“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Charity and the Apostles 1 Corinthians 11-16

1 Corinthians 11-16

In the past few months I have taken the challenge to read and reread the words of our modern day Apostles.  For a few of the prized quotes I used some of my photos to create image meme’s that help to share the deep emotion their words bring.

My quest began with the April 2015 General Conference addresses. As I pondered the varied topics and realized that not one of these men are assigned the topic of their talks but rather speak from their own hearts, my love for these men began to grow. For the first time I saw them as men whose lives have not been without tribulation but rather have been given in service, sacrifice and as examples to the rest of us as how to live in this dispensation of gospel time, how to live midst the trial and difficulties we must all face. 
The Apostle Paul who lived almost two thousand years ago said it best,
 “ Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

These men have chosen to be followers of Christ. Their actions, their service, their leadership of family, and their lives of integrity reflect their high moral characters and the true desires of their hearts.  While many of the topics of their talks are universally pertinent, a few could not be found in the indexes of our sacred scripture. Topics such as social media or “The Proclamation on the Family” are distinct to our social time.   As I read their words, my hope returned and I saw that if they could learn to serve our Savior through all of their trials then I could, in this time and place, do the same. While I revere the testimony of the many ancient prophets and their words will forever ring true, the words of the modern day prophets give needed direction for the choices we face in our day and time.

When Paul spoke to the Corinthians, it was if he was speaking at a General Conference. He spoke on the topics that were pertinent to the church during his time. He spoke of the need to preserve marriage (11:3-15), of the accepted length of a woman's hair, reverencing the sacrament ( 11:20-30), of Spiritual gifts (12-14) and of the resurrection.

This past weekend we had the privilege of visiting our daughter’s congregation where she, as the Sunday School Teacher, taught a beautiful lesson. She grabbed the class’s attention by asking what topics of discussion had been covered at the last General Conference of the church and comparing Paul's teachings in Corinthians to a General Conference.  As the class responded I pondered all of the topics I had studied. The list was long and varied.

And I began to marvel at how the Lord in his infinite wisdom has drawn on the diversity of the church to feed and reach those members who seek his love. I thought if only the Prophet had spoken, we would have only learned about temples and the priesthood. No doubt these are pertinent subjects but how many more souls were lifted up by being able to hear about the Young Adults, or integrity, or Elder Teixeira’s talk on  "Seeking the Lord" amidst the myriads of social media distractions. I am always amazed at how at least one or two talks seem to be directed at my life and serve to answer to the  difficulties I am facing.

My daughter’s genuine smile is large and contagious. As she led our class through the many lessons of Paul she kept reminding us of the upcoming October conference and how once again we will have the privilege of hearing wise words of our Apostles meant for our day. As she taught I felt her joy for the gospel and I felt gratitude for the grace of God that we have such a church which gives us not only instruction for our day, but opportunities for growth and learning. 

I truly felt God’s charity for me and my family. As I enjoyed the lengthy class discussion on charity and the many other gifts of the spirit, I found a renewal of my faith to seek charity within myself and share it with others in my family and social circles.

Paul’s words on charity remind us that of all the gifts this is the most prized. Why?
It has to do with how charity changes both the giver and the receiver. While the gift of tongues bridges cultural communication gaps, it cannot change hearts the way charity can. And while some are given to wisdom and others knowledge, miracles, or prophecy all of these call attention to the bearer of the gift, but charity alone gives back what it receives and bonds the giver to the receiver. Still, all gifts, like all parts of the body are needed.

I love to think about how charity brings us closer to God, for we truly cannot have charity without having a relationship with God. We need God’s love to help us suffer long, to be kind, especially in difficult or negative relationships, to find contentment in our possessions and social situations, to not puff ourselves up. Charity teaches us to be humble and to be strong in the midst of provocation. It teaches us to think only good, even when evil is present. We may recognize the evil, but we choose to think only good.

Charity rejoices in truth and through the power of he atonement learns to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

Paul goes on to say that prophecies and tongues, and knowledge may cease but charity never faileth. 

And that is when I realized that from the Apostles at General Conference I found charity. Charity for my weakness for they have had to live through their own. Charity for my lack of knowledge for I am still a toddler in the gospel. Charity for my wisdom for I err in my judgment often. Charity is the gift that the Lord Jesus Christ gives us when he instructs and nurtures us. 

Now as we begin to prepare for yet another conference of topics that come from the heart of these chosen men of God, I will look for answers to my prayers that these men will speak to our day yet again. And that they will borrow from the wisdom of the ages and the experience of this day and age and give me the guidance to help me follow them, even as they follow Christ.

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