About Me

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I am a Mormon Missionary serving in the Michigan Lansing Mission. I enjoy serving the people of Michigan and love the area. I am also an ice cream addict in the process of recovery :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Truth

At this time of change and celebration, we often review the past in an attempt to correct the future. One thing that I have pondered on is that life is full of routines and habits. Although minor details may change, our lives tend to follow the same patterns. We move from moment to moment in a similar fashion, while time slowly slips away. This being said, what is it that keeps us going from day to day? Why do we do the same things?

For years, schedules may continue as normal but there is one variable that changes daily. That constant factor of change is us. Surroundings rarely change, but not a day goes by that we stay the same. Our emotions, feelings and experiences are unique to each day. This continuous progression of each of our lives is what motivates us to keep going. We are always looking to improve ourselves and our situations. The idea that each of us are on a path of constant change is what I wish to discuss today.

As I wade through the quagmire of daily life, I have thought a lot about our purpose and experiences here on Earth. The immense amount of time that we are allotted to live has provided me with plenty of time to ponder on this issue. One specific topic that I would like to entertain is the idea that we all have a conscience. Each of us have the ability to think and to reason. We also have a deep set of truths embedded within us. One example of this is a feeling that is common to all rational beings. It is the thought that taking away another human being's life is wrong. If we eradicate strong passions and listen to the thoughts and impressions that come to our mind, we can all come to an understanding of these eternal truths.

Another eternal truth that we can all come to know is that God exists. I'm sure there are many people who would disagree with that statement. However, I invite all to take this challenge. Ponder on the intricacies of life. Think about the world, the many people that exist here with all different personalities and interests. Consider the purpose of our life here on Earth. As you think of these things, set aside all preconceived notions. I can promise that if your willing to have an open mind, certain truths will bring peace to your mind and comfort to your soul. That is the real test. The reason we cannot understand eternal truths if our minds are clouded by strong passions is because the delicate feeling of peace can not co-exist there. The existence of God is one of those things that will bring peace to our minds. This is because it is an eternal truth. I testify that if we listen to our feelings and the impressions that come to our mind, we can all be directed towards truth. I also know that God exists. That He loves us and that we are here to become more like Him. I know that if we are indeed seeking after truth, we can find our way by following the pathway of peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I Know

  As a missionary there are many situations that I run into each day. We talk to hundreds of people and as a result have many interesting experiences. One of these experiences that happens quite frequently is when people ask the question "Why do you believe what you believe?" It is usually followed up by the question, "Is it because you were raised that way?" Some people then have even invited me to step outside of my comfort zone and look into other ideas and philosophies. At this point in time, I often have to pray for help to avoid the negative and sarcastic thoughts that flood my mind. This is especially true when someone refuses to listen to what I believe but tells me I should be more open and look into other things. If only I could some how, at that moment, help that person to understand the irony of the situation. However, I know that they are my brother or sister and I try to lovingly invite them to learn more and if they refuse I move on.
    What is it that motivates me to keep going? Why, amidst all the opposition and tribulation, would I continue to pursue a course of action that does not benefit me in any worldly way? The answer is that I am doing something that is far beyond the comprehension of the Natural Man. Those who are caught up in carnal passions, desires, or pursuits cannot understand. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). To understand what I know, one must view my knowledge with spiritual eyes.
    How are we to develop spiritual eyes? The first step is humility. We have to recognize that we don't know everything. We have to understand that we ourselves are weak and completely dependant on our Heavenly Father for daily support. We then must seek out understanding through study and prayer. Those who put the effort in to find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge will receive them. Our ability to discern things of a spiritual nature is increased as we consistently seek after them. This is why humility is so important. Those who are proud will not put in the time to find out the things of God. Those who do not find out the things of God will never know the happiness and peace that comes to those who know. "And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of  humility, he will not open unto them. But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints" (2 Nephi 9:42-43). It is my testimony to you that if you are willing to humble yourself and put forth the effort to find God that you will find Him. He is there and He wants to bless you. Choose to follow Him and your life will be filled with peace and joy. I know that this is true and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Contend No More

    It's cold outside, the fear of rejection weighs upon me, and it is starting to get dark. There is still a couple of hours before we are to go in but the circumstances push me to retire early. Am I justified in this? The natural man tells me, "You couldn't possibly find someone at this time of day... Besides, it's freezing cold." As the flesh tries to convince me to go home, I have the feeling that I should stay out and work. We continue to talk to people and it becomes colder and gets even darker. Thoughts of our warm apartment overwhelm my judgment and we begin to walk to the car. Instantly, I feel the sting of guilt. I know I should stay out longer but I don't want to be miserable. Do I stay and endure or do I satisfy the flesh?

    Recently, I came across a scripture that I have read multiple times but I was deeply impacted by it this last time. In Alma 34:48, Amulek instructs us that we should, "Contend no more against the Holy Ghost." As I read this I received an answer to my prayers. Consecration has been on my mind and I have been trying to make a better effort to be "all in." The wisdom in this phrase is powerful. "Contend no more against the Holy Ghost..." What does this mean? It means that when it is cold outside and we feel like going home, we should keep going. It means that we should always do what we know is right. It means that we should never give in to what is convenient, cheap, low or vulgar when we know it is contrary to the laws of God.

    How does this apply in our daily lives? Think back to a time where you said or did something that you knew you shouldn't have. Just before you did it did you feel a tinge of guilt? Did the thought come to you that you should not do what you were about to do? Each of us have these experiences every day. The Spirit is always there trying to give us guidance and direction. The question we have to ask ourselves though is are we willing to give up our will and listen?

   Obeying the still small voice is one of the hardest challenges that I have had throughout my life. Everyday I feel that I should not say or do something but because of pride and carnal interest, I do it anyways. What if I were to always listen to the Spirit, where would I be? If every moment we let the Spirit in to teach us the lessons we needed to learn, we would progress as fast as the Savior did. Listening to the Spirit is a talent that has to be developed. It is the greatest talent, but the greatest things don't come easy. It takes patience and diligent perseverance to acquire such an ability. So where do we start?

   The first thing that we should do is Spiritually prepare ourselves to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. We need to study the scriptures and pray. We need to have an attitude of reverence at all times. We need to, "[put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19). Each day we have opportunities to exercise our faith and we must actively seek to become better. As we act and listen, we will become more aware of the promptings of the Holy Ghost in our life.

   I would like to end with a scripture that I have come to know to be true. In D&C 112:10 it reads, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." I know that this is true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seeking Spirituality

    Spirituality... What does that even mean? Lately I have wondered what it means to be spiritual. Through pondering and study I have found a few answers. Seeking Spirituality is getting in tune with the true nature of our existence. It is overcoming the world and focusing on eternity. I feel that far to often we are caught up in the distractions of the world. We fall into the dangerous realm of the "here and now." Imagine if you were to drive down the road and only focus on the pavement just a few feet ahead. Yes, you would crash. However, if you shifted your focus to a few hundred feet down the road you would then be able to safely navigate to your destination. Spirituality is looking beyond the "here and now" and shifting our focus to eternity.

    In the scriptures we read that, "The natural man is an enemy to God..." (Mosiah 3:19). Each of us have carnal passions and desires that get in the way of our spiritual progression. This unfortunately, is one of the many struggles in life. The "Natural Man" would have us focus on our physical appetites and passions. Our physical desires however are only temporary. Once they are satisfied it will only be but a moment of contentment. The craving for more will come back and we will once again seek to satisfy them. This cycle will continue over and over again until we die and are left with nothing. Fortunately, There is a better path. Jesus Christ has said, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). If we focus on our eternal welfare and turn to Christ, we will be filled with peace and contentment for eternity.

    How do we shift our focus away from the cares of the world? We must do as Jesus directs and "Drink" of the living water. We must, "Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" (2 Nephi 32:3). As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will begin to change. We will become purified and we will be freed from the cares of the flesh. Through Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End, we enter into the straight and narrow path. We enter the path that leads us back to God. Once on this path, we must continue to press forward.

    Seeking spirituality doesn't end when we find out who we are. All is not done until we become like God. This takes action! We must progress day by day. We must study the life of Christ and seek to become like Him. Focusing on the little victories is how we win the war. Set goals, measure your progress. Never give up. Keep going until you can say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Work, work, work, there is no substitute. I know that we will find the most happiness as we live up to our potential and be the best that we can be. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Righteous Power

    This world is full of many things to be sought after. For better or for worse, one of those things is power. Power is the ability to accomplish a task. It is an attribute of those who "do". As we are able to accomplish more tasks, we increase in power. Our Heavenly Father is able to do all things, therefor He is all powerful. What is it that enables Him to do all things? The answer is knowledge. Those who know, can "do".

    In my short time here on Earth, I have come to understand that ignorance is weakness. I have found that when I am unaware of, or do not understand something, I am left in the dark to dwindle. I do not know, so I can not "do". Those who cant "do" are left with nothing. They do not get ahead, they do not succeed. This unfortunate fact has left me to wonder, "how do I come to know, so that I can do?"

    The answer to this is hidden deep within ourselves.  It can be found in the sincere search for truth. When we humble ourselves and listen to the quiet voice within us, we begin to understand. We begin to understand who we are and we uncover the greatest of all simple truths. We find that we are children of God. But what does this mean? It means that each of us have the potential to become like Him. That in turn means that each of us have the potential to know all things.

    Often times I think to myself in times of trial, "I am weak and completely inadequate to accomplish my duties and responsibilities. How do I overcome this?" Although weak, I have come to understand that it is ok for me to not be perfect. It is ok for me to not remember everything. We were put here to learn and to grow and it takes time to progress. The real question however, is how do we progress. The answer to that is found in The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88:67-68. It reads, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God.." From this we learn that if we align our will with God's, we will be filled with knowledge. We align our will with God's through the process of sanctification.

    Sanctification happens has we listen to the Holy Ghost. In Alma 5:54 the Prophet Alma talks about his people who had, "been sanctified by the Holy Spirit." In order to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we must be worthy of it's presence. This happens through personal righteousness. Personal righteousness is determined by our obedience to the commandments of God. If we try to do our best with the knowledge and abilities that we have, we increase in righteousness. As our righteousness increases, we are worthy temples of the Spirit and are filled with light, truth, and knowledge.

    The process of sanctification does not happen over night. As we consistently seek to be better each day, we become sanctified. This requires consistent prayer, study, and righteous action. Try to "stand a little taller" each day. Be a little better than the day before and slowly, you will become sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Line upon line you will increase in wisdom and power. You will gain the knowledge necessary to "do". I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, November 5, 2010


    Testimony - a short declaration of belief. Words with the power to change lives, end suffering and overcome all opposition. The greatest gift that one can be given. The greatest accomplishment that one can achieve.

    I have been thinking a lot about my own testimony this last little while. Each day it seems to be my greatest weapon and defense. We walk around as lights in a cloud of darkness, trying to brighten the paths of others. In Matthew 5:16 the Lord commands, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." We are to go around and glorify the Father through our works. The bearing of testimony is one of those great works.

    One of the struggles that I have had recently is trying to effectively bear my testimony. I feel that there are so many parts to my testimony that when someone asks, "Why do you believe what you believe?" I get lost in the memory bank of all my testimony building experiences. The questions pop into my head, "Which experience should I relate? How do I tell someone what I know in such a short amount of time?" Because of this struggle, I have come to understand the purpose of testimony.

    In the book of Acts, there is a situation where Peter testifies to the people and, "when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart" (Acts 2:37). Peter brought the Spirit unto their hearts and because of that they, "said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The purpose of testimony is to give someone an opportunity to act. It is to enable someone to have a fair opportunity to exercise their agency. When someone's heart is "pricked," they are humbled and have an equal opportunity to accept or reject the message they have just received. They are no longer weighed down by a hardened heart when it is pricked by testimony. At this critical moment, we have our chance to invite. We have the opportunity to invite someone to change, to repent of their sins and come unto Christ.

    I started off this post by saying that testimony is a brief statement of belief. It is a powerful statement that creates an opportunity to invite. When you tell someone that you "know" something is true, say it with confidence. If you know that a principle of the Gospel is true, tell people! There is not much someone can say to that. They may respond with, "You cant know something like that... or how do you know for sure?" At this point in time you have your opportunity to invite. Explain to them that a person can come to "know," and invite them to learn more. Don't get lost in the memory bank of all your testimony building experiences trying to explain why you believe something. You can never fully explain to someone how you felt when you had a spiritual experience. However, you can invite them to experience the same things that you have experienced through exercising faith in Jesus Christ. Use your testimony for good. Bring our Heavenly Father's children back to Him by opening your mouth. Remember, a short statement of belief can change lives. I know this is true and say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Struggle of Leadership

D&C 121:33-34 "Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."

   The counsel provided in these two verses has proved to be one of the hardest challenges I have come upon. In my short time here on Earth I have been on both sides of the Eternal War. Disobedient to God as well as obedient. After finally coming to the realization that God's side is the best side I was no longer, " left unto [myself], to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God." In this most grand struggle, I came out on the right side, but not without a few rough edges. Temptation is still prevalent, and my patience is weak. Although I face many challenges and at times feel as if I am less than the dust of the Earth, there is a glimmer of hope. That glimmer is my decision to trust God and my faith that His promises will be fulfilled.

   Unfortunately, many of those around me have not made the same decision to trust in God and to be obedient to His commands.  At times I have struggled with the fact that everyone has their free will to choose what they will do. Nothing that I do will ever change them. They have to change themselves. Nephi tells us that, "when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." Notice that it says "unto" and not "into." We can bring the Holy Ghost unto someones heart but they have to let it in. They have to unharden their hearts and listen to the still small voice. This fact is often hard to deal with and can provoke many emotions and actions from those on both sides of the fence. From lack of patience on the part of the person trying to help to the ignorantly motivated actions and ideas of the recipient, these situations can often turn into a mess. How do we help people to change though? This question has one answer, "Charity never faileth."

   As stated above in the verse from the D&C, we must reprove people but then show forth an increase of love. How do we show forth an increase of love? One of the many ways that charity manifests itself is in the understanding of others. You cannot help people by telling them what to change. You have to listen to them, understand their point of view and then tell them why they should change. "True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior." People have to understand why they should change before they will be motivated to unharden their hearts and let the Spirit in. This process however takes time. In D&C 121:41 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the way to maintain power and influence. There is no other way, "Only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned." We have to be patient, we have to show forth love and ultimately we have to have faith in God to effectively help our brothers and sisters get back to Him.  I know that if we teach others the "why," they themselves will change the "what." Help all of those around you by showing forth love and by teaching the pure doctrine of Christ. If you do this you will become an effective advocate of the Lord and receive the happiness that comes only from serving Him. For the Lord has said, "If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father." God lives, He loves us, and He wants us to be happy. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.