Friday, August 29, 2014

Part 4: Baptism

Welcome back to your favorite blog! As you've built your faith and learned how to repent (follow the links to past blog posts!) you've been preparing to make your very first covenant with your Heavenly Father! Baptism! And if you've already been baptized, don't worry, this blog post is for you too!

And don't worry, I haven't forgotten a video! It just comes later in the post! In the mean time, enjoy this picture from when Sarah made her first covenant with her Heavenly Father.

A covenant is a two way promise that we make with our Heavenly Father. We promise Him that we will do certain things and He promises us certain blessings in return. An ordinance is a ceremony or physical action that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God. So when we are baptized it's an ordinance that we perform and covenants are made!

God has always required His children to make covenants. He wants to bless us at every opportunity and when we keep the covenants we make we are blessed! God is the one who sets the terms for the covenant and we can choose to either accept or reject the terms. Keeping covenants not only blesses us in this life but brings salvation in the next life!

So what exactly are we promising and being promised when we are baptized? We promise three specific things! 1. To take upon ourselves the name of Christ 2. To always remember Him and 3. to keep His commandments. Seems easy enough right? We are promising to live our lives like Christ lived His to the best of our ability. We aren't expected to be perfect all the time (what would the point of this life be if we could be perfect on the first try?) but we are expected to do our very best.

In return we are promised that if we hold up our end of the bargain we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and receive a remission of our sins.

As missionaries, when we invite someone to be baptized we invite them to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the authority of God. So if we are following Christ when we are baptized we should be baptized in the same way as Christ, right?

Enjoy this video and we'll go from there!

Baptism by immersion (meaning your whole body goes under water, just like when Christ was baptized!) is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. Similarly, it represents the end of our old life and the beginning of our new life as a disciple of Christ!

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are baptized by the same authority that Christ held while He was on the earth. That's a very important part of following Christ's example.

For those of you who have already been baptized, don't fret! We won't give up on you just because you've made mistakes since your baptism! Perfection isn't expected, effort is. We can continually go through the process of building our faith and repenting. Look out for future posts where I'll write about how we can renew the covenants we have already made!

The blessings of baptism are available to everyone!

I know that as we follow the example of Jesus Christ in every way we will be blessed. As we strive to make and keep essential covenants we will progress in the gospel and be ready to live with our Heavenly Father again someday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Part 3: Repentance

We'll start part 3 with one my very favorite Mormon Messages today! Enjoy!

Too cute, right?! But not only is this video mega adorable, it's also a really great message! When we came to this earth we were so shiny and clean and ready to ride around the block! Unfortunately we're human so we have made some mistakes in our lives. And we'll keep making mistakes. Though the results of our sins may not always be as visible as bright red paint, they're still there and they cause feelings of guilt and shame.

It takes time and hard work, but those feelings can be 100% washed away!

The second principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, after faith, is repentance. Our faith in Christ will motivate us to act, that action is repentance. "Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world." (PMG, ch. 3)

Repentance is changing our thoughts, beliefs, actions, or behaviors to become more in line with God's will. It is only through repentance that we can become clean from sin and become worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again someday.

"And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins."
Alma 11:37

Repentance can be a wonderful experience! It's not always fun, it's usually not easy, but it's always worth it to know that the changes we are making are for the better!

The first step to being forgiven of our sins seems really obvious, but it's important! We have to recognize that what we are doing is wrong! We shouldn't be sorry that we got caught or that the consequences of a wrong decision are less than desirable, we should be sorry because we have done something against the commandments.

Then we need to STOP whatever it is we are doing wrong!

The next step is to confess our sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. This takes a huge amount of humility but it's an amazing feeling when you feel that the Lord doesn't remember your sins anymore.

Whenever we can we need to make restitution. When our sins have wronged someone else we should do all we can to make those wrongs right.

From that point on keep the commandments! Keeping the commandments will help us resist the temptation to go back to that sin.

The most important part of repentance is acknowledging the Savior. It is only through Him that we can be forgiven. From the most minor of mistakes to the most grievous of sins, Christ has suffered for us so we can be washed clean.

This isn't an instant process. Repentance takes time, be patient with yourself! You're becoming more like your Heavenly Father! Of course that will take a little bit of time!

As you repent and make those changes, whether large or small, you will experience a change of heart, you'll have the desire to follow Christ and keep God's commandments.

I want to testify that everyone who makes the effort to truly repent can be forgiven of their sins. Through the Atonement of Christ we can all become worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

"It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
(Read his full address here)

I want to invite you (everyone who reads this) to think about some of the changes YOU can make to become a little bit more like your Savior. He is the perfect example after all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Part 2: Faith in Jesus Christ

Part 2 of your favorite blog series is finally here! Enjoy this Mormon Message to start it off!

In my last post I addressed the topic of the Atonement and how we can cleansed from sin. The next posts will be about the steps we need to take to claim that wonderful gift! And it all starts with faith.

Let's define faith.

"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 faith is believing in something you can't see or prove. In the Mormon Message above we find a few really beautiful examples of having faith in Christ. In the Bible, Esther is faced with a difficult choice to make. She knew fully well that she could be killed for approaching the king but she also knew she had to defend her people. She had faith that because she was making the right decision she would be protected.

Christ has the desire to bless us, forgive us, protect us, He is waiting for us to exercise our faith and seek out those blessings that He has waiting for us.

"Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."
1 Nephi 7:12

In Preach My Gospel we find what happens when we exercise that faith in Christ:

"When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son."
PMG, pg 61

I have been so blessed on my mission to be able to witness so many people exercising their faith in Christ and acting on that faith by being baptized! Taking the physical steps to follow Christ is a big way to increase our faith and build our testimonies.

So we know what faith is, we know why need it, and we know who our faith should be in. But HOW can we build our faith?

"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 find place for a portion of my words."
Alma 32:27

Building your faith might start simply desiring to have faith! Hoping but not yet believing that something is true is a perfectly acceptable start. And the next step? Experiment on the word. Try it out! Take a small step into the dark by reading the Book of Mormon, meeting with the missionaries, or making that goal to be baptized.

"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 unto me.

Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge."
Alma 32:28-29

I invite you all to increase your faith in Christ. Just try it out. Trying praying a little bit more or reading your scriptures a little bit more. I can promise you will feel the Spirit and you will know that Christ is your Savior.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Part 1: Through Christ We Can Be Cleansed From Sin

This post is going to kick off my latest blogging adventure! Follow the next few posts to find out how you can find peace and joy through Jesus Christ!

So let's start Part 1 with this video and we'll go from there!

The single most important event in my own personal history took place in this video. The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When we came to this Earth we knew we would make mistakes and be imperfect. Our Heavenly Father knew this as well and knew we would need some help if we ever wanted to live with Him again. So He provided a Savior for us.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Because Jesus Christ performed the Atonement we can all be cleansed of sin. Every mistake and imperfection can be washed away with the power of the Atonement. 

The Atonement consists of three separate events; Christ suffering for our sins, His dying on the cross, and His resurrection three days later.

 When Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane He suffered for the sins of the world so that we can be forgiven. He also died for us so that when we die it doesn't have to be the end. We will be resurrected just like He was three days after His death.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pain and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

Although Christ suffered for our sins He didn't take away all personal responsibility for what we do wrong! When we accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, have faith in Him, repent of our mistakes, and participate in saving ordinances such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost we can be saved and be worthy to live our Heavenly Father again someday.

"And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end."

I testify with all my heart that through Christ we can be cleansed from sin. Through His Atonement we can become worthy to go home to our Heavenly Father someday. We can learn about the Atonement through the Bible and the Book of Mormon, I invite you all to ask a missionary what you can read in the scriptures to learn more about the power of the Atonement.