Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Revamped, Retooled, Renewed

7 Jan

This is my first post to this blog in over 2 years! I created this site while I was a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a space to share my testimony of the gospel. When I got home, I let the site sit as it was, a shrine to my time in the New York Rochester Mission. But why should it just sit there? Just because I’m not a full-time missionary anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t have a testimony of Jesus Christ, or that I have nothing uplifting to share. So I’ve done some revamping of the site and I now plan to share regular tidbits from my personal study of the gospel.

I’ve been planning to do this retooling for a while, and it’s purely coincidence that it happened around the start of the new year. But while we’re here, let’s make a lesson out of it.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency of the Church, shared the following in a recent article:

dieter-f-uchtdorf-largeI love getting a new computer with a clean hard drive. For a time it works perfectly. But as the days and weeks pass by and more and more programs get installed (some intentional, some not so intentional), eventually the computer begins to stall, and things it used to do quickly and efficiently become sluggish. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Even getting it to start can become a chore as the hard drive becomes cluttered with miscellaneous chaos and electronic debris. There are times when the only recourse is to reformat the computer and start over.

Human beings can likewise become cluttered with fears, doubts, and burdensome guilt. The mistakes we have made (both intentional and unintentional) can weigh upon us until it may seem hard to do what we know we should.

In the case of sin, there is a wonderful reformatting process called repentance that allows us to clear our internal hard drives of the clutter that burdens our hearts. The gospel, through the miraculous and compassionate Atonement of Jesus Christ, shows us the way to cleanse our souls of the stain of sin and once again become new, pure, and as innocent as a child.

That, to me, is the essential beauty of the gospel message. No matter how cluttered our hearts become, no matter how muddled our priorities, no matter how stained our past, we can be renewed through the cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. And we don’t have to wait for a new year to start again. Every day is a fresh cycle of the earth around the sun. Every hour is a fresh sweep of the hand around the clock. Even every moment is a fresh breath that can start us on a new path through this life. We don’t have to stay cluttered, muddled, or stained. Heavenly Father has given us infinite opportunities to make the right choices. And every single right choice brings us greater happiness and peace because it brings us closer to Him.

Happy 2014!

I dedicate this post to the dedication of the dedicated…

22 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, we New York missionaries were asked to ponder the question “How can I be a successful missionary?”. In the midst of my pondering, I came across a story told by President Thomas S. Monson:

Elder Thomas Michael Wilson entered the mission field already having battled cancer in his 23 years of life. His companions described his faith as ” unquestioning, undeviating, and unyielding”. 11 months into his 2 years of service, cancer returned, but Elder Wilson persisted in his missionary efforts. He underwent surgery and the amputation of his arm, but stayed in the mission field. President Monson relates how “Elder Wilson continued month after month his precious but painful service as a missionary. Blessings were given; prayers were offered. Because of his example of dedication, his fellow missionaries lived closer to God.” As the end of his mission drew near, so did the end of his short life, but he asked, and was allowed, to serve one additional month. Elder Wilson died shortly after returning home, and was buried with his missionary nametag in place.

As I read this story, I recognized it as a success story. Elder Wilson’s life was short. He didn’t make a lot of money. He didn’t raise a beautiful family. He didn’t set any records or break any barriers. But he dedicated himself completely to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also seen this same quality over and over in the mormon.org videos. These are quick glimpses into the lives of members of the LDS church and each one seems to be a glimpse into a life of success and joy. The common thread that I’ve seen is that each person featured talks about their dedication to worthy causes — family, talents, interests, life.

One of my favorite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw, who said:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

Dedication is success. In the last few weeks I have formed the opinion that to be successful in life, all one has to do is find something worthy to be passionate about, and be dedicated. For my part, I choose to be dedicated to my family, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, for the next week and a half, my mission as a representative of the Lord.

Repent ye! Repent ye!

9 Aug

I’ve learned an incredible lesson the last couple of weeks.

Being a missionary is a big responsibility. We are called by the Lord to “stand in his place … to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the people to whom he has sent [us]” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie). I can tell you quite honestly that I fall short of that every day. It can really start to weigh on you, all the times that you don’t quite do enough or don’t quite get it right. It’s hard to face the eternal consequences of the work of salvation. Even the little mistakes start to add up.

But this week I’ve been doing something different. Every night, as I pray before going to sleep, I spend some time thinking about those little things that I missed. I ask my Heavenly Father for forgiveness for specific things, not just the lump sum of falling short. Each and every little thing I can think of, I take the time to make right with the Lord.

I can’t say that I’m finding fewer little things, and I know I’m not finding all the little things. But I’m trying. And when I wake up in the morning I feel good. I feel clean. I feel more worthy to have the Holy Ghost as my companion.

I’ve learned these last couple of weeks that repentance is not just for big sins, it’s also for all the little things that we know we could have done better. And repentance isn’t painful or fearful, it’s the most peaceful, joyful thing we can do.

I know that Jesus Christ came into this world to suffer for our sins and to make it possible for us to be healed of spiritual pain. I know that He loves us. I know that He will lead me back to my Heavenly Father. And I know that all of this depends on my willingness to act and to apply the atonement to my life. I’ve been working harder on that, and I want to recommend it to all of you. Repent! Not because you’re afraid of the consequences of big sin, but because it will take away the burden of little stones that has built upon your back.

Healed, but not Cured

8 Jul

I was so touched by this story that I read on mormon.org:

When I was seventeen, I started my senior year of high school running varsity cross country. One clear Saturday morning, we went to a meet a couple cities away. I didn’t feel poorly before the race began, and I ran my best ever for a while. Then I began to feel like I was going to faint. I pushed that feeling aside with all my might, while praying that if I had to go down that I would not faint somewhere I might be seriously hurt. As I reached my coaches part way through the course, I collapsed on the black top.

This was my first faint, and the first indication that I had a chronic, incurable disorder called neurocardiogenic syncope, a part of dysautonomia. It changed my life dramatically, forcing me to finish high school from home and delay college. I lost my identity, my independence, and my friends. But I did not lose my faith in Christ.

My greatest comfort during that time was reading and talking of Christ. I particularly loved the stories of the New Testament where he healed the lame, the blind, the woman with the issue of blood. I remember praying earnestly that I too had sufficient faith to be healed. I pleaded for my life back. I desired to be taken up in His arms and made whole.

As much time passed, I realized that He had healed me, not cured me. I accepted that though He had the power to cure me, He had chosen not to at this time. As my mother taught when she cried with me at my bedside, Christ is the only one who understands what I go through. If He knows that I need this ever present governor to develop me into who He needs me to be, then I accept. And that has made all the difference.

In the Book of Mormon is the story of a people who were in bondage, and they suffered a lot. They were threatened with death just for praying, but they didn’t stop calling upon God. They prayed in their hearts night and day for release. God didn’t free this people right away, but He did “ease the burdens which [were] put upon [their] backs,” and He “did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24: 14-15)

I know that God hears our prayers. Even when we can’t see the answer right away, we can trust that He is working for our good. And that trust may not cure us, but it can heal us.

Facing the Blowtorch

24 Jun

I saw the coolest video the other day!

It started with a paper cup–just a normal, empty paper cup. And a blowtorch. When the blowtorch was turned on, the cup was completely destroyed by the fire in about 20 seconds.

But that’s not what made the video so cool.

Next, a paper cup was filled halfway with water. The blowtorch was turned on, but only the top of the cup burned and blew away; the cup was safe wherever it was touching the water.

But that’s not what made the video so cool, either.

For the last segment, a paper cup was filled completely with water. The blowtorch was blasting on that cup for two full minutes, but the cup came out victorious! All it had was a little burn mark on the side. Eventually, the water would boil away, and the cup would once again be vulnerable, but until then, the cup was impervious to even the fire of the blowtorch.

What really made this video so cool was that we can apply it to our lives. So, if we are the paper cup, and the blowtorch and the fire represent everything that is hurled at us in this life — everything that tries to destroy us — how do we fill ourselves with water so that we can be victorious?

We read in John, chapter 7: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (verse 37). To the Samaritan woman at the well Christ said: “…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4: 14).

The teachings and the gospel of Jesus Christ are the water that keep us safe from trial, from temptation, from everything that would destroy us. We must fill ourselves with this water. And when the heat comes, and the water begins to evaporate, it is by making a habit of prayer, scripture study, and church attendance that we will replenish our cup.

True, we still receive some wounds in life. We still have to face tough times, just as the cup still received some marks from the fire. But as we continue to fill ourselves from the well of Christ’s love and teachings, we can handle the bumps and bruises along the way, and we won’t be destroyed. I know that the water of Christ is a well that we can draw from forever, that it will never dry out and never fail us. And I know that it will keep us strong.

%d bloggers like this: