Our Father

Let me ask you a question. Do you believe God is your Father? I’m not talking metaphorically here. I’m not asking if God is a father figure, because of course He is. I’m being literal. Do you believe you are a literal child of God, that God is literally the father of your spirit? Your answer can change the entire meaning and nature of your relationship with God.

My companion and I met a man a couple days ago that did not believe he was a child of God, or anyone was, for that matter. Instead, he said, in essence, that we are just creations of God, created for the purpose of worshiping and giving glory to our Creator. Of course, giving glory to God is part of what we do, but it is certainly not the sole reason for our existence! How vain and arrogant such a God would be. I certainly would not want to worship such a being, or even believe in it.

The God I worship is no such person. He is not prideful, vain, egotistical, or selfish. Such are the characteristics of mankind, not the Almighty.The God I worship is a God of love, kindness, selflessness, and mercy. The God I worship is my Father, my ultimate Father, and the Father of my spirit.

Hebrews chapter 12 verse 9 says,

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Acts 17:28 and 29 states,

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

In John 20:17, Jesus says to Mary,

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

I know that we are children of God. He is indeed our Father. Without this relationship there is no relationship. How do I know? The scriptures testify of it and the Spirit bears witness to me that it is true. I can’t imagine going through life without believing God is our literal father. Such doctrine is empty. Truth is light. It enlightens, empowers, comforts, strengthens, and helps us to endure. God is not our Father? There is no enlightenment or empowering strength with such a thought. None whatsoever.

But there is strength and comfort when we understand that God really is our Father, literally. When no one else is around, we can always count on three people to be with us and stand by us: Our Father in Heaven, our eldest brother Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

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The King, the Heir, and the Called

Why did Jesus walk all the way to John the Baptist to be baptized? What exactly was the power Christ gave His apostles so they could heal and cast out unclean spirits? Why did Peter and John need to lay their hands on the people to give them the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Authority is the answer. Christ went to John because John, through his lineage, held the priesthood authority to baptize Him. Priesthood authority is what Christ gave to the Apostles, allowing them to heal and cast out spirits. This same authority is what Peter and John used to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ’s church is His kingdom. I like to think of this as a literal thing, like a medieval times type of thing. God the Father is the ultimate king over all the land. Jesus Christ, being His Only Begotten Son, is the Prince, the rightful heir to the kingdom. His blood is royal blood, and through it He holds the authority to conduct the affairs of the kingdom. This authority can be passed down to us, but only through the proper way.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

No one can just say they have the authority. It must be given to them, and they must be called of God. Christ gave this royal authority to His chosen apostles, allowing them to conduct the affairs of The Church, His kingdom.

The apostles were not received well however, and were eventually disposed of. Because of this corruption, the authority was not passed down in the correct way and was lost. But it was restored. The King (God the Father) and the Heir (Jesus Christ) visited a young boy named Joseph Smith. This young boy was called of God and the priesthood authority was given to him by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, as resurrected beings.

For centuries, the royal authority was lost, but it has been restored. The Prophet Joseph Smith was called of God, and the authority, the right to officiate in Christ’s church, was restored through him. The Church of Jesus Christ is again on the Earth! The proof is a record known as the Book of Mormon. By reading it, pondering it, and praying about it, you can know if the priesthood authority was restored through Joseph Smith.

God’s Work: Eternal Progression of Man

There are many things about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that differ from some of the more mainstream Christian denominations. One of these deals with the details of post-mortal life, and a belief Latter-day Saints hold known as eternal progression.

Let’s start with a scripture. This one’s coming from Corinthians. One thing the Corinthians did not quite understand was the resurrection. Paul goes into a bit of detail explaining this doctrine.

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrialis another.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)

Here, Paul is talking about the conditions of resurrected bodies. If you’re at all familiar with Mormon doctrine, you may be aware of the fact that we don’t simply believe we’ll all end up in either Heaven or Hell. Indeed, there is a Heaven and there is a Hell. But it goes much deeper than that. Heaven is divided into three kingdoms: the celestial, the terrestrial, and the telestial. For more detailed information on what I’m about to present, go to mormon.org (there’s a link on the right side of the page). All of this information has been given to us through modern revelation, through modern-day prophets.

The celestial kingdom is reserved for the valiant souls of men. Those that obeyed Christ’s gospel, were baptized and received other necessary ordinances (which everyone will get a chance to receive, whether in this life or the next), and repented of their sins while enduring to the end. Husband and wife, and their families, can remain together for eternity in the presence of God and Jesus Christ. Eternal happiness and progression are their rewards.

The terrestrial is for those who lived good lives, but rejected Christ. And also those that did accept Christ, but were not valiant. They did not strive to obey Christ’s gospel, they were not sincere in their repentance, etc. They will receive Christ’s glory, but not God the Father’s. It will be a wonderful place, full of goodness, but they will be lacking the full happiness that comes from eternal families, remaining married to their spouse, and living with God. It will be like having to settle with a B on a test when they could’ve achieved an A.

The telestial kingdom is for the wicked souls of men. Murderers, thieves and robbers, adulterers, liars, etc. These are the ones who continued in their sins without repentance. They will be shut out from God and Jesus Christ’s presence and glory forever. It will be a good place though. Satan will be bound, and they will have peace and rest. But they will never be in God’s presence. It’ll be like the world is now, only without temptation, illness, war, etc. It’s like settling for a C or a D on the test when they could’ve had an A or even a B.

Hell, or Outer Darkness, as many members of The Church call it, is reserved for Satan and his fallen angels, and all those that lived too wickedly to even abide a telestial glory. Cain and Judas Iscariot are two that we know of. They will be cast out to a place that no mortal mind can comprehend.

If all this seems crazy… that’s okay. It’s certainly very different than what mainstream Christianity professes today. But it is true doctrine. It was preached in Christ’s primitive church. It is nothing new. It is simply doctrine that was lost that has been restored

Think of the traditional view of heaven. Great billowy clouds in the middle of… somewhere. People in white robes playing harps and singing and… playing more harps and singing… on clouds… or something. It all seems rather stagnant, plain, and without growth. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that God is a progressive God. He wants us to learn and grow and actually achieve something great. Just as a father (as He is to us) wants his children to grow up and be like him, God wants us to be like Him. And He has given us a way!

Only in the celestial kingdom is continued progression possible, where we can grow to be like our Father in Heaven. Such is His purpose, to have us progress and grow and learn. I make the point again; isn’t that what any loving father would want for his children? Of course! God’s work and His glory is the immortality and eternal life of man. I know this to be true. If you still have not looked at mormon.org, I again invite you to do so.

Reaching Perfection

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

This is the Savior’s admonition to us. It’s a rather difficult accomplishment. In fact, it’s actually quite impossible, and naturally Jesus Christ was well aware of this fact. So why did He tell us to be perfect if we simply cannot do so?

Well, there are two basic reasons. One, because it is possible, and two, because we might as well try anyway.

1. In this life, we will never be perfect as God is perfect, but we can be perfect in our own state. James E. Talmage, in his book Jesus the Christ, once used an analogy with college students. A freshman or sophomore may be perfect as freshmen or sophomores. They may get a 4.0 and do everything they can to be perfect in their class, but they still can’t enjoy some of the benefits of an upperclassman until they progress to the next level.

The same goes for us. We can be perfect in certain aspects of our lives. We can be perfect at always attending church every Sunday. We can be perfect at reading our scriptures or praying each day. In these small things, perfection isn’t as far from reality as we think.

2. We might as well try. We’ll never be a perfect person overall, and God understands that. But He knows our potential and what we are capable of, and He knows if we’re trying our hardest or not. Failure is okay. God understands that it’s going to happen, but that doesn’t excuse us from doing what we can.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. (Mosiah 4:27)

We each have our own level of strength, and God does not ask us to exceed that level. That would make Him unfair! And He most definitely is a fair God.

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. (2 Nephi 25:23)

So in this life we do our best and live up to our individual potential. Jesus Christ will cover the rest, but only if we do our part as well. In this way we can be on the path to perfection.

The Giant and the Underdog

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and of the best anyone could ever read or hear comes from the Bible. It’s the story of David and Goliath. If you aren’t familiar with this story, just crack open your nearest Bible to the first book of Samuel, chapter seventeen. Or, if you just want to read it right now, click on this link.

To be brief, the Philistines were at war with Israel. One Philistine in particular was creating quite a stir. His name was Goliath. He was huge, perhaps about nine feet tall, and he would present himself to the Israelite army and tell them to bring him a champion to fight. But No one in the Israelite army was brave enough.

David heard about Goliath, he said to everyone, “Who’s this guy think he is? Why doesn’t someone beat him?”

Well, Saul, the Israelite king,  heard about the things David was saying and sent for him. David came to him and said, “I’ll go and fight this battle.”

“You can’t fight him,” Saul told him. “You’re just a child, and Goliath has been raised in the ways of war since he was a child.”

“I killed a lion and a bear once!” David exclaimed. “And I’ll do the same to this Philistine, ’cause he’s defying God! If God can deliver me from the attacks of a lion and a bear, He’ll do the same for me when I face up to this Philistine”

“Alright,” Saul gave in. “Go, fight him, and God be with you…”

So David went and grabbed his sling and five smooth stones to face Goliath. When he approached Goliath, the Philistine laughed because he was just a scruffy little boy. “Once I kill you,” Goliath yelled, “I’ll feed your dead body to the birds and the beasts!”

“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a shield,” David then said, “But I come to you in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, who you’ve mocked. Today God will deliver you into my hands. I’ll kill you and cut off your head, and I’ll feed your dead body to the birds and the beasts! And everyone will know that our God is real!”

Furious, Goliath charged. David did the same, taking out a stone from his bag. He put it into his sling and slung the stone right into Goliath’s forehead, killing him. Needless to say, the Philistines ran, scared out of their minds.

Just like David, we all have Goliaths we face in life. They’re giant, they’re intimidating, they’re in our face. It can be spiritual or temporal. A sin, an honest mistake, bills, debt, school and tests, a job, an attack on our faith, etc. These things may seem enormous, and at times we may feel like David standing in front of Goliath. But like David, we can turn to the Lord and rely on Him! David wasn’t afraid, because he knew that it didn’t matter how big Goliath was. He could’ve been one hundred feet tall and David would’ve acted the same way.

Like David, we also need to do our own part and prepare ourselves to face our Goliaths. David was prepared with five stones and a sling. He had a plan in mind and he trusted that God would support him with his plan. We too need to prepare and plan to face life’s challenges, all the while seeking the Lord’s help and inspiration.

If we do so, we too will find ourselves conquering our Goliaths.

Keep the Commands, Receive the Answers

Many have wondered how God answers our prayers. Some say it’s a mystery. Some say God doesn’t answer prayers. Some say He doesn’t even listen. Such ideas are foolish. God is our Father. Of course He listens and wants to answer us! We just need to do our part to receive His answers. One of the simplest ways is… well… it’s so simple that some people think it’s downright crazy.

Obey God’s commandments.

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:22-25)

This isn’t saying that God will only answer us if we keep His commandments. God answers prayers according to His own will and pleasure, and in whatever way will best benefit us and help us to grow. But surely, if we want God to speak to us, wouldn’t obeying His will be a good first step to achieving that?

By keeping the commandments of God, we can be sure of receiving answers to our prayers. And we can be sure of having the Holy Ghost guide us more frequently. However, we must always keep in mind that God answers prayers in His own way. The vast majority of the time, they are not answered in the way we expect or desire. This is only because, unlike God, our perspective is limited. We can’t see a couple minutes into the future, but everything is before God. Have faith in Jesus Christ, obey God’s commandments, and when you ask you shall receive.

For more information on prayer, you can read one of my previous blog posts here.

Happiness and the Fall

There is a lot of misconception about the Fall of Adam and Eve. Many are under the impression that it was a mistake. That it wasn’t supposed to happen. That life would be better if it never happened. Well, I’m here to tell you that such ideas aren’t correct. The Fall was in fact part of God’s plan, and because of it we can be happy. Allow me to explain. I’ll start off with some verses from the Book of Mormon. The prophet Nephi explained the necessity of the Fall as such,

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Nephi 2:22)

If Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit they would’ve remained in the Garden of Eden. Nothing would have changed. Makes sense, right? Nephi continues…

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:23-25)

Adam and Eve’s state in the Garden was that of pure innocence. They did not know what evil was. But because of this, they could not progress. If we don’t know bitter we cannot enjoy sweet. If we know no sin we cannot know goodness. There must be opposition in all things, and in order for mankind to progress, opposition had to be introduced, and therefore the Fall was needed.

With the Fall came sickness, death, and sin. But because of this we can enjoy health, life, and righteousness. Because of the misery we can know the joy. I know that the Fall was part of God’s plan for us. Adam and Eve fell that we might be happy and progress to everlasting life with God and our families.

Led by the Spirit

So I’ve been transferred to Columbia Falls, Montana. I’ve only been here for… let’s see… not even half a day. I have no idea where anything is, but thankfully I’ve got my trusty companion to help me get it all down before he heads out in about six weeks. Once again, I’ve found myself out of my comfort zone. I’m in a new place and surrounded by new people. But I know I’m here for a reason, and whether or not I find out what it is I know I can accomplish my task if I rely on the Lord.

This reminds me of a very short verse in the Book of Mormon.

And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. (1 Nephi 4:6)

Nephi and his brothers were in Jerusalem. They needed to obtain a record kept by a man named Laban. Their previous attempts at getting it had failed and nearly cost them their lives, but an angel had appeared to them and assured them that the record would be delivered into their hands. Nephi went into the city alone, unsure of what to do but nonetheless trusting that the Lord would somehow provide a way. He knew his mission, but he had no idea how he would accomplish it.

My mission, my purpose, is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There are numerous ways to do this. Honestly, I have no idea what I’ll be doing in Columbia Falls in the next few months, but I’ll trust in the Lord and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide me.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)

God does not give us a commandment without giving us a way to accomplish it. He will always provide a way.

The Broken Bow

In the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi takes his family and friends and journeys into the wilderness out of Jerusalem. Life is good. They feed themselves well upon the beasts of the land… until Lehi’s son, Nephi, breaks his bow. Fail.

And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food. (1 Nephi 16:18)

Not only his brothers, but his entire family becomes angry at him and also God. Even Lehi complains against God. So what does Nephi do? What would you do?

Well, Nephi didn’t want to just sit around and be mad at God. Instead, he took action. Verse 23 of that same chapter says,

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Nephi gets to work and makes himself a new bow. After Lehi repents of his anger against God, he inquires of God where Nephi should go to get food. Nephi obeys and is able to slay animals for them to eat. Rejoice! Everyone is happy, and probably feeling like a bunch of fools for sittin’ around and doing nothing.

Nephi was part of the solution, not the problem. This is a prime example of doing our own part.

So, although we may not be out in the desert hunting beasts, we all have our own problems that come up, our own broken bows, if you will. They can be pretty much anything. Small or big, temporal or spiritual. They all must be solved the same way, however. If we expect a problem to be solved, we must take action and be part of the solution, like Nephi.

I know that if we do our part, God will cover the rest and provide a way to overcome our obstacles.

Pop, You’re “Poifect!”

The 20th of June is my birthday… right around Father’s Day. I always felt kinda bad about that, feeling like it kinda… you know… took the focus away from Father’s Day. But this year is different! I’m some forty miles away from the Canadian border. That’s definitely too far away to have a family dinner and some cake. Dad, you’re welcome! This year, it’s all you, baby!

But seriously, fathers are awesome. Just like a mother, a father has a special place within the family. That place cannot be filled by another. Traditionally, the father is the head of the household. He is the provider, the bread maker if you will, and the protector. He is the patriarch. In a typical LDS family, the father holds the priesthood and presides over them. He uses his priesthood to guide his family and administer to them through priesthood blessings and obeying what the Lord wants him to do for them.

Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said,

There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher priesthood, than that of the father. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is then a particular reason why men, women, and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of His children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.

I am grateful for my dad, and the blessing of having a father who holds the priesthood authority of God. He has been an incredible example of strength to me, and his love for me and the rest of my family is astounding. He has sacrificed much so my siblings and I could have the blessings we enjoy right now. And he’s got a great sense of humor too. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

If you no longer have a father here on the earth to celebrate Father’s Day with, remember that you still and will always have your Father in Heaven. He is the greatest Father there is, and He is certainly worth celebrating on Father’s Day as well, and every day.

Dads are awesome, and I’ve got the best one.

The Search for Happiness: The Iron Rod

When Lehi told his family of his vision, Nephi desired to see it for himself. Because of his great desire and unwavering faith, the Spirit visited him and showed him the dream. When Nephi is witnessing the vision, the thing that Lehi talked about are explained. The symbolism is made clear.

The iron rod is one of these symbols. In the vision, Nephi sees the iron rod along the straight and narrow path, extending to the tree of life. The multitudes of people in the dream are following the path to the tree by holding on to the rod of iron. Mists of darkness envelope the people. Many of them let go of the rod and become lost. But those who hold tight to the rod eventually make it to the tree of life and eat of its fruit.

Nephi understood this symbolism.

And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God. (1 Nephi 11:25)

So what is the word of God? The scriptures, naturally. But what exactly are the scriptures? The Bible, the Book of Mormon, and modern-day revelation. Essentially, the words of God and Jesus Christ and the prophets.

Nephi, the same that saw his father’s vision, said,

Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32:3)

The words of Christ and the words of His prophets (which are the same) will tell us all things that we should do. And if we should heed the words of the prophets now passed, then surely all the more reason to heed the words of the living prophets.

I testify that holding strongly to the word of God in His holy scriptures will keep us on the straight and narrow path to eternal life. I know that we also have living prophets today, found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We must listen to their counsel just as thoughtfully as we study the words of their ancient predecessors. The iron rod leading to the tree of life is indeed the word of God. It will safely guide us through.

“This is life eternal, that they might know thee…”

When Joseph Smith was a young boy, he was confused about the different Christian sects that existed. He wanted to join a church, but did not trust his adolescent judgment enough to make such an important decision. He was reading one night in the Bible, in the epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse which says that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Joseph reflected upon this verse again and again, and finally decided to do as James directs.

He walked a short distance from his house into a grove of trees and offered up a prayer to God. He wanted to know which church he should join. In the prophet Joseph’s own words, this is his account,

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Something significant was learned in just this one encounter. From this experience we find out that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings, and that Jesus Christ is indeed God’s Son. We also discover that God and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone and that we are literally made in the image of God.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Christ Himself states that life eternal is to know Him and Heavenly Father. I testify that God is not an unknowable being. Nor is He one in three persons or personalities. For how can one think to know God if He is someone else, but at the same time… not? Or how can they think to know their Savior if He is also two other persons… but not?

 I testify that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are literally three separate, distinct beings. God the Father is literally our Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and literally our Eldest Brother. And the Holy Ghost is Their messenger, testifying of Them to us. In this way is the Godhead known and understood. Three separate Beings with one purpose, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

The Restoration: Of Knowledge

A bit of wise counsel I’d like to share from Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-19)

Pride cometh before the fall. This is true in all aspects of life, including education and knowledge. I’m sure many would agree that, today, society as a whole has shunned the wisdom of God. We have come far in such a short amount of time. Technological and scientific advances are astounding. More and more information is being discovered each day. But are these truly our advances, or are they blessings from God?

As our knowledge has moved forward, our faith in God has taken a decline. Jacob’s words are true. We no longer hearken to the counsel of God, but instead have made steps to remove Him from our societies. We think we don’t need Him, when in reality every step we’ve made has been because of His love and kindness.

In love, God the Father and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. The heavens are wide open, and revelation is being poured out through living prophets and apostles and through ourselves. The priesthood authority that Jesus Christ personally brought during His earthly ministry is back in full force.

From the early 19th century until the present time, just look at all the advances we have made! The fact that all of the remarkable inventions and discoveries began the same time as the Restoration of Christ’s gospel is no coincidence.

I know that these blessings have sprouted because Jesus Christ’s church is once again on the earth. By recognizing God and Christ in all things, our knowledge can bring us further blessings. Let us not shun Them from society, but bring Them back, because “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”

Distractions and Dentifrice

One of my favorite books is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Written in the ’50s, it takes place sometime in the future, when books and literature of all kinds are shunned from society for what’s considered the good of humanity. Instead of putting out fires, firemen start them. They find houses containing books and burn them to the ground.

The main character is a fireman named Guy Montag who, at a certain point in the story, secretly takes a book from one of the houses to satisfy the curiosity torturing his mind. It happens to be the Holy Bible. He decides to take it out and read it on a subway car. He turns to a random page and his eyes fall upon Matthew 6:28, part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which reads,

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.

He tries to read the verse, determined to place it within the bounds of his fluttering thoughts, but it’s impossible. A commercial is playing over the subway’s speakers. “Denham’s Dentifrice!” repeats over and over. The hollow-minded passengers around him tap their feet to the commercial’s tune; their mouths subtely twitch to the words. “Denham’s Dentifrice! Denham’s Dentifrice! Dentifrice! Dentifrice!”

Desperately, Montag attempts to shut out the obnoxious advertisement. But the voice and the music is too loud and distracting. In frustration, Montag stands up. “Shut up!” he yells to the speakers. The passengers, shocked, stare at him blankly. The commercial plays on, mocking Montag’s cry.

The subway comes to a halt, and Montag slips out quickly, the only word he can recall from the verse… “lilies…”

Distractions are all around us. Some of them are obvious and blaring, like a commercial for “Denham’s Dentifrice!”. Others are more subtle, slowly pulling our thoughts and hearts away from the things we should truly focus on. Satan will use every tactic available to keep our minds distracted and away from the things of God.

Just like Peter lost sight of the Savior and began to sink, we allow the world around us to take our eyes away from Jesus Christ, away from our Father in Heaven, away from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, and away from our friends and family.

1 John 2:15-17

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.

Let us keep an eye single to the glory of God!

Pray always and not faint.

Some people think that prayer is one way communication. That it’s simply throwing our wishes into the sky and hoping that an unknown being will notice one of them and maybe grant it. But prayer is much more than just talking to God. Prayer is conversation with Him, our Father in Heaven.

Just like our fathers on this earth want to hear from us when we leave home, our Heavenly Father wants us to communicate with him. Just think if you never called up your parents, or even e-mailed them or sent them a text. God wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to tell Him how we’re doing, what we’re grateful for, what we need, what our concerns are, etc.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi counsels on prayer in 2 Nephi 32:8,

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.

Satan doesn’t want us to pray. He knows that if we pray we’ll be able to feel strengthened, enlightened, and comforted by the Holy Ghost. The notion that praying is pointless, that it doesn’t work, that God doesn’t listen or answer, or that we’re not worthy or good enough to pray is from Satan. They are all lies.

God does listen. He does care. He does answer our prayers. And no matter what we’ve done, we are always worthy, always good enough, to pray.

Nephi continues in verse 9,

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

We must always pray to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. If we do so, our performances (work, school, family, friends, etc.) will work out for our benefit. From countless experiences, I know this to be true.

My testimony of prayer is simple. It works. Until I was about a senior in high school, I didn’t feel like God was answering me when I knelt at my bed each night. I never ceased praying, but my faith that they were actually doing anything was almost non-existent. Eventually though, I found my life changing, and I found myself becoming more desperate in my pleas to God. I found my prayers being answered in small yet profound ways. Slowly, my faith began to build. I began looking each day for ways that my prayers were being answered. I was surprised at how many of my small and often self-centered desires were actually being fulfilled. I could see that my Heavenly Father was truly looking out for me.

If you don’t feel as though God is answering your prayers, keep an open mind. Understand that He works on His own time, but He is merciful and loving. Understand that He works in small and simple ways. Count your blessings and look around  you. Like me, you might be surprised to discover just how many of your prayers are being answered.