Thursday, October 23, 2008

Building Upon a Sure Foundation by Merrit Denison

Primary children are taught from a very young age that wise people build their houses on a solid foundation and the foolish build their houses on the sand. I always enjoyed singing the Primary song that taught this powerful principle, but it took me years to finally grasp the actual meaning beyond a catchy tune and fun actions. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ counsels us to become like a wise man who builds his house upon a rock by listening to the Savior's words and obeying them. 1 The principle that Christ is the rock of our salvation and that we must build our lives upon that foundation has been key as I've built my testimony of the gospel.

It is vital that we cling to the rock of our salvation – Christ – in order to weather the storms of life and ultimately return to live with our Father in Heaven again. We learn of this importance as Helaman counsels his sons in one of my favorite scriptures, Helaman 5:12: And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yeah, when all his hail and his mighty storms shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. 2 As a sophomore in high school, my seminary teacher had the class recite this verse daily. Each time I spoke those words, it was reaffirmed in my mind that I needed to work each day to continually build a stronger foundation for my life based around the Savior.

High school was a trying time for me because I was trying to juggle so many things – schoolwork, family time, church responsibilities, sports, friends, and so on. I tried hard to be the best I could in every area of life, and sometimes the load seemed too much to bear. It was amazing to me how much smoother my day went when I focused on putting the gospel first and building everything else around that rock, instead of trying to do everything else in life and throw in a moment dedicated to gospel-related responsibilities as a mere afterthought. I still faced trials and temptations, but like Helaman says, I did not fall because of the foundation upon which I was built.

Last year I decided to study the Book of Mormon in Spanish to help in my study of the language and to gain a different perspective of the scriptures. When I came upon this verse in Helaman, I was touched again by the power of the words. I took extra care to study the meaning of each word. The Spanish word for 'foundation' really stood out to me as I studied. In Spanish, 'fundamento' (meaning 'foundation') has a bit more meaning than the simple definition in English. It is translated to mean “raz√≥n principal o motivo con que se pretende afianzar y asegurar algo.” 3 Translated into English, this means “the main reason or motive which intends to guarantee and to assure something.” Relating this to the gospel principle of making Christ be the foundation of our lives, it is interesting to note that when we build our lives around Him, He guarantees us that trials and temptations will not have power over us.

With so much chaos going on in the world around us, it seems obvious that we need one immovable thing to cling to. The question, then, is how do we center our lives around Christ, who is our sure foundation? Elder Richard G. Scott counseled us on how to do this: “Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.” 4 In my own life I have noticed that when I obey the promptings of the spirit and keep the commandments, I am able to find solace in the Savior which propels me through the storms of life.

It is through doing the simple things – reading scriptures, praying, attending church meetings, doing temple work, etc. - that our testimonies grow and we, in turn, build a firmer foundation for ourselves in the gospel. It is crucial that we do not become lax in our obedience to these simple things the Lord requires of us. He has said that “from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” 5 This means that if we become comfortable in our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, our foundation will eventually be broken down. We must cling to the rock of our salvation, which is the Savior, by actively obeying the Lord's commandments and continually gaining knowledge of the gospel.

I know without a doubt that when we base our lives around the rock of our salvation, we will gain true happiness. It is through obedience to the commandments of God that we build that sure foundation and ultimately gain true happiness in this life and the life to come. As we do this we, like Nephi, will exclaim, “O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” 6

1 Matt 7:24-27
2 Helaman 5:12
4 Ensign, Nov. 1995, 17
5 2 Nephi 28:30
6 2 Nephi 4:30

Dreams by Hiilei Barrows

"A dream is a wish your heart makes," as was told by the famous Cinderella as she sung about love to her mice friends. We all have dreams of our hearts desires whether it is of true love with a handsome prince or a thrilling adventure of a high-speed chase. Dreams are what we look forward to each night as we shut our eyes to rest and we are excited to share them with everyone when the morning arrives. Most people consider dreams to be somewhat of a bonus when we are sleeping, like a movie to entertain us as we sleep. However, according to the Bible Dictionary, a dream is one of the means by which God communicates with men.

A dream is a vision or prophecy that the Lord will bless his righteous servants with. These visions enable the righteous to receive counsel and commandments of the Lord. In 1 Nephi 2:1-2 the Lord came unto Lehi in a dream to inform him that since he obeyed and testified of the destruction of Jerusalem the people were angry with him and sought to kill him. The Lord then told Lehi to depart in the wilderness with his family for safety. Lehi and his family were saved thanks to the Lord. Also, in 1 Nephi 8 and 11, Lehi and Nephi see the tree of life in a vision. They can understand what the path is like to eternal life and what needs to be done in order to receive the kingdom of God.

Sometimes we receive dreams that we don't understand. In Daniel 2:3 the king states, "I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream." Whenever I have a dream that I don't understand the meaning of I make it a point to ask someone like a friend or a family member. They will give me good counsel allowing me to more fully understand the meaning. Also, when I am confused about a certain dream I am able to ask of God for guidance because he knows all things. In Genesis 40:8 it says, "We have dreamed a dream but there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you." God is the one who gives us dreams so if we are troubled it is smart to ask God in faith for help since He gave it to us in the first place.

The prophet receives revelation from the Lord to help guide the saints in these latter days. Also, bishops and patriarchs receive guidance from the Lord. Although it may seem that only the members who have high callings in the church receive visions I know that God blesses all those who are righteous with dreams and revelations. The important thing to remember is that God manifests visions to those who are righteous. He won't make things known unto the wicked and hardened hearts; otherwise it would have been Laman and Lemuel receiving the visions instead of Lehi and Nephi. They would not have known what to do with the information and would not ask of God for guidance.

We need to be worthy to receive the counsel of God. For myself, there was a time when I was truly worthy. It was when I was a sophomore in high school. I had the desire to attend seminary my sophomore year because I didn't attend my freshman year. Gordon B. Hinckley advised us to read the Book of Mormon, so I did. I had a change in heart and my attitude changed to be more righteous. Because I was obedient, I had a dream given from the Lord…My grandpa was not a member of the church and he had passed away, a nonmember, when I was a freshman in high school. Well, one night I had a dream where I was sitting with my grandpa, my mom (my grandpa's daughter), and my friend. My grandpa looked at me and told me that he could never hold me or see me again. I was heart broken at these words. My friend was confused because she didn't know my grandpa but my mom told my friend it was because he wasn't a member. My friend understood and said oh. ...Then I woke up and was extremely sad and I told my mom about my dream. We knew that what my grandpa meant was that he couldn't see me again because he was not sealed to my grandma or my mom yet. My mom and I started crying. My mom told me to call my grandma and tell her my dream and then my grandma started crying. My grandma told me that she was almost finished with my grandpa's paper work and that they would be sealed together as soon as possible. I am glad to say that my grandma and grandpa and all their children are now sealed together for all time and eternity. I was so honored to have received this dream for I knew it was from God and that He wanted me to help my grandma get my grandpa's paperwork done. I was on such a spiritual high the rest of that day and was so grateful that the Lord would bless me, a young fourteen year old. I just realized that I was the same age as Joseph Smith. Wow. The Lord will bless the righteous and innocent with great things.

Dreams are a wonderful gift from God. The prophets of old have been saved when in danger and knew what the Lord wanted with them. The prophets today are able to give us counsel and guidance from the Lord. And we, the people, receive personal revelation to help us in times of trouble and confusion. I am so grateful for dreams and visions and I hope to remain worthy to receive them throughout my life on this earth. Amen.

Work Cited

Bible Dictionary

1 Nephi 2:1-2

1 Nephi 8:11

Daniel 2:3

Genesis 40:8

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Receiving a Robe of Righteousness by Heidi McIntosh

I have been a member of many different groups throughout my life: I was on the school basketball team, a member of the band, in National Honor Society, and many others. For each of these clubs we had t-shirts to set us apart from other groups and to create a sense of unity between members. Not everyone who wanted a t-shirt got one, they had to earn it. Try-outs were required for the basketball team to prove your skill and ability to contribute to the team. Grades, essays, and interviews were all a part of becoming a member of the National Honor Society to prove your work ethic and integrity. I believe that those on Lord’s side also have a garment to set them apart from the rest of the world; it is the robe of righteousness.

As we learned from the parable of the prodigal son in Luke, not everyone can have the robe of righteousness, it is earned, and it can be lost, as well. The younger son in the parable took up his belongings and went out on his own. “There [he] wasted his substance with riotous living.” What he had been given was taken away from him because he turned away from the Lord and “lean[ed]… unto [his] own understanding.” What we can learn from the younger brother is the next step which he takes. He realizes what mistakes he has made and states that “[he] will arise and go to [his] father.” When his father sees his son’s transformation and his desire to return to him he brought forth his “best robe” for him.               

 We can parallel this with our own lives. As we come to Christ he will welcome us with open arms. Hymn number 117, “Come unto Jesus,” illustrates this point perfectly: 

                Come unto Jesus; he’ll ever heed you,

                Though in the darkness you’ve gone astray.

                His love will find you and gently lead you

                From darkest night into day, to day.

Christ wants us to come unto him. He wants us to humble ourselves and leave our pride as we follow him through the gate to the path of righteousness.

I know in my life that things tend to run smoother once I point Christ at the focal point. When I get discouraged and frustrated I take a moment to reflect and quickly realize that I’m not facing in the direction that I need to. How comforting it is to feel his arms of love and compassion around you and be so close to receiving the robe of righteousness.

In 2 Nephi 9 it explains what happens to us after we pass from this mortal state: “we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness…” This situation does not seem ideal.  How comfortable are we going to be in the presence of our Lord? Contrasting the first stated situation, “[t]he righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea even with the robe of righteousness.” Christ will reward us for our obedience and strivings toward a righteousness life by handing us our robe of righteousness.

How is it possible that we can turn our lives around and be “clothed with purity”? Through Christ’s atonement we can be cleansed. Our robes will be “made white in the blood of the Lamb, because of [our] faith in him.” Christ already did his part and has robes available for all those that come unto him. He is waiting for us.

Luke 15:11-32

Proverbs 3:5

1 Nephi 12:11

2 Nephi 9:14

Huish, Orson Pratt. “Come unto Jesus.” LDS Hymnal: 117.

Christ, the True Rock of Our Salvation by Adam Miller

Christ, the True Rock of Our Salvation by Adam Miller
“O thou Rock of our salvation/ Jesus, Savior of the world/ In our poor and lowly station/We thy banner have unfurled.” These are the words of the opening verse of the song “O Thou Rock of Our Salvation.” These words Rock of Salvation show a great meaning in this song as they do throughout the scriptures as well as the LDS faith in general. It is an idea that has helped members of the church endure times that seemed extremely difficult but that can be conquered through faith in the Rock of Our Salvation, Jesus Christ.
The Rock of our Salvation signifies a base that we can build our life on. It is a structure that we can base our life on to live according as the Savior would have us do. In the book of Isaiah, Isaiah describes the Savior as “a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” (Isa. 28:16.) Isaiah, being the most quoted prophet in all of the scriptures, realizes the impact for good that the Savior will have on our life if we build our foundation around him. By building our foundation around him, we will not stray but rather, keep hold of the straight and narrow path that will eventually lead us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. I have wondered for myself if and why our church is so special and why my parents seem to build their family/foundation based on the Church’s’ precepts. It led me search and pray and I came to realize that the reason why we build our foundations on the Savior is because it is the only true thing that can give us everlasting happiness.
In the book of Daniel, it describes the Savior and the Gospel as a stone/rock rolling forth. (Daniel 2.) “The power and strength of a stone is also illustrated in Daniel’s declaration that a stone which the Lord cut out of the mountains would roll forth and break in pieces the gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay of the world. Daniel explained that the stone, being the kingdom which the God of Heaven would set in the earth, would outlast all kingdoms organized by the wisdom and strength of men.” By realizing this truth that Daniel prophesied, it gives us an even greater knowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church because of the fact that it will outlast all of the kingdoms organized by man. By giving us this valuable piece of information, it gives us an even greater power to follow the prophet’s council.
Although everyone deep down knows the sacrifice that Christ made for us, they still seem to reject the fact that we need to live our lives in a manner that will make his sacrifice worthy of us. In Psalms 118:22, it says that “the stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Why do people refuse this stone and the builder of the stone? It seems evident that the reason that people reject our Savior and Heavenly Father is because of personal pride. People in today’s society are so selfish that they are more concerned with what pleases them in the present instead of what would bring them eternal happiness. In the scriptures it also describes the Savior as “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient.” (1 Pet. 2:8.) This means that if we decide not to follow the Savior, it will become an obstacle in our lives; those obstacles being temptations and trials, more so than would come their way if they were heeding the Lords council.
Truly putting our faith in the Lord and building our foundation on His foundation. That foundation is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Building our foundation on a solid base, it will enable us to be humble followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. By becoming humble followers, we will in turn be able to assist others in seeing the blessings that come from building our foundations on Christ. Christ truly is the rock of our salvation, on which, if we build, we will not falter.

Works Cited
Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 258
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The Holy Bible

Righteousness leads to happyness-Kevin Allen

One evening, Jimmy’s mom was making a scrumptious dinner. She was using the stovetop to make stir-fry. After frying the food, she took the skillet off the stove to serve the food. Unbenounced, she had left the stove on and jimmy, which was intrigued by the red color of the heating element, came up to it to investigate it. He reached up to touch it and was immediately met by a searing pain in his finger. In response to the sudden cry of pain, Jimmy’s mom rushed to see what was the matter. Seeing the situation, she asked him if he had learned a lesson from this experience. Jimmy then said “Never to touch the stove when it is on”.

Just like as children, we learn through experiences that righteousness is the path to choose. In 1st Nephi 22:19 it states “For behold, the righteous shall not perish…”. God has promised us that if we strive for righteousness he will protect us and help us. When we ask things with real intent, it will be granted to us, like it says in verse 24, “the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”

In my life, I have seen this happen countless times. Sometimes I will be having a hard time with some problem, and when I strive to fix is, things seem to turn around. They do not always go away immediately but in time they do. The problem I struggled with did, in time, go away. I became happier and wanted to be righteous all the time.

Hardships are not necessarily always a bad thing though. Yes, it is not enjoyable to be unhappy or have bad days, but these are for our own good. In Job 5:17 it says “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty”. God puts us through hardships to mold us into the person he wants us to be. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) At the time we do not know why things that happen to us happen, but once everything is over, we learn why it happen.

Over my life, I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that righteousness is happiness. Whenever I am living by the commandments of the Lord, I am 100% always happier. I am never depressed or miserable. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) If we follow the lord’s will, we will be happier. I guarantee it.

Ministering Angels of God and Fallen Angels of Satan--Blog 2 by R. Cameron Green

Angel. The immediate connotative image in mind is that of a brilliantly white cloaked personage. There are certain topics that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints find sacred that the remainder of the world has belittled and is attempting to corrupt altogether, such as the definition of the sacred ordinance of marriage being argued in California’s Proposition 8. The stereotype of an angel is a white being with wings, where a halo is often included. In fact one online dictionary defines “angel” as “conventionally in the image of a human figure with a halo and wings.” Current revelation has revealed to us that angels do not have wings (History of the Church 3:392) A somewhat more reliable non-religious dictionary declares that the word angel is derived from the Greek angelos which literally means “messenger”.
Angels are messengers from God. “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.” (2 Nephi 32:3) An angel told Mary she was to give birth to Jesus Christ, and angel appeared to Nephi and his brothers to deliver the message of the Lord. This Lord himself was brought up in his mortal ministry through the ministering of angels, as was Joseph Smith. Servants of God; or Angels, helped restore the priesthood upon the earth through the laying on of hands and returning these keys to mortal men. Consider now the Bible Dictionary statements regarding angels: “Ordinarily the word angel means those ministering persons who have a body of flesh and bone, being either resurrected from the dead (re-embodied), or else translated…” (BD 608)
However, even Satan is referred to as an angel of old; a “fallen” angel. We are warned of our own potential to become his angels instead of God’s. “For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil…” (2 Nephi 9:8-9) Other scriptures speak of fallen angels as well. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great last day.” (Jude 1:6)
One definition of an Angel is one that is not directly pointed out in the Bible Dictionary, but is not incorrect. Another definition is that of an “attendant spirit or guardian”. We have all heard of little guardian angels. We would all like to think we have one, but I do not believe that this philosophy refers to a single specified angel of the Lord that has been assigned to watch over us in our personal mortal life as individuals. I believe that the Lord and his spirit; the Holy Ghost, are always able to watch over each and every one of us as if he were watching only over us, and that when we do good, the angels rejoice with our Heavenly Father: “Behold, I say unto you that your brethren in Zion begin to repent, and the angels rejoice over them.” (D&C 90:34) Yet when we sin, there are still angels that rejoice: “And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness, and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” (Moses 7:26)
Those of us who chose Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s plan of happiness have the potential to become just like him and inherit all that he hath. Even if we do not pass the test on earth and live the gospel, we will at least become his angels. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:29-30) That third of the hosts of heaven that were determined to follow the plan of the adversary thereby became his angels. Angels of god are here to help us and minister to us the desires of the Lord. Given this definition, I cannot help but look at our latter day prophets as angels, delivering his word to us. Under that light, missionaries of the church can even be akin to angels. Not the angels that have achieved worthiness of celestial glory and live in the spirit world, but in concept, our latter day prophets (inclusive of the quorum of the twelve) are the middle men between our communications with Heavenly Father as a church body. Our missionaries are the ministers of the gospel to those that were not born into the church or do not yet understand the gospel. I cannot wait until I receive my own mission call that I might join in the purpose of the angels in serving our Heavenly Father and delivering his word, helping others, and watching over those that need it; rejoicing in those that repent, and crying for those that fall away.
Bible Dictionary p. 608
2 Nephi 32:3, 9:8-9
Jude 1:6
D&C 90:34
Moses 7:26
Matthew 22:29-30

Kurt Payne - "...And the Pursuit of Wisdom"

From my experience, I have come to define wisdom as having gained knowledge, experience, and intuitive understanding, along with a capacity to apply these well. It is the judicious application of knowledge. With this definition, it is important to distinguish wisdom from knowledge alone. The importance of the difference between wisdom and knowledge is emphasized in the following scripture form 2 Nephi. “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”1 While knowledge itself is important, its application, which has been defined as wisdom, is even more important. I believe that all the knowledge in the world is not nearly as important as having just a little bit of wisdom.

Wisdom is one of the key virtues emphasized in the scriptures, and verses referencing it abound in all the books of the standard works. However, in this scriptural context, the definition of wisdom gains one more facet, as is shown in the book of Job. “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”2 It is important to note that this instance of fear is not like the one we use today. To fear God is to be humble before him and obey his commandments, not to actually be afraid of him. However, one of the most important examples of Wisdom from the scriptures is that of Solomon, son of King David. As David grew old and died, the mantle passed to Solomon. Feeling overburdened, Solomon prayed to God for help. God answered by agreeing to give Solomon whatever he desired. Solomon asked only for wisdom to govern his people in righteousness. God replied with the following statement: “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”3 This gift proved to be an excellent choice for Solomon, as his wisdom and judgement were taxed by ruling over Israel. The most famous exercise of this wisdom is Solomon’s decision about the baby, when he used this gift of wisdom to determine the true mother of the child.

Gaining wisdom is a difficult process, and yet also incredibly easy, as there is more than one way to do it. One simple of gaining wisdom is just being alive; living life will give you more wisdom as you grow in experience. This is the big difference between younger and older people, that they have more experience and thus are able to make better and more well-informed choices. At the beginning of the semester, I had an opportunity to buy a business that was owned by a recently-graduated BYU student. I really wanted to do it because it promised very flexible hours and excellent pay. However, since it required a large capital investment, and since I am just a beginning Freshman, my parents advised me against doing it. After talking to them about it, and thinking about my two choices, I decided to follow the wisdom of my parents, who are much older and more experienced than I am. I am now glad that I listened to them, because I am finding that my Freshman year isn’t as much of a breeze as I thought it would be. Listening to the wisdom of others is another way to gain wisdom. In fact, listening to the wisest person, meaning God, is the best way to gain wisdom. As stated by Moses, “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations,”4 I have found that this has been very useful to me in my life, and I have felt truly blessed by keeping the commandments. One example is following, ironically, the Word of Wisdom. I have seen the difference in my life compared to the lives of my friends who aren’t members of the Church, and how healthy I am compared to them. I have never broken a bone, had to have surgery, had any major disease or other ailment, or had any other serious medical problem, and I believe that this is because I have followed the Word of Wisdom.

Wisdom helps us throughout our lives, primarily in making choices and decisions, which is the primary focus of this life. Heavenly Father has put us here to see if, after learning of what we should do, we will decide to do it. The best way is, again, to rely on the wisdom of He who knows all things, and the best way to do this is through prayer. If we petition God through prayer with faith, he will give us an answer, as stated by James. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”5 When I was deciding to buy this business, I prayed a lot because it was such a big decision. While there was nothing to be lost by not doing it, there was a lot of potential for both gain and loss if I were to do it. After praying for a long time, and thinking about it all day in school, I had a really nasty feeling in my gut, and, thinking that to be my answer, I decided not to do it. Looking back on it a few weeks later, I determined that it really wasn’t the right time for me to have a business, in addition to trying to figure out how college works.

Relying on someone else’s guidance may seem like an especially bad idea when making important decisions. For example, you wouldn’t want to decide who to marry based on what some stranger told you. This situation is made even more complicated when you don’t have faith in that person, which is sometimes the case when we talk to God. We might not have a testimony that God will hear us and will answer our prayers, and so we don’t ask him for help. I believe that, in this case, the most pertinent thing to do would be to work on your testimony, and strengthen it to the point where you believe that if you pray with a question, then you will receive an answer. Who better to trust in than our Heavenly Father, because he loves us more than anyone, and he’ll never lead us astray. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”11 I bear my testimony that as we put our trust in the Lord, he will lead us towards our destiny, and we will grow and progress in wisdom along the way. I hope that it will be as the song says, “may my heart be blessed with wisdom and may knowledge fill my mind.”7


1. 2 Nephi 28:8
2. Job 28:28
3. 1 Kings 3:12
4. Deuteronomy 4:5-6
5. James 1:5
6. Proverbs 3:5-8
7. Hymn 277 – As I search the Holy Scriptures

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Blog 1: Faith in Life by Erin Evenson

I was baptized less then a year ago over Thanksgiving break and have truly enjoyed learning about the scriptures so far in a way that I never imagined possible. This is my first time reading through the entire Book of Mormon and I have been so surprised to see the messages of our Heavenly Father coming to us through the scriptures. Before I was introduced to the church I had been an atheist for 18 years of my life. One of the hardest things to learn when investigation the gospel was to have unconditional faith in the Lord and so I want to write this first blog about faith and how it can bring happiness into our lives and how it has brought happiness and hope to me.

As I read 1 Nephi 2:9-10, I liked what Lehi said to his two sons about what he hoped for them in their lives and about living righteously. He said to Laman “O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” This is how we should all live our lives, by constantly trying to be righteous and do the right thing. Although Laman and Lemuel struggle with this at times I don’t think they want to be bad people. In our lives I think we all try to live a life of righteousness but sometimes stray from the path. Lehi then said to Lemuel, “O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” This scripture means so much to me in that we must have faith that is strong enough to withstand the pressures and temptations of the world around us. For members there are constantly the temptations of alcohol, complacency or indecency. Through our strong faith in the gospel and scriptures we can feel confident and happy with our lifestyle.

In 1 Nephi 3:15 Nephi and his brothers fail to get the plates from Laban and Laman and Lemuel become discouraged and doubt that their task that has been given to them by the Lord is even possible. Nephi tells them “As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished that thing which the Lord hath commanded us.” Nephi demonstrates that even though their task seems impossible, he has unwavering faith that the Lord would not ask them to do something if he didn’t give them a way. This scripture reiterates the fact that the Lord wants us to be happy and successful and even though our path may not make sense at the time, we must have faith that Heavenly Father has a plan for us that will make us happy. There are times in my life when I think that it is too hard and there is no way this could be the right path, but I remember to have faith that everything will work out in the end.

1 Nephi 8:9-10 Lehi has a vision and says “after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” To me the open field symbolizes the fact that in our lives if we follow a path of faith, a whole world of opportunities will open up to us. The field he describes is a wonderful and inviting place that is full of fruit that brings us happiness. The Lord wants us to have choices and through those choices happiness. When we partake of the fruit we bring happiness into our lives and it gives us the opportunity to share it with others. Later on in verse 12 he expresses his feelings to share the fruit with his family. Through our faith we have the opportunity to share the gifts in our lives with the people around us.

Later on in the vision in verses 20, 23, and 24 Lehi explains the rod of ion and how it is the path we can follow to the Lord. This iron rod represents the strength of our faith in the path that we choose to follow in our lives. But with faith comes lack of faith which is described by Lehi, “And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” Without faith in our lives we can find ourselves in a similar mist. Before I joined the church I had no idea that I was lost. Having steadfast faith and belief in something brings hope and direction into our lives. Where there was once darkness, light and hope no reign.

Knowing these things and having a testimony of faith gives me confidence in my life and in the church. I know that anything is possible through faith and diligence and that I will be happy by following the messages of the scriptures. 1 Nephi 9:6 states “But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.” The Lord will give us a way to accomplish our dreams and desires even if we don’t see the path right away. All we need is a little faith.

Works Cited:

The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Everyone Needs a Guardian Angel by Erin Evenson

As I read 2 Nephi and we discussed it in class the topic that really touched me was the topic of angels. The only time angels really come up in my life outside of the scriptures is at Christmas time when my brother and I argue over who gets to put the angel at the top of our Christmas tree. My family spends great amounts of time picking out the perfect tree that will have the perfect top to be adorned with the golden angel that my grandmother gave us for Christmas years ago. The angel is wearing a beautiful gown and has her hands extended towards the heavens. It is quite the ordeal to get the tree up and put the ornaments on, and it all leads to the final moment when my brother and I put the angel on the top. The decorations just aren’t complete until the angel is up, and once she is I feel like she watches over my family for the Christmas season. This is the thought that comes to mind when I think about angels and I feel an overwhelming sense of protection and security. The angels that come up in the scriptures have the same effect for me.

I think angels are present in our lives for many different reasons and one of those is to warn us if danger or sadness is near. In D&C 88:92 it says “And aangels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the bjudgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the cBridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” In this case the angels are warning the people that judgment is coming and we must act accordingly. Sometimes we can be distracted in this world with temptations from Satin and we forget what our purpose is here and we forget the importance of the commandments. Our guardian angels are here to remind us of these things and to protect us from these afflictions.

In my life I have found that angels are most often present in great times of need or distress. In Judg. 13:3 it says “And the aangel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art bbarren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.” A woman who cannot have children is in great need of and angel and support from family and friends. In this case the angel came to tell her that she would be able to bear children when she had previously thought it would be impossible. I can only imagine the comfort and joy this message would bring to any woman or to myself in such a time of need.

Many times in my life I have felt the presence of my guardian angel guiding me on the right path, but I often find that people around me don’t always feel the presence of their angels. My brother, Kjell, is not a member of the church so he does not read scriptures or attend church. He also finds himself mixed in with an interesting crowd of kids at school. When he finds himself tangled up in the temptations of drugs and alcohol I think he gets confused and doesn’t know if he is doing these things because he wants to or because he is trying to be cool to his friends. I always keep my brother in my prayers and pray that his guardian angel will stay with him and guide him when he is in darkness. In Isa. 63:9 it says “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the bangel of his cpresence saved them: in his dlove and in his pity he eredeemed them; and he bare them, and fcarried them all the days of old.” I pray that someone is always watching out for Kjell when I am not around and that he will feel the love and protection that our angels give us.

I read a quote once that I really liked about angels that I try to remember as often as I can. The quote is from The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman and says “Be an angel to someone else whenever you can, as a way of thanking God for the help your angel has given you.” I think this is one of the most important things we can do in our lives. Since I have felt my angel and all the love I have received, the best way to say thanks is to give that same love and protection to someone in need. We just need to have a positive attitude. I really like the hymn “Angels We Have Heard on High,” because it starts out “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains, and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains.” This just shows how positive and joyous our angels are in our lives.

There is one scripture that reminds me of Kjell and I putting our angel on our Christmas tree every time I read it. It is Rev. 10:5 and it says “And the angel which I saw astand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven.” This is the exact image of the beautiful angel that watches over my family during Christmas from the top of our tree. I think this quote helps us see how angels are one of our connections to heavenly father and heaven. They are constantly looking toward our heavenly father and to heaven for guidance as we should be doing in our lives.

The Lord - My rock by Roy Tialavea

How does a rock relate to our salvation? Simply, a rock is strong, firm, immovable, and something you can build upon, the lord and savior Jesus Christ is strong, firm, immovable, and is someone we must build our life upon. Through his steadfast example, pure love, and the atonement we can be saved. Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of Jesus saying, “He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.”(1) The savior is the mediator by which we have the opportunity to reach the celestial kingdom and return to our father. By centering our entire lives round Christ we will remain on the direct path to the tree of life and eternal salvation.

We all know the story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock and of the foolish man who built his upon the sand. This is a very short and simple story but one that can be detrimental in one’s life. Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke of this story: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell.” (2) While one may take heed to this story as a simple anecdote of little meaning, we know that this can apply to our lives in that those of us who build our house upon a rock, a firm foundation of our lord, will be worthy to reach our lord again and will be able to withstand the winds and rains of temptations that beat upon us. And those who not build their foundation upon a solid rock, but yet soft, weak sand, will fall to the temptations of Satan.

One might then ask the question of how we can build our house upon the rock of our redeemer. The answer is through our previous subjects faith and diligence. We must heed to the words of the scriptures and pray with real intent to receive answers from the savior. In chapter five of Helaman we learn what blessing we will receive if we stay worthy and remain faithful: “that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, year, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built.” (3) So as we live worthy and remain faithful to our savior while likening the scriptures to each of our lives we become closer to god and ultimately build a rock for a foundation that eventually will be impenetrable to Satan.

As we build a firm foundation for our own lives we eventually are creating solid foundations for our marriage and family to come. If one is living a life among the teachings of the gospel and is building their life round the rock of our redeemer than his/her family will remain in that same direction. On the other hand if we build our houses upon a “sandy” foundation than this will lead to a family household that can be washed away. This house of a family must be built around the right teachings if it is to remain in the sight of the lord. As a whole we must take heed to the words written in 2 Nephi, saying “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.” (4) And if we can accomplish this, to trust and not be afraid, we will achieve eternal salvation.

It makes sense that our rock and our foundation, our lord, went through the worst experience of suffering to become his perfect self just for us. In 2 Corinthians 8:9 Paul speaks saying, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (5) The one person who we must build our life around is one who has endured all, felt all pains, and has humbled himself before the lord. As it reads in Ether, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”(6) This makes complete sense in that we must push through our trials, push aside our pride and humble ourselves before the lord in order to obtain salvation. It is only through this rock by which we can become perfect in a sense. It is by his grace that we are able to repent and be worthy in the sight of god. In Deuteronomy it reads, “He is the rock, his work is perfect.”(7) This sums it all up. He is the perfect rock that we must all build our lives upon in order to surpass the temptations of the world and to remain on the straight and narrow path. He is the example we must follow, the light of the world.

(1) May issue of the ensign in 2002

(2) November issue of the Ensign of 1994

(3) Helaman 5:12

(4) 2 Nephi 22:2

(5) 2 Corinthians 8:9

(6) Ether 12:27

(7) Deuteronomy 32:4

Double-Edged Sword by Rachel Huffaker

"We believe in the gift of tongues. . ."1 This spiritual gift, one of the most marvelous gifts given to mankind by our Heavenly Father, could refer to being able to speak different languages, but it can also mean simply the gift of our tongues themselves! "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. . . . For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit. . . . To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:4,8, &10) It is one of the means by which the gospel can be spread, a powerful weapon of righteousness, but it is also one of the deadliest weapons of sin known to man. It is all a matter of how one chooses to use this gift.
"Let us oft speak kind words to each other. Kind words are sweet tones of the heart."2 In this hymn, we sing of speaking with the tongue of angels to our fellow man. In Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, also entitled The Tongue of Angels, he quotes James: "‘Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also … ships, which though they be … great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm. The tongue is [also] a little member. … [But] behold, how great a [forest (Greek)] a little fire [can burn]. So is the tongue [a fire] among our members, … it defileth the whole body, … it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, … hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.’"3 (James 3:3-9) Our tongues are such a small part of us and yet they can determine the course of our lives forever.
As a leader and well-known student, my peers listened to my words all throughout high school. I believed myself the master of my destiny, the controller of my fate. And yet I could not bridle the one thing I used most: my tongue. I believed that a tongue as sharp as I thought my mind to be was a desirable thing. It was an unfortunate assumption that cost me many friends and the opinions of people whose opinions I valued. I was a living example of the person described in Proverbs who"speaketh like the piercings of a sword" (Prov. 12:18). Instead of using my tongue for righteousness and bringing my brothers and sisters into the knowledge of our Heavenly Father, I fed my own ego by slashing the egos and self-esteems of others. By the time I realized the damage my double-edged sword was inflicting on others, it was almost too late to change anything and certainly too late to regain some good opinions and repair the damage.
Nephi, however, offered hope to those with such wicked tongues: "After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels. . .2_ne/31/14a2_ne/31/14b" (2 Nephi 31:14) True, I had been baptized with water many years before, but what I was lacking was the baptism by fire that would allow me to speak with the tongue of angels. And, as Robert D. Hales states: "While the Holy Ghost can influence all mankind, the gift of the Holy Ghost functions when: an individual has been baptized and confirmed by one having the priesthood and has been given the gift of the Spirit, an individual continues to act under the principles of righteousness, the recipient is striving to be virtuous and pure, the recipient acts with integrity and truth and keeps the commandments of God."4
The gift of our tongues is one we should never take for granted, nor should we discount the power of our words for either good or evil. We must ask God, as Job did to "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred" (Job 6:24) or "the Lord shall cut off all flattering ps/12/3alips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" (Ps. 12:3-4)

1- The 7th Article of Faith
2- Hymn #232
3- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Tongue of Angels," Ensign, May 2007
4- Robert D. Hales, "Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, Feb 2002

The Blessings that come from Righteousness by Samantha Howard

The first verse of my favorite hymn Do What is Right says “Do what is right; the days dawn is breaking, hailing a future of freedom and light. Angels above us are silent notes taking, of every action then do what is right! Do what is right let the consequence follow. Battle for freedom in spirit and might; and with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow. God will protect you; then do what is right!”[1] This verse gives us both an instruction and a promise. If we will follow the Lord and do what He would have us do, then we will be blessed. This hymn has always given me courage and strength to choose the right, to follow Christ. Heavenly Father wants us to be righteous, and if it is our desire to be what He wants us to be, then our righteous desires will be granted unto us. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” [2] Each of us needs to be righteous because we need to set a good example as a follower of Christ, we need to have the blessings of God with us in our everyday lives, and at the judgment day each of us will be held accountable for our actions.

When we enter into the waters of baptism we take upon us the name of Christ and we covenant that we will always remember him. As Disciples of Christ we need to emulate the examples that Christ has given us. If we do not behave in accordance to the name of Christ we can and will be giving Him a bad image. For example, while one of my friends was serving a mission in Kentucky he became the assistant to the president. One night a few missionaries when out and got drunk and were later arrested. The next day the headline story in the local newspapers were these missionaries intoxicated. This gave an extremely bad image to all the missionaries who were tracking in the area. No one would listen to the faithful missionaries because they associated them with the two unfaithful ones they had read about. The mission president eventually had to pull out all of the missionaries that were in that area because no one would listen to a discussion anymore. These two missionaries had broken covenanted to take the name of Christ upon them, and to be an example of him to help establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Furthermore, they hindered anyone who would have listened to Christ’s message. Alma, in the Book of Mormon, had a similar experience of people who were supposed to be representing the church but instead were leading people away by their bad example. “And it came to pass in the commencement of the ninth year, Alma saw the wickedness of the church, and he saw also that the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people.” [3] Our righteous example can help lead people to be righteous; however, our wicked examples can also lead people to iniquity as well.

In the Book of Mormon we read an incredible account of the army of Helaman. Two thousand stripling warriors went into battle, and each were spared their lives. A miracle like this could only have been done by the Lord, who preserved them and saved them while in battle. We know that all two thousand warriors were righteous. “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them.” [4] These men were so faithful that they did every command given to them with exactness, and because of this they were preserved and were delivered from death. If we want to have these blessings in our own lives, then we need to do what the Lord has asked us to do with exactness. We must try to be righteous in all things. We too have a promise that the Lord will protect and bless us according to our needs if we are righteous. “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt though compass him as with a shield.”[5] This promise of being compassed about with the favour of the Lord, as if a shield were protecting us, can be ours if the will be righteous.

When Christ comes again he will judge the world and everyone who has ever lived in it. When this day comes every person who has ever lived will be judged according to their actions, thoughts, and intents. “Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgments of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.”[6] This day does not sound like a pleasant experience for anyone who has not kept the commandments of God. Just as darkness flees from light, it is very hard for evil to be in the presence of good. But if we are righteous we will not have to feel this way when we meet the Savior. “Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear” [7] If we have been righteous we will be able to stand in the presence of our Lord.

Several years ago I had a dream where I was going to be judged according to my actions while I was on the earth. I remember that everywhere around me was white and that I was also dressed in white. As I walked forward to meet the savior I looked around me and I saw hundreds of people on the ground holding themselves in the fetal position. I realized that for them, just the very thought of meeting Christ and our Heavenly Father caused them to shrink in terror, only there was nowhere for them to go. When I realized why they were like this I started to wonder if I was ready to meet Christ and Heavenly Father, and then a powerful feeling came over me telling me that I was, and urged me to continue walking forward. I sincerely hope that we can all be ready to meet our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when the time comes, it will be a happy and wonderful day for those who have been righteous in this life. Being righteous can be hard at times, but the lord will protect and bless us when we Do What is Right.

[1] Hymn 237 Do What is Right
[2] Matthew 5:6
[3] Alma 4:11
[4] Alma 57:21
[5]Psalms 5:12
[6]Mosiah 27:31
[7]2 Nephi 9:46

Obedience and Repentance Lead to Salvation by Dara Farnsworth

It seems that every time I choose a gospel topic to write on, I immediately realize how little I know about it. In this case, I found myself groping for an absolute definition of “salvation,” which I was not fortunate enough to find. In my research, I discovered that there exist several salvations: There is a salvation from physical death, a salvation from sin, a salvation from ignorance, a salvation from the second death, and a salvation that is more synonymous with exaltation. Of the many salvations mentioned in the scriptures, the one that I find the most compelling and thought provoking is the salvation that means exaltation.

In the Greek and Hebrew scriptures, the root word for salvation is yeshuoth coming from the primitive root ysh, which meaning I think is significant: To be open, wide, or free. This root only came to my attention after I read a specific chapter in The Miracle of Forgiveness, written by former prophet Spencer W. Kimball, entitled “No Unclean Thing Can Enter,” a discussion on our need for the Savior’s atonement. President Kimball states: “Can we imagine the angels or the gods not being in control of themselves in any particular? The answer is of course ludicrous…And obedience always involves discipline. So does repentance, which is the way to annul the effects of a previous lack of obedience in one’s life.” [1] President Kimball’s main spool of thought is that obedience and repentance are the two key elements we as mortals need to gain eternal life and exaltation. Contrary to worldly thinking, it appears that obedience and subjection to the laws of God brings us closer to freedom, to yeshuoth, and to salvation. In order to obtain salvation, as countless prophets and Sunday school teachers have counseled, we must be obedient to the commandments and laws dictated by our loving Heavenly Father.

Theodore M. Burton follows this same thought process that salvation comes through obedience, repentance and the atonement in his talk in the 1972 Ensign, only he delineates more fully the grace of God in our exaltation: “It [salvation] is the idea of a personal atonement or reconciliation that can bring me back into the presence of God as one of his covenant sons that appeals to me. That kind of conditional salvation I call exaltation. Exaltation comes as a gift from God…only by the grace of God has this course been opened to me, but only through obedience to the laws of God can I claim my inheritance in the celestial kingdom of my Heavenly Father as a son within his family. I cannot be exalted in my sins, but must work until I overcome them.”[2]It is at this point—when we must work to overcome our sins—that the atonement is necessary, for we cannot make a full reconciliation for our sins: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”[3] It is beyond our human power to pay for our sins and also gain exaltation.

One of the main reasons I love the book The Miracle of Forgiveness, even though it has a reputation of being a painful book to read, is it dictates in full detail the number and variety of sins we can commit. No man, regardless of how admirable he may be—with the Savior as the only exception—can escape this world unspotted and pollutant-free, “for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the dleast degree of allowance.”[4] Any minor infraction we perpetrate—be it one unholy Sabbath day, or one simple, slimy thought—will keep us from God and will keep us spotted if we forget to repent for it. To me and my absurdly independent soul, this fact only intensifies my need for the Savior, my need to hand over my problems to someone better qualified, a feat nearly impossible to a no-I’ll-do-it-myself girl. And what exquisite freedom comes then! Living in the presence of two perfect beings whose love is ineffable would be heaven for me, and through the atonement and grace and love and mercy, it is possible.

I have a confession to make: For the past eighteen years of my life, I have not understood, much less fathomed, the Lord’s infinite atonement. The center of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the key to salvation is the most difficult doctrine for me to comprehend. All attempts to conceptualize this immense sacrifice for me have failed rather swiftly. Why on Earth would anyone take on all of my pain, all of my family’s pain, all of my friends’ pain, and every person who has breathed on this earth? Unrestricted anguish. And how could He? And how can I ask a being who has shed blood for me for forgiveness? I don’t deserve it. Yet this impossible task of petitioning my maker to “Please excuse my stupidity,” is required for eternal life. How shall I even begin to approach Him on the subject? Until I let the true meaning of this scripture in 2 Nephi sink into my soul, which was not too long ago, I was almost entirely lost in my understanding: “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.”[5] Even me, a foolish American girl who tells fibs, who thinks unclean and rude thoughts, who is unbelievably lazy, is commanded to partake of the Lord’s salvation by whatever means necessary. And why must I? Here’s the point, and each gospel principle always comes down to this fact, that God and Jesus Christ love us beyond any human imagination. Think about it, no being was forcing Heavenly Father to bring us from our state as intelligences to spirit bodies, nor was there any outside force coercing Him to create an earth, to sacrifice His Son, and to listen to our sometimes whiny and shallow prayers. Everything that Heavenly Father does for us is purely out of love—in other words we are His charity case. Knowing that my Father in Heaven will always love me, gives me courage to try and face my fears and take my weaknesses before Him, so that I may find the peace and joy of burdens being lifted from me. Thus I restate with the conviction of my soul that salvation is possible.

I have far too many scripture that could tie in with this discussion, but I must refrain from listing all of them because I have already written too much. I have one last scripture to end on, and it appeals to me because it compares the eternal principles of salvation with temporal experience we humans can understand: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner. But my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”[6]

[1] President Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, page 28
[2] Theodore M. Burton, “Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign, Jul 1972, 78
[3]2 Nephi 25:23
[4]Alma 45:15
[5]2 Nephi 26:24
[6]2 Nephi 8:6

Oh Thou Rock of Our Salvation: Great joy in my life - Eunjin Kim

One can never build a house on an infirm foundation and expect the house to stand strong during harsh storms. However, one can trust on the house that it will stand firm and provide shelter during the storms if the house is build on a firm ground such as a rock. “Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”[1] As Lehi exclaimed, our savior Jesus Christ is the firm ground that protects us and strengthens us during these harsh storms of the world.

In our pre-mortal life two plans were suggested. One was by Lucifer, brining every soul of men by taking away their free agency. The other was by Jesus Christ, giving free agency and let men have opportunity to choose. In result, Lucifer “had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies”[2] Men became mortal and their state became a state of probation. Jesus Christ offered himself as sacrifice for sin unto all mankind and unto those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He suffered for all of us to provide a way to turn back to heaven and live with Heavenly Father someday. He gave us an eternal salvation. However, it wasn’t enough for me. He wanted to do more things for us because He loves us so much. He also offered everyday salvation by being a listener, a counselor, and a friend.

Either they are big or small, we face temptations and frustrations. “We a war ’gainst sin are waging; We’re contending for the right. Ev’ry day the battle’s raging”[3] In this battle, you could feel lonesome, abandoned, and that there are no more things you could do. Two years ago, I was in Boise, Idaho as an
International student through an exchange student program. I was very happy to be there with my new host family who was a college student (non-LDS) and an exchange student just like me but from Spain. Everything worked out well starting from the beginning. I was able to adjust in my new school, friends, culture, and I even found a ward myself to go on Sundays. However, around Christmas, things started to fall apart. Eventually, I was in the situation where I could be sent back to Korea or I would have to make myself a liar. I was never frustrated or felt so lonely in my life. Then, I remembered Him. How Jesus Christ is my savior, my shelter, my friend, and how much He loves me. I started to pray about it and soon the answer came. I found a wonderful new host family who was willing to have me for the rest of my high school years and take me as part of the family. I could feel the Savior’s love through them and His personal care for me. I was sheltered and was able to rejoice in the house built on a rock of salvation.

What I learned most during my troubled time was that if I want the full effect of His love and care, I need to be within the circle of His arms. I noticed that during the time, I wasn’t paying attention to the Spirit. I forgot to study scriptures, prayed less and less everyday, and I was attracted by worldly things. I was walking way from my firm foundation myself. Just like the people who gave excuses to go to the great feast that the master offered to come. “And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”[4] Christ sent invitation to everyone to come and build a safe and comforting house on a firm foundation. All we need to do is just to be ready.

We make mistakes. But “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”[5] And that is why Jesus Christ became the rock and it is given gift to all men. I would like to finish my writing with part of the psalm of Nephi. It is how I feel towards my Savior Jesus Christ and it is also my testimony. “O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin? May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road! O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.”[6]

[1] 2 Nephi 4:30
[2] 2 Nephi 4:18
[3] Hymn “Oh Thou Rock of Our Salvation”
[4] Luke 14:17
[5] 2 Nephi 2:25
[6] 2 Nephi 4:31-35

Salvation (Daniel Wisnom/D-Weezy)

What exactly is salvation? Is there just one simple meaning of the term? Or are there multiple definitions for such a wonderful word? Is it a personal matter or as Ezra Taft Benson put it “is it a family affair?” In the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term salvation has various meanings. After a little research I was able to find several different meanings of salvation, which include: Salvation from physical death, Salvation from sin, Spiritual rebirth, Second death and eternal life, or the greatest gift.
When I first think of salvation, I think of salvation from physical death. Everybody will eventually die, but it is by the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that all of us will saved from physical death; that is all will be resurrected. President Gordon B. Hinkley said “Through Him, and by Him, and of Him, all are assured salvation from death and are offered the opportunity of eternal life.” In 1 Corinthians 15:22, it reads “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is because of this that every human soul is saved. Think about that. Every single person who has ever breathed a breath will be saved. Hitler will be saved. Mussolini will be saved. EVERYBODY will be saved. What makes that possible? The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible. This is his free gift to us.
The next thought of salvation that comes to mind is salvation from sin. Is this too a free gift from Jesus Christ? If you were to look upon a majority of people in the world today, it would seem that way, but it is not a free gift. What must we do to attain it? We must be cleansed and pure from all sin through the Atonement. We must have a testimony and have faith in Jesus Christ. We must repent and be baptized by full immersion, and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We can’t be saved in our sins. However, it is by the grace of God, that we may all be saved. Sister Sarah E. Miller said “Not only does the Atonement wash the sins of repentant offenders, but it also reconciles with God all who may feel estranged from His love, including the abused and their families.” In Helaman 5:10 it reads, “he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.” These are the conditional things that we need to do in order to be saved, but the rest depends on our faithfulness to the Lord’s commandments. The Savior made the path, and we need stick to the trail and not wander the straight and narrow path now matter how enticing another direction may look.
The next thought that comes to mind regarding salvation is spiritual rebirths. The New Testament contains Jesus's teaching that everyone must be "born again" and that those who are not "born of water and of the Spirit . . . cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). This rebirth begins as we are baptized and when the gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon us. In Mosiah 5:5 it says that this comes as a “willingness to enter into a covenant with God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days.” David A. Bednar said “The spiritual rebirth described in this verse (Mosiah 5:7) typically does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process—not a single event. And just as salt is essential in transforming a cucumber into a pickle, so covenants are central to our spiritual rebirth.” All who have sincerely repented, been baptized, received the Holy Ghost, “take upon them the name of thy son”, and have felt His influence in their lives, can say that they have been born for a second time. So how many rebirths are there one might ask? Well, we can be renewed every Sunday as we renew our baptismal covenants and watch and partake of the sacrament that was reverently blessed and passed by the Aaronic Priesthood.
As I was glancing over some scriptures of salvation, I read something concerning salvation from second death. What is that? After a little reading I discovered that second death is death of the spirit. It is being shut out from the righteous and being thrown into outer darkness. This death will not come until Judgment, but the good thing is, it will only happen to a few of us. In D&C 76:40-45, it says something along the lines that every person who has ever lived on the earth is assured salvation from the second death.
Lastly, there is eternal life. In the scriptures, the words saved and salvation often refer to eternal life, or exaltation In Abraham 2:11 it reads…”shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” Eternal life is considered dwelling with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all time and eternity. Russell M. Nelson said “His Atonement made resurrection a reality and eternal life a possibility for all who would ever live. Eternal life, or celestial glory or exaltation, is a conditional gift.” In True to the Faith it states that exaltation requires that men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that all Church members make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. If the word salvation is used in this sense, no one is saved in mortality. That glorious gift comes only after the Final Judgment.

Ezra Taft Benson-1986 Ensign
Gordon B Hinkley-1992 Ensign
Sarah E. Miller-2006 Ensign
David A. Bednar-2007 Ensign
Russell M. Nelson-2008 Ensign
1 Corinthians 15:22
Helaman 5:10
Mosiah 5:5
Mosiah 5:7
D&C 76:40-45
Abraham 2:11

Rocks Work Better Than Sand by: Brandon Hunsaker

I’ve built my foundation on several sandy foundations (reference to the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock). I’ve tried making several changes within my own life that I thought would gain me friends and acceptance. Each time though these ideas ended up being washed away by the realities of real life and I would always feel empty in the end. After enough failures I finally decided to do things the less obvious way by focusing on my inner self instead of my outward appearance. I quit building my foundations upon the sand and finally build one on the rock. By building on the rock I had to change some of my thoughts, but as I did I was blessed because I gained a testimony of Christ and this testimony proved to be invaluable.
To build our foundation upon the rock of Christ we must first start by developing the habits of clean and uplifting thoughts. Jacob communicates the need of having a clean mind by stating, “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith,” (Jacob 3:1). When we do have a firm mind, Jacob also explains the blessings of keeping our thoughts clean by continuing, “he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause,” (Jacob 3:1). Through having clean thoughts continually we can take advantage of the Atonement because we are eligible to be comforted in times of need, and also Christ will be our advocate on the Judgment day.
Through having clean thoughts we live in a way that we are able to receive personal revelation that establishes a testimony of Christ. By having a testimony of Christ we are able to weather the storms of life. The Savior communicated this concept to Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which art in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18-19). Because I have had a testimony of Christ and the Atonement I have been able to overcome my own tough times.
I moved in the middle of high school to another city and had to start all over making friends. People in my early morning seminary class were not that friendly initially and I eventually quit going to seminary. One day I had a talk with my Grandma about why I wasn’t going to seminary and she helped explain to me that while the Gospel is perfect the people aren’t. She helped me see that church was more important than just being a social function. She told me of a time when she lived in a ward where nobody was friendly, but she kept going to church because she had an absolute testimony of the Savior, Joseph Smith, etc. and that it was her testimony that kept her going to church during that hard time of her life. I applied her advice and instead of going to seminary for social reasons, I started going to seminary to expand my testimony. While I did not always feel welcome, I started to receive enlightment from the lessons that I would not otherwise have gained. I learned of the necessity to forgive others. While I did not hold grudges on the outward appearance there were several grudges that I secretly held against people in my class and I started to realize that it was these grudges that made seminary such a frustrating experience. My teacher read a scripture that startled me but started to reverse my course in seminary. “My disciples in days of old…forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted…Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin,” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:8-9). I never realized that these grudges I held were actual sins, but it made sense because they were impeding my spiritual progress. After that lesson for the first time I went to the Lord and asked that I could find a way to forgive those people in my class who had offended me. I didn’t forget those mean actions immediately, but for the first time I walked out of seminary with a warm feeling and I felt the Spirit. As the months went by I continued to pray that I could forgive those people within my heart by not letting thoughts of anger dominate my mind. As I continued to pray and fast about this issue, I started to no longer harbor feelings of resentment. As I lost those feelings, people then became my friends in that class, and seminary became enjoyable. While my testimony was tested my junior year, by going to the Lord for help on controlling my thoughts I was able to solidify my testimony. I finally believed in the Atonement not because everyonelse around me did but I had gone through my own personal experience where I needed the Atonement to pull me out of a rut. My junior year was my hardest year of high school, but that experience taught me how to control my thoughts emotionally, and also forced me to determine whether or not the Church really was true.
As I started to build my foundation upon the rock I got into the habit of reading my scriptures daily. One day I read Helaman 5:12 which says,
“And now my sons, remember, remember, that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation, that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of endless misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall,” (Helaman 5:12).
This scripture popped out at me and I realized that my life was going a lot better because I was building my foundation upon the rock of Christ. Nothing on the outside had changed. I hadn’t gotten any new friends, or anything worldly, but I was a lot happier with who I was as an individual. I had a higher self esteem and I had self worth in myself. While the Lord did not change what was around me he did change what was in me.

Works Cited
LDS Primary Song Book
The Book of Mormon
The New Testament
The Doctrine and Covenants
LDS Word Cruncher