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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