Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
As I was shopping for gifts a few weeks ago, I came across a book that I had seen before and wanted to read. It is called “Armor” and is written by Kim B. Clark, the president of BYU/Idaho. In this book, he shares his insights into the scripture found in Ephesians 6:10-17, about the armor of God. As I started to read this book yesterday, I realized what a valuable topic this would be for my family to study, especially those who are preparing to serve missions (i.e. all of my boys). So, I’ve decided that this would be our subject for the next several Family Home Evening lessons. This is also a good opportunity for me to share insights with my son, Michael, who is currently preparing to submit his mission papers . So, each week, as I study and prepare what I want to share with my family (using this book, Armor, and the scriptures as a guide), I’ll blog about what we’ll be discussing. I’d love to hear from anyone who is reading the blog – any thoughts or understanding that anyone can add.
Dr. Clark starts out by explaining why he entered into a study of the armor of God and why he wrote this book. He explains that there was a time in his life, during the period that he was the Dean of Harvard Business School, that he was under great stress and was very busy. At this time, he was also focusing on living the Gospel more fully and he began to feel strong opposition – feelings of darkness and doubt. I’m sure that everyone experiences these things at some point (or several points) in their own lives. I have. It does seem that the more we strive to become better, more knowledgeable, more spiritual, and closer to our Heavenly Father, the more opposition we will encounter. There are times when I, like Dr. Clark, have felt attacked by the forces of evil. At this time, Dr. Clark had a nightmare and awoke feeling the need to get on his knees and pray for strength and guidance – again, something we can all relate to. A scripture came to his mind: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…”. You’ll recognize that as part of Paul’s discussion about the Armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-17. I love what Dr. Clark says about this passage of scripture: “As so often happens, the message was not only to comfort, enlighten, and inform but also to assign and command.” Have you ever felt like a passage of scripture was written especially for you? I have. This is how Dr. Clark felt when he read the full scripture passage and put the small bit that came to him (about the powers of darkness) into context with the rest of the scripture. He said: “For me the answer was to go even deeper than I had gone, to do even more. It was to put on the whole armor of God.” A worthy pursuit for all of us. He pointed out the importance of this admonition with a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it. There are forces all around us that would deter us from that effort. The world is constantly crowding in on us. From all sides we feel the pressure to soften our stance, to give in here a little and there a little. We must never lose sight of our objective. We must ever keep before us the goal which the Lord has set for us.” (He then quotes Ephesians 6:10-12 and then concludes): “We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator.” President Hinckley has a way of explaining and teaching that I love. This quote helped me see that this scripture that I’ve chosen to study is such an important one, especially on the subjects of missionary work, standing for truth and righteousness, and sharing our light with the world.
I’ll end this blog post with the words of Dr. Clark and a challenge to myself (and anyone who wishes to take on that challenge): “President Hinckley used this scripture [many more times]. And so, in many ways, in many places, and at many times, this message has been made clear to me: Put on the whole armor of God. As I sought to be true to that message, I realized that I needed to SPEND MORE TIME STUDYING AND SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES”. As I sit here and type this blog post, I’m listening to Sacrament Meeting (on my speaker phone) and Sister Susan Savage is talking about studying the scriptures! (That always happens to me – I seem to hear exactly what I need to hear during talks). She spoke of Matthew, who said, “And the care of this world…choke the word” (Matthew 13:22), reminding me that it is far too easy to find excuses to not study the scriptures. She then said, “If we turn our live over to the Father, He will teach us everything we need to know”, which is, of course, why each of us is so blessed. We can get help with understanding and studying anytime we need it – by praying and speaking with God. I, like Dr. Clark, resolve to study and search the scriptures more this coming year and to help my family understand how to put on the whole armor of God.