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This scripture is in 1 Nephi 2:16:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

Just a little preface for those who may not be familiar with this scripture.  Nephi’s father, Lehi had just had a vision that was difficult for his family to understand.  In this example, Nephi turns to the Lord rather than to science, other men, etc. to learn the Lord’s mysteries.  As a result, the Lord visits him and softens his heart.  This experience serves as a building block for the rest of Nephi’s life as one reads through the Book of Nephi and sees how strong Nephi is in the Lord throughout his life.

As I read over this again this morning I thought about my own life.  What are the “mysteries” that I’ve experienced and what are some that I’ve seen others struggle with?  Examples include: is there a God? Which church is true? Is the Book of Mormon true?  The Bible? Why am I sick? What job should I take? Who should I marry? What school should I go to? Why do we have temples and what is the meaning of what we do in temples? How can I experience God’s love?  How can I love my enemy? How can I trust in something I can’t see (Jesus, God, etc.)? Why did I lose my job? Why don’t I feel happy?

I could go on, but the point is that “mysteries” to me are basically anything we don’t understand (which is about 99% of life!).  Since there are so many things in life that are incomprehensible, that makes it even more important to turn to the Lord. 

In the very next verse (1 Nephi 2:17) Nephi describes how we can know the mysteries of God, which is through the power of the Holy Ghost.  Other scriptures state that the Holy Ghost will “teach us all things,” and by the power of the Holy Ghost we’ll “know the truth of all things.”

Receiving an answer and recognizing the answer from the Lord through the Holy Ghost may not come all at once.  It didn’t for Nephi, but eventually the Lord visited him and said in 1 Nephi 2:19:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. 
 

Notice that the Lord didn’t simply give Nephi an answer, but it was because Nephi was:

1. Humble (i.e. didn’t rely on the philosophies of men and science but relied on the Lord)

2. Never gave up (he didn’t just ask once and call it good and then blame the Lord for not answering.  He diligently sought)

3. He had faith (he believed the Lord would answer him)

I encourage all of us to follow Nephi’s pattern when we have a question or do not understand something whether it be gospel or spiritually related or something else in our lives such as our children, job, friends, spouse, or anything else. 

One thing I’d like to add in conclusion.  Although we can apply this formula to virtually any question we have in our lives, these scriptures are specifically referring to the “mysteries of God.”  People ask questions such as “Was Joseph Smith really a Prophet?” “Is the Book of Mormon a true Book?” “Did Jesus really exist and atone for the sins of the world?” “Is there a God?” “How do I recognize answers to prayer?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”

Whatever questions we are asking ourselves, I hope we can apply these principles in our lives and turn to the Lord rather than man or science.  I don’t know much about God’s mysteries and many of life’s mysteries, but the little I do know has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit when I follow this pattern to know the mysteries of God. 

One of the most prevelant gifts of the Spirit is that of speaking in tongues.  In the LDS Topical Guide under the topic “Holy Ghost, Gifts of,” one of the most, if not the most prevelant gift of the Spirit discussed is that of speaking in tongues.  I counted seven scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price that talk about speaking in tongues in the Topical Guide. 

Reading these scriptures (especially the one in 2 Nephi 31:13 that talks about speaking with the “tongue of angels”) reminded me of a talk given in General Conference last year by Jeffery Holland called “The Tongue of Angels.”  I love this talk and I recommend reading it.  As I read it again today, this small section of his talk impressed me:

“In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.”

I have struggled at times in my life with negative thinking about myself and have found that when I have negative thoughts about myself it trickles into other areas of my life such as negative thoughts about others, society, God, my family, the church, other churches, work, God, etc…and pretty soon I’m looking at everything in a negative and depressed state.  I want to share with anyone who may be able to benefit from this and may be struggling with negativity in their lives.  The following things have helped me (and continue to help me) overcome negativity:

1. Remember what it felt like when I was positive.

      For me, this is the first step…much like Alma’s talk in Alma 32 about having a desire to believe.  I must have a desire to become more positive and remembering what it felt like being positive helps me. 

2. Trace my thoughts back to where I first started thinking negatively.

       Most of us have heard the Proverb “as he (or she) thinketh so is he (or she)”.   I’ve found that many of my problems can be traced back to negative thoughts about myself and others.  Thoughts (negative and positive) are like seeds and they’ll grow.  This can be good if it is a positive thought, but if it’s a negative thought we’ll want to catch them before they grow too big.  If I think a negative thought about something or someone long enough eventually I’ll act on it either by something I’ll say or do.  If I feel down or if I’m saying things or doing things in a negative way, I’ve found that most of the time I can trace my actions back to a negative thought. 

3. Once I’ve identified the negative thought, replace it with a positive thought or something else uplifting

      About a year ago, I was having some problems with negative thoughts.  One of my friends suggested some cds by James Cox called “Becoming Spiritually Centered.”  I HIGHLY recommend these to anyone who may be struggling with depressive or negative thoughts.  Listening to these and applying the lessons has greatly helped me.  I found that when I traced my thoughts back to an original negative thought and then identified something to replace it with when it popped in my head again, I was able to gradually over time become a more positive thinker. 

4. Keep a journal

    This is kind of in conjunction with number 2, but for me, it is very helpful to get all the negative thoughts out into a journal.  Once they’re all out there I can then identify ways to combat the negative thoughts.

5. Pray for strength

   I want you to know that God will answer your prayers and help you.  I’m very grateful for this in my life. 

6. Talk with good friends, family, and spouse

   If I’m struggling, I’ve found that talking with friends, family and spouse is very helpful.  Rather than hiding things and trying to cover them up.  If they (family and friends) know you struggle with negativity I’ve found they’re more likely to help and it’s good to have support.

7. Avoid Comparing myself to others

    When I’m feeling down if I compare myself to other people who seem to never be down, I get even more frustrated and hard on myself.  Comparing myself to myself and my own personal goals are essential to progressing in a more positive course. 

8. Always keep trying

   Overcoming negativity/depressive thoughts can be a difficult thing.  It takes time and effort.  I’ve found that patience and practice makes perfect…well, I’m not perfect, but you get the idea : )

It has been my experience that as I’ve learned to control my negative thoughts I become more receptive to the Holy Ghost.  As I open myself up to more positive thinking and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, I find my words and thoughts about myself, others, and the world around me are closer to what Elder Holland and other prophets are referring to by “speaking with the tongue of angels.”

I know this is somewhat of a personal topic, but if you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on what has helped you overcome negativity and be able to have better dialogue with yourself and others, I think there are many people who could benefit from this.  If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, I hope this helps you and you can share this with others.

A few months back I was in stake conference and someone gave a talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost.  In the talk, the person shared parts of a talk by Truman G Madsen, where he lists 20 questions to ask yourself in order to identify if you’ve felt the power and gift of the Holy Ghost.  I tried to write most of them down, but may be missing them.  In addition, I have had a hard time coming across the Madsen talk, so if you have more information that would be great!

20 Questions

1. Have you ever had the Spirit overwhelm you with gratitude?

2. Have you ever spoken beyond your means?

3. Have you ever given a talk and had people say “you said exactly what I needed to hear”?

4. Have you ever been filled with “liquid fire” in response to prayer?

5. Have you ever been given words to pray?

6. Have you known you’d be called upon to pray or serve in a particular calling?

7. Have you been prompted to share your testimony, or witness of the gospel?

8. Have you felt the overwhelming sense of peace that comes from the Spirit?

9. Have you ever given a blessing or received a blessing you needed?

10. Have you ever been healed by a blessing?

11. Have you had the experience of having the veil thin?

12. Have you been in the temple and the “flood gates open” and light pours into you?

13. Have you had experience knowing there were angels in the temple?

14. Have you had the experience where scriptures seem to “leap off the page” and give you answers?

15. Have you been lead to find names in family history to do geneology and temple work?

16. Have you ever had flashes of insight, or “pure knowledge”?

17. Have you ever sat in sacrament and felt wounds lifted from your soul?

18. Have you ever felt changed from partaking of the sacrament?

19. Have you felt changed from the atonement?

20. (I missed the last one)

Madsen then goes on to explain that when we have these experiences it is when we’re either serving someone else in our family or community, praying, and reading our scriptures…basically doing what it takes to receive a witness.  He suggests it requires softness of heart, meekness, humility, and lowliness of heart.

I agree with many of these statements in that I’ve had amazing spiritual experiences in the temple, during prayer, in sacrament, and while giving and receiving blessings. 

However, my question I pose is whether one necessarily needs the gift of the Holy Ghost (meaning having received the laying on of hands after baptism) to experience these things, or if anyone can experience these things?  For most of my life, I’ve been an active member of the LDS church and don’t really know what it may be like for those who don’t recieve the laying on of hands.  I’d be interested to hear from everyone, but especially those who have been baptized members of the LDS church and recieved the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Did you experience an added measure of the spirit after receiving the laying on of hands and what are your thoughts on these 20 questions?  Did you, or could you experience this w/o having the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost?

I’ve been reading Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon most recently.  Today I read in the “Hebraisms and other Peculiarities” chapter a section on a poetic form called “climax” (which means “ladder” in Greek), which was discovered in 1898 by a biblical scholar.  The definition of this poetic form is described as follows: “Climax occurs when the same word or words found at the end of one clause are repeated at or near the beginning of the next clause.” (Echoes, pg 166)

 The book then shares some examples of climaxes found in the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon.  I thought the one found in Moroni 8:25-26 was beautiful and wanted to share it.  I will break it down as it is broken down in the book to emphasize the use of climax:

And the first fruits of repentance is

baptism; and

baptism cometh by faith unto

the fulfilling the commandments; and

the fulfilling the commandments bringeth

remission of sins; And the

remission of sins bringeth

meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of

meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the

Holy Ghost, which

Comforter filleth with hope and perfect

love, which

love endureth by diligence unto prayer,

until the end shall come, when all Saints shall well with God.

If I hadn’t read about this poetic form, I would have read right over it and missed great symbolic purpose.  I think it’s awesome to see how this is like a ladder, or climax in that each step builds on the other and at the top of the ladder is love, which is the greatest commandment.  Even better, it doesn’t just stop there.  The verses tell us how we can maintain our love and the result (dwelling with God) if we are diligent in keeping love in our hearts.

What are your thoughts as you read this?  Also, do you know of any other examples in the scriptures where this poetic form is used?

Last Sunday I was over at my inlaw’s house and watched a good little John Bytheway DVD called “Standards Night Live.”  I really don’t know much about John Bytheway except for his fun, but corny songs about being a Mormon and missionary, etc.  However, I really enjoyed this DVD and something he said in it has caused me to reflect all week.  

He discussed the famous and important scripture in Ephesians 6  about putting on the full armor of God.  He also mentions that of the things Paul suggests to have in defending against Satan, there is only one item suggested to use as an offensive weapon and that is the sword.  In Ephesians, Paul says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God .  John Bytheway goes on to discuss the tactics of Satan are to get us into situations where we loose the Spirit so we won’t have any offensive weapon against Satan. 

As I have pondered this, I’ve thought of a few things.  First, I thought it was interesting how Paul describes the Spirit (word of God) as a sword and I thought of other scriptures that have this imagery.  Next, I contemplated instances in my life when I have “let my sword down” and wondered what I could have done differently.  Finally, I wondered about how one can recognize the Spirit and have it return once it is gone.  I will share my thoughts on each of these areas.

The Spirit (Word of God) is as a Sword

Some scriptures that come to my mind that have the imagery of the Spirit being as a sword include:

Acts 2:37: “Now when they heard this, they were apricked in their bheart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, cwhat shall we do?”

Hebrews 4:12: “For the aword of God is bquick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged csword, dpiercing even to the dividing asunder eof soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a fdiscerner of the gthoughts and hintents of the heart.”

Helaman 5:30: “And it came to pass when they heard this avoice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a bstill voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—”

3 Nephi 11: 3: “And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a avoice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a bsmall voice it did cpierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.

Each of these examples include similar characteristics.  I’ll highlight a few of them.  First, the Spirit (or word of God) is described as being able to pierce (or prick).  Second, each example states it doesn’t just pierce lightly, but to the soul (or heart).  The questions then arise what is the Spirit piercing and why is it important to be pierced all the way to the soul?  We could go into many details just on these two questions, but some of the thoughts I have on this include the Spirit is piercing through the pride, passions, prejudices, “hardness of heart,” and sin of the natural man.  Some people call this “being born again” or “putting off the natural man.” It is important to pierce us to the soul because if it just touches our physical senses or our mind it won’t leave as lasting of an impression on us.  As seen in following verses in Acts 2, the Spirit touches their souls and they feel moved to action by being baptized.  In our own lives, once we feel the Spirit, I feel it is prompting us to action as well…maybe visit a friend, or help a family member.  In my experience it has always been to do something good. 

Another similarity in three of the four examples is the fact that many of the people don’t even realize they are feeling the Spirit and when they do, they don’t know what to do.  This also is a whole other discussion, but I simply want to point out that it is important to be able to recognize the Spirit.  I know many times in my life I haven’t recognized the Spirit because I’ve been too busy or prideful to listen.  If we humble ourselves and quiet our own spirits as these people did, we will not only feel the Spirit, but recognize it as well.  This is crucial in our spiritual development.

Letting our Sword Down

Most recently, I posted on Steps to Avoiding Apostacy, which in my mind are steps to avoid loosing the Spirit.  I feel that all of us are in a “state of apostacy” so to speak in that we all sin and come short of God’s glory.  If we work on these steps we can continuously feel closer to God’s Spirit and keep our swords up.  It is important to note that we will always come short of the glory of God and that it is through His mercy that we are able to be granted the Spirit.  It is our duty to do everything we can through the knowledge we’ve been given to keep the commandments and stay close to the Lord.   

The scriptures say that if we “withdraw ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord” we are left to our own devices and led by the “evil one” because God doesn’t dwell in “unholy temples” (Mosiah 2: 36-37).  Further scripture states the Spirit withdraws when we try to cover our sins and not confess them, become prideful, and harden our hearts

The scriptures show many examples of people who both let their sword down and who kept the sword up.  The consequences are like night and day.  Examples off the top of my head for those who let their sword down include: King David, Solomon, Sampson, the Saducees and Pharisees, and there are many others.  Those who kept the sword up include: Joseph (coat of many colors), Paul, Stephen, and Jesus.

If we were to compare each of these examples, again it is like night and day.  Joseph kept the sword of the spirit up and denied Potiphar’s wife.  He became more confident in the Lord and eventually a great ruler.  David and Solomon both let the sword down and led lives led lives contrary to the Lord.  David was very repentant, but could have avoided much heartache had he kept his sword up.  The Saducees and Pharisees are very good examples for those of us who profess belief in God and the scriptures.  They were so focused on the word of God and the letter of the law that when the new law came through Jesus they didn’t recognize it and crucified the very One whom they had been waiting for.  This again is another topic, but how often do we get too focused on something other than the Lord and/or put ourselves in a situation to loose the Spirit and therefore “crucify the Lord afresh” as stated in Hebrews.  

As I contemplate my own life and wonder what I could have done differently to keep the Spirit in my life, I firmly believe turning to the Savior’s example is the best way.

For instance, when I feel tempted to do something I know is wrong rather than “tarrying” like David did and contemplating the sin and rationalizing it, whatever the sin is or however big or small it is, if I simply say “get behind me Satan,” like Jesus did I will be much better off.  When people tried to logically prove things or twist Christ’s words in many instances, he kept silent in quiet dignity rather than try to prove his point or why He was right.  He remained humble, prayerful, grateful, and was a perfect example of what we need to do to keep the Spirit. 

However, we’re not perfect and we’re going to let our swords down at some point.  This means we need to know what to do in order to get the sword back up.

Getting the Sword back Up

Obviously since the “sword of the Spirit is the Word of God,” it is imperative to “get into” the Word of God in order to receive the spirit.  However, it’s a catch 22 because if we’re reading or hearing the word of God without the Spirit, we won’t recognize it.  I feel there are a few steps involved in getting our swords back up.  First, we need to recognize the Spirit is gone.  Secondly, we need to relax and put ourselves into a position to recieve the Spirit.  Third we need to repent.  Finally, we need to make efforts to put our guard back up. 

What did people in the scriptures do to get the Spirit back?  I mentioned King David as one who fell away, but he returned again to the Lord.  He recognized his sin and became very humble and contrite for the rest of his days.  He relaxed and invited the Spirit of the Lord when he wrote many Psalms unto the Lord and prayed.  When praying, he repented of his ways and made effort to not commit the same mistake again, which he didn’t. 

Another example is the anti-christ, Zeezrom in the Book of Mormon.  He was deceived and openly rebelled against the people of the Lord.  However, when he opened his heart and allowed the Spirit to penetrate his heart, he was able to get the sword back up and he preached repentance the rest of his life.  Other examples in the scriptures that are similar to this include the sons of Mosiah, Alma the younger, and Saul (Paul) in the Bible. 

Some things I do to get the Spirit back into my life once I realize it’s gone include: prayer, scripture study, go to the temple, visit nature, listen to music, write music, serve others, and think of things I’m grateful for.  Once I’ve recieved the Spirit, I note what I did to lose the Spirit and make plans as to how to avoid the situation again.

In conclusion, I hope these things I’ve learned and contemplated help whoever comes across them.  If you know of additional scriptures or experiences of people in the scriptures, your own personal life, or other stories, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you do to maintain the sword of the Spirit in your life.

03-07-08  Recently this post was posted on the postmormon.com website and I have received many comments from former members who are eager to debate doctrine.  My intention with this post was not to debate whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or the LDS church is true/false, etc.  Any comments made that are not uplifting or off-topic will be deleted.  If your intentions lead to off-topic discussions you are invited to go to another forum. Here is the original post:

I was on vacation a couple years ago in Hawaii and there was an interesting lesson on how to strengthen against apostasy.  I jotted down the 9 steps to strenthen against apostasy and put them in my scriptures.  This morning I came across them again and thought I’d share. 

Personally, I feel apostasy is distancing myself from the Lord and His teachings and truths that he has revealed to me about His gospel and teachings.  Each one of us have had different things revealed to us and it is up to us to keep searching and growing in light and truth.  When we stop searching by praying, studying scriptures, serving, etc. we are taking steps towards apostasy.  Following these suggestions can help us maintain the Holy Ghost and help us endure to the end.

Strengthening Against Apostasy

1.) Avoid those who would tear down your faith

2.) Keep the commandments

3.) Follow the living prophets

4.) Don’t debate points of doctrine (3Nephi 11:28)

5.) Search the scriptures

6.) Don’t be swayed from the mission of the church

7.) Pray for enemies

8.) Practice pure religion (James 1:27)

9.) Remember not everything has an immediate answer

 

As I look over these steps, I see things I can definitely improve on.  Questions to consider are: how do I react when someone from another faith comes on my blog and shares their experiences and even attacks me?  Do I pray for them or do I try to argue points of doctrine with them?  How am I doing with studying the scriptures?  Am I practicing pure religion as James describes it by visiting the homeless and the widows?  Am I impatient when I pray and demand an immediate answer?  Do I follow our modern day prophets or do I scoff at them? 

These are important things to consider.  I know the closer I am to the Lord and His Spirit, the happier I feel.  I hope we can all ponder these questions and be thankful if we’re on the right track and if we’re not, make some changes to get back on track.

The other day, my wife asked me, “Can you teach my Sunday School class this Sunday?”  She was out of town and there wasn’t a substitute for the 14-15 year old class she teaches.  I told her (reluctantly at first) that I would then asked “what’s the lesson on?”  She said “Isaiah.”  My desire to teach dropped like a rock in water.  Isaiah?  How am I supposed to teach something I have no concept about?  I have been avoiding Isaiah for years.  Sure, I know he has some great poetic verses about the Savior, but to teach?  I started back-pedaling and asking her if there was someone else who could teach instead or if we could combine her class with someone elses.  She has a good, soft heart for the kids she teaches and she told me she didn’t want them to have to be combined into a room with others.  She felt they needed and deserved a personal teacher who would give them the best treatment.  I told her I’d find someone for her. 

After we finished chatting I looked at the names of people who could substitute for her.  I was about ready to call a substitute but I realized the love she has for these kids and the effort she puts into her lessons.  As I thought of this, I realized that no one else would be able to simulate in a sense what she does except for me, as I watch her and hear her stories of each of them.  I at least wanted to show up to the class and let them know of the love she has for them.  I decided to put the phone down and call on the Good Lord for help instead.  I was going to give the lesson.

I shouldn’t have been suprised to get an answer to prayer so quickly, but not long after I prayed I received an email in my inbox from Meridian Magazine.  There was an article by John Bytheway headlining the magazine called “Leafing through the Chapters of Isaiah” (I encourage anyone interested in familiarizing themselves with Isaiah to read this article in conjuction with Isaiah).  I clicked on it and started reading and the first paragraph started describing how I felt as I thought of teaching Isaiah.  However, after reading the article and studying the “Isaiah Chapters” of the Book of Mormon, I started getting excited to teach the class.  The article discusses the four guides to look for in any of Isaiah’s writings as being those of Covenants, Christ, Current Events, and Coming Events.  In addition, it discusses some keys (spirit of prophecy, geographical knowledge of Jews, living in latter-days, knowledge of God’s judgements) needed to interpret Isaiah.  As I started reading the chapters with the guide and keys I started finding things in Isaiah I’ve never been able to comprehend or appreciate. 

I only studied for a few hours, so I barely was able to scratch the surface of Isaiah.  However, some things that stuck out to me were: prophesies of temples, the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see also Isaiah 11), Isaiah’s call as a prophet from the voice of the Lord, descriptions of the Millenium, Jesus’ personal approval of Isaiah, and much more. 

As I went to church, I pictured in my mind teaching the kids the best I could and taking care of them like my wife (and of course the Lord) wanted them to be taken care of.  However, the opportunity to teach didn’t come because our normally scheduled one hour meeting lasted almost 2 hours and the bishop told us we would cancel Sunday School.

Although I didn’t get to teach “Isaiah 101″, I’m grateful for the chance I had to learn and study and even if there were not many students in our church today learning about Isaiah, there was at least one student who learned something and that student was me.

For those of you reading this who may not be familiar with LDS meetings, today was what we call “Fast and Testimony Meeting.”  On the first Sunday of each month (called “Fast Sunday”) members of the faith abstain from food and water (a.k.a fast) for 24 hrs. and give the money they would have used in those meals to the needy. 

Today happened to be Fast Sunday.  One thing unique about Fast Sunday is that members of the faith have an opportunity to stand up before the congregation and share their “testimony,” or witness of their faith.  I’m not the best church historian out there so I’m not sure where this concept originated from, but I think it is there to provide the opportunity for members to learn and grow together through sharing personal experiences and sharing how the Lord works in our daily lives. 

Over the years there have been some phrases that are typically repeated over and over again each fast Sunday.  Again, I’m not familiar with where these phrases originated, but some key phrases one will be guaranteed to hear each Sunday are: “I know the Church is true,” “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” “Jesus is the Christ,” “I love my family, parents, etc.”  Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all good phrases, but many times after hearing them over and over again it can be easy to drift off and think of other things.  Plus, in my opinion, one starts to get the feeling that a person is just using these phrases sometimes as a “filler” to say something to fill the space.

Throughout the years I’ve heard members of other faiths mention how this isn’t uplifting to them.  They come to church to learn and to hear a preacher educated and trained in the ways of religion.  They do not want to take the time to go to church to hear other “uneducated” people talk about the same thing over and over again. 

I’ll have to be honest, I was having similar thoughts today as people would get up and share their life history one after the other.  I started getting a tad critical, thinking to myself “they’re not even referencing any scriptures,” or “how many times will I hear I know such and such is true,” etc.  In the beginning of the meeting, the Bishop said the meeting would go as long as necessary and so people lined up one after the other.  Normally the meeting lasts about an hour.  Today at about an hour I noticed there was still a long line.  I notice my bad attitude and said a quick prayer to help me be humbled to learn what the Lord would have me learn.

About this time a sweet little elderly lady got up and shared her experiences and her testimony.  I won’t lie.  It was a long testimony.  However, something she said caught my attention.  It was simple.  She said she had 33 grandkids and went on to describe how the Lord had led her throughout her life and how grateful she was. 

A thought then came to my mind: “Whatever the Lord touches, flourishes and lives…”  Suddenly the meeting was interesting as I thought about this concept and reflected on scriptures of the Lord touching people and healing them.  I thought of people in the scriptures who looked to Him and lived.  I thought of His ministry to both the Jews and in the Book of Mormon and how people’s lives were bless simply by Him touching them.

I looked around the chapel and saw parents lovingly helping their kids and knew the Lord was pleased.  I thought about the stories that were shared during that meeting and about how they were sharing these experiences because the Lord had touched their lives.  I then considered how He had touched my life and how blessed I’ve been because of it.  More people kept coming up and sharing experiences and I focused on the experiences they were sharing about how the Lord had touched their life and they had become more alive from it. 

Almost 2 hours after the meeting began, we had said the closing prayer and were walking out of the chapel.  I looked around at everyone there and felt in a small way what it is to be a part of the body of Christ.  Jesus touches each one of us individually in the best way for us to learn and how open we are to learning. 

Although we didn’t have an experienced and educated pastor sharing a sermon today, I feel that the Holy Spirit was able to educate me in ways I never would have considered and for that I’m grateful.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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