Thursday, December 30, 2010

What lack I yet?

J. Golden Kimball started his talk at a Stake Conference with these two questions:

How many of you would die for the church? 

Of course all the hands in the room went up.

Number two. How many of you pay a full tithing? 

Only a few hands went up. 

Then he turned to the Stake President and said "President, these people would rather die than pay their tithing... "

      This story is one that made me laugh a little bit when I read, and at first I thought nothing of it really.  As I have been thinking about it lately though, many thoughts have come to my mind that have benefited me greatly.  

     All these people had their eye on the big picture, they were willing to die for something they greatly believed in.  They were probably so willing to do it because they received a witness that it the church was true, and if they followed it, they could receive eternal life.  However only a few of them were doing all they could to follow what the church taught.  

   It brings to mind the story from the New Testament about the rich young ruler.  "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" (Matt 19:16) The young ruler desired to have eternal life, then Jesus told him some of the commandments to which he replied "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matt 19:20)  to which the Savior replied "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."(Matt 19:21)  The rich young man had given almost everything. When the Savior told him he must sell all his possessions, that wasn't just a story about riches.We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.

    We all have a goal of receiving eternal life, it is something we all are hoping to receive.  However, we hold on to things that are holding us back, we aren't willing to give up certain habits, follow certain commandments, or do certain things.  We have one foot on the path that leads to eternal life, and one foot still in the world.  In order to receive eternal life we must put both feet in the path and give everything that we have, just as the savior gave all he had for us.  Don't get me wrong, we will never be able to match the saviors sacrifice, but we can do our best and give the best sacrifice we can, and that will be acceptable to the lord. 

     I know this is true, that the only way to receive all the Father has is to give all that we have. If we almost keep the commandments, we almost receive the blessings.  We all must be willing to give up the things that are holding us back so that we can receive a fullness of Joy. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To bring the world his truth

                                             (Group of Online missionaries in the Santa Rosa mission)

        As a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have the opportunity to spread the "good news" of the gospel with all the world.  I am currently serving as a full-time missionary in Santa Rosa, CA.  I love being a missionary so much, my testimony fuels me everyday to share what has brought me so much joy with my brothers and sisters here. 

    I have such a strong desire to share this with everyone.  This is why I am so excited to be an online missionary for the church as well.  Using the internet enables me to literally spread my testimony to all the world.  I still focus my efforts primarily on the people I serve and teach here in Santa Rosa, but any and all who want to hear this message I do not hesitate to teach. 

     So far as an online missionary, I have had many great opportunities to communicate with and talk with great people who are seeking out truth in their life.  It is no different that regular missionary work, we teach the principles of the gospel, answer questions, and invite people to do things that will strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.  I have been able to talk with those whom I made friendships with in my past area's and continue to help them on there journey into the Gospel. 

     I love being a missionary and servant of the Lord, this is my greatest joy.  I am so thankful for the resources the Lord has provided us, so that our influence can be felt to a much higher degree.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jesus The Christ


      Tonight I am going to finish up my very mini-series of people in the Christmas story, I will be focusing on Jesus Christ, The Son of God. 

     "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of Heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:10-14)  His birth was foretold centuries earlier by Isaiah, who declared prophetically, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

      He was and is the Son of the Almighty. He was the only perfect man to walk the earth. He healed the sick and caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He raised the dead.  He gave his life for each of us so that we too could be redeemed from sin and death and one day live with our father in Heaven. 

      With all the gift giving and the hustle and bustle that comes during the Christmas season, we all should remember the very first gift given during Christmas, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." (John 3:16)

     I am so thankful for my savior Jesus Christ, I know that he truly does live.  I know that just over 2000 years ago, he so humbly came to earth, and did so that we all could live again with him someday in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary, the mother of Jesus


     Today I am going to write about one of the most famous women in all the scriptures.  I am speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus.

    Although little of Mary’s life is actually recorded, what is recorded reveals a pattern of righteousness.  Many prophets had known of Mary’s vital role in the plan of salvation. Her mission had been recorded throughout the scriptures. (Alma 7, Isaiah 7)  From the angel Gabriel, who was sent from God to declare glad tidings to her, Mary learned that she was the one to give birth to the Son of God . The angelic messenger declared, “Hail, thou virgin, who art highly favored of the Lord. The Lord is with thee, for thou art chosen and blessed among women.” (Luke 1:28)  Following the announcement, Mary had a simple inquiry: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34.) Mary’s question was not one of doubt, but of sincere curiosity as to how this was to be, for she was an espoused virgin. To Mary’s question, the angel answered, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35.)

         After receiving the angel’s message, Mary, in unreserved obedience, replied, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38.) In humbly accepting this opportunity of motherhood, Mary exemplifies the quality of obedience to which all disciples aspire.

        Mary truly is an inspiration to us all, and example of obedience.  When faced with great responsibility and uncertainty, she willingly and humbly did all that the lord asked.  I love the way it refers to her in the Book of Mormon, In Alma 7:10 it reads "And, behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is in the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel,..."  Mary indeed was a precious vessel, who the lord prepared for this great calling, she was an elect daughter of God.

       May we all think of the great example of the Mary and always be willing to submit ourselves to the will of the lord.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joseph, the husband of mary


     I decided to write a little bit about the different people that are involved in the Christmas Story.  Today I am going to talk about one who isn't mentioned that much but is such a great example, I am speaking of Joseph. 

     what do we know of Joseph?  Joseph was the husband of Mary, who was the mother of Jesus.  He was a carpenter(Matt 13:55).  He was not the blood father of Christ, but was an earthly guardian of Jesus Christ.  He was looked at and recognized by the Jews as his literal father.  Joseph was of the house and lineage of David.  Thus Jesus, not a blood descendant, was a son of David. 

     Joseph was espoused to Mary and when he found out she was with child, he wanted not to "make her publick" (Matt 1:19) He loved Mary and didn't want to embarrass her. He later received a visitation by an angel informing him that Mary would give birth to the savior of the world.  He awoke and immediately took Mary as his wife.  Joseph was an example of obedience, he submitted to the will of his Father in Heaven. 

   I am even more impressed when I think about how much responsibility was placed upon him.  Who would the father choose as the husband to Mary and guardian and father of Jesus?  After all, we know that a fathers role is to teach his child correct principles and be an example.  This was the role that Joseph was to play for the child Jesus.  Many people would become overwhelmed with this responsibility, many would have felt it to hard.  But Joseph was willingly and submissive to every thing the lord asked of him.  He was a true example of obedience and humility. 

     May we all become more like Joseph and do all that the lord asks of us, with love and humility.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A mighty change of heart

        The gospel of Jesus Christ can change peoples desires and attitudes.  Boyd K. Packer, President of the quorum of the 12 apostles said "a study of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior" 

      As a missionary, being called to teach this "good news", we have the opportunity of seeing many people experience the joy of the gospel.  This joy is a great motivator for them to make changes in their life to bring their lives in closer harmony with that of Jesus Christ.  Thus fulfilling our purpose here in this life, which is to prepare to meet god.  This change comes through sincere repentance.  To repent is to change.  When we repent, we say to our Father in Heaven that we are sorry for the things we have done and that we will be better from that point on. 

      I love the story in the Book of Mormon about a group of people who felt the joy of repentance, it is found in Mosiah chapters 2-5.  I want to focus on a couple of scriptures, King Benjamin, a book of mormon prophet, has just taught about the Savior Jesus Christ and some of the things he would do, when he had finished speaking, the multitude felt the spirit and in Mosiah 4:2 they say "...O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men."  They have thus accomplished the first steps of repentance, acknowledging their sins, being sorry for their sins and asking for forgiveness.  After this they felt the great blessing of the Atonement and the joy of repentance.  "And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ."

       King Benjamin continued on and taught them more on repentance and forgiveness, and then comes my favorite part of this story.  King Benjamin finishes his sermon and desires to know if they believed the words which he had spoken.  They Replied, " Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2)

        This is such a great blessing that the Lord has given us, that not only will he forgive us of our sins, but if we desire we can even lose the desire to ever commit the sin again.  What a burden lifted off of our shoulders. 

      I know this to be true, there have been many weaknesses I have had in my life and many things I have struggled with.  It was only through the atonement of my Savior, and repentance (Change) that I was able to be freed from these weaknesses.  I have felt the true joy that can only come through Jesus Christ. I have truly experienced a "mighty change of heart"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paris Thomas

Paris is the man, there are so many out there in the world that are just like paris. Like it says in the Doctrine and Covenants 123:12 "many are kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it." As a missionary, we go out everyday and search for people like Paris, who need the gospel in their lives. And when we find them and teach them, the Holy Ghost is able to manifest to them the truth of the message we share, and lives are changed.

I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can bring people the lasting peace and joy that we are all looking for. Only the gospel will bring us eternal happiness.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Whatsoever ye shall seal on earth, shall be sealed in heaven


      In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we put alot of emphasis on the family.  It is my goal in this post to give the reasons why this is. 

    We believe that family life here is an extension of what life was like in the Pre-earth life.  We believe before we lived in this life we lived as spirits, as a part of our Heavenly Fathers family.  In Hebrews it talks about this relationship, it says "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Heb 12:9).  and also in Romans 8:16 is says "...We are the children of God." 

    Our Heavenly Father created a plan for us where we could come to the earth, and gain experience.  He sent us here in family units so we could experience joy. Our purpose in this life is to find lasting joy, peace and happiness in families and to prepare to return to live with God.  When Jesus Christ was on the earth he gave unto his apostle Peter the keys to seal families together for time and all eternity. "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt 16:19)

    Through the Restoration of the Gospel on the earth, we have these powers on the earth again to seal families together for time and all eternity.  In our Holy Temples this great power is manifested and families are eternally sealed. 

     This knowledge that family life is perpetuated far beyond this life is why we put such a great emphasis on family life here.  We are all striving to help eachother live the gospel and prepare to live together with our Father in Heaven forever.  We have recieved lots of guidance in these latter-days about how we can accomplish this.  Just 15 years ago, prophets and apostles announced "The Family: A proclamation to the world" This gives us alot of great counsel about the roles of family members, the importance of marriage, and the blessings of righteous family life.

      A couple of weeks ago, The Quinones family pictured below, made another step towards this great goal of theres to be sealed as a family.  Katy and Marina were baptized, and in a year from now they are going to go to the temple and be sealed as a family.  I am so excited for them to accomplish this goal.

     I know that families truly can be together forever, I know that this knowledge can strenghten families and bring them peace and joy in this life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

But if not...

      Recently I have been thinking of a story in the old testament, from Daniel chapter 3.  There was a king, named Nebuchadnezzar, he created a golden image and commanded that his people worship it.  Among these people were three men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, they believed in the true God of Israel.   They refused to worship the king's golden image.  The king in his rage commanded them to be brought before him, and threatened if they don't worship his god's then they would be cast into a fiery furnace.  These three men then said to the angry king, "if it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  BUT IF NOT, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image..." (Daniel 3:17-18)

     To this the king was full of fury, and commanded that they be cast into the furnace.  When the king came again to see what happened to them, he was astonished because he beheld four men in the midst of the fire.  He said, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3: 25)

        We can learn a lot from this story, but what I want to focus on is those three words: But if not...
These three men when facing a great trial, didn't have a perfect knowledge of what would happen, but they believe and trusted in god and that was good enough for them.  When they said those three words, But if not, this was not a lack of faith.  They were just simply saying, no matter what.

      Sometimes in this life we face trials, these may come from a lot of different things: fear, lack of knowledge, being unable to comprehend certain things.  We are placed in a position where we must choose faith, where we must simply be willing to trust in something we believe in but are not certain about.

      In my life I have been in this situation many times, one that sticks out to me the most is coming on a mission.  When I graduated from High School, I was not sure if I wanted to serve a mission, I decided that I would go to school instead.  While at a Young Mens event, I felt very strongly that I should serve a mission.  I wasn't sure exactly what would happen, or even if I was capable of serving.  I didn't know the scriptures, I didn't know a whole lot about the church, but I did FEEL that I should go.  Now that I am here, I KNOW that this is where I am suppose to be, this has been the greatest decision I have ever made. 

       Neil L. Anderson, an Apostle, recently said "Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time."  In the Book of Mormon we learn that we must learn "line upon line, and precept upon precept." (2 Nephi 28:30)  Even though we will not know everything, and even may have some questions, we still can have faith that it is true.  We might not be able to understand how the Savior was able to suffer for our sins and pains, but we can have faith in his atonement.  We must choose faith, and have the attitude and trust that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had.  I promise that if you do, the questions that you have will one day be answered.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blessings of the Priesthood

        What is the Priesthood?  Why do we need the Priesthood?  How can the priesthood affect my life?

       I hope that this post will be able to answer all these questions, as many people might wonder them.

       What is the Priesthood?:   The priesthood is the power of God, and the authority to act in his name.  It has been given to prophets since the beginning of time so they can run Gods church upon the earth.  Multiple times this authority has been taken away due to wickedness and unbelief, but because God loves us he always restores it again.  When Christ came he gave this authority to his chosen apostles so they too could bless the lives of their brothers and sisters.  After Christ was crucified there came a falling away (2 Thessalonian 2:1-3, Amos 8:11-12) The priesthood authority was once again taken from the earth for a period of time.

In the early 1800's Joseph Smith, having been visited by God the father and his son Jesus Christ, and called to be a prophet, was given once again the priesthood authority.  John the Baptist, restored the Aaronic Priesthood, and later Peter, James and John as resurrected beings restored the Melchizedek Priesthood.

        The priesthood authority was then passed down from Joseph Smith to other worthy members of the Lords church.  Now days, all worthy males, ages 12 and older can hold the priesthood.

   Why the Priesthood is needed?:  Because this church is the Lords church and not mans, all things done within it must be done God's way by those he has chosen.  "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you..." (John 15:16).  There are things the lord has commanded all of us to do, like being baptized, and when they are done without the priesthood authority they are invalid, because God did not authorize them.  God is a God of order, and if everyone were allowed to baptize and do it their own way, we would lose the beauty and the meaning of these sacred ordinances.  Kind of like if every single person was a cop, then there would be no reason for one anymore. 

       How can the Priesthood affect my life?:  Though only worthy males are able to hold the Priesthood, this power blesses the lives of all people. "the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon principles of righteousness." " (D&C 121:36).  The priesthood is a blessing is so many different ways, one of those is the ability the bless those who are sick or afflicted in any manner.  this goes along with the verse in James 5 verse 14-15 "is any sick among you? let him call for the Elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick..." By the same power that Jesus had to heal the sick, worthy males who hold the priesthood can heal the sick.  The other important way the priesthood can bless any families life, is that it is by this power that families are sealed together for time and all eternity.  Only through the priesthood of god, can families be eternally united.  This is something that every family should desire, and one all of us should seek after. 
        I know that the priesthood is real, I know that is so essential to the church of god.  With it we have everything and without it we have nothing.