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Happy Halloween! I realize that many people don’t like Halloween, but I love it. I love the cool, crisp autumn air, the changing colors of the leaves on the trees, fresh apple cider, apple picking, pumpkin carving, cheesy, fun Halloween movies, and the anticipation and creativity of children planning their costumes. I just like Halloween. So in keeping with the theme of Halloween this week I have a confession to make. I recently came to the realization that I am a vampire. Shocking, I know, but sadly it’s true. To be more specific, I am a social media vampire. Or in more politically correct phraseology I am a non-contributing consumer or at least a limited consumer of social media.
I feed off what others create and present …I take what I can get and leave. When I enter any social media forum I look around, learn what I can, smile at the humor, sometimes shed tears of joy or sorrow at the experiences of others, and that is all. I rarely ever post my own thoughts or comments. Occasionally I will comment on the posts of close family members. But I am very much a vampire in this area of my life. And it never bothered me. Before.
Not long ago I read a talk by David A. Bednar entitled “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood”. (You can read or watch it here.) It was given in 2014 during the Brigham Young University Campus Education Week. In this talk he explains the power of social media and the responsibility we all have to contribute with positive and uplifting messages.
He says: “Social media technology is playing an increasingly important role in hastening the work of salvation. . . Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. The time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively. . .
I extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle [of Gospel truths sent out into the world] into a flood. I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth–messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy–and literally sweep the earth as with a flood. . . May our small, individual efforts produce a steady rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells . . .and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth.”
That, to me, is powerful. I have been negligent in my responsibility of spreading a positive example, my personal example of the believers, as Paul says it, on social media. I’ve made a goal to repent and do better.
Brigham Young taught: “Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries, the accumulated wisdom of the ages, and give our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work.”
Brigham Young makes it quite clear that every and all the advancements, innovations and inventions were, and are made to help and enable the work of God to move forward at an accelerated pace. Which to me means, that social media has been invented for us so that we can share the gospel. One way we can do this is to take a few minutes once a week, or so, to share our view of the blessings that we have received through living gospel principles. Is our family important? Why? Do we have peace in our life even though we are going through a challenge? How is that possible? Did we do something to serve others? Sharing our thoughts about these things make us examples of the believers, and need to be shared in humble uplifting ways.
This past weekend I had the chance to hear Elder Russell M.Ballard speak at the New England Regional Devotional. He quoted Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation for a national day of fasting, humiliation and prayer: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power … But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. (“A National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer.” Proclamation March 30, 1863)”
And then he invited us to join a new movement, and challenged us to use social media to invite others to join us in praying for our country. An Apostle of Jesus Christ asked us to use our social media opportunities to make a difference. I invite you to join in as well.
The power of social media is staggering, and it can be used for blessing spiritual well-being. Have you ever considered your use of social media as a ‘gigantic responsibility’? Maybe you realize what a wonderful tool you have to share your voice with others and defend moral values. Maybe you use it frequently and wisely. But maybe there are some, who like me, do not use the blessing to the fullest.
If you find that you are like me with vampiric attitudes towards social media, maybe it is time to make a change. Get involved in spreading the light to others. Start small, but start. If you are already posting frequently, take a look at what you post, what does it say about your devotion to Jesus Christ and gospel principles? Is there a way you could make your posts more uplifting for others? What can you do to add your drops of light and truth to the flooding of the earth? We each have the power to influence others in positive ways. Let’s use it for the purposes that God intended.
Ye are the light of the world–quite literally , because the things we post can be seen by anyone in the world. As we add our drops together they will become a mighty flood of waves that can reach out to all the people of the earth. Each of us has a part to play, a drip to share, a light to spread to those around us. I challenge you to follow Elder M. Russell Ballard’s call for a new movement. Make a post to encourage others to join us in praying for our country.
Our family has been chugging along in our family scripture study. We try to read one or two chapters a day. We each share something we learned, liked, or inspired us, or an insight we had while reading. Sometimes we have great discussions and sometimes we hear the crickets loudly chirping away. But that is all part of the process. We have to have struggles in order to appreciate the successes. Just like life.
Discuss your impressions and points of interest discovered in your readings.
- What Christ-like characteristics do you see in these chapters? How could these qualities help you with your faith in Jesus Christ? You could make a list of the characteristics either implied or stated in the chapters this week.
- Spend some time analyzing and studying each characteristic. Which one do you think is the most important? Is there one you feel impressed to try to develop more fully in your life right now?
- You could divide them up and have each person study one of the attributes, or you could work as a group to study and discuss each of them together. You could choose to spend some time each day, this coming week, to focus on one attribute at a time, or just have one discussion at the end of the week.
- If you have small children you could come up with ways to act out each attribute. Make sure you video tape it so they can watch themselves over and over again.
Applying what we learn helps us change our hearts, our relationships, and our lives.
–This week, choose one attribute to practice. You can choose to individually select attributes or determine a characteristic to work on together as a family or group (or both). Make some concrete goals as to how you will implement this attribute in your lives. Some examples are:
-Look in the Topical Guide for more passages about your chosen attribute and cross-reference them in your scriptures.
-When you pray, ask Heavenly Father to help you understand and acquire the particular attribute.
-Write an entry in your journal about what the characteristic means to you and describe why you chose it.
– Find a song that supports or encourages this attribute.
– If you are artistic make something to represent the characteristic you chose.
-Share your thoughts and feelings about this characteristic with someone this week.
Here are some ideas of activities you can do throughout the week.
–Pick a favorite verse to share and find a conference talk that goes with it. Using the Citation App makes this easy. You could also draw a picture (or more) to go with it.
–Pick something within these chapters to study more in depth. It could be a principle, doctrine, an experience, or concept. Try to find a way to emulate what you are learning and practice it daily.
–Find three principles of the gospel taught in these chapters. Pick one and write about it in your journal. What is it? Why is it important to you? Share an example of it from your own life or the life of someone you know. Share your testimony about that principle. Make a goal that will help you strengthen this principle in your life.
–Share something you learned in a post on Social media.
–1 Timothy 4: 14 says be an example in word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith and purity. Ponder each one and come up with ways you can be an example of them in your day-to-day activities.
–Is there someone you can share some light and positivity with today? How about making them a treat and delivering it with a little message?
–What can you do to make the world a better place today for those you come in contact with?
–Read the talk by Jeffery R. Holland Israel, Israel God is Calling (here). He gives us examples of different ways we can be examples of the believers.
–Take some time to read these 14 verses about forgiving one another and make some connections to how you choose to forgive others and yourself.
–Go through the past General Conference talks and look for information on how to be an example of the believers.
–2 Timothy 5 has a list of characteristics of men in the last days. Take some time to go through the list and think of ways you could overcome each of them. Are there specific things you can do to protect yourself from succumbing to these faulty characteristics. Make a goal to take some action to strengthen yourself and your family.
–Titus 1:5 admonishes us to “set in order the things that are wanting”. What is ‘wanting’ in your life? How will you set it in order?
–Philemon 1:1 Philemon says he is a prisoner of Jesus. Are you a prisoner of Jesus Christ? What does that mean to you?
Videos from The Bible Project:
- Overview: 1 Timothy (9.15) https://youtu.be/7RoqnGcEjcs
- Overview: 2 Timothy (7.45) https://youtu.be/urlvnxCaL00
- Overview: Titus (8.21) https://youtu.be/PUEYCVXJM3k
- Overview of Philemon (6.39) https://youtu.be/aW9Q3Jt6Yv
- Example of the believers–A group of yw reach out to disabled person to make dreams come true. https://youtu.be/KGnLRxSNPiM
- Spiritual Crocodiles by Boyd K. Packer (6.50) https://youtu.be/YnPfO13XONM
This is an oldie but goodie. It can lead to great discussions.
- LDS Church video: Watchmen on the Towers (4.17m)
This one may be a good one to watch before a discussion about the instructions from General conference