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.

Craig

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where is the Lord God of Joseph Smith?

Talk source: http://spiritualcrusade.blogspot.com/2017/03/where-is-lord-god-of-joseph-smith.html


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 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/06/the-lords-people-receive-revelation?lang=eng

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

17.8%: 

Background image by: Carsten Frenzl https://flic.kr/p/Sm94HY or http://www.carstenfrenzl.de/

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.)


23.9%: 
Moroni said: “… by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)


24.9%: 
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.


35.6%: 
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.


38.9%: 
Salvation comes from God, on his terms, and the things men must do to gain it can be known only by revelation.


40.1%: 
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.


47%: 

Background image by: Pete Huu https://flic.kr/p/tPtnBM

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.


59.4%: 
It is the privilege and the right of every member of the Church to receive revelation and to enjoy the gifts of the Spirit. 

71.4%: 
“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.)


74.2%: 
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.)


92.7%: 

Background image by: Hilton Chen https://flic.kr/p/xAtCEv

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 https://flic.kr/p/zPRFUZ

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? https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rom/6?lang=eng

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. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/5?lang=eng

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: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/eph/4?lang=eng

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; https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

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. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

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.

Craig