Moms: They’re Awesome

So naturally, with tomorrow being the awesome day when we have awesome celebrations celebrating the awesomeness of awesome mothers all over the awesome world… I need to give a shout out to my awesome mother.

However, I don’t want to just repeat what I posted last year… though I really don’t have any new ideas flowing through my mind.

So maybe I’ll just keep it simple this time. My mission is almost over, so I’ll see my mom soon anyway.

I love my mom. Like everyone else thinks, I believe I have the best mom ever. In reality though, she is the best mom ever, for me. No other woman would have been able to raise me in the right way, as she has raised me. My mom has always told me that I’m a special boy. Sometimes my brother and sister told me that too, but they didn’t mean it in the same way. ūüôā

I’ve never really seen myself as anyone extraordinary, or special, but I still always believed my mother when she said it. I figured she probably knew better than I did, and probably possessed some sort of motherly instinct. Parents are, after all, entitled to receive revelation from God for their children. A mother isn’t necessarily more entitled to that revelation than the father, but I think a mother is more in tune to that revelation when it comes to certain things.

And so, I’m glad that my mom has been in tune to those revelations, whether it was to inspire me or perhaps call attention to some misbehavior. She always seems to know when I need one of those two things. No one is free of struggles, and my mother and father have had their fair share of trials and tribulation. But even when our family was struggling, in many different ways, my mom always kept moving forward. She always kept working and always told me to rely on the Lord.

So to make this full circle, I love my mom and she is the most awesome mom to ever exist. I’m glad that she and my father raised me up to follow Jesus Christ, and without them and Him I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thanks, Mom! You’re the best!

Yea or Nay: Choose Your Path

I can’t take credit for this insight, but I was made aware of it just yesterday by another missionary… who is very awesome. It’s another one of those ‘simple yet profound’ things. Let’s go to the Book of Mormon…

We find here a Nephite missionary named Ammon teaching a Lamanite king named Lamoni. Ammon had been defending Lamoni’s flocks against thieves, and in doing so cut off the arms of the thieves and saved the sheep from being stolen. Lamoni was amazed and desired to speak to Ammon. He thought that Ammon was the Great Spirit the Lamanites believed in, but Ammon taught him about the true God. He asks Lamoni if he believes in God. Lamoni doesn’t understand what Ammon means by that word, so Ammon says something he knows Lamoni will understand.

And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?

And he said, Yea. (Alma 18:26-27)

Lamoni eventually became converted, which resulted in the conversion of much of his kingdom. He went on to prosperity and happiness. His answer to Ammon’s question was short and simple. Ammon basically asked him, in his own terms, if he believed in God. Lamoni answered “yes.” That simple answer set the course for what would happen later.

Now we go to a different part in the Book of Mormon. Alma, the prophet and high priest of the Church, is ‘facing off’ with an anti-Christ named Korihor. Korihor not only denied the Christ, but denied the existence of God, claiming that there was no proof that a Messiah would come. Alma asked Korihor a very simple question, to which came a simple answer.

And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?

And he answered, Nay. (Alma 30:37-38)

Korihor claimed he did not believe in God, though in reality he did. He demanded a sign, and as a sign he was struck dumb and became a beggar. After this, he admitted that he was teaching false doctrines, and that Satan had tricked him. He was eventually trampled down and killed.

Lamoni’s answer and Korihor’s answer are the two¬†shortest verses in the Book of Mormon. Each person gave a simple reply. Yes or no. One said yes and led a happy life. The other said no and led a life of misery until he was killed.

And so, with us, the simple decisions we make in life can be profound and make more of an impact in our lives than we think. There are critical times in our lives when a decision needs to be made. It can be a matter of “yes I will do this” or “no I won’t do this.” It’s important that we don’t overlook these moments, for they can dramatically affect the course of our lives.

This same Alma once counseled one of his sons, saying, “…behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…” It’s so true, and it can go both ways. Great and wonderful things can be brought to pass by small things, and great and terrible things can result in the same manner. The little decisions we make do matter. So when we arrive at those decisions, will we be like Lamoni and choose God, or will we be like Korihor and reject Him? One ends in happiness, the other will get us trampled.

Faith in Christ: Through the Spirit. Not violence.

Most everyone can remember when the film The Passion of the Christ came out. It caused quite a bit of talk amongst Christians and even non-Christians. Some may or may not be aware of the fact that Mormons tend to stay away from R-rated films. Modern-day prophets and apostles have counseled Latter-day Saints against watching such movies. While not all Mormons adhere to this advise (I myself have not been 100% perfect), you may have noticed this trait of your Mormon acquaintances.

From what I’ve experienced and noted, it’s good counsel. You can argue about specific movies, but generally speaking, nothing good comes of R-rated films. They are littered with excessive violence, profanity, and sexual content that no one needs to subject themselves to. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “mature” adult or not. Being an adult is not an excuse to participate in these things.

So, getting back to the topic here, most Mormons did not go and watch The Passion in the theatres, as many of their other Christian peers did. Some commended Mormons for setting a standard, and not viewing a violent movie despite its apparently Christian nature. Others condemned Mormons, claiming that we cared more about our image than our Savior. Such a claim is foolish.

The fact is, the film is R-rated for a reason. It’s violent… ridiculously so. My companion and I¬† visited with someone not too long ago who had this film on in¬†their living room. We were sitting in the kitchen area, but I¬†could see the screen¬†and hear what was going on. We dropped in¬†just as Christ’s scourging was taking place. It took a good ten minutes for the¬†gruesome scene to finally be over. It¬†was difficult to watch, but I’m easily distracted, and so¬†my eyes diverted to the screen every minute or so as we were talking to this person.

Whether or not¬†Jesus’ actual flogging was¬†that horrific is an invalid point. The point is that it was a horrific portrayal, and one that was devoid of any good spirit. I felt no love. I felt no growing faith, and I¬†certainly did not feel the Spirit of God… watching that.¬†Eventually her son turned the TV off. I can say for certain that I felt¬†no closer to my Savior¬†after witnessing that scene.

To those that were critical of Mormons straying away from this film, I¬†would say that we don’t need violence to feel close to Jesus. I don’t need to watch¬†Him getting ripped apart¬†by whips for my faith¬†in Him to grow.

Contrast¬†The Passion to a film¬†made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Finding Faith in Christ. It’s short, only¬†a half hour. It does¬†indeed portray Christ’s scourging and crucifixion, but not in any excessive way. Instead, it focuses on the miracles Christ performed, drawing¬†upon the Holy Spirit¬†to testify to the viewer that Jesus¬†is¬†the Christ. I actually watched it yesterday, and like always, the Spirit was strong. I felt love. I felt faith. I felt close to my Savior.

When it comes to our standards, we don’t lower them to appease to the world, and when it comes to Jesus Christ, I don’t need violence to feel close to Him, I only need the Spirit.

The Sacrament. Not just a good idea, it’s a commandment!

If you are a Christian who actively attends Sunday services, you are most likely familiar with the sacrament, what it is, and what it represents. Bread and wine (or water in an LDS church) are blessed and given to the congregation. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of the Savior Jesus Christ. We take these emblems to remember His atonement.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sacrament is taken every Sunday during the main service we creatively call sacrament meeting. There is a prayer upon the bread, which is passed, and then a prayer upon the water, which is then also passed. Aside from crying babies, there is a reverence among the congregation to respect and reflect upon Christ’s atoning sacrifice and our own devotion to Him as His disciples.

There are many reasons we take the sacrament. One: it’s a commandment. When Christ came to the Americas after His resurrection, he instituted the sacrament with the people, the Nephites and Lamanites. After blessing the bread and wine, and having everyone eat and drink it, Christ said,

And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.

And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock. (3 Nephi 18:10, 12)

Why are we commanded to take the emblems of Jesus’ body and blood? Well, just think what would happen if all of God’s commandments were just suggestions. Would any of us do them? Doubt it. We already have enough trouble being obedient to them when they are commandments. Christ commands us to take the sacrament because He understands that we need it. It gives us a boost, and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taking the sacrament is a renewal of our promise to God made at baptism. We promise to live a Christ-like life. We aren’t perfect at it, but taking the sacrament is helps by giving us that fresh start each Sabbath day.

The second time Jesus held a sacrament meeting with the Nephites and Lamanites, he explained to them…

He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled. (3 Nephi 20:8)

Christ is the bread of life and the living water. We may eat the literal bread and drink the literal water, but our bodies will thirst. But the bread and water taken during the sacrament has been blessed. They become emblems, symbols of Christ, and when we take them, our spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst are satisfied.

If you’re curious about¬†the sacrament and want to understand it better, I invite you to attend an LDS church service. You’re bound to find one. We’re just about everywhere. I know the sacrament is a wonderful gift from our Savior Jesus Christ. Of all the things I do each Sunday, taking the sacrament is the most important. It’s been a blessing in my life and has given me greater spiritual strength as I take it and declare myself a disciple of Christ each week.

 

The Poetic Corner: Another Ship That Sinks

Another Ship That Sinks

as days go by, it seems to me

that life’s no more a mystery than how we breathe

or why we see the rising of the sun

what’s simple and what’s beautiful

is waking up without a thought of self

but to help someone

 

i haven’t always been the best

of making the day worth it when i rest

my head

i think instead too much

of my own fears

returning years of chaos to my thoughts

 

my plans that span across the week

the good i’ll do, the way i’ll think

they end up as a ship that sinks

forever lost under the deep

and while i drown in ocean blue

wondering what i must do

thinking that i can’t be saved

i am no good, i’m just a slave to sin

within myself

 

i lift my gaze, see through my tears

from where i kneel there’s something near

a picture frame rests there for me

and suddenly it’s all so clear

my plans, my hopes, my thoughts, my dreams

in all these ways i missed one thing

the Savior of the world, my King

 

without Him i can only fall

though i think i try so hard

but i left him far behind

and this is why…

 

Jesus, You are everything

Savior, Friend, my only King

without You I can do nothing

I’m just another ship that sinks

 

Jesus, You are everything

the Light, the Life, the air i breathe

without You I can do nothing

I’m just another ship that sinks

 

Jesus, You are everything

the only way i’ll be happy

without Your grace I am nothing

I’m just another ship that sinks

Hypocrites!? Yes, we are.

I’ve heard a lot of different excuses for not coming to church. Some are better than others. Some are lengthy, others to the point. Some are humorous and creative, others are cliche and unimaginative. There’s one thing, however, that they all have in common. They’re excuses, not reasons. One that I’ve heard quite a few times is “everyone there is just a hypocrite!”

To a degree that is true. Hypocrites attend church. But church is not for perfect people. To those people, I usually wantto respond with something like, “Yeah, I know. So what? At least they go to church. You really think you’re any better than them? You’re not. You’re just as much of a hypocrite as them by bringing that up. Get the beam out of your own eye before you start pointing out the motes in the theirs!”

That’s not the best way to respond of course, so I keep those thoughts to myself. But it’s true. As King Benjamin says in the Book of Mormon, “are we not all beggars?” We all depend upon the same God to provide for us, whether it be food, clothing, shelter, etc. We are all on equal ground. Yes, there are hypocrites in the chapel Sunday morning, but if we’re using them as an excuse to not attend Sunday services, are we really any better than they are?

Eternal life is too precious a gift to let it depend, unncecessarily, upon the actions of others. Our Father in Heaven will not excuse our sins of ommission (things we should do that we don’t do) because the guy sitting two pews behind was a jerk.

James, in the New Testament warned us,

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned. (James 5:9)

The Savior also warned,

 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Before we point the finger at others, we must first examine ourselves. I speak also to myself, ’cause I’m certainly not perfect at this. But I do know that this is true. We are all sinners. We may sin differently, but we’re all sinners nonetheless. So don’t bother yourself with what so-and-so did or what what’s-her-face said to you. You can hold it against them all you want, but tearing down others doesn’t elevate yourself to any degree. You’re only jumping aboard their sinking ship.

So if you aren’t going to church because you think they’re all hypocrites, take a step back and see that we are all hypocrities. We must look at ourselves and do what we know to be right.

A Little To Eternal

When Jesus feeds the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish we of course are in awe at such a miracle. We think of the great power and mercy of the Savior, and the way he tests the disciples by asking them what should be done to feed such a great number of people. What we often overlook, however, (myself included) is the young lad who offered those five loaves and two fish.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (John 6:8-9)

Obviously, the lad was willing to offer up what small substance he possessed, and I believe it’s safe to assume the Savior asked the boy’s permission to have his food, as well as thanked the boy graciously for his small offering. And a small donation it was. Five loaves of bread and two fish among five thousand? That would only feed a few of them, if they were going to eat until they were filled.

Yet that was all Jesus needed. With that scanty meal He created an endless feast.

How are we like the young lad? Well, it’s easy. We can only offer so much. We may have a task at hand, a metaphorical five thousand, and we may only have five loaves and two fish to complete the task. It’s not enough. It’s all we have but it’s just not enough. Thankfully, the Savior can step in for us. He doesn’t expect us to provide for the five thousand. He understands that it’s just too much for us to handle alone. We’re just young children. Butwhat we do have He expects us to offer.

“Give me what you can,” He might say, “and I’ll make up for the rest.” Such is the Atonement of Christ. With Christ, we can help feed the five thousand. The tasks before uscanbe accomplished and miracles can happen. So if you can only offer a little, offer it anyway. Give what you can to Christ and let Him multiply it. You can¬†play a part¬†in a miracle.

The Poetic Corner: Another Light

Another Light

the world may not be what we want

but it’s okay, we all feel that way

at least once a day

our lives may not be what we planned

but it’s alright, we’ve still got time

to work on this, our lack of faith

 

the sun may be behind the clouds

but if we try, our eyes can see

the silver lining just beyond

and if the darkness spreads abroad ’til we can’t walk

using our sight

we’ll run and let our guide be another light

oh, there’s another light

 

oh, there’s another light

when the doors are shut right in your face

you’re out of place and suddenly it’s night

reach for the ember in the corner of your mind

make it a fire, let the Savior’s warmth keep you alive

oh, another light

He’s a light that never fades

nothing else can take His place

 

you wonder how you’ll make it through another week

of uncertainty

but you always do

you can’t explain the emptiness inside your soul

and how it fills

until it’s full

God’s in control more than we know

 

we may not have everything

but what we have is what we need

not a light of the world

there’s another light

He’s all we need

and that’s fine with me
Let’s face it, more often than not, life is not how we want it to be, and it usually doesn’t go as planned. Whether in our own lives, the lives of our family and friends, or the lives of those around the world, the world seems to be fighting against us. What guidance does the world offer? Nothing that results in much good. Most of the time, when we follow theworld’s guidance, we end up in a darker situation than where we started.

So what do we do when we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel? Thankfully, there’s another light. This light is Jesus Christ. His light is eternal and never fades. His light can penetrate any darkness. It leads us into His presence, whereas the “wisdom” of the world only leads us into the chains of Hell.

We read in the first epistle of John, chapter 1 verses 15 through 17,

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The wisdom of the world will pass with time, and everything and everyone that is allied with it will pass as well. If we expect to get through this life, we need to cling to the only Light that can brighten any path.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5-6)

Only in Christ we have life and light. The world cannot offer such things to us because Jesus Christ is truly all we need. If we rely on His light to guide us, everything will be taken care of. We may not have everything the world has to offer. We may not have a nice car, or a big house, or a large bank account, but it’s alright. These things will pass anyway. What matters is that we hold on to Jesus Christ. He is another light. Through Him we can have all we’ll ever need in life.

Forgiving Ourselves

Forgiveness is a strange concept to many of us. It’s straightforward, yet can be very difficult at times. Forgiving others is hard enough, but often we find it impossible to forgive ourselves. Whether it’s out of insecurity or a need to receive the pity of others, we hold things over our own heads, sometimes for years and years. Forgiving ourselves, however, is a commandment.

In the Doctrine and Covenenants, the Lord commanded,

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10)

“All men” means exactly that, all men. This includes ourselves. The Lord has also said that if we are not willing to forgive, He will not forgive us. The same applies to forgiving ourselves. We are commanded to do it, and we must do it if we expect forgiveness from the Lord.

If you truly feel like you have not been forgiven, go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and for a confirmation of it from the Spirit. When we are forgiven, Satan does not want us to recognize it. He would rather have us feel miserable and incapable of doing good. A lot of the time, when we have done something wrong we convince ourselves that that means we cannot do any more good, that we cannot help someone. This is not true, but when Satan gets us to think that way, he hinders us from doing the good that we are capable of doing.

This is partially why refusing to forgive oneself is such a grievous thing to the Lord. We use it to excuse ourselves from the Lord’s work. We use it as an excuse to be idle, lazy, or apathetic. This is not the Lord’s way. The Lord’s way is to forgive ourselves, or others, and move on, doing good to others.

In the most recent General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advised,

It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.

Refusing to forgive ourselves is denying the healing power of Jesus Christ’s atonement. I echo Elder Holland’s counsel, to you and myself, to not procastinate the fellowship of the Lord’s labor. He has work for us to do, and if we are carrying unncecessary weight upon our shoulders, we need to remove it and give it to Him. Let Him take your burdens so you can work to your fullest.

The Poetic Corner: That Easter Morn

That Easter Morn

 

the bitter cup, a lonely road

this path He walked, His love to show

for us our pains upon Him laid

for us our sins He freely paid

for you and me…

Gethsemane was the place prepared to free

those who’ve won and those who’ve lost

in summer’s warmth, in winter’s frost

no matter where, no matter what

He bled so He could strengthen us

this is what i’ve seen in me

the love of Christ in Gethsemane

 

a single cross, a barren hill

His sacrifice, His hearbeat still

like Moses raised the serpent up

so Christ hung on the cross for us

raised up for you, raised up for me

He died for all on Calvary

and all who turn and look to Him

can cast away their pain and sin

and all with open eyes to see

are filled with Spirit wind to breathe

it’s what i’ve felt

it’s what i’ve seen

upon the cross on Calvary

 

a stone rolled back, an empty tomb

the risen Christ, the dead renewed

the grave, its maw a fleeting thought

for Christ the Lord has conquered death

he died for us, yet now He lives

His breath of life can breathe within

to lift our heads and take our sin

to raise us too and live again

 

i know that my Redeemer lives

the joy this brings i can’t begin

to ever think i could describe

just how this truth affects my life

my breath, my strength, the love i feel

is only here because He’s real

in Him my spirit is reborn

because He rose that Easter morn

To keep the emphasis on the poem, I’ll make this simple. I love my Savior and I know that He lives. Jesus Christ atoned for the sins and pains of all mankind. Male and female. Rich and poor. Everyone. He did so because He loves each and every one of us unconditionally. I can’t fully comprehend how that works, but I know it’s true. Jesus Christ lives, and because He rose from the dead, we will be redeemed from death as well. Because He suffered for our sins, we may repent and be forgiven. Our sins can be washed away.

The eggs and such are great. They are part of the fun, but this Easter season, reflect upon this important truth: Christ did die for us, but now He lives for us.

Wolves Don’t Make Good Fruit

The 182nd annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held over this last weekend. It is composed of five sessions, each of which are two hours long. Two general sessions and a priesthood session on Saturday and two more general sessions on Sunday. General Conference is basically when the prophet of the Church, his two counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other general authorities of the Church come together and offer talks of encouragement and counsel. This is done in the conference center, located by Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The conference center fills to capacity, and members of the Church around the world (over 14 million) watch or listen to the conference via radio, internet, cable, or satellite.

It’s a wonderful opportunity, and something that only recently I’ve come to truly appreciate. The speakers are inspired men¬†(and sometimes¬†women). They speak under the unfluence of the Holy Spirit.¬†They are servants of the Lord, and the words they speak in General Conference are¬†the Lord’s words. For this, I’m grateful. Every person, no matter who they are¬†or what circumstances they may be in, can benefit from the counsel given during General Conference, especially from the prophet Thomas S. Monson.

Many times, when I tell someone there is a living prophet on the earth, a modern-day Moses, they like to quote the book of Matthew in the New Testament and say, “Jesus talked about¬†false prophets. Ravening wolves He called them.”

Yes, indeed He did, and He also said that “by their¬†fruits ye shall know them.” Those same people¬†often seem to forget that very important verse. So what’s a simple way to find out if this Thomas Monson fellow is truly a prophet called of God. Hmm… maybe…. listen to him speak? That’s pretty easy. Heck, you could even read his biography if you wanted to really study it out. But you don’t have to.

If you listen to him speak, and he really is a prophet, you will know. The Spirit will witness to you of that fact, if you are in the right state of mind to receive it and your heart is open to the possibility. The same goes for the rest of the speakers. The Spirit can testify that the words they speak are true. The Spirit can also testify that the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles areactually apostles like Peter, James, and John of the New Testament.

This last General Conference was awesome. I actually took notes! I’m not usually one to do that. The “notes” typically end up becoming doodles of some kind, but¬†not¬†thistime! These were legit notes, and I most definitely got a lot more out of the messages than had I not taken notes. But the notes are not what’s important. What’s important is the Spirit that was felt. I encourage you to visit lds.org¬†and watch or listen to some of the conference talks that were given. I can promise you strength, comfort, and insight for your life’s struggles if you do so.

Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. His counselors and the twelve apostles are also called of God to receive revelation for God’s children on the Earth. If Moses was back on the Earth today, would you not want to hear what he had to say? Well, he’s not, but there is someone on this planet that holds the same power and authority as Moses. Listen to his words and see for yourself if he speaks for the Lord.

Poplar, Transfers, and… My Thoughts.

So, I’m sitting in the library in the Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, Montana. Did I ever think I’d find myself up in north-east Montana? Not really. Then again, I never thought I’d end up in Chinook, Montana either and that’s exactly where I was this time last year. Life is full of ironies, that’s for sure. I’m not completely certain what the point of this post will be, but I always like to¬†write out a little¬†something whenever I get transferred, to get out my thoughts and such. So what’s the thought¬†this time around?

Be careful about what you wish for.

I was getting a little bit bored of Frenchtown. It happens with all of my areas though. Maybe I just don’t have the right kind of attention span or something. But anyway, I felt like¬†I needed a change of scenery, a change of pace. Well, I¬†definitely got both of those.¬†Don’t get me wrong though. I’m excited to be up here on the rez, but I certainly miss Frenchtown. Honestly, I should’ve been braced for it. I missed Chinook when I¬†left. I missed Columbia Falls when I¬†left. So naturally I would miss Frenchtown too, or rather, some specific people that live there.

My second thought is that, like¬†how I felt when I first arrived in my previous areas, I’m not entirely certain why I’m here. I’m here for a reason though. I wouldn’t be in Poplar if the Lord had¬†things for me to do elsewhere. Wherever you are in¬†life, the Lord is well aware of it. He knows where we are physically and spiritually. It may be for someone else or it may be for yourself. Most likely, it’s for both reasons. I know I have things to learn while I’m here, and hopefully I’ll be able to help out some souls along the way.¬†The same goes for all of us.

Well, that’s honestly all I felt like saying this time around. The Book of Mormon is true! Read it.

You Cannot Fight Against God

So… I’ve never really understood the whole point of the whole¬†anti-Mormon thing. And by “anti-Mormon” I don’t mean anyone that doesn’t agree with Mormon doctrine. I’m referring to deliberate attacks on the doctrine. Websites, books, cds dedicated totryingto tear down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m never worried about them. Their efforts fail and will always fail. Yet… I’m still curious. I wonder… what drives these people to have such an intense hatred for the Mormons and the things we believe? Why try to fight against us? What does it matter to them? I’m not going around trying to bash on the Lutherans or the Catholics or the Muslims. They have their beliefs and I have no reason to attack them for it.

Yet I’ve seen books and websites with the sole purpose of trying to tear down the LDS faith. Perhaps they think it’s some kind of missionary duty, to try and destroy what they believe to be something evil. Whatever the reason, I’d like to inject the reasoning of a great teacher. In fact, Paul the Apostle was the student of this man. His name was Gamaliel. When Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, they were commanded by the Pharisees to cease preaching in the name of Christ. Peter and John, of course, were not frightened by their threats, and Peter testified to them of their wickedness and how they had slain the Son of God. The Pharisees then wanted nothing more than to murder the two apostles, yet one of them was not wicked in his heart. This was Gamaliel. He had Peter and John step out of the room and then he offered some wisdom to his fellow counselors.

Gamaliel tells them to take caution with what they were intending to do with Peter and John. He cites two references,

For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

Two men, Theudas and Judas, had risen up, attempting to bring followers to their causes, and had failed. Their rebellions came to nothing.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

He then basically tells them to leave Peter and John alone. If the source of their cause came from their own minds, like the two men he had just mentioned, then it will result in the same manner. It will come to nothing and eventually be done away with. But, if their cause is the cause of God, then fighting against it would be the worst idea possible, because you can’t fight against God. You’ll lose every time.

This is truly wisdom, and thinking about it makes me wonder why people try and fight against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If our cause is the cause of a man from Palmyra, New York, then it will eventually be done away with. But it has not been done away with. It has lasted and endured the efforts of Satan. This is because it is not of Joseph Smith, it is of Jesus Christ. It his His work and His church. No one can fight against it, ’cause they’re fighting against God.

So here’s a little wisdom for the anti-Mormons. Go ahead. Fight against it if you want. If won’t matter, because I can tell you right now you are fighting against the work of God. You will lose. If you truly believe the LDS church is the consequence of a madman, then let us be. We’ll certainly destroy ourselves, given time. But we have not, and we never will. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom restored to the earth. See the fruit of it. Read the Book of Mormon. Compare it with the Bible. Find out foryourself and don’t let anyone tell you one way or the other.

The Poetic Corner: The Keeper and the Ocean

The Keeper and the Ocean

take every word you sputter out
and every word received
the things you thought but couldn’t shout
the hate you couldn’t see
in all these things we’re not alone
we feel collectively, you’ll see
it’s the air we all must breathe
it’s the air we all must breathe

your mind is a pool of water
sending ripples to another
what you imagine up is falling in
you can create, you can destroy
you can end or begin again

but why is it we’ve lost control?
the evil we’ve let slide
the keeper of our conscious mind
too often letting go
an open doorway cannot stop
and cannot even slow
the fight of forces we don’t know
these are forces we don’t know

your mind is a pool of water
sending ripples to another
what you imagine up is falling in
you can create, you can destroy
you can end or begin again

you think you know what you perceive
but your gate-keeper is fast asleep
allowing wolves to kill the sheep
but it’s never enough
just to wake your keeper up

’cause your mind is an ocean
turning tidal waves into emotions
what you think inside is never safe
these tidal waves are sending commotion

your mind is an ocean
turning tidal waves into emotions
the storm inside is nothing fake
it’s what you create
that controls the motions

so calm the storm above the ocean
take the winds and waves and make devotion
calm the storm above the ocean
take your sin and hate and make devotion

 

We are in control of our thoughts and actions. God gave us agency to choose how we react to things around us, as well as agency to choose what we put out to others. What opinions to become words. What ideas to result in actions. Unfortunately, a lot of us have let our filters go unused, and let the keepers of our subconscious minds fall asleep, unable to keep track of things going in and out. This is honestly as much for me as anyone else. Please don’t think I’m trying to be “preachy”, I’m just saying what I believe to be true.

Christ taught the apostles that after He was gone they would eventually be killed and hated among all nations, and that men will betray one another and hate one another, and “the love of many shall wax cold.” We can see this in the world today. It’s becoming more apparent every passing year. As Satan gains greater hold upon mankind, he is trying in every possible way to destroy the filters God gave us. We are desensitized. Evil is more readily accepted and considered normal, whereas goodness and traditional values are being deemed as old-fashioned, close-minded, etc.

The Book of Mormon teaches us,

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Our minds are pools of water. In many cases they are oceans. They can be beautiful, inspiring, and calming, or they can destroy and level the progress of those around us. When we think something, it generates itself as an object within our mind and is dropped into this subconscious pool. A positive object will ripple out a positive wave, and a negative object will ripple out a negative wave. So what will you choose? Will you let your keeper sleep, and allow the crashing waves of negative thoughts destroy those around you? Or will you wake your keeper from his sleep, stand him up straight, and then strive to give him less tidal waves to stop?

James, in the New Testament, focused most of his writings on the “doing” aspect of the gospel. He spoke of the great destruction the words from our mouths can create.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (verse 10)

The thoughts in our minds create positive and negative consequences, both with an enormous power behind them. But the same mouth that compliments should not be the same mouth that tears down and defames.

King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, put it plainly,

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

 

Line Upon Line

We are children of God. Every single one of us. The bond and the free. The poor and the rich. The intelligent and the unlearned. The famous, the infamous, and the unknown faces. Every person that has ever lived, is living, and will ever live in this universe is a literal son or daughter of a Heavenly Father. And compared to His capacity, every one of us is indeed nothing more than a child. The most intellectual and/or spiritual person on this earth is still to God as a toddler is to its parents.

We are all learning and will still have opportunities to learn long after we pass from this mortal stage in our lives. That’s why we’re here, to learn and grow. A father or mother does not expect their child to fully understand the ways of life before they leave home and begin their own lives. The child continues to learn lessons about life as they grow older, go to school, begin careers and families, etc. Inevitably, mistakes are made along the way and the individual(s) learn how to adjust their ways so they don’t make the mistakes anymore.

Christ said to “be ye perfect,” even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. I’m sure the Savior was fully aware of this impossibility. He wasn’t referring to this life though. Indeed, we should strive to get as close to being like God as we can. Naturally, however, we are bound to epically fail at this endeavor. It’s alright. Perfection can be reached in the life to come. This life is a preparatory state, and like children, we learn how to be like God one lesson at a time.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi expounds this idea nicely.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. (2 Nephi 28:30)

Through humility, we can be taught by the Spirit of God and learn what God would have us learn. Just as a child must grow in education and understanding, starting in pre-school, moving on to elementary, middle, and high school, and then perhaps on to college and family life, our spiritual minds also must learn by steps and levels. God will give us what we can handle. We can take it, learn and apply it, and then move on to the next thing, or we can desire something¬†more than we can handle and fail… epically.

Nephi’s brother, Jacob, spoke of this in regards to the Jews before and during the time of Christ.

But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble. (Jacob 4:14)

The prophets spoke plainly to the Jews. Christ spoke plainly to the Jews. Yet they rejected Him and His apostles. They spoke in their own manner of teaching, i.e., Christ often spoke of Himself as the living bread, that they who ate of His flesh would have eternal life. Such was common symbolism in the Jewish culture, yet they would not listen or understand. They hardened their hearts and instead sought for things they could not understand. We often do this, hoping that in looking beyond plainness we will not be held as accountable for our mistakes.

Well, obviously God knows this when we try and do it. There’s not much point ’cause we’re basically just setting ourselves up for failure. So don’t harden your heart against plain truth, and also don’t sell yourself short. We climb a ladder one step at a time.