I had the privilege and honor of teaching Relief Society yesterday for Mother’s day. These thoughts are what I tried to convey to the Relief Society during my lesson. My overall impression was it started a little rough but the Spirit was present and stamped it with approval after I got over my nervousness…
I viewed this as a priesthood assignment. You see the Relief Society presidency prayed and discussed whom they should invite to teach Relief Society. They decided to ask me to do it. They called me and asked if I would be willing to teach on Mother’s day. The Relief Society Presidency, under priesthood authority, invited me to fulfill a priesthood assignment of teaching. This is a unique situation but I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t just a favor—it was a priesthood duty.
“Thus, it is truly said that Relief Society is not just a class for women but something they belong to—a divinely established appendage to the priesthood.
We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng)
I spoke of honoring women, that it was both a priesthood duty and a privilege. I shared this quote on motherhood “Motherhood, is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels” (President J. Reuben Clark Jr., Oct.1942).
The second principle, which was the main principle I wanted to address, was that the Book of Mormon brings us to Christ (President Benson). More specifically, it prophesies about the Savior and His mission. It explains and teaches clearly how the Atonement works. It helps us to apply the Atonement more intimately and personally. It gives us hope for daily peace and salvation in eternity.
The Relief Society sister who asked me to teach mentioned that the sisters didn’t want to feel guilty. A lot of Mother’s day lessons end up making the mom’s feel guilty somehow. I thought a lot about that and counseled with Cherish on it. I decided to use the Book of Mormon teachings on the Atonement to help the sisters understand better.
Today, I will teach you in 5 minutes how to be a perfect mother! Never feel guilt again! Who is interested?
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
How can we become perfect right now? By coming unto Christ and being perfected with Him. Him and I are perfect. His grace is sufficient for my weaknesses. Just as His Atonement will make up all that I lack for salvation… it will make up all that I lack as a parent. This doesn’t mean we can be lazy and do anything, it means we don’t have to worry about the things we can’t do… the Savior’s grace is sufficient for those shortcomings. There is nothing we can’t accomplish if the Savior is my partner.
This doesn’t mean effects are immediate. Raising children is like investing in real estate. The return on investment generally happens several years later.
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
If we exercise faith in Him, we will have power to do whatsoever thing is right and good with His help.
What kind of faith do we need to exercise in Him?
23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
2 Nephi 9:23
This verse use to scare me—“perfect faith?” How is that possible? The meaning is simple. It must be complete faith… all of our faith… “relying wholly upon the merits of Him…” (2 Nephi 31:19). We must offer our whole souls to Him.
26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.
If we truly come unto Christ and exercise faith in Him, Satan will still strive to bring us down with feelings of inadequacies. He will tempt us to feel we just aren’t enough…
Nephi felt that…
17 O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;
(2 Nephi 4:17-19)
We all may feel this from time to time. However, Nephi understands the doctrine well. After describing these feelings of inadequacy… he says:
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; NEVERTHELESS, I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
(2 Nephi 4:19-21, capitalization and underlining added)
Despite his weaknesses and shortfalls, Nephi trusted in the Savior. He knew the Savior would heal, support, make up and save Nephi despite any of His weaknesses. His grace was sufficient for Nephi.
The Atonement is so powerful to help us, the Book of Mormon illustrates that it can make the vilest of sinners men of God (Mosiah 28:4 and Moroni 48:17-18).
I bear testimony of the Atonement and the power it has to help us in our daily lives. Let His grace be sufficient for you. Perhaps instead of wishing you could have 1-2 more hours in a day or getting discouraged because you didn’t complete your to do list for the day… turn to the Savior, ask for an increase of faith and allow His Atonement to work fully in your lives.
The Book of Mormon is the convincing power and evidence of the truthfulness of the Restoration and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In my opinion, these chapters prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon because of their doctrinal complexity. Even the best theologians today can’t equal the inspired writings of these prophets. To think that an unlearned, unschooled farm boy at the age of 23 made it up is ridiculous.
2 Nephi 2 on the Fall and Agency; Alma 42 on the Resurrection; Alma 32 and Ether 12 on Faith; Mosiah 3 and Alma 7 on the Atonement; and many, many others.
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.” 10
If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” 11 a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.” 12
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul” October 2009 General Conference
4 months prior to this talk, I went jogging at 5 am. I recorded in my journal…
“Today I went jogging at 5 am. When I finished running, I was listening to a really good song. However, the Spirit whispered to me ‘how can the Lord speak to you with the music playing?’ I immediately turned off the song and received much direction. The most important thing I received was the Lord telling me that I needed to make a covenant to read from the Book of Mormon every single day for the rest of my life. I got home, knelt down and did that very thing.”
I signed my name to it in my journal. Although I haven’t been perfect… this has greatly blessed my life.
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
(2 Nephi 33:10)
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.