Tag Archives: Mormon

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!

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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.

The Secrets of the Mormon Church

28 Jul

I am about to reveal the 5 great secrets practiced and followed by all the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were revealed a little over a year ago by a General Authority of the Church, in a meeting which I was privileged to attend:

Secret #1. Pray every single day.

Secret #2. Read from the scriptures every single day.

Secret #3. Hold a Family Home Evening every single week.

Secret #4. Attend the temple as often as possible.

Secret #5. Always pay a full and honest tithe.

Okay, okay. These aren’t exactly secrets. But when the speaker we were listening to in that church meeting said he was going to reveal the secrets of the leaders of the Church and then listed off those things, I was as surprised as you probably are now.

But then, none of us are really surprised, are we? These are the things we are taught to do from the scriptures and in church lessons. And we are promised in the scriptures that they will bring us great strength and joy. Success and happiness follow these regular, consistent actions:

    • Prayer and scripture study open the doors of communication with our Heavenly Father, so that we can receive His guidance and His love.
    • Spending quality time each week with our families fosters love and peace in the home, strengthening the eternal relationships of families.
    • Attending the temple often is an opportunity for members of the Church to receive greater learning by the power of the Holy Ghost, within the sacred walls of the House of the Lord.
    • And paying a full and honest tithe unlocks the blessings found in Malachi 3: 10-12.

    Following these principles has blessed the lives of the church leaders. They have developed great faith and they are able to tell us, with the knowledge of their own experience backing them up, that this is the right path. The secret to success is found in these simple actions.

I promised myself again, the day that I heard these secrets, to live them. I know that they will bless my life.

Good Things to Come

9 Jun

Once upon a time, a young man knelt down to pray. And he prayed. And he prayed. And he prayed.

I’ve always been struck with the story of Enos from the Book of Mormon. I think all kids are, when they read that he prayed all day and all night long. But lately, it’s not the length of his prayer that has got me thinking, but the different answers that he receives.

Enos prays first for forgiveness of his sins. He wasn’t a perfect person and he’d made mistakes. In Enos 1: 5, he receives his answer: ” … Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee … “. So straightforward! So simple!

Next, Enos shows great love and prays for his people, the Nephites. The answer he receives is that if they will be obedient and righteous, they will be blessed, but if they turn away from the Lord, they will have sorrow. After this, Enos says “my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord” (11). There was nothing new about this promise that the Lord made. It was clear from the beginning of the Book of Mormon that the people would be blessed if they followed His way and cursed if they didn’t (1 Nephi 2:10-24). All God did in answer to Enos’ prayer was to remind him of the covenant that was already made. But sometimes a reminder is all we need to strengthen our faith. We need to remember that the Lord is constant, unchanging, loving. And then we can build trust and unshaken faith.

Last, Enos showed true charity in praying for his enemies, the Lamanites — a people that had been warring with his own for years. He asked that, if the Nephites should be destroyed, at least their records might be preserved so that one day the Lamanites could read them and learn about God. In answer to this prayer, God promised that the records would be brought forth “in his own due time” (16). After this, Enos says that his “soul did rest” (17).

The answer to the first prayer was direct and straightforward, and we all receive answers like this on special occasions. The answer to the second was a gentle reminder, which is a more common answer. But the answer to Enos’ last prayer is perhaps the most miraculous. The true answer didn’t come until about 2200 years later, when the Book of Mormon was translated and published so that all could read it, including the descendents of the Lamanites living on the American continent. 2200 years! Enos didn’t even begin to see the fulfillment of that promise. But he didn’t fret about it. His soul was at rest. He didn’t have to see the promise right away because he knew that it would come; God had promised it.

In the middle of a trial, it’s hard to see how things are going to get better. Sometimes we wonder if the promises of the Lord will really be fulfilled. But one of the titles given to Christ in the New Testament is “an high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9: 11). God is constant. He is unchanging. He is loving. His promises will be fulfilled, but in His own time. In the meantime, we can have peace. Things may not be perfect, but there are good things to come.

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