Sundays, like an Ox that keeps getting into the mire, it’s likely time to sell the Ox. In other words, sometimes we need to make changes in our lives or behaviors so that we can properly worship on the Sabbath day. Being prepared the day before certainly makes it easier to worship on Sunday. This would be like symbolically fixing the fence the Ox keeps getting through every Sunday morning.

Blessings for Observing the Sabbath

We receive blessed for Observing the Sabbath day. One particular promise of this is found in D&C 59:16–19:

“The fulness of the earth is yours, … whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;

“Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

“Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul”.

The catch is that we are must do it with thanksgiving, cheerful hearts, and cheerful countenance (see  D&C 59:15).

Other blessings may include our relationship with Heavenly Father becomes stronger. It can be a day of personal healing, both physically and spiritually. Doing family history work on the Sabbath can help us feel the spirit of Elijah. Taking the sacrament can remind us of the Savior’s love and mercy, and help us renew our commitment to the covenants we have made. It gives us the opportunity to minister to others, and share the gospel. As we engage in spiritual activities on the Sabbath with our families it gives us opportunities for good family discussions.

Doctrine and Covenants 59:9 states, “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world”

The Sacrament

The Sabbath day wouldn’t be complete without the sacrament taken in sacrament meeting every Sunday. The most important thing we do outside of the temple is to take the Sacrament on Sundays. This is always done in a Church building unless circumstances permit, and permission from the Bishop is given to do otherwise. This is an essential ordinance that we can take weekly to renew our covenants with God. It allows us to leverage the Jesus Christ’s atonement on a weekly basis.

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;” D&C 59:9.

I’ve heard many times that Church is not a place for perfect people, rather it is a hospital to help us recover from spiritual wounds we have amassed during the week. The Sacrament is a key part of healing those spiritual wounds so we can move forward the next week with renewed spiritual strength and fortitude.

Sabbath Scriptures