Family and Friends

Proverbs 14:20

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.

I am truly grateful to be blessed with amazing family and friends who love and support me. I definitely would not be where I am, character-wise and literally, without the encouragement I received, and still do receive, from friends and family.

That’s… mostly it. I suppose I could go on and on about how awesome everyone is, but it would probably be somewhat repetitive. Maybe I can add some depth to this topic though. I suppose I can try…

The family is instituted of God. It is a foundation that has existed since the beginning of time. Before we came to this earth we lived together as a spiritual family, brothers and sisters, with God as our Heavenly Father. When we began our mortal lives, we were born into family units. Our Father in Heaven understands how important the family is. It is essential for spiritual, physical, and emotional development. It is essential for expanding our social qualities. In our families, we learn how to love one another. We are connected by love, by experiences, by blood, by circumstances.

And of course, the family extends to our friends, to our loved ones. When we’re not at home with our families, we’re out with our friends. They’re our family away from home. Heavenly Father also understands the importance of friendship, and beyond. Friends help us to cope; they comfort us during hard times. Friends lift us up and strengthen us. Friends are there to rejoice with us when we are happy. Friends make the bad times go quicker, and the good times to go a little bit slower. Friends can keep us moving in the right direction, or keep us steady in a secure place or state of mind.

Horrible things were happening to Latter-day Saints while the prophet Joseph Smith was a prisoner at Liberty Jail. With desperation, and in a time of seeming abandonment, the Prophet prayed to the Lord, pleading with Him and asking Him why he was allowing such suffering to happen. The Lord comforts him, telling Joseph that his suffering would be but a moment. He then brings an important fact to Joseph’s remembrance in Doctrine and Covenants 121: 9-10.

Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

The Lord reminds him about his friends, that his friends still love and support him, and that in time he will be among them. I am grateful for my family and friends that have and will always be there for me in times of trial. I know that I can always turn to them and they will receive me with warm hearts and friendly hands. I know that our family and friends are blessings from our Heavenly Father. I love my family and I love my friends.

I know God is my Father. I know Jesus Christ is my eldest brother and my Savior and Redeemer.

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Build your foundation on Christ.

So… Elder Holbrook and I are attending this awesome institute class on Revelation every Friday with one of our equally awesome investigators, Russ. For the most part, we’ve just started, so we went over the first few chapters, which mostly cover John’s epistles to the seven churches. The Lord compliments each church on what they’re doing correctly, and then tells them what they’re doing wrong and how they will be blessed if they correct their erroneous ways.

The first little epistle is to the church in Ephesus. The Lord compliments them for their patience and diligence in their work, but also rebukes them.

Revelation 2:4-5

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

The Lord tells them that they left their “first love”. So who is their first love? Jesus Christ. Although their works were good, they were performing their good works for the wrong reasons. They forgot Christ and their faith in Him wasn’t present. Faith and works go together. You cannot have one without the other.

Our teacher, the stake president, also told us about a study that was done among seminary students. The students were basically asked to write down what they believed someone must do in order to fully repent. A commonality existed among many of the students’ answers. That is, they often did not mention the need of Christ, or the need to have faith in Jesus Christ.

Faith in Christ is the foundation of everything we do. It is through faith we repent. It is through faith we have hope. It is through works that we show our faith.

Recall Helaman’s words in Helaman 5:12.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Christ is our foundation. It is upon Him we build our faith and our testimonies. May we not forget this important fact.

I know Helaman’s words are true, that if we build our foundation upon Christ, we cannot fall.

Praise and Adore

What I have to say is obvious
A knowledge free, for all of us are
Your Word leaves us with no excuse
The paths we choose make us who we are
There’s a breeze blowing through here tonight

So I praise and adore You
Lay it all down before You
In every way You’re beautiful
From my heart
I praise and adore
You made the world beautiful
I cannot stand and deny
You created life
And some live without it

Wake up morning sunrise in my eyes
At night the moon lights all the sky
Still some say You didn’t do a thing
The sound of hope that’s in the air
In everything, it’s everywhere
Reveals a truth that’s worth remembering
There’s a breeze blowing through here tonight

It’s true, it’s all You

And every breath I take
There’s no way
Accident created this place

Praise and Adore (Some Live Without It)” by Wavorly

Today Elder Holbrook and I took the bus down to Big Sky, Montana. It’s pretty much a ski resort town, and it’s very beautiful. When I walk, I often just look down at the ground. Definitely a bad habit to have, but it’s hard for me to help. Walking through Big Sky, however, my head was up. The mountains surrounding the little town, especially Lone Peak, are absolutely gorgeous. I spent a lot of my time taking picture after picture, wanting to capture every perspective.

God is truly an artist, and He certainly has an eye for beauty.

The beauty of the Earth, and our universe in general, is a testimony to me of God’s existence, and of His character. He has created such an amazing world for us to live in, with diverse, eye-catching geography and so many things to explore, learn about, and appreciate. With all these thoughts running through my head, the above song by Wavorly came to mind. There’s no way the world we live on was created by accident. It’s too beautiful, too perfect.

I testify that this world has a divine creator, an ultimate creator. This ultimate creator is our Father in Heaven. This world and everything in it has come from Him. Look around you. Examine the beauties of the world in which you reside. God can be found in all beauty and in all goodness.

I will not leave you comfortless.

John 14: 16-18

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. His divine role in our lives is to strengthen, comfort, guide, teach, warn us of danger, and testify of truth. Christ explained to His apostles that when He (Christ) left, the Father would send the Spirit to be their Comforter in His place to give peace and teach them.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Just like our Father in Heaven, and just like our Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost is a person, a being, with a personality. He loves us and wants to help us in any way He can. He has played an enormous role in my own life, guiding me countless times by warning me of dangers and prompting me in specific directions.

However, we must be in the correct state of mind and heart in order to receive the Spirit’s guidance. In 1 Kings chapter 19, we learn how the Spirit will often communicate with us from one of the prophet Elijah’s experiences.

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Amidst the tumult of noise, the Spirit spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. The same applies to us. If our minds are racing with thoughts, if our hearts are raging with unrighteous motives and desires, we will be deaf to the subtle whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It takes an earnest, concentrated effort on our part to receive His instruction.

Turn off the radio. Turn off the television. Remove yourself from the world’s distractions. Find time to meditate, to read and ponder the scriptures. Find time to connect with the Spirit.

I testify that the Holy Ghost can teach us all things. I testify that He can give us the strength and peace we need to withstand all that the world may throw at us. I testify that the Holy Ghost loves us, and I know that He speaks to us. Are we willing to take a moment to listen?

We are the children of God.

Romans 8:16

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

It is a blessing for me to know that I am a child of God. Understanding this divine relationship with our Creator is key to receiving His strength and being comforted by His love. God is indeed our literal Father. Just as we have parents on the Earth, He is the Father of our Spirits. He loves and cares for us just as a nurturing parent watches over a child.

When we pray, we are not sending out hopes and wishes to some indifferent being that may or may not talk back. When we pray, we are talking one on one with our Father. He listens and He cares, and I know that He answers our prayers and wants to bless us.

Matthew 7: 7-11

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

We are imperfect beings, often prone to selfishness and envy, yet we know how to give good gifts. Our Father in Heaven is perfect in every way. His love for us is perfect. If we can give good gifts, surely He will bless us in ways we can’t even imagine. I know this to be true. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us more than we can even think to comprehend. Having this understanding has been a great comfort and a great strength to me throughout my life. I know that when I kneel down to pray, my Father in Heaven is listening with the intentions and concerns of a loving parent.

If you are feeling distanced from God, remember that He is your Father and wants nothing more than to pour down blessings upon you. We simply need to show our faith and love for Him, submitting ourselves humbly to Him as a child. I can promise anyone who is reading this that they can know of God’s love for them through sincere, faithful prayer. He is our Father. Tell Him you love Him. You will be blessed with strength and peace.

The Heavens are higher.

Isaiah 55

7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Let’s admit it; we all wish that we could have it our way. Often, we think our way is how things should go. We’ve got it all planned out. Everything is perfect. Then what happens? Something falls through. Something doesn’t add up. Or sometimes it all just goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Sometimes this may happen because we planned incorrectly and trusted ourselves more than the Lord, and sometimes it happens simply because we are all meant to face obstacles in our lives. In either case, we can learn one very important lesson: The Lord’s ways are higher than ours. Our Father in Heaven knows our strengths and weaknesses inside and out. He knows this world inside and out. He knows the doings of life, both the good and the bad, in every shape and form.

The perspective of man is limited. We cannot see ahead, we can barely see what’s already in our face, and we often forget what we have already witnessed. This is why we must put our trust in the Lord to guide us. He knows the better way. It may not be the easiest, shortest, or most fun, but it is the higher way. By trusting in the Lord and His ways instead of our own, we can follow the path that will help us to grow and receive the experiences that will be most beneficial.

Though our thoughts and ambitions may be driven by greed, by pride, or by weakness, Heavenly Father’s thoughts are driven by unconditional, godlike love and wisdom that knows no bounds.

I testify that the Lord knows the better way. May we trust in Him enough to be willing to subject ourselves to Him and take it.

The Lord looketh on the heart.

In the first book of Samuel, chapter 16, we read of the Lord instructing Samuel to go find a king among Jesse’s sons. Samuel obeys and and travels to find Jesse. When he arrives and announces why he came, Jesse brings forth his sons for Samuel to choose one.

In verse 6 it reads…

And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.

Eliab was tall and had a mighty appearance, the kind of man that looked like he could be a great and powerful king. When Samuel saw him, he assumed that Eliab was going to be the one the Lord would tell him to choose. Instead, the Lord rebukes Samuel in verse 7, which says…

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Our stature, our physical strength, or any outward quality that we possess, does not make us who we are. Though we often make judgments about others from the first glimpse of them we get, God does not make such assumptions. He knows our thoughts, our heartfelt desires, our inward pains. He knows the very character of our soul. The Lord chose David to be anointed because He knew David’s heart and character.

I testify that God knows each of us and judges us according to our hearts. Although the world may judge us from what they see on the outside, our Father in Heaven will never do that. To Him, what’s important is what’s inside.

Faith is like a little seed…

Alma chapter 32 verse 21

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

A great lesson can be learned from Alma’s sermon on faith. He begins by giving us a plain and simple definition of what faith is. It is not to have a perfect knowledge of something, but instead is an act of trust and a belief in something that our eyes cannot see, yet our hearts can feel and our spirits discern. Faith is connecting with the senses that we often do not use or even acknowledge when we are the midst of our temporal, day to day activities.

Alma compares faith unto planting a seed that, when properly nourished, grows into a tree with fruit that can be plucked and eaten.

verse 26Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.

As missionaries we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we do not convince anyone. After we teach, we invite them to exercise their faith to ask God if the things we have told them are true. The same is true even for missionaries. We do not have a perfect knowledge. We still must exercise faith and trust in the impressions that the Spirit renders to us.

And now on to the tree…

verse 27But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an 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.

verse 28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts. . .

We must first have a desire to believe, and then we must allow that desire to work in us. We do not need a perfect knowledge of something to believe it; that isn’t what faith is about.

verse 29 – Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.

As we exercise our faith, our hearts and minds will begin to be enlightened. The perfect knowledge will still be out of reach though, for if we could receive a perfect knowledge there would be no need for faith.

verse 35O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?

verse 36Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.

Once we see how our faith is being strengthened we cannot lay it aside, thinking that that was all we needed to do. As Alma says,  faith was only exercised to plant the seed. We still must use it to continue to grow that seed. If we want to know God, to know Jesus Christ, to know the Bible is true, to know the Book of Mormon is true, we must always exercise our faith and nourish the seed that was planted.

Alma also warns us of malnourishment. Sometimes we might neglect the seed and forget to use our faith, resulting in a withered plant that dries up when the heat of adversity comes to scorch it. We cannot make the mistake of assuming the seed was bad, but instead must look at our own selves. It is often because the soil was barren, meaning that our sincerity in the experiment was not there.

But, if we are faithful in our care of the seed, and our sincerity is present, making the soil rich, Alma promises us in verse 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 patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

I testify that through exercising our faith continually, we can nourish the seed of the gospel in our lives. We may not come to a perfect knowledge in our lifetime, but that’s okay. Having a perfect knowledge is not why we’re here on this earth. We are here to be tested and tried. We show our love for God by showing our faith.

Happiness

My mind feels a bit fuzzy at the moment. I must honestly admit that I cannot think of anything clever, or terribly thought-provoking. Perhaps this just means that something simple and plain is more in order. Thankfully, my thoughts were drawn to the words of a very well-spoken man known in the Book of Mormon as King Benjamin.

Mosiah chapter 2

41  And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

I have witnessed this truth countless times in my life. Those that keep the commandments of God are truly blessed. Oftentimes, however, this verse is misconstrued. Obeying the commandments does not result in a perfect, pain-free life. It does not mean that everything will work out just how we want. Life is full of sadness, pain, and trials. They are to be expected.

But obeying the commandments will always bring us happiness and true joy. When we are in line with God’s will, our souls can rest and know that He loves us and is watching over us. We will receive the strength we require for our obstacles. We will be granted comfort by the Spirit to deal with the problems that aren’t solved in the way we had hoped. In this way are we blessed both temporally and spiritually.

Doctrine and Covenants section 130

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21  And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

When we obey, God will bless us. I know that through obedience to God’s commandments we can experience true joy that cannot be trampled by the world. It is only when I know I am following God’s will that I receive a peace unlike any other, and it is when I am only thinking of myself and my own desires over God’s that I am buried with grief and remorse.

If you have taken of your time to read this, I testify to you that obedience to God’s commandments brings blessings. It brings strength. It brings peace and comfort. It brings happiness, happiness that can last for eternity.

Of Sparrows and Puppies

This is the puppy.

While serving in Riverton, Wyoming, Elder Merrell and I usually made a trip out to Arapahoe once a week, trying various people out there on the reservation. One house we tried never answered. In fact, despite there being furniture and other things inside the house, I suspected strongly that no one actually lived at this particular house. On one such car ride to this place, we saw a small puppy sitting by the front door. It was a cute little thing and I spent a minute giving it some attention. I was a little concerned for it, being all alone, but dogs roaming around the reservation is a pretty common sight.

About a month later we’re back at this house. As we walk up to the front door I’m greatly saddened when I see the same puppy lying dead on the walkway. I reflected on its state… that is… being dead. For all I knew, Elder Merrell and I were the only humans on the face of the planet aware of this poor puppy’s demise, most likely a result of starvation and dehydration. However, I knew for a fact that there was one other being that had a watchful eye over this tiny animal.

God’s love is indescribable and incromprehensible. He loves us unconditionally. His love is perfect. If someone like myself, someone possessing an imperfect and often conditional love, can feel remorse over the dead body of a small, insignificant animal, then how much sadness did our Father in Heaven feel for it? It reminds me of a scripture about sparrows. Perhaps you’ve read it or heard it before.

Matthew 10: 29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Our Father in Heaven is ever watchful. Not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without His notice and care. How much more will He watch over us then? If He is mindful of the tiny creatures of Earth, then how much more care will He lend to His children?

I know Heavenly Father watches over us. He hears our prayers. He hears our pleas. He knows our thoughts and desires of our hearts. He knows what we are needful of.

Light in a Darkened World

i see so much corruption

and it’s hard to ignore

living on greed and possessions

is this what we’re dying for?

so choose this day who you will serve

to be the light in a darkened world

A Light in a Darkened World ~ Killswitch Engage

We live in a day and age when darkness is creeping all around us. Satan’s plagues can be seen wherever we go: drugs, alcohol, greed, selfishness, pornography and other forms of immorality, government corruption, war, etc. The list can go on and on. Some of us might ask, “Where is the light?” What is it? How can we find it?

What is the light?

John 8:12Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Light! It is by Him that we can be guided through the dark paths of life. Through the direction of our Heavenly Father, Christ created the world and everything in it, including us. Being an artist, I put myself into each of my drawings. When you look at the ink, you can see a little bit of who I am. The same goes for us and the world. By viewing the beauty of the Earth and ourselves, we can see Christ’s light and who He is.

Matthew 5:14-16

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Christ’s light is in each of us. We are His creations and therefore have the potential to be the best examples of His light, His goodness, and His love. Christ encourages us to let our light so shine and show others Heavenly Father’s love, Christ’s love, and our own love through our good works. By doing so we can be a light to those that may be lost in this darkened world.

Christ is the Light, and the Light is within us. We can find it in ourselves and in others, and help others to find it by letting it shine  before men. We must choose to do this, however. It will only shine forth when we are striving to emulate Christ’s example and obey God’s commandments.

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

May we all choose this day to serve the Lord and be a light unto others, that through us they may see Christ’s love shine forth. I testify that Christ is the Light and Life of this world. I know that He loves each of us and wants us all to be a shining light.

Be a light in a darkened world.

“I give unto men weakness…”

We all have our trials, our challenges, and our weaknesses. Weakness is an inevitable part of life, and many wonder why we have them. If God loves us so much, why does He allow us to suffer from tribulation? Why does he allow us to be tempted?

The prophet Moroni had weakness. Strong as he was at speaking, he had absolutely no confidence in his abilities to write impressively:

Ether 12

23And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou has made us mighty in word by faith, but thou has not made us mighty in writing; for thou has made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou has given them;

25 – Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

Moroni, at least in his eyes, could not write well. He stumbled over words and how to place them, and was afraid that in the future others would read his words and laugh at them. The Lord gave him this counsel:

26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

27And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Weakness plays a critical role in our lives. Having weakness brings us closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Through our trials we gain an understanding of our need for Them, and as we turn to Them for comfort and strength, our relationship with Them grows deeper. Our faith increases. Our testimonies becomes mightier. Our love for our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ enlarges. And, as the Lord promises, our weaknesses evolve into strengths.

In fact, weakness is something we should embrace. A lesson we can learn from Paul:

2 Corinthians 12

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Paul understood the necessity of weakness, and how it can bring us closer to Christ. He recognized the strength one can receive when they humble themselves and use Christ’s Atonement to lift them up.

I know that through Christ, our weaknesses can be made into strengths. I know that we are given our weakness because God loves us and He wants us to grow. For how can we expect to become stronger if we allow ourselves to be swept away by the currents of tribulation? We must fight against them and look steadfastly to Christ to aid us during our times of trial and weakness.

I add my testimony to Paul’s and testify that God has given unto us weakness to bring us closer to Him and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The place where thou art.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.

Everyone has had the thought cross their mind: If I could go back, knowing what I know now, what would I change? What mistakes would I be wise enough to escape? What challenges would I take from a different approach? Often these thoughts are accompanied by “I would probably be a better person than I am now”.

I have often pondered on this idea, and wondered what things I would do differently and how it would affect the person I am today. I have personally arrived at the conclusion that I would never want to go back.

Through obedience, and even through our sins, our Father in Heaven has His hand in our lives. He guides us each day, and where we are now is what we should accept and work with. I’m happy with the person I am. I regret mistakes, but my mistakes have humbled me and brought me closer to the Lord.

I know that the place where I am now is the place the Lord wants me to be. And the Lord is not selective with His counsel:

Doctrine and Covenants 25:16 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen.

What the Lord says unto one, He says unto all. Our experiences and judgments, good or bad, help shape and mold us into the person the Lord desires us to be.

I invite you to examine yourself and see the good qualities that have developed in your life, and how your challenges and mistakes have helped you to turn to the Lord and grow to who you are now.

The Arm of Mercy

I was thus studying this fine morning on the topics of repentance and forgiveness (The two are practically synonymous), when I came across this particular scripture in 3 Nephi, chapter 9:

12 And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

In life we often find ourselves spared of the destruction that comes upon this world. Is it because we are more righteous? At times… no, and at times… yes. If we are more righteous, it is only because of the mercy of God, that he has given us knowledge that others are not as fortunate to have. I am blessed to have a knowledge and comprehension of Christ’s gospel. The commandments we are given keep us safe. Through the Word of Wisdom, we are saved from the destruction of our physical bodies, which in turn strengthens our spirits. Through the Law of Chastity, we are saved from the destruction of our spirits and the heartache and mistrust that has entered so many homes. Through the Law of Tithing our faith is strengthened, and we are saved from the destruction of doubt and fear.

Obedience to God’s commandments spares us from the spiritual tremors that so often shake the world, but that does not make us perfect. “Will ye not now return unto me…?” Christ asks. Even though we are spared, we must always turn unto Christ and repent. His arm of mercy is extended. He desires to heal us. After we are spared from the destruction of the world, will we forget by what power and mercy we were spared, or will we turn to our Savior and repent so that He may heal us?

A Beginning

This will be an introduction. No thought-provoking, religious mind-blowing thought or statement. That will come in time. This blog will be used to bring others closer to Christ. I am far from a perfect teacher, or even a good teacher, but I will do my best. Perhaps some of the things I type will touch the hearts of a few.