Because of Him

“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

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My heart cannot begin to express the joy that these two verses give me.  He is risen!  He lives!  Do you know what that means?  Do you know what we can now do and feel and become because He has risen for us?

His almighty hand is in each of our lives, though we may all feel and recognize it differently.  How do I know that my life is profoundly different because of Jesus Christ?

Because of Him….

I am never alone.
I have hope for a better life.
I do not have to let my past define me.
I know that my life has purpose.
I can conquer any challenge or trial through His help.
I know that my family can be together for eternity.
I know that my Father in Heaven loves me with an infinite love and is so aware of me.
I can become so much more than I am.
My weaknesses can be made into strengths.
My sorrow and pain never has to last.
The darkest parts of my soul can be replaced with pure and glorious light.
I can be successful in life and find everlasting joy here and in the life to come.
I can have eternal life.

And that doesn’t even begin to cover it!

How is your life different because of Jesus Christ?

It is my testimony that HE LIVES!  This Easter season, let Him change your life.  Let Him heal your heart.  Let Him show you the higher path.

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

(Click here for an amazing Easter video clip!)

http://easter.mormon.org/

We Lived in Heaven!

Have you ever wondered where you came from?

I’m not talking about where you were this morning, where your ancestors are from, not even how you were conceived.  But you–where did your spirit, your own personal soul come from?

The beautiful answer is found in one of our fundamental beliefs as members of Christ’s church, which is that we lived with our Father in Heaven before we came to this earth.  Our spirits are eternal, and our stay here on earth is but a period of time in a vast eternal round.

….WHAT?  We were where? What was that life like?  Who did we know there?  Why are we here on earth now?  Are we going back to live with Him again?  Here’s some of my favorite little insight from an apostle of the Lord today about our experience before earth:

“You knew Jesus Christ, who would become the Lamb of God. You had faith in Him. And you knew that your destiny was not to stay in the security of your premortal home. As much as you loved that eternal sphere, you knew you wanted and needed to embark on a journey. You would depart from the arms of your Father, pass through a veil of forgetfulness, receive a mortal body, and learn and experience things that hopefully would help you grow to become more like Father in Heaven and return to His presence.

In that sacred place, surrounded by those you knew and loved, the great question on your lips and in your heart must have been “Will I return safely to my heavenly home?”

There were so many things that would be out of your control. Mortal life would be hard at times, filled with unexpected bends in the road: sickness, heartbreak, accidents, conflict.

Without a memory of your previous existence—without remembering that you once walked with your Father in Heaven—would you still recognize His voice amid all the noise and distractions of mortal life?

The journey ahead seemed so long and uncertain—so filled with risk.

It wouldn’t be easy, but you knew it was worth every effort.

So, there you stood on the edge of eternity, looking forward with unspeakable excitement and hope—and, I imagine, also with a degree of worry and fear.

In the end, you knew God would be just—that His goodness would triumph. You had participated in the great heavenly councils and knew that your Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would provide a way for you to be cleansed from sin and rescued from physical death. You had faith that, in the end, you would rejoice and join your voice with a heavenly chorus singing praises to His holy name.

And so, you took a deep breath …

And a great step forward …

And here you are!”

(To read/watch the rest and learn about the map God has provided for us here,
click here: Your Wonderful Journey Home, Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

HERE YOU ARE.  Can you believe it?  We are smack in the middle of our earthly adventures, and now it is up to us to live the way that will bring us that eternal joy we are promised through Jesus Christ.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same loving Heavenly Father, and He sent us here because He LOVES us and wants us to SUCCEED GLORIOUSLY.

So get out there!  Don’t be afraid!  You made the right choice once, and you can make it again!  Remember where you came from, and that you are not forgotten. ♥

Take the next great step forward and succeed gloriously, my friends!

The Book That Changed My Life Forever

My dear friends, do you know what yesterday was?  MARCH 26th!

This day changed the world forever!  Why?  Well, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not because the 1st lip-reading tournament was held in America that day in 1926, so don’t even go there.  It’s not even because the greatest dad in the whole wide world was born this day (even though that alone changed my world forever and I am eternally grateful for it!  Happy birthday, Dad!)

The reason is this: on this glorious day THE BOOK OF MORMON WAS FIRST PUBLISHED in Palmyra, New York 1830!  HAPPINESS!  Not only do I get to serve at the Grandin Building visitors’ center where it was first printed and made available to the world, but I get to tell people every day on my mission why this book has changed my life forever:

What is the Book of Mormon?

“The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)

Why is it important?

  • “It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come” (see introduction). Peace?  Salvation?  Guidance?  Sounds pretty great to me so far!
  • It brings us closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Joseph Smith, the prophet who translated this record by the gift and power of God Himself, testified that it is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”  Anyone who wants to get nearer to God, whether they have strong faith already or no faith at all, will come nearer to Him by reading and praying about this book of scripture.
  • It brings us the record of Christ visiting His people in the Americas, just like He told His apostles in the Bible! (See John 10:16 then 3 Nephi 15:21). “The Book of Mormon makes it clear that Jesus Christ’s message and His atonement are not for one group of people at one time. They are for everyone, everywhere, from the beginning of the earth to the end. Having the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ reminds us that He is mindful of every one of us.” (http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon)
  • It is the convincing evidence that Jesus Christ leads and guides a church today–that He has restored the church He organized when He was on the earth nearly 2,000 years ago.  Think about it…if God Himself had a church that He was leading, wouldn’t you want to be a part of it? I WOULD! (http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/restoration)

Does the Book of Mormon replace the Bible?

Absolutely not!  In fact, the opposite is true.  It supports and sustains what the Bible says, gives it more validity, and clarifies concepts that may be difficult to understand.  It actually tells us to read the Bible and affirms that its message is true! (Mormon 7:8-10).  Just like two eye-witnesses strengthen an argument in court, the Book of Mormon and the Bible both testify of Christ, His divinity as the Son of God, and the truthfulness of His Gospel.

How can I know that the Book of Mormon really is the word of God?

Let’s get one thing straight: This book is either completely true or it is completely not.  So how can we know it?  Easy.  1) Honest study. 2) Humble prayer.

I promise you, my friends, that your loving Father in Heaven wants you to become familiar with this book.  He is aware of you, and He wants to fill your mind with light, happiness, truth, love, and the fullness of His everlasting Gospel.  Give it a chance!  Honestly study it, apply its principles to your lives, and pray with a sincere heart to know whether or not it is of Him.  I know that the Holy Ghost will answer you through feelings of peace and assurance, because He has answered me in my own plea for answers.  This book has changed my life forever for the better, and it can change yours.

If it is not true, what will you have lost?  A handful of days reading a book?

But if it is…what will you have gained?

A sure knowledge and testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His kingdom established once again on the earth.  It is this testimony alone that leads us to ETERNAL LIFE.

Give it a chance!  And if you don’t have one, get one here for free. :)

This book of scripture goes hand in hand with the Bible and is another testament of Jesus Christ!

 

Look to the Light!

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

My simple plea to you today, my friends, is to never let darkness overcome you.  Walk in the light. Choose the higher path of happiness.  Look up towards the Son, and let His love and His light brighten every step you take on your earthly journey.

Photo: "The path to eternal life may not be an easy one to follow with all the worldly enticements about us, but when we consider the rewards and blessings we gather if we travel the narrow way, it is worth every sacrifice we make." ~Delbert L. Stapley

I promise you, He is there.  Jesus Christ is not only the light of the entire world, but the light of our own individual worlds.  His light permeates what we may think to be even the darkest, most desolate corners of our souls.  He is my emblem of light.  He is the reason I have not fallen into darkness, and He is the reason that I will never, ever have to.  Neither do you.  If we choose to follow Him, we have His sure promise that we will never walk in the dark!

“There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things.  It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.  This is ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ,’ which gives “light to every man that cometh into the world.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Hope of God’s Light)

So go forth, and spread sunshine!

Small and Simple Things

It’s a Thursday afternoon.  The view out of the bus window is surprisingly sunny for Buffalo, NY, even though there are layers of freshly settled snow covering what seems like endless crunchy gray piles of ice.  The constant lull of the bus is calming, and aside from the occasional bump in the road I sit quite still, observing those around me.  Besides three of my fellow missionaries, the bus is relatively unoccupied–a few people sitting here or there, involved in their own lives, living their own realities. Anyone else might see these people as typical, ordinary people riding a bus.  I?  I look at these people and see divine children of God.  I see people who Jesus Christ suffered infinitely for.  I see people of value who each have strengths and weaknesses, trials and triumphs, and who would be blessed immensely by knowing that Christ Himself still lives and has a plan for their individual happiness and exaltation.

Kind of a big deal!

How much is one soul worth? (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)  Is anyone, then, simply ordinary?

Do you start to understand now why as missionaries we talk to everyone, wherever we go?

Out of the corner of my ear I hear one of the Elders we are with talking to the man next to him, teaching him about the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Gospel on the earth today.  I smile, thinking how amazing it is that God trusts us, these 18-25 year old kids, to declare His truth to the world.  As I observe the older gentleman listening to Elder Klumker, I notice another man covered in tattoos and piercings a few seats away in the corner by himself, quietly looking out of the window.  Hmm.  I wonder what his story is.

I tune in to the former conversation more intently. The man who had been listening declines the invitation to learn more; Elder Klumker just smiles at him and turns back to us.  No defeat, I think.  At least he gave him the chance. The bus ride continues.  The older gentleman comes to his stop and steps off to go about the rest of his day.  Moments pass, and the man in the corner turns to the four of us to ask, “Do you put on some kind of Bible study or something?”

Aha! I smile in my head.  I knew there was a reason we were on this bus today.

As Elder Klumker spoke with him, it turns out that he had been tuning in the whole time to their conversation.  He opened up about how he loves God and loves reading the Bible.  He has been going to a few different churches for awhile and was quite interested in learning about what we had to teach!  Without any of us asking, he wrote his number down, and later that day the two Elders met with him in his home, sharing with him perhaps the greatest message this world could ever hear: that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a young boy prophet and restored Their church once again to the earth in it’s un-corrupted form.

I KNOW THAT NO DAY IS ORDINARY.  I know that each and every one of us are precious in God’s eyes.  I know that more often than not, our miraculous experiences will begin with small and simple things–like a typical bus ride home on a Thursday afternoon.

So the next time you see an opportunity that may seem small and simple–take it!  You never know, it may just change someones life forever!

Lesson Learned And The Wheel Keeps Turning ♫

Sometimes I feel like life is like a huge Ferris wheel.
This Ferris wheel is always turning; we are in a continual cycle of ups and downs. The interesting thing about this ride is that the pace is never the same– sometimes we seem to slow down at the top and we have times in our life that are wonderful and seem to last forever, but then we are inevitably faced with downs, hard times or trials, which may be short or may take longer than we’d like for the wheel to start slowly moving up again.
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Have you ever felt this before? And if you have, have you ever stepped back and wondered….what is the point?  I mean really, who wants to ride around on an endless Ferris wheel?  If we are in this continual cycle going nowhere, then why even get on?
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Two things.  
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The first: JOY!  Joy in the journey!  I don’t know about you,  but some of the most magnificent scenes I have ever beheld have been the grandeur of looking down on God’s remarkable creations–whether that’s
  • at the top of a Ferris wheel
  • the breathtaking view at the summit of a mountain peak
  • out the window of an airplane
  • from the top of the Eiffel Tower (or any other skyscraper!)
  • etc.
Pretty darn beautiful.  So the next time you are at the lowest of low, just remember that you will once again be at the magnificent top somewhere in the future!  And in the meanwhile–enjoy the ride.  Every single spot you are at on this wheel brings you a different perspective on what is around you, and it can be just as beautiful.
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The second: Here’s where the the difference comes in.  Unlike a Ferris wheel, our ups and downs DO have a point, and they DO get us somewhere.  They shape our hearts, they build our character, they give us experience, they bring us joy, and they fit us for the celestial life to come.  We need to experience the lows in life, otherwise we would never fully appreciate and understand the highs.  We need to face challenges, otherwise we would never truly be shaped into the divine beings that we were designed to become.
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I am personally so grateful for both of these experiences–through the darker times, I have come to learn so much about my Savior and so much about myself.  I can honestly say that I am building an unshakable foundation in Jesus Christ and His Gospel that cannot be rooted up by anything. I still struggle, I am still weak, but truly through Christ I am divinely capable and SO ARE YOU and so is EVERYONE ELSE!  If we have faith, even as a grain of mustard seed, then we can overcome all things, because God can work through us. And does He not have all power? “Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:31)
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So, enjoy EVERY MOMENT life has to offer you.  Embrace the ups and downs.  Keep having faith and trust in God’s promises! They are REAL and I know He will fulfill His promises to each and every one of us. Look forward with light in your eyes and love in your hearts and know He will bless you with the joy and strength to rise to whatever challenges you are facing!
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And remember, “Count it all joy.” (James 1:2)
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(p.s. ^^ “If there were no ups and downs in life, we would be dead.” ;) )