A Monument Unto the Lord

Leilani Auna

Leilani Auna

Director of Counseling & Disability Services, BYU-Hawaii

Devotional
April 26, 2016
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Thank you Van for that introduction.Aloha BYU Hawaii Ohana!You are an amazing sight! It is wonderful to be gathered with you!I humbly invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost as I speak to you today.When we think of monuments we think of some sort of physical memorial, something of great importance and value.The dictionary further defines a monument as a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event. It also goes on to say it is an outstanding, enduring, and memorable example of something.At Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial helps us to remember the events that occurred on December 7, 1941.Just outside the Cannon Activities Center we have another monument that memorializes the work of Jonathan Napela and George Q. Cannon in translating the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language.In the scriptures, we read in the book of Joshua about the children of Israels miraculous crossing of the River Jordan. The Lord commanded Joshua to have twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, carry the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Ten Commandments, into the River Jordan. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on the dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. [1]Waters were once again parted for the children of Israel. But before Israel moved on, Joshua received another commandment from the Lord. A representative from each tribe was to pick up a large stone from the dry river bed and stack the stones as a memorial.And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over.[2]As you stack the stones of your life experiences, what kind of memorial or monument are you building? How are your stones stacking up?Let me offer five suggestions to help us, as we build our monuments unto the Lord:1. Enjoy Gods creations with gratitude 2. Remember you are a child of God3. Love and respect yourself4. Love thy neighbor as thyself5. Gain and fortify your testimony of Jesus Christ.1.ENJOY GODS CREATIONS WITH GRATITUDE We live on this beautiful island of Oahu. We feel the warmth of the sun daily. We see the rainfall which makes the plants grow and provides us with clean water to drink. As we drive along Kamehameha Highway we see the turquoise blue ocean, the majestic mountains and the clear blue sky. How good it is to hear the soothing sound of waves breaking on the shoreline.We all need to take some time to enjoy these heavenly creations. You know for too long I have taken for granted this place that I live. I tell my children all the time it is important to take some time to enjoy nature and be grateful for this beautiful place we live. Everything that is created in this world is a testament that there is a God.I am also very grateful to my mother Leonarda Cruz Dumaguin for her sacrifice and example of Christ-like love. She had the courage to learn about Jesus Christ, recognized the truth and was baptized. My mother has a green thumb and has a love for plants. She lives in a place on the Big Island that appears to be the most unfriendly place to grow anything. Her land is covered by lava rock. However, she did not let that stop her from making her land a piece of heaven. She continued to sow the earth and was determined to nourish and nurture the seeds which she planted. Her labors are now coming to fruition. She finds joy in her work. She continues to be a good example to me of someone who is grateful for everything around her.Plant life and animal life were also made to give us joy. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord said,"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."[3]Having gratitude in our hearts brings good feelings and builds character. There is something about thinking positively and having gratitude that rewires our brain. Scientists say that doing these things shift our thinking from negative outcomes to positive ones, it elicits a surge of feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, endorphins and in building enduring personal connections.When we show gratitude we are showing respect for the things that we have. We are acknowledging the efforts of those we come in contact with. We are letting our Heavenly Father know we love and respect him.Just imagine how you would feel if you have worked hard at something and went out of your way to help someone and they just ignored you. How would you feel? Of course when you give true service we do it with love and with no expectations. But the person receiving the service can reciprocate the positive feelings by expressing gratitude.Joseph B. Wirthlin said,"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, and more likeable. When you cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your daily relationships, you are letting the person know to whom you are communicating with that they are important and that you have respect for them. Always remember to say 'thank you'."[4]2.REMEMBER YOU ARE A CHILD OF GODYou have a divine heritage. You have a Heavenly Father and Mother. You knew them well and they know you. You have an elder brother Jesus Christ who loves you. He atoned for our sins so we can have a way to return to our Heavenly Father again if we truly repent and accept his atonement. In Genesis 1:26-27 it says,"And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."[5]In General Conference October 2015 President Thomas S. Munson said,"To each of you, I say that you are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You have come from His presence to live on this earth for a season, to reflect the Saviors love and teachings, and to bravely let your light shine for all to see. When that season on earth has ended, if you have done your part, yours will be the glorious blessing of returning to live with Him forever."[6]Knowing who you are and where you came from can give you direction and confidence in your life. You have a purpose and a goal. The more you search the scriptures, ponder and pray the more the mysteries of God will be unfolded to you. We all have the opportunity to learn more about what to do with the knowledge that we are children of God. Life is not easy it comes with all kinds of distractions and physical limitations but if we continue to keep our eye on the purpose of why we are here it will make our time here on this earth more meaningful to us.In Moses 1:39 the Lord said,"For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."[7]Dont you feel privileged to know that Gods work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man? Why are we so important to him? It is because we are His Children. God has provided this beautiful world for us and has given us a body to experience our free agency.Even though Gods creations are many, He knows and loves them all. In the scripture found in Moses 1: 35 it reads."All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them."[8]As a comparison scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants 11:20 the Lord tell us what we must do,"Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength."[9]I sometimes imagine myself in the preexistence getting ready to come to earth and to gain a body. I imagine myself being so anxious and excited hugging and kissing Heavenly Father and Mother. I imagine myself telling them Dont worry, I will be back, I will make good choices and I will let my brothers and sisters know about the gospel of Jesus Christ so we can all return back to our Heavenly Home. Of course in the eyes of our Heavenly parents they would look at me with full confidence and with tears in their eyes, they let me go to earth.To have the knowledge that I am a child of God gives me strength and courage to move on in this life and to make good choices.David A. Bednar in his General conference talk The Tender Mercies of the Lord he said,"Heavenly Fathers work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. Our work is to keep His commandments with all of our might, mind, and strength- and we thereby become chosen and, through the Holy Ghost, receive and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives."[10] I used to wonder as a young girl how can my Heavenly Father know me when he has millions of children to worry about? This baffled me for a long time until I became a parent myself. As a young mother, people would ask how do you share your love equally to all of your children. My household was pretty busy with little children running around, errands to run, piano lessons, sport practices and church duties to deal with. But even with all the busyness I am able to love them individually. As my children grew into their teens we had a lot of lets say, Emotional situations but that did not stop me from loving each one of them. I have watched my children grow to the wonderful adults they are today. And even with that knowledge, I have only an inkling of an understanding of what it is like to love each of my children compared to our Heavenly Fathers love towards each of us.In the Gospel Principles manual it states:"Every person who was ever born on earth is our spirit brother or sister. Because we are the spirit children of God, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become like our Heavenly Father and receive a fullness of joy."[11]So if you ever feel like giving up, know this truth you are a son or daughter of Our Heavenly Father and he knows you very well. We have had a veil put over our minds to block our memory of the preexistence. This was done so we can learn how to live in our mortal body today.3.LOVE AND RESPECT YOURSELFAs a licensed clinical social worker I am privileged to meet people from all walks of life. I do however, notice that most of the underlying issues that people come to see me about are the loss of self-love and self-respect. I would like to explain how self-love and self-respect are important in building our monument unto the Lord.Take care of your physical body. Remember your body is a temple. You must nourish your body with good things. Obey the word of wisdom. Eat healthy, keep your body clean physically and spiritually. By doing this you are making your body your temple.It is my understanding that as a steward of my body it is important to keep in mind my purpose in life, why am I here and where am I going? To have that knowledge that I chose to be here on this earth in this body at this time is comforting. I am grateful for this opportunity to grow and learn with this body because it makes my life more meaningful. I can see now how important it is to have self-love. Our body is where our spirit dwells and that we can allow the Spirit of the Lord to be with us daily.Our relationship with other people and our ability to make choices are all done through our physical bodies. It is through our physical body that we experience kindness, happiness, tenderness, pain, disappointments and physical limitations in ways that will prepare us for eternity. When we have respect for our body by keeping it clean and healthy it makes our spirit feel loved and respected. We can continue to cultivate that sense of self love and respect, the same way we prepare ourselves to enter the Temple of the Lord. It is also important to cultivate that same feelings when we go about our daily routines. Self-Love and selfishness or narcissism are two absolutely different things. To have self-love is more than just thinking about me. Love is all about giving and receiving and if you can give enough, care, attention and sympathy to yourself, most probably you can give it to others as well. It is hard to love others if we cannot love ourselves.I want to expound on this a little more.The Prophet in the last October 2015 conference said,"We know that our body is a temple, to be treated with reverence and respect. Our minds should be filled with uplifting and ennobling thoughts and kept free from those things which will pollute. In order to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we must be worthy. Brothers and sisters, purity will bring us peace of mind and will qualify us to receive the Saviors promises. Said He, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. As we prove to be examples in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity, we will qualify to be lights to the world."[12]In Matthew 22:35-40 it reads:"Then one of them, (which was) a lawyer, asked (him a question), tempting him, and saying, Master, which (is) the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second (is) like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."[13]4.LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THY SELF Stop gossiping. If you have a problem with someone, talk to him or her directly. Let us speak kind words to each other. When you gossip, but fail to tell the source of your problem, you are misdirecting your anger. You are also missing an opportunity to learn and expand your relationship by not getting to know that individual.The second great commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself.There is a significant difference in being a narcissist and loving yourself. The term narcissism originates from Greek mythology. The young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. The dictionary further defines narcissism as a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish. Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of ones own attributes.Loving thy neighbor as thy self is a true statement. Loving your self is loving, and being a narcissist is just selfishness which is not lovingWhen you love yourself you are giving love, attention and care to yourself, but when you stop loving yourself, then you stop caring for yourself.When you love yourself and do not extend to others, then it becomes selfishness. The flow of loving yourself and loving others is a giving and receiving.Imagine getting up in the morning and looking in the mirror and saying to yourself, Ugh you are ugly! Or even worse, you ignore yourself. Imagine doing that to your friend or roommate daily. How do you think they will feel? They will probably feel bad and ignored. Let us take it one step further, we forget that the person in the mirror staring back at us is a person too. We need to talk kindly to ourselves and treat ourselves with love and respect. When we do that we are cultivating a positive countenance that will be projected to others. We are also inviting the Holy Ghost into our lives. Remember, what I said earlier our body is a temple of God. We need to invite the good Spirit and cultivate a positive thinking within ourselves. When we do this we are rewiring our brain and how we think. Like I said earlier, the feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins will be activated and we start making personal connections which is vital in our emotional health. Have you ever been next to someone and you can feel the negative vibes? We can change that by practicing to cultivate a love and respect of self so in turn we can project those to others.Treating each other as we would like to be treated is a true statement. When we serve others we are making connections in our brains which is important for our emotional health and relationships. To me, Life is all about relationships. We have different types of relationship with people that we meet each day. At work, school, home, and everyone that we encounter throughout our day. When we continue to have that love and respect for ourselves we will project it to others. I am grateful to my father Celestino Dumaguin, who served as one of the pioneer missionaries to the Far East Hong Kong Philippine mission. Through his missionary service he was able to find the home of my mother in the city of Cavite, Philippines. He and his companion, Elder Mark Evans, were able to teach her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptize her. Although my father has already passed on, he left a legacy of good works. By profession, he was a shiatsu therapist. He used this talent to relieve those in pain and discomfort. He also used traditional Hawaiian and Chinese medicinal remedies that were taught to him by his grandmother. He became a respected healer or in Hawaiian, a kahuna or medicine man. People would come from all over the islands to have him attend to their ailments. The majority of the time he would do it free of charge or they would pay him whatever they could. I asked him one day. Dad where do your healing talents come from? He looked at me and said, from Heavenly Father, of course'."For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.And to others it is given to have faith to heal."[14]I realized at that moment that my father loved the Lord and acknowledged the Lord in all things. Remembering his works and the way he lived his life uplifts me daily. He used his talents to glorify his Father in Heaven.My mother till this day continues to feed and house strangers and treat them as if they were part of her family. The missionaries knew that if they were around her home they were always welcome at her house for a rest or something to eat. Both my parents love the missionaries. The way my parents lived their lives, became a testament to me that they loved God and followed the example of His Son Jesus Christ.I am also grateful for teachers that taught me about my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They were good examples to me of one who loves the Lord. They truly were practicing what they preached.I acknowledge with deep appreciation the love and great examples of people in my own life; My loving parents, family, friends, children, and wonderful eternal companion who by their examples are spiritual monuments unto the Lord. 5.GAIN AND FORTIFY YOUR TESTIMONY OF THE SAVIOR JESUS CHRISTKnow that God lives and He hears and answers prayers. He knows each and every one of us. Follow the example of Jesus Christ for he is the ultimate example of someone who loves God the Father, he knows who He is. He loves each and every one of us and atoned for all of our sins so we can have the opportunity to live with Our Heavenly Father again. Get to know our Savior Jesus Christ by studying His life and His teachings. We can do this by studying the scriptures and praying to our Heavenly Father for daily guidance. Prayer is a sincere, heartfelt talk with our Heavenly Father. Prayer is one of the greatest blessings we have while we are here on earth.By adhering to the five steps we can become a monument unto the Lord. We can stand as a witness to God in all things and in all places. We can be a testament that God lives and hears our prayers. We can know Jesus Christ and follow him. We can be an example of a disciple of Christ to all whom we come in contact with. We can be a monument unto the Lord in our own individual lives and in our own families.We will have a reverence for God and his creations. You will have His countenance on your face. You will exude positive feelings to those with whom you come in contact with.I am grateful to my Heavenly Father and for His loving guidance throughout my life. To have had the desire at a very young age to come here to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. To my Savior Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice so that I can have hope to see my Heavenly Father again someday,I am very grateful to be employed here at Brigham Young University Hawaii, to have had the experience to study and graduate from this great university, and to work at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I am also very grateful to experience college life in Hale 1 and Hale 5. It was there where I learned how to cook, experience living away from home, and had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.I express my deepest love and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the many privileges and blessings he has given me throughout my life here on earth.In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.[1]Joshua 3:17[2]Joshua 4:21-23[3]Doctrine & Covenants 59:18-21[4]Live in Thanksgiving Daily[5]Genesis 1:26-27[6]General Conference, October 2015 Be an Example and a light[7]Moses 1:39[8]Moses 1:35[9]Doctrine & Covenants 11:20[10]General Conference, April 2005, David A. Bednar, The Tender Mercies of the Lord[11]Gospel Principles, page 8-12[12]General Conference, October 2015 Be an Example and a light[13]Matthew 22:35-40[14]D&C 46:11,D&C 46:12,D&C 46:20