"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

My testimony of things spiritual  has grown over the past year. I am sure it has not grown enough, but it is alive and growing. I am grateful to be blessed by my testimony of The Savior Jesus Christ. It blesses my life and strengthens me as I live, breathe, and walk through this temporal world. I believe that He is The Living Christ, The Only Begotten Son, and The Redeemer of the World. I believe that He is the life, the light, and the hope of the world. I believe the Heavenly Father loved us enough to allow the Atonement to take place, to provide a way back for each of His children. I cannot fathom how that all takes place, but I believe anyway. I trust God and His plan of salvation. This plan is the only way to return to our premortal home.

I believe in apostles and prophets. They represent Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ on the earth today. President Thomas S. Monson is the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is out prophet today. I honor, respect, and revere him. I believe he is inspired. I also believe his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are also prophets, seers, and revelators. I am grateful for their wisdom and instruction.

I am grateful for scriptures. I appreciate opening The Book of Mormon and reading from its pages. I am often able to recieve insight and inspiration as I read. I love reading about Christ in the gospels in The New Testsment. I desire to follow His path.

I believe the Prophet Joseph Smith was inspired, guided and directed to bring forth the restoration of The Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Book of Mormon. He died a martyrs death, sealing his testimony which his blood.

As Christmas approaches, I add my witness of Christ to the testimonies of hundreds of thousands who have gone before me. Jesus is my Redeemer.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Lesson of the Pine Trees

Today I spent some time tying up some loose ends, running some errands, and hitting the local grocery store to snag a few needed items. Lining the walkway to the entrance of the store, on both sides, were tall pine trees of differing varieties. As I walked towards the door, I let my sniffer run wild, drinking in the scent of the trees. It was a delicious smell! I lingered to drink in the different fragrances of the trees.

I have always preferred real Christmas trees in almost every aspect over artificial trees. I stood firm for many a year against the artificial kind for our home. Even though the needle clean up was genuinely annoying, I considered it to be a price worth paying to have the real deal, a genuine, somewhat freshly chopped down tree, in our home.

Some years the needle clean up was better than others. Obviously the trees in those years were somewhat fresher. But some years the cleanup was downright challenging and seemed to last for months, as stray needles were found in odd places around the house almost until spring. The needles found their way into nooks and crannies and bare feet. No one seemed particularly thrilled to be the target of a sharp, pointy needle from a long gone Christmas tree.

Eventually, we succumbed to the artificial tree lifestyle. There are definite advantages to an artificial tree. When one owns a fake tree, it can be put up anytime. It has only to be located, hauled into the house, and assembled. Over the course of a number of Christmas seasons, an artificial tree is a money saver as well. Though artificial trees also drop needles, they are simply annoying,  not deadly weapons. Many fake Christmas tress are very beautiful. They can also be fairly simple to assemble. Our current tree is pre-lit, a boon to speeding up the installation process. No more checking each light strand to see if they work, bulb by bulb. A simple plug in here and there and the tree is ready to go.

But an artificial tree is just that. It is not real. Though beautiful, it is a fake, and minorly has that appearance. But an artificial tree lacks the genuine fragrance that comes with a real Christmas tree. And I miss that smell!

For a season or two, I had a really great smelling candle. It was so good it could be deceiving, for a moment or two. But I have never found a good candle since. I soon tire of the candle scent. But, I cannot ever once remember getting tired of the earthy, woody, Christmas tree smell that danced through our house. It was real and warmed my heart as it gently wrapped me up inside.

After my shopping was completed and I left the store, I again walked between the two rows of stately pine trees, patiently waiting to be taken home and decorated. The smell quickly tickled my nose and sucked me in. Slowly I walked through the trees, inhaling their fragrance, letting it move gently into the core of my being. It was in many ways the highlight of my day.

As I loaded the groceries into my car and headed home, I began to think about the lessons from the pine trees. So many things in life are not real. They are counterfeit. They are fake. They are phony. We spend money creating and acquiring things that are not real. I have a pine scented candle on a warmer as I write to imitate the fragrance of a genuine, God created pine tree.

Satan is an expert counterfeiter. He is well rehearsed and well experienced. His phony plan and deceitful words have floated around since before this world was created. He knows how to deceive us all. There is no way for us to give his plan a whirl and succeed. We are not nearly as experienced or clever as he is.

Things that are real and true and good come from God. He is Love and Light and Truth. Heavenly Father has no desire to trick or confuse us. He sent His Only Begotten Son to the world to show us the way. He allowed Jesus Christ to suffer and bleed from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane. God loved us all enough to allow men to crucify His Son. The love of our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ is real. It lifts, builds, guides, and strengthens us. Through Their love and mercy, we are carried through the storms of life. We are strengthened in our own weakness, fear,  and loss. They are there, waiting for us to come and seek.

Just as the scent from a genuine, real honest to goodness pine tree makes all the difference; Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the difference.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Prince of Peace

We live in a world filled with turmoil, trouble, and trials. It is a fallen world and thus these are all really a part of what we should expect to find around us. It should not surprise us or catch us off guard. But it does. We are surrounded with people who challenge us. Experiences which challenge us. And even things that challenge us. In our desire to be 'in control' of our lives, we struggle and strain to make sense of things that we simply cannot control at all.

It may be easier for some than others to come to terms with things that cannot be controlled. But for some it is just dang hard. For example let's take the weather. Are there times when we long to control or accurately predict the weather? Are there things that the weather can spoil very quickly in our lives? Do we ever find ourselves planning around the weather? Meteorologists spend tons of money and tons of time learning to predict the weather. Expensive equipment provides up to the minute information to predict the weather. And sometimes they can. But sometimes they cannot. In a heartbeat a tornado or hurricane can change its course and slam into unsuspecting weather 'experts' putting their very lives in peril.

So it is with Satan. He can twist and turn everything around us, instantly putting our very lives in danger, spiritually. He is cunning, crafty, and carefree. He is sneaky, deceitful, and clever. Satan is downright more experienced than any of us. He is an expert at what he does.

So, I ask myself, why do I continue to allow him to tempt and torture me? Sister Sheri Dew of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints told us that we should shun Satan for the snake that he is.

On the other hand there is a lot of good in the world. There is much to be thankful for and to appreciate. Though this can be an incredibly busy season, it can also be a Joyful season as we think of the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.

It is because of Jesus Christ!

Several weeks ago as I found myself drowning in the busyness that I had imposed on myself, well mostly anyway. I discovered I needed to impose some changes in my focus. It was time to look more to The Savior of the World, to think of Him. To find new ways to increase my faith in Him and more ways to honor Him.

I made two decisions. First I decided that I wanted to memorize "The Living Christ." This special document is the testimony of prophets and apostles who now live on the earth. It is their testimony of Our Savior Jesus Christ. It is inspired, profound, and filled with power. It bears witness of who Christ is and what He came to earth to do. It also testifies to truths about the pre-existence, this life on earth, and the life to come when we return to Heavenly Father.

At first it was so very difficult for me to memorize any of it. It took great  mental effort. But then it became just a little easier. My goal was to memorize this by Christmas day, in honor of Christ's birth. I also hope that as I spend time memorizing, every single day, that my faith will grow in The Savior and Redeemer of the World. I hope my heart changes, even a small degree or two towards becoming more as He is. Someday, I want others to see "His image in my countenance."

I also refocused on reading The Book of Mormon, a Second Witness of  Jesus Christ, every day! 

These are both works in progress. But then, so am I!

They testify that Jesus Christ is real and living. He is the Son of God.  Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His only Begotten Son to this earth to Atone for all the sins of mankind, if we would sacrifice our pride, repent, and come unto Him. He is waiting with His arms wide open, ready to receive each of us.

Because He is the Prince of Peace.