Friday, March 25, 2011

The Testimony of Two Nations

I was thinking recently about the importance of the Book of Mormon in our religion. Without it we wouldn't have our popular nickname, and we would also be no different than any other Christian religion in the world today. The Book of Mormon is evidence that God speaks to prophets today; that he has called a prophet, and that the church of Christ has been restored to its fulness. I've heard many people say that the Bible is the only word of God and that we don't need more scripture. I was saddened when I heard these opinions. Why would anyone not receive more of God's word with open arms? Granted we believe that the Bible contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but why not have more examples of that gospel to draw strength and encouragement? A passage from the Book of Mormon reads:
8Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
 9And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
 10Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither bneed ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
 11For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
 12For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. 
The Book of Mormon does not stand to replace the Bible, but to support it, just as the New Testament doesn't replace the Old Testament, but testifies of its truth. We hold the Book of Mormon and the Bible together as witnesses of the divinity of Christ and his mission, and as guides to lead to happiness in this life and in the life to come.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Decisions Determine Destiny"

Life is full of forks in the road. Some roads branch off in vastly different directions and some seem to run almost parallel, but no two roads in life lead to the exact same destination. These forks in the road are the many decisions that we make in life. We have many decisions throughout our day that don't seem to affect the long run, but there always comes a time when a we make a decision that affects the rest of our lives. Just like Bugs Bunny who if he hadn't taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque he would never have met Elmer Fudd and gone through those countless skirmishes.

A more historical example was given by Thomas S. Monson in 1979:
"During the 13th century another important decision was made when the Mongol hoards came out of Mongolia, swept across the part of the world that we know as Turkey and Iran, and then entered into Europe. They were at the very gates of the city of Vienna; it looked as though western Europe and its civilization were doomed as that leader of the Mongol hoards, Subedei, stood there, ready to lead his cavalry in an annihilation of western culture. Then something happened. A messenger from Mongolia brought the news that the Great Khan, Ogedei, had died; and Subedei had to make the decision to go on and conquer western Europe or to return for the funeral of the Great Khan. He made the decision to return, and the Mongol hoards returned to Mongolia and never again threatened western Europe. A small decision, but oh, its consequence!"

When such small decisions can lead to such different destinations it is so very important that we rely on the Lord for guidance in all that we do.

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good" Alma 37:37

If we seek the counsel of the Lord those decisions will lead us to eternal happiness, but we ultimately make the decision of whether or not we follow that counsel, and are happy in the end.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Parable of the Forgotten Gift

There was a young man who was fast approaching his birthday. He was very excited for the party he would be having, the family and friends that would be visiting, and the presents he would receive. The young man had an older brother who loved him dearly. The brother thought long and hard about what to give his younger sibling. The elder brother knew that a hard winter would be coming, and that his brother didn't have a sufficient coat for the bitter cold that would be coming. The elder brother had been saving to buy himself such a coat, but knew that his brother would need it more, so he took all that he had saved and bought the coat for his brother. The day of the young man's birthday came, and the gift that his elder brother had sacrificed for sat with the rest of the gifts. The party was enjoyed by everyone. The time to open presents came. The young man first reached for the gifts from his closest friends, then to those of his extended family, and the gift from his brother went unnoticed. He was excited for each new gift and thanked each of those who gave him one, but the gift from his brother remained unnoticed. The party ended, everything was cleaned up, and the gift of the elder brother was forgotten. Winter came, and the young man went without the warmth and protection that the warm coat would provide. If only the young man had seen the gift.

We in our lives can experience the joy and warmth of the gift that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has given us. He made it possible for all of us to be happy in our lives, but the gift of His atonement is one that we must "open" in order to feel the blessings of it. We must all go through the hard winter of our mortal lives, but if we have the warmth and protection of that winter coat, if we use the power of the atonement in our lives, and "endure it well" we will be forever happy. That gift does us no good if we leave it forgotten.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Always Received With Open Arms

I was recently reading the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15: 11-32. Christ is telling the story to the pharisees of a young man who demands his inheritance from his father. The young man goes out into the world and wastes away his inheritance. At that time in the land there was a famine and the only work the young man could find was to feed the pigs of a "citizin of that country", and all he had to eat was pig feed. The young man knew that even his father's servants were fed and clothed better than him. He resolved to go home, and be a servant to his father, but when his father saw him from afar off he "ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." His father called for a feast and had his son dressed in the finest robes. The older son was confused, and angry as to why his younger brother was being treated so well, when he had done so much to hurt the family. The father responded to the bittered questions of his son and said: "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
Our Heavenly Father likewise is waiting to receive us with open arms. We all make mistakes, and are all lost at some point, but we can always come home. It has always been a comfort to me that I have a Heavenly father that loves me enough to always welcome me home when I am lost. His love is extended toward all of us who are willing to travel the road back to him.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Enduring the storm

In life we all must face different trials, some small, and some great. When faced with these difficulties, we may instinctively shut down completely, or try to power through it as fast as possible, but there is a better way.
If you were to fly a plane there are many instances that you would be faced with turbulence. Turbulence, like our personal trials, shakes us, threatens to throw us off our course, and potentially to crash. Some reactions to this situation could be similar to the reactions to trials we face in our personal lives. If we were to apply the tactics mentioned earlier the results would be disastrous. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said that:
"Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions."
If we focus on what is most important we will be able to weather the storms life throws at us. Find what makes you happy like family, friends, the love of the Savior, and cling tight to those things. I challenge you to remember those things that are most important; to hold onto those things.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trials vs Opportunities

Sometimes we see the diffulties in life as a broken escalater, and fail to move on, because of discouragement. It is better to remember that a broken escalater is just a set of stairs. There are times in everyone's lives that give us the option to stand on a broken escalater, or to climb some stairs. It may require us put forth a little more effort, but it is far more rewarding to climb stairs than to wait for a broken escalater.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Building our homes to be Fortresses

This past week I've been reading in the book of Alma, in the Book of Mormon. I'm at a point right now where two nations (the Nephites and the Lamanites) are preparing for war. Moroni the chief captain of the Nephite army sees the weaknesses in his cities, so in order to protect his people he begins to fortify the cities.
This is Moroni's account of his preparations:
"1And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.
 2And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.
 3And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.
 4And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them.
 5And they were prepared that they could cast stones from the top thereof, according to their pleasure and their strength, and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls of the city.
 6Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land."
Just as Moroni made preparations to defend his people we too can make preparations for our own homes, to make them safe havens from the evils in the world. Some of the most powerful things we can do to protect us from the things that drag us down in life are the simplest.
Some of the things we can do to fortify our homes are to:
  • Study the scriptures regularly. The words of God are a special gift that hasn't always been so readily available. If we study the scriptures for ourselves, we will grow closer to our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.
  • Attending church. When we attend church we are surrounded by others who are seeking to improve their lives, and we can share of that spirit that comes from that desire, and become spiritually uplifted.
  • Praying personally and as a family. When we pray personally we strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we pray as a family we strengthen that bond as a unit.
These are only a few things, but there are many more. It is my testimony that when we work to fortify our homes, and strengthen our families that we are happier, better people. I know that we have been given families to strengthen each other in this life, and that it is our responsibility to protect that gift.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why I'm a Missionary

God called his apostles and prophets in ancient times to go and spread his gospel, and this is a sacred responsibility that continues to this day. The scriptures repeat that God is the same, and that his ways don't change. If this is to be true it would only make sense that this tradition of preaching his word around the Earth would continue. I have left my home for two years so that I may spread the joy I have felt through knowing my Heavenly Father, and his son, Jesus Christ. This message is for all, and the sharing of this message is the best thing that I can be doing in my life right now. I have seen the change that the gospel of Jesus Christ can have in people, and it motivates me everyday to get up and hopefully inspire people to follow their Savior, Jesus Christ.

In a talk by Elder L. Tom Perry he quotes:

"'Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.' (John 21:15.)
Then the question a second and third time. And finally, Peter, being grieved, replied to the Lord, 'Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.' (John 21:17.)
Finally Peter understood: 'when thou art converted'—a condition carries with it a responsibility to do something with that conversion, to feed the sheep of the Savior. The real value of our commitment through our conversion is when it is interpreted into action, when something results from that which has occurred from knowing the Lord."

Missionary work is a outward expression of a individual's love for God, and their love for their fellow man. I want to show my love for my Lord and Savior, and so I serve as a missionary.