Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Christ is speaking in this verse as a follow up to a question: How will one come to know of the Lord? He answers that it will be by and through the power of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. It is through that same Spirit that the peace Jesus talked about comes to us...

When He says, "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you", it makes me think of all the things we have here. The beauty and the joy to be had in this world... it's beyond exquisite, yes? Yet no matter all the amusement parks in the world, all the money in the banks, and all the serenity that nature has to offer (or whatever else floats your boat), it cannot hold a candle to the peace He offers. Even the greatest of all that is around us pales in comparison to its Master.

After All, He Created It In The First Place

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Had a moment the other day.

I was in Fairview, the land of all that is beautiful. We were passing out flyers for a Christmas party to some of the people who had been in contact with missionaries for the last few months, and we were met with smiles and warm appreciation for being invited. The afternoon was still young, but we were coming to the last household we had planned to invite that day, a home that was set in a quiet little neighborhood not too far from the main road.

Yes, That Is The Actual Town. No, I Didn't Take The Picture.
 I had been getting out of the car, somewhat on auto-pilot, following the excellent Elder Huffaker as the day wore on and our stack of fliers depleted. I was doing the same now, no Book of Mormon in hand and my backpack in the car, as we started out towards the last door. All of a sudden, I felt something.

I needed to pause, to wake up for half a second and recognize what I felt. The feeling was very distinct:
You are going to need your scriptures.
I returned to the car quickly and grabbed a Book of Mormon, one of many we have close at hand. I closed the cardoor, and started back towards Elder Huffaker as he waited patiently at the door. Again I had the very distinct feeling, this time with a little extra:
You are going to need your scriptures... all of them.

The Record From The Americas AND The Record From Jerusalem
 I had left my backpack in the car, but the door had already been knocked on and the door opened shortly after. The family was happy to see us, this being the first time they had talked to missionaries in their home since they had moved to Fairview. Though we had only originally planned on dropping off a flyer, we ended up talking for over an hour, mostly about the gospel and answering questions about the church.

There were times I easily could convey a point or answer a question, there were times when I needed the help of the Book of Mormon... and there was one point in particular when I needed the Bible. I keep my personal set of scriptures, my Book of Mormon and well worn KJV Bible, in my backpack. You know, the one which just so happened to be left in the backseat of the car despite my being told to bring my scriptures.

It wasn't the end of the world, but I wasn't as effective as a teacher because I didn't fully listen to the Spirit. I didn't go above and beyond to respond to the fullest capacity I could to the prompting to get my scriptures. I wasn't completely left out in the cold, but I was not as well off as I could have been.

All of us follow the Spirit to a degree less than what we are capable of at times. Once you clear the hurdle of following the spirit at all, you then get to try your hardest to follow it as precisely as you can. The better you do so, the better things go. Just like the Book of Mormon and the Bible would have given us a fuller picture and understanding of the gospel in that teaching situation, we can have the full blessing of the Spirits guidance when we do everything we can to follow exactly and completely.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Truth Is...

One point that this song alludes to is that before we were here, we were somewhere. It was during that time that a plan was brought forth to allow us to grow, and that all in all we would return wiser and stronger and with full confidence in the things that are true because we tested them for ourselves.

We can think of this time right now as the second act of a three part play. In the beginning of the play, the majority of the plot is laid. We find out who the main characters are, and we figure out what is going on. But what if as an audience member, you came in between the intermission of the first and second act? You would have NO clue what was going on, and things would be in motion that wouldn't make a whole lotta sense.

"So Are You A Knight Or The King?"

Now imagine if you were all of a sudden called on stage to be one of the actors themselves! How confusing would it be to try to play your role in all of this going on around you? Well, that's kinda how this life is right now. We come in partway through the play, with no knowledge of the first act, but expected to play a serious role for someone important... us!

We can figure out the important points from the people around us, but its really best if we go straight to the script. We can use the scriptures to help us out in the same way! As we learn more, we get a clearer picture on what is going on around us, and how WE personally want to act. A director, call him the Holy Ghost, can lead us in a way that is appropriate. Of course we don't have to listen to him if we don't want to, but... c'mon, this guy knows what he's talking about!

Spielberg, Anyone?

So we make it through this second act. The third act of this play will take place after we die. The second act featured the climax, the nail biting suspense and the roughest parts of the story. This third act is the place where all the loose ends are tied up and any misunderstandings are cleared up. Anything that was hidden from the audience (or the characters) is made known, and the resolution comes.

The truth is that our second act is very tiny compared to the other two. This moment in time, eighty or so years of life, is nothing compared to the rest of it. Yet how we live and act in this second portion determines most everything else that matters.

I know maybe we don't know exactly everything that is going on right now, but eventually everything is gonna work and be okay. We gotta take care of our part right here and right now, but if and when we do, we keep ourselves on track for the happy ending that will come in the third act. Take care of what you can right now, and leave the rest. It'll be aight.
The Three Act Play - The Plan of Salvation

Yepp. Finally found the link. Nevertheless, I already wrote all this down, so you get my version as well. But take a look at this link.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Purge

Its true! The more grateful you are, the happier you are!

With the season, I always think a little bit more about what I am thankful for. I think about those things I have, those things I once had, and the beautiful opportunities that have come my way or been given to me. The gift to take advantage of the luck handed over or whatever talent given, the undeniably undeserved family I personally have, and the blessing to be currently serving a mission... All of it rocks my socks off.

Sometimes we cannot see what we have because we only see what we do not. That changes the more we recognize what we have, and that allows us even greater room for more. A full life is not one where you have everything, but one where you fully appreciate what is yours.

Im still working on it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


After careful thought and consideration, this is my favorite Book of Mormon story EVER! It is the story of Lehi and Nephi, two missionaries going and preaching unto their brethren the Lamanites. The Lamanites were traditionally against the people where Lehi and Nephi came from, but nevertheless they went to go and serve and bring them to the gospel. I was going to add pictures, but when I did I realized that it really took away from the value of the personal imagery that can be so vivid. Hear this one out... its worth the read!
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did proceed from thence to go to the land of Nephi. And it came to pass that they were taken by an army of the Lamanites and cast into prison ; yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servants of Limhi. And after they had been cast into prison many days without food, behold, they went forth into the prison to take them that they might slay them.
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned. And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pilliar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage. For they saw that the Lamanites durst not lay their hands upon them; neither durst they come near unto them, but stood as if they were struck dumb with amazement.

And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did stand forth and began to speak unto them, saying: fear not, for behold, it is God that has shown unto you this marvelous thing, in the which is shown unto you that ye cannot lay your hands on us to slay us. And behold, when they had said these words, the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison did shake as if they were about to tumble to the earth; but behold, they did not fall.
And behold, they that were in the prison were Lamanites and Nephites who were dissenters. And it came to pass that they were overshadowed with a cloud of darkness, and an awful solemn fear came upon them. And it came to pass that there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent unto you to declare good tidings.

And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul— And notwithstanding the mildness of the voice, behold the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth; and behold the cloud of darkness, which had overshadowed them, did not disperse— And behold the voice came again, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; and seek no more to destroy my servants.
And it came to pass that the earth shook again, and the walls trembled. And also again the third time the voice came, and did speak unto them marvelous words which cannot be uttered by man; and the walls did tremble again, and the earth shook as if it were about to divide asunder. And it came to pass that the Lamanites could not flee because of the cloud of darkness which did overshadow them; yea, and also they were immovable because of the fear which did come upon them.
Now there was one among them who was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them. And it came to pass that he turned him about, and behold, he saw through the cloud of darkness the faces of Nephi and Lehi; and behold, they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels. And he beheld that they did lift their eyes to heaven; and they were in the attitude as if talking or lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld. And it came to pass that this man did cry unto the multitude, that they might turn and look. And behold, there was power given unto them that they did turn and look; and they did behold the faces of Nephi and Lehi.

And they said unto the man: Behold, what do all these things mean, and who is it with whom these men do converse? Now the man’s name was Aminadab. And Aminadab said unto them: They do converse with the angels of God. And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us? And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you. And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.

And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire. And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world. And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came; and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them.

And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt. And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some Days Im Out Of Time... Not This Time

What is real? How do you define real? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
Im going out on a limb here, but I promise it will come back to the tree trunk eventually...

Perception, basically what we see and experience, in large part determines what we find to be "real". From that, we base our values and opinions and beliefs off of our reality. We all have different and unique viewpoints on many things that are common, and because of this we come to different conclusions with basically the same amount of evidence... different realities of a sort if you will.

So again... What is real?
If 100,000 People See Chriss Angel Float Off A Building And Perceive Him To Fly, Is It Still Real?

Maybe what we should really be concerned with is truth. The better question may be, "What is true?" in any given situation. A quick definition of true from the dictionary pulls up things like, "In accordance with fact", and, "Something brought into exact shape, alignment, or position required"... a chasm of difference from what is only "real".

 There is power in knowing truth... the true nature of God, the truths of the gospel, the true capability of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. An understanding of these and other truths can help us react appropriately to struggles in life and act accordingly to the true gospel... to what is true instead of what may just be "real". In John 8:31-32, the verse reads
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I often bear my testimony. I tell people what I know. I don't know the truth of all things, but I know that God loves His children. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true... That it is, "in accordance with fact" that Jesus Christ Himself established over 2000 years ago, restored to the earth through a modern day prophet. I know that it is, "something brought into exact shape, alignment, or position required" to one day bring us into a fullness of joy with our Father in Heaven. I know the gospel is true, and that living its precepts brings happiness and fulfillment. I know this... and it is true.

Would you like to know if it was true or not too?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Make It So

Life is easy when you have a 50/50 split when it comes between choosing between two things; You only have a 50% shot of messing up and suffering the consequences! One of the great things about having guidance from a modern day prophet is that you get clear help in figuring out what is the right thing to choose, and you can trust the source because you know a prophet of God wont lead you astray.

Its kinda like the Indiana Jones theory...

"Elder Donohue, I Told You NEVER To Use Me In A Blog Again!!!"

If Indie knew what the consequences were (namely an immediate need to run a gauntlet of spikes and giant boulders), would he have tried to put the sand on the pedestal in an attempt to steal the treasure? Imma take a wild guess and say probably not...

Sin is kinda the same way. Many choices in our life could be this 50/50. It could be bad and bring sadness, or it could be good and bring happiness... But wouldnt'cha like to know which was which before you do it?
We can be warned of danger through a clear voice, keeping sin and righteousness a black and white distinction and eliminating the gray in lifes important things. A prophet can warn us of the consequences of sin and encourage us to choose the right. I know that through a modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, we have been given that exact same help that Indiana would have loved to have.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Wait A Second...

A south-African saying goes something like,
"If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance."
It reminds me (in a round about way) of a story of some carpenters from Norway who were asked to build part of the Manti temple in Utah. They had very little experience with construction of this type, and they were able to overcome everything without great trouble, that is until they came to the roof.

The roof needed to be sturdy, not too heavy, and most of all watertight. They had no experience with building a roof of this grandeur or capacity, but they did have experience as shipbuilders. They thought,
“Why don’t we just build a ship? Then, because a well-built ship is solid and secure, if we turn the plans upside down, we’ll have a secure roof.”

The previous experience they had with shipbuilding allowed them to construct one of the most beautiful and sacred buildings in the world. We too have many experiences in our life that we can then turn around and apply when a situation of similar circumstances arises. When we take what we have learned from the past, we can use the principles that are already a part of us just as the shipbuilders did.

We may not know how to dance and sing, but if we know how to walk and talk then we are not too far away.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Know and Feel

I was talking with an awesome guy the other day who has a very strong faith in Christ and who has spent much of his life in the word and in church. Quite honestly, he is one of the most spiritual men I have ever met. He highlighted a truth in a very succinct way that is sometimes better felt than heard:
Teaching is for the head, preaching is for the heart.

Learning the gospel gives us a knowledge that gives us freedom and power.

Being taught that knowledge is a valuable thing that adds to us... perhaps best likend to a spiritual well from which we can draw upon. Being preached the gospel does the same, though it feels more to draw something out of us... perhaps best likened to that spiritual well being drawn upon.

Truely, both experiences are a part of our learning the gospel.

EDIT: December 29th, 2011
Mr. Turner passed away over night at the age of 76. He was a good man, deeply spiritual and a steady rock to all around him. He was able to be what others around him needed him to be, because he was firmly anchored in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he himself was built upon a sure foundation. He will be missed, but he is where the Lord would have him be, when the Lord would have him be there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Come, Follow Me"

I have decided that for the next month, I will do one post a day as far as I can possibly manage for this blog. They will not be super long (nor super deep I would imagine...), but whatever is on my mind is what you will get!

Like For Example, Killer Bunnies!
... Well that was random.


The first thought comes from a talk I heard from Dallin H. Oaks in the 2005 CES fireside entitled, "The Dedication of a Lifetime" in which a quote from Adlai E. Stevenson was liked unto the spiritual fortitude and steadfastness required of the truly converted. It was likened in that, "[Living the gospel] is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."

One personal example of the need for such endurance and steady dedication is found every single year with New Years resolutions. I would always go to try to play basketball at my local rec center back home, doing my regular thing that I do any other time of the year, when all of a sudden around January the place was packed and I couldn't properly enjoy myself! After a couple of years, I figured out that all I really had to do was wait until about March before things got quiet again...

Or At Least Until Their Personal Trainers Check Cleared

In this example, many people have the desire to get fit for awhile, but as time goes on they lose the willingness and desire to workout until they accomplish their goals. As a result, they do not enjoy the full blessings that come from the work they put in, nor do they fully achieve their aspirations... They do not have a steadfastness to their course to win the prize.

The same is found in the gospel. Many may find a zeal that carries them through a few trials or hardships with peace and happiness, but over time may fall off or lose that desire to continue the path of the Savior. Doing what they have found to be right becomes a chore with a subtle but sure change in attitude and action in the work required, though we are always invited to press forward.

We find King Benjamin exhorting the saints to entrench themselves firmly in the gospel and allow themselves to be constant in all things in Mosiah 5:15.
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.
We can seal ourselves to Christ, and we must do continually and consistently through those things that bind ourselves to Him. The little things like reading your scriptures, praying, and going to church are things that make the world of difference of how closely we follow the Saviors path, but they are the difference between being steadfast and being tossed about on a sea of uncertainty.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trust Me, I've Got a Plan...

My good friend, Elder Coles, is a genius. There's more reasons then what I have time to go over, but particularly his blog post titled, "The Big Test" strikes me as something too awesome not to share!

I picture our loving Heavenly Father gathering the hosts of heaven so that He can present His plan to us, and He says that we can either choose to accept or reject this plan if we want to.  He says "Alright guys here is the plan. I want you all to reach your fullest potential, I really do because I love all of you! I have created a beautiful world for you all to go there and gain bodies! Sounds great right? But in order for you guys to learn, you will need to be tested, and sometimes you will be tempted to do wrong. But guys, dont even worry about it. This test will be open book.
I will give you people who will be in direct contact with Me. These people will be called prophets. They will tell you what you need to know to be happy and to return to live with Me.  Oh, dont worry, you wont have to memorize everything that they say. I will make sure their words are written down in books called scriptures. Guys, remember to study these things, they will help you out and make you happy!
Also, I want to give you more things to help you out. I will provide a place to meet together so that you can learn these things and you can apply them in your lives. Ok, now I know that you will all make some mistakes, but I will provide a way for you to over come those mistakes. I will provide a Savior and you will be able to repent, and as often as you repent I will remember your mistakes no more. Guys, thats not it. You will be able to grow up in a loving atmosphere with earthly parents and families, where you can learn my doctrines and study my gospel in a loving atmosphere. A church will need to be organized as well.  And to make sure this church is run right, I will give priesthood authority, which is the power I will give to you to act in My name, and the church will be run by that authority.
I will not leave you comfortless either. I will send the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead down to dwell with you and to comfort you when needed, and to teach and testify of Me.  And you know what, if you still need some extra help with this test, you will be able to come to Me and talk about your problems with me through prayer. Know that I will always answer prayers, but make sure you are listening very carefully because if you arent you might miss the answer.  Guys this plan is going to be great. Do all these things and you will make it back here to live with me, and everything is gonna be alright!
You can find more from this awesome missionary at:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Cure

My family moved during the beginning of my third grade year, a process that is sometimes a little bit difficult for a younger kid. I remember it being scary, moving away from all my friends and being thrust into a brand new environment that was far from my comfort zone. My class was full of nice and friendly kids, many that I would eventually go all the way through highschool with, and all in all it was a pretty smooth transition.

Being the new kid, I didn't have as strong of a friendship with many of those in my class as the others had, and I wanted to be included as if I was one of the longtime regulars. Whatever the group activity of the day was during recess was where I went. I tried to keep myself there, having fun, just being included.

I had an easier time than some...

I distinctly remember one infamous day of my life in particular when a classmate who had been there from first grade had one of the roughest days ever. She was bright and one of the better students in the class, but it was apparent she didn't come from the wealthiest home in community. Her clothes were not "in" and her hair was always a little tangled. She came from a home where her family smoked pretty heavily, and it led to asthma and a constant lingering air about her.

We all know kids can be cruel, but she was tormented at every possible opportunity in the worst way a third grade class could possibly know how. Unceasingly it seemed, whether it was in class or during lunch or on the bus, they hounded her. That day that is most vivid in my mind comes at a time when she won an academic award in class and was informally accused of cheating by a chanting chorus of her classmates. She left school in tears.


I wish I could say I stood up for her. I wish I had told everybody else to knock it off. I wish I had been her friend. I never saw her after that year, but her face still crosses my memory every once in awhile. That situation and my conscience has taught me a lot. I never joined in, but to this day I remain just as guilty.

Looking back, I was still the new kid... but was it more important to be popular or to have done what was right? Was it more important to keep my head down or to speak out against the wrong? How could self preservation win out against kindness?

I have learned a little from my life and particularly from my mission since then: Don't wait for people to be kind, show them how. Always be kinder than necessary. Compassion is not a weakness, but it is the essence the most admirable men and women I have personally ever known. And most importantly, that the Savior is the greatest example of all that is gentle, gracious, and charitable.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. We know through the scriptures in Moroni 10:21 that, "except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God, neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope". And as we find in Corinthians 13:13, "of faith, hope, charity; the greatest of these is charity."

Lets all work a little harder to be a littler kinder.

Monday, September 26, 2011

If It Hurts, Don't Do It

 This is an article from the July 2011 Ensign, "This Year It's a Weed-Pull It", by Mont Poulson:
When I was growing up in Lehi, Utah, USA, my family had a garden large enough that we rotated the corn and potatoes every year. One day my father told me to weed the corn while he weeded the potatoes. As I worked my way down a row of six-inch-high (15 cm) corn, I found a solitary potato plant growing larger and more beautiful than any of the potato plants on Dad’s side of the garden. I called to him and asked, “What should I do with this?”

Dad barely looked up. “Pull it.”

Believing he hadn’t realized I was pointing to a potato plant, I objected, “But Dad, it isn’t a weed. It’s a potato.” Again, without looking up, he said, “Not this year. This year it’s a weed. Pull it.” So I did.

Since then I have often pondered the wisdom of my father’s words. I have come to realize that obedience is not just making a right choice but making a right choice in the right season. When I consider all the things Heavenly Father would have me do in this life, doing them at the right time seems as critical as doing them at all. For instance, serving a mission, dating, getting married, having children, gaining an education, and beginning full-time employment are right choices. Yet when people do these good things in the wrong order, the consequences are often disastrous.

King Benjamin taught that we should “see that all … things are done in wisdom and order” (Mosiah 4:27). Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing, for He has said, ‘All things must come to pass in their time’ (D&C 64:32).”

I believe Satan deceives us by convincing us to do the right things in the wrong order: sexual intimacy before marriage, dating before age 16, becoming a parent and then getting married, and so forth. The greatest commandments of God, when compromised or polluted, become plants grown out of season—weeds. When I have been tempted to justify doing the right thing in the wrong season, I have been grateful for my father’s important lesson: “Not this year. This year it’s a weed. Pull it.”

When I consider all the things Heavenly Father would have me do in this life, doing them at the right time seems as critical as doing them at all.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Change....

The Tennessee Nashville Temple

Let me ask you, if I may be so bold, as to what you love and value most in life? What do you put before everything else? What is the first thing you are you not going to give up without a fight?

For me, the answer is family. I don't have a lot of things in this world, but I would have nothing at all if I didn't have the people I love.

We know through the Bible that families are ordained of God, they being central to the Plan of Happiness which God has for us. We know that they are meant to be a place of safety and refuge from the world, bound in righteousness.

From the Prophet and Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" is more then just wise council... It is a warning call, a plead to remember the family and its importance. Go ahead and read it real quick, its not that long and this can wait a second...

 I had the opportunity to go to the temple the other day. I went through, learning much and feeling the spirit, and had time to myself in the Celestial room.

When I went to the temple, I went with many questions that I was seeking personal revelation for. I went hoping in some way to feel my burdens lightened in the house of the Lord. I left feeling fulfilled, and uplifted.

As I was leaving, I passed by the Sealing room where families are bound together by the authority and power that God has delegated to man. This sealing is done not just for the duration of our earthly lives, but done for time and all eternity. I paused at the door, absolutely caught with a flood of memories of my family and the vision of the family I someday hope to have.

When a bride and groom are married in a civil union, we often find the words, "till death do you part" emblazoned somewhere near the end of the officiators words. The happy couple proceeds on to enjoy a wonderful life together, full of challenges and and opportunities for growth, but most especially happiness and peace and joy. Children come, the family grows, and the love that once was only contained by two is multiplied and is filled over capacity. All is well, a "happily ever after" if you will.

The question that comes to my mind is, "How long do you want 'Ever After' to be?"

I KNOW that through the same power and authority that Christ gave Peter in Matthew 16:19, we have the opportunity and blessing to be with our families for eternity. Not just for life, but forever. That marriage and families can be recognized in heaven and on the earth through the Sealing power, that whatever is, "bound on earth shall be bound in heaven" as in the Sealing ordinances found only within the House of the Lord.

I love a song that's been sung to me since I was first adopted and sealed to my family:

I have a family here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.

While I am in my early years,
I’ll prepare most carefully,
So I can marry in God’s temple for eternity

Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.

The value and importance of the family is too important to settle for anything less then everything. My family does and will mean more to me then anything else that I can think of. That is a priority that cannot be compromised. This is because I know that a family living righteous principles, being united by the common goal of being together after this life, is a family built upon a sure foundation. It is a family that will grow and stay close together, and it is a family that will find joy and peace within its walls, and it is a family that will be blessed with the Spirit of the Lord.

My challenge to you is to make an eternal family a goal and priority of yours as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trust Fall

This great story came to my mind the other day and I wanted to share!
A little girl took her father’s lunch to him as he worked deep in a well. Although she could not see her father down in the darkness of the well, when she called to him he answered, so she knew he was there. The father told her to drop the lunch bucket into the hole, and he would catch it. He did so, and in a moment called up to her that he had too much lunch for just one person, and invited her to join him. “Jump,” he said, “and I will catch you. You cannot see me, but I can see you, and I will not let you fall.” She jumped into the dark well and landed safely in her father’s strong arms. Together they had a fun time sharing the lunch.
Great Story, Huh?!
Even though the hole was very deep and likely very scary, the little girl trusted her father after hearing his voice and knowing he was there. She could not see him, but she believed two things about her father: The first was that he COULD catch her, and the second was that he WOULD catch her.

Perhaps not just anyone could have caught her as she fell several feet down the dank well, but as her father was a strong working man, he would have no problem making sure she would be safe. He had the means and capability to make sure everything would be okay.

He also made the promise that he would not let her fall. He had a perspective so that he could see her perfectly silhouetted against the lighted backdrop of day, and he was attentive to her and aware of her as she peered over the edge into the blackness. He called out to her, and promised he would be right there. If she trusted him enough to leap, he would do the rest.

This trust that the father and daughter experienced together is like faith. We too cannot see our Father in Heaven, but He can see us and will make sure that we are okay. He has the power to do so, we have His promise He will follow through. Things wont always be perfect, but He will be there to make sure we end up in His arms as we fall through the darkness.

Ether 12:6 is one of my favorite scriptures on showing faith:
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trail of your faith.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

There's A Heaven Above You

Have you ever absentmindedly done something until you had that, "aha!" type moment? The one where you recognized something that was right in front of you or realized the significance what you already knew? Yeah... I think its safe to say we've all been there once or twice.

I used to absolutely LOVE puzzles! Anything from 1000 count to 10,000 count was my idea of a good time. I would snag one of the unused card tables and set up camp in my room, just working a little here and a little there. I would always start with the edge pieces like any true Pro-Puzzler will tell you to do, and I would slowly go from there. The puzzles with only 1000 pieces would take no time at all, but the larger ones had the capability to turn ugly.

Don't tell me... a white cow in a snowstorm?

One puzzle in particular was particularly tough, seeing as how it was of a field of random flowers that were all mishmashed together. There was no rhyme or reason to much of anything in that puzzle, and it didn't help that I couldn't find the original box to get an idea of what it was supposed to be. I likely worked on that puzzle for a solid week before I got anywhere with it or even could figure out what it was.

Allow me to sidebar here and ask what percentage of a puzzle you would normally need to figure out what it was supposed to be a picture of? Fifty percent? Sixty percent? Two-Thirds? Three Fourths? The entire gosh-darn thing?!?! Usually I can figure it out with less then Sixty percent or so, but for this one it took me till I was at about Eighty percent. Why? Cause after a week of puzzle making, I was more focused on how the little individual pieces fit together then what the end result was going to be.

Oh Duh! It's A Bear!

When my, "aha!" moment came during this particual instance, I realized that I had way more then I actually needed to know what the big picture was gonna be. Sure I didn't have 100% of the puzzle, but then again I never really did "Need" it all to know what was going on.

Life can also be likened unto a puzzle.

I particularly say this when it comes to faith and belief in God, Jesus Christ, and our purpose here in life. I personally feel like each of us are slowly but surely filling in our puzzle, gaining pieces every day through experience and work trying to put it all together. Some of us have pieces others don't, but we are all still trying to know exactly what the picture at the end is gonna be. Some have the general picture, some have lots of the details, some are a couple piece short of a puzzle.

And Some Are Playing The Wrong Game Entirely... And Not Very Well, I Might Add

Straight from the gospel of Elder Donohue, I think God sometimes works with on an individual basis giving us just enough to believe. We can then choose to act on that belief that we have, what we THINK the puzzle is, before he will either confirm or deny that its whats really going on. The picture at the end wont change based upon what we think it looks like, but we can come to know the truth... the truth of what the picture on the puzzle is, and the truth of what the puzzle of life is.

A talk from Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gives some input I particularly liked when talking about coming to know some spiritual or life truth, or in other words a testimony:
“A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. ... An honest seeker hears the message. He asks the Lord in prayer if it is true. The Holy Spirit gives him a witness. This is a testimony. If one’s testimony is strong enough, he repents and obeys the commandments. By such obedience he receives divine forgiveness which remits sin. Thus he is converted to a newness of life. His spirit is healed.”
I can testify that the picture to the puzzle of life is well known by the Holy Spirit, and that as we earnestly seek to know the truth of whats going on, He will tell us through our thoughts and our feelings what things are true. In accordance with that, He will lead us to those things that have eternal importance in the "big picture" we sometimes have scattered around us and not yet put together. He will give us more pieces then we had before and then help us put those pieces together.

 Moroni 10:3-5 is quite possibly my favorite in a long line of scriptures I know and love. It is talking about the Book of Mormon particularly, but it also goes with any spiritual truth...
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Search of Understanding

These past few weeks have been astounding.

Elder Goodwin and I have been opening up a new area up in Portland Tennessee, a process that involves a lot of finding and working with the members of the local congregation. It’s been a blast talking with as many people as we possibly can about the gospel, and it’s absolutely refreshing to be somewhere missionaries haven't been in awhile.

Deserted Island, Anyone?

Often times when we talk with people, their previous encounters with missionaries come up. While they can (usually) never remember what they talked about, it most always is a positive experience. The only problem is that sometimes people feel like they have nothing new to learn from the missionaries or that they already gave it a chance and it’s not something they are interested in doing again. Really though, every missionary offers something new in the way that they present or teach, through their own personal experiences and understanding of the gospel, and even something as simple as the way they approach a prayer.

Though the gospel never changes and the principles and doctrines contained are eternal truths, I have never stopped learning and don't plan on that changing any time soon. It is so full and there is so much contained that it is only line upon line, one little brick on top of another, that we ever build up our knowledge and understanding. As with all things, the gospel cannot be learned all at once, and it sometimes takes even more time to actually understand it to the point where blessings are effective in our own lives.

Case in point... I knew Jesus Christ was my personal Savior and Redeemer long ago. I could tell you a textbook type definition and description of the event and a shallow understanding of what it meant to me, but it didn't really hit home until just a little while ago. I was struggling trying to change things in my life, but I always found a sneaky little voice in the back of my head that told me that, "These faults are just a part of who you are and you're never going to really change".

It made me lose hope for a long time, and with that I stopped putting effort into doing what I knew to be right and trying to change things around. I knew the atonement was real and mattered and was the reason any of us could become something better then what we have been, but I still didn't understand it. If I had, I never would have given up.

I was lucky and blessed enough to have someone help me understand not too long ago.

Though I've spent at least a solid fifteen out of twenty years of my life growing strong in the gospel, I still needed help to understand the Savior and what His atonement meant personally to me. It now means to me that I can change, and that also means that everyone else can change as well. It means to me that we don't have to be defined by those things we once were, and that despite our imperfections and shortcomings that there is a reason for hope. That hope gives me courage.

If I had been unwilling to listen to the person who taught me this, I wouldn't know how much more there was then what I understood. I am grateful that there are missionaries all over the world who are doing exactly what was done for me by helping others have a deeper faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. It makes me think of how much more important it is for me personally to do everything I can to do the exact same for the people in this new area that I am serving in, even if they don't think we have anything new to teach them.

There is more, there is always more. The peace and happiness are real, and the blessings that come from the message we share is too good for me to keep a secret. I’m going to go out and try to share it now!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Step

For some reason, this struck a chord with me when I watched a brief part of it at a member from our congregations house the other day. Hopefully this is the right version with the English voiceover, if not then still look for it elsewhere! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Feeling The Spirit, Getting Answers

I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my life last night.

As we were teaching one of our investigators who has slowly but surely been progressing, I had the prompting that we needed to do something completely off script. As he was telling Elder Goodwin and I about how he wanted so desperately to get back to his happy self and to get back in touch with his Heavenly Father, I felt that we needed to go straight to the source to ask exactly step by step what God had in store for this man.

Serious Times Need Serious To-Do Lists... More Serious Then This One Anyways

The Holy Spirit had testified to me as this man was talking that he was ready to receive personal revelation.

As we kneeled in prayer, each of us offering a prayer for inspiration and guidance with our investigator speaking last, I learned so much in how I personally feel the Spirit. I can tell when the Spirit is present and when it is not, but sometimes I have trouble recognizing exactly what is going on or what is being whispered to me. This time, I got one of the most profound answers I've ever received through the absolute peace and stillness by which these answers were conveyed.

It took me back to the Missionary Training Center when I first started out as a missionary, a time when I things were still very rough. I had felt that I was somehow stalled in my progression and hit a plateau that I couldn't quite overcome. I had been beating myself up over it and it had been getting in the way of everything else, but then one of my instructors talked me down and told me I needed to go into an unused classroom to talk to my Heavenly Father.

In that brief moment of time, everything dissolved away. I had expected to feel the burning or tingle that I often associate with the Spirit. However, as I prayed and pleaded for help and an understanding of what was going on with me, that complete and total feeling of peace came upon me. It was so absolute that I couldn't help but feel everything would be alright.

I felt that same calm again last night as we talked and pleaded for help and guidance. We asked in faith, and I know that we all received inspired individual steps to help one of Gods children get his life in order. The Spirit testified this to me...

Where it goes from here with this story, I don't know yet. I just know that this man felt the Spirit just as strongly as I did, and I know that as he acts upon those things that he received that he will obtain all that his Father in Heaven has for him. I offer my solemn testimony that God lives and loves each of us and that He sent His Son to redeem all mankind because He loves us, and I know He loves us enough to hear every prayer we have ever had. Keep speaking, He hears you.

Time For A Cookie :]

Monday, May 2, 2011

Caught in the Middle of a Crossfire

Believe what you want about missionaries, we have feelings too.

Its hard sometimes, I wont lie... you get to be friends with some of the best people in the world and you have no doubt that you could just talk with them for hours on end. But you always keep your purpose in the back of your mind... you as a missionary are there to share the gospel. You are there in the first place because you have felt these things in your life and seen the positive change and you want to bring that same joy and happiness to those around you. Whatever reasons you had for coming out in the firstplace are void and null once tested... but the reason you stay is because you love the people.

It his the hardest thing to do when you know that there is a good chance that whatever friendly relationship you had will end as soon as you mention the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People don't like to be preached at... people don't like to be told that what they are doing isn't living up to what they could be... people don't like to change.

But we all must change. We all want and need to become something better. All of us fall short, but all of us gotta keep pushing. Our job as missionaries is to invite people to make those changes. My pride and joy is seeing somebody know for themselves that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and then do something about it.

On the flip side... it breaks my heart when there is nothing I can do. Sometimes you just gotta let it go, because whatever happens is up to them. We can only help facilitate and provide whatever tools we can to help the person feel the Spirit... we can't do it for them.

But the reason why I do this, the reason why I risk losing friends, is because I care.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Missing Persons Till We're Counted In The Streets

I love exchanges!

At least once a transfer, every set of missionaries "exchange" companions for a day or two with one staying put and the other going to the other area to do missionary work. Its fun, uplifting, a learning experience, and always seems to bring a sense of relief. Even companions who are the best of friends can use a little bit of away time every once in awhile, and there is no better way to make it happen then on a working vacation!

I took off to Goodlettsvile to work with Elder Nicoll and Thompson and we had a whirlwind of fun and good hard work. It was good to have a chance to meet new people for a little bit while we spread the gospel and watch other missionaries to refine our technique and teaching skills. Most importantly was the Spirit that was felt on that exchange as we talked with people.

The Spirit is what teaches people, not us missionaries. What we say doesn't really matter to people until the Spirit testifies to them personally that the things we teach are true. Any time there is pure and truthful doctrine being talked about, the Spirit will testify to our minds and our hearts that it is of God. We can find the fruits of the Spirit and the way it speaks to us through our feelings in Galatians 5:22, saying:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

Like When John Baptized Jesus

As we were talking with people during the exchange, I saw people as they felt the influence of the Holy Ghost and felt those feelings as talked about in Galatians. I have felt it myself, and its because of these feelings I continue to try to talk with other people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that as we surround ourselves with things that invite the Spirit, we can continually have the fruits of the Spirit effective in our lives.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

There's Gotta Be More To Life...

What if you were told that laughing three times a day would cure arthritis by the local homeless guy down the street? You probably wouldn't believe him, right? But what if someone who had a PH.D and an inside knowledge as to the latest medicine and techniques told you the same thing instead? You just might believe him and give it a try. The difference? The doctor is the authority on the subject and knows his stuff, where as anything from the homeless guy... well, it might be kinda sketchy.

Personally, I'll Take The Guy In The Lab Coat...
I especially love the story of Naaman washing himself seven times in the River Jordan. He went straight to the authority figure at the time, the mighty prophet Elisha, to be healed of his leprosy. We don't know exactly what Naaman was expecting to happen in order to be healed, but we know that he was not expecting the advice he received to wash himself in the muddy water seven times, as characterized by his instant anger and refusal to comply.

His servant knew better then to go against the words of the Lords servant, and pleaded with his master saying,
My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Once Naaman came to his senses had bathed seven times, his flesh was cured and he was healed. Even though he did it grudgingly, he still gained the blessings associated with listening to Gods prophet and by following that simple counsel. Perhaps he had expected some miraculous ceremony or a laying on of hands, but the simple and humble thing of just bathing in a small river in Israel was what would cure him instead.

This story is great because it reminds me personally to follow Gods prophet through all things, but it also makes me think about being asked to do things that don't make any sense from a logical standpoint. You wouldn't think that there would be a correlation between washing seven times in the dirty river and being cured of leprosy, but Naaman did it and good things happened.

We are counseled by a prophet of God today to also do things that sometimes don't have a visible and direct cause and effect relationship. Faith and logic sometimes just don't go together. One example I particularly like is the Word of Wisdom, which includes no usage of tobacco, drinking alcohol, harmful/illegal drugs, coffee and tea. Promised blessings from living this Word of Wisdom are found in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
The blessing of health comes as no surprise seeing as how modern medicine and science warn against tobacco usage, and there innumerable cases where alcohol in some way damaged families or directly ended lives entirely. Other things such as coffee and tea have been found to be harmful due to tanic acid and the natural addictive factor of them.

But really, the real blessings of health are the ones that will come from being obedient to Gods word. If we look at the Word of Wisdom or any other of Gods commandments with the mind to justify our actions, to get around something we don't like, or to muddle through the gray area to find what we want, we miss the point entirely of living Gods commandments because we love him. Its not about abstaining from or doing something to get blessings, its about being willing to do what God has asked of us.

I look to the part where it says, "And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" to remind myself that God is not limited by mans reasoning or logic. By keeping Gods word we are promised blessings of these "treasures of knowledge", even though there really isn't a direct correlation between drinking/smoking/drugs ect. and finding wisdom in some degree.

Obedience to Gods commandments bring forth blessings! It all comes down to being obedient and choosing whether or not to follow Christs example and being humble enough to do someones will other then our own. Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 has this to say about the relationship between obedience and blessings:
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
For Naaman, the blessing of being healed from his affliction would come only by his being humble enough to do the thing and live the law that was required for him to be healed. It didn't necessarily make sense, but he was commanded by Gods servant Elisha to do it. We find that same authority in the scriptures, in a modern day prophet, and through our prayers as we receive answers straight from our Heavenly Father. As we follow we continually find more peace and joy in life through the outpouring of blessings from Him!

I know that as we strive to keep Gods commandments, whatever they may be, we show our love for Him and our willingness to do all that is necessary to one day enter into His kingdom. Doing small things like washing in a river may seem pointless, but they have eternal consequences and bring forth blessings. All we have to do is live it and test it for ourselves, and I know God will catch each and every one of His children.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Define the What and Why

This one is gonna cost me...

One good man, one man who does not put on his religion once a week with his Sunday coat, but wears it for his working dress, and lets the thought of God grow into him, and through and through him, till everything he says and does becomes religious... that man is worth a thousand sermons. He is a living Gospel. He is the image of God, and men see his good works, and admire them in spite of themselves, and see that they are God-like, and that God's grace is no dream, but that the Holy Spirit is still among men. They get a glimpse of God, and glorify their Father who is in heaven.                                                  -Charles Kingsley

Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy spoke this past General Conference on recognizing and developing Christlike attributes, but first he started off with talking a little bit about on being true to thine own self. His thoughts on the subject included the thought, "To be and to do are inseparable. Do without be—hypocrisy—portrays a false image to others, while be without do portrays a false image to oneself."

That IS A Good Question!
We all gotta check ourselves.

I don't know what most people believe. I couldn't possibly tell you because I can't possibly spend enough time asking and understanding. However, I can tell the difference between the people who act on what they believe and those who don't in about the first five minutes of talking with them. I can usually tell whether or not the beliefs and values they claim to hold actually have sway over them in their everyday life or whether its just a front they put on once a week.

I struggle with this. Who I was before I decided to serve a mission is not who I am trying to be now. Being a missionary just doesn't come naturally to me. What happens when who you are trying to be is a better thing then you have been for twenty some years? To be or not to be...

The most important thing for all of us to remember is this:
Whatever we have been in our life thus far is trumped by the fact that we were his child before we even came to earth. We are all innately good. We all have the potential to be as God and Christ would have us be and, "Be perfect, even as [our] Father which is in heaven is perfect". As children of God, we have claim to that divine potential.

There are things we can do to unlock this potential... Praying specifically for a desire, for distinct attributes, for patience and for diligence is a good start. Iimmersing ourselves in the life of Jesus Christ through the scriptures, thus coming to a better understanding of him will help tremendously. Lastly, faking it till we make it comes to mind. The things we did and didn't do will someday define us. Vince Lombardi has one of my favorite quotes for this:
Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Lets get to work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Knock Me Down, I'll Keep On Moving

We live in the, "On Demand" era where everything is at our fingertips with just a touch of a button or a couple of keystrokes. With it comes just the tiniest lack of patience...

How many people get sucked in by things that offer results FAST and drawn to various get rich quick schemes? Too many times its just because we naturally want to take the shortcut to get what we want even when there rarely IS no real shortcut. It needs be that lots of little pieces of work need to go in between our first setting out and the large hoped for end result. Confucius is credited with saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

A scripture in Alma 37:6-7 talks a little bit on this:
Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.
We all want big things in life, we all want to make big things happen, but if you don't make lots of little things happen you really are not going to get anywhere fast. I have found that there is a need to constantly and consistently build up small things to put together something greater.

I first did this in basketball as I grew up, putting in little bits of work wherever I could to catch up with the people who were physically superior to me and more physically gifted. Little by little over the course of about four years, I started to make my mark and catch up with them. I really can't say that im ever going to be a really amazing player, but I can definitely be the best that I can be.

Okay, So Maybe Not THAT Good...

I have since been able to carry some of that over with my being on a mission. Every morning, we have a morning routeine that ends at 10:00 am when we go out to work. Before that time, we prepare for the day with our personal and companionship study. I recognize that there are way better missionaries out there, but whats most important is doing things so that I can become better by putting in little bits of consistent effort and work.

Elder Ballard gave an awesome talk for the May 1990 Ensign speaking on "Small and Simple Things", but his last talk in General Conference really caught me. It made me think about all the small and simple things that can be related to little flakes of gold like an old-tyme miner might look for, and how its not the giant nuggets that bring forth wealth so much as the dilligent and consistent treasuring up of tiny flakes.

Now as I go throughout my day, I've started looking for the, "flakes" that over time can add up to equal or outweigh a nugget. The small and simple things, the "here a little and there a little" of the world, are what amount to great things over the course of time.