Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hardened or Softened


One section of the Book of Mormon tells of a lengthy conflict between two nations. It lasted many years. As this verse says, it affected different people in different ways, even those belonging to the same nation and who were suffering the same hardships.

The pandemic we are currently experiencing is comparable to a war, or any other long-term event that causes widespread suffering, and we see the same pattern repeat itself: some are of those affected are becoming hardened, cynical, hopeless, or selfish, while others are becoming more softened, caring, sensitive, and generous. We should all strive for the latter. To be clear, allowing ourselves to be "softened" doesn't mean we won't suffer, nor does it mean we don't take care of or protect ourselves and our families. Rather, it means that when we do suffer, we don't allow ourselves to become bitter and we remember to take care of others around us, to the extent possible. This has the added benefit of reinforcing a sense of control over our situation, which in turn empowers us to grow from our trials. If we ever feel ourselves becoming hardened by our trials, one of the best remedies is to serve others who are also suffering. By so doing, we'll be helping them and ourselves.

Stay hopeful. This current trial won't last for ever. Neither will any others that will come in the future. We have the ability to come out the other side better than we were before it started.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

He is Risen!


I've heard it said that to some is given the gift of knowing that God lives and that Jesus Christ is His Son, while to others is given the gift of believing that this is true. I have never seen an angel. No burning bush. No pillar of light. But I have felt the still small voice. I believe in Christ.

I believe because I choose to believe, and the universe feels much brighter, kinder, and more hopeful because of it.

I believe because the Gospel of Christ makes sense to me as a beautifully elegant plan from a loving Heavenly Father for the benefit of all of His children.

I believe because of the way I feel when I think about Him, and the peace and warmth it brings me, sometimes when I'm not even expecting it.

I believe because of the positive impact that following Him has had on my life and the lives of those I love.

I believe because of the miracles, large and small, that I witness when we trust in Him.

And I believe because of the sometimes inexplicable yet very real confidence that I have that He is in control and that in the end, all will turn out well for those who rely on Him.

My testimony is not perfect, but I don't need it to be. The light I have is enough to keep searching for the next step, and I hope enough to help brighten the way for others. I trust that one day it will be perfected in Him. In the meantime, it is enough for me to say that I do believe in Christ.

He is God's Son. He lived a perfect life. He taught the way of happiness. He suffered for the sins of the world. He was slain and He conquered death.

He is risen. Happy Easter!

(You can download the image above as a high resolution, 5"x7" image that's suitable for printing here.)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hear Him!


"...I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph SmithHistory 1:17
This weekend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commemorated the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's first vision in response to his humble prayer. On that day, he saw both the Father and the Son in a grove that we now call sacred in upstate New York. Furthermore the Church has issued an official proclamation reaffirming the truthfulness and the importance of this miraculous visitation.

Why should we care? The reason members of the Church attach so much importance to this event is obvious. But what about our friends of other faiths? Does this event matter to them? I say it does. Young Joseph's almost unbelievably bold claim supports what is taught in the Bible: that to him or her who asks, it shall be given (Luke 11:9), and that if we lack wisdom, we have but to ask of God in faith (James 1:5-6). God has not left us alone. He has provided the way for us to receive guidance, provided we are willing to hear him when he speaks!

This promise remains in effect today. "Knowing the truth of Joseph Smith’s testimony requires each earnest seeker of truth to study the record and then exercise sufficient faith in Christ to ask God in sincere, humble prayer whether the record is true. If the seeker asks with the real intent to act upon the answer revealed by the Holy Ghost, the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s vision will be manifest" (Gospel Topics Essays: First Vision Accounts). I share my own testimony with you that I know from my own experience it is true: God answers the prayers of those who ask in faith. He spoke to Joseph, and He still speaks with His children today.