Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Change of Heart in Our Life

We, even as members of the church, are often lost and sinful. We don’t know where to turn to and we require the influence of others to bring us on the right path. This influence can cause a change of heart if we let it. In Alma 5:7 we read: “Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word.” The Lord will never give up on us even if we are convinced he has. If we continue to open ourselves up to the spirit of the Lord he will bring about a change in us that will put us back on the path of regaining the testimony we have lost.
We do not necessarily need to be sinful to require a change of heart. A change of heart can represent the drastic growth of our testimony from faith to an actual knowledge of God. “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14) This is a very important part of our spiritual growth. It is what turns a missionary into a messenger of God or what makes a bishop a judge in Israel. Once we carry his image in our countenance we become true disciples of Christ.
Having had this change of heart does not mean that this will suffice for the rest of our lives. “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26) We must keep the spirit with us at all times. Righteousness is not something that is achieved, but more of a journey. We must always remember that change of heart and live such that we can have that same feeling with us at all times.
As sons and daughters of God in his gospel we have already experienced a certain change of heart. When we came to the knowledge of the truth of God’s plan faith changed our hearts forever. In Mosiah 5:7 we read: “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” We are born again through faith when we accept the gospel and are baptized. We gain a testimony and are washed clean of all our sins.
For those of us who are not converts and gained our first testimony from our parents, it was our forefathers that had that change of heart. “And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.” (Alma 5:13) Our fathers and mothers have passed that mighty change of heart, and the faith that came with it, on to us. It is up to us to find our own change of heart and build our own faith on that foundation.
I have a testimony that anybody can obtain a mighty change of heart. With diligence and the will to open up to the light of Christ we can be saved or strengthened by a change of heart in times of need. God is our father in heaven and will always put us back on our feet if we let him.

Despised and Rejected of Men By Samantha Howard





Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior set the example for all mankind to follow. He has done countless wonderful things for the benefit of all mankind because he loves us. And, he suffered for our sins in Gethsemane and then died for us on a cross, a death that was reserved for the lowest of criminals. He was the most perfect being who ever walked the face of the earth, yet he was esteemed so low that he died among thieves. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” [1] If we want to return and live with him we must follow his example. In order for us to be his disciples we must follow in his footsteps, to be an ambassador of Christ by doing what he would do. At times we too will be despised and rejected for being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but it is a small price to pay since Christ paid the ultimate price of us.

There will be times when our values will conflict with the values of the world, and the church as a whole will be despised of men. The November fourth election brought great changes in this country. Other than a new president which was elected, the other notable change was that California, one of the most liberal states in the union, banned gay marriage. It was a huge success for Christians from all denominations who were trying to preserve marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman. However, there was and continues to be a backlash from gay activists who support gay marriage. Rallies and Protests against Latter Day Saints’ temples, churches, and businesses have been prominent ever since the election. Church Leaders have been threatened, vandalism has occurred, and boycotts of anything “Mormon” has been done. One business in Los Angeles was bombarded with protesters after word leaked out that the manager’s daughter donated one hundred dollars to the passing of the amendment. These protestors caused serious emotional harm to this girl and have gone so far as to yell obscenities to any of the restaurant’s customers. The media is also portraying the LDS church in a negative light, viewing us as bigots and oppressors of human rights. Even though the church being persecuted for its involvement in banning gay marriage, we will not back down from doing what Christ would have us do, “But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution.” [2]
There are numerous stories in the Book of Mormon of great prophets of God who were despised and rejected of men for following the commandments of the Lord. One prophet, Abinadi tried to bring the people of Nephi unto repentance. The people rejected his words and sought to take away his life. Eventually he was brought before the wicked King Noah and his priests for trial. Abinadi faithfully delivered the message that the Lord wanted him to give, even though he knew he would be put to death. Nevertheless, Abinadi was faithful and the King sentenced him to death by fire. [3] Abinadi was rejected and despised, even unto death, for following Christ.
A time will come when we must make a choice to follow Christ and be rejected of the world, or to not follow him and be loved of the world. What the world values and what Christ values will always conflict, and we must choose what we will follow. “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [4] As Christians, we have decided to follow Christ and observe his teachings. It comes down to which side you want to please, Christ or the World. When I was in high school a very popular girl invited me to a birthday party she was having. I was new to the school and I really wanted to make friends and belong to a crowd. However, I knew that this was not the kind of party where the spirit could dwell. The party was B.Y.O.B. (Bring your own beer), and there would doubtlessly be inappropriate dancing and who knows what else. But surely I could go and still keep my standards by not participating in these things, right? I had to make a decision, if the spirit couldn’t go, I would not go. This girl was, of course, mad at me for not going and I was never welcomed into her crowd. I was despised and rejected by her because I kept my standards. It was all for the best however, shortly after I met some people who had the same standards as me.

At times the saints of God will be rejected of men because we are not of the world. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” [5] However, at times it will be necessary for us to reject the world to keep the standards of God; in return, we will also be despised and rejected of men. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, who walked perfectly upon the Earth, truly set an example for us to follow. I know that even though we may be rejected of men for our convictions and values, Christ is always pleased when we follow him. I would rather make my Savior happy over my actions then to make the world happy. It is okay with me to be hated of the world, because that means that I am being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

References:

[1] Mosiah 14:3-4
[2] 2 Nephi 26:8
[3] Mosiah 11-17
[4] Luke 16: 13
[5] John 15:19

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Greatest of All by Amy Ellertson



When I think of the world today and the many tragedies that face us, I find myself with feelings of depression, anxiety, despair and anger. These conditions of natural calamities, corruption, starvation and other such horrors are very prevalent and are hard to grasp and keep an optimistic attitude about the worlds population and inhabitants. Despite these misfortunes that surround us, the Lord has commanded us to obtain and maintain three key principles of the gospel in our lives. The known trio of Faith, Hope, and Charity are singularly important for our happiness, but I also feel that they are deeply rooted and intertwined with one another. Stated in Alma 13:29, “Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” As we strive to gain one, the others will also fall into place.
I would first like to discuss Faith. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the definition of, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the first principle and ordinance of the gospel and our first step out of despair. We are commanded not only to have faith, but specifically faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Man’s search in this life has been primarily to find what truth is. Also, we have all heard in one form or another that knowledge is power. God has blessed us with reason to discern truth in order to gain power here on earth. For example I learned very quickly when I was four to wear padding while learning to ride a bike. The knowledge that I gained through reason to wear a helmet and knee pads, gave me the power to prevent injury. Just as we have reason to determine truth, we can also discern truth with an “eye of faith” We must have three things to see with these heavenly eyes, these things are:
- Acknowledge that God is ( or exists)
- Understand his characteristics and understand that those characteristics will never change. Help us understand the commandments and promises he has given us.
- Align your will with God’s will.
I believe that the hardest of these three is aligning out will with God’s will. This requires us to set aside pride and truly become as a little child, trusting that what God has in store for you is much greater then anything you could ever hope for. Elder Packar said of practicing Faith, “You exercise faith by causing or making your mind accept as truth that which it cannot by reason alone prove for certainty.” Here he mentions this accepting of truth not only by reason. I believe that as we come to know God and align our will with his, our faith will increase line upon line until one day he will not be able to conceal himself from our presence.
Hope is the opposite of despair. As I find myself stressing and worrying over certain things, I remind myself that the Lord has commanded me to be optimistic in life. It is hard to decipher between hope and faith, but there is a difference although they go hand in hand. Hope in Christ is a gift of the spirit as well as a commandment from God. It is what gets us out of bed every morning and drives us to be more obedient. Christ is our greatest source of hope. It saves us from a deep despair and raises us to the joy of knowing that we are saved through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. In John 14:26-27 it says of the spirit, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The spirit can bring peace into our lives and comfort our hearts. Elder Holland spoke of this scripture saying, “ that may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord’s merciful heart. I can tell you this as a parent: as concerned as I would be if somewhere in their lives one of my children were seriously troubled or unhappy or disobedient, ….I would be infinitely more devastated if I felt that at such a time that child could not trust me to help or thought his or her interest was unimportant or me or unsafe in my care.”
Lastly I would like to discuss charity which is the greatest of all. Charity is the true of love of Christ and the ultimate characteristic that defines him. As a junior in high school we had a seminary lesson on charity which left me with a very overwhelming feeling. How was I to have charity for every person when I couldn’t even get along with my own sister. I also thought of the fact that I had to unconditionally love even those that were horrible to me or others around me. As I pondered this topic I thought of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:8 which states “Charity never faileth”. The attribute of Christ-like love for our fellow men can solve any problem, dispute or disagreement. Also God has blessed me to be a woman and bear children. I believe that this is the greatest opportunity God has blessed his children with to develop this essential love. Moroni says of charity in Moroni 7:44 “for if he have not charity he is nothing.” I have found this to be true in my own life and struggles.
I know that as we strive to gain these three essential attributes that we will be blessed for our efforts and in creating peaceful relationships with our fellow men. I believe that faith can open doors for us in our ability to progress in this life and find truth. I believe that hope is just as essential to our progression and keeps up and going every single day. I also believe that there is never enough love in our lives. As we see (through faith) Gods children as they really are and their “real” potential, we will not be able to help developing charity for them. These three principles are ones that I strive everyday to improve and feel the difference in my life.

With Firmness of Mind by Jamie Ashby

In 1 Nephi 2:10, Lehi pleads with his son saying, "O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!" What exactly did Lehi mean when he beckoned his children to be "firm"? The word "firm" can be interpreted in several different ways depending on which translation you look at. In Greek, the translation to the word firm means to be stable, and in Hebrew, it means properly to be erect. Similarly, in the English dictionary, the word firm means not yielding easily under pressure and it continues to give a list of synonyms such as solid, fixed, unchanging, resolute, and constant. Although each language provides us with different interpretations, the underlying meaning for each is the same. Lehi pleaded with his sons that they would keep the commandments of God no matter what. No matter how hard it might be, and no matter how tempting the opposing force might fight, nothing should budge them from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If Lehi thought it was important to teach his children to be firm, then surely it must be important in our lives as well. But how can we today have a firm mind as Lehi counseled? One way that we can do this is by keeping an eternal perspective. In Jacob 2:18 it says, "but before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God." As our minds are set on spiritual things, it will become easier to simply live in the world rather than be of the world. Another way to help our minds stay untainted by the adversary can be found in Jacob 4:6. "Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope and our faith becometh unshaken." As we listen to the leaders of the church and heed their counsels, we will be taught all things that we need to know in order to keep our minds firm, steadfast, and immovable. In this October’s General Conference Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave further insight on how we can keep our minds fixed on the truth. He said, "come what may, and love it!" This means that no matter what happens in our lives, we need to have a positive attitude and keep an eternal perspective. If we can do this, our burdens will seem lighter and we will be able to bare them with happiness.
In D&C 5:22 we are commanded to "be firm in keeping the commandments." But what benefit is it to us to constantly keep our minds firm in the faith? The scriptures show us that we will be blessed both temporally and spiritually for our stability in the gospel. In Jacob 3:1 it says, "look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction." This tells us that as our minds are steadfast and immovable, God will bless us with our every day trials. He will help us to be able to endure our hardships and find joy and love in whatever comes our way. Another blessing we will receive can be found later on in D&C 5:22. Here it says, "if ye do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life."
Within my own life, having a firm mind has been a great blessing to me. I have seen the benefits that come as a result of having a firm mind, and in contrast, I have been able to recognize the setbacks that occur whenever my mind begins to quake. Every day I am given the opportunity, through small adversities, to allow my testimony to be shaken or to stay firm in the faith. For instance, this semester of school has brought a lot of ups and downs for me. The past couple of weeks have been particularly bad. After doing poorly on an extremely important test and having a large pile of work appear out of no where, my stress level was reaching its max. As a result, my scripture study time was being cut short, my prayers were becoming repetitive, I was finding it hard to be happy, and I was seriously lacking the presence of the Spirit. As things got worse, my attitude also became more and more negative. Finally, I realized that if I could keep a positive attitude, maintain an eternal perspective and make the best out of my situation, then the Lord would bless me. When Sunday came around, I prayed for a special blessing that I would be able to feel the Spirit that day and that I would have the strength to be able to keep a positive attitude throughout the week. That day, my prayers were answered. Church was amazing. I felt the Spirit that day for the first time in a couple of weeks and my testimony was strengthened immensely by that experience. Ever since that Sunday, I have tried my absolute hardest to keep my mind set on the eternities so that my testimony wouldn’t be shaken by the things of the world.
I know that the reason why I was suffering was because my mind wasn’t firm in the faith. But I also know that because I chose to make a change, I was blessed with the Spirit and I was able to regain happiness in my life. I am so grateful for the scriptures in my life and I know that the principles that we learn from them are true. I know that with firmness of mind, we will be blessed both temporally and spiritually, and we will be able to enjoy the lives that God has blessed us with.
Work Cited:
Book of Mormon
Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition
November Ensign 2008
Doctrine and Covenants

Shalom: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you



In Hebrew, the word for peace, “shalom,” is also used as a greeting and as a farewell.  Thus, when people say goodbye, in essence, they are really saying “go in peace.”  I  really like the idea of using the word “peace” more often in everyday language, in this example, as common as saying “hello” and “goodbye.”   How different would the world be if people more frequently reflected on what this word means, and if people strove to “publish peace?”  We can create and feel peace daily through taking advantage of the atonement, living the gospel, and through being peacemakers in our families.

It is important that we establish peace within our homes.  In Mosiah, we read, “And how blessed are they!  For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.”(1)  We will be blessed by the Lord for “publishing peace.”  There are so many ways we can establish peace in our homes.   Peace comes with daily scripture study, prayer, and church attendance.  Peace also comes from the little things we do for our family members, such as keeping your mouth shut when you want to yell at your little brother, or even from simply striving to have a positive attitude.  I have found that staying optimistic and encouraging even when things aren’t going exactly the way we want them too can make a big difference in your family.  It is hard to stay pessimistic for too long when you are around someone who looks on the bright side of things and sees the good in everything.  Matthew 5:9 reads “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”(2)  As children of God, we are expected to establish peace within our homes and communities. 

Living the gospel is essential if we want to have peace.  In John we read, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”(3)  Through the Holy Ghost, we can experience this peace that John talks about.  The Holy Ghost will envelope us within a blanket of comfort in times of hardship if we are living the gospel.  In Mosiah 4:3 we read, “And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come.”(4)  If we exercise our faith, we will be able to feel comfort in trials and relief from sin. 

We can feel peace even after sin because of the gift of the Atonement.  One day when I was about five, I went shopping with my mom and saw a small toy that I immediately wanted to have.  I asked my mom if we could by the toy, to which she replied no.  So, I decided to steal the toy—after all, I could just hide it from my mom and she would never know.  I proceeded to slip the toy into my pocket, and couldn’t wait to show my friends.  The joy from having this toy however was short lived.  After we returned home, I realized what a big mistake I had made.  I knew that what I had done was wrong, and it bothered me so much that I couldn’t even look at the toy.  Eventually, I ended up telling my mom what I had done.  She took me back to the store where I apologized for taking it.   This is one of the first experiences where I learned the feeling of peace after sin and repentance.  Even though I got in trouble for taking the toy, I felt as if I had had a huge burden lifted off my back—immediately after returning the toy and saying sorry, I was overcome by a huge feeling of peace within myself.  The topic definition of peace from the LDS website says this: “Many people think of peace as the absence of war, But we can feel peace even in times of war, and we can lack peace even when no war is raging.  The mere absence of conflict is not enough to bring peace to our hearts.  Peace comes through the gospel—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, and our own righteousness, sincere repentance, and diligent service.”(5)  It is thanks to our beloved Savior, who atoned for our sins, that we are able to feel this sense of peace after we have committed a sin.  If we remember and follow the Savior, we can experience this peace. 

I know that we can feel peace if we have faith in the Lord.  I am so grateful for Christ’s atoning sacrifice in my life, and for the peace that I can feel after I have sinned.  I know that when we establish peace within our homes and communities, we are following His example, and that we will be blessed for it.  I know the Savior lives, and I take great comfort in his words, “Peace be unto you.”(6)  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

 

(1) – Mosiah 27:23

(2) – Matthew 5:9

(3) – John 14:26-27

(4) – Mosiah 4:3

(5) – LDS Website—Topic Definitions—“Peace”

(6) – John 20:19

 

Reaching in Faith ---By: Valene Barwick



Whole. To be complete. To be in one piece. To be full. There are times, both physically and spiritually, that we are incomplete; times when we don’t know where to turn for peace. It’s times like this that we need to remember our faith and reach out to Christ, for only He can make us whole again.
Life can be difficult. We are always told to have faith; to step forward with an eye single to God. But life has many distractions. I often think that if we keep looking up won’t we trip and fall down? Yet we are promised that if "the light," or our countenance, "of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"(3 Nephi 13:22). If we can keep our eye single to His glory, do nothing but that which will glorify Him, our whole body will be filled with light or understanding. By keeping His love at the focus of our lives, it will be fuller, more complete, and at peace---it will be whole.
Arthur Henry King said, "The world is sick and most of us are sick—perhaps all of us are sick in some way or another. We need to be healed, to be made whole." No one here on earth can feel complete without the love and mercy of the Father. But we must have faith in Him. Just as the woman, sick from disease, reached out in faith to touch the Savior’s cloak, and being healed He told her, "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour" (Matthew 9:22). We need to have the faith to reach to Him to be made whole as well.
Not only can Christ make us physically whole, but He can heal us spiritually as well. When Enos’s heart was troubled by the sins of his brethren, he prayed unto the Father and was answered, "Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole" (Enos 1:8). Because of Enos’s pure heart and pure intensions, his prayers were answered and he was made whole.
I have needed to use this principle of offering my faith to be made whole again in my own life. A few years ago I was hurt very deeply both emotionally and spiritually. I eventually forgave those who had caused me the pain but I never managed to forgive myself and it tormented me. It eventually became too much for me to carry alone. At this time, a very good friend asked me if I had gone to God with my problem. I knew in my heart that the answer was no. I was too ashamed of my stupid actions. But, I was tired of living that way so I went to my Father in prayer. Since that night, I have been able to look at the situation, which is now in the past, differently; without hurting inside. I was made whole through repentance and the mercy of prayer. Merrill J. Bateman once said, "The Savior’s Atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite—infinite in that it spans the eternities, intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, He knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, be made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in His kingdom. May our faith in the Father and the Son help each of us become whole." The Atonement is an amazing thing that allows a path for us to be made whole. He sacrificed so much, even His life, to let us have this peace, to be whole again.
But, we need to remember that, just as the leper who came back to praise Christ when he was healed, we need to use our newly-whole hearts to thank Christ through service to others and prayers and actions of thanks. Enos moved to use his newly-whole heart to "pour our [his] whole soul unto God for *his enemies+" (Enos 1:9). Amaleki also taught this principle of offering our whole hearts unto Christ when he said, "And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved" (Omni 1:26). If Christ gave us these whole, complete, and peaceful hearts, are we not indebted to serve Him? To use the tools that He’s given us to bless others and to glorify God? We will never be able to fully repay Him but He wants us to try. Isn’t that all He asks of us? If we try, He will make up the difference.
Our Father and Brother are always waiting to bring us comfort, to make us whole. They love us and want to help us. All we have to do is reach with faith to touch His cloak so that we can be healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Arthur Henry King said, "If we accept and live the gospel, we shall be made whole, we shall be glorified, we shall be that much further on in our eternal progression." I truly believe in the power of the Atonement. Christ and the Father truly love us and care for our salvation and happiness. They will not hesitate to help you, if you will but reach out and touch the hem of His cloak.


Works Cited:
Arthur Henry King, "Atonement: The Only Wholeness," Ensign, Apr 1975, 12
Merrill J. Bateman, "Power to Heal," New Era, Apr 2003, 42
Enos 1:8-9
Matthew 9:22
Omni 1:26
Picture from: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/jeswom1

Love One Another: By Roy Tialavea



One of the simplest, yet hardest commandments of the lord is to “love one another.” At different times in my life I find it incredibly hard to love my brothers and sisters,but at other times, they are my light in this world and I love them with all my heart. As we all share love and peace through everyone we come in contact with, we begin to make this world a better place. If we can heed to this simple teaching, our lives and more importantly the lives of others will be eternally blessed.
A very important component of spreading love is maintaining love at home. In the church hymn “Love at Home,” the blessings of love at home are expressed, “There is beauty all around,
When there’s love at home;
There is joy in ev’rysound,
When there’s love at home.
Peace and plenty here abide,
Smiling sweet on ev’ryside.
Time doth softly, sweetly glide,
When there’s love at home.
Love at home, love at home;
Time doth softly, sweetly glide,
When there’s love at home.” This is the blessing of obtaining love at home throughout our families. Growing up with five older sisters and an older brother, I know through my own experiences that this can be difficult. Whether it is fighting over the remote, to who has to clean this, who broke this, or whose fault it was, there are always arguments that are hard to steer clear of. These little disagreements are all examples of contention.
Now on speaking of contention the resurrected Lord Himself declared, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another”(2). One can take from this teaching that every time we feel angry and each time we look to argue with one another, instead of drawing closer to our lord and savior we are drawing closer to the devil. The opposite of contention therein is love and if we can look to love one another in times of contention we will have overcome the devil himself.
In his instructions to the Nephites, the Savior taught, “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (3). This teaches us that even as we seek love from others we must practice love to all others. If every human being were to practice this golden rule, earth would become close to perfection, but in the book of Mosiah we learn that “the natural man is an enemy to god.” Therefore it is only when one “yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man” and learns to be “submissive, meek, humble, patient, [and] full of love” that one can learn to love all (4). Therefore we must humble ourselves before god with a broken heart and a contrite spirit to find love in all.
Love, like most things in life, cannot truly grow unless it is expressed regularly. Growing up as an adolescent around the age of 13, I sort of took for granted those that I loved and did not regularly tell them that I loved them. By the words of the great English Poet William Shakspeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”This great quote states that love is not really love unless it is shown and expressed to one another. Progressing as a person throughout my teen years I learned that I need to express my gratitude and love to all those that I love without holding anything back. Every time I talk to one of my family members I make sure I tell them that I love them and each time I do I can tell that it makes their day just a little bit better. As Latter-Day Saints we are all striving to be like Jesus in every endeavor we embark upon. By expressing our love to all we set forth on a direct path towards becoming more and more like our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

1.) “294: Love at Home,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2.) (3 Ne. 11:29)
3.) (3 Ne. 14:12)
4.) (Mosiah 3:19)

Firm Foundation Forever by Heidi McIntosh


                My most favorite primary song in the whole world was, and still is, “The Wise Man, and the Foolish Man.” Besides the awesome hand signs, which I’m sure influenced the importance of that song in my younger years, the song offers quite a message. It tells us how we should build our houses, or lives. We need to build it on a rock, the rock, Jesus Christ.

                We need to have a firm foundation of the truthfulness of the gospel so that we can be blessed in our lives and feel the guiding power of our Heavenly Father. Being firm in something means to be strong, stalwart, and steadfast. Hard times will come, we will be blown around, but we can find peace through a solid foundation. Jacob 3:1 states: “But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.  Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” Jacob teaches us to put our faith in our Father and he will help us through these trials.

 

                Sometimes we are just going through life and not knowing exactly what we are doing. We get nervous or anxious and aren’t quite sure what the Lord has in mind for us. Elder Russell M. Nelson reminded us that “Though we don’t know all things, we know that God lives and that He loves us.  Standing on that firm foundation, we can reach up and find strength to endure the heavy burdens of life.” Enduring to the end is one of the commandments the Lord has given us, and can easily be one of the more frustrating if we haven’t built our lives on the firmness of the gospel.  In Helaman 15:6 we learned that the people, “because of their firmness when they are once enlightened, behold, the Lord …bless[ed] them and prolong[ed] their days.” We need the blessings and we can receive them once we live our lives according to the firm foundation we have set.

 

                Just because we have built this foundation doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy. Elder Nelson also taught us that “Even firm foundations cannot prevent life’s problems.” As evidence by the primary song, the wise man also had a storm come, he was just able to withstand it. Jesus teaches this parable in 3 Nephi 14:24-25, “Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who 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.”

                 I have learned in my life that when my life is more focused on the gospel and my feet are more firmly planted in the foundation I have set, I am more successful in overcoming challenges and trials. Mormon 9:28 teaches us to “be wise in the days of [our] probation; strip [ourselves] of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.” If we pray to our God, he will help us get through this life successfully. He loves us and wants us to return to live with him.

                 The lord promises that if [we are] firm in keeping the commandments wherewith [he has] commanded [us]; and if [we] do this, behold [he will] grant unto [us] eternal life.” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:22) I believe this to be true. I know that the Lord has provided a way for us to obtain this eternal life and that if we just follow the way he has set before us by standing firm in that foundation, we can achieve it. He has promised us, and is bound by that.

  

The Standard Works

Children’s Songbook – #281

 “How Firm our Foundation.” Elder Russell M. Nelson. Ensign. May 2002.

 

 

 

 

A Mighty Change of (more than just) Heart by Rachel Huffaker

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” 1 Through the Atonement of Christ, we as humans in our fallen state can experience the phenomenon known as spiritual rebirth. People have described it as a burning with their bosoms, an “awaken[ing] out of a deep sleep. . . unto God”, and an ‘illumination by the light of the everlasting word”2 Whatever the feelings accompanying this change, the result is the same: an enlightenment to the truth of the gospel and a renewed sense of faith and fervor. However, the path to spiritual rebirth is not an easy one, nor one to be taken lightly.
As President Ezra Taft Benson stated, “repentance involves not just a change of actions, but a change of heart”3. Just because our actions change, it does not mean that we have “seen the light” or experienced a true change of heart like in Alma where “according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. . .”4I have had numerous warnings by my parents to fix my attitude on certain things. Oftentimes, though, it is only my outward actions that change to appease my parents or escape punishment. However, in some ways, this is even worse than having an outward bad attitude. Holding negative feelings in my heart causes them to fester and make the bad attitude even worse internally, often with such byproducts as bitterness and resentment.
One such example of this was when I was in high school and I disliked my Sunday School teacher immensely. I would go to his class under the watchful eyes of my parents only to leave partway through and proceed to pursue my own interests. After my parents heard of my behavior, they told me that if I did not attend Sunday School, they would take my car away. Grudgingly, I stayed in the class, making sarcastic comments throughout, and rolled my eyes whenever any of my classmates gave a particular inane answer. This, too, was reported to my parents and I was told to behave in class OR ELSE (a parent’s favorite phrase, methinks). So I kept my mouth shut and sat silently, sullenly, resentfully through a class I hated. What I did not realize was that most of the problem lay inside me. As a result, I still cannot stand the sight or mention of this teacher.
After King Benjamin addressed his people, they all cried, “Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”5 Unlike me around my parents and/or teachers, they felt no desire to continue in their wicked ways. They harbored no secret doubts or resentments; their hearts were full of only a desire to do good.
“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”6 If I were being asked this question, I am ashamed to say that I would have to reply, “No. I have not.” Changing my behavior is a titanic effort. Changing my mind is nigh-impossible. Changing my heart? Well, I would say it was impossible except that I have read the story of Alma the Younger. So, yes, there is hope for even me. I do not feel that my testimony would adequately sum up my feelings on the matter as it has been quite weak and underused as of late. So I will include a poem that I wrote instead.
A cage and bands of iron surround my crippled heart
The key to unlock the chest of my soul and the lock are far apart
My soul’s a secret garden and the walls are very high
My inner self’s chained to the ground when what it wants to do is fly
So Jesus, Savior, my one physician, heal my shriveled heart
Take what was once live and free and heal me.
The bands of iron melt away, search out the buried key
Release my soul, give it real air, please, my brother, heal me
Break down the walls with your love, break my chains with your grace
Restore sight to my blinded eyes so I may see your face.
And Jesus, Savior, my Redeemer, fix my broken soul
Take what once was beautiful and make me whole
Take every aspect of my life into a refiner’s fire
Fill my heart with so much love and my soul with deep desire
Let heaven open up my heart, I don’t even know where to start
Set my trapped life free and heal me
Help me Savior of my soul and heal me.

1- Alma 5:26
2- Alma 5:7
3- Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct 1989, 2
4- Alma 5:12
5- Mosiah 5:2
6-Alma 5:14
3 Easy Ways to Stay Firm by Kevin Allen
We live in a world full of temptation and sin waiting to grab a hold of us at any corner, at any time. The prophets have proclaimed that this generation lives in times far worse then any other generation that ever stepped foot on Earth. The Devil has become more powerful the ever before. How are we supposed to combat this horrible power? “Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.” [1] There are many little tricks, along with faith in God, that can help combat that. Here are three things I have utilized to keep me on the straight and narrow.

The first thing that you can do when you are confronted with temptation is singing a happy song or a hymn. Isaiah proclaims, “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” [2] Singing a song is like taking a cloth and whipping the dust on the television to make the image clearer. A song will immediately dispel any dirtiness and bring in happiness. Whenever I feel a depressing or bad thought coming to my mind, I immediately begin to sing “Praise to the Man” of one of my other favorite songs and I am filled with happiness.

Another trick that I utilize to combat evil is look at funny pictures from this site I found while enduring a stressful month during summer term this year. Whenever I get frustrated or sad, I would pull up a picture and laugh away my sorrow. Mosiah has learned the benefits of being happy. “…I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.” [3] When I am happy, I am able to do my assignments with ease and retain information from them. Plus, who wants to be miserable all the time? Not me!

Finally, doing little acts of kindness when presented with hardship takes your mind off of the bad. Go out and look for any opportunity to help someone, whether it is saying a complement to everyone you walk by or helping someone with a problem. Service not only benefits the others but it also benefits God. “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” [4] Knowing that you are not only serving a friend, but also serving God is the ultimate double-whammy possible. To know that always brightens my day.

“Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” [5] We must be firm in our convictions and not let Satan’s attempts to knock us off the path succeed. By doing these little things, you can develop a stronger resistance and ward of evil. I know that Satan is out to get us, but if we do not give in to his ways, then we will be much happier.

Works Cited
[1] (Alma 57:27)
[2] (Isaiah 49:13)
[3] (Mosiah 2:41)
[4] (Mosiah 2:17)
[5] (Jacob 3:1)

Behold, A Mighty Change: By Marci Robison

A friend and I were having a phone conversation one night. I noticed that my friend was being uncharacteristically quiet. I asked if there was something that was bothering him. He insisted that there wasn't; however, there continued to be lengthy periods of silence. I told him that if he needed to and when he was ready, he could tell me what was going on, then I continued to carry on the conversation, with pauses every so often, in case there was something that he wanted to say. At length, he decided that he wanted to tell me something that I could sense was of great importance to him. I did my best to be supportive, without being pushy. It ended up being sort of an emotional subject, so it took a while for him to get it out and at the end, both of us were in tears. He had experienced some things in his past that he had felt like he had betrayed my trust, even though neither of us knew each other during the time that it happened. He told me later that he had been scared that when he divulged that information to me that I would be upset with him and that I wouldn't ever want to associate with him again. He said that he was pleasantly surprised that I did not pass judgment on him for the things that he had done in the past. I told him that as long as he had made it right with the people that he had wronged, with the Lord, and with himself, that it did not matter what I thought. I somehow knew that he had experienced a change of heart and that he had no desire in his heart to ever want to repeat those experiences.

Ezra Taft Benson said that in order to become true members of the church, there are some things that we need to do. One of the things that he mentioned is that we need to experience a change of heart, through the process of repentance. To repent, means to change what you are doing. If one only makes this change mentally, then the results may not be to everyone's liking. However, when one makes a change of heart, one appears to be more determined and one accomplishes a lot more than if he only mentally makes that change. "When we have undergone this mighty change, which is brought about only through faith in Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Spirit upon us, it is as though we have become a new person. Thus, the change is likened to a new birth. Thousands of you have experienced this change. You have forsaken lives of sin, sometimes deep and offensive sin, and through applying the blood of Christ in your lives, have become clean. You have no more disposition to return to your old ways. You are in reality a new person. This is what is meant by a change of heart."

In Mosiah chapter 5 verse 2, which is also mentioned in President Benson's talk, it says "...the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." I interpret this to mean that we cannot fully undertake a change of heart without the Spirit of the Lord with us and without using the Atonement of Christ in our lives. The Atonement is an important step. In fact, it is probably the MOST important step. Without the Atonement, we cannot progress very much in this life, if at all. Without the Atonement, I do not know if there would be much purpose for this life. I strongly believe that we have been sent to this earth for a divine purpose and that in order to progress in this life, the Atonement is very essential.

The fifth chapter of Alma has several verses that include the phrase "change of heart" in one form or another. Things are often repeated so that we remember them. I think that this may be one of those times. Apparently having a change of heart is important enough to be mentioned in approximately five different verses in the same chapter of scripture. in verse seven, it says that they were in darkness and that they experienced a change of heart and that they were "... illuminated by the light of the everlasting word..." I think that a great metaphor for having a change of heart is a change from the blackest night to the brightest day. How much hope is there in that statement? There is light at the end of the tunnel!!! In verses twelve, thirteen and fourteen of the same chapter, it says the phrase "a mighty change" about three times. I feel that this gives an even greater emphasis on the word change to put mighty in front of it. It makes me think that you cannot "half-heartedly change" or try, fail, give-up. One needs a mighty change of heart in order for the full effect to take place. In the French language, the word change is changement. This word may also translate to modify and switch. When one has a change of heart, one is switching or modifying one's behavior.

I know that even though we are not perfect, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all be made perfect in Him. I know that Christ suffered for our sins and our pains. I know that because Jesus suffered for all of us that we are able to repent and return to live again with our Father in Heaven. I know that I am a child of a Heavenly Father who knows and who loves me. I know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and He desires all of us to come unto Him. I know that my family can be together for eternity through faith and obedience of the covenants that we have made. I know that repentance is always a possibility and that Satan wants to make us think that when we make mistakes, that they are unforgivable and that there is no reason for us to change. I know that my Father in Heaven will love me despite the things that I do wrong. Even though He loves me, I also know that He desires that I continue to strive to keep his commandments and to repent so that I may progress in this life to try to be more like Him. Again, I know that I am a child of God, that we are all children of God and we all have divine potential to become as He is. Perhaps it is not attainable in this life, but I look forward to it in the world to come.




Sources:

Ezra Taft Benson, "A Mighty Change," Ensign, Oct 1989, 2

Alma 5:7
Alma 5:12
Alma 5:13
Alma 5:14
Mosiah 5:2

Picture:

http://cardiophile.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/heart-in-hands.jpg

Love Conquers All by: Ashley Wilson

Love is essential and the most fundamental virtue that someone can posses. Christ did everything through love. It is through the love we feel from him, that we are able to become better disciples of Christ and conquer everything that is thrown in our way.

We are able to show our love by serving others. As stated in Mosiah 4:15, “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.[1]” Service is one thing you can do to get rid of the stress you feel in your life. If you are serving others, you always get the feel-good feeling and are focusing on someone else instead of yourself. When I was in young women’s’, I’ll admit that I didn’t want to have to do service projects for mutual. They never sounded as fun as other things such as cooking or doing crafts, or anything of that sort. I shortly learned that service was the best way to gain an appreciation for the things I have. In the end it always made me feel so good to help someone else out. On the other end of service, I know it is always so nice when someone does something for me. It just takes a lot of pressure off and lets me know that someone really does care. I remember when I was having a really bad day and it seemed nothing was going right, right before I got home I remembered that I forgot to take all of my sheets out of the dryer and make my bed. I was so tired and really didn’t want to have one more thing to do before I could just go to bed. I got home, went in my room, and noticed that my sister had taken my sheets out of the dryer, made my bed, and had made me cookies. I know that it wasn’t even that big of a deal but it was just awesome that she would take the time out to do something for that like me. Little acts of service can make a world of difference to someone.

Love increases the power of unity. In Mosiah 18:21 it says, “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”[2] When you love others, there isn’t going to be any contention and you can be way more productive in the things you are trying to accomplish. I know that in high school when I played volleyball, you could always tell if there were girls on the team who were in a fight. Our team just didn’t mesh as well as it normally did. Once they would get over their differences, we would all be united and work with each other to perform the way we were expected to perform. Unity is also increased if you treat others the same way you would want to be treated. Mosiah 23:15 says “Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them [3].” Having love for yourself and your neighbors creates unity and understanding.

Love strengthens families. Families make up our society and in broken homes where no love is shown, multiple problems can come about. Loving our family members is essential because no matter what, they are our family and we will be with them for eternity. If you learn to love them at all times, it will make your life and theirs a whole lot easier. In Jacob 3:7, we learn “Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children…”[4] The end of this story shows that when they finally turned to each other and loved each other, they received the love of God for changing the way they were doing things. I am so lucky to have a really close family. They are all my best friends and I know they have my back through thick and thin. When I moved to Florida right after I graduated from high school, I would get so homesick because my family would always be out doing multiple things without me. It is such a privilege to have the family that I do and am so blessed. Having a love for everyone in your family truly does strengthen it.

The ultimate love that was shown was through the Atonement. You can see that that took so much love for someone to go and do that for us. It just amazes me the sacrifices he made for me and every individual in this world. Mosiah 4:11 states “And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel[5].” No matter who you are, he loves you and shows it to us every day with the world and beautiful creations that he has given us. I love the song “I Stand All Amazed which states,”

1. I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
[Chorus]Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for meEnough to die for me!Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
2. I marvel that he would descend from his throne divineTo rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,That he should extend his great love unto such as I,Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
3. I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.[6]

To close I would just like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true and know that everything is really for our good. I know that love is one of the most powerful feelings that we will ever have. Love really does conquer all of our fears and allows us to truly become better disciples of Jesus Christ. I know this church is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that he truly did see our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that our prayers are heard and answered and that he does know what’s best for us even though we might not see his plan at the time. I love this gospel and know that it has blessed me in too many ways to count. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Works Cited
[1] Mosiah 4:15
[2] Mosiah 18:21
[3] Mosiah 23:15
[4] Jacob 3:7
[5] Mosiah 4:11
[6] Hymn 193 “I Stand All Amazed”



A Change of Heart Changes Everything.

A Change of Heart Changes Everything

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mould men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature”[1]

“A change of heart” is a familiar phrase that we are all acquainted with, but what exactly does this profound phase mean? Do we all need to have it? How does it affect our lives? How does it take place? “ For behold, and also His blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned. But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelled against God! For Salvation cometh unto none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2] Our Elder Brother, even our Lord Jesus Christ did for each of us, what none other can do. He atoned for each of our sins, pains, heartache, misery and melancholy. One may say that this great Atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, but I would say that Christ’s entire life lead to this great sacrifice. Everything our Savior did, was in preparation for the Atonement. We, as children of a Loving Heavenly Father, can have a change of heart by applying the Atonement in our lives. We should diligently acknowledge the fact that we all sin, and thereafter repent of those things we do wrong, thereby forsaking them.

A change of heart, is not just repenting, but also becoming a better person. Amore Christlike person. It is not just being good, but also doing good. As Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the twelve Apostles said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that 'we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually' (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin's people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.”[3] When we help others and do good, our heart softens and we gain a greater appreciation towards our fellow brothers and sisters. We learn to understand that we all came from the same place and that we all have the same Eternal Father. He loves us all equally. We learn to acknowledge the plain truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we are all truly brothers and sisters.

“ And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow-beings ye are only in the service of your God.” [4] King Benjamin is addressing his people and explaining to the m that when we serve those around us, we are actually serving our God. What greater blessing can we receive than by serving our Father whom art in Heaven? Before moving to the States, for four years before my senior year in high school, I was engaged in a vast degree of community service. I volunteered in a local doctor’s surgery, local hospital and in a clinic on a military base. I enjoyed serving in the surgery and hospital, but my greatest most profound learning experience came from the military base. I remember looking at there soldiers who go off to war, with the thought playing at the back of their mind that they might not return home to their families, that they might not live to see another day. I gained such a deep sense of appreciation toward them, and realized that they too are serving us. They fight for the people of their country. They risk their lives for a greater purpose. I loved helping these men and women because I felt as if I too played a role in this “greater purpose.”

“But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in Him, and serve Him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, He will, according to His own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”[5] I know that we all have the ability to turn unto the Lord and have a “change of heart.” Our Savior, Jesus Christ suffered and died for each and every single one of us, His brothers and sisters, because He wants us to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father for all eternity. We are not asked to die for our brothers and sisters, but on one’s own path towards perfection, a Christlike friend will help get many others onto that very same path. A good friend will leave you better than the way they found you, but a Christlike friend will be to you, what the Savior is to him and will never leave you. I know these things to be true. I love my Savior and my Eternal Father. They have blessed me in my life immensely. The Gospel is true, it is as simple as that. True Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. I humbly say these things in the name of my Loving Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.


Works cited
1] President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1985. p.6
2] Mosiah 3:11-12
3] David A. Bednar, Clean Hands and a Pure Heart, Ensign, Nov. 2007, 81-82
4] Mosiah 2:17
5] Mosiah 7:33

The Importance of Soberness (Outisde of the Word of Wisdom) - Kurt Payne

To be sober, according to Elder Hamula of the Quorum of the Seventy, is to be earnest and serious in assessing your circumstances and careful and circumspect in weighing the consequences of your actions.1 It is analogous to the saying look before you leap, and measure twice and cut once. In German, the word for soberness is ernsthaftes, which comes from two words: “ernst,” meaning earnestness; and “haft,” which means to restrain or confine. Put together, you could define soberness as restraining earnestness. There are numerous references to this virtue throughout the standard works; most of them refer to commandments from the Lord, a concept that will be explored later. I think of soberness (not sobriety) as bridling your passions. However, I do not mean to say that soberness is equal to apathy: it’s nowhere close; rather it’s a middle ground. Too often people let their passions get a-hold of them, and they end up making disastrous decisions. Being sober is equivalent to being prudent, and doing what makes sense; while it isn’t always the best thing to do, nine times out of ten, it will lead you in the right direction.

Being sober will help us in making decisions. Having our heads clear of excess emotion is always a good idea, as we are able to respond to adverse situations with reason, rather than react with passion. Elder Hamula goes on in his address to state that soberness therefore yields good judgment, as well as measured conduct.1 This almost happened to me at the beginning of this last school year. I had the opportunity to buy a business from a BYU graduate for a large amount of money. All I could see was the fulfillment of my dream of owning a business, and dollar signs as I saw revenue roll in. However, luckily, I consulted my parents and my sister, and I prayed very hard about the decision, and I decided not to go through with it. In retrospect, having bought the business would have been a disaster, as I would have had no time to do anything with it, and it would have severely cut into my education. I am now sincerely grateful for prayer and for the slight bit of soberness that I had been blessed with at that time. I am usually good about keeping my passions and emotions in check, but sometimes…

There were many scripture figures who I admire who possessed this prized attribute. The most notable was Mormon. It states in the beginning of the Book of Mormon that Ammoron told Mormon that he was chosen by God because he was of a sober mind, and quick to observe.2 This declaration could not be used to describe many of the people of that time, most of whom were utterly wicked, and had forgotten God. Obviously, they weren’t a sober people, as they had forsaken the prudent choice, which would have been to pray for forgiveness in order to preserve not only their lives, but their civilization as well. Due to the fact that Mormon was sober, he was greatly blessed by God, and was chosen to keep the last of the sacred records, in addition to being made commander of the Nephite armies at the age of sixteen, and having seen Christ as a young adult. Surely having this attribute wouldn’t be adverse to our own spiritual well-being, even though our situation is much different to that of Mormon. Other figures who possessed sober minds were the first two sons of Alma, who accompanied him on his mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites. In his addresses to them in Chapters 37 and 38, he tells his sons Shiblon and Helaman to continue to be sober, as they already had been righteous in attempting to fulfill their mission. Also, Alma tells his son Corianton to be sober, a trait he had hitherto not possessed, as evidenced by his iniquitous actions.3

The Lord commands us to be sober on multiple instances in the scriptures. One such instance occurs in the New Testament. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.4 Earlier in the same chapter, Paul speaks to specific groups to be sober, such as young men and women, and also to bishops who should teach to those in their stewardships to be sober as well. Another scripture is found in Peter. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.5 I believe that the Lord wants us to be sober for the reason stated before; so that we can make good decisions. I also think that he is trying to help us keep ourselves safe from sin. If we are thinking clearly, then we are much more likely to avoid making the wrong choices, at least intentionally.

In return for maintaining sober minds, The Lord promises us salvation when he comes again. Indeed, those who have sober minds will have the power to endure to the end, because along with soberness inherently comes such virtues as self-discipline and temperance. In fact, this rule generally tends to be true, that virtue attracts more virtue, and corruption breeds more corruption. Alma also speaks somewhat on this principle when speaking about the resurrection on Judgement Day. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other.5 Other blessings for soberness include an increased ability to feel the Holy Ghost, as we will be able to hear his voice the more calm and “under control” we keep our emotions. I bear witness that as we garner and cultivate soberness, we will be blessed like those spoken of in the scriptures, and we will be able to have greater peace of mind, and we will be more in tune with God’s plan for us.

Works Cited
1. James J. Hamula, “Winning the War against Evil,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 50–53
2. Mormon 1:2
3. Alma 42:31
4. Titus 2:11,12
5. 1 Peter 4:7
6. Alma 41:4

Living Earnestly and with Sincerity - Chelsey Porter

Living earnestly and with sincerity is exactly the way the Lord wants us to live, by living an earnest and sincere life we set an example for those around us and can bring others to the fullness of the gospel, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). By serving and helping others to come to the gospel we are serving our Lord and how great is his joy when we are doing his work and striving to be like him. Also by living an earnest and sincere life we are open to receive the promptings of the spirit and be closer with our Heavenly Father. When our lives are centered on the Lord and his teachings making the right decisions and living according to his will, will be very easy for us and set us up for success. Success is what the Lord wants for us and always gives us a plan to achieve success. Living earnestly and with sincerity we are standing for truth and righteousness in a sober way.

To achieve a life of truth and soberness we must hold strong to the iron rod and follow the path to the tree of life. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said,” The course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life altering decisions. Our direction is often by small, day to day choices that chart the track on which we run. This is the substance of our lives … making choices”. I really like this quote because it makes me feel like if I am trying my hardest and making an effort the Lord is happy with me. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. If we are making small decisions that conform to his will then we are just preparing ourselves for the bigger decisions and we will be able to make those decisions with ease because we have been building up towards them. By simple means are great things brought to pass.

Two words that go right along with truth and soberness are steadfast and immovable. “There, I would that ye be steadfast and immovable in, always abounding in “good works , that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all” (Mosiah 5:15). A person who is steadfast and immovable is solid, firm, resolute, firmly secured, and incapable of being diverted from a primary purpose or mission. If we plant our roots deep in the gospel it makes it much harder for the adversary to uproot us. When you stand steadfast and immovable the Lord is on your side and with the Lord on your side you will not fail. There are many examples in the scriptures of people who were steadfast and immovable; one such example is the 2000 Stripling Warriors. They were all young men who were exceedingly valiant and courageous. They were also “men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness” (Alma 53:20–21). If we stand steadfast and immovable we will be able to stand up against the adversary and make the right decisions that please the Lord. (David A. Bednar, “Steadfast and Immovable, Always Abounding in Good Works”, New Era January 2008)

Personally living a life of truth and soberness is very important to me because I can remember times when I have strayed from the path and was lost in the dark, and needed the help that comes along with living a life of truth and soberness. “Courage is required to think right, choose right, and do right, for such a course will rarely, if ever, be the easiest to follow”, (President Thomas S. Monson). It is never easy to make the right decision but we still have to do it. And it will pay off, the reason it’s so hard is because the rewards are so great. The Lord has promised us if we follow the commandments then great will be our rewards. It is not worth it to make wrong decisions and try to fix the mess later. It may be hard in the moment to do what is right but how blessed will you be when you do make the right decision.

I know that living a life of truth and righteousness is essential for future generations. We need to be living a life of truth and righteousness to continue on the faith. We need to set an example that our posterity can look back on. I know that I look back to many previous prophets and examples in my life for guidance. Joseph Smith set a perfect example that everyone of our religion can look up to. When I think about passing on knowledge and lifestyle I think of the hymn “True to the Faith”. The chorus is the part that I remember the most. “True to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished, To God’s command, Soul, heart, and hand, Faithful and true we will ever stand”. Whenever we are struggling with our own faith or with living a life of truth and soberness we can always look to our parents for guidance or to previous prophet and teachings. There are so many resources and example of those who have come before us that we can learn from. We can follow their example of truth and soberness. I pray that I will always have the faith, courage, and obedience to make good choices and live a life of truth and soberness. I know that if I do these things the Lord will bless me beyond my comprehension.

Works Cited

Mosiah 2:17
Gordon B. Hinckley – Quote
Mosiah 5:15
Alma 53:20-21
David A. Bednar, “Steadfast and Immovable, Abounding in Good Works”, New Era January 2008
President Thomas S. Monson – Quote
“True to the Faith” LDS Hymn Book #254

Change the heart, change the world. By Spencer Glancy


Being a physics major, I’ve had to deal a lot with what are called “frames of reference” or “points of view” or “bases”. Basically, you can get different solutions to a problem if you approach the problem from a different angle. For example, when you are driving on the street all the cars around you appear to be barely moving or perhaps not moving at all depending on the speed of those cars compared to your car. However, to a stationary pedestrian, all cars seem to be moving very quickly as they drive down the street. Part of the job of a scientist, engineer, or mathematician, is to look at real-world problems from as many different angles as possible and come up with the best applicable solution to keep people safe and happy. These people need to find the best frame of reference. As the engineers of our own lives, we need to confront our own problems, and find the best point of view to solve them. And as God is the great designer and fabricator of life itself, constant and unchanging, He provides us with that foundation of thought, because He wants us to be safe and happy. If we, as children of God, are to achieve exaltation, we must undergo a tremendous change of attitude, or as it has been called by the prophets, a mighty change of heart.
So why do we need to have a change of heart? One great example in the Book of Mormon is during King Benjamin’s inspiring speech to his people. In Mosiah 5 it says, “And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (1) From this we see that it is by the Spirit of God that we achieve this mighty change of heart, and that with it, Satan has no power over us to do evil. A change of heart is a change of perspective, where all things that are evil in God’s eyes become evil in our eyes, and “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (2) If we are to become like our Heavenly Father, we must see all things as He would see them. Once we align our perspective with God’s, it becomes much easier to align our will with His.
A change of heart means changing how we see life, and where our thoughts and actions come from. Does our attitude reflect the will of the Lord? Or do we reason by selfishness? In Hebrew, the word for heart is “lebh” which can mean “the will or even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything.” (3) To have a change of heart means to have a change of center, or focus. We must “… open [our] ears that [we] may hear, and [our] hearts that [we] may understand, and [our] minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to [our] view.” (4) We must look beyond our own desires to the needs of others. The center of our world should not be ourselves; we must love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength. We must serve His children with all diligence, and lose ourselves in the work.
It is not natural for man to follow God’s will; it is up to us to not let ourselves give in to the temptations of the devil and the flesh. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (5) King Benjamin teaches us how we must change our hearts. He teaches that we must become as little children! But aren’t little children always so whiny and na├»ve and reckless? Well that is true in some cases, but here the Lord teaches that children are so wonderful because what they truly desire is to please their parents, because they know how much their mother and father love them and want the best for them. Why does it become so much more difficult to follow our parents’ and Heavenly Parents’ guidance as we get older? Why must we lose that childlike innocence and love? Perhaps it is because as we gain more experience, God gives us harder trials to overcome. The goal is to keep that state of mind that we had as children, and turn to our father in heaven for aid in those times of need, and to express gratitude to Him in times of prosperity. It is up to us to understand that the hard times in our lives are meant to make us stronger, as hard as it is to realize. But once we’ve had that mighty change of heart, we submit to the Father’s will, and use this trial for our own benefit, just as a child could turn any time into play time.
The mighty change of heart is essential to our salvation, for without it, we cannot become like our Heavenly Father. We as spirit children must become spiritually reborn through the atonement of Christ. Brigham Young taught us what spiritual rebirth means when he said, “And when we understand more perfectly our own independent organization, which God has given us, and the spirit world, and the principles and powers that act on this organism, we will learn that a person can be so fully and solely devoted to the Spirit of truth and to God, and be so wrapped up in that Spirit that it may be called, with propriety, a new birth.” (6) The prophet Alma asks “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (7) It is up to us to answer this question for ourselves. Are we keeping an eye single to the glory of God? Are we anxiously engaged in a good cause of the Lord? “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (8) If you answer yes, I testify that you are holding fast to the iron rod, and are on the right path to eternal happiness. But know that the change of heart is not instantaneous; it usually takes an entire lifetime to experience a true change of heart. Whenever you feel the spirit in your life, do all you can to hold on to that feeling and keep the Holy Spirit with you at all times, even when hard trials come your way. I testify to you that these things are true. In order to find eternal life we must submit our will to the Father, even as Christ did at Gethsemane. We must take the name of Christ upon ourselves, and not in vain or else we will become subject to the devil. Pray to God to apply the blood of Christ and forgive you of your sins, and pray for mercy on our fellow brothers and sisters. I testify again that these things are true, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Mosiah 5:2
2. 13th Article of Faith
3. LDS Scripture Resource CD
4. Mosiah 2:9
5. Mosiah 3:19
6. Deseret News, May 2, 1860, 68.
7. Alma 5:14
8. Alma 5:26