Obedience

I have been thinking about this verse that I read in the Pearl of Great Price all week:

And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him:

I know not, save the Lord commanded me. (Moses 5:6)

This verse sums it up pretty nicely by taking a concept that we ourselves complicate and simplifying it to its most basic core meaning.

Obedience.

I can’t believe how I never actively realized until this week how obedience is shown and taught throughout the: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

The message is pretty clear now and I see the path I need to take as clear day.

I feel the spirit stronger than I ever have, since being baptized.

Our First Time to the Temple

Earlier this month, my wife and I had the opportunity to go to the temple and get our endowments and sealed together…on the same day!

It was quite and experience and I tried to prepare by taking the whole prior week off to not worry about work and to read the Book of Mormon and spend time with my family. After all, I was thinking, that I will be able to spend time and all eternity with my children, who are gifts from Heavenly Father, to raise, love and teach the gospel to.

It was like a first wedding for ourselves as well. When we were younger, we tied the knot in a drive through wedding chapel in Las Vegas!

We had people from our ward there, the Brother and Sister who were there as Ward Missionary Leaders to host us and have the Missionaries teach us the discussions. Our Bishop, who I admire greatly for his example he sets and his hard work and love he pours upon the people of his Ward. Our friends that we’ve made in the 21 months we’ve been going to Church. Our friends that I have from work, who are coincidentally members of the church as well and instrumental to our growth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The day was perfect for us. It was gloomy and rainy in Las Vegas, just how we’d hope our wedding day would have been. We met my friends, Joey and Sabrina, and Mike and Crystal. I felt guided the whole time I was in the temple, by the brethren who are there to make me feel welcomed and help me learn.

There was a lot to take in and we definitely need to go back many, many more times to figure things out. Because we were  doing our endowments and sealing the same day, we were whisked away to the Sealing room to be married forever just as soon as we made it to the Celestial room of the Temple.

It was a great feeling to be in the House of the Lord among friends, whom I consider family. I urge those who have not yet made it to the temple to go as soon as you can. There are blessings to be had by attending.

My Preparation for the Temple: Are you kind to your family?

At times I questioned myself if I can answer those temple recommend interview questions with no issues.  I remember the last time I went for a temporary temple recommend interview back in March for Baptisms for the Dead.  I caught myself being harsh when asked questions.  I attribute it to judging ourselves and we are our own worse judge.  My Bishop agreed.

I often find myself self-interviewing on one particular question:

Are you kind to your family members?

Am I?  What does that mean?  It means, do I treat them as Christ would during the good times and the bad times?  Do I display patience with my family at all times?  Am I a good Father and Husband?

For a while, I was in a cycle of confusion and this is how it went:

  1. Despair

    I feel like I am in a deep hole, looking upwards at the sky and that I can’t make it out.I feel that my family deserves better than I have given in the past.  I have only been at it for over 18 months and I thought I was changing.  I’m not sure sometimes.  At times I feel like I really have changed.I am not always patient or soft spoken in stressful situations.  I seem to let the worst come out of me only in front of my spouse and children.   In my early twenties, I picked up the bad habbit of swearing.  My language has cleaned up over the past 18 months but I have those moments of relapse.

    I expect so much from my family (from expecting the same strictness that I had to follow when I was younger) at times that it only leads me to anger and fits of yelling when things aren’t going well.

    I’ve been taught that true conversion happens over time.  Am I converted?  Am I converted enough?

    Could I stand tall with my fellow brethren who are temple recommend holders?

  2. Hope

    Every Sunday, I feel energized and I believe that I can climb my way out of this deep hole.I realize to myself that I cannot be perfect and Christ-like at all times.  That is why we have the atonement.I am thankful for the atonement and the fact that Jesus Christ took upon himself my sins, my sadness and my pain.  I am thankful for the ordinance of Sacrament where I can renew my baptismal covenants and be forgiven for my short comings.   During Sacrament, I feel true sorrow and pain.  I then feel forgiven and my burdens lifted away.

    I love the feeling of being clean and renewed for another week.

    I pray for long suffering, patience, being a good example for my children and to be a better Father and Husband.

    I love feeling I can start over with myself and my family.

  3. Confusion

    I feel like the moment that I slip, no matter how high I have made it I fall to the bottom of that deep hole and I have to start over.  Maybe I’ve raised my voice to my kids or handle a stressful situation very poorly.  When growing up, my parents were very strict and always yelled.  I see myself doing that sometimes.  I see my oldest son yelling at his brothers sometimes and I see myself in him and I become deeply saddened.With the atonement comes repentance.  I truly feel sorry for the mistakes and actions that make me feel like I am not kind enough to my family.  But true repentance means taking steps to not do it again and then, not do it!

    But when I falter I feel like I have failed at repentance.  I take my prior transgressions from the week before and add it on to this week as well.  That deep hole is getting even deeper.

    What if it has been months that I feel I’ve been doing a good job and then I mess up by losing my temper and swear up a storm and scream and yell?

    When do I become better?  How long do I go without slipping before I can answer “Yes” to the question “Are you kind to your family members?”   It can’t be one week.  A Month?  Two Months?

    How can I live higher laws if I cannot live these lower laws?

    Am I ever going to make it to the Temple?

    Go to back to Despair

I feel like I have finally broken out of this confusing cycle by realizing that during this journey of life every day we build ourselves up to be much more righteous and when we falter we have the atonement and repentance to lift ourselves up and try again.  As long as we are on the upward climb we are doing well.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times that by doing in faith the following: Daily prayer, scripture reading, and keeping our minds constantly on the Savior Jesus Christ and the Savior make a very, very large difference.

New Website About Jesus Christ Launched

med_001faithinchristhigresoluti_1.jpgThe other week in priesthood meeting, one of the members mentioned a new website that was launched by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aimed at explaining the life and teachings of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The website can be seen by going to: http://jesuschrist.lds.org

An article from the Official LDS Newsroom says that it was almost a year in the making. I suspected that this website was planned to coincide with the March special editions of two of the Church’s official magazines, the Ensign and the Liahona, which also focus on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite parts of the new Jesus Christ website is the witnesses of the 16 presidents (prophets) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Just another tool to show that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints DO believe in Jesus Christ.

Also, here is the Official Church Video about the new website as well:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARO849yjrWQ]

I Wasn’t Ready

I believe that this book, There Is No Death, brought me closer to understanding the truths that my friend Mike touched upon when he began teaching parts of the Gospel. I believe this book softened my heart and also prepared me for the missionaries that I met three years later.

I remember after a few weeks after reading the book we were discussing it during lunch when it hit me; that all the things Mike had been teaching me were in fact true; that there was something more going on than just this life. It is a moment in my life that I will not forget. As I look back now, knowing what I knew, it was the spirit confirming what he was teaching and what was in this book as true.

Why I didn’t follow up on this? I guess I did not know what to do with this testimony at the time. I did not plant it and nourish it. (See Alma 32:28-43)

It did not fall on good ground, perhaps stony ground. (Matthew 13:3-8) I did not act on it. I’m thinking it was out of fear for change.

Tasting of the truth was exciting and I was eager to learn of all the great and wonderful things of the gospel. I often went way ahead of myself. In a way, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to have my friend personally teach me all he knew, but he insisted that I have the missionaries over.

I now realize why missionaries should be involved. They are set apart to spread the gospel. They are more prepared to answer questions that come up. They are divinely inspired and assisted to share their great message. I did not have the fundamentals that the missionaries teach. The important fundamentals like: Who we are, who Heavenly Father is, who the holy spirit is, and who Jesus Christ is – and why what he did was so important, the plan of salvation (the plan of happiness).

I see why things are taught in a certain order now and why it is said “concept upon concept, precept upon precept.” That used to annoy me when I didn’t receive all my answers, but now it makes perfect sense.

Faith, Home Teaching, Obedience and Meekness Really Do Work

Things seem to be very difficult in my life right now with one thing after another going wrong. I’ve been depressed and stressed out. I admit, I did not want to go to Church on Sunday. The night before, I only had two hours of sleep and it was already 8:15am when I woke up. Sacrament started at 9:00am.

I almost rolled over and went back to bed, but didn’t. I felt I had to be strong, if not for myself than for my children. After an agonizing wait to get everyone ready and loaded into the minivan, we arrived at church. It was 9:30am when we arrived.

It’s a bad feeling when I miss sacrament. Something I used to view lightly when I was growing up in Catholic Church now meant so much to me. It meant that I can start over and wash away anything less than righteous from the week before. I sat in the lobby feeling empty and didn’t even try to enter the chapel.

There I sat for about ten minutes until the thought came in my head: “You can leave church, you missed sacrament anyway.” No, I couldn’t do it – I was already there and I remembered that I DO actually get something out of the other Sunday School and Priesthood Meetings. Besides, the children would learn something new and enjoy their Sabbath day. The last twenty minutes went by easier.

The Sunday School Gospel Essentials lesson was a review on the Second Coming of Christ: The signs of the second coming, the gathering of the house of Israel (the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Millennium. And there was one more thing – integrity. Then our teacher started touching points of his experiences at his caucus the day before.

Priesthood Meeting was good. We sang “I am a Child of God” as the opening song and then everyone shared their missionary stories and the bishop talked to us about fulfilling our home teaching. Both ways – meaning that if you had not been contacted by your home teacher, seek them out and get it rolling!

Afterwards, I spotted my home teaching companion and my assigned member and we scheduled an appointment. I had a home teaching appointment with my companion and family at 3:30pm.

After Priesthood Meeting, we went to Elders Quorum where we had an abbreviated lesson on God the Eternal Father and the true nature of the Godhead.

I left for home feeling like I didn’t really get anything out of Church and that my Sabbath day was wasting away.

I napped from 12:30pm until about 1:30pm and then I could not get back to sleep. I searched for and pulled out my unopened January issue of Ensign and began to read the First Presidency message to see what I would teach my family. I read it and thought I was ready to go.

My home teaching companion finally came and he met me at my house. We walked down the street to the family’s home and walked in. He saw that I had my Ensign and he was excited and he left his in the car. After some small talk, we began our lesson with my giving the invocation prayer. My companion offered me the lead and I refused. He kindly took the lead and delivered it like a professional.

After he had done his part and gone through the lesson about how Jesus Christ built bridges, I finally added in my two cent about how Obedience, Service and Prayer has helped me in the past year. There was some more small talk and then my companion gave the benediction prayer and we left. I felt enlightened and really took something away from my time at their home.

My companion and I was walking back to his car when he asked what seemed to be a routine question.

What can I do for you?

Usually I am prideful or embarrassed so I give the routine response back, “Oh nothing, we’re doing fine.” Not this time, something came over me and I humbled myself and told him.

I told him about my problems and he counseled me.

My first problem was about my expensive plumbing issues with my house. It turned out he has ownership in a plumbing company so he said he would help me.

“That’s nothing” he said, “piece of cake, if I can I’ll do the work for you and eat the cost.” He then asked again, “What else?” I hesitated for a second and then I humbled myself and continued.”

My second issue was about my mortgage situation. My ARM adjusting for the 3rd time and my payment going ridiculously high. How high? So high I could be living in a house three times the size of the one I have now.

He told me I should talk to the Bishop, if the plans that I have to fix things do not go through, perhaps it can be arranged that someone who is a mortgage expert in the stake can help me. He told me to make an appointment with the bishop.

“This is easy” he said.

“Everyone in our ward is here when you need us, this can be taken care of.”

He then looked at me again and asked me again, “What else?” My heart lightened and then continued again about another issue that has been weighing on me.

My third issue we discussed as well and he again gave me some advice and suggested that I talk to the bishop about it.

My meekness was now obvious and then he asked me again. “What else?” I replied “Nothing else.” He smiled and we talked for a while more. We then were going to part ways and instead of a shake he gives me a hug. It was just what I needed.

I really appreciate him and I hope I can somehow convey that fact and help him one day.

What else good can come from doing home teaching?

Having a home teacher!

At 6:00pm we had a dinner and family home evening scheduled at my new home teacher’s house. I am glad that we went and that they took time out to visit with us. It was very fun and we got along very well since were all pretty similar in age. It also helped that they have very loud boys as well and we felt right at home.

I really appreciate my home teacher as well, with everything he has done for us. We were on the subject of large families and I cannot forget what he said to me.

He said:

“Family is the only thing you can take with you.”

When dinner was over (it was a very good one) and it was time for Family Home Evening, he began and showed me how it was done. All the boys in the room lasted less than five minutes and then the lesson was done. I actually relieved to see it doesn’t last long for him either.
After about three very fun hours at their house we left and went back home.

When we got home I realized that I only had a total of three hours of sleep.

I quickly fell asleep feeling satisfied, content and at peace.

I can say that not giving up faith, being obedient, service, prayer and being meek do have its rewards.

Thank you, Heavenly Father.

There Is No Death: The Extraordinary True Experience

After my friend Mike came back from his mission, we ended up working at the same company and he would share bits and pieces of the LDS Church beliefs with me. I remember sitting in my office over three years ago when my friend Mike started talking about a book that he borrowed and read.

Before he even started speaking I began to have what I described at the time as just cold chills, now that I look back it was more like the spirit talking to me. I was extremely excited to hear about the book he had just read and I knew I just HAD to read it.

The name of the book is called There Is No Death: The Extraordinary True Experience by Sarah Lanelle Menet.

thereisnodeath.jpg

I believe I read all 128 pages TWICE in one weekend, both times in one sitting. I usually don’t do that, but this book has something to it.

This is a story about a women that had a sad and abusive childhood. After attempting to commit suicide due, she leaves her body and enters the spirit world learning much about the beauty and peace that follow this life for those that have lived good lives. She then visits ‘hell’ where her abusive father resided. She learns about forgiveness and the importance of it in our lives. She returns to her body and tells her story after keeping it to herself for several years.

Menet answers many questions in her writings, such as:

  • Why we are here on earth?
  • What Deja Vu is?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Where we lived before being born?
  • What happens to us when we die and the degrees of heaven?
  • Who are guardian angels?
  • What is the basis of people claiming reincarnation?

The book does a few dark topics such as events that have happened (and haven’t happened) which will lead up to Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. However, the the positives in her book greatly outweigh the negatives.

One more note that I’d like to add – At the time of reading the book, I did not know she was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until the very end. Also, she was not a member when she had her experiences as well. She later found that the teachings of the Church matched what she had saw during her experience.

This book definitely had an impact on my life. I recommend this book to everyone, whether you are: an Investigator, a recent convert or a long-time member.

God Has to Follow the Rules Too!

One of the things that I’ve learned over the past half year is that Heavenly Father is bound by laws. At first, it didn’t seem right – that Heavenly Father, a perfect being, of all people would have a follow laws and rules? You’ve got to be kidding me!

But it makes sense.

Things have to be done a certain way for a reason. The universe has to have order. We have the laws of physics. We have the laws of mathematics. We have national laws. We have state laws. We have city laws…

The point is, things work out better when you follow the rules. Our rules are the Commandments, which are made for our benefit. If we can follow the commandments faithfully, it paves a way to many blessings, both spiritually and temporally.

God promises a blessing for obedience to particular commandments. The promise that he makes is called a covenant. A covenant is a sacred agreement or mutual promise between God and a person or a group of people. If we choose to obey our end of the covenant, we receive promised blessings. If we choose not to obey, he withholds the blessings. Not being obedient takes away from ourselves.

If we keep the Lord’s commandments, he is bound by his promise to bless us as stated in Doctrine and Covenants.

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. (D&C 82:10)

Think about the following scenario: A Father promises to buy his son a pet rat if he gets all A’s on his report card. His son tries his hardest and receives an ‘A.’ This promise was made for the son’s benefit. What would happen if the Father did not follow through with his promise? The son would be disheartened and perhaps not do as good on his next report card? The father is bound by his promise, it is only right.

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)

It is comforting and motivating to know that there are blessings in store when following the commandments given to us. I find it absolutely amazing and humbling that our Heavenly Father has to follow the rules as well.

He and his son are our examples. What great role models to have!

The Church Addresses Politics on YouTube

It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Church! With Mitt Romney going for President, there has been a spotlight on the Church and its members.

It looks like the Church released four videos touching on the subject of politics on YouTube. Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles appear in these videos and answer questions people may have on their mind.

What Does Church Political Neutrality Mean for Mormons?

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=DhR-uav1c0c ]

“Be involved, but don’t look at the Church to direct you as to how to be involved.”

Why Should Mormons Participate in the Political Process?

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=I4vhW-fTYKk]

“The very fundemental principal of freedom is absolutely essential for the gospel of Jesus Christ to propser.”

What is the Civic Duty of Mormons?

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=XB6RynMMK7I]

“The Civic Duty of any Latter Day Saint…is to be actively involved in the political process”

Are Mormon Politicians Directed By Church Leadership?

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=0S6cW-o0oTg]

“We have a long record in the Church of not interferring with public officials…Politcal Candidates understand that. They don’t ever come to the Church and say ‘What Do I do?'”

You can see additional videos by visiting their profile on YouTube.

Click here to view the Official Church Profile.

My Thoughts on Romney’s Speech

In my previous post, Romney to Explain the LDS Church in a Speech, I noted that Mitt Romney will be explaining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a campaign speech. It seems he did very little explaining and touched more on the subject of what this country was founded on: freedom. More importantly, religious freedom. Early on in his speech, Romney makes a great point that no one can deny:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

I often thought about the commandments we follow, more specifically keeping the Sabbath holy. A president works twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. How can he follow keeping the Sabbath holy?

This is how.

From what I’ve been learning in Gospel Essentials class, our duty, loyalty and faith comes in the following order: God first…then everything else falls into place (family second, and career third, etc.) Think of the story of Abraham and Isaac and how he put the Lord first.

Romney clearly shows what he puts first:

When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

He will put God first. He will put his promise to God above everything else.

Like I mentioned earlier, Romney also touched very little on explaining his faith and more about how the country is based on freedom of religion and the important role of religion in the United States. He says:

There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

He is right, no presidential candidate should describe and explain doctrine. That would be missing the entire point of electing someone to the presidential office. He is also right when he says that a president will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

Mitt Romney also has the same opinion that I have: That most religions are some how derived from one source, which is God.

I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

Hearing Romney say these things confirmed to me that this country is built on blessings and faith in the Lord. I’m impressed with Romney – now it’s time to see what he politically stands for and what he can do for our country. 🙂

Click Here for the text of Romney’s Speech.

You can watch the entire speech here:

Mitt Romney’s Speech (part 1 of 4)
[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=f1Q2Tt33Wks]

 

Mitt Romney’s Speech (part 2 of 4)
[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=_GDebSjg8Mc]

Mitt Romney’s Speech (part 3 of 4)
[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=vw-kYWWMHVg]

Mitt Romney Speech (part 4 of 4)
[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=frRAwq34Yg8]