From Small Things…

I was visiting my wife’s work recently where I was learning remarkable facts about the world around us. I’m not a huge fan of animal attractions but my kids love it and my wife loves learning about animals and it’s a good day out so I was going along. However there was something that caught my eye that I thought was incredible.

At her work, they have Japanese Spider Crabs – which in themselves are pretty incredible. 

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The size that these animals grow to is pretty impressive but it wasn’t this that impressed me the most! It was this fact:

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I found this fascinating! This huge creature started life as a creature that wouldn’t be able to be seen as a baby!

It made me think of other things that begin very small but then become great things – particularly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For a start, we are taught that it is through small and simple things that great things happen in the work of the Lord. We read in Alma 37:6-7

“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.”

Perhaps another example that applies even more if the teaching on faith by the Saviour. He taught that faith as small as the mustard seed can become strong. 

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20)

When you think of the actual growth that the Japanese Spider Crab makes in relation to the size it begins, that in itself is a miracle. This can be an example of how the small, minute amount of faith that we have can have an incredible impact.

One final example of the miracle of the Spider Crab can be related is how the mustard seed itself grows impossibly tall compared to the size of it’s seed. Christ again teaches this in a parable, which he explains that he does so that those who are listening to learn may learn and understand more clearly. He taught about the mustard seed:

“…The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

If this parable is to be understood, we could also liken the kingdom of God to an infant Japanese Spider Crab. It begins very small, microscopic by some measurements. Then, it grows and grows beyond all possible comprehension due to the size it began. It’s amazing when you consider the world around us and how all of God’s creations are intertwined, link and testify of one another.

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President Nelson Tour

Saints in the UK and Ireland recently had an incredible opportunity. After a historic General Conference, President Russell M Nelson embarked on a Global Tour of the Church and is visiting 8 countries in 11 days (and some of us used to suggest we couldn’t visit our handful of HT families in a month)! The very first stop was London and President Nelson, along with Elder Jeffrey R Holland and their wives taught so powerfully to the members of the UK and Ireland area of the Church.

Sister Holland spoke first and it was clear of her love for, and her reverence for, President Russell M Nelson and the sacred calling that he has been given. She encouraged us to study the words of President Nelson from his service in the General leadership of the Church. She recognised that she can speak so well of President Nelson because she knows him pers onally – she invited us all to get to know our relatively new prophet personally by studying his words and asking Father in Heaven about his call as Prophet, Seer and Revelator. This also reminded me of the invitation I had been given but not yet fully fulfilled – to study the talks given by any visiting authority. We were fortunate to have the Area President, Paul V Johnson, visit us for our Stake Conference 9 days after this special broadcast with President Nelson so I studied those talks before his visit.

Following Sister Holland was Elder Holland. He spoke of his felt inadequacy in following his wife and preceding President and Sister Nelson. He taught powerfully about revelation. As mentioned, we had a historic General Conference just a week before. He reminded us that, whilst President Nelson spoke a number of times to announce changes in Church policy, he did give a message on the Sunday General Session – revelation. The General Conference was all about revelation – whether it was Church-changing revelation or personal revelation.

Sister Nelson then spoke about her testimony about how she knows President Nelson has receive the mantle of the prophet. She made reference to a unique and divine experience that she and President Nelson had 2 days after the passing of President Monson which left her without doubt, an experience too personal to share. Also, she shared experiences of when President Nelson received revelation to guide the Church and she was directed by the Spirit to leave the room before the revelation was received. This was a powerful message, particularly after Elder Holland’s address to us to be more in tune to receive the quiet promptings of the Spirit.

President Nelson was the final speaker and he was an inspiration. He taught about the need to ‘clean up’ our lives before we meet our Saviour, similarly to how the Hyde Park Chapel was before his arrival. He then spoke of ministering – the new announcements from General Conference and how we need to become better ministers (or ‘shepherds’ as was suggested earlier on in the process). He left an Apostolic Blessing that all those in attendance would have a greater capacity to feast on the words of Christ. Also that we would be blessed with health and safety as we continued on our mortal journeys.

Sabbath Blessing

I had an experience recently about the need to keep the Sabbath Day Holy and the blessings associated with keeping that covenant.

Last Sunday I was anticipated a big week at work (leading a Staff Meeting, lesson observation, largest book scrutiny, twilight meeting) and had worked when I could to prepare on the days before. However, due to the demands of a young family and various other commitments I hadn’t managed to complete everything. As we settled for sacrament meeting it was on my mind, particularly preparing for my lesson, and I reasoned that for one week only it would be ok to do a little bit of work to catch up in the evening – perhaps when everyone in my family had gone to bed so it wouldn’t have impact on time with them.

However, when the meeting began I received a clear prompting – can’t remember whether it was through a talk, a hymn or a simple prompting – but it was clear, to keep the Sabbath holy even though it might be difficult. Then in Priesthood we had a lesson on Obedience based on the lesson found in the President Gordon B Hinckley manual. In this lesson we learnt about not putting anything before God and keeping the Sabbath Holy. I got the message by then.

As such, I did not complete the work required on the Lord’s holy day. However, as I had faith, I did manage to get it done early in the week much quicker than I expected. As well as this, the challenges and outcomes of the week occurred brilliantly and I was so pleased with the results. I have no doubt that the Lord blessed the results of the week and when we keep the Sabbath Day holy he magnifies our efforts.

FHE: Prophets

This is the first in a series of attempts to record “Spiritual Experiences” which I can draw on later in my life as I’m required to minister or build my own faith. I’m hoping this will help me to look out for more spiritual experiences and blessings which know happen but sometimes life is so hectic I don’t stop to consider them. They will be quick and short so I can record many. So almost more like a personal journal of sorts within my study journal. Not all will be visible to public if they are more personal.

Today for FHE we were looking at prophets and learnt about the story of Samuel the Lamanite, after watching a clip of President Monson from this weekend’s conference. We went out into the garden (which was now nice and tidy after a beautiful day) and J and E stood up on their toy castle. They had to try and tell me and C important things about Jesus. They shouted things like ‘Jesus says be good’ and ‘Jesus loves you’ but me and C threw ‘arrows and stones’ (aka chocolate coins) at them and shouted. We obviously missed.

J and E loved this. We then asked if they thought Samuel the Lamanite would have liked this in the story. J suddenly then had a ponderous face and said ‘No he wouldn’t’. We asked him why and he said that he was saying important things. We learnt that we should listen to the prophet because he relates very important things to us.