Posts tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

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!

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.

Tell Him and Love Him…

Driving to Missoula for dristrict meeting each week provides over 60 minutes of story time! One told the struggles of a loved one and how we can’t make choices for others; all we can do is tell them we love them and love them. At first, I thought she had repeated herself but then realized the slight but significant difference. It reminds me of a statement I heard much earlier than this event. “God wants commitment, not just conversation.”

One can say they love God and Christ all they want, but until they prove that love through their actions, the profession is void. Christ demanded action from us when He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Can we say we truly love Him, when we choose recreational activities over church attendance? We might be able to say it and feel it without SHOWING it; however, does He really know of our love? A phrase often heard when pointing out one’s lack of commitment through action is  “God knows my heart.” Yeah He does, but do you know His? Think of someone you know loves you…how do you know they love you? Is it because they would profess it from the mountain tops? Or is it because of how they treat you, listen to you, talk to you, and the things they do for you?

An example comes to mind. Two children of the same mother. One tells his mom of his love for her, then goes to play. The other child expresses his love to his mother and spends his time doing the chores she required of him. No doubt they both love their mother and are eager to express it. Actions that are in agreement with the words, add so much more meaning behind the simple words I LOVE YOU. May we prove our love for God through our daily efforts to live the lives He would have us live!

Cease to be God

Reading in Alma one morning proved to be thought provoking. The 42 chapter tells of Alma’s admonition to his son Corianton. Both serving as missionaries, Corianton has struggled to preach the gospel which in turn affects Alma’s ability to gain followers. One of Corianton’s issues is found starting in verse 1:

“And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.”

Not an unusual concern to have. Each person at some point will quesition the justice of God found in the scriptures. I think we question it more when it concerns our salvation, our suffering, the one vice we find difficult to let go. Sometimes we ask, “Will He really keep me out of heaven for gossipping or because I chose to express myself with piercings and tattoos?” To answer yes seems unreasonable and extreme. But Alma continues to explain that because we are human, we are fallen. We will all make mistakes and have weaknesses that do keep us from returning to our Heavenly Father. There are laws that must be kept and when they are not kept, a price must be paid. God is just. He cannot change universal laws, no matter how small they seem. But He can provide a way for us to escape that punishment, which allows Him to apply mercy. This is the role of our Savior’s atonement.

In verse 14-15, we read: “And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.”

Without laws, God would cease to be God. The Savior overcame the conflicting issue of justice verses mercy. It may appear cruel that punishment follows small broken commandments but justice must prevail. As we live on this earth, we decide what degree of glory we’ll receive by how obedient we are to the commandments of God. I know that no habit or wordly pleasure is worth risking our eternal happiness. When in doubt, do without! Heavenly Father blesses the faithful but it’s always in equal proportion to their obedience. He will not give you what you do not deserve, and you do not deserve that which you did not live for. Doctrine & Covenants 88:22 states that, “For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” Christ surrendered completely to Heavenly Father’s will and He is our example. His call has been and forever will be, “Come follow me.”

One day to be weak.

Haley seems to have it all together from the outside. Friendly and talkative to those she firsts meets as well as those she’s been long acquainted with. Many praise her for the accomplishments of what appears to be hard work and dedication. Generally a happy, easy-going brunette, Haley continues day to day with the same facade and typical results. All is well in the life of Haley Stevenson. Of course, she isn’t as confident in her abilities as she leads on. A constant battle seems to occupy the mind and Haley quickly becomes tired of the rollercoaster ride from brave and courageous to doubtful and paralyzed. One day, unable to overcome her fears, she gives in. “Let me have this one day to be weak,” is the plea that escapes her and makes its way heavenward. What could be so harmful in not pushing forward for one day?

Reflecting upon this question later, the realization and answer comes. Consistency is everything. It only takes one small moment for the adversary to sneak in and begin his deceitful attacks at righteous desires. An example can be found in the Book of Mormon with Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Their actions lead many people away because they provided that opportunity for Satan to enter the hearts of the righteous, “…giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them” (Mosiah 27:9). Diligence is required of the followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the scriptures, continual exhortation is given as a requirement to act in all diligence. The blessings as well are mentioned of faithful, continual obedience. Moroni 9:6 reads, “…let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.” As always, Christ is the perfect example of not having one day to be weak. He was tempted, tried, persecuted, and confronted by many yet He never gave in. Even when suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He pleaded as well with the Father to let the cup pass from Him; nevertheless, He did the Father’s will and drank that bitter cup. President Henry B. Eyring in his general conference talk referred to the example of Christ. He says “When I find myself drawn away from my priesthood duties by other interests and when my body begs for rest, I give to myself this rallying cry: “Remember Him.” The Lord is our perfect example of diligence…”

Doctrine and Coventants 6:13 states the blessings of consistency: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.”

Closing with a quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, “Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”

I Hid My Face From Thee

Somewhat of a disturbing image to use as a reminder. I saw this picture in the September 2010 ensign and thought of how it relates to our Heavenly Father and His role in our life. This beautiful baby girl cries out in pain, with questioning eyes that ask “Why would you do such a thing to me?” From her perspective, the person administering the shot is cruel, heartless, hurtful. She doesn’t understand the purpose this shot will have later on in life. Discomfort is short in the big picture of her life while the benefits continue much longer. So it is with our lives and eternity. God has given all men trials that seem cruel, heartless, hurtful. Often wondering “Why would you do such a thing to me?,” one can look to God with pleading, pondering eyes. Some don’t realize how the “small” moments of pain or struggle will affect them further down the rocky road of life. God can see the full picture, even into the eternities.
I love this song (written with a scripture from Isaiah and the revelation Joseph Smith received during Liberty Jail) because of how well it portrays God’s mercy, kindness and constant love.  For a little while, He might forsaken us or hide His face from us to let us learn, grow and stretch. But He will always gather us beneath His wings with the endless care that He has. I testify God really knows our every thought and every care. He is with us! Please know my brothers and sisters, His kindness truly shall not depart from thee. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, God can apply mercy,  welcome us into his presence and fulfill his eternal promises. So hold on thy way. Even if the very jaws of hell gape open after us, it shall be for our good. He will not leave us comfort-less. He will come to us, to our rescue! (John 14:18)

Who did sin?

Many wonder this common and mostly unanswered question at some point in their lives: “why do bad things happen to good people?” Trials and challenges and suffering are simply part of this life, we will all be faced with difficult, if not seemingly impossible, circumstances and understandably wonder “why me? What have I done to deserve this?” a similar question was asked of Christ. In John 9: 2-3 it reads:

2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, thisaman, or his parents, that he was born blind?

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

Once again, lets define manifest so we can better comprehend Christ’s answer. Manifest is to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; to show plainly to put beyond doubt or question. Synonyms include obvious, apparent, unmistakable. So are the struggles or times of hardship in our lives. They become opportunities of growth, to prove to ourselves and to God that we can and will turn to our Savior for strength to overcome and conquer stumbling blocks placed in our path. I know for myself, as well as others, that times of great struggles or suffering comes the greatest growth, understanding, and strength. Like President Harold B. Lee explains, ” sometimes when [we] are going through the most severetests, [we] will be nearer to God than [we] have any idea.”

Elder Richard G. Scott also explains how God loves us perfectly and “would not require [us] to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for our personal benefit,” (Learning through life’s trials).

Joseph Smith’s incarceration in Liberty Jail is a wonderful example of what can happen when we trust in God during times of opposition. Better explained in Elder Jeffery R. Holland’s talk, “Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail,” the Prophet Joseph’s experience teaches that “you can have sacred revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in any situation [even] in the most miserable experiences of your life.” Elder Holland continues, “everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. When that happens we can sometimes fear that God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he cried from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed … ? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer … before … thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). When we want to cry out “O God where art thou,” we can take solace in the scripture D&C 121 :7-8

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

What peace I feel when I read these verses. God is truly with us. He is all around us. He promises, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). I testify that we can and will be supported in our trials and suffering if we turn to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I knowthis because I have felt the enabling power of the atonement. Serving a mission is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’m here and loving it because of my Savior’s mercy and because of the truthfulness of His promise found in Matthew 11: 28-30

28¶aCome unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest.

29Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek anddlowly in eheart: and ye shall find frest unto your souls.

30For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light.

We will all fall. Just make sure you fall towards the Lord and not away from him. Elder Holland continues,”However heavy our load might be, it would be a lot heavier if the Savior had not gone that way before us and carried that burden with us and for us.” In moments of opposition or adversity, don’t wish it didn’t happen. This is your chance to shine! You can prove you are worthy of God’s blessings and that you will not also go away neither cast not away therefore your confidence. “Be still; and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). When facedwith trials, trust and know that God is there, helping as you take the steps towards becoming a stronger servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for strength to endure it well so you can be exalted on high. How could we expect it to be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? “Hold on thy way.… Fear not … , for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:9).

other sources and references:

“Learning Through Life’s Trials” by Larry Richman – http://lds.org/ensign/2010/03/learning-through-lifes-trials?lang=eng&query=learning+through+life’s+trials

“Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail” by Elder Jeffery R. Holland – http://lds.org/ensign/2009/09/lessons-from-liberty-jail?lang=eng&query=lessons+learned+liberty+jail