Church Journal - What legacy am I leaving behind?

    In church today one of the speakers talked about the legacy that Joseph Smith left. As he was talking about that it made me think - what kind of legacy do I want to leave behind. Here is the list that I came up with

What king of legacy do I want to leave?
-Living the Gospel
-Applying the Atonement
-Sharing the Gospel
-An eternal family
-Make the world a better place and help others make the world a better place
-Sacrifice my life (my day to day actions not my pulse) for others

    Well how do I make sure that I can leave this legacy behind? Well this speaker spoke about Benedict Arnold and talked about his legacy. Whenever people hear his name the first thing that comes to mind is traitor. It turns out that Benedict Arnold was actually a very faithful American having done many things in battle that saved many and he should have died while doing but didn’t. The speaker went on to explain that Benedict Arnold was willing to give up his life for America but was not able to give up his pride. Through politics and other things he was not given promotions he thought he deserved and was not held up to the esteem he thought he deserved. Because of this he sold out America because of his pride and was later hung as a traitor instead of dying as a hero.

    The words of a song I like ring especially true:

    I’m a man without a country
    I’m a martyr for no cause
    When the time comes for me to leave this world I don’t want to be without a citizenship to God’s church nor do I want to die for no cause. In order to avoid this I have to make sure that my pride doesn’t overpower my desire to do God’s will.

Miracle of Forgiveness - As a man thinketh, so does he

    I was reading the book Miracle of Forgiveness and towards the end of one section about thoughts I found a lot of really great passages that has helped me out a lot.

“As a man thinketh, so does he. The time to protect against the calamity is when the thought begins to shape itself.”

    I have found this to be true. It is a lot easier to fight the temptation of a thought than it is to fight the temptation of a fully formed thought. I have been applying this in my life by focusing on getting rid of bad thoughts as they develop and not let them grow inside of me. Before I would harbor them because I thought that they would just stay in my head but I have learned that thoughts never just stay in my head.

“Men alone, of all creatures of earth can change his thought and become the architect of his destiny.”

    I really really liked this because I want to be a better person - both spiritually and temporally. I can design my future and fulfill it but this is only through my thoughts. Whether I think I can or cannot I am right.

    “Sow a thought, reap an act;
    Sow an act, reap a habit;
    Sow a habit, reap a character;
    Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny.”

    There are many things that I want to do but that main goal is an eternal destiny. Working backwards I can see that first I need a strong character that allows me to live the Gospel and be worthy. In order to do that I need to have strong consistent habits that make me more disciplined. A habit starts out by one lone act repeated.    

The only way that I can preform an act is by having it start out as a thought.
I think that this can also be looked at at a different angle:
    “Sow a bad thought, reap a sin;
    Sow a sin, reap a bad habit;
    Sow a bad habit, reap an addiction;
    Sow an addiction, reap eternal misery.”

    All of this could be changed if I don’t first sow a bad though and instead sow a good thought instead.

5 things I learned from Stake Conference

    Stake Conference was a week ago and I had a lot of good insights from it. Instead of going into detail of each thing that I wrote down I just want to list my favorite things and write why I enjoyed them.

1. The way to live a Christ centered life is by living worthily and rendering service to others. I like this because as we strive to have a Christ centered life we may try and do so many things and in the process lose sight of our real goal. If we are living worthily and rendering service we are living a Christ centered life.
2. The best way to keep my covenants is by reviewing them and renewing them frequently. I like this because covenants are the reason why we can have eternal life. It is a promise with the Lord that if we follow his terms we will be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom. Reviewing and Renewing covenants will remind me not only what I have to do but the promise given.
3. You can’t make a difference in the world unless you are different. I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world and how I want to make this world a better place. The best way for me to start is to start being different than everyone in the world. It reminds me of what Gandhi said “be the change you want in the world.”
4. A marriage cannot fail if both parties are filled with charity. Marriage is the next step in my life. With so many divorces happening it does scare me and make me wonder if I will be able to have a successful marriage. If I and my future partner are filled with charity there is no way that that marriage won’t be successful.
5. Never make a decision that leaves you standing outside of the temple. This is a great quote especially going along with the last one. I need to make sure that everything I do is helping me stand in holy places like the temple.

So that was my favorite things from Stake Conference. I enjoyed how each of these things are very different but all were things that I had been thinking about before conference happened. This also goes to show that the Lord knows me and is aware of my situation in life.

Instiute Journal - Fig Leaves and Covering our Sins

    I have started going to institute and have enjoyed attending a lot. The class that I attend is studying the Book of Mormon. I can’t remember what scripture in the Book of Mormon prompted this but the teacher brought up an interesting point. She said that the only thing Jesus Christ ever cursed as recorded in the New Testament was a fig tree. This was because the fig tree had leaves but was not producing any fruit rendering it worthless.
    The teacher then reminded us that it was the fig tree leaves that Adam and Eve used to cover themselves up in the Garden of Eden. She then said that these fig leaves could represent things of the world being used to cover up our sins. Just like the fig tree that Jesus cursed things of this world are fruitless and are worthless. Using these things to cover up our sins is useless and pointless.
    After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden the Lord gave them a coat of skins to cover them up. This time instead of using things of the world to cover themselves up they were using something given from the Lord - or as it could symbolize the Atonement.
    There are many things that we could try and use to cover our sins. We could use our financial standing to justify why we work on Sundays, we can follow the dog-eat-dog world mentality to justify our ethics in dealing with people, or claim that it is love why we are immoral. Whatever it is that we do - we are using things of the world to cover up our sins. The only real thing that can cover our sins is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Alma 37:33 - Have faith in yourself to keep the commandments

    I remember a time in my life where I found it very hard to keep the commandments. I had the desire to keep them but I still found it hard to and failed occasionally. While this was happening I read this scripture in Alma 37:33 that says:
“Teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ”
    What I liked about this is that I learned the secret of how I could keep the commandments even though I faltered - it was through my faith.
    I wrote on top of that scripture:
“Have faith that YOU can keep the commandments”
    I had never thought about faith in that way. I knew that if I had faith I should keep the commandments but I never thought that I should have faith in myself to keep the commandments. The Lord promises that we won’t ever have a temptation more than we can handle. The Lord promises us that the Atonement can work in our lives. The Lord promises that we can have a change of heart. The Lord makes all of these promises that hinge on us keeping His commandments. If that is the case and the Lord keeps His promises how is it that I can’t keep the commandments.
    I noticed that afterwards when temptation would come instead of trying my hardest to avoid it I would think about this scripture and have faith that I can keep the commandments even though it is hard. It was this faith that helped me out a lot and helped me come closer to the Savior.
    I realized that faith is action. When I had faith that I could keep my commandments what started out as a thought turned into the action of keeping the commandments.
    Next time I am ever in a situation where I feel tempted to break the commandments I will think about how I can keep the commandments and because of this faith and the power of the Atonement I will be able to keep the commandments.

Church Journal - The Savior's Sacrifice

During the sacrament today I was thinking about the two symbols used. The bread representing the Savior's body which he sacrificed so that we can live again and the water representing the blood He shed so that we can repent and become perfected in Him. I thought that it was interesting the symbols used in the sacrament and started writing down ideas that came to my mind when I thought of bread or water.

When I thought of bread I thought of the passover and the use of the unleavened (unrisen) bread. They wouldn't let it raise so that they could be ready to leave and have it ready to cook/eat at a moment's notice. I think that this means that I should make sure that my relationship with the Savior is to the point that I am always ready to have His help.

When I thought of water I thought of how important it is to our lives. Not only does it quench our thirst and necessary to our survival - it is also used to clean and purify everything around us. If I didn't have access to water not only would I become dehydrated but I wouldn't be able to clean or wash anything which would cause disease and bacteria to spread.  

Along with that I can survive longer with no food than I can with no water. I even know that whenever I finish fasting the first thing that I go for is water and not food.

So what can I learn from this? It seems by all accounts water is more important than food and has a greater impact on my life. This isn't to say that food isn't important, but a week without water would be worse (and not physically possible) than a week of no food.

I don't mean to read to much into symbolism but what I got out of water being used to represent the sacrament is that the sustaining of our spirits is more important than our bodies. I am not trying to say that we should binge and sit around all day. What I am saying is that the spirit lives forever whereas our bodies are only temporary (until the Resurrection) and for that reason we need to make sure that we striving to make sure it is properly sustained.

Entitlement and Grattitude

Recently the word "entitlement" has been used a lot in the political sphere. It has been used so much that I hate to use it, but...the other day I was reading a few paragraphs about entitlement and ingratitude in the Miracle of Forgiveness and had this thought:

"The sin of entitlement is very similiar to the sin of ingratitude. The next time that I think that I am entitled to something I should stop and think about all the blessings I have."

I haven't had an experience to put this into practice yet but I think that when I do it will help a lot. Entitlement is the idea that I deserve something without any actual work or ownership on my part. When we consider all the blessings we have we will realize not only how much we have been given already but how many things we have been given that we haven't deserved.

A few weeks ago I thought about what (if any) I am entitled to as a human being in this life. I thought and thought and found that there is only one thing that I am entitled to. After we die we are entitled to eternal life through the atonement of Jesus Christ but at this time I was thinking of in the present.

The one thing that all human beings are entitled to in this life is our agency to choose. Even in situations where we might think that we aren't free we still have our agency to choose. Our choices might have been reduced or limited but we always will have our freedom to choose what to do with our lives and how to react to what life presents us.  We can choose to keep the commandments or break them rebelliously - because the Lord entitled us to that.

As I thought about that though an idea came to my mind that was really interesting.

"The only thing that we are entitled to in this life is our agency and the only thing that the Lord asks of us is to give our agency back to him and submit ourselves to His will."

When we submit our will to Him then we will be entitled to:

  • Exaltation
  • Salvation
  • Be resurrected glory
  • Have all that He has
I feel that it is interesting that in a world where many people feel entitled to everything the only way to achieve that is by giving up the only thing we are really entitled to.

When you look at it like that though - why would you not submit your will to the Lord?