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.