Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Do You Know That You Know?

Today in church I told the congregation that I know the Gospel is true. That I know Heavenly Father loves me and cares about me. That I know Jesus Christ atoned for my sins. That I know the Church is led by a real prophet. That the Book of Mormon is a true record. In short, I bore my testimony.

This blog is a sort of a journal of my testimony. That is, it is a recitation and explanation of the things that I know are true. You may ask, "How can you know?"

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

"What do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? Contrast that kind of knowledge with 'I know it is cold outside' or 'I know I love my wife.' These are three different kinds of knowledge, each learned in a different way. Knowledge of outside temperature can be verified by scientific proof. Knowledge that we love our spouse is personal and subjective. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue."

I know that the things of which I testify here on this blog are true. These things have been confirmed to me - to my spirit - by the Holy Ghost. This, to me, is a more sure and reliable method of confirmation than any kind of empirical measurement of evidence. Your eyes can be fooled. Scientific "knowledge" can be later disproved.

But if one follows this method for determining truth, the confirmation that comes is powerful and undeniable.

It follows, with perfect logic, that if God knows all things, and that He communicates to us through the Holy Ghost, that by the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things. The key is to ask sincerely, believing that you shall receive an answer from God. But, you must also be patient, since the answer may not always come how or when you expect.

Gaining a testimony of truths that are of eternal significance may or may not be easy, but it is always worth it.

There is such a profound and wonderful peace and assurance that comes with knowing that these things are true. I no longer have to wonder, no longer have to search for the truth. Now I can use my effort and energy to try to live the Gospel and improve myself. Really, having a strong testimony is indescribably awesome. It really makes you want to share what you have with others, that they may know that same peace and joy.

Finally, a note about the bearing of my testimony here in this public setting.

Elder Oaks also said:
  • "We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them."
And that's why I'm doing this.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Priesthood of God

Like any child growing up, I wanted to be a variety of things when I got older - an architect, a designer of fine sports cars, a teacher - maybe I even thought about being a writer of some sort.

But one thing I never thought about was being a priesthood holder.

All worthy males over the age of 12 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood. You can find out more about the priesthood(s) of the Church here (and here), but in this post, I would like to just talk about the blessing it is to hold and use the priesthood.

As stated in that link above, the priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. That brings with it a great power. Like Uncle Ben taught Peter Parker, great power brings with it great responsibility. The power of the priesthood is the power to bless the lives of others. A priesthood holder cannot use it to bless himself (at least not directly - but selflessly serving others brings blessings back to you).

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"The Priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man on earth to act in all things pertaining to the salvation of men. It is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. Without this priesthood power, men are lost."

I am so thankful that I hold the priesthood. With it, I can serve others by providing priesthood blessings for healing or comfort, and can perform a variety of other ordinances with authority from God. I know this authority comes from God, and not of man, since I have a priesthood line of authority - a document tracing the authority directly back to Jesus Christ.

Here is that line of authority:
  • I was ordained an Elder June 25, 1997, by Wayne Cowley.
  • Wayne Cowley was ordained a High Priest Sept. 11, 1977 by Von W. Pulsipher.
  • Von W. Pulsipher was ordained a High Priest Nov. 22, 1964 by Thomas S. Monson (our current prophet).
  • Thomas S. Monson was ordained an Apostle Oct. 10, 1963 by Joseph Fielding Smith.
  • Joseph Fielding Smith was ordained an Apostle Apr. 7, 1910 by Joseph F. Smith.
  • Joseph F. Smith was ordained an Apostle July 1, 1866 by Brigham Young.
  • Brigham Young was ordained an Apostle Feb. 14, 1835 under the hands of the Three Witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris.
  • The Three Witnesses were called by revelation to choose the Twelve Apostles and on Feb. 14, 1835 were blessed by the laying on of hands of the Presidency; Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams to ordain the Twelve Apostles. (See History of the Church, Vol. 2, pp. 187-188).
  • Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery received the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829 under the hands of Peter, James and John. (For details of this event, please see the link above.)
  • And, of course, these Apostles were ordained by Jesus Christ.
I cannot overstate how amazing the power of the priesthood is. This is the same power with which the Lord Jesus Christ created the Earth, and the same power with which He healed the sick and raised the dead. Of course, He, being perfect, was able to use the full power of the priesthood, to the maximum extent. Still, with sufficient faith, I know that I could move mountains, or at least heal the sick, using the priesthood.

The key to proper and effective usage of the priesthood is staying worthy by keeping the commandments, and being humble, and being a willing servant of God. As long as a priesthood holder is thinking of the well being of others, he can be led by the Spirit to be able to do good in the world.

Since priesthood holders are representatives of Jesus Christ, holding the priesthood helps keep me on the straight and narrow, as I must always be worthy and prepared to act in that capacity at a moment's notice. When a friend, neighbor, or family member is in need, I must always be at the ready to don a white shirt and tie, and go forth and serve. That alone is a great blessing to me. Staying cognizant of the importance of the priesthood, and never taking it for granted, helps me to not take the Gospel for granted, or become complacent in my life.

I have had some phenomenal personal experiences with the priesthood. I have experienced the reality of its power, both as a recipient of a priesthood ordinance, and as a conduit for God's power. I have been healed, I have helped heal. I have felt that power course though me as I laid my hands on the head of someone in need. I have felt, while providing a priesthood blessing, the sacred and profound feeling of having words come to my mouth that I myself did not even think of. It is an indescribable experience, and something that has built in me a powerful testimony of the true priesthood of God.

I am very thankful for the priesthood. I am thankful that this great blessing is in my home, upon my family, and a key component of God's true Church.

My Family

My Family
THIS is what it's all about. (July 2013)

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