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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do We Really Know What We Have?

 Do We Really Know What We Have?
As written by Scott Anderson in his journal.
"We had an unexpected moment in the mission field. We knocked on a door and a lady said something to us we had never heard, "Come in". Now remember, I was a German missionary. This never happened to us, not even the members would say that to us. At this point suddenly this dear lady invited us in. My companion said, "Do you know who we are?" "You want to talk religion, don't you?" she said. "Yes we do" explained my companion.
"Oh, come in. I've watching you walk around the neighbourhood. I'm so excited to have you here. Please come into my study." We went in and seated ourselves and she sat down behind the desk.

She looked at us with a smile, then pointed to three PhD's hanging over her head. one in theology, the study of religion, one in Philosophy, the study of ideas, and one in European History specializing in Christianity. She then kind of rubbed her hands together and said, "Do you see this row of books here?" We looked at a well arranged row of books. She then said, "I wrote them all. I’m the Theology professor at the University of Munich. I’ve been doing this for 41 years. I love to talk about religion. What would you like to discuss?" My inspired companion said, " we'd like to talk about the Book of Mormon." She said,

"I don't know anything about the Book of Mormon." He said, "I know". Twenty minutes later we walked out of the room. We had handed her a Book of Mormon and this trade off that we had been on was over. I didn't see this lady for another 8 1/2 weeks.

It was a small room filled with people, {when I saw her again}, as she was standing in the front dressed in white. This Theology professor at the University of Munich was well known throughout Southern Germany. She stood up in front of this small congregation of people and said, "Before I'm baptized I’d like to tell you of my feelings. In Amos  it says, there will be a famine in the work of God. I've been in that famine for 76 years. Why do you think I have three PhD's? I've been hungering for the truth and have been unable to find it. Then 8 1/2 weeks ago, two boys walked into my home. I want you to know these boys are very nice and wonderful young men, but they didn't convert me. They couldn't; they don't know enough." And then she smiled and said, "but since the day they walked in my door I have read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, all of Talmage's great writings, Evidence and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe and 22 other volumes of Church Doctrine." She then said something which I think is a challenge for everyone of us here. She said, 'I don't think you members know what you have."

Then in her quiet, powerful way, she said, "After those years of studying philosophy, I picked up the D & C and read a few little verses that answered some of the greatest questions of Aristotle and Socrates! When I read those verses, I wept for 4 hours." Then she said again, "I don't think you members know what you have. Don't you understand the world is in a famine? Don't you know we are starving for what you have? I am like a starving person being led to a feast. And over these 8 1/2 weeks I have been able to feast in a way I have never known possible."

Her powerful message and her challenging question was then ended with her favourite scripture, "For you don't see the truth can make you free."

She said, "these missionaries don't just carry membership in the church in their hands, they carry within their hands the power to make the atonement of Jesus Christ full force in my life. Today I'm going into the water and I'm going to make a covenant with Christ for the first time with proper authority. I've wanted to do this all my life." None of us will forget the day she was baptized. When she got finished being baptized, she got back out and before she received the Holy Ghost , she stood and said, "Now I would like to talk about the Holy Ghost for awhile." She then gave a wonderful talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost.

{Later in Elder Anderson's journal}

Two young missionaries, both relatively new, {one had been out about 5 months, the other 3 weeks}, accidentally knocked of the door of the seminary in Regensburg. 125 wonderful men were studying to become priests inside. They didn't realize this was the door they had knocked on because it looked like any other door. They were invited in. In somewhat of a panic, the man said, "I am sorry we just don't have time right now." The 2 missionaries were relieved, but then he said, "Would you come back next Tuesday and spend 2 hours addressing all 125 of us and answer questions about your church?" They agreed that they would, and ran down the road screaming. They made a phone call to their mission president and cried for help. The mission president called us and said, "Do you think that dear lady that you have just brought into the church would like to come help these 2 missionaries with this assignment?" I called her to explain what was to happen, and she said, "more than I would like to eat, more than I would like to sleep, more than..." I said, "Fine, you don't have to explain."

We drove her to the seminary, and as we went in, she grabbed the 2 missionaries that had originally been invited, put her arms around them and said, "you are wonderful young men. Would each of you spend about 2 minutes bearing your testimony and then sit down and be quiet please?"

They were grateful for their assignment. they bore their testimony and then seated themselves. Then she got up and said, "For the next 30 minutes I would like to talk to you about historical apostasy." She knew every date and fact. She had a PhD in this. She talked abut everything that had been taken away from the great teachings the Saviour had given, mostly organizational, in the first part of her talk. the next 45 minutes were doctrinal.

She gave every point of doctrinal changes, when it happened and what had changed. By the time she was done, she looked at them and said, "In 1820 a boy walked into a grove of trees. He had been in a famine just like I have been. He knelt to pray, because he was hungry just like I have been. He saw God the Father and His Son. I know this is hard for you to believe that they could be two separate beings, but I know they are." she shared scriptures that showed that they were and then said, "I would like to talk about historical restoration of truth." she then, point by point, date by date, from the Doctrine and Covenants, put back the organizational structure of Christ's church. The last 20 minutes of her talk were absolutely brilliant. For the first time we realized that she had been their Theology professor. She continued by saying, "Last year when I was teaching you, I told you that I was still in a famine.

I have been led to a feast. I invite you to come." she finished with her testimony and sat down. What happened next was hard for me to understand. These 125 sincere, wonderful men stood and for the next 7 minutes, gave her a standing ovation. By the time 4 minutes had gone by I was crying. I remember standing and looking into their eyes and seeing the tears in their eyes too. I wondered why they were applauding after the message she had given. I asked many of them later. They said, "to hear someone so unashamed of the truth, to hear someone teaching with such power, to hear someone who finally has conviction."

The truth is what can set us free...Do we really know what we have?"

I love this story, not only because it is such a powerful conversion story of this women, but it just goes to show how much we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have to be grateful for. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest blessing any of us could have in our lives. I guess the only question is, how often do we remember that, and then share that with those around us. I love this church, and most of all my Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, nothing would be possible, and THAT is what I am most grateful for, this Thanksgiving Season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Apostles Testimony of The Atonement

As a missionary one of the things I really enjoy is the fact that every single morning we have a chunk of time set aside for studying the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets and apostles. This morning, I came across a story about the Savior and His atonement, that I had read before, but had kinda forgotten about, and I think that it deserves re-telling, so I'm gonna share it. It's an experience as told by Elder Orson F. Whitney, who later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but this experience happened to him while serving as a missionary.
He said: "Then came a marvelous manifestation, an admonition from a higher source, one impossible to ignore. It was a dream, or a vision in a dream, as I lay upon my bed in the little town of Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I seemed to be in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior's agony. I saw Him as plainly as ever I have seen anyone. Standing behind a tree in the foreground, I beheld Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, as they came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, the Son of God passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed. It was the same prayer with which all Bible readers are familiar: ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’
As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.
Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or impatience, asked them plaintively if they could not watch with Him one hour. There He was, with the awful weight of the world's sin upon his shoulders, with the pangs of every man, woman, and child shooting through his sensitive soul-and they could not watch with him one poor hour!
Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.
All at once the circumstance seemed to change, the scene remaining just the same. Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with the three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.
I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stopped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His body, as He held me in His arms and said in the tenderest tones: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ Smiled sweetly He said: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.
'That's from God,' said Elder Musser, when I related to him what I had seen and heard. 'I do not need to be told that,' was my reply. I saw the moral clearly. I had enver though of being an Apostle, nor of holding any other office in the Church, and it did not occur to me even then. Yet I know that those sleeping Apostles meant me. I was asleep at my post-as any man is who, having been divinely appointed to do one thing, does another."
I love that story, for many different reasons, and there are many different things we can learn from it. But at least for me, I love the imagery that comes to mind when he is describing the Savior. The love that Christ has for each and every one of us is so apparent. That's why He performed the atonement, cause He loves us so much, and wants us to return to Him. Also I really like when in the dream, Elder Whitney asks to return and live with Him in the end, and Christs response is "That will depend entirely upon yourself." Our Savior wants us all to return, and has showed and prepared for us the way that we can do that, but it is entirely up to us individually to follow His teachings and accept His gospel, and once we do that, THEN is when His atonement can have a fuller impact in our lives. Elder Whitney's remarks at the end about how he felt he was "sleeping at his post" is very applicable to us as well. The Lord has asked each of us to do certain things, for some it's different than others. We all have our duties, and the important thing is that we find out what the Lord wants us to be doing, and then to Do It! With all our "heart, might, mind and strength," and not to be "sleeping at our post."
I know my Redeemer Lives, and He is aware of us! His atonement can and will have a lasting impact on your life, if we do what He has asked, and follow His Doctrine, (3 Nephi 27, 2 Nephi 31) as it is found in the Restored Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If we do, He will bless us, and strengthen us, so that we can do whatever it is He asks of us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All Things Denote There Is a God

You know, growin up the way I did around horses and cattle in Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona, has taught me a lot of lessons about life. I've spent a lot of time on top of a horse out in the middle of nowhere, and when it's just you and your thoughts, you have a lot of time to think. Those times, added to a lot of time spent with my dad on the long ride home at the end of a day of work, has made me realize how much our Heavenly Father loves us. My dad would always make some kind of comment about how pretty the scenery was, or how you don't see a sunset like that everyday, and how lucky we were to be living in the time, and place we were. Well me bein the smart aleck teenager that I was, always had some kind of stupid remark to go along with it. I guess I never really appreciated the little things in life. A cool drink of water at the end of a long hot day. Or a cool breeze here in there when you're workin hard, a red-rock canyon covered in snow in the middle of winter, or the young calves in the spring runnin, and jumpin around. Those little things, I never really appreciated till now. Now that I've been away from home for almost a year and a half, I think I'm finally beginning to see what my dad had been so grateful for all those times. This earth, and everything in and on it, is just another reminder to me that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much. I mean, they made this earth for us, as a place where we could grow, develop, and have the experiences necessary for us to become more like them, and return to live with them again someday. To me this earth is just one more "evidence" you might say, that there is a God.
The prophet Alma, in the Book of Mormon, taught this when he was speaking with the anti-Christ, Korihor, who challenged Alma by saying "...If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words. But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these they brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.....Will ye deny all these witnesses?" (Alma 30:43-45)
We do have a loving Father in Heaven, who created this world so that WE "might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25) He cares for us, and is aware of us each individually and is ready and willing to help us if we will but pray to Him. I don't know how anyone could deny that with "all these witnesses." He created this world for us, as a testing and proving ground and if we are faithful, and endure to the end, we can return to live with Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LDS.org - Ensign Article - “Brightness of Hope”

LDS.org - Ensign Article - “Brightness of Hope”

Brightness of Hope

This painting, entitled "Why Weepest Thou" from the artist Simon Dewey, is one of my favorite portraits of the Savior. It portrays Jesus Christ and Mary in the Garden of the Empty Tomb, with Christ stretching out his arm to down to her to lift, and comfort. I love this painting because for me, it is a great reminder to me of my Savior's love for me, and for all of us. He is always there, reaching down to us, to lift and comfort us in our time of need, to wipe away the tears, as the scripture says.
In life, we all will face times of doubt, despair, sorrow, tragedy, sadness, and failure. Whether from our own mistakes, or others, we all will. It's just the name of the game. Those things are the opposite of Hope, which is what Christ can give us, through His Atonement. He can do that, because he knows exactlly what each of us are going through, and understands perfectly, as only He could.  In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma explains how this is possible. He said "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.... and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people..." (Alma 7:11-13) In the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the Cross of Calvary, Christ suffered for not just our sins, but also for, like the scripture said, our pains, afflictions, temptations, sickness, and infirmities. He has felt everything that we have ever felt, and will feel, and therefore knows exactlly how to help us, and He is more then willing. I like how in that verse he says He knows how to "succor" His people. Succor means "To help, or to run to the aid of." Christ is always extending His arm down to help us, is willing to run to our aid, as long as we invite Him into our life. Like Peter in the New Testament when we walked on the water towards Christ, but when his faith wavered, he slowly started to sink. He called out, and Christ lifted Him up. Just like us, sometimes in life our faith can weaken,  and we start to sink, but christ is always there, offering hope through the Atonement. His Atonement can have a huge imact in our lives, if we let it, and can bring us great hope in this life. Another Book of Mormon prophet, Moroni, explained this when he taught "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ...and this because of your faith in him..."
I know that as we exercise our faith in Christ, by keeping His commandments, and living His gospel, our faith increases. And as our faith increases so does our hope. I know that He lives, that he guides and directs this church, and that he speaks to living prophets today, even as He did in olden times. I know that as we come to Him, and lay our budens at His feet, that He will give us peace, and that "brightness of hope" that only He can give.