A Guest Blog by Elder Lopez

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling.”

-Tom Hardy (I cannot for the life of me remember his name… Cut me some slack, it’s been a while.)


Hello there beautiful readers! Hmm… Maybe that’s too strong. Hello there wonderful readers, I am the one, the only Elder Lopez! I’d like to think that Lights, Camera, Lopez!‘s popularity has taken me to other venues and that’s why I’m guest posting today! I’d like to say that… But no, I was asked as a favor. But it’d be pretty cool if it was the first one huh?


I’m about to tell you about one of, if not, THE greatest movies that has ever existed in the realm of Cinematography. Oh yeah, I’m talking about Inception. If you haven’t watched it and your’re currently on your mission, resist temptation and wait till your time is done. If however, you’re normal and haven’t watched it, go ahead and change your life. No worries, I can wait… All done? Awesome huh? It’s one of the more confusing movies but it’s perfect in explaining what I’m gonna talk about. It’s called The Plan of Salvation, also known as, The Plan of Happiness. Why is it so happy? I’ll get to that in a second, but first you’re gonna need a bit of a diagram in order to follow what I’m about unfold.

I’m a sucker for drama.

It’s a pretty crazy picture sure, but it’ll all make sense. At least I hope… You can never tell with me… But one of the most obvious things you can tell about the picture is the, well, let’s call them levels. There’s the Pre-mortal life, then Earth Life and the three Kingdoms. There’s also three questions that most people wonder but never have answered. Where do I come from? What is the purpose of life? Where will I go when I die? So as such let’s start with the first one:

Where did I come from? Or, how I learned the importance of Prefixes

See? There’s Jesus being the Awesome!

big brother he is

So in the beginning we all lived with our loving Father in Heaven in what is known as the Pre-mortal existence. Before we came to Earth, we existed as spirits which was I guess cool for the most part, but God wanted much more for us, a chance to become like him, to have a body and to have knowledge, wisdom and all that good stuff. This was a pretty big deal for us and I wish I could remember where it says it, but a certain scripture, summed up, says that we rejoiced when we heard we would receive this opportunity. 

Ahh, you didn’t think I’d remember huh? Well the scripture is found in Job.

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

-Job 38:7

But a chance to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father doesn’t come cheap, we had to earn it but how could we earn it if with Agency, the power to choose for ourselves, would allow us to sin and therefore lose our right to return to the Father’s presence? 

Well, Satan had a plan, it involved us getting our Agency taken away and being forced to do right things or be destroyed… Doesn’t sound great huh? Well that’s where Jesus comes in. His plan was to allow us to make mistakes but through his Atonement, (We’ll get to that in a second) we can repent and have our sins be made clean. So where does Inception come into play on this one? Hold your ponies, I’m getting there.

Not all planning is exciting… Trust me on this one…

So if you remember from the Oscar winning spectacle that is Inception, Dom and his team didn’t immediately just wing that whole operation. No, it took weeks to months (The movie isn’t very clear) to formulate every detail of the plan and it had to be perfect because one small error could spell disaster for the team. Everything from the anesthesia they would use to the plane that Scarecrow (I can’t remember his name in the movie) is going to be flying to his father’s funeral. So in this “Pre-Inception” stage, a plan was given and everyone had their part to play. Ariadne was in charge of creating the mazes and the dreamscape, Tom Hardy (Bane, still can’t remember his name in the movie… OH got it! It’s Eames!) was a forger, the Indian guy made the anesthesia, etc. All nearly perfectly calculated to bring about its purposes.   

Our Purpose on Earth. Or, why stepping on gum isn’t always a bad thing.

Adam and Eve play a major role in all of this. You know the story already so I won’t go into detail, but know that of it weren’t for the fall, than none of us could exist which meant our chances for returning were kaput. So thank your first parents for the incredible sacrifice they made.

So here we are on Earth and that brings us to now. You’re currently reading Sister Yate’s blog and I’m probably falling off a bike. Yet you’re probably wondering, why don’t I remember any of that stuff you said a while back? Well, simply put, it’d be pretty cheap if you did. Think about it. You remember our Heavenly Father and the Plan so you know everything. What was the point in the first place? We call came down to obtain experience and progress. As a scripture, that I actually know, says, 

And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.

-Alma 12:24

Scientificular!

There you go, A time to prepare to meet God. So the preparation stage is pretty important huh? It’s also pretty hard to prepare yourself to meet God knowing you mess up every second of everyday. Well, it’s necessary. We are allowed to be tempted so that we can learn to overcome it. If everyday was a sunny day, you wouldn’t appreciate it if there wasn’t a rainy one every so often. There has to be an opposition to all things. Bitter to sweet, rain to sunshine, Lightning Dust to Rainbow Dash. Newton knew what he was talking about when he said that for every reaction, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So when you find that a bird has lessened its load on you, stop and think, maybe this is a trial, and what do we do with trials? We overcome them!

Some people take trials better than others.

Most people aren’t Leonardo DiCaprio.

Okay so back to the Critics Choice award-winning film that is Inception. So it was a good thing they did all that planning earlier because when Dom and the gang enter the first layer of the dreamscape, it is one mishap after another. One might say it was one trial after the other…But it was in that first layer were the deception that would allow for Inception was to occur. In order for Scarecrow to dissolve his father’s empire, he needed to believe that his godfather was a bad guy which is where the forger Eames comes in. Eames job is to act as the godfather and convince Scarecrow in that first layer that he was a slippery snake, well, it had to be subtle, so that in future layers, Scarecrow’s mind would create the godfather using what Scarecrow thinks of him. It’s really a lot cooler and makes more sense watching it than me trying desperately to remember it… So pretty much, everything relied on what would happen in that very first layer due to kicks and a whole bunch of Nolan jargon that I’m having a hard time remembering. It’s been a little more than a year people. Cut me some slack.

Death, The Spirit World and pretty much, The Afterlife. Or, Are we really just dust in the wind?

So the final question and the one that takes the longest to answer, is where do we go once we die? It’s not a hard question to answer, it just takes some time to explain cause it’s Elder Lopez you’re reading. So the easiest way to explain death is to read this little excerpt I shamelessly copied from Mormon.org!

I don’t know if it will look EXACTLY like that when we die.

The mustache might be a different color.

“Picture your hand inside a glove. The glove moves only when your hand does. Take your hand out and the glove sits lifeless on the table. This is an easy way to visualize what happens when you die. Imagine your body is the glove being operated by who you really are—your spirit. When you die your body gets left behind, lifeless like a glove, but your spirit lives forever.”

So it’s for the most part, accepted by all of us that we are all going to die, it happens and ironically, it’s part of life. You can’t stay still, you gotta Keep moving forward. But it’s okay because death isn’t the end, only the beginning, the beginning of a new life where we enter a state of rest and peace called Paradise.Unlike every other irony involving Paradise, this one is actually quite paradisaical and doesn’t sound like quite a bad place to be in. Okay scratch that, you want to go there, don’t kid yourself. I may not have described it well, but it sufficeth me to say that it seems like the place to be. However, it is only reserved for those who were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and remained faithful. We didn’t make this up, that’s just the way it is.

You almost got it Harry. Just a little more!

The alternative is a place called Prison but don’t think of a jail cause I don’t think that’s how it’ll be. I like to think of it like that one scene in part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Harry is dead and with Dumbledore at a train station and everything’s white. It’s like they’re waiting for a train to come, but they can’t get on just yet, they have to wait. I REALLY wish I could find a picture of this scene cause it is just perfect… But I can’t… So instead, enjoy Harry reaching for his wand. But because God is indeed a loving Heavenly Father, he gives those in prison a chance at redemption. See, it’s not just relaxation all day in Paradise, those in Paradise will preach the gospel to those in prison so they can decide for themselves if they want to accept the gospel. A sort of see a need, fill a need type thing. (Okay, I don’t know what that means but I wanted to use it…)

Seriously, why are not watching this movie?

In the 2011 winner of the Saturn award for Best music, Scarecrow at this point was killed during the dream which means he is now trapped in Limbo. Put your Divine Comedies down, it’s not THAT kind of Limbo. Limbo in this sense is unconstructed, unstable dream space that was created by someone already there, in this case, it’s Dom. So it’s been quite a while since Dom has been there and it has fallen in quite a bit of disarray. According to his works, limbo was created, pretty much like Spirit Paradise/Prison. But much like Prison, he has a chance to make things right and set himself up for success. But much like us when we die, he is the exact same as when he left, personality, knowledge and everything. See, just because you’re dead and the gospel is in your face, doesn’t mean everyone will openly accept it. It’s kind of like the parable of The rich man and Lazarus.

Resurrection, Judgement and The Three Degrees of Glory. Or, Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

The answer to that is no. But we’ll get there.

So after our brief stay in The Spirit World, it’s time for us to be reunited with our glorious bodies, and yes, they will be glorious. These bodies, unlike our old ones, will be perfect made of flesh and bone, immune to any illness or injury. They may even glow but that one’s more of me than doctrine. Everyone will obtain these bodies due to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took upon himself our sins and sacrificed his life for us, but because he overcame death, we will too. The Fall brought physical death and Christ’s Atonement gave us a way to overcome that. It’s a free gift to all of us and one we need to be extremely grateful for.

But once we receive these glorious bodies, our works come into play as we reach Judgment. I for one like to picture a courtroom a la Phoenix Wright, but that’s neither here nor there. Christ will judge us according to

OBJECTION! This probably isn’t how it will

be…

our works done here on Earth. He will be our judge, prosecution and defense attorney. That’s why it kind of helps to have him on our side, which is also why you don’t want to have done something that can condemn you. Which is where Repentance comes in. Thanks to the Atonement, Repentance is possible and all those sins can be forgiven and won’t be used against us. A double jeopardy is you will. You won’t be punished twice for the sins you’ve already committed, which is always nice. This whole thing about our actions determining our faith is found in the Bible.

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”-James 2:17

But after all is said and done we will all end up in one final resting place. Okay, maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. There are three different glories in the Kingdom of God. One that is comparable to the glory of the stars, one that is comparable to the glory of the moon, and one that is comparable to the glory of the sun. It’s not to say that we will actually live on said celestial bodies, that would just be silly. But each of these kingdoms has a name, the sun is called the Celestial Kingdom, the Moon is called the Terrestrial Kingdom and the stars is known as the Telestial Kingdom. So before you start going crazy and branding me a heretic, let me ask a question. If there were only a heaven and a hell, that to me would sound like a VERY thin line between who’s going where. Imagine a man who spent his WHOLE life devoting himself to God, he’s gonna make it to heaven right? Well, now imagine a man who was so and so but didn’t exactly do much wrong. He just sort of loafed around, squandered his talents and stuff like that. Well, why does he deserve to go to the same place as the other man? I just imagine a conversation like this.

“Okay, you showed good works every so often, oh your church attendance was better than most, could’ve done better on the whole coffee thing. As far as I can see, you ALMOST made it, if you would’ve given that five dollars to that homeless man, you would’ve had enough points to enter. Sorry, Hell’s this way.”

Pictures make EVERYTHING simpler.

See? It’s ridiculous right? Cause Heaven and Hell don’t work on a point system. So back to those kingdoms.

The Celestial Kingdom

So we have the glory of the sun which is known as the Celestial Kingdom, it is in a sense, all that, AND a bag of chips. It is where God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ dwell and where families can in fact be together forever. How great is that? A perfect place where you get to be with the perfect people forever. It sounds paradisaical doesn’t it? I’m sure they will in fact be playing Inception as well as My Little Pony but all that dwarfs compared to the extreme happiness you’ll feel being there. It is where you want to strive to be, but it’s not easy, far from it. This glorious kingdom is reserved for those who were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who participated in a sealing marriage but not only that, that lived worthily throughout their entire lives, using the full effects of Christ’s atoning sacrifice to repent and be made clean. Yeah, it’s a lot to do but man oh man, doesn’t it sound worth it? The answer is yes. But nothing in life is easy or free, which is why we gotta make the most out of it in order to get to this magnificent kingdom.

The Terrestrial Kingdom 

The glory of the moon is what this kingdom is described as. Just like the moon is the brightest thing in the nighttime sky, this kingdom is bright, but is nothing compared to the glory and brightness of the aforementioned kingdom, and no, I don’t mean bright as in ‘go grab your nearest pair of Oakley sunglasses’ bright… It is a kingdom reserved for honorable people who were unfortunately “blinded by the craftiness of man. They’ll be able to enjoy the presence of the Son, but not of the Father, and even then, that presence will be temporary, kind of like when a friend sleeps over. However, it’s not to say that all members of the LDS church will inherit Celestial glory. Those who accepted the gospel but did not continue to live it’s doctrine will dwell here, as well as those who those who rejected the opportunity to receive the gospel in mortality but who later received it in the postmortal spirit world. See, God is a God of mercy. Many religions state that those who aren’t of their faith will burn in hell which is kind of harsh cause there are good people in all religions and they will still inherit the kingdom of God, it just won’t be the full glory. 

The Telestial Kingdom

The final kingdom, with its glory compared to the brightness of the stars is known as the Telestial Kingdom. Just like the stars in the nighttime velveteen sky twinkle faintly, this kingdom too is rather lackluster compared to the other celestial bodies. It’s a place where those who denied the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness will dwell. 2 Timothy 3: 2-4 has an accurate description of those who will dwell here.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters,proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
-2 Timothy 3: 2-4

It’s not exactly what you would call, the best place to live in but it’s not all bad. I’m sure there’s free cable. I kid, but in all seriousness, it is said to be a million times better than the world we live in, a true paradise where we will be happy. It’s not to say that you should shoot low though. However, one of the most important things to remember about these three kingdoms is that no matter where we end up, we will feel comfortable where we are. We won’t be ashamed or feel like we deserve better. It will be made for us. 

So Where Does That Put Us?: Or, Do You Understand The Words That Are Coming Out Of My Mouth?!

You weren’t paying attention were you…?

Simply put, God loves us and has made all of this possible through the infinite Atonement of His son, Jesus Christ. We all have a plan and a potential to achieve beyond our understanding of greatness, but it also means that we have to be worthy of achieving that greatness which is why our decisions here on Earth are so important. In order to make it to our Heavenly Father, you have to do your part in living by the full Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is that? Well, that’s a lesson for another day.

Check out this article and more pop culture nonsense at: Light’s, Camera, Lopez! (Hurray for shameless advertising!)

The thought of my Day…

future

As we were driving to district meeting today, a thought occurred to me that I hadn’t consciously acknowledged before:

I keep blaming Satan for all my problems.  This is not cool (or practical) for 2 reasons.

#1- It gives that creep way too much oxygen (too much attention).

#2- It’s my job to be accountable for how I feel, how I behave, and how I respond to things.

Call me selfish, but I want to be my own master.  This leads to the second “previously un-thought of” thought of my day: I am legitimately my own worst enemy.  It is the hardest thing ever to conquer yourself and since the natural man (which, our nature is the one thing we all come into this world with that is distinctly ours, which is our “natural nature” if you will) is an enemy to God…. We are so toast (or at least, at this point in my life I certainly am) if we don’t figure out how over come ourselves.

So how do we defeat ourselves? What does it take? Why do we even need to? What’s wrong with “being me“?

I hope my testimony and answer will help answer those questions.

The prophets and apostles repeatedly tell us, that if we do not master goal setting and planning, we will essentially be miserable.  How true! How bad does it feel sometimes, to see really great friends and coworkers and others around us reach all the goals, and “live the life” we’ve always dreamed of having for ourselves? Why does that always seem just beyond our grasp? Or even if we are mature enough not to compare ourselves, it still feels pretty bad to see where you are, and the wide chasm of where you’d actually like to be, or even feel you need to be.

Long story short, I firmly believe the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know what they are talking about, and since goal setting and planning are the solid building blocks they have presented to us to achieve all of our worthy goals, I testify that righteous, realistic goals preceded by exact obedience, specific and careful plans, and a lot of humility will help you achieve all that you desire, but even more importantly all the God desires for you.  It is by following the principles in Preach My gospel chapter 8 that we can become our best.  It is by following the principles of obedience, goal setting, planning and accountability that we will overcome our natural man, and become a true friend and partner with our Heavenly Father, to magnify all of our personal callings and hep the Lord accomplish His work, in any phase of our life. Isn’t that the ultimate goal, anyway?  Let us all be accountable.  Figure out what the Lord feels is best for you, and then study PMG ch 8, and go forth and conquer.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

images

Step 1- stand with feet shoulder width apart.

Step 2- lower your body into the marriage proposal position, then
bring other leg into same position as the knee already on the ground.

Step 3- sink buttocks to rest squarely on the heels of your feet. This
may cause discomfort due to tightness and soreness in the quadriceps from biking or walking a lot during the day. Exhale slowly to relieve tension, and remember to be grateful that you have legs!
**Bonus step> to intensify this pose don’t sink all the way to your
heels; stay on your knees the whole time. Have a pen & pencil nearby to record immediately received and
recognized inspiration. Hold the pose as long as needed. Don’t forget
to breathe and relax, which increases the flow of revelation.

Step 4- clasp hands together and rest in lap, or fold arms “crisscross-Apple sauce across chest, or place hands together like a steeple. Which ever is most comfortable for you.

Step 5- keep the pose the whole time. While holding the pose, address
your God, your Heavenly Father, and pour out your heart and ask specifically for guidance and revelation. Close in the name of Jesus Christ.

Step 6- Hold the pose until guidance, or peace or lack of
consciousness come from lack of circulation. Then offer thanks for the guidance, or the peace, or that you didn’t totally pass out, and get
on with your day.

Repeat at least twice daily, and as often as needed throughout the day.

“What At-One-Ment” By Jack N. Lyman

564205_354293734656312_1387928332_n

We talk of the Atonement and think of the cross,

the life He gave freely, oh what a great loss.

But was there more, that we don’t understand,

did He do something more, in making his stand.

Of Adam and Eve, we understand it quite clear.

They partook of the fruit that brought us all here.

They made the decision, they chose to taste death.

They accepted the challenge and took a deep breath.

Cheribum and the flaming sword being placed in the path,

of the tree of life, and all that the Father hath.

But what does it mean, when they kept us from the Tree,

of life and happiness and all that we wanted to be.

The Cheribum were white birds placed to cover the arch,

a veil so to speak, to keep it separate and apart.

A symbol of separation, from Father and Mother,

to touch them to feel them, to rely on another.

The flaming sword is easy to see,

it’s death itself, that keeps us from the tree.

The tree of life, with fruit so sweet and free,

death keeps us from it, the love there for me.

But what did Christ do, that day on the cross.

That saved us from death, and made up for the loss?

He raised from the dead, it’s there for us to see.

He overcame death, then shared it with you and me.

But process the feeling, about the thing he has done,

is that what we need, to follow Him, to “be one”.

He certainly hasn’t asked us, to die on a cross,

to give our lives freely, would be a wasted loss.

When He died on the cross, was it the blood that He spilled?

No!! Wait He didn’t, it was fluid they felt.

Was it then, that the burden was to heavy to bear,

or the loss of his friends, because no one was there?

Think back on the pain, when he was in the Garden,

when Judas was jealous, and there was no pardon.

Was Ciaphas and Pilot predestined to kill,

if they had repented, would it have defeated God’s will?

It can’t be the cross or His death, that’s predestined to be,

or what’s the purpose of choice, and the chance to be free?

When I think of the Atonement and want clearly to see,

there must be more to it, something left to you and me.

If He’s already done it, and we are all one with the Father,

then what is the purpose, why even bother?

It must be the experience, not just a single event,

the reason we’re here, and why the Savior was sent.

You see in the Garden, it must be more than the tree,

that made Jesus suffer, and carry that burden for me.

Was it something to do with Cheribum or the Veil,

that lead Him to bleed and go through a living hell?

Was it a death that he suffered, in the Garden to know,

the path we must take, and the way we must go?

Did he learn from Angels, through the veil was He sent,

learning the way we must follow, is that what He meant?

Is it that pathway, that He was sent here to find,

that opened the heavens, to those who followed behind.

Was it simply the knowledge, that man couldn’t see,

that Jesus our Savior saw, and was sent here to be?

We are often confused, with this single event,

why Jesus came here, and why He was sent.

Was it to die or be killed , it can’t really be,

for many have died for our God, before He.

Was it punishment or to suffer, was that what He came for,

was it death, or to stop evil and to “open the door”?

We think of the Savior, and His life without sin,

but was it death, or life, that would let us all in?

To think Jesus was only sent to die on the cross,

would all of His good works, be to us be a great loss?

The Atonement must be more than just that tree,

that brings the new life for you and for me.

The cross is important, for the things that were done,

but when it comes to His directive, becoming as one.

We must do more, than just give up our own life,

there’s more to concurring, this world of strife.

The Atonement is more, than a snapshot we take,

it is living our best, it’s the memories we make.

It must be suffering in the garden, that’s done,

not the minutes on the cross, that can make us all one.

The Savior’s Atonement is not a just moment sublime,

It’s a lifelong process, doing your best all the time.

The Savior’s life was not wasted, or given in vain,

but it’s the life that He lives, that we need to retain.

The Atonement is not limited to death on the cross,

but extends through all time, to make up for our loss.

It began with a Son’s proposal, a simple made plan,

that we may be like Them, the progress of man.

It happened back then, when we all answered the call,

we chose to go through life, that began at the Fall.

The Atonement will continue from that day it begun,

to the time of judgement, when we can all become one.

Each day He has been there, each day He will cry,

“Continue, press forward, it don’t end when you die.

You can make it, keep trying,  your destiny’s divine!

just keep pushing forward, it’s only a matter of time.”

The Savior has commanded for us to, become as one

with the Father and Him, the Only Begotten Son.

For this is the Atonement, to be one with the Father,

overcome evil, and unite with your Brother.

-Jack N. Lyman

“My Non-Imaginary Friend” -Elder Jarom Barney

10268612_10152420759143137_8142145964213330862_n
I Wish Oh How I Wish,
My Imaginary Friend Were Real.
A Friend That I Could Talk To,
And Sit Down With At A Meal.
A Friend I Could Converse With,
A Friend That Could See,
A Friend That I Could Talk To,
About The Real Me.
In Sunshine In The Summer,
In Winter When It Snows,
We’d Discuss The Things About Me,
That Nobody Else Knows.
A Friend That Wouldn’t Judge,
A Friend Who Could See,
What Is Going On,
What It’s Like Being Me.
I Don’t Mean To Complain,
In Fact You Should Know,
I Do Have A Friend Like This,
A Friend Whose Being Glows.
His Name Is Christ Our Savior,
Imaginary He Is Not,
For He Is That Courageous Man,
Who Hung Upon A Cross.
He Loves Us More Than Any,
And Knows What It Is To Be,
Suffering Alone,
Just Like You And Me.
So When You Feel Afraid,
When You Feel Alone,
Remember Christ Our Savior,
For Your Sins He Did Atone.
He Knows What We Go Through,
Every Single Day.
He Lived Our Lives In Our Shoes,
And With His Blood He Did Pay.
In That Lonely Day,
And In That Lonely Night,
Remember You Do Have A Friend,
Who Will Help With All His Might.
I Wish Oh How I Wish,
I Could Live All The While,
In Such A Pleasing Manner,
To Make Christ My Brother Smile.
-Jarom J Barney

 

The New Epidemic: Scriptural Dystrophy

scriptures-book-1173784-wallpaper

I’ve reached the conclusion that people today really don’t get how important consistent scripture study is. Today in my studies, I was reading in Preach My Gospel  about this very topic, and in the “Scripture Study” I was led through a really fun “Aha!!” Moment, or two or ten! Here is what I learned:

In 2 Timothy 3:14 we are taught that we need to, “…continue thou in the things which thou has learned and hast been assured of…” which to me said, “No matter where you are in your current religious practices, or even the lack thereof, your current level of faith or belief in God, just start with what you do know, and be ready to move forward from there.”
In the Book of Mormon, 2nd Nephi 29:3 it says:
“3 And because my words shall hiss forth–many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
Continuing in verses 6-9 it say:
“6… A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
What I learned today and wanted to share with each of you is that we need to stop limiting ourselves. We came to this earth to gain knowledge and understanding, experience and wisdom. We can’t do that if we are too busy nay-saying and defaming others beliefs. We won’t be able to stand before the Lord and say “I gave it my best” when in reality, we didn’t even exert a tenth of our energy in trying to better understand each other’s values and beliefs, and therefore the Word of God.
Scriptures are powerful. I think fear of the unknown is intimidating way to many people and they are convincing themselves that they “have enough” or “it can’t possibly be true”. With the acquisition of knowledge comes power, and with power comes great responsibility (my favorite quote from Spider-Man). In a society that is quite phobic of responsibility and accountability, it makes logical sense that there is an epidemic of “Scriptural Dystrophy”. Our spiritual muscles are atrophying. Our connection to our God is weakening, and look at what’s happening to the world because of it? Can we afford not to read the scriptures? No. Can we afford not to pray? No. Can we afford to skip church? No.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is so important to pick our battles, but we can’t lose this one.  The consequences are far too significant! We can’t be afraid of the the blessings (or the trials) that come from righteous living. It’s all a part of Heavenly Fathers game plan, remember? We came here to learn, to prove to God we would follow Him always. Let’s keep studying the game plan (aka the Scriptures) and talking to the coach (our dear Heavenly Father, via prayer) to help us through these tricky plays of life. It is possible to study the scriptures every day. It is possible to make it to church on Sunday. It is possible to remember to pray each day. I know these small and simple righteous actions make an eternally significant impact. Take the advice of the prophet Alma 32: 26-30 and let the seed of faith and testimony in God that you do have continue to grow. Nourish it with the proper care, and let God work miracles in your life every day.
I testify God lives. He loves each of us. The scriptures are here to reinforce that truth. Don’t lose such an important battle to the adversary. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
jesusblesseschildren

jesusblesseschildrenI was at the library one day, and I couldn’t help but be a bit distracted by the annoyed, curt, and rude way a mother was speaking to her children.  That got me thinking…. How can we expect our youth to be respectful if the adults around them do not speak to them (or each other) respectfully? It’s not going to happen.  God has proved that theory already.  He never speaks in a condescending, negative, sarcastic tone to any of us.  He always speaks with respectful words, and dignity.  Let’s all take a page out of His book, and do the same.  And remember, Christ took time out of His daily doings just to interact with the children.  They are a precious gift and should be treated as such.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:14)

That is all…. Love, Sister Yates

 

Living on the Atonement, One Day at a Time

Jesus-with-child-lds-scriptures

christatonementWe often hear the counsel to “rely on the atonement”, to “use the atonement”, to “trust the atonement”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always know how to do those things exactly. Lately however, I’ve been focusing more on my relationship with Jesus Christ and I have received some insight that’s been really helpful to my personal reliance on Him, and figuring out the one thing that makes Him so vital to all of us, which is the Atoning sacrifice He made for each and every one of us.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

We need to get past “using and abusing” the atonement, which none of us consciously do, but think of all the times we say “oh I screwed up (a bit too much on the side of “premeditated sin”) but it’s ok because of the atonement!” That’s not how the atonement is meant to work. It’s not a cushion to justify all of our mistakes. It’s there to help us recover and rebuild and move on after we sincerely and truly repent. What I feel we need to learn to do is to “live on the atonement”.

If we view the atonement of Jesus Christ as the source of our strength, ability and character, I believe we will become true disciples of the Master.  Will we be perfect? No. But we will be
closer to Christ, and therefore that much closer to perfection, which means (in the Greek translation) “whole and complete; finished”. So how do we live on the atonement? I’m not an expert, or anyone of any professional status so definitely don’t take this as anything more than the humble, outspoken testimony of a missionary, but I feel the way we come to “live on the atonement” is to remember a few basic essentials:

#1- Remember who you’re living for. This time on earth is a gift from God. It is a time for us to help God accomplish His purposes and in the process (because God is this good!) become who He needs us to be.scarlet-white

#2- Don’t deprive God of opportunities to work miracles in your day to day experiences. Miracles have not ceased, nor will they so long as we have faith and give them the chance to happen for us.

#3- Be as Christlike as you can. This may seem obvious, but it’s probably the hardest. Keeping the atonement in the forefront of our minds will help us be the true, Christlike disciples we all want to be.

#4- Be positive. Negativity is a poison that is administered by the Adversary. When we let the light of positivity burn out Satan seeps in, and digs and digs and digs, and picks and picks and picks until we find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless pit that we feel we will never overcome. Positivity, faith, and diligent effort to live on the atonement will keep us out of these pockets of darkness and misery.

#5- Sincerely repent. Don’t just repent daily because you’re supposed to. Stop telling God “I’m sorry…” And then going out and doing the same thing you just “repented” of. Be sincere with God, and everyone. Be real.

In Alma 26:12 we read:

“Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things…”

Truly living an Atonement and therefore Christ centered life allows us to blossom into the disciples we all need to be. That’s really the essence of why we are here, persevering to the end of this “miracle mile” adventure. We are here to become acquainted with Christ that we might be able to work with Him to accomplish all of Gods purposes so we can return, fully prepared to be with God and all of our loved ones for the rest of eternity. How blessed are we? What a truly marvelous
gift!

Jesus-with-child-lds-scripturesIt is my testimony that it is possible, no matter where you are at this time in your life, no matter how you currently feel towards God or the Savior, no matter where you’re at in your testimony, career, relationships, life, etc…. you have every chance and opportunity to become the very best you can be. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who your parents are, what you’ve been through, or what you’re going through. Jesus Christ has already been there, done that, and He overcame it and now look where He is? The whole purpose of all He went through was to show that it’s possible for us to achieve the same; exaltation and eternal life. I know Christ lives. I know the atonement is real. I know we can become all God wants us to become. I know living on the atonement, and truly striving to follow Him is the key to happiness and success.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Home Stretch

time

finishlinestartline

You know when you’re running, and the end is so close, but you’re so tired you just aren’t quite sure how you’re going to finish strong? So it can be with missionary work. But! I’m here to tell you that no matter the outcome of the first 3, 6, or 9 months, or even the first year, you can still have a great finish!

How is that possible? Because of Him! Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Zone Conference (which for those who don’t know, is a meeting where missionaries gather together to hear instruction and training from our mission president, his wife, senior couple missionaries and the assistants) and it was a hugely inspirational day! Throughout my time here, as a mission we have put a certain emphasis on different things (i.e. The Book of Mormon, Teaching Skills, Family History, etc.) to help us be more effective and more converted to the message we are sharing, and now due to that preparation “line upon line” as Isaiah teaches us, we are now focusing solely on Jesus Christ. He’s always been apart of it, because what is the point of the Book of Mormon, Family History, and teaching the Restored Gospel? To com unto Christ. He’s been apart of this whole adventure!
And this is the point of all I’m saying today: a few nights ago as I was talking to my companion (the night before my year mark) she asked me a lot of really inspired questions that led me to realize that I had forgotten a very crucial fact-

Christ, just like God, is in every single detail.

At one point in my mission, I’d hit an interesting wall with my faith in Christ, and it took all this time to figure out what exactly my block was. I’d forgotten how much apart of my life Christ really is. As Zone Conference went on, I could see more and more why, and how Christ always needs to be the center of our everything. It’s not just because of what He did for us. It’s not just because He is the Son of God. It’s because in order to have true happiness, we need to be like Him. He needs to be our walk, and our talk. Whenever we are unhappy, or depressed, or disappointed, we ought to take the time to evaluate “Where is my faith at right now? Is it in Christ, or someone or something else?” I can testify to you, that as we take time to ask ourselves those questions, and then do our part so we can confidently say, “My faith is in Christ, always!” That we will conquer all! Our spirit and power as disciples of Christ will always burn brightly, and we will be able to accomplish His purposes.

In Alma 5:14-16 it says:

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Those questions make me think to myself:
How am I showing that I have faith in Christ?
What more can I do to show my faith?
Why do I follow Him?
Do I believe Him?

I have a lot of work to do, but I’ve been given the enormous blessing of having the next six months to become that disciple, missionary, and daughter of God I’ve always wanted to be, and who I came to be. I am so exceedingly grateful for my mission! Yes, it’s been hard but it has been so worth it! I find joy in this work, and I know who my true source of strength is. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know He is real. I know that the Prophets He has called and lead are good, and inspired men and I sustain them, past, present, and future. I know this church that I belong to and represent is His church and therefore I represent Him. I am so incredibly blessed, and hope each
of you can always “retain in remembrance” (Mosiah 4:11) your Savior.

I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

peacelily-wide

peacelily-wideEven though missionaries are pretty well cut off from the world, it’s not too terribly long before really big news makes it around to us. Hearing about the death of a beloved Actor, hearing about all of the craziness in the middle east, and listening to sirens whirr here there and everywhere all around us (or so it seems) while we got about our day to day can cause the question to come, “Where can I turn for peace?”
That happens to be my all time favorite LDS Hymn. It is so well written. It appeals to me, A- because it sounds beautiful, and B- because the lyrics really touch my heart. My favorite verse is verse 2:

“Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.”

greatestpeepsIn the thick of a trial, as I’ve said many times before, it can be so hard to remember that there is hope. There is peace to be enjoyed, and found. We simply must rely on the Savior more fully. We need to turn to appropriate resources such as prayer, scripture study, church attendance, and wholesome recreation. We need to do our part to find “peace”.

Peace is a beautiful thing. How doesn’t enjoy those moments when you feel perfect contentment and balance; Clear, and pure assurance of what the Lord needs you to do? My question for you to ponder is: Where do you turn for peace? I testify, as a representative and disciple of Jesus Christ that He, our Savior and Redeemer is the only way to find the peace, happiness, and comfort we all seek as we go throughout this life. He is the Prince of Peace, and He wants you to have all that He has. Please be wise (Jacob 6:12) and allow the Master of all to lead you safely through your mile. May God bless you with a peaceful day!
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.