Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm going to keep this going!

I am so greatful for missionaries! I'm so proud of Nathan and what he is doing. He is doing no greater work! Serving the lord for two years Is absolutly incredible. I am proud of him, he is giving his life to serve the lord and there is no greater service that he could perform in his life right now. Missionaries are so amazing, I love going on splits with the sisters. I have a testimony of the missionaries. They are doing the Lord's work. They are going forth boldly, nobly and they aren't backing down. They have the Lord on their side, they are doing his will, spreading his gosple. Armys may rage, collumy may defame, but no unhallowed hand can stop the work of God from progressing. I am truly greatful for our missionaries. As Members of the LDS Church, we may not be perfect, but the saying always goes, "Its the perfection of the Saints, not the Perfect Saints."
I say these things in the Name of our Beloved Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, April 7, 2008

We have a prophet

This was definitely a Conference to remember, and even though I didn't take notes this time, I still have much to say about it.

The biggest thing that happened was the Church sustaining its new President, Thomas S. Monson. I was too young to remember President Hinckley's sustaining, so I really didn't know what to expect. But wow! The Spirit was so strong in that solemn assembly, as one-by-one each quorum and auxiliary stood to sustain the prophet.

Before my turn to stand, I watched the Brethren very closely as they all stood. These are the men who will send me on my mission, I thought. This is the prophet who will send me on my mission!

Tears nearly escaped my eyes when the time came for all the elders to stand. It was just a rush of the Spirit; I knew that Thomas S. Monson was a prophet of God, and what it meant that I was standing to sustain him. The feeling became more powerful when the entire Church was called to stand at the end, and my family rose with me. What a choice opportunity! To have a prophet on the earth today, and to know it. . . . To say the very least, it's remarkable.

I had to go to work shortly after the sustaining, but I was able to listen to Conference in my car on the way there and it gave me the spiritual charge I needed to get through the shift. It's an interesting thing, working in a restaurant on Conference weekend. The place is dead until noon, then for two hours it's a constant rush of Mormons looking for a meal between Conference sessions. Then it dies again for the afternoon session, and after that the rush returns. Women have dominion of the restaurant between six and eight, then the Priesthood brethren come in droves after their session. It's just one of the many things I love about living in Utah. ;-)

Thankfully the restaurant was dead enough during the afternoon session that I was let go early. I saw this as a small miracle, for I didn't know if I'd be able to make tonight's Priesthood dinner with my dad and brother before the session. It would be my last one with them before my mission, so it was very important to me to be there. Needless to say, my family was also glad to see that I'd gotten out early.

This was the part of the day to which I was so looking forward: hearing the prophet speak. It kept me going throughout the workday, and I was greatly excited for the opportunity. I was not disappointed, either; President Monson gave a wonderful talk on example, and it motivated me to be a better representative of that which is good. He'll make an excellent prophet.

After the session, Don invited me to a family party at his house. The invitation was on one condition, however: that I'd be able to tell his family one thing I liked about Conference. Of course, this was no problem, and at nine I joined the Harshes for what could best be described as a family testimony meeting. This was a tradition of theirs, and one they held dear. I was grateful to be invited to participate.

As each of their turns came, family members would spend a minute or two talking about what had touched them during Conference. I was also given the opportunity to speak, for which I chose to share my feelings on the solemn assembly. It was a wonderful experience to be in such company, where spiritual things were shared and loved.

But what struck me the most was the children of the family. The little children testified of the gospel, and that they knew Christ was their Savior and that President Monson was a prophet. They were excited to be baptized! Their understanding was leaps and bounds ahead of what mine had been at their age. Truly theirs is the greater generation, and they are also so very blessed to have such goodly parents that would teach them to love the gospel. What a delight! The Spirit was definitely powerful in that living room. I thanked Don's father for including me in the tradition this Conference; this experience set the standard for the weekend.

I loved the Sunday sessions, but unfortunately I fell asleep for the last half of the afternoon one. I was very upset with myself for this when I woke up, because I missed President Monson's closing address. I wanted so badly to hear more from him, but my physical weakness prevented that. But despite my missing him speak, I take comfort in knowing that he did speak, and that I can receive his words in the Ensign next month to study and ponder.

That's what Conference is all about: that the Lord still speaks, and that we have a prophet on the earth today who delivers that message. We are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to hear our leaders speak at Conference. Is it any wonder that their talks are treated as scripture? I felt so good to have them in my home this weekend. Truly, home felt more like home than it ever had in the past six months because of it. Nothing creates an atmosphere so loving and safe as the gospel.

We have a prophet. How much plainer can I say that? We have a prophet on the earth today, through whom the Lord speaks. The gospel was restored through our first modern prophet, Joseph Smith, and that line has not been broken, nor will it. Earth and Hell may combine against those who follow his teachings, but those powers will not prevail, for the powers of Heaven are a hundred fold greater. I fear not the mocking of the unbeliever, no matter how convinced, for in the end, those who mock will have everything to fear. And if I follow the prophet--who I know is a prophet--what reason do I ever have to fear?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A simple gift

Tavin and Jamy were with us for the weekend, and as I studied the First Presidency message in the Ensign before I went home teaching today, my nephew continually invited me to play. After a few minutes of this, an idea came to me, and I called the boy over to the rocking chair. See, his family doesn't go to church, and I doubt the gospel is taught much (if at all) in their home. I saw today as an opportunity to give my nephew something, even if it was something so basic as the name of our Savior.

I pointed at a picture of Christ in the Ensign and asked Tavin who it was. "A guy!" he said in his always-excited manner.

"Yes," I encouraged him. "What guy is He?"

"Mean guy!"

"No," I laughed. "He's a nice guy. That's Jesus."

"Jesus!" the boy said happily, not knowing what the name meant.

I spent the next few minutes going through the magazine with him, finding pictures of Christ, and asking him who they were (and to make sure he could tell there was a difference, I also pointed to pictures of people who weren't Jesus). By the end, I felt confident enough in his memory of the name and appearance together that I closed the magazine and pointed to the picture of Christ hanging above the piano. "Who's that?" I asked my nephew.

Tavin thought for a moment, then exclaimed, "Jesus!" I was so happy.

I didn't want to overfill the two-year-old's head with too much information too quickly, but I had to teach him one more thing before we were done for the day. "Jesus is your friend," I told him cheerfully, pointing to a picture in the magazine. "He loves you." Then after a minute or so of going over this with the boy, I asked Tavin if he liked Jesus.

"Yeah!" he said. It was the best I'd felt all day--all weekend, even--and though I wouldn't be surprised if Tavin doesn't remember what he learned from today's lesson, I'm sure we'll have more learning opportunities in the future. For my nephew to merely be able to recognize the Savior's face on his own would be wonderful!

There's beauty in such simplicity. The gospel is beautiful; it is simple.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sweet is the peace the Gospel brings

I got to chill with Dave for a couple hours today. It was great fun; I beat him at chess, Dummies (if I remember right), and two games of Egyptian Rat Killer. But he beat me at Stratego, and I think a lot more goes into that game, so we were about even for the day.

I want to thank Dave for hanging out today. This was kind of a hard weekend for me, and I needed to just get away for a while--even if it was only an afternoon at my best friend's apartment. I mean, the weekend wasn't terrible, but it was one of those occasions that provokes reflection on where I am--especially in mission preparation.

This weekend was a little reminder of how much I need God. For a short time before Saturday I had fallen into a poor routine of staying up at night until I could no longer bear it, then flopping weakly into bed without so much as a thank you to Him who grants me my daily breath. Mortals can be such jerks sometimes. But I'm grateful for this opportunity to think, despite adversity; for without it, I probably wouldn't have noticed my need for improvement.

Lately I've been pondering the peace the Gospel brings. It's an amazing phenomenon; when you have it, you notice it at the very start but you get used to it--like immersing yourself in hot water. You don't realize how much you need it until you're in a situation where it leaves--like stepping out of a hot tub after you've been in there awhile. Then there's nothing you want more than the Spirit, because you know both how it feels to have it and not to have it, and you like the former better naturally because it literally means home, peace, and comfort. However, those who haven't had it--or have only rarely had it--often don't notice a lack of that peace, because they don't know it as well as those of us who do. That's what's normal to them; is it any wonder, then, why people ask such questions as "Where do I come from?", "Why am I here?", and "Where am I going?"

Active members of the Church are blessed to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. That's the greatest factor that goes into what makes us so happy as a people. Naturally in the world we live in, we too experience times when the Spirit isn't so strong, but they usually only last a short time when we find ourselves in places we shouldn't be. But in general, if we are conducting ourselves the way the Lord has taught, we can always enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost. And it feels great, doesn't it?!

I've figured out that that's the number one reason I desire so strongly to serve a mission: to bring that peace to people who haven't had it as strongly in their lives, and to let them know that they are sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them. That's the most valuable thing I can give anyone, and if it's my only success as a missionary, I will come home a happy man. I've been able to come to that conclusion because of my own trials the past two weekends, when I've been actively thinking about it and thus able to observe myself better during those times when I haven't felt the Spirit.

This leads me to the reminder I mentioned earlier in this post: that I need God a lot more than I give Him credit for. How can I spread His peace when I'm not anxiously engaged in keeping it about myself? No man is so knowledgeable that he can take a day off from studying the scriptures. No man is so strong in himself that he is justified in not appealing to the Lord for direction. I'm human and therefore I falter. But God's work is never done; thus, mine isn't, either. I need to put my best foot forward and kick my mission preparation into even higher gear than it was before. It's hard work, but it's oh so peaceful--and that's worth everything.

Monday, January 28, 2008

We thank thee, o God, for a prophet

We've got a pretty bad storm going on right now. It's a blizzard of snow and hail with a lot of hard wind, not to mention the darkness the thick gray clouds are casting. Appropriate that we should get such a storm when a prophet leaves the earth.

The news came as a shock to me last night. It wasn't difficult to see in Conference that President Hinckley's passing would happen soon, but when it did happen, I wasn't ready. I took it really hard last night; my body became weak and I began to shake, insomuch that I could barely even type for a couple of hours. My emotions got the best of me, and despite all my knowledge of God's plan, I sunk into a depression over the prophet's death. I've never been good at handling death, and I always feel guilty about that because I do know the Plan. That guilt only makes me feel worse, because it adds feeling bad onto the bad I already feel. It's a vicious cycle.

But President Hinckley was a picture of optimism. In dealing with all things, that's the route he took. And so must we. My tears and the tears of the world flow for this beloved man, and for plenty of good reason. But we mustn't let them cause us to forget the greater good--the fact that all the Priesthood keys remain upon the earth, and that the Church remains strong and true; that it was our prophet's time to pass, and that the Lord will call a new one; that we know where President Hinckley is, and that he's happy and reunited with his beloved wife Marjorie; and that he left a lasting legacy that will help the work progress for generations to come. Gordon B. Hinckley lived in Christ and died in Christ, and there is no tragedy in that. I can only imagine the excellent reception he's enjoying in the Spirit World. As Heaven celebrates this man, so must I. This tribute is not and will never be complete, because there will always be so much to say about our beloved prophet. But I will say what I can, and I encourage all of you to add what you will.

Gordon B. Hinckley became President of the Church when I was only five years old. I'm too young to remember Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter very well, so President Hinckley is the only prophet I have really known. He brought me through my youth and into adulthood. And though I doubted the Church for a while--even near to leaving it--during a long period of darkness, I always loved President Hinckley for his love and warmth. No matter how unhappy I was, I always knew the prophet was a great man who loved me, even if I didn't always listen to him back then. But after I gained my own testimony, my love for this man grew even greater than ever before. He inspired me in so many ways, and in listening to his teachings my desire to serve the Lord increased a hundred fold. Gordon B. Hinckley was the prophet when I decided I wanted to serve a mission. He was the prophet when I was given the Aaronic Priesthood. He was the prophet when I was baptized. Everyone has what they consider "their" prophet. Gordon B. Hinckley was mine. I would have died for him.

I remember the first time I was in his presence after I gained my own testimony. It was the Day of Celebration, July 16th, 2005. When President Hinckley rode out onto the field of Rice Eccles Stadium in a golf cart, the crowd of 45,000 teenagers greeted him like he was a rock star. Never before had I heard such enthusiastic cheering. Everyone there knew this man was a prophet. I knew he was a prophet, and the Spirit was too strong to deny it. I cheered for him with the 45,000, jubilant at having him there with us and having the opportunity to hear him speak. Then after he addressed us, we all sang The Spirit of God, and a procession of missionaries came out and joined us as we cheered for them, too. The entire stadium was alight with glow sticks and the Spirit. It was, quite literally, a life-changing experience, and one I will never forget.

Nor will I forget attending a session of the Fall 2006 General Conference, where for the third verse of the closing song the congregation spontaneously joined the choir. 21,000 of us stood and sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet, and it was the most powerful feeling of joy, where we all knew it was true. Then after the benediction, we all stood as the prophet left. He smiled and waved at us, and we smiled and waved back. He also blew us kisses. It was unforgettable; truly this man loved us with his whole heart, and we loved him.

I will miss seeing President Hinckley at Conference. I will miss hearing his voice and enjoying his sense of humor. We have lost a magnificent leader, one who loved all people and was loved in return. He served faithfully his whole life, and there is much to show for it. We truly have lost someone great. But we will never lose the head of our Church--our Lord Jesus Christ. He continues to lead His Church by revelation and the power of the Priesthood, and He will call a new prophet, who I will sustain and revere. I know it; why should I be troubled?

That Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet of God is indisputable. The world--even other so-called Christians--may deny it. They may fight it and do everything they can to prevent the work from progressing. They may bear false witness against the Lord's Church, and attempt to lead its members astray. But false witness is all they have to fight us with. Nothing they can do, nothing they can say, nothing they can think, will ever change the truth, and the Lord God Almighty will hold them accountable at His judgment-seat. This is my declaration to the world that I know the Lord calls prophets in this dispensation. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet of God. Earth and Hell may combine against me, but I will never deny it, because I know.

God bless you, President Hinckley. I'll see you when I get there.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stand A Little Taller

Now, my bretheren and sisters, the time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millenial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is a season to be strong. IT is a time to move forward ithout hesitation, knowin well the meaning, the breadth, adn the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It's a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those who are wandering in the darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. It other words, to become more Christ like.

President Gordon B. Hinckley May, 1995

I thought this was fitting for a new year. Sorry it's a bit late. ;)