Strengthening Home Centered Gospel Learning
Stake Conference, Feb 2022, Damon L. Johnson
The gathering is happening, especially in our homes.
A great gathering is taking place as the hearts of men and women, children and youth, are drawing to the Savior. And He is drawing to them in return. This gathering is happening, especially in our homes.
The Savior especially wants to save our children, our grandchildren, the rising generation and bring them to Him. Nephi taught us that:
“we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins … and believe the right way” (2 Nephi 25:26, 28)
Our most important converts will be those within our own homes, our children, our spouses, and our other family members.
The shield of faith is fitted at home … not just at church.
The scriptures speak of “the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (D&C 27:17) in the last days. Well, we have been taught that,
“This shield of faith is best fabricated in a cottage industry. While the shield can be polished in classes in the Church and in activities, it is meant to be handcrafted in the home and fitted to each individual.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear”).
The home is where we practice on the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is where the gathering begins and ends. This is where we learn the gospel, live it, and teach it to each other. We can’t wait for a fireside, or Sunday class, or a seminary lesson for that shield to be awkwardly assembled. Instead, at home we must fit it, fire it, fasten it, and then fit it again, until it is firmly in place, and feels comfortably worn. The Shield of faith is fabricated at home.
Live the gospel conspicuously in our homes.
Let’s live the gospel as conspicuously as we can in our homes. Let’s keep the covenants our children know we have made. Let’s not just assume our children will somehow get the drift of our beliefs on their own!
Elder Eyring taught that the best place look is “small changes we could make in things we do often”(The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, AN Evening with Elder Henry B. Eyring, 6 February 1998) … So, what small changes could we make in our homes that would better firmly fasten and fit this shield of faith for each member of our family?
Let me suggest one:
Go to the Source. As regularly as you feed your body, feed your spirit. Our body and our spirit are our soul and just as our body needs feeding so do our spirits, which can become hungry and thirsty for spiritual nourishment. So, feast on the bread and waters of life … open the scriptures themselves together! Go to the source, not wade in the water down stream. Podcasts, discussion boards, and youtube videos are not substitutes for going to the fount of living water. President Marion G. Romney once said:
“When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it. … I appreciate other people’s interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says” (address to religious educators, 13 Apr. 1973; quoted by J. Richard Clarke in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 15).
Brothers and sisters, the whole church is rediscovering the “virtue and power of the word of God” as we all are studying together the scriptures with these Come Follow Me materials. Let’s not let our families miss out on the power that will come into our lives as we arouse our faculties to “experiment upon the word”.
Drink until satisfied.
But can I suggest that when we open the scriptures we drink until our thirst is actually quenched, even just a little. That doesn’t have to take very long, sometimes only a little wimpy verse, but it will require us to slow down, savor the verse, and ask questions of what we are reading – instead of just quickly checking the scripture study box. If the Old Testament is challenging, rely upon the Come Follow materials which are designed to do just that, to help you unlock more power from your scripture study. Feast on a couple of verses until you are actually filled with the Spirit. You will be able to tell when that happens because that seed of faith and experiment upon the word will actually swell, enlarge, and expand in your soul after just a few minutes. If you can say “oh, that was good for me” or “I really like that verse” or “I want to share with “so-and-so”, you know you have gotten there. That’s what it means to be edified by the Holy Ghost and to feel the power of the word of God.
I bear witness that Home centered, gospel learning is at the very heart of that pathway back to our Heavenly Father … Sunday school, seminary, quorum and class meetings are just appendages to help strengthen my living, learning, and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ at home. Let’s do our part by hand crafting that “shield of faith” in our cottage homes every day in any and every way we can.
Even the most conscientious teaching and gospel learning may not be enough to ensure success, but it “could be enough to allow you the peace that comes from knowing you did the best you could to [teach] and to nurture” (Henry B. yering, The Family [CES fireside for college-age young adults, Nov. 5, 1995], 4–5).
If we have wept, prayed, taught, fought, and loved and learned, and giving all of our hearts to our home centered gospel learning, then we have confidence in time, the Lord will give success. I bear witness that no child is beyond the tentacles of Divine Providence, and he knows where our children and family are, what they need, and how to reach them.