Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Be Not Ashamed

Romans 1:16 reads "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."  Why is it so hard to talk about Christ with other people? Are we actually ashamed of this gift that we possess? It is our obligation and duty to share the message of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ with our friends and loved ones, and even those we don't know. Why wouldn't we? We all came from the same place and are trying to end up in the same place aren't we? We are all brothers and sisters, and as such, we should have this desire to share this gift we have known as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with EVERYONE! I would like to close with an awesome scripture from my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 9:18 says, "But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever." Let us be proud. Let us open our mouths and echo the joyous sound of the Gospel. 1 Nephi 21:23, "...for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas in Montana

It's Christmas in Montana,
Or so the saying goes,
When everything is white,
And the wind she really blows.

When temperatures are chilly,
Often way below the mark,
Anytime it's north of zero,
Seems like summer in the park.

When frost's upon the windows,
And the ice's upon the ground;
When breath looks like a summer cloud,
Waiting for thunder's sound.

When the snow is in the Rockies,
And glaciers start to grow,
And all the grain is hidden,
On the plains below.

When rivers they are frozen,
And the lakes are thick with ice,
And the dogs out on the Res,
Are anything but nice.

When the geese are in the stubble,
And the cattle are fed hay,
And the grizzlies hibernating,
For a cold long winter's stay.

When the missionaries are a working,
In the middle of this cold,
They are still out there sharing,
The message told of old.

But mostly all the people,
Put on their happy face,
And hurry 'bout the country,
At such a rapid pace.

They shout a friendly greeting,
As they hurry on their way,
They are way too busy,
No time for us to stay.

So we share a hurried thought,
As they trot along the path.
They'd slow a might and listen,
If we'd off them some cash.

But what we have is priceless,
Worth more than solid gold.
It's about the restoration,
Gospel truths that were foretold.

We hope that they will listen,
To us at Christmas time,
It's worth a whole lot more,
Than a nickel and a dime.

To us no present's better,
Than a pair of listening ears,
For if they truly listen,
It will bless them through the years.

And we will then bear witness,
Of the message that we share;
It's of the promised Savior,
His truth we do declare.

To watch a mighty change of heart,
There is no better sight,
Than standing in the water,
Humbly dressed in white.

So thank you for your efforts,
Throughout 2010,
Because of your commitment,
The miracle began.

We trust you all are happy,
As happy as can be,
As you dream of many wishes,
Beneath your Christmas tree.

So Merry Christmas to you all,
We bid you lots of cheer.
It's an honor to serve with you,
All throughout the year.

-- President Larry H. Gardner

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Author and Finisher

Hebrews 12:2 reads "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." We have been challenged to read all of the "Jesus Christ" references in the topical guide in the King James Version of the Bible. I was reading the other day and came across this scripture. The first line really caught my attention, 'author and finisher of our faith'.
Christ is the author of our faith in the sense that faith starts with him. It's hard to have faith in anything else in this world if we don't have faith in a sure foundation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we have acquired faith in Jesus Christ we don't stop there. It is a life long journey of adversity, tears, love, and most of all, true happiness. If our faith and life is centered around Jesus Christ, he will come to us.
Christ is also the finisher of faith. If we hold out faithful to the end, we will be granted the gift of eternal life. We will be with Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ for all eternity. Faith is not a one time declaration and that's it. It is a process. Faith is an action. We show our faith in Christ by living his teachings and following the commandments.
I know that by living and studying the Gospel the best we can our testimonies will grow stronger. We will become true disciples of Christ in all aspects of life. We will no longer dwell upon worldly success and recognition, but we will have our sights on a much higher goal.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"The 3 Rs of Choice" -- Pres. Monson

President David O. McKay said it perfectly when he said, "Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God's greatest gift to man." We spend too much time getting mad at choices we have made in the past and dwelling on things that are long gone, rather than learning from our choices and moving forward. We also forget how much of a blessing it is for us to have choice and not just be forced to do things. Sometimes we like to think "maybe it would have been better if I didn't have the opportunity to choose because then I wouldn't be in this circumstance". Well as good as that may sound at the moment, it couldn't be more wrong. We have to make choices in this life to learn and to progress and ultimately to return and live with our Heavenly Father. President Monson spoke in this last general conference in October on choice. His talk was titled "The 3 Rs of Choice" and can be found on lds.org. I would like to touch on his talk for a minute.
The first one is right of choice. This is also known as agency, or the right to choose. We have used our agency as long as time can tell. We first used our agency to come to this earth and to be tested to see if we could live the commandments that our Heavenly Father would set forth. Adam and Eve used their agency to partake of the fruit. We use our agency every day. Some things are not important at all, and some have eternal significance. We must strive to use our right of choice to our best ability. There will be times when we don't use it correctly. It is not the end of the world. Jesus Christ laid down his life so we could be forgiven for those wrong choices we make if we truly humble our selves and repent of the things we have done wrong.
The second one is responsibility to choose. We are accountable for all our decisions. President Monson said, "As long as we live upon this earth, Lucifer and his hosts will never abandon the hope of claiming our souls." This is why it is so important that we are cautious when we make decisions. They can have a much bigger impact on our life than we can imagine. We all have the brain power and mind to make right decisions. We are literally sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as such, we can not make a wrong decision and feel good about it. In Moroni 7:16 in the Book of Mormon it reads, "The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil."
The last one is results of choice. All of this may sound a bit repetitive, but we must stay focused on that goal which is eternal and worth any price we will have to pay, regardless of the sacrifice we must make to reach it. We will make many decisions in our life that will be extremely important, what better help could we get for those hard choices than that of our Heavenly Father's? He is all knowing and His love is unconditional. Regardless of the choices we make in this life He still loves us, but He can not do everything for us. We must reap the consequences from our choices, whether they be good or bad. It is our blessing in this life to exercise our agency in a righteous manner. Choose righteousness and live happily. As Alma said to his son Corianton, "wickedness never was happiness".

Friday, October 29, 2010

What do you do when you're alone?

I came across a great example of what you should be doing and thinking when you are alone in the scriptures today. I was finishing up Mormon in the Book of Mormon. I was reading in chapters 8 and 9. Mormon, Moroni's father, has just been killed by the Lamanites. The Lamanites have swept through the land killing ALL Nephites and in the process they are fighting amongst themselves. Moroni has been entrusted with the plates to write upon them. He states in chapter 8 verse 5, "My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not." Moroni is completely and utterly alone. He is basically fleeing for his life while being hunted by the Lamanites. He could literally do whatever he wanted and not have to worry about what other people thought. He shows his faith and love of Christ by continuing on in the faith and traditions of his fathers. He bares his testimony numerous times and tells the recipients of this record, us, what we must do to be worthy to return to Heavenly Father. There are a "couple three" (Montana lingo for ya) versus that really stand out to me. Mormon 8:12 reads, " And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these." Moroni tells us that by reading the Book of Mormon not only will we come to understand it, but "greater things" will be made known unto us. How cool is that?!
Last scripture I want to bring up due to time and this is way too long already. Mormon 9:19-20 is Moroni's answer to today's big question, why don't we see miracles today? Moroni says that the reason we don't see as many miracles among us is due to the unbelief in God the Eternal Father. Many people think that we do not receive revelation and other spiritual gifts today, but if that were so God would cease to be God. God is an unchangeable Being. He is there and hears and answers our prayers. We are entitled to see miracles and signs only if we have the faith necessary. So how great is your faith? What do you do when no one else is around? Do you strengthen your faith by communicating with Heavenly Father daily and reading His words in the scriptures? If we want to see miracles today, we have to work for them. Heavenly Father loves us and wants to bless us and perform marvelous acts in our lives, but we have to show him that we are worthy of those blessings.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Living Bread

Quick thought on John 6:51, which reads, " I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
We know that when we partake of the sacrament we are doing it in remembrance of Christ's body. But I think when it talks about eating the bread in this verse that refers to his flesh, I don't think it is talking about partaking of the sacrament. I believe it means believing in Christ and having perfect faith in him and what he has done for us. If we believe that he truely died for our sins and we embrace that not just physically, but emotionally, we will better comprehend what he did for us. And that will make us want to be a better person. I love my Saviour Jesus Christ and I love this Gospel. I wouldn't be where I'm at today if Christ had not performed the ultimate loving act for me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

True Repentance

Yesterday in the Lincoln Branch in Lincoln, MT, we had a lesson on Repentance in our Gospel Principles class. We talked about the 7 steps to repentance: Recognize, Feel Sorrow, Forsake, Confess, Restitution, Forgive Others, and Keep the Commandments. We discussed how all of them are absolutely vital to experience true repentance and to feel the Atonement. Well today in my personal study I was reading in Mormon and I came across verse 13 in chapter 2 and it reads, "..for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin." At this point in the Book of Momon, Mormon is leading the Nephite army into battle. Despite defeating the Lamanites, the spirit of the Lord is not with them because of their sinful lifestyle. Well, the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity just like Samuel the Lamanite and Abinadi had prophesied. But they did not repent because they felt bad for sinning, they repented because they weren't happy. To experience true repentance and to actually have the Atonement take place in your spiritual life, you have to feel Godly sorrow. You have to not only feel bad, but desire to do better and totally forsake everything bad in your life. Godly sorrow is absolutely necessary for true repentance.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Personal Study findings today....

I am just amazed at how easy "the way" is. It's simple. Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." I was reading in 3 Nephi 22-28 today and a couple different thoughts stuck with me. 3 Nephi 27:33 reads "...Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work." I can't help but think how sad and disheartening that must be for the Father of our spirits. He wants us to return to live with him again someday, but we constantly make mistake after mistake. Some of us right those wrongs by using the Atonement and not wasting such a precious gift. But so many of our fellow brothers and sisters don't even know what it can really do for them. Christ says here in this scripture that few people will find the strait and narrow. That is our job as Latter-day Saints, to help those lost souls find the iron rod and grip it oh so tightly.

Last thing I just wanted to mention is in 3 Nephi 27:21 and it reads, "...for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do.." We have no better example in our lives than the Good Shepard himself, even Jesus Christ. To live a Christ-like life, we have to know what Christ was like, what kind of attributes he possesed. His charity and love sets a perfect example for not just who we should love, but how we should love. We know that we should love everyone, regardless of circumstances. But it's how we love them that really counts. It's so easy to say you love someone, but to show someone you love them is something totally different. Service is a great way to show your love for people. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the Only Begotten Son of Heavenly Father, washed the feet of the apostles to show his love for them. Who are we to not show love to all we come in contact with? I love the Lord Jesus Christ and I attempt to show it to him everyday. I'm not perfect at it but I'm trying. I am serving a mission right now because I love him. I love what he did for me and I'm eternally grateful. What better way to show him I love him than to share his Gospel with others?!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I always thought blogging was for old people!

This whole blogging thing is different for me but i'm gonna try it out. So I guess what I'll be doing on here is sharing what i learned in my personal studies or sharing spiritual experiences that I have on my mission. Today I will just start out with my testimony and why I'm on a mission.

I feel blessed beyond my needs. I feel like I am favored in Heavenly Father's eyes and that used to bother me. I felt like he needed to pay attention to other people that really needed help, not just me. But as I have been out here in the Montana Billings Mission (which I will refer to as the MBM), I have been able to see how God blesses each individual. It doesn't matter what their background is or where they are at currently in their life. Our Heavenly Father, the one true God, loves ALL of His children. He is waiting to pour out blessings upon each one of us. All we need to do is show our faith in Him and his Son, Jesus Christ, by putting forth a little effort on our part. Probably one of the biggest ways to exercise an individuals faith is by prayer. No one just talks to someone that they don't know is there. You have to have a faith, a hope, a knowledge that God is there and He is listening. He knows what we want and need, but He wants us to communicate with Him before those things are brought to pass. It's another testimony to me of my relationship to my Heavenly Father. He possesses so many parental characteristics such as He wants us to communicate with Him. He wants us to express gratitude to Him, not just ask for things all the time. In the King James version of the Bible in the Bible Dictionary under the word "prayer" it reads: "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them."
I testify that God loves us and knows us individually. His purpose is 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39). He cares about where we are at and where we are going. I love this Gospel and the true joy and peace of mind it brings into my life.