Saturday, March 26, 2011

Choose to be a Hero

Occasionally I ponder about what I will say in my homecoming address. When the time comes there will be two years worth of experiences, trials, triumphs, and people to reflect upon. How can one cram and synthesize so much into a ten to fifteen minute report? Despite the vast array of possibilities and ideas, my mind seems to always point towards a particular message and audience while reflecting on the matter. The audience being young men and the message being that a full-time mission will be the best experience of their life.

How can that be? How can following a rigorous schedule every day, being rejected by thousands of strangers, and putting on hold the passions and goals of life for two long years amount to any sense of achievement or grandeur? Can it be that constantly studying the scriptures, praying, and being involved with the Lord's work actually makes one happy? Let me explain. I will tell you what my mission has taught me. It has taught me that we must always be positive, that setting worthy goals and striving to achieve them brings a sense of fulfillment, and that giving is better than receiving. I have learned that goals without a vision is drudgery and that a vision without a goal is a fantasy. I have learned how to compromise in times of disagreement, how to overcome times of deep physical and emotional trial, how to work and serve in a loving manner. I have learned the joys of seeking the welfare of others, and bringing them unto their maker. I know now that to choose Christ is to choose to change. I have also learned that my loyalties should not be narrow but that I should behold everyone equally as brothers and sisters. I have learned for myself that "wickedness never was happiness" and that true happiness comes from prolonged righteousness. The Lord's promise that if you will lose yourself for his sake, you will find yourself is true. I know it and cannot deny it. If there is a young man out there that is reading this blog, I testify to you that your mission will change your life. It will be the best, hardest thing you will ever do but it will save you. I know because it has saved me and has opened my spiritual eyes to see things as they really are. I am not perfect yet but I have a vision of my life now and a deep gratitude for the Lord. I beg you to choose to be a hero and reach out to save those that will accept your help.


Friday, March 18, 2011

I Love To See The Temple

I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.

 I love to see the temple. It is representative of all that is good and pure in this world. Within its walls, worthy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints receive important ordinances and perform service on behalf of others. It is a place of refuge, a sacred lodging for those seeking peace, and a house where the voice of God can be heard and understood. As missionaries in the Santa Rosa Mission, we have the opportunity of visiting the lovely Oakland temple, situated on a mountainside overlooking the city and the City (meaning San Francisco for those unfamiliar with bay area lingo). The building stands brilliantly, beckoning the attention of all within sight. Its glow at night has even been rumored to guide ships lost in the heavy fog common to the bay and to aid aircrafts in positioning themselves so as to land safely. What great symbolism we find in these temples "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Are we worthy temples unto all who are around us? Do we invite all and give peace and refuge? Are we good and pure? Do we shed forth our light to guide those lost sailors who would otherwise carry on in blind despair and hopelessness? My invitation to all is to meditate on the kind of temple you are and how you can improve. I know that as we do so the Spirit of the Lord will more abundantly dwell within us and propel us to greater happiness and peace--feelings inherently present in the temples of the Lord.

Us at the Christus of the Oakland Temple

Saturday, March 5, 2011

As Simple as That

For this week's post, I quote Joseph Fielding Smith in an address entitled "The Plan of Salvation" given in November 1971. It is many times difficult to explain our faith to others because there is so much we want to tell them and because our message has become so familiar to us that we speak as in tongues, utilizing jargon that is very much "Mormon." In this address, President Smith states clearly and plainly our beliefs relative to the Bible and to the origin of our church. Perhaps this will aid in condensing the message of the restoration to a more conversational explanation:

"Let us make this very plain. We do not look back to the Bible alone for our knowledge of the Lord and his laws. We do not claim priesthood or power or authority from heaven because these were possessed by the ancient saints. Our roots are not buried in the rubble of past ages.

It is true that we believe the Bible, more literally and fully and completely, I am sure, than others do. We accept it as the word of God, and strive to live in harmony with its teachings. We have all the knowledge that the world has about the dealings of the Lord with people in former times.

But the gospel which we have received has come to us by revelation, by the opening of the heavens, by the ministering of angels, in modern times. This dispensation began in the spring of 1820 with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith, my great-uncle, the prophet chosen and prepared by the Lord to usher in his great latter-day work."

Thereafter Moroni came and delivered the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated “by the gift and power of God.” It is a new witness for Christ, and an additional proof of the Bible. Then various angels came down from the courts of glory and conferred again upon mortal men the same priesthood, the same powers, the same keys possessed by those of old.

In due course the Prophet received—line upon line and precept upon precept—those revelations which set forth what men must believe and do to gain salvation. Then, pursuant to divine command and following a long night of darkness and universal apostasy, the true Church of Jesus Christ was organized again on earth on the sixth day of April 1830.

This church administers the gospel and makes salvation available to all who will believe and obey those eternal laws which Deity has ordained to prepare men for life in his presence.

May I restate for the Saints and announce for the benefit of all what is involved in gaining salvation. Our third Article of Faith states: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel...

Now I thank the Lord for his goodness and mercy and grace in revealing anew to us in this day the terms and conditions upon which salvation may be won. I thank him for the restoration of the priesthood and power which enable us to perform the ordinances of salvation so they will be binding on earth and sealed everlastingly in the heavens."

What more can I say? I testify that these things are true. Not only do they make sense to my logical mind but more importantly, the Holy Ghost has borne witness of its truth and has left an eternal mark on my soul--a mark that cannot be denied nor deconstructed.