Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Holy Bible and Book of Mormon Support Each Other

As I was studying my scriptures this morning, I came across 1 Nephi 13 in the Book of Mormon. Early on in the chapter, Nephi talks about how he is seeing the history of the whole world, and as part of that he sees Jesus Christ as well as the Apostles. After that he sees a book, and an angel tells him that the book he sees is the Bible, and that it's purpose is to teach us about Christ and the covenants he wants us to make with him. Then in verses 38 to 40, he tells us how other scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, will come to "establish the truth of [the Bible]...and shall make known unto all kindred's, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the World; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved."

A set of black leather-bound scriptures lying next to a red marking pencil on a gray surface.

I wanted to share this because of the simple fact that I LOVE the scriptures!! Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon mean so much to me! Right before my mission, my parents gave me a little metal tag for my keychain with one of my favorite verses from the Bible on it, Romans 8:28. Another one of my favorite verses comes in 1 Nephi 3:7. Both of these scriptures teach us that Christ gives us the power we need to overcome any obstacle, and are just one example of how the Bible and Book of Mormon support each other.

I feel sad that there is sometimes this "barrier" between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and other Christian churches. By barrier, I mean the lack of understanding that both the Bible AND the Book of Mormon testify of Christ, not just one or the other. They BOTH contain the word of God, and both can build our testimonies. I don't think I could count the number of times on my mission that I have heard the term "Mormon Bible." As our mission President says, "Our Bible is your Bible. We love and revere the Bible, and appreciate the wonderful witness it is of the Savior's mortal ministry. The Book of Mormon is simply another testament of Jesus Christ, one that contains a promise that if we read it with a sincere heart and real intent, that we can come to know of it's truth for ourselves."

I have taken that promise, and have had spiritual experiences confirming the truth of the Book of Mormon to me personally. Along with those experiences, I would like to share one more element of my own testimony in the form of an assignment to you. Oh, first a note about this assignment. You can only participate if you are under the age of 24, and if you have only had 3-4 years of formal schooling. Now with that, here is the assignment:

You must write a book about ancient Tibet. You are allowed no further research than what you already know about ancient Tibet at this current time. This book must be 3,000+ words, and to write it you are allowed the use of only 1 unpaid scribe. You must describe 2 main groups of people, and cover their religion, their politics and government, their geography, their economy, their monetary system, and everything else that you would need to know about their society. It must include 50 chapters about their wars, 20 historical chapters, 70 doctrinal, 50 chapters that contain visions, and 20 chapters about Jesus Christ and his personal ministry among the people. You must make up 280 names. It should include allegories, parables, poetry, and it has to sound like it has been translated from another language. You have to use about 24 different writing styles spread logically throughout the book, as if multiple people wrote over a thousand year period. Archeological research for the next 180 years must support this book. You must have 3 witnesses who are respectable people in the community claim that they saw an angel who showed them the record which the book was translated from, and these 3 can never deny what they have said, even if they leave you and your followers. The book must include a promise that if anyone reads it and asks God in faith, they will receive a witness that it is true, and it will change their lives for the better. Millions will have to try this promise and receive said spiritual answer. You must watch your followers be persecuted and even killed, and you yourself will receive many of these same persecutions. At age 38 you must give your life to protect your testimony of this book. Oh, and you only have 65 days to write.

Sounds like a pretty intimidating task doesn't it? All of these are similar to what Joseph Smith faced when he translated the Book of Mormon. Like I mentioned before, this isn't what proves to me that the Book is indeed a true translation of ancient scripture and not some made up novel, but it is something that has helped to strengthen my faith, and it can be a starting place for all. I testify that the Book of Mormon is God's word. I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ is restored on the earth, the same church we read about in the Bible. I testify of the Bible, and the truth and knowledge we can gain from studying it. I know Jesus is the Christ, and he is my Savior.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christ-mas Time is Here

I love Christmas time, and am always sad when it seems to end so abruptly with the passing of December 25th. Some of the things that have always made Christmas so memorable have been the fun family traditions we carry on with each passing year. From Secret Santas, to our annual christmas village, there are always lots of fun things to look forward too. The past 2 years have been especially great, as I have been able to spend time with the people I love here in the Carolina's, while also getting to talk with my family back home.

Along with all the fun family traditions come memories of special Christmas moments. I remember one time delivering newspapers at 3 in the moring, still half asleep, as christmas music played on the car radio. I remember delivering neighbor gifts, seeing the lights, and participating in church christmas programs. I remember fun times with friends and family. Most of all, I try to remember Jesus Christ. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)

My Dad always writes our family christmas cards in poem form, telling the story of our year in rhymes. He always puts at the end a specific paragraph focusing on Christ, and this last week he sent me an extended version he used in a talk for church that I really enjoy.

Like my father, I testify of our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace. He is the Light, the Life, and the Hope of this world, even the great I Am. "God be thanked for the Matchless Gift of his Divine Son." (The Living Christ)


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Saviors on Mount Zion

As missionaries, we are out all day, every day, doing our best to serve others and to teach them about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this on weekends, holidays, birthdays, and every other day inbetween. The only time we do anything different is for 8 hours on Monday. This is our time to go shopping, clean the apartment, do our laundry, and maybe do something fun if we have the time. On top of all this, Monday is the only day we are able to write family and friends. On one particular Monday, I had recieved lots of emails from family members and friends. We were pretty busy that day, so I only had an hour or 2 in which to write everyone. I rushed through the emails as fast as I could, only to find that I had foolishly put of writing my mom, and I only had a couple minutes left. I rushed a quick email off to her, but I knew she would still be disappointed when she recieved it (though she would never show it). Sure enough, that week a letter from my dad showed up in the mailbox. The majority of the letter was just talking about thoughts he had while reading the scriputres that week and encouraing me. But after his signature came the PS, the real reason he had written me.

Fortunately, I had already repented before recieving this "non-reprimanding" letter, and had sent my mother a handwritten card that showed up that Friday back in Utah. I am grateful for this letter though, because it has been a great reminder of all that my mom has done for me and my family. For this reason, I wanted to write a personal shout out to the moms I know, and thank you for everything you do. As Elder Holland said this last general conference, "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child."

To my friends who are or someday will be moms: 
You are going to do great! God is trusting you with one of his own spirit children whom he loves very much. That is a pretty incredible fact, and it can be overwhelming, but I know you can do it, because you yourselves are also daughters of Heavenly Father. He loves you just as much as he loves your child, and he is going to support you.Thank you for your friendship and your wonderful examples to me.

To mother figures in my life, both on my mission and back home: 
Most of you who fall in this category probably won't even realize how much you have done for me. From everyone who has fed, cared for, and helped me on my mission, to those who taught and helped me through school and early college, to those who taught me in church, you have all played a huge role in my life. Thank you for loving me enough to go out of your way to help me, even though I am not your actual son. Your care has ment so much, I wouldn't be where I am today without you

To my own mom: You are the greatest example of Christlike love, service, and optomism I personally know. Thank you for always living the gospel and being an example to me. Thank you for cheering me on in my hours of sadness or heartache. Thank you for encouraging me, providing for me, and carrying me through life. Thank you for taking on the task of raising me and my siblings. Thanks for the late nights of homework, the extended help in scouts - and the most important job of all - teaching me how to be an honorable diciple of Christ. I love you.

In closing, I love and echo these final words of Elder Holland: "To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle--and all will..."

Friday, October 16, 2015

It's About Obedience

This last week in sacrament meeting, a member of the ward shared an experience she had back in college with David A Bednar, a former president of Brigham Young University Idaho. She had asked him why the school's dress code banned students from wearing flip flops on campus. She was prepared to fight against what she thought was a ridiculous rule, but she was humbled by what he told her. He said "It's not about flip flops, its about obedience."

This last week during the priesthood session of general conference, President Monson talked about the blessings of simply being obedient to the commandments, even when we don't understand them. In his own words, he said "My message to you tonight is straightforward. It is this: keep the commandments."

The same message that President Monson shared seemed to be one of the themes throughout all of conference. I loved the story Elder Von E. Keech told of the surfers who wished to surf past the impenetrable barrier off the coastline of the beach, until they realized that barrier was the only thing that protected them from the sharks they hadn't previously noticed.
"Like the barrier," he said, "God's commandments can sometimes be difficult to understand...but He who “comprehend[s] all things”2 knows exactly where those dangers lie. He gives us divine direction, through His commands and loving guidance, so that we may avoid the dangers"
Sister Carole M Stephens shared her own experience with her granddaughter who wouldn't buckle her seatbelt, until she realized that the purpose of the seat belt was protection, and the commandment to wear it was because of the love and concern her grandma had for her safety. Our Heavenly Father gives us commandments for the same reasons, and when we follow him, we are showing our faith and love for him.

I have seen many times where keeping the commandments has kept me safe and happy. Likewise, I have also had my fair share of times where I made mistakes, and as a result I paid the price for the choices I mistakenly believed would bring me joy. I testify that commandments are there for our benefit, and no matter how pleasurable something may seem, it is always much safer (and more fun) to obey. I'm grateful for scriptures and for living prophets who give us commandments. I know that if we are obedient, we will receive the promised blessings, and we will be safe.

PS: LDS Youth did a great job with this video, check it out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How Great Thou Art!

One of my favorite parts of serving in North Carolina is all the beautiful scenery here! Between the busy things we are doing every day, I love the moments when we are riding in the car or walking around the city and we have the chance to pause and take in the beauty around us.

I love the beauty of the Carolina's
Back home my family loved to go on little "rambles out yonder." Whenever we had a free weekend or a break from school, we would often load up in the car for a brand new adventure! I loved all the fun and beautiful places we would go.
"The Wave" located near the Utah-Arizona border
A beach along the Washington state coastline
Antelope Island, located in the Great Salt Lake in Utah
Being in nature has always allowed me time to rest, to feel calm, and to talk with my Heavenly Father. I love the serenity and peace I am able to feel. I believe that it is for these same reasons that Joseph Smith went out to the sacred grove to pray for answers to his question on which church was true. Or like in the Book of Mormon, when Enos prayed for close to a full day for forgiveness and knowledge. In the Bible, Jesus Christ retired multiple times to the sea, the wilderness, or even the Garden of Gethsemane, where he paid the ultimate price for our sins. As we spend quiet time alone with our Heavenly Father, whether it be when we are in a ramble out yonder, or even the privacy of , we can feel the great significance of the world, and how very small we are. In those moments however, we are also able to feel how very important we are individually to our Father in Heaven. He knows us personally and he loves more deeply than we can understand. I love the words of the popular hymn "How Great Thou Art," and the beautiful testimony they share of our God and his love for us. I'm so grateful for our God, and I love him too!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Duty to God


I remember once when I was probably 7 years old something that still makes our family smile to this day. My mom was at the time involved in Scouting for our church sponsored Scout troop, and I was out with her at an event they were having. I remember I was looking at some small pictures of badges that were a part of cub scouts, and to me I was certain they were a bobcat, a wolf, and a yak! My mom later informed me with a laugh that it was in fact a bear I had been looking at, but I can still remember how excited I was to get the chance to start my scouting 'career' when I was 8 years old. Since that time, I have been blessed with wonderful leaders and mentors to help me along my personal path through Scouting. Throughout my journey of Scouting, I have learned and developed a number of new skills and hobbies. But even more important than the things I have learned to do are the values I have learned to cherish and the morals I have learned to follow.

One of Scouting's main desires is "to find the good in every boy and develop it" (Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting). Essential to the scouting movement is a duty and desire to follow God. In fact, Baden Powell said "Their is no religious side to the movement, the whole of it is based on religion. That means on the realization and service of God." In the end, my gratitude is not for Scouting itself, but for the window Scouting provides to allow us to see the true source of light, which is Jesus Christ. As Thomas S. Monson has said "I am pleased to stand firm with an organization that teaches duty to God and country... whose motto is be prepared, and whose slogan is do a good turn daily."

John 11:1–44, Mary of Bethany and others mourn for Lazarus

I echo that the most important thing we can do in this life is to learn to know and follow God and his son Jesus Christ. God is our father, and Jesus Christ our savior. We learn about them as we study the Bible and Book of Mormon, as we pray, and as we seek the good in this life. One of my favorite scriptures says "the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." (Moroni 7:16) I know as we all do our duty to God, we will find lasting peace and joy. After all, God isn't just important for young boys, he is important for all of us as well.

A white statue of Jesus Christ with arms outstretched, surrounded by a mural of blue sky.

Check our this video all about our duty to God: http://bcove.me/ijl4ntdt


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Let Your Light So Shine

This past week I have had the opprotunity to think about all of the wonderful people who have been examples to me in my life. I honestly don't think I can descride how grateful I am for each of you and for how you have helped me. Specifically, there are too many of you to name, but in general, you could be summed up as those who "let your light so shine." (Matthew 5:16)

I believe these thoughts started arising as I sat in church on Sunday. For those who aren't familiar with the church, on the first Sunday of every month members of the congregation have the opprotunity to bear our personal testimonies about Jesus Christ, the Gospel, or anything else we believe. The week before, all of the local youth had been out on weeklong summer camps. The young men went on a 50 mile kayaking trip in the ocean, while the young women went to a weeklong camp where they played games, sang songs, hiked, and had spiritual devotionals and testimony meetings. So on this particular sunday, a dozen of the teenagers in the congregation took the opprotunity to express gratitude to the men and women who had voulentered their time to give these youth such memorable experiences. Many of the youth talked about the spirit they felt on their trips, and the change it had on their lives. As I listened to these testimonies, I thought back on all the people who gave their own time to help me as I grew.

I thought of my immediate family, my extended family, and of friends, who were always willing to offer support and encouragement. I thought of my own church and scout leaders and their families, who sacrificed time in order to help us youth learn skills and values to make ourselves better. I thought of school teachers or administrators, who ran programs and gave council that allowed me to further my education throughout high school and college. I thought of the people I have been blessed to know on my mission for just short periods of time, but whose examples have left lasting impressions on me. And most of all, I thought of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed everything in order to provide me a way to live with him and our Father again. "Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me." (I Stand All Amazed, Hymn 193, LDS Hymn book)

I am grateful for the opportunity I have to live his gospel, and to hopefully be an example for others that I interact with. I invite us to strive to help others, and to "Let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven." We may not be perfect at it all the time, but I know as we do our best, the Lord will help us be an example and a strength to those whom we may not even realize are watching. I testify that we make more of a difference than we think we do, and I thank those who have done so much good for me.