Nov 27 2011 to Magrath 3rd Ward Roger Davies
This past week we received news of the safe arrival of a new grandchild born into our family down in Staten Island, NYC .. our number 16 .. making 7 grandsons and 9 granddaughters all age 9 and under. With your permission, I would like to address my talk toward them. They have not heard all my stories yet. The questions are earnest ones I imagine they would ask. The answers below, my best attempt to respond. You can listen in if you wish.
What does it mean to say, 'We Believe'?
If we believe in God, we listen and obey. Do you believe your parents when they tell you, to be safe and never touch a hot stove? Your parents love you and want what is best for you. If you believe them, you will stay away from the danger. Heavenly Father also loves you. He wants you to be safe as well. By obeying his commandments, we are showing him that we believe.
Who is the Holy Ghost?
'The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.' (lds.org) The Holy Ghost is a person. He is a member of the God Head. He has a spirit body like you and I had before we were born. His job is to teach, warn, testify .. to tell us what Heavenly Father would have us do.
Do you know this song?
Children Songbook # 106 The Still Small Voice “Through a still small voice the Spirit speaks to me, to guide me, to save me, from the evil I may see. If I try to do what's right, He will lead me thru the night, direct me, protect me, and give my soul his light. Listen, Listen. The Holy Ghost will whisper. Listen, listen to the still small voice.” Through the Holy Ghost, we receive and grow our testimony of God and his Church. In John 14: 26 Jesus said: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” If we want to please Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, we will repent when we make mistakes, and try to do better. The Holy Ghost teaches us to pray and tells us what we need to do to be better people and to stay safe.
King Benjaman said in Mosiah 4:10 “And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.”
How can we hear the Holy Ghost?
If you didn't have any ears, or if they stopped working, how would we talk to you? When Aunt Aubrey (my daughter, your aunt or your mother) was almost 3 we found out that she couldn't hear anymore. The way we first learned she couldn't hear was that we noticed that she could read our lips – she responded to us even when we were inside the house calling to her through the closed window and she was outside playing. We had her hearing tested and she started going to a special school to help her get ready to go to regular school. Some of the children learned to read lips and to use hearing aids. Others learned to sign with their hands. I was never very good at signing, but did finally learn to sign some very simple things; letters. colors, names, numbers, happy, sad.
Sometimes sign language was hard. For it to work, the person signing has to be seen. If the person trying to receive the message is too far away or behind a tree or around a corner, or looking the other way, they cannot get the message. Other times sign language was great. We could tell Aubrey to sit and be reverent across the chapel without disturbing any one else at the meeting.
So, to be able to understand the spirit, we first have to learn his language. Although on occasion an audible voice can be heard, because the Holy Ghost is a spirit he usually speaks directly to our spirit. We feel his words in our heart and in our mind. To Oliver Cowdery this revelation was directed: D&C 8:2-5 “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. 3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; [...] 5 Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.”
Again, to Oliver Cowdery the Lord says: D&C 9:7-9 "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. 8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. 9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
So, just like sign language, in order to get the message you have to learn to stay close to the spirit and pay attention. Focus. Concentrate. In scriptural terms: Draw near unto me. Stand in Holy Places. Ponder. Sign language does not work well in the dark.
We decided to have Aubrey attend a regular hearing school system. When Aubrey first went to elementary school, she wore her 'over the ear' hearing aids attached to a large FM receiver box that was worn over the chest, attached with big brown straps over her shoulders. This device was designed to both help her hear the other students and to let the teacher or her aid talk directly to her through a wireless microphone. After elementary school, for some reason she decided that she did not want to wear it anymore. She wanted to be like more everyone else. She managed along with lip reading and her hearing aids up until Grade 11. Sometimes if she did not want to listen, she just turned off the aid. Hearing aids do not work well if they are turned off. In her last year of high school, her hearing dropped again and the hearing aids were of no use. Without a hearing aid, she could just shut her eyes to stop listening. Aubrey was always a sound sleeper.
We are the same way. We receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism. As we get older, some times we decide we are too cool for it. We want to be more like everyone else. We get by, but would really benefit more from clearer messages. Fortunately for Aubrey, she eventually got approved for a special operation – a cochlear implant – that permits her to wear an external receiver in her back pocket or on a belt that discretely connects via a cable directly to the magnetic implant behind her ear. Now she can hear on the phone and do pretty much what anyone else can – if she keeps the equipment in good working order and has a fresh set of batteries.
The influence of Holy Ghost is a gift we have all received. We need to pay attention and keep our batteries charged, because it is sometimes hard to feel the messages from the spirit. We have to want to hear. Sometimes even when we do hear, we don't understand him at first. We need to find a quiet place and focus on the message. It is a language we can learn and get better at over time.
Why does the Holy Ghost need to talk to me? (if time)
Roles of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help us live righteously and receive the blessings of the gospel. He “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses. As we strive to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.
Story: Before (and after) my mission, I worked for a time in the far north. Have you heard of the north pole? Think even farther north than that! North of an island called Ellesmere Island, somewhere out on the ice between the magnetic north pole and the geographic north pole there was a intrepid group of explorers, like me, searching for places to drill for oil. Our work site was not actually on land. It was out on the flat Arctic Ice which normally is mostly permanent and up to 10 feet thick. The camp was just a collection of trailers one for a kitchen and others for dorm style bedrooms on skids and wheels that were pulled along over the ice by big caterpillar tractors as needed. In the morning after a large breakfast and after donning boots and coats and gloves we were flown out to work in a helicopter. There we were to string out long cables of wires and special microphones. When all the cables were in place, a crew set off a series of explosions underneath the ice and recorded the results for later analysis. Afterwards, we collected the cables back onto large metal racks and they and us were flown ahead to the next area to test. At the end of the day, we were collected and flown back to the camp to eat and sleep and get ready for the next day.
Stories for later or if time:
Doug and the open waters at the pressure ridge .. 'I think I can jump that .. nope'
Darcy and the unexploded fuse – 'What happens if I hook these wires up to a 9V battery that I happen to have in my pocket? ..'
Roger and Dwight – following the trail of the lost camp .. in the blizzard. One day my friend Dwight and I (both up there earning money and preparing to go on our missions) were assigned to drive an 'Thiokol Super Imp' (an enclosed tracked vehicle – think of a cross between a mini truck and oversized snowmobile with a heated cab) from where the camp had been out to where it had now been moved to. All we had to do was follow the tracks of the camp in the snow left by the large caterpillar tractors .. in theory. At first everything was fine. Then the wind picked up and the snow began to blow. A fine white snow blowing across a white field of snow with white clouds behind. It became somewhat difficult to see the path we were to follow. For a time we drove with our heads peering out the side windows. For a bit longer we took turns walking ahead while the driver inched along. Eventually we stopped and decided there was nothing left to do but to pray. So we had a heartfelt talk with Heavenly Father. We asked for help because we had no idea how to get back to camp safely. Twenty minutes later the wind stopped. We could now see the tracks plainly again and drove safely back to base camp with out further incident. Some may say it was just a lucky coincidence. The wind was about to stop on its own anyway. Right.
It is my testimony that this miracle was as great for me and my friend Dwight as the crossing of the Red Sea was for the Children of Israel or the calming of the Sea of Galilee for the Apostles of Christ. The Holy Ghost teaches a man to pray. Why? For us to exercise faith and to maintain the principles of Free Agency. God will force no man to Heaven. We must choose to be helped. Ask for assistance, in faith, after doing all we can. Then our Heavenly Father can take action necessary in that situation to bless us.
The scriptures say: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9)' .. 'But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. (James 1:6)'
Suppose it was the other way around. What if the powers above automatically protected us without our effort or knowledge. Would we appreciate the effect? If the weather always moderated itself whenever we chose to venture out into the world. If there were no consequences for our actions? If we raised our children with this same premise – providing their every whim and desire, food, entertainment, freedom? How free would they grow up to be. Our wise Heavenly Father created this world for our education .. not our entertainment.
I do not know all things. I do not know all the why's. But I do know that God exists, He sent His Son to atone for our sins, and He has provided the Holy Ghost to comfort and guide and teach us how to return back into His Presence.
If we believe in God, we listen and obey.
The Holy Ghost speaks to us in a 'still small voice.'
We need to learn to understand his language.
Listen and act upon the impressions we receive.
Then, we can and will be blessed. Amen