Elder Steven R. Snow BYU Devotional 9-11-12: Stepping Stones and Stumbling Blocks

I really enjoyed Elder Steven R. Snow’s Devotional today. He spoke about a lot of pertinent issues about our faith and the challenges that faith faces in the modern world.

Elder Snow spoke about some of the stepping stones that will allow us to overcome those challenges. Those stumbling blocks involve faith, prayer, study and service. If we build our faith through these steps, we will have the faith and testimony to withstand the challanges that come our way.

Elder Snow interestingly taught about several of the modern stumbling stones. He emphasized that these stones are not limited, but that Satan has limitless ways to try to trip us up.

First, he spoke about the stumbling block of pride

“Beware of the stumbling block of pride! Important not to be prideful. Can blind us to danger and we become more susceptible to the enticing of the adversary. Pride gets in the way of our relationships because no one cares to be around a truly selfish person.”

He also spoke about the stumbling block of negativity and pessimism

“Stumbling block of negativity and pessimism- Its important to maintain an eternal perspective. Life is sometimes hard because it is supposed to be! If we focus on the things in life that do not go as intended then we will miss a lot of what life is for.”

I really liked that quote “Life is sometimes hard because its supposed to be.” I think we sometimes expect or desire lift to be easy or fair, but do not acknowledge or realize how important adversity is in building our character.

The highlight of Elder Snow’s talk for me was his talk about the ‘mormon moment’ we are currently facing and his word of caution for us in regard to responding to critics.

“Word of caution and advice- Today’s events focus a lot of attention on the church. “Mormon Momment”  There is also a downside..Our beliefs are under greater scrutiny and mockery. Words of a bitter critic are magnified through the use of social media. This was a platform not available to our critics a generation ago.

For some critics their crude utterances are made for political gain or entertainment, but please understand that the followers of Christ have always been in the minority and have suffered more than verbal attacks.

Some suffer a crisis of faith and wonder how these things can be, but our church history is a tapestry filled with beautiful events and inspiration. However, like us, these man were not perfect. Important to view the whole tapestry of our history.”

So many people get tripped up because of the critics of the church and their amplified voices in the public sphere. However, Elder Snow suggests that ultimately faith is a choice and that we need to take affirmative steps to strength our testimony.

I loved his declaration that the more he learns about the church and its history the more his testimony grows. I feel exactly the same way. Despite challenges, the more I hear and learn about the leaders of the church and the history, the more the spirit confirms to me that it is true.

Elder Snow also did a great job of cautioning our generation on the use of technology.

“We are just seeing the beginning of this information revolution.

But this has a downside and Satan has figured it out quickly.

Resist the urge to spend too much time on video games and avoid violent games. It can be surprisingly addictive. We do not want to see people living in their parents basement and playing games. Avoid pornography at all costs. Can lead to ensnarement in your personal hell

Do not give up on personal communication rather than merely texting. Embrace the technology but do not forget about personal communication.”

This is one of the foremost challenges of our generation, keeping faith and perspective in a hostile world in which technology can rob us of perspective and precious time. I love the focus that general authorities have placed on technology and the opportunities and dangers. I love that we are not technophobic as a church but embrace it in all of its complexity.

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Elder Snow Devotional

11th anniversary of 9/11- Remember the loss.

During the westward migration the pioneers encountered landmarks to mark the way ( Chimney rock and Independence rock)

These feature a particular prominence in our church history especially vis a vi the handcart pioneers.

Hole in the rock etc…Brings to memory the heroic tenacity of the settlers of southern Utah.

Stepping stones and stumbling blocks which define our spiritual journey through life

In 1856 the Martin Handcart Company had to cross a river with extremely low supplies and during a fast approaching storm. All of the sick who were able to walk were required to enter the icy water.

56 perished just in this crossing

These experiences proved to be a refiners fire.

In a Sunday school class when the companies actions were criticized, Francis Webster one of the survivors stood up and defended the company saying that it was a defense, but that they would not pass up on their experiences for any reason.

How can responses to trials vary so much. Why do some respond to adversity by wandering off on forbidden paths while others like Francis find their testimony strengthened

How do we turn adversity into a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.

Part of the answer is perspective!

Hebrews 11:1 + JST ( Faith leads to an assurance which begins with a belief or an assurance ( Alma ala Alma 32)

An investigator must take action before gaining a testimony. Someone hearing it for the first time must not just believe but actually take action. It means study prayer and church attendance. Making and keeping commitments!

Pattern is the same with those that have long been member.

Step forward on stepping stones that increase faith

Accept callings

Serve and do home/visiting teaching

Make and keep temple covenants

Path of serving and growing through these stepping stones.

We are then prepared to face and overcome adversity

Elder Packer- Many events in our days will tax our courage and faith, but if we seek prayerfully we will be given power over them. These trials will not stand in the way of our progress but act as stepping stones for greater knowledge.

Stepping stones of faith, prayer, study and service

Challenges and trials are often called stumbling blocks

The path back to heavenly father will inevitably contain trials and crisis. Trail of life is strewn with stumbling blocks. Sometimes we may feel that we are stumbling through life.

I am speaking of those stumbling blocks we can avoid if we plan ahead and remain vigilant.

Adversary has limitless ways to trip us up..

Beware of the stumbling block of pride! Importance not to be prideful. Can blind us to danger and we become more susceptible to the enticing of the adversary. Pride gets in the way of our relationships because no one cares to be around a truly selfish person.

Nephi taught that prideful forget the poor and only seek gain.

Meekness helps us surmount stumbling block so we can see a wider view- Elder Maxwell.. What allowed Phillip to see and identify the messiah.

Stumbling block of negativity and pessimism- Its important to maintain an eternal perspective. Life is sometimes hard because it is supposed to be! If we focus on the things in life that do not go as intended then we will miss a lot of what life is for.

Pres. Hinckley- Save your fork…the best is yet to come

Story of howling dog- Why doesn’t he just move…Because he wants to howl.

Being optimistic is good for you!

Gospel teaches these principles. Things that are impossible with men are possible with God. If we are too tired the lord promises to give us rest. When we say no one loves us the Lord says “ I do” when we say we cant do it, the scriptures say “all things are possible through Christ”. When we say its not worth it, the scriptures testify it is…If we feel not smart enough the lord says he will give us wisdom. If we feel we lack faith, God gives us the measure of faith we need.

There’s a good reason we call the plan of salvation a plan of happiness.

Expect the best!

Story of a little boy saying he is the best baseball player ever but continually missing the ball! “Wow…What a pitcher”

Word of caution and advice- Today’s events focus a lot of attention on the church. “Mormon Momment”  There is also a downside..Our beliefs are under greater scrutiny and mockery. Words of a bitter critic are magnified through the use of social media. This was a platform not available to our critics a generation ago.

For some critics their crude utterances are made for political gain or entertainment, but please understand that the followers of Christ have always been in the minority and have suffered more than verbal attacks.

Some suffer a crisis of faith and wonder how these things can be, but our church history is a tapestry filled with beautiful events and inspiration. However, like us, these man were not perfect. Important to view the whole tapestry of our history.

I can testify that the more I learn about the church history and doctrine, the more my testimony grows.

Keep a balance through prayer, study etc… You will be protected then from the storm of discontent

Stumbling blocks are often cleverly disguised. Let the advancement of technology be a a spring not a stumbling block.

Technology has made the functions of the church so much more efficient.

Facebook is the third largest ‘country’ in the world

We are just seeing the beginning of this information revolution.

But this has a downside and Satan has figured it out quickly.

Resist the urge to spend too much time on video games and avoid violent games. It can be surprisingly addictive. We do not want to see people living in their parents basement and playing games. Avoid pornography at all costs. Can lead to ensnarement in your personal hell

Do not give up on personal communication rather than merely texting. Embrace the technology but do not forget about personal communication.

Avoid many stumbling blocks by being wise and living obediently and using the stepping stones of faith.

If prepared our challenges will be growing period and become stepping stones for us. Be meek humble strong and wise. The future is bright and the rising generation will determine the course.

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