Saturday, October 22, 2011

All You Need is Love

While refrencing a piece pusblished by Jonathan Sacks in his latest General Conference address, President Monson quoted the famous Beatle refrain "All you need is love." President Monson stood in agreement with Rabbi Sacks that this cultural ideology eventually led to the near-destruction of the public's morality. I however have recently thought about this idea in fairly different terms, and I feel that the concept of "all you need is love" is an essential gospel truth and an eternal commandment of utmost importance.

For a brief portion of the Savior's earthly ministry, the holy and learned of the ancient  Jewish church often sought to trap the Savior in His words by asking tricky questions that would require potentially condemnable answers. Jesus was never fooled, and being the master teacher confounded these men by teaching powerful and undeniable gospel truths. Here is the text of one such encounter from Matthew 22:
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
I testify that all we truly need is love. As the Savior taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15). In this sense we're abandoning the world's (and John Lennon's) meaning of the word love. Love to God means obedience. If we love Heavenly Father we will do as He has commanded. If we love Jesus Christ, we will utitilze and apply His sacrifice in our life. And if we love not only Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ but also our fellow man, then we will treat everyone in a Christlike manner showing love to all by being kind and compassionate, charitable and helpful. Everything the Father and Son have ever asked of us hinges upon our love for God and man.


As the great prophet Moroni taught, charity is the "pure love of Christ." We know that the Savior has a perfect love for every man, woman and child. His love is absolute, unconditional and entirely unadulterated. We are commanded to have this same love for everyone as well. In his discourse on this love, Moroni continues:
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all...
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God...
We should all follow Moroni's counsel and pray to Heavenly Father to be filled with this love so that we are fully committed to keeping all of His commandments. It is apparent that to gain favor in God's eyes and to keep us on the gospel path, truly, "all you need is love."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heaven's Gift Card

Being away from my family and living on a limited budget, my family occasionally sends me things to make life a little easier and more enjoyable. One favorite that they have sent to me is a McDonald's Gift Card! Getting that beautiful card loaded with some "Arch Dollars" is a joy akin to my Packers winning the Super Bowl, or a snowy Christmas morning spending time with my amazing family, enabling me to enjoy a savory Big Mac or some delicious french fries without having to pay for it.

Many of you have been thoughtful in "gifting" a gift card of one sort or another to friends or family. You paid the price for them to enjoy a meal or other purchase. How nice is that? You're giving someone you love something completely free of charge! So how bad would you feel if you pay the price for this gift card, and the recipient never uses it? You may feel hurt, or disrespected, or like this person didn't really value or care for what you had to offer them.

This is in essence what the Savior has done for each of us. He has literally paid the price of our sins. He has given this gift card with simple steps to redeem or use it. All we have to do is have faith, repent, be baptized and follow the guidance of the Spirit as we endure to the end. Jesus Christ has given us salvation pre-loaded onto a gift card. He sacrificed body and spirit so that none of us would ever have to!

Christ taking on the pains of the world in Gethsemane.

Christ dying for our sins on the cross.

Christ's ressurection overvoming physical death.

How do you think the Savior of mankind feels when we turn our backs on, or do not use this gift that He has given to us? We can show our love, gratitude and appreciation for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice by redeeming this every day in our lives.  However, if I choose to eat at McDonalds and not use a gift card, I must pay for it myself out of my own pocket.
For the believing Christians of the world, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the central, and single most important event in human history. It is deep and complex, and at times impossibly difficult to understand. Many analogies have been provided over the years so that we can better understand and apply the miraculous gift of the Atonement for man. I proffered yet another, that hopefully will allow someone to better understand the nature of the Atonement and it's application in our lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Will Shew Thee My Faith By My Works

With the great deal of recent news concerning the LDS Church and it's members, our doctrines and beliefs have been subject to scrutiny and condemnation by other professed Christians. A recurring theme has been the idea that Mormons are not Christians; this because of our lack of belief in a Trinitarian Godhead and our supposed lack of reliance on the Savior's mercy and grace.

"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." John 15:19

While I am not aiming for the love and acceptance of the world, I do not want these false claims deterring others from discovering the truth. Instead of adding my voice to the many that have declared that "Mormons are indeed Christians!" I've decided that following the scriptural counsel given in James 2:18 is the most honest and sincere path towards acceptance. "I will shew thee my faith by my works."

I believe a Christian is one who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Regarding my beliefs of the Son of God, I believe that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and Redeemer. I believe that he has paid the price for my sins. I believe that his name is the only name given under heaven whereby man can achieve salvation. I believe that it will only be through walking with Him hand in hand that I will be able to return to live in Heaven.

However, words will not satisfy those who claim we are not Christians, so I will demonstrate that I am a Christian in the way I live my life. I will show all my faith by my works. I am a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ. I will live his teachings as best as I can by showing love to God, and love to all mankind through my actions. And hopefully, my works will prove my faith in Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Connection to Our Loving Father

Another song lyric (along with the help of an amazing friend) got me thinking today. In a song by the band Oh, Sleeper (which name comes from the same scripture the title of my blog comes from) they have a lyric that comes from the perspective of Heavenly Father. It goes, "If you could see like me, you'd see." I've found that one of the most difficult things to do in life is to obtain an eternal perspective, to understand that God is really looking out for me and leading me to where I need to be. As I thought about how we come to gain this, the thought that came across my mind is that through prayer we come to better know and understand Him.

"Grace" by Eric Enstrom. My favorite picture of a man in prayer.

Oftentimes when we're visiting people, I try to impress on people the true nature of our relationship with God. He is our literal Father, the creator of our spiritual bodies. We are His children, His beloved sons and daughters. Unlike the fathers of our flesh however, God is a perfect father, He is all-knowing and He loves us perfectly. Surely we would all want to have a relationship with a being like this, someone who wants us to be happy and has our best interests at heart. So how do we build and maintain a relationship such as this? The answer is communication!

How do you think a father would feel if when their child came home from school, they walked straight past them without acknowledging them and just headed into their room and shut the door? How do you think Heavenly Father feels when we constantly ignore Him? President James E. Faust once said: 

"Prayer is a lifeline between God and mankind. Prayer fulfills a very important human need. Each of us has problems we can’t solve, weaknesses that we cannot conquer without reaching to a higher source of power. He is all knowing, all loving, understanding and full of compassion."
Through Prayer, we can access this love and compassion from our Heavenly Father, we can find answers to life's questions. Alma teaches us in the Book of Mormon to pray about every aspect of our lives! Over our school, our work, our families, our relationships with our wives and our children. He teaches to pray morning, mid-day and night, and to have a prayer in our hearts continually. God can and will help and direct us in every facet of our lives. We just need to reach out to him! He will help you! Concerning the help of the Lord that he has felt in his life, President Hinckley said:
"It has been said that we should pray as if everything depends on the Lord and work as if everything depends on us. I don’t know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work."
At times in my life however, I have felt that my communication to Heavenly Father was one-sided, that I spoke to Him, but that He would never speak back to me. President Kimball has said concerning this troubling thought:
"But is prayer only one-way communication? No! At the end of our prayers, we need to do some intense listening—even for several minutes. We have prayed for counsel and help. Now we must ‘be still, and know that [he is] God’ (Ps. 46:10). Sometimes ideas flood our mind as we listen after our prayers. Sometimes feelings press upon us. A spirit of calmness assures us that all will be well. But always, if we have been honest and earnest, we will experience a good feeling—a feeling of warmth for our Father in Heaven and a sense of his love for us."
I have followed that counsel and I can promise to everyone that God does indeed continue to speak! He has spoken to me, He has comforted and uplifted my heart and I have seen His hand guide me in my life! Do not be afraid to experience this for yourself. I have talked to so many people who have never vocally prayed, and are not comfortable doing so. They do not know what to say or how to say it. President Henry B. Eyring said: 
"When God commanded us to pray, he has used worlds like unceasingly and ‘pray always’ and ‘mighty prayer.’ Those commands do not require many words. The Savior has told us that we need not multiply words when we pray. The diligence in prayer which God requires does not take flowery speech nor long hours of solitude. You can pray anywhere, anytime, in your heart or aloud."
Speak the thoughts of your heart and the Lord will hear you! He will comfort you! This is my testimony and I give it in the name of Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ladytron Teaches Us a Gospel Principle

Today I was again singing to myself as we wandered our way around Three Forks. The radio station in my head decided to dig deep and play a song I liked from nearly a decade ago. The tune is catchy, the message depressing. This line repeats itself over and over:
"They only want you when you're seventeen.
When you're 21, you're no fun."

 The message of the song is aimed towards the morally bankrupt modeling industry, where youth is prized and the older you get the less you're wanted. I started thinking though about this statement though and found hidden within it a profound gospel truth.

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
 Although 17 isn't quite the desired age, those are some of the most belligerent, stubborn and selfish years of our lives, the principle is the same. We must all maintain our childlike attributes. We must remain humble before the Lord, submissive to his will and receptive and open-hearted to the promptings of the spirit. As we do these things, we will become the treasured and greatest ones of heaven!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Poolshark

This past week as we were walking around the rainy streets of Montana, I found myself singing songs to keep my spirits up. Randomly, a favorite song of mine from five or six years ago popped into my head and I began to sing:
"Never could see past the skin
They make you believe
Beauty's from within
Don't know why
'cause it's just natural."
As soon  as I finished the refrain, I stopped in my tracks. I couldn't believe the words that had just come out of my mouth! My mind was immediately drawn to a scripture mastery verse that I had memorized more than eight years ago. 
"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
For the first time ever, I had considered the message of one of my all-time favorite songs and was appalled at how vain it was. I thought about the state of society and about how so much rests upon our physical appearance. How comforting it is to know that the Lord looks past all that, that he see's us and loves us for our hearts and our goodness. "Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." DC 18:10.

Let us all practice this Godly attribute and love and judge people the way God does. I'm working hard to develop this charity to see and love people as God does!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


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. (Mosiah 3:19)
The natural man is an enemy to God! As scary as the thought is, reality is much more frightening. I am indeed an enemy to God. All who have sinned, fall short of the glory of God. No unclean thing can dwell in His presence. Thankfully, we can overcome this barrier due to the miraculous Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, to apply this to our lives, we must do as King Benjamin says. I've often wondered why "putting off the natural man" has been such a great challenge in my life thus far, to not desire for the things of the world, but to submit and fully set my heart on God.

As we learn from lessons that are taught through our personal study, through church attendance, or even by life experiences, many of us know what it is we should be doing in our lives or even what we should be wanting. It is unfortunate that for many of us, that what should be, isn't. Elder Oaks, in the most recent General Conference spoke on how we change our desires.
Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.
How do we develop desires? Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aron Ralston, but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in southern Utah, an 800-pound (360 kg) rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself. When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles (8 km) for help. What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire! When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.
We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent. So motivated, we will seek for that condition described by the Prophet Joseph Smith, where we have “overcome the evils of [our lives] and lost every desire for sin.” That is a very personal decision.
It is important for all of us to remember that we will be judged according to the desires of our hearts. When we work on our desires, mold them so that they are aligned with with the will of God, our lives will be blessed.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. (2 Nephi 10:24)