Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Fight Against Sin

In the world today there are temptations that attack, evil influences that distract, and spiritual plagues that grind away at our souls. They come from every angle and attempt to constantly scourge us. They appear in magazines, television soap operas, computer screens and other media, and even in those that we deem worthy to be called our friends. Who is the director of all this evil? The response is as clear as it is obvious: Satan. In his fight against his brothers he does all within his power to make us miserable like unto himself--utilizing a litany of methods that include pornography, jealousy, and pride. Reflecting on the vast and destructive effort undertaken by the adversary, I ask myself: How can we protect ourselves and remain clean in the eyes of the Lord?

Perhaps Paul's counsel shows us the way:

Put on the whole aarmour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... Stand therefore, having your loins agirt about with btruth, and having on the cbreastplate of drighteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of apeace; Above all, taking the shield of afaith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery bdarts of the wicked. And take the helmet of asalvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:11-18).

Nephi's vision of the Church of Christ in the latter days also teaches us something of great importance:

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were aarmed with brighteousness and with the cpower of God in great glory" (1 Nefi 14:14).

My beloved brothers and sisters, the only way to protect ourselves against the great wickedness that surrounds us is to put on the armour of our God. The whole armour. If we excuse ourselves on the smallest of points, we will be discovered and attacked. Even in a perverse world as ours we have, as Nephi saw, the power of the Lord in great glory. If we make the effort to keep the commandments of God and seek to develop virtue, we will have peace and protection. Which part of your armour is the weakest right now? I invite you to make plans to strengthen it so that you can withstand the onslaught. Remember that the result of the war against evil is already determined. Jesus Christ and his followers will conquer. I pray that we will be suited sufficiently to stand at the last day and avoid the possibility of becoming a "Christian casualty."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

For Joy Thereof

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto atreasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matthew 13:44).

Recently a dear friend and fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the city of Santa Rosa sent me a message of considerable length via facebook. Therein she shared with great enthusiasm a powerful missionary experience she had had with one of her friends while reading the Book of Mormon. It was inspiring to read how much her friend related to the experience of Nephi, one of the principal writers, and how the Spirit had worked with him to leave an impression of truth on his soul. There was also found within her tale a sobering message. In her own words she states "[When] I gave him the Book of Mormon he held it close to his chest like it was the most precious thing anyone had ever given him and thanked me many times for it. I know it is a great gift, but I've always had one, to see his reaction to getting it really made me grateful for how I was raised." Later on she writes, "I totally understand Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 so much better now. How exciting it must be to be a missionary and have this kind of experience on a regular basis. I feel like my heart could just leap out of my chest and dance around."

The thought quickly came to my mind, "Do I have this experience daily? Perhaps weekly? At least monthly?" Too much time had elapsed that I had not considered the shear magnanimity of the experience it is to listen to someone's concerns and then to reach out lovingly by sharing one's testimony of the gospel. Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 teaches us that " if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one asoul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" Indeed the gospel is joy. I know it is through personal experience. It is a treasure and we can be the treasure maps that will lead souls to uncover an unexpected but much-welcomed abundance of blessings. Thank you sister, whose identity I will protect, for reminding us of the eternal implications of missionary work and of the great joy that we should feel as we serve. We must never take for granted any of the beautiful gifts that we have recieved nor any of the beautiful people we serve. This is my prayer for all of us tonight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Life and My Joy

A few days ago we missionaries had an opportunous visitation from Elder Patrick Kearon of the first quorum of the Seventy. It was a splendid event in which there was felt a generous outpouring of the Spirit, to the degree of touching and edifying all that were present. One of the central themes of the conference was initialized by the question of one sister missionary who said that it was easy for her to preach and then watch the marvelous effects of the atonement of Christ operate in the lives of others but it was exceedingly difficult for herself to accept forgiveness of her own sins and mistakes. This is a doubt that I too have experienced in my life; how could the Lord forgive and change a being as impure as I? Elder Kearon taught that many times we do not understand the atonement of Christ. It is an infinite act full of grace and radiating with mercy. Sincere repentance is like placing our sins and afflictions in a hole we've dug, covering it, and forgetting about it. The earth, or the atonement, receives these things and swallows them in their entirety.

"O the awisdom of God, his bmercy and cgrace! For behold, if the dflesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who efell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the fdevil, to rise no more.

O how great the agoodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our bescape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, cdeath and dhell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit." (2 Nephi 9:8, 10)

How great is the love of God that he would prepare a means whereby our garments may be made white. We should not feel as though the atonement of Christ applies to everyone except ourselves. He suffered for every man and woman and that includes you. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he has all power given him in Earth and Heaven to change us and heal us continually. I am grateful for the merciful atonement and know that we can put our whole trust in it because Christ completed it for each of us. In him is my life and my joy.