Sunday, January 29, 2012

Huge Decision and My Thoughts!

So three years ago I went to join the United States Marine Corps! I was attending Brigham Young University Idaho. As I would talk with recruiters my thoughts would sway back and forth because of such a big decision. After I started feeling out the papers I decided I would hold off and go on a church mission. I was called by a Prophet of God to the Great Tennessee Nashville Mission. I served an honorable mission and now home. While on my mission I studied the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I was able to see how much they help and support each other. They do not contradict each other but are both witnesses of the Master Jesus Christ. If I would have never went on my mission I would have never had the opportunity like I had to study the scriptures.

I am home now and have soo many decisions to make. There are honestly soo many huge decisions. Call me crazy, but I have always wanted to go and serve in the military. There are certain things that always pulls me away from it. The military life is one of the biggest divorce causes today. Couples can't adjust to the other being gone and having no idea where they are. Not hearing from them in months. They have no idea if they will ever see their spouse again. On the other side of it though. Soldiers go away to defend their country and give their family and friends the freedom they enjoy. We all know their are hardships that come with war. Many are so upset when I or others talk about going into the military. Why, because they are afraid that we are making a bad decision. If everyone runs from the military then who is going to be there to preserve our freedom.
Now the thing that really pulls me away from military is the thought that what if I get married and my wife does not like what I do. I will have children that will not see their father for months at a time. Family is so very important to me. I want to be there for my wife and my children when they are growing up. I want to have the eternal memories that my family and I can have. This is one of those hard decisions that I am always battling with in my head day after day. 

My dream since I was a little boy is to be a Federal Agent! I have always been so interested in Law Enforcement. That has always caught my eye and gave me more excitement in career searching than anything else. Yea I could be an Engineer or a Medical Personnel which are not bad jobs by any means but it is just not what I really want to do. I used to work around FBI Agents and DHS Officers and I quite enjoyed it. I battle with this dream day after day also because again divorce rates in law enforcement families are high. Same reasons never know if you will see your spouse again after they go to work. They could be killed on the job. At the same time you could be killed in a car accident driving to any job or you could work for a company that is getting robbed and be shot. There are dangers in every job. Yea, law enforcement you are putting your life on the line so other may live, but there is great respect in this. Christ said in the KJV New Testament, John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Those men and women who lay down their lives for others deserve our respect. The psychological impact they go through is more than we can imagine. Knowing you may have to take someones life to preserve another. I think that would be hard.

Families are just soo important to me that I will do anything to be able to have those memories and the family I have always dreamed of. I also want that job I have always dreamed about but am a little scared because of facts and thoughts of having a broken family. The excitement of having to make big decisions. I sometimes don't know how exciting it is. HAHA!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Homecoming Talk

So weeks ago I said I would post my homecoming talk. Unfortunately I have been really busy. Well here it is. Again sorry it took so long. Please comment as I would love to hear your thoughts upon it. I hope you enjoy it. Sorry it is so long I had like 25 mins to fill.

    Good morning brothers and sisters. Well it has been a while since I have stood at this pulpit and gave a talk. I think I have been asked to speak on recommitting ourselves to the covenants we have made and using the Atonement in our lives. If not this is what I am going to speak on anyway. Sorry Bishop. It is good to be here and I am surely excited to be able to speak to yall today. As I was fixin to write my talk I decided I would leave it until Sunday morning. Well Friday late night I decided it was time for me to write my talk.
    As many of you know I just returned from a The Great Tennessee Nashville Mission. It was the most amazing experience for me. I learned soo much as my parents can testify of. The last time I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting was two months ago and they gave me half an hour to speak. Surprisingly I didn't have enough time to finish my talk.
    Well I first want to talk about the covenants we make when we enter the waters of baptism.
Some of you may ask what a covenant is. It is a solemn agreement between you and God.
Now, the first covenant we enter into here is the covenant of baptism. I know of no better explanation of the baptismal covenant than the one Alma gave when he said,
“Behold, here are the waters of Mormon … and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;
“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--
“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before Him that ye have entered into a covenant with Him, that ye will serve Him and keep His commandments that He may pour out His Spirit more abundantly upon you?
    So we covenant to ALWAYS Remember Him, Keep His Commandments, and take His name upon us. Him I refer to is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In return He promises us that we may have His Spirit to ALWAYS be with us. The important part of this covenant we need to remember is it is done by the Priesthood or authority to act in God's name. This was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is one of the main keystones that holds the Church of Jesus Christ together. We need to always remember our covenants. If you are ever going to do something wrong remember your covenants. If you do mess up remember the Atonement covers everything. I am not encouraging anyone to mess up but I want you to know there is a way back through repentance. Jesus said, “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.”
    One of the most talked about doctrines in the South is Grace. Many believe that we are wholly saved by grace and other believe that we are saved by works.

The following has been taken from a "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox,
     "A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”
     She said, “I just don’t get grace.”
     I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
     She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
     She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.
     She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”
     She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.
     Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
     Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
     She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.
     I said, “Wrong.”
     She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”
     I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”
     She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”
     “Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”
     Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 3 Nephi 28:35).
    “So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”
    “True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”
    Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, referring to President Spencer W. Kimball’s explanation, “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.”
have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”
     I say, “No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”
     They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”
     I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”
     Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see Moroni 7:48).
    The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are.
    Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.
     There are young women who know they are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them, and they love Him. Then they graduate from high school, and the values they memorized are put to the test. They slip up. They let things go too far, and suddenly they think it is all over. These young women don’t understand grace.
     There are young men who grow up their whole lives singing, “I hope they call me on a mission,” and then they do actually grow a foot or two and flake out completely. They get their Eagles, graduate from high school, and go away to college. Then suddenly these young men find out how easy it is to not be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent. They mess up. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “This is stupid. I will never do it again.” And then they do it. The guilt is almost unbearable. They don’t dare talk to a bishop. Instead, they hide. They say, “I can’t do this Mormon thing. I’ve tried, and the expectations are just way too high.” So they quit. These young men don’t understand grace.
     I know returned missionaries who come home and slip back into bad habits they thought were over. They break promises made before God, angels, and witnesses, and they are convinced there is no hope for them now. They say, “Well, I’ve blown it. There is no use in even trying any more.” Seriously? These young people have spent entire missions teaching people about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and now they think there is no hope for them? These returned missionaries don’t understand grace.
     I know young married couples who find out after the sealing ceremony is over that marriage requires adjustments. The pressures of life mount, and stress starts taking its toll financially, spiritually, and even sexually. Mistakes are made. Walls go up. And pretty soon these husbands and wives are talking with divorce lawyers rather than talking with each other. These couples don’t understand grace.
    One young man wrote me the following e-mail: “I know God has all power, and I know He will help me if I’m worthy, but I’m just never worthy enough to ask for His help. I want Christ’s grace, but I always find myself stuck in the same self-defeating and impossible position: no work, no grace.”
     I wrote him back and testified with all my heart that Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done “all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). He is with us every step of the way.
     Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 155). So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch (see Hebrews 12:2).
The grace of Christ is sufficient—sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes. The Book of Mormon teaches us to rely solely on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). As we do, we do not discover—as some Christians believe—that Christ requires nothing of us. Rather, we discover the reason He requires so much and the strength to do all He asks (see Philippians 4:13). Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power (see Luke 1:37).
    With Elder Maxwell, I testify that God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Oh, young people, don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, I promise you will feel the enabling power we call His amazing grace.

The following has been taken from the talk "The Challenge to Become" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks,
   "In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
    It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.
    We qualify for eternal life through a process of conversion.
    The Savior confirmed the importance of being converted, even for those with a testimony of the truth. In the sublime instructions given at the Last Supper, He told Simon Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
    In order to strengthen his brethren—to nourish and lead the flock of God—this man who had followed Jesus for three years, who had been given the authority of the holy apostleship, who had been a valiant teacher and testifier of the Christian gospel, and whose testimony had caused the Master to declare him blessed still had to be “converted.”
    Jesus’ challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 18:3) was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be “converted,” which requires us to do and to become. If any of us relies solely upon our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, we are in the same position as the blessed but still unfinished Apostles whom Jesus challenged to be “converted.” We all know someone who has a strong testimony but does not act upon it so as to be converted. For example, returned missionaries, are you still seeking to be converted, or are you caught up in the ways of the world?
    Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships—even more than our Church callings—are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother. Being a successful Church leader is not enough. Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it.
    Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquillity, as Elder Hales taught us so beautifully this morning. The Prophet Joseph was promised that “thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7–8).
    Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call “the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10; 1 Ne. 20:10). Some are submerged in service to a disadvantaged family member. Others suffer the death of a loved one or the loss or postponement of a righteous goal like marriage or childbearing. Still others struggle with personal impairments or with feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or depression. Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become.
    We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity (see 1 Cor. 13). The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes.
    We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors.
     We should never give up hope and loving associations with family members and friends whose fine qualities (see Moro. 7:5–14) evidence their progress toward what a loving Father would have them become. Similarly, the power of the Atonement and the principle of repentance show that we should never give up on loved ones who now seem to be making many wrong choices.
Instead of being judgmental about others, we should be concerned about ourselves. We must not give up hope. We must not stop striving. We are children of God, and it is possible for us to become what our Heavenly Father would have us become.
How can we measure our progress? The scriptures suggest various ways. I will mention only two.
    After King Benjamin’s great sermon, many of his hearers cried out that the Spirit of the Lord “has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). If we are losing our desire to do evil, we are progressing toward our heavenly goal."

Elder C. Scott Grow who visited our mission in November 2010 said in April 2011 Conference, "Because of His live, Jesus Christ invites is to repent so that we will not have to suffer the full weight of our own sins: "Repent-repent, lest … your sufferings be sore- how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard you know not.
"For behold I, God have suffered these things for all, that they might not have to 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."
The Savior offers healing to those who are suffering from sin. "will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?"
Jesus Christ is the Great Healer of our souls. With the exception of sins of perdition, there is no sin or transgression, pain or sorrow, which is outside of the healing power of His Atonement.
When we sin, Satan tells us we are lost. In contrast, or Redeemer offers redemption to all-no matter what we have done wrong, even to you and to me."
I was fortunate to be interviewed by this general authority. Let me tell you it is nerve wracking.
    Elder Hafen said, "Every marriage is tested repeatedly by three kinds of wolves. The first wolf is natural adversity. The second wolf is the wolf of their own imperfections will test them. Third is, the excessive individualism that has spawned today's contractual attitudes."     This can relate to our every day lives. Whether we are married or single we have to deal with natural adversity, personal imperfections which may cause us to judge others or blame others, and selfishness.
Elder Richard G. Scott said, "It is one thing to know how to heal your damaged life. It is quite another to do it. You will change only when you recognize that it will bring lasting personal benefit. Deep down you know that breaking commandments does not bring anything productive and does cause a lot of grief for yourself and others. Don't wait to hit bottom. That is painful and could leave physical scars that can't be healed."
President Uchtodrf said, "Because love is the greatest commandment, it ought to be at the centre of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk. May you all be healed by the precious gift of Faith and the Atonement. May you find peace and joy in lives challenges and hardships. May you find your Heavenly Fathers love from friends, family and others. May you show that love to someone in need. Brethren and Sisters, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. In this I mean Alma 7:11-12. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, Died on the Cross and was risen that you and I will be able to live again. Where you live is up to you. You can either live in paradise or outer darkness. No one is going to force you to live with God. Christ I imagine will beg us to come unto Him I imagine and use His Atonement, but the decision is up to you. I hope that you may soften your hearts to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and become perfect.
May you be an example to the believers is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I am still alive!

So I have been home coming up on a month. I will be honest, it has been so busy. I was able to spend 5 days in Idaho and a day in Utah. I really enjoyed this trip. It was busy but actually relaxing. I was able to see my former mission parents, The Hutchings. It was an awesome visit. On my Facebook I have pictures from a fire my cousin and I had. It was pretty fun,

For those of you still wondering, Yes I am alive. Lol! Things have been going pretty good. Today was my first day at work and they are already training me to take over the building. I am so happy I am used to the type of work I do! Who ever thought being a maintenance man at an old folks home would be fun? Some of the old people are so funny.

Well after I get my new laptop in the mail I will start blogging again. Doing it on the phone sucks. Stay tuned for.......