October 31, 2014

Structure and Decor

     There are two important parts to a testimony in Christ and his restored doctrine. Spiritual Structure, and Spiritual Decor. Spiritual Structure is what makes sense. This includes the organization, and purpose of the Church. Spiritual Decor is what feels good. This includes personal spiritual progression and uplifting experiences associated with living Gospel Standards. With the proper spiritual structure, and the proper spiritual decor, life is more fulfilling and full of joy. Your testimony will grow stronger.
     My wife's father bought a house years ago. From the descriptions I heard, it was a wreck. It was unfinished and abandoned. Mice and spiders infested the interior of the house. It was not a pleasant environment. My wife's father bought the house because he saw something amazing. The house had a beautiful structure. The first step was to clean out the mice and spiders that infested the area. The houses interior then was finished according to its proper plans, and my wife's mother decorated the interior so beautifully. I was only able to see the home after everything was complete but it was a very inviting home, and pleasant to spend time in. We were protected from the outside, and had the many pleasantries of the home decor.
     A house can be likened to testimonies. We can have both a beautiful pleasant decor, and a sound structure. We can have a beautiful pleasant decor, and a failing structure. We can have a strong structure, and an empty house. Mice and Spiders represent the Sin we might allow into our homes from time to time. The first step to improving our testimonies, would be to rid our lives of the mice and spiders of sin.

     Again, the structure of a testimony includes what makes sense. The Organization and Purpose of the Church.  We should not build  our structure according to our own plans. Our structure should be build on the plans that our Savior has already provided. He has provided the foundation and Cornerstone of our Testimonies. It is our choice on where we build, but I would suggest building our Testimonies on Christ. An essential aspect to this foundation is found in Ephesians Chapter 2. A group of new members of the church were recently accepted through baptism. They were told

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
This is where our testimonies should be built. We should do all we can to find and strengthen our testimonies in our Saviors chosen Prophets and Apostles.
When Christ came to the earth and began to establish his church, he called and ordained his apostles through the Holy Priesthood. From there on, the church began to develop a strong structure of priesthood leadership and example. There is good reason Apostles and Prophets are specifically mentioned as part of the foundation. Christ told Peter his rock is built on a rock, and described to him what that rock is.

Matt 16

15 He saith unto them, but whom say ye that I am?
16 And Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: FOR FLESH AND BLOOD HATH NOT REVEALED IT UNTO THEE, but my Father which is in heaven.

Christ just taught Peter what revelation is. He showed Peter that he knows something beyond what he has learned from man, but that God himself taught Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Christ then goes on to teach Peter who he is, and that what he just taught him is important to the Church.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This rock that Christ referred to was Revelation from the Father. Christ understood he would not remain on the earth, and that knowledge from God was important. Christ would lead his church through revelation to his Apostles and Prophets.

There are Apostles and Prophets today, who use this Rock of Revelation to keep the Church stable. They are part of the Foundation of the Church, and should be part of the very Foundation of our Testimonies.


The interior of the structure of our testimony is important. When Christ saw the interior of the temple, and that it was not being used like it was supposed to, he cleansed the temple and rid it of all filth and uncleanliness. We can be Good and Active members of Christs church. We can know that the Apostles are the foundation. We can know that the Prophet is chosen of Christ to receive the revelation from Christ to lead the Church in the proper direction. But we are not perfect, and we sin. When we sin, it becomes part of the interior of our testimony. we become deadened to the beauty of what we have. Have you ever had company coming over, and you look around your house and see the mess. It is near impossible to look past the mess, and see the beauty of the home you live in. So the first step to strengthening our testimony should be to rid our homes of Sin. When this is accomplished, we can now decide the layout, and color coordination. This is accomplished by Reading the scriptures, and praying for divine guidance. If we do not study and pray, we will lack important knowledge that would otherwise be found. When we have a knowledge of the scriptures, our testimonies can become more organized our layout more refined. As we are questioned about the Church and its teachings, it will be easy to move around our testimony and find the proper answer. As we pray our testimonies are filled with the spirit of peace. It is the feeling that can encompass a home that has the proper color coordination.

You cannot have have a proper testimony with only the structure, or only the Decor. Do all you can to develop a testimony of Christs chosen Prophet, and Apostles. Do all you can to study and pray to fill your lives with peace.

October 13, 2014

In the World

General Conference happened last weekend! and you can look up and study the talks at (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2014/10?cid=HPTH100914477&lang=eng)

    This post is directed to members of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
     Among my favorite talks was "Loving Others and Living with Differences" by Elder Oaks. I already touched on some of the points he made in my previous post. But did everyone realize he mentioned that it was a commandment to "live in the world" ? It is easy to view "living in the world and not of the word" as meaning we are obviously forced to be in the world. Elder Oaks pointed out, however, that some church members are not "living in the world" and need to make some changed.

     He said

 "Too often non-mormons here in utah have been offended and alienated by some of our members who will not allow their children to be friends with children of other faiths. Surely we can teach our children values and standards of behavior without having them distance themselves or show disrespect to any who are different."

Christ said to the Father "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" John 17:15
Earlier in Elder Oak's talk he said the following, notice the word "Must" and not "forced". Because living out of the world is something that one living in Utah can easily achieve.

"We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, his kingdom is 'like heaven,' whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence"

He then suggests another change

"His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices."

Have friends outside of a church circle. The work of the lord is hastening. He is preparing people to learn about his gospel. It is hard to reach out to a stranger and invite them to the church, because there is no friendship there. With no friendship, the invitation will often lack the love needed. Reach out with the purpose of becoming friends, Missionary work will come as a natural side effect. Be genuine, be kind. and Start living in the world!

Condemn them or Love them

     There is a huge misconception about what Christians believe when it comes to what God said is a sin. There are those who say, "How can you love me if you condemn me?" "You are judging me because you say it is a sin!". I have a personal experience from a great individual who "de-friended" me because he declared that I must hate him if I believe that homosexual relationships are a sin. He told me that "Love cannot exist" in my belief of what God has declared as sin. Obviously, I know better, as he cannot read my mind or experience my feelings. I never condemned him in my mind. I never judged him. This is the hardest thing for someone outside Christianity to understand. I hope I can explain.
     Christ was confronted by others with a woman who had been "taken in adultery, in the very act" (John 8:4). After Christ pointed out that the others were in no position to judge, they left him alone with her. Christ then told the woman to "go and sin no more". He did not enforce the law. He did not condemn. He did not judge her to heaven or to hell. The only thing he did was acknowledge it was a sin. He understood his purpose on earth. Christ made it possible for all men to escape an eternal condemnation, to escape an eternal judgement from past mistakes, through repentance and change.
     There was one judgment, but that judgement was not on the woman, and it came with no condemnation. The judgment was what was sin. We can all follow this example, and remain firm in our beliefs by never judging an individual, while recognizing sin.
     When one understand a Christians belief in the doctrines of repentance, and the cleansing power Christ, they can begin to understand how there is no judgment or condemnation while recognizing what is sin. It is taught about when judgement occurs, and when a soul is condemned. That does not happen until after one dies and appears at the time of final judgement. This life is a time of repentance, which means it is also a time with sin. There is no escaping sin in this life, and repentance happens daily. As for condemnation, it has no place in this life on earth.  There is a time for condemnation, ant that time is between an individual and God. At that time of judgement, there are no other people condemning them, it is between them and God.
     When one feels condemned by others, because the beliefs of others conflict with their lifestyle, the only person who is condemning them are themselves. They can only be condemned by themselves. Nobody else knows the inner workings of their mind, or their future commitment. Nobody knows what knowledge they posses or sincerely believe.
     As for me, I believe that sin exists. I believe that drinking coffee is a sin! But am I condemning all of my coffee drinking friends? I have told them my beliefs with tea and coffee, and how I believe it is a sin. But none of them have felt uncomfortable drinking coffee around me. I do not condemn one in a homosexual relationship, I do not condemn the coffee drinker. But I acknowledge that I believe God has revealed that they are sin. I will not back down from my belief.
     Because everyone has the potential to be free from all condemnation no matter the past or current beliefs and practices, I can safely assume the best in them. A choose to see everyone as Sons and Daughters of God. I choose to see everyone as loved of God. I sin, I make mistakes, but I know that I am loved by God. This love is given to everyone.