Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It Was Impossible!

Towards the end of his life, the prophet Alma gave some counsel to his son Helaman about caring for the scriptures (physically), explaining, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass...and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls" (Alma 37:6-7). Simply keeping the brass plates clean kept generations of Nephites on the strait and narrow path.

Another time "small and simple things" brought about great salvation for many souls: Moses and the children of Israel were encamped at Pi-hahiroth, surrounded on two sides by mountainous terrain, a third side by the Red Sea, and the fourth side by the Egyptians, completely trapped. Moses, unsure of what to do was told "in [his] mind and in [his] heart, by the Holy Ghost" to strike the waters with his staff (Doctrine & Covenants 8:2-3). By simply obeying that strange command "the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground" (1 Nephi 17:26).

When the Lord needed to call his apostles, he called fishermen*; when He needed to restore His everlasting gospel and establish His church in the last days, he called a farm boy*; when He needed to move His people west to the Rockies, He called a carpenter*; when He needed to build more temples than had ever operated on the earth at once, He called a Radio Station executive*. In essence, when God needs something done, He calls the most unlikely person to do it.

As President Russell M Nelson put it, "As you know and apply the teachings of the Lord in your life and in your work you can change the world. You will become a precious part of His perennial pattern: the Lord uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible!" (Accomplishing the Impossible).

Pray and ask for spiritual gifts; each one will assist you in accomplishing the impossible. Set goals; they help you accomplish what is seemingly impossible. Seek revelation; the Lord will show you what impossible things you can do with His help.

Every person who is great has done something deemed impossible, but they accomplish it anyways. The Lord wants you to rise up and become who He knows you are capable of becoming. He wants you to get to "the end", having endured all, look back and say "It was impossible, but with the Lord I did it!"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Love the Temple!







A bit over a year ago, I met one of my best friends, Erik. He and I were in the same major at Utah State University, and met at a grilling event (I refuse to call those barbecues) put on by the department. The next time he and I did anything together, we were in the Logan Temple for an endowment session. While we did other things besides going to the Temple, the Temple permeates our entire friendship. For my birthday gift in 2016, he took me to the Salt Lake Temple. Even when we were doing other things, if we ever passed a Temple—which happens frequently driving between the Cache and Salt Lake Vallies—he would often just shout out "The Temple! The Temple! The Temple!" Then let out a little scream. In short, we have such a deep friendship because of our love for the Temple.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling


In primary, children often sing, "I love to see the Temple." And that is true for many of us. We do love to see the Temple. Many of us also have a deep and abiding love for the work that happens in the Temple. But how often are we utilizing them? How often do we think of them in our daily activities? Are we willing to make the sacrifices to attend regularly, and if so do we actually make those sacrifices?
Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree and outdoor


When I was in Utah, the Temple was always so accessible. Most of the time, I was attending once a week. If the Logan Temple closed, Brigham City had a Temple just under an hour away. If both of those had issues, Ogden was close. It was so simple to go to the Temple. Yes, some weeks, in fact, most, I walked from Utah State's campus to the Temple. Yes, it was cold. Yes, I wasn't a fan of walking that distance. But the Temple made up for the negative things.

Image may contain: tree, sky and outdoor

Now, I'm in Arizona. The closest Temple is about 1.5 to 2 hours away, depending on traffic. It's a little more difficult to go. Add on the fact I have a job and graduate school to attend to; it's not easy getting up there, but it is a priority, so I've attended about once a month to every other month.

Image may contain: people standing, night and outdoor

Other people have made even greater sacrifices to attend the Temple. Why? The Temple teaches us how to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives to stand a little taller and become a little more every day. If one truly wants to understand the Savior and the reasons behind the Plan, they must go experience the power of the Atonement demonstrated in the Temple as often as possible, and regardless of sacrifice. With each sacrifice to attend the Temple, the experience becomes that much more sweet, and we begin to taste of the fruit Lehi saw, and all things are drawn into one, and we begin to love the Temple.

Image may contain: night, sky and outdoor

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Holy Atonement

The prophet Jacob once declared, "O how great the plan of our God!" (2 Nephi 9:13). And truly it is a wonderful and great plan by which we may all have immortality through the blood of the Lamb, and the opportunity to obtain Eternal Life "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimonies" (Revelation 12:11).

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if you ask a member about the Plan of Salvation, you may get something that looks like this:
Image result for Plan of Salvation

While this is true, it is in fact the plan God established, it is inaccurate. Nowhere in His plan is the Terrestrial Kingdom, nowhere in His plan the Telestial Kingdom, nowhere in His plan is Outer Darkness. His plan is totally and completely that His children all become exalted by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I am not minimizing the fact that all things in the above map are true. They all are true. The Lord has a place for everyone who willingly rejects exaltation by their choices. The Plan of Salvation is the gospel, "and this is the gospel...I [Christ] came into the world to do the will of my Father...And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father" (3 Nephi 27:13-14).

The fulness of the gospel is the fulness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Until we understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we do not understand the gospel, and thus the Plan of Salvation. As a matter of opinion, I do not believe we can fully understand the Atonement in this life, but it is the quest of a life time to understand the majesty, glory, honor, power, and might demonstrated by "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).

The place we learn about the Atonement the most is in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As we look forth to a New Year, I feel there is no better time than when we are thinking of New Beginnings to think of the holy, magnificent, and sublime act of eternity that allows beginnings to begin again and again and again. I invite all to come study from the Book of Mormon in 365 days, starting January 1 on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I promise that we will all grow to understand, to appreciate, and to contemplate in reverence this sacred event as we do so, and our love for the Savior and ability to deal with life's challenges will become enhanced. Join with me as we improve our love for the Savior by reading of his sublime gift this next year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The High Priest of Good Things to Come

Some weeks are just hard. That's a fact of life. No person will ever escape having a bad day or a bad week. They have come, do come, and will come in our lives. Sure, some have them more than others. Some have really hard weeks, but put on such a smile that nobody suspects anything is wrong, sometimes going far enough to hide it from even close friends and family members. Some have weeks that suck, and weeks that don't suck quite as bad for months or even years on end. But the promise of the Everlasting Gospel is they will come to an end.

No man or woman will be subjected to misery for all eternity, unless he or she chooses misery for all eternity. "For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves" (Doctrine & Covenants 58:28). By having this ability to be agents, we become agents "to act and [not] things to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:14). This is not to say that nothing will influence us, that we won't face weaknesses, struggles, sins, and sorrows. We will face all those things, but we also learn to experience joy, peace, safety, and love.

If you are having a bad week, just keep trying! Keep your eye on the "high priest of good things to come" (Hebrews 9:11). He will lead you and protect you through your darkest nights, and into the brightest days. Good things always come to those who live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Some...come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come" (An High Priest of Good Things to Come).

So if you're down, keep going. If you're up, serve others and help them see the High Priest of Good Things to Come, and in helping them see Him, you'll see Him more clearly too.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Lord gives the Law

The Savior declared to the Nephites, "Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled" (3 Nephi 15:5). There is a principle in this verse that people may not draw out. The context is the Savior is teaching the Nephites that the Law of Moses had been done away; He taught the reason why in this verse.

In the latter days, the Lord has revealed a great many things which have been from the foundation of the world. Some of the things taught by the prophets contradict social or political views. Some things the Lord revealed goes against what some, even among His people, feel contradict the scriptures. Some things are hard for people to accept. But here is the principle:

The Lord gives the Law; thus, the Lord has complete control over the Law.

Some people stress over the policy to excommunicate members who enter into homosexual marriages, and stopping their children from receiving baptism until age 18. Some have felt it's because the brethren are out of touch. Again, I reiterate, the Lord gives the Law; thus, the Lord has complete control over the Law.

Some people have protested and demanded without end that women be ordained to the holy priesthood. They seem to forget that it is not man's priesthood. The Lord revealed the Melchizedek Priesthood's full name to be, "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God" (Doctrine & Covenants 107:3). In short, the Lord gives the Law; thus, the Lord has complete control over the Law.

Some people have issues with certain practices that occurred at various points in Church History. They question if the Lord is perfect why would blacks and the priesthood, or polygamy, or insert topic controversial in 2016 here. Again, the Lord gives the Law; thus, the Lord has complete control over the Law.

Man does not choose Celestial Law. He can choose to disobey it, but that disobedience does not stop the Law from existing. If you do not like a Law or a practice, take it up with the Lord; He is the only one who can change the Law, because He is the one who gave the Law. And He still reveals His Laws today, and how to best practice them in today's world.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rejoice!

Think of the times you've felt the most joy. I don't mean feeling happy. I mean truly joyful. Chances are, there was probably a lot of things in your life that are disassociated from the joyful memories.

I remember back to my mission. I truly found great joy while I was out there serving the Lord with all my might. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. And most Returned Missionaries will tell you the same thing. The months of knocking a thousand doors with few opening, and even fewer staying open, all the hard work with nothing to show for your efforts, and so forth. All of that is going on, yet missionaries remember it as one of the most joyful times of their lives.

I think of a good friend who has had trials with cancer for years. He faces every day with optimism and finds true and lasting happiness serving in the Temple as often as he can, and just being a help to others around him.

I think of my struggles over the past few years, and while dealing with the major anxiety I've faced, I have had some truly happy moments, and would describe this time as a joyful experience.

Why?

Joy is not connected with mortal life. Joy is connected with the eternities. Sure, none of us are ever going to be perfect, and that may lead to lessened joy. But the gospel promises are not limited to the perfect. The Lord grants the gift of joy to "those who love me and keep all my commandments, and [those] that seeketh so to do" (Doctrine & Covenants 46:9).

Sure, wickedness can lead to times of rejoicing, but only seeking after righteousness will we truly ever find joy. Even in our darkest hours, joy can be found in and through and by and because of the blood of the Holy Messiah. If you want more joy, repent. If you suffer pains and afflictions, you can still experience joy. The Savior will provide you with such immense joy, you will not know why it comes, because it is disconnected from this world, and if you do what's right for the world to come, your spirit will always return to the purpose of your creation: to find joy.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"My Servant Jared Carter"

One of my favorite all time scriptures comes from a hardly-studied section in the Doctrine & Covenants. However, every single time I bring it up to people, they almost always respond with, "Does it really say that?" Thus, I will give y'all an opportunity to read it now.

For those who trust me completely, it reads, "Wherefore, let your heart be glad, my servant Jared Carter, and fear not, saith your Lord, even Jesus Christ. Amen." This post will wait for you as you go make sure it actually reads like that.

There are obvious reasons why this is among my favorite scriptures, but one illustrates a principle to me. This scripture really speaks to me because it is so personalized to me. It almost feels like the Lord is speaking directly to me, because it uses my full name directly. But whether your full name is in the scriptures like this or not, the Lord is speaking to you by the Holy Ghost through the scriptures.

Nephi declared, "I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." If you do not learn from the scriptures, seek for the spirit to teach you how to apply specific verses to your own situation. The Lord gave us the scriptures for our benefit, not His.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants...and the new translation of the [Bible]...are calculated to make men wise unto salvation, and sweep away the cobwebs of superstition of ages, throw a light on the proceedings of Jehovah which have already been accomplished, and mark out the future in all its dreadful and glorious realities."

So whether or not your full name is in the scriptures or not, the scriptures are meant to be applied to your specific circumstances, and if you allow Him to help, the Spirit will teach you in the paths you must go through the holy words found in the sacred writ.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Viae Dolorosae

Do you ever feel like you have made it to Gethsemane, and life could not get any worse, when suddenly it does? Ever feel like you are stuck in Liberty Jail, with a pavilion separating you from the Lord seems impenetrable, and nothing could get worse, but then it does? Ever feel like you have made it to your lowest point, just to be dragged lower?

Christ himself was dragged down to the depths of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; he then was forced to endure time in the mire, or raw sewage; he was mocked and reviled; then he had to walk down the Via Dolorosa, or by translation, the Painful Way to Calvary's summit to be nailed to a cross. Surely He must have felt at times as if the pain would be as far as it would go, just for him to be dragged lower.

Each of us must pass through our Gethsemanes, true. But after many more things come before us. Endurance on the Viae Dolorosae in our lives give us in some small measure a greater spark of divinity. When times are hard is when we learn who we truly are. Not only that, but they also make us into who we truly are meant to become.

A poem President Monson quotes frequently has two stanzas that read:

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

As we pass through life, the storms and the hard times are what are most needed. We do not learn the depths of love and compassion until we have reason to go deeper. We do not fully understand the Master until we have followed Him completely. He did not shrink after Gethsemane. He did not falter and give up on the side of the Via Dolorsa, and neither should you.

You will face several Viae Dolorsae, but remember every step of the way, He who conquered Death and Pain and Sorrow, conquered not only that lonely road from Jerusalem, but He conquered all Viae Dolorosae, so that we one day can arrive at the end destination of the Via Dolorosa: Calvary, and by so doing know what He knows, do what He does, and be who He is. But to get there, we must endure all our Viae Dolorsae.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Was Glad

I'll be honest. Moving to Arizona has been rough. Don't get me wrong, I love it down here; I love the experiences I've had; I love the people I am meeting. It was just a major change with moving to a new place, plus the major change of starting graduate school piled up on top of me. It's been very overwhelming and the stress was starting to get to me, but I know this is where I am supposed to be.

Today, for the first time in over a month, I was able to attend an endowment session in the Mesa Temple. We had a ward Temple trip, so it was easier to determine to arrive there. As I walked in the front doors, one of my favorite scriptures from Psalms came to mind: "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." As I walked further in, the weight on my shoulders seemed to get a little lighter. I know my responsibilities and my weight has not changed, but the Temple is a place where God's servants are "armed with [his] power, and that [his] name may be upon them, and [his] glory be round about them, and [his] angels have charge over them;" (Doctrine & Covenants 109:22).

That alone would have been more than enough to help me through my present struggles, but the Lord is even more mindful and caring towards us. I changed clothes, and did the preliminary things as quickly as I normally do, and when I arrived at the waiting room, an ordinance worker asked me if I was there for the ASL session. Of course, I immediately hopped onto that opportunity and joined the 11:00 session, instead of the planned 11:30 session.

It was amazing! I learned so much and had such sweet experiences I would not have had if I had not gone to the ASL session. "The Lord is in the details of our lives." Trust Him, and He will lead you and guide you to the places you need to be, and He will enrich the experience far more than you could ever imagine.

And where do we need to be? In these last days, we need to be in the Temple, and every time we are at the Temple, should always cry within our heart, "I am glad!"

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Words of Christ

Today, I've been thinking of the unique opportunity we in the latter days have: access to so many volumes of God's words. Particularly, I've been filled with gratitude for the Book of Mormon today. I love and revere the Holy Bible as the word of God, but the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is where my testimony hinges.

In this book, I have learned at great measure the character of Christ. How so? Because His words, and His matchless love permeates the book. No man can honestly know Christ and honestly reject this book at the same time. The prophet Nephi declared, "[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" (2 Nephi 33:10-11).

It is my testimony that we do not need to wait for the last day. Christ is willing, able, and ready to show you by His power, and mercy, and grace the marvelous gift of the Book of Mormon. He gently calls out, "will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?"(3 Nephi 9:13). He teaches the fulness of His gospel "and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me" (3 Nephi 27:12-13).

It tells of people just like you and me who have received the witness of Christ and have borne powerful testimony of him. From Alma: "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. 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. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me" (Alma 7:11-13); to Abinadi: "I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people" (Mosiah 15:1); to Samuel the Lamanite: "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life" (Helaman 14:8). These and countless other prophets have declared deliverance by the Son of God in this holy book, even the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

If you have not read from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I invite you to do so. (You can get a hard copy here, or you can read it online here.) If you have read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I invite you to do it again, and to drink more deeply from the living waters found therein. I add my words to the words of Nephi: they are the words of Christ. It speaks as a voice from the dust (Isaiah 29:4), but its effect can roar through your life, and change you to become who God intended you to become.

And I promise you, that if you seriously study this book, intending to know if it is indeed the words of Christ, you will have the sweet experience of the people by the waters of Mormon, of whom it is written: "And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever" (Mosiah 18:30). For in this Book of Mormon, you will read the words of Christ, and see how beautiful is it to the eyes of those who read in its pages and through those pages come to a knowledge of our Redeemer, and we, with those who wrote this book, shall sing to his praise forever.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

"I will...sanctify to thee thy deepest distress"

I'll be really honest when I say that I have had a stressful time adjusting to moving to Arizona. I moved 1000 miles from almost everyone I know, started graduate level schooling, started a new job, met a few new people, and came down with a sinus infection in the last 14 days. Needless to say, my stress has been through the roof at times, and has caused some mental fatigue.

I have been stressed, and wanting to do things with people, while knowing people next to not at all, making it difficult for me to even dream of actually doing stuff with them, even when I have an invite. While amid all this stress, the song "How Firm a Foundation" randomly entered my head, but especially the rarely sung fourth verse came to me:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

And boy have I felt like I've been flooded by the waters of life! But the promise made in the verse is the Lord will make our deep distress holy. How? By drawing us unto Him. For Christ himself spoke of His deepest distress, "I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me" (3 Nephi 27:14). Because he went through distress, we have someone we can run to! He will not leave us alone. Why? So He can make us holy.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New Beginnings

I realize it's been a long long time since I've posted anything on here. Part of that is because I didn't have internet at my apartment all summer (YAY!). As a way of updating people on life, I have moved from Logan, UT to Tucson, AZ for graduate school. As I have gone through this life transition, I've thought about new beginnings.

The scriptures show time and time again new beginnings experienced by people in the past. After Noah the earth received a new beginning; Abraham restored the gospel and brought a new beginning; Moses; Nephi, Joseph Smith. New beginnings abound.

Most importantly, because of the Atonement, we each get a  new beginning each time we turn back to Christ, and desire to follow him with full purpose of heart. We can come to know the truth that there are no true endings in this life, rather we have an abudance of beginnings.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#YOLO for Tomorrow We Die

The Book of Mormon was written for us today. It is a record of an ancient people compiled by the Prophet Mormon. God told him what to put in the book, so God is the author. It is written for us today. "The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book—it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day. Mormon turned the records over to his son Moroni, the last recorder; and Moroni, writing over 1,500 years ago but speaking to us today, states: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”" (Ezra Taft Benson).

As such, we know that each verse was calculated by the Almighty to teach us how to survive today's world. One section comes in 2 Nephi 28:7-10:
7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. 
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. 
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.
In modern terms, #YOLO. While in its mild forms, this philosophy is not inherently bad, pushed to extremes, it can separate a person from their God. We live in a day where Satan reigns in the hearts of men and women with both blinding hatred on one end of the spectrum to subtle sophistry on the other. The line between using #YOLO as a tool to live life to the fullest and the hellish philosophy that nothing ultimately matters is ill-defined and should be given as wide a berth as possible. Truly, "We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception" (Henry B Eyring).

So how? How do we remain safe in a world more and more going towards #YOLO? We should seek the face of God, daily. While most will likely go through this life without a personal visitation from the Father, we can each be worthy to see the Father today.

How do you know if you are worthy to see the Father? The ordinances of the Temple teach us how "to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels...and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell" (Brigham Young). If you are worthy to learn how to walk back to His presence there, you are worthy to be in His presence here.

You may not see the harm in some philosophies of men. But the blood of the saints cries from the ground against those who teach these philosophies. While there is nobody in a sinister group who created #YOLO to kill the saints, the spiritual casualties from not being firmly fixed upon the moorings of Zion are bound to increase if we are not guided by personal revelation and the counsels of the living prophets.

One such casualty is one not readily seen. "[Some] among us may one day wake up and realize what power in the priesthood really is and face the deep regret that they spent far more time seeking power over others or power at work than learning to exercise fully the power of God" (Russell M Nelson). While we may not fully recognize the atrophy, we do not gain strength. How do you replace the strength from daily prayers and daily scripture study for twenty years? How do you replace the protection of regularly attending the Temple? How do you replace the cleansing of partaking the sacrament weekly? In short, you cannot. "Why would any man waste his days and settle for Esau’s mess of pottage when he has been entrusted with the possibility of receiving all of the blessings of Abraham?" (Russell M Nelson). Yet that is precisely what we do.

Guard yourselves. "Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Doctrine & Covenants 133:5). And watch with the assistance of the Spirit to avoid the pitfalls which are deceitfully covered by the adversary to trip the saints.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Next Chapter

Our lives are made of many chapters: Elementary School, Missions, Undergraduate, Graduate School, Marriage, First Child, etc. Often, we don't want the chapters to end, because if they do, we will no longer be in a place of comfort. Don't misunderstand me, comfort is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, when our comfort brings us to a sense of security, where our God is no longer central in our lives, often He adds a new chapter.

Why some chapters are dramatic rips and others sweetly glide into each other, we won't discover for awhile after the fact. But each chapter is necessary to become who we are meant to become. One of my favorite poems in the world reads:

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

Your life is in the hand of the great designer. He knows what you need to become the glorious being you are meant to become. Never fear the next chapter, just move forth in faith, even and especially when you feel like this:


Go forth with faith! God will design your life to prepare for the divine.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

O Save Us!

Two thousand years ago, the people at Jerusalem gathered as the Savior entered the town as long prophesied. They cried out "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest" (Matthew 21:9). Today, I had the awesome experience of participating in the Hosanna Shout as we dedicated a House of God. While Hosanna seems like an amazing praise, the Hebraic meaning gives new light. Hosanna means "O Save Us!"

We literally ask our God and our Savior to save ourselves and all our dead. This holy cry is our plea to God that He will save us from our sins and from the world. As I raised my handkerchief, and unitedly cried out the shouts of Hosanna, I felt something I had not in a long time. I felt the joy of the gospel. I've known it was true, and I've been living it, and I've been receiving many great, wonderful revelations for my own life. But I realized I had disconnected from the actual purpose of the gospel. I disconnected from the Restoration.

How would our lives be different, if every day, we put as much energy into our prayers as we put into the Hosanna Shout? How would our lives be different, if every day, we were on our knees pleading the Lord save us from our sins and from the world? How would our lives be different if on our minds continually rested, "O Save Us! O Save Us! O Save Us!"?

I for one hope to find out.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A God of Deliverance

No message is more oft repeated in holy writ than God's power to deliver His children from every possible ill. From Enoch to Abraham to Moses to Nephi to Alma to Christ to Joseph Smith to you, God has extended the promise He can and will deliver us. However, it is often not in the way we would expect to be delivered. Each of us have various things keeping us captive, possibly for large chunks of our lives: depression, suicide, abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, greed, lying: you name it, we are trapped individually in the shackles of slavery to our pains, our sins, and our fears. A famous Old Testament story will provide the backdrop for the principles. Search for parallels, and focus on how the principles can influence your situation.

In the days of Joseph, Egypt became salvation for the house of Israel. The famine spread throughout the land could seemingly only be conquered by the saving grace of Egypt. Egypt drew in people from across the world, hoping they would survive the famine. Israel fled to Egypt at God's command, and was saved through Joseph's diligence in Egypt. However, the situation did not last for long. There arose a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph, and only saw the alien race inhabiting his lands. While the scriptures remain silent, one could assume Pharaoh slowly took rights and freedoms away from the sons of Jacob, until they were totally in bondage and completely dependent on Egypt and her gods. None dared question the natural order, though the long train of abuses became painfully obvious to see.

The Israelites toiled under the oppressive yoke the Egyptians rung around their necks for 400 years. All assumed life as they knew it, serving strange gods in a strange land, was right. However, the Egyptians became more cruel to the point of attacking and killing Israel's sons. At this time, God sent down a baby to deliver Israel. This child would be raised as by the very people who subjected his family into bondage. He would be unable to complete the task for 80 years, after 40 years living with Egypt and 40 years living under the priesthood in Midian.

God sent this man, Moses, back to Egypt, to demand that Egypt release Israel. Miracle after miracle unfolded, and God painted Pharaoh into a corner, forcing him to relent. Israel was finally free! Jubilee and rejoicing filled the multitude; they were finally free from bondage! Or so they thought.

God led His people in a cloud by day and a fire by night through the lands just outside Egypt to the Red Sea, and took them to a very specific place, Pi-hahiroth. This land had two mountains nearby: Baal-zephon to the north and Migdol to the west. To the east lied the Red Sea. The only way in or out was through the South. God commanded His people to camp there.

Egypt understood where God led Israel led Israel. In their hearts, they scoffed, and believed that Jehovah had no brains to lead Israel to Pi-hahiroth. The whole of Egypt's army piled up along the southern exit. Israel's children flipped out when they saw this army. Some, I'm sure preferred to join the army and go back to Egypt safely, but that was not God's plan. Instead, he gently nudged Moses towards the water. With the spiritual prompting, Moses walked to the water, and hit it with his staff, maybe not knowing fully what would happen.

Then, the miracle came. The water parted, and the ground was dry, allowing Israel to walk through without being slowed down by carts getting stuck in mud or anything like that. Meanwhile, God may have allowed mud to return for the Egyptians, but the sea swallowed the Egyptians, every last one of them.

How does this relate to you? I do not know specifics. Perhaps for a Young Single Adult, God sent a baby 20 years ago to deliver them today. Perhaps, God opened paths for you to be able to escape from terrible situations with friends or family. But for each of us, God will lead us from bondage in one thing at a time. He shapes us; he molds us; he works us into masterpieces.

But one thing is certain, he takes each one of us to Pi-hahiroth, so we must fight. We must choose to flee from our fears, choose faith, and allow Him to take us through the Red Sea, so he can utterly destroy each and every fear, sin, and doubt. Yes, the journey will be hard. Yes, for some battles, we may digress back to Egypt for a season. But if you allow Him, He will deliver you through Pi-hahiroth every time.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bitter Cups & Life's Thorns

Each of us have trying times in our lives. Weight of worlds rest on our shoulders, yet we are asked to take one more step. With shaking, quivering legs, we struggle to inch our feet forward on the quest to live up to our divine potential. The weight we shoulder seems to get heavier as our spiritual muscles have to exert more force to continue holding our base load. Occasionally in moments of weakness, we break down, and all we desire is for this weight to be removed from us.

In this time, we may feel to cry out "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me"1 We may feel we cannot continue, that we would be better served just laying down our load, and giving up on life, completely and totally. We may feel that we are in a dark place, and nobody could possibly understand what we have going on in our life. Some might seek the solace of solitude, while others may seek the bosom of friends. Best of all, some may seek the face of God, and find Him.

Regardless of coping strategy, one reality remains: "if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead."2 There will be times in this mortal, fallen sojourn we will have to pass through pain and sorrow. We are promised the earth will give us "sorrow...Thorns also and thistles".3 While also literal, our daily paths will have patches of thorns and of thistles through which we must pass. Outwardly, those thorns and thistles may appear to be roses and Scottish flowers, but to us, there is pain in these patches, but we must keep pressing on.

Remember also, while it may seem nobody could possibly understand, there is one who does. The Romans "plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon [Christ's] head".4 Plaited is a rather interesting term, meaning roughly to braid together.5 The Savior's crown was all the thorns you and I have had to wade through, all bundled together to be answered upon His head. He understands. He drank from the cup, he dealt with your thorns, intimately. He will help you through your lows, because He went even lower. And he can help you with your weight of worlds on your shoulders, because ALL worlds rested on His!