Monday, March 21, 2016

Because He Lives - HAPPY EASTER

Tyler shared the following video this week:

With Easter coming up soon, a lot of folks are talking to us just a little bit more. The Spring season mixed with the Spirit of Easter softens our portrait in the eyes of many! Although the weather patterns here in Pueblo are mercurial the people are always interesting. We hear lots about what people believe and what they don't.

Some people believe in Christ but say they are more spiritual. Some folks say he was a great man but nothing more. Others testify of his sacrifice and resurrection, they see we are representatives of him and invite us in and get a glass of water! 

Belief and faith are obviously two different things. When I was younger I may have believed in the Santa Claus, but faith is something completely different. One of my favorite illustrations of faith is in The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is similar to the Bible- the difference is The Bible covers the dealings of Christ with the inhabitants of the Middle East, and the Book of Mormon covers Christ's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of America. 
There is a chapter in the Book of Mormon, found in the book of Alma, chapter 32. For a little background info - Alma is teaching the poor in this particular city and the way their government is set up, the aristocracy bars the poor from going to church. These humble folks feel as if they have no faith because they can't go to church. The Prophet Alma teaches them a little more about what faith is. Even back then there were folks who in order for them to believe in Christ, he would have to come out of a UFO in their front lawn on St. Patricks Day with the Easter bunny, Santa, and Elvis...Alma addresses that as well!

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. 

18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

So as we know, faith is not something you can see or touch, but Alma will go on later to explain it is more than just hoping for something. When I was younger one day after church I thought I had an epiphany.. I thought, "If I have faith that I will have a red Lamborghini waiting for me at home....It will be there when I get home!!". Needless to say I was a little discouraged when we pulled in the driveway and there was no Lamborghinis to be found...just a basketball my mom ran over as we raced out to go to church. :(

How many people would believe in Jesus Christ if he was on the earth right this minute, smiling & shaking hands? Probably a lot more! But what would that show? That they know how to use their eyes and ears? Christ wants to see if we can use our hearts in this life. 
Even if some folks believe IN Christ, they don't do anything about it. They affirm the fact that he existed and they may believe he was a great guy, but they choose to take their life in a different direction than he advised! So may I propose at this point that faith is more than believing IN Christ (believing he was a person and was a great guy etc...). True faith is believing Christ. Believing what he said and taught was true. Believing that the way he showed us how to live was correct. Believing that through him all things are possible. 

Alma goes on to say true faith leads us to action - 

27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

 28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Landscape Missionaries - ha ha
Helping a friend

This principle should be familiar to all parents! If you tell your son to be home at 10:30 and he shows up at 2:00 AM, what does that show you? The reverse is equally true! Our everyday actions are an outward expression of our faith. Baptism, repentance, being kind to others, & service are all wonderful things that show Jesus Christ that we care about what he asked us to do. Going along with that extended metaphor - we are showing up at 10:30.

Now there are some that have a big problem with this. They say "if I can't see Christ and I am changing my ways for him..isn't that blind obedience?". Absolutely not. Notice that Alma says to experiment. When you do an experiment in science class you find out if the variables you are testing worked out or not. (More likely than not for me it didn't work.) Basically, the Lord is telling us through his Prophet to give it a shot. Try it out. See for yourself if living like this doesn't give you peace in life - If it doesn't give you comfort. 
All he is asking us to do is try it out. 

Easter is all about faith. It is about believing that through descending through the thick of it, Christ rose on the third day. Even some of Christ's most beloved apostles did not believe that he lived. Peter denied knowing him 3 times and in John chapter 2 it says that only after seeing Christ again did they believe he rose. 

How important it is for us that we need to have faith that he rose again. For when he lifted himself from the grave he raised us up as well. He raised us up over death, over sin, over the world. Christ's Atonement was the single greatest gift we could ever receive. It is a gift that can and will change our lives once we embrace it. Not everyone knows they have that faith, but it drives the best in us. 

Critics say faith is imaginary, that it is the product of a convoluted mind. The skeptics say it is a way for people to find imaginary solutions to give them hope. What they don't know is that faith is a tangible powerful force. It makes the difference between 9 reps and 10 reps or taking chances.  What the critics and skeptics don't know is that faith is all around us.  
You can find that faith on the clay of a young man's cleats, who struck out 3 times already but gets up to bat 4 - with a smile on his face.
You can see that faith in the weathered hands of a hardworking parent, who works two jobs so that her daughter can go to college. 
You can feel that faith in a father's gentle touch, as he holds his newborn baby in his arms for the first time, imagining all of the wonderful things his young child will experience in this life. 

Sometimes that faith is only visible through the smoke of burnt buildings or the audible through the chirping of hospital machines. When you see folks running into the fire to save someone they don't know or you watch as a husband holds on tight to his wife's hand for the last time.   That faith is hard to look at sometimes, it could be in the grime on a P.O.W.'s face in Hanoi. Waking up everyday to a hellish nightmare with no end in sight...but yet staying vigilant & loyal to his brothers around him. 

That faith can come in the form of a cool summer breeze, the sound of waves crashing or the soft breathing of a sleeping child. 
Faith is what keeps a missionary going when all of the world tells him not to. 

I know that faith can change lives.
Christ can change lives.
Believing in him changes lives, it changed mine.
I testify that Jesus is the Christ. That he lives today, he overcame the bands of death so that we might live again. I testify that he loves us just as much as he loved those in Jerusalem 2016 years ago. He still gives us prophets and gives us life. 

But when the sun goes down & all the lights are off. When the critics are asleep and the skeptics aren't around, there will be a young mother who says enough is enough. She will take her child and escape an abusive relationship. Tonight she will check in to a shelter for battered and abused women. Tonight she will need more than just a warm blanket, a warm meal, and a tissue to dry her tears. She needs to know that she is loved. That she is worth it. 

The Savior of the Universe suffered so that she doesn't have to. That even if everyone else in her life has given up on her - he hasn't & he never will. That is the faith that changes lives... that saves lives.

Elder Clancy

A mansion near the hospital

Open Mic night at the Library
Another fun celebration at the E's home
Found a little more about this place online in a random search

Volunteering at the Zoo - must be a baby fox

WOW! Long neck there!

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