Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Testament

I love the Book of Mormon. It truly is another testament of our Savior.

There is is new Reflections of Christ slide show, called "Another Testament of Christ."

It is a beautifully arranged visual representation of what it might have been like when the Savior visited the American Continent after his resurrection, as recorded in 3 Nephi, of the Book of Mormon.

Be sure you have some tissue nearby. It's a beautiful video.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just Feel Your Way

The missionaries were at my home the other day, teaching my friend and her four children about The Restoration. The missionaries were trying to explain The Apostasy i terms the children would understand. They likened the darkness of night while camping to the Apostasy, and a flashlight, or fire, to the gospel. The elders asked the youngest child, an eight-year-old girl, how she would find her way around in the dark. She looked up and simply said, "I would just feel my way."

How profound, I thought. The little girl, no doubt, had visions of outstretched hands grasping at camping chairs and tent doors to find direction, but her comment made me think of something more than that.

In the darkness, we feel to get around. When the light isn't as bright as we hoped, when direction isn't as clear as we would like, when life seems darker than what we are comfortable with, we are just plain having a hard time seeing- we can feel our way.

The darkness we might experience at times can be brought upon by sin, choices and circumstances. But, even when the darkness seems to heavy for us to see, Heavenly Father can still show us the way through the Holy Ghost: We can feel the promptings of the Spirit, even when we see no way out.

I looked at that little girl, who, by this point was laying on the ground playing with her stuffed giraffe, oblivious of the gem of wisdom she just shared, and I was moved. Out of the mouth of babes. I was so ready to teach them something, and yet I was the one that was moved.

Most times I am good, really good. But, what about the times when I am might not be? Well, I will quote a very wise eight-year-old girl and say, "I would just feel my way."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Perfectly Imperfect

I have a new love in my life: J. Golden Kimball. He passed away in 1938, so I don't beleive my husband will feel threatened at all. I think my affinity towards him stems from a kinship I feel with his perspective and personality.

I was reading a book of quotes by him today and I read: "I acknowledge that I am imperfect, and no one is more sorry that I am. I have made mistakes, blunders, but I have faith in God, and I know God will forgive a man who repents."

It struck a chord in my soul so deep that I found myself misty-eyed. It is easy for me to understand the Gospel, share it, teach it and love it. But, this does not give me immunity from struggling just like everyone esle to live the perfect principles therein. I am imperfect: I make mistakes,I have weaknesses and faults. I struggle to reconcile my imperfect nature with the Celestial Gospel principles I know and love.

But, I also know, like my good friend J. Golden, that God will forgive a man, and woman, who repents. In Ether chapter 12 of the Book of Mormion we learn there is also more: "If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness....then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Not only will He forgive me as I repent, but if I go to Him in humility, willing to see my weakness, He will make be strong. That scripture offers the greatest hope for broken people like me.

I am imperfect- but through Him, I will overcome my weakness until I am perfect. I won't reach that until far into the next stage, but for here and now, I find joy in the fact that I am a broken, imperfect person. The joy comes from the knowledge that my imperfect state is temporary, that the road to perfection is walked with my Savior and God by my side, and that I am loved just the same. I am not just imperfect, I am perfectly imperfect.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Who's Counting?

Last year I decided to do an experiment. I went through my Book of Mormon and highlighted in blue all the references to God and Jesus Christ. It took a full day. I was amazed and moved at color that filled my scriptures, and the beautiful titles of love and respect that adorned my book: God, the Eternal Father, Father, Eternal God, Supreme Being, Holy God, Most High God, Lord God Almighty Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord, Christ, Only Begotten of the Father, the Holy One, Son of God, Holy Child and Redeemer, just to name a few.

There are 531 pages in the printed Book of Mormon. I counted pages that were touched with blue- 504 pages! There are only 27 pages in pages in the Book of Mormon that do not contain a reference to God and Jesus Christ- most of them in Alma, the war pages. Is it any wonder that it is called Another Testament of Jesus Christ?

To flip through my scriptures with a sea of blue moves me. My testimony of the Book of Mormon came by prayer and through the Holy Ghost. But, this experience has helped to strengthen my testimony of the mission of this perfect book: to testify of Jesus Christ.

Those that wrote the book truly rejoiced in Christ. They looked to God for protection and guidance; they looked to their Savior for redemption from sin. They recorded their dealings with God and each other as testimony to us today.

504 pages of blue. Who's counting? Me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garage Sales and Missionary Work

So, I had my first garage sale this weekend. I'll admit, part of it was exciting. I loved seeing the joy that the things that I had loved brought to someone else. But, on the other hand, I hated the rejection. Garage sales are not for the tender-hearted.
On the first day of the two day sale, I stayed out for only three hours. There were some who stopped and looked around, some bought, some bartered and some left with nothing. It was interesting to watch each person. I wondered how many were looking for something specific, and how many were just out to find a great deal on whatever.

What I didn't like were the people who didn't even get out of their cars. They would slow down and look at my spread from the comfort of their cars. Then they would just keep driving! I hate rejection in any form! I'll admit, I am a proud person and it was hard not to take it personally. I mean, really! Why wouldn't the things that had brought me so much happiness were deemed unworthy by those who could not even get a close enough look to see their true value.

Member missionary work is a lot like a garage sale. We have something that has brought us great joy. We set it out there for others to partake. Some stop and look around, some listen, and some leave with nothing. There are others who aren't even willing to stop and listen. They slow down enough to judge at a distance, and take off. Yes, there are a lot of similarities.

I stayed out only three hours that first day because, honestly, I just got tired of people driving by. It sounds silly, but it was hard not to take it personally. I hate rejection in all forms! So, I packed up after three hours did laundry instead.

The next day I tapped into my reservoir of inner strength and laid all of my things out again. I managed to stay out the full seven hours. There were still those people that drove right on by, but this day I concentrated more on the people that stopped to look. I struck up conversations, learned about them and shared stories and information about the items I was passing on. It was interesting to note that when I got to know people, they stayed longer. They were also more apt to take something home with them when they understood the value and sentimentality of it. It became something of value, not just something.

Again, it is the same with sharing the gospel. When you get to know people, strike up conversations and learn about them, they will want to get to know you too. When you share stories about how the gospel has helped you, and you share your testimony, they are more apt to bring it into their lives. They begin to see the Gospel as something of value, not just something.

At the end of the second day, I had a few things left. I put up a big sign that said, "All Free." A lovely family pulled up.

"Really, all free?" they asked.

"Yes, all free."

I watched this family grab and take almost everything. I'm not even sure if they wanted it. I guess things look more attractive when there is no personal cost (that's a great idea for another post!) I started to feel a little annoyed, until I turned around and noticed their little girl. She must have been seven or eight. She was holding up the basket I had filled with stuffed animals. She was going to take them all. The look on her face was priceless. She stood there, holding up this heavy basket, grinning from ear to ear. I could tell by their appearance and vehicle that they didn't have a lot of money. It must have been a neat experience for her to have something given to her. I felt good.

That experience with the young girl made the two days of rejection worth it. She was happy, down to her core. She held the stuffed animals and giggled. I knew she would love them.

D&C 18:15 reads, "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"

We are commanded to be a light on the hill, to be the watchmen, to spread the Gospel. It is not easy, yet the Lord has saved this work for the small and simple (that would mean that I definitely qualify!) There will be rejection. But, when you meet that one person (hopefully more!) that stops long enough to talk, which listens and learns and decides to take the Gospel home- it will all be worth it.

I don’t' know when I will hold a garage sale again. But I do know when I will be a missionary; today, tomorrow, and every day after that. I know I will be rejected. But, I also know that there will be a time when that one person will hear the Gospel and feel the Spirit. And when they accept the Gospel, they will smile from ear to ear, and they will love it. And I will feel good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Steak and Alma

I love steak. I've always said that if I were stranded on a desert island and could only pick three things, they would be cereal, ice cream and steak. I love steak because it is meaty, not light and airy like those rice cakes some people eat. No, steak is thick, rich, and delicious and it fills me up.

I also love the Book of Mormon. It is a source of peace and comfort, a place to find answers and to hear God speak to me. It is "truer than any other book" ever written. That is because it embodies the Plan of Salvation. Out of the 531 pages of the Book of Mormon, 501 pages have a reference to either Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father. It is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. It contains truths that have been lost through countless translations of other scripture. There are many stories and teachings contained in the Book of Mormon; but there are a handful of chapters that so plainly and beautifully explain the Gospel. These are what I like to call "meaty" chapters. They are doctrinally thick and rich and spiritually delicious. They fill up my spirit when I study them.

Six of these chapters are Alma chapters 9 through 14. Alma had given up his seat as chief judge to preach to the Nephites. The Amonihahites had cast Alma out previously, but Alma obeyed the word of the Lord and returned, meeting a righteous man named Amulek. Alma and his new companion, Amulek, were called upon to preach to the people of Amonihah once again.

These chapters cover basic eternal gospel principles and the Atonement.

In chapter 9, Alma teaches the people that the "Son of God shall come in his glory..." and that "he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance through faith on his name." The first three principles of the Gospel were 1- faith 2-repentance and 3- Baptism - and they still are today.

Chapters 11 and 12 are my favorites. In them we learn of Temporal and Spiritual Death, the Adversary, Personal Revelation, The Fall, The Plan of Redemption, Agency, Commandments, Repentances and more.

Chapters 12 and 14 are the icing on the cake. We read of the Priesthood, Tithing, Prophets, Repentance, Humility and Faith. The doctrine is true, yet explained with such eloquence and humility, by two missionaries almost 2100 years ago. The Gospel is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

What a treasure we have in the Book of Mormon! Read hand in hand with the Bible we have access to the Plan of Salvation, to the Atonement, and to Heavenly Father.

Truly the words that Alma spoke in chapter 13 apply to us today: "Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it will be it your own destruction."

If you have not made these chapters a matter of personal study, I strongly encourage you to.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What Pleases the Lord?

We could all shout out our Primary answers to the question, "What pleases the Lord?” :go to church, read the scriptures, keep the commandments. Those are all good answers. But, there is one particular thing that is mentioned in D&C 88 that brings a beautiful clarity.

In verses 1 and 2 the Lord tell us Himself, "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive him will concerning you: Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angles rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up unto the ears of the Lord of Saboath, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world."

What amazing verses! What did they do the pleased the Lord and made angels rejoice over them? Two things: they sought HIS will, and they prayed. They prayed to know His will concerning them. It is so simple a thing, yet it made the angels rejoice.

Why is it so magnificent? When we turn to the Lord in prayer to learn his will for us, we essentially turn our lives over to the Master. There no other more qualified hands to put our lives into. By seeking his will, we trade sin for forgiveness, pride for humility, and eternal anguish for eternal joy.

He has said himself that "this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Though it is his work and glory, he cannot force it upon us- that would go against the very reason we are sent here: to choose for ourselves. When we seek his will for us, we allow him to bless us and we are able to take full advantage of the Savior's redeeming Atonement. When we seek his will, we take a step towards Eternal Life.

Do you have a desire to please the Lord and give angles cause to rejoice over your? Start with a humble prayer, and six simple words, “What would Thou have me do?”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fight the Good Fight

"If men standing in high places sometimes feel the weight and anxiety of momentous times, they should be all the firmer and all the more resolute in those convictions which come from a God-fearing conscience and pure lives"
Joseph Smith

What a blessing to have prophets in these latter days! The world is changing. We are in "momentous times", globally, nationally, as a church, and on personal levels. The Adversary will do what he can to attack us while we are down; when we feel overwhelmed, angry, sad or simply just frustrated and tired. It is in those times that we, those who stand in high places (anyone that strives to follow Heavenly Father is in a high place in contrast to the world) must not stray from what we believe, but be "all the more resolute in those convictions."

In an effort to uplift and strengthen people, we often here the words, "I know it hurts, but just hold on." or "Just have hope that it will be Ok, and it will." While these words may make us feel warm inside, we have a higher calling to live up to. We must not be satisfied with simply licking the wounds the Adversary causes. We must be willing to stand and fight. When we "feel the weight and anxiety of momentous times", responsibilities of who we are, the stresses of life, and the trials we face, we must take strength in the Lord and hold even firmer to our testimonies, to "those convictions which come from a God-fearing conscience and pure lives."

Please don't misconstrue what I am saying. There is a time and place for very deep wounds to heal. There are those who are truly at the point of despair. In those times, great love and care must be present, but the call to remain firm in one's convictions should always be an underlying, if not prevalent, theme.

Salvation does not come cheaply. We cannot afford to nickel-and-dime through this life. We must follow the example of Abraham who "against hope believed in hope...and being not weak in faith...He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what we was promised, he was able also to perform..." (Romans 4:18-21)

Be strong in faith, believe what God has promised, and perform, even under the weight and anxiety of momentous times, so you can echo the words of Paul when he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." (2 Tim 4:7)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Something out of Nothing

Pepsi has a new drink out now called Pepsi Zero. I guess it has no calories, no sugar, no carbs, no nothing. What does it have? Bubbles and brown color. But, Pepsi-Cola markets this thing like its gold! You can have everything with Zero. Can that be true? Can something good come out of nothing? Is there a mystery ingredient that can do that? Well, perhaps not in soda, but in us it can.

Ammon was an amazing missionary. After his conversion (with Alma the younger), he, with his brothers Aaron, Omner and Himni, and Alma the younger first seek to repair the damage they caused among the Nephites. Then they are called to serve missions among the Lamanites (according to their desires). They each go their own ways and immediately Ammon was taken and bound by the Lamanites. Taken to the Lamanite King, Lamoni, becomes his servant, through the power of God earns his respect and trust, teaches Lamoni, who is converted, as are many of the Lamanites (becoming the people of Ammon). That is a packed mission!

About this time, Ammon meets up with his brothers. Kinda like a Zone Meeting. He is so excited for the changes and miracles he has seen among the Lamanites that he just goes on and on about what a great work has been done. His brother Aaron (probably the older bossy one) said, "Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry the away unto boasting." Aaron basically says, 'Hey, your bragging a bit, dontcha think?"

Ammon, rather than being angry with Aaron for his misperception, is quick to clarify: "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."

What Ammon says next is the answer to the question, 'Can something good come out of nothing?'He humbly says, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things..."

I know that I am nothing, yet I can do all God. That is the mystery ingredient. He is the mystery ingredient.

It is a difficult balancing act, walking in humility or self-pity. The Adversary would have you believe that you are nothing because you are a terrible, weak and hopeless case, and there is no hope for redemption in this life or the life to come. This leads to pity, then sadness, and if we let ourselves believe it still, it can become crippling despair.

That is not our Father's plan for us. We are nothing, because we know that without God, without Jesus Christ, there truly would be no hope for redemption. BUT~ the miracle is that with them, that in them, not only do we receive redemption, but there is so much more! We can become their partners in the miracles of life.

We are nothing. We are weak. But, in the strength of God, we can do all things. Do you know what this means? That weakness you just hate~ you can overcome it. The trial you are in the middle of right now~ you will not only survive it, but become a better person! The sorrow that is engulfing you~ you will escape from it. The question you have~ you will get an answer for it.

The comforting words of an angel to a questioning Mary echoed this message: "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

In the strength of God you can do all things. And when you do have success, let yourself be joyous! Share it, write it, and remember it. But most of all, remember the reason that you did it. Remember to "boast of my God". Acknowledge Him. Thank Him. And always, always trust and follow him.

That is how you make something wonderful out of nothing

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hannibal Was Right

I have fond memories of gathering on the couch with my family to watch our 8 o'clock shows in the evenings. Dukes of Hazzard, Fantasy Island, Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers to name a few. Those were the days when hamburgers were 29 cents at McDonalds and you could play outside anywhere, just as long as you were home when the street lights went on.

One of our favorite shows was the A-Team. They would be called on various missions, usually involving aiding or rescuing a innocent person. The plan would invariably get botched by the bad guys and the A-Team would turn to their leader, Hannibal, for a mid-episode plan-change. After many gunshots, in which no one was ever hit, and a master-plan followed by every member, the A-Team would conquer every time! At the end, Hannibal would often say with a grin, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Ah, if life could be a tidy as that; a battle fought and won in one hour. If you think about it, there are alot of similarities. We have been called here on a mission to save ourselves, and help others along the way. The bad guy, the Adversary, is always trying to botch our plans. But, as we turn to our leaders, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we can make those mid-life corrections and adjustments that, if we follow, will allow us to succeed in the end. Then, when we meet them again, hopefully they will be able to smile and say, "We love it when a plan comes together."

What is their plan? It's called The Plan of Salvation. It is the plan that, if we follow, will provide the way to personal perfection, pure peace and eternal existance with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and our families.

As I spoke of in my post Before, Before, Afta, Afta, there is a longing in each of us to know who we are and why we are here. The Plan answers those questions.

First, we must acknowledge our eternal spirits. We existed before we came. We lived with God, our loving Heavenly Father, and each other. We are all brothers and sisters. We have been, and always will be, creatures of progress. Even then we learned line upon line, precept upon precept, the ways of God. We were, if you will, in elementary school.

After we had learned what we could in the presence of God, a place had to be prepared where we could go and experience the things we had learned; where we could be tested, use our agency, choose for ourselves, and prove ourselves. We needed bodies so that we could learn self-mastery, we needed opposition so the we could appreciate the good, we needed agency so that we could choose, for ourselves, God or Mammon.

Here it was that the Plan was presented to us. Even then we had agency to choose to follow God's plan for our eternal progression. Each of you reading this, in fact, every person who has ever live and will live chose to follow God's plan. No one was forced to leave the presence of God and come here. In fact, it was quite the contrary. We shouted for joy at that thought of becoming more like our Father.

So, now, we are here. And, like the A-Team, we have a mission. It is not an innocent person who'd been done wrong that we need to save. It is we ourselves. We are here to fight the good fight and gain eternal life.

I am excited for my new blog. It's a forum I'd like to use to write Gospel, which is the Plan in action. I look forward to your visits, your comments, and your friendships. I love studying the Plan of Salvation, from the simplicity to the complexity. It's a divine plan. It's God's plan. I'll end by echoing good ol' Hannibal, as I smile as say, "I love it when a plan comes together."

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