Sunday, March 27, 2011

Obedience or Disobedience

Have you ever felt total complete guilt for something you did wrong? Have you ever wondered why you felt that?
  
     The other day we were having a missionary  meeting in Santa Rosa and the idea of Obedience came up. This simple statement was made concerning that, "Obedience makes you happy, Disobedience makes you UNhappy". Sometimes people think that being disobedient, or going against what they know is right makes them more free and it is more fun. The complete opposite is actually true. I can personally testify that the most happy times of my life have been when I was being completely obedient. Now, was it worth it? Was it worth giving up the temporary 'fun' for the happiness that can last? Of course!
   
     Now just the other day I had a dream that illustrated this exact point. It was a dream that will have an eternal influence upon myself. It really helped to put things into perspective. Now I didnt do anything bad in the dream but nonetheless I still felt the feelings that I think would be felt from being disobedient. It is perfectly illustrated in this scripture in Mosiah 27:28-29:

  "Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more".
   
    Those feelings really put things into perspective for me. I need to stay completely and totally obedient at this time in my life and in the future I need to stay steadfast and immovable in keep the commandments of God. Complete and total obedience is the way. I know that to be true. It is the way in which we can feel the happiness that our Heavenly Father wants to give us so badly. Stay obedient, dont sway. Stay on the course, for it is on the course that we receive the blessings of the Lord.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Tides of Life

    The past few days it has felt like it has been raining enough to flood the whole earth again. That has drawn my mind to some past experiences I have had with water, this one in particular has had a profound affect on me throughout my entire life and has taught me principles of how I need to live and protect myself from the grasp of the adversary.
   
    In the summer of 2002 my family and I took a trip to San Diego. It was a summer tradition to go and stay at our beach house every year. This was sort of the highlight of our summer. We had so many fun trips there that I will forever remember but this trip has left a lasting impression and a lasting lesson in my mind.
   
     My brother and I were one afternoon playing on the beach trying to keep the ball that we were hitting back and forth in the air. In the process we got very sandy and after a bit we decided to go wash off in the ocean by body surfing. Without thinking too much about it, we both went in without life jackets, or floatation device of any kind. Little to our knowledge there was a rip tide that was going on at that present time. A rip tide is something that pulls water with an extremely powerful force away from the shore.
   
     Before we knew it we both could no longer feel the ground and we realized that we were well away from the shore. We both tried with our might to swim back to shore but it seemed as though no matter what we did we got dragged out further and further from the shore. In panic we kept on swimming, exhausting our energy, which eventually left us weak and with hardly any energy to stay afloat. For what seemed an eternity we were treading water. On a couple of occasions only staying afloat because of my brothers help. A surfer stopped and helped us at one point to stay afloat but it wasnt until the life guard came out and pulled us to safety that we truly felt safe.
    
     Through the tides of life we often run into problems like rip tides that try to tear us away from the safety of the gospel. "Why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to tempations that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?...Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul"(2 Nephi 4:27-28).
   
    So the question remains, how do we stay away from the rip tides of life and if you are in a rip tide of your life, how can you overcome it?

1. Put on your spiritual life jacket-Pray, read the scriptures, attend church faithfully.
2. Stay afloat, dont slip under the water where the tides can have full power over you.
3. Hang onto the good around you and repel evil.
4. Look for the 'life-guards' of life- The words and guidance of living Apostles and Prophets.
    
     As you do those four things you will be doing this: Remembering the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ. I know that there there are those rip tides in our life. Sometimes they seem unavoidable, however, God has given us the power to overcome them and not be dragged down by Satan. We have the power, and it is through Christ that we look to for the source of that power.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Light of Christ

     Saturday, March 12, Bella Palma-Ramon followed the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized. I had the wonderful honor of baptizing Bella. It was totally wonderful being a part of the process of her getting baptized. I really wanted to share a bit of her story with you because I think it is amazing.
Elder Miller, Bella, and Elder Millett (Left to Right)
    About six weeks ago we went shopping at Walmart. Yes this is a shout out to how awesome Walmart is. Always low prices yields the most customers and the higher chance you have of running into someone that is wanting to learn more of the Gospel. This was the case with Bella and her family. She and her family moved from Arizona to Fairfield about four months prior and everyone but her had joined the church. Her mom approached us and said that she was a member but hadnt been able to find the church and hadnt seen any missionaries until us. We gave her the address to our church and our phone number if there was anything we could do to help. That Sunday they all, including Bella showed up at church. We went over that night and we found out that Bella was not a member. We asked her if she would be interested in learning more from the missionaries about the Gospel that would change her life for the better and help her draw closer to Christ. She graciously accepted and never turned back. She is one of the most humble and loving girls you will ever meet. It was obvious that she had the Light of Christ within her. As we taught her, her desire to be baptized grew and grew until we all set a goal for her to be baptized on March 12. It was a wonderful day and now she absolutely exudes with goodness and with the Spirit of God. I know that her life will never be the same and that Heavenly Father has so many blessings in store for her. I love the Gospel and I love being a missionary.
(Left to Right) Patricia Florez, Elder Miller, Laura, Elena, Elder Millett, and Bella.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Chief Cornerstone

 Guest Post: Elder James Miller
 "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."  (Article of Faith: 6)
   
    Jesus Christ established His church when He was here upon the earth, and it was a church of order.  The same offices that Jesus Christ established are here with His restored church.  Heavenly Father is a God of order, and because of this His church is organized, but what is the purpose of so many offices and officers?  This answer can be found in the book of Ephesians in the Bible: in the eleventh verse of chapter four of Ephesians, it teaches us that "[Christ] gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, [and] for the edifying of the body of Christ;"    This is the purpose of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 
     Christ is not physically here with us, and for this reason He has blessed us inspired leaders to do His work for Him for the benefit of all of us, here on earth.  Although this is the unifying purpose of all of the servants of the Savior, each office, or calling, has its own specific purpose and responsibilities, and each requires great service of time and effort to carry out.  The following are a list of some of the offices established by Jesus Christ and their specific responsibilities:
  • Apostle ~ The word means "one sent forth."  The title Jesus Christ gave to the twelve men He chose as His closest associates during His ministry on earth.  In modern times, Jesus Christ has called other men to serve as His Apostles.  As in former times, as Apostle is a special witness of Jesus Christ and has authority from Him.
  • Prophet ~ The "household of God [is] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.."  (Eph. 2:20)  A prophet does many things for the welfare of the people of Christ including acting as God's messenger, teaching men about God's character, and above all being a preacher of righteousness.  As a rule, however, prophets act as forthtellers, rather than foretellers.  (For more information on prophets visit lds.org )
  • Pastor (Bishop) ~ The word 'bishop' means "overseer."  Hence, Jesus Christ is called the "Bishop of your souls" (1 Pet. 2: 21-25).  A bishop is a common judge of the people for temporal as well as spiritual matters, and acts as the Shepherd of a ward, or congregation.
  • Teacher ~ According to Doctrine and Covenants section 20 verses 53-55: "The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, back-biting, nor evil speaking; And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty."  Teachers also visit the homes of Church members and encourage them to live the principles of the gospel.
  • Evangelist (Patriarch) ~ In latter-day revelation an evangelist is defined as a patriarch.  Joseph Smith taught, "Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints."  Partriarchs are primarily called to give patriarchal blessings to members of the Church.  These blessings give us some understanding of our callings on earth.  They are the word of the Lord personally to us.
~The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles~
  Although these are only a few of the offices of Christ's Church, it is evident that His church is a church of order, where the purpose of His church is to "perfect the saints."  The Church of Jesus Christ is a kingdom of service to our God and for the benefit of our fellow man.  This same organization brings peace and joy, as well as the blessings of heaven to all who embrace the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  We, as saints of His church, are led by men called of God today, as we are all led by Jesus Christ, "the chief cornerstone" of the Church.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Man Must Be Called Of God

    "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof"(Article of Faith: 5).
   In every responsibility in the church whether a primary teacher, a bishop, or an Apostle they are called of God by the same prophecy and are given the authority to do what they do by the laying on of hands by those who already have the authority.
   Isn't that wonderful!? However, who gives us the authority to call an apostle of the Lord? Where did it come from? Jesus Christ himself.
   As shown in the picture above, Jesus Christ called and ordained apostles. He gave them the authority by the laying on of the hands. Now that these apostles had the authority of Christ, they were now authorized to preach His Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof, such as baptism and giving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands as well. They were also able to give that power and authority to others that were worthy of it.
   In 1829, Joseph Smith received the same priesthood authority that Jesus Christ had given to His Apostles. John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus, appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred on him the Aaronic Priesthood. Peter, James, and John (three of Jesus Christ's original Apostles) later appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred on him the Melchizedek Priesthood.
    That is why we have a direct line of authority to Jesus Christ. I know that God truly sent these glorious heavenly messengers to confer Gods authority upon the Prophet Joseph Smith thus fulfilling both in ancient times and in modern times the statement written in Matthew 16:19, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven".
    Whenever Christs church is on the earth, his authority will be on the earth and within that very church.