Thursday, August 9, 2012


I love music. I have always had a great appreciation for music, and especially for Hymns. There is something to be said about the sweet Spirit that is associated with giving testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through song. Music has been a part of religious worship since the beginning of time.

In all faiths and in all cultures, music is a form of expressing ones emotions. Music can express love, joy, happiness, faith, belief, and a number of many other things that we experience. I simply want to state that I love the opportunity of expressing my joy, love, and faith through song.

Bellow is an excerpt from the preface to the Hymnal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It explains why we choose to use song in worship and in the home. I love the words that were given by the First Presidency in this simple yet profound explanation as to the importance of worshipping through the beauty and wonder that we call music.

Music in Our Church Meetings
Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.
Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.
We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called on to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse.
Latter-day Saints have a long tradition of choir singing. Every ward and branch in the Church should have a choir that performs regularly. We encourage choirs to use the hymnbook as their basic resource.

Music in Our Homes
Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music.
Ours is a hymnbook for the home as well as for the meetinghouse. We hope the hymnbook will take a prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes. The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members.
Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones.

Music in Our Personal Lives
In addition to blessing us as Church and family members, the hymns can greatly benefit us as individuals. Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action. They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.
Hymns can also help us withstand the temptations of the adversary. We encourage you to memorize your favorite hymns and study the scriptures that relate to them. Then, if unworthy thoughts enter your mind, sing a hymn to yourself, crowding out the evil with the good.
Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, "and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads."
-The First Presidency

(The Tennessee Nashville Mission Choir)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why do I need Jesus?

I was recently asked by a man why Jesus Christ was needed as a "Mediator" between ourselves and God. It is a very profound question if you really think about it. Some might say that it is foolish to ask, but really, could you ask for a more sincere and soul searching question?

So why do we need Jesus Christ as our "mediator"? I don't think that anyone can truly understand the answer to that question without experiencing certain things in life. I've written a few blogs on the subject of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. ("Deliverence""Forgiveness- What's most Important") The reason being really to help others uderstand the answer to this very question. There are things in this life, trials, struggles, temptations, and afflictions, that we will all have to experience. Why do we need Christ? He is the only true source of strength that can help us to endure these trials not only to the end of them, but also to endure them well.

I would like to share a few scriptures that probably explain these things better then I do. In the Book of Mormon we read of a group of people who experienced for themselves the power that the Lord gives to those enduring trials who seek His Divine help.

"11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage..." - Mosiah 24:11-16

How does the Savior make this offer of strength possible? It is all made possible through the Suffering that He endured on our behalf. Jesus Christ went through more pain, anguish, heartache, and suffering then any of us are even capable of imagining, let alone actaully enduring ourselves. We read of just some of the things that he took upon himself for our behalf in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon.
" 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor [run to] his people according to their infirmities." - Alma 7:11-12

I love the power and the love exibited in the word "succor". It brings me comfort to know that the Lord suffered beyond the measure of pain so that He may run to and aid me according to my circumstances in my times of need. That is why He is so important. He is our mediator and advocate with the Father because without Him we could not repent of our sins, and therefor we could not return to the presence of our Father and dwell in the kingdom of God.

The following is an exerpt from the testimony of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in fact one of my favorite Apostles to hear speak, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. For any of you who are readers of my past blogs you may recognize his voice. I hope that all of you take the time to listen to this mans powerful testimony of the sacrifice made by our Savior Jesus Christ, in an hour when he stood alone so that we would never have to.

" Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life." - Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Should I be baptized again?

I have had the privilege of teaching many people about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the process of all this there have been many questions that I have been asked. There is one that has recently been reoccurring as I've been back in Nashville. "Should I be baptized again?" This is the concern that I want to address today.

What is it about baptism that it is so important? That is the first question that should be answered. The Savior Himself taught Nicodemus, a pharisee, this about baptism:
"1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." - John 3:1-5

Jesus Christ taught us by word and by example that baptism is an ordinance, or sacred ceremony, that is necessary for our salvation. We read about His example of its importance in the same place where we read about another part of baptism that is so often overlooked, the baptism of fire, or of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Matthew it reads:
" 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:...
13 ¶Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:11-17

 Have you ever wondered why the Savior went to John the Baptist to be baptized of him? If you have, or haven't, let me shine some light on the subject. John the Baptist was of the tribe of Levi.This means that he had the Priesthood Authority from God to perform sacred ordinances like baptism. The Savior went to one who he knew was authorized to baptize Him. Shouldn't we do the same today? Here is a short account of others recorded in Holy Scripture who waited to have someone with the proper authority to perform their baptism. This event is found in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
"33 And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God...
34 Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were desirous to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.
35 They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter." - Mosiah 21:33-25
"17 And it came to pass that after Alma had taught the people many things, and had made an end of speaking to them, that king Limhi was desirous that he might be baptized; and all his people were desirous that they might be baptized also.
18 Therefore, Alma did go forth into the water and did baptize them; yea, he did baptize them after the manner he did his brethren in the waters of Mormon; yea, and as many as he did baptize did belong to the church of God; and this because of their belief on the words of Alma." - Mosiah 25:17-18

Now what about the other part of baptism? The Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost? Well receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost is another sacred ordinance that is a part of our salvation. We read in Acts:
 "14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." -Acts 8:14-22

Peter and John were chosen Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, they had the authority to act in the Priesthood and confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This authority is not something that can be purchased. It is not something that can be discovered at a school or given through a degree. As the scriptures state:
"4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." - Hebrews 5:4

Today we are blessed to have the Priesthood authority once again restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. So the question really isn't "should I be baptized again?" as much as it is "who has the authority to baptize me?" Every priesthood holder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can trace his authority through a prophet of God to the Savior Jesus Christ. So the ultimate question that answers both of the above I believe is "was Joseph Smith really called to be the Lord's prophet through which the Priesthood was restored to the Earth?"

I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore Christ's Church and His Holy Priesthood to the Earth. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Kingdom once again established on the earth. I know that because the Gospel was restored through a chosen prophet of God, we can once again perform necessary ordinances of salvation such as baptism. I know that any and all who desire can know these things for themselves by reading the Book of Mormon and asking God in prayer if the book is true. For this I am eternally grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Power of Prayer

Prayer: it can be simple, or it can be miraculous. One prayer can change a person's life. One prayer can change the world. 

I would like to write about the significance and power of prayer. In the Book of Mormon we find an example of how one man's sincere prayer with God started out of concern for his own salvation, and then became a great learning experience in humility and charity. It reads as follows:
"2 ...I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?
8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.
10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.
11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.
12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith." -Enos 1:2-12

Enos, like many of God's children on Earth over the centuries, learned how powerful prayer is through experience. He learned of the cleansing and comforting power that comes through prayer. He felt the love that God had for him. He even learned how we can receive an answer to our prayers through faith. 

I would like to share an example from my own life about how prayer helped me to change for the better. When I was a teenager, like many my age, I was not exactly the most obedient child to my parents wishes. I had my struggles and my temptations in life. I had a few things that I knew I needed to change, and yet I continued to procrastinate the day of my repentance. One Sunday afternoon will forever stick out in my mind as a life altering moment that I experienced through prayer. I was sitting on a couch in the foyer of a church building in Las Vegas. I had arrived at church late, thus my sitting in the foyer. I was trying to listen to the talk that was being given through the building's speaker system, but I could not help but ponder on my situation in life. I felt an absence in my heart. I felt cold and miserable to be blunt. Just in that low moment I had a prompting from the Holy Ghost to go outside to the car and say a prayer. I tried to ignore it the first time, but then it came back stronger. I decided it would be best to comply. While I was sitting in the driver seat of the car with the door open, I began to quietly offer a sincere prayer about my feelings. I had hardly begun when I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I began to cry and thoughts of longing for forgiveness came into my heart and my mind. I bore my soul to God. I asked Him for forgiveness and committed to change my life and my actions. I felt a comforting peace. It was a peace that I recognized, but had not felt in a long time. I felt the love of my Father in Heaven through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. That day was a turning point for me. It was all possible because of prayer. 

There is another prayer that I would like to share before closing. This particular prayer was not one of my own. It was the prayer of an honest, sincere, and truth seeking 14 year old boy. Joseph Smith was living with his family in the State of New York in the early 1800's. He lived in a time of religious revival  and excitement. He was placed in a position of serious thought. In his own words he described the events surrounding this particular time of his life. He said,
"5...there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country...
8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.'
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know..." -Joseph Smith History 1:5-12

Joseph Smith recognized the need for an answer to his question. He recognized the prompting that he received from the Spirit to seek out his answer from God. In response to this, the young boy prayed. His experience from that prayer is one in a million. In his own words he stated:
"16...I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17...When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Of course I am not implying that every prayer will have with it the accompanying experience of Enos's prayer, or Joseph Smith's. However, I do know that the power of prayer is real. I know that our Heavenly Father listens to and answers our prayers. I can not begin to list the examples of this that I have experienced in my own life. I want everyone reading this to know that YOU have a Father in Heaven who loves you. He wants to hear from you, and He desires to help you in life. All you have to do is humble yourself enough to get on your knees and ask Him. I know that if you do, you will feel His love for you and see the difference in a life that comes with a personal relationship with God. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Sorry it has been so long since my last post everybody. I have been drawing a blank on what to write about lately. Now I have an idea though. I'm not sure why I felt the need to write about this topic, but if ya'll would just bear with me, I'm sure that there is someone out there that this will benefit.

The topic that came to mind is the also the title of this blog: Chastity. What it is chastity? Well in the simplest definition I can offer it is to abstain from all sexual relations with another person outside of the legal bonds of marriage. That is a pretty simple definition from the world. Now let's see what the scriptures have to say about chastity shall we?

While teaching His disciples in both the Sermon on the Mount near Galilee, and those that were in the American continents, the Savior said about adultery, being part of chastity: 
"27 ¶Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28 (3 Nephi 12:27-28)

Why is it so important that we not just refrain from committing unchaste acts, but even more so refrain from the thoughts even entering into our minds? A righteous king in the Book of Mormon, referred to as King Benjamin, said this about our thoughts:
"30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not." - Mosiah 4:30
Our thoughts are a part of who we are, and what we decide to do. We commit no act in life without first thinking it. 

For the Strength of Youth, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publication, says the following regarding chastity and sexual purity:
"Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage.

When you are sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of an eternal and loving family. You protect yourself from the spiritual and emotional damage that come from sharing sexual intimacy outside of marriage. You also protect yourself from harmful diseases. Remaining sexually pure helps you to be confident and truly happy and improves your ability to make good decisions now and in the future.
The Lord’s standard regarding sexual purity is clear and unchanging. Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Do not allow the media, your peers, or others to persuade you that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable. It is not. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious. They defile the sacred power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost." For the Strength of Youth: Sexual Purity

The Lord has taught us that we need to Morally clean. We need to, "...let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly..." by doing so, "...then shall [our] confidence wax strong in the presence of God..." D&C 121:45

What is Chastity? What are the limits? Chastity is being morally clean before the Lord by respecting the powers of procreation given to us. As we obey this law and commandment of God, we show our obedience, and we prepare a better more respectful tomorrow for future generations.

Now, just for fun, let's watch a short video clip about simple ways to know how to be Chaste.
This also applies to adults, not just teenagers. Just so everyone is aware that they can't get out of it.