Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Don't Forget!

Let’s take a quick moment to remember that God is always more concerned about who we’re becoming than where we are. It’s comforting to know that he doesn’t measure the way the world does. He knows who we really are and what we really want. Although things like what we do for a job and how well we do in school are of course important to Him. But that’s not what really defines is. When we take away all of that, who are we, really? Have we become more like Christ?
It’s also comforting to know that we have an infinite number of second chances. Thanks to the Atonement, we can keep getting up again and trying again. It doesn’t matter if we get a bad grade on a test or don’t pass the interview we wanted to. It’s all part of the process. I’ve shared Moroni 10:32 but I recently rediscovered it and we all need to be reminded at some point of what we knew before.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
We’re in a long, long journey to be perfected. The great thing is that it doesn’t necessarily matter if we stumble and fall here. What matters is if we get back up and keep trying. I’ve found this to be personally very important lately with my school work. It’s given me a better perspective.
And while we’re at it, let’s serve one another! The Church’s Light the World campaign has been great so far. I’ve eagerly checked on it every day to see what I can do to help. It’s a simple truth that when we care more about others we forget about ourselves. Some thoughts to help in this sometimes-stressful part of the year.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I attended one of the devotionals early on in this semester, where Matthew O. Richardson spoke. I loved what he had to say, especially a story he shared of his experiences at BYU. He shared how he was experiencing many of the hardships that are common to students and was feeling very down on himself. By a remarkable set of circumstances, he ran into then-President Holland, who after talking with President Richardson, assessed him and offered advice. President Richardson recounts that Elder Holland said:

“You just believe that God will work His mighty miracles for everyone but you.”

His assessment was right.

And then he said with his typical fervor, “You gotta believe, Matt. You gotta believe.”

Don’t we all think like that, sometimes? I know I have. I was reminded a little bit of this as I read in Mormon 9:

19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
We believe in God, don’t we? Do we really, truly believe that he can make miracles happen? Maybe that’s why we read our scriptures and say our prayers and partake of teh sacrament - to remember what He can and will do for us if we only ask.
I know that God is a God of miracles. I know that this is His gospel. I know that Christ has overcome death and that through him we can all find peace for our souls. It just takes some remembering, sometimes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Nephi 9

One of my very favorite scriptures has always been this one from 3 Nephi chapter 9 (or really, the first part of it):

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Here Christ was talking to the people in the Americas after His death. What He taught us about repentance here is very important.

What exactly does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? It means that we will do everything we can to make things right. Oftentimes we make mistakes but are too proud to admit it. Sometimes we display the exact opposite - our hearts are hardened instead of broken and our spirits are haughty instead of humbled. It’s all too easy to rationalize our sins away or not commit to taking the steps that need to be taken to make amends, especially when something might be serious enough to merit a confession to our bishop.

However, that’s exactly what the people had felt before Christ’s coming. That’s exactly what had put them in this trouble in the first place. In fact,

18 Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

So how do we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? More than anything I think it means having humility. We need to be willing to submit everything we have to God so that He can make things right again. I know I’ve had to do this before. It isn’t easy. But we do it because we know what awaits us if we do - and the consequences if we don’t. If we want to get back to our Heavenly Father, there really isn’t anything that should stand in our way. Any embarrassment we might feel now is nothing compared to what we get in return.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It Will All Work Out!

Sometimes we all get pretty scared. We can wonder if things are going to get better in the future or if we will be able to provide safety and security for our families. Sometimes the problems we face are problems we’ve created entirely on our own and we worry that we’ve gone too far, that we’ve finally stepped across the line and into a place where God can no longer help us.

There’s a pattern that is very common in the Book of Mormon that can give us hope and it has to do with liberation. In Alma 36, Alma the Younger describes to his son how he was able to overcome sin in his own life by calling upon Christ. I also like what Alma says at the beginning in verse 2:

I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.

All throughout the Book of Mormon the prophets exhort the people to remember the bondage of Lehi, Nephi, and also Moses. Can you remember a time when you were in bondage? Do you remember how the Lord helped you escape?

Sometimes we worry so much about the future that we forget that we’ve been worried about the future before. If we remember that we’re also likely to remember that God has delivered us before! In fact, if we put our trust in Him, we have a promise that he will. Take heart in that! Through Christ’s Atonement absolutely anything is possible. There is nothing that He cannot overcome.

That is why we are so indebted to Him. If we let the Atonement come into our lives, we will feel as Alma did:

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Friday, November 4, 2016

3 Nephi 22

This week I was doing a more in-depth study of 3 Nephi 22. I’ve always liked the chapter because of the beautiful symbolism and the message of hope it brings. We all have moments where we’re afraid because of mistakes we’ve made or things other people have done or just the state of the world in general. It can be hard to see how everything will end in “happily ever after.” That’s why I love the words of Isaiah the Christ quotes in this chapter:

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

The truth is we’ve almost all done something to make the Lord hide His face from us. However, the central truth of this chapter is that God loves us. He remembers the covenant that He’s made to always watch over us and protect us. If we remember our side of the covenant, He will make sure things turn out OK. I like what Elder Holland has to say about this:

...the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.

President George Q. Cannon once taught: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.”

I absolutely know that is true! I know that God lives and that He loves us. I know that He will never abandon us. I also know that He is very patient with us and just wants us to keep moving forward. If we do so, one day, He will gather us with great mercies in His arms.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I’ve always loved learning about the antichrists in the Book of Mormon, and especially Korihor in Alma 30. I think it’s one of the most relevant parts to today’s world. There are many antichrists out there and it’s often so very hard to pick out their arguments and realize just how poisonous they are. They sound so appealing to the natural man! As I was reading through Alma 30 this week I discovered some additional insights on how to distinguish good from evil and know whether an antichrist should be believed.

More than anything I came to realize that many antichrists appeal to our better side and ask us to believe in things like “love” and “tolerance” - I don’t think I need to give latter-day examples. Korihor does something similar. He says in verses 23 and 24:

...I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage.

See what he does there? He sides with the people and popularity. It certainly sounds appealing. But the trick here is what is actually lacking, and it’s something that can help us spot antichrist arguments. In reality, Korihor lacks charity. He himself may even think he does it out of “love,” but that’s not how true love works. Charity is described in Moroni 7:45 as being patient and benevolent and kind. I don’t think Korihor had any of those attributes. Rather, he was motivated by pride.

That, in the end, is all that motivates Satan, as well. He never does anything because he really loves people. He doesn’t have charity. Only God, who loves us perfectly, would gives us commandments and want us to be truly free. So let’s all have charity and help with that!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


I was flipping through my mission notes and was reminded of what I was learning only a few months ago in the field: repentance! We all make mistakes but I love the promise in Mosiah:

30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.

And a related verse in D&C 58:

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

I love these two parts of scripture and what they teach us about repentance. Specifically, I love how the Lord is always willing to forgive us and that when he does, he doesn’t remember our sins. The Atonement really is a wonderful thing. All the mistakes we’ve made can be completely and utterly forgotten. There’s nothing we have to fear as long as we stay on the right path and keep striving to do what’s right. Many times we feel like we’ve gone too far or that happiness is out of our reach, but it never is. And the Lord wants us to come unto Him and repent. It’s a painful process, yes, but in the end brings happiness. That is what can inspire us to, like the Nephites, fast and pray “in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who [know] not God.” (Alma 6:6)

I know that Christ lives and that through His infinite Atonement all things can be made right once again.