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.