Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Talk on Seeing Christmas through New Eyes

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” What is interesting, is that this scripture is found in the Book of Mormon, by Nephi, and the Bible by Isaiah. 2 Nephi 19:6 compare Isaiah 9:6

These words were written long before, even hundreds of years before, He was ever born into the world. They were written by Isaiah and then quoted by Nephi. The Lord loves to show forth his word and power in the mouth of at least two witnesses. Both of these great prophets not only knew by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost that He was to come, but because of their faithfulness and their determination to righteousness and their undying love of their Savior, they were shown all things. Not just a few scenes of history or prophecy here and there, but all things. Could you not have two greater witnesses than these? They truly saw His day and rejoiced in it and was glad. I think that they saw Christmas through new eyes. 

That is my topic today and it is based on Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes” and I am excited for this opportunity to speak to you today. I have a spiritual blog and one thing that I do every week is a ponderize post with supporting picture and quotes throughout the week to help people to better ponderize the scripture. The above scripture I read to you was my ponderize scripture for last week. And I will say that my love of that scripture has grown significantly. I feel that it has prepared me for this talk in a powerful way.

President Uchtdorf spoke about, "The Grinch, that memorable character from a classic children’s story by Dr. Seuss, had a heart that “was two sizes too small,” and he hated everything about Christmas. Through the course of the story, however, he undergoes a dramatic transformation when he learns that there is more to Christmas than decorations and gifts.

He continues: We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that... overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! … But HOW?”

I know that for us, Christmas can be a hectic time. Just on Friday at 3:04 my wife texted me that she still needed to get 60 presents. It is not easy or cheap buying presents for a family of 11, plus our extended family exchange gifts. I know that for me, it is easier not to get so stressed but let's be honest, my wife carries most of the load. If Christmas was up to me, it would be a disaster. She does such an amazing job.

Uchtdorf's said, While it’s true that we can find materialism and anxiety in Christmas, it is also true that if we have eyes to see, we can experience the powerful message of the birth of the Son of God and feel the hope and peace He brings to the world. We, like the Grinch, can see Christmas through new eyes.

He suggests three things for us "to study, ponder, and apply in this season of preparation."
Rejoice in the Birth of Our Savior, Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today, and Look Steadfastly for His Coming

What an awesome way of thinking about Christmas. As I read this talk, I envisioned that if the Savior was here, he would not focus so much on His birth as He would on the purpose of His birth. I think of it similar to how the whole Christian world seems to have the cross as the symbol of their faith, which is a very important that of the Savior's mission, and yet His Resurrection is an even greater part of His mission, which is why us as Later-Day Saints do not use the cross as other religions do. Uchtdorf's message has a similar angle. The Savior's birth is powerful and amazing, and yet it only marks the beginning of His mission and we need to look more at the purpose of His birth. 

For His second point: Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today, he said,  "Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties."

The third point was, Look Steadfastly for His Coming. Look at the scriptures and you will find that the coming of the Messiah in power and glory is what all the holy prophets have testified of, and the major reason that the Jews have rejected Him as the Messiah. Sadly, many generations have lived and died not knowing the truth and allowing their hearts to grow in love and respect for our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. As members of the Church we have the clearest understanding of the Savior than any other group, for we have the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We should also set the supreme example as we look forward to His second coming when He WILL come in power and glory and fulfill all the prophecies ever written or spoken of Him. 

Uchtdorf said, "The early disciples of Jesus Christ yearned for the time when He would come again. For them, mortality was a time of preparation and growth, of sifting and refining, a time for trimming their lamps and preparing for the return of their beloved Savior."

He continues, "We live in the 11th hour before the coming of the day of our Lord. Let us therefore look forward to that blessed day when the King of kings descends with a shout, takes away death, dries up tears, and ushers in a new era of peace, joy, and learning.

We live in the 11th hour before the coming of the day of our Lord. Let us therefore look forward to that blessed day when the King of kings descends with a shout, takes away death, dries up tears, and ushers in a new era of peace, joy, and learning.”

I opened my talk with Nephi and Isaiah who saw with an eye of faith the birth, death, resurrection, and final triumphant in power and glory at His second coming. We too can look with an eye of faith and our hearts will be filled with love and gratitude for our Savior and King. We will then be bold as we play our part in preparing for His second return. We will have our hearts invigorated with a desire to open our mouths and share the glad tidings of good news and help to prepare all of God's children for that great day when the Lord of Lords and King of Kings returns in His power and glory. We will rejoice at that day with all those who we played a part in their preparations and we will be His disciples. 

With the hustle and bustle of Chritmas nearly over, it is the perfect time to refocus our thinking this Chritmas season. Uchtdorf said, "I pray that during this season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and feel sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause us to renew our determination to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our fellowmen. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Savior."

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Power to change

Change,-Craig Conover,Atonement,Behavior,Faith

There was a great question posed in my family Gospel Study Group and I thought I would say a few words in an effort to shed some light on the answer. 

"So many times in the scripture they say "my spirit is wanting my flesh is weak", that is the ultimate thought to describe wanting change.

So again there's things that I need to work on and that everyone needs to work on so how do we change our deepest thoughts and motivations to do whatever it is that we need to change?"

Boyd K. Packer made a statement that should never be underestimated.

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. ... That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel”
Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Why is this so vitally important? In my opinion it is because the Gospel of Christ speaks to our spirits in a way that nothing else can, regardless of how good it is. It contains within its teachings every principle and truth to exalt man and through their pursuit, man is perfected and purified. 

Now, hold that thought, and let me tell you a quick story. 

My company put on a 3-day live event last September. During an Q&A session, a lady asked the question, "how can we go from version 1.0 of ourselves to version 2.0 of ourselves, how do we cross that line?" All three founders were on stage, Brendon Burchard, Dean Graziosi, and Ethan Willis, and had great responses, but let me share what Ethan said. He said that when he has a project that he is working on, he goes into his theatre room, shuts the door, and starts to visualize the project. He might be there an hour or longer and visualizes the whole project, in as much detail as possible. To the extent that when things happen, it doesn't surprise him, because he has already created it. 

Ethan is an active member of the church, and I have great respect for him. As he spoke, the Spirit fell upon me and told me, that what he was saying was a powerful demonstration of faith. 

So, here we are at the first principle of the Gospel, which is faith. The more I learn about faith, the more I realize it's importance. I think that it is the first principle, because it is the most important. When we were born, air was the first thing we took into our bodies, because it is the most important and without it, life would end. Similarly, I am a firm believer that if we don't learn how to have and use faith, we can't and won't progress spiritually at all. But like air, faith is ever present and in use in our very lives, either on the one hand or on the other. 

Joseph Smith taught us in the Lectures on Faith:

9 From this we learn, that faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen; and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.

Here we see that faith is the "principle of action in all intelligent beings" in the pursuit of that which we want. Using the words "intelligent beings" shows unto us, that it is only when we are acting rather than being acted upon (2 Nephi 2:13-14) that our action is based on faith. 

This is a very pertinent component to understand as we look at changing our ways. When we act because we are being enticed by the evil one, we are being acted upon, thus faith is not present. Another way to look at it, is when we follow the path of least resistance we become crooked like rivers, and faith is not present or active in us. 

Joseph continues to demonstrate or prove faith as a principle of action: 

10 If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.

11 ...Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your faith?

12 And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual...

13 ...But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth.

17 Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And that if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavoring to teach to man.

Amazing, faith is not only the principle of action but also of power, both in man and God. Last piece of the faith puzzle to consider today.

Moroni 7:33
If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. 

So to bring this all together, when we act for ourselves in the pursuit of that which we desire, action is created and taken, and if it is expedient to God, He will give unto us power to accomplish that thing, regardless of what it is. 

Now, how do we use our faith to change our behavior? Joseph Smith continues, “When a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith.” (Lectures on Faith, pp. 9–10, 61.) To work, by faith, we use our mind and words. Is not this where the battle is fought, in our own minds? We have forces of evil constantly trying to entice us down the wrong path, and if we yeild, we are being acted upon and therefore faith is not active and without faith, the principle of action and power to do that which is expedient to God is gone. Just like going to the gym, muscles not used retrogress in their growth, verses muscles that are used, grow. Our mental/faith muscles are no different; we must use them and use them often. 

Abraham didn't sacrifice Issac in a moment. The mount was a 3 days journey away, let alone the undisclosed time that he had known what he was commanded to do, and needless to say, he had ample time to talk himself out of it many times, but as history shows he stayed true to God. He had learned to use his faith/thoughts to surrender his will over to that of the Lord and then act with and through the power of God. Truly, he overcame this world with his faith and was sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (D&C 76:53). We too can and must do the same. 

We must be vigilant with our thoughts, and when anything enters our mind that does not serve us, we must use our faith to erase and delete it and then replace it. Not just the thought itself but the feelings that accompany the thought. Fear, for example, is never just a thought by itself, it always brings it's big brother emotion with it. So, erase and delete the thought and the emotion and visualize them both leaving your mind and body, and then replace it with your faith, your love of God, faith in the atonement to wash us clean from the stain of sin, and most importantly, put emotion and feeling into that serving and righteous thought. Let the power of faith work within your own mind and body. The stronger the faith, the stronger the emotions and feelings of trust and love in and for God.

This is the process that Abraham used to cast out all fear and doubt and what was left, was pure faith in God and obedience to His commands. It is true that we will all have to pass through an Abrahamic test one day, but let us practice with the day to day trials with perfect faith as the principle of action and power to accomplish all that is expedient to God. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where is the Lord God of Joseph Smith?

Talk source:

I have listened to this talk that Bruce R. McConkie gave and it is absolutely a favorite of mine now. It is so powerful. I searched for a written version to copy and paste, but it is only available in audio form. You have to listen to it to understand the title of this post. I thought about explaining it, but that would ruin the fun. :)

The phrase that jumped out to me was, "God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown." I googled it and found the phrase but it is slightly more descriptive than what was said in this audio. 

"God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown, and the things of God are and can be known only by and through the Spirit of God." The Lord’s People Receive Revelation - Ensign June 1971 - ensign

There is no real way of summarizing the talk, it is so powerful and you should listen to it over and over again pondering its meaning and allowing the Spirit to teach us how we can apply it into our lives immediately. We are responsible before God for our own journey back to him. We must learn to seek Him out through revelation. Please go and listen to this talk. 

Below are some highlights to the talk that I quoted above, although an entirely different talk, it has the same underlining spur to seek out God and His Christ through revelation. Enjoy!

The Lord’s People Receive Revelation - Ensign June 1971 - ensign Highlights


Background image by: Carsten Frenzl or

And so it is with the revelations and visions of eternity. They are around us all the time. This Tabernacle is full of the same things which are recorded in the scriptures and much more. The vision of the degrees of glory is being broadcast before us, but we do not hear or see or experience because we have not tuned our souls to the wave band on which the Holy Ghost is broadcasting.

Joseph Smith said: “The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” And, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Deseret Book Co., 1968], p. 328.)

Moroni said: “… by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)

The Comforter knoweth all things; he is commissioned to bear witness of the Father and the Son, to reveal, to teach, and to testify—and he is broadcasting all the truths of salvation, and all the knowledge and wisdom of God, out into all immensity all of the time.

And may I say that the only way to gain true religion is to receive it from the Lord. True religion is revealed religion; it is not a creation of man’s devising; it comes from God.

Salvation comes from God, on his terms, and the things men must do to gain it can be known only by revelation.

God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown, and the things of God are and can be known only by and through the Spirit of God.


Background image by: Pete Huu

From an eternal perspective what each of us needs is a Ph.D. in faith and righteousness. The things that will profit us everlastingly are not the power to reason, but the ability to receive revelation; not the truths learned by study, but the knowledge gained by faith; not what we know about the things of the world, but our knowledge of God and his laws.

It is the privilege and the right of every member of the Church to receive revelation and to enjoy the gifts of the Spirit. 

“Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Ne. 15:3, 7–11.)

It is the right of members of the Church to receive revelation. Joseph Smith said: “… God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them. …” (Teachings, p. 149.)


Background image by: Hilton Chen

Religion comes from God by revelation and deals with spiritual things; and unless and until a man has received revelation, he has not received religion, and he is not on the path leading to salvation in our Father’s kingdom.

Grace to exalt us requires our best efforts

Image by: Eric Henderson

Romans 6:1-2
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

On the topic of grace, there are two extremes, on opposite sides of the scale. The first extreme is believing that only through grace are we saved and that works are of no/little value or benefit in our salvation. The other extreme is that we are saved by our works. Grace actually doesn't even appear on that scale for it is not a ratio of grace to works, but rather both extremes exist harmoniously. The secret is that there are many levels of grace and we must qualify for increased grace. 

First and foremost let's look at the last command of the Savior as he gave the beatitudes.

Matthew 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Now, let's compare that will His closing command to the Nephites during His beatitudes sermon to them.

3 Nephi 12:48
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

We are here on earth to progress, through our experiences, to become like the stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

So, how do we come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ?" First let's look at how Christ accomplished it and came unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of His Father.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:13
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;

Do you see the secret; the levels of grace? His sinless life qualified him to go from grace to grace until He received a fullness. A few verses down we see how this applies to us.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:19-20
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

It is so exciting, this is how and what we worship. We are to receive a fullness of Christ which is the fullness of the Father. In order for us to receive grace for grace, we must keep His commandments which requires a significant amount of effort and work on our part, but it is not working on our own, but rather we are yoked with Christ, and receive grace for grace along the way which strengthens us and allows us to perform an even greater work. Thus as you can see, grace and works are not separate entities but rather they coexist and only through grace are we capable of performing greater works and yet all glory be to the Father for the grace that strengths and exalts us.

So, to recap, to come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ and the Father, we must keep the commandments (works) and yet the only way to accomplish this is to be strengthened by and through grace and to go from grace to grace which empowers us to keep all the commandments of God and thus we come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, and become like Him in mind and in deed. And all of this is brought about by grace as we do all we can do because then grace will strengthen us to do it again and the process repeats itself until we are like Christ, by His grace. So, we are saved by grace and exalted by works made possible only by and through grace.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pure Thoughts Equals Pure Actions

Background image by: Hilton Chen

I wrote this many years ago and just found it. Enjoy! 

Do you want to be an instrument in his hands? 

One of my favorite quotes has inspired me more than most.  I have allowed my mind to dwell on it quite often.  It has helped me understand my greatest desire which is, how can I be an instrument in the Lord's hands?  Before I read the quote I want you understand that question better.  When I think of someone who was an instrumental to the Lord, I think of the many prophets of the Book of Mormon.  But to narrow the search, I have been learning about Alma the younger this last week or so as I listened to the Book of Mormon in my car on my way to work.  I would now like to tell you about my dear friend and teacher Alma.  As I do, I want you to think about the following question.  What was it about him that made him such an instrument to the Lord?  

When Alma was younger, he "became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities."  As him and his friends were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them..[and said] Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people…  Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith." (Mosiah 27:8-14).  Alma repentented of his many sins and from that day forth went "throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done to the church, confessing all [his] sins, and publishing all the things which [he] had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them" (Mosiah 27:35.)

He never looked back and he began to be an instrument in the Lords hands.  Before Mosiah the king died he set up a more democratic system of government with judges to govern the people and "Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church. (Mosiah 29:42).  Only about 8 years passed and the people began to be exceedingly wicked, so Alma decided to step down from Chief Judge and preach the Gospel.  Imagine the President of the United States stepping down to go on a mission.   And Alma went and began to declare the word of God unto the church… according to the revelation of the truth of the word which had been spoken by his fathers, and according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who should come to redeem his people from their sins, and the holy order by which he was called… (Alma 6:8).  He was instrumental in bringing Amulek, Zeezrom, and many of the people of the wicked city Ammonihah to the knowledge of their redeemer, and brought them out of the city before it was destroyed.   Peace was restored throughout the land because of the teaching of the word, "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just-yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them…" (Alma 31:5).  He continued which was started by his father to teach the gospel unto his children with much diligence, and many prophets came of his seed.  He was even taken home to his Lord and Master without tasting of death.  It is written of him:

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God. Alma 48:17-18

Now for the quote by Joseph Smith:

Background image by: Craig Conover, a digital painting I made of a dream I had several years ago.

"We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. 
Today I want to propose that one of the major factors of Alma's success as an instrument in the Lords hands has to do with what Joseph quoted, "the clearer are his views."  Why were his views clearer?  Because he had learned to master his thoughts to the point that his “eye was single” to the glory of God.  Jesus Christ said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)  His eye was single to the glory of His Father, likewise Alma's eye became single to the glory of the Christ.  Horses have blinders put on them that they only see that which his master desires for them to see, we too need to put on our blinders that we may only think that which our Master desires for us to think.  Submitting our thoughts to the will of God is essential to becoming an instrument in the Hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thoughts can be hard to control, but I know that with the help from on high we can do it.  

"Probably the greatest challenge to people of any age, particularly young people, and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal life is to learn to control your thoughts. As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) One who can control his thoughts has conquered himself."  Boyd K. Packer Inspiring Music- Worthy Thoughts

"Elder J. Thomas Fyans made the following comments about thoughts:
"Not only is this Amazon the greatest river in the world, but even many of its tributaries are great rivers.
"One interesting feature about these rivers is their different colors. The Madeira, for example, is called a white river because its waters carry fine clay particles along its course. The black color of the Rio Negro comes from decaying organic materials picked up in the forests through which it passes. Still other rivers flow over white sands and often appear emerald green or turquoise blue. 

"Just as these rivers are colored by the substances picked up as they flow along, so the streams of our thoughts are colored by the material through which they are channeled. 

"Some rivers are sluggish and meander through low places. Their waters are dirty and full of debris.

"Other rivers flow down from the high places. Their current is strong, and as a result, these furnish electricity for our needs, and great ships sail upon them"

I guess the question is what does our river look like?  Is it polluted, and if so is a “service project” in order to clean it up.   President McKay helps us to know how to identify the pollution level of our rivers, "Tell me what you think about when you do not have to think, and I will tell you what you are.”  Ok, we now have an idea of the color of our river, George Q. Morris tells us why the color of our river is so important, "Thoughts are the tools with which we shape our character, just as truly as a great sculptor with chisel and mallet chips and chips on the rough marble until it's shaped into a splendid and perfect work of art. Just so every thought is shaping our character and, consequently, shaping our destiny and our lives. Therefore the result is, in all our thoughts, the creation of [our] character" (The Importance of Habits, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [20 May 1953], 2).

Alma organized a “service project” to clean up his thoughts and actions, and by doing so he became a great prophet and most defiantly an instrument in the Lords hands unto the salvation of many souls.  We too can take up the challenge and organized a “service project” on our thoughts and actions and we too can become instruments in our Lords hands and “shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.” (D&C 6:8).  

I testify of the truthfulness of this Gospel and am truly indebted to my elder brother Jesus Christ, who loved even insignificant me, that he suffered for our sins and laid down his life and took it up again for the sole purpose of bringing us back to our Heavenly Father crowned with salvation and everlasting life if we just come unto him.  I would like to close with the beautiful words of Joseph Smith,

“The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Talk on Baptism

This is a talk on baptism that I gave on Saturday. It was a Stake baptism and only three boys were being baptized, one of which was my nephew, Jake. 

I am honored to have been asked to give this talk on baptism here today. What a special day for each of you that are getting baptized. And what a special day for your parents and families to share in this wonderful occasion. What an awesome sight to see all of you dressed in white ready to be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

2 Nephi 31:5
And now, if the Lamb of God [or the Savior], he being holy [or without sin], should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy [with sin], to be baptized, yea, even by water! 

We have the privilege, of following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism, which is pretty exciting.

But, why is baptism so important?

In John 3:5 ​we read, Except a man be ​​​born​ of ​​​water​ and ​of​ the ​​​Spirit​, he cannot ​​​enter​ into the kingdom of God.

We want to return back to live with our father in heaven, don't we? Being born of water is same thing as being baptized. And being born of the Spirit, is the same as receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, which you Will have the opportunity of receiving both here today.

You might be wondering though, how is baptism like being born?

Paul helps us understand this better. 

Romans 6:4
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When a baby is born they "walk in newness of life" don't they? That is a fancy way of saying that we are born of the Spirit.

So just to sum it up, as we are buried in the water, that is symbolic of the Savior's death. As you are raised out of the waters of baptism, it is just like the Savior being raised from dead. You too are raised up or born of the water to "walk in newness of life." 

I love the phrase, to "walk in newness of life." After our baptism our lives should be different. We know that the age of eight is the age of accountability, so we know that from now on we are going to be held accountable to our sins, or the mistakes that we make, that causes our Father in Heaven to be sad. 

Now, to demonstrate this a little bit better, I need a couple volunteers. Which of you that are being baptized would be kind enough and brave enough to come up here for a quick demonstration?

Disappearing Ink Demonstration 
Which of you being baptized are brave enough to come up and help me with a demonstration. Don't be shy, come on up. 
- Talk about how after they are baptized here today, they will be pure just like the white clothes they are wearing. When you go home, you are going to make some misrakes and sin. They Lord has provided us with the sacrament as a way to become clean again and have our sins forgiven. When you come to the sacrament meeting with a prayer in your heart and feeling sad about the sins you committed during the week and worthily partake of the sacrament, you renew your baptismal covenants and are made clean again. 
- Give an example or two of something they might do this week, like be mean to a sibling, and then squirt them with the disappearing ink.
-  Explain how our sins stain our souls just like this ink stains your clothes. Luckily, this is special disappearing ink, and it will show how with repentance and the sacrament we can be made pure and white again. 
- Show how the ink is disappearing already.

Thank you so much for your help, you may sit down.

We'll look at one more scripture here today. This scripture helps us understand more fully the covenants that we make when we are baptized.

Mosiah 18:8-10
8 ...Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God [explain what witness means, include testifier of God] at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

Are you guys all excited? I am super excited for each one of you. What a great opportunity you each have, here in a few more minutes, to be baptized even by water and then of course receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and to walk in newness of life and "and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even unto death." 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.