Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week Seventy-three

WEEK SEVENTY-THREE November 24, 2014

Brother Six has mentioned a couple of times that it seems unlikely “our church could be the one and only true church with only 15M members. That statistic diminishes God. He couldn’t plan any better than to just have 15M to spread his word?” I have already pointed out to him that God has always worked with small numbers. Even the Bible that so many cherish today just relates the experiences of Israel among so many other people and “the stone cut out of the mountain without hands” in Daniel sounds like a small group to me. We also have many references to God doing his work through small means and limited number of people (see Gideon in Judges) to demonstrate to the people that He is the one they need to look to and not themselves. Had an impression today to discuss how God uses the Light of Christ to touch the hearts of all His children and to guide them. He has not left them alone. Indeed it is through the Light of Christ that others are brought to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then to use Mosiah 3:19 to show that through the atonement we are to come to His true church, and then to be enabled with power to become perfected in Christ.

John records that Jesus Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man [and woman] that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Thus within each human being is this element we call the Light of Christ, given by God through His son Jesus Christ, as a sure and certain guide for all His children. Our Savior says, “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2). Those who love and live in truth gain further light and become spiritually enabled to discern between light and dark (see John 3:19-21).

The Light of Christ is not restricted because of beliefs, circumstance or geography. Of course, things we believe, choose and do either imbue us with additional light or allow darkness to reign within us. But “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. (D&C 84:45-48.)

When we choose and act righteously we are filled with additional light. Eventually, as we choose to center our lives in Christ by emulating Him, He fills us with a fullness of light. Holy Writ describes the process thus: “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:23-24).

Christ was in the beginning with the Father. Those who are spiritually begotten of Christ are made partakers of the same glory as Christ and the Father. The spirit of truth is of God but it cannot be received without first keeping the commandments. Those that keep the commandments receive more light and truth until they are glorified in truth and know all things. Intelligence itself is the light of truth and is self-existent. In fact, all truth is independent in the sphere God places it to act for itself. Otherwise there would be no existence. Because of that independence given in agency, man is either glorified or condemned by whether he chooses light or dark. (See D&C 93:21-32.)

Those that believe they have enough light and need no more light, lose even the light that they first had. God gives unto his children a little at a time, then a little more if they accept and obey. Those who harken to the small portion of light first given, are blessed, "learn wisdom" and receive more and more light. However, those that say they have enough light, is taken away even what they had. (See 2 Nephi 28:29-30.)      

All the powers of God are made manifest in us through the Light of Christ, as are all the gifts of the Spirit and the workings of the Holy Ghost. The Light of Christ appears to be demonstrated in a progressive fashion, each stage derived through a greater manifestation of the Light of Christ. Thus the Light of Christ is first noticed with evidence of life itself, then with instinct in the animal kingdom, and physical light that allows us to see, increasing to awareness and conscience to enable agency, and reason in man, then discernment, inspiration, and the witness of the Holy Ghost, followed by choices that bring the gift of the Holy Ghost and the associated constant companionship of the Spirit, and finally sanctification, a complete cleansing and purification (see D&C 88:4-13).

Sister Four sent out this sweet note of appreciation, “I just wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes and support! [My husband] gave a wonderful sermon on Praise and Thanksgiving which is most appropriate during this time of year (and all year long). I want to thank especially our friends who were in attendance physically and spiritually. It was truly beautiful to see members of the non-denominational church, members from Saddleback Church and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come together to hear an edifying word that gave praises to our Lord and Savior. [We] … feel truly blessed to have each and every one of your in our lives and pray that we bless you in the same way. When the link to the sermon is made available to us, I will be sure to share it with you so you can watch and hope that the spirit touches you as we felt it touched us. Have a wonderful and blessed week and many, many thanks! Much love. I replied that we considered it our good fortune to be there and shared the Viewpoint editorial in the Church News 9 Nov 2014 about being a voice of gladness. Brother Four responded as well, ‘More and more you make me feel like, ‘He gets me! Here's a man who understands me’ Thanks Brother.”

We had another special mission conference to receive instruction on the Church initiative for December, He is the Gift. It will be a month-long Christmas initiative, beginning November 28, He Is the Gift focuses on God’s love for the world, made manifest in the first gift of Christmas, even the Lord Jesus Christ. The invitation is for all members of the church to flood the earth with the messages of righteousness and truth found in the He Is the Gift initiative. Visit christmas.mormon.org to find inspiring content to help discover, embrace, and share the gift of God’s love for us, made manifest in His Only Begotten Son. By using the hashtag #ShareTheGift, we can sweep the earth with timeless—and timely—messages of the Savior Jesus Christ. Ads will be in Times Square, on the You Tube mast head the month of December and special pass along card, nine in the December Ensign to share with your friends.

I’m not sure as a missionary we are much of a player in the process of increasing our investigator’s faith. I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that the Lord is truly the Lord of the harvest and not us. It doesn’t appear that we have the capacity to fill someone with the desire necessary to make, let alone keep, commitments or exercise faith. We do give them doctrine to consider, testimonies to feel, and seek to set a spiritual tone that invites the presence of the Spirit, all of which are beneficial to them. Thinking along the lines of D&C 8:2-3, we assist in getting information into their mind (head) and the Holy Ghost then moves that information into their hearts. This movement by the Holy Ghost from the head to the heart seems to be the element necessary for them to be filled with sufficient desire and faith to make and keep commitments. As they make and keep commitments the Spirit bears further witness, thereby increasing their faith through powerful spiritual experiences that resonate and expand in their heart. As we bear testimony, live in harmony with the Spirit ourselves, we invite the Spirit into our discussions by our very lives, interests, and desires. Our love for the investigator encourages us to so live to enable them to feel the Spirit as we teach. But if one is to be converted, they must be filled with desire (see Mosiah 5:2) that only the Holy Ghost can produce, as our limited testimonies and teachings are brought from the head into the heart and the investigator is edified.

On our morning walk this week we came across two coyote’s that had wandered up from the river, crossed the footbridge and were startling dogs who were being walked. We gave them a wide birth and snapped a couple of pictures.

Met with the Twenty-one family who are settling in nicely. With his call as Scoutmaster and second counselor in the YM he expressed some concern about being able to handle it all. We talked scouting and of the promised blessings that whom the Lord calls he qualifies, and the additional blessings of being faithful to the Lord even with his busy schedule.

We received an invitation from the Seventy-six family for lunch at Lake Arrowhead when Sister H and I had our honeymoon. Haven’t been back since so we are quite excited about next week’s visit.

Brother Two who is out of town working sent me the following text, “Thinking of you guys and missing you too! I’m reading first Nephi. My goal is to read all of first Nephi this month along with Acts. Would you say that we were created to bring God glory? God wants all glory right? He is displeased when man wants glory here and now on earth right? Appreciate your response.” I replied, quoting liberally from Givens, The God Who Weeps—Kyle take a look at these scriptures: Ephesians 5:18–21; Hebrews 13:15–17, 20–21 and D&C 59:21 regarding praise to God and honoring him through obedience. As to your underlying question, the one not spoken, clearly, to aspire to be God is sin. However to desire to be like God, in the sense that we partake of His divine nature, is love and devotion as we are his sons and daughters. So any concept of eternal life must be framed by the invitation from God to share in the divine nature that is His. As long as it is God's nature and character we're striving to emulate, and not his power and glory, we are on safe ground.

Seeking for His power and glory is the course Satan took and we see where that got him. Peter says it beautifully in 2 Peter 1:4 remarking that the precious and very great promises given to us are that we may become participants in the divine nature of God. You see, relationships are the core of our existence because they are the core of Gods and we are in His image. That’s why the family dynamic is so crucial to us as it is the stage where we learn to emulate and put on the divine nature of God, living as He lives and making relationships paramount. We don’t acquire God’s nature by sitting on a mountain and contemplating the universe, but by putting into practice His nature, acting as He would act in our family and other relationships. God's nature and life are the simple extension of that which is most elemental and most worthwhile here on earth. It is a belonging that we crave because it is one we have always known—for we enjoyed family relationships and other sacred relationships while in His presence before we came to earth. To me that realization alone affirms that we are of divine lineage, with a home in the heavens, and sparks every hope of returning there. This sense of identity with God makes our search for the divine nature an act of filial love, devotion and emulation—a return in fullness to that which we had previously known, loved and participated in.

We stopped by to visit with Brother Twenty telling him it was probably our last visit and shared how much we had enjoyed meeting with him and he reciprocated how much he had enjoyed our “deep gospel discussions.” He had some concerns and we offered to give him a blessing which he accepted. It was one of those sweet blessings where the words just come in a rush, powerful and empathetic, and according to Brother Twenty covered every concern he had been having.

Had a nice discussion with Brother Fifteen to review his handiwork on the knives he is making for us and also to discuss the Executive Summary I prepared for him. He had not read the email version I sent but promised to read this and I said I would do another two pages each on the five points listed if he wanted. He smiled.

Attended the baptism of Brother Seventy-seven. A very spiritual baptism. Felt impressed to bear my testimony concerning Heavenly Father knowing us we knowing him, and that when we see him we will remember His face, the twinkle in his eye and a rush of love, long forgotten, will pour over us. Heard from several afterwards that the word picture resonated with them. Which was not surprising as the words were given to me before I arose to bear witness.

Met with the Two family as Sister Two had some questions about Heavenly Father and the Savior, concerning which is which in the scriptures. I shared that since the members of the Godhead seem make no effort to distinguish which among them is speaking it is difficult for us to figure it out. Then with divine investiture of authority the difficulty is compounded. The conclusion I drew is that since it doesn’t seem to matter to the members of the Godhead which of them is speaking, why should it matter to us which among them is speaking. She agreed with that assessment. “It appears to me,” I said, “that before and in the Garden of Eden the God who is speaking is Heavenly Father. That subsequent to the Fall we can come to the Father only through Jesus Christ (formerly Jehovah) and except for the limited times the Father has introduced His Son our dealings are with the Savior and our responsibility is to worship Heavenly Father through His son Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

At church was able to make connections with four different families we have been trying to visit and set up appointments.

Had some strong impression about certain questions I was to ask Brother Six on Sunday and some information I was to give him in how to proceed. So when they announced they had other things to attend to that day and had to postpone our visit I was struggling. I shared with him that I had questions to ask and some clarification to give and he shrugged, “what can you do?” But we settled on Thanksgiving Day to visit, just the two of us, while the food was being prepared, and follow up and what the Lord had directed.

Had a thought today at church during the gospel essential class. It deals with a verse that some seem to leave out. We have had many evangelicals out here quote from Matthew 28:19-20 to demonstrate belief is all that is necessary and the whole truth is contained in the Bible. But when verse 18 is included, it is clear as a result of the atonement that the Father has given all power to Christ, not to the book we now call the Bible.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

 19 ¶Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Sister H had her first physical therapy visit this week for her back pain and learned that her pelvis was out of alignment and she needed to correct that before she could work on strengthening her core. So she was given the necessary therapy and schedule to follow for the next four weeks.

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