Prophets and Apostles: Called of God

This upcoming weekend is a rather special event for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s what we call “General Conference”, a semi-annual event that takes place every year in April and October. I suppose you could say that it’s a gathering of sorts. Thousands of Latter-day Saints flock to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which can seat up to 21,000 people. All over the world, millions of members, and others, gather to church buildings to watch the broadcasts via satellite. Others listen on the radio or watch on their televisions or computers in their own homes. There are four main sessions. Two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each one is two hours long.

So what exactly is all the excitement about? Why do so many people sacrifice eight or more hours out of a weekend to participate in this event?

The reason is profound. It is because we have a living prophet today, as well as apostles and others, called of God, to lead us in these last days, and General Conference is when we can hear and see them speak. It is a wonderful blessing that I am grateful for and am looking forward to.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

Whether it is from God or the mouth of His servants, it is the same. Listening to a prophet’s words is having new scripture unfolded unto us. But many think that we don’t need prophets and apostles in our day. To them I must ask, isn’t it during times like these when we need them most?

Ephesians 4:11-14

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

There were prophets and apostles in Christ’s day, and even before then. So why not now, when Satan is working his hardest to lead us astray?

I testify that there is a living prophet on the earth today. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I know he has been called of God. We have twelve apostles living today as well, just like the twelve apostles of Christ’s day. They are also all inspired men, called of God to serve Him and guide His people. I invite you to hear them speak this weekend and see for yourself that they are truly prophets, seers, and revelators.

 

Advertisements

He Will Be With Us

We’ve all felt inadequate. Perhaps you’re feeling it right now. I have felt it often, especially since coming on my mission. Quite frankly, I was scared to death the first time I knocked on someone’s door and told them I had a message to share with them about the restoration of Jesus Christ’s gospel. And despite all the people I’ve talked to, it still scares me. Thankfully, it’s alright. The Lord doesn’t expect us to cast away our phobias, but He does expect us to conquer them and allow our own will to be swallowed up in His.

Personally, it’s comforting to know that even someone as great as Moses had doubts and fears, similar to my own. When the Lord commanded him to go and show signs to Pharoah and tell him to let the children of Israel go free, Moses didn’t think he was quite up to the task. We read in Exodus 4:10-12,

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

Moses tries to explain that he is not a good speaker. The Lord reminds him who created his mouth, and who can alter a person’s senses at His will. He then tells him to go, that He (the Lord) will be with him and teach him what to say to Pharoah.

I can easily place myself in this situation. I know that the Lord is with me as I go and speak to the people in my area. I get nervous easily and have a habit of speaking quickly and repeating myself when I’m nervous. This happens most often when my mind isn’t focused on why I am out. But when I am focused on my purpose (that is, to help others to come unto Christ), I can speak more clearly and confidently, and I know the Lord is with me, giving me utterance.

Whatever your own down-fall is, the Lord can be with you. All things are possible through faith in Him.

We Are Christians

A few days ago, Elder Andersen and I had lunch at a member’s home. She showed us a Pentecostal magazine that a friend had given her. It had several pages talking about the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to glance through it and see what it had to say. The main point of the lengthy article, it seemed, was to declare that Mormons are not Christians, and that Mormon doctrines are corrupt and anti-Biblical, but that Mormons should be reached out to be loving Christians so they can be saved.

It was amusing, to say the least. Some of the information on the doctrine was indeed correct, but was placed in a less than pleasing light. Other portions of the article were rather deceptive and only gave certain points of information which, without the full perspective, could easily lead someone to think negatively about the Church. Some of the things I read were outright lies.

It was sad to think that this extremely one-sided article was most likely engendering equally one-sided perceptions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ultimately, all the article served to do for me was strengthen my testimony of the Church. Naturally, if this is truly Jesus Christ’s church restored to the earth again, then Satan is going to do all he can to bring it down. He’s a clever fellow, trying to tear down the fullness of Christ’s gospel with Christians on the front line of his army.

For this thought, I suppose I would just like to bear my testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and of the universe. I know He bled and died for me and all mankind. I know He was resurrected and lives today. I know He is the Only Begotten Son of the living God, our Father in Heaven. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and that Jesus Christ restored His church through him. I know the Book of Mormon is a true record. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know we have prophets and apostles today, and that the current prophet is Thomas S. Monson. I know he is an inspired man, called of God to be a prophet, seer, and revelator.

People may call us the “Mormon church”, but we are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His church. I testify that only in this church can the fullness of Christ’s gospel be found. All these things I know, but not of myself. And I would never expect anyone to simply take my word for it. I know these things because the Holy Spirit of God has testified of them to me, and I cannot and will not deny it. Whatever the world may say, it does not matter. I know I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

I invite you to follow the advice of the Master Himself. If you want to know if these things are true, read the Book of Mormon, then humbly pray to God, in the name of Christ, and ask Him if it is true.

We Had A Hard Time

I’m going to be a little lazy today and just post a video. 🙂 It’s a good one though. If you’re unfamiliar with these videos, I strongly encourage you to visit the MormonMessages channel on youtube and watch some of the videos. This is one of my favorites.

Just as Elder Cook says, this life isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s pretty difficult. But it’s supposed to be. It’s a test after all, so why should it be a free ride? This is why we have the Savior Jesus Christ. In every situation, He suffered the greater burden. Our sins, sorrows, and pains have been placed on His shoulders. All He asks is that we do our best to carry what we can, and He’ll carry the rest.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. I’m grateful to know that through Him my burdens can be made light. I’m grateful to know that through every trial I face, there is One who understands the feeling completely.

I know that I can do a better job of putting the Savior first in my life. I invite you to do the same. Take His yoke upon you, learn of Him, and share His love with others. We will find peace. We will find comfort. We will find rest.

Follow His Steps

We went out to visit some less-active members of the Church yesterday. Their house is at the end of a long dirt road which, after a long winter, is nothing but giant ruts of mud and deep snow. We decided it would be a good idea to take our truck. The snow drifts were huge though, so we stopped the truck and walked a short distance to their house through the snow.

My companion, Elder Andersen, has some nice boots, so he trudged confidently through the drifts. Although I’ve got some pretty durable shoes myself, they’re not quite as high. By stepping exactly where Elder Andersen’s feet had been, I managed to avoid filling my shoes with snow that would’ve soaked my feet.

In all honesty, I’m not one that often ponders about spiritual analogies. But I couldn’t help but think of one in that moment.

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. Through everything He did, He set the example for us to follow. His footsteps have trudged through and overcome every affliction this life can throw at us. By following in the Savior’s footsteps, we can be safely guided through, every step of the way.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps ~ 1 Peter 2:21

I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and that He is ultimate example for us to follow. No matter the terrain, we can always overcome if we follow in His footsteps.

Twenty Twenty

Take all that you have learned when you were on your face
Now it’s your turn to give it out, give it out
Looking back to when the lights went out
There never was a reason for you to doubt
And it’s over now, over now
And it’s your time

Your time, though no signs seem congruent
You’ll find the design plays into it
Time to let this go. You never had control
Look back home, weary soul
Recall the times of old to face the new
Your faith will overcome
We can look back to when He was there for us

Twenty Twenty” by Wavorly

Hindsight is always twenty twenty. Looking back, we often see how the challenges we faced worked out in the end and helped us to become a better person.

Funny that, despite this common occurrence in our minds, when confronted with a new obstacle we often fall back into despair and grief. At the very least, it’s a cycle that I personally go through. I can’t count the times, when faced with a challenge, an inconvenience, or an uncomfortable situation, that everything turned out to be just fine. It always happens. Yet something new is always next and once again I revert back to a less-than-faithful attitude.

Pushing through with a doubtful mind might get us from point A to point B, but miracles cannot happen under those circumstances. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni counseled,

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)

If one was to say he would believe and show more faith if he was given a miracle, he does not understand the workings of God. God does not show His signs to the faithless and hard-hearted. Instead, He rewards faith, and in many circumstances a trial is required. A trial does not take place in an instant. It’s a process. It may be short or it may be long and tedious.

In my opinion, having faith means that we don’t even expect a miracle. That if the Lord sees fit to withhold a mighty miracle from our eyes, we are content and trust that He knows better than we do and that it’s for the best.

I testify that faith brings miracles. I testify that our Heavenly Father is always looking out for us, and that His hand is always ready and waiting to catch us if and when we fall. I invite you to look back and see how Heavenly Father has blessed you and been behind you in your trials. I can promise you that He has.

Exercise faith, and remember that hindsight is always twenty twenty.

Tender Mercies: A Refuge from the Storm

Everywhere I go, every place I have lived, the Lord has watched out for me. I’m not terribly outgoing, and I don’t like to travel. Yet my family and I have lived in three different states, and I’ve attended four different high schools. And now, here I am, on a mission in Montan and Wyoming, away from home and surrounded by people I don’t know. To be quite honest, it’s a miracle I haven’t given up, because Satan has placed that thought into my mind more than a dozen times.

Something that has been a tremendous support to me is the Lord’s comfort and His tender mercies. When I moved to a different city, attended a new high school, and met new people, I was always given comfort to deal with the anxiety that fell upon me each time. And now here on my mission, I’ve served in four different areas. Two in Wyoming and two in Montana. Just as before, each time I was given comfort and tender mercies from the Lord.

Moving around as a kid, the tender mercies often came in more outward things. I always had a place to call home. I had my family (and my awesome cat). I made friends without even having to try and I remained in contact with my old friends. I quickly grew accustomed to the change of scenery and pace, helping me to simply be more comfortable with my surroundings. This had been the case wherever we settled down.

As a missionary, many of those things are the same. I’m able to write my family and friends and hear from them. There have been friendly people wherever I have been. I’ve always had a comfortable place to reside, to relax. Though coming to a new place throws me out of my comfort zone each time, I eventually become familiar with the surroundings and grow to appreciate them.

In Isaiah 51:3, we learn of the Lord’s comfort,

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Our wilderness, whether it’s a trial or an unfamiar place, can be made like Eden. In chapter 25, verse 4, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah’s comforting powers,

For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

Christ is a strength to the needy and poor. He is a refuge from our storms. He is a shadow from the heat of our afflictions. He is the wall that can shield us from Satan’s blasting winds.

Each day, I feel a moment of comforting assurance that the Lord is there. I know it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Sometimes it’s triggered by the circumstances, and sometimes it’s random, or seems random. I can’t explain it, other than that every day, for at least short moment, I feel like everything is right in the world, and that my troubles are but a small matter when confronted with the marvelous truth that The Church of Jesus Christ is back on the earth today, that Jesus Christ lives, and that I have a Father in Heaven that knows me and watches out for me.

I know that we receive tender mercies from the Lord each day if we only pause to reflect upon them. I know that Christ is our refuge from the storm, and that the Spirit can touch our hearts at any moment and make every last bit of our heartache and anxiety disappear. Whatever you may be going through at this time, I know that it can be made light by taking Jesus Christ’s yoke upon you.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you ~ John 14:18

Tennis ball ice-cream.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy. The plot line of… pretty much every episode… consisted of the trio coming up with some sort of scam or gimmick to trick the neighborhood kids out of their quarters, which would buy them jawbreakers down at the candy store in town. Eddy was always the mastermind behind each scam, and Ed and Double-D (Edd) were simply present to help carry out the scam.

Unfortunately, the scams always failed. On the very rare occasions when they didn’t, something would eventually happen and the Eds would lose their quarters, often in a publicly embarrassing way.

One of my favorites of Eddy’s scams was a simple one, shown in the beginning of an episode. The trio placed a cardboard ice cream truck in the middle of the cul de sac. While Eddy rang a bell and yelled “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!”, Double-D made cones from paper and tape and Ed made the “ice cream” by dipping tennis balls into paint and then glueing them onto the cones. In this particular episode, they discover the neighborhood kids are gone and therefore the scam fails by default.

I’ll make two analogies with this scenario.

In the first one, we are Eddy. We have a goal in mind and we want to achieve it. In Eddy’s case, he wants quarters so he can go buy jawbreakers bigger than his head. In our case, it can be anything. Work, school, sports achievements, spiritual goals, relationship goals, etc.

We may not always want to put in the real effort. Instead, sometimes we choose to fake the effort. Eddy didn’t want to go buy real ice cream and real cones. Instead, he supposed he could jip the kids out their money with something fake, dishonest, and cheap. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked. Had one of the kids bought some ice cream, they would quickly have discovered what was really going on and demanded their money back. If we want to achieve our goals, we must put forth the honest, hard-working effort.

In the second analogy, Eddy is Satan (and Ed and Double-D are Satan’s angels). He puts forth something that looks appealing but isn’t at all what it seems. We’ll stick with the scam for simplicity sake. Satan gets our attention yelling, “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!” He shows us something that appeals to us, that gives us some kind of gratification, and it’s cheap, only a quarter. Seems like a good deal, right? Often we fall for the trap. We take the ice cream and bite into it, but it’s nothing more than a tennis ball covered in paint. Certainly not as tasty as it looked, and certainly not good for us in any way, and we lost a quarter in the process.

This is how Satan works. With him, everything is a scam. He does all he can to make it look appealing so that he can trick us into giving up our money, our integrity, our virtue, our chastity, our friends’ and family’s trust, etc.

In either case, whether we are Eddy or Eddy is the one trying to sell us something, we must endure, be obedient to God’s commandments, and put our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that if we do these things we can find success in any situation.

The Greatest Among Herbs

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in a small cabin, with about only six members. It was a humble beginning for a work that would soon progress into something great and marvelous.

In the book of Matthew, Christ compares the kingdom of heaven unto a mustard seed. Matthew 13:31-32 reads,

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

The prophet Joseph Smith once used this parable to teach about the Church, explaining that the mustard seed is like the Book of Mormon. It was buried in the ground, a small record containing the dealings of a once thriving civilization.

Though small, it grew into “the greatest among herbs”. Once the prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, others could read it and know that he was a prophet, and that Jesus Christ had restored His church. The Church today is thriving as the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught all throughout the world. It is becoming a magnificent tree, and God is sending revelation and His holy angels to lodge in its branches.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church restored to the earth. I know it contains the fullness of Christ’s gospel. Though it started small, and Satan fought hard to stop it through mobs and other persecution, it has grown into a great tree. Its branches are continuing to spread, and I know that God sends modern revelation to lodge in those branches. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

This Church is indeed the “greatest among herbs”.

 

 

All things done in order.

At the beginning of each day, we may find ourselves with a list of things to do. Chores to complete, work to finish, people to see, things to study, etc. Whether it’s a lengthy list or a mercifully short one, we often want it to be done all at once. Sometimes we might glance at each item listed, or review them in our minds, and think that it’s simply impossible. We may wonder how God could possibly think we can do all the things that are placed before us.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin gave some solid advice pertaining to this subject. In Mosiah 4:27 it reads,

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

see that all these things are done in wisdom and order – Stop. Slow down. Think about the things that need to be accomplished. When our chores are piled high, the last thing we need to do is rush through them.

it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength – Heavenly Father does not expect us to do more than we are able. Think of Jesus’s parable of the widow’s mite. She only gave two coins, though others gave many. But it was all she had to offer, and from a righteous perspective, she gave more than the rich.

God does not issue us a challenge we do not have the strength to overcome. He will not put a mountain before you if you can only climb a hill. Honestly review your strengths and weaknesses, and then put an honest effort into your tasks. That is all your Father in Heaven asks of you.

expedient that he should diligent, that thereby he might win the prize – Diligence is sincere, zealous obedience. If we expect to accomplish our goals, we must strive to do all we can. If we can climb that hill, we are expected to do so, even if we have to strain a bit to get over the top.

all things must be done in order – Going full circle now. Slow down and take the time needed to perform the work. When you encounter a speed bump while driving, you slow down. And so it is with life.

Slow down. Review strengths and weaknesses. Understand that God does not send us something we cannot overcome. Listen to the Spirit. Do all things in wisdom and order.

I know that by doing these things, we can accomplish anything we have set to do. God knows you and knows that you can succeed. He wants your success. Put your trust in Him, your faith in Christ, and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Well, I haven’t posted something for a few days now. That’s because this last weekend I was transferred into a new area. A little town up in northern Montana called Chinook. It’s a rather interesting place, and with spring and summer creeping around the corner I think I’ll enjoy my time here.

Transfers in a mission are always an exciting time. You never know if you’ll stay or be moved somewhere else. I was pretty sure that I was going to stay down in Bozeman, but apparently the Lord has other plans for me.

Such is life. We never know what the next turn might be. We may do our best to plan and often think that we’re in control of how our journey is progressing, but something always comes up. Life is full of unexpected changes. New opportunities, new people, new places, new challenges. I’m glad that my Heavenly Father is preparing me for the changes to take place after my mission.

I know that I’m here in Chinook for a reason. Chances are… I won’t find out what they are, at least any time soon. But I know that my Heavenly Father is guiding me. I trust in His wisdom to place me where I am needed. I trust in my Savior Jesus Christ to give me the needed strength. And I trust in the Holy Spirit to direct me to where I need to go, what I need to do, and what I need to say.

I’m reminded of the time in the Book of Mormon when Nephi entered the city of Jerusalem alone to get the brass plates from Laban. 1 Nephi 4:6 reads,

And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

I know that our Heavenly Father has his hand in our lives. We may think we have everything planned out, but He has better things in store for us. I’m grateful for His loving guidance and wisdom in my life. Even though I don’t know all the things that I need to do, just like Nephi, I know that the Spirit will lead me to accomplish God’s plans for me.

The Poetic Corner: Christ and Friendship

That Feeling

when you’re feeling like the road’s too wide
when there’s no place left to run and hide
when the warmth is gone, when love is torn
when you’re pleading for someone with an open door

and i know that feeling too
when houses are plenty, but homes are few
it feels like enduring is all to do
but the warmth is just beyond the fog
like sunrise reds, a pleasing song that’s whispering

and i know that feeling too
when you’re staring through a blackened tomb
and you tell yourself it’s just a room
those monsters, they’re just make-believe
imagination i perceive as something frightening

and i know that cold cold world
it’s an unforgiving heart of stone
but we have love, and we both know
where home is, where life is
’cause i’m here to be whatever you need me to be
and i’ll never shut my door on you
because i know that feeling too
because i know that feeling

This poem can take on a couple different meanings. I’d like to apply both. I originally wrote it to be about friendship. Friends, whether great or few, have always helped to pull me through the hard times. I wrote this poem during one of those hard times simply to help myself be more grateful for the people I was close to. Sort of like a journal.

Friends are something that we should never take for granted, and in times of tribulation they are often the cushions that break our fall.

Jesus Christ is our greatest friend. Who better to be our best friend than our eldest brother after all? He knows every feeling there is to experience in this life. He knows what it’s like to be out in the cold with no open door to welcome you in, and He will never shut His door on us. Granted, we must be willing to walk through it, but that warmth, that light, and His loving embrace will always be there to welcome us when we take those steps inside.

I know that Jesus Christ is our greatest friend. When others may shut their doors, He will never close His, because He is our friend, He loves us, and He knows that feeling too.

The Heavens are not sealed.

People may often ask their Mormon friends, “What’s the difference between your church and any other?” There are a fair amount of answers to that question. For this post, I’ll just focus on one.

Modern revelation.

Let’s take a moment to think about something. A lot of people are surprised to hear that Jesus Christ did indeed set up a church. Not just a physical building, but an organization built upon prophets, apostles, and revelation. In Ephesians 4:11-14 we read,

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

So it says here that Christ had an organization with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. What is their purpose? To help us reach our goal of perfection, to carry on the ministry, to edify the body of Christ which is the Church, until we all come in the unity of the faith. Obviously, we’re not unified in the faith. And until we do become unified, we will need apostles and prophets and so on.

We read in Amos 3:7,

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

We need prophets and apostles to guide us and reveal our Heavenly Father’s will to us. Of course, this does not mean that we cannot receive personal revelation for ourselves or our families. But the divine guidance of a prophet of God is necessary to direct us as a whole and give revelation to the body of Christ, His church.

Although Christ’s church and His doctrines eventually became corrupted by man throughout the centuries, I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that there is a living prophet of God today, and that his name is Thomas S. Monson. I am grateful for his loving guidance and for the inspiration and revelation he receives from God.

Who are we to say God cannot speak to us? I know God does speak to us through His prophets and apostles. I testify to you that the heavens are not sealed.

Searching, Seeking, Reaching, Always

So if we keep seeking out what is right,
moving on after being set back,
searching out what keeps us strong.
Searching out, and always building up the things that we lack.
This path we choose is not the easiest to walk upon
And knowing that, I am more eager to continue on
because I know that when I reach the end
I’ll be better than before

Searching, Seeking, Reaching, Always” by We Came As Romans

Life is a process. Whether it’s literally moving from one place to another or wanting to achieve something, it must be done in steps. I’m not always a patient person. … Actually… I’m often not a patient person. I’m present-minded, and it’s hard for me to wait for things to happen, because for whatever reason it’s difficult for me to grasp how something can come about if I’m not presently seeing it in motion. Understanding that life isn’t meant to be instantaneous can help us to work through our goals in life.

The prophet Joseph Smith once counseled,

“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them”

We don’t know much. We may struggle comprehending God or Christ’s gospel. We might be frustrated at our lack of spiritual progress. Why does it seem I have no faith? Why can I never learn from my mistakes? Maybe we’re trying to repent and wish it could be done in an instant. Perhaps we’re trying to become more patient, or more obedient. Perhaps we’re trying to become better at our relationships. A better friend. A better sibling. A better son or daughter. A better parent. A better spouse. A better disciple of Christ.

As Joseph Smith said, the principles of Christ’s gospel are like a ladder. They must be taken one step at a time. Learning how to better ourselves comes through mastering each step. You don’t take the next step up if your foot isn’t securely on the one below. Yes, occasionally a slip-up occurs. It’s inevitable. But we simply work harder to plant our feet on that step, making sure we’re immovable, and then we can continue to ascend in whatever we’re trying to achieve, be it something specific or something general.

I know this to be true, and I second Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-4,

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope

It’s not easy having to go through the process, and the obstacles are sometimes constantly in our way. But hardship helps us to be patient. Being patient gives us the knowledge that enduring works, and when that happens we have a better hope. A hope the next step is possible to make, and that in due time we’ll have made it to the top of the ladder.

Remember that as you ascend to the next step in the ladder, you are better than before.


The Poetic Corner: Rain and Perspective

So… I like writing poetry. I don’t claim to really be any good, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I started writing poetry when I was about 17. It was mostly out of boredom. Plus, I like art and I like creative writing. Poetry is sort of like mixing the two together, and it fulfills my need for both of those things in an easy, convenient way.

I wrote this… let’s see… sometime in the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was sitting in class, paying more attention to the rain outside than to the teacher. Here’s what I wrote.

Rain

rain, rain
come to stay
i need you here another day
your ever-presence soothes my waking soul
i’ve never felt so worry-free
when you show up and comfort me
these tears of joy so make my person whole

rain, rain
touch my face
the sweetest voice, this rhythmic pace
our hands embraced in love i hope is true
and when this cloudy storm is gone
your touch forever lingers on
to fill my heart with memories of you

So, if you’ve read the “About Elder Wilkins” section on the home page, you’ll know that I grew up in Wisconsin, south-eastern Wisconsin, to be a little more specific. The weather there is rather mild and often cloudy and rainy. While it doesn’t quite match up to the rainfall you might find in the pacific north-west, it still rains quite a bit.

I grew up with rain. I love rain and cloudy, stormy weather. A lot people don’t. Stereotypically, clouds and rain are known as “bad” weather. To me, however, it’s wonderful. And it’s really nothing more than a matter of perspective. Someone may hate the rain because they don’t like getting wet, because it ruins their outdoor activities, or because they don’t like the dark clouds.

I don’t mind getting wet. I like looking at the dark clouds. I love the sound of rain and the way it looks when it falls from the sky.

Life is all about perspective. We must choose how to look at what it throws at us. We can see the rain and think that it has done nothing more than ruin the day, or we can choose to see how it may add to the day and make it more beautiful.

How do you see the rain?