Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lord, I Believe.

As I have struggled in my life and in my mission, I have had to ask myself: What do I believe? In my personal study this morning I came across a talk called, "Lord, I Believe" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. This is what many of the people that I love need to hear. Many, if not all, of the people I am teaching need to hear this. Most importantly, I needed to hear this.

Holland starts off by telling the story in Mark 9:14-29. It is about a father who has an afflicted son who he desires to be healed. The account then goes as follows:

23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Holland says about this, "This man’s initial conviction, by his own admission, is limited. But he has an urgent, emphatic desire in behalf of his only child. We are told that is good enough for a beginning. 'Even if ye can no more than desire to believe,' Alma declares, 'let this desire work in you, even until ye believe.' With no other hope remaining, this father asserts what faith he has and pleads with the Savior of the world, 'If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.'"

Throughout the rest of this talk, Holland talks of three observations he has made:
1. The wishing for more faith
2. Being true to the faith we DO have
3. Asking for help

Wishing For More Faith
"I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, 'If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.' The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know."

I'm not sure I have ever met anyone who would say that they have sufficient faith. In fact, we all probably feel like we have in adequate faith. We can learn from this story in the scriptures that even if we don't have sufficient faith, the Lord will make up for the rest. That is what his atonement is about. If only we cry out to him, "Help thou my unbelief!"

Being True to Our Faith
"When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your 'unbelief.' That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle."

I LOVE this quote! I have watched as people close to me in my life have questioned things. Its OK to question. It takes courage to question things. But let me tell you, it takes MORE courage to take things on faith. Holland goes on to say, "You have more faith than you think you do." I can testify that this is true. You have more faith than you think you do.

Ask For Help
"When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. If we want it as humbly and honestly as this father did, we can get it. The scriptures phrase such earnest desire as being of 'real intent,' pursued 'with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God.' I testify that in response to that kind of importuning, God will send help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief."

Pride is the universal sin. It is often our pride that gets in our way of going to others for help. I would ask, if you are reading this and you have doubts, go search for help. Do not think that you can overcome these things alone. If they are small doubts, go to the Lord in prayer. If they are bigger, go to your priesthood leaders--especially your bishop. If you aren't sure if it is big or small, go to your bishop anyways. He would love to hear from you and help you.


To end my blog, I would like to quote Elder Holland one last time, "Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe."

Take some time tonight, this week, or next week to acknowledge your questions and concerns. Write them down. Then, fan the flame of your faith. ALL things become possible to those that believe. Remember President Uchtdorf's quote, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!".

Heavenly Father is aware of you. He is aware of the questions you have. Turn to him, and he won't let you down.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Feelings of Guilt, Part 5: Endure to the END!

This is my final blog about feelings of guilt. I chose to blog about this because I know that everyone goes through trials. Everyone makes mistakes. It is only through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can feel relief from these feelings of guilt. Christ's gospel is simply faith in him and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and then enduring to the end.

One of my favorite verses on enduring to the end comes from 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"

What does it mean to endure to the end? It means to be faithful to our savior. It includes sincerely repenting of our sins. It is entering into the gate of baptism and partaking of the sacrament weekly. It's receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and then continuing to keep the commandments so that we may be worthy of his companionship. It is repeating these principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Personally for me, enduring to the end means knowing that my savior has paid the way for me. Because I understand that he knows EXACTLY how I feel. He knows what I'm going through and what I desire. It is because of his suffering in the garden of Gethsemane that made it possible for her him to understand everything I am going through. He knows not only me, but you too.

 Alma 7:11, "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people."

Not once does it say your sins. Not once does it say your mistakes. It says your pains, afflictions, and temptations. It is for this life. It is for right NOW. He knows you. He will help you through everything. Fight a good fight. Keep the faith.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Feelings of Guilt, Part 4: The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that we can feel relief from feelings of guilt. Christ's gospel is simply faith in him and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and then enduring to the end.

First of all, what is the gift of the Holy Ghost? In the gospel principles manual, it says, "The gift of the Holy Ghost is the privilege—given to people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, been baptized, and been confirmed as members of the Church—to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost."

What are some blessings that we receive from the Holy Ghost? Mormon,org gives us this explanation:

"The Holy Ghost can bless your life in many ways. Christ promised His Apostles that the Holy Ghost would 'teach you all things' (John 14:26) and 'guide you into all truth' (John 16:13). He also said that the Holy Ghost 'shall testify of me' (John 15:26).

"Likewise, the Holy Ghost can help you. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, you can recognize and understand truth and make right choices and inspired decisions.

"The Holy Ghost can inspire you with thoughts and ideas, warn you, and comfort you in times of sorrow.

"You may have already felt His influence at times in your life. That influence includes 'love, joy, [and] peace' (Galatians 5:22).]

"Almost everyone has felt the Holy Ghost at some time. But there is a difference between experiencing the occasional influence of the Holy Ghost and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Although the Holy Ghost may temporarily comfort someone or reveal truth to them, the gift of the Holy Ghost is reserved for those who have been baptized and confirmed into Christ’s Church. This gift is the privilege of enjoying the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost conditional upon keeping the commandments.

"The gift of the Holy Ghost is given when a person is confirmed a member of the Church after baptism by someone having priesthood authority from God. It is given by the person having authority laying their hands upon the head of the person who was baptized and giving them a blessing to receive the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-18). Whether or not we then receive this great gift depends on our keeping the commandments of God."

I think my favorite part of having the gift of the Holy Ghost is the promise found in not only John 14:26, but in 2 Nephi 32:5. Its says:

For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.

Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wish life came with instructions!" Well, I can tell you--what you are hoping for is the gift of the Holy Ghost! It has been such a blessing in my life. I have personally had experiences where the Holy Ghost has taught me, warned me, and gave me subtle impressions. Its how I knew where to go to college, if/when I should go on a mission, and many more things. I am so grateful to have this gift from my Heavenly Father. Through this gift, I have come to know of God's will for me. It has blessed me so much!

Not only is having the gift of the Holy Ghost been a blessing in my life, but it is the key to salvation. The Holy Ghost is what teaches us the way to get back to Heavenly Father. He is what testifies of truth. He shows us Heavenly Father's plan for us. This is what we desire most. We desire to know of things eternal. This knowledge only comes through the Holy Ghost.

I can testify of the reality of the gift of the Holy Ghost. He is real. He wants to help us. By taking the steps of the gospel (faith, repentance, and baptism), you can prepare to receive this gift from our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful to have this gift. I know that we are all loved by our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to draw near to him. If you have any more questions, message me on facebook, email, or write me. You can find my contact info on the right hand side of this page. Or contact your local missionaries by clicking here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Feelings of Guilt, Part 3: Baptism

I will say again, as I have said before, we all need relief from feelings of guilt that come as a result of mistakes and sins. Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we can feel relief from these feelings of guilt. Christ's gospel is simply faith in him and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and then enduring to the end.

In my previous post, Feelings of Guilt, Part 1: The Foundation of Faith I shared the account of Joseph Smith and how this is the foundation of our Faith. In my second blog post in this series, Feelings of Guilt, Part 2: Repentance I talked about how we must rely on the Atonement in order to feel sorrow enough to repent so we can be cleansed from sin. In this third part, I would like to talk about the action that we now take in order to be cleansed from sin. This first action that we take is by being baptized.

Baptism is an ordinance. In fact, it is a saving ordinance. If you go to Mormon.org, you will find the following: "Baptism in water is an ordinance essential to our salvation. By being baptized, we show God that we are willing to be obedient to His commandments. Jesus set the example for us by being baptized, even though He was without sin (see Mosiah 18:8-10). The Savior revealed the proper method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it be done by immersion (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:72-74)."

We know that authority to baptize is very important to our Heavenly Father. Again, on Mormon.org, it has the following: "Throughout time, God has given His servants, the prophets, the authority to act in His name. This authority is called the priesthood. Jesus Christ gave the priesthood to His original Twelve Apostles by ordination (see John 15:16), and they directed the work of His Church after Jesus ascended to heaven. But after the Apostles were killed, the priesthood gradually disappeared from the earth."

"In 1829 Joseph Smith received the priesthood authority to organize Christ’s Church from Heavenly Messengers who had held this authority anciently including the prophet John the Baptist and apostles Peter, James, and John. In 1830 the same Church of Jesus Christ that existed centuries ago was organized and restored to the earth."

I can testify that I know that the priesthood was restored to the Prophet, Joseph Smith. I know that the authority to baptize is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Holland, a modern day apostle, put it perfectly when he said, "I bear witness of that gospel and that Church, with a particular witness of restored priesthood keys which unlock the power and efficacy of saving ordinances. I am more certain that those keys have been restored and that those ordinances are once again available through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I am certain I stand before you at this pulpit and you sit before me in this conference." I know that the authority was restored! We are so blessed to have it on the earth today.

Christ himself showed us by example the need to be baptized. What may be most significant, is the fact that he went to John the Baptist. Why did he go to John the Baptist? Because he had the authority to do so. Christ knew who had the authority to baptize. If Christ knew who had the authority to baptize then, he would know now. You can ask him in prayer about the need for authority.

When we are baptized, we make covenants or promises with God. Some of the promises that you make is to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end. In return, he promises that his spirit will always be with us, he will forgive our sins, and give eternal life.

In the Gospel Principles book, in chapter 20, it talks about baptism. I loved the following: "There is only one correct mode of baptism. Jesus revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that a person having the proper priesthood authority to baptize “shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism. … Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water” (D&C 20:73–74). The Apostle Paul taught that being immersed in water and coming out again is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection. After baptism we start a new life. Paul said:

'Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
'Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
'For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection' (Romans 6:3–5).
"Baptism by immersion by a person having the proper authority is the only acceptable way of being baptized."
My favorite way to look at baptism is as a fresh start. Just like I said in the beginning of my post, we all have feelings of guilt and shame. We have been given the way to feel cleansed from these sins. Why would we not want to have a fresh start?
I know that baptism by proper authority is essential for salvation. More than that, I know that it can save us from feelings of guilt and shame. I know that we can rely on our savior and his atonement and feel free from sin. If you have these feelings in your life, go to the missionaries. Go to your bishop. They can help you. Christ has already suffered for you. Rely on him, and I promise you, you will feel free from your sins.