The Conclusion

Well… I think this is going to be my last post on this blog. My mission ends next week and I’m not sure when I’ll have the time (and motivation, quite honestly) to make another ‘official’ posting. So… this is it. Nothing in particular is really on my mind, but I’d like anyone who’s reading this to know that the last two years of my life could not have been spent any better than they were.

My mission was awesome, and it will most definitely be something that I’ll keep close to my heart for the rest of my life. Yeah, sure, it wasn’t a walk in the park. There were ups and downs. There were times when things went right and I knew that I was doing the Lord’s work, and there were other times when things didn’t go so well, and I wondered if I was wasting my time. Thankfully, the Lord has been with me to lift me up, even during those rough moments… or days… or weeks… or months, and to remind me that things aren’t meant to be easy.

But honestly, even the lowest points of my mission were still super awesome. It’s amazing how easily we can function through stressful periods of time. What’s key, or rather, the two main keys are simply a good attitude and a reliance on Jesus Christ and His gospel. Everything else basically falls under those two things.

I’ve learned too many things to count… about others, about the gospel, about the world, about myself. Some things I’ve learned about others… let’s see. People are weird. Straight up, some people are just strange. But it’s okay, ’cause we’re all weird, and we’re also all children of God. Not one of us is better than any other. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. We each have our likes and dislikes. We each have a history, and perhaps most interestingly, we really can’t judge anyone based on their past. Oh yes, you can make generalizations, but you never know when or how someone might change. You never know when a heart might be softened, or broken.

About the gospel? The gospel is powerful. It can be what breaks that hardened heart. It can pierce the thickest darkness and make it light. It can be what gives you strength when nothing else in life can or will lift you up. It’s so much more than even just a lifestyle;  it’s a dedication. It’s a consecration of one’s soul to the Lord (this one I’m still learning about… and working on). It’s the most personal thing in the world, yet it requires one to reach out to others more than anything else.

About the world? The world is messed up. That’s about it. It’s a shaky foundation to build on… and by that I mean it will crumble beneath your feet. Don’t trust it. Don’t rely on it. Don’t indulge in it. Rely on the gospel.

About myself? For one thing, I learned very quickly that, contrary to my pre-mission belief system, I am not the only normal person in the world. I’ve become a lot better at picking the right battles in life. I’ve learned patience and a little bit of charity. I’ve learned that my mind indeed can be quite powerful, and with the right kind of motivation, I can get myself to do a lot of things. I’ve also learned that I am absolutely nothing, and that everything I have learned about myself means nothing if I don’t associate it with the teachings of Christ. In essence, I’ve learned that though I am certainly nothing, and by myself can only amount to nothing, I am everything to my Heavenly Father and my Savior and can do anything with Their help…. if I let Them into my life.

Well, I think I’ve probably rambled enough. I’d just like you to know that I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom on the earth today. It is the only true church. It contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel, including the holy priesthood of God. The Book of Mormon is a fruit of Joseph Smith. It is a true record, and those that sincerely pursue a study of it can come to know of its divinity by the Holy Spirit. We have prophets today, and the Lord speaks to them just as He has spoken to them anciently, as we can read in the Holy Bible, which is also the word of God.

I can’t express how grateful I am to my Savior. He’s done more for me than I could possibly imagine to list. He’s been with me through so much, the good and the bad. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, my Rock, and my Redeemer. He suffered and died for our sins, and now He lives for us! How awesome is that? The Atonement of Christ is so powerful, it’s really quite amazing. I love my Savior. I wish I was a better servant, a better representative. I have regrets, but who doesn’t? All we can do is seek forgiveness through Christ’s atonement and then move on and do better. Look up. Look forward. Don’t let your sins or our past define who you are. You are a child of God. Let that divine knowledge help build your character.

Thanks for reading! I invite you to look through all the posts I’ve made. I’ve got quite a few… so… go read and have an awesome day. God bless.

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Seeking the Arms of Love

Many people in this world lack something great. They lack the knowledge of God’s love. Many do not believe in God, and therefore by default they are numb to their Heavenly Father’s compassion, yet still others who do have a believe in God often find themselves, or feel themselves as being, beyond God’s comforting embrace.

I have felt this way at times, and I’m sure you can think about some moments, days, weeks, months, or even years in your life when the warmth of God’s love others talk about felt chilled. You might’ve been on your knees night after night, pleading to feel closer to God and to your Savior, to feel somethinganything, even if it was just a minuscule amount of compassion. Perhaps you felt that those prayers were left unanswered.

So what to do, then? Well, I can tell you right now that God is never the one that moves in a relationship. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ are always constant. They never stray from us.  The only person ever to experience an actual withdrawal of God’s spirit, because the Father did actually withdraw from Him, was the Savior Jesus Christ, and only to make Christ’s Atonement truly infinite, and truly complete.

So if we feel distanced from God, and God is never the one who moves, we can only conclude that we were the ones that took some backward steps. We are the ones who have slacked, or idled, or straight up rebelled. To correct this, we of course need to step forward. Here’s something I read this morning in my studies. This is revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ to Oliver Cowdery…

Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20)

I’ve read this verse many times before, and other verses like it, but it struck a different tone with me today. It’s such a simple concept. The general principle is commonly taught within most Christian denominations. To come close to God, one must make changes in his or her life, changes that are in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Namely, obey the commandments and live the higher law.

Yes, it’s true that the Spirit can comfort us even when we disobey. That comfort, however, is not for comfort in the sin. It is simply the comfort that, if spoken, could be equated to, “You did a bad thing, but you can be better and move on.” It is not abiding, but it is motivating and enforcing, directing the individual to seek the needed change so that true and lasting comfort may be found and enjoyed.

The words of the Lord to Oliver are simple, yet profound. A lot of my missionary comrades like to call them “truth bombs.” If we are obedient, then will we be able to feel God’s love in its strongest and most enduring form. It will be a “Well done, you may rest in My arms of love.” as opposed to a “I still love you, but do better.” Hope that made sense. Naturally this is all making sense in my mind.

And of course, God will show love to those that love Him. Jesus Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He was of course speaking for Himself as well as the Father. Christ’s words are the Father’s words, and Christ’s commandments are the Father’s commandments.

So if you feel a bit of a disconnect between God and yourself, don’t look at God… look at yourself. He won’t forsake you, He will never do that. But He expects us to be obedient and to try our best. He loves you. He will always love you, and He loves you enough to let you have this mortal time period to learn and become like Him. It’s not meant to be easy. He can’t hold your hand the whole time, but like Christ’s parable of the prodigal son, He is always watching for us when we choose to leave Him. So when we realize our mistakes and come back to Him (obey His commandments with sincerity), He will be there to embrace us.

 

 

 

Obey and Be Happy!

Well, I have to admit, I haven’t been compltely focused lately. In about two weeks I’ll be flying back home, back to my family and friends, back to work, back to “normal” life. Naturally, this fact consumes much of my thought process. As a result, I haven’t been super diligent with my blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a missionary. It’s the best thing I’ve done with my life so far, and it will probably be forever the most unique thing I’ll do with my life. I’m sad to see it slipping away, but I’m excited to see my post-mission life fast approaching.

I wanted to make a post for today. It didn’t matter if it was profound and detailed… or not. I just want to say something about the gospel. So… this is what came to mind. I truly feel that it is inspired. The message is simple: happiness. It’s a fun word that holds a lot of meaning, and can be subjected to many different interpretations. Here’s a great verse from the Book of Mormon on happiness. It’s from a sermon given by a wise King Benjamin. Notice what this man says is the key to happiness.

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. (Mosiah 2:41)

I absolutely love this verse. It’s so straight forward. It’s just awesome. What does King Benjamin say is the key to happiness? Keeping the commandments of God. This is so simple, yet so often we forget it. From first-hand experience, and from the experiences of others, I know this to be a true principle. Through the phases of my own life, I can look back and see that the happiest times were when I was in closest communion with my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ, and when I could most strongly feel the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is easier said than done. I know that. Obedience, like happiness, is a big word that means a lot. This post isn’t meant to be about obedience though, so you can look back through my earlier posts, or study on your own, to find out what obedience means. What I’m simply trying to say is that… if you’re missing something in life… if you feel like happiness and joy are always just out of reach… look at yourself, examine yourself, and ask yourself if you’re living in a way that is truly in harmony with God. If not, find ways to change.

I promise that as you seek for obedience to God’s commandments, happiness will come. You will feel the love of your Father in Heaven, the love of your Savior, and the influence of the Spirit more strongly in your life. We are God’s children, and we instinctively feel after His love and His approval. It’s built within us. To disobey God is to go against what we were divinely designed to do. So seek God, and seek happiness. That’s it. It’s that simple.

 

The Poetic Corner: Take Me Away

in the middle of this road i am looking both ways and say

why did You place me here today?

it always seems that i can’t keep up to what You’re thinking

all the dreams i’ve had will fade away

 

at times i cry

‘cause i can’t work past mistakes

but still i try

‘cause You’re finding a better place for me

 

why did You take me away

from where i thought i needed to be?

please just answer me

how is this right when it seems wrong?

 

how can i make a difference

when i don’t see the relevance to why i’m here?

a repeated history this appears

will this ever end?

will i be looking for a purpose

for the rest of my existence?

 

why did You take me away

from where i thought i needed to be?

please just answer me

how is this right when it seems wrong?

 

it seems wrong, but i must go on

so as i stand on this road i look both ways and say

i know You’ve placed me here today

‘cause all the plans of my life are in Your hands

and this is how You help me understand

 

I was excited to be transferred down to Billings. I had always wanted to serve in Billings, yet I never really thought it would happen. With only six weeks left in my mission, I was confused when my mission president asked me to come down and finish it off here. He said he needed my leadership, but in all honesty I doubted his judgment. I’ll admit, I still wonder why I was placed here when I felt that Plentywood, Montana was where I really needed to be. I’ve had great experiences here. I’ve met awesome missionaries and awesome people in general, but in the back of my mind the question of “Who am I supposed to affect?” still lingers.

You’ve probably had similar experiences, where plans changed and you found yourself somewhere unexpected. Maybe, like me, you wondered, “Why does God want me here?” Well, of course, God doesn’t make mistakes. He certainly never puts us anywhere by accident. There is always someone to help or something to learn… or most likely both.

A scripture that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6. Maybe you’ve heard or read it before.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Most often, we won’t understand why we’ve been placed somewhere. The Lord doesn’t always expect us to understand. He expects us to trust thatHe understands. If we acknowledge Him in all we do, He will certainly be the beacon that will guide us in the right direction.

Traveling to the Americas in the Book of Mormon, Lehi and his family were guided by a compass that worked solely upon their faith in the Lord. Speaking of this compass, Alma, another Book of Mormon prophet, spoke these words to one of his sons,

For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. (Alma 37:44-45)

By following the counsel from the scriptures and the Lord’s living prophets, we too can be led to a better land. I definitely believe that so long as one is doing his or her best to live in harmony with the gospel, the Lord will always lead them to someplace better. Wherever we end up in life, the Lord has a purpose for it. When the Lord’s people are obedient, He always leads them to somewhere better.