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We home teach a single mom with three kids (ages 10, 13, 16) at home and one on a mission. They are a great family and we enjoy every visit we have with them. This past week we decided to focus our visit on “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” We felt prompted to do this because of our personal experience with this document, which we’ll explain briefly and then will share what we did with this family.
During the last general conference (April 2017) some speakers talked about “The Living Christ,” but here we’re focusing mostly on the words of President Russell M. Nelson and Elder M. Russell Ballard. Elder Nelson encouraged us to get to know the Savior more by studying from the scriptures “everything Jesus said and did.” Then he said, “As you seek to learn more about Jesus Christ, I urge you to study ‘The Living Christ.’”
Elder Ballard said, “We must keep the doctrine and gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of our goals and plans. Without Him, no eternal goal is possible, and our plans to achieve our eternal goals will surely fail.
“One additional help is ‘The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,’ which was presented to the Church on January 1, 2000. Place a copy where you can see it, and take time to review each of the statements found in this inspired testimony of Christ by His special witnesses who signed it.”
Elder Ballard went on to say, “Prayerfully reading ‘The Living Christ’ is like reading the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the prophets of the Book of Mormon. It will increase your faith in the Savior and help you stay focused on Him as you follow your plans to reach your eternal goals.”
We were impressed by these statements, but then life moved in on us and we forget to do it. Then we went to our stake conference where our stake president stood and testified about the importance of this sacred testimony of the apostles, and he asked each of us to memorize it. Yes! Memorize it! He had two young women recite it from memory to prove it can be done. But what about us? We have “old” brains and sometimes can’t even remember a family member’s birthday. How could we possibly memorize it? Still, he asked and we wanted to obey so we pressed forward. Now three months later we can say “We did it!” And it has been a sweet experience in coming to know the Savior more completely.
When you memorize something, each word takes on a new importance. We discovered that we felt more fully what the Savior has done for us, and is still doing. This testimony of Him is truly profound. So, we decided, let’s encourage our young home teaching family to memorize it, too. Here’s what we did to help them. We know this isn’t profound, and is very simple and could most likely be done much better, but, for what it’s worth, here’s what we did.
We printed off a copy for each member of the family, and on the first visit we gave them each a copy and asked them to put it where they could see it daily. Then we noticed that hanging on their wall was a framed copy of it with a picture of the Savior next to it. This family is already on track. Their mother said, “We have it where we can see it every day, but we don’t really pay attention to it. Now we will.”
We kept our message short; bore our testimony of it and said we were in the process of memorizing it and encouraged them to do the same.
This week we returned to help refresh the message of encouraging them to read it, understand it better, and to even memorize it. This time we could say we had actually memorized it—old brains and all. We didn’t recite it because it wasn’t about us, it was about helping them want to become better acquainted with it.
We went through some of the points of each paragraph, allowing them to express their feelings along with ours. We realized that they may not understand the meaning of some of the words so asked them, for example, “What is the meaning of ‘matchless?” That created a conversation about what it meant as referring to Jesus’ life. These kids were becoming engaged. It was fun to see their eyes brighten. Then on we went. What are “spurious charges?”
The discussion continued as we focused on points of doctrine taught in “The Living Christ.” It was interesting to show them that it outlines Christ’s life and his purpose almost in a chronological order, beginning with His being the “creator of the earth” to His mortal life, to His great atoning sacrifice, to His resurrection, to the restoration of the gospel, and to the promise that he will “someday return to earth.”
We concluded by bearing our testimonies that Jesus is the Living Christ and that we love Him and want always to obey Him. We also expressed our love for this family. We feel privileged to be their home teachers and pray for them often.
As a final fun moment, we reiterated that Christ created all things and “without him was not any thing made that was made,” including the stars—even the milky way. Then we tossed a Milky Way candy bar to each one. (We know it’s their favorite candy bar.) Big smiles all around. The whole visit took about 30 minutes.
We hugged them all and left hoping they felt our love for them and the Savior. We encourage all of you to memorize “The Living Christ” or at least to become well acquainted with it. We promise it will be worth it.
[To learn more about Gary and Joy Lundberg and their new book “Because We Love Our Marriage” click here http://www.garyjoylundberg.com/ ]