My name is Elder Kyle Rasmussen. I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The message of the Church is one of joy and happiness. This message has given me this great joy and happiness in my life and now I want to share that same joy with everyone else. I know it can bless everyone's life and that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Father, His Son Our Savior, Their Messanger and Witness

First Vision
I'm so honored and blessed to be a missionary serving in Western New York, where some amazing things happened that are near and dear to my heart.  As I've been a missionary for this Church, I've come to learn and know more about who God really is, who Jesus Christ really is, and what exactly they expect from me.  But from the very beginning I want to say this, I know they live, they love us, they know us!!! 

 God, Our Heavenly Father
There truly is a God!!!  Many people in today's world unfortunately don't  believe this or have lost faith in that belief.  I am here to tell you that He is real!  "God the Father is the Supreme Being in whom we believe and whom we worship. He is the ultimate Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things. He is perfect, has all power, and knows all things. He “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's” (D&C 130:22)." (  He is literally the father of our spirits and we are very much His children.  Here on earth we catch a glimpse of the relationship we really have with Him.  We are born on this earth with earthly parents who love and care about us.  Our earthly father helps us understand how much God loves us, knows us, protects us, teaches us, and helps us reach our full potential as His children.  Many people here on earth don't have a great relationship with their earthly father for a variety of reasons, or he isn't there at all in their lives.  Despite this challenges, God our Heavenly Father can and will fill that void in our hearts if we let Him.  "All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it." - Joseph Smith, Jr.   

We have a body just like He does, for we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27), but His body is glorified and perfected.  He is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere).  He has a plan for us to come to earth, learn how to make right choices, and come back to live with Him and reach our full potential as His children.  He knew we would mess up here on earth, and has provided a way for us to overcome those mistakes.  That is through His son, our Older Brother, Jesus Christ.

 Jesus Christ - Our Savior
 Jesus is a name of Greek origin.  It's Hebrew equivalent is Joshua or "Yeshua".  Both of these names mean "Savior, Redeemer".  Christ is a title also of Greek origin.  It's Hebrew equivalent is Messiah.  Both of these mean "The Anointed One, Deliverer".  So Jesus Christ literally means "Savior, the Anointed One."  All of us are God's children, and Jesus Christ is God's first born son in the Spirit and Only Begotten Son in the flesh.  He is our older brother and our Lord and King.  God our Father knew we would mess up in this life, and in order to return and live with Him we had to be free from mistake, sin, and spiritual uncleanliness.  He knew we would be unable to meet the requirements to live in His presence and we couldn't make ourselves clean, so He gave us the gift of His son Jesus Christ, who would Atone for our sins and mistakes and make it possible for ALL MANKIND to return and live with Him.

Jesus Christ in the Garden
 Jesus Christ gave Himself voluntarily as a sacrifice for sin and death.  He suffered for all mankind's sin in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary.  His sufferings in the Garden, His death and Resurrection provide the way for us to overcome our sins.  On conditions of Faith and Repentance, everyone has the opportunity to be clean from sin.  He is our Lord and our King, because without Him we can't progress any further.  He loves us with a perfect love like any true brother would.  He helps us when we struggle, comforts us when we need it, and works tirelessly and constantly to help us all understand Him and His Father more and our divine heritage.  It's His name which is born in the title of the Church, The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.  It's His Church.  He is our advocate with God our Father, meaning He pleads our case before the Father, as our Redeemer and Savior.  He is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament.  He acts under the direction of the Father, and represents Him in all things.  If anyone wants a more declarative statement on who Jesus Christ is, check out the Living Christ document from the Church.

Symbol of the Holy Ghost, a Dove
 The Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead (Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are the other two).  He is personage of Spirit, not having a body of flesh and bones unlike God our Father and Jesus Christ.  He is known as the Comforter, The Holy Spirit, The Spirit of God, or the Spirit of the Lord.  The Holy Ghost acts as God's messenger here on earth to us, letting us know that God is real and all about His truths and doctrines.  His main purpose is to testify and bear witness about the reality of God, His Plan for us, His Son Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of Salvation.  The Holy Ghost communicates with us as God's Children in a marvelous way beyond the ways of man and earth.  He speaks to us on a Spirit to Spirit level, that's why he doesn't have a body otherwise he couldn't.  When we communicate on a Spiritual level and we are taught things through the Spirit, they are imbedded in our hearts and we know they are true.  A witness from the Holy Ghost is more powerful than anything on earth, even more powerful than our 5 senses.  He speaks to the heart along with our mind.  If we want to know if anything is true, I have the utmost faith in Moroni 10:5 "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of ALL things." (caps added).

The GodHead
These three individuals, God our Father, Jesus Christ His son, and the Holy Ghost, make up what we call the Godhead.  The doctrine and true nature of the Godhead were lost with the Great Apostasy, and have once again been restored to the earth, beginning with the First Vision of Joseph Smith.  They are separate and distinct individuals, but all One in Purpose!!  That purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (mankind).  God leads this work, Jesus Christ His son represents Him in all He does and is our Lord and Savior. The Holy Ghost witnesses and testifies of each of them.  They all love us, and want what's best for us.  We ourselves can come to our own personal knowledge of the reality and existence of our Father.  We can come to know the Savior and learn about His true role and relationship to us as our Savior through His Atonement.  And we can receive answers to our heartfelt prayers, learn true doctrine, and communicate to our Father through the Spirit.  I know they are real, I know they live, I know they love us!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Scripture Marking!!!

I absolutely love the scriptures!!  They provide a lot of insight on my faith and how I can come closer to my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ.  To be honest, I see no downside to reading scriptures.  But it can be a struggle sometimes.  Scriptures are written in a style of writing we don't normally use in today's society.  "And it came to pass.....thou shalt not..... verily I say unto thee...."  It can be hard to get into and understand the scriptures sometimes.  But there are many tips and tools available to us  to help us get more out of our scripture study.  One of those tools is by marking your scriptures.  I'd like to share with you how marking scriptures has helped me understand God's word even more.

First we need to understand why scriptures are even important in the first place.  2nd Nephi 25:26 offers some insight, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies  that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  2nd Timothy 3:16-17 also says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The scriptures are an essential source of faith in Christ.  The ultimate goal of scriptures is to teach us of Him and help us grow our faith in Him.  No wonder God asks us to "Feast upon the words of Christ." (2nd Nephi 31:20, 32:3)  Marking our scriptures is a tool we can use to help us more better feast upon His word.

There isn't one right way to mark your scriptures.  Each person has a unique and individual way of doing it that makes the most sense to them.  However you mark your scriptures, do what works for you!  Here is a system that works for me that I'd like to share with you. 

There are 10 different colors I use.  Light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, red, orange, purple, pink, yellow, and gold.  Each one represents a different gospel topic or doctrine.  Here's how it's organized.

Faith – Light Blue

Christlike Attributes, Service, Charity, Love – Pink

Prayer, Answers to Prayers, Personal Revelation – Purple

Jesus Christ, Atonement, Gospel of Jesus Christ – Red

Commandments, Obedience, Counsel – Dark Green

Repentance, Forgiveness – Gold

Holy Ghost, Spiritual Gifts – Yellow

Plan of Salvation, Resurrection – Orange

Prophets, Prophecy, Priesthood, Scriptures – Dark Blue

Baptism, Missionary Work, Temple, Fasting, Tithing, Covenants, Miscellaneous but Important Topics - Light Green

Whenever I come across a verse or passage of scripture that talks about one of these topics, I either color the whole verse that color or just the portion of that verse that talks about that specific topic.  Sometimes you'll come across a verse that has multiple topics discussed and you can highlight those portions their respective color  Sometimes you'll have a verse that talks about two or more topics all together and you might question which one to color it.  Use your best judgement and do what you feel is best.  The whole purpose of marking scriptures is to help you in your personal study of the scriptures.  

Whatever works for you, do it!!  As you develop a pattern of marking your scriptures, your desire to read and study them will increase.  You begin to study more intently as you contemplate each verse and how it should be marked.  You'll start seeing things and understanding things you haven't before, and your faith in Christ will grow.  I know this is true because I've experienced it myself and continue to do so each day.  I know the Bible and the Book of Mormon testify of Jesus Christ, and as we feast upon His word in the way that we learn the best, we will be filled and blessed!!

Scriptures on Scriptures!!!:
  • 2nd Timothy 3:14-17
  • 2nd Nephi 25:26
  • 2nd Nephi 31:20
  • 2 Nephi 32:3
  • John 5:39
  • John 20:31
  • 2nd Peter 1:20-21
  • Luke 24:32
  • Psalms 19:7
  • 2nd Nephi 4:15
  • Alma 37:8
  • Alma 37:44
  • Preach My Gospel Chapter 2

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Moses for Our Day!!!

Moses parting the Red Sea
So hopefully you all know about the story of Moses from the Bible.  He was a prophet called by God and given the special assignment to lead the captive House of Israel out of bondage from the Egyptians and take them to the promised land in Canaan.  Moses was given the power and authority of God (priesthood) to perform many miracles and wonders to help him fulfill this sacred task, including parting the Red Sea, enabling the Israelite's to escape from the pursuing Egyptian armies.  After their escape from Egypt, Moses became the Israelite's connection with God.  Moses received divine revelation from God concerning where they needed to go in the wilderness, how long they should stay, and even what they were to eat when food was scarce.  

Moses and the 10 Commandments
Among some of the most amazing feats of Moses was the revelation for what later became known as the Law of Moses.  Written upon stone tablets, it was the word and Law of God after the order of the Aaronic Priesthood, with specific rules, guidelines, and ordinances which were types and shadows of the Savior Jesus Christ's future sacrifice and Atonement.  Moses was and is one of the greatest examples of a prophet.  Through him we have so much revelation from God about Jesus Christ and His gospel.  

Moses called to be a Prophet 
Prophets are righteous and faith filled men, called by God to act as His spokesmen for His children here on earth.  They receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ through revelation from God and in turn teach that to God's children.  They warn people of dangers of things to come and blessings that are promised through obedience to God's laws and commandments.  Prophets hold all the keys of the priesthood (the power and authority to act in God's name for the salvation of His children) and use them to love and serve others as Christ would.  There are many examples of prophets throughout history.  Moses, Abraham, Noah, Isaiah, Jeremiah  Peter James & John, and Paul.  We even have Book of Mormon prophets like Lehi, Nephi, Alma the younger, Mormon and Moroni.

Our Savior Jesus Christ
Without prophets, were would our scriptures be?  Where would the Bible be?  How would we know anything about God or Jesus Christ?  We wouldn't!!  But God loves us, He wants us to be successful in this life and return to live with Him.  In order to do so, we need revelation from Him to understand His will.  He gives us the opportunity to live with Him again through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Through prophets, we gain all the understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we need to obtain salvation and exaltation in this life.  Giving us prophets is a sign that shows God really loves us.

Joseph Smith and Restoration of the Priesthood
So God loves and us He sends us prophets.  Sometimes His children don't listen to the prophets and even persecute or kill them.  As a result, people end up in spiritual darkness.  When they are ready again to listen to God's word, He calls another prophet.  In our day and age, He has done the same thing.  He loves us just as much as He loves His children in times of old!!  He doesn't leave us to tread this journey of life alone.  He has given us prophets in our day just like times of old!!!  In 1820, a young New York farm boy named Joseph Smith, was called to be the next prophet of God, called to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it had been given during the Savior's ministry.  How exciting and amazing is this!!!

Modern day Prophets
I know Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet in our day and age.  I have come to know the truthfulness of his calling through the divine witness from God that the Book of Mormon is true.  After Joseph Smith died, prophets weren't gone from the earth.  An unbroken line of succession has followed him, each man afterward called of God.  They are the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Presidents of the Church.  We believe and know that these men are called of God as was Moses and they act as prophets, seers, and revelators in our day.  Along with the prophet, we have 12 Apostles who function in the same capacity, teaching people and maintaining the purity of the doctrine just as in days before.

Current Church President Thomas S. Monson and Counselors
We have our own Moses for our day!!  A man of great spiritual strength, who receive direct revelation from God, who leads and guides us through the sin stained world of our day.  His name is Thomas S. Monson!!!  He is our living day prophet.  Having a prophet however doesn't eliminate the need for us to receive our own personal revelation.  The prophet simply receives revelation from God for the whole Church as a body.  God still wants us to talk to Him through prayer and listen for the still small voice for answers.  But through the Prophet, He has given us another wonderful tool to better our lives, learn more of the Savior, and became more like Jesus Christ.  By listening and heeding the words of our living prophets, we can be blessed abundantly.

General Conference
Every six months we have the opportunity to hear from our beloved Prophet.  This even is called General Conference and believe it or not, it's this weekend!!!  If you don't know or don't believe that we have prophets in our day, I invite you to listen to this upcoming session of General Conference, with a prayer in your heart and learn for yourself from God is the men that speak are truly prophets of our Lord and God.  If you have a testimony already of living day prophets, I invite you to strengthen that testimony by listening and heeding the words of the Prophet.  By doing so, we will not be lead astray.  As a former Prophet, President Wilford Woodruff said "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News,October 11, 1890, p. 2.)"  

President Thomas S. Monson
I know that we have our own Moses today.  He is not the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jesus Christ is.  President Monson simply speaks for Him, as His prophet, as His Modern Day Moses!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 7 Rules of Life - A New Perspective

I give so much thanks to a kind Sister from the Niagara Falls Ward for the inspiration behind this next post.  She and her husband came down to our ward in Lancaster about 2 months ago or so and both gave amazing talks in our Sacrament meeting.  But this Sister's talk really was amazing!!  One of the things she shared was this, 7 Rules of Life.  I don't know where it came from or who created these, but for the last few months, they've really blessed my life.  I have a copy of these rules on my desk where I see them every day as I study.  As I'm been doing my studies in the scriptures, I've looked at these rules many times and each time I see more and more how applicable these are to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1)  Make Peace with your past so it won't screw up the present:  The Lord has always expected us to forgive each other.  In D&C 64:9-10, it says "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin."  The Lord also states 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."  We all make mistakes in this life.  some harm others, some harm us.  Sometimes other people's mistakes cause us harm.  Whatever the harm done is, we can be forgiven, we can forgive, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can make peace with our past and move gracefully on into our present and future without interruption.

2) What others think of you is none of your business:  So true!!  We get caught up so much about what we think what other may think about us.  Does it really matter?  Who is the only one qualified to judge us?  That would be the Savior Jesus Christ because He's been through it all.  D&C 137:9 says "For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works of their hearts."  I myself stress get so stressed out about what others may think of me in terms of my appearance  mannerisms, personality, or anything I say.  But it really doesn't matter, we have no business poking around in that state of mind.  You are who you are and you are loved by Him who created you and Him who is our Father.

3) Time heals almost everything, give it time: I came across this quote from President Thomas S. Monson on page 120 of Preach My Gospel.  It says "Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such
challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required."  Sometimes we are required to wait before we can receive the necessary aide from Heaven.  I find this scripture a big help for times like this.  Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God:"  If somebody has wronged us and we can't forgive immediately  give it time and with the Lord's help, you'll get there.  Never forget to wait for some things.

4) Don't compare you life with others and don't judge them.  You have no idea what their journey is all about:  This kind of goes back to rule 2 about judging.  Remember, the Lord states in Matthew 7:3-5 "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye."  We each have our own unique challenges, obstacles, strengths and weaknesses.  We are all God's Children though, and we are all trying to reach the same place.  Give yourself and others some slack, "Do your best and forget the rest." - P90X

5 ) Stop thinking so much, it's alright not to know the answers.  They will come when you least expect it:  Most of us are used to the instant answer, google it type society where we get answers to our questions almost instantly.  And when we don't get an answer as quickly as we would like, we freak out and get very stressed, anxious, sometimes even angry and frustrated.  But we have to remember, our thoughts are God's thoughts, nor are our ways His ways (Isaiah 55:8)  And sometimes He wants us to wait before we receive an answer.  It took me 3 to 4 months before I got an answer from God as to which Univesrity I should attend.  It took Brigham Young 2 years before he came to know by the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was true.  Be patient, keep studying it out, and be ready for when answers come because they will.  No stressing :)

6) No one is in charge of your happiness except you:  There is one scripture about our life on earth that really gives me comfort.  It's 2 Nephi 2:25 " Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."  You see, God's whole purpose for us being here is to be happy!!  The Savior didn't have a very easy life during his mortal ministry, but I bet He was a pretty happy and joyful guy to be around.  You decide if you are happy, not your external circumstances.  If you need help being happy, turn to Him who can lead you too that of happiness and fulfillment.

7) Smile :)  You don't own all the problems in the world:  Simple, yet effective.  Simply smile, it'll make others feel happier and it will trigger your brain into a happier state of mind.  In my opinion (and this is strictly my opinion) clean, wholesome humor is an amazing tool to get smiling and living a more abundant and fulfilled life.

Just remember, He is the one who can help us live a better life.  These 7 Rules aren't there to replace Him in anyway shape or form.  They are here to help us draw closer to Him.  They are to help us apply His Atonement more in our life.  They are in a way, His tips for comfort and counsel in this life.  I love Him with all my heart and strive to do my best to serve Him.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter - He is Risen!!!

I guess Easter hasn't been that exciting of a time for me in my life.  I always remember waking up in the morning, searching around the house for fake Easter eggs filled with candy and a basket filled with candy.  We'd go to Church, come back, and either have our own family dinner or go to a large family gathering at my Grandparent's.  Either way I guess the real meaning of my we celebrate Easter has never really sunk into me.  I've always known it was about Jesus Christ, but not until I've been out serving a mission for nearly 20 months have I come to know who He really is.  As I've come to know the Master more, Easter has started to take on a new meaning for me.  Not just a time of festivities and fun, but something much more than that.

I guess the only way I can really describe the events of Jesus Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection  is from one of the most famous talks modern day Apostles have ever given.  Elder Bruce R. Mckonkiee gave this talk during the April 1985 General Conference.  It was his last and final testimony before he passed away about Jesus Christ.  I quote an exerpt from his talk.  "We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.  We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.  We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.  As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours. 

After this—his body then wrenched and drained of strength—he confronted Judas and the other incarnate devils, some from the very Sanhedrin itself; and he was led away with a rope around his neck, as a common criminal, to be judged by the arch-criminals who as Jews sat in Aaron’s seat and who as Romans wielded Caesar’s power. They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. Their foul saliva ran down his face as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. Blood ran down his face as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow. But above it all he was scourged, scourged with forty stripes save one, scourged with a multithonged whip into whose leather strands sharp bones and cutting metals were woven. Many died from scourging alone, but he rose from the sufferings of the scourge that he might die an ignominious death upon the cruel cross of Calvary. 

Then he carried his own cross until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. Finally, on a hill called Calvary—again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls—while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross. With great mallets they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Then the cross was raised that all might see and gape and curse and deride. This they did, with evil venom, for three hours from 9:00  Then the heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00, all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred. And, finally, when the atoning agonies had taken their toll—when the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled the will of his Father in all things—then he said, “It is finished”, and he voluntarily gave up the ghost.  As the peace and comfort of a merciful death freed him from the pains and sorrows of mortality, he entered the paradise of God. When he had made his soul an offering for sin, he was prepared to see his seed, according to the messianic word. After some thirty-eight or forty hours—three days as the Jews measured time—our Blessed Lord came to the Arimathaean’s tomb, where his partially embalmed body had been placed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. 

Then, in a way incomprehensible to us, he took up that body which had not yet seen corruption and arose in that glorious immortality which made him like his resurrected Father. He then received all power in heaven and on earth, obtained eternal exaltation, appeared unto Mary Magdalene and many others, and ascended into heaven, there to sit down on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and to reign forever in eternal glory. His rising from death on the third day crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave.  Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement. We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth. We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation. 

Bruce R. Mcconkie
As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen."

This Easter time, let us reflect on the amazing power of the Atonement and the immense sacrifice Jesus Christ has made on our behalf.  I love Him dearly and strive to be like Him each day.  I know I'm not perfect, I make mistakes just like everyone else.  But this much I do know.  I know He Lives, He is Risen, He is the Christ, He is my King, He is my Friend.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Humility - A Spiritual Strength

Jesus Christ in Garden of Gethsemane
I stumbled upon this Christlike attribute this morning while I was reading from the Book of Mormon.  I was touched by the verse in Alma 37:33 which reads "Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart;"  I began to ponder the meaning of humility and what it all entails.  I ended up studying humility for almost an hour, and it has forever changed my life.  Let me show you how powerful humility really is.

Jesus Christ washing Apostle's Feet
In Preach My Gospel Page 120-121, we find an awesome definition of humility.  "Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength. When you humbly trust Him and acknowledge His power and mercy, you can have the assurance that His commandments are for your good. You are confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you rely on Him. You are also willing to trust His chosen servants and follow their counsel. Humility will help you as you strive to be obedient, to work hard, and serve selflessly."

So humility requires us to accept God's will, give Him the honor, rely on His help, obey the commandments, and follow His chosen servants.  I also love how it says humility is a Spiritual Strength, not a weakness.  In Ether 12:27, the Lord says "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  The Lord gives us weakness so we will humble ourselves and rely upon His help and His grace.  Through His grace and Atonement, He can help us make those weak things about ourselves become strong.  We have to be humble and willing though in order for Him to help us.

However, as in all things, there is an opposite to humility.  That would be pride.  Preach my Gospel defines pride as "The opposite of humility is pride, which is condemned in the scriptures. To be prideful means to put greater trust in oneself than in God or in His servants. It also means to put the things of the world above the things of God. Prideful people take honor to themselves rather than giving God the glory. Pride is competitive; those who are prideful seek to have more and presume they are better than other people. Pride usually results in feelings of anger and hatred, and it is a great stumbling block."

Blessings of Humility
There are so many blessings in being humble.  As you are humble you can become teachable.  Just like little children are humble and are teachable, so we must be as well in learning from our Father in Heaven.  The Savior says in Matthew 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."  The Savior also states in Doctrine and Covenants 67:10 "that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am - not with the carnal neither the natural mind, but with the spiritual."  The greatest example of humility is that of our Savior Jesus Christ.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the weight of the world's sins and pains upon his shoulders, he cried out to His Father, asking if there was another way.  But in a supreme act of humility, He humbly states, "nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."  He was able to do it, He completed the Atonement.  He has shown us the way, and we can be healed physically and spiritually.  All we have to do is humble our selves sufficiently and we can access a power greater than ourselves.  He knows and loves each one of us.  Of this I so testify :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Cradle of the Restoration Part 7 - The Peter Whitmer Farm - The Church of Jesus Christ is Organized!!!!

Log Cabin at Peter Whitmer Farm
The day has finally arrived!!!  Back in 1829, Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery received by the laying on of hands by Peter, James, and John (3 of Jesus Christ's original Apostles), the Melchizedek priesthood, and were revealed the exact date when God's Church we be established on the earth again.  According to God's commands, they did so.  That date happened to be April 6th, 1830.  Peter Whitmer Sr. offered his home as the meeting place for this historic occasion.

Living room of Peter Whitmer Sr. Log Home
So on April 6th, 1830, almost sixty people came to attend the formal meeting.  According to New York State law, you needed six original members to establish a religious society.  Those original six members were Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Samuel H. Smith, David Whitmer, and Joseph Smith Jr.  Church History then tells us "After kneeling in solemn prayer, Joseph asked those present if they were willing to accept him and Oliver as their teachers and spiritual advisers. Everyone raised their hands in the affirmative. Although they had previously received the Melchizedek Priesthood, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery then ordained each other to the office of elder. They did this to signify that they were elders in the newly organized church. The sacrament of the Lord’s supper was administered next. The prayers used had been received through revelation (see D&C 20:75–79). Joseph and Oliver then confirmed those who had previously been baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ and bestowed upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Baptism of Joseph Smith Sr.
Joseph Smith said in his own words "after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ,’ organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament." After the meeting closer, many took the opportunity to be baptized and became members of the newly organized Church.  Two of those individuals was Joseph Smith Jr.'s parents.  When his father came up out of the waters, he exclaimed "I have lived to see my Father baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ!!"  He then buried his face in hi father's bosom and wept for joy.

20 sections of modern day revelation were received by the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was living at the Peter Whiter farm.  It was here the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was officially organized, on April 6th, 1830.  It was here the Book of Mormon was finished being translated.  It was here that the 3 Witnesses to The Book of Mormon received their miraculous vision of the gold plates.  The Peter Whitmer Farm is still very much in the middle of nowhere. ;Surrounding the property is miles and miles of farmland and open spaces. ;The only road to get to the chapel was once just a dirt road. ;But out of such an obscure place did so many great things happen.  Truly, this is what the Lord went in D&C 1:30 "And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power;to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church...."

Information Gathered at :

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Cradle of the Restoration Part 6 - The E.B. Grandin Building, Publication Site of The Book of Mormon

Grandin Building in Palmyra, New York
On June 11th, 1829, Joseph Smith Jr. was able to secure the copyright for The Book of Mormon.  Joseph first approached Egbert B. Grandin, a 23 year old printer in downtown Palmyra, New York, to negotiate for the first edition of the Book of Mormon to be printed.  However rumor's and slander proceeded Joseph Smith, and Grandin decided against project of printing this "golden bible".  Joseph traveled to Rochester and met with two other printers, one refused outright and the other accepted on very expensive prices.

Store portion of the Grandin Building
On August 17th, 1829, E.B. Grandin agreed with Joseph Smith Jr. to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon for a price of $3,000.  Martin Harris aggreed to mortgage part of his farm in Palmyra to cover the cost necessary for the printing.  Five thousand copies was an enormous order for a small town printer, but E.B. Grandin was up to the task.  With a revolutionary new printing press that few printers had, Grandin was able to print the requested amount of copies.  6 months later, the Book of Mormon was finished and went on sale on March 26th, 1830.  A few weeks later, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints would be organized officially in nearby Fayette, New York.

Printing Presses in Grandin Building
In 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints purchased the building and restored it as a printing shop.  In 1998, it was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinkely as The Historical Publication Site of The Book of Mormon.  It is open to the public with free tours to experience what printing in 1830's was all about and how we got The Book of Mormon.  

Address of Grandin Building : 
217 East Main Street
Palmyra, NY

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Cradle of the Restoration Part 5 - The Peter Whitmer Farm (3 Witnesses to The Book of Mormon)

Peter Whitmer Log Home

Peter Whitmer Sr. and his wife Mary moved to Fayette, New York in 1827 with them and their eight children.  David Whitmer, one of their sons, became seriously interested in the events surrounding Joseph Smith Jr. and the restoration of the gospel.  He became converted and gained a certain knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel  and the works being done in it's restoration.  He wanted to assist Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in anyway he could.  At this time in 1829, Joseph and Oliver were in Harmony, Pennsylvania, working on the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Chapel and Visitor's Center at Peter Whitmer Farm
Miracle at the Farm

In May of 1829, Oliver Cowdery wrote to David Whitmer about the work of the translation and about the continuing persecution they were experiencing which was delaying the work.  They discussed the possibility of them coming to live with the Whitmer's in Fayette and Peter Whitmer Sr. invited Joseph and Oliver to stay at their farm as long as was necessary to complete the translation.  Joseph and Oliver accepted the offer and made preparations for the 3 day trip from Harmony, Pennsylvania to Fayette, New York.  However May was an important time for farmers.

During this time, farmers plowed and prepared their fields for planting and an Autumn harvest and David's help on the family farm was essential.  Peter Whitmer Sr. told David that he could proceed with his journey to pick up Joseph and Oliver as soon as the fields were plowed and ready for planting.  So David went to work with determined zeal to accomplish this task as soon as possible so he could help Joseph and Oliver.  At the end of this first day, David discovered that he had accomplished the amount of work the usually would take two days to accomplish.  Peter Whitmer Sr. was much impressed with this and said in his own words "There must be an overruling hand in this, and I think you would better go down to Pennsylvania as soon as your plaster of paris is sown." 

Plaster of paris is something farms laid in their fields to reduce the acidity soil.  But next morning, David went out to fulfill this task when he discovered that the entire field had been spread already and the job was finished.  David asked his sister who had done the work already and she said she watched three strangers the day before spread the plaster with remarkable skill and assumed they were hired workers.  David thanked the Lord for this divine help and set off immediately to fetch Joseph and Oliver.  The three arrived at the Whitmer farm the first of June.

3 Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
The Three Witnesses to The Book of Mormon

Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, each requested of Joseph Smith to inquire of the Lord if they could be witnesses of the gold plates and the translation.  The Bible teaches us that "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" 2nd Corinthians 13:1  The Lord gave them a revelation which is recorded as D&C 17 that through faith they would receive a testimony of these things and they would be witnesses to the world of their divine nature.  In our own historical records, 

Thereafter the four men retired to the woods and sought for the promised fulfillment of the revelation. After two unsuccessful attempts, however, Martin Harris felt that his presence was the reason for their failure to receive an answer. He withdrew a distance and offered his private prayers. The other three had no sooner resumed their prayers when Moroni appeared in glory holding the plates in his hands. Joseph recorded, “He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly. … We heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, ‘These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.’

“I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he might also realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view, at least it was again opened to me, and I once more beheld and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in an ecstasy of joy, ‘’Tis enough; ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld.’”

Map of Waterloo and Fayette, New York and the Peter Whitmer Farm
The testimony of the three witnesses is recorded at the beginning of every copy of the Book of Mormon. Each of these three men, though all for a time fell from the Church, never denied their testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. And in the woods nearby the Peter Whitmer Farm, is where this marvelous manifestation took place. It was here the Book of Mormon was finished, it was here that the Lord allowed three ordinary men to become some of the greatest witnesses of the Restoration.

Information gathered at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Cradle of the Restoration Part 4 - The Hill Cumorah

East side of Hill Cumorah in Manchester, New York
About 3 miles south of the Smith Family farm lies a  a small hill.  On September 22nd, 1823 in the Log Home on the Smith Farm, Joseph Smith was visited by an angel whose name was Moroni.  That night, Joseph Smith Jr. went to bed pondering upon the vision he had witnessed 3 years previous.  Wondering about what the Lord expected of him next, he offered up a prayer to God.  In Joseph Smith's own words, he says "While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor."

"He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.
He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;" (Joseph Smith History 1:30, 33-34
Joseph Smith Jr was given much instruction by Moroni that night.  Moroni visited Joseph 3 separate times that night, each time delivering the same message exactly as the first, each time though adding further council and direction.  Joseph got no sleep that night, and his mind still was bewildered about what he had been shown and told.  
Hill Cumorah in early 1900's
By the time Moroni had delivered his message for a third time and left, morning had come.  Joseph then proceed to go about his morning chores and duties on his father's farm.  He said his strength was utterly gone and his father noticed his son was not well and told Joseph to return to the house.  As he climbed over the fence from the field, he lost all energy and collapsed on the ground.  As he awoke, he saw the same personage, Moroni, standing above him.  He then again for a fourth time received the same message he had been given by Moroni the night before.  As he finished, he was commanded to go and tell his father about what he had seen and heard.  In obedience to that direction, Joseph did and told his father all the events of that night.  His father listened and said that the vision was of God and that he should go to the place the angel directed him.

Joseph with Moroni at Hill Cumorah
So, back to Joseph Smith's account.  "On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth."

"Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates,....."

"I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.
 Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days"
Statue of Angel Moroni on Hill Cumorah
On September 22, 1827, Joseph Smith and his wife Emma traveled to the Hill Cumorah.  There, Joseph was finally entrusted with care of the plates, to be translated into The Book of Mormon.
In 1928, The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints purchased the Hill and the surrounding land.  In 1935 they built a granite monument upon the top of the Angel Moroni holding the gold plates.
Today, a visitor's center is at the base of the Hill, giving visitor's tourist information about the Church and the surrounding Church sites.  Every summer, the Hill Cumorah Pageant begins, a huge outdoor theatrical event where scenes from the Book of Mormon are acted out.  Each showing is free and is open to all visitors.
Information gathered at and