Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Oh, we've got trouble..."

When I was growing up I loved listening to soundtracks from musicals.  Some of my all-time favorites include: Chess, Phantom of the Opera, Into the Woods, 1776, Singing in the Rain, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Another one of my all-time personal favorites is Meredith Wilson's play The Music Man.  Earlier in the week one of my favorite songs from that play entitled "Ya Got Trouble" popped into my head.  In the song, Professor Harold Hill is explaining to the people how much trouble is caused by having a pool table in their comunity.  His main reason for making such a big deal about it is so that he can then proceed to get people to buy into his boy's band scheme.  After only a little time, Professor Hill has them wrapped around his finger just like he hoped.

As I was pondering on the message of the song and with upcoming General Conference, I realized that the prophets in a sense are doing the same thing Professor Hill was, only they are warning us of actual dangers and giving their warning voice to the world.  I have decided to share some of their messages since, "Oh we got trouble...With a capital "T" that rhymes with "P" [and "D"] that stands for [pornography, drugs, and debt]."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We Believe: Christlike Lives

Article of Faith #13: We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We believe that when all is said and done, the most important thing is who we are.  Are we men and women who embody that which is good or do we not?  Are we sons and daughters of God who have spent our time in the service of our brothers and sisters, or did we focus on ourselves and our own desires?  How are we going to feel when we look at Christ at the final judgment with the remembrance of all we did.  Are we going to be pleased with our time here on the earth?

We believe that the attributes of God that we can develop are gifts from our Heavenly Father to become more like Him (see Preach My Gospel pp.115).  These attributes include, but are not limited to: faith, charity, virtue, diligence, humility, and benevolence.  As we continue to develop the characteristics of godliness, we can feel closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior as well as find greater peace and joy in this life.  The apostle Paul taught it wonderfully when he said, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8)."  The Savior's invitation to "Come, follow me" is more than just staying in his footsteps, but an invitation to become like Him.

We believe that wherever good is found comes from God.  As the prophet Mormon taught, "But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God...for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (Moroni 7:13,16)."  No matter where good is found, we can learn from it and continue to grow.  Truly we should seek after good, no matter how far or how difficult.

I know that our Heavenly Father is the ultimate source of goodness in the universe.  I know that Jesus Christ is our perfect example of service and the way we should live our lives.  I know that as we put forth the effort to become more like our Savior, that our lives and our relationship with others can only improve.  I am grateful for the chance that I have had to study more fully the Articles of Faith and to share what we believe and what I know.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We Believe: Citizenship

Article of Faith #12: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

We believe that governments are a central part of our life here on earth.  In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, "We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society (D&C 134:1)."  Governments are established to provide order and a system where justice and mercy can be established.  Citizens are protected from chaos and anarchy because of governments in place; as long as, the leaders are intent on helping people and that the laws of the land are obeyed.

We believe that laws are how peace and order are maintained; were it not so, anarchy and chaos would prevail.  The Lord declared that He caused the Constitution to be established here in the United States of America (see D&C 101: 77, 80).  The Lord on another occasion said, "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet (D&C 58: 21-22)."  As we honor and sustain the laws of the land, we are preparing ourselves to live the rest of God's laws, especially in preparation for when Christ is to rule.

We believe that along with all the principles of the gospel, patriotism and being a good citizen are necessary principles to teach to our children.  Elder Phineas Richards, an early member of the church, in 1849 said,

"Brethren and friends, we who have lived to three-score years, have beheld the government of the United States in its glory, and know that the outrageous cruelties we have suffered proceeded from a corrupted and degenerate administration, while the pure principles of our boasted Constitution remain unchanged… As we have inherited the spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism from our fathers, so let them descend [unchanged] to our posterity.”

May we continue to be good citizens of our countries wherever in the world we may be.  Let the fire of patriotism never fail in our lives and let us continue to stoke the flame in the lives of others.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We Believe: Religious Freedom

Article of Faith #11: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

We believe that central to the importance of man's existence is religion and faith.  Whether it be the Christian religions that dot the earth to the ancient beliefs originating in Asia to the tribal beliefs of those in Africa and Native American tribes, belief is a driving factor for living.  

We believe that governments have a duty to provide an atmosphere for religious freedom.  In a statement regarding the importance of government written in 1835 states, "We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief (D&C 134:7)."  Freedom of religion grants all men to follow the dictates of their conscience and help them develop a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Savior through their own means and faith.
The stoning of Stephen

We believe that all men have the freedom to believe what they want as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others (see D&C 134:4).  Persecutions and bitterness towards our fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel push us farther and farther from God.  Christ organized a church that we may all "come in the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13)."  I once heard it said that Satan's battle plan is to divide and conquer, turn us on one another so that we do not have the unity needed to have faith, true joy, and lasting peace.  In the Book of Mormon we read that as persecutions were abounding Mosiah, the king of the time, issued a proclamation that "there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men; that they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself (Mosiah 27:3-4)."  Peace then followed as the people began to care about each other and allowed them to have their faith.

I know that religious freedom is absolutely important.  As we continue to strive and learn from our neighbor's and their beliefs, we can continue to grow in our own faith and draw nearer to God.  As we persecute and harass, we separate ourselves from the peace of God.  May we continue to allow men to worship the way they see fit and that we may continue to have that privilege in our own lives.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We Believe: Missionary Work and the Millennium

Article of Faith #10: We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We believe that now in the last days, many great events are going to take place.  In the Bible we read the account of how the descendants of Israel were separated and scattered, first by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonians.  This of course was due to their wickedness and their turning away from God (see 2nd Kings 17, 25).  Before the Second Coming of our Savior, the gathering of the tribes of Israel will commence, for as the Lord taught, "they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them (3rd Nephi 17:4)."  The Lost Tribes will be gathered back and into the land of their inheritance (see Jeremiah 16:15).
We believe that along with the literal gathering of Israel, there is an accompanying spiritual gathering. Jeremiah prophesied of this gathering when he said, "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks (Jeremiah 16:16)."  Missionaries are going forth throughout the world, searching for those who are prepared to hear the gospel message.  As people accept the gospel and the covenants that come along with it, they inherit the blessings promised to Abraham and his posterity.

We believe that when Jesus Christ comes again, the world will be cleansed and the Millennium will begin.  The Millennium is the thousand year period of love and peace which follows the coming of Christ and the beginning of His reign on the earth.  The world will be renewed and enter into a state similar to that of the Garden of Eden.  Peace and love will abound and we will be guided and led by the King of Kings Himself, for as Isaiah prophesied "The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called...The mighty God...The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)."

I love the opportunity I have to be a missionary serving in Montana.  I have been able to witness people finding peace and joy in their lives that once was lacking as they come to accept the gospel message.  The Lord is truly gathering His elect from the four corners of the world (see D&C 33:6-7).  I hope and pray that when He comes again I may be ready and worthy to be with Him.
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