Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Book of Mormon: An Introduction

From Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, apostle of Jesus Christ.



The Book of Mormon is true. Read it.

Jeremy

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Spirit of Revelation

We are constantly faced with so many decisions, problems, other situations that require us to make decisions quickly, by a certain deadline, that affect more than just ourselves, and for which we may not have all the information to confidently make the best decision. Some of these choices don’t matter in the long run and some have eternal consequences. To illustrate this point, President Monson recently taught, “Whether you wear a green T-shirt or a blue one makes no difference in the long run. However, whether you decide to push a key on your computer which will take you to pornography can make all the difference in your life. You will have just taken a step off the straight, safe path. If a friend pressures you to drink alcohol or to try drugs and you succumb to the pressure, you are taking a detour from which you may not return.” (“The Three R’s of Choice,” Ensign, Nov 2010.)

Not all of our choices are between good and evil, however. Sometimes we must choose between two good decisions or between a good decision and a better one. Sometimes these good decisions require us to make a choice without our knowing the exact outcome and require us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Fortunately we are not left alone in the midst of all of these decisions. To help us in our sojourn through life, Jesus Christ promised us “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26).

What a wonderful blessing and promise! The Lord has promised us a gift, a help in these days of confusion where men call good evil and evil good that each day we may better make the decisions with which we are faced. If we so desire, we can be taught from on high, schooled by the Master Teacher Himself through the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost.

How does this process work? How do we know when Heavenly Father answers our prayers through the Holy Ghost? The Lord taught the prophet Joseph Smith, “behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2-3). We, of course, are not without responsibility on our part. We must study carefully the decisions that come before us, weigh the options, make a decision as best we can and then present our decision before the Lord. Of this process, the Lord taught, “behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right” (D&C 9:8).

Elder David A. Bednar spoke of this process and of the spirit of revelation in the most recent General Conference. In his talk, entitled, “The Spirit of Revelation,” he compared revelation to light, opening his remarks with a brilliant extended metaphor, and very clearly illustrating the different methods revelation comes to us. Taught Elder Bednar:

“As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5; 2 Nephi 12:5). Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see Alma 5:7; 32:28), and direct and protect you and your family.”

Read this talk. No one of us can live without the direction and revelation of the Lord. The Holy Ghost is the guiding influence that we all need if we are to successfully navigate the decisions and choices we face in this life so that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven and our families someday. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has blessed me with the Holy Ghost. And I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that enables me to continuously strive to repent and improve and thus live worthy of the companionship and influence of the Holy Ghost.

Jeremy

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spiritual Strength

The prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."1 

We came to this earth with the express purpose of being tested and tried by our Father in Heaven. Taught the Lord, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."2 Should we be successful in striving to keep the commandments and "hold out faithful to the end [we] are received into heaven, that thereby [we] may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness"3 together with our families.

But holding out faithful to the end isn't always easy. In fact, rarely is keeping the commandments ever easy. We live in a world of shifting and changing values where men call evil good and good evil.4 The prophet Abinadi taught that as a result of the Fall of Adam, "all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state."5

Taught the prophet Alma, "all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made."6 He continued, "Therefore may God grant unto you, . . . that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you."7 We live in a fallen world and each of us "have sinned and come short of the glory of God."8 We are born natural men and women subject to all manner of temptations and weaknesses. However, we can, by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Ghost, put off the natural man and become saints through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.9 We must exercise faith unto repentance and through the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ all wrongs, inequalities, disappointments, and trials are made right and our sins are forgiven.

Following the pathway to eternal life is simple to understand yet difficult to perform. The way is clear and the guideposts are well-defined, but Satan is very good at creating mists and haze and distractions that entice us to loosen our grip on and eventually leave the iron rod.10

How, then, are we to maintain the proper focus to stand against the adversary and his minions? How can we become strong enough to yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and put off the natural man? The answer lies in spiritual strength. Developing spiritual strength enables us to "continue in the way which is narrow, until [we] shall obtain eternal life."11 Spiritual strength is the key to successfully staying on the strait and narrow path and overcoming our trials and weaknesses.

As we prepare for trials and life in general and pray for the strength to endure all things, we are endowed with power from on high and are blessed with the capacity to do all things. Our spiritual strength grows, as does our capacity to endure hardships and trials. As life gets harder, our ability to endure our trials increases, but only if we are constantly striving to develop and increase our spiritual strength.

Developing Spiritual Strength

In preparation for this study and post, I searched, "spiritual strength" in General Conference addresses on LDS.org and these are the first 10 results (some similar results omitted):
  • "The very nature of the Redeemer’s Atonement and the purpose of the restored Church are intended to help us receive . . . spiritual strength."
  • "a temperate soul—one who is humble and full of love—is also a person of increased spiritual strength."
  • "As we obey our Heavenly Father’s commandments, our faith increases, we grow in wisdom and spiritual strength, and it becomes easier for us to make right choices."
  • "I repeat, fervent prayer is key to gaining the spiritual strength..."
  • "Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength."
  • "Increased spiritual strength is a gift from God which He can give when we push in His service to our limits. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give."
  • "Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength..."
  • "Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service." 
  • "Through our discipleship, we are able to receive the spiritual strength that we need to deal with the challenges of life."
      • —President James E. Faust, "Discipleship," Ensign, Nov 2006
  • "I am grateful for the spiritual strength and guidance the gift of the Holy Ghost has given me throughout my life."
And one non-General Conference bonus:
  • "As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will . . . gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience.”
Even simply by skimming the results of this search, the way to develop spiritual strength becomes clear: keep the commandments. Pray, make and keep temple covenants, work on developing Christlike attributes, love and serve, seek the guidance and companionship of the Holy Ghost, etc. Spiritual strength is developed in doing spiritual things.

Conclusion

As we strive to develop spiritual strength, we must rely on the Savior, who is the source of all strength.12 The Savior told the early Saints, "as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life."13 The promise of miracles and power to overcome the world and obtain eternal life can be ours too, if we come unto Christ desiring to be perfected in Him.14 President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "By his grace [meaning Jesus Christ] we receive an endowment of blessing and spiritual strength that may eventually lead us to eternal life if we endure to the end."15

The Lord is the source of all spiritual strength. May we strive to develop such strength that we may overcome the trials of life and be happy and gain eternal life with our Father in Heaven and our families.

Jeremy

1. History of the Church, 5:134–35.
4. see Isaiah 5:20
10. see 1 Nephi 8:23
12. For more about the Lord as our strength, try searching "strength" simply in the Old Testament, or even just in The Book of Psalms or Isaiah.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Guided by the Holy Spirit

In the most recent General Conference, President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, gave a talk entitled, "Guided by the Holy Spirit." This talk discusses some of the basic aspects and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints such as the Book of Mormon, the name of the Church and nickname "Mormons," the Holy Spirit, the Lord's code of health or Word of Wisdom, the Lord's standard of morality, the sanctity and importance of marriage in the Lord's way, love towards neighbors, offense, honesty, optimism, repentance, and forgiveness. Some of these doctrines and principles are unique to the LDS Church, some are unique to Christianity as a whole, and some are found among every people in every culture around the world.

All are doctrines of Jesus Christ and all are essential to our temporal happiness and eternal salvation. Only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Packer ends with these words:

"If you are carrying some burden, forget it, let it alone. Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the testimony that you did not know existed. You will be watched over and blessed—you and yours. This is an invitation to come unto Him. This church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 'the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth,' (D&C 1:30) by His own declaration—is where we find 'the great plan of happiness' (Alma 42:8)."

Find out for yourself what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to offer and how the Lord will bless your life with happiness.

Jeremy

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness


Recently I have been reading the book The Miracle of Forgiveness by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985), twelfth prophet in this dispensation. I haven't finished reading it yet but it's really good and I recommend it to anyone.

To go along with the principles taught in that book, I chose an article this week entitled, "The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness," by President Boyd K. Packer from the November 1995 Ensign (18). President Packer teaches very beautifully the principles and doctrine of repentance, emphasizing that when we truly and sincerely repent, we have the promise from the Lord that we are forgiven and He will no longer remember our sins. Consider the Lord's words from His Holy Scriptures:

“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42)

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12; see also Hebrews 10:17)

Above are examples of the promises extended to all who repent and return to the Lord. The scriptures speak much on the wonderful and hopeful doctrine of repentance and forgiveness, for our goal is to overcome sin and transgression, master temptations, and become cleansed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I know that the Lord forgives us when we follow the right steps to repentance. The Atonement makes up for all of our shortcomings as we strive to come unto the Savior and be perfected in Him. The words of the Lord through His servant Boyd K. Packer are comforting and hopeful and the promises of the Lord are real. Do not let yourself be weighed down by the effects of sin any longer. The road out is uphill but there are people along the way to help.

The Lord loves you and desires your success.

Jeremy