Here is the talk that my husband gave right after I spoke.
I would like for you to listen for a few words during my talk, and when you hear them, listen to the message, and what they are saying to you. The words are: Plainness, Simplicity, Generosity, Spiritual Fuel.
Orson F. Whitney “A speaker's first duty is to make himself understood, to speak with plainness, and he must also be in earnest, must mean what he says, and say what he means, or he can never impress the hearts of his hearers. If he be sincere, earnest, and plain in his instructions, eloquence will take care of itself. A man is never eloquent when he tries to be. Eloquence comes from being earnest, from having IN OUR hearts a desire to bless the people and feed them with the bread of life. It is my desire, during the few moments I shall stand before you, to speak plainly, to make myself understood, and reach your hearts by the power of the Spirit of God.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1910, p. 59) Nearly 100 years ago… but the gospel is plain and simple and true.
L. Tom Perry’s talk is titled; let him do it with simplicity. In my preparation for this talk, I came across this exact phrase in the New Testament, Romans 12:8: … : he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; … which really, if put in context, could mean “let him give with generosity.”
To me, this provided for an interesting parallel. Let him do it with simplicity. Let him give with generosity. Vs. Let him do it with simplicity. The spiritual benefits of a simplified life. When we’re generous, we’re giving of our excess. If we’re spiritual, we’re living a simplified life. We’re giving away our excess. So generosity and spirituality hold a very strong correlation.
To my boys, I’m always telling them, Boys… follow your mom’s good example, and be kind and giving with what you have. I’m thankful to my wife for the good example she is to them and to me about kindness and giving… Which really means, thanks for being a good spiritual example. So together, as husband and wife, hopefully we can key on each other’s strengths and lead our sons in a more spiritually focused life.
Pam shared some wonderful examples and insights about Thoreau, and what he came away with from his 2 years at Walden Pond. First, food.. Second, clothing. Third, shelter. The final necessity is fuel. The fuel elder Perry chose to discuss was spiritual fuel.
Let me share a personal story… about 6 years ago, I remember a good friend in our CA ward sharing his testimony, and how he and his family had just finished reading the B of M from beginning to end. Shock… impressed… awe… It was about that same time that as a family, we were experiencing some trials, and needed to have a more spiritually focused life. We wanted more spiritual fuel. Part of our dedication was a family goal to read from the B of M each night. Nothing extravagant, just 5 or 10 minutes, usually about a page. For us, we come together for family prayer each night, so right before we pray, we read for a few minutes. I’ve heard it takes 30 days of an activity to form a habit. And we’re living proof that not only can you get some daily scripture study in, but you can make it through the Book of Mormon. At a slow pace, it takes about 2 years. And it’s a great family goal.
So this past month, we’ve been plowing through the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi. Pam picked up a good book to add some insight as we read: Isaiah for Dummies. During our reading this wee, I came across this verse in 2 Ne 25:4: Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the aspirit of bprophecy. But I give unto you a cprophecy, according to the spirit which is in me; wherefore I shall prophesy according to the dplainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in eplainness unto my people, that they may learn.
I’ve never been one who can just take the scriptures and share deep insights. I blame that on the fact that I served a foreign mission. My theory is that when you serve a foreign mission, you spend a lot of effort learning the language and culture. When you serve an English speaking mission, you have time to study and become a real scriptorian. Either that, or you have to teach Seminary for a number of years and simply delve into the scriptures on a daily basis.
That said, every once in a while I slow down enough to really take a verse of scripture and soak in some of its meaning. And this scripture was one of them for me. First about Isaiah: the words of Isaiah…are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy
Nephi had no trouble understanding Isaiah. Likewise, Joseph Smith’s commented about his ease in understanding the book of Revelation. He said, “the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 290). I would never put me on the same level as a prophet, hence, it’s hard for me to understand these writings, but for them, they had both seen in vision the things that Isaiah and John the Revelator saw.
Nevertheless, this is no excuse for us. The Lord has specifically commanded us to study Isaiah, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah (3 Ne 23:1). We must seek the spirit of prophecy in order to understand Isaiah. The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the spirit (1 Cor 12:10). It is through this gift that Isaiah can be understood. We should seek this gift as with the other gifts of the spirit, seek ye earnestly the best gifts (DC 46:8).
Now the real meat of what I pulled from this verse as it relates to our topic today, “let him do it with simplicity.” The end of this verse says: my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn.
I hope this isn’t too much of a stretch, but to me, simplicity is synonymous with plainness. The Lord does not intend to teach us things we cannot understand. Rather, He gives us line upon line, depending on our spiritual preparation, until we understand the mysteries of the kingdom. From 2 Ne 31: 3: For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.
Something that was strongly impressed upon me as a young missionary was the idea of that the gospel is very plain and simple. If we would devote our time and energy to study and practice of the 4th Article of Faith, and living it, I don’t think we would ever stray. QUOTE or SING the 4th Article of Faith.
The Gospel is simple: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Perry mentions the parable of the 10 virgins. If you really want understand this parable, and learn from a prophet, read Spencer W. Kimball’s, Faith Precedes the Miracle. Pages 121-123. Let me share one paragraph from those pages that made me think of, Simplified Life/Spiritual Fuel. “In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity—these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.”
Who better to conclude with than Moroni, and his simple promise that every person who humbly and sincerely reads the Book of Mormon may know by revelation that it is true. Read Moroni 10:4 if time permits.
Brothers and Sisters, I bear my testimony:
• That The Gospel is plain and simple.
• That there is joy in a simple lifestyle.
• And that when we focus on the spiritual fuel, and the things we’ve talked about today… We can live eternally as families, and perhaps as a ward family… together with our friends. Like the city of Enoch lifted up.
And to my testimony, I add that of Elder L. Tom Perry in his closing paragraph:
“In our search to obtain relief from the stresses of life, may we earnestly seek ways to simplify our lives. May we comply with the inspired counsel and direction the Lord has given us in the great plan of happiness. May we be worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost and follow the guidance of the Spirit as we navigate this mortal journey. May we prepare ourselves to accomplish the ultimate purpose of this mortal test—to return and live with our Heavenly Father—is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”