Wednesday, December 23, 2015

He Hears Our Prayers

We have been keeping track of how many new people we meet each week, our average hangs at about 80. 

Almost everyone seems to notice the increased impersonalization in our society. This insidious detachment truly affects our worldview & actions as human beings. Whether it is abstaining from voting in the democratic process or apathetic views toward other public affairs - this behavior unravels the very thread this country was sewn with! 

I think back to a candid interview I saw on the news where the reporter asked a young man on the street if he knew what apathetic meant... the young man answered "I don't know and honestly I don't really care"....

It seems that today, in modern society - things are quite impersonal. Customer service in many venues has become an oxymoron, drones replace our friendly UPS guys, face to face communication has been substituted with texting , and even our public school system has adopted faceless nameless standards in which placate the true learning experience that school is supposed to be! In no ways because of this are these behaviors excused but surely we can infer where they originate from. 

Probably the most saddening belief I witness from people on a day to day basis, is that God sees us as personal as we see ants. People really think He doesn't hear nor answer our prayers. They think He might be "too busy" for our personal cares & worries. There is a reason that no one feels empowered nor pleased by this discouraging trend and ideology in civilization. That is because it was never the way it was supposed to be. Moreover - that is not the way it IS.  

One of the basic tenets or core beliefs of our faith is that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and just like a Father, He loves his children. God is the same, but loves us with an even more sublime love. Part of Him loving us so much is the fact that He hears, answers, and cares about our prayers and the desires of our heart. 

The roots of our faith stem from a young man named Joseph Smith. He lived in upstate New York during the time of the second great awakening. The second great awakening was a time where religious tumult was in full force, sects were growing and there was much theological debate within them. Young Joseph was confused by this clamor and upheaval, where one pastor claimed salvation was one way and another (using the same passage of scripture) explained it a completely different way. 

Joseph wondered how the gospel could be seen 100 different ways. He knew that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) These thoughts rolled through his 14-year-old mind and left him with a desire for the knowledge of what truly was the right path to traverse on. He felt a lot like some of us feel nowadays. As if someone is trying to fit a "one size fits all" hat on you and it doesn't fit, but yet they insist it will eventually... 

Joseph read a scripture in the New Testament. It was James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. This scripture really spoke to young Joseph. He felt like that was how it should be, that God truly does hear and answer prayers! He had faith that Heavenly Father would answer his humble and sincere prayer of which church was the right one to join! 

Joseph went into a grove of trees and did just that. He prayed to know which of the churches were teaching the truth. Here is what happened -When the light rested upon me 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!

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
 19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”  

My favorite part of that account is that Heavenly Father called Joseph by name. It wasn't a stock recital of scripture - he truly gave Joseph the wisdom that he lacked. I know that he will do the same for us! 

The Coach of the Navy football team Ken Niumatalolo put it plainly & a little humorously when he said -  "A lot of people tell me that God doesn't care about Navy football. I think that is true to some extent, but hey God cares about me and if we lose I don't have a job so I guess in a way he does!".

 Many people think we as missionaries are out here to just convert people and get commission or something based on how many people we baptize. That is false. (Super false) As missionaries our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. The simple knowledge that God cares about each and every one of us is invaluable and immeasurable. I have been so lucky to see lives change as they come to that conclusion. I am reminded of a song that I once heard and the lyrics go something like this. -
Before you look
Before you lust
Before you curse
Before you judge
Before you believe
 shes worth nothing,
oh remember
She's somebody's child
She's somebody's girl
She's somebody's joy 
the day she came into 
this world
She's somebody's tears 
they can't help but cry
She's drops of blood
on olive leaves,
in a garden late at night
When the Savior of the universe
suffered to remove the worst
he loved her 
all the while
She's somebody's child. 

There are many theories on world peace and domestic tranquility but my goodness, if everyone saw one another as brothers & sisters, sons & daughters, mothers & fathers - Wouldn't the world be a better place? I am sure that there is a direct correlation between the growing trend of impersonability and increasing violence. As Robert F. Kennedy once called it "The Mindless Menace of Violence" 

.It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence. Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again."

I testify of our Heavenly Father's love. I know that if we pour out our hearts to him he will answer our questions and put our heart at peace. I know this not from being a missionary and seeing the gospel work through others, but I have seen it in my own life. I know this because an 18-year-old young man named Tyler went looking for answers one night and he found them. 

I don't know everything nor do I claim to. Many times life will throw a curveball at us and it will bring us to our knees. I grew up in a Christian home and since birth I had been taught about Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us. I had been taught about life after death. For 18 years I was taught everything I could have ever wanted about the gospel. But it wasn't until I hit my knees at a moment in my life where nothing was peaceful nor making sense to me that I got a mere glimpse into the fullness of God's love for each and every one of us. His love is perfect & personal for each of us. This year Christmas means something so much more to me than it has in the past. Because Jesus lives I can be forgiven of my sins. Because he lives I know I am loved. Because he lives my family & I can be together forever no matter what happens here on earth.

I bear my solemn testimony that because he loves we have nothing to fear. Jesus is the Christ. He is the gift. 

Love to all & Merry Christmas

Out tracking on a cold day

Bow and arrow practice

Cookies from some members

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