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.
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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?
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
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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.