October 24, 2012

After all you can do

We learn in The Book of Mormon that “… it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.)
For those who do not understand this statement and feel that I am belittling the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I offer you the following explanation.

Lets say you are aspiring to be a college student. You have no money, and your job outlook is dim at best. How do you pay for college? I will focus on scholarship. There are people out there who believe in education enough to pay for it. in order to get a scholarship you need to fill out an application. You need to show in your application that you qualify for the scholarship. Good grades, good activity, and a clean record  are three qualifications that may appear on a scholarship qualification. Now you receive your scholarship and attend school. You get your degree and you graduate.
This is how the saving grace of Christ works. There are qualifications. There is proof of this throughout the bible. You may have heard of these qualifications. They are better known as commandments. John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments".
Notice that you did not pay for one bit of your college experience. You did not graduate on your own. You either went to college or you did not. You couldn't attend just one semester and a scholarship pay the rest. You had no money for that.
Without Christ we cannot make it to heaven. We can't even make it an inch closer to heaven than we are now. We either make it to heaven or we do not. We either qualify for Christs saving grace, or we do not. With this being the case. it is 100% by Christs grace that we made it to heaven. The difference between Christ and a scholarship donor is that Christ has an unlimited amount of money available to everyone! all they must to do is qualify for it.
Well what about those who already messed up. What about those who already have a bad record. That person can have a clean record through repentance. This is how it is available to all men, because no matter where in life you are, there is always a path for you to qualify. You cannot completely disqualify yourself unless you never try to improve or choose not to improve. Then its your own fault. Its not a problem with Christs saving grace.

I would like to talk about what this means about how this can impact our faith. I will give us two scenarios. First scenario, A loved one is sick, you want them to get better, you can look into the best medical science we have, or sit and do nothing and hope god will protect. Second scenario, you worry about the protection of your family, life is dangerous and you are trying to figure out if you should worry and do something, or sit and trust god will handle all the dangers in live.

     The atonement of Jesus Christ covers practically everything. This includes our physical needs. From what we just learned, the grace through the atonement has requirements. Just because something is physical doesn't mean we can ignore the fact that “… it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.). Some people don't trust some medical procedures. That is alright as long as we have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered it and are following their answers from God. He will lead us in "all we can do". But we still need to do something. Search for what can help. Weigh the pro's and con's prayerfully, and thoughtfully, during your decisions process. God has his hand in medical science, we should search for those truths. When we have found what we can do to treat the sickness, then we should discuss it with the lord again, and do it.  Some might say, "well what happens when you choose to do something and its not the right choice?" If you went through the process prayerfully it does not matter. We can trust our prayerful consideration and go forth with faith and not with fear.

     The same goes for our family. We cannot sit idly by and hope and pray that our family will be protected without doing something to protect our family in the first place. We cannot be sit idly by by and rely on prayer alone, unless prayer is our only option. In these rare cases, prayer is sufficient enough. Our families are important to us and to God. God cannot interfere with the choices of others or he will rid us of our agency. There are bad people who make bad choices that will affect our family. We need to watch for these. God knows these bad choices and he knows how to avoid them. As we prayerfully consider how to protect our family, we will be lead to situations where we can avoid the ill effects of others bad choices.

This can apply to any, absolutely any, problem we have in life. Just remember to prayerfully consider every choice you make. When these principles are applied there is no need for fear. We can all confidently walk forward with 100% faith in God.

October 19, 2012

Religious Freedom

     I understand that the topic of religious freedom is not one of the 'basics' like faith in Christ and repentance. Religious Freedom, however, needs to be focused on more in today's society.Many people feel they understand freedom of religion and sound sympathetic, while at the same time they destroy it. They call this freedom FROM religion. We need to do what we can to understand and support true religious freedom.
     Lets look first at freedom of speech. Its the freedom to express your ideas in public to anyone, for anyone to hear. Many ideas expressed may come off offensive to others. This is the exact reason why free speech was put into law. To protect the speech from those who would silence it just because they were offended. This was for a good reason, without freedom of speech a government could effectively silence the ideas it doesn't want people to know or hear about by force. So this brings up the question, can a religious individual have the same freedom of speech as anyone else?
     I know this question sounds absurd. Of course they should, we are all individuals and all are protected under freedom of speech. There are those who do not share this same idea.
     Many people feel they are entitled to a "freedom from religion". They call it constitutional, the founding fathers meant for it to be this way. This is very true, but not their interpretation. Freedom of religion has given religion a freedom from the government. The government is not to be run by any church. This is what America had to escape from. We escaped from the church of England. It ran the government itself. Everyone had to worship the way they were told to worship.
   This is the key point "Everyone had to worship the way they were told to worship". Freedom of speech was limited because of this.
    Today, many feel that in order to stop this from ever happening again we need a freedom from religion that keeps others religious views and ideas away and out of public. If there is every anything religious that shows up in politics or government it is to be quenched and suppressed. Basically, religion is being told how to be religious. Freedom of speech is limited because of this. Religion never has been able to force others to be religious in America. A republican or a democrat can have free speech to tell everyone why they need to be on board with their parties platform, but it is constitutionally wrong for a religion to tell someone else why they should be on board with their religions views. This is all upside down and backwards.
     Religion does not and can not force. They can speak forcefully, but there is not legal ramifications that can be taken against you for not following what you hear. By freedom of speech they can tell people to have their beliefs with whatever strength of words they wish. Just as it is with anyone who has a theological idea protected by freedom of speech. But again, whether the person follows it or not is up to them, there are no legal actions taken for not participating in religion. There should be no legal actions taken for not participating in religion. But just because you are offended that someone disagrees with your views is no reason to call it an infringement on your rights. Freedom of being able to hear only what you want to hear, is not freedom of speech. Its the other way around. Religion should have the same rights to freedom of speech as anyone else. Whether you are in a public forum, or any other public place. No matter who you are. Just because you are in politics, does not mean that individual must denounce all of their religious views. They are free to believe what they may. And we are all free to choose what we choose. We are all free to be offended. We are all free to speak religiously

September 20, 2012

Simple, Trust God.

     Yesterday I was skimming through Facebook posts. I came across a post from a young woman asking for help. She said, "How do we as children of God align ourselves in harmony with God's will, let go, and trust in His timing"?
     This is a very extensive question. There are entire talks devoted to helping with this question. One thought came to my mind. Here is my answer.
     You are a child of God. We can align ourselves in harmony with God's will, let go, and trust his timing by really contemplating what it means to be a child of god. An earthly father cares about the well being of his children and will help them the best he can. We have a heavenly father who not only knows our potential, he deeply desires that we achieve that potential and become like him. How much more involved would a heavenly father be than an earthly father. It's more that we can imagine. God is on our side, rooting for us every step of the way, giving us what we need, when we need it and ask for it. Knowing we are children of god, of a king, and pondering what that means, can help a whole lot. Never forget that Gods knows each of us on an individual level. Never forget that Gods love for you is individual too.
   Knowing you are Gods child should help you trust his timing. Pray to know how much he loves you, and listen. He will answer.

September 18, 2012

Overcoming Temptation

     Well I have been thinking about how many people fall into temptation. If someone falls into a temptation that I am not tempted with, I tend to think to myself, "why don't they just buck up and deal with it already, how hard can it be." Then I think about my own temptations. I thought about the path of temptation. I thought about the path out of temptations. Its tough both ways.
     Its like hiking. When I was younger, my extended family would take an annual 2-3 day backpacking trip down devils canyon.The path down was tough. It wasn't tough from physical exertion, it was tough because of the terrain. The path was downhill, which is why it didn't exhaust us. But it was pretty steep. It was rocky, lots of pine trees around us, and many pine trees blocking the path. At some places, the trail was overgrown and barely visible. I never went down devils canyon without tripping and slipping. It was painful.
     I think of falling into temptation as the path down devils canyon. What an ironic name for a canyon. temptation is the easy choice, its all downhill. The fact that temptation is downhill often times clouds our mind to the rough and rocky terrain. Perhaps we see no path and continue down because its easy. Slipping tripping and falling on our butts the entire way. Every step into temptation is painful to our spirits. Every step towards temptation dulls our ability to feel the comfort of the spirit, while increasing our feelings of guilt and shame. By the time we reach the bottom and look up, the path is too overwhelming to comprehend.
     The path out of devils canyon had the same rough terrain, and the same blocked trail. Just as the path of the canyon trail is the same on the way out, so it is with repentance. We slowly regain trust with our heavenly father, and slowly invite the spirit into our life each step we take out of temptation. you don't get a one way ticket to the top. But there is a difference. Every step we take out of temptation we will feel more and more of gods love, temptation will have less and less of a hold on us every step we take. Every prayer we make.
    Lets not forget the path out of devils canyon not only had the same terrain, it also had an increase of exhaustion. My grandfather made sure we ate as much breakfast as we could before we left, and when we were stuffed full, he would make us eat another plate of pancakes. We were also told to drink an extra cup of water after satisfying out thirst, before we left from the bottom. This was to protect us from ultimate exhaustion. My grandfather had us do this because years before he hadn't eaten enough, his body quit and started to shut down, he had to have my uncles race to the top of the canyon to find food and bring it back to him so he could complete the journey.
     Christ taught us that he is our living water. When Jesus was with the woman at the well, she gave him water. His response to her was,
      "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst,". 
In  second Nephi Chapter 9 it says.
 "50 Come, my brethren, every one that athirsteth, come ye to the bwaters; and he that hath no cmoney, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.
 51 Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your alabor for that which cannot bsatisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and cfeast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
 52 Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give athanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts brejoice." 
 When we reach temptations bottoms, and desire to repent and return to God, We should feast and drink of the goodness of the gospel to start our journey to full repentance. Its hard if you start by simply ready a scripture a day. It is good that we are doing more than we were, but if we wish for Christs help, his grace, we should immerse ourselves in the gospel, as much as we can do.
    After we have immersed ourselves in the gospel, we can start our trek to the top. 
     A few years ago, I went down devils canyon with a friend. This friend tripped at the bottom while we were fishing. He hurt his back. he experienced so much pain on the way to the top he would have stopped if he were on his own. He asked for me to poke him in the back (the part that didn't hurt) with a stick every time he stopped or slowed down. I did this, it hurt him and he wasn't very happy, but we made it to the top.
     On our path to the top we need to recognize we can't do it alone. Sin and temptation have spiritually hurt our backs. We need to pray every step of the way for Christs help. In Mathew 26:41 it tells us. 
  41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
This verse describes us perfectly. Our flesh is weak. prayer gives our spirits power over the flesh to resist and overcome temptation.
     Lets look at some more ways we can overcome our temptations.
We already discussed prayer, but I am naming it again, it is one of the best tools we have in overcoming temptation.
If our temptations come as habits, we can replace those less desirable habits with good habits.
President David O. McKay Quote C. A. Holl when he said " We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits, and we sow our habits and we reap our characters; we sown our characters, and we reap our destiny."  As we put into perspective where we want our destiny, it can help us make the choices to change our habits.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "man's destined purpose is to conquer all habits, to overcome the evil in him and to restore good to its rightful place".
President Mckay told us "we should become so involved in acquiring good quality traits and participation in character-building activities that there is no time to engage in anything worthless or harmful. Our habits should be those that make us susceptible to faith and testimony."
     Don't let the path of repentance overwhelm you. No matter where you are in life the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is readily accessible. God knows and loves you individually. The Lord has said, "For the power is in them (meaning people), wherein they are agents unto themselves." This means that our habits are subject to change and improvement. The devil will never have a hold stronger than we can break with the help of our savior Jesus Christ.
     When we made it to the top of the canyon, we always had soda, chips, and other foods. It was a great feeling to accomplish something so daunting. As we repent, we will also have a great sense of accomplishment. God will bless us in all aspects of our life.


April 8, 2012


     This past week our Savior Jesus Christ went through all that the Father asked of him. We cannot fathom the suffering attached to the last week of his mortal ministry.
     His suffering can only be explained by himself. With his own  words he said " Which asuffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might bnot drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and afinished my preparations unto the children of men."
     He bled from every pore in his body. With all the power that a God could bring to overcome such suffering, he still asked his father in heaven if there could be another way. But there could not, and his father, our God let him suffer, to bleed, for us. This was the only way we could be cleansed from sin. 
     But most important was not the suffering. We could be cleansed from sin, but we still have a mortal body that dies. 
     Today Christ was resurrected. This resurrection was not to prove that it could be done for one mortal. It was a resurrection with all power to break the bands of death for all men. Not  just for all men, but for every living creature, even the earth itself.
     Look around you. This Easter its not just mankind that celebrates. Everything you can lay your eyes on was saved from death by resurrection. Everything rejoices in the final accomplishment of the atonement. This is the marvelous cap to everything. In all anticipation we waited, And now it is finished! it is accomplished! it is done! we all may live!
     I know my savior lives. I know he will come again. I am grateful and rejoice with him.

March 25, 2012

Performance Unto the Lord

     Think of your talent. That one talent that you have that you have dreamed of become famous for. Look at the people out there that excel at that talent. If you saw them would you want your picture by them? would you want their signature? Of course you would, even if its deep down inside you. Just the other day I saw Nicholas Cage, and wanted so badly to take a picture to remember that I saw him in person checking into the same hotel as me. You could argue that he isn't even that great of an actor, but I still wanted that picture. Its because of his abilities to act that put him at the fame he has today.
     Now think of your favorite band. If you could see them today would you want their autograph? 
     Half a year ago I was a member of an all male a'capella  group called the happy jacks. It is a group of guys from the university of wyoming who sing fun songs together. We weren't big, we didn't get paid. In fact we payed to be in it because it was a class with the university. We went on tour throughout Wyoming last year. Many of the schools we performed at had never heard of us before. I would say we were pretty good though. We practiced and practiced and did all we could to perform at our best every night. and every night at every concert we had lines of people waiting to get our autograph or to get their picture with us. Why did they want a picture with some college guys who they didn't even know existed before they saw us perform? it wasn't because we were good looking that's for sure. Why did they want a signature from me? they didn't even know my name.
     I thought about this. It was because of our performance. Our performance was good enough in their minds that it equated that of one of their favorite famous bands. After each performance we were no more famous than we had started out on our tour. We were no more known to the world than any other individual in Wyoming. I'm not in the group any more, I don't think anyone even noticed. This is not a bad thing. I learned that its not about being famous. its about performing our best. If we do our best, than we are famous to the person with us at that moment. Just as we were famous to each person who wanted our autograph, no matter how brief that lasted, it happened at the time we performed. my signature was worth something to them
   You can watch general conference and see many prophets and apostles of the lord who in my view are famous to many because of the way they live their lives and serve the lord as they serve us. We can have this same fame in the lives of those we touch.
   Sometimes in our lives we feel that we are of little worth.We feel that we make too small of an effect in the lives of others. What we do feels like its not enough. 
     We don't have to touch the world to be worth it. Our name, who we are can be worth it because of our performance. we don't have to perform to the country or the world. We need to perform for God. As we do all we can to serve god by performing our lives by keeping the commandments and reaching out to Gods other children to help them in any way we can, then we are worth it.  
      “For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great” (Luke 9:48). 
     We are famous not only to the individuals we come in contact with, but we are worth it to the lord. its our performances in life that make us worth more. So lets make our performances worthy of the Lord. We are not measured by our worldly fame.

Elder Sterling W. Sill
“In order to be great souls in heaven, we need to be great souls here. At every age, we should be leaders in righteousness, leaders in doing our duty, leaders in accepting responsibility, leaders in excellence, leaders in industry, leaders in kindness, leaders in obedience, leaders in example. It is just as important for a deacons quorum president to be a good leader in his sphere as it is for the President of the Church to be a leader in his. No nation would have a very good army if only the generals were faithful.”
Elder Sterling W. Sill (1903–94) of the Seventy, “A Personal Observation: The Problem Is Always the Same,” Ensign, Mar. 1973, 36.

February 15, 2012

Living Principles

     This past thanksgiving I was blessed to be able to spend it with my wifes family where religion is a hot topic of conversation. Most of the family belong to the LDS church. One individual inparticular has been trying time and time again to investigate the Mormon faith. He has tried time and time again to ask God if it is true. Time and time again he has not received an answer. From a die hard Mormon perspective one might say,
       "Of course he did! The promise is right there! If you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it you are going to receive and answer! He must be denying the Holy Ghost!"
     To the anti-Mormon you may hear,
        "Proof at last! That this church they speak of is false in every way!"
From me you hear this, "He read, he prayed and he did not receive an answer." I know this individual genuinely wanted to know. I know he did not receive a strong witness of the truth as well. This does not mean that Gods promise is null and void. Lets look at every aspect of the promise from God in the book of Mormon. This is where the final prophet to write in the Book of Mormon tells us how we can know that it true, and its history is true. He says in Moroni Chapter 10,

      2 And I aseal up bthese records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how amerciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and bponder it in your chearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things.

I know
I know
I had way too much fun with colors.
I used two different highlights for you. Every time he talks about "these things" its the entire book of Mormon. What many people miss is when he states that god will "manifest the truth of it unto you". he isn't necessarily telling you about the book itself. How can you pray about something you haven't even read? that's not part of the promise. We ask god if the message is true at the same time. His answer is to manifest the truth of "it". "it" is the mercies of the lord.
Now for the biggest mind blower.... You have to apply what you learn before you ask. If you learn about a commandment, you need to start living it. This is where many people go wrong.
Why do you think living something can help us learn about it?
I can read about the magnificence of the tropical islands all I want, but I won't know the true extent of the magnificence unless i actually go there.
You can read the book of Mormon all you want. You can even point out the mercies and blessings from living the principles it teaches. But without actually living those principles you cannot know of their importance and magnificence.
     This is the only way to know and understand anything good thing in life. It is hypocritical for anyone who has not lived up to the standards in the book of Mormon, to have any say in its truthfulness.  I even believe this for those who think they have true pure testimony that the book of Mormon is true. We cannot know unless we live.
     It's important, not just to live by the standards of the book, but to attribute our knowledge of them to the book of Mormon. We need to apply the standards we learn as we learn them. Someone can already be living a good life, then read the book of Mormon with the feeling that they already live their lives in accordance to all of Gods standards. This doesn't happen. There are principles to leaving a good life that we can learn and apply every time we read the book of Mormon. There are more mercies  of the lord than we can comprehend.
     I know the book of Mormon contains the word of god. I know that god is merciful to all men. We can improve the quality of our lives as we follow the teachings of God that are in the book of Mormon.