The Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeking the Arms of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Obey and Be Happy!

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

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

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

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

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

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

 

Our Father, the Emperor-Over-the-Sea

I’m really surprised I haven’t made a lot of blog posts about the Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe I’ve been afraid it would be too cliche. Whatever the reason, I’ve gotten over it. C. S. Lewis was most definitely an inspired man, and his works can teach us a lot of good principles. The Chronicles of Narnia is a profound series, in my opinion, because it takes those wonderful principles and presents them in a way that even a child can understand.Thatis the true mark of genius.

The first principle in the first lesson Mormon missionaries teach is this: God is our loving Heavenly Father. The concept of the Trinity for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs from most mainstream Christians. We do not believe they are literally one personage, but three separate beings with one purpose in mind.

Lewis actually teaches this principle quite well in the world of Narnia. Aslan, of course, is a symbol, or perhaps incarnation, of the Savior Jesus Christ. Just as Christ is our King, Aslan is the king of Narnia. He rules over the Narnians and they love and respect him. Jesus Christ is also the Son of God, one of His many titles. This isn’t just a title though. Christ is literally the Only Begotten of the Father, meaning that He is the only one who was, is, and ever will be phyiscally related to God as well as spiritually. Although Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is still subject to the Father. He stated often, even when He was a child, that His purpose was to do the will of the Father and not His own will. Therefore, the Father is the Ultimate King and Ultimate Creator.

Under the direction of the Father, Christ created the world. In that way, Christ can also be referred to as the “Father” because He is the Creator of our physical bodies and the world we live in.

Aslan also has a father, the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. Although Aslan is the king of Narnia, his father is still superior to him. With a song, Aslan created the physical world of Narnia, yet the powers of Deep Magic (the laws by which Narnia is governed) come from the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. Aslan’s father is the ultimate steward over Narnia, and Aslan acts in proxy to him, just as Christ acts in proxy to the Father.

Aslan is not the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and vice versa. They are clearly separate beings in the novels, and so are the Father and the Son if we read the scriptures.

I know that God the Father truly is our Father in Heaven, the Father of our spirits. I know Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, and the Savior of mankind. He is the Lion of Judah.

Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words

a song for Thy peace like a river does flow

my lips to the sky, Thy glory is known

yet open my eyes to see just beyond

there’s more to Thy grace than singing a song

our tongues are quick, yet our feet are slow

we say we believe, but how do we show it?

actions speak louder than words they say

so let’s drown out the world with hands we raise

not in shallow praise, but lifted for others

our sisters and brothers

to bring about change in the world today

’cause the devil dreams on an idle horse

so what could be worse than abandoning movement?

you never think that you’ll feel the remorse

a silent hearse is slowly beckoning

so shut your eyes and tell yourself

you’re singing praise, you’re safe from Hell

your hands are raised, your pastor tells

the congregation they’re saved

but last time i checked what’s contained in the word

it’s not enough to say “Lord, Lord”

but to do the will

and fulfill

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)

To me, worshiping God, and worshiping Jesus Christ, is more than just going to church. It’s more than just singing hymns. It’s more than raising your hands in a “Hallelujah!” or saying a memorized prayer. Worship is about who we are and what we do with ourselves, not simply what we say.

To hear the gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. We cannot justify ourselves because we go to church every so often to sit and listen to a sermon or a lesson. We cannot justify ourselves because we sing a worship song with our hands raised over and over again. I speak as my own opinion, andinmy opinion, such so-called worship is shallow. It doesn’t amount to anything. It creates no progression within one’s soul. It does not deepen one’s understanding of God, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost. It does not help one to understand Christ’s atonement. It is not bad or evil by any means, but I feel that there is a better way.

Apply what you learn at your worship service. See how you can use it in your every day life. Make note of what you need to improve on. Pray and look for opportunities to progress as a follower of Christ and understand Him better.

As Paul states, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13) Receiving the gospel means nothing if we do not live the gospel, using the principles that the Savior taught. Jesus Christ died, “leaving us an example, that [we] should follow his steps,” said the apostle Peter.

When Christ visited the inhabitants of the Americas, teaching them of salvation and eternal life, He said, “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Nephi 15:9)

We must endure to the end to receive eternal life.Enduringis certainly not idleness. It’s perseverance. It’s courage. It’s faith, love, and obedience. It’s awareness. It’s everything that involves a life of diligent seeking and diligent service. This life is our probationary state, as the Book of Mormon also teaches. We’re here to prepare to return to God again, so let us live our lives accordingly, not with our hands raised in idle worship, but raised in service and love.

One LORD.

My companion and I had a confrontation not too long ago with a man on his doorstep. This gentleman, if I can even refer to him as such, basically told me and my companion that we are going to Hell unless we change our ways and come unto what he termed as the “real” Jesus Christ. I asked him if faith in the Savior constitutes salvation. He responded in the affirmative, to which I told him, “Then byyourstandards, I am saved.” He shook his head and told me that I believe in a “different” Jesus than him.

Last time I checked, there’s only one Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Latter-day Saints may believe in added detail about His life and who He is, but we certainly don’t believe in a different being. This is one of the many things that irks me: people telling me I’m not a Christian, or that I believe in some other kind of Jesus. Well, here’s what Latter-day Saints believe about Jesus Christ.

He is the Son of God. He was born in Bethlehem to the virgin Mary. He began his earthly ministry about the age of thirty. He was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit, in the sign of the dove, appeared during that amazing event, and the voice of the Father bore record of Christ’s divinity.

Does this sound Christian yet?

His first recorded miracle was changing water to wine at a wedding feast. He performed many miracles in fact. He gave sight to the blind. He made the lame walk and the dumb speak. He healed lepers. He multiplied fish and bread to feed thousands. He raised the dead. He walked on water.

Does this sound like a different Jesus?

He prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane to begin His atonement. In the Garden he took upon Himself our pains and afflictions. The suffering was so great that He bled from every pore, as Luke records. His atonement continued as he was falsely accused and was put through an illegal trial. He was scourged and crucified, allowing Himself to succomb to physical death. Three days later He was resurrected and appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to his disciples. He ministered for forty days and then ascended to the Father.

Any of this sound Christian? All of these are beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. If you don’t think we’re Christian, just visit our websites: lds.org and mormon.org. Or, perhaps, read the Book of Mormon and see if it brings you closer to Christ.

 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:17)

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.

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

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.

One in Purpose

The nature of God is something that has been distorted throughout the centuries. What Christ taught about the Father, the Spirit, and Himself was plain and easy to be understood, but Satan’s influence has corrupted such important doctrines. Thankfully, the knowledge of God’s true nature has been restored in these last days.

Let’s start with a very significant little word. One. Christ says He and the Father are one, but what does He mean? Are they literally the same person? Same substance? Split personalities?

Paul stated, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Was Paul stating that joining ourselves to the Lord, obviously intending to mean following, literally joins our spirit with His? Do we spiritually melt into Him? Probably not…

In His intercessory prayer, Christ pleads to the Father (I’d like to think He wasn’t talking to Himself) to bless the apostles and those who will believe on their words. He said,

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)

So could Christ possibly be making a metaphor with the whole “oneness” thing? Nah! He’s probably being pretty literal. Seriously though, joking aside, the Savior obviously isn’t saying that He and the Father are literally the same person, or even that the origin of their substance is the same.

I know I’ve made previous blog posts about this, but I’m not doing this simply for the sake of parroting myself. This is truly important, for how can we pray to our Heavenly Father if we don’t even understand what He is, what He looks like, or who He is? If He’s the Son and the Spirit, but not the Son and Spirit, and the Son is the Father and Spirit, but not the Father or the Spirit… how can you comprehend exactly who or what God is? To what or to who are you sending your prayers?

Well, I’m going to tell you what’s real, not out of any intellect of my own mind, but by the blessing that I have been taught the truth. God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate personages. God and Christ both have bodies of flesh and bone, for we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The Spirit has no physical body, but He is still a person like the Father and the Son.

I wouldn’t mind going into greater detail, but I feel that this can be better explained by another, someone who is a far greater teacher than I will ever be. His name is Jeffrey R. Holland, and he is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Like Peter, James, John, he is an Apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ, a special witness of the Savior. This is what he has to say about this topic. Like I said, he can explain it far greater than I can.

Click on this link and read what an apostle of the Lord has to say about the Godhead.