Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Last Public Address of an Apostle of Jesus Christ

This is a clip from Elder Joseph B. Wirthin's final public address, and final public testimony. Elder Wirthin passed away on Monday, December 1. He has long been one of my favorite speakers because of his ability to mix his sense of humor and deliver powerful, spiritual messages from God. He was an amazing man.

Seth Adam Smith is the author of this video. I have used his powerful videos many times on this blog. Thanks for your work too Seth.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Where Those Who Seek To Take Away Our Freedom Will Lead Us

"And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning."

-Ether 8:22-25

Monday, November 24, 2008

Woe Unto Them That Call Evil Good and Good Evil

Isaiah 5:20 is a scripture that has significantly stood out in my mind of late.
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
When a "woe" (or a "wo") is pronounced in the scriptures, it is usually a warning. To me, these statements really stand out. A "woe" says to me, "Hey Scott, stop for a second and pay attention. You probably should read this again and maybe a few more times still, because this is really important".

I never thought homosexuality would become so widely accepted and such a divisive issue that this evil would be called good. To me, this is a very clear issue. Homosexual acts are wrong (see Leviticus 18:22) People, and frankly the adversary, disguise this evil as good calling it "love". Even more, those who do good are being called evil. Members of my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, and many other Christian religions doing good and standing up for what is right have had this good reclassified by many as feelings of "hate", "intolerance", "bigotry", and a slew of other names towards those people with the opposite opinion. In general, as Christians, we do not "hate" people, or we are in fact guilty of sin. Rather, we hate the sinful action.

Just because many people commit a sin, even to the point of it gaining popularity, this does not make the sin change to being right or good.

Am I intolerant for my believe that homosexuality is wrong and sinful? By definition, I am. I am absolutely intolerant of this sin. However, this does not mean I hate or even dislike those who act on homosexual desires. I believe they are wrong in their actions, but I do not dislike them and I certainly do not hate them. I believe many people are what some call "born gay", just as every person on this Earth is born with weaknesses. There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses. The sin is acting on the weakness.

A large number of people act on their weaknesses and are open about it, so much so that 48% of voting Californians voted to change the definition of marriage. This still does not make evil good. Sin is and always will be evil, even if many call it by other names. (For a matter of clarity, no one has ever been trying to take away the rights of California citizens. They all have the right to marry one person of the opposite sex. What those opposing Proposition 8 were and are seeking is a special right to change the definition of marriage.)

And thus we see that the end of days is nearing, as wickedness is becoming more predominant in our society.

I know that God lives. I know that all goodness and morality originates from him at the teachings of his holy prophets and apostles. Many of these words are given to us in the holy scriptures. I know that Jesus Christ lived, suffered for our sins so that we can be forgiven and made whole, died, and rose again on the third day that we might also rise again. I know, as I am not perfect, from personal experience in succumbing to my weaknesses that what the great prophet, and he himself once one of the vilest of sinners, Alma taught "wickedness never was happiness" is true. This is my testimony that I share with you from the depths of my heart. In the name of the Redeemer, Prophet, Priest, and King, even Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Amen.

A View of Our Day 1,600 Years Ago

Moroni, the son of Mormon, who the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is named after, had a vision of our world in this present time approximately 1600 years ago. Speaking of when the Book of Mormon should come forth to many on the Earth, he wrote:
It shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead.

And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.

Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands;

And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

Mormon 8:26-31
It amazes and touches me reading these words that ancient prophets so clearly saw our day. I know the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true scripture from God, that it is a companion to the Bible. I know the true church of Jesus Christ has been restored on the Earth in these the latter days and that this church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that my Redeemer lives and that he directs his church through his living prophets and apostles, just as he did in prior ages. This is my testimony that I share with you in the name of the Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Ward Temple Night

Friday I had the opportunity to worship at my local temple, the Atlanta Temple, with my wife and her parents during our ward temple night. It was a visit we had planned more than a week earlier. Which, it turned out based upon the week's earlier events in the west, was an opportune time to attend the House of the Lord.

Once inside the temple, I felt throughout my soul what many call "the spirit of the temple". I think people use this phrase because withtin the temple, I am able to feel the Holy Ghost in strength and consistency as I can feel it no where else.

When in the temple, the best way I can describe the Holy Ghost is by one of its other names in the scriptures--the comforter. I felt this very strongly on Friday. It was exceptionally peaceful and comforting to me. I was filled with the Holy Ghost while I was within the temple walls, further strengthening my testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that he truly did live, suffer and die for my sins, set the ultimate example in all things in life and death, and that he does live again!

Attending the temple with my wife and her parents also further strengthened my bonds with each of them. Worshiping together seems to have that effect.

Once we had concluded our worship and we had exited the temple, I felt a significant difference in outside the temple compared to inside of it. There has always been a different feeling inside and out, but this time was (it is most easy to compare and contrast the immediate differences) and is (it still feels different, based upon my memory of how I felt within the temple) especially different. Over time, the world in general has been moving toward a more wicked state. However, based solely on my feelings, the gap between the House of the Lord and the outside world seems to have grown significantly since the last time I felt that contrast, only a month ago. This feeling was and is very clear to me. Things are rapidly changing in this world.

Fortunately, I know that my Savior lives. I know that he lifts me up, that he supports me when I am weak. I know that truth will prevail and that those who seek the truth will find it. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God, our Heavenly Father, speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. I know that I can, and every single person can, feel the Holy Spirit each and every day. I once had a bishop that counseled us to "have a spiritual experience every day, that if we had not had one all day long, to stay on our knees praying until we had one". I know that by striving to follow this counsel, I have become more receptive the promptings of the Holy Ghost, by which our Father in Heaven leads us. This is my sure testimony that I share with you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

How to Vote

I posted this over the summer, when I came across the quote. I believe the words of this quote are true because I believe in modern revelation and I believe in additional witnesses of Jesus Christ. I would also like to share my testimony that this is a nation under God. That God has established this land as a free land, where we have the right to choose good or evil, freedom or bondage. It is my hope on this eve of the election we as a people will choose freedom. This is my testimony and my hope, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

President Harold B. Lee gave this counsel on how to vote:

"I'll tell you how to vote. You read the 134th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and the 29th chapter of Mosiah, and then pray about it and you'll know exactly whom you should vote for at the election. That's how to vote" (Address to Seminary and Institute Personnel, Brigham Young University, July 8, 1966).

To make it easy for you, here are the references President Lee sited:

Doctrine and Covenants 134:

1 We believe that agovernments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men baccountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

2 We believe that no government can exist in apeace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the bfree exercise of cconscience, the right and control of property, and the dprotection of life.

3 We believe that all governments necessarily require acivil bofficers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of aworship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

5 We believe that all men are bound to asustain and uphold the respective bgovernments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and crebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

6 We believe that every man should be ahonored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the blaws all men show crespect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all acitizens in the free exercise of their religious bbelief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

8 We believe that the commission of crime should be apunished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public bpeace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing coffenders against good laws to punishment.

9 We do not believe it just to amingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, aaccording to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has bauthority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all awrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in bdefending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

12 We believe it just to apreach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bbond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in cservitude.

Mosiah 29:

1 Now when Mosiah had done this he sent out throughout all the land, among all the people, desiring to know their will concerning who should be their king.

2 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler.

3 Now Aaron had gone up to the land of Nephi, therefore the king could not confer the kingdom upon him; aneither would Aaron take upon him the kingdom; neither were any of the bsons of Mosiah cwilling to take upon them the kingdom.

4 Therefore king Mosiah sent again among the people; yea, even a written word sent he among the people. And these were the words that were written, saying:

5 Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to aconsider—for ye are desirous to have a king.

6 Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom.

7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise acontentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and bdraw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.

8 Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead.

9 And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.

10 And now let us be wise and look forward to these things, and do that which will make for the peace of this people.

11 Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let aus appoint bjudges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.

12 Now it is better that a man should be ajudged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.

13 Therefore, aif it were possible that you could have bjust men to be your kings, who would establish the claws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father dBenjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.

14 And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;

15 And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I apunished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.

16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a aking or kings to rule over you.

17 For behold, how much ainiquity doth one bwicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!

18 Yea, remember king Noah, his awickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bbondage.

19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.

20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did ahumble themselves before him; and because they bcried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of cmercy towards them that put their dtrust in him.

21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous aking save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.

22 For behold, he has his afriends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;

23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he acauseth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous bking doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.

24 And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.

25 Therefore, choose you by the avoice of this people, judges, that ye may be bjudged according to the claws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

26 Now it is not common that the avoice of the people desireth anything bcontrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the cpeople to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

27 And aif the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

28 And now if ye have judges, and they do not ajudge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge.

29 If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.

30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.

31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been acaused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

32 And now I desire that this ainequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of bliberty, and cevery man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.

33 And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and atroubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.

34 And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might abear his part.

35 And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous aking to rule over them;

36 Yea, all ahis iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated—telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God.

37 And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were aconvinced of the truth of his words.

38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal achance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

39 Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their avoices concerning who should be their bjudges, to judge them according to the claw which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the dliberty which had been granted unto them.

40 And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a atyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that blucre which doth ccorrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established dpeace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure.

41 And it came to pass that they did aappoint bjudges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.

42 And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first achief judge, he being also the bhigh priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.

43 And now it came to pass that Alma did awalk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land.

44 And thus *commenced the areign of the judges throughout all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who were called the Nephites; and Alma was the first and chief judge.

45 And now it came to pass that his father died, being eighty and two years old, having lived to fulfil the commandments of God.

46 And it came to pass that Mosiah adied also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being bsixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.

47 And thus ended the reign of the kings over the people of Nephi; and thus ended the days of Alma, who was the founder of their church.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Lord Can Always Be With You

Jesus taught: "For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angles round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

How to Be Born Again in Christ

"AND now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.

And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.

And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant.

And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.

And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.

I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called.

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen" (Mosiah 5:1-15).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Receiving a Remission of Sins

"And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

And I said: Lord, how is it done?

And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole" (Enos 1:2-8).

I know that we can all be forgiven of our sins in the same way Enos was. I know because I have been forgiven of my sins and the power of the Atonement of Christ has taken hold in my life making me whole again. We won't necessarily hear the voice of God, though that is possible, but God will certainly speak to us through the feelings and thoughts given to us by the Holy Ghost.

I know that God live and he answers prayers, including granting forgiveness to anyone who has sinned. It is never too late to repent and return to God. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In the Depths of Humility

"Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen" (2 Nephi 4:16-35).

These beautiful words were written by the prophet Nephi a little less than 600 years before Christ. Some call it the Psalm of Nephi. I love the introspection written in such wonderful poetic fashion because I have often felt much the same way as Nephi, and I believe many of us have. It is not often we can have such a personal view into the heart of a prophet of God. I am very grateful that Nephi included this passage in his writings in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

I know that Jesus Christ lives! He truly lives! I know that he suffered and died for my sins and that through him and him alone I can be saved from my sins. I know that I can live again with my Savior in his kingdom. I know that all who seek the Christ can and will know him because he know us! This is my sure testimony that I have been blessed with through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He That Endureth to the End Shall Be Saved

Matthew recorded the Savior Jesus Christ's words on enduring to the end being necessary for salvation:

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ adds more testimonies of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ's words to Matthews writings:

"And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father"(3 Nephi 27:16-17).
"14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:12-20).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Foolish and Blind Guides

Yesterday we read the following scripture in Sunday School:

"But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?" (Helaman 13:27-29).

This description really blows me away. An amoral character telling us to do whatever we want, telling us that our pride, or doing only what is best for ourselves, not others, such as fighting for their freedom, is all that matters. Then this amoral character is treated like a special being, even a prophet. Then by many people he is held in higher esteem that the general public, where people give him money, even thousands of dollars. Meanwhile these same people find no faults in him, especially the media, only singing his praises because he tells us flattering things like guaranteeing certain things to everyone, even though anyone who actually thinks about it realizes it would be impossible to pay for everyone to have health care and higher education without severely restricting our freedom in how we use our money and handing it over him as our new leader. This truly is a foolish and blind guide, filled with darkness that many have chosen to follow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wickedness in the Government

It has been said that "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

In 23 BC the conditions of the government of one land were in many ways like they are today. The similarities are striking. Here is the record:
"And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those [wicked men] filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men; Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills" (Helaman 7:4-5).
That's something to think about.

The True Keys to Accomplishment

Lately I have been considering the future quite a frequently. This quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley posted on the LDS Gems site yesterday gave me comfort and a reminder that "sacrifice and faith" are the true keys to accomplishment.
"In my quiet moments, I think of the future with all of its wonderful possibilities and with all of its terrible temptations. I wonder what will happen to you in the next 10 years. Where will you be? What will you be doing? That will depend on the choices you make, some of which may seem unimportant at the time but which will have tremendous consequences.

"Someone has said, 'It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today' (James Freeman Clarke, in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book [1923], 95).

"You have the potential to become anything to which you set your mind. You have a mind and a body and a spirit. With these three working together, you can walk the high road that leads to achievement and happiness. But this will require effort and sacrifice and faith." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Stay on the High Road," Ensign, May 2004, 112-13)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How to Have a Peaceful Country

"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people" (4 Nephi 1:15).

When people love God, they want to be like God, "for God is love" (1 John 4:8). To be like God, people, or society, loves one another. Society chooses to be charitable, helpful, kind, and forgiving. When a society moves away from loving God, greed, murder, and immorality run rampant, which leads to the eventual destruction of that society.

This nation was founded in name of freedom, given to us by God. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (The Declaration of Independence).

However, with this freedom God has given us comes responsibility. We must strive to love God in our hearts. Our love for him is shown through following his commandments, especially loving our fellow men, as taught in the scriptures. However, as our society uses the liberty God has blessed us with to drift away from him, contentions will surely continue to decrease.

Let's all do a little more to seek God out. Let's do a little more to show love to our neighbors and our friends. I testify to you that when we showing loving-kindness, everybody wins, that society becomes a happier and peaceful place. If we can love others as much as our Heavenly Father loves us, sending his only begotten Son to suffer and die for all of our sins, surely we can show a little more kindness today and make a difference in this world. I share this testimony with you, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Communicating With God

"When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets. He will then teach us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If you have not heard His voice speaking to you lately, return with new eyes and new ears to the scriptures. They are our spiritual lifeline" (Robert D. Hales, Ensign, "Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation", Nov. 2006, pp.24-27)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

An Apostle's Words on Our Purpose of Life

"Many people wonder, 'Where did we come from?' 'Why are we here?' 'Where are we going?' Our Eternal Father did not send us to earth on an aimless, meaningless journey. He provided for us a plan to follow. He is the author of that plan. It is designed for man’s progress and ultimate salvation and exaltation. . . ."

God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.

God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p. 48).
"Let us be no more tossed to and fro by every worldly wind and doctrine of man (see Ephesians 4:14). We declare to the world that the heavens are open and the truth of God’s eternal plan has again been made known to mankind. We live in the dispensation of the fullness of times. We live in a day when we have the witness through the scriptures of the great plan the Lord has given to His children from the beginning of time down to this present and last dispensation. The evidence is well documented; we are not left alone to wander through mortality without knowing of the master plan which the Lord has designed for His children. He has bound Himself by solemn covenant to give us the blessings of heaven according to our obedience to His law. Oh, remember, remember that these things are true, for the Lord God has revealed these eternal truths unto us" (L. Tom Perry, Ensign, The Plan of Salvation, Nov. 2006 pp. 69-72).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where Do We Go When We Die?

Over the past few days, I have written about where we came from and why we are here. Today's topic is centered on what happen after we die or what to expect after this life.

Death, or the literal separation of our body and our spirit, is unavoidable. However, death is not the end. Death is merely a step on the path. After death, our spirit enters the spirit world (Ecclesiastes 12:7), which is divided with two commonly-known distinctions: heaven and hell. In the scriptures, heaven and hell are also referred to in many ways including as paradise and prison. Essentially, all those who accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ while on this Earth go to paradise and everyone else goes to prison. The prophet Alma wrote:
"Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil" (Alma 40:11-13).
However, a residence in heaven or hell is not the end. Because God is a merciful God, he still has provided a way that those in hell might be saved. After Christ was crucified, he visited hell, or spirit prison, and began to preach his gospel (1 Peter 3:18-20). This preaching goes on today (Doctrine and Covenants 138). Christ began this teaching in spirit prison so everyone who has ever lived will have an opportunity to choose to accept or reject his gospel, so that they might be judged according to the laws God has given us upon this Earth (1 Peter 4:6).

We will live in the spirit world until the resurrection when, just as Jesus Christ did, our physical body of flesh and bones will be reunited with our spirit in an immortal, perfect state (1 Corinthians 15). This is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, because Christ exercised power over death. Resurrection is a free gift given to us by our Savior that all people receive, whether they are righteous or wicked.

Once we are resurrected, we are judged as to our works and the intentions of our hearts at the great and final judgment. In the Apostle John's words:
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20:12-13).
This judgment results in our reward for our performance in mortality where we made many choices. It determines where we will reside as immortals. There are three kingdoms of glory where we have the opportunity to reside called: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. Paul taught the Corinthians about these kingdoms, "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory" (1 Corinthians 15:40-41). In other words, the greatest glory, reserved for those that fully accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and his Atonement, strove to keeps his commandments, and received all of the saving ordinances, is in the celestial kingdom, or the glory of the sun. Those who lived honorable lives, but did not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ go to the glory of the moon or the terrestrial kingdom. Those who continued to sin unrepentantly receive the telestial kingdom, compared in glory to the stars, relative to the sun and the moon.

Paul also implies that there are multiple degrees of glory within each kingdom "for one star differeth from another star in glory". This statement makes so much sense to me. The idea of a clear-cut heaven and hell in the end does not make a whole lot of sense, in my opinion. Where would that line be drawn? Rather, our merciful Heavenly Father has given us the Plan of Happiness where we will be rewarded according to our faith and our works (James 2:17-26). We are blessed in the life after this based on our individual performance, we are not simply lumped into one of two groups.

I know that the Plan of Salvation is true doctrine. I feel assured that when I die or when those I know and love die, all is well. If you have even been to a Mormon funeral, you would see a total difference in the minds and moods of the attendees for this very reason--we know what happens after death! I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have prepared three distinct kingdoms for us. I know these things because I have asked God in prayer and he has brought peace to my soul, he has given me an assurance of the truth of the Plan of Salvation. I share this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why Are We Here?

Previously I wrote about "Where Did We Come From". Today I continue our eternal journey with "Why Are We Here?"

We are here to find happiness. The prophet Nephi taught that "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25).

We are here to gain a physical body, just as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have. As we are human, caused by the fall of Adam, we have an imperfect body that is subject to death. However, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can also break the bands of death, just as he did, and be resurrected with a perfect body of flesh and bones.

We are also here to learn. In our human condition, again created by the fall of Adam, we are in a state of spiritual death, or separation from our Father in Heaven. However, we have the opportunity through faith and our actions to draw close again to our Father in Heaven. Of course the adversary, Satan, is trying to keep us distant from our Father in Heaven, so much of our learning comes from growing strong in faith and resisting temptation by overcoming our natural state. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19).

The last line of this scripture "willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him" almost seems to conflict with the first purpose I wrote of our being here on this Earth, "to have joy". However, I would submit to you, how would you know joy without sorrow? How would you know how sweet tastes without tasting bitter? God gives us trials and hardships while we are on this Earth so that we might learn, so that we can appreciate what we are blessed with and have joy. Then, once we have found the true gospel of Jesus Christ, we will know the joy it entails!

However, we will make mistakes. We will sin. Heavenly Father, being a merciful God knew this, which is why he provided a Savior for us. Jesus Christ truly suffered and died for our sins. He completed the Atonement where he becomes our mediator, and offers us his grace. He offers us the opportunity to rise again from spiritual death by forgiving us of our sins, allowing us to be near Heavenly Father, piercing our minds and our hearts through the Holy Ghost.

The true gospel provides joy, gained through our opportunities to learn on this Earth, is part of a grander path. This path is where we go after this life. However, without Jesus Christ and his central role in the Plan of Salvation, none of this would be possible. But through Christ's Atonement, we can be made pure again and through his resurrection we can live again, because there truly is life after this life.

Our place in the life after Earth will be determined by what we do while on this Earth for the Apostle James declared "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20-26).

To summarize, we are here to have joy, receive a body, learn, and overcome our natural wickedness so that we might return to our Heavenly Father to the estate we have earned. This is why we are here. I know this is true doctrine. I share it in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Also, please watch Jennifer's testimony about what movtivated her to learn more about why we are here.

Next: Where Do We Go When We Die?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where Did We Come From?

A basic question that we should all have an answer to is "Where did I come from?" There is an answer. We are quite literally the children of our Heavenly Father. In Acts 17:29 we are taught that "we are the offspring of God".

We existed in a world of spirits with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and all mankind. However, once we reach this Earth, we forget where we came from so that we can learn by finding our way, through faith, study, and prayer. Jesus Christ taught the prophet Jeremiah that "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee" (Jeremiah 1:5). The same applies to all of us, the Lord knew us before we came here.

"Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord" (Doctrine and Covenants 138:56). We learned all that we could learn in the world of spirits, so Heavenly Father created a perfect plan to accomplish his purpose. commissioned the creation of the Earth so that we might continue our learning.

We are here because we chose to follow that plan. In the scriptures this plan is referred to by several names such as the Plan of Salvation, the Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Redemption, and a Merciful Plan. Jesus Christ is central to the plan. Through the Atonement of Christ, we can all be forgiven of our sins and be made pure again, so that we will be able to once again live with our Father in Heaven.

I know that we did live together in the spirit world before this life. I know that I am a child of God and that he sent me here with a purpose and a plan so that I might learn his gospel and return to him. I know that this is only possible through the plan, which centers around Jesus Christ and his Atonement. I know that Jesus Christ took upon himself all sins, so he might serve as my mediator, that I can be made whole again. I know that a merciful Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ live! I know that they know me personally and I know them personally! I know that I love them deeply and they love me deeply! I know that I, like the Prodigal son, can repent of all of my sins, and God will welcome me back into his presence with open arms. I know that these wonderful blessing are available to everyone. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Please also watch Isaiah's testimony about where we came from.

Also, please watch Debbie's testimony about the pre-existence.

Next: Why Are We Here?

All Good Comes From God, All Evil Comes From the Devil

12 Wherefore, all things which are agood cometh of God; and that which is bevil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to csin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do agood continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and benticeth to do cgood, and to love God, and to serve him, is dinspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is aevil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to ajudge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the aSpirit of Christ is given to every bman, that he may cknow good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do aevil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the alight by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same bjudgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the alight of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a bchild of Christ.

Moroni 7:12-19