Sunday, April 26, 2009

Faith: A Kind of Holy Confidence

The prophet Moroni spoke of the power of faith, stating that “by faith all things are fulfilled.”

Faith, I have come to understand, is a sort of “holy confidence” that has great power - not just power to help you feel good or to see you through tough times - but actual power to bring marvelous things to pass.

Indeed, as we strive to be like Christ - charitable and virtuous - we will find our holy confidence will grow - that is, our faith will become stronger.

It is by faith that the many wondrous powers of the priesthood operate. The faith itself actually fuels the operation - like a supernatural catalyst.

Just over two weeks ago, I was laid off, along with 20% of my company. No - it wasn't a result of the economy, it was the result of some corporate politics that have doomed the company almost from its inception three years ago. Sadly, the company is probably not going to survive. Regardless, I found myself with two weeks to get a new job.

I knew right from the start that everything would work out fine. I had faith that it would work out fine. But it was more than just a hope, or a good feeling, or some kind of placebo to get me through the difficulty. I really knew it would be fine.

I had that “holy confidence” - I was still humble and knew I had to do my part - I worked very hard to get a new job - but I felt assured that if I did all I could, that the Lord would take care of me and my family.

I truly was not worried.

My final day at work came and went - still no new job.

I had a couple of potential job offers on the horizon, and knew that either one would take care of us, but couldn't decide which one was best for me and my family.

The next day, I went to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple and did an endowment session. In the Celestial Room, I felt peace as I pondered on my situation. I still knew everything would work out - that wasn't what I was praying about. I wanted to know which job offer, when it came, I should take. I received an answer to my question. The answer was, “when the time comes, you will know what to do.”

Immediately after I came out, I received a call. It was one of the jobs. They made an offer, and I knew that I should accept it. So I did.

I start the new job this coming Thursday.

So, I only ended up being unemployed for about six hours. Everything worked out, just like I knew it would.

Now, I had to do my part - I worked very hard at applying and interviewing and following up. I never once even considered not paying my tithing. I have always paid my tithing no matter what my situation, and I always will. I continued to do everything I am supposed to do. And I believed, without a hint of doubt, that it would all work out.

I had no illusions - I understood that “everything working out” could mean a period of hardship, and any number of unexpected potholes in the road before a solution would arrive, but I knew that in the end it would be okay - even if we were to be tested for a while first.

Thankfully, the test was very short.

In the midst of this experience, I took the opportunity to take a step back and observe myself and my faith. And what I found was that when you truly believe, nothing wavering, you can feel it. You know it. It is true faith in action. And it brings real peace.

And, I believe, it makes good things happen.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine
own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge
him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

I have always loved that scripture - now I have experienced it.

Nephi's brother Jacob stated, “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith.”

And in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

I bear testimony that something “clicks” when you truly believe - when you “doubt not” - when you have “nothing wavering.” You can feel it - it feels different than just hoping for the best. It is a confidence that the Lord will keep His promises. It brings peace, and it actually stimulates the very outcome that you desire.

President Monson's message in the March 2009 Ensign links the faith of which I speak to the essential element of prayer. I recommend it. Likewise, I highly recommend Elder Bednar's talk from the April 2008 General Conference, wherein he also connects faith and prayer in a powerful way.

Finally, with regard to that “holy confidence” of which I speak, I quote Paul, who said:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God,
ye might receive the promise.”
I had the faith, I felt the confidence, and I have received the promise.

And I am grateful.

P.S. A big THANK YOU to all who were praying for me and my family. I know that made a big difference!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Testimony of Joseph Smith

I bear testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, called of God, and given the responsibility of restoring the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a faithful boy of 14, he prayed for answers to the questions that burned within him, and was answered by seeing God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They spoke to him directly, and answered his questions, and gave him instructions.

He was visited by the Angel Moroni, who gave him further instructions and prepared him to receive the golden plates.

He did indeed receive the golden plates - an ancient record of the people who once populated the Americas, and who were visited by Jesus Christ following His resurrection. Joseph translated the records by the gift and power of God. They were published as the Book of Mormon.

Joseph organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was ordained to the true priesthood of God by John the Baptist (Aaronic Priesthood), and by Peter, James and John (Melchizedek Priesthood).

To Joseph God revealed many great and wonderful things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, including the temple ordinances that bind on Earth as well as in Heaven - the sealing power.

I fully, whole-heartedly believe - yes, I KNOW without reservation - that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed receive the revelations that comprise the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

How do I know these things are true? Because I have asked God for myself, in faith, believing I would receive an answer. And I did receive an answer. The Holy Ghost has testified directly to my own spirit that these things are true. I will never deny it - because I know as well as I know anything that it is true.

Now, Joseph was not perfect - he was just a man. But he was kind, charitable, faithful, strong and courageous. He was a great man of love and perseverance. He endured many awful trials, and suffered much pain and sorrow at the hands of evil men, with unshakable faith.

He was murdered for his faith, sealing his testimony with his own blood (along with his brother Hyrum).

I love and admire and respect and feel a deep gratitude for Joseph Smith, and the great work he did to bring to pass the restoration of the Gospel.

I thank God for the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Blessings

As we think on the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection this day, I begin with a couple of relevant scripture references:
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”
“For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.”
An "infinite and eternal sacrifice" - it was necessary - the only way that our salvation could be accomplished. It had to be the sacrifice of a God - to pay for all sins of all people of all time. Had it not been so, we would all be consigned to misery and ultimately a dark death with no hope for eternal joy.
Last Sunday in General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of what Jesus went through for us, and why, and what responsibility we now bear as recipients of those blessings. If you missed it, I highly recommend watching it online (Sunday AM session, next to last talk), and then reading it.
After describing how everyone – Jesus’ friends, disciples – everyone – had left His side in those final hours of His life, how He was left totally alone, Elder Holland said the following:
“I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. … Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour . . . is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”?

With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required; indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.

But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christ’s determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was “finished.” Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

...As we approach this holy week…may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,” for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
How does that make you feel? It makes me feel awe and gratitude. It makes me wonder at the amazing love of our Savior and our Heavenly Father. When I reflect on how much I love my own son, I cannot imagine how our Heavenly Father would have felt as His Son suffered so.
I challenge you to have more faith in Jesus Christ and to show the Savior your appreciation for the Atonement by repenting of your sins and thinking about Jesus during the Sacrament, while you pray, and especially as you eat your Easter treats. Let us all remember what He did for us, so that we never have to feel alone, and can have true joy in our lives.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 2009 General Conference

This weekend was the 179th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (You can click on that link to watch it online.)

It was absolutely awesome.

I so enjoy General Conference - it really is my favorite pair of weekends for the year (it's the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October).

This conference was really edifying and strengthening. I was particularly moved by Elder Holland's talk in the Sunday morning session. Wow. I had tears streaming down my face.

I was in Oregon this weekend, so I took my mom to the Sunday morning session. She also really liked Elder Holland's talk and also President Uchtdorf's talk. They were wonderful talks, indeed.

I know I'm not saying much of substance here - just doing a lot of gushing. But the Conference really speaks for itself: just watch at the link above to see what I mean.

The only thing I can add is my testimony that President Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God, that his counselors and the apostles are prophets, seers and revelators - and that if we listen and heed their words, we will be blessed. I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God on the earth today. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, and loves us, and that if we put our faith in Him and repent and follow His example we will have great joy.

I feel great! I love this Church!

My Family

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

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