Thursday, March 24, 2016

Who is He?

Any time I talk to a fellow Christian, inevitably the term “knowing Jesus” comes up. I often wonder if people really know what that means. It seems as though the term is used so loosely that it makes me wonder. What does it mean? Is it possible to actually know Him? By Him, I mean Heavenly Father. I realize that other Christians believe they are one in the same but I don’t. So how do I get to know Him? He’s not physically here. I can’t have a conversation with Him as I do other human beings. I pray to Him, and I feel His Spirit but its’ not the same as having a normal conversation like I would with another human being.
In John 17:3 it says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” We obtain eternal life, by knowing Heavenly Father. Well we know that Heavenly Father is the only God with whom we pray to. We know that there are other members of this Godhead but Heavenly Father is our literal Father. We read in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This tells me that in order to know the Father, we have to know the Son. How do I do this? I can learn ABOUT Him. I can study the stories of His ministry and all the miracles He performed. 

I can study about His visit to the Americas and the things He taught the people here. I can read how He prayed for them, and I can even feel touched by what it must have been like for them to hear Him utter those loving words in behalf of them. I can imagine. 

I can try to imagine what it was like in the Garden of Gethsemane and the unbelievable pain He must have gone through. 

I can imagine Him being whipped and beaten before being nailed to the cross. I think I can even hear Him utter the words, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


In John 14:15 Christ teaches us, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.  If we read this in reverse we will see, keep my commandments, then ye will love me. I think this is the way that we come to know Christ and therefore know Heavenly Father. We can learn and memorize all the stories of Jesus but to really know and, in turn, love Him, we need to keep His commandments.

So, how do we know the Father? By knowing Christ. How do we know Christ? By keeping His commandments. One of His commandments is that we serve others. He taught us that by doing so, we are serving Him. 

There’s no greater way to learn to love someone than by serving them. It’s amazing how really simple the gospel is. I love it!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Steadfast and Immovable



I have had many occasion to ask myself if I am steadfast and immovable in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that for the last few years I have not been. I have allowed myself to be swayed by the logical arguments of family members who do not believe in God or they don't believe in the LDS teachings. I have felt so much confusion and unrest in my soul. It has been a very difficult time for me. I thought that the unrest was because I did not understand the teachings and questioned the truthfulness of the LDS teachings. But as I have spend more time in reflection and more time doubting my doubts and not my faith, I have felt the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, once again, in my life. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught (Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, 492): "When we joined this Church we enlisted to serve God. When we did that we left...neutral ground, and we never can get back on to it. Should we forsake the Master we enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and we will follow his dictation and be his servant" 


Joseph Smith was exactly right! I am either on God's team, or I'm on the devil's. So much peace has returned to my life since I decided to be steadfast and immovable as I was taught in the scriptures. It has been a wonderful blessing and I have experienced more peace and miracles in my life since. I wonder why I ever felt the need to question.


Part of it is the need to fit in or to be seen as intelligent by my family. But I realize now, that I'm OK with not fitting in. I have to choose Christ, or I have to choose my family. I hope and pray that my family will join with me but in order for that to happen, they have to know that I know. I want my children to know that I know. I want Christ to be the center of my home and my life and I want everyone else to know that as well. So instead of wasting so much time questioning, I am going to put my time in to strengthening my testimony and learning the gospel so that I can share without a doubt. 


I am so thankful for the scriptures, church, and my religion courses I get to take online. I have grown so much.  In Jeremiah 33:3 it says, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and she thee great and mighty things, which though knows not." I really cherish these teaching moments from the Lord. 










Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mustard seeds


I have often thought about why we don't see the healing of the sick as often as portrayed in the New Testament by Jesus and His apostles. Christ said, "...for verily I say unto you, 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." Matthew 17:20. This is a pretty clear message to me. I have felt that the gift of healing is highly underutilized. Why are we so quick to run to the doctor and the internet to find some sort of relief for our ailments. I'm not suggesting that we don't use the gift of modern medicine because I believe that the Lord has given us doctors and medicines to help. I'm talking more about the attitude of victimhood. I hear, on a regular basis, people that say, "this is my lot in life", in regards to some physical or health challenge they are having. I don't understand that. I am a big believer in healing. I do accept some people are given challenges that ultimately take their lives and others have physical disabilities that aren't healed. However, I still believe that healing is greatly underused.



In October, 1974 General Conference, Elder James A. Cullimore quoted George Q. Cannon as saying, “I have felt deeply impressed … that the members of our Church do not value as they should the means which God has placed within their reach for the relief and healing of the sick. There is too great a disposition, when sickness enters a household, to send for a doctor. …Instances are very common among the faithful Saints of the gift of healing being manifested in a very wonderful manner. …God has not forgotten His promises, and He has not withdrawn Himself from His people. But the Latter-day Saints should make use of these means more frequently than they do, and put more trust in God and less in man’s skill.” I feel just as Elder Cannon did. I had an experience last fall with healing. I had a back injury that I got 8 years prior, caused by a chiropractor. It was manageable so I just lived with it. Well, last fall, I herniated a disc in my back. I was angry about it. I was supposed to start a new job and couldn't even stand up. My husband asked me if I wanted a blessing. I told him I only wanted a blessing if it were a blessing of healing. I told him that I had the faith to be healed and if he had the faith to heal me, I wanted a blessing. So my husband prayed and then gave me a blessing and healed me. Not only was my herniated disc healed, but my previous back injury was healed. After that, I wondered why I had never asked to be healed before. Why don't I use the priesthood more? I have a friend, a nonmember, that developed Celiac's disease. She suffered for three years, could barely eat and thought that she was probably going to die. She decided she wanted healing, so she fasted for three days and asked the Lord to take away her ailment, and He did. She was healed from that moment on. My mother when she tried to quit smoking for the 20th time, after 40 years of being a smoker, fasted for three days and told Heavenly Father to remove all desire from her. He did, from that moment on. She has never smoked since. It's been 15 years. Not only that but her lungs look like she had never smoked a day in her life. God heals. I know that. I have great faith in the ability to be healed. Is there a lack of faith in that ability for others, or is there more to being healed than just faith? I would challenge all to consider this and prove the Lord.           

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Where are the Demons?

In the Bible dictionary, under Devil, it says the following: "Since the devil and his premortal angels have no physical body of flesh and bones, they often seek to possess the bodies of mortal beings. There are many such instances recorded in scripture (Matt. 9:3212:22Mark 1:245:7Luke 8:30Acts 19:15; see also Mosiah 3:6). Such can be evicted by the power of faith in Jesus Christ and the exercise of the holy priesthood. Jesus gave this power to His disciples (Matt. 10:1Mark 16:17Luke 10:17Acts 5:16D&C 84:67)."

We know that his influence is everywhere, deceiving and leading people away from God but I have pondered over these scriptures of Christ and His disciples casting out devils and wonder, do we still see or hear about accounts of people being possessed by devils? I haven't. Although I can't say I read the news or watch much in the way of documentaries or anything.


Perhaps this is a subject that is too uncomfortable. I know that when speaking of the Holy Spirit it brings peace. Quite the opposite is true when speaking of the adversary. Perhaps it's one of those things that is seen/felt, prayed about, cast out, and moved away from. I don't think we are to dwell or ponder greatly on the things of the devil, rather those things that are from God. I personally believe that possession still happens though I don't know anything about the specifics or who it might happen to but I do know that the Holy Spirit works in us to identify what is needed and through His guiding influence, the Priesthood Power and our obedience, the devil will have no power over us. I feel safe and comfortable in that. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

He who hath ears to hear...

          Throughout Christ's ministry on the earth, He taught in parables. Why? In Matthew 13:10-12 we read, "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?...He answered and said unto them, Because it is give unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given...For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." What does this mean? At first, I wondered why some people weren't given that chance to know the mysteries of God but with further studying I found the following: For these verses the Joseph Smith translations reads, "For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever continuity not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."

             So what does it mean to receive? In October 1961 General Conference, Elder Seymour Dilworth Young gave a talk titled, When the Spirit Speaks. He quoted Marion G. Romney saying, "Yesterday Elder Marion G. Romney mentioned the matter of the Holy Spirit and said that one does not hear it with his ears. May I read to you a verse of scripture which verifies that. Nepali was rebuking his two brothers who were intent upon killing him as they journeyed toward the Promised Land. He reminded them that they thought to murder his father, but also their intent was to murder him, and therefore in their hearts they were murderers. Then he reminded them of the times which the Lord had tried to impress them in these words: "Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice," and this is the part I would like to have you hear-"but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words". I used to wonder why Nephi didn't say "hear his words." Now I know that one doesn't hear them with his ears, as Brother Romney said. But into a person's mind there come words. These seem to be his own words, but with the Spirit upon him, are not his words. With these words comes a feeling. One actually feels the words, just as Nephi said. These brothers had lost that feeling, and therefore could not detect words given by the Spirit as apart from their own thoughts. This "feeling" comes to all who will hear. One's first experience in this likely is akin to those of all converts to the Church when they read what Moroni said. He told them that after they had heard these things, if they would ask God they would know of their truth. I believe that James was referring to this fundamental truth when he wrote these words, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God". The Prophet Joseph, reading, was impressed to go to the woods and pray. Anybody who cannot learn to hear by feeling will not go very far in the Church, in my humble opinion, for I believe that to be the way the majority of us know if these things are true. "

              If we are humble...humility means our hearts and minds are opened to the whisperings of the Spirit...then we can truly "hear", or "feel" what the Lord is trying to teach us. This is what is meant by "He who hath ears to hear, let him hear". I hope to always have the ears to hear. I hope to always have my mind and heart directed to the Lord and the things He would have me learn so that I may progress in life and grow closer to Him.



         




Friday, January 15, 2016

Confession

I can remember many of my initial confessions to the Lord, of my many sins. I could not utter exactly what I had done. I felt too much shame. I would just say things like, “sorry for everything I’ve done”, knowing that He already knew. It wasn’t until I became an adult and understood just how important confession really was. It was no longer about confessing because I had to, but because I needed to. I needed to give over those sins to God as a way of allowing Christ to change me. While confession alone does not have that affect, it does require humility and acknowledgement that we need our Heavenly Father. And that humility softens our hearts in order to allow change.
What I want to talk about, however, is confession to the Bishop. Many people would argue that it is not necessary. That only confession to the Lord is required. In October 1971 General Conference, Elder James A. Cullimore said this about a Bishop’s role. “It is the bishop’s duty to counsel the members of his ward, assist them in their problems, listen to the confessions of the transgressors and assist them in their repentance. Unfortunately, many in the last category, because of their transgressions, are quite inactive and need much attention. Because of their sins, they feel they are lost—that there is no use trying. It is to these members throughout the Church that I would particularly like to direct my remarks today. These are all wonderful sons and daughters of our Father who, in a weak moment or because of circumstances possibly not of their own liking, have slipped. Now in their despair and guilt of conscience, they feel lost. An attitude prevails of “What’s the use? There’s no hope for me now; I can never be forgiven.” Through the devotion of a wonderful bishop who never gives up in working with these individuals, they can be helped. When they learn that there is hope, that God is merciful, that there is forgiveness for sin, a beam of light can begin to shine through the heaviness and depression of transgression.” Elder Cullimore went on to say, “Repentance isn’t always easy. It takes great humility. It often requires superhuman courage, especially in major transgression. But the Lord has told us plainly how we can tell if a man or woman has repented of his sins. He said: “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43.)
         Elder C. Scott Grow in The New Era, October 1013 said, “By ordination and righteous living, the bishop is entitled to revelation from the Holy Ghost regarding the members of his ward, including you.” And went on to say, “Your bishop will counsel you on what to do to strengthen your ability to resist temptation. He may encourage you to study a doctrinal topic, such as repentance, and then to share with him what you have learned. He may ask you to visit with him each week to report how you are doing in removing yourself from tempting situations.”  
         I remember one particular instance where I went to the Bishop to confess some pretty serious sins. I remember being very scared. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was fearful of my standing in the church but mostly I was afraid that my sin was too shameful for the Lord to ever look at me the same way. I felt that somehow my sin created a wall between me and the Lord that would never allow our relationship to be pure and whole. I was right in the sense that there was a wall but the wall was put there by me. I kept it there through my sins and through my fear. It was through the Bishop that I was able to see how forgiving the Lord is. My burdens were instantly lifted and I felt the wall crumble down. Although I had to learn how to strengthen my ability to resist those temptations, which the Bishop was able to help, I felt 100% better.  Though it is a difficult thing to confess to the Bishop, it is a great experience that I will treasure and be thankful forever for.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

His life and teachings...

I'm taking a religion class in school titled The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles. Part of the course is to study certain things and blog about them. Since I already have this blog, I am just going to add to it. It's about time I got back to it anyway.

As I was searching the scriptures John 1:1-14 and John 17:1-5, I pondered the connection between the two references and came up with 5 truths about Christ's pre-mortal life.

1. Jesus was with Heavenly Father before the worlds were created.
2. Christ made all things.
3. Christ gives life - eternal life to men.
4. Christ was given the glory of God so he may glorify God.
5. He have His light to all men who came to earth.

I also came up with 5 truths about Christ's mortal life.

1. He became Flesh
2. Christ showed His light to all men
3. The world knew Him not.
4. His own people rejected Him.
5. he gave power to become the sons of God to all those who received Him.

The question was put forth regarding John 1:1, How is Jesus the Word of God? In Jesus the Christ (Talmage), Talmage says, "...the Father operated in the work of creation though the Son, who thus became the executive through whom the will, commandment, or word of the Father was put into effect. it is with incisive appropriateness therefore, that the Son, Jesus Christ, is designated by the apostle John as the Word; or as declared by the Father 'the word of my power.'

This made a lot of sense to me. I have always struggled with that scripture but I think Talmage put it perfectly. Christ was God's word put into effect.

I also learned about the different names of the Savior. I will explain a little about what I learned for some of them.

  • Christ   -   Again, from James Talmage's book, Jesus the Christ, Talmage says that Christ is a Greek derivation that is identical with the Hebrew equivalent Messiah, meaning the Anointed One. 
  • Messiah   -   The Bible dictionary says that Messiah is an Aramaic word and, of course, it means the anointed. 
  • Jehovah   -   Jehovah is the name of the 'God of Israel'. It means 'Unchangeable One'. We know from scriptures that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Unchangeable. 
  • Immanuel   -   This means 'God with us'. Jesus came to the world to redeem us. He is with us, always. 
  • The Word   -   Here we see this name again. The Word is the Father's word made flesh. Christ exemplified the Father's will and followed all that He asked Him to do. This is why He is appropriately called The Word. 
This has been a great assignment and a wonderful reminder of the divinity of the Savior and His relationship with our Father.