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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 :)

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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Consecrated Charity

   In one of my recent studies I was putting emphasis on the Christ-like attribute of Charity. Often times I wonder to myself, "I wish I could love people like the Savior does, how do I get this attribute?!" In Moroni 7:48 it tells us that we should, "Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ." We are directed to pray and ask for this attribute. It is a gift to be bestowed and not an object to be forcefully obtained. I have come to an understanding that it is on the Lord's time that we are blessed with greater measures of charity. However, it is God's will that we become like Him. If we diligently seek, we will find. The end of this verse gives us a little clue as to what we need to do to be given the gift of charity. It says that this gift is bestowed upon true followers of Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to be a true follower of Jesus Christ?
    Along with charity, I have been studying the topic of consecration lately. To consecrate something is to set it apart for a specific purpose. Our Heavenly Father has asked us to consecrate ourselves to His will. He wants us to completely give our will over to Him so that He can lead us to Eternal Life. When we give our will to Him we become a true follower of Jesus Christ. As I was studying this topic I went to the famous parable of "The Rich Young Ruler." In this parable there is a young man who approaches Jesus Christ with the question, "what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus tells him that he must keep all of the commandments to which the young man replies, "Master, all these have I observed from my youth." With complete awareness, Jesus tells the young man that he still lacks one thing. Jesus tells him to sell everything that he has, give the money to the poor and then to follow Him. The young men then, "was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions." The young man was not willing to give everything to the Lord. Although he appeared to be giving most of his will to God, it wasn't enough. If we aren't willing to give everything then there is still, "One thing [we] lackest." While this story is generally used to emphasize the importance of consecration, something else stood out to me. Never before had I noticed the foot note on the word "give" in Mark 10:21. The footnote says TG Charity. When I found that I had a really strong impression hit me that the thing the young man was missing was charity. He did not love God and those around him more than he loved himself. Because he failed to keep the two great commandments, he could not inherit eternal life.
   Charity, the greatest attribute... How does one obtain it? From the parable of "The Rich Young Ruler," I discovered something that I have never understood before. We gain charity as we consecrate our lives to the will of God. If one wants to obtain charity, all they have to do is repent. Change your life so that it is in accordance with the will of God and the Father will bless you with this great love. It is a gift that our Heavenly Father wants to give you because you need it to return to Him. Please change your life and pray to the father for this love because as Moroni tells us, "if ye have not charity, ye are nothing."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tempered Soul

   As I ponder on the many great blessings that my Father in Heaven has given to me, one comes to the forefront of my mind. In Romans 8:16 it reads, " The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." We are literally the Sons and Daughters of God. What does this mean to us? The next verse reveals the answer. Romans 8:17 says, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." The greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us is the opportunity to exist and to become like Him. We are literally heirs to all the Father has to offer. What great potential!
   How do we live up to this potential though? The answer is that we choose to live up to our potential. It is a simple choice made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If we choose to follow Him then we can become clean and become heirs of God. The key word here is "choose." We have been given our agency or free will to make decisions for ourselves and to act on them. Because God loves us he has not made it a difficult decision. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we are given our options. It reads, " Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." These options are cut and dry. Happiness or Misery? Your choice.
   It is true, however, that sometimes this choice is hard to make. It is hard to make because most of us do not have self control. This is why I chose to write a blog entry entitled "Tempered Soul." The Christ-like attribute of Temperance has been on my mind recently. Temperance is habitual moderation in all things. I feel that I often lose control and let my appetites and passions overrule my good judgment and decision making. Although I know perfectly well what I should be doing or how I should be acting, I let the carnal man take over. Thoughts of I'm too tired to keep going or that ice cream looks really good seem to always flash before me. As I give in to these temptations who has control? The carnal man takes over and my agency is now limited. Temperance is the ability to maintain 100% of our agency at all times.
    How do we go about obtaining temperance? Like all Christ-like attributes, it is a gift from God. We must pray with all the energy of our hearts to obtain it but it can only be given to us if we are qualified to receive it. We qualify for this attribute by focusing on spiritual things. As we put God first, we become moderate in all things. Often times, it is hard to put God first because we are to caught up on the worldly consequences of doing so. A few verses in the book of Hebrews has always stuck out to me concerning this issue. In Hebrews 11:24-26  it reads, " By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward." Moses refused Earthly wealth and glory because he had a spiritual perspective. He knew that no title or material possession can continue on with us into the next life. He recognized that everything God has to offer is eternal and therefor is of greater worth than any worldly reward. If we could take a deep breath before each decision and weigh the eternal consequences of our choices, how much more happiness would there be in the world? How many broken families would be made whole? The powers of hell would be shaken forever.
   It is my testimony to you that putting God first in our lives gives us the opportunity to make decisions with 100% of our agency. As we view our lives with a spiritual eye, we are blessed with temperance. We are blessed with the ability to choose happiness all the time. The next time that you feel the carnal man pulling you in a certain direction, take a deep breath and weigh the consequences of your choices. I know that if you do this you will be happy. You will no longer be plagued by the weakness of flesh and you can become free. Free to choose God.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Out With the Passive

In  3 Ne. 27: 19 it says, "And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end."

    This verse has been on my mind recently and has caused me to do a great deal of pondering and study on the subject. The main part that sticks out to me is the beginning. It reads, "no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom." In order to return to live with our Heavenly Father we must become clean. This brought me to the question of what makes us unclean? The answer to that is sin. Sin makes us unclean and prevents us from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Sin is knowingly going against the will of God. We make our claim on the Kingdom of Heaven void when we go against the will of God. The rest of the verse denotes that there is action involved in the process of aligning our will with God's. This brings me to the title of this post, Out With the Passive.
    First, I would like to note the next part of this verse that reads, "therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood." From this we gather that there are no exceptions to the prerequisites for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to wash ourselves clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. How do we make ourselves clean though? The rest of the verse tells us that we must have faith, repent, and endure faithfully to the end if we are to wash ourselves clean. I feel that there is a common misconception in the world. Many people believe that all we have to do is seek forgiveness everytime we do something wrong in order to get back to Heaven. This is partly true. We definitely must seek forgiveness but we do that through repentance. Repentance is also change. Previously we have established that an aligning of our will's with God's is necessary for entrance into His kingdom. If we simply ask for forgiveness everytime that we do something wrong have we aligned our will with God's? Have we changed ourselves to be more like Him? The answer is no.
   Also, I believe that most everyone in the world does not understand what God has asked of us. He hasn't asked for part of our will or 75% of our will, He has asked for all of it. He wants us to completely align our will with His. How do we go about doing this? In order to align our will with God's we must first seek to know His will. We need to find out what He wants for us and apply what we find to our lives. We cannot be saved in ignorance. As we seek for understanding, God will make us aware of the changes that we need to make. One thing that I have found out is that we still suffer the consequences of sins (transgressions) that we have unknowingly committed. Even if we are doing something wrong and are not aware that we are doing something wrong, it still makes us unclean. If we are unclean we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This brings me to the point that I am trying to make. If we are to become fully clean we must act! We come to understand the Gospel more fully as we live it. We cannot afford to make the mistake of believing that enduring to the end means going to church every week and passively reading our scriptures and praying. We must progress to the end! In 2 Nephi 28:30 it states, "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." Each day we must learn line upon line. Continual improvement is the Celestial motto. Begin today to make a change. Do the words you use and the music you listen to invite the Spirit? Do you spend your time productively? Are you living your life as the Savior would? Ask yourself these questions. Evaluate your day to day activities and measure your progress. If you are not becoming more like your Heavenly Father each day then you are not on the right path. I know from my experience that as soon as obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, we are endowed with power. We are shown the way and the gate is opened. My plea to you today is to become clean. Let your carnal desires be swallowed up by the person you were before this life and become the person the Lord would have you be.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why do we do it?

Obedience, what a wonderful thing. As a young man I never understood the importance of Obedience. I didn't know why we should keep the rules, or why the rules were even there. As I've gotten older I have experienced both the benefits of keeping the rules and also what happens when we don't follow the rules... I am a fan of the first. It has been interesting to me to see how the more we come to know God in our lives the more we want to keep the commandments. President Boyd K. Packer says, "True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior." This statement needs no more support than my own life to verify its validity. While growing up I didn't understand true doctrine. I did as I pleased and sought after whatever would quickly make me happy. I bounced from addiction to addiction to fill my time and to keep my mind distracted from the weightier matters of life. From Donkey Kong to Paintball to working out and World of Warcraft, I was a professional time waster.  Like all worldly courses, this led to a crash. Happiness cannot be sustained without the knowledge and support of deity. Deity was definitely not a high priority in my life although I thought it was at the time. I said my prayers, occasionally read my scriptures and always attended church. I had even passed through the temple on occasion. Although I was what appeared to be "active" in church I was definitely only there physically. My mind however did catch the occasional life lesson from the many church experiences that I had. Over time I felt like I knew what I was supposed to be doing but I did everything I possibly could to distract myself from it. Life continued on but I soon found that the pain of sin and spiritual neglect could no longer be clouded by distraction.  A void was created in my life and it became apparent to me that something was missing. In the back of my head I knew what was missing but by that point in time I had become so entangled in distractions and sin that there appeared to be no way out. What was I to do?  Fortunately for me, I was born to goodly parents. My parents and others helped to steer me in the right direction only after I had experienced what many others have gone through. In Alma 62:41 it says, "many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility." If there is one thing that we can count on in this life it is that one way or another, we will be compelled to be humble. Whether we compel ourselves to be humble or God compels us to be humble is up to us. Take my advice and humble yourself, it's much prettier that way. As soon as I began to understand true doctrine my attitude and behavior changed. I am a completely different person now that I have decided to follow God.

This leads me to the subject question. Why do we do it? Why do we follow God and keep His commandments. Why is it that understanding true doctrine changes our attitudes and behavior? This morning as I was studying I was impressed by a very powerful thought. It was something that makes complete sense but has never before been unfolded to my view.  Often times we think that we should be obedient because obedience leads to happiness. This is true, it does lead to happiness. There are, however, different levels of motivation for obedience. At the bottom we have those who are obedient because they are afraid of the consequences of disobedience. It is good to be obedient but this is not what should be the driving force behind it. The next level of obedience is being obedient because we want the reward. If we are obedient and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will get to the Celestial Kingdom.  As I was pondering on this principle I was thinking about my motivations for living the Gospel. I'm afraid of the consequences of sin but that is not what motivates me. I have always just wanted to be happy and to return to live with God and that is what has motivated me. The more I thought about this the more I realized that I had good motives but they werent the best. Being obedient because I was seeking after a reward will only get me so far. As I was pondering, a verse in John came to mind. John 14:15 states, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." As I thought about it more I read an interesting phrase in Preach My Gospel under the Faith section that says we show our love for God by avoiding sin. At that moment it all made sense. The idea of being obedient out of love is something I've studied before but never have I applied it to my own personal progression.  If I am to return to the presence of my Heavenly Father it will not be because I want that reward. I can only return to live with Him if I love Him enough to align my will with His. His glory and happiness comes from His children making it back to Him. If we are to truly make it back, we will do it because we love God and want Him to be happy and to be glorified. I look to the Savior for our perfect example and say with Him, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love of God

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the power of the Love of God. Often times I find myself walking around and getting a feeling of doubt and despair and wondering, "Why? Where is that coming from?" I know that the opposite of Faith is Fear and that all doubt and despair comes from the adversary. This leads me to believe that everytime I feel this doubt or despair come upon me it is because I have lost a little Faith and let some Fear come into me. Some darkness has crept into my temple. How do we overcome this though? It seems like there is a lot of opposition to those who seek to do good. I have come to find out that the only way I can overcome the trials and tribulations of the world is through our Savior Jesus Christ. He and His Father, Heavenly Father, have a perfect love for each one of us. This love has the power to do amazing things.

I did a study on the power of God recently and found some pretty cool things. I will post my notes below:
I looked for a definition of Love in the dictionary and this is one that I liked and have focused on.
Websters: Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for others.
I also turned to a scripture in the Book of Mormon for some more insights.
Moroni 7:45, 47-48
- Charity is the pure love of Christ.
- Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily   provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
How awesome is that! If we do everything out of pure love we will never fail.
- We must pray to the Father with all the energy of heart that we may be filled with this love.
- God bestows this love upon those who are true followers of Jesus Christ.
After I read this scripture I turned to the definition of Love in True to the Faith.
True to the Faith
- Our love for those around us increases when we REMEMBER that we are all children of God.
I think the key word in there is remember. It is an action to remember something and we must act to always remember that everyone around us is a child of God. If we do this we will be able to develop greater love and in turn feel greater love from our Heavenly Father.
I also turned to another scripture for some more insights on the Love of God.
1 Nephi 11: 22-23
- The Tree of Life is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men.
- The Love of God is most desirable above all other things.
- The Love of God is most joyous to the soul.
So the Love of God sounds pretty good... How do we find it? For this I turned to a talk that my sister sent me called The Power of God's Love.
The Power of God's Love - Elder John Groberg
Elder Groberg did an amazing job of explaining how God's love can help us and how we can obtain it. Here are some things that I liked.
- The thought of all of God's blessings is so inspiring and satisfying that any physical discomfort fades away.
- When we understand who God is, who we are, how He loves us, and what His plan is for us, fear evaporates.
This gets back to how we get rid of that Fear that periodically comes upon us. Understanding, Gratitude for that understanding, and Remembrance are the keys to overcoming Fear.
This next idea is something that hit me really hard.
- Our joy now and forever is inextricably tied to our capacity to love.
We receive Grace for Grace. If we can more fully have and show love to others we will receive more love from God and others. This in turn causes us to have joy.
- Being filled with God's love is the most joyous of all things and is worth every cost.
There is nothing worth more than Eternal Happiness. Why would we even entertain the thought of jeopardizing it through sin?
- Never underestimate the power of true love, for it knows no barriers.
This last comment is something I would like put down in order to gather the ideas and opinions of others.
- When we are ready, His pure love instantly moves across time and space, reaches down and pulls us up from the depths of any tumultuous sea of darkness, sin, sorrow, death, or despair we may find ourselves in and brings us into the light and life and love of eternity.
My question is this, how do we become ready to experience this spectacular Love in our lives? What can we do to more fully apply the power of the Atonement in our lives?
Let me know what you think and I look forward to further study and future comments on this subject.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wait a little longer

Developing a stronger testimony has been on my mind the last little while. I feel like my testimony has grown immensely in the last year or so but I want it to be stronger. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that a testimony isnt on the dollar menu. It is something we have to work for and it takes a long time to acquire. I was doing a study on patience this morning and a few scriptures hit me really hard.
 In Alma 32:41-43 it reads, "41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.

  42 And because of your adiligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the bfruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

  43 Then, my brethren, ye shall areap the brewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth cfruit unto you. "
In order to develop a testimony we must diligently exercise our faith. We must also be patient with the process. That is something that has never stood out to me before. If you arnt patient with the growth process of a testimony then you will not grow. You can be as diligent as you want but if you dont have patience it availeth nothing. Patience in this sense means enduring delay with a positive and hopeful attitude. How many times do we go day to day doing things just to do them but never having a positive and hopeful attitude? I know I have way to many of those days. If we can look forward with "a perfect brightness of hope" through all trial or tribulation, our understanding of God and His plan will grow into deeply rooted knowledge. Our testimony's will become firm and unshaken. We will make it back to Heavenly Father. Like my dad always tells me, "Be patient with yourself, you are progressing nicely."

Friday, September 24, 2010


Recently I have been perplexed by the idea of more fully opening my heart to the power of the Atonement. I know that if we do we can find more happiness. So what's the trick? How do we do it? There are many ways but one of those that I have focused on lately is gratitude. This morning I was reading in the Book of Mormon and I found a cool scripture that stuck out to me in Mosiah. It is chapter 2 verse 20 and it reads, "I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the athanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another— ." I mixed up the verse a little bit when I was reading and I got it to say, "I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the athanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, ye should drejoice." I had this clear impression come to me that if I want to more fully open my heart to the power of the Atonement I need to develop more gratitude for it. We can do this by of course studying and always remembering the Atonement but also praying to God for a greater understanding of it. "True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior." The more we understand the infinite blessing we have been given, the more we can express a spirit of gratitude towards God. The more we are grateful, the happier we become.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I did a study on Hope this morning and it helped me out quite a bit. Here are some of my notes:
- To Desire with expectation of fulfillment; Await; Watch.
Those are some of the definitions that I liked as I searched the Dictionary.
True to the Faith
- Hope is sure, unwavering and active.
- We need to have a "Lively Hope." Lively: Quick to rebound; Full of life.
- As you strive to live the Gospel, you grow in your ability to abound in Hope.
- We increase in hope as we pray and seek God's forgiveness.
- We increase in hope as we read and apply the scriptures.
- With hope, you can find joy in life.
PMG "Hope" pg. 117
- Trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you.
- It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.
2 Nephi 31:20
- We must press forward with a firm belief and assurance in Christ as well as having a perfect brightness of hope.
A perfect brightness of hope means never being discouraged, always staying firm and manifesting confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.
Alma 58:10-11
- The Nephites pour out their souls in prayer to God and are filled with assurances that they will be delivered.
- Through assurances, God spoke peace to their souls.
Alma 58:12
- Through prayer, the Nephites gained hope which gave them great courage.
Ether 12:4
- Those who believe in God should expect to have a better world, even a place at the right hand of God.
- This assurance or expectation comes from exercising Faith.
- Hope maketh an anchor to the souls of men.
- Hope makes men sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
Our day to day activities should be motivated by our hope in Christ. As we exercise Faith through prayer, scripture study, etc... we obtain a greater assurance of the Atonement. This in turn speaks peace to our souls and brings us happiness and peace. It is my testimony that developing a greater Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ will allow us to become the best people that we can be. We can be happy in this life and receive Eternal Life in the world to come. Feel free to add your thoughts and I will add more after a future study!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Prayer Warrior

I have often heard the term "Prayer Warrior" and I like it a lot. Here are some reasons why:

1.In the LDS Bible Dictionary it states that, " The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them." I like to think of Heavenly Father holding a big scroll full of blessings for each one of us and all we have to do is ask to acquire them. I think that the term "Prayer Warrior" is a term used to describe those that understand that God has a lot of blessings for them and they are determined to claim them. We cant make it through this life on our own so ask for some help!

2.The Prophet Thomas S. Monson states, "Adam prayed; Jesus prayed. We know the outcome of their prayers. He who notes the fall of a sparrow surely hears the pleadings of our hearts. Remember the promise: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace. Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer."
I know that many miracles have been wrought in my life through prayer. From finding lost toys as a child to overcoming the effects of sin and weakness, I have seen prayer work in my life. I know that it can work for you too!