The Spirit of CHRISTmas

A few nights ago I took my family to a “Live Nativity Pageant” that one of the stakes here in town was presenting. It was free and open to the public and OUTDOORS! It was a very cold night, but staying huddled with my family kept us all warm.

The play looked very genuine and it seemed to draw a lot of people. The message it conveyed was a good one. It was about Christ and the purpose of Christmas. It told the story about Joseph and Mary, About the Three wise men and how they hid from Herod, Caesar, etc…

From my limited knowledge, the pageant consisted of excerpts of Matthew in the New Testament. I am glad I read it earlier this year.

My favorite part was when the fog came rolling from off the top of the church building and people stood singing on top the building with a light shining on them. They looked as if they were angels in the clouds. The effects were impressive!

Afterwards, we enjoyed dinner at Denny’s (Kids ate free). 😀

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]

The Lobby

I was a little disappointed on Sunday as I sat out in the lobby during Sacrament. I sat there with my family and waited with others as the bread was blessed. Afterwards, I expected a Deacon to come out the Church doors to pass Sacrament to us.

It never happened!

Usually when I am waiting for Sacrament, I have a feeling of peace and relief. It turned to horror as they began to bless the water. They forgot us! My family and three others. Even worse, a Deacon finally came out with the water tray. Everyone just took the water, except one or two people the Deacon missed again. I am just disappointed. It seemed that no one wanted to say anything for the sake of reverence. For the rest of the hour I was sad and disappointed…and little angry that I things were overlooked.

When I was passing sacrament over a month ago, I was taught how important the Sacrament Ordinance is and how we should make sure everyone has a chance take it and to be mindful and observant. I wasn’t sure what to do, to let the Bishop know we were missed or to seek out the President of the Deacons or the President of the Priests? To the readers – what are your opinions on this?

When the Deacon came around with the water tray, we took from him. My wife asked me “Does it still count?” My answer. “Yes.” But I am really not sure – I know that Sacrament is supposed to be done a certain way and we did not partake of the bread, but our intentions in being there would have to be enough. I finally found peace when a thought came to my mind – I can wait until next week. It will actually be three weeks without Sacrament since there was a Stake Conference last Sunday. It will be a very, very long week.

On another note, since I have children my wife is very helpful for tending to them during Sacrament meeting, sometimes I am guilty of letting her bear the entire burden of them. I don’t know what I would do without her, she makes things run much easier in the family. I feel I need to do better in helping and taking turns with the kids so she can get more out of Church. Maybe I am a little selfish, but I look forward to the three hours on Sunday and try to learn as much as I can in that time period.

The talks today were on repentance and I tried my best to listen to it. I couldn’t hear half the time. There were about six children in the lobby, not including my three, and some other members and the place sounded like a cafeteria with all the screaming, singing and chattering going on. The single speaker in the lobby ceiling was easily overpowered. I was annoyed at this. I try to keep it mellow when I have my kids in the lobby, if the baby starts to act up, I will actually leave the building until he calms down – as to not disturb anyone else in the lobby. It seemed no one was going to do this today.

A few months ago the Bishop talked to us about reverence and the importance of it and even more I now realize the magnitude of it. We should stay respectful of the people at Church. Sometimes people need Church more than others. At times I feel like I need Church more than another week. This time I felt I needed it more than ever. I needed time for self-reflection, learning, comfort and peace. The first hour made me feel like I was robbed from it between having half a sacrament and missing the talks.

I realize people aren’t perfect and things go wrong sometimes and forgiveness is all I can do. I did forget first hour and enjoy the second and third. I am looking forward to next week to start anew: renew that covenant, listen to those talks and avoid the lobby if I can help it.

The Growth of a True Church

I came across an amazing video on YouTube tonight and thought I’d share it with everyone. The video depicts the growth of the Church as measured by Stakes. Stakes are made up of five to twelve congregations in a geographic area.

There are over 27,000 congregations consisting of almost 13,000,000 (million!) members. Every day at least one convert baptism takes place thanks to the help of over 53,000 missionaries.

As you watch this video, think of how fast the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing and what qualities and attributes a Church would have to have in order to be accepted by so many people in less than 180 years on this Earth.

This is…

…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth… (D&C 1:30)

LDS Stake Growth 1830-2004

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

What would Jesus do?

A few days ago I received a Daily Gem in my email box that got me thinking about what I can do to become more Christ-like.

Emulating Jesus to Become Men

When we consider the admonition to be men, we must think of Jesus Christ. When Pilate brought Jesus forth wearing a crown of thorns, he declared, ‘Behold the man!’ (John 19:4-5). Pilate may not have fully understood the significance of his own words, but the Lord indeed stood before the people then as He stands today–the highest ideal of manhood. Behold the man!

The Lord asked His disciples what manner of men they should be and then answered, ‘Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Nephi 27:273 Nephi 18:24). That is our ultimate quest.

(D. Todd Christofferson, “Let Us Be Men,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 48)

So what can I do to be more Christ-like?    Ask “WWJD (What would Jesus Do)?”  I find myself asking this at times.  We’ve all heard this before, but it works!  If we remember Jesus Christ at all times, our eldest brother and perfect example of man, we can strive to become better people.

You can sign up for Daily Gems Here: http://www.lds.org/listservices

The Gospel According To St Matthew: Why so many parables?

Throughout the New Testament Jesus tells many parables. But why speak in parables instead of speaking the message directly? The wisdom delivered in these parables seems otherwise impossible to convey.

In the New Testament of the Bible in Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus gives immense knowledge with the parables of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price, and the net cast into the sea.

These parables seem to connect principle spiritual truths with the temporal world so we can relate to the importance of it all.
When Jesus was asked why he spoke in parables, he answered:

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Matthew 13:11-13)

The knowledge is freely given to everyone, but only those who are seeking it will receive instructions on how to obtain it. These parables contain information about the Kingdom of God and what to do to obtain it.

Additionally, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he says:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)

My interpretation of this is to not share and give precious things, such as knowledge about Heavenly Father and his Kingdom, that would not be received well to where it would be mocked and may bring harm towards your way.

Truth Restored on YouTube

I remember visiting mormon.org a few months ago and I believe this is the same woman (Jennifer) that impressed me with what she had to say. Click here to view the video on mormon.org.

More of what she has to say has been posted up on YouTube a few hours ago, here they are:

Jennifer: Return to be with God

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-9_ErZBGGM]

Jennifer: Marriage is Eternal

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuGC__XDLd4]

The next video is about Oscar, a Mormon who talks about his mother passing away when he was five years old. Even though it was not enough time for them to be together, he knows that families can be eternal and that he will see her again.

Oscar: Families Should Be Eternal

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4GcBrsmwqE]

The final video is Issiah speaking about his observations of life. The monotonousness of life, the tragedies on this world and seeing the misery around him makes him realize that there has to be more to life. And I believe he is right, there is!

More to Life Than This

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8V0oh2lNA0]

These are very good videos about the questions that everyone has in life. I am glad to see the Church putting these up on YouTube to share with everyone.

 

What is a Testimony? Meet Don and Betty.

What is Testimony? You could say a testimony is one’s personal knowledge to the truth that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ lives and that Jesus is our Savior and Son of God.

I believe a testimony is a wonderful gift from Heavenly Father. It is my spiritual witness that was given to my by the Holy Ghost. Because of my testimony, I feel immensely loved by a perfect being, by our God.

Testimony is the foundation of our faith. It is like a muscle which we can use to grow spiritually. The more you use it and fall back on it, the stronger it will get. If you do nothing, it will atrophy.

We can also help others gain our strengthen their own testimonies as well by bearing our testimony just as Don and Betty do.

Don

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=8XpF5Gb4mng]

Betty

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=C6VOBVDcSec]

Crisis of Faith

I was browsing the web tonight and came across a post at the blog “Our Thoughts.” It was a wonderful entry that truly shows the test of faith of Kim Siever.

What really strikes me the most are the similar experiences between the writer, Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ! In his experience, Kim writes:

…I had an unusual and foreign experience. Several years ago, I found myself in a difficult situation. As a result, I was praying frequently and frequently for the Lord’s intervention. I prayed several times every day and was fasting every Sunday. Some weeks I fasted Sunday and Monday…

..After several weeks of not seeing any change in the situation, I began questioning why I was not receiving an answer to my prayer…

…I started to wonder if perhaps the reason I wasn’t receiving an answer from God was because God did not exist…

…My entire life was filled with teachings that told me if I ever needed anything from God, I simply had to ask. Here I was, having asked every day for several weeks, even unusually fasting frequently, and those promised answers had not come…

I find it hard to imagine being brought up in the Church and then to begin questioning the very things that you were taught by your parents and thought you believed in. I often feel like the Converts and Pioneers in the Church have it easier than people who were born or brought up into the Church.

For someone to want to be baptized would mean that they have received a personal testimony about truthfulness of things. For someone to grow up in the Church, you could be baptized, but not really have a testimony or be truly ‘converted.’ I believe that a person born into the Church must have a stronger spirit and drive to be ‘converted’ in the gospel.

Kim, the writer further writes:

At the time, we were attending an Institute class. We had a good instructor, and we were discussing church history. Actually, we were specifically studying Liberty Jail. In the course of the class, we discussed D&C 121:1-2.

O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

My ears perked up. Joseph Smith — the first prophet of the restoration, one who had seen God, one who had been ministered by angels — was asking the same question I had: where was God.

Immediately to my mind came Matt 27:46:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

And now even Jesus, the savior of the world, was asking the same question that had entered my mind several times. The progenitor of our faith and the source of our faith both put forth the same question to God. Both felt alone. And both came through triumphant.

At that point, the Spirit entered into me with such a force that I knew I had never felt such a thing in my entire life…

Kim Siever, Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ were asking where God was and feeling abandoned. The saying “It is always darkest before dawn” applies here.

What a wonderful story and trail of faith. I have learned a lot from this and now I cannot wait to see what Kim Siever will write next. This has definitely left an impression on me, to where I feel re-energized and gung-ho to learn more about the gospel.

You can view the complete post here: http://www.ourthoughts.ca/2007/10/21/my-faith-crisis-story/

The Gospel According To St Matthew: Seek First the Kingdom of God

For the past week I have been carefully reading The Gospel According to St Matthew of the New Testament in the Bible. There are mounds of knowledge and information from this one book alone. I find comfort in knowing that the wisdom of Jesus Christ contained in this book has been available to many before me. In this post and those to follow I will occasionally write about what I have taken from the Gospel According to St Matthew.

There are many temporal things in the world that are sought after by men such as: money, houses, cars and fame. You see the shows on MTV: “Cribs” and “Pimp my ride.” The next generation of men and women as well as the generations before have been programmed to want such worldly things. I admit, I too have been influenced to want such things.

In the New Testament, Matthew Chapter 6 reads:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

I have realized that before I seek after the riches of this world, I should seek the spiritual riches first. I should lay up my treasures in heaven. If I were a perfect person, I would not have any want for the temporal. I would not have any want for the things which are temporary. I would only seek the spiritual things, the things that would last forever.

In the New Testament, Matthew it reads:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:24-33)

What I take from these verses are:

No man can both seek temporal riches (wealth) and spiritual riches (God) at the same time. It is wise to not worry about the every day needs of your temporary body. Heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide for our needs if we put him first.

An example is the Law of Tithing: Paying a full tithe which is 1/10th your increase. Even the concept of 1/10th your increase must be of divine origins-it is an easy number to discern! Move the decimal point 1 plays to the right. My belief is that tithe is necessary because:

  • It helps the Church grow.
  • It is a solemn act of consecration that proves your faith.
  • It humbles us and allows us to remain meek and obedient in other commandments and covenants.
  • It allows you to become more wise with your money; that you may do more with that 90% than you would have with the 100%.
  • You will receive blessings invaluable and definitely valued greater than that 10% given.
  • Your Heavenly Father has given us 100% of what we have, giving back a mere 10% is nothing in comparison.

As stated following in Doctrine and Covenants 130:

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)

This says that obedience is a two way street between ourselves and Heavenly Father. If we follow the commandments Heavenly Father has given, Heavenly Father has no choice but to give the blessings which were conditionally promised.

In the Old Testament, Malachi Chapter 3 and in the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi Chapter 24 it states:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10, 3 Nephi 24:10)

Heavenly Father promises that if tithe is paid, he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing.