Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farewell Montana!

  As my two year mission has been drawing to a close, I have been doing quite a bit of reflecting, pondering, and evaluating. I have absolutely loved my mission. I have learned and have grown so much. I feel that if I didn't serve a mission, I would spend the rest of my life trying to learn the things that I did in these two pivotal years. I wouldn't trade these two years for anything and I am going to miss my mission so much. However, I could not be more excited to go home. I miss my friends and family so much and am extremely anxious to be with them again!
   Although I am overwhelmed with excitement to go home, I am also a little nervous and scared. All I have had to worry about for the past two years has been solely on missionary work. The main things I've had to focus on have been the people that I teach and how to become a better missionary. And that's about it! Now that I go home, I have to make the "big" decisions of life: where to work, what school to attend, girls, marriage, education, etc. That is a lot of responsibility and a big change of lifestyle from the way I've been living the past couple years!
  I have had a scripture from the Book of Mormon on my mind a lot lately. That scripture is Ether 2:5. It reads: "And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel."
  This scripture brings me so much comfort. I relate the "wilderness" to "life at home no longer being missionary." There are so many decisions to make and paths to take. Under the word "directions" in that verse, the footnote says "divine guidance." I know that as I go home, the Lord will go before me and will give me guidance as to what paths I should take. I know that He will direct my footsteps and will pave the way for me to be successful in all I do - as long as I continue to remain faithful to Him.

I'm so excited to go to the Mt. Timpanogos temple again!
  I, once again, bear my witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Kingdom once again on earth - preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. God lives. He hears and answers our prayers. He loves us so much, and so does His Son - who is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We cannot comprehend Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice, but we can feel of the love and power that comes from it. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true! I know it is! We have a living prophet on earth today and as we follow his counsel we will be happy!
  My mission has changed my life. Though my two year full-time service will end, my mission to serve God will never end.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Footprints In The Sand

 My mission is drawing to a close and I've been doing a lot of reflecting on these past two years. I am posting the following poem because it rings true to me - especially during the time that I've been in full-time service of my God. 

 

  My mission has been the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life. I can honestly say that there were so many times that I wanted to quit or give up. There were many times when I felt as if my prayers were not being answered and that I was left all alone. However, as I reflect back on these past two years, I have noticed that God has had a hand in my life in every thing that I've done. I have realized that my Heavenly Father has been with me the whole entire time and has never - not once - left me on my own. 


 -----------------------------------------------------------------

 

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only. 

 

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish,
sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints,

 

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

 

The Lord replied,
“The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”


- Mary Stevenson

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Joseph Smith Is A Prophet Of God

  For the past 23 months I have been sharing a message of happiness with the marvelous people in Montana. This message is so remarkable and has changed my life. This message is simply that God is our Father and we are His children. He as always called prophets and he has, once again, done that in our day. In the year 1820 Joseph Smith was visited by our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. After Jesus Christ's ministry, a period of spiritual darkness occurred - preparing the way for Joseph to be the one to restore many plain and precious truths back to the earth. 
 
  Segment from Rob Gardner's "Joseph Smith the Prophet: Live at Abravanel Hall." This segment depicts John Taylor, friend of Joseph Smith, mourning the loss of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum in his own words.
   
    I stand with my head high and boldly declare that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the Almighty God. Joseph spent his whole life giving all he had to build up the kingdom of God. Joseph, along with his family and friends, were constantly being persecuted, hated, mocked, and even killed because of the things they knew to be true. This upcoming Monday is June 27th. On that date in 1844 - 167 years ago - the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in Carthage Jail. They were killed because of the things that they knew were true. I have never met Joseph Smith, nor did I witness his martyrdom. Although I do often times feel to say, "Oh, give me back my prophet, dear!"
    John Taylor, who was in Carthage on that dreadful June day, made the following statement about Joseph: "The Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. . . He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum (Doctrine & Covenants 135:5).
    "In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth? . . . They would NOT DO THAT! " - Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Book Of Mormon

  The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a divine record that was translated by the power of God. Joseph Smith had a third grade education when he translated it. He did not have any word processors, dictionaries, or internet. He had a quill pen and a candle. It took 52 scholars and other learned men to translate the King James Version of the Bible which was published in 1611. It took them seven years to complete it - which equates to a whopping one page translated per day. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, took one unlearned farm boy roughly 60 days to translate. That is approximately ten pages translated per day. Now, tell me that Joseph merely "wrote" it. It is inconceivable to even think such a thing.

 
Three men sing as if they are Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris - the three witnesses who saw the gold plates and testified of its truthfulness.
  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dedicated To My Father

"Papa Sarge" At The Baseball Field
  Why is it that we as missionaries are allowed to call home on Mothers Day but not Fathers Day? I don't know. But, nonetheless, I want my father to know how much I love and care about him - even if I don't get to call home and tell him.
  From the time I was a wee lad up until today, my dad has always been a hero to me. I cannot adequately express the gratitude I have for the life lessons that he has taught me. The noteworthy thing is that most of the lessons he's taught me haven't even required him to say anything. My dad is one of the best "teachers by example" that I have ever met. He's often referred to as a "man of few words." And while he may be just that, his actions have always shouted loudly to me in a positive way. He is living the quote by St. Francis who once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Montana Flooding

   For those living in Montana, this time of year has been infamous for the dreaded flooding going on around the state. From the Fort Peck Reservation in Eastern Montana, to Helena in central Montana, to Missoula on the Eastern part of the state, the flooding has been devastating. Homes have been ruined, evacuation has been more than necessary for victims, crops have been destroyed, and, unfortunately, even a few deaths have occurred. It was said in the Billings Gazette, "It takes a lot to get a Montana farmer to curse the rain, but some are beginning to. Hundreds of thousands of acres have gone unplanted due to unprecedented rains and the number of growing days needed to produce a crop is quickly dwindling." Obviously, much help has been needed.
   I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had as a missionary to help out with all the flooding. Missionaries across the Montana Billings Mission have spent hundreds of hours helping out with the natural disasters. We have been doing anything from filling up and hauling sandbags, to hauling furniture and miscellaneous items out of houses to prevent further damage.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jesus Is My Friend

   This is the greatest video I have ever seen. It would be a downright crime if you didn't take 3 minutes out of your life to watch it. And I add my witness, that Jesus is indeed our friend! Oh yes, and these dudes aren't even wearing shoes. Straight up scholars, I tell ya! Now share with your friends and family.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Miami Heat.. They Have the Potential - And So Do You

   One of my favorite missionaries is Elder Freeman. He is a scholar and a gentleman. However, he has accused me many times of "stealing" his ideas for blogging. What a silly idea, right? I can honestly say that that is not true. However, This post is completely his and I stole it word for word off his page (besides the grammar corrections that I made). Thanks Elder Freeman, sure do love ya!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Faith In God

  A couplethree days ago I had the opportunity to teach a young man who is struggling with believing in God. He came to us with a particular problem, but we soon found out that his initial concern was not the thing that we needed to address. His real problem is that he does not believe in Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. We talked a lot about faith and what steps we need to take to develop our faith in God. This young man was, frankly, very bitter and stubborn and expressed to us that he is tired of hearing that "faith" is always the answer. My companion and I bore strong testimony that we KNOW that God lives and that Jesus' atonement is real. However, he just told us that we really do not know and that there is no way to know that God is real unless we actually see him. I promise that this is not true. We do not need to see to believe. It's important to understand that faith is not knowing. Faith is just the first step; Faith is a hope in things that we cannot see. We explained that we need to let ourselves believe. "But behold, if ye will . . .experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." - Alma 32:27
  As I listened to myself and my companion bear testimony of the reality of a living Heavenly Father and Savior, my testimony of this principle grew stronger. I don't merely believe that God lives. I don't just hope that God lives. To all who read this post, I KNOW that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Savior of the world. I know these things because I have seen too many miracles in my life to ever say otherwise. I know these things because I've felt of my Heavenly Father's love time and time again. I cannot deny what I have felt. The Holy Ghost does not lie. This surety all started with faith; It all started with me letting myself acutally want to believe.

Got Faith? Pillowcase

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Martha's Conversion

 While I was serving in Great Falls, Elder Willey and I had the opportunity to teach Martha Gladue about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Martha was a sincere seeker of the truth and eventually received her answer that this is the one true church. She did not receive that answer all at once, but the answers to her questions came over time through lots of study, prayer, and great amounts of faith. The following excerpt, which is in her own words, is Martha's conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kami's Conversion

  From April to November of 2009 I was serving in Great Falls, Montana. I covered the 3rd ward, 7th ward, and the Fort Benton Branch. My first companion there was Elder Garcia. Kami Tryon lived in the small town of Geraldine and eventually moved to Fort Benton. We limited our visits there because there wasn't too much work going on. In early May we had taught Kami the message of the restoration in the Helewell's home. I remember that lesson very well, especially the strong spirit that was felt. After the lesson we set up a return appointment for the following week. However, it ended up that Kami wasn't able to meet with us when we had planned. In fact, we lost all contact with Kami until about September. At this time I was serving with Elder Willey. One day we got a call from the Giles family who invited us to Fort Benton to teach Kami and her mom, Jamie, in their home. We retaught the restoration and I can remember how strong the spirit was telling me to extend the baptismal commitment. I acted on the prompting; Kami was hesitant at first, but we worked through some things and she accepted the invitation. Shortly thereafter she entered the waters of baptism. The following excerpt is Kami's conversion to the gospel written by Kami:

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Am A Child Of God

  A couplethree days ago, Elder Thomas and myself were knocking on doors in Missoula trying to find people to teach. We knocked on a door and this old guy answered and immediately identified himself as a follower of Christ. We got into a bit of a discussion and he told us that he disagreed with most of the Latter-day Saint beliefs. At this point, to avoid contention, I felt impressed to bare my testimony. I started out by telling him that I know that God lives and that he knows and loves all of his children. This man then cut me off and said that he doesn't believe that we are all children of God. He said that God only loves the "good" people here on earth.
   Remember--through a beloved children's song--who you really are.

  I am here to testify that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children. He may not love some of the the choices that we make, but he does love us - every one of us. It doesn't matter what race we are, how old we are, or if we even believe in Him. He knows us and has an infinite love for all of His children.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How I Finally Taught The Big Guy A Lesson

   The main trait that I try to have other people see in me is that of optimism. I heard the following short story the other day and have really been pondering on it ever since. Enjoy!


"How I Finally Taught The Big Guy A Lesson" 

“I did not provoke the fight, so I feel no remorse for what I was forced to do. We were arguing, and since I was right and he was wrong, he decided to fight to cover his stupidity.

He swung at me first, but because I was in top physical condition, I was able to act quickly and block the punch neatly with my head.

I then jumped to the ground, knocking him down on top of me. I placed my ear in his mouth and poked his finger several times with my eye.

His teeth hurt so much from the strength of my ear that he became irate and tried to kick me, but I cleverly blocked the onslaught with my ribs and face.

I scrambled to my feet and ran to my car in hopes I would get away and save this man from my deadly hands. Before I could start the car he pulled me from the still open door. I then proceeded to swing at him, but only managed to hit myself in the head.

To this I said, “What’s this two against one?” That was the final straw—I lost all control. There will be no mercy!!

Taking him in my death grip, I pounded him in the knee with my stomach—then I hit him two or three times in the fist with my teeth! He had had it! I could tell. After that he didn’t even try to pick me up off the ground. He was too chicken!!

Perspective is everything!


-Author Unknown
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

op·ti·mism

[op-tuh-miz-uhm]
–noun
1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.
 
 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dedicated To My Mother

   While serving a mission, the contact that I have with my family back home is very limited. We're not allowed to call or contact each other in any way other than by email once a week and by phone twice a year. That's why it was such a surprise for me when I got a message from my mom on facebook a couplethree months ago. She got permission to write me and proceeded to inform me that she had a cancerous tumor in her brain. She has been fighting cancer since 1992 and, needless to say, it's been quite the ongoing battle for my family. When I left on my mission back in July of 2009, she was regularly going in for chemotherapy treatments and was actually doing quite well. I was definitely not expecting to hear that her cancer had, once again (for the 5th time), come back.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shares an encouraging tribute to mothers who, through both challenges and accomplishments, work in partnership with God to raise His children


  When I first read the news, I was overwhelmed with many negative feelings - fear, stress, sadness, and despair. For some reason, I went to the Church's YouTube Site  and found myself searching for videos about Christ. I  watched a particular "Mormon Message" that really touched me entitled, "Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ." As I watched with humility and a very open heart, more feelings overcame me. This time, the feelings I felt were those of peace, love, gratitude for my Savior, hope, and comfort.
  It was incredible to feel a change in my countenance as I let the Spirit of God weave into the fibers of my being. We will never be able to wrap our minds around the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. I do not understand how He did it. I don't fully understand how it all works. However, I am able to feel of the power, cleansing and the purifying effect that it can have on me as I sincerely seek for Christ.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Judging Others

   About 18 months ago I was serving in a little town in northwestern Montana called Eureka. I hold Eureka very dear to my heart, for I saw many miracles there and loved the people with whom I served around. One day my companion and I were walking down the street knocking on doors. As we were walking up to a small house, somebody pulled up in a beat up car and started approaching the house we were walking to. At a first glimpse, this man looked pretty rough around the edges. He was wearing raggedy, wrinkly clothing that did not appear to be washed or cared for. He had pretty messy hair and a scruffy beard. He had lots of chains, necklaces, piercings, and other forms of jewelry. I made an unfair judgement and immediately had the thought that this man would never want to listen to us, let alone join the church. But, nonetheless, I felt like we needed to talk to him. He turned out to be very friendly and expressed to us that he wasn't interested at the time but to come back later when his wife was home. To make a long story short, we went back a couplethree months later and ended up teaching him and his wife. A few short months after that, him and his wife both joined the church and are still active today.

Learn how civility and kindness go much deeper than appearances and quick judgments.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Choose This Day To Serve God


 "There is a danger in the word someday when what it means is “not this day.” All of us will need [God's] help to avoid the tragedy of procrastinating what we must do here and now to have eternal life. By serving Him this day, you will come to know Him better. You will feel His love and appreciation. You would not want to delay receiving that blessing. And feeling His love will draw you back to His service, wiping away both complacency and discouragement." - Henry B. Eyring

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jesus Christ Lives Today

  I am currently a full-time missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ. Every single day and night, I spend my time testifying that Jesus lives and that the gospel of Christ can bless peoples lives. So.. How exactly is it that the gospel can bring peace to the world? How is that the teachings of Christ can help us to love our fellow men?


  From the feet of the Christus statue on Temple Square, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf answers those questions with this declaration: “As an Apostle of the Lord, I testify that Jesus Christ lives today.” He explains how the Savior and His Atonement provide answers to our questions. The Savior’s gospel, he says, can “bring great joy and happiness to the world.” Watch the video of President Uchtdorf’s testimony of the Savior and His ability to lift us above worldly things to find peace.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

None Were With Him

   Especially at this Easter Season, I turn my heart and my thoughts towards the Savior Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice in my behalf. Jesus' life was not full of glamor and fame. He did not do the things He did for recognition and for worldly glory. In fact, Jesus' life was a very lonely path. The reason He walked alone is so that we as mankind do not have to. I quote Elder Holland and say, "I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” "


  Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Endure To The End

  When I think of the word "endure" I immediately think of running a race. In order to finish a race we must have endurance and stamina. Starting the race is not merely enough, but our goal is to cross the finish line by enduring till the end of the race. And so it is with life.  When we have entered the strait and narrow path by our faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, it is like we are starting the "race of life." Baptism is only the beginning of our new lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. We must then give our all to stay on the path for the rest of our lives. The way that we do this is by continually exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting daily of our sins, and heeding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Once we have been forgiven of our sins, we should try every day to remain free from sin so that we can always have the Holy Ghost with us. In the covenant of baptism, we promise our Father in Heaven that we will obey His commandments for the rest of our lives. If we fall short, we must repent in order to retain the blessings of the covenant.

 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches us that when things don't look promising ahead, we must always look forward.
"Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead."
  
 When Jesus was ministering among the people in the Americas he taught, " “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Ne. 15:9.)
   When Nephi was teaching his brethren about baptism, he said that when we are baptized, it is only the gate. And that we must “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ . . . and endure to the end,” for the rest our lives.. THEN we are promised by God, “Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).


Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Gift Of The Holy Ghost

 Jesus taught that in order to enter into the kingdom of God we must be baptized by water and of the Spirit. Baptism by the spirit means that our baptism must be followed by receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. If we fail to do this, the baptism is incomplete. It is only when we receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost that can we receive a remission of our sins and become completely spiritually reborn.

 "In this busy, tumultuous, and noisy world, it is not like a wind, it is not like a fire, it is not like an earthquake; but it is a still, small, but a very discernible voice, and it causes a throbbing heart.."- Richard C. Edgley


Friday, March 25, 2011

Baptism

"By Small And Simple Things" By the California San Jose Mission

 Having faith in Jesus Christ and repenting of our sins leads us to our first ordinance of the gospel which is baptism. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we are entering into a covenant with God. A covenant is a two way promise between you and God in which the terms are set by God. God has always required His children to make covenants.
  God is a just God and will keep His promise to bless us as we live up to the covenants we make with Him. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come. Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God. Our covenants should be reminders to us that we need to repent every day of our lives.
 When we are baptized we make our first covenant with God. We covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises us in return the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and to be spiritually born again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Repentance

  The second principle of the gospel is repentance. Repentance is much more than just acknowledging our wrongdoings. To repent is to change our thoughts, beliefs, and actions that are not in harmony with Christ's will. It is a change of mind and heart that includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. Repentance should be motivated by our love for our Heavenly Father and the sincere desire to obey His commandments.  

  The scriptures make it very clear that “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37). Our sins make us unclean, and therefore make us unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father. They also bring unhappiness and anguish to our lives.
"Lost No More" by Greg Olsen

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Faith

  The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What is faith? In Hebrews 11:1 we read, "faith is the substance (or assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. In the Book of Mormon, The prophet Alma similarly teaches us that "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Faith is more than just merely believing in something. Faith an action word. If we truly have faith in something, then we will act upon it. For example, we have faith that God lives so we act upon that faith and pray to Him daily because we have hope that He hears and answers our prayers. Alma goes on to explain that faith is compared to a seed. When we plant a seed we must nourish it, water it, give it sunlight, and provide circumstances for it to grow. So it is with faith.. We grow our faith by reading the scriptures, saying our daily prayers, obeying God's commandments, and living Christ like lives. As we do these things, our faith in Jesus Christ and our testimonies will grow.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Through Christ We Can Become Cleansed From Sin

Because of Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection, all people will be brought back into the presence of the Lord to be judged according to their works and their desires. We will be judged according to the laws of justice and mercy.
 Justice is the unchanging law that brings consequences for our actions. We receive blessings for obedience to God’s commandments and penalties for disobedience. We are all human, commit sin, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin makes us unclean, and no unclean thing can live in God’s presence (3 Nephi 27:19).

 You Can Be Freed Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All Can be Transformed, Cleansed, and Freed From Addiction and Sin.

 That truth can be quite overwhelming and actually scary. That is why I am grateful for the Savior, Jesus Christ, who satisfied the demands of justice for all those who rely on His atoning sacrifice and sincerely repent of their sins. Jesus literally took upon himself the sins of all mankind. I do not think any mortal mind can wrap their minds around Christ's atonement for us. However, we can feel of the love and the power from the atonement. Because of this selfless act, Christ can plead with the Father in our behalf. Heavenly Father can have mercy on us, withold punishment, and eventually welcome us into his glorious presence. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

  The word gospel means good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind that will redeem all mankind from the grave and from sin. The gospel is also known as the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, with Christ's atonement being at the center of it. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Articles of Faith 1:4).
  In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom. The Savior has promised that if we endure to the end, faithfully living the gospel, He will hold us guiltless before the Father at the Final Judgment (see 3 Nephi 27:16).
   The fulness of the gospel has been preached in all ages when God's children have been prepared to receive it. Jesus Christ's church and true gospel were on the earth when He was here. Over time, that gospel was distorted and lost. Because Heavenly father is so loving, He has restored the fulness of the gospel in the latter days, or the dispensation of the fulness of times, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. 
  My next few posts will be focused on each principle of the gospel and expounding on them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kingdoms of Glory

  During our life on earth we make choices regarding good and evil. God rewards us according to our works and desires. Because God rewards everyone according to our works in the flesh, there are different kingdoms of glory to which we may be assigned after the Judgment. Those who choose the right in this life will "be called great in the kingdom of heaven" while those who do not choose the right will "be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). We will be rightfully judged and will all be placed in one particular "kingdom of glory."
  Those who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, repented of their sins, were baptized by proper authority, received the Holy Ghost, and kept the associated covenants will be cleansed by the Atonement of Christ. They will receive exaltation in the highest kingdom, also known as the celestial kingdom. Those who inherit the celestial kingdom will live in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s presence, become like them, and receive a fulness of joy. They will live together for eternity with those of their family who qualify. In the scriptures this kingdom is compared to the glory or brightness of the sun.
   People who do not accept the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ but still lived good lives will receive a place in the terrestrial kingdom. This kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon.
   Those who continued in their sins and did not repent in this life will receive their reward in the lowest kingdom, which is called the telestial kingdom. This kingdom is compared to the glory of the stars.
  It is important to remember that everybody will have an equal opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it is in this life or in the next.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Resurrection, Judgement, and Immortality

 Because of Jesus Christ's atonement and rising from death, we will all be one day resurrected as well. This is a free gift that will be given to everybody - regardless of if they are good or evil. To be resurrected means that our bodies and spirits will again come together and will never be separated. We will never again have pain or sicknesses, and our bodies will be in their "perfect state" (Alma 11:43-44). In other words, through the resurrection, all people will become immortal—they will live forever. Although immortality is a free gift, eternal life is not. Eternal life is a gift that is given only to those who obey Christ's gospel. It is the highest state that we can achieve. It comes to those who are freed from sin and suffering through the Atonement of Christ. It is exaltation, which means living with God forever in eternal families. It is to know God and Jesus Christ and to experience the life they enjoy.
  After we are resurrected, we will be brought into God’s presence to be judged. God is a fair and a just God. Justice is the unchanging law that brings consequences for our actions. However, our Savior Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice when he died for us. He made it possible for all of us to be clean from sin so that we can stand spotless before God. When we are judged, we will remember perfectly our righteousness and our guilt. If we have repented, we will receive mercy. We will be rewarded according to our works and our desires.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baptisms For The Dead

  The Savior taught that baptism is essential to earn salvation. Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others have been baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism.


  
   The New Testament indicates that baptisms for the dead were done during the time of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:29). This ordinance was restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Some people have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed, deceased persons are baptized into the Church against their will. This is not the case. Each individual has agency, or the right to choose. The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to accept and follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world.
  Baptisms for the dead and other saving ordinances for the deceased are performed in the Holy Temples.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where Do I Go When I Die?

  "Where do I go when I die?" This is perhaps one of the most sought after questions in this life. That unavoidable time will come when we will all die. Though death is never an easy thing, we can gain peace knowing that death is indeed part of Heavenly Father's plan for us.

  When we die, our bodies and spirits are temporarily separated. Our bodies go down into the grave and our spirits go to a place called the spirit world. There are two parts to this spirit world - spirit prison and spirit paradise. Those who accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and chose to obey God in this life will go to spirit paradise. They will live in a state of happiness, peace, and rest from troubles and care. Death does not change our personalities or characteristics (Alma 34:34).

  Those who chose not to obey in this life and did not repent will go to spirit prison and will live in a state of unhappiness. Also, there are so many people that never had the opportunity to hear of Jesus Christ's gospel while on this earth. It would be very unfair for God to just leave them, and many others, in a state of endless misery. Since our Heavenly Father is so loving, he has provided a way for those spirits in prison to achieve happiness in paradise. In spirit paradise, the gospel will be preached to those in spirit prison - those who did not obey the gospel or have the opportunity to hear it while on earth.
  Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day. So.. What was Jesus doing on those three days before He was risen again? He was teaching those spirits in prison (See: 1 Peter 3:19, (1 Peter 4:6).
  We will remain in the spirit world until we are resurrected.


Other "spirit world" scripture references: D&C 138

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

 John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me enough to send His son to die for me. Before the world was organized, God chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer (John 17:5). This atoning sacrifice made it possible for all of us in mortality to overcome the effects of the fall, namely sin and death. All of the prophets since the world began have testified of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.
Through the Savior's atonement, we are able to feel peace, strength, overcome burdens,
 and feel a greater abundance of the love of God.

   

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Life On Earth

  What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? I am grateful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that has given me answers to these soul searching questions. Simply, the purpose of this life is to be happy (2 Nephi 2:25) and to prepare to return to God’s presence one day (Alma 34:32).

"He Lives" By Simon Dewey
  Due to the fall of Adam and Eve, we live in mortality which has brought us to a condition where we are subject to both physical and spiritual death. God has a perfect, glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones. To become like God and return to His presence, we too must have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones. However, because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, every person on earth has an imperfect, mortal body and will eventually die. That is why we needed a Savior to die for us and to be risen, so that we too can one day overcome death. If it weren't for Jesus Christ's atonement, death would end all hope for a future existence with Heavenly Father. With that being said, the Savior's atoning sacrifice is absolutely central to Heavenly Father's plan of salvation.
  I know that Jesus Christ died for you and me. He took upon Himself the pains and suffering of all mankind (Alma 7:11-12). More importantly, I know that He lives. Because He lives, I know that all of us will one day rise from the grave as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Agency and the Fall of Adam And Eve

  Adam and Eve were the first of God’s children to come to the earth. They were created in God's image and were placed in the Garden of Eden. While Adam and Eve were in the garden, they walked and talked with God. They were in His presence and were in a state of innocence. They could have lived there forever and God provided for their needs.

  While in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve their agency, or the ability to choose. God told them that they must not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:16–17).

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Creation

  Under Heavenly Father's direction, Jesus Christ created the earth as a place for us to live and gain experience. God's plan for us is to progress and become like Him. In order for this to happen, each of us had to obtain a body and be tested during a time of probation on the earth. In 1 Nephi 17:36 we read: "Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it." This earth was created for us so that we could exercise our agency in a righteous manner to do "all things whatsoever the Lord" commands us Abraham 3:25.


  The word "create" came from the word "baurau" which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize. The Lord organized elements that had already existed (Abraham 3:24). He did not create the world "out of nothing."
  While we are here on earth we are out of God’s physical presence. We do not remember our pre-earth life. Therefore, we must walk by faith rather than by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).


 More "creation" scripture references: Mosiah 3:8, Ephesians 3:9, D&C 38:1-3, Genesis 1



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pre-Earth Life: God’s Purpose and Plan for Us

  "Where did I come from?" "What is my purpose here on earth?" "Where do I go after I die?" These are some examples of great questions of the soul that many people have asked themselves. I am grateful for God's plan of salvation that answers these questions.

    It is important to understand where we were before we came to this earth. We are all literal sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and we dwelt with God before we came to earth. However, we did not have bodies -we were all spirits. We were not like our Heavenly Father nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.   

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Book Of Mormon: Another Testament Of Jesus Christ

 After many centuries of spiritual darkness, our Heavenly Father knew that doubt, disbelief, and misinformation would remain among people. Therefore, through the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord brought forth an ancient volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. This record is the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Families Can Be Together Forever



   I don't have much time to write today, but I thought I would post this video to help us remember that families are what matter most. The family is central to Heavenly Father's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. God's plan enables families who live the gospel and receive the necessary ordinances to be together forever with Him.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Restoration Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ Through Joseph Smith

  After hundreds of years of apostasy, our Heavenly Father once again reached out to His children in love. He continued the prophetic pattern of calling prophets, and this time he called a young man named Joseph Smith to be his prophet. Through him, the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth.

  
  Joseph Smith lived in the United States, which was perhaps the only country to enjoy religious freedom at the time. He was born in the year 1805. At this particular time in the early 1800s in the Eastern United States, there was lots of religious excitement going on. His family was very religious and they constantly sought for truth from God. Many ministers claimed to have the true gospel and Joseph desired “to know which of all the sects was right,” (Joseph Smith—History 1:18). The Bible taught there was “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Joseph attended different churches, but he remained confused about which church he should join. He was confused because so many doctrines were taught differently despite being taught from the same Bible. Joseph was concerned for the welfare of his soul and was a sincere seeker of the truth. He later wrote: “So great were the confusions and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was . . . to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. . . . In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith—History 1:8, 10).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Great Apostasy

  After Christ's ministry, people began to, once again, spiritually distance themselves from God. Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Unfortunately, people don't always use their agency in the best way. Wicked people went on to persecute and even kill the Savior and many of His Apostles. Therefore, God withdrew His priesthood authority from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrines of the gospel pure and were able to receive revelation for the Church. However, without the Apostles, over time the true doctrines of Christ's church were corrupted. Without the proper authority and revelation, people relied on their own human wisdom and knowledge to interpret scriptures. Unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and false ideas were taught as truth.


   Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth.  In the Old Testament, Amos foretells of this great apostasy to come forth (Amos 8:11-12). It was also foretold that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church would be restored once more upon the earth. (Isaiah 29:13-14, Acts 3:19-21, Revelation 14:6-7)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jesus Christ's Earthly Ministry

  A couplethree hundred years before the Savior was born, people again fell into apostasy. However, when Jesus Christ began His mortal ministry He, once again, established His Church on the earth. Christ's church is a church of order, structure, and organization. The foundation of His church is built on apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). He also gave "some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors, and teachers;" (Ephesians 4:11) He did this for "the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)


   Christ performed many miracles when he was in His earthly ministry. He raised the dead (John 21:1), healed the sick (Mark 6:5), and caused the blind to see (Mark 10:51-52). It was by the priesthood power that He was able to perform these miracles. Jesus called twelve men to be His Apostles and He laid His hands on their heads and gave them that same priesthood authority (Matthew 10:1).

Friday, February 4, 2011

God Has Always Called Prophets

   I know that God lives and that He loves us. One way that I've seen God's love for me is because He has called prophets. A prophet is a special witness of Jesus Christ. A prophet is an authorized servant who has been given the priesthood—the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. While each of us, God's children, are able to receive personal revelation and guidance from God, prophets receive revelation for the whole church (Amos 3:7). They learn the gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation and the power of the Holy Ghost. They in turn teach the gospel to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.


   Throughout time, Heavenly Father has revealed to prophets the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 22:1-2). The Gospel is God's plan for us in this life is to be successful and to prepare to return to live with Him. Jesus Christ's  atoning sacrifice is at the center of that plan and through the Savior's Atonement, we can receive eternal life. We are promised eternal life as long as we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. “This is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ” (2 Nephi 31:21). One of the greatest gifts that has been given to mankind is the gift of agency—the ability to choose. This includes the freedom to accept or reject the gospel as taught by the prophets and apostles. Those who choose to obey are blessed, but those who ignore, reject, or distort the gospel do not receive God’s promised blessings.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Gospel Blesses Families

    In a recent meeting I attended, an inspired missionary began his discussion by asking everyone in the group what matters most to them. We all pondered and took turns expressing our feelings. The response seemed to be unanimous, in which everyone of us said that one thing that we hold most dear to us is our families. I would pose that same question to you. . . "What matters most to you?" I'm sure that amongst the many blessings that came to mind, family was included.

    Why are families so important to us? Families are our immediate support group throughout our trial-filled life in this cruel world. God has established families to bring happiness to His children and to allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere. In the large scheme of things, God established families to prepare His children, us, for eternal life. Because families are ordained of God, they are the most important social unit in time and in eternity.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Who Is God?

  We hear and talk about God nearly every single day. We rely on Him and trust in Him for guidance and direction. At some point throughout life, many have asked themselves, "Who or what is God?" I hope to be able to shed more light to those who have asked this great question of the soul.
  God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are literally His children. (Romans 8:16). He has a glorified and perfected body of flesh and bone and we were created in His image. (Genesis 1:27) He is our eternal father who loves us more than we can possibly comprehend (1 John. 4:16). Just as any earthly father, He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right. What He wants most for His children is for us to be happy!



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hope

   "Hope is the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.


   The word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty. For example, we may say that we hope for a change in the weather or a visit from a friend. In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active. Prophets speak of having a “firm hope” (Alma 34:41) and a “lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3). The prophet Moroni taught, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Patience



  Life seems to be have an unending supply of challenges for everyone. Some are minor and others are of a more serious nature. President Monson said, "Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required."
   Patience is the ability to endure delay, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaining, becoming frustrated, losing temper or becoming irritated. Patience is indeed a "heavenly virtue" and one that only a Christ-like individual can possess.