1. "Nativity in Copper and Umber" by J. Kirk Richards

     

  2. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might"
    — Deuteronomy 6:5
     

  3. Anonymous asked: I really struggle with reading the scriptures. I try to do it often, but it's hard for me to comprehend what I'm reading, and I usually don't really retain what I've read. How can I make my scripture study more meaningful and beneficial? Will God be disappointed in me for not knowing the stories in the scriptures very well?

    Ok first off, God will never be disappointed if you do your best. We all know those members in Sunday School who seem to have every last nuance of the Old Testament stories crammed in their cranium. Will God hold these people to a higher standard than the rest of us? No. The stories of the scriptures are important for our benefit, when we read them, but it is not necessary to our salvation.

    I feel one of the problems in our church is when we read scripture, we read it like a novel instead of a text book.

    Here are a few suggestions to read the scriptures like Herminone Granger, who is a great example of studying and treasuring bookly knowledge:

    1. Pray, A LOT!
    Start your study with earnest prayer, asking for help and inspiration. And when you’re reading and find some gem of wisdom, pray again. Show gratitude and ask if there is more to be learned.

    2. Make it an assignment
    When you sit down, make a list of things you want to learn from this session. Ask yourself questions like “Who is speaking? What are they saying? Why is this important? How do I apply it?” And then write it out, as if you were to turn it in to your teacher.

    3. Write your thoughts
    Keeping a journal of scriptural insights increases our retention dramatically. Imagine where we would be if Nephi decided not to write his spiritual experiences. Or if Alma didn’t think it was cool to write down his sermons. Expressing ourselves in writing builds our testimonies.

    4. Highlight
    I’m not asking you to go overboard, over highlighting and underlining can be distracting, but here are some examples I’ve actually done in my studies: Highlight the words of Christ in one color, teachings about his ministry in another color, and circle each reference to Him or His titles. Another time I’ve highlighted all the scriptures in the BofM pertinent to the lessons in Preach My Gospel, color-coordinated to each of the 5 lessons. Presently I’m studying the Atonement and highlighting the different missions of our Savior.

    5.Study by subject
    Perhaps you need inspiration on how to develop charity. Or maybe you’re curious about repentance. We have great study helps (the Topical Guide, Index, and Bible Dictionary) that have been cross-referenced and what not. Make use of them and you can learn a lot as you study subject by subject.

    6. Try bite-sized portions
    Too often we break up our studies in to time periods (10 minutes a day) or linear breaks (5 pages), and our end becomes the goal, instead of the journey. Try to study in smaller portions, and then dissect what you’re reading. Reread verses over and over until you understand them. Look for meaning before you plug on.

    7. Study with a goal
    Instead of just sitting down and reading, make a goal for your studies. Perhaps you have a struggle or trial you need help overcoming. Or you need inspiration for your decision making. What ever you decide, make a goal before you study, and often the answers will come as you study.

    I hope any one of these suggestions helps. Also, I’m thinking of expanding on these thoughts and writing a short book about study habits. If any of you have similar concerns, or ideas for this book, let me know.

     

  4. What Do I Need to Feel to be Baptized?

    We all ask soul searching questions in our quest for truth. These questions of the soul can be answered with a study of The Book of Mormon. When asking “What do I need to feel to be baptized?” reference these scriptures:

    "And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

    Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

    Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

    And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts, (Mosiah 18:8-11)

    "They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter," (Mosiah 21:35)

     
  5. "Mother and Child (Robin Egg)" by J. Kirk Richards

     
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  7. "As surely as we know that God’s love is ‘alike’ for His sons and His daughters, we also know that He did not create men and women exactly the same…Sacred responsibilities are given to each gender"
    — Elder Andersen
     

  8. Legacy

    In church a while ago I heard this story about a business man who was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was eager to share his knowledge on business efficiency and how to make an enterprise. It truly explains what matters most in life:

    A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

    "How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked.

    "Oh, a few hours," the Mexican fisherman replied.

    "Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked.

    The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”

    The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

    Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”

    The American businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”

    Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”

    Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”

    After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”

    "And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman.

    "Why, that’s the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

    "Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?" asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

    The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”

    The American businessman couldn’t see that the pursuit of money isn’t the purpose of life. He thought that the fisher would want to improve his fishing business so that he could retire early. But really, the fisherman’s proposed retirement was exactly the life he was living now. Let us focus on what is important now, instead of putting it off for when we have time for it after our career.

     

  9. "If we allow culture to devalue the role of mothers, of grandmothers and nurturers with children, we will regret it"
    — Elder Cook
     
  10. "Christ Among the Lepers" by J. Kirk Richards

     

  11. "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications"
    — Psalm 116:1
     

  12. Why is the Atonement Important to Me?

    We all ask soul searching questions in our quest for truth. These questions of the soul can be answered with a study of The Book of Mormon. When asking “Why is the Atonement important to me?” reference these scriptures:

    "Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered," (2 Nephi 2:7)

    "And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish," (2 Nephi 11:6)

    "And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses," (Mosiah 13:28)

    "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people," (Alma 7:11)

    "And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…" (Alma 22:14)

    "And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also," (Alma 42:15)

    "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world," (3 Nephi 11:14)

    "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise," (Moroni 7:41)

     

  13. Anonymous asked: To anon about the YSA women modesty: Yeah, I think in part it does have to do with the more lax nature of not being in YW anymore, but I also think the women realize they're not wearing garments yet, and as long as they don't dress like strippers, they probably wear what they want. Tbh it's amazing to find the self-confidence to wear a skirt that's two inches higher than what you're used to or tighter around the butt. Feeling comfortable in your body is important, just don't let it all hang out.

    Personally I don’t agree with this statement. Eternal truths like modesty don’t expire once you transition out of Young Women. And a philosophy like that sounds like “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we must wear garments.” Or “I don’t have to clutch to the iron rod. I can walk beside it” or “I can be mostly obedient, just so long as I’m not really wicked.”

    Let the spirit guide you. I highly doubt it’ll say: “Oh you couldn’t wear that when you were a Young Woman, but since you are a Young Single Adult you can show off your sexiness”

     
  14. "Sisters in the Vineyard" by J. Kirk Richards

     
  15. Service is charity in action