I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan. I'll follow him in faith. I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll honor his name. I'll do what is right; I'll follow his light. His truth I will proclaim.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gospel Message - One Year = Complete!!!!

Jesus - Savior

I thought it very awesome that when I only had 4 topic slips left, one of them had this topic. I felt it would be perfect and fitting to have it as my last topic. Over this last year I have mentioned my Savior quite a bit. It would be silly not to. After all, this is His Gospel. I have been doing this "exercise" to be a better mouthpiece for Him. A better missionary. A better servant. A better disciple of Him. It makes sense that He and His deeds and works and teachings and Atonement and Resurrection and more have come up over and over again.

I've written of how Jesus redeemed us from the Fall. How He has atoned for our sins and pains. All of that is part of how He saved us from the grasp of the devil. Without the Atonement and Resurrection, we would have been lost. We would never have been able to return to Heavenly Father, and we would have been stuck in misery and damnation with no ability to grow or experience more. Christ saved us from such an awful end and gave us the chance to choose a better ending for ourselves--a never ending epilogue full of joy and excitement that will go on in to eternity.

I have spent all my life making sure I refer to my Heavenly Father and to His Son in as reverent ways as possible. About 90% of the time, I will refer to Jesus the Christ as my Savior, because I am forever indebted and forever grateful for that role of His. He saved me. I'm pretty sure I will never deserve such an act. Yet He still did it. For me and for every single one of God's children.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gospel Message Day 365

Freedom to Choose

This ties in with yesterday's post really well. But it is another one that I'm sure I've covered before. One of the greatest gifts we have had as Children of God is the power to choose for ourselves. We have had this power since the world began, as we were able to choose whose plan we wanted--Christ's or the adversary's. If you've made it to the Earth then you chose Christ's plan. You weren't forced. It was your choice.

And ever since we came to Earth our choices have been ours. Well, OK, as very young children our parents made choices for us. But they were choices our parents thought were for our benefit--to help us grow and to learn. It isn't fair to expect a new child who is learning to act and choose for themselves to be accountable for those choices. They are still learning what is right and what is wrong. (Which is why our role in children's lives is crucial to help teach them.) Still, even as they are learning wise parents, family, leaders, teachers, etc. allow children to make choices for themselves so they can learn about consequences of choices. Right choices bring the good consequences. Wrong choices bring the bad consequences.

Then at 8 the children are accountable for their own choices. If they choose wrong, it is upon their heads. That still seems like a pretty young age. But guess what? Those parents, family, leaders, teachers, etc. are still there to help teach those children about repentance. Not that the child should feel that it's OK to do wrong, they'll just repent later. Over these years before and after 8 they need to be taught what the deeper consequences are to wrong choices, and why obedience is such a great blessing--not a hinderance.

Still, whether a Child of God chooses to be obedient or not, chooses the right or the wrong, it is still their great privilege and gift to make that choice. They are not forced to do anything. Whether they had people teach them right from wrong or not, they will always have the Spirit. If they are not a baptized member, the Spirit is their conscience. Their shoulder angel, if you will. :-) What they choose to do with that conscience--listen or ignore--will lead to how much the Spirit will bring guidance. Members of the LDS Church are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. With righteous living and choices, we are able to call upon His guidance, comfort, or testimony at any time, for we are blessed to have the Spirit with us always.

And all of this? All of this being able to choose in this life? It is because Adam and Eve chose to take of the fruit that had been forbidden to them. It is because they chose to bring mankind to the earth to let each of us have our own opportunity to work out our own salvation. Next to the Spirit and Christ's Atonement, I don't think there is any greater gift.

2 Nephi 2:27

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gospel Message Day 364

Fall of Adam and Eve

I can't believe I haven't covered this topic, yet. I feel like I've written about it. I suppose because so many Gospel topics overlap, I've probably referred to it in things about the Atonement and Plan of Salvation. Well, what we tend to shorten to The Fall was an important part of the Plan of Salvation. It is the 2nd of 3 pillars of the Plan. The first pillar had to be the Creation. We had to have a world on which we could be tested. But we had to get there for the testing! Adam and Eve's fall was crucial to enable us to come and be tested, and I firmly believe it was not a mistake on Eve's part but a conscious decision for us. And to be saved from that fall, Christ had to come to atone for each of us.

People often confuse the fact that Adam and Eve fell, and that we are thus guilty, too. No. We are not going to be punished for what they did. We are punished for our own sins. (Article of Faith 2). The Fall put them from an immortal state to a mortal state, one in which they could bring children into this world. It put them in a position where they and subsequently their posterity could be tried and tested in order to prove to our Father and to our Savior that we could be obedient to the commandments we have been given.

Always loved the scripture in the Book of Mormon, which sums up the truth of the Fall:
"Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2: )

But to dispel what people get wrong about it, there are the rest of the verses in that chapter (2 Nephi 2:19-27, emphasis added):
And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden ofEden, to till the earth.
 20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.
 21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
 22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
 23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
 26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
 27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gospel Message Day 363

Eternal Marriage

There are 4 topics left. I decided to choose from the 4 for today, since I wanted to tie it in with Elder Scott's passing. I love Elder Scott so much. Over my years as a college student and single adult, I have come to love "the Brethren" in deeper, more connected ways than I did as a child and teen. Their messages were so much more relevant to me. They were also much more life-sustaining because I was fully on my own, leading my own life--I needed their guidance. Certain talks would hit just the right mark at certain times. And then there were the lovely experiences of seeing them or even meeting them.

I was blessed to meet Elder Scott twice. I will never forget those meetings, nor the things he spoke of at those particular Stake Conferences. And I will always remember that for his 20 years as a widower, he spoke so tenderly and lovingly of his wife. Eternal marriage (and family) was always a topic at the ready for him. Indeed, reading the Deseret News' article about his death, they quote the bio he wrote on lds.org:

"They (the deceased) provide a powerful motivation for each remaining member of our family to live so that together we can receive all of the eternal blessings promised in the temple," Elder Scott said in his biography on lds.org. “I know that as I continue to live worthily I will have the privilege of being with my beautiful wife, whom I love with all my heart, and with those children who are with her on the other side of the veil, because of the opportunities made possible through the eternal ordinances that were performed in the Manti Temple.”

He always spoke of the eternal bonds he had with his family. His words have always given me hope for when my turn will come to enter a Temple of God and be sealed for eternity to my best friend.

Later in this article, it quotes about their experiences when 2 of their children died. I remember hearing him speak of this at one of those Stake Conferences. He had such a strong testimony of eternal families. When a couple is married and sealed for eternity in the temple, all of the children born to them afterwards are automatically sealed to them. We call it Born in the Covenant. Children not born to the couple but adopted (as the Scotts also did) can be sealed to the couple and then receive the same rights and privileges as if they'd been Born in the Covenant. They belong eternally to the family as well.

"Later, during the night, I embraced my wife and said to her, 'We do not need to worry, because our children were born in the covenant. We have the assurance that we will have them with us in the future. Now we have a reason to live extremely well,'" Elder Scott said in hisApril 2009 general conference remarks. "That knowledge has given us great comfort. We rejoice in the knowledge that all seven of our children are sealed to us for time and all eternity."

As ever, with his beautiful words and serene, kind voice he would reassure us in eternal marriage as well as so many other Gospel subjects. Repentance. Forgiveness. Missionary work. Dating! (Loved his talks on those.) I always looked forward to his talks and was very sad last April when he was not well enough to speak. The last talk I heard from his was almost a year ago. It was on Exercising Faith. He gave such a fabulous list of tools, and in his always gentle way urged us. This one particularly hit home for me:

Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!

I knew he was struggling with his health, but this is still a very big surprise to me. Much more than our two other recently deceased Apostles. I will miss his tenderness, his directness, and his ever-flowing love for each of us during his much-needed messages.

But his reunion with his wife--oh the sweetness and joy of the thought brings me to wonderful tears. He has patiently waited and loved and believed. And his eternal marriage has held him up during these 20 years of loneliness. He is lonely no more.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Gospel Message Day 362


I feel I'm racing through these to make sure I get them all in before the end of the week! And I'm not even sure what my internet connection will be like then.

Fasting is something members of the Church do for a variety of reasons:
1) teaches us self-discipline
2) teaches us about sacrifice
3) heals us spiritually and even physically (I remember hearing that going without food and drink for a few hours helps the body kind of cleanse and get a jump start of sorts)
4) allows us a chance to sacrifice for a purpose

As I've often heard, fasting without a purpose is just going hungry. The purpose is often something selfless. With the fasting, we combine it with prayer. We also donate a fast offering. It is recommended we start with donating the cost of the meals that we skip. But then we are encouraged to be generous beyond that.

Fasting is actually a Gospel principle that seems rather simple, but when I think on it I realize I have so much more to learn about it. President Eyring spoke about fasting in this past General Conference. I learned so much from his talk. He says it all better than I ever could, so I'm just going t post the talk here:

My dear brothers and sisters, it is a joy for me to extend my love to you in this general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That joy comes from the witness of the Spirit that the love of the Savior reaches out to each of you and to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Our Heavenly Father wishes to bless His children spiritually and temporally. He understands each of their needs, their pains, and their hopes.
When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him.
He told us that was true when He described a future moment we all will have when we see Him after our life in this world is complete. A picture in my mind of that day has grown more vivid in the days that I have prayed and fasted to know what to say this morning. The Lord’s description of that future interview was given to His disciples, and it describes what we want with all our hearts to be true for us as well:
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”1
You and I want that warm welcome from the Savior. But how can we deserve it? There are more hungry, homeless, and lonely children of Heavenly Father than we can possibly reach. And the numbers grow ever farther from our reach.
So the Lord has given us something that we each can do. It is a commandment so simple that a child can understand it. It is a commandment with a wonderful promise for those in need and for us.
It is the law of the fast. The words in the book of Isaiah are the Lord’s description of the commandment and the blessing available to those of us in His Church:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”2
So the Lord has given us a simple commandment with a marvelous promise. In the Church today we are offered the opportunity to fast once a month and give a generous fast offering through our bishop or branch president for the benefit of the poor and the needy. Some of what you give will be used to help those around you, perhaps someone in your own family. The Lord’s servants will pray and fast for the revelation to know whom to help and what help to give. That which is not needed to help people in your local Church unit will become available to bless other Church members across the world who are in need.
The commandment to fast for the poor has many blessings attached to it. President Spencer W. Kimball called failing to follow that law a sin of omission with a heavy cost. He wrote: “Rich promises are made by the Lord to those who fast and assist the needy. … Inspiration and spiritual guidance will come with righteousness and closeness to our Heavenly Father. To omit to do this righteous act of fasting would deprive us of these blessings.”3
I received one of those blessings just a few weeks ago. Since general conference falls on a weekend that would normally include the fast and testimony meeting, I fasted and prayed to know how I should still obey the commandment to care for those in need.
On a Saturday, still fasting, I woke at 6:00 and prayed again. I felt impressed to look at the world news. There I read this report:
Tropical Cyclone Pam destroyed many homes as it made a direct hit on Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. It killed at least six people in Vanuatu, the first confirmed from one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall.
“Hardly a tree stood straight [as the cyclone] bellowed across” the Pacific island nation.4
World Vision’s emergency assessment team planned to view damage after the storm died down. 
They advised residents to seek shelter in sturdy buildings such as universities and schools.
And then they said: “‘The strongest thing they’ve got is cement churches,’ said Inga Mepham [from] CARE International. … ‘Some of them don’t have that. It’s hard to find a structure that you’d think would be able to withstand a Category 5 (storm).’”5
When I read that, I remembered visiting little homes on Vanuatu. I could picture in my mind the people huddled in homes being destroyed by winds. And then I remembered the warm welcome to me of the people of Vanuatu. I thought of them and their neighbors fleeing to the safety of our cement chapel.
Then I pictured the bishop and the Relief Society president walking among them, giving comfort, blankets, food to eat, and water to drink. I could picture the frightened children huddled together.
They are so far away from the home where I read that report, and yet I knew what the Lord would be doing through His servants. I knew that what made it possible for them to succor those children of Heavenly Father was fast offerings, given freely by the Lord’s disciples who were far away from them but close to the Lord.
So I didn’t wait for Sunday. I took a fast offering to my bishop that morning. I know that my offering may be used by the bishop and Relief Society president to help someone in my neighborhood. My small offering may not be needed near where my family and I live, but the local surplus could reach even as far as Vanuatu.
Other storms and tragedies will come across the world to people the Lord loves and whose sorrows He feels. Part of your fast offering and mine this month will be used to help someone, somewhere, whose relief the Lord will feel as if it were His own.
Your fast offering will do more than help feed and clothe bodies. It will heal and change hearts. The fruit of a free-will offering may be the desire in the heart of the recipient to reach out to others in need. That happens across the world.
It happened in the life of Sister Abie Turay, who lives in Sierra Leone. A civil war began in 1991. It ravaged the country for years. Sierra Leone was already one of the poorest countries in the world. “During the war, it was unclear who [controlled] the country—banks … closed, government offices were shuttered, police forces [were ineffective against rebel forces], … and there was chaos, killing and sorrow. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives and more than two million people were forced from their homes to avoid the slaughter.”6
Even in such times, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew.
One of the first branches was organized in the city where Sister Turay lived. Her husband was the first branch president. He served as a district president during the civil war.
“When guests visit Sister Turay’s home [now], she loves to show them two [treasures] from the war: a blue-and-white striped shirt [she got] from a bale of used clothing [given by members of the Church] and a blanket, now worn and riddled with holes.”7
She says, “This shirt is the first … clothing I [received]. … I used to wear it to go to work—it was so good. [It made me feel so beautiful.] I didn’t have other clothes.
“During the war, this blanket kept us warm, me and my children. When the rebels [would] come to attack us, this is the only thing I [could] lay [my] hands on [as we fled to the bush to hide]. So we [would] take the blanket with us. It would keep us warm and keep the mosquitos away from us.”8
“Sister Turay speaks of her gratitude for a mission president who would make his way into the war-torn country with [money] in his pocket.” Those funds, from the fast-offering donations of people like you, allowed the Saints to buy food that most Sierra Leoneans could not afford.9
Sister Turay, speaking of those who were generous enough to donate for them to survive, says, “When I think [of] the people who did this … I feel that [they were] sent by God, because ordinary human beings made this kind gesture for [us].”10
A visitor from the United States sat with Abie not long ago. During his time with her, he found his eyes “drawn to a set of scriptures that were on the table.” He could tell that they were a treasure, “well-marked with notes in the columns. The pages were [worn;] some were torn. The cover was detached from the binding.”
He held the scriptures in his “hand and gently turned the pages. As [he did, he found a] yellow copy of a tithing donation slip. [He] could see that, in a country where [a dollar was worth its] weight in gold, Abie Turay had paid one dollar as her tithing, one dollar to the missionary fund, and one dollar as a fast offering for those who, in her words, were ‘truly poor.’”
The visitor closed Sister Turay’s scriptures and thought, as he stood with this faithful African mother, that he was on sacred ground.11
Just as the receipt of the blessing of your fast offering and mine can change hearts, so does fasting for the good of another. Even a child can feel it.
Many children, and some adults, may for personal reasons find a 24-hour fast difficult. It can be, in the words of Isaiah, felt that the fast has “afflicted [their] soul.” Wise parents recognize that possibility and so are careful to follow the counsel of President Joseph F. Smith: “Better to teach them the principle, and let them observe it when they are old enough to choose intelligently.”12
I saw the blessing in that counsel recently. One of my grandsons had found a 24-hour fast beyond his powers of endurance. But his wise parents still placed the principle in his heart. One of his school friends recently lost a young cousin to accidental death. My grandson asked his mother on fast day, at about the time he had always felt the fast was too hard to continue, whether it would make his grieving friend feel better if he continued his fast.
His question was the confirmation of President Joseph F. Smith’s counsel. My grandson had come to the point where he not only understood the principle of the fast, but it had also been planted in his heart. He had come to feel that his fasting and prayers would lead to a blessing from God for someone in need. If he lives the principle often enough, it will bring the wonderful effects in his own life, as promised by the Lord. He will have the spiritual blessing of power to receive inspiration and greater capacity to resist temptation.
We do not know all the reasons why Jesus Christ went into the wilderness to fast and to pray. But we know at least one of the effects: the Savior completely resisted Satan’s temptations to misuse His divine power.
The brief time we fast every month and the small amount we offer for the poor may give us only a small part of the change in our natures to have no more desire to do evil. But there is a great promise, even as we do all that we reasonably can to pray, to fast, and to donate for those in need:
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.”13
I pray that we will claim those great blessings for ourselves and for our families.

I bear my witness that Jesus is the Christ, that in His Church we are invited to help Him as He cares for the poor in His way, and that He promises everlasting blessings will come from our helping Him. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gospel Message Day 361

Priesthood Ordination

Not too long ago I wrote about Priesthood organization. In that I mentioned the different offices of the Priesthood. A worthy man is ordained to those offices--the ordaining being an ordinance. When a baptized male is old enough (at least 12) and found worthy, he is ordained to the office of a deacon, after receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. Later he will be ordained to the office of teacher, then priest, and then elder. At some point in life, he will likely be ordained to high priest (depends on how long he lives!). A few will be ordained to office of a bishop or stake president. Much fewer will be ordained to be a Seventy. And a very small number will be ordained as Apostles. In our dispensation, only 16 men have received the ordination of prophet.

In 2 weeks, we will have two new Apostles called and ordained. I’ll always miss the Apostles we have had in my life previously, but this is such an exciting time to see whom the Lord calls and subsequently qualifies. We see these special witnesses of Christ grow in their Apostolic ordination over the years, and for me their counsel is life-sustaining.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Gospel Message Day 360


Awww. I LOVE the scriptures--they combined with prayer have been a crucial lifeline between me and my Heavenly Father. They offer so much to me, and not just spiritually. I was an English major who always enjoys good writing and good stories. The scriptures offer both. They could be entertaining, humorous, tragic and yet full of lessons just at face value. But I have spent my life learning to look deeper and to apply more than the typical piece of literature. The looking and applying involves searching and pondering--and all of those require the Spirit to be involved. When all of that is combined, then I am able to more fully partake of what the scriptures truly have to offer. They are the Word of God--some are His words through His prophets written for our benefit and guidance. Others are His words recorded by His prophets. All of them--His words. The wise prophets would not write that which would displease God. They wanted to write what He wanted us to know and have available to us.

Good to note: the LDS religion does not use the Apocrypha because some is true, but some has been twisted by men. It is not against us to use it, but if the Spirit is not present when it is being read, it will bring nothing of the Spirit to them. See Doctrine & Covenants 9. Also good to note that we do not view Song of Solomon as inspired scripture. I heard of one apostle who glues it shut. I read it once when I read the whole Old Testament in 9th-10th grade. All I remember is blushing a lot from embarrassment and uncomfortableness. There wasn't much I could get out that gave me deeper spiritual meaning and application. I'm OK never reading it again!