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parley pratt

I’m reading a great book about one of the first converts and apostles to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parley P Pratt.

For those interested in a pretty good glimpse into the early church and the challenges and miracles that took place, this is a very good read.

One of the miracles that he describes is when the Latter-day Saints had been driven out of their homes in Missouri and into Illinois.  They were destitute and left in the cold along the Mississippi River on a swampy land with no shelter.  People were getting very sick.

Here is an excerpt of one of the miracles that took place during that time:

Here many were lying sick and at the point of death.  Among these was my old friend and fellow servant, Elijah Fordham.  He was now in the last stage of a deadly fever.  He lay prostrate and nearly speechless, wit his feet poultice; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; his flesh was gone; the paleness of death was upon him; and he was hardly to be distinguished from a corpse. His wife was preparing his clothes for his burial.

Brother Joseph (the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith) took him by the hand, and in a voice and energy which would have raised the dead, he cried: “BROTHER FORDHAM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, ARISE AND WALK”!  It was a voice which could be heard from house to house…like the roaring of a lion or heavy thunderbolt.  Brother Fordham leaped from his dying bed in an instant, shook the poultices and bandages from his feet, put on his clothes so quick that none got a chance to assist him and…he walked with us from house to house visiting other sick beds…Several more were called up in a similar manner and were healed.” (pg. 355)

This story is a fairly popular story that is told and repeated about Joseph Smith.  The part that I was not familiar with that Parley Pratt writes about is this:

Brother Jospeh, while in the Spirit, rebuked the elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the pwer to heal them.  Said he: “It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power”

Joseph Smith’s quote caused me to reflect on the power of healing within the Church of Jesus Christ today.

For those of you not familiar with how Elders are instructed to heal within the Church, I’ll share some information on the procedure, purpose and process.

In the Bible, there is a scripture that discusses how people who are sick should call on the elders and they will lay hands and anoint the people so they can be healed.

Today, we are instructed to do the same thing.  We have olive oil that has been consecrated for healing the sick.  We then put a little oil on the head of the person being blessed and then as the Holy Spirit shares thoughts and impressions in our minds, we pray and bless the people who are sick.

I have witnessed miracles on occasion through blessings such as these.  For example, my little sister had a bad accident when she was 3 and my father gave her a blessing of healing and she started breathing again and was healed.

However, I hear quite frequently about how today we’ve been blessed with modern medicine and technology and that we don’t need to rely on God as much for healings.  Some people say that God caused the medicine and technology to take place so we shouldn’t bother God with a miracle unless we have to.

This makes me wonder if we are like the elders Joseph Smith talks about and rebukes and if we lack faith and rely too heavily on man instead of God.  As the Book of Mormon states, when faith is lacking, God can not do miracles.  Perhaps we don’t see as many miracles such as the one described because we lack faith.

What are your thoughts?

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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.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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