With a new year, I find myself reflecting on years past and future. As I do so, I realize that the year immediately before me is the most important year of my life. This is so because the decisions I make this year will either help or hinder my goal to be a true follower of Christ.
As I look about me, and observe my fellow followers of Christ at church, and in the bloggernacle, I am both inspired and concerned. I am inspired by many who successfully navigate the challenges of mortality by taking the Holy Spirit as their guide. They hunger and thirst after righteousness and are blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Others, cause me concern because their focus is to mingle the scriptures with the philosophies of men. The cost for this can be the loss of or the less frequent companionship of the Holy Ghost.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, the Book of Mormon describes this common condition among the Nephites saying:
And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith. Jarom 1:4 Continue reading
When we fail to recognize those things that are of greater value and mistakenly pursue something of lesser value, we slow our progress and miss the greater blessings. There is a saying that brings this principle into focus:
“There are many who struggle and climb and finally reach the top of the ladder, only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall.”
Those who desire to be nearer to God need to make sure they are placing their ladder on the correct wall. Heavenly Father has given us prophets to help insure that we struggle and climb up the ladder that will take us to the correct destination. Hear their counsel:
“Now, if you have the Holy Ghost with you—and every one ought to have—I can say unto you that there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing, there is no greater testimony given to any man on earth.” Wilford Woodruff, Deseret Weekly, April 6, 1889, 451. Continue reading
President Monson can be remembered as a prophet. There are many examples of his prophetic gift. One account, among many, that stands out in my mind is the Methvin family.
In 1974, Christal Methvin , a 10-year-old dying of cancer, wanted a blessing from a General Authority. She looked at the pictures of all the General Authories and selected Thomas Monson. With the faith of a child she and her family asked Heavenly Father that apostle Thomas Monson come to give her a blessing. Her prayers brought about changes to Elder Monson Stake assignment. No one in Salt Lake knew about Christal, but the Lord did. Inspiration began to flow. President Benson told Elder Monson he felt impressed to send him to Shreveport Louisiana Stake.
When Elder Monson arrived for his assignment he learned about Christal for the first time. He was told that he would need to travel over 100 miles round trip to give her a blessing. He looked the schedule over and couldn’t find a way to do it. He suggested to local leaders that they pray for her in the Stake meeting and left it at that. However, the Lord had other plans.
Elder Monson gave an account of what happen in Oct 1975 General Conference saying,
“When the word was communicated to the Methvin family, there was understanding but a trace of disappointment as well. Hadn’t the Lord heard their prayers? Hadn’t he provided that Brother Monson would come to Shreveport? Again the family prayed, asking for a final favor—that their precious Christal would realize her desire. Continue reading
I haven’t always been a sincere follower of Christ. As a boy, holidays recognizing the Savior were just another holiday, like Halloween or Presidents day. The joy of being out of school, receiving gifts, and eating all the goodies at Christmas and Easter were at the top of my list. The significance of the holiday didn’t matter; a fun time with a lot of goodies was the important thing.
Later, as a worldly teenager, I still enjoyed holidays because of the “goodies”—however my definition of goodies had changed from food and candy to “partying.”
Nowadays, as a follower of Christ, I travel memory lane, thinking of the events that took me from a boyhood fascination with holiday goodies, to teenage keg parties, and lastly to an abiding appreciation of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. The transition from a worldly teenager to a follower of Christ was, and continues to be, an incredible journey. I’d like to share a few things I’ve leaned on this journey with the hope that it will help others who are making transitions in their lives.
A Startling Answer to Prayer Continue reading
At the end of World War II, Ezra Taft Benson and Fred W. Babbel went to Europe with church welfare supplies. They experienced many miracles which Brother Babbel recorded and then published.
The following account details a remarkable healing and a heart rending failure of love that prevented the healing of a child.
Elder Babbel said: [In late autumn 1946 I gave a talk in the sacrament meeting of the South London Branch] As I was speaking, I had the keen realization that unlimited power was surging through my being. … Little wonder, therefore, that afterwards when I was asked to to bless two of the members present, I felt that there was no limit to the blessing each could receive.
The first of these was a sister in her seventh month of pregnancy who had been bleeding so profusely that both she and her husband feared she might lose the baby prematurely. As I confirmed the annointing, I again felt the tremendous surge of power I have mentioned, and I knew that she would be healed from that very moment. (She later confirmed that she was immediately healed.) Continue reading
The Lord’s work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Apparently, even for a God, His work is not without its difficulties. Consider the following verse of scripture:
…they will not repent…the cup of mine indignation is full; for behold, my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not. D&C 29:17
When the Lord says “they will not repent” because “they hear me not” He is speaking to members of the church by way of command, and by way of invitation to those who do not belong to the church. The Savior seems to be lamenting: saying in essence, “I died for you and you won’t hear me. My sacrifice, My blood, My suffering won’t cleanse you unless you hear Me and repent.”
The Lord also says that “the cup of my indignation is full”. This conveys the idea that the Lord is angry with those “who hear me not”. In another verse of scripture we learn more about this from the perspective of God the Father: Continue reading
If we desire to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ we need to study it like we would any other subject. The familiar process of reading, attending class, writing, and discussing will allow us to acquire information. However, there is a difference between information and understanding. Information is to understanding, what an acorn is to an Oak tree.
Years ago I attended a series of lectures where the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon were discussed. I later learned that some of the scholars who lectured were agnostic. This surprised me. I was hard pressed to understand how someone could spend their life studying these subjects and never experience the things of the spirit.
Since then I’ve come to understand that the gospel net gathereth of every kind. The gospel and the church are attractive in many ways. Some individuals are drawn to the message of the restoration, others by those who proclaim the gospel, some are intrigued by the doctrine and or history, and still others are drawn to the culture and the social aspects, while some find the moral and ethical principles to their liking.
Whatever our initial reason or interest is in the phenomena of Mormonism, there comes a time when our acorn of information needs to be transformed into understanding. The scripture teach there is only one way this can be done: Continue reading
Mormons have been warned from the time of Joseph Smith that they would need to be able to stand steadfast when opposition visited. In the early days of the church opposition manifest itself in many ways. Church history chronicles how the saints dealt with opposition in their day. The Book of Mormon repeatedly portrays the kind of opposition Nephite church members encountered. One example that is applicable in our day is found in Mosiah 29 where “many of the rising generation…did not believe the tradition of their fathers…And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. “
In our day, some of our young people (and old as well) are leaving church activity and hardening their hearts. They have their reasons just as the people at the time of Alma had. Mormons honor personal agency, therefore we should respect the decisions of those who decide to abandon their faith. However, some of those who leave then choose to destroy the faith of others and create dissension in the church, just as dissenters did in the days of Alma.
In 1978, nearly 40 years ago, Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke at BYU and warned students and faculty about what we experiencing today:
“Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency.” Continue reading
Note: I’ve used footnotes in this post (26 to be exact). To view a footnote click the number. After reading the footnote click the number again to return.
The word “testimony” looms large in the vocabulary of Latter-Day-Saints. We are frequently reminded by our leaders that having, and maintaining a vibrant testimony is essential to our salvation. The importance of a testimony is highlighted by the fact that each month, one Sunday meeting is set apart for the “bearing” of testimonies.
At these monthly Fast and Testimony Meetings members stand and bear witness that they have a testimony of the truthfulness of the church.
Whence cometh a testimony? Continue reading
Following is a compilation of thoughts and comments about the Book of Mormon from church leaders, scholars, and others.
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion. Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 194