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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 :)

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.