December 15, 2011

6 Months Later...






In the past six months a lot has happened in my life.
-6 months ago I came home from my mission in Montana...







-my dog passed away...














-got engaged...













-went to Mexico on a family vacation...


















-married my best friend...


















-enrolled in Utah State University and finished one semester...

-purchased a car...
















-called as a ward organist...

-went skiing...













... and now we are very busy being poor college students in Logan, Utah.

July 16, 2011

The End

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."  -Ecclesiastes 3:1


This morning I finished packing my suitcases, just as I had a little over two years ago.  What has changed since then?  Some of the shirts are stained and some of the pants are torn, but is that all?  I don't think I can name all of the changes and differences that have occurred since then.  I also think that it would be impossible to sum up this great experience in a little blog post.  What I can say is that I have had a lot of little experiences that have made up my mission.  These experiences have shaped me into the person that I am today.

like stones in the river
we are tossed and turned
when the current moves so strong
but stones in living waters over time
are shaped until the edges are gone
polished and smooth, that's what we will be
if we put ourselves in god's hands
each day of our lives is a gift from the giver
to smooth all the edges
like stones in the river


I testify that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives for the better.  I know that living the principles taught by the Savior will help shape us into the great beings that we have the potential of becoming.  Living these principles will greatly improve the quality of our lives and help us find peace and joy in this life.  Being a missionary has helped me see this perspective even closer and I am ever so grateful for the many experiences I have had.  I am also thankful for the many people I have met and for their testimonies that have strengthened my own.

July 15, 2011

The Brother of Jared

The Brother of Jared was a great example of following the Lord.  Of course he had his struggles, but he worked through them just as we all must.

After leaving the Tower of Babel, the Brother of Jared and his family were led to the place Moriancumer, by the sea.  Four years passed and the Lord chastened him for three hours because he "remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord."  He repented and then was commanded to build eight barges so they could reach the promised land.  The Brother of Jared did what he was asked to do and then was asked to make holes in the tops and bottoms of all the barges.

"And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded."


He then enquired of the Lord how they would have light on their journey.  The Lord asked him to come up with a way and he got to work making 16 smooth and clear stones for the Lord to touch.  He went up to Mount Sherem where the Lord touched the stones with His finger.  The Lord then said:

"Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger."

The Brother of Jared had such a great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that he was able to see the antemortal Messiah.  He could not be kept from within the veil and it was then shown unto him all of the inhabitants of the earth.

"And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth."

I believe that it was because of the Brother of Jared's willingness to serve and obey the Lord that he was able to see all of the things he did. If we are faithful with the things that we have been entrusted with we will be blessed with more opportunities.  The Lord then waits to see what we do with those things and blesses us some more.  Eventually, if we are faithful, we will receive all that the Father has and inherit a fullness of joy.  May we all continue and progress on our journey to become like our Heavenly Father.

"Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ... In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters."  Ether 2-3

July 7, 2011

Brother, I'm Committed

Two young brothers stood atop a small cliff that overlooked the pristine waters of a blue lake. This was a popular diving spot, and the brothers had often talked about making the jump—something they had seen others do.of committed to the gospel can lead to frustration, unhappiness, and guilt. This should not apply to us because we are a covenant people. We make covenants with the Lord when we are baptized and when we enter the house of the Lord. Men make covenants with the Lord when they are ordained to the priesthood. Nothing can be more important than keeping a commitment we have made with the Lord. Let us remember the reply of Rachel and Leah to Jacob in the Old Testament. It was simple and straightforward and showed their commitment: "Whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do" (Genesis 31:16).They attend their meetings. They do their home or visiting teaching.
Although they both wanted to make the jump, neither one wanted to be first. The height of the cliff wasn’t that great, but to the two young boys, it seemed the distance increased whenever they started to lean forward—and their courage was fading fast.
Finally, one brother put one foot at the edge of the cliff and moved decisively forward. At that moment his brother whispered, "Maybe we should wait until next summer."
The first brother’s momentum, however, was already pulling him forward. "Brother," he responded, "I’m committed!"
He splashed into the water and surfaced quickly with a victorious shout. The second brother followed instantly. Afterward, they both laughed about the first boy’s final words before plunging into the water: "Brother, I’m committed."
Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway. We all face moments of decision that change the rest of our lives. As members of the Church, we must ask ourselves, "Will I dive in or just stand at the edge? Will I step forward or merely test the temperature of the water with my toes?"
Some sins are committed because we do wrong; other sins are committed because we do nothing. Being only sort
Those who are only sort of committed may expect to only sort of receive the blessings of testimony, joy, and peace. The windows of heaven might only be sort of open to them. Wouldn’t it be foolish to think, "I’ll commit myself 50 percent now, but when Christ appears at the Second Coming, I’ll commit myself 100 percent"?
Commitment to our covenants with the Lord is a fruit of our conversion. Commitment to our Savior and His Church builds our character and strengthens our spirit so that when we meet Christ, He will embrace us and say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).
There is a difference between intention and action. Those who only intend to commit may find excuses at every turn. Those who truly commit face their challenges squarely and say to themselves, "Yes, that would be a very good reason to delay, but I made covenants, and so I will do what I have committed to do." They search the scriptures and earnestly seek the guidance of their Father in Heaven. They accept and magnify their Church callings.
A German proverb says, "Promises are like the full moon. If they are not kept at once, they diminish day by day." As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have committed to walk in the path of discipleship. We have committed to follow the example of our Savior. Imagine how the world will be blessed and transformed for good when all members of the Lord’s Church live up to their true potential—converted in the depth of their souls and committed to building the kingdom of God.
In some way, each of us stands at a decision point overlooking the water. It is my prayer that we will have faith, move forward, face our fears and doubts with courage, and say to ourselves, "I’m committed!" ◼
Resource: http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-magazines/liahona-july-2011/2011-07-02-brother-im-committed-eng.pdf?download=true

July 2, 2011

The Freedom to...



As we celebrate the independence of our great country, stop and think about:
What Freedoms are you grateful for?

July 1, 2011

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan



One of the most influential stories told by Jesus Christ is the parable of the good Samaritan.  The Savior spoke often in parables because each has a deeper meaning understood only by those who have “ears to hear” (Matthew 13:9). 
In the second century A.D., Irenaeus in France and Clement of Alexandria both saw the good Samaritan as symbolizing Christ Himself saving the fallen victim, wounded with sin. A few years later, Clement’s pupil Origen stated that this interpretation came down to him from earlier Christians, who had described the allegory as follows:
“The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the Law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience, the beast is the Lord’s body, the [inn], which accepts all who wish to enter, is the Church. … The manager of the [inn] is the head of the Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming.” *

Symbols from the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Symbol
          An Early Christian Interpretation
Good Samaritan
          Jesus Christ
Victim
          Man wounded with sin
Jerusalem
          Paradise
Jericho
          World
Priest
          Law of Moses
Levite
          Prophets
Beast
          Christ’s body
Inn
          Church
Manager of the inn
          Head of the Church
 
There are many different ways that this parable can be interpreted.  The parable of the Good Samaritan can help us to understand the greatest two commandments, the plan of salvation, or a number of other principles.  We need to 'liken' all the scriptures 'for our profit and learning' so we can understand and apply them better.(1 Nephi 19:23) As we do these things we will come closer to God.

June 28, 2011

The Bridge

"There once was this turntable bridge which spanned a large river. During most of the day, the bridge sat parallel with the river, allowing ships to pass freely on both sides. But at certain times each day a train would come along and the bridge would be turned across the river allowing the trains to cross.  A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place as the train crossed.
One evening, as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance through the dimming twilight and caught sight of the train's light. He stepped to the controls and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance when he was to turn the bridge into position. He turned the bridge, but to his horror, found that the locking control didn't work. If the bridge was not locked into position securely, it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train comes onto it. This would cause the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This train was a passenger train with many people aboard.

He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a lever he could use to operate the lock manually.  He could hear the rumble of the train now. He took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man's strength. Then, coming across from the direction of his control shack he heard a sound that make his blood run cold: "Daddy, where are you?" His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him.
His first impulse was to cry out to the child, "Run, run!" but the train was too close, the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time. The man almost lifted the lever to run and snatch up his son, and carry him to safety, but he realized he could not get back to the lever in time. Either the people on the train or his little son must die. He took just a moment to make his decision. The train sped swiftly and safely on it's way, and no one aboard was aware of the tiny, broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the rushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of a sobbing man still clinging tightly to the lever long after the train had passed. They didn't see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked, to tell his wife how he had sacrificed her son.
Now if you can comprehend the feelings, which went through this man's heart, you can understand the feeling of our Heavenly Father when he sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. How does He feel when we speed along through life without giving a thought to what was done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ? Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His only Son died?"

-Anonymous Author

June 23, 2011

The Pump


I remember watching this old video in seminary and not really knowing what it was about other than a man that was pretty unfortunate with his choices.  Consider these questions after you have watched the video:  

Q:  How does this man’s experience show the need for self-mastery?
A:  Because he lacked self-mastery, he satisfied his immediate desire instead of preparing for the future.

Q:  How would his experience have been different if he had exercised self-mastery?
A:  If he had primed the pump before taking a drink, he would have had all the water he needed.

Q:  How is this man’s decision comparable to spiritual decisions each of us must make?
A:  Up to you, yes you have to do some thinking...  (=

"There is a man in a hot desert who sees a fountain at the top of the hill. With great effort, he climbs the hill and receives the life-giving water. What saved him?Was it the climb (his works) or the water (Grace)?"

This story, while effective in teaching the necessity of both grace and works doesn't fairly illustrate the interaction between the two or the extent to which the Savior goes to enable us. The water may be at the top of the hill, but that's not where Christ is. He comes down to the bottom and brings the water to us. That's how we can make the climb to the top--which he stills requires because He knows it will strengthen us and be for our best good. Christ is not waiting at the finish line; He is finishing our faith (see Hebrews 12:1-2). Grace is not the prize at the end of the climb. It is the enabling power throughout (see "Grace," Bible Dictionary, 697).  Resource: Adapted from Brad Wilcox's The Continuous Atonement

Some scriptures to consider:
-Ephesians 2:8: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
-Alma 22:14 "And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth;"

June 22, 2011

While You Were Sleeping

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping
Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping 

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night

June 21, 2011

Moments that Matter Most


"If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most."  -President Uchtdorf
 
Often our lives become super complicated as we try to do and be everywhere at the same time.  President Uchtdorf's message focuses on the basics of our lives.  As we focus on the basics and enjoy the pure gospel, we become aware of just how rich our lives actually are.
 
Stop to smell the roses and read more of President Uchtdorf's testimony:

June 17, 2011

The Nature of God

There are three separate persons in the Godhead: God, the Eternal Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost. We believe in each of them (A of F 1:1). From latter-day revelation we learn that the Father and the Son have tangible bodies of flesh and bone and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, without flesh and bone (D&C 130:22–23). These three persons are one in perfect unity and harmony of purpose and doctrine (John 17:21–23; 2 Ne. 31:21; 3 Ne. 11:27, 36).

God the Father

It is generally the Father, or Elohim, who is referred to by the title God. He is called the Father because he is the father of our spirits (Mal. 2:10; Num. 16:22; 27:16; Matt. 6:9; Eph. 4:6; Heb. 12:9). God the Father is the supreme ruler of the universe. He is all powerful (Gen. 18:14; Alma 26:35; D&C 19:1–3), all knowing (Matt. 6:8; 2 Ne. 2:24), and everywhere present through his Spirit (Ps. 139:7–12; D&C 88:7–13, 41). Mankind has a special relationship to God that sets man apart from all other created things: men and women are God’s spirit children (Ps. 82:6; 1 Jn. 3:1–3; D&C 20:17–18).  There are few recorded instances of God the Father appearing to or speaking to man. The scriptures say that he spoke to Adam and Eve (Moses 4:14–31) and introduced Jesus Christ on several occasions (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; John 12:28–29; 3 Ne. 11:3–7). He appeared to Stephen (Acts 7:55–56) and Joseph Smith (JS—H 1:17). Later he appeared to both Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (D&C 76:20, 23). To those who love God and purify themselves before him, God sometimes grants the privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves that he is God (Matt. 5:8; 3 Ne. 12:8; D&C 76:116–118; 93:1).

God the Son

The God known as Jehovah is the Son, Jesus Christ (Isa. 12:2; 43:11; 49:26; 1 Cor. 10:1–4; 1 Tim. 1:1; Rev. 1:8; 2 Ne. 22:2). Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with him. All mankind are his brothers and sisters, for he is the eldest of the spirit children of Elohim. Some scripture references refer to him by the word God. For example, the scripture says that “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), but it was actually Jesus who was the Creator under the direction of God the Father (John 1:1–3, 10, 14; Heb. 1:1–2).

God the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost is also a God and is called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit, and the Spirit of God, among other similar names and titles. With the aid of the Holy Ghost, man can know the will of God the Father and know that Jesus is the Christ (1 Cor. 12:3).

For more scriptural references, see: lds.org

June 16, 2011

Mormon Publicity

Mormons have been getting a lot of publicity lately.  Major newsgroups have been publishing articles on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for recent events concerning the church.  From the recent musical to the upcoming elections, there is a lot of advertising going on for our church.  Many members find some of them disturbing, but I choose to take a positive approach and say that the church is getting a lot of attention.  Here are some of the articles that have been popping up:

"Trey Parker's broadway play fulfills Smith's prophecy"

"The Book of Mormon" Broadway play received 9 Tony Awards Sunday evening, including the prize for the best musical. In receiving the award, Trey Parker held up the award and exclaimed, "You did it Joseph! You got the Tony." The national exposure and attention given the Book of Mormon, sacred to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, reached, perhaps its pinnacle with Parker's declaration. Interesting to note that Joseph himself states that he was told by the Angel Moroni that his, Joseph's, "name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of by all people." This was told to an obscure, 17 year old boy in 1823, and recorded in the L.D.S. book of the Pearl of Great Price, p.52, written in 1838. 
Source: Standard Examiner

"A Latter-day Saint view of Book of Mormon musical"

In my opinion, three reasons. -The first is that in the great scheme of things, what Broadway does with “The Book of Mormon” musical is irrelevant to most of us. In the great sweep of history, parodies and TV dramas are blips on the radar screen that come and go. Popular culture will be whatever it will be.

-The second reason is related. Jesus’s apostle Paul put it rather well when he said that Christians seek out the positive and virtuous things in life. His New Testament phraseology was adapted in the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this formal Article of Faith:
“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men…If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
-Finally, if we Mormons really do follow Jesus Christ in our lives and look to him as an example, then it’s hard for us to ignore the injunction to turn the other cheek. There were times, to be sure, when Jesus roundly criticized others, but it was almost always for hardened hypocrisy. He dismissed the criticism he received personally and told his followers: “Do good to them who despitefully use you and persecute you.”
Source: Washington Post


"Mormons Rock!"
Mormonism’s astonishing growth from its founding 181 years ago in upstate New York to its current status as the fourth-largest religious denomination in America, with just over 6 million members domestically and about 14 million worldwide, has been fueled by a ferocious underdog energy derived from an experience of brutal persecution. The hostility was largely a reaction to the new religion’s long list of unusual beliefs and practices. Mormonism’s founder, the self-declared prophet Joseph Smith, claimed to have translated a new work of scripture (the Book of Mormon) from text written on golden plates he found buried in the ground. The book told the story of an ancient Israelite civilization in the Americas, including a post-resurrection visit from Jesus Christ.
Source: Newsweek

June 10, 2011

Abinadi

Today I studied the miraculous life of Abinadi found in Mosiah 11-17.  Abinadi was one of the matyrs mentioned in the Book of Mormon that really lived his testimony.  Some of the ways that Abinadi shared this testimony was by:
  • Prophesying that God would punish the people of wicked King Noah(not the 'ark' Noah) unless they repented, Mosiah 11:20–25
  • Was imprisoned for prophesying the destruction of King Noah and his people, Mosiah 12:1–17
  • Taught King Noah’s wicked priests of the law of Moses and of Christ, Mosiah 12–16
  • Alma the Elder believed and wrote his words, Mosiah 17:2–4
  • Was burned to death by King Noah, Mosiah 17:20
I love how Abinadi propehcied and testified of Christ over one hundred years before He was even born.  He taught the wicked priests of King Noah the ten commandments and how the Law of Moses was a shadow of Jesus Christ.  He also taught about the ressurection and how the Atonement would be operative in our lives.  At the end of his life he sealed his testimony by being burned to death for not denying the things he had taught.  Even though he didn't convert many people, his cause wasn't in vain because of one of the priests who had a change of heart.  Alma went on to continue Abinadi's legacy and converted thousands.  There are a lot of things we can draw from the life of this Nephite prophet, but I think this will do for now. 
I know that Abinadi's teachings are true and that the ressurection is real.  The Atonement is heavily involved in our lives and is a lot more powerful and complete than we think sometimes.  I know that through obedience to God's commandments, we can be happy in this life as well as in the next.  I testify that our righteous efforts are not in vain even when we don't see the immediate effects of them.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.   



"Don’t forget Abinadi, who stood before the king.
All chained up from head to toe, the gospel he did bring.
If he would deny it, then the king would set him free.
He was true, and he died righteously."

-Book of Mormon Stories

June 9, 2011

Job

Job was a righteous man who suffered tremendous affliction yet remained faithful to his belief in God.

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

Although the book is about Job’s suffering, it does not entirely answer the question of why Job (or any other person) might suffer pain and the loss of his family and goods. The book clarifies that having afflictions does not necessarily mean that a person has sinned. The Lord may use affliction for experience, discipline, and instruction as well as for punishment (D&C 122).
The book can be divided into four parts. Chapters 1–2 are a prologue to the story. Chapters 3–31 relate a series of discussions between Job and three friends. Chapters 32–37 contain the speeches of Elihu, a fourth friend, who condemns Job for reasons other than the reasons of the first three friends. Chapters 38–42 conclude the book with a reassurance to Job that his course in life was a good one from the beginning.
The book of Job teaches that if a person has a correct knowledge of God and is living a life that is acceptable to God, he will be better able to endure the trials that come upon him. Job’s unfailing faith is characterized by such exclamations as, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Job is also mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11; Doctrine and Covenants 121:10.

Even when we are living a righteous life, we suffer trials and tempations.  Job was a great example of this and endured well through all of his trials.  Whatever tests or trials we go through we need to continue to have faith that God loves us and wants the best for us.  Even though we might not like to hear this in our time of need, we need to stay close to God.  Remember to "build your foundation... upon the rock of our Redeemer...whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

June 8, 2011

Learn to Recognize the Promptings of the Spirit

Learn to Recognize the Promptings of the Spirit
The Spirit is always available to guide and direct you. However, the Spirit speaks quietly, through your feelings as well as your mind. One great challenge for you is to recognize the quiet, subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost.
President Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither . . . voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause [the heart] to burn.’ (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6-7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a ‘still small voice.’ (1 Kgs. 19:12.) “The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand.  Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)
“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.’ (1 Sam. 3:10.)” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).
Many voices in the world compete for your attention, and they can easily drown out
spiritual impressions if you are not careful.

In answer to the question, “How do we recognize the promptings of the Spirit?”
President Gordon B. Hinckley read Moroni 7:13, 16-17 and then said: “That’s the test, when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good, to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is of the Spirit of God. . . .
“If it invites to do good, it is of God. If it inviteth to do evil, it is of the devil. . . . And if you are doing the right thing and if you are living the right way, you will know in your heart what the Spirit is saying to you.
“You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 260–61).

God answers your prayers through personal inspiration and revelation. Through the Holy Ghost He will guide you. Your task is to live worthily, pray fervently, and learn to recognize and follow courageously the Spirit’s guidance.


June 4, 2011

Alma 36 Chiasmus

Today I was reading in Alma 36 about Alma the elders conversion story and was reminded that it was a type of poetry called chiasmus.  I love the content of this chapter as it describes Alma's experience as well as the hidden meaning in it.  I used an article from Jeff Lindsay to help explain this further:

Alma 36: A Masterpiece of Chiasmus

The most powerful and beautiful example of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon - and perhaps anywhere! - is Alma 36. (See the full text of Alma 36 - but without delineation of the structure.) The structure is obviously chiastic, but there are some very sophisticated and elegant perturbations which have been the subject of careful and lengthy analysis (Welch, 1991, Welch, 1989, and Brown, 1988). Welch (1989, 1991) presents several levels of chiasmic structure. Here I reproduce the overall structure, which is Level 1 in Welch, 1991. In addition, he analyzes the complete text to show the extensive chiasmic detail, including fascinating relationships between larger paired sections and the subtle use of weaving factors (transitions) that provide remarkable unity and a smooth flow of thought throughout the chapter. Welch also assess the degree of chiasticity, showing that this is not a contrived example or chance occurrence but fits objective criteria for intentional and deliberately crafted chiasmic structures. Finally, a comparison of other accounts of Alma's conversion story in the Book of Mormon show that only this one is presented in chiasmic form, indicating that this passage, crafted about 20 years after the initial experience he describes, had been carefully reorganized to yield a masterful and poetical statement of his conversion.
So here it is, Welch's outline of the overall structure of Alma 36. (Again, this is only scratching the surface of the rich structure in this chapter, but what a scratch!) Only the key phrases and concepts (sometimes paraphrased) are shown, with the verse number. The entire text of Alma 36 is also available.
(a) My son, give ear to my WORDS (1)
  (b) KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of God and ye shall PROSPER IN THE LAND (2)
   (c) DO AS I HAVE DONE (2)
    (d) in REMEMBERING THE CAPTIVITY of our fathers (2);
     (e) for they were in BONDAGE (2)
      (f) he surely did DELIVER them (2)
       (g) TRUST in God (3)
        (h) supported in their TRIALS, and TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (3)
         (i) shall be lifted up at the LAST DAY (3)
          (j) I KNOW this not of myself but of GOD (4)
           (k) BORN OF GOD (5)
            (l) I sought to destroy the church of God (6-9)
             (m) MY LIMBS were paralyzed (10)
              (n) Fear of being in the PRESENCE OF GOD (14-15)
               (o) PAINS of a damned soul (16)
                (p) HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS (17)
                 (q) I remembered JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD (17)
                 (q') I cried, JESUS, SON OF GOD (18)
                (p') HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS no more (19)
               (o')  Joy as exceeding as was the PAIN (20)
              (n') Long to be in the PRESENCE OF GOD (22)
             (m') My LIMBS received their strength again (23)
            (l') I labored to bring souls to repentance (24)
           (k') BORN OF GOD (26)
          (j') Therefore MY KNOWLEDGE IS OF GOD (26)
         (h') Supported under TRIALS, TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (27)
        (g') TRUST in him (27)
       (f') He will deliver me (27)
         (i') and RAISE ME UP AT THE LAST DAY (28)
     (e') As God brought our fathers out of BONDAGE and captivity (28-29)
    (d') Retain in REMEMBRANCE THEIR CAPTIVITY (28-29)
   (c') KNOW AS I DO KNOW (30)
  (b') KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS and ye shall PROSPER IN THE LAND (30)
 (a') This is according to his WORD (30).
Note the focal point of this story, the key element in his conversion story: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As Welch notes, Alma shows that it was not the angel or his suffering or the prayers of others that caused his conversion. It was not until he remembered that his father had taught of the atonement of Christ and then exercised faith to call upon Christ that his conversion occurred, bringing a rapid change in which guilt and the pains of hell were replaced with joy and a taste of heaven. I find this story to be powerful and moving, and knowing the underlying chiasmic structure greatly enhances my appreciation of this marvelous text.
Critics, of course, will complain that (i') is out of place. Actually, the structure that Alma is using is somewhat more complex and elegant than can be shown with the simple synopsis presented above. The full structure can only be presented by treating the entire text. (E.g., there are other small chiasmic structures and other forms of parallelism within the overarching structure.)
Source: http://www.jefflindsay.com/chiasmus.shtml#alma36

June 2, 2011

Liahona vs Ipod touch

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it...to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.  And it did work for them according to their faith in God; Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. (Alma 37:38-42)
Don't you think it would be neat to have an ipod touch that would tell you everything you needed to do to be happy in this life?  In a sense, this is what the Liahona did.  It guided Lehi and his family through the wilderness and would let them know what the most fertile parts of the wilderness were.  In this next scripture it describes why this idea might not be so great.

"And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass[or ipod], which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land." (Alma 37:43-44)
They took the Liahona for granted and became slothful.  It would be almost too easy to follow a compass if we were given one today.   The scriptures provide us with enough guidance to get us through our hectic lives, if we study and apply what is in them.  Alma finishes his thoughts to Helaman by talking about how the words of Christ direct our lives.

"And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.  O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever." (Alma 37:45-46)

As a last minute thought, maybe we could just have the scriptures on our ipods?

May 31, 2011

Necessity of Christ’s Atonement

The Savior praying in the Garden of Gethsemane

In teaching about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, President Boyd K. Packer stated:
“I seldom use the word absolutely. It seldom fits. I use it now—twice:
“Because of the Fall, the Atonement was absolutely essential for resurrection to proceed and overcome mortal death. The Atonement was absolutely essential for men to cleanse themselves from sin and overcome the second death, spiritual death, which is separation from our Father in Heaven, for the scriptures tell us … that no unclean thing may enter the presence of God.”

To learn more about the Atonement and about our Savior, who provided this everlasting gift, read President Packer’s article “Who Is Jesus Christ?” in the March 2008 Liahona, a special issue focused entirely on Jesus Christ.

May 27, 2011

The Small and Simple Things

In the Old Testament, Naaman was the captain of a Syrian king’s army. He was also a leper.  He sought out how he could be cleansed from his leprosy and an Israelite maid told him to seek out the prophet Elisha.

"So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." (2 Kings 5:9-10)

Personally, if I had this horrible disease I would try anything that I could to get rid of it.  I found Naaman's response interesting:
 
"But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage." (2 Kings 5:11-12)


Naaman thought that Elisha would just come out and heal him.  He also questioned the cleanliness of the Jordan river and wondered why he didn't have him wash in cleaner water.  How many times do we question what our leaders ask us to do?  I like the response one of his servants gives him.

"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman was asked to do a simple task and his servant reminded him how easy it was.  How many of us want to do the big things, but skip over the little things?  In closing, I would like to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon that complements these verses from the Bible.

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37:6-7)

I testify that small and simple things bring to pass the greatest things.  How do we gain a bigger testimony in the Gospel?  We gain it by doing the small things: reading scriptures, praying, going to church.  It doesn't all come at once just like when Naaman had to dip himself seven times.  It takes diligence and motivation.  I know that if we do these simple things that we will be greatly blessed.


Small and Simple things

May 24, 2011

Flood

Recently in the Bigfork area, a lot of people have been concerned with flooding.  Flood preparation has been on a lot of people's minds and the community has had some meetings to discuss how to help prevent and protect before it's too late.  Elder Wells and I have been involved in helping by filling sandbags.  As we were helping out I couldn't help but think of the following scriptures in the New Testament:

Matthew 7:24-29:
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Jesus is saying that we need to hear and do the things that he has asked us to do.  If we do, we have a solid foundation that won't fall when the storms of life come.  If we don't, then we have no such promise and we will crumble under pressure.  We also show our love for the Savior by keeping His commandments and serving other people(John 14:15).
Another great scripture that explains what the rock is, is found in Helaman 5:12, which says: "Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

I testify that if our foundation is on Christ and we do what he asks of us, we cannot fall.  Even when the storms of life come down on us and we have no one to rely on, we still have Him.  He is always there for us and we can trust Him.  Whenever I've experienced difficult times in my life, I've found that the scriptures and prayer help me get through it.  Let us prepare ourselves spiritually now, so we don't have to worry when the floods come.

May 19, 2011

How to Move a Mountain

How to Move a Mountain

(Cherie Call)
When I was young I heard the stories
About the people who could make the mountains flee
And every now and then, someone would tell me
I could do the same if I believed
So one summer night, I looked out my window
And I closed my eyes and listened to the wind blow

And I tried to move a mountain
I wished for it to crumble at my feet
I tried one thing after another
but I couldn't shake a leaf

 
I never knew that the mountain
Had a lesson it would teach
Cause as tall as I got, I still lived in its shadow
I watched it tower over me
Till one summer day, I thought I heard it call me
So I closed my eyes and then changed into my blue jeans

And I learned how to move a mountain
It was harder than I dreamed it would be
But I set one foot down past the other
Till the mountain was under me
 
And I felt like I could see forever
When the truth hit my senses suddenly
This mountain wasn't nearly the first one that I'd moved
God had seen my victory
Every time I put my weaknesses behind me
And I close my eyes and let His mercy find me

I know how to move a mountain
I have to fall down on my knees
Then I get back on my feet and head on upward
Till I make it to the peak
And the mountain's under me
 
I love the messages that this song has behind it.  It wasn't really about moving the mountain at all, but moving ourselves above it.  It's all about our perspective and how we view our lives.  Are we going to just going to sit around and hope that something happens in our lives, or are we actually going to DO something about it?
 
Ether 12:30  "For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith."

Listen to the song: "How to Move a Mountain"
 
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