Monday, June 28, 2010

Spiritual Attributes Needed to Minister

This passage of modern day scripture is often memorized and recited by missionaries. It gives great direction for those who desire to preach the gospel.

1 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
Doctrine and Covenants 4

Sunday, June 27, 2010

By the Power of His Word

Today I had the unusual opportunity to attend two sacrament meetings. Whenever this happens, I gladly take of the sacrament twice. It gives me one more chance to ponder the Savior's sacrifice for us, and to renew my baptismal covenants. Today a new thought occurred to me that I thought about during both sacrament services.

When the prayer was said for the bread, this phrase stuck out to me: "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son...". I usually try to think about the separate aspects of the atonement during the sacrament. When taking the bread, I try to think of His body, and the physical sacrifice for us that brought about the resurrection. When I take the water, I try to think of His blood that was shed, and the spiritual sacrifice He made for us that allows us to repent of our sins. As I thought about the bread, and His physical sacrifice, I felt so grateful for the resurrection. I thought about what a comfort it is to know that even though we will all die, we will also resurrect some day.
I thought about people I know who don't believe in God, and who believe that when we die, that is the end of us. As I thought about my athiest friends, I remembered that these same people don't believe in the creation. They believe in evolution. And then it hit me that to believe in the resurrection, we must also believe in the creation. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob taught:

"8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.
9 For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure? Jacob 4:8,9

The Prophet Mormon also taught,
"16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?" Mormon 9:16,17

The resurrection will also come about by the power of God. Just as man was created in the beginning by the power of God, he can also be resurrected by that same power. I do not see how a person could disbelieve the creation story as found in the Bible, and still believe in the resurrection, and vice versa.

I am thankful for the knowledge I have of the creation, and the future resurrection of us all. I am eternally indebted to the Savior for His atonement that bridged these two gulfs of death and sin to allow us the opportunity to live with God again some day. I am thankful for the peace that this knowledge brings to my life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Latter-Day Testimonies: Inklings

Just a reminder that all comments to this post must be respectful.

"I have read The Book of Mormon 19 times with an honest heart to know its truthfulness, and I know it is true, because the Holy Ghost has testified it to me. I do not have to see the golden plates to believe it, just like I do not have to see the nail prints in our Savior Jesus Christ's hands to know he atoned for our sins, and would have died even if it was just you or I who needed it.
Because I know it is true, I also know Joseph Smith, who translated it, is a prophet of God, and that we continue to have a prophet of God who receives revelation in our behalf. That prophet is Thomas S. Monson.
The Church of Jesus Christ has the gospel in its fullness. That alone is reason to investigate its teachings. Where else can you receive the promise that families can be together forever if they are sealed in the temple? That alone makes it worth giving it a chance, and if you weren't married there to begin with, you can still go to be sealed to your spouse and children.
I love my Heavenly Father, I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love the way the Holy Ghost guides me and protects me and my family each day. I have read the promise in Moroni 10: 4-5: "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
I have asked. I know.
You don't have to take my word for it. You can ask too, and then you will know."


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joseph Smith's History, Part 1

In preparation for teaching the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history this next school year in seminary, I have been reading Joseph Smith's history. It is arranged in to verse form to make it easy to teach and quote from. There is only one chapter, with 75 verses. It is a relatively short read, but is a powerful testimony. I wanted to write about some of the key elements of his experience.


Scholars have discussed the unique religious climate in which Joseph Smith lived as a youth. It was an age of revivalism. This was in the year 1820 in upstate New York. Joseph described the environment in these words:

"there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist."

At one point, Joseph thought of joining the Methodists, but there was so much contest of religion that he couldn't decide which church was the right one to join. Many of these discussions turned to arguments and hard feelings.
Joseph said,

"For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions."

He truly wanted to choose well, but because of the confusion about doctrine among the separate churches, he decided to not join any for a time. But still, as he listened to sermons about heaven and hell, he was concerned about the welfare of his own soul. He went on to say,

"My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?"

I have had many conversations online with people whose religious beliefs differ greatly from mine. Amidst the debate between us, I could see how a young 14 year old boy like Joseph could easily be confused and not know which religion to choose. Although he desired to be baptized and follow the Lord, the religions around him differed so much that he couldn't decide which was the right one to join. Although he did read the Bible, he only had a grade school education, and was not educated in worldly ways. While he was struggling to know what to do during this time, he read this scripture in the book of James: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

This scripture came with great force to Joseph's heart. Joseph, at 14 years of age, had the simple childlike faith that if he prayed, God would indeed answer his prayer. The Spirit impressed upon him the truth that he could pray to know which church he should join. It has always been interesting to me to note that God also spoke to the young Samuel in the temple. One might question why God would not choose an older, wiser person with which to communicate. But in these two cases, God was not only able to train up these youth to do His work, but was also able to call upon their childlike faith.

The next part of that verse goes on to teach that one must ask in faith, nothing wavering. Joseph thought about this and determined that he did indeed lack wisdom, and that he should ask God. In part 2 I will discuss the prayer that he offered, and the reaction of the religious leaders of his time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Latter-Day Testimonies: Lloyd

This is a new feature I want to include on my blog. I have asked people I know to share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. I hold these testimonies as sacred personal witnesses. I will treat them with respect, and I expect all those who comment to do the same. If there are disrespectful comments, I will delete them. Thank you to those who have willingly added their testimony, and freely share it with us.

"I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life. My ancestors personally knew Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and some gave their lives for the cause of this Gospel. That is not why I am a Mormon.

As a family, we have read and studied The Book of Mormon and know that it is the word of God. An additional testament of our Lord, Jesus Christ, this inspired record of ancient revelations stands with the Bible to testify to all people that Jesus is the Son of God and our Redeemer.

I have received the witness of the Holy Ghost affirming the truthfulness of this doctrine. The power and authority of God are manifest in the ordinances performed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as nowhere else on earth.

I pray that as you read The Book of Mormon, you will feel the testimony of the Holy Ghost, witnessing to you of the truthfulness of what you read. As you open your heart and pray for divine guidance, our Heavenly Father will bless you not only with a testimony that The Book of Mormon is true, but you will receive greater happiness and joy in your life than you have ever felt before.

It is an honor and a privilege to add my testimony to those of the prophets and apostles. I know the Church is true. Joseph Smith was an inspired prophet of God.

Of this I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

For the Strength of Youth: Physical Health

The following is an excerpt from our youth pamphlet, "For the Strength of Youth"

“Physical Health,” For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 36

“All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings … shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:18–20).

The Lord has commanded you to take good care of your body. To do this, observe the Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. When you do all these things, you remain free from harmful addictions and have control over your life. You gain the blessings of a healthy body, an alert mind, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Never use tobacco products, such as cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco. They are very addictive and will damage your body and shorten your life. Also, do not drink coffee or tea, for these are addictive and harmful.

Any form of alcohol is harmful to your body and spirit. Being under the influence of alcohol weakens your judgment and self-control and could lead you to break the law of chastity or other commandments. Drinking can lead to alcoholism, which destroys individuals and families.

Any drug, chemical, or dangerous practice that is used to produce a sensation or “high” can destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These include hard drugs, prescription or over-the-counter medications that are abused, and household chemicals.

Never let Satan or others lead you to think that breaking the Word of Wisdom will make you happier or more attractive."

Daniel 1:3–20

Mormon Messages: Good Things to Come

I LOVE this video!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Law of the Fast

A collection of quotes by church leaders on this great subject of fasting.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, commune with our Heavenly Father, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. The offering should be at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. Typically, the first Sunday of each month is designated as fast Sunday. On that day, members who are physically able are encouraged to fast, pray, bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel, and pay a generous fast offering. “The law of the fast,” taught Elder Milton R. Hunter, “is probably as old as the human family. … In ancient times, prophet-leaders repeatedly gave to church members the commandment to observe the law of fasting and praying.” 3

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation.

Fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions." Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73

The Prophet Joseph Smith

“Let this be an [example] to all saints, and there will never be any lack for bread: When the poor are starving, let those who have, fast one day and give what they otherwise would have eaten to the bishops for the poor, and every one will abound for a long time. … And so long as the saints will all live to this principle with glad hearts and cheerful countenances they will always have an abundance.” (History of the Church, 7:413)

Elder L. Tom Perry

"The law of the fast is basic in the Church. Isaiah declared:

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen?

“… Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?” (Isa. 58:6–7.)

Like many other biblical practices, it was restored by the Lord in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The law of the fast has three great purposes. First, it provides assistance to the needy through the contribution of fast offerings, consisting of the value of meals from which we abstain. Second, a fast is beneficial to us physically. Third, it is to increase humility and spirituality on the part of each individual.

An important reason for fasting is to contribute the amount saved from the meals not eaten to care for the poor and the needy. One of the strongest admonitions the Lord has given to His children on earth is that we have the responsibility and obligation of caring for those in need. It was King Benjamin who said in his great address, “And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26.)

Do we need to be reminded that included in our baptismal covenant is our pledge to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light, to mourn with those that mourn, and to comfort those that stand in need of comfort? (See Mosiah 18:8–9.)

The longer I live, the more impressed I am with the Lord’s system of caring for the poor and needy. Surely no man would think of such a simple yet profound way of satisfying human needs—to grow spiritually and temporally through periodic fasting and then donating the amount saved from refraining from partaking of those meals to the bishop to be used to administer to the needs of the poor, the ill, the downtrodden, who need help and support to make their way through life." L. Tom Perry, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 1986, 31

The Prophet Isaiah (in speaking of the blessings that come from fasting:)

"8 ¶ 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 rereward.
9 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;
10 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:
11 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. Isaiah 58:8-11

Pres. Marion G. Romney

"We should all give some attention to fasting. We haven’t really called on the Lord so that we can reach him intimately if we don’t fast occasionally, and pray often. Many of our personal problems can be solved by so doing. Do you remember what the Savior said to his disciples who couldn’t cast out the evil spirit, after they had asked why they couldn’t do it when Jesus had done it so easily? He replied, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matt. 17:21.) Marion G. Romney, “The Blessing of the Fast,” Tambuli, Dec 1982, 2

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“What would happen if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world[?] The hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. … A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere.” (“The State of the Church,” Ensign, May 1991, 52–53.)

Thorpe B. Isaacson

“Fasting, with prayer, its companion, is designed to increase spirituality, to foster a spirit of devotion and a love of God, to increase faith in the hearts of men, thus assuring divine favor; to encourage humility and contrition of soul; to aid in the acquirement of righteousness; and to teach man his nothingness and dependence upon God; and to hasten along the path of salvation those who properly comply with this law of fasting” (, in Conference Report, Apr. 1962, p. 67; or Improvement Era, June 1962, p. 438).

Sterling W. Sill

“This law of the fast can also be a kind of schoolmaster. If we can learn to live it effectively, it will help us to keep every other law better because of the power and faith that will be generated in us as a natural consequence of our living this important law!” (Sterling W. Sill, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, July 1974, p. 11).

Friday, June 11, 2010

What the Book of Mormon Teaches About Salvation and Redemption

Here are but a few scriptures from the Book of Mormon that teach us about salvation and redemption. How thankful I am for the Book of Mormon that stands as a second witness to these truths.

17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. Mosiah 3:17,18

28 And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses. Mosiah 13:28

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.
27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim. Mosiah 15:26,27

28 Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil. Alma 9:28

18 Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?
20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?
21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.
22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?
23 Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness?
24 Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
25 I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil.
Alma 5:18-25

40 And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.
41 Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death; for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
Alma 11:40,41

13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. Alma 42:13

9 O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.
10 And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
Helaman 5:9,10

13 And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved. Alma 32:13

23 Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. Helaman 12:23

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Conference Quotes: Elder Donald L. Hallstrom

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

Throughout the world and among the membership of the Church, there is great joy and great pain. Both are part of the plan. Without one, we cannot know the other. “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25) and “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11) are not contradictory; they are complementary. In describing how he felt when he turned to the Lord, Alma the Younger said, “My soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain” (Alma 36:20)...

...If you feel you have been wronged—by anyone (a family member, a friend, another member of the Church, a Church leader, a business associate) or by anything (the death of a loved one, health problems, a financial reversal, abuse, addictions)—deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. “Hold on thy way” (D&C 122:9); giving up is not an option. And, without delay, turn to the Lord. Exercise all of the faith you have in Him. Let Him share your burden. Allow His grace to lighten your load. We are promised that we will “suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38). Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually...

...His most exemplary act, the Atonement, required Jesus to descend “below all things” (D&C 88:6) and suffer “the pains of all men” (2 Nephi 9:21). Thus we understand the Atonement has broader purpose than providing a means to overcome sin. This greatest of all earthly accomplishments gives the Savior the power to fulfill this promise: “If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence . . . , if ye do this, he will . . . deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 7:33).

As we commemorate this Easter morning, let us turn to the Lord, our “bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16). I testify He will forever light our way, our truth, and our life (see John 14:6),"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saved By Grace

I approach this subject with a desire to do it justice, while at the same time, keeping reverence for the great sacrifice of our Savior. This is a subject that is discussed by many Christians, but many of us differ in our understanding. I hope I can give a clear explanation of our view of this great subject.

Of the Savior's atoning sacrifice, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5 When the Savior was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He took upon Himself the sins of the world. This was a task that no mere mortal could do. But Jesus Christ was the literal begotten son of God, and therefore had divine characteristics that enabled Him to perform this great sacrifice on our behalf. He himself was without sin, being the one true sacrifice without blemish. In modern day scripture the Savior said of that suffering, "Which suffering 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 not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men." (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18,19)

The Prophet Alma, in the Book of Mormon had this to say about this great sacrifice willing given by Jesus Christ. "9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else 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.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
13 Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.
14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal." (Alma 34:9-14) In Old Testament times, the Children of Israel offered sacrifices of animals as a symbol of the sacrifice Jesus would later make for all mankind. His was the last and ultimate, and atones for the sins of all the world.

Many Christians today debate about the principle of being saved by "grace" or saved by "works". We believe that without the atonement of Jesus Christ, no one can be saved. No amount of repentance, no amount of good works could ever save a man without the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. It is only through that grace that we can be saved. Faith in the atonement Jesus Christ is the fundamental basic principle of the gospel. We must believe if we are to be saved.

But I think the question must be asked, "What are we saved from?". Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are saved from death. Because of Him, all mankind will be resurrected, whether they be good or whether they be evil. We are all saved from death. In addition, the atonement of Jesus Christ can save us from sorrow. In the Book of Mormon the prophet Alma prophesied of the Savior, "11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11,12) Because He has suffered for us, He understands our pain and can comfort us in our troubles.

Secondly we are given the opportunity to be saved from sin. Some say that belief alone qualifies us for that redeeming power. But I submit that as James taught, "faith without works is dead". (James 2:20) Our actions are an extension of our faith. If we say we believe, but then do not follow what the Savior has asked us to do, is our faith indeed true faith? It is only when we conform our lives to what He has taught that we actually demonstrate our faith.

James went on to teach, "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (James 2:18) We demonstrate our faith by our actions. The Savior commanded, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48) To "be" connotes more than just a thought. It is more than just a belief. To "be" connotes an action, a "becoming". Repentance allows us the opportunity to change incorrect behavior, and become more Christlike. In addition, repentance brings great joy and growth to the soul. What a blessing it is in my life to be able to correct the wrongs that I have done. It not only helps free me from guilt, but helps me to learn so that I won't commit the same error again. Sometimes this is a life long process, but it is a process that brings great spiritual growth in to my life.

Elder James E. Faust taught, "The Atonement and the Resurrection accomplish many things. The Atonement cleanses us of sin on condition of our repentance. Repentance is the condition on which mercy is extended. After all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs, the Savior’s grace is activated in our lives through the Atonement, which purifies us and can perfect us. Christ’s Resurrection overcame death and gave us the assurance of life after death. Said He: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” 27 The Resurrection is unconditional and applies to all who have ever lived and ever will live. 28 It is a free gift. President John Taylor described this well when he said: “The tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust.”

The Prophet Nephi taught, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."
(2 Nephi 25:23) It is crucial that we do all we can do to demonstrate our faith by keeping the commandments and repenting. But in the end, it is the grace of Jesus Christ that saves us.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Message toJudah From Joseph

I ran across a talk given by Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, given in 1976 before he was made Prophet, entitled "A Message to Judah from Joseph". I have read parts of this talk before. But today, with Israel being in the news, I read more carefully. This talk is an amazing prophetic explanation of our view of the Jews. Pres. Benson was, at one time, the secretary of Agriculture, and was instrumental in providing relief to war torn Europe after World War II. He saw for himself the concentration camps, and the suffering of the Jews. His deep understanding of the Jewish people, and of the Bible makes this talk particularly interesting. I hope you will take a moment to read it. Because of the length, I have decided not to post the actual talk, but only the link. Click here to read the talk "A Message to Judah from Joseph" by Pres. Ezra Taft Benson.

Friday, June 4, 2010


President Gordon B. Hinckley ( in Cebu in the Philippine Islands)
...if members “even living in poverty and misery … will accept the gospel and live it, pay their tithes and offerings, even though those be meager, … they will have rice in their bowls and clothing on their backs and shelter over their heads. I do not see any other solution.”

Elder James E. Faust
"Some may feel that they cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning, but as Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” We learn about tithing by paying it. Indeed, I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have."

Joseph Smith

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” He continues, “Those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith.”

President Heber J. Grant

“I want to say to you, if you will be honest with the Lord, paying your tithing and keeping His commandments, He will not only bless you with the light and inspiration of His Holy Spirit, but you will be blessed in dollars and cents; you will be enabled to pay your debts, and the Lord will pour out temporal blessings upon you in great abundance.”

Elder John A. Widtsoe

“Obedience to the law of tithing … brings a deep, inward joy … that can be won in no other way. … The principles of truth become clearer. … Prayer becomes easier. … The spiritual sense is sharpened [and] … man becomes more like his Father in Heaven.”

Pres. Spencer W. Kimball

"My dear brethren and sisters, I testify to all of you that tithing is indeed a great blessing and a law for our benefit. Let us draw our family circles around us and again read the promise that the Lord testified came from the Father, a promise none of us can afford to be without: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

Let this, then, be our watchword: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

If we will do so, and keep the commandments with all our heart as did Hezekiah, the Lord will guide us through troublous times, and we shall gratefully see his help in our behalf, and we will give deep love and appreciation to him for his many kindnesses and goodnesses. He is our Lord and our Great Strength. If we are worthy, he will be there in our time of need. Of that I have a sure understanding."

Testimonies of the Living Savior

Joseph Smith History
"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Acts 7:54-60
54 ¶ When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Joseph Smith
Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

The Modern Day Twelve Apostles
The Living Christ The Testimony of the Apostles

"We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

Gospel Principles

This year part of our course of study at Church is from the manual, "Gospel Principles". This manual is also used in teaching new members. It outlines some of the core doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can click on this link to read the Gospel Principles manual. You will be shown a list of chapter headings. If you are not a member of our church, I suggest you start with the first chapter. Each chapter builds on information learned in the previous chapter.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Words of a Prophet: Thomas S. Monson

My brothers and sisters, today, as we look at the world around us, we are faced with problems which are serious and of great concern to us. The world seems to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace.

Permissiveness, immorality, pornography, dishonesty, and a host of other ills cause many to be tossed about on a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reefs of lost opportunities, forfeited blessings, and shattered dreams.

My counsel for all of us is to look to the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what its beacon light can rescue. It beckons through the storms of life. The lighthouse of the Lord sends forth signals readily recognized and never failing.

I love the words found in Psalms: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; . . . I will call upon the Lord . . . so [I shall] be saved from mine enemies.”3

The Lord loves us, my brothers and sisters, and will bless us as we call upon Him.

Until We Meet Again:; Pres. Thomas S. Monson