Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Building Bricks Without Straw

Hello Everyone!

A quick update from Ballston Spa: Snow has arrived (shortly).

We got hit by tiny snow flurry yesterday during Gospel Principles, it only lasted 10 minutes, and none of it stuck, but it's only been 6 months since the snow officially stopped.  Winter's knocking at our door again and I'm breaking out the thermals!

This week I wish to share a unique insight that I learned from a talk given by Vaughn J. Featherstone in September of 1986 to students at BYU in Provo.  The talk, with name identical to the title of this post, is centered on a short passage of scripture from the book of Exodus chapter 5:

5. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying,Let us go and sacrifice to our God.

This passage is Pharaoh's immediate response to Moses and Aaron asking to let the children of Israel go into the wilderness to worship their God.  Pharaoh took this as a sign that they had too much free time on their hands and thus in their spare time wanted to go off and worship, so he increased the burdens upon them.  
From the talk by, at the time, Elder Featherstone he introduces the process by which ancient peoples created bricks with the following passage:

"As all of you know, straw is put into bricks and other kinds of mortar or similar materials to cause an adhesiveness to take place. In Moses’ day straw was essential in making bricks that would not crumble and crack when a little bit of pressure was applied."

The children of Israel would be left to gather what stubble and scraps that they could to build bricks, while being required to create the same amount of bricks; an arduous task to be certain.

In his talk, Elder Featherstone asks BYU Students, and by implication all of us, if we are trying to make bricks without straw.  Are we trying to sustain or gain a testimony or conversion to this gospel by using spiritual scraps, or are we using the wonderful resources we have been given to adequately strengthen ourselves and those around us?

We live in a day when great resources are available to those seeking to learn of Christ and of how we can build a great relationship with our God.  We are given scripture, ancient and modern, to aid us in learning of the plan, purposes, and commandments of God.  We are given support by family, friends, and church members alike to lend us straw when we lack, and we also can help those around us in like manner by lending those who use spiritual stubble some straw to strengthen them in times of need.  

I hope that you all have a great week, and continually build your bricks with straw and not stubble.  Then, when pressure is applied, you will withstand and not crumble under the pressure of trial and affliction. 

Love, Elder Gailey

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