Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Holy Spirit

The prophet Mormon taught that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:16)

The influence of the Holy Ghost can be felt by all of Heavenly Father’s children to bless them in moments of need, help them know good from evil, and to lead them to truth.  The Holy Ghost can only remain with those who have been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
A newly baptized member told me what she felt when she received that gift. She was a good woman who had spent her life in service to others. She knew and loved the Lord, and she had felt the manifestations of his Spirit. When she received the added light of the restored gospel, she was baptized and the elders placed their hands upon her head and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost. She recalled, “I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost settle upon me with greater intensity than I had ever felt before. He was like an old friend who had guided me in the past but now had come to stay.”
The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  He personage of spirit which means that, unlike Heavenly Father and Jesus, The Holy Ghost does not have a physical body.  Because of this he can dwell in us and communicate with us in special ways.  The Holy Ghost is often called the still, small voice.  He speaks to us in our mind and in our heart.  We must be reverent and worthy to be able to hear Him. 
The Bible tells us that when the Savior gave his final instructions to his disciples, he promised that he would send them “the Comforter” (John 16:7). Earlier, he had taught them the mission of this comforter, which is otherwise referred to as the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, or simply the Spirit. That comforter dwells in us (see John 14:17). He teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance (see John 14:26). He guides us into truth and shows us things to come (see John 16:13). He testifies of the Son (see John 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:3).
The Bible’s teachings about the Holy Ghost are reaffirmed and elaborated in the Book of Mormon and in modern revelations. The Holy Ghost is the means by which God inspires and reveals his will to his children (e.g., D&C 8:2–3). The Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and of the Son (see 3 Ne. 28:11; D&C 20:27; D&C 42:17). He enlightens our minds and fills us with joy (see D&C 11:13). By the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things (see Moro. 10:5). By his power we may have the mysteries of God unfolded to us (see 1 Ne. 10:19). The Holy Ghost shows us what we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:5). We teach the gospel as we are directed by the Holy Ghost, which carries our words into the hearts of those we teach (see 2 Ne. 33:1).
The Scriptures teach that the remission of sins, which is made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, comes “by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:31; see also 2 Ne. 31:17). Thus, the Risen Lord pleaded with the Nephites to repent and come unto him and be baptized “that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Ne. 27:20).  It is through the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost that we can be made pure.
The blessings available through the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon worthiness. “The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Hel. 4:24; see also Mosiah 2:36–37; 1 Cor. 3:16–17). Even though we have a right to his constant companionship, the Spirit of the Lord will dwell only with us when we keep the commandments. He will withdraw when we offend him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other serious sins.

As members of the church take the sacrament each week, we renew the covenants that we made at baptism, that we will take Christ’s name upon us and always remember Him and keep his commandments.  The Lord has promised us that as we do this, we will always have his spirit with us. 

President Wilford Woodruff called the gift of the Holy Ghost the greatest gift we can receive in mortality (see The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham [1990], 5).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jesus Christ

But whom say ye that I am?... Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matt 16:15-16

This is what Latter-Day Saints believe. When we say that Jesus is the Son of God, we mean exactly that. Jesus is the eldest son of our Heavenly Father, who, as Peter declared, is a living being. Christ declared this simple truth often in the New Testament: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee... And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:1,3 "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." John 20:17 Christ knows that He is the Son of God, He knows that He has a real Father. This tender relationship is obvious to me whenever Christ addresses His father in the scriptures. His expressions are so clear and straightforward. I trust that He means exactly what he says. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten, in the flesh, of our Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father's Plan

Before this earth was created, our Heavenly Father presented to us His plan whereby we could become like God and live with Him forever. This plan required that we come to earth, receive a body which is fashioned in the image of God's body Gen 1:27 and exercise our free will in learning to choose that which is good. Our Father knew that, although these experiences were necessary for our eternal progression, we would make mistakes that would separate us from Him, for no unclean thing can dwell in God's presence. Knowing this, He provided a Savior for us so that all who were willing, could be saved in the kingdom of God. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16,17

We Followed Jesus

Every person on this earth is a spirit child of Heavenly Parents and lived with them before we came to earth. Our Heavenly Father's firstborn son, our eldest brother, Jesus Christ, who created this earth under the direction of His Father Heb. 1:2, was chosen to be our Savior. One third of our brothers and sisters rejected our Heavenly Father's plan and the appointment of Jesus Christ as our Savior. There was a war in heaven among the spirit children of God, not a battle of swords, but a struggle for the hearts of men. All who accepted God's plan fought against Lucifer and his followers. "And the great dragon was cast out... into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ...and they overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." Rev 12:7-11

We were there! We joined in the rejoicing when the "morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Job 38:7 Everyone who is alive on this earth once chose to accept Christ. Because we followed Jesus there, we gained the privilege of coming to this earth to fulfill our Heavenly Father's plan for our exaltation.

And so man came to earth and were given instructions by God. Some would strive to obey, others would not, but all would fall short of perfect obedience to God's commands. The conditions of mortality separate us from God. Without a Savior, we could never again dwell the presence of our Heavenly Father.

"For it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection...For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God...and we become...angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God...O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape..."2 Ne 9: 5-10

Christ is the one appointed to rescue us. His victory over the grave means that all mankind will be resurrected. His great atoning sacrifice pays the debt to justice for all those who accept His sacrifice and repent of their sins. Because of Christ's sacrifice for us, we are able to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father pure and whole, as He is.

Not only did Christ provide the way for our redemption, he also showed us the path that we must follow in this life in order to have Eternal Life. All that He asks us to do as disciples He exemplified for us. As we humbly and willingly follow His example of pure love, of obedience, of sacrifice, and righteousness, we become more and more like Him, and more fit for the kingdom of God. Despite all of our effort, however, we are incapable of perfection on our own. It is only through Christ that we can return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Jesus was a God in the premortal existence. Our Father in Heaven gave Him a name above all others—the Christ...And so the preexistent God, the God of the whole earth, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Lawgiver, the God of Israel, the promised Messiah was born a babe in Bethlehem.

King Benjamin prophesied of Christ’s advent and ministry in this manner:

“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” Mosiah 3:5–8.

The Lord testified, “I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross” 3 Ne. 27:13–14. And so He was.

In Gethsemane and on Calvary, He worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history. Then followed His death and resurrection.

Thus He became our Redeemer—redeeming all of us from physical death, and redeeming those of us from spiritual death who will obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Ezra Taft Benson

Since the world began, prophets have testified of Christ, the Apostles in His day bore witness of his divinity and mission, as do the Apostles in our day. I offer my sincere testimony as well, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. I know that we can follow Him with complete confidence and He will lead us safely home.

I am grateful for Jesus Christ, for the great love that He has for us and for the willing sacrifice that He made so that I can live again eternally with Him and with my Heavenly parents. I am so grateful for Jesus' love for me, for His patience and forgiveness, for His perfect example. I know that without His influence, my life would be so very different. I could never have the peace and happiness that I enjoy now without His tender guidance and the assurance that He loves me. I know that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Friend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Perfectly Organized

The organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, in my experience, centered around helping individuals in a very personal way. Every member of the church has countless opportunities to learn Christ-like attributes because of the way that Christ has organized this church.

Lay organization

"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." AofF5 No one in the Church of Jesus Christ chooses where they will serve, nor do they get paid for their service 1. There is no ministerial career track. Callings to serve are made through revelation through the proper line. The qualifications for service are a willingness to serve and to live in accordance with Christ's teachings. Every worthy man is ordained to the priesthood, and every church position, from librarian to bishop to apostle, is filled by men and women who are called by God from among the body of the church. We believe that we will be given help from the Lord and are entitled to revelation from Him to assist us in the callings and responsibilities that He gives us. Every member in encouraged to develop faith in Christ, understand the gospel, and be prepared and worthy to serve wherever the Lord may need them.

Because of the lay organization, everyone in the ward has opportunities to lead and teach and minister to each other. As we serve together we learn to love and support each other in a very special way. Everyone knows that their leader or teacher is serving in a position that they didn't ask for and might find very difficult to do. Callings are given, not only for the service we can provide to others, but for our personal growth as well, and Latter-Day Saints tend to be very patient and supportive of each other. Everyone who is called to teach or lead already knows and loves those who they are called to serve. Most callings are temporary so there are opportunities to serve in many different capacities. You may serve as Bishop this year and be called as a nursery assistant the next, or maybe to teach the children, or to organize ward socials. Every calling brings with it an opportunity to learn and grow, both in skills and abilities, as well as in faith as we seek the guidance of the Lord to complete the tasks He has given us. I have often been both surprised and humbled by the responsibilities that I have been given.


I think of the family as the fundamental unit of the church. This is where some of the most lasting and important work takes place. A family consists of a mother and father who nurture and teach their children to follow Christ and who receive revelation from God in regard to that responsibility. Most families include a righteous husband and father who has the priesthood authority to act in the name of God to bless others. He gives blessings of healing and comfort, performs ordinances, such as baptism, for his family members, and humbly leads his family. Every week the family meets together for Family Home Evening, to study the gospel and spend time together. My children always look forward to their turn to prepare and teach the lesson and to share their testimonies of Christ. LDS families are encouraged to pray and study the scriptures together daily, in addition to individual study and prayer.

Every household in the ward has Home Teachers assigned to look after their physical and spiritual needs. Every man has the opportunity to be a Home Teacher to help take care of other families. Each woman has a Visiting teacher assigned to support her and each has the opportunity to visit and strengthen other women in the ward. The Home- and Visiting-Teachers make monthly visits and are responsible to make sure that the needs of the people they visit are being met. These assignments often lead to close and lasting friendships.


A ward, or congregation, is made up of several households from the same geographic area. All Latter-Day Saints attend the same church and go to whichever ward is 'theirs' based on where they live. There is no competition between wards for members. A ward is a lot like a really big family. Much like a family, you don't choose your ward, you are all thrown together and you grow to love each other. Members of this church are actively engaged in lightening the burdens of others, sharing their joys and sorrows, and strengthening each other in our discipleship.

The Bishop (similar, I think, to a priest or pastor in other churches) in our ward has a full-time job in addition to his heavy responsibilities of leading the ward and caring for it's members as well as caring for his own family. He serves out of love and faith and is blessed and strengthened by God as he serves. A bishop usually serves for about five years and spends a lot of time in private interviews with members of the ward doing things like issuing callings, helping with needs, and assisting people in the repentance process; he also has many other meetings and administrative duties. One thing a bishop does not do is preach sermons. Though he occasionally addresses the ward, as do the stake leaders, most of the "talks" (as we call them) are given by the youth and adult members of the ward, with different members being invited to speak each week.

The other auxiliaries, Sunday School, Youth programs, Childrens Programs, Women's and Men's groups are led by ward members, both adults and youth, who are also called to serve. These calls come, not because of experience or ability, but because of willingness to serve the Lord wherever He asks you.


A Stake is made up of several wards. (The name is taken from Old Testament imagery in which the tent, or church, is held up by supporting stakes) It is led by people who are called from among those wards. Most Stake callings provide training, support, and assistance to the wards, as well as helping individual members with certain needs. We meet as a stake twice a year for meetings, and occasionally for socials and activities.


The apostles, including the Prophet, are special witness of Jesus Christ to the all world. They are all considered prophets, seers, and revelators. They receive revelation from God today as they did anciently. They direct the church and travel throughout the world where they meet with local leaders, encourage members, and oversee the affairs of the church. They are great men who have earned the Lord's trust through lives of service to Him. They come from many backgrounds, surgeons, lawyers, businessmen, pilots. They are often retired or abandon successful careers in order to respond to this call to devote the rest of their lives to the service of the Lord. They are united in their love of the Savior and respect for each other and they work together under the direction of the Lord to direct God's work on earth. The apostles hold all of the keys of the priesthood and act under the direction of the president, or Prophet.

There are seventies (also a new Testament office) who live and serve throughout the world to assist the apostles and many other men and women who serve and lead the church at the general level.


When Christ was on the earth, He organized His church. Though the apostles that he called were killed and the authority that they held was lost from the earth, people continued to do their best to follow Christ's teachings and to preserve as much of His gospel as they could. We are blessed to live in a day when Christ's church is again on the earth in it's fullness and His will is once again revealed to man through His authorized servants. Jesus Christ actively leads this church, just as He has in days of old.


The Church is directed by God through revelation every step of the way, from the direction that parents receive as they lead their families, to the direction that comes to the Prophet as he leads the church. This church could not function without it. Though every member receives revelation from God, it is all done in order. When the Lord needs something done in a ward, that revelation comes through the Bishop (who is responsible for the ward) and not me. Likewise, a bishop does not receive revelation for the stake, and when the Lord has a message for everyone, He speaks through His appointed Prophet. It is all done in order so there can be no confusion.

There is a line of authority in the church, even the Apostles report to their ward bishops regarding personal matters such as obtaining a temple recommend or performing certain ordinances. Each 'president' position (bishop, stake president, prophet, young womens, sunday school, etc...) is assisted by two counselors and they work harmoniously together as a unit, though each has different responsibilities. In this structure, I see a reflection of the organization of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). The only "path" to leadership in the church is a true desire and determination to follow Christ. Through the way the church is organized, Christ has ensured that leadership in this church could only be about unselfish service to Him.

Records are kept of baptisms, ordinations to the priesthood, temple sealings, and other priesthood ordinances. A member cannot hold a calling unless their ward has their member record. This helps ensure that important information is not forgotten, or lost when someone moves to a new ward. This not only facilitates order in the church, but ensures that bishops are aware of sensitive issues and can act accordingly to assist and protect the members of their ward. 3

The organization of this church is just amazing to me! I cannot conceive of an organization more capable of caring for and assisting individuals as they strive to become like their Father in Heaven. Everything I see in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints reflects it's divine organization. I feel truly blessed to be a part of it, and am grateful for the experiences that the Lord has given me as a member of this church.

Question--How do you select a church?

When I moved to California, many people were surprised that I was already part of a congregation. This was somewhat surprising to me as the LDS church is the same wherever you go. Aside from core doctrines, there seem to be many different teachings among the christian churches. I think it would be difficult to move into a new area and have to find a church that you could completely agree with and trust to teach your children.

How do you go about choosing a new church?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


...Men are that they might have joy. 2 Ne 25:5

Our Heavenly Father sent us to earth with the commission to learn to be like Him. One of the ways that we can be like God is to be happy because God is happy. True happiness includes feelings of peace, joy, gratitude, and pure love. Such feelings are inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Happiness is a gift that comes from striving to live in accordance with Christ's teachings. God's promises can be trusted, and he has promised happiness to those who follow him: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" Ps 146:5 "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me." D&C 19:23 "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." Isa 32:17 "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." John 13:17 "he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." D&C 59:23

There is a difference between the happiness that comes from God and the fleeting happiness that comes from following our own wills. "Ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head." Hel 13:38 "Do not suppose...that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness." Alma 41:10

One of the happiest civilizations in history was found among the Nephite and Lamanite people in the ancient Americas who were converted to Christ after his resurrection and his visit among them:

"They had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord. And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus. They did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." 4 Ne.3,11-13,5,15-16

We can have happiness in our homes and families as we strive to live the principles that Christ taught. Lasting happiness does not come from beauty or wealth or fame. True happiness and peace result from living a Christ-like life. Though there will be moments of sadness during our mortal existence, as we seek to emulate our savior, we can feel his peace and assurance even in the most difficult of trials. The purpose of our existence is to become like God, and God wants us to be eternally happy like he is. The way to achieve true happiness is to follow the example that Christ has set for us.

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness." Mosiah 2:41

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why missionaries knock on your door

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. Alma 29:1-2

Q: What kind of young adult leaves in the middle of college, puts everything in their life on hold, and spends their own money to go far away from home where they will have doors shut in their face almost every day for two years?

A: You guessed it: a Mormon missionary! We often call them the "Best Two Years."

A typical day starts off at 6:30 when you get up, pray, study the scriptures on your own, study with your companion, pray with your companion, exercise, eat, dress, plan, and otherwise prepare for the day. At 9:00 you leave your apartment and, if you don't have a teaching appointment , usually begin the difficult process of finding someone who wants to hear the message that you sacrificed so much to come and share. At each door you hope to find a sympathetic heart. Most often, if the door is answered at all, you are quickly sent on your way. You believe that everyone on earth is a son or daughter of God so you strive to treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter how they respond to your invitation to learn more about Christ, but you can’t stop hoping that the person behind the next door will talk with you for a minute or two or at least offer a kind word.

So it goes: with every door there is the hope and anticipation that behind this door may be that special someone who seems to have been waiting their entire life for the message you were sent to deliver. And at almost every door, the anticipation is followed by disappointment. (Every now and again though, just to keep life exciting, you are met at the door by a shotgun or a snarling Rotweiller!) After knocking on dozens of doors you finally meet someone who invites you in. You are so excited! Even if they are not very interested in your message, you're glad that you had the chance to meet them. You respect their right to choose, but it makes you sad for all that they will be missing. You hope that though your acquaintance was brief that you have blessed their life in some small way.

When someone wants to learn more, you find that you can hardly wait to help teach them! You watch with joy as they begin to understand that they are truly God' child and that He knows them and loves them. Seeing lives change for the better is the best part of being a missionary!

After a full morning of tracting, you go back to your apartment for a quick lunch, then out you go again! In the afternoon you help pack food boxes for a local charity. You really love the people that you have been sent to work with and are anxious to serve them in any way that you can. You know though, that the best service you can give them is to bring them the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You know that when someone understands what life is all about and has a deep and personal relationship with God, their lives will be richly blessed. You know that if they join the church of Jesus Christ that they will have the love and support of the other members of a church which is organized to bless people in a very personal and individual way. So, out you go again, prayerfully trying to find someone whose heart is open to the beautiful message that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. After dinner you work for a little longer then you are back to your apartment by 9:30 and in bed by 10:30.

As you lie in bed, you think about all the sacrifices that you have made to be where you are. You have saved your whole life to help finance your mission, your parents pay the rest, one of the elders (male missionaries) you know turned down a football scholarship to be here. You wanted to fulfill Christ's injunction to "Feed my sheep." John 21:16 You didn't know beforehand where in the world you would be assigned to serve. You spent two months studying the language before you had to start teaching in it (that made for a lot of funny journal entries!). You hope your personal weaknesses don't get in the way of the message. You feel so young and inexperienced. Surely this is what the Lord meant when he said that, "the fulness of my gospel [would] be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world." D&C 1:23 You left behind a comfortable home and your family and friends. You miss being with them for holidays, births, weddings, funerals and all of the other family events that occur while you are serving. Most of your contact with family and friends is through the mail. As a missionary, you are not allowed to date or even flirt with someone of the opposite sex. You must have your companion with you wherever you go. You spend nearly all of your time working to help and bless others. Though there are many rules, you know they are all designed to help you be a better servant of God and more effective in helping others to learn His gospel.

At baptism you took upon yourself the name on Christ. As a missionary you strive to represent Him to everyone with whom you come into contact. You love serving a mission, but it is so hard. It helps to remember the love that inspired you serve...

"I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." Alma 36:24 "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto [Christ], how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" D&C 18:15 But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. For our brethren...were in darkness...but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! Behold, thousands of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God. And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. Alma 26:3,4,11

Monday, October 5, 2009

Safety in Following Modern Prophets

This past weekend was the world general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I always look forward to conference weekend, and not just because I get to attend church in my pajamas (well, I usually get dressed, but I could if I wanted to) and participate from the comfort of my living room couch! I love that I get to spend the weekend listening to and pondering the words of Prophets, apostles, and other wonderful, inspired men and women. I love the beautiful and inspiring messages of about Christ and His teachings, about learning His ways and following His example.

I have been thinking lately about why we need modern prophets when God has already made so much known to us in the Bible. It's a good question. (When I talk about the prophet, I mean the man called by God to lead His church and reveal His will.) I began to think that we no longer board arks, or follow Moses out of Egypt, or look at a staff to be healed. How many of us have sold all we have to follow Christ, or fled to the mountains outside of Judea to escape destruction. Yet, these are some of the instructions that were given to people in the Bible. I think that we all understand that those things are not required of us today. They were specific instructions given to specific people or groups of people at specific times and in specific circumstances.

While the gospel has been the same from the beginning, the needs and circumstances of those who follow Christ change from time to time. We know that there will be great difficulties ahead for us in the last days, but the scriptures provide little specific instruction on how to deal with these trials. Modern prophets have been able to help us prepare for modern challenges. For example, for decades modern prophets have told us that we need to be self-reliant and free of debt. President Ezra Taft Benson declared, “The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah”1 In 1833, long before the attorney general's warning, God, through His prophet, warned the people against the use of tobacco. Generations ago, the Prophet instructed us to meet together weekly as families to strengthen each other and study the gospel. This counsel was given long before we knew of the extreme challenges that the family unit would face now and in the days ahead. The prophet also teaches and reminds us of timeless essentials, such as developing faith and studying the scriptures, that will keep us focused on Christ. Yesterday President Monson reminded us of the need to serve and bless the lives of others. Sun. Morning

We don't know exactly what our future challenges will be but through modern and living prophets, the Lord tells us how we can be prepared. Those who follow the prophet need not be confused by various religious teachings or by modern social philosophies. I take great comfort in knowing that the church can easily adapt to the modern world without losing track of those things which are essential. God has already revealed in scripture much of what we need to know for our spiritual and temporal salvation, but He has not left us alone. God still loves us and he still gives us direction that is specific to our time so that we can know to do those things that will bless us and lead us to Him. God has given us a prophet on earth today and has promised that He will not allow the prophet to lead us astray.

Individually, we can each turn to God for counsel regarding our individual needs and responsibilities and for confirmation of prophetic counsel, collectively, we look to a living prophet who receives a constant flow of revelation from God to guide the work of God on the earth. We are blessed to have a prophet to strengthen our faith in Christ and guide us in those paths which will bring us to him and bless us during our mortal sojourn. I am so grateful that God has sent a prophet in my day and for the many blessings I have seen in my life as a result of following his inspired counsel.