07 March 2021

Being an instrument in the Creator's hands to help to soften hearts

I thought that I would share something that I shared with some missionaries.

Dear fellow labourers in the vineyard

As I have thought about what to share with you on your mission in this one of my infrequent letters, my mind turned to a few questions that went through my mind relating to an incident in the life of Jesus Christ. I thought that it could be of value to you as you strive to teach in the Saviour's way.

This relates to the incident in John chapter 8 where a woman is dragged before Jesus of Nazareth. She had been caught in the very act of adultery. Here are the thoughts and questions that I wrote down. I wonder how many minutes there were in this story in John 8. Perhaps you can relate these thoughts to you and the way that you teach and interact with people who have their own sins of which they need to repent before they can progress to make and keep covenants. Remember - you teach non-members, new, and returning members, and active members. I believe that you can help many of them to feel the Spirit and progress in their journey towards, rather than away from, the tree of life as described by Lehi and Nephi.

I reflected on the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8).

· She was evidently guilty of one of the most serious of sins.
· What about the man? Somehow the Saviour does not seem to have pressed this matter, so maybe we should not dwell on it.
· What was her attitude when first brought to Jesus of Nazareth?
· What was her attitude as He first responded by simply stooping down and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not?
· What was her attitude as He said ‘Let he that is without sin cast the first stone”?
· What was her attitude when He again stooped down and wrote in the dust?
· What was her attitude when He asked ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers”?
· What was her attitude after He said “Neither do I condemn thee – go and sin no more”? How had her attitude and feeling changed with each step along the process?

I shall not expand on these points. I hope that your mind reflects on each step in the woman's change of heart and how we might affect the feelings in the hearts of those that we are teaching. I reckon that her heart felt very different at the end of the incident relative to how she felt at the start of the interview. 

Perhaps you can teach in such a way that hearts change. I wonder if her heart was somewhat like stone - hard, defiant, indignant, defensive, betrayed, confrontational, hurt, angry, arrogant, blaming, abandoned, victimised, fighting - or whatever that was no doubt carnal, sensual or devilish - when she was dragged or pushed onto the scene. I imagine that her heart had - just maybe - changed, to become seriously softened, remorseful, desiring to truly repent such that the Lord Jesus Christ would not condemn her - a broken heart and a contrite spirit - and then He encouraged her to change by going and sinning no more.
Then I think of the following examples.
· Driver’s license examiners – looking for reason to fail the candidate or looking for evidence of competence and helping them to qualify? I was examined for heavy duty license – the examiner commented that I was driving a little fast.
· The need to be positive and encourage members to get to the point of full fellowship and Gospel living as soon as possible. Should normally not be more than a year.
· Work with each individual to bring them back with humble hearts to enjoy the fullness of the Gospel.
I know that I was a worried and concerned candidate truck driver when that examiner challenged me. I had been defending the way that I was driving. But I feel that I have been a more careful, purposeful, responsible, considerate truck, bus, car, or motorcycle driver since then, perhaps even a better pedestrian, because of the way that he taught me and then helped me to qualify as a better candidate. His approach was not to fail me for doing something that could be improved. He was helping to qualify me to be better than ever! He had reminded me that a truck is heavier than a car, and therefore needed to be driven with more caution than a car that can be stopped more easily in a time of emergency. He was teaching me things that would make me a more defensive driver at all times, not just when he or some official was looking on.
Blessings on you as you ponder the scriptures in similar kinds of ways - probably far better than these fumbling ponderings of mine.

Thank you for your service to the Lord and to His children as you teach them and invite them to come unto Christ.

I find it interesting that the thing that John recorded as the next thing that Jesus Christ taught was that He is the light of the world. He taught that 'he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life.' May we be a light as He encouraged us to be. It is also interesting that the movie depicting this story shows Jesus teaching about compassion by referring to the law that teaches the lower law: 'an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth'.  

I see a changing, softening heart depicted in these scenes, going from broken to healed.

02 March 2021

Do we use the Bible in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Many people in and out of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are under the impression that we neglect the Bible. I replied to someone last night and thought you might enjoy my reply....

Good evening, Daniel

Thanks for the messages. Sorry I was not aware of your calls. I guess that I was driving at the time. 

I am kind of confused by your message. I've always encouraged Church members to read the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. One cannot fully remember how merciful the Lord has been to the children of men from the days of Adam, even down to the time that we read those things in the Book of Mormon if we're not familiar with the abundant mercy described in the Bible! For very many years (decades!) the Sunday School study has been a year Old Testament, a year New Testament, a year on Book of Mormon, a year of Church history, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. That happened every four years, 50% of the time focused on the Bible! 

I love the Bible. I love the parables told by Jesus Christ. I love how He dealt with the woman taken in adultery, the rich young man, the scribes and pharisees, the woman from Samaria, Mary and Martha, and every wonderful story. I love His analogy that we be leaven in the loaf (we cannot do this from outside or in splinters - we must be distributed throughout the dough), being a light (we must let our light shine so that men see our good works and glorify the Father in Heaven- we must stand out!),  and salt (cleansing, purifying, flavouring). And all of His parables so wonderfully liken the known to the unknown. I love how He addresses the faith/works/grace debate as He challenges us to work - not just confess or believe, but be faithful in the covenant path. I could go on and on and on!

Read the Bible! Read the other scriptures and Conference talks! Pray to the Father! Pray to the Father in the name of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ! 

I love how Jesus Christ speaks so clearly about Him being the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and that He was sent by His Father. I see that He had no confusion about whether or not He was the Son of God. I love how He prayed to the Father in John 17 that we would be one with Him as He is one with the Father. 

My faith and testimony would be very different if I were not as familiar with the Bible as I am. 

I encourage you to love the word of God. As He said in what we read this past week, we will hear His voice as we immerse ourselves in the scriptures. I have had that experience and I strongly encourage you to have it. 

Blessings on you as you continue to study the words of Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. 

Kind regards

Les Powrie 😊