Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ode to Elder Maxwell

My last post had two great and fantastic quotes by Elder Neal A. Maxwell and it got me thinking that I should probably devote a post to some of my favorite quotes from this wonderful apostle. Please feel free to add your favorites that I may have missed:

The Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only about our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability.

Whether in tranquil or turbulent times, our best source of comfort is the Comforter.

Though we live in a failing world, we have not been sent here to fail.

God, who oversees the interlacings of galaxies, stars, and worlds, asks us to confess His hand in our personal lives, too...Just as the Lord knows all of His vast creations, He also knows and loves each in any crowd—indeed, He knows and loves each and all of mankind!

Ignoring the revelations about God’s astounding capacity is like playing aimlessly and contentedly with wooden blocks featuring the letters of the alphabet, without realizing Shakespearean sonnets were created using that same alphabet.

Spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping-stones. Stepping-stones are meant to be taken one at a time anyway. Eventually our wills can be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” as we are “willing to submit … even as a child doth submit to his father” (see Mosiah 15:7; Mosiah 3:19).

In striving for ultimate submission, our wills constitute all we really have to give God anyway. The usual gifts and their derivatives we give to Him could be stamped justifiably “Return to Sender,” with a capital S.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The details!

I know that God truly is in the details of our lives. Despite the universe being incomprehensibly huge and the amount of His children being unfathomably great, He still hears and answers our prayers.

As the children of Israel got ready to depart Mount Sinai and start the journey for the promised land, the Lord had Moses organize them into their respective tribes and set up camps. Further instructions were given to the Levites who were to be stationed in the middle of the camp with the tabernacle that was meant to be at the center. They were told where to set up their camps, relative to the tabernacle, who was to be in charge, and what their duty was with the tabernacle. In our wonderful visit with Elder Lund he mentioned that the Lord is a great director of personnel. He knows where to put His children where He needs them and when. I shared an Elder Maxwell quote:

The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millenia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to the placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our human lives so that our light may not only lead others, but warm them as well.

I love this quote. I think it's great. Class ended before I could give this quote the full credit it deserved. I really hoped that I would be able to discuss how this seminary class is part of their "human orbits" and that they can do great things for each other, but there just wasn't the time. So I planned to share it on Friday.

Friday came and it's a special day for Bro. Carter's seminary. We have "open sharing" where students can stand up and share their spiritual experiences, favorite scriptures and testimonies with the class. We had some group presentations to finish, so when a lull in the sharing came, I stood up to end open sharing and introduce the class presentations. I went back to sit down and enjoy the presentations, when I caught a glare from our class president. She said, "Bro. Carter! There were more people that needed to share." I asked who and she pointed to a couple of people who did not get up to share, nor looked anxious to share. I knew that there would be enough time after the presentations to do some more sharing and hoped that they would share then. The presentations were great! I stood to elaborate on a couple of the stories that they shared. Then, nothing else came to mind--we still had 5 or 6 minutes, so I said, "We can use the rest of the time for open sharing."

A young girl quickly stood up and shared a scripture from Esther, when Mordecai hints that Esther's placement and timing might be God's work to save the Jews. "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" She said that this scripture made her think of the Elder Maxwell quote (above). Then she said, "I want to bear testimony that God answers prayers, because today He answered mine!" I was intrigued and listened more intently. "I read this scripture and reread the quote last night and really wanted to share it today. But when time ran out, I thought I had missed my chance. I prayed, 'Heavenly Father if You want me to share this scripture I know that You will prepare a way. I really would like to share it, but only if it's what You want.'" Tears welled up in her eyes. She then began to bear her testimony about how she knew that we were all in this class together for a reason and that God had brought us all here. It clicked. I remembered that I had forgotten to share on that quote and principle before turning the time back to open sharing. The Lord didn't want me to share the quote, He had prepared her for it and was answering her plea. I want to share one last quote from Elder Maxwell, "God is in the details!"

Monday, December 10, 2007


At the end of the Bishop Peterson quote, written in green in the previous post, I added: "Like snowflakes!" To serve as a reminder to the students of their individual and unique purpose I hung up snowflakes that they themselves made. Here they are!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

He knows us all!

Sometimes it's hard to remember that He is really aware of us. I think we know that He does, but it's a tough thing to always realize=God loves us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And there is purpose in trials. And we have a purpose. God knows it, even if we don't. But we can often lose focus amidst all we have to do and all that goes whirling and twirling about us.
In Exodus 31 the Lord instructs Moses on some individuals' purposes (at least, in part); they are to build a tabernacle and they've been given skills and talents wherewith they could accomplish that. As I was preparing I found a quote that CJ had in that chapter by a former counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. I felt that I should hand this out as a glue-in to my class. I'm glad it was more than a thought, because events would happen that could have prevented me from sharing it. First of all, this is embarrassing, but I gotta be honest, I didn't know who Bishop H. Burke Peterson was. I figured that he could have been in the Presiding Bishopric, but was worried that he was just a bishop from a local fireside. If he was a local bishop, then I probably shouldn't be sharing it as a glue-in. Then, when Thursday came along (just this past Thurs. the 6th) I forgot to bring the quote. Luckily, I have a great wife, so I called her and she read the quote to me and I typed it up to make the handout. I passed it out in 6th period, but changed the order of how I taught things in 7th. So, in 7th, I almost forgot. Near the very end of class, I saw the quotes and asked if I'd handed them out. The class said "no". As I passed this quote out and we read the first couple of lines I felt that this quote was gonna be really important to SOMEONE in here.
"One of the greatest challenges is to overcome the feeling that we are unimportant, that we are not special and unique. Do you think for a moment that Heavenly Father would have sent one of His children to this earth by accident, without the possibility of a significant work to perform?...My dear friends you are a royal generation. You were preserved to come to earth in this time for a special purpose. Not just a few of you, but all of you...Your mission is unique and distinctive for you. Please don't make another have to take your place. He or she can't do it as well as you can. If you will let Him, I testify that our Father in Heaven will walk with you through the journey of life and inspire you to know your special purpose here."

Fridays are a special day in class. We have "open sharing". This is when students come up and share spiritual experiences, scriptures and their testimony. One student stood up, the same one who found the murmuring/manna principle about God's love. She said that she was really struggling the last couple of days feeling really unimportant. She said she had felt really depressed and wondered what her purpose was. She said that the Spirit hit her so hard when we read that quote and she reread it that night and did her scripture study. Her testimony reconfirmed to me that God does know us all. He is aware of us. And that He has a great purpose for each of us. She closed her testimony saying, "The Lord walked with me last night."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ah, Work!

It seems that there is a never-ending supply of WORK before us. So much to do. So little time to do it. Work that needs done. Work that should get done. Work, work, work. So, staying on top of it is one thing. We know that organizing and prioritizing are keys to that; namely, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Now, I don't think that I've mastered this, or come anywhere close to that; but I do know that that's what I should do=organize and prioritize. I don't know what work is before all of you right now, but I'll name a few potential ones: raising children (takes a lot of work doesn't it?), teaching them to sleep through the night, preparing lesson plans, getting home teaching stats, fulfilling callings in general, going to work, studying and preparing for finals, writing a thesis....the list could go on and on really. But as I think about this stuff, there might be some that I just want to finish, but there are some that I really need to get done well. They need to be good, ya know? So, how then can I not only do my work, but have my work be good?? Moses teaches us, in Exodus 40, a great principle of how incorporating the Lord in our work will make it better.

So, Moses and the children of Israel were commanded to build a tabernacle--a portable temple where the Lord could come and "dwell" with them. Barring some "cows" in the road they were able to accomplish this task; or in other words, finish the work that was given them. Chapter 40 gives a recap on what Moses did according to his command. In verses 16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 32 a phrase is repeated. Each one of those verses states that the work was done and adds, "as the Lord commanded Moses." Go ahead and mark those in your scriptures, it's pretty amazing to see it repeated throughout the chapter. This gives us our "If" portion of an If/then principle; so, If I do my work as the Lord commanded, then______. The blessing comes in verses 34-38. We read that as the tabernacle was finished that "a cloud covered the tent . . . and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." Further down, "For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle." The tabernacle, remember, was their work. It was what they needed to do, and do well.

So the principle comes alive from the verses, "If I do my work as the Lord commanded, then His glory will be upon it." So, whatever we have to do: finals, a thesis, getting hired: know that if we involve the Lord and do it His way instead of our way, His glory will be upon it.