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Yesterday the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints passed away.  LDS people believe that the prophet of the church recieves modern day revelation for the church just as Peter did for the Church of Jesus Christ after Jesus was crucified. 

I believe President Hinckley was a prophet and want to share my thoughts and experiences with President Hinckley.

My first experience was when he visited my home town in 1989.  I went to the regional meeting with my Grandpa and Grandma Anderson.  The meeting was packed and I heard him speak.  I was young–about 12 years old, but afterwards I was able to go up and look into his warm eyes that had a twinkle in them and shake his hand.  Looking back it is amazing that he took time to shake everyone’s hand.  There were a few thousand people in the auditorium.  He would mention in his conference talks how much he wanted to get out amoungst the people and shake their hands.  He would say how his hands would hurt sometimes but he was determined to meet everyone.  I’m grateful to have been a recipient.  This is the only direct contact I ever had with him.

The next significant influence he had on my life was when I saw him on 60 minutes in 1995.  I had just graduated from high school and had started my first semester in college.  For many years it seems to me like Mormons had hid and sort of shyed away from getting out in the public and sharing their beliefs and becoming a part of society.  As I watched President Hinckley speak that day I not only felt the Holy Spirit testify to me that he was indeed a prophet, but I felt a great desire to share this message.  A few short months later I had the opportunity to do so as I went on a mission to Germany.

One of the unique things about my mission was that President Hinckley’s grandson was in my mission.  I remember the day he came into our district (group of missionaries) at the MTC (Missionary Training Center where the missionaries study scriptures and learn the language for 2 months before going to the country). 

The first day we all gathered around Elder Hinckley and bombarded him with questions on if President Hinckley had ever seen Jesus or how he speaks to God and many other questions.  Elder Hinckley took it very well and said “he’s just like a regular grandpa…you know, likes to fish and tells jokes.  He’s a good guy.”  The only thing his Grandfather ever said was that receiving revelation was like how Elijah describes it in the Bible in 1 Kings 19: 11-12.  The Lord usually communicates through a “still small voice.” This was a bit anti-climatic for us missionaries, but it made sense!

As it came time for us to depart to Germany, Elder Hinckley was assigned to be my travel companion.  As we were waiting at the airport, Elder Hinckley’s father (Gordon B Hinckley’s son), came and said that President Hinckley wanted to see him before he left and that his companion (which was me) could go and visit in his office as well, but if he wanted to stay with his family he could.  I was torn because my family had traveled many hours to come and see me off, yet I wanted to meet the prophet as well.  I decided to stay with my family and so Elder Hinckley went without me.  When Elder Hinckley returned, I asked him what his grandpa had said.  It was very characteristic of what we usually hear President Hinckley saying with his sense of humor.  When President Hinckley asked why I didn’t come and heard I had decided to stay with my family he said something to the effect of “Well, that’s a good choice.  I can’t blame him for not wanting to see an old man like me!”  I’m sure he had the same twinkle in his eye as he always did when he was joking. 

Although I didn’t have any direct experiences after this encounter, I was inspired many, many times.  When he gave the talk “This Thing wasn’t Done in a Corner” on my mission about how the Church of Jesus Christ is coming forth out of obscurity, I wanted to share the gospel with everyone with a passion I’d never had before that lasted throughout my mission. 

When he announced that he had a goal of having 100 temples by the year 2000 I wasn’t sure how he would double the amount of temples in 3 years, but he did it.  I was inspired.  His books, Standing for Something and Way to Be were inspirational and helped me in college.  When I saw the way he interacted with his wife of 67 years as they would speak together I thought to myself: “that is how I want to treat my wife.”  When he appeared on 60 minutes and Larry King Live and I heard him, I was inspired and motivated as well.

I will always be grateful for the leadership and inspiration that President Gordon B Hinckley gave me.  Although I had limited personal contact with him, he was a part of who I am today because I have tried to live the words he imparted as a prophet of God.  I thank God for a prophet like Gordon B Hinckley to guide me. 

If you are interested in hearing directly from the prophet, here are some links:

For a testimony from the prophet click here. 

For a photographic memorial of the Prophet click here.

God be with you til we meet again.

We had the missionaries over last night and they shared an amazing story from the May 1988 Ensign.  Below is a story given by Elder John R Lasater:

Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit the country of Morocco as part of an official United States government delegation. As part of that visit, we were invited to travel some distance into the desert to visit some ruins. Five large black limousines moved across the beautiful Moroccan countryside at considerable speed. I was riding in the third limousine, which had lagged some distance behind the second. As we topped the brow of a hill, we noticed that the limousine in front of us had pulled off to the side of the road. As we drew nearer, I sensed that an accident had occurred and suggested to my driver that we stop. The scene before us has remained with me for these many years.

An old shepherd, in the long, flowing robes of the Savior’s day, was standing near the limousine in conversation with the driver. Nearby, I noted a small flock of sheep numbering not more than fifteen or twenty. An accident had occurred. The king’s vehicle had struck and injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd. The driver of the vehicle was explaining to him the law of the land. Because the king’s vehicle had injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd, he was now entitled to one hundred times its value at maturity. However, under the same law, the injured sheep must be slain and the meat divided among the people. My interpreter hastily added, “But the old shepherd will not accept the money. They never do.”

Startled, I asked him why. And he added, “Because of the love he has for each of his sheep.” It was then that I noticed the old shepherd reach down, lift the injured lamb in his arms, and place it in a large pouch on the front of his robe. He kept stroking its head, repeating the same word over and over again. When I asked the meaning of the word, I was informed, “Oh, he is calling it by name. All of his sheep have a name, for he is their shepherd, and the good shepherds know each one of their sheep by name.”

It was as my driver predicted. The money was refused, and the old shepherd with his small flock of sheep, with the injured one tucked safely in the pouch on his robe, disappeared into the beautiful deserts of Morocco.

As we continued our journey toward the ruins, my interpreter shared with me more of the traditions and practices of the shepherds of that land. Each evening at sundown, for example, the shepherds bring their small flocks of sheep to a common enclosure where they are secured against the wolves that roam the deserts of Morocco. A single shepherd then is employed to guard the gate until morning. Then the shepherds come to the enclosure one by one, enter therein, and call forth their sheep—by name. The sheep will not hearken unto the voice of a stranger but will leave the enclosure only in the care of their true shepherd, confident and secure because the shepherd knows their names and they know his voice.

The words of the Master Shepherd rang loudly in my ears:

“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

“To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:2–5).

Many thoughts come to mind.  First, I think of all the times I’ve been lost and wandering on my own way…even injured spiritualy and how the Lord has reached down and picked me up either through another person or through a miracle of a healing or other means.

Next, I think of those who I’m called to be a Shepherd over.  My family, the people I home teach, those I serve as a ward missionary, the children of God I meet on a daily basis, etc.  Do I treat them and love them as a shepherd?  If not, what can I do to improve with my interactions with those I’ve been given stewardship over? 

Finally, I thought of all the references in the scriptures on being Shepherds .  There are many refering to “shepherds in Isreal”, following the “Good Shepherd”, and probably the most touching is the one in John 10: 2, 11-12, 14, and 16 that talks about the good shepherd giving his life for the sheep and how he knows every one of his sheep.

I’m grateful for Jesus and that He is always there for me even when I stray it seems like on a daily basis.  However, He is the Good Shepherd and will always search, call, and reach out to comfort me.  All I need to do is hear his voice and obey.

I hope this helps us all strive to become more loving and more like our Savior who is the true Shepherd of us all.

For those of you who are interested in statistics, I thought this was intersting.  It’s found on the LDS Newsroom website.  I shows stats on how many members the church has, how many missionaries, how many members in each country, how many countries we’re doing humanitarian aid for, etc.  Here’s the site:

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/statistical-information

Those of us in the Northwest get the benefit of some very beautiful days, and yesterday was one of them.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun reflected off the crystals in the 10 degree weather.  My wife (Becca), my friend Jeremy, and I decided we would go skiing and it was a good decision!

Becca hadn’t been skiing before so the first part of the day Jeremy hit some runs on his own as I stayed with Becca and helped her out.  She was great!  I was very impressed at how well she picked it up and that even though she was a little nervous, she stuck with it.  I’d given her instructions to keep her skis in a “pizza wedge”, slowly turn back and forth down the hill, and if she felt out of control to push on the ski facing down-hill and that she would stop.  While I watched her I noticed that if she stayed focused on the instructions she did great!  However if a skier, snow-boarder, or a tree would come into view she had the tendency at first to loose concentration and focus on the other object.  Pretty soon she would head straight for the object and she would freak out a little and fall down.  However, by the end of the day she had learned to steadily make it down the mountain and avoid the obstacles.  I was very impressed with how well she’d done at learning. 

As I watched her, I thought of how this relates to our relationship with God.  God has given us instructions and a way to make it down this mountain of life and back to Him.  Sometimes there are obstacles such as sickness, death, loss of a job…and a million other things throughout any given day that we can focus on and many times we fall.  Luckily for us, we have instructions through the scriptures.  The following scripture shows us how we can “make it down the mountain.”

“Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Ne. 15:9.) There are many other scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants that refer to this promise as well.  You can visit them here

I would like to hear some experiences and thoughts from you…

How do you “look unto the Savior”? 

What is “enduring to the end”?  (for some good clues click here.)

What are ways you’ve used to endure? 

I recently read a blog today from a person I don’t know, but that I can tell is an earnest seeker of truth. 

His post was entitled “Restructuring the Church for Explosive Growth.”  In his post he poses the question “What if we were to build a system from scratch that was simply designed to make disciples, create community and fully release each other’s gifts? What would the church look like? The church would look strangely similar to the first church.”

In his blog, he also suggests that a true church of Christ needs three things to work, namely:

Structure One – Body Church. This is a group of people (15-25) who live life together (like a body), regular share meals (like a family) and consistently gather in homes to build each other up under the direct headship of Christ.

Structure Two – Discipleship Training Center (the city church) – This is the School of Tyrannus idea where the teachers and trainers of a cluster of body churches (3-5) hold constant trainings designed to “make disciples” “teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded” and would be overseen by a group of city-wide elders.

Structure Three – The Apostolic Team – This is a diverse team of people with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching gifts that take responsibility for the health and well-being of many different city and body churches while using most of their resources to expand into new areas without ever neglecting the needs of existing works.

I agree with his analysis and suggestions of the three ways to have a church more closely aligned with Christ’s original church.  The good news is that this church already exists.  A short analysis of the three points and how they relate to this church are included below:

“Body Church”

 All members of this church are assigned other members to visit and care for in each others’ homes as well as instruct each other through the scriptures as led by the Holy Spirit.  In addition, every member is required to pay a tithe and fast offering which goes towards the needy in the congregation similar to the original Church of Christ.

“Discipleship Training Center”

He proposes that a group of Elders from various congregations within the same city come together to teach and train each other under the direction of Jesus Christ.  Again, this organization is found in a church in existance today.  The congregations are called “wards” and a group of wards within a city are called a Stake.  Elders from the stakes and wards meet regularly and train each other as directed by the Holy Ghost.  Weekly the elders in a ward meet as a quorum and quarterly they meet together as a stake to be instructed and led.

“Apostolic Team”

In this church there is a prophet and twelve apostles that lead and direct the church as a whole.  The whole church has over a thousand stakes and each stake has an evangelist, or patriarch that gives patriarchal blessings…prophetic blessings in a sense, to the members of the stake.  In addition, the apostles and the quorom of the seventy in this church share the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world. 

I appreciate the insights made on this blog as to what the true, original church of Jesus Christ should look like.  In addition to what has been stated, I will add a few more scriptures and insights from the Bible as to what the true Church of Jesus Christ should look like. 

According to the Bible, the original church was organized with Jesus Christ as the head, twelve apostles, and a quoroum of the seventy.  After Jesus died, Peter became the authorized leader of the church under the direction of Jesus.  The apostles ordained Elders, Pastors, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists (see Ephesians 4:11) in the original Church of Jesus Christ. 

In addition, the members of the church lived the law of consecration and had “all things in common,” and “sold their possesions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”(Acts 2:45

The original Church of Jesus Christ aslo had the following characteristics: the members were called saints (Ephesians 4:11-14); saints received church callings by the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3); people healed by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil (Mark 6:13) (James 5:14); temple worship (Acts 2:46); the saints saw visions of angels on numerous occasions (Acts 12:7-9; 27:23-24) and Stephen even saw a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ (Acts 7:55); baptism was essential for salvation and one was baptized before receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-39); the structure of the church had one chief apostle or prophet, which was Peter and then twelve apostles were essential (Acts 1: 15-26).  For more information on what was found in the original church, see “17 Points of the true Church.”

The good news is that the original Church of Jesus Christ has been restored again.  I invite this person to view the restored Church of Jesus Christ’s websites and to pray for guideance from the Holy Spirit as to whether this church is the true church.  I promise that if his approach is sincere with a desire to follow the Savior, he will know through the Holy Ghost that this church is indeed the restored Church of Jesus Christ.   

From personal experience as a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, I can testify to my fellow friend of another faith that this is indeed the restored original church of Jesus Christ.  I’ve seen many miracles and felt overwhelming feelings of joy and love while serving others in this church.  This church is what he is looking for if he’s seeking an organization that is the same that existed in the original church.  If he approaches the investigation with faith and nothing wavering he will receive a confirmation that this is the true church. 

I thought this was an interesting map.  It’s a map of where the majority of major christian churches in America are found.  Check it out here.

In the movie “End of the Spear,” christian missionaries are led by the Holy Spirit to a indiginous people in South America.  The people have a distorted concept of God and the sanctity of life.  Ultimately many of the missionaries end up sacrificing their lives in order to bring the message to this indiginous people. 

The scriptures also contain many accounts of people sacrificing their time, talents, and in many instances their lives in order to bring salvation to people.  Prophets in the Bible include: Paul, Stephen, Christ’s disciples, Jeremiah, and of course Jesus who was not just a prophet, but the Savior of the world.  Book of Mormon prophets who sacrifice include: Lehi, Alma, Abinadi, and also many more.  Of the Latter-Day Saint prophets, Joseph Smith is definitely the most recognized as sacrificing all he had for the Lord’s kingdom.  When ridiculed he wouldn’t renounce his testimony for he knew he’d seen a vision and God knew he’d seen a vision and he dared not deny it.  He was persecuted and eventually killed as a result.  Millions of other Latter-Day Saints and also Christian members of other faiths around the world today have felt the love of Jesus in their hearts and have sacrificed their time, talents, and even their lives.

What is it that moves us to action?  Why sacrifice so much for people that we don’t know in many instances?  Those of who have been moved by the Holy Spirit…in other words, born again, understand why.  Once we’ve tasted of the love of the Lord and been born again, we are willing to try to do everything we can to help the Lord and do His will. 

My message is for those who have been or want to be born again and want to continue on by building a solid foundation on Jesus that will weather any storm that may come. 

One of my favorite scriptures on building a foundation on the Lord is in Helaman 5:12.  It reads:

And now, my sons, 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.

We all have “mighty storms” that beat upon us and all of our experiences are different.  Sickness, depression, fears, trying to make ends meet, the list goes on and on.  The LDS priesthood manual offers 7 suggestions to help us build, strengthen, and maintain our foundation on Jesus.  These include:

1. Seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost

2. Partake of the Sacrament (Communion)

3. Pray and fast

4. Keep the Commandments

5. Study the scriptures

6. Follow the living prophet

7. Love and serve the Lord

Three additional ways that I use to strengthen my relationship with Jesus include:

8. Attend the Lord’s house (the temple)

9. Pay tithing and fast offerings

10. Share my testimony with others

I will be sharing more thoughts on each of these ways that have helped me build and maintain a strong foundation on Jesus in future posts.  I, like many of you, feel I have made a lot of progress and at times feel my foundation is sure and steady.  Many other times I’ve felt the whirlwinds of Satan hit the foundation and I’ve had to start rebuilding again. 

Many times I notice that opportunities to build my foundation are little by little on a daily basis just by doing simple things to help others, telling someone who’s down about God and prayer, praying for others, telling the truth and being honest in dealings with employers and friends, and focusing on being positive about myself and others.  My hope is that my foundation will be strong enough to be a witness for the Lord in every event just as the missionaries in the movie and the prophets mentioned. 

In conclusion, I pose some questions:

1. Has building a foundation on Jesus helped you?  If so, how has it helped you?

2. What do you do or have you done to build and maintain a firm foundation on Jesus? 

3. What does it mean to you to have a foundation built on Jesus?   

One of my friends recently posted this comment about God:

I also lived in fear of somehow distressing him (God) so much that I wouldn’t make my way into the highest of kingdoms and that I’d be a disappointment to him and all those around me. Every time I committed even the “slightest sin”, it made me depressed.

To be honest, I’ve felt this way before too and I don’t blame my friend one bit for feeling this way.  I’ve felt like I was a disappointment to God because of my many sins and weaknesses.  I believe that when we try to perfect ourselves and measure up to all of God’s commandments and try on our own without relying on the merits and mercy of Jesus we will all feel overwhelmed just as my friend and I have both felt. 

Brother Jeff Dance gave an excellent talk today and I am going to share his thoughts from the talk he gave today in church on Believing Christ.  Below is the outline from his talk:

BELIEVING CHRIST, JANUARY 12, 2008, Jeffrey Dance

My absolute favorite passage of scripture is found in 2nd Nephi Chapter 4.  It is one of the most emotional parts of the Book of Mormon; There are 7 exclamation points in this chapter that highlight Nephi’s emotions.  Nephi explains his problem and struggle w/ his errors, hints at the cause and indicates the solution.  

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;

   Is Nephi down on himself?  In my opinion, here is a prophet feeling a overwhelmed because of his imperfections.  How many of us can say or feel the same thing as Nephi?

    But here is the very quick switch that comes from Believing Christ: 19 cont’d… nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. 26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? 27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? 28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.    Why should I be so hard on myself if I have the Savior?  Stop letting Satan get you down.  He continues 

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.  PROBLEM: Its easy to get down on yourself.  Satan loves that — wants you to be miserable from the largest to smallest of sinsLIKELY CAUSE: Trusting in your own arm of flesh SOLUTION: When you get down on yourself, trust in Christ to alleviate your burden and perfect yourself in him

BENEFITS: If you truly believe, you will not only find peace, but also love and joy

PROBLEM:  Given our imperfections, Its easy to get down on yourself.   

   We are people always striving for progression and perfection.  Matthew 5:48 - “to be ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”, a scripture referenced often by us all.  Its quite a demand we place on ourselves, trying to fast forward an eternal process. Unfortunately, we are never going to be perfect in this life.  If you were perfect, you would be unimprovable.  We can’t demand that of ourselves, our leaders, of our spouse, of our parents and yet we so often do.   

It can be a never ending spiral, the better we become, the more evil we realize we really are.  Jesus, being perfect, “knew all evil.”  You just end up working on smaller things.  Alone, in this quest for perfection, we never find rest for our souls, rather a constant recognition of faults and to dos.

We all try to do so much: getting an education, perform in our career, stay in shape, have and nurture children, giving service, leading organizations, leading families, homemaking, cooking, callings, home teaching, cleaning, temple attendance, missionary work, geneology…the list goes on

With all good works we pursue, we often feel we are never good enough because we all fall short somewhere, and many of us beat ourselves up over it with every little mistake and every little omission.

 Satan wants that: “ … he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” 

CAUSE: Trusting in our own arm

Despite our worthy efforts, our feeling of unworthiness comes from putting our trust in our own arm of flesh

   Nephi recognizes his own fault: “I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh”

   Stephen Robinson emphasizes in Believing Christ, many of us put out trust in our arm of flesh and try to work out our salvation by ourselves.  And that we don’t really believe we will be saved. 

   In our attempts to be our own Savior, we put ourselves against the demands of justice as we face a perfect God. 

The Scritpures suggest clearly that Christ alone has the saving power: 

   Mosiah says “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, Mosiah 3:14  [ That includes yourself ]

Doing it ourselves is futile because you alone will never be good enough  

No matter how hard you work, you will never be good enough alone.  

In 2 Nephi it says, unto none else can the ends of the law be answered…that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.  [ 2 Nephi 2: 6-10 ] 

Think about it — Adam and Eve–they were booted from the Garden for 1 transgression (not even a sin), imagine how we would feel standing in front of God.  To get an idea, the prophet Moses shrank in the presence of the Lord.  Peter, after his error, plead with the Savior to depart from him. 

 These were all holy people.  How will we react in the presence of God?

   …We cannot be in the presence of God.  But do we put ourselves up to his perfection? without the Savior?  That can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed

We so desperately need an advocate, a mediator, a physician, a healer, a comforter, a savior

SOLUTION: When you do get down in the dumps, turn to Christ, trust in him, and focus on perfecting your relationships in him rather than perfecting yourself 

   Someone recently shared this story and insight:  It was asked of the congregation  if they knew of the people in the audience who would be saved?  Almost all hands went up.  Then it was asked of them if they think they would be saved, to raise their hand.  No one raised their hand. 

Perfecting our relationship in Christ is like that of any other–it requires time… as we learn of him, study the scriptures, and follow him, but it starts with believing all that he has promised.     

 Christ himself says in John: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (Jn. 6:47) 

   First principle of the gospel is faith in the lord Jesus Christ

   We know that true faith requires action (that faith without works is dead), but it is not perfection.  

   Faith is also a hope of salvation for you:

Moroni tell us: “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?  and he asks us:  …And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. [ Moroni 7:41 ]  

Brother Millet, from the CES, gave a talk at our Stake Center, where he said “Hope is the expectation, anticipation, and assurance of salvation, not wishing.” 

Holy Ghost is the comforter of assured salvation.  If we feel the spirit in our lives, we are on the right path…that does not mean its a perfect path.   

   Placing your trust in him means believing all that he has promised–that he will save you. 

   It takes such a burden off of us and become so  much easier to trust in the perfect one rather than the imperfect one. 

   Perhaps we need to supplicate like the father in the gospel of Mark, who said  “I Believe, help thou my unbelief…

   Once we have a relationship with Christ, we should feel the atonement, where Christ is part of us.

   Gal. 2: 20….Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 

   Jesus said: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me”. [ John 17: 23 ] 

   Perfecting our relationship with Christ will enable us to be perfect in front of God together, not alone. 

BENEFIT: If you truly believe, you will find rest, peace,joy,and love in this life

Given our troubles [ and our getting down on ourselves ] , Christ invites us personally to recieve of rest, peace, and partake in his healing power

   In Mathew   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  [ Matt. 11: 29 ]

   In John, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  [John 14: 27 ]

In Isaiah, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. [  Isaiah 1: 18: ]

   But do we partake of his salvation when we partake of the sacrament…when we promise to remember all that he did for us.

A Baptist minister once said emphasized the eternal and present nature of salvation.

   I have been saved from sin through a dying Savior  

   I have been saved by a living Savior from my sin right now

   I will be saved from sin by a coming Savior.

   If we do believe him and establish a relationship with him, these scriptures further suggest the benefits from doing so:  

   1 Pet. 1: 8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 

   2 Tim. 1: 7: …God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

   Eph. 3: 17: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love

And to finish off my talk, I pose a question to us all:  Do you believe Christ — do you really believe him?  Do you really believe you will be saved?  If not, we are missing out on a lot of peace, happiness, and joy. 

   We can experience happiness now.  We can feel of his love now.  We can partake of his salvation now.  We can if we believe and come unto him.  This is a plan of salvation, not a plan of perfection.  I have a personal testimony of the transforming and healing power of the Savior…from absolutely hating yourself to finding confidence and comfort through HIM.

I feel that Jeff’s talk addresses exactly why one might get down and hard on oneself.  Another brother today in church read the excerpt from our sacrament prayer that we as Latter-Day Saints hear every Sunday during sacrament (communion).  We covenant to be willing to take the name of Christ on us.  (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77)  This means that we need to be perfect in our desires to become one with the Savior.   

One last thought I might add is in 2 Nephi 31:20 it states:

…ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and of love of God and all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father, ye shall have eternal life.”

Pressing forward is progression…not perfection.  Having hope isn’t perfection…it’s hoping for it.  Enduring to the end is being patient and kind to first ourselves and our own imperfections and also to each other.  Having love of God and all men includes loving ourselves and allowing ourselves to make mistakes knowing that as long as we’re pressing forward…progressing…that Jesus will make up the difference and we won’t feel depressed.

I’m comforted to know that the Savior doesn’t expect me to be perfect all by myself in this life.  I’ll never be able to do that and when I try I get overwhelmed much like my friend did.  I’m grateful to know that I can turn to Jesus as Nephi did and receive peace and rest and hope of salvation.  I hope this post helps those who read it in perfecting their  relationship with Jesus.

In one of my recent posts, I said it was a law that God would answer our prayers.  I was wrong….he’ll answer our prayers if we are keeping the commandments.  Here’s proof: John 15:10 “if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…” and John 15:7 “if ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.”

Furthermore, it is important to keep the commandments because if we “keep not the commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with us and we’ll walk in darkness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 95:12).  Therefore, if we are keeping the commandments God is bound by his promise to answer our prayers.

I was reading an article in the Ensign today and a reader posed a question about prayer.  Here is the question:

I have always been taught to pray, but often I don’t seem to get answers.  I have faith and think I’m worthy.  What should I do?

It appears that this person is trying to keep the commandments and believes that they will receive an answer to their prayers, but either isn’t receiving an answer to their prayers or they are not recognizing the answer to their prayers.

How would you respond to this person?  How do you receive answers to your prayers and how do you recognize the answers are from God?  What would you suggest this person should do to receive an answer or recognize an answer to their prayers?

Leave your comments below…

Recently I posted a blog on why I believe in God.  Many of you emailed me directly and a couple of you left responses.  This blog is written in response to a comment left by someone on my blog who says he doesn’t believe in God.  I appreciate him getting in touch with me and sharing his perspective with me.  It caused me to reflect on my beliefs.  Here were the comments left on my page:

“…after careful consideration, pondering, reading, rationale, et. al, I’ve come to the conclusion  that there isn’t a god.  And because I don’t believe in a god, I only have to live for myself and those that I love.  And I mustn’t fear death, for I also don’t believe in hell.  It’s a wonderful way to live life.  It makes me very happy.”

First off, I commend this person for sharing their views.  Although many of his views are not aligned with mine, one of them is.  The view that he loves those around him and loves himself.  This I find to be very positive and there are many (including myself) that need to work on further developing the trait of loving and respecting oneself as well as his friends and family.    

Next, I would like to offer some suggestions to my friend just in case my friend ever has a faint desire to learn if there is indeed a God and how to find out. 

I would like to address a few laws that I know to be true.  In Doctorine and Covenants 130:20 it states that when we keep the commandments of God, he is bound to bless us.  It is a law and with every blessing there is a law attached to it.  What are some laws of Heaven?  Some examples include: Faith, Prayer, Tithing, Fasting, all of the commandments basically.  For purposes of addressing the topic on hand, I would like to focus on the laws attached to faith and prayer.

The Law of Faith

In my opinion, the most beautiful and simple explanation of how to excersize faith is in Alma chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon.  If my atheist friend even has the faintest desire to find out if there is a God, I recommend a careful study of this chapter.  It outlines step by step how to excersize faith.  Here are the steps:

1. Develop Humility (Alma 32 verses 12-16)

2. Desire to believe (verse 27)

3. Experiment upon the word (verse 27)

4. Hold on to truth…nourish the “seed” through prayer (verse 37)

5. Patience (verse 42)

6. Diligence (verse 42)

7. Recieve reward of Faith (verse 43)

If faith is a law, then god is bound to bless us with knowledge if we follow these steps.  He only blesses us with knowledge and miracles according to our faith. ( 2 Nephi 27: 23; 2 Nephi 26:13) Alma compares faith to a seed that if planted in our hearts will grow into a tree of knowledge if we are patient and nourish the seed by reading and studying and believing.  If we do not practice these steps then God can not bless us according to the laws of nature as seen when Jesus couldn’t perform miracles in the Bible because of lack of faith.  (see Matthew 13:58 and 3 Nephi 19: 35

However, numerous examples are contained in the scriptures of the miracles that are able to be perfomed because of following the prescribed steps of faith.  Some examples are: the miracles of Paul in the bible (Acts 19:11); numerous examples of healings in the scriptures; and people receiving a testimony or witness of the spirit according to their faith.  There are thousands of other examples in the scriptures that witness of miracles as well. 

It appears that my atheist friend was almost ready to recieve an answer or witness that there is a God.  He completed the steps of having a desire to know, and reading and studying.  I’m not sure if this studying was done in humility.  I’m not the one to judge, but if it was done in humility and he still didn’t recieve a witness then it was because he didn’t practice the law of prayer.

The Law of Prayer

In the scriptures it states: “All things ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall recieve” (Matthew 21: 22)  This is a law.  God promised he would do this and I testify from personal experience that he will.  Examples of people recieving a witness that there is a God by praying include Enos in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith when praying to find out which church he should join, and other examples throughout the scriptures. 

My atheist friend also commented on my experience I posted about praying to know if the Book of Mormon was true that there is no way that I could have had this experience and that it was something I had imagined up.  This story reminds me of an anti-christ in the Book of Mormon named Zeezrom who challenged Jacob, a prophet of the time. 

In closing and in response to my atheist friend, I want to tell you that I have tried the experiment on the words of God.  I know that the law of faith and the law of prayer works.  I know that I have felt God in ways that I can’t describe and that one can’t understand unless they have experienced them.  I feel like Joseph Smith in a small sense that the experiences I’ve had I know are from God and I can’t deny them.  If I were to deny that God has sent me His Spirit to testify that Jesus is our Savior, the scriptures including the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true, and that He (God) actually exists; I would be lying to God and myself.  This I will not do.

I invite my friend to try this experiement with humility and faith.  If you have the desire and patience I testify to you that you will recieve a witness.

If anyone reading this has similar experiences to share or ideas to help my atheist friend, feel free to contribute in your comments.

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