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.

Two Books, One Witness

I’m going to cover my accuser’s second argument mentioned in my previous blog post. In his mind, the doctrine of the Bible and the doctrine of the Book of Mormonobviously were not in accordance with one another, even to the point that he admitted he would never prayerfully consider the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

Those that claim the Book of Mormon teaches doctrine in direct contradiction to the Bible are simply choosing to interpret the Bible only one way. They are the ones that blind themselves from other possibilities. Think about this: how many lines can you draw through a single point? The answer would be… infinity. You can interpret the Bible an infinite amount of ways. One says this, another says that. But engender another point into this scenario, and now how many lines can be drawn through those points? Only one. Only one straight line may be drawn, therefore there can only be one interpretation. Any other line drawn will be curved and littered with logical fallacies.

Let’s look at one example: Romans 3, verses 27 and 28,

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The born-again might say, “Aha! Faith alone is what saves us. Our deeds in this life mean nothing.”

The devout Catholic might respond, “Oh, but sir, Paul is speaking of the Mosaic law. Paul was speaking to those still practicing that law, explaining that the rituals have no effect, but faith in the Savior is the key element.”

They could turn to James and read how our faith must be shown by our works, or to the words of the Savior Himself saying, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

You could then go to Ephesians 2:8 and 9, which reads,

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

So what do we make of all this? It’s clear that these verses can create quite a difference in such a simplistic doctrine as faith and works. Let’s turn to the Book of Mormon. The prophet Nephi wrote,

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

Ah! So it is by grace that we are saved, but after we have put forth our honest effort. So we see that we cannot have one without the other. You can be the most righteous person in the world, yet still be damned without the grace of Christ. But the atoning power of the Savior will not be in effect unless we take the effort to apply it in our lives. We will inevitably fall short of what God expects of us, but we still have agency to make good choices out of our own power.

This is one simple analogy, but one to show that the Book of Mormon serves to supportthe Bible, not tear it down. I know for myself that, like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have considered it, pondered it, and prayed to God about it. The Spirit has told me it’s true. I invite you to do the same.

The Spirit, the Witness

I was told recently that my faith is blind. My belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. My belief that the Book of Mormon, alongside the Bible, is scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ. My belief in the entire set of doctrines outlined in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of this… all that I hold dear to me and believe with every fiber of my being… is blind following.

And why is it blind? According to my accuser, because…

1. There is an apparent lack of archeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, and…

2. The teachings of the Book of Mormon are obviously, according to my accuser’s opinion, in contradiction to the Bible’s doctrine.

Both of these arguments are, in my opinion, weak excuses. I bore my testimony to this man, but his heart wasn’t sufficiently softened to receive it. Honestly, that’s fine. I told him straight up that I didn’t expect to convince him, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. But to accuse me of blind faith? No, I won’t have it. Heck, he even insinuated that what I believed to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit confirming my beliefs was in reality a trick of Satan.

Last time I checked, Satan doesn’t have influence over my spirit. Yes, he can make evil appear good, and he is a grand master manipulator. He can deceive us by affecting our carnal senses. Our sight. Our hearing. Our physical sense of feeling. These are often what he attacks, but our spirits? No, that’s God’s territory. Satan can make sin seem appealing, but only God’s Spirit can touch my own spirit and manifest truth. If Satan could manipulate the very spirit within us, how awful our circumstances would be! You couldn’t trust anything! You wouldn’t be able to trust any thought or feeling you have, no matter how righteous and peaceful it feels.

But now I’m rambling, and perhaps that particular topic should be given its own blog post, just like how Venom should’ve been the spotlight of Spiderman 3.

I’m going to just focus on the first reason now. No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon? Anyone that has ever honestly looked into this topic knows that such a claim is complete nonsense. However, evidence for the Book of Mormon is not what helps an individual gain a testimony and a spiritual witness of its divinity. It is through a witness of the Holy Spirit that that is accomplished. For the sake of those who might be curious though, here’s a great link to a website dedicated to phyiscal evidences of the Book of Mormon.

http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/

Concerning the Spirit, the apostle Paul teaches us,

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath preparedfor them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

It is through the Holy Spirit that the things of God are revealed to man. Indeed, studious research is beneficial, but without a firm testimony from the Spirit, an unshakable conviction in any particular truth will never stand up to persecution and the storms of life. I marvelled somewhat that despite the fact that my accuser was a strong Christian man (and I had no reason to doubt this of him), he denied my testimony of the Spirit and claimed I was blindly following my beliefs because of an apparent lack of physical evidence. He should know very well that if something is of God, it cannot be understood or known except through His spirit.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

The Poetic Corner: Forward Or Back

Forward or Back

another misadventure

another portion of your history gone wrong

you just wanna tear out the page

but the ink has stained too long

you think it’s sunk too deep

a second chance is long gone

so instead of forward

you turn back

no longer working on things you lack

your faith, your hope, your charity

you shun the things that set you free

and try to find the answers in

the lack of light and your favorite sins

the habits you have yet to break

the thoughts you hate and the words you say

they make a slave of you each day

but the key, you see, is not to look back

it’s to keep pressing on

finding faith in the Lord, not in the world

and before long you’ll find a change is in place

the things of your mind

and the pace of your heart

will begin to take part in the plan God has set

to make you like Him and erase your regrets

to put off the slave who causes you shame

to set yourself free

and take the name of Christ upon you

a new way to live

a beacon for truth

spreading the love of God to all

and it all begins on the point you now stand

move forward onto the rock of Christ

or back into the sand

Agency is something that we all possess. We are agents unto ourselves, meaning that we can choose how to set the course of our lives. God has given us this free will so we can be properly tested. He will not force us to choose good, but instead we must actively pursue Him and seek Him out.

We’re all guilty of the person described in the poem. At one point or another, or on multiple points, we have turned back to sin during hard times for a temporary “comfort.” Of course, there really is no comfort in sin. We convince ourselves that we need it and make exemptions through anger, sadness, loneliness, hunger, tiredness, etc. In consequence, we put a stop to our spiritual progression. We put spiritual chains upon ourselves and make ourselves into slaves. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is often referred to as the “natural” or “carnal” man.

King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, talked about the natural man and the agency of man. He said,

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

The natural man, or the inclination within us to disobey God, is an enemy to God. To solve this, we must “put off” the natural man. Shun him. Shed him from us as a snake sheds its old skin.Howis this done? Number one, through the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ, and two, by “yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” Instead of following the instinct to do evil, we must listen to our conscience, the secular world’s term for the Light of Christ within us.

It’s a small, subtle influence, but a very powerful influence as well. We can feel it when we go to church, when we open up and read the word of God, when we do service for others, etc.Thatfeeling is what we must seek for and, as King Benjamin reminds us, we must rely on Christ. Only through Him and His power can we change ourselves. Not just our behavior, but our hearts and our minds. We must become, as he says, like a child. He even lists some attributes for us to help us understand when we are beginning to change.

I know that through Christ and by submitting ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can change. We can root out the natural man and become a saint, a true example of a disciple of Christ. When hard times come, don’t turn back to bad habits. Don’t look for comfort in sin, or comfort from the world. Seek the comfort that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can give you the strength to overcome all things and move forward, not back.

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.

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.

 

Rubik’s Life Lessons IV: You Can Always Be Solved

Lesson Four

No matter how mixed up you are, you can always be solved. That is the beauty of Christ’s Atonement. No stain is too deep to wash clean. No wound is too severe to heal. No soul too miserable to be comforted. Through Jesus Christ, the colors can always be matched up again.

In the Book of Mormon, we read of the wise counsel of a loving father to his two sons.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.(Helaman 5:12)

He tells his sons that if they build the foundation of their faith upon Jesus Christ, the devil will have no power over them to bring them down to misery. Helaman, the name of this father, also says that this will happen when the devil will send his storm upon us. It’s not a matter of if. We will face adversity and trials in this life. Our ‘cube’ is going to get mixed up time and time again, but by relying on Christ and standing upon the rock of His atoning sacrifice we will not be brought down into the crashing waves.

Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father. He is the Way to the Father, the Messenger for the Father, and He will plead for us when we stand before the judgment bar of God, if we have had faith on Him and used His atonement.

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—

Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life(Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)

If we repent and forsake our sins, our Heavenly Father will forgive us, and we will someday enter into His kingdom and live with Him again eternally. I know this to be true, and I know it’s only possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how mixed up you think you are. Come unto Him and you can be solved, you can be healed and forgiven.

Rubik’s Life Lessons III: Sincerity of Heart

Lesson Three

Don’t allow the repentance process to become a memorized routine. This is, in a way, the opposite of Lesson One. Most often Satan would have us believe that changing is too difficult and therefore isn’t worth the attempt. Other times he tries to convince us that it is an easy process, and he lulls us into making it into something that can be done and over with in a very short period of time.

Since the day I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube to the present day, I can’t count the number of times I’ve matched up all six colors. There were days when I probably solved it around fifty times in between walking from house to house. Thefirst fifty times I solved the puzzle it was a slow process. I had to keep looking at the cube and reminding myself of the correct twists. Now I can glance at it briefly and then look up at someone and have a conversation while my muscle memory performs the move.

This is not how repentance should become. Once we establish the method and have done it many times, it’s easy for us to slip into the habit of simply going through the process without any real sincerity or thought. I’m certainly guilty of this more than once. We must offer up ourselves, not by rote pattern, but out of an honest desire to love God and obey His commandments.

Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. (Heleman 3:27)

The Savior Himself had some things to say on the sincerity of our hearts.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Every time we solve the cube, it must be a unique, individual experience. We must give our full attention to it and not just glance at it briefly while our muscle memory does the rest. We must be sincere. The Lord accepts nothing less.

 

 

What It’s Worth

There are only certain things we can hold on to when pass from this life to the next. Our wealth will not remain. Our house or our cars will not remain. Politics, social status, nobel peace prizes, and all kinds of worldly awards will no longer mean anything.

A prophet named Jacob, in the Book of Mormon, gave this counsel,

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. (2 Nephi 9:51)

Jacob advises us to not spend our money on trivial things, nor to waste our labors on insignificant pursuits. An implication here is that hard work in of itself is not something we should be proud of. You can work hard to achieve pointless goals and such. What matters is that our labor is spent doing worthwhile things. We must work hard to achieve things that can satisfy us, not for the moment, or even for the lifetime, but for eternity.

So what should we labor for? What is worth all the energy of our minds and bodies to pursue? Jacob tells us to listen to his wisdom, and his wisdom is that we should come unto the Holy One of Israel, who is Jesus Christ. He tells us to feast upon that which can never perish. Jesus Christ and His gospel, His teachings, can never and will never perish. Unlike the mansions, the universities, the cars, the trophies, the worldly recognition, the gospel of Jesus Christ lives on forever and will never see corruption.

He tells us to let our souls delight in “fatness.” Here, fatness could be replaced by substance, or even spiritual nutrition. Jacob counsels us to take joy in the things that are truly of worth. Our families and friends. Our relationships with them. Our relationships with our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Our knowledge and understanding of the Savior’s teachings. Our service to our fellow man. These are the things in our lives that have substance and add meaning to our existence.

I invite all to come unto Christ and learn of the fullness of His gospel, found in His restored church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For more info, visit the links on the side of this page.

The Poetic Corner: The Roots

The Roots

here at Your feet, i give my friend
my hands can’t help, my voice can’t send
the right words to wake her from sleep
she doesn’t believe
she doesn’t need You, she thinks

her tree has withered
but the roots still exist
as much as she hates it
as much as she resists
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

there in the sand, i see my friend
my hands can’t reach
her feet can’t stand
upon that ground
i tried and found i was sinking down
but Your hands lifted me back up
please do the same for her
she’s far from home
please bring her back to Earth

her tree has dried
but the roots still remain
as much as she denies it
as much as she complains
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

Written about a friend of mine back home, I think this can apply to all of us at one point or another. Sometimes we are the friend, doubtful and losing faith in our Father in Heaven and in our Savior. Sometimes we are the narrator, helplessly looking on as a family member or friend struggles with their collapsing testimony of Christ and His gospel. Whatever role we take, we sometimes forget about the roots. In this case, I’m not talking about the roots in Christ’s parable of the sower. The “roots” in this poem is the Light of Christ within each of us.

The prophet Moroni, the last author in the Book of Mormon, gives us this explanation,

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.(Moroni 7:16, 19)

The Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Christ, is within each of us. He is the light and life of the world. Even those who try to reject the Savior still have His light within them. For some it is dim, but it is still there. This is our root system. Everyone and everything possesses these “roots” because although our Father in Heaven is the creator of everything spiritual, Christ, under the direction of the Father, created everything physically.

So whether you are the one doubting, or the one trying to help the doubter, remember the roots. The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, woman, and child. It is the light within each of us that drives us to do good. So dig down and find the roots. They can once again grow to a tree.

The Poetic Corner: The Altar

The Altar

 

let me down without a sound
i’ve been wreckless but i finally figured out
Your love can save me
can i still make up for how
i let my faith in You go south?
tell me what You see buried inside me
and i’ll give my heart to You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

this is how i will shout
i’ve been hopeless but i finally see it now
Your light can wake me
is this why the world around
is fighting back to keep me bound?
help me to be free
from what has tied me
so i can be like You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

take my life and make me something great
here at the altar i awake
forgive my past with its mistakes
here at the altar i awake

 

In the Mosaic law, the Jews offered animal sacrifices for sin and other things. Such was their commandment from the Lord. But Christ came to fulfill the Mosaic law, giving us a higher law to obey. Animal sacrifices were done away with. Instead, we must offer up something that goes much deeper than rams or turtle doves.

When the Savior Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of the Americas after His resurrection, He said to them,

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost… (3 Nephi 9:19-20)

Christ has told us to offer Him a broken heart and a contrite (sorrowful) spirit. Our “altar” of sacrifice is no longer a literal, physical structure but a spiritual manifestation of our willingness to give our lives to Christ. We all are stained with sin, and it can only be removed by approaching our individual “altars” and offering up our broken hearts and contrite spirits. This is not all, though. If our hearts truly are broken, and our spirits truly contrite, we will repent and forsake our sins. We will desire to be like Jesus Christ and change our wills to be in line with His.

This change involves the simple steps of having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, being baptized by someone holding His authority, and then, by that same authority, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as did the disciples in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. (3 Nephi 12:19)

 

Study. Learn. Ask.

In the Book of Mormon, a group of people known as the Jaredites make a journey from the Holy Land to the New World, the Americas. They build barges as the Lord instructs them, boats that are shut tight, like two dishes. There’s no light in these barges, however, and they don’t want to travel across the ocean in darkness.

So a man, referred to as the brother of Jared, calls upon the Lord to ask Him what should be done. The Lord tells the brother of Jared that they can’t have windows, ’cause they would be just break from the force of the waves. They also couldn’t take fire, ’cause… well… that just wouldn’t be possible… or smart. So what did the Lord tell him to do?

…ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea? (Ether 2:25)

The Lord simply says, “What do you think should be done?”

Many times in life the Lord answers our prayers in such a manner. He certainly has in my life. He wants us to learn things for ourselves. That’s why we have the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, so we can read for ourselves and learn. We have been blessed with free will. We can choose how to live our lives, and if the Lord needs to tell us how to live out every minute, we are not using the intelligence and the free will He gave to us.

We must always come to Him in prayer and, for lack of a better way to put it, a second opinion. But first we need to think for ourselves, study God’s word, and then ask Him if what we’ve decided is in accordance to His will. If we do this, we will gain a much higher appreciation for the scriptures and the abilities the Lord has blessed us with.

Oh, and if you’re curious about what the brother of Jared did to have light in the barges, just click the link above and read the next chapter. 🙂

2012: Dun-dun-dunnnn

Oh my goodness, it’s gonna be 2012! Oh no! Everyone run for your lives! It’s attacking! Some people that lived a long time ago said it would end! There’s no possible way they were incorrect or that we’ve all just misinterpreted what they thought!

If you didn’t realize, that was sarcasm. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any good way to express that type of irony in writing. But anyway, the year 2012 is just around the corner. It’s a year that has approached society with an infamous stench, though honestly, there is no odor attached to this next year. It’s another year… that’s it. I’m excited for it to be here. It’s another chapter in our lives, another chance to improve our characters, eliminate bad habits and create good ones. It’s an opportunity to learn something new, turn enemies into friends, and add more bricks to make our life’s foundation more stable.

This year, I’d like to better myself by thinking and acting more upon Christ’s example. It sounds vague, but I do have some specifics that go along with that goal. I want to be a better disciple of Him, and a better representative of His teachings.

A Book of Mormon prophet named Amulek spoke of our time on this earth as such,

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)

As the new year approaches, let’s do more to prepare ourselves to meet God. Whether that’s when we’re ninety-nine years old, sixty-five, forty, or twenty. We don’t know, so all the more reason to get prepared. Sounds logical? I thought so too. I know that as we put our faith in Christ and our trust in God, we can accomplish the goals we have for this next year. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ want us to succeed! Our efforts will not go unnoticed, nor unaided. Whether nor not your goal(s) may be spiritually related, so long as it is a goal of righteous improvement, I know that putting the Savior first will make that goal possible.

A Better Land

Many instances in my life have proven, to me, that the Lord rather enjoys pulling a fast one on me. Take, for example, the fact that I am no longer in Columbia Falls, but Frenchtown, MT. I thought for sure I was going to stay in Columbia Falls for another transfer. But alas, I was bamboozled… and am now sitting here typing this in the Frenchtown High School library.

I’ll admit, I’m not one to readily accept change. When I feel like I need to be in a certain situation, I don’t take kindly to being brought out of that situation. This happens a lot with all of us. We’re traveling along on our life’s journey, comfortable with our speed, the conditions of our metaphorical road, and then all of sudden we hit a road block, or something causes us to swerve off the road, or the road ends up curving in a direction we didn’t intend to go. It happens a lot. There are definitely some things in our lives we have little or no control over.

In my case, I couldn’t decide where I wanted to serve next on my mission. My mission president told me I was going to Frenchtown, so it was either that or go home. So what do we control? And how can this be used advantageously?

Let’s look to the scriptures here for a second. I’ll take a verse out of the Book of Mormon. This is Jacob talking, he was a brother to the prophet Nephi.

And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.(2 Nephi 10:20)

The Lord brought their family out of the land of Jerusalem. They struggled and endured tons of contention and other troubles, but, as Jacob says, they were led to a better land, the Americas. This better land can be many different things in our lives. It could very well be a better location, or a better situation, better friends, better job, etc. It could be almost anything.

So going back to the question… what do we control? We control our attitude and our perspective. We can have the attitude of thinking God is picking on us or ignoring us, that when change or trials arise, our lives have become screwed up. Or we can be like Jacob, as see the changes as being led to a better situation, one in which we can learn, grow, and have better opportunities.

I hated Columbia Falls when I first arrived there, and I wondered why in the world the Lord had sent me there. Over time, however, I saw the reasons, and when the time came to depart I absolutely did not want to leave. I don’t know if the same thing will come with me in Frenchtown, but I know the Lord guides us to where we need to be. He’s always aware of where we are, and wherever He leads us, it will always be to a better land.

Who We Are

A lot of people have recently heard about a certain Texas Evangelical pastor and his comments regarding “Mormonism” and Mitt Romney. Apparently, in the eyes of this particular individual, Latter-day Saints do not qualify as Christians.

Ignore the fact that the name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ignore the fact that we whole-heartedly profess that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that only through Him can salvation come. Ignore the fact that each week we partake of bread and water that represent His body and blood. Ignore the fact that we do believe in and follow the Holy Bible.

I believe that this was one thing this man brought up. In his mind, Mormons do not adhere to the teachings of the Bible, and that because we do not conform to this standard we are therefore non-Christian and, theologically, a cult. I’ll be a bit bold and straight up say that this man is a very confused individual. Latter-day Saints do in fact follow the teachings of the Bible. In fact, we’re the closest thing to Christ’s primitive church. Where else do you find prophets and apostles? Where else do you find temples and baptisms for the dead?

This man also said that the LDS church is a cult because while a true church is founded by divinity, a cult is founded by a man. He cited Joseph Smith as his example. Once again, this pastor does not understand. Who started his church? The Protestant movement began in what is commonly called the Reformation, a time period most schoolchildren are (or should be) aware of. The men that led this movement were indeed inspired, yet they never claimed to be prophets. They never claimed to have been sent from God to reclaim Christ’s true gospel. No, they were good men trying to fix what they knew how to fix. To this pastor I would say, “Your church was founded by a man. Not mine!”

Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. In the Bible we read that surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

And how will the Lord reveal Himself to His servants the prophets?

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. (Numbers 12:6)

Yes, false prophets will exist, as we read in Matthew. But we will also know them by their fruits. The Book of Mormon is the fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith. By reading it one can know of its divine nature. People say Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, and that it’s crazy to think the Book of Mormon actually came from God. I challenge such people to read it, and they’ll know for themselves that it’s crazier to think Joseph Smith did write it. No wicked man could write the Book of Mormon, and no good man would write it unless he was commissioned of God to do so.

Cult. Crazy. Non-Christian. Call us what you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are Christians, that we do believe in and follow the teachings of the Bible, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s kingdom upon the earth today.