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Oaks “The Great Plan of Happiness.” Ensign, Novem ber 1993.) Each of us is on an eternal progression. There are some major milestones requir ed on that “Roadmap to Eternity.” You young ladies and gentlemen have heard these si nce Primary, tell me what they are. (Give kids time to list) (Milestones 1. Birth 2. Baptism by immersion 3. Receiving Holy Ghost 4.Eterna l Marriage 5. Enduring to the end) Seems pretty simple right? You have your whole life to accomplish these 5 goals . Should be easy sailing. Unfortunately every “map” also has road blocks. What ki nd of road blocks could block our eternal progression? (Give kids time to list. ) 1.Chastity/Immorality 2.Pornography 3.Word of Wisdom problems 4. Idleness 5. D ishonesty Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin has said “This is the day of our mortal probation. We mig ht compare our eternal journey to a race of three laps around the track. We have completed the first lap successfully and have made wonderful progress. We have started on the second lap. Can you imagine a world-class runner stopping along t he track at this point to pick flowers or chase a rabbit that crossed his path? Yet this is what we are doing when we occupy our time with worldly pursuits that do not move us closer to the third lap toward eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.” Elder Wirthlin gives a track analogy, where we are using a map, but you get the idea. Why would you allow yourself to veer of course? Why would you waste time p ursuing worldly endeavors instead of accomplishing the milestones we talked abou t. It’s a lot easier than you think to allow those roadblocks to bring your eterna l progression to a crawl or halt completely. No big deal right? So I take a litt le time around the track, or I make some detours on my roadmap...who cares? Heav enly Father cares. To him it is an EXTREMELY big deal. 2 Nephi 9:24 says And i f they will not repent and believe in his aname, and be baptized in his name, an d bendure to the end, they must be cdamned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Is rael, has spoken it. Even knowing that Heavenly Father has commanded us to keep moving forward on our roadmap to eternity, it is extremely easy to allow one little bump in the road so to speak to start a halt or even a reverse in our eternal progression. Looking at our list here, let’s talk about some of these roadblocks. Chastity/immorality This is a big one. Every year approximately 750,000 teens ag ed 12-18 get pregnant. That is 1/3 of all the teen aged girls in the country. Wh ile it’s the girls that often bear the brunt of the shame and responsibility that go with this sin, boys, they are not getting pregnant on their own! Even if your discretion does not end in pregnancy, the damage it does to your soul is an eve n worse result. If I may be frank, I am speaking from experience here. My immora lity issues occurred after I was 18, and had become inactive from the church. Bu t, even though I was married soon there after, the guilt and shame I felt from t hose actions contributed to my reluctance to return to church for 8 years. I wan ted to come to church. I felt a longing for the spirit and knew that the uneasin ess I felt was directly because of my unworthiness. But that feeling of not bein g worthy enough contributed to my continued inactivity. Elder Marvin J. Ashton m ade the following observation: “Over the past number of weeks I have had some conv ersations that have made me ponder the meaning of the word worthy. As I recently talked to a young twenty-year-old man, I discussed his attitude about going on a mission. He said, “I wanted to go, but I am not worthy.”“Who made that judgment?” I as ked.“I did,” was his answer.On another occasion I asked a young lady who was contemp
lating marriage if she was going to the temple. She said, “I would like to, but I am not worthy.” In response to the same question of who determined her unworthines s, she too said, “I did.” Each of these people seemed to have made his own determination about worthiness. We do not have to be hindered by self-judgment. All of us have the benefit and added wisdom of a bishop and a stake president to help us determine our worthine ss and, if necessary, to assist us to begin the process of becoming worthy to ac complish whatever goal we wish to achieve. When we take it upon ourselves to pas s self-judgment and simply declare, “I am not worthy,” we build a barrier to progres s and erect blockades that prevent our moving forward. We are not being fair whe n we judge ourselves. A second and third opinion will always be helpful and prop er.It occurs to me that there are probably hundreds or even thousands who do not understand what worthiness is. Worthiness is a process, and perfection is an et ernal trek. We can be worthy to enjoy certain privileges without being perfect.( Marvin J. Ashton, “On Being Worthy,” Ensign, May 1989) While sexual sin is serious, it does not have to completely halt your progressio n. The hardest part of repentance, for me, was going to my Bishop. I was afraid of judgement, condemnation, and shame. It took me many years of self flagellatio n to work up the courage to talk to a bishop. I was married (for several years) and pregnant with my first child, and moved into a new ward before I could go se e a bishop and admit my unworthiness. The reaction was not at all what I expecte d. There was no shock or horror. No accusing looks or hurtful words. The bishop was kind and loving and helped me to accomplish the repentance and forgiveness I was seeking. Repentance is not easy, but the relief it brings to a troubled sou l is worth much. The next roadblock is directly related to immorality, and that is pornography. T his is a serious problem. So much so, that the church has launched a new website , combatingpornography.org to help those struggling with an addiction. And it ca n become an addiction, quite quickly. Those who may be facing this struggle are often reluctant to speak to anyone about it. You know that it is wrong, you know that you should not be seeking it out, or looking at it. You know the feelings it gives you are not holy. But you are addicted. And what makes it even harder i s that the world will tell you that looking at pornography is normal, healthy ev en. This is a lie. Pornography can lead to feelings of resentment for yourself, your spouse, and even the covenants you have made. Talking about pornography wit h your parents or leaders can be uncomfortable, scary, and very difficult to do. But it is important to talk to someone if you are facing that addiction. Your p arents,leaders, and priesthood authorities love and care about you. Believe it o r not, it is difficult for adults to talk about this sin as well. It is embarras sing. It is uncomfortable. But, here are some facts from the church’s website. Our Sexuality is a Gift There is provided in our bodies a good and sacred power of creation, a gift, to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage.Our Bodies are Sacred The media view leads people to see the body as an object rather than an essential part of a person’s soul.Pornography Has Harmful Effects Pornography defiles souls—souls for which Jesus Christ atoned. It can keep us from reaching th e fullest potential of our souls and can become addictive. It also creates unhea lthy expectations for marriage. Pornography addiction quite frequently leads to immorality. PLEASE talk to someo ne if you are facing this problem. Do it now. Every day you wait will make it mo re difficult, and move you further from your goal. Moving on to word of wisdom problems. Another sin that can easily lead to addict ion. The Lord didn’t give us the word of wisdom to keep us from having fun, or to make us unhappy. Quite the opposite, actually he wants us to be happy and health y and have long productive lives. Studies have shown that tobacco is bad for us. This is not news to any of you. You all know tobacco can cause cancer. Alcohol can cause liver and kidney problems. Diets high in saturated fat cause heart pro blems. Whole grains can reduce cholesterol, fruits and veggies are good for your immune and digestive systems. None of this is shocking news to you teens here i n 2010. But even as recently as 50 years ago, my grandparents were told that smo
king was good for you. That wine helped your heart, only long haired hippie frea ks ever dared be “vegetarians.” So for the word of wisdom to have been given to Latt er-day saints is a blessing. The Lord was protecting us from illnesses and healt h problems not even discovered yet in 1833. Also, tobacco and alcohol can be add ictive. Alcohol impairs your judgement. It is expensive, and to be honest, it do esn’t even taste very good. Often teens who get into alcohol and tobacco use at an early age are more likely to try drugs. As a youth, when my non-member friends tried to tease or say that us Mormons aren’t “allowed” to drink, I found it useful to have a standard set of answers, such as “No, I have been instructed not to and I c hoose to obey,” or for the more persistent teasers “why would I want to drink, it ce rtainly hasn’t done you any favors.” I found that if I didn’t have to take the time to think of an answer, usually they were sufficiently satisfied with my response. As with anything else, it’s a lot easier to not ever start drinking or smoking tha n it is to quit. Have you ever noticed what happens to stagnant water? It becomes murky, scummy, bugs begin to hatch larvae in it, it can smell gross, it becomes unhealthy. The same is true with our minds and spirits. If we are not spending our time learnin g, growing, and changing we become murky and unhealthy. The Lord commanded in Al ma 38:12 “see that ye refrain from idleness.” If we spend all our waking hours playi ng video games, texting, checking Facebook, and watching television, we are bein g idle. I am not saying we should not ever do these things. I like Facebook just as much as the next gal, but our spirits need nourishment and we do not get it from worldly pursuits. We are commanded to endure to the end. This doesn’t mean we are to suffer through life, or just “make it.” President Uchtdorf says “Therefore, en during to the end is not just a matter of passively tolerating life s difficult circumstances or hanging in there. Ours is an active religion, helping God s c hildren along the strait and narrow path to develop their full potential during this life and return to Him one day. Viewed from this perspective, enduring to t he end is exalting and glorious, not grim and gloomy. This is a joyful religion, one of hope, strength, and deliverance...Enduring to the end is a process filli ng every minute of our life, every hour, every day, from sunrise to sunrise. It is accomplished through personal discipline following the commandments of God."( "Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?" Ensign, Nov. 2007) Like President Hinckley said “Life is to be enjoyed not just endured.” Don’t stand in your own way. Get out there and enjoy your life, do something! Finally, let’s talk about dishonesty. My three year old will tell you that it is n aughty to tell lies. It is black and white to him. It is not ok to lie. As we gr ow older that principle becomes a little less black and white. We perceive a gra y area, where it’s ok to tell white lies to spare someone’s feelings, or to protect someone from the truth. We decide it’s ok to cheat at a game as long as no one kno ws. It is a slippery slope...next we might decide it’s ok to steal if we REALLY ne ed something. We let someone cheat off our homework. Then we lie to cover anothe r lie. Pretty soon no one knows wether to believe you and people start to not be lieve you even when you are being honest. It is naughty to lie. Period. When you are old enough to be interviewed for a temple recommend, you will be asked if y ou are honest in all your dealings. There is no exception for lying for a “good re ason.” There are literally dozens of scriptures addressing lying. But the one that really stuck out to me is Ezekiel 13:22 “Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad.” It may not seem like such a big deal to lie about doing yo ur chores. But, as with any other sin, the more you do it, the easier it will be come for you. If you keep thinking it’s ok to tell little lies, eventually you wil l decide that it’s ok to tell big lies. You will think it is ok to steal money fro m your employer, or to cheat on your spouse. There is no such thing as being a l ittle dishonest. Either you are honest, or you aren’t. Either you have integrity o r you don’t. Either you can be trusted or you can’t. Black and white, no gray area. Now, what can you do if you are stuck at one of these road blocks? That’s it, you’re out of luck, you can’t progress...? That’s what Satan would have you believe. That
Satan is a tricky fellow. One of his greatest lies is that he wants us to believ e that the Atonement was not meant for those of us who have been taught the trut h and still chose to sin. President Packer taught; "For some reason, we think th e Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life...It is much more t hat that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in every day life. When we ar e racked or harrowed up, or tormented by guilt, or burdened by grief, He can hea l us. While we do not fully understand how the Atonement of Christ was made, we can experience the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. " ("The Touc h of the Master s Hand," Ensign May 2001.) To allow Satan to convince you that y ou can not repent because you are “too unworthy” is to minimize Christ’s atoning sacri fice. To refuse to repent and allow ourselves to accept forgiveness is to say to your Savior and Redeemer that you don’t believe that his crucifixion means anythi ng to you personally. Our Heavenly Father is loving and merciful. Our Savior Jes us Christ is loving and merciful. They want us to be happy. They want to help us progress on our roadmap to eternity. I’d like to bear you my testimony that I know that our Heavenly Father loves you. He wants to guide you in your eternal progression. You truly are the “chosen gener ation.” I am honored to know you, to see your strength, and to see your sweet spir its as you become young adults. I know that this church is true, that Joseph Smi th was a prophet of God and that he restored the gospel of Christ to the earth. I know that we have a loving and inspired prophet on the earth today, who though he may not know us all by name, loves and prays for every single one of us. I a m glad to see you here, giving up your weekend to visit the house of the Lord. I pray that each of you will continue on your roadmap to eternity and avoid the r oad blocks we’ve discussed. I am honored to have been able to speak to you tonight and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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