Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week Tween Talk episode 4 is about our purpose on earth.
Tween Talk Episode 4
Here are the places you can listen to episode 4 of Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints:
Here is this week’s adult coloring page for you to work on while you listen to the podcast.
Resources for Tween Talk Episode 4
Here are the different resources discussed in the podcast.
“Ye Must Be Born Again” Elder Bednar conference talk
Tween Talk 4 Transcript
Have you ever wondered what exactly you need to do to get to the Celestial Kingdom?
Okay, guys, last time we talked about Judgment Day, and we also covered the the degrees of glory. We might cover those in more detail in a later podcast, but today I want to talk specifically about what we need to do in this life in order to reach the Celestial Kingdom.
If you’re listening to this, then I’m going to assume you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You’ve probably been baptized and made covenants with God.
So unless you go way off the rails and start killing people or something (which is what would land you in the Telestial Kingdom), then you’re probably going to go to either the Celestial Kingdom or the Terrestrial Kingdom.
Only in the Celestial Kingdom will Heavenly Father give us access to the fullness of His power.
So what’s the difference?
In science, when things are referred to as “celestial,” it means heavenly, or of the skies.
If something is “terrestrial,” it means of or relating to the earth.
Those definitions fit perfectly with the Celestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms.
Last time, we talked about who gets to go to each kingdom. Let’s go over that again.
To go to the Celestial Kingdom, you have to received the testimony of Jesus, be baptized by someone with authority (whether in this life or the next), and get the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Sounds like each of us so far, right?
But then it says in D&C 76 that you must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. What does that mean?
We’ll come back to that in one second, okay?
I think talking about the Terrestrial Kingdom might help us understand.
The people in the Terrestrial Kingdom are those who were honorable men of the earth, but who were blinded by the craftiness of men. They are also those who were not valiant in their testimonies.
So it’s more than just being baptized and getting the Holy Ghost. We have to be VALIANT on those testimonies. We don’t allow the craftiness of men to blind us.
Alright, back to the Holy Spirit of Promise.
When we get baptized, we make covenants with God, right? We promise that we will keep the commandments and endure to the end.
Baptism isn’t the end – it’s the first step. Then the Holy Ghost is there to help us, and He gives us a stamp of approval along the way.
President McConkie said in his book Mormon Doctrine:
“To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done.”
Elder Bednar said in his talk Ye Must Be Born Again:
“The Holy Spirit of Promise is the ratifying power of the Holy Ghost. When sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, an ordinance, vow, or covenant is binding on earth and in heaven. (See D&C 132:7.) Receiving this “stamp of approval” from the Holy Ghost is the result of faithfulness, integrity, and steadfastness in honoring gospel covenants “in [the] process of time” (Moses 7:21). However, this sealing can be forfeited through unrighteousness and transgression.”
Okay, that was a lot of information with some big words. Should we make it a little more applicable?
We’ve talked a bit before about how this life is a place where we are to prove ourselves trustworthy, right?
Let’s think of our life on earth as one big class that we need to pass in order to move onto the next level. We need to show we understand the concepts.
Instead of one big final exam to determine if we get to move up, our grade is calculated by thousands of little pop quizzes that spring up unexpectedly.
The Holy Spirit of Promise is the person who grades each quiz and gives us a gold star to indicate that we passed.
So how do we pass?
Is it by making the right choice every single time?
We already know that’s not possible, right?
Passing the quiz, getting that gold star, happens in one of two ways.
Either we do it right, or we repent when we do it wrong.
Here’s an example.
You go into your bedroom to find your two year old brother getting into your school backpack. He’s gotten your math homework that you spent hours working on, and he’s scribbling all over it with black marker, half of it ripped and chewed on.
You pass this pop quiz in one of two ways:
You smile gently, take it away, and say, “Please don’t do that again.”
OR, if you’re a normal human being, you might yell in frustration. “What are you doing? You ruined it! I hate you! Get out of here! Mommmmm!”
He runs out of the room sobbing.
Once your angry feelings subside, you go find your brother, give him a big hug, and apologize. Then you go to Heavenly Father in prayer and apologize to Him for having yelled at one of His children. You ask for His help to be more patient next time, and you make the extra effort to show your brother that you really do love him.
You just earned a gold star.
Now, that was kind of an obvious example.
Okay, so what about the times that aren’t so clear cut?
Sometimes the pop quizzes are big. Sometimes they’re hidden, and we don’t realize we’re being quizzed.
Sometimes we don’t know what the right answer is, and we struggle for days, weeks, or months to know what the right choice is.
But the Holy Spirit of Promise is there to measure the intent with which we make these decisions. When we realize we made the wrong choice, what do we do about it?
Sometimes friends or the world say one thing, but the prophet says another thing. Sometimes what is right isn’t what we want.
Sometimes it’s going to church, even when you feel like you don’t fit in or the other kids are mean to you.
Sometimes it’s reading your scriptures and saying your prayers, even when you are just too tired.
Sometimes it’s not watching a movie or TV show you really want to see because it’s not something you can imagine the Savior sitting down to watch with you.
Sometimes it’s being the odd kid out at school because you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or you haven’t kissed anyone and all your friends have.
And that’s hard. And it feels like it happens over and over again.
And it’s exhausting.
When that happens to me, I think about Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail.
He was just trying to do the right thing. He was trying to stand by his testimony and establish the true gospel.
But he was attacked at every turn. And not just by angry mobs. Even close friends felt at times he was a fallen prophet and would hold meetings to conspire against him.
Then he was thrown into prison for months in the winter, without good food or warmth, where he couldn’t even stand all the way up.
How often do you think he pleaded with the Lord to allow the work to go forward?
D&C 121 shows one of those times.
The Lord’s answer is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful scriptures.
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;”
Isn’t that incredible?
He reminds Joseph of this big, eternal plan. The months of anguish in a cold jail are, in the scheme of eternity, just a small moment.
Enduring it WELL – doesn’t that sound like being valiant in your testimony?
Doesn’t it sound like proving yourself trustworthy?
There’s a difference between enduring something, and enduring it WELL. And that is the key between the Celestial and Terrestrial kingdoms.
And then in the following section, still in Liberty Jail, the Lord says, “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
And then He reminds Joseph, “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
Isn’t that incredible?
The most power Being in the entire universe, in all of our known creation, has promised that He will be with you forever and forever.
He is ONLY allowing things to happen to you that are for your good.
He wants SO DESPERATELY for you to succeed.
He has given you prophets, and scriptures, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
He has given you His Son.
In return, He asks – will you be valiant in your testimony? Will you trust in Me, not the world?
You see, Lucifer is still kind of a thing.
He doesn’t need to get you to do lots of bad things in order to succeed.
He just needs to confuse you.
To get you to slack off.
To think that it’s enough to just be a good person.
Being a good person will only get you the Terrestrial Kingdom.
It won’t get you the Celestial Kingdom, where Heavenly Father dwells.
Where you can live with your family for eternity.
Where you get trusted with Heavenly Father’s power, to become like Him.
Do you have to be perfect to get there?
But you have to be putting in the effort.
To be a little better every day.
To want what God wants more than what you want.
I know, it’s so much easier said than done.
Life is hard.
The world is hard.
Doing the right thing is hard.
Standing up against peer pressure is hard.
Getting along with your siblings is hard.
Going to church when the church kids are mean, or doing wrong things, is hard.
It’s much easier said than done.
And sometimes it’s confusing.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is.
Where you feel like you have to choose between doing what’s right and being happy.
To be true to yourself without going against what it feels like the Church teaches.
So that’s what the rest of these podcasts are going to be about.
We’re going to take a look at those things.
In fact, I want to hear from YOU.
If you go to my website, savingtalents.com/podcasts, you’ll find a form you can fill out with what you want to hear on this podcast.
What questions do you have?
What struggles are you dealing with?
What things are hard for you?
Let’s talk about those things from here on out.
You see, one thing that has become really, really hard in the Church is the difference between DOCTRINE and CULTURE.
Things like, can I go shopping on Sunday?
You’ll get a bunch of answers to that question, depending on who you ask.
The problem is, we’ve all kind of become Pharisees.
Back in Christ’s time, the Jews wanted to live the Law of Moses and keep the commandments. So they came up with a bunch of rules to help make sure they didn’t accidentally break the commandments.
Keep the Sabbath day holy? Okay, let’s make rules about how many steps you can take on Sunday, what type of cooking is considered work, things like that.
We’ve kind of had that happen now.
Modesty is an excellent example.
We are supposed to dress modestly. Some people have set strict rules, like knee-length shorts or one-piece swimsuits or covering shoulders.
Eventually, some of those things became the culture and rules.
Unfortunately, those kind of culture rules have become things we judge others about.
In an effort to push back against being judgmental and the culture, people have started to say, “You don’t have to follow those rules. You can wear spaghetti strap shirts and still go to the temple. You can wear a bikini and still take the sacrament.”
After all, they say, it’s between you and God. You do what you feel is right.
And yes, that’s mostly true.
But guys, it’s SO MUCH more than that.
Remember, we’re supposed to be being VALIANT. We’re supposed to be proving ourselves trustworthy, and that means doing our best to do what GOD wants.
So let’s get back to the DOCTRINE, and THEN we can talk doing what we feel is right.
Because sometimes, what we WANT to do or FEEL like doing ISN’T right.
So how do we know what to do?
But at the end of the day, it feels like our parents may say one thing, our friends at church say another thing from their parents, the Sunday School teacher says a third thing.
So which is it?
This is why the Lord has given us prophets.
The Lord has given us commandments, and conference talks.
The prophet and apostles help create manuals and programs to guide us.
And THAT’S where we need to go: back to the doctrine behind it.
So if you have questions like,
Can I play sports games on Sundays?
Why is going to church so important when other kids are mean to me?
What types of TV shows or music are bad?
What does it mean to dress modestly?
When do I start paying tithing? If someone gives me $20 for a birthday present, do I pay tithing on it?
Let’s answer those questions – but with DOCTRINE. Get to the root of WHY, and then you can decide the HOW on your own.
Because that’s the only way you can be valiant.
There were some people who were really, really good Pharisees.
I would have been one of them!
I like rules. I like to know exactly how many steps I should take on Sunday so I’m not breaking the rules.
It’s nice when things are black and white like that.
But that’s not what Heavenly Father wants.
He doesn’t want me to just follow a set of rules because I am supposed to.
The only way to make decisions about what is right and wrong is to learn about the doctrine behind them, then apply it YOURSELVES.
Let’s do a quick example: the Word of Wisdom.
Now, we’ll definitely cover the Word of Wisdom in a lot more depth in another podcast, but I’m going to just talk about it super briefly here as an example.
Before we get into it, I should probably explain how the gospel is set up.
Every single thing about the gospel is broken into three categories: doctrine, principles, and applications.
Elder Bednar has an amazing book about this called “Increase In Learning” if you want to go more into detail about this.
Doctrine is the deep stuff that never changes. We are children of God. The Plan of Salvation. These answer the “Why?” about the gospel.
Principles are the commandments that God gives us. Tithing, the law of chastity are some examples. They answer the “What?” as in, “What am I supposed to do?” Principles can change throughout history. In the 1800s, we lived the Law of Consecration, but that was replaced with the Law of Tithing. But principles come from the prophet and apostles.
Then there are applications. These answer the “how” of the gospel, and this is what we can decide on our own and how we choose to be valiant.
So back to our example: the Word of Wisdom.
The doctrine, the WHY of the Word of Wisdom is that God gave us our bodies, and He knows how to take care of them best. We are His children, and He created our physical bodies. So that’s WHY we should pay attention to them.
Then there’s the principle – which is actually what the Word of Wisdom is. “What am I supposed to do to take care of my body?” It’s not full doctrine, it’s a principle. Back in Moses’ time, they could drink wine, but they couldn’t eat pork. In our day, it’s the Word of Wisdom. We read about it in D&C 89, and prophets have issued some clarification about it like hot drinks means coffee.
Remember, we’re not going deep into today. We’ll do it in another podcast, but this is the example I’m using.
Then there’s the application of the Word of Wisdom, the HOW, as in “how do I apply the Word of Wisdom to my life?”
And THIS is where we get to show we are valiant.
You could do the basics – no alcohol, no drugs, no coffee, tea, or tobacco.
And that’s it. And that’s all fine. That’s being good.
But being VALIANT is going to the Lord and asking, “What more can I do?”
Some of you may have families that follow different diets. Maybe you don’t eat processed foods. Maybe you don’t eat meat. Maybe you mostly eat meat and don’t have many carbs.
But THIS is where it gets to be individual, between you and the Lord. How you apply it. You follow the Holy Ghost on what is best for YOU.
And that’s okay!
No one should judge you for the application. And you shouldn’t judge others.
The answer for your application may not be the same as someone else’s. That doesn’t mean one of you is wrong!
So this is how we’re going to do our podcasts. I want you to tell me your questions, your concerns.
How can I be happy?
What about mental health issues?
What if I have same gender attraction?
Where can I find peace?
What do I do if I’m being bullied?
I want to hear what YOU want to learn about.
And each week, we’ll take a topic and go into it.
We’ll dig deep and find the DOCTRINE.
Then we’ll look at the principles from the modern prophets, the most recent revelation.
Then we’ll discuss what some POSSIBLE applications can look like, which you can then take to the Lord and find out what is right for YOU.
Does that sound good?
I’m really excited to do this with y’all, and I hope you are, too.
Since we used the example of the Word of Wisdom this week, that’s what we’ll start with next week. In the meantime, don’t forget to head over to the website savingtalents.com/podcasts to let me know what you want to do after the Word of Wisdom!
And until we meet again next week, I want you to ask yourselves this question: what does being VALIANT mean to me? And am I doing it?
And we’ll talk more about it next week. I’ll see y’all then.