Tag: Elder Scott

To Acquire Spiritual Guidance :: Nov 2009 Teaching for our Times TFOT Lesson

Based on a talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott at the October, 2009 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Click on Mormonmom to see my other Teachings for our Times (TFOT) lessons.

Opening Hymn: Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah

Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk on Acquiring Spiritual Guidance was inspiring, uplifting and filled with instructions that each of us can apply in our daily lives.  Earlier this year, the General Relief Society Presidency directed each of us to seek our own personal revelation as we strengthen our ward and stake Relief Societies, I felt this was timely information coming now from Elder Scott.

One of the key doctrines of our Church is that, once we are baptized and confirmed, we have the Holy Spirit as our guide for ANY concern we have in this life. That is a great comfort, but, like many of the blessings given to us from our Heavenly Father, it must be honed, practiced, and used regularly. Right now – I pray each of you is being taught by the Spirit. I’m just the eye candy who brings along pretty images, uplifting music, quotes from Spiritual Giants like Elder Scott that I was impressed to include after praying about each of you and hiw I can use my talents to invite the Spirit who will teach.

Joseph Smith said, “Follow the influence of that Spirit, and it will lead you into all truth, until by and by, it will BECOME in you a principle of revelation.”  In other words, second nature to you.  Elder Scott testifies that this is the true source of peace and happiness.

Learning how to be led by the Spirit takes a strengthening of faith in our Father and in Jesus Christ.  It is not a casual expectation, but a purposeful period of growth.

I spoke about the importance of inviting the Spirit to teach. Let me take a minute to talk about “The Spirit”. As far as I’ve been able to learn there are three ways to understand the term ‘The Spirit”:

1. The Light of Christ
Everyone is given the light of Christ as a Child of God.

2. The Holy Ghost
Many religions reference the Holy Ghost. Cite OT/NT

3. The Gift of the Holy Ghost
Reserved for those who receive the ordinance of baptism by those having authority to confer the gift. This gift isn’t enjoyed in its fullness until fire and the Holy Ghost baptize the recipient.

Back to Elder Scott’s talk. After noting that in times past if one sought guidance they would turn to mentors or advisors, the information overload that is a characteristic of our time, means turning to others for advice can be a very risky proposition. As a digital marketing executive, I often use the analogy ‘it’s like drinking from a firehose’ to describe this phenomenon. Think about it – so much information, but none of it is filtered or curated. Whom do we trust? What criteria do we use?

Rather than bemoaning the plight of the times we live in, we should welcome the excuse to turn our eyes upward for inspiration. Elder Scott seems to be saying that humans as trust agents will always be inadequate and that we will be better served by seeking to commune with the Lord directly through appealing to the Holy Ghost.

Think about this for a minute – our Father has created a condition where if we, of necessity, are dependent upon the Spirit to guide us through the vicissitudes of life, We are entitled to seek personal inspiration in all of life’s decisions – especially the important ones that affect the family.

I loved this thought! Personally, it has been a year of uphill trials. I do not know where I would be without specific guidance that I have received through the relationship I have personally developed with my Heavenly Father that allows me the blessing of personal answers and spiritual guidance. The impressions I receive from the Spirit are like my own Liahona, leading, guiding, helping me reset after yet another prideful, headstrong battle I’ve lost because I was a little too much “in the world”, ignoring the clear message I wrote down in my journal or margin of my scripture study notes. Again and again I return with humility and a real understanding of what “broken” feels like, each time a bit more contrite and determined to make the correct choice.

Discussion:

  • What can you do to enhance your capacity to be led to correct decisions in your life?
  • What are the principles upon which spiritual communication depends?
  • What are the potential barriers to such communication that you need to avoid?

Elder Scott admits that learning to consistently recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit, distinguish them from one’s own impulses and desires, and act courageously to fulfill them are accomplishments that we would be lucky to achieve in a lifetime. However, Elder Scott clearly believes that developing these skills is necessary here on Earth for our individual salvation.

And perhaps most importantly, in these times of Internet information overload, his guidance honed over the decades feels achievable through the examples he offers us.

For instance, Elder Scott notes the Prophet Joseph Smith’s instruction to John Taylor to begin each day with prayer – being grateful for another day our Father has granted us. Do you pray first thing every single day with an outpouring of gratitude?

President John Taylor wrote: “Joseph Smith, upwards of forty years ago, said to me: ‘Brother Taylor, you have received the Holy Ghost. Now follow the influence of that Spirit, and it will lead you into all truth, until by and by, it will become in you a principle of revelation.’ Then he told me never to arise in the morning without bowing before the Lord, and dedicating myself to him during that day.”

So I asked the question rhetorically, yet in these hectic latter days, it is too easy to overlook in the daily haste to satisfy the necessities of temporal life. For example, if I’m woken up by my 3 y.o. doing the potty dance, after I escort her to do her necessary business, she’s hungry, so I start breakfast. Then, like mothers (and fathers) around the world every morning, we are joined by 2 more sleepy, hungry children and somewhere in the blur of showering, breakfastimg, teeth brushing, clothes being put on, hair pulled into ribbons, lunches being prepared, and busses arriving – it is all to easy to forget that simple, precious morning prayer of thanksgiving.

What I’ve learned to do is have the scriptures in the kitchen, so that a verse or two can be read during the morning “Waltz of Chaos” (as I call it) to ensure we all have the right start to the day.

{TIME CHECK: ask for other ideas to help remember our gratitude prayer each morning}

Elder Scott teaches through a couple of powerful stories:

In the first, a humble Priesthood leader taught a lesson from his heart. The content of the lesson was less memorable than the impression the leader gave that promoted spiritual guidance:  humility, intense desire to communicate truths, pure love of the Savior, as well as those who are taught, sincerity, pure intent, love, and spiritual strength. The spirit was present and powerful as this man struggled to express himself within the church.

In the second example, Elder Scott attended a Sunday School class where the teacher was using the fruits of his education and study to share insights into the lesson, less from a desire to inspire his pupils and more from what Elder Scott interpreted as pride — of a desire to impress his fellow congregants with his knowledge.

By keeping his lesson simple and focusing on his testimony of his ministry, the priesthood leader in the first story impressed Elder Scott with his sincerity and emotional depth. By contrast, the intellectual approach of the Sunday School teacher left Elder Scott irritated and bored.

As we are blessed to have so many teachers in our Ward who are MDs, PhDs and Professors at the University of Michigan, I realized that too often I’m caught up in the intellectual pursuit of prideful teaching to demonstrate I can teach doctrine just like an MFA class, albeit with more spiritual preparation,

Talk about one of those humbling wake up calls I spoke about earlier!!! Letting the Spirit teach me as I listed to Elder Scott, again, was recognizing the difference here between the emotional and the intellectual – this contrast naturally exists in our brains (right-vs-left), between our ‘brains’ and our ‘souls’ between men and women. Heavenly Father made us this way to learn through both faith and reason together.

As a teacher, I am striving more than ever to embrace the humbleness of the Priesthood Leader’s approach in the first story. Because every time I get up here, I’m cognizant of the fact that many of you have forgotten more about this Gospel, Church Doctrine, lessons of our Presidents, General Conference talks and the like than I will EVER KNOW, even if I focused my studies on these topics for the rest of my life!

So I try to infuse my lessons with whatever material I can bring from my personal experience and talents for emotional storytelling through images + words to bring some shred of relevance to my ability to teach for our times.

And yet, the more important message here from Elder Scott is that either course can invite the Spirit.

-Pause and repeat-

Remember with both lessons, Elder Scott felt the promptings of the Spirit. He stopped paying attention to his immediate surroundings and started listening to and interacting with the voice of God. Whether interested or biding his time, Elder Scott felt the Spirit and chose to listen to it instead – to be taught by the Holy Ghost – instead of from the content of the lesson being provided to him in sketchy English or served up in an overly intellectualized lesson.

Consider this: the manner in which Elder Scott recorded his personal inspiration in both stories follows the pattern that Joseph Smith directed us to follow based on the revelations he received. Once written, the revelation was examined to see if it conformed to the mind and will of God and changes could be made. It speaks to the imperfection of human intermediaries and the humility needed to keep at revelation until we start to get it right.

And, much like Joseph Smith, Elder Scott teaches that:

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus [TPJS, p. 151]

Paying attention to the first promptings is valuable not for the promptings, but because it indicates an openness to the process of revelation. Just as it is important for the teacher to be prepared spiritually to guide, the students to be open spiritually in order to receive guidance. 

He gives us ten things we should do as listeners:

1. Attend class prepared, with a readiness to learn
2. Be aware of impressions that may come
3. Write them down as soon as possible
4. Ponder what you have written
5. Study the meaning

-pause-

6. Pray to the Lord, and review what was taught, and what was learned
7. Wait for a feeling of peace and confirmation
8. Thank Heavenly Father for the guidance
9. Ask: “Is there more to learn?” You probably will have additional impressions, but it takes courage to ask.
10. Repeat the process from beginning to end as many times as is necessary. 

Elder Scott says, “Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.”

One very important warning. 

“Satan is extremely good at blocking spiritual communication.” We have all been sidetracked by the destroyer.  “The Lord will not force you to learn.  You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you.”

Elder Scott encourages us to practice, have patience, and be aware.  Inspiration comes to us in different ways.  By following the above ten steps, realize the unique way Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit communicate with you.

Elder Scott then launches into a critique of pornography, highlighting in particular the potentially corrosive effects of pornography on family relations. Perhaps more importantly, he discuss its effect on the soul. He notes that the adversary is at pains to induce “individuals, through temptation, to violate the laws upon which spiritual communication is founded.”

The notion is that Satan achieves his goal if “he is able to convince them that they are not able to receive such guidance from the Lord.” The presence or absence of revelation in the life of the individual is presented, in this talk, as the surest means of judging one’s current standing with the Lord

So. Whether you are interested or bored by this simple lesson prepared with as much humility as my intellectual pridefulness allows at this point in my mortal journey, your involvement in the process is considered sufficient sacrifice for God to honor it with those first intimations of revelation through the Spirit with whatever you need to learn.

{time check: tell Unicorn story with sketch after 4 hours of being taught the Plan of Salvation}

Elder Scott counsels us: The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.

For those ensnared in pornography or other damaging, compulsive behaviors: re-establish communication with God! We have to authorize the Spirit to take an active role to guide and teach us. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ won’t interfere in our lives without our consent – our free agency. We must pray and ‘knock’ to ask for help to overcome addictions – anything that can cause us to lose our way and stumble alone into darkness.

Remember the Jalapeno and grape analogy — be more aware of what/who you surround yourself with and how any negative emotions can block out the positive and good all around you.

Intellectual conversion to Christ is fragile, if left solely to ontological syllogisms and epistemological arguments.

Spiritual conversion to Jesus Christ is the emotional bedrock of belief that leads to continuous personal revelation by the Spirit. Adding intellectual enlightenment to sustaining spiritual belief and following the personal guidance offered by the Holy Spirit will help each of us learn what we need to during this mortal existence so we are prepared to be reunited with our Father and family as we journey beyond the veil.

Discussion

(Time permitting — we ran out of time due to the discussion questions raised earlier in the lesson. If we had the time, I would have divided the class into thirds, selected a spokesperson for each group and handed them a quote and question for them to discuss and present back to the Relief Society):

1. However, it is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who have never received that gift, that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they go through life without that knowledge, and they have not the understanding. Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, October 1958, p.21 – p.22

Question: “How do we draw a balance between spiritual self-reliance and relying on the Spirit?”

2. D&C Section 84: 45-46 says: For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spir, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

Questions: What the difference is between being “guided by the Holy Ghost” (for those who have been told to “receive the Holy Ghost” by the laying on of hands) and being “guided by the Light of Christ”?

How can one discern whether an answer has come through the Light of Christ or the Holy Ghost?  What difference does it make?

3. “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. ” D&C 38:30

Questions: What does it mean to be self-reliant in spiritual things?

Why is it important to be spiritually self-reliant?

**********

I bear my testimony that our a Father in Heaven very much wants to help us endure to the end through this mortal trial. He gave us His only Begotten Son and through Him, the Atonement. All He asks is for us to humble ourselves, ask for help and follow the guidance of the Spirit – be faithful to the truth He shows us! The Plan of Salvation He has given us through the Prophet Joseph Smith helps us navigate the temporal reality but it also builds our soul for eternity. I pray that I never lose my sense of awe over the workings of My Heavenly Father in my life with my family on both sides of the veil and in the world at large.

I know this Church is true and it is divinely led by great men like our current Prophet Thomas S Monson and his Counselors as well as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who teach us doctrinal truths for the modern world. I’m grateful for this inspiring talk Elder Richard Scott delivered at the October, 2009 Semi-Annual General Conference and leave this lesson with you in the glorious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Teachings for Our Times Calling

I’m thrilled to be teaching in the Relief Society once a month. I was asked by several people in my ward to share the presentation lesson last month on Truth as the Foundation of Correct Decisions based on remarks offered at the last General Conference by Elder Scott

Being further inspired by Elder Ballard’s call to all latter-day saints to contribute to a conversation using social media, I have uploaded my lesson on Truth as the Foundation of Correct Decisions on Slideshare under the username Mormonmom. I’ve also started this blog to share my journey as a latter-day saint.