Sunday, January 8, 2017

"If You Believe All These Things See That Ye Do Them"

Hello again. Another year+ has passed without writing in this blog, and it feels longer! But here I am again.

I was studying the topic of sincerity today in my Triple Combination topical guide, and it led me to this scripture in the Book of Mormon:

"And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them."
-Mosiah 4:10

Something struck me about the verse.

First of all, it is beautifully simple. It's a simple if/then statement, demanding action--If you believe these things, then do them. The clarity of the "plain and precious truths" (1 Nephi 13:28-29) restored through the Book of Mormon is once again worth applauding. It functioned for me like a call to action, or even a punch in the gut-- perhaps I was feeling guilty. But the beautiful simplicity of the invitation struck me in the way that all truth does: at first, it stung a little, then it opened a new world of possibilities. It excited me to know that I do not have to be stuck in mediocrity, or in a state of spiritual "bleh." Instead, I can stop, revaluate, and course correct.

Second, the word "believe." It doesn't just say "Repent of your sins and forsake them," but rather "Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them." There's a difference, isn't there? I think it is a profound one. 

Consider this example: There was a husband and father who went to make himself a sandwich one day, but there were no plates left in the cupboard. Looking down at the sink, he saw that it was full of dishes-- and not only the sink, but basically all the counter space in the kitchen was taken up with dirty dishes that had piled up over the past week or so. So, he decided to finally do the dishes. When his wife came out and saw that the dishes were done, she was very grateful for her husband, but he felt guilty that he had let them pile up that much. He didn't believe it was right to let the dishes pile up so much, so he decided then and there to always do them right after using them.

All right, so a silly, simple example, but I guess sometimes I am silly and simple. Both before and after the husband had decided to always do the dishes after using them, the dishes did eventually get done. But before it was a source of stress and discomfort in their lives. After, it was under control, and they didn't even have to think of it much anymore. You could say that the husband didn't believe the dishes needed to be done right away before, but that he did believe it after making the decision. 

We can be that way with our sins. We can either repent out of necessity after many sins, or believe that we need to repent. Believe it so much that we do it often, even habitually.

I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who sent His only Son to die for our sins, and to institute the Sacrament to give us a chance to be wiped clean through His blood every single week. I am grateful for the scriptures which remind us to repent often, and to believe that we must.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

He Wants Us to Seek Him

The Book of Mormon puts me such a thoughtful mood. I started reading it from the beginning again today and, can I just stop here and say I love this book? Seriously. It is a miracle. Go read it.

Anyway, as I began to read the Book of Mormon again I was paying attention to the words and example of Nephi. He always seems to teach me something, and this time was no different. This time, he reminded me of the importance of seeking.

"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart" (1 Ne. 2:19).

" . . . I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him . . . For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round" (1 Ne. 10:17, 19).

Nephi wanted us to know that it was not his bloodline, wealth, position, or even his righteousness alone that gave him his special relationship with God, but his desire to know. When Nephi's father Lehi had a vision that resulted in him leading his family into the wilderness, I am sure that the Lord would have been pleased if Nephi had simply believed in his father's visions, especially since his brothers Laman and Lemuel did not. But what really cemented Nephi's relationship with the Lord was his desire to find out for himself. He sought the Lord for his own, personal testimony, and was given all that he asked for and more.

I think I have been too content for too long. I have been going along with the gospel in the way that Nephi could have merely gone along with his father. I have not questioned my testimony of the gospel, but maybe in not questioning my testimony I have also not questioned, period.

Well, today I am reminded of how much the Lord likes questions, and especially when the questions come from a sincere seeker. So let's never be afraid to seek Him.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Thoughts on Messing Up During the Sacrament Prayers

The Sacrament (otherwise known as Communion, the Eucharist, etc. in other faiths) is at the heart of religious observance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We repeat it nearly every Sunday during the most important and sacred meeting, appropriately named Sacrament Meeting. Ideally, it is a time when members are able to forget all worldly distractions, focus exclusively on the Savior, and renew our baptismal covenants with Him.

I have always found it thought-provoking that the youth of the Church is in charge of this most sacred ordinance. The young priests--often about sixteen years old--are in charge of blessing the bread and water that is then passed to the congregation by deacons and teachers who are younger still, ranging in age from twelve to fifteen. Other priesthood holders of all ages may participate in its administration, but the Sacrament is primarily the responsibility of these teenagers.

Is it not interesting that God would hand over control of this most sacred of ordinances to the youth, and not to the more mature adults? To be frank, the youth are often rowdy and immature, sometimes seen joking around during Sacrament Meeting when they should be observing reverence, much to the chagrin of adult leaders. In addition, some have a tendency to speed through and/or mumble the sacramental prayers instead of giving them their due respect.

When this happens, the Bishop may decide to have the prayers repeated until they are said correctly. These prayers are the only ones that are repeated word-for-word in our worship meetings. God considered them so important that he gave us the very words we should use in Doctrine and Covenants 20:75-79. The words reflect the covenants we made at our baptism and remind us of our duties in keeping these covenants, including taking upon ourselves the name of the Son, remembering Him, and keeping His commandments. We are then promised the continual guidance of the Holy Ghost.

But why is it so important, really, that these words are said verbatim, to the extent that not a single word can be omitted or submitted? Sometimes, when a prayer is said incorrectly, the priest feels embarrassed, the members feel uncomfortable, and visitors feel confused about why exactly they are hearing the same prayer repeated. This can cause further awkwardness for the members who may feel the need to explain what is happening to the visitor. Sometimes, we may wish that we can just move on without going through the uncomfortable process of repeating the prayer.

However, my thoughts on the subject today brought me peace in the knowledge that the Lord's Church is in good hands. His ordinances are, among other things, physical symbols of our covenants and relationship with God. Wouldn't a casual attitude about said ordinances reflect a casual attitude about our relationship with Him? 

As the scripture says, "In the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest" (D&C 84:20).

I am glad that the sacred ordinances of the Church are not treated lightly.

Though the Sacrament may be in the hands of the youth, God does not expect less of them. Through their service, the youth learn the care needed in the administration of godly things. They are given a symbol and a type of the fact that God does require perfection in all things, but that is not to say that He requires it the first time. We may mess up and have to try again, sometimes many times. It may cause us and others around us pain and discomfort. Our failure may cause us to want to just give up and avoid any future embarrassment. But in the end, if we endure, following the only true path of repentance, which is through the Savior, we will have the comfort of knowing that we did things the right way--God's way--and that in the last day He will look at us and say, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant." 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hello Again! And, Finding the Pearl of Great Price

From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
From the laziness that is content with half-truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
O God of truth, deliver us.

Let that poem be a motto for a new season.

Hello again. It's been years. Almost four years. I gave up writing in this blog to serve in the Peru Piura Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I left on October 5, 2011 and returned on October 9, 2013. Two full years and a lifetime of experiences. And now, nearly another two full years have passed since returning and I cannot imagine attempting to write all that has happened.

The short of it is that I got married and sealed to my sweetheart, Sannah, in the newly built Kansas City Temple, I learned what the heck Spotify, Pinterest, and Instagram were, in addition to any other new developments that entered the public consciousness while I was "disconnected," I went back to finish my undergrad degree in Art from Utah State University, moved back to central Missouri again to start our lives, got jobs in Kansas City and moved out here, first living with my brother and his wife before getting our own place and establishing ourselves on the Kansas side of the city. So yeah, a lot has happened.

I was twenty-one years old when I wrote my last post. I am now twenty-five. I gained insight and experience in many things, and became more aware of my ignorance in others, but all-in-all I consider myself immensely blessed. The mission was and forever will be one of the great experiences of my life. I have lived miracles and felt myself become an instrument in the hands of God, and have learned the workings of the Spirit and the importance of service over talk. That lesson--service over talk--is probably why it has not been a priority for me to return to writing my thoughts here. I guess I was proud of what I had shared and thought I would leave it at that.

But Truth is important. It must be sought after, and cherished above all else when discovered, like the pearl of great price:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46).

I have found my pearl of great price, and feel as always a desire to share it with anyone who will listen. I believe it is more needed than ever, because without a doubt, the world is more troubled now then when I left four years ago, and there are those who seek to divide, destroy, control, and corrupt. Good is evil, and evil is good for much of the public and even for our law.

And yet, on the other hand, there continue to be those who desire to find their pearl of great price. So, for that reason, I would like to continue to update this blog when possible, or if I have a thought on something.

In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is an infinite well of understanding and truth, and my hope is to allow others to find the joy that I have found in it. I don't hope to shove it down your throat, or force you to see things the way I do, but I do only hope that you will, as the name of the blog suggests, consider this...

Thanks for reading, and, until next time, good night from Kansas City!

above: Dominco Fetti's The Pearl of Great Price, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why I Am Serving a Mission

My life has lately been taking some surprising turns. Through a series of unpredictable events I have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which unfortunately tends to be viewed negatively by many. In addition, I have decided to pause my schooling and my relationships in order to dedicate two years of my life to the spreading of this gospel to the Peruvian people. Meanwhile, many of my friends and family may be left wondering just what happened to me. In the hopes of answering some of their questions, I would like to spend some time addressing the message of the LDS Church, and why I made the decision to spend two years spreading this message abroad.
The Message

In order to understand what is taught and believed by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it would help to first take a look at the name of the Church itself:

The Church . . .

The Church refers to the unified, worldwide body of believers and the organization that unites them all. The organization starts locally with single congregations run by unpaid “lay clergy”, which are united under larger and larger organizational bodies until it gets to the highest presiding quorums, which are the biblical quorums of the Seventy, the Twelve Apostles, and the First Presidency. The First Presidency consists of current President of the Church Thomas S. Monson and his two councilors. All who have authority in any level of the Church have the right to receive revelation by the Holy Ghost for those under them, therefore the president of the Church is also known as “the Prophet,” because he receives revelation for all the Church and all the world. The apostles are likewise prophets. Therefore, an essential aspect of the message of the Church is that prophets who give the word of God like those of biblical times are again restored to the earth.

Because all who lead in any position in the Church are expected to go to the Father in prayer before making any decision, the Church is both highly organized yet highly reliant on the guidance of the Spirit.

Additionally, every major decision at all levels of Church organization must be sustained by the unanimous consent of all the members. There exists such unanimity of mind between the leadership and membership that nearly every single decision in the Church is unanimously agreed upon.

Overall, the Church’s organization is modeled after the organization of Christ’s original New Testament Church. Our sixth article of faith states, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” It helps people from all over the world come together as a single, unified people under Christ’s name, which leads me to the next part of the Church’s name:

 . . . of Jesus Christ . . .

Everything we do in the Church–every prayer, blessing, ordinance, act of service, etc.­–is done in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. When we are baptized we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and covenant to serve Him and represent Him throughout the world.

We in the Church are often—nay, constantly—reminded of what Jesus Christ did for us, and why we need Him. We teach that Christ was chosen from the beginning to be the Redeemer of mankind who would overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam, namely, death and sin, allowing us to repent and be reconciled to God. He accomplished this act by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for humanity, suffering greatly and taking upon Himself all the sins of the world. His miraculous birth, life, and crucifixion are considered the most important events of human history. Every week in our worship services we remember Christ’s great atoning sacrifice by partaking of the sacrament, or communion. If we do so with real intent, we are forgiven of our sins and renew our baptismal covenants to remember and serve Him in return for His great love.

Before ascending into Heaven after His resurrection, Christ established His Church with all the authority and organization needed to speak for Him and carry forth His message to world. He taught them faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and taught them that after He left they would gain the gift of the Holy Ghost. However, after the scattering and martyrdom of the original apostles, the Church could no longer withstand the intrusion of corruption that the apostles had been struggling so hard to correct (see Acts 20:29, Gal. 1:6, 2 Tim. 1:15, 2 Pet. 2:1, 1 Jn. 2:18, etc.). The original Church thus fell into apostasy as predicted by Paul when he said, “for that day [the coming of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (2 Thes. 2:3). Though many groups remained who believed in Christ’s divinity, the Church established by Christ Himself was no longer found on the earth.

. . . of Latter-day Saints

But all hope was not lost. The Old Testament promise remained that “the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people” (Isaiah 11:11), and Paul prophesied of the “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). And with the knowledge that “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7), our message to the world is that Christ’s Church has already been restored through a modern day prophet of God, Joseph Smith, in these latter days.

 Joseph Smith is not worshiped in the Church. He was merely a man, fallible just like any other. However, we believe he was a prophet of God who, like Moses, arose at an essential moment in human history to bring God’s truth to humanity. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him while he was praying fervently in the woods at the age of fourteen. He was disillusioned by the lack of unity among the Christian churches at that time, and asked the Lord which Church he should join. The Lord told him to join none of them, but that through Joseph He would restore the true Church upon the earth again. Through this restoration the Lord brought back the true Christian teachings and ordinances, including the proper order of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. He also restored the priesthood, or authority to act and preach in Christ’s name. Therefore, as members of the early Church were called saints in the New Testament, so are modern members of the Church called “Latter-day Saints.”

Why did we need the Restoration? Well, in a world of literally thousands of contending Christian sects, all claiming the right to call themselves the followers of Jesus Christ, nothing short of divine intervention could have restored the Christian Church in its purity. Joseph Smith is proof that God has not changed. He still speaks to His children in all parts of the world through prophets, and there is a living prophet today named Thomas S. Monson. These prophets teach the gospel of Jesus Christ with clarity, unity, and conviction.

The priesthood is a very important part of the Restoration. Christ passed on His priesthood to His apostles two thousand years ago, saying “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” (Matt. 16:19). The apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery before the founding of the latter-day Church and conferred to them the priesthood of Christ. Today nearly worthy males in the Church receive the priesthood, which in turn allows them act in the name of Christ within their families and Church positions.

One of the most vital aspects of this sealing or binding power is that families can be together forever. When a couple is married by the proper priesthood authority in one of over 150 Latter-day Saint temples, their marriage and family has the potential to last far beyond the boundaries of death. The priesthood, then, is inseparably connected with the family, and has proved an incalculable blessing in strengthening and uniting families around the world.

Another aspect of the Latter-day Church is that we have the blessing of additional scriptures that testify of Christ and what He has done for the world in times past. Part of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling was to restore the knowledge of an ancient Hebrew people who migrated to the American continent in about 600 BC under the direction of the Lord. Their history is recorded in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon contains over 500 pages of inspired insights, prophecies, histories, teachings, wars, and migrations regarding these people. It was named after the ancient prophet Mormon, who compiled his people’s history at a time when they were nearly extinct, sealing it up to be discovered at a later date. In the climax of this book, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to these faithful people and taught them after His resurrection and ascension from the land of Judea, thus proving that Christ loved and taught people in other parts of the world who had no way of hearing His message otherwise. This book also serves as a wonderful companion to the Bible, clarifying and supporting teachings that are biblically founded but cannot be agreed upon in the Christian world. It also serves as a witness to the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, who was a 24-year-old farmer from upstate New York with little formal education when this immensely complex book was published in 1830. I invite everyone to read this book for him or herself to see if it contradicts the teachings of Christ found in the Bible. If you are like me, you will find that the Holy Ghost testifies strongly of this book, and that it clarifies and supports biblical doctrines in wonderful and eloquent ways.

This is the basic message of the Restored Church of Christ. I know this message can greatly improve lives and lead people to a better relationship with Christ and with their family. The gospel lifts individuals, families, and communities to new heights, and opens up blessings that cannot be imagined. Since I joined the Church, I have seen the world in a whole new light. I have learned to see the good in everything, and to seek after all things that are uplifting and true. I know the things I've learned have helped me to follow Christ more diligently, and have taught me the true meaning of sacrifice and faith. I have also learned what it means to truly live my faith, and to have a large, loving community of believers who help me to do so. I also understand my Father in Heaven more, and am grateful that He speaks to me through His Spirit, and also through modern prophets. And I am incredibly grateful for the knowledge that when I am gone from this life, my family relationships will not cease, but can continue forever through the blessings of modern day temples.

When I joined the Church, I thought a lot of people would think I was "weird" for joining a fairly unpopular religion. But I want to be better about sharing what I know to be good. I know the knowledge I have received has brought me countless blessings, and I want nothing more than to share what I have been given with others the best that I can. And that is why, though I will miss every one a great deal, I am grateful for this opportunity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The First Principles of the Gospel

There is so much to speak and write about in reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that sometimes it can be easy to forget the first principles. These first principles make up the basic "plan" that we follow in order to become members of Christ's Church, which plan will lead us to happiness in this life and salvation in the life to come. Teachings and doctrines that go beyond these first principles only allow us further growth and understanding of the basic things we've already learned through the first principles.

Our third Article of Faith states, "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." I'm grateful for this article of faith because it establishes the fact that we do not think, as some contend, that we are saved merely by adherence to these principles without accepting Christ's grace. Adherence to the first principles is only possible because of the Atonement of Christ–for example, could we follow the commandment to repent unless Christ's sacrifice allowed our sins to be washed away?

Now that we have cleared up that issue, let's get to the first principles themselves–what are they? Well, the fourth Article of Faith tells us–"We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Though it is not one of our official Articles of Faith, some Latter-day Saints would add a fifth principle–"Endure to the end"–because we do not believe in the popular idea of "once saved, always saved." However, I would call "enduring to the end," though it is indeed very important, more of an essential aspect of following the first principles than an entirely separate principle. For example, part of our baptismal covenants (which we renew through the Sacrament, or Communion, each week), is to "always remember [Christ] and keep his commandments which he has given [us]" (D&C 20:77). So when we follow the first principle of baptism, we are already agreeing to "endure to the end." Therefore, I will only address the four essential principles and ordinances mentioned in the divinely inspired Articles of Faith.

What is the basis for these first principles and ordinances? Well, as any student of the New Testament should see, Joseph Smith did not merely make these things up. He only articulated and clarified the essential principles taught throughout the New Testament by Christ and His apostles. This always was and is the role of prophets in Christ's Restored Gospel. Whereas Latter-day Saints know definitively and clearly what Christ expects of us in return for salvation, the rest of Christendom continues to argue on such basic issues as whether baptism is essential, the role of works vs. grace, at what point a person is "saved," etc.

Joseph Smith was not the only person teaching that such things were the basic principles of Christ's gospel. Other Christians of the time had deduced nearly the same things from their study of the New Testament. Perhaps the Christians who had gotten closest from their studies to Joseph's inspired first principles were the Campbellites (from whom descended the modern denomination named the Christian Church, or Disciples of Christ), a group from which came many of Mormonism's earliest and most ardent converts, such as Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt.

A foundational member of the Campbellite Movement named Walter Scott came up with his "five-finger exercise" for the basic principles of the Gospel, based on Acts 2:38. He would go from town to town, finding children to teach this exercise, in which the children held up a hand while Scott would "point to each finger and say 'faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, gift of the Holy Spirit.'"1 Scott would then instruct the children to go and tell their parents what he had taught them. This demonstrated that the gospel of Jesus Christ was so easy a child could understand it. Joseph Smith took these principles and showed that they could be even more simple by eliminating the fourth step (which was accomplished by the first three) and by clarifying that the gift of the Holy Spirit came by the laying on of hands by those with authority as was done in New Testament times, and was not merely a result of baptism as taught by Scott.

The first principles of the Gospel provide a lifetime of happiness as we continuously apply them. Even those ordinances which we only technically receive once (ie. baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost) can be continuously renewed as we take the Sacrament each week. The initial ordinance of receiving the Holy Ghost can be described as only giving us the chance to receive the continual guidance of the Holy Ghost, so that even when we have received the gift we can still go through periods of losing and gaining the Spirit's guidance as we go through periods of varying diligence in keeping the other first principles. Additionally, through the blessings of temple work, Latter-day Saints are blessed to be able to experience these ordinances time and time again as they perform them for those who have passed away.

Every day we can evaluate our state of spirituality by asking ourselves if we are living up to the first principles of the Gospel. We can ask things such as, "How is my faith in Jesus Christ today? Have I need of repentance? Am I living up to my baptismal covenants? Do I feel the presence of the Spirit in my life?" Personally, I always have room for improvement. Therefore, instead of letting my lack of perfection be a continual cause of guilt or regret, I use the Atonement of Christ and allow my imperfections to be a continual source of inspiration to become a better person. The Gospel is the best instrument out there for becoming better people.

I know these first principles are true principles, and that they work. They form a perfect plan to follow in order to become true disciples of Christ, and they offer a firm foundation on which to build further and deeper knowledge of Christ's Gospel. And as a missionary, I am excited to teach others of these principles, for I know there is no other church or plan that teaches the gospel of Christ with such clarity or offers the same level of happiness.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Combating Indifference with Obedience

Today I read Pres. Thomas S. Monson's 9/11 message for the Washington Post's On Faith blog.  Pres. Monson spoke of the surge of unity and faith among the American people following the 9/11 tragedies ten years ago, but lamented that much of the humility we learned has given way to indifference. "Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives," he noted, "But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well."

Pres. Monson's remarks led my mind to the issue of indifference as a whole. About the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other similarly world-changing events, the question is often asked, "Do you remember where you were and what you were doing?" Of course, most of us do. The more important question should be, "Do you remember how you felt and what those feelings motivated you to do?" I find that my feelings tend to be much more difficult to remember than physical memories such as sight and smell. I believe that is likely due to the fact that we can recall many memories at will, but the ability to feel emotion or motivation can only be brought on by external stimuli. For example, when I am unhappy, I can far more easily remember a time when I was happy than I can force myself to be genuinely happy. However, I find that dwelling on happy memories can be one of the best ways to make myself genuinely happy again. So, when we remember 9/11, we shouldn't just focus our memories on where we were, but should allow our memories of that day to stir our passions continually in order to cause us always to feel what we did in its aftermath. If so, we would be a stronger, humbler, and more faithful nation.

The continual remembrance of the Lord's commandments works the same way. In the same way that failing to remember our feelings on 9/11 can cause us to forget our strength as a nation, so can failing to keep the commandments cause us to forget the strength of our Lord and His role in our lives. If we fail to keep the commandments, we inevitably fall into indifference. I find that indifference is one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation today. With all of our distractions, when can we find time to sit back and reflect? I find that when I spend time reflecting about the great questions of life, I always come out of it with a stronger faith in God and commitment to follow His paths. But when I get caught up in the daily routine, never taking time to pray or reflect on life, I nearly forget about God. Think about it, we as a modern people have more leisure time than any people before us, but I would argue we spend less time in prayer and reflection. This is a tragedy, and surely one of Satan's greatest achievements in the latter days. I'm sure this explains why our modern-day apostles and prophets spend so much time instructing us to keep the commandments--pray often, study the scriptures daily, do your home and visiting teaching, attend the temple regularly, keep the Sabbath holy, etc.--we need constant reminders of these things!

I love the line in Pres. Monson's message where he said, "we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us." It's true. God never leaves us nor forgets us. Are we doing the same for Him?