Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Heed the Call

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, we are expected to devote our time and efforts related to the work of inviting others to come unto Christ. We are not to spend time listening or watching things of the world, including the news; so when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan, I was amazed and devastated for them. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering from the pain of lost loved ones and possessions.

A member told me of an interesting account from an older gentleman who lived in Japan at the time of the disaster. He told of being in a small village where he lived, doing his daily tasks, when suddenly he heard the warning call of a tsunami siren. This call was to warn all who could hear it to immediately get to higher ground to protect themselves from oncoming waves that could potentially kill them. When this man heard the call, he immediately dropped everything he was doing and rushed to higher ground. There were not many that followed. As he got to a safe location, he could see as the rushing, towering wave engulfing the village, destroying all in its path.

I was hit hard when I heard this story. What would have happened if this man would have ignored the warning like so many others? What if he heard it and began to gather all of the worldly possessions that he thought he absolutely needed, taking up time that he didn't have? The results would have been the same as those who were not on the higher ground with him, he would have been swept away with everything else.

Believe it or not, this strongly relates to our own lives. There are many times when we hear the warning call of the Spirit telling us to "get to higher ground", to get to a safer spot, to stop what you are doing and leave. However, the spirit may not talk to us in the form of a loud siren. The Lord demonstrates this to His prophet Elijah in the Bible,

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" 1 Kings 19:11-12.

The spirit of the Lord is described as a still small voice, one that pierces to the very center. When we hear these promptings, let us take example from this good Japanese man and heed the call. Do not stop and waiver on whether or not he call was legitimate or not, for there is not time. Do not linger with those worldly things that you think you can't live without. Heed the call and move. If not, who knows what disasters are awaiting to sweep you away. Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to send His spirit to warn us of upcoming dangers. Sometimes we may not understand why we are given a warning, but the Lord sees the big picture, we do not.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He runs His church today. I testify that if we heed the whisperings of the still small voice, we will be safe from many spiritual and physical dangers that lie in our paths. Let us all set a new goal to listen for His promptings and heed the call.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stay inside and live

I LOVE to ski. Growing up, I was only a few minutes away from a ski area and I would go often with friends and family. As I began to get older, my love for the sport increased. I would often go by myself practicing techniques and different runs in the hopes that my skills would improve. The more I practiced, the better I got, and the faster I went. I can remember a few choice times where I was skiing by myself, the only thing I could hear was the wind rushing past my hears and the smell of pine mixed with new snow. Those were the moments that I lived for in the winter. I was a speed demon on the snow and nothing could stop me.

I remember one particular day I was skiing with a couple of my friends from college up at a ski area in the Teton mountain range called Targhee. It was a beautiful day. The conditions were perfect, and all of us wanted to go hit the hidden jumps that are very prevalent in the trees. While sitting on the chair lift, I remember one of my buddies asking me if I was going to put my hand in the strap that was attached to my ski pole. I thought about it, knowing that I never usually do, but something told me that I shouldn't that day. I listened to the voice and didn't put my hand in the strap. Going off the chair lift, we proceeded to race down the mountain until we came to a stretch of pine trees. We formed ourselves in a line and one by one went through the trails that led through the trees. As I went through, I began to go faster and faster and I could feel my adrenaline climbing. What could be more fun than this? As I planted my left ski pole into the snow, I felt it sink into a hidden hole and get stuck. I was momentarily tugged backwards, but because I didn't have my hand inside the strap, it was easy for me to let go. As I stopped and looked back at my pole standing by itself in the snow, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the spirit had told me to not put my hand in the strap. Think of what would have happened! My whole left arm would have been ripped from the socket due to the speed I was going and the angel at which my arm would have been pulled back. I left the trees feeling very humble and grateful that the Lord cares about me even when I am not doing something spiritual, like skiing.

One of my best friends is a ski patrolman. We love to ski together and have great times exploring the different runs and terrains that the mountains have to offer. I had a very interesting experience with him that taught me the value of having boundaries.
While going skiing with Dave one day, we decided that we were going to go out of bounds. He knew where some amazing snow was, so I followed him. As I followed him down the mountain, I was a little bit anxious because I had no idea where I was. This was a part of the mountain that I had never been on before and the only direction I had was by following my friend. I remember following closely behind him when suddenly he sharply turned his skis to the right. I followed suit, following in his tracts exactly. The reason why he had suddenly turned was because there was a hidden spring that had melted the snow and had left a 6 foot deep hole full of boulders inside it. As I followed his tracts, my left ski caught under one of the hidden rocks and I lost my balance. To my dismay, I fell headlong into the hole and watched as my skis flew in different directions. I was very lucky that day to have walked away with no major injuries. While falling, I covered my face with my arms and my helmet protected my head, leaving me with only a few scratches.

Driving home that night, I was once again full of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for protecting me. I knew that my friend had not purposefully led me to danger, but I learned the importance of the boundary limits that are posted around a ski area. Similarly, our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ set boundary limits for us. Commandments are given not to restrict us, but to protect us from unseen dangers that are in our path. As we listen to the words of the modern day prophets, read the words of the scriptures, and live them, we are able to stay inside our spiritual boundaries and stay safe from the traps and snares that the adversary has in store for us. I testify that the Savior lives. He loves us, and as we heed His words and apply them to our lives, we will be be happier.

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gift of Personal Revelation

What is personal revelation? In the Bible dictionary the definition of "revelation" is to make known or uncover. I find that to be very accurate in the fact that when we receive revelation for ourselves, we are able to uncover truths that we had been searching for, or which we had been yearning for. We are all given the light of Christ. With that light, we are able to feel when something is right and true verses when things are not. When baptised by the proper priesthood authority of God, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift enables us to receive personal revelation and have the companionship of the Holy Spirit ALL THE TIME if we are keeping the commandments that our Heavenly Father has set for us.

"For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge that it is of God" (Moroni 7:16).

As the prophet Joseph Smith studied from the Bible to know which church he should join, he read in the book of James chapter 1 verse 5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph described how the spirit worked on him to give him personal revelation saying, "never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did..." (JSH pg.48).

It was personal revelation that led Joseph Smith to go into the grove of trees that spring morning and to ask Heavenly Father which church he should join. This act would later change the course of the world as we know it. I too have found that personal revelation has led me to make good choices in my life as I study out questions that I have from the scriptures.

I testify that as we truly want to know for ourselves answers to questions, and to have the personal companionship of the spirit with us, we must do the things and live according to the example our Savior Jesus Christ has set for us. He set the perfect example for us to follow. We can receive personal revelation as we strive everyday to search for that spirit and those good things that help us feel our Heavenly Father's presence.

"...behold that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God" (Moroni 7:13).

We can all receive personal revelation. What a marvelous gift from God! To learn more about personal revelation, check out www.mormon.org.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"And they did liken the scriptures unto themselves..."

When my mom would call our family to scripture study everyday, I would find myself moaning and groaning. I didn't enjoy reading the scriptures. I didn't understand them and there were so many things that I would rather be doing! As I have gotten older however, I have found that the scriptures mean so much to me when I liken everything I read to what is happening in my life at that time.

The Book of Mormon Prophet Nephi wrote, "...I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." That is so true! The scriptures are amazing and there stories and accounts in them are incredible, however, they touch our lives as we liken what we read to our everyday lives and situations.

One of my favorite heroes in the Book of Mormon is Captain Moroni. He was a strong, mighty man not only physically but spiritually as well. Being put in as captain over all Nephite as the age of 25, he had grown up learning the language of war, and how to protect his people. He was also a man of great faith and love for the Lord. In fact, in the Book of Alma there is a wonderful description of this great man saying, "...if all men had been, and were and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." (Alma 48:17). 

During a time of peace, Captain Moroni began to protect the Nephities cities against the angry Lamanities who would soon come against them to battle. He caused that around every city there should be heaps of earth around all the walls. On top of the ridges of earth there would be timbers, the height of a man, constructed and on top of them pickets were put up that were strong and high. Towers were erected to overlook the pickets with places of security upon the towers so that those were up observing the land could throw rocks or shoot arrows to those enemies that were trying to break through to the city (Alma 50).

Every city was protected against the enemy so that there would be no way for intruders to come in. However, as we read later on in the Book of Mormon, there are those who begin to be prideful because of the fortifications that they had just built. They felt that there would be no way for enemies to ever invade the city, so they began to slack off on their duties to watch for intruders, to continually strengthen the protections, and to rely on the Lord for help. We read that the enemy slowly begins to penetrate the walls until cities are taken and Captain Moroni must help them recapture the cities once more.

Now, after hearing such a story one may ask, "how does that apply to me?" or "how can I liken that scripture to my situation?" In our life we have been given counsel and direction from prophets both old and modern how to defend our families, our homes, and ourselves. Reading the scriptures, going to church, and praying and just a few ways that we are able to spiritually "put up our mounds of earth, walls of timbers, rows of pickets" etc. It seems as though the adversary has no way into our hearts and minds, however, it is when we begin to be prideful and stop relying on the Lord when trouble begins. When we stop doing the little things to continually strengthen our walls and fortifications, that is when the adversary creeps his way into our lives until he eventually  takes over our lives, families, and homes. We have the ability to stop him and protect ourselves, the question in, are we willing to continually take the steps to strengthen our walls?

As we liken the stories of the scriptures to ourselves and to our situations, we are able to find answers that can't come from anyone or anywhere else. The Lord has counseled His servants to record their experiences so that future generations can learn and prosper. May we all take a new look at the words of the prophets and liken them to ourselves that we will be protected and blessed.

To learn more about Captain Moroni or other stories in the Book of Mormon, visit www.mormon.org.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family...isn't it about...time?

I would always laugh when I would see a commercial about families, especially the ones that the LDS church would put out. You may have seen them before, some sort of situation in which a father would come home late from work, the kids would be anxiously awaiting his arrival, and he wouldn't have time to visit or play with them because he was too busy. By the end of the commercial, he would have taken another look at his schedule and decided that his family was far more important than getting ahead of everyone else at work. The commercial would then end with the narrator saying, "Family...isn't it about...time?"

Sure, the commercials may have been a little bit corny, but as I have gotten older, I have more than just enjoyed watching those commercials, I have embraced them for the truths that they show. The family is the most important social unit that our Heavenly Father has created for us. After all, we are all brothers and sisters to a loving Heavenly Father. I love my family,and I have realized over the years just how much they have done for me. The reason why I value the relationship that I have with them is because of the time my parents took to teach us to choose the right. Of course we had our disagreements, but who doesn't? I always knew that I could turn to my family for help and support and that no matter what, my family would always be there and would always love me.

In 1995, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints brought forth a marvelous revelation for members of the church and for the whole world titled, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". In it, the Lord reveals how relationships should be in the family, the blessings that can occur in the home, and the roles of family members.

"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives-mothers and fathers- will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome, recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed." (True to the Faith, pgs. 60,61)

Our Heavenly Father loves us so he puts us in family units. The Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families as it shows us how to treat one another in love and respect. As we learn to love God, we learn to love one another and our family relationships will grow and strengthen as we center our lives and actions upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. I don't know what I would do without my family and with the sealing power that binds families together forever, we are able to be sure that death can never break the family. Families are eternal and ordained of God and as we make time for them, our familiess will be blessed. 

To learn more about Eternal Families, visit www.mormon.org.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My thoughts on "Two Brothers Apart"

This video really touched home for me. In my life I have found relationships, especially with those in my family, to go through ups and downs. When living the teachings of our Savior, we are able to mend relationships, no matter how bad or tattered they may seem. I firmly believe that our Heavenly Father and our Savior care about the details of our lives, and when we turn to Them, they will soften our hearts and make weak things become strong unto us. I know that the Savior lives and loves us. He has changed my life and the lives of my family members and I know that He can for you as well. Families are eternal.

Want to learn how families can be together forever? Visit www.mormon.org