Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spiritual Buffet

Alexa made a weekly quote challenge that is really fun. This weeks challenge was to make a quote using a picture of the scriptures, and this is my entry.

I thought this was funny but it also got me thinking. I personally love buffets. I love selecting my food, enjoying different foods, and honestly i just love to eat. Relating that to a spiritual buffet, we need to enjoy every minute of our feast. We should enjoy looking up footnotes, cross references, highlighting, and most importantly pondering the scriptures. As we learn to do this we will find even greater power flowing into our lives. Let us look forward to and fully enjoy the buffet before us through all avenues of God's word to us.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charity is the pure love of Christ

Written by Craig Conover on 12/13/2008

This last summer, my wife and I decided to start homeschooling our girls. It works out nicely because I do most of my work for the year during the summer which gives me freedom to focus on other things for the rest of the year. The first thing we wanted to focus on was homeschooling and then finish up my schooling at BYU Hawaii in January. Our school is called, Zion's Academy, and I am the Principle and Seminary teacher, and my wife is the Vice Principle, and teacher, but we actually do the teaching together, it is kind of fun. Our girls even gave us names while they at school, Mrs. Mom and Mr. Dad. I still get a kick out of it when they call me, Mr. Dad. I have to tell you that I never realized that teaching could be so much fun; we just have tons of fun every day.

I have really been thankful for the opportunity of spending 30 minutes every day teaching my girls about the Gospel. They learn so quickly and it is neat to see how their little minds work. I had to learn a lot also, because I tend to teach at a higher level than could be most effective. I have noticed that when I bring it down to their level they really soak it all up.

I tell you this because for just a minute I want to talk specifically to the children and try to help them understand what Charity is and some suggestions on how to help them learn to develop charity in their own lives and then I will finish by addressing the whole congregation.

For starters, I bet many of you children already know what Charity means, but for those that don't, “Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another" Now lets see... What does the "pure love of Christ" really mean? To start off with we need to understand what pure means. Hopefully, all of you like ice cream, I know my girls do. It seems that they would do about anything for ice cream. Each of you children close your eyes and imagine that you have a big bowl of your favorite kind of ice cream, maybe Rocky Road, or cookies n' Cream, or whatever is your favorite. Imagine taking a few bits... I can almost taste my bowl, it creamy and just absolutely yummy? Go ahead and take another bite, but now instead of yummy goodness, it has loads of salt in that bite. Hopefully none of children have ever had a bite of salt because it is very yucky. Ok, back to our imagination, did that bite taste very good, of course not? What if every other bite of your yummy ice cream was salt instead of ice cream? Would that bowl of ice cream be very good? No, it would not. So, we could say that a pure bowl of ice cream was simply that, just creamy, yummy ice cream goodness, right? Now that is the same with the pure love Christ. It is simply that, pure love without any salt or in other words, angry thinking, mean actions, selfishness, and things like that.

Now, that we have a better understanding of what pure means let's see if we can understand what the pure love of Christ means, at least in part. Let me ask a few quick questions to all the children, but first can I have all you children raise your hand high in the air, like this, and keep it up to show me that you are ready for the question... Let me see all those hands…

?-That is perfect!... Now, keep your hand raised high in the air if you have a favorite toy, that you just love? If you are like my girls you probably have several.

-Very good!... Now for the next question, can you switch hands and put your other hand high in the air.

?-Good job!... Ok, now keep your hand raised high in the air if you love your mom very much? Wow, look at all that love. That is the reason that I choose moms instead of us dads, because I was a little nervous of the outcome.

-Ok, are you children ready for the last question? Lets see how ready you are. For this question can you raise both of your hands really high in the air.

?-You children are so good. Ok, here is the question. Keep your hands raised really high in the air, if you love your mom more than your favorite toy?... Again, keep your hands raised really high in the air if you love your mom more than your toy?

-Look at all those hands, this is so cool looking. Let’s see if you children can impress your mommies and daddies by taking both of those amazing hands of yours and folding them up real tight in your lap... Like this… Good job! You are all so awesome.

Now, can each of you see the difference in love between the love that you have for your toy and the love that you have for your mom? Can you see how the love that you have for your mom is much greater than the love that you have of your toy? You love your mom and I know that she loves you even more. But, did you know that your Father in Heaven and your older brother Jesus Christ love you with an even greater love? Isn't that amazing. You are loved by your parents and you are loved even more by your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Hopefully, now you can see, how charity or the pure love of Christ "is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul” How can you children learn to love with such great love? You are probably thinking of a few ways right now, but there are many ways to develop such great love. Each of your parents, try and help you on a daily basis to develop such great love. Let me give you just two quick examples that my wife and I have done to help our girls learn to develop charity or the pure love of Christ. These two examples should help each of you children to think of some ways that you can learn to love with Christlike love.

The first example is that in our home, our girls have a daily routine chart that they complete each morning, well… we are not perfect at it, but they do a good job. Anyway, one of the things that they have on their chart is, to do one nice thing for someone that day. Once they do one nice thing, then, they get to put a star on their chart. They do different things each day, whether it is helping their sister make their bed or helping their younger sister get dressed. The result is always the same. They feel very happy inside and the sister they served feels happy inside as well. Because of this small act of service they both, now, have an increase of Christlike love in their hearts. It is so neat as a parent to see your children serving each other.

The last example has to do with the time of year that we are in. Do you children know what time of year it is? Yep, its Christmas time. This month is a easy month to learn to love with a more Christlike love. As a family we go to Chick-fil-a on Tuesday nights because they have family night with kid crafts and of course, cheaper food. It is always fun. Well, the last time we went, they had a Christmas tree with ornaments all over the tree. Each of these ornaments had a child's name on it and something they would like for Christmas. Each of these children were in need and less fortunate. My wife grabbed one for our family to buy a gift for, and then on the way to the car she asked if she could get one for each of our girls so that they can have that wonderful experience themselves also. It was such a great idea of hers. I just wish that I could think of others even a fraction as much as my wife does. If I could do that, I would be much better off, but that is why I married her, she is just awesome. So each of our girls went back in and picked out their own ornament and child that they wanted to buy a gift for. When they got in the car they were so happy, it was just neat.

Now I would like to shift my remarks back to everyone. I was so excited when I heard that one of the topics we were to speak on was charity. I told my wife the two topics that we were given and told her to pick which everyone she wanted. I thought for sure she would pick service but she picked charity. I have to say that I was quite disappointed. It was weird, but, it almost felt as if something precious and dear to me was taken from me. Well, to my great joy, and I mean it literally, when my wife sat down to prepare her talk she decided to change to service and I got back my precious topic of charity.

Well, my talk preparation took an unexpected turn on Friday night just before I went to bed. I had been praying about my topic and I felt strongly that I needed to direct my initial remarks to the children. At first I was a little reluctant because I had already been preparing and gathering my thoughts which consisted of many of my favorite prophets and their powerful words on charity. But as I started to prepare for the children my talk just seemed to fall into place. I had a renewed desire to help them understand this vitally important God-like characteristic that we all must be found possessed of it at the last day. So, here I am with just a few minutes left and I pray that the Spirit will be with us as I try to convey to your hearts a little of what is in my heart.

If you have your scriptures please grab them and follow along because theses verses are so very powerful. I want to use Moroni 7 as my guide and wow there is so much in this chapter it is crazy. So let’s get started.

We read in verse 1:

1 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.

This is great, Moroni took precious room left on the plates to record the words of his father. It is not hard to understand why he would do that. All you have to do is read it and it is all clear. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon and it had to of been one of Moroni’s also. Ok, moving on. So we come to the great three, faith, hope, and charity.

I used to want to look at these three as a ladder, where you can take one at a time and could advance to the next. But no matter how I looked at it they still got all twisted together. I now look at them as a bike. If you separated the bike and the two peddles would the move forward? No, but together they propel forward. I consider the bike frame to be charity and one peddle is faith and the other is hope. Let me show you in the scriptures. Turn with me to verse 40-42.

40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope

Background image by: Jarno Lindroos

Do you see why they can’t be looked at as a ladder, but as peddles, each giving a little at different times but also each constantly present. Now for the frame, but remember that the frame is not necessarily next it is just more evident now that the bike is in motion. Turn to verse 43-44

43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

Now that we see the correlation between these three God-like attributes we can talk in more detail about what charity is. We don’t have to travel very far, just to the next verse, 45-47:

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

There is no summing that up, it is very clear to the simplest of minds. Now I must close and I want to close with the big why. Why; is charity so important, Mormon tells us this as well, verse 48:

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Is that not the goal, to see him as he is and to be purified even as he is pure?

I want you all to know that I love this Gospel with all my heart. I know that it is the only true church upon the face of the whole earth. I know that it was restored again upon the earth by Joseph Smith, whose sacrifice and focus causes my heart to overflow with love and gratitude. I also know that Moroni under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost gave us chapter 7, that if we learn and apply these teachings we will one day become like our Father in Heaven and give glory to Jesus Christ for giving us such teachings. I also know that we will one day embrace Moroni and shed tears of joy and gratitude for him being an instrument in the Lords hands in giving us these great teachings, and then we will have an opportunity to embrace and thank Mormon for his inspired words. If we heed these teachings, there will be such a day as I have testified and our joy will be full and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



Current Temple Recommend

This is in memory of the Tucson Temple Dedication that took place this morning. I went to the 9 am session and one of the speakers made this connection and I thought it was pretty cool. Choose The Right also means Current Temple Recommend. In the car ride home my daughter, Alexa, said that backwards it means Return To Christ, which is super cool as well.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Savior will provide

Isn't it amazing and assuring that we can always turn to our Savior in our best and our worst of times and he will provide the much needed love, comfort, and peace we need. According to our faith and belief in Christ we will even see miracle both great and small in our lives.

My daughter, Alexa, decided to do cross country and I am very proud of her. If I remember correctly, it was her first or second time to run she was having a hard time. They provided ice water along the way and she was really enjoying her ice and had two left. I guess this boy behind her was doing even worse than she was and somehow had missed the ice. Alexa thought that he needed the ice more than she did but was torn because she felt that she really needed it too. She finally concluded to keep one and give him the other. He was very appreciative and it helped him. Alexa continued running and when she went to enjoy her last ice that she had, to her surprise there was still two pieces of ice, not just one. She was so thankful for that miracle in her life.

Miracles will abound in our lives as we exercise faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and surely  "He can and will provide" Jeffrey R. Holland.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mosiah 4: 11

I have been thinking about this scripture a lot lately. I know that at first this verse may seem to be kind of a downer. After all, King Benjamin tells us to always remember that we are nothing then goes on to call us unworthy creatures. However, this loving reminder is precisely why this verse brings me so much comfort, hope, and joy.

Often in my life, at times when I am growing spiritually and feeling close to my Father in Heaven, I begin to see the immense depth of my sins and imperfection. This happens to all of us, I know. This is why we always hear bishops, stake presidents, and general authorities saying, "Trust me. I'm far from perfect." and that they have to repent every day.

The truth spoken in this verse is how we cope with this realization. To "retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness" is to always remember to whom you owe your joy and never forget that in this state we can not truly be worthy of God's love. It's not physically possible. And that's okay. We must accept that we are unworthy of God's love and Christ's sacrifice before we can really appreciate what we have been given. 

It brings me so much joy knowing that our father in heaven and our savior, Jesus Christ, love me, an unworthy creature, so much that if I will just repent and come unto Christ they will lovingly lift me up to the joy and glory which they themselves have received and do enjoy. 

So in summary: when I feel that my insurmountable imperfections will keep me from returning to my Father, I read this verse and remember His infinite love for me. The love that allows me to even consider returning to His presence.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Greatest event since the resurrection

I was wanting to find an amazing picture of Christ to print and put by my bed and I stumbled upon the above picture, which I feel is just stunning. The detail is simply amazing. Look at God and Christ, you actually feel that you are there with them. You can even see the nail prints in Christ's hands. I wish I had the actual sculpture. 

Next, I wanted the perfect quote to go with it. A quote that brought together this amazing boy and his greatness, and yet putting even greater light on my Savior, and again, I stumbled upon this quote. 

"When God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ come to earth, as they did in 1820 when they appeared to the young boy prophet, Joseph Smith, it is not something that concerns only a handful of people. It is a message and a revelation intended for all of our Father’s children living upon the face of the earth. It was the greatest event that has ever happened in this world since the resurrection of the Master. Sometimes I think we are so close to it that we don’t fully appreciate its significance and importance and the magnitude of it." Ezra Taft Benson

I then pulled out just this sentence to complete my quote.

"It was the greatest event that has ever happened in this world since the resurrection of the Master."

Here Joseph Smith stands in his spotlight, but just below the spotlight of the Savior. I just want to bear my testimy that Joseph truly, did see God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the only Begotten of the Father, standing before him in their true form, consisting of a body just as tangible as his own. He did converse with them face to face and he bore that testimony to the world and his innocent blood was spilt because of it. His testimony and the sealing of that testimony will stand to condemn or exalt all men at that last and great day. Be courageous and stand behind Joseph and declare with soberness the same testimony; that Jesus did rise again and that he truly has a body like unto us, and He is in the exact similitude of the Father and they are distinct personages and yet unified in word, deed, and purpose. They came down from their glorified throne to restore the gospel of Christ in its fullness and with their all knowing eye, selected Joseph Smith Jr. to restore that gospel through. And we shall have the word of God through this great servant and prophet and when we accept, love, and reverence Joseph, then will we come to know the true character of Jesus Christ and His Father and begin our journey back to them. These things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.