Today I’m studying the talk “Set in Order Thy House”, by Russell M. Nelson. This talk was given in the October 2001 General Conference.
October 2001. Once again, I don’t remember this specific talk, even though I know that I watched general conference. One thing that is interesting to me about this is that I had become a new mother. My oldest daughter was born during the summer of 2001. Even though I don’t remember this talk specifically, talks like these have always impacted me and inspired me to do my duty as a mother.
So – onto the talk.
Our Divine Mandate
It’s really interesting to read this talk now – after we have had the changes we experienced last year – to a shorter church time on Sundays. I’m not looking this up right now, but the way I remember it is that this change was made because we are supposed to be a home-centered church.
I also remember after all of those changes and then talks, there was so much excitement – about teaching our families – as if this was a new charge. Reading President Nelson’s talk from eighteen years ago has reminded me that this isn’t a “new program.” God’s kingdom has always been centered on families.
President Nelson stated:
“With the Lord, families are essential. He created the earth that we could gain physical bodies and form families. He established His Church to exalt families. He provides temples so that families can be together forever.” – Russell M. Nelson
Did you notice that – the earth was created for us – so we could gain physical bodies, form families, and learn what we needed to know here. (Aside: this doesn’t mean that I think we extort the earth. We need to remember it is a gift, and we should treat it as such.)
Did you notice, that temples are here so that families can be together forever? My family has been blessed by temples and the ordinances performed therein.
Also did you notice – He established His Church to exalt families. This is exactly what the prophet taught to us less than a year ago! The family isn’t supposed to be “supporting” the church. It’s the other way around! The church is supposed to support the family. We can’t outsource gospel learning to another institution, no matter how good it is.
President Nelson taught:
Not only are parents to cling to the word of the Lord, but they have a divine mandate to teach it to their children. Scriptural direction is very clear: “Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion … that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
That commandment places responsibility and accountability for the teaching of children squarely upon the shoulders of the parents. The proclamation to the world regarding the family warns that individuals “who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.” Today I solemnly reaffirm that reality.” – Russell M. Nelson
As I write this, I realize that in 2001, we had an apostle of the Lord warn us that we needed to be teaching our families the gospel! This wasn’t the first time we have been warned by the Lord to teach our families the gospel. President Nelson continues:
“In 1833 the Lord rebuked young leaders of His Church because of parental shortcomings. The Lord said:
“I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.
“But verily I say unto you, …
“You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments. …
“And now a commandment I give unto you … you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house. … First set in order thy house.” – Russell M. Nelson
What To Teach
Okay. It seems obvious. We need to teach the gospel to our children. President Nelson explains more of what that means. He teaches that we should teach our children the following:
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- The Gift of the Holy Ghost (by the way, these three things would be considered “the law of the gospel!”)
- The Plan of Salvation (and the Law of Sacrifice)
- The Law of Obedience
- The Law of Consecration
I suppose that this isn’t an exhaustive list. But then again, I think that really teaching our children these things could take a lifetime. They seem to take a lifetime to learn!
Why should we teach our children the gospel? What’s the big deal? Isn’t there plenty of mercy and grace in God’s plan? Doesn’t Christ love us? Why do we need to take this teaching seriously?
Well, first of all, we need to remember what President Nelson taught:
“God has revealed the eternal nature of celestial marriage and the family as the source of our greatest joy.” – Russell M. Nelson
This is why! So we can be happy. This is not a selfish pursuit. Our joy comes as we fulfill the measures of our creation – which includes the relationships we make with our families. President Nelson continues:
“Brethren and sisters, material possessions and honors of the world do not endure. But your union as wife, husband, and family can. The only duration of family life that satisfies the loftiest longings of the human soul is forever. No sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal marriage.” – Russell M. Nelson
Do we really understand this? I wonder.
A few years ago, I kept a “joy is…” journal. I simply wrote a line or two every day starting with “Joy is…” I tried to find joy each day. I did this for a few years. One interesting thing I found was that one of my most consistent sources of joy was my family.
Yet so many people have been hurt so badly by members of their own family. I know that that some of the deepest grief I’ve felt has been in connection with problems and pains in my family. It is one thing, for example when a stranger lies to you. But when a family member does? It hurts so much worse.
Satan understands this. He understands that families are the biggest source of potential joy. President Nelson explained:
“Parents and children should realize that strong opposition will always come against the work and will of the Lord. Because the work (and glory) of God is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life as a family, it logically follows that the work of the adversary will strike directly at the heart of the home—the family. Relentlessly Lucifer attacks the sanctity of life and the joy of parenthood.
Satan wants us to be miserable just as he is.” – Russell M. Nelson
Yes. Satan attacks the family. And why? Because he wants us to be miserable. He understands the potential joy to be found in families. He also knows that the potential misery is inversely proportional to the joy (is that making sense). So – if we can feel infinite and eternal joy with our families, then the inverse is also true – we can feel infinite and eternal pain. Satan will always try to tip us toward misery and pain.
Some of you reading this may have felt intense pain at the hands of “loved ones” and family members. My heart aches for you. And I guess the thing I’m trying to say is – there is hope to be found. The Lord can take your exquisite pain and transform it into exquisite joy through His eternal sacrifice.
Not only that, but this pain can serve as a testimony – that truly the family is of God; that truly Satan is attacking it; that truly one can find great joy within it if we abide the principles taught to us by God.
What Am I Doing???
I hope that this hasn’t been a totally boring post. I have actually been excited to read it today.
My family is in an interesting position lately. We have moved around a lot and haven’t really had a stable “house.” But soon, I know that we will be settling down again. When I saw the title of this talk – “Set in Order Thy House”, I wondered will this be about finances, chore charts, and food storage? If so, then what will apply to me right now?
As I read the talk though, I saw that it had little to do with a physical house. Of course it is important to do the practical things to bring order to your house. But when you don’t have a physical house, there aren’t many practical things to do!
Even though my family and I don’t have a physical “house” right now, I can see that I still have to complete this mandate – as setting in order my house has less to do with physical organization and more to do with what is eternally more important – imparting my children with a testimony of God, their Savior, the Book of Mormon, the Church, and our living prophets.
I know that this can be done anywhere and in any circumstance. I’m not a perfect parent, but I’ve been able to teach my children the gospel! Interestingly enough, if we simply try the Lord’s grace comes to our rescue!!!!!!!!!
I have been a woman in a relationship where I was married to someone who wasn’t faithful – to me or to the gospel. In fact, when this talk was originally given (in 2001), this was the exact situation I found myself in. Gospel study in my family at that time didn’t look like the cover of the Ensign magazine. My children were young (infants/toddlers). For the most part, scripture study was attended by me, myself, and I. I would also read my little ones stories from the Friend. But the Lord attended me, and I was blessed with the grace I needed to make it work. What I had was enough.
Gospel study did not save my first marriage. I couldn’t study enough, attend the temple enough, or do enough to make up for the decisions of my ex. This is not how grace works! It cannot trump agency or rob justice. Instead, the Lord’s grace strengthened me, and it enabled me and my daughters to eventually get out of that abusive situation.
I have been a divorced, single mother. We had scripture study time, but it did not look like the cover of the Ensign magazine!!! But my daughters and I would read a few verses of scripture each night. We said prayers together. Our house was a mess. Sometimes, my second daughter (Panda) wouldn’t say anything – she would only hiss at me.
We didn’t cover much ground in the scriptures.
And even though we didn’t get through much of the scriptures, and even though my daughters were sleepy and hissing at me, we still snuggled together – them in my lap and tried. The Lord sanctified my efforts with His grace – and it was exactly enough. Those were not easy times, but I look back on them with so much love, gratitude, happiness, and joy.
I have been a married mom in a good relationship with a great husband. I’m currently married to a man who honors his priesthood. He magnifies my womanhood. And I understand, poignantly, how blessed I am to experience this blessing. Together, we lead our children in family scripture study. And guess what? This does not look like the cover of the Ensign magazine!!!! Kids fight, roll around, get bored.
But you know what – it still works. We still have those moments when one of our children will say something that will absolutely floor us. They are learning the gospel! The Lord is able to make something out of our meager efforts! The kids are both learning and teaching us. And these efforts have blessed our family – both as a whole and as individuals.
I have been without a consistent home for over four years. We have had scripture study in our hotels, parents’ houses, condos, cars, bedrooms, you name it. It doesn’t take much. I figure that if Lehi could teach his family in a tent in the wilderness, then we can do it anywhere, too. Most of the time our scripture learning is simple – a few verses and good discussion. But this experience bonds us together – despite any perceive physical limitations. Once again, the Lord always comes through. Just as he took only a few loaves and fishes to feed 5,000, He can take our simple efforts to spiritually feed our families.
So – what can I do? What can you do? Just show up. Just try our best. And just keep at it. Day after day, night after night. We will see the Lord at work in our lives, if we will give Him something to work with. And when the Lord is at work in our lives – we experience joy and peace. Even in these troubled times, we can live in peace with our families.