Elder Dallin Dean Gomez

Sunday, March 20, 2011

RAISING THE BAR _ A PLUG FOR Family Home Evening

My 5TH Sunday lesson on FHE

http://lds.org/family/home-evening?lang=eng

On the church website it says: Change your status on facebook to
“We’re having family home evening.”
It also says: Consistency Is the Key
 
Before giving you this packet – knowing very well what happens to handouts
you bring home from Church – and where they end up.. I want to give you a
challenge.  Turn the packet into this (Show the booklet made up with all
inserts, etc.)  in the next few days…. I wish I would have had the money
to buy binders, sheet protectors and put it all together for you.. because
it is useless the way it is - -but extremely handy and wonderful when put
together! (Faith in God, Duty to God, Personal Progress, For The Strength 
of Youth, True to the Faith, The Living Christ, Family Proclamation, etc.) 
This is great FHE material for all of us – any of us… 
Marlow and Delores – whose kids are grown and gone, Brady and Tera –whose kids aren’t
teenagers yet, and Georgia who is on her own. Why? Because what’s good for
our youth is good for us.. it’s the gospel and it’s good for us all.   We
all need FHE.   And by that I mean family scriptures and family prayer as
well.
  Reading the 4th paragraph down of the letter (3rd page of packet)   it
says..  We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to
family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction and
wholesome family activities…    HOWEVER WORTHY AND APPROPRIATE OTHER
DEMANDS OR ACTIVITIES MAY BE, THEY MUST NOT BE PERMITTED TO DISPLACE THE
DIVINELY-APPOINTED DUTIES THAT ONLY PARENTS AND FAMILIES CAN ADEQUATELY
PERFORM.

   I feel that one of the most important pieces of revelation or counsel
we have ever been given through our living prophets is something that
came about in 2002 – and has not only strengthened families, but has
directly affected the amazing growth of the church throughout the
world.     It is something referred to as raising the bar for
missionaries.   By that is meant increasing the spiritual maturity of
our youth before entering the house of the Lord – or the missionfield. 
  President Hinckley emphasized it this way “this work is rigorous.  It
demands strength and vitality. It demands mental sharpness and
capacity, it demands faith, desire and consecration. It demands clean
hands and pure hearts.”
   Elder Ballard said -  we don’t expect them to be perfect, but they need
to be anxious, willing and committed to serve so that they can reach
new levels of spirituality as gospel teachers.   They need to KNOW the
message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach it
with power (here’s the awesome part!)  IN THEIR OWN WORDS under the
guiding influence of the Holy Spirit.
     Elder Bednar has talked alot about this Raising the bar…  and what
struck me was when he said – it is true that the bar has been raised
for our missionaries.. but you must know that this means the bar has
been raised for parents and leaders as well.

   I remember Elder Eyring talking about it as well and he said -  What
used to be enough is no longer enough.  We live in a day and age of
evil such that with all that our youth combats day by day, they must
come home and receive strengthening and teaching and spiritual
fortitude equal or greater to the evil coming at them constantly
everywhere else.    It may have been enough in years past to have a
casual family gettogether once a week, but that is no longer enough.
     We need to have spiritually action packed FHEs  - -with scriptures,
and atonement and restoration being at the very center – core of it
all - - and maybe more than once a week in order to be enough.
   Elder Ballard talked about being at the Provo MTC with the missionaries
a few years back and asking them what would have helped them most to
prepare for their mission.   Above all else they said they wish they
had:
• Learned the doctrine better through focused scripture study.
• Learned how to study and to pray sincerely.
• Been more disciplined and worked harder.
• Understood better what is expected.
• Had more teaching opportunities.
• And had more searching interviews by bishops and parents.

    
When our youth understand the significance of the Restoration of the
gospel and know for themselves that God is our Heavenly Father and He
loves all of His children, that Jesus is the Christ, and that together
They personally visited Joseph Smith to open this, the final dispensation
of time, they will want to help carry this message to the world. When our
youth see the Book of Mormon as tangible evidence that the message of the
Restoration is true, they will be filled with a desire to do their part in
teaching these truths to our Heavenly Father’s children.
    It is a very natural consequence  - -once they truly know the
truthfulness of the Book of Mormon they will want to tell people and share
it with others.  Once they have felt the joy of the gospel – the blessings
and power of the atonement, they will want to share it with others. It's
very natural – and they will help many progress spiritually.
   With that said – I want you to know that Medardo and I have sent three
of our 8 kids out into the world… have seen them go to the temple, into
marriage – and Dallin  on a mission.   Already we know how tough it is to
send them out into the world each sufficiently prepared with a deep and abiding
testimony and love of the gospel that they need to be great leaders
helping themselves and others progress spiritually. We haven't had all success.
  So I know how hard it is.  I know how often we as parents feel
inadequate and wonder HOW in the world it’s possible to make sure they
truly KNOW for themselves and FEEL for themselves the power and love that
comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the restoration of the
gospel.    I know that we as parents all ask ourselves - - HOW can we do
this? HOW can we find the time to have FHE ? HOW can we motivate our
children to #1 be with us as a family, and  #2 invite the spirit to be
with us as a family to talk about sacred things when they are so often
consumed and suppressed and suffocated and stifled by texting and
cyperspace interactions and friends influences and video games, etc.   I
know the HOW can be so hard. 
         In all this I have said – and in all that I have prepared to send
home with you today - - my purpose  is in making the HOW a little easier
for you.   Just recently I was talking with my friend Claar about the challenge
of making it all work  for our families and not getting discouraged.  She
summed it all up with some simple but powerful wisdom that has impacted me
a lot.   She said AS THE WHY GETS STRONGER, THE HOW GETS EASIER.   So my
purpose in all this is to help strengthen the WHY of having great
spiritually charged FHEs – knowing the HOW will get easier once the WHY is
powerfully in your heart and mind. 
     Not long ago I was so frustrated with how angry and unsettled and
upset everyone seemed to always be at my house.  The lack of positive and
happy communication was overwhelming me. I thought, we just can’t do it,
we can’t get along.  But one early morning it dawned on me that the Lord
has given us this surefire promise guaranteed program of sitting down and
talking with each other as a family in a happy way called FHE.    If we
open our mouths and talk about Jesus Christ, it is a sure thing that the
Spirit will come – and it doesn’t matter what else you talk about, once
the spirit is there you will feel love and security and hope and peace.   
We need that in our families.     And then the big tall order of filling
the hearts of our children with testimony and faith  - - and of having
them love the Savior and turn to Him for help in  their own struggles and
be ready to go out into the world to teach that to others, suddenly seems
possible.   
When you think of strong youth - - I’m sure you and all of us think of the
2000 stripling warriors.  We all want our kids to be like them.  What did
they leave home with?   Summed up it’s childlike faith..  with more detail
from the scriptures we learn that they had been taught by their mothers
that if they would not doubt, God would deliver them.   (Alma56:47-48) . 
They did obey and observe to perform every command with exactness.
(57:21). They were young and their minds were firm, and they did put their
trust in God continually. (57:27) They did pour out their souls in
prayer.. were visited by the Lord with  assurances, peace, faith and hope.
    That’s exactly what I want for all of my kids.  
  I was thinking about Enos and Alma the Younger…  both of which had their
moments of conversion.   Both had the teachings of their parents come to
mind at that critical moment when the spirit bore witness to them and
empowered them.   Here is what Enos said:  “Behold I went to hunt beasts
in the forests, and the words which I had often heard my father speak
concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my
heart.”     Here is Alma’s experience: “and it came to pass that as I was
thus racked with torment, while I was  harrowed up by the memory of my
many sins, behold, I did remember also to have heard my father prophesy
the coming of one Jesus Christ, a son of God, to atone for the sins of the
world.”   And we all know that as soon as he thought of Jesus, his pains
were gone and he was infused with the desire to be good and to do good.
   
  THAT IS WHY we need to be diligent in these things.  We talk of
Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ,
so that our children will know to what source they may look for a
remission of their sins!     Once you feel that, you will be empowered
with the HOW to do it, I promise.  
 
  And the Lord has given us so many inspired helps.     These programs of
the church are awesome…    Here is For the Strength of Youth from years
past…  it is 16 pages.   Here is the new one 42 pages. Why didn’t they
just leave it with the first?  Because we now live in a 42 page world. 
This old one talks about whether or not to wear curlers in your hair at
certain occasions…  this new one is UP TO DATE with what’s happening in
the world NOW.   The Church is AWESOME!    If you want to know what the
Lord and the leaders of our church want our kids to know – learn what is
in these materials!   There’s a booklet with great stuff written just for
kids 8-11.  There’s a book for young women - - 12-18, there are pages for
boys 12-13, etc. etc.  The Church is COMPLETELY uptodate on child
development… we don’t need to consult the world to make sure it’s
appropriate for the age of our children… IT IS!!  Who knows better than
the Lord?
 He has made it simple.  If we just knew what was in them and how simply
the Lord has made it clear what He wants our youth to be focused on, and
learning --  we would realize that it’s easier than we make it – being
parents and raising these stripling warriors.    I promise as you better
understand the WHY of doing these things, the HOW will get easier!       
 We want kids who are on fire with the gospel - - who are sure for
themselves that the Church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that
Jesus lives and loves them and that through His atonement their lives can
be made clean and whole. We want our kids to head out, with an assurance
that on bad days they can pray and receive help from God.  We want our
kids to leave home KNOWING and FEELING these things for themselves.  
That’s the WHY.
   I found these LIVING CHRIST pages  in all different languages – and it
drove home this message to me more powerfully  - and once again lit me
up with the Why.  We don’t know where our children will go in the
world, on their missions, or to live their lives - -  we don’t know
what language they will be required to speak…   but that’s the easy
part.  Learning a language comes as they work at it. It’s the simple
part - -as long as they KNOW AND FEEL what this page says.   That they
know FIRST the Living Christ - -then I promise you they will find a way
to say it and share it with others.  The language will be the easy part
because they will be so anxious to bear their witness of Him and of His
atonement.   I have seen it in Dallin – and it is a sweet thing  - a
payday as a parent.  And we didn’t do a great job at FHE  - -but he has
figured out what drives him. It’s the truth of the restored gospel and
he is on fire with it.
 That’s the WHY.   And I bear my witness that it makes the HOW worth it,
and easier knowing that.
  

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