i have been waiting for the last part of this article to send it it think it is pretty great, just sharing the reminders that I need from time to time. Love you Neener
To Avoid Your Enemy, the Devil By Marcia Hammond Ogden
Would you like the good news first or the bad news? Let's get it over with and go with the bad. The bad news is: you are growing up in a telestial environment, a sex-saturated environment that does not support Christian values. I grew up in the 1950s, a fairly terrestrial environment that supported basic Christian values such as abstinence before marriage and fidelity to one's spouse after.
I grew up watching television programs such as "Lassie," "Father Knows Best," and "Leave it to Beaver." You are growing up with such programming as "Adult Swim Channel," "Forensic Files," "Family Guy," and "Glee," and others that are mildly to extremely crude or graphically violent entertainment.
Today's telestial culture accepts many alternative lifestyles. It stresses more about what's in its food than its sexual habits. People obsess about hormones and antibiotics in their meat, or whether the produce is organic or not. There is little concern for or discussion about sexually transmitted diseases.
I grew up in the most prosperous times in American history. I have never wanted for anything in terms of clothing, food, education, religious freedom, and safety. I never thought I would live to see a 9/11 or a tsunami that killed over 300,000 people. I had hoped to have passed the baton onto another generation to experience the latter-day cleansing periods, but now it seems that I might possibly experience the collapse of the worldwide economy and who knows what else it will take to get people to repent.
President Packer has said repeatedly that we are now living world-wide Sodom and Gomorrah. Evil is embraced by the majority throughout the earth. Elder Christoffersen says we cannot hope that the future will resemble the past either economically, politically, or socially ("Moral Discipline," Ensign, November 2009, 105-108). So we are headed into the white water rapids. But, there is good news.
Doctrine and Covenants 138:55-56 teaches that we all received our first lessons in the pre-mortal world. We were instructed there as to how to navigate our particular circumstances and time on earth. We know how to confront this growing evil. We know how to carry out our callings such as Primary teacher, Relief Society visiting teacher coordinator, Elders Quorum instructor, or bishop. We know how to be mothers and fathers. We know how to defend the faith, spread the gospel, and stay strong in the face of deteriorating social values and a disintegrating society.
More Holiness Give Me
My husband presided over the Guatemala Missionary Training Center from 2006-2008, instructing nearly 1500 missionaries during that time. We taught them not to fear, that they knew how to be missionaries. They just needed to work hard and be obedient to get the Spirit to remind them of their first lessons in the pre-mortal world.
We had about thirty-four groups of missionaries pass through that Central American MTC. To every group I asked, "What is our purpose here on earth?" Almost without exception they answered, "To get back to Heavenly Father's presence." I would then ask, "If our purpose is to get back to Heavenly Father, why then did we leave Him in the first place?" That led to a deeper reason for being on earth. We are here to become like the Father and the Son. In the pre-mortal realm we desired all that the Father had: His kind of body, His power, His love, His glory. We wanted to be like He is. Hence the name of the Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day what? Saints. We sing, "More Holiness Give Me." What is the inscription at the entrance of every Temple? "Holiness to the Lord." We must become celestial before we can occupy a celestial realm.
That is why it is so urgent that we repent today and every day. Sometimes we think we can have some fun now and repent later, maybe just before we go on a mission or get married in the Temple. Although repentance is always available, we can lose our ability to repent, or our desire to repent. If we are not becoming like God we are becoming like the one who hates us, our adversary. By our daily choices we are being changed into one being or another.
Which Realm Do You Want to Live In?
Who occupies the telestial realm? Those who are unrepentant murderers, liars, cheaters, thieves, adulterers, pornographers, fornicators, etc. Who occupies the terrestrial realm? Those who are honest, good, and faithful to their spouses. These people do not lie, cheat, steal, look at pornography or commit adultery or murder. They are the honorable people of the earth. Who will occupy the celestial kingdom? People who are honest, good, and faithful to their spouses. They don't cheat, lie, steal, commit adultery, view pornography or kill.
What then is the difference between celestial people and terrestrial people? Celestial people are valiant in their testimony of Jesus. God is first in their lives. For terrestrial individuals, God is second; hobbies and careers come first. They consistently give the crumbs of their time to their callings, or the time that is left over after they have satisfied their own desires for fun or advancement.
If the prophets counsel members to be modest, celestial individuals scramble to wear appropriate tops, higher necklines, less revealing clothing, and longer skirts. Their dress for sacrament meetings and Temple attendance reflects their reverence and respect for the Savior. They dress and groom their hair in a humble manner that does not cry out, "Look at me!"
When the prophets counsel members to avoid any entertainment in music videos or movies that contains profanity, graphic violence, nudity, crudity or the suggestion that sex before marriage is good, those who aspire to a celestial glory don't see most of today's popular movies. They know that yesterday's R-rated movies are today's PG-13 movies. They disregard the ratings and choose to follow the Lord's standard as outlined in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth.
Those qualifying for a terrestrial realm ignore prophetic counsel and find themselves saying frequently of their attire and the movies they view, "It's not that bad." Well, there is a kingdom for "It's not that bad." It's a good place. It's the middle kingdom no one ever thinks about. Because of their Protestant heritage some members think in terms of heaven or hell. They know they aren't worthy of the worst kingdom; therefore, they most certainly must be headed to the best, forgetting that there is a middle kingdom for the honorable, good people of the earth who did not put God first in their lives. Terrestrial individuals prepare for Sunday lessons the night before class after the latest sport or entertainment event, giving the crumbs of their time to their callings. Celestial qualifiers prepare a week ahead, giving the best of their time, talents, and resources to building the kingdom of God on earth.
The Work of Satan is All Around Us
Do you know what Satan's misery is? Our missionaries always said he was miserable because he didn't have a body. I suspect that he and his followers commandeer many earthly bodies. How else can we explain the horrendous acts carried out by fellow human beings upon one another? The lawyer of the man who beat his wife's little four-year-old then left him to die, tried to get a lighter sentence for him by declaring that he suffered from "multiple personality disorder" (that happened in Utah, in the spring of 2010). I immediately thought of the Savior who had cast out multiple devils from some individuals.
Other missionaries said Satan was miserable because he couldn't be with God. Actually, he hates God and doesn't want to be with Him. Satan's misery stems from the fact that he cannot have a family. He will never feel the tender embrace of a wife, or be able to read a story to a little girl, or play ball with a son. He will never take a daughter to the Temple. He is miserable because he has no family. He seeks the same misery for each of us, and he doesn't need to make us telestial people to win that battle. He just needs to keep us from being valiant in living the commandments. If we are casual about the commandments and prophetic counsel, we qualify for the terrestrial kingdom.
Is there marriage in the terrestrial or telestial kingdoms? No, there is no marriage. There are no family relationships. Only those who can be trusted to foster righteousness—a desire to be strictly obedient—in an eternal posterity can enjoy eternal marriage and family relationships in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
What is it that will give you the determination to be strictly obedient? President Eyring stated that what you are becoming will be your greatest strength in facing temptation. He said, "You gain strength from what you are, not just what you know" ("Inspiring Students to Stand Strong Amid the Torrent of Temptation" Church News, August 18, 2001, 5).
Lessons from Daniel in Iraq
I was chatting with our oldest son, Daniel, on the phone not too long ago. He lives in Washington D.C. where he translates Arabic for the government. He's part of the team that helps keep Americans safe. He was single (though he has since married).
Daniel said that he was exposed to pornography at the age of twelve. A boy at school had brought a magazine that he showed to others. Daniel never looked at that stuff again. He said, "I'm so glad I never went back for more when that boy in my class showed us those pictures. To this day I can still see some of those pictures in my mind. Can you imagine how gross it would be to have your head full of images, and not just one or two? How could you ever get that stuff out of your mind?"
Ten years after that incident he found himself in Iraq. He had enlisted with the Utah National Guard Military Intelligence and had graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Arabic. In Iraq he often went on raids with marines and other soldiers to find documents. He helped bring up the rear of the convoys. The other soldiers would raid the homes and offices, then rush the documents back to Daniel and others who would translate what had been found.
On one occasion the soldiers dumped a cell phone in his lap and asked him to look for any material that might be useful. Daniel flipped it open, turned it on and began to view a video clip. Within two seconds he realized he was into a clip of pornography. He snapped the phone shut and tossed it to a buddy, telling him he wasn't going to look through that stuff. Daniel told me he had felt totally disgusted at what he saw in the two seconds he had the phone on.
Where Do YOU Draw the Line?
My question to you is, "How can you get to a point where those kinds of things don't tempt you; where breaking the law of chastity would not be possible?" Do you remember what Moses said to Satan when Satan came along and invited him to try a cigarette, and to watch inappropriate entertainment, and to waste valuable time twittering people, or to date too early, or to date exclusively, or that it was okay to get intimate with his girlfriend because they loved each other, or to wear that short skirt? Okay, Satan didn't try to get Moses to succumb to those particular temptations, but Satan was, in essence, asking Moses to worship him by participating in the excitement of his world.
Moses replied, "Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory that I should worship thee? Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God. Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten" (Moses 1:13-16). In other words, the things you are inviting me to do don't seem that fun or interesting. They feel dark to me.
Why was Moses able to recognize his specific temptations as evil? Why were those things disgusting and not tempting at all? Moses knew he was a son of God. He knew who he was. And he had been viewing the glories of God to such a degree that he couldn't be tempted. Can you get to a point that Satan's world is not tempting? How can you view God's glories such that you couldn't be enticed by Satan's invitations? If you understand your purpose here on earth you will recognize how that purpose helps you in resisting temptation.
You'll notice when you read Alma 5 that Alma's questions have nothing to do with how much you know but who you are becoming. He asks if you have been spiritually reborn of God; if you have received His image in your countenances; if you have experienced a mighty change in your hearts. Your stake president and bishop ask similar questions when they interview you. They aren't concerned with how much you know about the law of chastity. Instead they ask if you are morally clean. You answer, "I am." They never ask how much you know about the law of tithing; instead they ask if you are a full tithe payer. You can answer, "I am." The same is true for the Word of Wisdom. You can answer, "I am," when they ask if you are fully obedient to the Word of Wisdom. Did you know that "I AM" is another name for the Savior? Your greatest strength, then, will derive from who you become.
Not long ago I was in San Diego to help my daughter with the birth of her third son. Karsten entered mortality by way of much pain. Present at his mortal birth were the same elements present at our spiritual rebirth. There was the water that bursts from the amniotic sack. There was the blood from the labor and pain. And there was the light into which he emerged to breathe and begin his mortal journey.
Did you know that newborns can't see for some weeks after birth? They can track you as a shadow but they can't distinguish faces. They are completely reliant on their parents for sustenance and protection. They also don't care who holds them, and they don't even know who is holding them. Around 4-6 months of age they begin to get picky about who wants to carry them around and will howl if they don't trust you or you are not their mother or father. That's what your Heavenly Parents hope you will do when invited by untrustworthy influences to break the commandments. They want you to howl and run.
Similarly, your spiritual eyes are not fully open right after your baptism. Baptism is just the beginning of your spiritual growth. It allows you to enter the kingdom of God. You will be progressing towards your Temple endowment which—through your faithfulness—will allow you to enter the highest degree in the kingdom where God resides and reigns.
It is the love of the Savior and the deep gratitude for His Atonement that opens your eyes to reality. You must find ways on a daily basis to feel that love and gratitude. If you don't, you will burn out with the commandments. You'll find them restrictive. You'll view them as Laman and Lemuel did, "Look what the commandments do to me," instead of as Nephi, "Look what the commandments do for me."
A brother in our ward got up in testimony meeting and said, "When I was growing up I knew the Church was true; I also knew it was not fun." He persisted in keeping the commandments because he admired so many of the adult ward members. He grew to love things he formerly thought were boring. Today he is a chaplain in the United States military.
How does accepting the restrictions of the commandments make you free? Isn't it interesting that as Satan whispers to you to rebel against God and His mortal leaders—to be free—he is taking you captive and making you less free.
How much freedom does a young man have who won't study in school or do his homework? His choices for attending colleges and universities will be limited. His career choices may be small. If he rejects the Word of Wisdom in favor of the freedom to smoke and drink or do drugs, his health will be compromised. I have a loved one who is only twenty-nine years old and has to take medication to calm his damaged nervous system. He abused drugs for years. He has no job skills and finds himself competing for jobs with college graduates who will take any job since there are fewer available. How free is that? How liberating can it be to have sexually transmitted diseases because you chose to ignore God when he told you through his prophets not to have sex before marriage?
Do you know what Satan's favorite tactic is? Our missionaries always said, "Pride, anger, competition, temptation." The answer is, "Anything that works." Like that game called Battleship, he maps you individually. He knows where you are weak. Do you know what a good day is for Satan? It's a day of rejoicing in hell when he can take down a stake president or a missionary. That's a big score, a big prize.
One thing he likes to do with youth is get you to focus on the few things you can't do or have. It worked with Eve in the Garden of Eden. He directed her attention to the one tree from which she could not eat. She forgot about all the other trees from which she could eat.
Satan attempts to do the same with you by getting you to focus on the few things you can't do or have. If you think about it there are relatively few restrictions.
True, you cannot smoke or drink or do illegal drugs, but you can still eat donuts, ice cream, candy, French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, crackers, popcorn, muffins, bagels, bread, rolls, cookies, etc. True, you need to read the scriptures for a few minutes each day; it's a commandment. But that still leaves you 23 ½ hours in each day. You need to attend meetings on Sundays but most of the day is free. You need to fast 24 hours once a month; but, that leaves you twenty-nine or thirty other days to eat.
You can't watch certain kinds of movies but there are hundreds you can watch. There are certain styles of dress that are immodest, but there are many modest ways to dress. You can't date until you are sixteen and must not pair up before your missions. But that doesn't mean you are locked up in your home until you return from your mission. You can still be involved in many social activities with the opposite sex.
If we wish to be truly free we must first accept discipline from without in order to create from within. If you wish to learn to play the piano really well you will need a good teacher, a piano, and books to learn from. If you are an excellent student you will do what the teacher asks you to do even if it isn't fun. Practicing scales and repeating the same passages of music over and over again can get boring. But if you persist, in a few years you will be free to play the piano and very well.
The command to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit does not mean to walk about sorrowing all the time. If you will put your trust in your parents and leaders and humbly follow their counsel you will grow spiritually and develop eyes to see through the mists of darkness thrown up by Satan. You will be free to choose a satisfying career, have better health, be wiser in your choice of an eternal companion, and enjoy trusting relationships with friends and family.
There are no guarantees that you won't suffer as you trust and obey, but you will have the best friends in Heavenly Father and the Savior as your personal relationship with them allows them to open doors for escape from your trials. They will carry your burdens and make them light as you are yoked together to pull the load.
What can you do every day so you can feel the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior and experience necessary mighty changes to your nature? What can you do to feel that love, and the Spirit, which will open your spiritual eyes to reality? Nothing is more important than daily prayer and scripture study. Which scripture would be the most important to read? Conference talks or the counsel of modern prophets are the most important. Living prophets will bring power and light into your very being, giving you the determination to live all other commandments and to be patient and not rush the dating thing or the marriage thing.
I'm so grateful I didn't accept several marriage proposals. After my mission my spiritual eyes were quite open. I knew that one young man loved me more than he loved the Lord. He was active, but just not interested in the scriptures. My friends and a few relatives told me to marry him, that I risked becoming an old maid. I wasn't afraid of that. I was a happy old maid at 27 because I was loved by my Heavenly Father and my Savior and feeling it.
Even in marriage you'll be disappointed if you think the one you marry can fill all the empty spaces in your heart. No spouse can meet all your needs. No spouse or parent is perfect. If they were, we wouldn't need a Savior. We're all a little hungry for love. Feeling the Savior's power and love on a daily basis helps us not to panic or get desperate to marry anyone or to give in to pressure for intimacies out of fear of losing a relationship.
You have time on your side. There is no rush to be married or to experience physical intimacies. One BYU student said that he believed that if students would control their circumstances, there would be no need to control the hormones. Hormones would never get out of control. A BYU stake leader said that the students who came to him to confess that they had broken the law of chastity hadn't planned to do so. They had just failed to plan not to.
Can you set some boundaries for yourselves and control your circumstances? Can you make a little list of what you will do to control your circumstances to protect yourself until your spiritual eyes are open enough that certain things are no longer a temptation to you? Perhaps you could be determined to be home before midnight. You might write on your list that you will not give back massages to members of the opposite sex, or lie down on the floor next to them to watch a movie or television, or entertain them in your bedroom, or be alone with them in your apartment or home, or work alone on your computer with no one else around (keep it in a central area in the home).
You could include on your list that you won't date exclusively until after your mission, and for you girls, that you won't pair up until you are in college. When you are in college you need to date someone for quite a while to know if a person is hiding behind a few celestial behaviors that actually mask a telestial person. You might be confused by the RM label, activity in the Church, and maybe a great testimony. But at the heart of the person is a lack of love for the Savior. They don't really care for the scriptures. Their free time is occupied with movies or sports or other hobbies. A truly telestial person can't hide that behavior forever. Time will expose it.
Satan doesn't want you to taste of the love of Jesus Christ. He doesn't want you to arrive at that tree of life, which is Jesus himself. Once you are feeling his love every day you won't be tempted by Satan's fake love.
Remember that seed in Alma 32? As you nourish it with your daily scripture study, prayer, and obedience to the prophet's counsel, it begins to grow. How do you know that the love of the Savior is growing within you? You are changing.
You become as the Savior is. And how do you know that you are becoming like He is? The music you listen to changes. The clothing you wear reflects His influence in your life, as well as the movies you watch. It is no longer an issue of, "I have to discipline myself not to watch certain programs." Instead, you don't want to. Doesn't that sound wonderful to not even be enticed by the most popular movies or by pornography? It isn't tempting because you have a personal relationship with your Father in Heaven and His Son, your Savior.
Satan is working overtime to throw up his mists so you cannot feel God's love each day. He wants to take light and love away from you so you don't even realize you are walking in darkness. Satan's goal is to diminish your power. He causes you to lose the light and love of your Redeemer by the things you expose yourself to in movies and television programs, by the clothing you wear, by the pornography you view, by skipping church, disobeying your parents, and not reading in the scriptures daily or praying much.
Have you ever walked into a room where the lights are dim? At first you can't see very well, but in a minute or so your eyes adjust and you don't even realize it's a little too dark. That's the goal of the one who hates you; to keep you walking in the dark without realizing it. When a big trial hits, you don't have the power to escape.
Where on this earth can you feel and acquire the greatest light and love from the Savior? In his very own House, the Temple. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that if you could gaze into heaven for just five minutes you would learn more about your relationship with God than from everything ever written on the subject (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007, 419).
I believe that the Temple is our opportunity to gaze into heaven to soak up the light and love of Those who love us. When you are participating in the ordinances in the Temple nothing is given to you to read or study. You can read from copies of the scriptures before you go in to participate in the ordinances, but while there you will receive no pencils, no paper, and no material to study. God will teach you personally. You are worthy of direct counsel from Him.
Desire a relationship with your Father and your Savior. Seek Them in prayer and scripture study every day and I promise that most of your temptations will subside. You'll lose interest in many things you now consider fun and attractive, but are in reality diversions.
Repent today. God looks with Fatherly kindness and compassion on the mistakes of youth, even the serious ones. So will your bishop. Even though it is embarrassing to have your bishop know of your mistakes, he will be kind, loving, and helpful. Do not go through the Temple unrepentant. Don't think to wait until you are in the mission to repent with a mission president who doesn't know you. You need the light and love of Heaven here and now.
Satan speaks to you through shame; that you are worthless or unworthy; that you can't ever be clean, so why try. God speaks to you through guilt; you feel uncomfortable and sorry that you have hurt Him and others. You want His Spirit to return. You miss the peace and comfort.
I testify that Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ live. I know Them better and better as time goes by. When God's prophets speak, it is the Savior himself who is counseling you. I know that your crown of glory and mine depend on our response to the living prophets. Don't let a day go by that you are not reading from a conference talk or the scriptures. Think about the Savior's Atonement every day so you can feel His love. He will deliver you from all evil. That is good news—the best news.