Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Recently my thoughts and experiences have caused me to reflect on the true meaning of life. I had realized that in the course of my mission I had become preoccupied with things of little consequence. As a result of my actions I had inadvertently distanced myself from God. My true purpose in life had been forgotten. This week I have begun to reacquaint myself with this truth. This blog will reveal what I have rediscovered.

The purpose of life is for us to come here, gain bodies, make choices, and to return to life with God. Living in the presence of God is called eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God (D&C 14:7). Those who recieve eternal life inherit all that God has (Romans 8:16). That's a great purpose that I hope we all can remember. Remembering this helps us to live our lives in a way that will qualify us for this gift.

Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of the Lord, taught us what is required to qualify in this parable:

"A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:

“All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”

He goes on to state that:

"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

What is the purpose of this life then: to become like our Heavenly Father. How do we achieve that purpose: through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is important therefore that we focus more on what we are becoming.

I know that this is true because the spirit has born witness to me as I wrote this blog. This truth has changed the way I think and act. I had been doing all the right things on my mission, but I was not becoming what God wanted me to be. I now understand what Paul meant when he said:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

Charity is a measure of what we become. It is the pure love of Christ. Paul emphasized that it doesn't matter what skills he has, if he has not become like Christ those skills mean nothing.

I know that this is true. It has changed my life. I invite everyone to remember their purpose in this life. May God bless us as we strive to become what we are divinely appointed to become. May we all develop charity that when we will stand before Christ to be judged we will be like him. (1 John 3:1-5)

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Progressive Post: Trust in the Lord

I am so proud to be a missionary serving in the California Santa Rosa Mission. I love the hills, the diversity of flowers and fruit, and the redwood trees. California is a beautiful state. It is rich in landscape and in people. I have especially loved and appreciated the people of California. I am currently serving in Vallejo and I agree one hundred percent with what Elder Jones has said about this area. My brothers and sisters here have taught me so much about perserverance and about holding to the simple truths of the gospel.
PreviewRather than restate everything that has been written about Vallejo, I want to talk about my experiences in the Northernmost city of our mission, Crescent City. It is the first area I have served in therefore it will always have a special place in my heart. Having gotten the pleasure of serving in both wards all the members in that city are family to me. It is no different with the people I taught and contacted. I love them and I appreciate what they have given me. I've never met a more humble city than Crescent City. Above all that I was taught the main lesson that I learned from my five months stay was to trust in the Lord.

I'll let Alma the Younger sum it all up for me: "I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day. And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God. Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things" (Alma 36: 3-5). Not only was I born into the mission in Crescent City, but I experienced a spiritual rebirth. That rebirth was a result of the trials and challenges that I faced as a new missionary.

Before I came on my mission I would often back down from a challenge. There were many opportunities in my life that I missed because I was afraid of failing. Rather than manning up and seizing the moment I cowered and withdrew. Fear had always overpowered my faith. For the first time in my life I buckled up and got to work. I seized every opportunity I could to serve others and to teach. I worked myself into the ground for the people there. I stood up for what I believed and I lived what I preached. Because I chose to exercise my faith I was able to accomplish miracles. The biggest miracle however was my own spiritual growth.

When I first came out I had some fears and doubts about my ability to be a successful missionary. The Lord took care of that fast. I was nailed time and time again with experiences where I had to choose to act in faith or cower in fear. Never before in my life did I go through that many challenges all at once. It seemed like there was no end to the trials I was facing. I had to rely on something other than myself to make it through. I quickly learned that I could trust in God. Each time I put it in the Lord's hands everything worked out. Relief came and miracles happened in every case. God provided for me. His "grace was sufficient"(Ether 12:27). That lesson has helped me through all of my trials since. I have learned to face trial with faith. From my first months in Crescent City I have had the capacity to enjoy every moment of my mission. This is because I know that I can put my trust in the Lord.

I believe His words to Alma and his people when they were delivered from bondage. The Lord told them "this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."(Mosiah 24:14) I know that that is true. I am so thankful for the privilege it was to serve in Crescent City. I now have the faith to do all that the Lord requires of me. I know that He will go with me as I strive to deliver others from their afflictions and bring them into the waters of baptism. This is Church is most definately true. I love the experiences I have had while serving in the California Santa Rosa Mission. I'm excited to hear from Elder Trey Williams about what he has learned from his experiences on his mission. Keep following the Progressive Post.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"How Firm a Foundation"

We hand out a pass along card that has a picture of the Salt Lake Temple on it. On the back are a few questions of the soul and an invitation to visit the website I love the Salt Lake temple. Many people that we give the pass along card to are astonished by the beauty of the building. I admit it is a wonderful sight to see. What is even more astonishing however, is the temple's construction.

The Salt Lake Temple took 39 years to build. The foundation of the temple took 14 years alone. President Young said he wanted to see the temple built so strong that “it will endure through the Millennium”( That is why so much time was spent on building the foundation of the temple. If the foundation will hold and stand so will the work on top of it. A sturdy foundation enables the rest of the building to function as it should. A house with a weak foundation will not stand. However, a house with a strong foundation can withstand the rains, floods, winds, earthquakes, and other tests that confront it. Brigham Young and the early saints understood this concept and took it into consideration as they built the temple. In fact, after 5 years of building the foundation the Saints had to completely restart because a crack was found in one of the foundation stones.

When Christ had established his Church he also established it on a firm foundation. We read in the Ephesians that the Church was "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." When the apostles were martyred the foundation was destroyed and the rest of the Church was affected. Eventually that Church fell. God understood the importance of that foundation and in our time he has built a new one. That is the reason why he called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and under his hand ordained 12 Apostles. With that foundation restored God once again brought His Church back onto the earth with the promise that it would stand until Christ will come again.

The Salt Lake temple is a testimony of the faithfulness of the saints and of the importance of this Latter-day work. It stands as a witness to all nations that Jesus is the Christ and that he leads and directs the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. He does this through living prophets and apostles. This is the same foundation that the original church was built upon. I know that this is true and I am grateful for the foundation upon which this church is built. I know that it will never fall. The Lord stated through His prophet:

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Til the end has come the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will stand as the Lord has promised. This is because of the foundation upon which it is built "which is a sure foundation, whereon if men build they shall not fall."(Helaman 5:12) That foundation is the same as when Christ had originally formed his church. It has been restored and it will not fall. Of this I testify as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beans and Crackers or Feast and Music

I am so excited to finally be able to read Conference in the Ensign. It is such a great blessing. We get to read the words of modern day prophets and apostles over and over again. This morning I studied President Uchtdorf's talk titled "Your Potential, Your Privilege." As I read, I remembered when he delivered this message in April. He began his talk with this story:

"There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.

He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.

On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges."

How often in our lives do we live beneath our potential? If we understood our relationship to God we would come to see that our potential is limitless. The fact that we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father testifies to us that we have divine potential. God's purpose is to enable each one of us to recieve the blessings he has and to live with Him through the eternities. That was the reason we were sent to Earth in the first place. This life is our time to prepare to meet God (Alma 34:32) How would we feel if at the end of our life here on Earth we discovered that we lived far below our potential? We would be unprepared to meet God because we didnt use our time here wisely. Instead of enjoying the abundance of joy that life has to offer, we sat in our room and ate beans and crackers. We would feel much like the man in President Uchtdorf's story.

President Uchtdorf stated: "We live beneath our privileges when we fail to partake of the feast of happiness, peace, and joy that God grants so bountifully." There are many people out there who are living below their potential. It is not any fault of their own. "For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (D&C 123:12). Guess what? We know where to find it. The only way to enjoy fully the blessings of God in this life and in the eternities is found through the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is because the Gospel in its fullness has been brought back onto the earth. There is no other way.

We are all on this cruiseship together. It is our responsibility to help everyone live up to their potential. Would we let our brothers and sisters sit in their room and eat beans and crackers? For me that answer is no. It is up to all who have been warned to warn their neighbor. I will do all in my power to help others reach their divine potential.

Spread the word.

Read President Uchtdorf's full address, "Your Potential, Your Privelege"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Called to Serve: On the Other Side of the Veil

This last week I heard from a friend that someone who meant a lot to me had passed away. I was shocked when I heard the news and thankful that I had been informed. It was a great blessing to have heard because I have been away from him for 6 months. This man and his wife had joined the church a year ago. They are stalwart saints who have powerful testimonies of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I served in their area they treated me like family. I love them and they will always be a part of my life. Here on the earth and in the eternities. I want to tell you a bit about his death and bear testimony of the life after.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Will Follow You

This weekend was a very special weekend for me. I got to be a part of a few baptisms. After the first baptism I gave a talk. At the beginning of the talk I asked her how she felt. Her response: "I've never felt this good in my life." I have ran those words through my head time and time again. It was special for me to hear her say that. Baptism is such an important event. It marks the beginning of a new life as a follower of Jesus Christ. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) Everyone who is baptized by priesthood authority experiences rebirth and is cleansed from their sins. This is exactly what happened to our recent convert.

Following that baptism we had another baptism. This was a young man who was 18. I got to have a one on one interview with him. He is a special kid and is going to do a lot with his life. During his baptism he spoke. While he spoke he read this poem that he wrote:

"I go through stages of obesession and depression no doubt self inflicted
the wind in my sails has all but vanised
im stuck
not up nor down here nor there
but no where
after lifetimes of self defeat from the stress i finally realize
who cares where i am or where im going
im here and i have you to help me through
then in less than a moment my sails have been filled
but yet something is still left unsaid
even with the horizon in my midst
the past a dream forgotten
i shutter
and the seas themselves begin to quake
was it a mistake
i put my trust in you
and now the waters shake
i tremble and curse your name
even though i am the one to blame
now again
im stuck
in a rut
just mabye ill ask you one more time to fill my sails take them as you will
no matter that be rough, or smooth seas
just to get another glance of the land on the horizon when my fear forsook you
my mind be the sails i ask you to fill
my heart the compass to direct me
i will follow you!"

He is a follower of Christ. He showed that by being baptized in the same manner Christ was baptized: by immersion and by someone who held the priesthood. What a sacred and holy event. I'm grateful I got the privilege to attend. These things are true, baptism is real. The authority has been restored. The examples that my brother and sister have set this weekend by being baptized has changed my life just as it has transformed theirs. I thank them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Small and Simple

I have a very sporadic personality. For me it is easy to pick up new things and drop them fast. I love change and I used to get uncomfortable with consistency. It has always been in my nature to expect big results in a short period of time. To put it simply I'm more of a sprinter than a long distance runner. Rather than being able to conserve my energy I like to get it all out in quick bursts. This pattern of thought and behavior unfortunately is not in harmony with God's way. It is a symptom of the carnal mind, a result of our temporal existence in the flesh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Important Than What You Do

Life is busy. There are so many different things that go along with it. As a missionary the list of things to do seems endless. Everyday I worry about what I should study, what I should say, who i should see, where I should go, etc. I'm sure everyone at some point has felt a little worn down by an infinite to do list. I know that with all the things I do it is easy for me to overwhelmed. With the list of to do's being so great I find myself asking: what should I focus on? I have learned an invaluable lesson lately about what is most important in life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Way

The more I learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the more converted I become. I am just so grateful for the organization that God has established. He is most certainly a God of order. Look at how expansive and organized the universe is, or even the Earth, and the human body. He is not a creator of chaos. ALL things are done in order. It is no different with his Church here on the earth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Because Jesus is the Christ

One of my favorite hymns is "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." I found out some new information about it tonight. It was the last hymn that Joseph Smith heard before he was martyred. John Taylor sang the song all the way through twice. My affection for this hymn has grown even deeper. I love it. It is all about serving the Lord through our actions towards others and our commitment to giving our all to him.

I'm sure as Joseph Smith sat in Carthage Jail this verse took on significant meaning for him:

In pris'n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tonuges I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, "I will"

There have been many who have died defending the faith. Joseph Smith is just one of many. Christ had asked for their life, and they willing gave it. What has Christ asked you to do?

I'm grateful Christ has not yet required my life. He has asked me to do other things though. One of which is give up 2 years to serve a mission. Along with that comes many other responsibilities. I am asked to talk to everyone, to invite others to be baptized, to follow a missionary schedule, to build up the ward where I serve, and the list of things goes on. These things seem so little to me when compared to what others have done for Christ. It matters not what he asks us to do. What matters is whether or not we are willing to do it.

The reason why Joseph Smith, myself, and many others act when they are called is simply because Jesus is the Christ. We understand that Christ has given us his all. He gave us his life. He suffered for our sins, sorrows, pains, temptations, and afflictions. He was despised and rejected of men. He descended below all things. Yet he overcame death. He conquered sin. He rose above all things. He sits at the right hand of the Father. All power is given to him in heaven and in earth. He is our Savior and our Redeemer.

If he did all those things for me I know that I can do all things through him. In fact he has promised me all things if I am faithful. These promises are extended to as many as will come unto him. His arms are open to everyone. He invites everyone to "Repent and come unto me and bebbaptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day."(3 Nephi 27:20)

This is my calling: to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them to recieve the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I am here to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. I do these things because Jesus is the Christ.

Find out how you can serve Christ by reading the rest of the lyrics to "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"

Read in the Book of Mormon what Christs expects of you, "2 Nephi 9)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prayer and Scripture Study

I have been reflecting lately about my commitment to follow my Savior Jesus Christ. This was sparked primarily by Church on Easter Sunday. As a missionary Easter took on a different meaning to me. Each week as I partake of the sacrament I am reminded of his sacrifice. I truly appreciated his suffering and death on the Cross. This made me feel at peace knowing that he has felt as I have felt. It is such a great expression of love. Easter this year reminded me not just of his sacrifice but of his Ressurection. He overcame all things, including death. This brings me joy knowing that if I follow him to the end I too can overcome all things. I can be held, "guiltless before my Father" at that day when I will stand before Christ to be judged (3 Nephi 27:16). That is the hope that keeps me going.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Vacaville Saints

Well since I am leaving Vacaville tomorrow I have decided to write today about the people of Vacaville who have been angels in my life. Miracles have happened every day. I list only a few of the many that I have been blessed to witness and be a part of in my short stay with the Vacaville Saints.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Can I Know?

"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

As missionaries this witness from the Holy Ghost is the central focus of our teaching. We teach with the hope that "power of the Holy Ghost" will carry our message "unto the hearts of the children of men" (2 Nephi 33:1). One way this happens is when those we teach seek earnestly to know the truth of what we teach by asking God. "No one can know of spiritual truths without prayer"(PMG 39). He is the author of all truth.

Jesus taught "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."(Luke 11:9) The invitation is there. All who seek to know of truth can find answers. The only requirement is that they ask of God. "In answer to our prayers, the Holy Ghost will teach us truth through our feelings and thoughts. Feelings that come from the Holy Ghost are powerful, but they are also usually gentle and quiet. (PMG 39)" I have felt such feelings in my life. As we dilligently seek we will learn to recognize the answers to our prayers. God will teach us.

"As we begin to feel that what we are learning is true, we will desire to know all that we can about the Restoration. Knowing that the Book of Mormon is true leads to a knowledge that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through him." (PMG 39)

We have a unique message for the world. God has reached out in love to restore His gospel through a living prophet. This is true. I testify that it is. I have come to know for myself that God and Jesus Christ did indeed appear to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. I know this because I have asked God. I have read the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. The Spirit has born witness to me of this truth. I invite everyone to do the same and I promise as a servant of Jesus Christ that you will have the same results. God will hear your prayers and you will know for yourself. You will desire to know all you can about the Restoration.

Do you have the courage to ask, seek, and knock?

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Broken Bow

Why do bad things happen to good people? Now that is a question for the soul that I have often pondered to myself. Do bad things happen in my life? You bet they do. Daily. I'm so grateful for these experiences. I know that they all happen for a reason. Everyone goes through difficult times. However, what we do because of them defines who we are. When it comes to trials, there are no accidents. I take comfort knowing that we will not be tried above that which we are able to bear (1 Cor 10:13). As I studied the scriptures this morning I discovered the answer to that question of the soul.
I was reading in the Book of Mormon about Nephi and an experience he had while he was traveling through the wilderness with his family. Back then there were no Safeways nearby so they had to hunt and forage for their food. The way they hunted was by bow and arrow. No guns or lazer scopes back then. Nephi had the best bow though. His was made from "fine steel". His brothers bows were pretty worn out. They relied on the use of his bow to get food. Without his bow they were stranded in the wilderness without any way of getting anything to eat. One day while hunting something unfortunate happened. Nephi broke his bow.

Why would God allow that to happen? Now they cant get any food and they'll starve. Was he doing anything wrong? Not at all. In fact the family was doing everything right. They followed the Lord when He told them to leave Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2). They went back to retrieve the plates (1 Nephi 3). They left all their posessions behind to follow the Lord. Something bad had happened to good people.

Nephi reccounts how they reacted "And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord." (1 Nephi 16: 20) On the other hand, here is how Nephi reacted: "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?" (1 Nephi 16:23). Nephi was then shown where to go to obtain food and he "did slay wild beasts" and obtained food for his family.

We have two choices when responding to bad things. One is to murmur and complain. The other is to buckle up and act. We decide what happens as a result of the trials that are placed in front of us. Had Nephi and his family all murmured and complained they would have perished in the wilderness. However, because Nephi chose to remain calm and did what he could with what was given the family lived to reach the promised land.

Yes bad things happen to good people. How they react is what defines them as good people. There is opposition in all things. Just because we choose the right does not mean we are exempt from trial and sorrow. We are however entitled to divine help and will recieve it as we act in faith to overcome adversity. Through our trials we are refined.

I bear my testimony that the Book of Mormon answers the Questions of the Soul. I know that it is the word of God as is the Bible. I know that through it we can recieve guidance in our own lives and we can overcome our trials. I know that it testifies of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. Through him we can overcome all things.

Order a free Book of Mormon for yourself so that the questions you have in your soul can be answerd.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Greatest Test

I've been hearing a lot from the youth in our ward about this standardized test they have to take this week. Their teachers have been cramming all the material in their classes to prepare them for it. The purpose of this test and any test for that matter is to measure how much students have been learning. A good student prepares dilligently through study and paying close attention in class. A poor student will neglect any work and will show up to the test unprepared. You can guess who will score higher. This is because one put the time in and the other did not. The scores of the tests would thus measure who prepared and learned more.

However, if each student was allowed to have their teacher there with them to help them answer each question things would be a little different. Both would pass with flying colors. Would the scores of this type of test show which student learned and prepared more? This would not be an adequate measure and the purpose of the test would be null and void.

This life is like a test. It is a time given for men to prepare to meet God (Alma 34:32). In this life we are separated from the presence of God. We do not remember our life with Him before we came to Earth nor do we remember our purpose here. We are meant to walk by faith. This is necessary for our growth. This allows for us to learn and progress. A righteous person prepares and studies in order to be ready for the next life. He searches for truth and does all he can to know the will of his Heavenly Father and to understand his purpose here. A wicked person on the other hand chooses not to prepare. They spend their time on worldly pursuit where "moth and rust doth corrupt" (Matthew 6:19). Those who prepare will be happier in this life and will recieve eternal life in the life to come (John 17:3). Those who do not prepare however will forfeit those blessings because they put off the spirit of God (Alma 30:42). If it were any other way the test would be null and void. God would cease to be God (Alma 42).

I know that God has a perfect plan. I testify that this life is the time for men to perform their labors. We are here for a reason. Truth is at our fingertips. There is no excuse for not knowing the things of the Lord. The scriptures are laid before us. We have a prophet for our day. The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored. We know what is at stake and we know what Christ expects of us. No one is blameless. With Alma I caution: "And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world (Alma 34:33-34)" Let us be like the good student who does all he can to prepare rather than the poor student who doesn't study. It will be worth it when we all stand before Christ to be judged. We will then recieve an accounting of what we did while on our mortal probation.

Good luck on the tests this week Vanden!! I hope ya'll score high. You're all such great students and good examples to me. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fasting and Prayer

The scriptures are full of miracles. I love reading in the Gospels how Christ healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, and the blind to see. Even more miraculous was when he raised Lazarus from the dead. I love in Acts when Peter and the Apostles baptized thousands on the day of the Pentecost. I love reading the stories in the Book of Mormon how Alma the Younger baptized thousands of saints in the surrounding Nephite cities. Even more miraculous was when the Sons of Mosiah baptized thousands of Lamanite converts. These people had been immersed in sin and without God for centuries, yet through the faith of these men the hearts of the Lamanites were changed. I admit that in the past I have wondered where these miracles are today.

All these miracles were wrought by faith (Ether 12, Hebrew 11). Moroni taught us that "the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust." However he extends this promise, "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth (Mormon 9:20-21)" These miracles do happen today. They can happen in our communities and in our families. God is no respector of persons. He works according to the faith of his children.

Our friends can become converted to the gospel. Our communities can embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ. We must act in faith.

There is a story in the Gospel of Mark about a man who was possessed with a devil. The disciples of Jesus tried to cast him out, but they could not. Christ upon seeing this rebukes the evil spirit and commands it to leave. Afterwards his disciples approached him and asked: "Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:28-29)" I know that one way miracles are wrought is just as Christ taught: by much prayer and fasting. This was how the Sons of Mosiah were able to have so much success amongst the Lamanites. (Alma 17:3)

I know that as we join in fasting and prayer for those we love God will provide a way for them to accept the fullness of the Gospel as Restored in these latter days. We must exercise our faith and go and do all we can. Then we must patiently await for the promises of the Lord to be fulfilled. Expect miracles.

Our message is for everyone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Get That Mote Out

I am caused to reflect upon the Saviors teaching about looking inwardly. He taught:

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3-5)

We all have weaknesses. I am guilty of judging others and placing expectations upon others. It is not within my power to do such. Who am I to judge another. I'm grateful I can repent and look inwardly. I feel impressed to proclaim that we all should pray to discover the beam that is  within our own eye. I know that as I have strived to look inwardly it shows outwardly in the way that I treat and think of others.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Night Is Darkest Before Dawn

"The night is darkest before dawn" has rung true on my mission. I know that it was after the most difficult and trying times that the greatest blessings came. I know can recognize that when I am struggling there is light just around the corner. I get excited when trials come my way because I know that Satan tries us before the big moments in our lives.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in a talk that, "It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our lives." This is important to remember so that we are prepared for those times. We should anticipate them so that we are ready when they come. Understanding this principle will help all to never lose their footing. This is how our faith grows.

He goes on to say, "I wish to encourage every one of us regarding the opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose." We should never give up. Paul says in these moments to "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" We should continue to do the will of God and exercise our faith.

This is so true for everyone who is investigating the Church. Satan does not want them to make these important steps in their life.  Elder Holland speaks directly to these precious souls when he says,"Sure it is tough—before you join the Church, while you are trying to join, and after you have joined. That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had." This church is true. The adversary is real, and he wants us to be miserable like himself. We cannot let him lead us away from the things that we know are true. If it felt right at the moment, it is right now. God will guide us and he will help us to face our challenges.

We should always maintain our confidence in our spiritual choices. Listening to the spirit will help us to fill our lives with light. This will enable us to resist temptation. The Lords counsel to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery applies equally to us today when he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak apeace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witnesscan you have than from God? And now, behold, you have received a witness" (D&C 6:22-24). Do not let your guard down, but always be watchful. "Pray always lest ye be tempted"(3 Nephi 18:15)

It is our duty to make those big decisions and endure to the end. I know that the Lord will assist us as we rely on him.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Conversion: By Small Means

Lately my mind has been focused on what a miracle conversion is. I have often wondered what brings about true conversion. As I've thought about this topic I've reflected back on my own life and my own conversion to the Gospel. The first thing that I have come to understand is that conversion is a process. It requires repeatedly applying the Gospel throughout life. It is the only pattern of behavior, however, that will lead to absolute peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come. The Savior has said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) Conversion is so important. The consequences of conversion are eternal. I'd like to relate some experiences from my own conversion and give some tips on simple things we can do to help our friends become converted to the restored Gospel.

I remember walking out of the Bishops office a few years ago with my mind set on never coming back to Church again. It felt completely hopeless and a bit frustrated. I was asked to change, but I wasn't ready to do it. I never thought once, that I would even be able to. My bishop, however, had left me with a list of scriptures that he asked me to read. A few nights later, my circumstances left me by myself in my dorm room dusting off the Book of Mormon. As I made that decision my life began to change.

I began to read the Book of Mormon every night, I started to pray often, and eventually I mustered the courage to come to Church. Through these simple means I came to know for myself that Jesus is the Christ and that he lived and died for my sins. I'm grateful for that, and I have never lost those habits. My conversion is a direct result of these simple steps. In order for one to be truly converted they must repeat this behavior. Everyone can come to know that Christ lives today and that he has restored his church onto the Earth as they pray with sincerity, read with real intent, and worship in Church at every opportunity.

I know that as we strive to help our friends and family to develop these small habits they will experience true conversion. They will be baptized and the effects of the Atonement will be felt fully in their lives. There is no other way. We have the keys and authority to do such. No one else can give them this but us.

I'm so grateful that the way is simple. We need to have faith in the converting power of the gospel. In order to gain that faith true conversion must be felt in our own lives. This kind of conversion is expressed in our desire to share what we have with others.

This was illustrated in Lehi's dream of the tree of life. "And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the afruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the bwhiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great ajoy; wherefore, I began to be bdesirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was cdesirable above all other fruit." (1 Nephi 8:11-12)

I know that the fruit of the Gospel is delicious above all other fruit. It is up to us to share that fruit with others and help them along the conversion process, which in reality requires a lifetime of following Jesus Christ. It has to start somewhere though. Be the instigator to change the lives of those you care about.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Can I Know?

I have found in my life a constant struggle to recognize Gods influence. It is consistent with God's plan for it to be this way. This is because it is given to man to choose. "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should aact for himself. Wherefore, man could not bact for himself save it should be that he was centiced by the one or the other" (2 Nephi 2:16). I think that I often lose sight of this. However I'm so grateful for it. God trusts me to make right choices. That's some serious responsibility right there. However, sometimes I don't have confidence in myself to make the right decisions. How can I know if I am making the right choice?

One way I can know that I am following God's will if I am keeping His commandments. When I sin the answer is pretty simple. The gospel is easy. We must have faith in Christ, repent, partake of the sacrament (or be baptized), and let the Holy Ghost sanctify me. In this way I can be forgiven and know that I am following God's will. Be careful however to overcomplicate things. In the Book of Mormon we can see the effect of that through the story of Lehi and his family. 

In this account Lehi was led through the wilderness over to the America's by a golden compass called the Liahona. As long as they were righteous and kept the commandments the spindles on the compass pointed the course they should follow. Unfortunately however, "Because those miracles were worked by asmall means...They were bslothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey." (Alma 37:41) Since the way for them to be guided was so easy they began to be slothful and they halted their progression. We too should not slip because of the easiness of the way.

The way to judge is simple: if it is good and inviteth to follow Christ then it is from God, if it is bad and enticeth to do evil it is of the Devil. So how can I tell if I'm being guided? If I am moving closer to God. Mormon teaches us this principle. We read: "Wherefore, all things which are agood cometh of God; and that which is bevil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to csin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do agood continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and benticeth to do cgood, and to love God, and to serve him, is dinspired of God." (Moroni 7:12-13) Simple enough?

I'm thankful for this counsel. Through it I can find hope as I strive to make correct decisions. Even though some decisions are hard, God will support us as we strive to find him in our lives. I know that when we follow God we become happier and we can see his influence in our lives. Through these results we can know that something is from God. As we live the gospel we see the progress of our journey. In order to know for yourself, you must do it.

I invite everyone to come unto Christ and find out for yourself that these things are true. Joseph Smith was a prophet. Jesus Christ lives today. He is our Savior and Redeemer. There is life after death. Only through the Gospel can we experience the fullest measure of joy in this life and eternal life in the next.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

There is Hope Smiling Brightly Before Us

The recent tsunami that hit Japan causes us to despair. It is difficult to see such destruction. Nature isn't always kind. With so much death and turmoil it is easy to get discouraged and suffer a loss of hope. This event didn't just affect those who passed away in the crashing wave. It affects us all.

Other events in our lives may cause us to lose hope. Whether it be a death in the family or even as simple as failing an exam. For me it is my own individual weaknesses. I lose hope because I doubt that I have the ability to help others. I lose hope because I doubt that I can overcome a difficult event in my life. Loss of hope affects us in many ways. Without hope we lose faith. We can become selfish and our life begins to spiral downward.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Almost Is Not Enough

Right before I came on my mission I found out that I had Celiacs disease. The only cure: don't eat food containing Gluten! I did just that. I gave up Gluten in my diet, or so I thought. I have recently discovered that my Celiacs disease restricts me more than I thought. I couldnt believe all the stuff that Gluten is in. At first I was reluctant to eliminate all the foods I was supposed to be avoiding. I have already given up everything that I used to enjoy and now I was asked to give up even more. It was difficult to act even though I was promised that I would feel healthier once I kept the diet. I didnt feel like my health was too bad anyways. I was feeling great. At the constant nagging of my companion, however, I was convinced to go all the way.

The results were not immediate. I woke up the next day and felt the same as I normally did. If it werent for my companion I would have quit right then and there, but I kept living the diet. After a couple of days my health began to improve. I began to feel more energized and the complexion in my face began to change. I could think clearer and it was much easier to concentrate. Because I went Gluten free all the way I have been blessed with great health and I'm much happier.

There is always something more we can be doing in life to draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. While on this earth we all suffer from spiritual Celiacs. We all are alergic to sin. Whenever we make a bad choice we poison ourselves and our spirits are grieved. The cure: stop making bad choices because "wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10)

When I go shopping for food I dont buy food with Gluten in it. Common sense right? Similarly one way to avoid sin is to not surround yourself with temptation. If you place yourself in a situation where you will be tempted you are in essence shopping for food that you are allergic to. That doesnt make much sense does it? So don't move yourself into a position where the adversary has home court advantage.

Also, the longer I'm Gluten free the more I know what I can and cant eat. Thus, the longer you avoid sin the easier it is for you to make correct choices. Through experience we can learn right from wrong.

Before I choose to eat anything I first look at the labels to see if there is anything in my food that contains Gluten. Before you make any decision you should look to the scriptures and the words of the prophets. They are the labels for our lives. They teach us the commandments and how to live a happy life. Through them we can know what is good for us and what is bad for us. Aren't you grateful God put a label on life so we can see the ingredients! It would be foolish not to look at them. If in doubt, search the scriptures.

Reccounting my recent experience we sometimes may not feel the difference immediately. The commandments are the same way. Righteousness is a lifelong pursuit. The longer we live the commandments the stronger we become. Richard G. Scott of the 12 Apostles stated: "A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression." The longer I live my diet the better I feel. You may not feel the difference at first, but the blessings do come.

I'm so thankful that I've found out that I have this disease. I was sick but I didnt know it. So many people are sick and they dont know the cure. My whole life I ate things with Gluten. I lived with it. Life was good. Nevertheless, I still had Celiacs. Thats something I can never deny. Had I kept eating like that I would have suffered permanent damage. Everyone needs to know they are sinning. It is so important. If they dont find out they will suffer because they know not the truth.

For those who think they can choose to live only certain commandments you are damaging yourself spiritually. Gluten is Gluten no matter what it is in. Almost living the diet is not enough. I'm still poisoning myself. It is the same with Sin. It is so important to strive to live all the commandments. We forfiet the blessings when we choose not to live certain commandments.

I hope we all choose to live the Celiac way and keep the diet. Avoid sin. Choose to live righteously. I know that as you do you will be happy and you will recognize more and more the importance of keeping the commandments.