Posts tagged ‘Joseph Smith’

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!

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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!

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