Saturday, October 22, 2011

Baptism: The Gateway to happiness

Have you ever wondered how it is that we can find true and lasting Happiness in this life? It's been the question that has eluded some of mankind's greatest thinkers for millenia, but Jesus Christ in his gospel tells us how true happiness can be experienced. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28).

Through his Sacrifice, Jesus offers relief from guilt, pain, and all the unfairness we experience in life, and in the scriptures he tells us about how to access the fullness of his sacrifice for us. To experience the freedom that comes from a remission of sins, He says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Baptism is the key to unlocking happiness in this life.

So what is Baptism? Good question! Baptism is a covenant or promise with God. We promise to keep his commandments, and he promises to give us a new start, but this time with His Spirit more fully with us. Everything in our past is washed clean by Christ's sacrifice, and we get a clean slate.

How then should we be baptized? Well, in the scriptures it tells us the way Christ was Baptized: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water (Matthew 3:16).

We follow Christ's example by being baptized by immersion; the same way Christ was baptized. Paul informs us that the reason for immersion is to symbolize Christ's death, burial, and resurrection: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). It symbolizes our new life in Christ; our spiritual re-birth.

Another key component of Christ's baptism was who did the baptizing. He was baptized of John the Baptist because he had the authority to baptize; this is important to make covenants valid. That authority to baptize is on the earth today, and has been restored through Joseph Smith.

Why Should I be Baptized? Baptism is the gate whereby we enter into God's fold, and become his disciples: "Wherefore, do the things which...your Lord and your Redeemer should do; that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son" (2 Nephi 31:17-18).

What joy comes through baptism! We can be cleansed from sin, and enter the path to eternal life. If you're searching for happiness the Savior says, "Come follow Me." His is the path to happiness. Follow his example, be baptized, and you too can feel the joys of eternal life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are you in good hands?

In a world with ever wittier insurance company marketing campaigns, All State as always had such a solid slogan: "Are You in good hands?" You just cant help but feel safe and secure with Allstate with Dennis Haysbert saying it in his Morgan Freeman-esque voice.

But what a good question to ask; are we in good hands not only in respect to our car insurance provider, but in all aspects of life? Who do we look to for support when we find ourselves in another one of life's accidents? Where can we go to get the best coverage policy?

Unlike the car insurance world with multiple competing companies, there are only a couple of options for life coverage, and Nephi, a Book of Mormon Prophet, tells us about the option with the best policy. He says,

"O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh...therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee."

So the Lord promises us if we trust in him, he'll give to us liberally or generously. Whenever our ride through life takes a bumpy turn or if we have a head-on collision with adversity, we have a lasting promise from God that if we do our best to try and follow him, He'll be right there with us.

God's got pretty good coverage, but what about the competitor? What about the world? How does their coverage compare? As it turns out it's not much of a policy at all. If your claim costs them any sort of inconvenience they're slow to answer. You're too much of a liability for them. So, I'm with Nephi when he says, "I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh."

To God, you're never too much of a liability. He's there for you and all you have to do is trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). So ask yourself that question: "Are You in Good hands?" Or better: Are you In God's Hands? Because he's the only one with them outstretched.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Have a Tropicana Morning

It's Monday morning, the alarm goes off, and you have a grueling day at the office ahead of you. You creep out of bed as slowly as you can to somehow prolong the inevitability of another day with your nose pressed firmly to the grindstone. Until, that is, you open the fridge and see a big ole' carton of Tropicana (Trop 50 for those watching their figures). You reach into the cupboard, grab a glass, and relax for a moment as the crisp, cold OJ washes away any anxiety you had. That my friends is the experience of having a Tropicana morning. I try to have one every day. Something about having a good cold glass of orange juice invigorates my mind and body, and really gets me prepared to tackle the day with an optimistic and positive attitude.

But having a tall glass of OJ isn't the only thing that helps perk me up in the morning; In fact, no morning is truly a Tropicana morning for me if I neglect to open God's word and feel his Spirit. There's something about daily, and more specifically morning scripture study that helps me maintain and optimistic and positive attitude throughout the day.

As much as I love Orange Juice and it's wonderful effects for me in my morning routine, eventually it wears off. My body processes and absorbs the Vitamin C and other nutrients it provides, but the Spirit that I feel, and edification I receive in God's word gives me lasting spiritual nutrition that won't fade in a manner of minutes.

So crack open God's word as you sit down to enjoy that refreshing glass of OJ. Have a real Tropicana Morning. Your morning will be better, your day will be better, and you'll only be closer to God as a result.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Faith and Volcanoes- a lesson from a 5th grade science project

Think back for a moment to a simpler time when Saturday morning cartoons were the highlight of the week, and everyone traded lunches out of their power rangers lunch boxes. Do you remember that day when your science teacher asked you to come up with a cool project to do? I remember when I was just a little guy, I picked the ever-famous baking soda volcano project.

As I reflected back upon the fun I had mixing vinegar with baking soda, I remembered what the prophet Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, taught us about faith in Alma chapter 32.

In this chapter Alma teaches us that if we "awake and arouse [our] faculties, even to an experiment upon [his] words, and exercise a particle of faith...even if [we] can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in [us], even until... [we] can give place for a portion of [his] words" (Alma 32:27).

Like Alma, I like to think of faith as an experiment where we can see the impact of God's word in our own lives, and build that faith on a foundation of experience. So if we experiment upon the words of the prophets in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and "do his will, [we] shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether [we]speak of [ourselves]" (John 7:17).  By developing our faith like this we, we build confidence in the promises the Lord makes to us in his scriptures, and look for opportunities to put him to the test. It's what I like to call the spiritual scientific method.

 So if you're ever wondering just how people say they know something that seems unquantifiable, just remember that Faith isn't a perfect knowledge of things, but a hope for things that aren't seen, but true. However, just because they aren't seen doesn't mean they can't be experienced! When I say I know something is true such as the reality of God, or his Son Jesus Christ, it once started out as a hypothesis (faith) that as tested grew to a sure knowledge. So mix a little spiritual baking soda and vinegar, and I can promise you your volcano will overflow with spiritual knowledge.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Armor of God- Is Satan getting through to you?

My all time favorite comic series is by far The Far Side by Gary Larson because of how well he depicts what he's trying to convey, and I think he was onto something when he cartooned the above comic. 

As I was thinking the other day about some of the ways the Devil tries to break us down, I though about this comic, and how true this idea is: that we can be happy and have joy independent of our circumstances no matter how terrible they may seem.

So, How can we be happy even when we're faced with the fiery darts of Satan? How do we keep from letting the weighty circumstances of life pull our joy from us? 

“Wherefore take unto you the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day. …

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Eph. 6:11–18.)

 The Lord has given us a way to protect ourselves, and we can put on the spiritual protection we need through prayer and applying the principles taught in the scriptures, so you too can look like that happy guy above!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Life is like a guitar...Are you out of tune?

We all know that the guitar is like the sickest instrument, and acoustic guitar is my personal favorite. The other day we were seeing one of the families that we are teaching, and the son is way into guitar. I asked him if I could play a little so he went into his room, grabbed one, and I started fiddling around. He hadn't played in a couple of weeks on that particular guitar, so it was pretty badly out of tune.

Later on after we started talking about how Christ's church has been restored, we talked about how God has always called prophets to teach his people, but he was having a tough time understanding why prophets are so important; and then it hit me: We're the guitar, and the Lord sends us prophets to make sure our life-strings are in tune.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ was designed by our Heavenly Father to bring harmony and happiness into a chaotic and grief-stricken world, and prophets were historically called to be the bearers of such great news; and today God has called a prophet to help us tune ourselves amidst the unique challenges we face in the world of today!

So if you feel like your a little out of tune and your not as happy as you want to be, come listen to a prophet's voice and turn your melancholy melody into a spectacular symphony of joy.

Here's how to do it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Strong Is Your Patronus?

So I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this loves Harry Potter, and one night as I was eating dinner with one of my favorite families here in Whitefish, Mt and we were talking about Harry Potter this came to me.

In the third book/movie, the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is introduced to an intense new enemy, Dementors. After his initial meeting with them Harry wanted to be able to defend himself against their insidious attacks. He turned to Professor Lupin who then taught him the famous Patronus charm.

However casting a patronus charm is pretty tricky. You first have to think of an extremely happy memory or idea, and then say the incantation: "Expecto Patronum". Because of this, negative emotions or influences can compromise a wizard or witch's ability to cast a Patronus; such as the difficulty Harry had casting their Patronus when under the negative influence of Salazar Slytherin's Locket, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes

So the Patronus charm  "is a kind of positive force, and for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it, rather than him" (Harry Potter Wiki). Another use for the Patronus charm was developed by none other than Albus Dumbledore, who invented a way of using the Patronus to deliver messages.

So what about our Patronus? What kind of protection do we have from the dementors of life? What can protect us from the forces of Satan who like the dementors "seeks to make all miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27)? God has given us a powerful source of protection and communication, and that is prayer.

 He councils us: "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work." Prayer allows us to focus on the redeeming power of Christ that then shields us form the forces of Satan trying to break us down.

So next time you encounter a dementor along your path, Pray! You'll quickly find how much strength you have when you tap into the power God will give you to overcome temptation and adversity.