Dwindling?

Well it’s been some time since I’ve posted anything. Life has been busy and full of changes. I’m now home from my mission and working for a great company in South Jordan UT. Without the missionary schedule, I’ve struggled to keep up on my scripture reading. Now that I have an hour lunch each day, I take advantage of that time by reading my Book of Mormon while at work. At first you might think perfect place for distraction right? I thought so too but figured anything is better than nothing. I am pleasantly surprised with how well my study has gone thus far!

In Helaman chapter 4, I read of how the Nephites are defeated in battle because of their wickedness. Iniquity cases the church to dwindle, meaning (as defined on dictionary.com) it became smaller and smaller, to shrink or waste away, to fall away as in quality. Why is it that people can go from a solid testimony of the gospel and church of Jesus Christ to almost being against it? The testimony they had dwindles slowly until it becomes nonexistent. Reading about the Nephites defeat and the church’s dwindling, I understood why and how this happens. In verse 23 it tells of the results of a dwindling church and iniquitous people…”they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation.” Disbelief. When we stop doing the do’s or do any of the don’ts, our testimony of the church dwindles. It’s a vicious cycle, spiraling downward, because with a dwindling testimony, our desire to live the gospel dies and soon follows the remaining fragments of our testimony.

If we want to stay strong in the gospel, we need to avoid sin. Of course we can’t and won’t be perfect but we can utilize the Atonement of our Savior to overcome our weaknesses. Repentance isn’t enough. We need to being doing those small and simple things each day to keep our testimonies from dwindling. Repetition is essential in remembering. If we aren’t consistently reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, and attending church, we begin to forget. We forget the things we knew to be true and the importance they hold in our lives. It’s the continuity of the living the gospel that strengthens and sustains our testimony of Christ’s true church. I’m thankful for my testimony of the daily do’s of the gospel. By doing so, I can remain true to the faith and to my Savior!

turning weakness into strength

My last blog as a missionary…I decided to touch on a subject that I have seen personally in effect. Before I entered the Missionary Training Center in Feb. 2010, I talked in sacrament meeting as a farewell to my family and friends. The topic I was asked to address was turning weakness into strength. Being at the start of my mission, I knew I’d be turning some of my weak points into assets. Now that I’m at the end of my mission, I can look back with satisfaction on how I have grown. Certain weaknesses of mine are now a strength, maybe not my greatest strength (yet), but much more so than 17 months ago. Ralph Waldo Emerson explains this process perfectly,”that which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.”

Of course, I know it is because of my Savior that I have been able to improve upon my imperfections. A biblical account found in John 9:2-3 testifies of His power to change our weaknesses into strengths. It reads:

2 And his disciples did ask him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The word manifest really stood out to me when I read this. We read that word a lot in the scriptures and understand what it means but I wanted a solid definition. Manifest is to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; to show plainly, to put beyond doubt or question. Synonyms of the word manifest include obvious, apparent, unmistakable. The blind man becomes fully aware of Christ’s power to turn his weakness into a strength. This account manifests to us that He can do the same in our lives.

A quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains how Christ can change us. “We must try…try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible–and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you.” I don’t know about you but to me, that sounds very doable! It really is as simple as that; doing something consistently until it becomes second nature. God wants commitment, not just conversation. I can speak from experience that as we trust in our Savior, we can do whatever might be required of us. I felt the enabling power of His atonement filling in where I lacked as I began my mission. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ as He organized it originally was lost for many centuries along with the priesthood authority of God, but because He loves His children, He called another prophet to restore said church and priesthood. I have spent the last 17 months teaching this most remarkable message. I have seen it change the lives of many who have found a special place in my heart! I know Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and that it is the word of God! Through those ancient scriptures, all can know of the truthfulness of this message. As I’ve said countless times on my mission and will continue to say til my dying breath: THE CHURCH IS SO TRUE!

Watermelon, fresh off the vine!

One of my favorite summer pastimes is eating sweet, juicy watermelon. My grandpa grows them in his garden every year and as a treat, snack or meal, we’d enjoy a huge wheel of watermelon! It’s the perfect solution for a hot, sunny day or for any day in my opinion. You can never go wrong with watermelon. Being a watermelon fanatic, I really liked an analogy I once heard. The Book of Mormon was compared to a watermelon. I know right? kind of random but let me explain.

I hand you a heavy, beautifully green watermelon. It’s whole. Untouched. Yours for the taking. It offers such pleasure and satisfaction. I tell you of the juicy, red contents. The way it crisps, filling your mouth with the most delicious liquid (my mouth may or may not be watering while I type this…). My description entices you beyond all measure; however, the only way you can confirm my word is to crack it open! See for yourself.

So it is with the Book of Mormon. As missionaries, we continually tell of the truthfulness of this book and how much it can change lives for the better. Like the watermelon, the Book of Mormon is yours for the taking, offering pleasure and satisfaction but on a deeper level. Throught this book, you can have lasting happiness a long with true joy, peace, guidance, direction, and strength. It sounds great right? But you’ll never know for sure of this claim unless… you crack it open! We strongly encourage people to do so along with having a real intent and desire to learn for themselves of the message it holds. We invite others to ask God if it’s NOT true and that they will receive their answer through the Holy Ghost. IT’S A PROMISE! I know the promise is real because I have read for myself of the Book of Mormon. I have asked God if it’s true and my answer was a resounding YES! As great as watermelon tastes, the Book of Mormon is even better, on a spiritual level! As President Boyd K. Packer once put it, “The Book of Mormon has the nourishing power to heal the starving spirit.” So go ahead and find out for yourself. All you have to do is… crack it open.

Test Drive? Sample? Preview?

What do test driving a corvette, Costco food samples and the Holy Ghost have in common? They are all a preview of what could be yours if you take the required steps to obtain them. Behind the wheel of a ZR1 corvette, feeling the way the engine accelerates and how the gears shift gives you an idea of whether or not the car lives up to your expectations. Samples while shopping at Costco, provides a taste of the foods you’d like to purchase. The Holy Ghost is a foretaste of eternal life.

My favorite thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is the Holy Ghost. He testifies of truth, warns of physical or spiritual danger, brings things to our remembrance, etc. It is through the spirit that we receive any blessing from the Father. When we pray for answers, our revelation comes by the Holy Ghost. If we ask for strength, comfort or peace, we feel that aid with the presence of that divine personage of spirit. Without Him, we would be left to our own understanding and own strength to make it through this life.

Being a member of the Godhead, the Spirit is the next best thing to having the Savior by your side throughout your life. Now there are two different ways the Holy Ghost works. The power of the Holy Ghost is how we receive a testimony of Christ. He comes into our minds and hearts to bear witness of gospel truths such as Joseph Smith being called as a prophet or the Book of Mormon being the word of God. The GIFT of the Holy Ghost, however, follows baptism by the proper priesthood authority that allows you to have the Spirit as your constant companion as long as you’re worthy.

Sometimes when the Spirit is extra strong, I feel so happy I could burst, like I could explode with happiness. One member I met who lives in Billings explained the Spirit’s impact well. She said, “It feels too good to be true…but it’s not because it’s so real!” His presence is undeniable to one who is humble and listening. You can think of it like a pep talk from the Spirit. He testifies that what you are doing is right, worth it, and that there is more where that came from. With the Holy Ghost, we are able to endure all things. Remember during the hard times, when feeling at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on! God will hear your prayers and send His Comforter to build you up enough to carry on. There were times in my youth where I’d think, I’m done. I’m not praying or reading anymore. As soon as I finished that thought, a reoccurring statement would rebuttal that threat: No I won’t do that because I KNOW that won’t make me happy.

There is such happiness from living the Gospel. Feeling that ’bout to burst happiness,’ gives me understanding and conviction that no worldly pleasure is worth sacrificing salvation. If we are faithful, we can receive eternal life where we experience never-ending happiness. Ya just can’t beat that!

Knock on Wood

Walking down a quiet street, Sister Weir and I were discussing thankfully how a certain event hadn’t taken place…yet. “KNOCK ON WOOD,” Sister Weir chimed. We continued our trek on 1st Ave SE in silence for maybe ten seconds. I looked at her with raised brows and inquired, “aren’t you gonna knock on some wood? You’ve cursed us if you don’t. It doesn’t accomplish anything by just saying it.” She finished that thought with a profound statement, “like people who accept Christ into their hearts as their Savior but don’t do anything about it?”

Admitting that Jesus is the Christ isn’t enough. Our actions have to equal our profession. Elder James E. Talmage in his book, Articles of Faith, gives a great explanation of the problem with mere confession. Referring to James 2:19, Talmage says, “You do well to so profess and so believe; but, remember others do likewise; even the devils believe…so firmly that they tremble at the thought of the fate which that belief makes sure. Those confessions of the devils, that Christ was the Son of God, were founded on knowledge; yet their knowledge of the great truth did not change their evil natures.”

Talmage continues by comparing the devils confession with Peter’s similar confession, ” Peter’s faith had already shown its vital power; it had caused him to forsake much that had been dear, to follow his Lord through persecution and suffering, and to put away the worldliness with all its fascinations…His knowledge of God as the Father, and of the Son as the Redeemer, was perhaps no greater than that of the unclean spirits; but while to them that knowledge was but an added cause of condemnation, to him it was a means of salvation” (abridged from Articles of Faith, 5:97-99).

It comes down to a familiar phrase found in the next verse of James, “…faith without works is dead.” By our fruits, God will know us. He will know of our true conviction to Him, our true desire to follow Him. This life is all about what we can become! We show our faith by living the gospel. Faith is the first step because if we have true faith, it will lead us to some kind of action: repentance. We are to follow Christ and do the things which we have “seen” Him do. By doing so, we become more like Him “…that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moroni 7:48 & 1 John 3:2). Or as President Henry B. Eyring states, “And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.” Rather than merely declaring “knock on wood,” lets actually knock some wood so that our banners will be clear!

Living Life Backwards

Independence from others is applauded and praised by the world. The goal of our teenage years is to learn how to and become independent from our parents. Graduating high school leads to moving away from home and into separate apartments, getting a job and attending college or university. It almost seems the more free you are from relying on others the better. But the Lord would not and does not agree with that idea.

Proverbs 3:5-6 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.

Our Saviors cry is found in Matthew 11:28-30 when He tells us to let him carry our burden. Don’t try to carry it yourself. We can’t do this alone and we’re not expected to. “Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not” (D&C 36:6). What a change of perspective that is! To rely on the Lord. Let him worry for you! There is an example of when God chastises His followers for not depending on Him more. D&C 30:1 “…you have feared man and have not relied on me for strength as you ought.”

I find this counsel comforting. God doesn’t want me to go through life on my own. He knew all the things I would face and He knew what I need, a Savior who could carry me when I lose the strength to more forward. We are instructed by the Lord to live life backwards and instead of being independent of Him, we’re suppose to cleave unto Him.

Fruit: Good or Bad?


In the gospel of Matthew, Christ gives us a rule of thumb for determining the intents of others. Chapter 7 verse 20 reads, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” His analogy is a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, neither can a bad tree bring forth good fruit. Its against nature. Applicable to our lives involving those around us, this guideline from Christ is for us to follow as a guaranteed way to know what is true and what isn’t. Or who is true and who isn’t. Reading through Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage, I realized that time and time again Christ brought forth good fruit, performing miracles yet many refused to believe He was the Messiah.

How can one be so blind as to not know that Jesus was the Christ? I’ve always wondered why the Pharisees and scribes didn’t believe Him. Made of stone, their hearts must have been, to look the long awaited Messiah in the face and not recognize Him for who He truly was. Jesus did not come as they had expected, and instead of accepting their wrong perception, they fought against Him, unwilling to let go of their pride and popular positions. Being so focused on strict obedience of the laws and commandments, many forgot the reason for the law. The professional understanding of the scriptures inhibited the possibility of misconception. So caught up in laws and restrictions, the Pharisees condemned Christ for healing on the Sabbath. Completely missing the point of the gospel, they condemned the one who came to fulfill the law and satisfy the demands of justice. The good fruit of Christ was incorrectly judged as that of evil.


We must be able to accept truth. If we are not careful, our ears might not be opened to hear and our eyes may not be able to see what really lies before us. Humility allows us to be teachable, mold-able and reachable. Faith is not developed by having all the answers and if WE had all the answers, God would cease to be God. Trust in His plan and His laws. We are counseled to judge not that ye be not judged but also encouraged to make righteous judgements to secure an approved path to follow. As a missionary, I’ve used this promised of “by their fruits ye shall know them” when explaining the sacred role of Joseph Smith as a prophet. The fruit brought forth by Brother Joseph is the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. By this book, one can know of his divine calling as Prophet of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that even Christ’s good works were thought of as evil by those who were unable to see Him as their Savior because of the hardness of their hearts. Let us not be blind to the righteous fruit of Joseph Smith. He was called of God to restore His church on the earth and it was through the power of God that he translated the Book of Mormon. By this fruit YOU can know whether or not Joseph Smith was called of God.