Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Angels from Heaven and Truth from Earth

One of my favorite scriptures comes from Moses 7. Enoch had seen the vision of the history of the earth from the days of Adam down to the end of times. In the middle of the vision, he sees Christ crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. At which point, he sees the Great Apostasy, or falling away from the truth, and sees his descendants fighting among themselves. He bitterly wept and cried out to the Lord, asking when the earth would rest. This is the Lord's response:
"And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem."
To save the world from being "utterly wasted at his coming", the Lord sent righteousness down out of heaven. In 1820, the Father and the Son appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith. In 1823, Moroni, who holds the keys of the Book of Mormon, came to bring forth the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In May of 1829, John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood. In Junes of 1829, Michael appeared to Joseph and Oliver and introduced Peter, James, and John who then restored the Melchizedek Priesthood. In 1836, Moses, with the keys of the Gathering of Israel, Elias, with the keys of the Gospel of the Dispensation of Abraham, and Elijah, with the keys of the sealing power, appeared in the Kirtland Temple. And so on and so forth. Righteousness poured out of the heavens to ensure the Latter-day Work rolled forth.

But wait! He's also going to send truth out of the earth! That most clearly is the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. And the purpose of these angels from heaven and this truth from the earth is to bear testimony of Jesus Christ, of his literal resurrection, and that all men shall be resurrected, even as He was. The Book of Mormon masterfully fulfills these purposes, as do the angelic ministers. Yet another group does this: the thousands and millions of the Latter-day Saints who have opened their mouths, be it on missions or in less formal capacities, and shared the message of the restoration and of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and the great latter-day work which espouses it! These noble and great ones who Abraham saw before the world was are being poured out of heaven with hearts that know and feel and love the Book of Mormon to prepare the way for the Second Coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

In a coming day, this people and this record shall sweep the earth as with a flood. I do not believe this day has happened yet. I believe we, as a church, are still under condemnation for treating the Book of Mormon with lightness. Like President Benson, however, I have a vision of a day when the Book of Mormon is so deeply planted in the hearts of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the good people in the world will see our love for this ancient record and we won't be able to stop this flood from rolling forth to the ends of the earth.

In that day, shall the scattered sheep of Israel be gathered in. It starts with planting the Book of Mormon deeply into our hearts. Then we sound it from the rooftops, bold as lions, and gather the elect of the Lord into Zion and her stakes. These stakes shall grow in beauty and in strength, because of the love of God filling them, because they came to know their Redeemer through the Book of Mormon. These stakes will have such strength that the House of the Lord will be built in their areas, and the work to redeem our dead will roll forth "until the purposes of God have been accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done!"

When all of this is finally done, then will the Son of Man return in the clouds in majesty and great glory, and reign on earth as King of kings. I cannot wait for that day! I'm so ready for Him! I pray that we will all be ready for Him, by learning of Him through the gift of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Witness of Christ

I love the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ! The peace I find in its pages, the revelation I've obtained from on high, and its sure witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ have meant so much to me!

It has grown together with the Bible for me. They have become one in my hand; as I have studied from all the words of the Holy Prophets to which we have access, my witness of the Savior has become unshakable. "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" (The Living Christ).

He knows all who have lived, do live, and will yet live on this earth. He has experienced every fear, every insecurity, every suicidal thought, every joy, every moment of bliss, every chance at love, every last thing we have experienced. He has atoned for it all. "And he [went] 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. And he [took] upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he [took] 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).

Not only has He atoned for us, but He taught us how to live. When the Savior visited the Nephites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel, on the American continent, He ministered to each of them "one by one until they had all gone forth" (3 Nephi 11:15, emphasis added).

The Savior is found throughout the Book of Mormon. It is another testimony of prophets who lived and died, and who witnessed of Christ crucified from the streets of Jerusalem to the walls of Zarahemla, from the waters of Mormon to the River Sidon, from the land Bountiful to the Hill Cumorah. The Book of Mormon is inseparably connected to the divinity of the Savior. If the Savior truly is the divine Son of God, the Anointed One slain on Calvary, as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ declares, then the Book is true! The only other option is to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, and that is something that just simply cannot be done.

If you have not read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, do it! It is the most convincing witness that Jesus is the Christ, and it will strengthen your faith in Him. He lives! His words are found in this Witness of Him! Come, and read The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Sound of Life

25 years ago, my mother was at the hospital. My parents had been married for a little over 17 months, and it was time for their first child, yours truly, to come into the world. With great anticipation, they wanted to welcome their baby boy into the world, despite my father working on his degree and working to keep the new family afloat. They were ecstatic their family was growing, but my maternal family was even more ecstatic! I was the first grandchild and the first great-grandchild, so naturally, all were beside themselves.

That joy quickly turned to anxiety among many as I was delivered very swollen, and purplish-blue. I was also not breathing. The hospital staff immediately tried to resuscitate me. A doctor diagnosed me with Nonimmune hydrops fetalis, a condition where two or more body areas are filled with abnormal amounts of fluid. Further, at the time, 99% of babies were stillborn with this condition. But with the sliver of hope I had, they continued. However, after a few minutes, it became clear to one of the doctors I would not likely make it, so he went to tell my family.

The doctor told my parents and my maternal grandfather (who was with them in their room) that I would not survive more than 25 minutes. My father immediately broke down in tears and left for the hospital's chapel to have a place to commune with the Lord. My mother, with unwavering faith, declared that I was going to make it through. Nothing could dissuade her from that belief. My maternal grandfather then asked if he could go to where I was being resuscitated, and the doctor took him back there.

When he arrived, those trying to resuscitate me had barely given up, and I was declared dead. At that moment, my grandfather felt a stirring within him and felt he needed to invoke the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood on me. With assistance of another man who had showed up asking if my grandfather needed help administering a priesthood blessing, the blessing was given, and I immediately started breathing.

The hospital staff put me on a helicopter to Primary Children's in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, my father and grandfather got in a car, and made the usually-90-minute drive in 30 minutes. While in that hospital, I had medications administered to me, some of which have possible side effects of hearing loss and balance function loss. But after nearly losing me, my parents were willing to do anything to ensure I had a chance at life.

About two years passed, and I seemed to be developing just fine, especially in learning language. My mother babysat one of the neighbor kids while both his parents were in classes. My speech was better than his! Obviously, I had no real side-effects from my birth condition! Except, an uneasy feeling was in my paternal grandfather. When visiting him, he asked if I wanted to see his Suburban. I got really excited and told him I wanted to see his "urban". He told my parents that I may have a speech problem or a hearing problem because I didn't hear the soft syllable.

Around this time, the neighbor kid got tubes in his ears, and his speech skills went through the roof, while mine remained the same. My dad began getting suspicious, between what my grandfather said, the neighbor boy's speech, and the fact deafness ran in my father's family. Around this time, my younger sister was born, and Utah had passed a law stating that if a parent had relatives who were deaf (meaning their parents, grandparents, biological aunt or uncle, or cousin was deaf) their child had to be screened at birth.

My mother and her grandmother took my sister and I to the Utah State University campus audiology department to have my sister's hearing checked, and because of my parent's slight concern with my speech figured they may as well test me to rule out the possibility of a hearing loss. After awhile of testing my hearing, it was revealed my hearing sucks! My mom was in absolute shock, but was ready to move forward to get me amplification.

I still somewhat remember having people tell me that my new hearing aids were cool. I still have vague memories of having my hearing aids put on for the first time, and finally understanding that my feet made noises when I stomped on the floor. While I'll never have perfect hearing, and while hearing doesn't make me any better of a person, I am grateful for this development, because it shaped the path the rest of my life would take.

Now, 25 years after my birth, I'm fluent in English and American Sign Language. I'm working on a Master of Science in Hearing Sciences, and looking at PhD programs in Hearing Science and Language Science as it relates to ASL. I would have never been on this path to begin with if it wasn't for my own hearing loss, and I wouldn't have so much passion in either field without my influence from being in and around the Deaf community. And none of this would have been possible if anyone had tried to stop me from living life when I was at death's door.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Another Testimony of Christ

A few weeks ago, I saw a post where some people stood on a street, and gave out the Book of Mormon page by page, and asked people to read it, and discover the testimony of Jesus on that page. Hundreds responded. None had read the Book of Mormon previously. Each declared their witness that their page testified of the reality of the Son of God: His life, His mission, and His ministering.

Each one of the 531 pages was testified of by one who had never read the book previously, let alone espoused the church which espouses the book. They could testify of that, because the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is just that. It testifies of Jesus. It is a companion to the Bible. The world groaneth in darkness under the chains of sin, and Jesus is "the light, the life, and the hope of the world" (The Living Christ). All would improve by coming unto Christ, and being perfected in Him. None is exempt, from the greatest mass murderers to the holiest of men, Christ can make them better.

The Book of Mormon is a place where anyone can come to know Christ; not know of Him, but truly learn of His Character, His Service, and His Mission. From page 2, we read "he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day" (1 Nephi 1). From page 531, we read "Yea,  come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and  love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God" (Moroni 10). And everywhere in between we find the Testimony of Jesus.

One of the primary writers of the Book of Mormon, Nephi declared "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26).

In the middle of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon interjected into the narrative, "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13).

The crowning event in the Book of Mormon is when the Savior Himself came and visited the inhabitants of the Americas:
And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them. And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
Don't take my word for this. Test it yourself! Read a page from the Book of Mormon. Do it! Pick any page; any of the 531 pages, and you will find it testifies of God; it testifies of Christ. My invitation is that of Nephi of Old:
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.
I implore you to read the Book and strengthen your testimony of Christ, even if it's just a page.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Arise, O Glorious Zion

When was the last time you ever talked about Zion? This is a topic that seers have been declaring with as much boldness as possible in every dispensation, yet we in recent years seem to have allowed this to fade away from us as individuals, yet as people Zion should be our ultimate goal.

The Psalmist wrote "And of Zion it shall be said...the highest himself shall establish her." God is at the helm of establishing Zion. He wants her to arise and put on her beautiful garments (Moroni 10:31). Zion is not just a city to come forth to be a nice place for the saints to dwell. No, Zion is a title the Lord gives his people as they are "of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness" (Moses 7:18).

This is not an easy task, and most prefer to avoid doing this. The point of Zion is that we are all exposed to each other. We love one another as Jesus loves us. That means, when a member of the church mentions struggling with the Word of Wisdom over and over again, we love them and do all in our power to help them overcome that struggle. That means, when a member of the church comes out of the closet, we love them and don't push ourselves away from them. That means, when we notice someone doing something that is hurting them, we invite them to choose the better part.

To truly establish and maintain the cause of Zion means that we must all do more. When we gather in Priesthood Quorums and Relief Society Groups, we should be thinking of how we can build up unity upon the Laws of the Celestial Kingdom. When we gather in Sunday School classes, we should teach with the end goal in mind not to demonstrate knowledge of the scriptures, not to even teach what the scriptures say, but we should be teaching one another the Doctrine of the Kingdom that Zion may be established.

Zion is not a free for all though. It can only be established if we obey the Law of the Celestial World: "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself" (Doctrine & Covenants 105:5). We must become "pure in heart" (Doctrine & Covenants 97:21). We must live the gospel as boldly and as quietly as possible. While that may seem like a contradiction, what I mean is this: we have to be willing to get out of bed at midnight and go to the hospital to give someone a blessing, but remain quiet about it. We have to be willing to make a casserole for a sick neighbor, but not flaunt that it was done. In short, those who establish Zion are to "observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command" (Doctrine & Covenants 97:8).

As we honor our covenants to establish Zion by sacrifice, our blessings come. The Lord has promised that "the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob" (Isaiah 59:20). For those who engage in this marvelous work to establish Zion, our sins will be forgiven and the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will come to us, save us from all our sins, and make us holy. And in that day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that He is the Savior and the King of Israel, and that those who established Zion prepared His Kingdom to receive Him.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Today during Fast & Testimony meeting (a meeting where members of the church extemporaneously get up and share the feelings of their hearts to the congregation), person after person got up and bore powerful witnesses of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I was among them, but it struck a tender chord in me, and I felt the need to bear my witness to the World.

The crowning message of the Book of Mormon, I feel is summarized quite well in the 10th chapter of Moroni:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
While the Bible is wonderful and teaches about the Christ, the Book of Mormon's powerful witness of Jesus the Christ is matchless. He is taught about with such great clarity and power that any person who seriously studies the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and real intent will come to know that Jesus is the literal son of the Father. He is our Lord and our God. He who led the children of Israel from the land of Egypt is He who led the Nephites from Jerusalem is He who leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in these last days before His return to the Earth to reign as King of kings and rule as Lord of lords.

If you have not read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I urge you from the deepest parts of my soul: READ IT! It will change your life! I know it has changed my life since I started reading it years ago.

If you have already read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I urge you from the deepest parts of my soul: READ IT AGAIN! It will lead you in the ways you should go! I know I have received marvelous revelations because I read from the Book of Mormon.

If you are currently reading the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I urge you from the deepest parts of my soul: STUDY IT! By so doing, the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in greater abundance, and will lead you in the ways of life and salvation, through personal revelation you need today.

It is a witness of Jesus Christ.

It provides safety in its pages.

It is the fruit of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days.

It is preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Messiah.

READ IT! It WILL change your life!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Will Praise & Adore at the Mercy Seat

One of my absolute favorite hymns is "I Stand All Amazed". I know many people love this hymn, but if you don't know what it is (or if you want to just listen to it again) here it is:

Through this song, we sing about and give thanks to Jesus the Christ for His great atoning sacrifice. The last verse is my favorite:
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
 In the last day, this song has been coming to mind, and I happened upon the Vocal Point version on YouTube, and just started incessantly listening to it. As I did, one line stuck out to me. "I will praise and adore at the mercy seat". And I found it to be a rather interesting thing to put into the verse, and I began studying the line in context and I found one of many interpretations.

In ancient Israel, the Mercy Seat was the gold covering on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, regarded as God's throne, upon which the blood of the sin offering would be sprinkled on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) by the High Priest (LDS Bible Dictionary).

To get to the Mercy Seat one would have to enter through the Tabernacle courtyard, enter the Holy Place, and pass through the veil in to the Holy of Holies. Many LDS manuals teach that each section of the tabernacle corresponds with a degree of glory:

The Outer Courtyard representing the Telestial World, the Holy Place representing the Terrestrial World, and the Holy of Holies representing the Celestial World. Likewise in modern Temples, similar symbolism is used, as we progress through the rooms, we ultimately make our way into the Celestial Room.

As I sat pondering this verse of the hymn, I have been taught that as we think of his hands pierced and bleeding, it should lead us to the Celestial Room of the Temples, where we will each silently praise and adore Him until the day comes when we will kneel before our Lord, our God, and our King. And after all we go through in this life, it will be wonderful!