Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Notes, Part II

For one hour each morning at 8 a.m. I study the gospel of Jesus Christ. My greatest resources—or friends—for this period of study are the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, a manual written by living prophets and apostles and directed toward full-time missionaries like me. Following are some things I've learned during these precious hours of study.

Some Thoughts about Charity — February 9, 2012
Jesus Christ is our perfect exemplar of charity

  1. Charity is the pure love of Christ (see Moroni 7:47)
  2. Charity is a gift from God. We must actually pray for charity in order to receive it (see Moroni 7:48)
  3. Charity can prevent sin (see 1 Peter 4:8, especially footnote a)
  4. Charity means desiring others' salvation (see Mosiah 28:3)
  5. Charity includes acts of love that may make us uncomfortable—offering constructive correction, receiving constructive (or even hurtful) correction, allowing ourselves to take a supporting role so somebody else can shine, praising others who may not reciprocate praise, choosing to lead when you are inclined to follow, choosing to follow when you are inclined to lead, choosing to walk beside somebody who needs a friend, extending a friendly hand instead of an undesired push or pull, boldly declaring testimony of Christ, boldly inviting others to change
The Laborers in the Vineyard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
The Merciful Obtain Mercy, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Charity Never Faileth, President Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

19 - Repentance

People fear what they do not understand.

I used to fear eating mushrooms before I discovered how wonderful they taste. I used to fear public speaking until I tried it—then I actually enjoyed it!

I used to fear repentance. I'm not alone in this. The very word seems to evoke images of guilt and suffering and anguish.

It shouldn't be that way. Repentance is wonderful. I've come to identify the word with another word I used to fear but now embrace: change. Isn't it amazing that we can choose at any moment to turn our lives around? And isn't it amazing that with concerted effort and a determined resolve to rely on the Lord we can actually change?

The Bible Dictionary identifies repentance with another word I love: fresh. Its description of repentance reads
[D]enotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.
Rather than inspiring feelings of fear, repentance should cause us to feel joy. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said
[O]nly through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.
Because of the Savior's atonement, I can change and so can you. Change can happen in an instant.

And that's something to smile about.

The Divine Gift of Repentance, Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Cleansing the Inner Vessel, President Boyd K. Packer
The Miracle of the Atonement, Elder C. Scott Grow

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

18 - General Conference

God is not a silent observer in some faraway mystical land. He is involved in the very details of our lives. He speaks today to living prophets and apostles, just as He did anciently.

One of the great truths I cherish is that there are living prophets and apostles to guide me through the ills of modern society. I cannot imagine getting by without their inspired counsel. Life is far too confusing and complicated without the gospel, and prophets and apostles are called by God to teach the gospel according to our needs and circumstances. Wise and true and righteous as Moses and Isaiah were, they did not deal with Facebook and Twitter and television. God's commandments do not change but circumstances do. Much like an anchor holds down a ship in stormy weather, unchanging doctrine taught by living prophets and apostles acts to anchor our souls to truth in the whirlwind of trends, fads, gossip, perceptions and chaos that surrounds us.

Every six months living prophets and apostles teach truths in a worldwide broadcast known as General Conference. The most recent General Conference occurred last weekend. You can learn what these inspired leaders taught by visiting lds.org. In coming weeks and months I will write about their counsel on this blog.

Thomas S. Monson, who leads The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, is called of God to be a prophet. Fourteen other men are similarly called as special witnesses of Jesus Christ. I know this is true. Should you desire to know this for yourself, ask God in sincere prayer. He will answer.

Why Do We Need Prophets?, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
An Ensign to the Nations, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?, Heidi S. Swinton