The great solar eclipse of 2017!!
Hey everybody!! Happy eclipse day!! It's finally here and I'm so excited!! The eclipse was AMAZING!!! It was so fun that I was in Oregon for it! It was seriously a once in a lifetime experience!! Atthis morning, the world went dark, birds stopped singing, lights came on, and you could see the stars!! It was SO CRAZY! Anyway, here's my crazy awesome week!
Last Monday was transfers and it was so sad to lose so many good friends, but I know we will be friends for life! It was also fun to see my friends come into the mission. Elder Richard Evans, Elder Alex Guymon (who I still haven't seen!), and Sister Alley Huggard! Sister Huggard was put into the Milwaukie zone, so we will have the opportunity to work together this transfer!
Ok,night. My little guy Dax from my last area got baptized!! I was so proud of him!! It was a beautiful baptism where lots of tears were shed. The spirit was so strong! I will never forget that day. Dax's dad had decided to come back to activity so he could baptize him. It was a really beautiful moment to see their whole family be all together happy in the church! Because Dax's grandparents were in town for a very short time, they got permission to bless Dax's baby brother at his baptism! It was an amazing experience to participate in both Dax's confirmation and his baby brother's baby blessing.
So yesterday I got to speak in Sacrament meeting! It was a lot of fun. I will include my talk here and it will be my spiritual thought. Love you all!
Recognizing the Spirit
Sacrament Meeting 8.20.2017, Alder Creek YSA
Brothers and sisters, good afternoon! I'm excited to speak to you today in this beautiful chapel. As most of you are returned missionaries, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly intimidated to speak to you, being a somewhat inexperienced missionary myself. However, I pray the message I deliver today will not come from me, but from the Holy Ghost, and none of you can beat that guy.
My message today comes from several sources in an attempt to answer an age old question: "How do I recognize and understand the Spirit?" It probably doesn't surprise you to learn that the vast majority of members of the church would not feel comfortable to definitively say whether or not a thought or prompted action is revelation. My hope today is to help you begin to reverse this understanding and give you some tools to not only feel the spirit in more abundance, but to recognize when the Holy Ghost speaks to your mind and heart.
Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following: “The gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.”
In short, the Holy Ghost gives us some serious spiritual spidey-senses. Do we realize that in moments of virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, charity, spiritual discovery, and enlightenment we are being influenced and spoken to by the Holy Ghost? I am confident saying that all of us in this room have felt one of those things in the last 24 hours, if not 24 minutes. But who are we kidding? I'm standing in a room full of millennials; a simple and profound answer will just not do.
Elder Richard G Scott, one of our modern day apostles, once said, "The Holy Ghost communicates important information that we need to guide us in our mortal journey. When it is crisp and clear and essential, it warrants the title of revelation. When it is a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective, it is inspiration." Very few times in my life have I felt like I received revelation. I learned just recently of a time when I received revelation without knowing I had.
I was in high school and had just discovered an acquaintance of mine, we'll call him John, wasn't making good decisions in life. He was beginning to head down a road that would quickly lead him away from what was right, if he hadn't already. This knowledge I had received weighed on my mind heavily as I drove to work. I couldn't help but feel sad for him, as I had traveled down that same path not long before. Right then, a thought came burning in my mind to pull over and text John. I didn't even have his number, so I kept driving. The thought came again, but much stronger. At this point I knew it wasn't my thought, but one from the Holy Ghost. I pulled over andhad tracked down his number and texted him. I said something to the effect of, "Hey John, I just wanted to remind you of the priesthood you hold. Remember who you are as a son of God and what He expects of you. I love you pal, have a good day." I put my phone away and never thought of that day again.
Last week I received an email from John. It began with the usual asking how I was, how the work was going. He then continued to recount the events of the day I had texted him almost 18 months before. He told me the moment he read that text, he felt something he hadn't felt in a long time. Something deep within him that pierced to his very core. It was a defining moment for him. He immediately left the bad situation he was in and went straight home where he made an appointment with his bishop to begin the repentance process. He said it was a long road, but worth every minute. John left for his two year full time mission last week, very excited to share the gospel with the people of Washington DC.
I sat in tears as I read his email, amazed that God had trusted me to receive and follow revelation in order to help one of His children. What was even more incredible was the effect it had on my good friend, John.
That story is quite amazing, however, through careful examination of past experiences and events, it is clear to me that revelation is rare, inspiration is daily. Remember what Elder Scott said? "When it is a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective, it is inspiration." Inspiration is a fussy thing. In today's world we expect a culture of instant gratification and knowledge, whereas inspiration is quite the opposite. Luckily, Elder Scott is an apostle so he knows how we struggle and therefore has given us a detailed guide to receiving inspiration for our lives.
In order to receive inspiration, we must let Heavenly Father know we desire to receive it. Elder Scott explains, "One of the great lessons that each of us needs to learn is to ask. Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him and to ask? Because that is how revelation is received." To further understand the process of receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost, I will compare it to the classic game of Candy Land.
In the game of Candy Land, players draw colored cards one at a time, giving their little gingerbread person a short term destination on the path to the candy castle with King Candy. Receiving inspiration is strikingly similar. Our spiritual drawing cards are made up of simple colors, or steps, to help us along. They consist of the blue tranquility of fasting, the green earnestness of prayer, and the reds, yellows, and purples of dynamic scripture study. Consistently and diligently doing these simple things will indeed supply us with the needed inspiration from the Holy Ghost to overcome the trials and challenges of life.
Now we get into some of the crazier rules of Candy Land. I know, try to keep up! Sometimes, there is a double color card. Drawing one of these bad jacksons is evidence that you have been choosing the right. Exercise, healthy eating, and reasonable amounts of sleep are some of the surprising keys to drawing a double color card. Attending church meetings, being kind, and keeping the commandments are all things that will also help you receive a double color card.
Let me quote quote Shia Leboeuf here for you. If a thought is good, "JUST DO IT!" If we are seeking inspiration for our lives and reading the scriptures, fasting, praying, and attending church, we shouldn't be surprised when inspiration comes! How many times in your day do you receive a good thought or prompting to do something and then question if it's the Holy Ghost? Let me restate Mr. Leboeuf once again: "JUST... DO IT!!"
Occasionally, depending on the version of Candy Land, you might land on a licorice spot. A licorice spot results in a loss of turn and a halt of progression. If we liken this to a spiritual sense, anger, malice, pride, and haughtiness are things that will halt our spiritual journey of inspiration from the Holy Ghost. It is key that we rid our lives of these thoughts and feelings.
Hopefully I have sufficiently explained the way we receive inspiration. Now I would like to mention some of the actual inspiration we can receive in each of our lives. It is important to remember that the Holy Ghost is capable of helping us in every aspect of our waking moments; I would like to, however, focus on inspiration that is essential for everyone in life, especially those that we as missionaries come into contact with. That is, the Holy Ghost's ability to reveal truth to us.
In the year 1820, a young 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith had a question about which Christian church he needed to join. His small upstate New York town had become a hub for religious awakening. Every church claimed to be correct, while condemning all those around them.
Young Joseph just wasn't sure of what to do. One day, while studying the Bible, he came across a scripture that touched his heart. It was in James chapter one, verse five: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God; that giveth to all men liberally, and upraideth not, and it shall be given him." Joseph later said that if anybody lacked wisdom, it was him, so he would ask God what to do.
It was a beautiful spring morning when Joseph set out for a small grove of trees not far from his home. Upon arriving, Joseph knelt down and began to offer up his desires to God. Then something incredible happened. In his own words, he said, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
Joseph was told that none of the churches on the earth were true, and that he would be the one to restore God's true church. We know that in the coming years, with the help of heavenly messengers, Joseph would translate an ancient record of scripture, called the Book of Mormon. In it contains the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. If that book is true, all that Joseph claims really did happen, and God's church is on the earth again today!
Moroni, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, knew how essential it was for us to gain a personal knowledge that the Book was true. He makes a promise to us on the second-to-last page of the Book of Mormon. He writes, "Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
Brothers and sisters, this is my invitation to you today. Even if you have received the answer of whether or not the Book of Mormon is true, I invite you to read it, and ask again. You will not regret it. For those of you still seeking for your answer, remember inspiration is more common than revelation. You most likely will not receive a bolt of lightning declaring the Book of Mormon is true, rather a thought or feeling to just keep reading, to continue keeping the commandments, and to pray often. The Holy Ghost reveals truth more often on a diligent spiritual journey than a flash of instantaneous knowledge.
As a special witness of Jesus Christ, I can promise you that as you read the scriptures, fast, pray, and keep the commandments, your ability to recognize and understand the spirit will increase. You will know of a surety the things the Holy Ghost is communicating to you. It is my prayer that we will all be able to listen to the spirit and continue to follow Jesus Christ. I know that He lives, and that He stands at the head of this church. This is His gospel, and we are His sheep. I bear solemn witness of Him as my brother, my Savior, my friend, and I do so in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.
Dax's baptism!!! MLC Breakfast
MLC Group photo. My cracked iPad and our destroyed phone.
The great solar eclipse of 2017!!!