Have I done any good in the world today? If not, I have failed indeed! Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
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Monday, September 30, 2013

He Can Bring Us Back

During Jesus Christ's mortal ministry, a man by the name of Jarius came out of the synagogue and fell at His feet when he saw Him. Jarius told the Lord that his daughter was about to die and asked, "I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live."

Christ entered the man's home and many people followed Him in. He asked everyone to leave except for just a few of His apostles. One man asked, "Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?" Christ told the man not to be afraid, but to believe.

When Jesus came into the house, He saw much crying and sadness. He told the people, "Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." Christ went into the room where Jarius' daughter was and took her by the hand and said, "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise."

As Christ said these words, the girl arose as the scriptures say, "straightway ... and walked". In the scriptures, the word "straightway" is an adverb meaning "straight away". In an earlier blog post, I mentioned how Christ saved Peter "immediately" after Peter called out for Him when he started to drown after walking on water.

Just as Jesus Christ saved Peter immediately, He will save us. Christ can and will heal us. Just as Christ healed the twelve year old daughter of Jarius, He too can heal us, and we can "straightway" arise and walk.

I find it interesting how Jarius was the one who went to Christ and asked Him to heal his daughter. I used to think that Christ just went around looking for people to heal and work miracles on so everyone in the city He was in could know He is the Son of God. However, after He was done healing the daughter of Jarius He told the people who witnessed it not to tell anyone.

Knowing Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I'm guessing He already knew that the girl was dying. He knew her family was distraught because of what they supposed to be their daughter's death. However, He waited until Jarius asked Him to heal his daughter.

The point I am trying to make is that just as Jarius had to ask Christ to enter his home to heal his daughter, so do we have to invite Christ into our lives to heal us. This healing may be physically, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally, and because of the Atonement it will always happen. Granted, healing for some things may take more time than others. However as soon as we will let Him, Jesus Christ and His Atonement will begin to heal us.

In Alma 37:44 it reads, "For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss..." Not only will we begin to be healed by Christ as we follow His "straight course" by turning our life over to Him, but we will also begin to feel the "eternal bliss" spoken of by Alma. Let us "give heed to the word of Christ" and be healed by Him. Let us let Christ take us by the hand and bring us back.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Slaying Goliath

As most of us already know, the Old Testament is full of war stories. One of my favorite war stories from the Bible takes place between the Israelites and the Philistines. At that time, the Israelites (the Jews) were God's chosen people. The Philistines were a wicked people who hated Israel and the Jews. Before the battle, each side was supposed to send out one of their biggest and toughest warriors to fight with the other.

The Philistines sent out Goliath, who was a great warrior. He was a very large and strong man. The scriptures say that his height was "six cubits or a span", which is around nine feet tall. Goliath was outfitted with strong metal armor from head to toe. Goliath taunted the Israelite army and told them to send someone to fight him. He told them if he beat the Israelite that fought him, Israel would be slaves to the Palestinians and but if they lost, they would be slaves to Israel.

The king of the Israelites at that time was the wicked King Saul. He and the Israelite army heard the threatenings of Goliath and no one wanted to him because they were all too scared of him. Jesse was the father of a young boy named David, and he also had some other sons who were enlisted in the Israelite army. Jesse sent David down to the battle so he could deliver food to his other sons. When David arrived and saw that no one would fight Goliath, he said, "Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

At first King Saul was hesitant to let David fight Goliath because he was just a boy, but eventually David persuaded Saul to let him fight Goliath. David put on the armor Saul gave him but took it off because he hasn't proved, or tested it beforehand. Instead, he went out to fight Goliath with just a wooden staff, some rocks, and a sling.

Goliath laughed at David and was insulted because the Israelite army had sent a young man out to fight him. He asked David, "Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? (1 Samuel 17:43) Goliath then cursed David in the name of his gods and told David that he would feed his flesh to the birds when he slew David. However, David wasn't frightened by Goliath.

He said, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."

Goliath started to come toward David, but David took out his sling and landed a rock right inside Goliath's skull which it "sunk inside his forehead", and the giant Goliath fell to the ground face down. David took Goliath's sword and climbed on top of him, then cut off Goliath's head and killed him. When the Philistines saw David slaughter their champion, they ran from David and the Israelites defeated them.

What an awesome story this is! Yes, it is a great war story about the little guy defeating (or should I say de-heading?) the big guy, however there is much more to be learned from the story of David and Goliath than how boss David is. From this story, we can learn about defeating Goliath's in our own lives.

When challenges appear in our lives, many times we act like the Israelite army and cower away from our opposition. We often say, "I can't do this, it is too hard!" or "This trial is too tough, there is no way I can get through it!" These trials can take many forms. Just to name a few examples, there is sin, temptation, work, and school. Often times we may give up in the face of hardship.

Instead, let us rely on the Lord to help get us through our tough times. When Goliaths appear in our lives, let us be like David. Let us trust in the Lord enough to persevere through and overcome all of our trials. This requires faith! Opposition is not meant to be easy! But if we rely on the Lord in all of our doings, He will help us slay our Goliaths.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Their Mothers Knew It

When I think about the Stripling Warriors, I don't think of the battle they won against the Lamanites or their bravery or courage. I don't think about how great of a leader they had or the weapons they used. I think about their mothers. Their mothers remind me of my mother, and she is who I would like to base this post on.

When I was born, my mother was working at the doctors office as a nurse. Every day as she went to work she would drop me off with my baby sitter who would take care of me until my mother picked me up. When my sister was born, my mother wanted to be involved in our lives us as closely as she could, so she quit working at the office and started working as a pacemaker/heart nurse from home. When she wasn't having as much business as she needed to continue her job from home, she had to make the decision to either work full time at the office or find another job. As she prayerfully considered what to do, and she decided to take up the career of being a stay-at-home mother so she could be with my sister and I when we came home from school.

I remember when I was very young, my mother was the Relief Society President. During that time, she must have cooked enough food for other people that she could feed an army. It got to the point that when she cooked our favorite foods or desserts, my family would get annoyed because we knew it was going to someone else. In some instances, we would even get in trouble for eating something she had made because she had made it to give it to someone else. My mother, being the angel she is, started cooking double of whatever she was making for other people so we would be able to have it too.

When I was a child and young teenager, I would often pass by my mother's room at night before I went to bed to tell her good night. Many times, I would see her kneeling at her bedside saying her prayers as I walked by. Other times, as I would be walking out the door to go to school, I would see my mother sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal reading her scriptures. I can't think of a single time when my mother said she couldn't go to church on Sundays because she was too tired to go to church or how she had too much to do. Even on vacations, we would always find an LDS church service to attend, even if we couldn't understand the language it was in.

On Sundays, I knew the paycheck had come because my mother would always pull a check out of her pocketbook and fill out a tithing slip and put it in the envelope with her money. My mother always fasted on Fast Sundays and donated a generous fast offering. Because of her and my father's faith and sacrifices, we received the blessings we needed to get along temporally. Never once did I see or hear her complain about having to pay tithing or fast offering.

When laundry needed to be done, if there was food needed to be made, or when the house needed to be cleaned, my mother usually took this responsibility upon herself, mainly because no one wanted to do it. When I would look in my closet to put on a shirt, there would somehow clothes would magically be there. When I would wake up starving late at night and go downstairs to find a quick snack to eat, my mother would wake up and follow me and make me something to eat, even when I would try to tiptoe down the stairs so I would not wake her up. Most of the time when she did this we would talk about how things are going, even if for a few minutes.

When I got a little older and was attending college, my classes started at noon. My mom had been called (and still is) as the seminary teacher for my home ward. I lived at home at the time and was commuting from home each day. As I woke up at 10 AM to get ready to go to class every morning, without fail I would walk into our dining room to tell my mother goodbye, and I would find her studying diligently and preparing her lesson for the following day.

Sometimes as I would be sitting in the recliner of our game room playing video games or watching movies, I would hear my mother listening to church music while working on her computer outside in her hallway office. Many times I would have a group of friends over to watch a movie or do something at night. If there was a girl there, no matter who she was or how long or well my mother knew her, if she was a member of the church or not, my mother would always stay up doing something in her office or chores around the house until everyone left to be sure that we were being good.

Although she may not have realized it, these small and simple acts of faith and obedience had a profound impact on me as I saw her example as a righteous mother and Latter-day Saint. Even when I told her how annoying she was with some of the stuff she said or did, or when I would tell her that disagree with a decision she made that I thought was stupid, or when I would yell at her for something that I thought I was right about, she would always take the time to come in later and humbly chasten me with a lesson that would sink deep into my soul, even when she didn't think it did. All of the times when she thought I wasn't listening to her or paying attention to things she said, even when she would do something small and kind for me and wouldn't think I would care or even notice, I did.

Now to the reason I think of the mothers when I hear the story of the Stripling Warriors. In Alma 56:47-48, it reads:

"47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."

I have never in my life doubted that MY mother knew it because of her example. She didn't just talk about the gospel, she lived it. I never had to wonder if my mother knew she had a Heavenly Father who loves her and takes care of her, because I saw her down on her knees praying to Him each morning and night. I never once had to question if she knew the Book of Mormon was true, because I saw her reading it each morning. I never had to ask her if she knew the church was true because I saw her attend it every Sunday. I never had to question whether of not my mother loved me, because she showed me. And I never doubted that when I had trials in my life God would deliver me, because like the Stripling Warriors, I had been taught by my mother.

My mother "gets it". She understands the gospel of Jesus Christ. She reads her scriptures because she understands that she will gain spiritual power from reading the Book of Mormon, not just because she is reading a history book. She prays at night because she understands the fact that there is a loving Father in Heaven listening to and answering her prayers, not that she is just talking to the ceiling. She goes to church every Sunday because she understands that taking the sacrament is the most important thing she is going to do all week. She does her visiting teaching because she understands that she is helping people with their temporal and spiritual needs, not just going to give a lesson. She pays her tithing because she understands that she's not just paying a donation to the church, but that she will receive and has received many blessings from it, including being able to always have a current temple recommend. She sent me on a mission because she understands how much it will help me grow, the spiritual and temporal blessings my family will receive, and how it will effect our family and other families forever, not just that I am going away for two years and only being allowed to call two times a year at Christmas and Mothers Day.

I am forever indebted to my mother. I am as the Army of Helaman. I have been taught in my youth. I am now the Lord's missionary to bring the world His truth, and it is very much because of my angel mother! I love my mother, and I owe her the credit of helping me become the person I am today.

The words to the third verse the hymn "Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide" make me think of my faithful mother each and every time I read them:

Abide with me; ’tis eventide,
And lone will be the night
If I cannot commune with thee
Nor find in thee my light.
The darkness of the world, I fear,
Would in my home abide.
O Savior, stay this night with me;
Behold, ’tis eventide.

My mother would never allow anything abide in our home that would bring darkness into it. My mother is the type of woman that Sheri Dew describes when she says: When I wake up in the morning and my feet touch the floor, I want Satan to look up and say, "Oh no, she's up again!"

In closing, I'd like to share the first verse of the hymn "Oh, What Songs of the Heart". It reads:

Oh, what songs of the heart
We shall sing all the day,
When again we assemble at home,
When we meet ne’er to part
With the blest o’er the way,
There no more from our loved ones to roam!
When we meet ne’er to part,
Oh, what songs of the heart
We shall sing in our beautiful home.

Oh, what songs of the heart I shall sing when I will step off the plane and see my wonderful mother after my mission. I may never become like Christ in this life, but if I could live my life to become like my mother, it will be good enough because she is the most Christlike woman I know.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Faith To Walk On Water

There is a story in the New Testament where the Apostles are on a ship and they see something walking towards them on the water during "the fourth watch" of the night, or between the hours of three and six in the morning. At first they are scared of what they think is a spirit, but then they hear the voice of Christ say, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."

At this point Peter asks, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." Christ does so and Peter walks out upon the water. He continues to walk towards the Savior until he sees the raging winds and sinks into the water and cries out, "Lord, save me." The scriptures say whenever Peter called out, "immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." After this, the winds ceased and Christ carried Peter safely back into the ship.

I love the wording the scriptures use in this story. I think what impacts me the most though, is how fast Christ responded to Peter's plea, "Lord, save me." It doesn't say Christ reached out after a few seconds, or that He let Peter drown for a little while before reaching out to save him. The word used was "immediately."

Just as Christ reached out for Peter to save him immediately after he asked, He will also reach out for us immediately when we call Him to save us. It doesn't matter if the winds are boisterous, if it's during the fourth watch, or if we're in the middle of the ocean, Christ will save us in whatever situation we are in, wherever we are, and whenever we call.

The Brass Serpent

Moses did many miracles for
the Israelites. How could they
not believe?
In ancient times, Moses led his people out of captivity. Many times they were stubborn and quick to forget the Lord. They often rebelled against God and also Moses.

In one instance the children of Israel murmured against Moses because of the lack of food in the wilderness. God sent fiery serpents among the people to chasten and humble them, and many of the people who were bitten died. The people began to mourn because of the result of their iniquity and asked Moses to pray to the Lord and ask for the serpents to be taken away.

Moses, being instructed by God, put a brass serpent on a pole and told the people that as many as would look on it would not die but would be healed, and those who did not would perish. In 1 Nephi 17, we learn that "because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of [the task] there were many who perished."

Look, and live!
I find it interesting that the only thing the people who were bitten had to do was look towards the brass serpent. They didn't have to do some great work or feat, they only had to look towards the brass serpent. Even though that was all that had to be done, still people did not choose to listen and be healed because of how easy it was to do.

The brass serpent is what is called a type, or symbol of Jesus Christ. Just as the brass serpent healed those who looked toward it, Jesus Christ will heal us if we look toward Him. Our healing comes through turning our life towards the Savior. There are many who are sick today who seek to be healed. There are also many who, because of the simpleness of the gospel, will not look towards the Savior for their healing. Our healing can only come through looking towards Jesus Christ.

Let us learn from this Old Testament story and apply it in our own lives. Let us be like the children of Israel who looked towards the brass serpent when Moses told them to. Let us look towards Jesus Christ and be healed.