If we fast for more than one thing does it diminish the help we might receive?

If we fast for more than one thing does it diminish the help we might receive?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

If a person fasts for more than one concern at the same time, does it dilute or diminish the power or help that could be available were we to fast for any one of those concerns individually?

Robert

 

Answer

 

Hi Robert,

I suspect the problem here is one of viewpoint. The fast is not a magical rite that invokes a quantity of blessings on the object of the fast, with the consequence that those blessings might be diluted if spread too thin. We are not trying to bribe God or secure his divine favor through His appreciation of our performance of a fast.

The fast (and the prayer that should always accompany it) is a blessing that God has given to us. It is completely for our own benefit. The fast is designed to increase and deepen our own spiritual sensitivity, allowing us more intimate communication with God. In that state, we can more easily determine God’s will and understand how our own actions might affect the course of events. We become more sensitive to impressions and ideas that can help us and those we love.

So why not just fast for everything at once, all the problems in our lives and in the world? Because that is not how our minds and our spirits work. We normally confront our challenges individually and deal with things one by one. Eveything at once is simply too big an elephant to eat in one bite. But as we consider individual challenges and obstacles, fasting can help us understand how to proceed, or at times give us the strength to carry on despite the challenges.

 

Gramps

 

What are the differences in agency we used in pre-earth life and now?

What are the differences in agency we used in pre-earth life and now?

Question

Gramps,

It seems to me we had agency during our pre earth life. What is the difference between the agency we exercised in the pre earth life and our agency here on earth?

Kari

 

Answer

Dear Keri,

It’s hard to know for sure since we don’t remember our pre-mortal life, but we can glean some answers from what God has revealed to us about it.  For example, the principles of agency are:

  1. Law
  2. Knowledge of the law
  3. Opposition—good and evil
  4. Freedom of choice

It is easy to see how these principles apply to this life.  Take for example, the commandment to keep the Law of Tithing.  First there is a law.  Second we need to be aware of it.  Non-members are generally not aware of the law of the tithe, so they aren’t expected to keep it, but when they take the missionary discussions and learn about it, then they have to commit to live it before they can be baptized.  Third, Satan will try to tempt them not to follow it.  And finally, they have the agency to choose whether or not to follow it.

So did this same structure happen in the pre-mortal life?  I think the “War in Heaven” is a good example that agency worked the same way there.  Heavenly Father presented a plan: the law.  Everyone heard it and knew this was Father’s will.  Jesus agreed to be the Savior in this plan.  But then came the opposition. Satan said Father’s plan was too risky and presented an alternate plan.  Finally, each of us had the opportunity to choose to follow Father and Jesus or to follow Satan.

As you know, we can choose our actions, but we don’t get to choose the consequences of them.  Some consequences are very serious.  We are fortunate to have also been given the choice to repent and do better.  Hopefully, we all use that one often.

Lesson 2: Agency: The Power to Choose

Gramps

Is there a reference that people filled with the Spirit of Christ can heal?

Is there a reference that people filled with the Spirit of Christ can heal?

Question

Gramps.

Is there a reference that people with the Spirit of Christ and filled with the Holy Ghost can heal people with faith? My granddaughter who is on a mission got this question and needs an answer. I told her that LDS do not have a lock on faith and healing but on the Plan of Salvation and covenants that go with it.

Jon

 

Answer

Jon,

Healing is a gift of the Spirit, and God can heal whomever He pleases. And miracles happen by faith. So yes, anyone who has faith, according to God’s will, may be healed.

1 Cor. Chapter 12 speaks of these gifts.

As far as healing goes, no one of any power or authority heals another. God heals them. But those who hold the Priesthood have the specific right to act in the name of God. That does not give them the exclusive right to the gifts of the spirit, but it does mean that they have rights to speak authoritatively in many matters.

But you’re fairly spot on in your suggestions. Latter-day Saints do not have a specific lock on faith and healing. We do have a lock on authority and ordinances. So healing exclusivity…no…but healing by ordinance exclusivity…yes.  How does this translate practically? I don’t know. I expect if someone from another church stands up and proclaims the authority to heal, then it’s only words…because they do not have the authority. But if the afflicted person has faith and turns to God, might God not heal them accordingly? Yes. So would we never see healings by faith outside the LDS Church? Seems a stretch, right?

 

Gramps

What is eternity?

What is eternity?

Question

 

Hi Gramps,

This has always been a puzzlement for me.  I thought that there is going to be one eternity so why do Mormons speak of  eternities? What exactly is an eternity and what is the meaning of eternities?  And what are the eternities going to consist of?

Jackie

 

Answer

 

Jackie,

There are a few interesting issues at play in your question. First, there’s the language. From a certain perspective, there’s no difference in eternity and eternities. It’s just the way you say it. Like, “In the eternities…” would mean the same thing as “For all eternity…”.

From another perspective, we don’t really know, because eternity is a reference to time, and time doesn’t necessarily function the same way for an exalted being as it does for us. God sees all things, past, present and future before Him constantly. In Moses 1:6, for example, we read:

“but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.”

…and D&C 38:2:

“The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;”,

…and D&C 130:7:

“But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.”

…and so forth. Perhaps that plays into the meaning of eternities a bit.

Finally, we have the idea of “eternal lives” as in D&C 132:24 “This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.” This is another strange pluralization of a word that has been explained to us by Bruce R. McConkie:

“Those who gain eternal life (exaltation) also gain eternal lives, meaning that in the resurrection they have eternal ‘increase,’ ‘a continuation of the seeds,’ a ‘continuation of the lives.’ Their spirit progeny will ‘continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.’ (D. & C. 131:1–4132:19–25, 30, 55.)”

Perhaps eternities is correlative to eternal lives and the continuation of our seed. We will have eternity. Our seed will also have eternity. Their seed will have eternity. Hence we get eternities instead of just one eternity.

For a much greater in depth read, see an article I wrote in 1993 There Shall Be Time No Longer.

 

Gramps

How do I hold strong to the rod while being home schooled?

How do I hold strong to the rod while being home schooled?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I have been in middle school for 2 years now.  It has gotten pretty hard so for 8th grade I am going to be home schooled. I know that even though I am not at school, temptations will still follow, and I really want to be prepared to hold strong to the iron rod. How do I remain strong though?

Jaidyn

 

Answer

Hello Jaidyn,

Thank you, Jaidyn, for taking the opportunity to ask such an important and insightful question.  The answer to your question is found within our scriptures from those who provide us with great examples — and who have stayed strong themselves.  I would hope, Jaidyn, that you would take the opportunity to read through my whole response.

The ultimate example of how to stay strong is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He was perfect. Why was he perfect?  One of the many reasons for his perfection is that he prayed, Luke 22:40, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”  This is our first step to withstand any temptation that may come our way.  Prayer allows us to build upon the foundation of “The Rock” — our Redeemer.  We are informed that if we build upon the Rock we will be able to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary (temptation).

Why would Jesus pray?  Jesus loved His Father.  Our Savior declared, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  As our love increases toward our Savior and toward our Heavenly Father, then we will increase in our strength to counter temptation.  When Joseph Smith was tempted by Martin Harris to give him the 116 pages of translated records the Lord said this to Joseph after his mistake, “For behold, you should not have feared men more than God…”  And from scripture we are informed, “perfect love casteth out all fear.”  In the morning, and before we sleep, we should pray for this perfect love which casteth out all fear.  Remember, if you think upon the Lord, in the hour of your temptation (think upon your love for our Savior), you will be provided with strength to overcome (Ether 12:27).

In scripture, the Book of Mormon, we are provided with a wonderful lesson, a wonderful principle being taught by the Lord through the vision of Lehi.  Remember, Lehi received a vision, and within this vision some individuals pressed toward the tree of life, while others did not.  We are informed as to the strength of some and the weakness of others.  Those who cared more about the love of the world crawled their way to a great and spacious building, while those who cared for the love of God (our Savior’s atonement and exaltation) held fast to the rod of iron, and did not give heed to the temptation (fingers of scorn) from the world; thus, I would invite you to read the vision/dream of Lehi within 1 Nephi 8.  Will you please read this chapter with a prayer in your heart?

Another strength we see in those who are able to resist temptation are those who no longer halt between two opinions.  In other words, the Lord said, a man cannot serve two masters.  This teaching correlates with whom we love more.  If your heart treasures your love of God, it is much easier to thwart temptation.  If a mind has not yet been made up as to whom they will serve, then it is much easier for the adversary to tempt and to try us.  Once you make up your mind what you will and will not choose, then the ultimate battle is already leaning toward victory on your side.  Example, think upon someone you know who has resolved to never drink any alcohol.  If presented with the opportunity to have a drink, what do you think his/her answer will be?  What about a child who has resolved he/she will never steal.  When presented with an opportunity to steal, whether by a subtle temptation from the adversary or a vocal invitation from a friend, what do you think the answer will be? The moment you make up your mind, Jaidyn, what you will and will not do, the Lord will strengthen your resolve to say “NO.”  That is one of the greatest strengths given to us — our agency.  We choose our fate.  We choose our obedience.  No one is able to force our hand, our will, to make us choose something we have resolved never to do.

Let’s take an example from Nephi’s life.  When Lehi asked his sons to go and retrieve the plates from Laban, we are able to compare Lehi’s sons and their responses.  Laman and Lemuel murmured and did not want to go (they also believed it was their father asking them to go, not the Lord).  Nephi, on the other hand, said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”  The contrast in these verses is important.  Laman and Lemuel assumed their father was the giver of the commandment to obtain the plates.  Nephi, knew his father was a prophet and the commandment came from the Lord.  In the end, who had the resolve to endure and retrieve the plates?  Thus, I would ask you to ask yourself, who is giving the commandments for you to keep — your parents or the Lord through your parents?  If you are unsure regarding your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, will you accept my next invitation?

Please read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover over the next few months and then accept Moroni’s promise to ask the Lord if this book is true (Moroni 10:3-5). Learn for yourself, so that you may gain the resolve, as Nephi, to keep the Lord’s commandments.

As you strive to keep the commandments of God, and to resist temptation, please remember to be patient with yourself.  Perfection is a life-long achievement.  Remember, that the Lord is merciful, and loves us, and is quick to forgive those who are sincerely seeking to love Him–by keeping his commandments.  Remember, Ether 12:27, in which the Lord states that when we come unto Him He will show us our weaknesses, so that we may be humble.  And as we humble ourselves, the Lord will make weak things strong.  Through the Lord’s grace, the atonement’s enabling power to strengthen us, we will be able to overcome all temptation.

Gramps

What if I forget that I’m fasting and eat something?

What if I forget that I’m fasting and eat something?

Question

Gramps,

If I’ve opened a fast, what are the consequences if I forget that I’m fasting and then eat something?

Chris

 

Answer

Hi Chris,

Let’s take a moment and consider the purposes of fasting. First, we are showing devotion to our Father in Heaven, thereby drawing nearer unto Him. Second, we are exercising discipline and obedience. Third, we are learning dependence on our Father in Heaven in all things. Fourth, fasting is meant to be purposeful, in that we often pair it with a desire, and it is tied closely to prayer. And finally, we are saving money that we can donate as fast offerings to help the poor and the needy.

So consider: Would any of these purposes be thwarted by a slip up and then continuation of the fast?

I think it can be seen plainly that even with a mistake, if we continue our fast with humble hearts our purposes in fasting can still be accomplished.

There is also a good lesson herein concerning repentance. We should fast perfectly, of course. If we do not, correcting the mistake and moving on in the right way seems perfectly in line with the principle of repentance. Accordingly, we can expect that our Father in Heaven, upon this simple repentant act, will wash our stains (even if those stains are cheese-puff stained finger tips) so that we can be clean again. (Symbolically, of course. You’ll have to wash the orange fingers on your own.)

If we approach our fast with the right attitude and humility, it can be a great blessing. Isaiah promised concerning the fast, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:8–9).

What a great blessing!

I have been guilty of accidental eating when fasting too. It happens. I’ve been known to lick a mixing-spoon, and then run to the sink, spit out the cake batter, and quickly rinse out my mouth. That reaction is probably overkill. But I believe that my sincere efforts to continue my fast faithfully, even when having made a mistake, has greatly blessed my life.

Gramps

How can I benefit from the Atonement when it comes to my weaknesses?

How can I benefit from the Atonement when it comes to my weaknesses?

Question

Dear Gramps,
I understand that Christ’s suffering through his atonement paid the price for our sins thus allowing them to be forgiven. But how does Christ’s atonement provide for our afflictions and weaknesses? I have accepted Christ’s atonement for my life, and have felt a genuine forgiveness for my sins. But I still have my weaknesses, and they still continue to afflict me. So how therein am I benefited?

Will (more…)

Aren’t we just convincing ourselves that our religion is true?

Aren’t we just convincing ourselves that our religion is true?

Question

Gramps,

I have a friend who feels that people of all religions want their religion to be true so badly that they convince themselves that their religion is true. He feels that any spirit or power felt by an individual is caused by a strong internal desire to feel something to solidify their belief. What is your opinion on this subject? What is a good way to refute his argument?  Thanks so much! You’re the man.

Austin (more…)

Is there a line between faith and blind obedience?

Is there a line between faith and blind obedience?

Question

Gramps,

Could you have the faith Heber C. Kimball had?   First he was asked to share his wife with Joseph Smith.  He agrees only to be told it was a test of faith. Then after passing that test he is asked to give his 14 year old daughter up to marry Joseph. This time it’s not a test nor is it a ceremonial marriage.   In thinking on this, I don’t think I have that level of faith.   I could not give my daughters to men they did not choose for themselves nor loved.   I want to develop my faith, but is there a line between faith and blind obedience? Can we make it back to the Father if we lack the faith of a Heber C. Kimball?

Concerned (more…)

How can I regain my testimony and help my family as well?

How can I regain my testimony and help my family as well?

Question

Gramps,

I am an endowed mother of eight who is losing my testimony because I feel my husband has used his Priesthood wrongly and is a hypocrite.  My older children feel depressed about the church too.  Now we find ways to doubt Joseph Smith’s word.  We had counseling but it’s over now and we are so confused.  Can you offer advice?

Atalee (more…)

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