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Our Heavenly Father has gifted us with two wonderful blessings, being a husband or wife, and being a parent. Whether it is by the gift of a child to each other or through the loving action of adoption or circumstance it is a calling that will live with you for time and eternity. We are given the wondrous blessings of having the restored Gospel to help us enjoy and get the most pleasure of being a parent and having a loving family. 

Family and the Priesthood

What a blessing it is to have the Priesthood in our lives. It is the responsibility of a priesthood holder to help protect, enrich, and provide for his family the same blessing that was bestowed upon him when becoming a priest. This also is shared with other families that may not have a priesthood holder in the household. By living through Gospel principles, and everlasting covenants the family benefits both spiritually and emotionally. It is said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 18:21). To this I understand the expression that “a family that prays together, stays together”.

Devotion to the Lord and Our Family

Our families should be cherished like pure spring water from the mountains and streams. They are our most cherished gifts from our Heavenly Father and we must ensure that there is stability of mind, body, and soul. Devoted parents are the key to salvation for your children and generations to come. Our first steps should always be steps taken on the path of righteousness. Through this our families can find joy and happiness even in the most troubled moments of our lives, love is the answer.

Be the Best at Your Callings

When we are given a calling it should become second nature to do our best in what is put before you. Whether it is a calling from our Church or a calling from our Heavenly Father we should always do our best to help others and ourselves. Our family responsibilities are the most important and blessed calling that is bestowed upon us. Showing love to one another will reflect upon our children the importance of showing and sharing love. Working together also instills a good foundation for our children to build their own families upon. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (New Testament, John 13:34). Sometimes we find it difficult to love unconditionally because of our past hurts and instances. If we remember and follow Our Savior's example of love, even in these modern times when it seems difficult, we can feel and share his love.

Forever Families

In one of my favorite children's hymns there is a line that says, “Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s plan”. If we look at Our Father’s Plan of Salvation by understanding the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and living the principles of the Gospel, we can have family relationships that will last for all time and eternity. What a wonderful feeling that can only warm your heart with joy and love. We have been blessed with an opportunity to come closer to or Heavenly Father and Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by reading and pondering the Holy Bible and the companion Book of Mormon to open the spiritual doors to everlasting life and happiness. I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I have sharing this with you. I was inspired by the writings of President Boyd K. Packer.





 
 
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by friend and guest-writer, Frank Ouimette
(This article was inspired by a talk given by Apostle Boyd K. Packer at General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in October 1975)

When the Lord was here, He said:

JOHN 14: 6
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
He also said:
JOHN 11: 25-26
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…"


ACTS 4: 12
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Baptism is a rigid requirement required by the Lord Himself. You must believe in Him and be baptized.
He was perfect but still had to obey the law to fulfill all righteousness and to set the example for all mankind.
Being baptized means to be "buried," or immersed in the water, symbolizing His death and burial, and coming out of the water as a symbol of the resurrection.

In the act of baptism, you are taking upon you the name of Christ. He said:

MATTHEW 7: 14
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

There are many billions of people who lived on the earth at a time when the Restored Gospel was here. Many lived in places and times where they never knew of any gospel or even the word baptism.
The Lord wants to give every soul the chance to accept Him and the gospel, here or in the spirit world.
It came as a commandment from Him, because of its important, to tell His Apostles to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people back in His day.
By revelation, He gave the same commandment is to His Church in these days to spread the restored Gospel to the earth so that people will know that it is essential to be baptized.
We now have the fullness of the Restored Gospel on the earth, which is the combination of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The commandment to search after our dead and do proxy work for them is still in effect.
Because they are dead, we that are living, having bodies, which they don’t, can do the proxy baptisms for them along with other ordinances that are required.
They still have their free agency in the Spirit World, and can accept or reject any ordinances we do for them. It is their decision even now.
Proxy work is doing something for someone else that they cannot do for themselves.
This is what Jesus Christ did in suffering for our sins and performing the Atonement for us, and breaking the bonds of death and opening up the chance for each of us to be resurrected as He was.
Back when this talk was given there were 21,000 missionaries, today there are over 55,000 and that number is increasing fast.
Whatever records we cannot find today or by the Second Coming, will be done in the Millennium.
The connecting of the generations of the human family will be the main work during that time.
Records that were lost or people born and died without records will be revealed then.
This being completed, we will ALL stand before him at Final Judgment in resurrected bodies.


 
 
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Since I was but a wee lad, I've always loved, loved, LOVED Christmas. Though perhaps my reasons for this love have evolved over the years, the season just fills me with an almost childlike giddiness. Much of Christiandom yearly celebrates this veneration of Christ, and my faith (Mormonism) is no exception. Though Mormons don't really do anything vastly different than other Christmas celebrators, it's hard not to bring up the development of my own personal fledgling faith in connection to the Christmas spirit. Like most American children, I was taught of the mystical Santa Claus, who lived at the north pole, was morbidly obese, and brought presents to all the good children of the world. It was a whimsical, if silly, legend that was lots of fun to take part in each year. But I'm forever grateful that my parents, while happy to entertain our young minds with Santa, always drove home the real reason we were giving gifts  to one another. Every Christmas morning, before rushing downstairs for the merriment, my mom and dad would always gather the family into one room, and we'd kneel on the floor and say a prayer to God, thanking Him for this joyous holiday which allowed us to commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. The non-Santa aspects of Christmas have always carried with them a weight of reverence, and they have inspired my faith from the very beginning.
I have nothing against those who do not celebrate Christmas. But it always bothers me a bit when otherwise deeply Christian people seem so jaded with the whole experience. It's gotten to the point of cliche for people to declare their hate for the holiday. Perhaps those people have legitimate reasons for their distaste for the season, but I wonder if their aversion would be better directed at particular aspects and traditions of Christmas, rather than discounting it altogether. So companies are exploiting Christmas for commercial reasons? You don't have to. So you have to spend it with an annoying distant relative? Buck up, and remember that experiences can only be positive when you bring the right frame of mind. Not to point to myself as a wonderful example, but if ever I feel myself displeased with some hassle of the season, or disappointed with some yuletide experience, I quickly remind myself of the Babe in Bethlehem, my Lord Jesus Christ. I try to emulate his example of giving, love, and gratitude. Surrounding myself with whatever family and friends that are available, I joy in the high spirits and laughter that Christmas can bring, if only we let it.

 
 
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There's a concept in Mormonism that deserves to be expounded on, as it is essential to the salvation of every person. It is a gift that each person who has ever existed has been endowed with at birth. Given to us by God, it is our's to keep, and we decide how we'll use it. It's called "agency". Agency is a similar concept to "free will", but with a subtle difference. Free will denotes the fact that we as people have the right to do whatever we choose. Agency on the other hand, refers to our very ability to choose.
We practice agency in every choice that we make. Not every choice is a big one, but we have the ability to choose, resist, embrace, or act upon any external influence, and that in itself is amazing.
It doesn't just apply to Mormonism; its an all-encompassing principle that touches everyone. In the tests and trials of life, agency is the most valuable measuring stick with which we can be judged. If you think about it, without the ability to choose for oneself, a test would be meaningless. We would would all pass with flying colors, but none of us would grow. We would remain stagnant beings, choosing right because that is what we were forced to do, not because we actually were righteous. It would be like taking a child through school and giving them all the answers along the way, all the way through med-school and then asking them to perform brain surgery. What was the point in testing if you knew the outcome?
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we are able to choose for ourselves how we will act. An important thing to remember is that, although we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences. It is within our capability to choose evil, but we do not get to choose what happens to us because of that evil. Others can use their agency, and their choices more often than not, effect us, and our's them. Such is the way of this test we call life. Even if some outside force, be it the choice of another, or pure chance, effects us for the worse, we still have the choice of how we will move forward. We can react, build, adapt, create, improve, and much more. It ultimately boils down to choice between two masters and two paths; God, Jesus Christ, and all that is good, or Satan and all that is evil. This is our choice, this is everyone's choice. And I feel privileged to be able to make it.


For a similar article on agency, read this post.

 
 
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Newel K. Whitney (left) is an extremely important figure in the history of Mormonism. While somewhat obscure, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are familiar with story of his first encounter with Joseph Smith, in which the Prophet famously said, "Newel K. Whitney, thou art the man." But a story like this one needs a little background.
Born in 1795, a full ten years before Joseph Smith Jr., the first Prophet of the Church, Newel Whitney grew up in Vermont, but as an adult would move to Kirtland, Ohio and open a general store having some success in business.
In the late 1820's, Newel and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Whitney were on a spiritual journey of sorts. They were looking for a church to join, and for a while were active in the Campbellite movement, though eventually returned to their search. In late 1830, just months after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had officially been founded, the Whitneys were visited by the missionaries, who brought with them a copy of the Book of Mormon. Elizabeth Whitney  heard the missionaries' message first, and was deeply moved, getting baptized into the Church November of that year. Newel still wasn't convinced though, and continued to pray for an answer.
In February of 1831, Joseph Smith himself journeyed to Kirtland, Ohio and showed up unannounced to Newel K. Whitney's store. Joseph marched right up to Newel and proclaimed, "Newel K. Whitney, thou art the man!"
Whitney had never seen Smith in his life, and didn't know what the Prophet was talking about, or how he knew his name. Smith explained, "I am Joseph the Prophet. You prayed me here; now what do you want of me?" This was exactly the witness that Whitney needed.
Soon Newel K. Whitney would join the Church, and in time became one of the greatest leaders in the history of Mormonism. When he died in 1850, he was the Presiding Bishop of the Church. He left a great legacy, and one that continues to today.  His family and descendants shared his trait of hard work and faith, and continue to bless the world through their service.

 
 
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Unless you live in a nation that outlaws proselytism, you probably have at one point in your life, had some sort of contact with one of the Mormon missionaries. Maybe you've seen them handing out copies of the Book of Mormon on the street. Perhaps you've seen them on their bikes, on the way to some appointment. Maybe they've even knocked on your door.
Though they may know of them, people might not always know a whole lot about these these missionaries who spread Mormonism throughout the world.



 
 
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Life by its very nature is filled with trial and hardship. To experience life is to experience all things, the good and the bad. At times the bad will appear to outweigh any good, and the burden will become so crushing and hard to bear, that our view of the good slips, and we'll see nothing but the darkness supplied by our anguish. There is however, a way out of rough times, and back into the light. His name is Jesus Christ.I sometimes wonder why a God that loves me would put me through such pain. Why, when I am trying my hardest, am I succumbing to woes of a troubled heart? 
I have had a handful of times in my short life where anguish seemed to prevail, and the grasp of the evil one seemed to drag my soul deeper. Each of these experiences, though challenging, have seemed to fortify me for the next, and show me by stark contrast the beauty of a good day. I come out of them taking more pleasure in simple things, and with more faith that the future will be better.
It stands to reason then, that this is why my Lord and Savior would deem me worthy of such pain, even when I am being righteous. That my Father, in an effort to strengthen me for things to come, is giving me a little bit more than I thought I could handle, so that in the future, I know I can handle more.
Sometimes, however, this knowledge alone just isn't enough to carry on with. We might not have the strength inside us to withstand every challenge, and we may stumble and fall. But that is the beauty of Jesus Christ; that when we have spent some time at our lowest, and are holding on with the last piece of energy within us, He can step in and stretch us. He will take a normal man who is trying, and create something extraordinary. Though He may not have made our problems smaller, He has made us big enough to conquer them.
If we still feel it unfair that God would deign to give us trials, we need only remember one thing: the Son of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, experienced them too. In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord experienced the anguish and grief, for every sin, every disappointment, and every sorrow that has ever been felt, or will be felt. He experienced even your pains.
From this day on, stand strong in the comforting knowledge that through every time of trouble, every moment of pain, Jesus the Christ has been there, holding you, helping you, or cheering you on. He truly wants you to be happy, more than even you do. That is why He descended below all things, so that no matter how far you fall, He will be there to catch you. All you must do is trust that He can show you the way back up. And follow Him.


 
 
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The Holy Bible is rife with role models ready to emulate. One such example is the famous Old Testament prophet Daniel. The main reason would would strive to be like Daniel is his stalwart resilience. He knew and loved his God, and was willing to do anything for Him. Daniel's boldness was in full display when he famously found himself cast into a den of hungry lions.
Daniel was not only a spiritual leader (as the Lord's prophet) but also a member of the king's court. Throughout his life, Daniel would serve as a courtier to five kings, but his famous acts in the lions' den happened while serving under Darius of Mede.
Darius' court consisted of a large pool of men in line for the throne, who were presided over by a council of three presidents. These three presidents were in turn led by King Darius himself. Darius was fond of Daniel, viewing him with deep respect, so early in his kinghood, Darius promoted Daniel to the office of the first of these three presidents, in effect making Daniel second in command over the kingdom.
The men-in-waiting and the other presidents were not too pleased with this decision, and therefore set out to find something with which they could incriminate Daniel. Some past transgression, some scandal they could dig up to make him appear undesirable to be in such a high office. They came up empty. Daniel was a clean slate; nothing in his history could be used against him. If they were to condemn this man, they would have to somehow make his righteousness a crime.
So the court confronted the king and by some means coerced him to sign an abominable proclamation: In the next thirty days, anyone caught praying to any man or God, unless they prayed to the king, would be thrown in a den of lions. When he learned of this proclamation, Daniel boldly decided not to change a thing. He went straight home and poured out his soul to his God, and continued his usual habit of praying three times a day. As this edict was designed to snare Daniel in particular, those behind it descended upon him and caught him in the act of praying. 
King Darius realized at this time the seriousness of the situation. His decree now put the life of his good friend Daniel in peril. Wanting desperately to rectify the situation, Darius sought to reverse the command. He was stopped however by his court, who reminded him that, under the laws of the Medes and the Persians, the decree was irrevocable. Darius was forced to put Daniel into the den and seal the entrance, but not before sharing a desperate, parting word with his friend: "Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee."
Reluctantly sealing the den, Darius went home. That night, he sent away all distractions from his quarters, and spent the night in prayer and fasting, losing much sleep begging the Lord to spare his friend. Early in the morning, the king ran for the lions' den, and opened it up. Not knowing what to expect, King Darius cautiously called out to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"
Miraculously, Daniel's voice rang out from inside the cave, "O king live for ever. My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt."
Daniel's timeless story is a wonderful reminder of the blessings associated with righteousness. True, because of the wickedness of other men, Daniel's righteousness landed him in a den of lions, dire circumstances to be sure. But also because of his righteousness, Daniel was delivered. His personal righteousness and his insistence of praying to His God, seemingly damning in this situation, actually spelled his deliverance.
When the Lord commands, we do, and any trial we face because of our obedience is far outweighed by the blessing our righteousness will entitle us to. It may not come in such an evident and dramatic matter as it did for Daniel, and it may not even happen in this earthly life, but it will come, and it will be worth it.
I testify of these things in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ--Amen.

 
 
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After crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus Christ and His disciples went up into the mountains. The feast of Passover was soon.
Looking up from where He sat, Jesus saw a large crowd of people making their way up the mountain towards them. Having seen the miracles Jesus could perform, they had followed the Savior, wanting to learn from Him. They numbered about five thousand.
Knowing it was time for the feast of the Passover, Christ said to His apostle Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"  Philip informed the Savior that the money they had would not buy enough bread to feed so many people, even if they just had a morsel each.
Of course, Christ knew this. He only asked to test Philip. He knew exactly what needed to be done.
Just then, the apostle Andrew (Simon Peter's brother) came to the Lord and said, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are thy among so many?"
Jesus had the multitude sit down on the grassy hill. Giving thanks to His Father in prayer, He handed food to each of His disciples, who distributed generous helping of fish and bread o all who were gathered. As the multitude finished up the feast. Jesus asked that His disciples go back through the crowd and gather up the leftovers of the meal, so nothing would go to waste. The leftover food filled twelve baskets of bread.
All who were there who had seen this miracle proclaimed, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."
And thus by small and simple means, did the Son of God make great and wonderful things to pass.
In His holy name, Jesus Christ-- Amen.

 
 
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When Jesus Christ had grown to twelve years of age, He lived in Nazareth with His mother Mary and step-father Joseph. He was filled with the Spirit of God and had wisdom far beyond His years.
Every year, Joseph and Mary had the tradition of going to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover
Young Jesus accompanied His parents to the Passover feast. When all was said and done, Joseph and Mary packed up and made the return journey to Jerusalem, unaware that Jesus was not with them. Too understand how they could have forgotten their only child, a child who would be Savior of the world one day for that matter, it must be understood that the family was traveling in a large caravan. Joseph and Mary's extended families were all making this trek together. It would make sense for them to think that Jesus was simply with some  of the other children in the caravan. After traveling for a whole day, Joseph and Mary, searching throughout the caravan, noticed that Jesus was not among them. 
Panicked, they returned to Jerusalem to search for their son. After what must have been a torturous three days of searching, Mary and Joseph finally happened upon the twelve-year-old Christ. They found him in the temple, conversing with some well-versed priests. The men were exceedingly amazed at this young boy and His extraordinary knowledge of the things of God.
Tremendously relieved to find her son, Mary came to Jesus and did what any concerned mother might do, and scolded Him for wandering off on His own. "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." Today, she might have said, "Son, how can you do this to us!? Your father and I have been worried sick!"
Being very wise for His age, Jesus simply answered, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  The reunited family then happily returned home.
This account, from Luke chapter two is the first time we are told of Christ taking upon Himself the magnitude of His calling in life. It can be reasoned that this early act of wisdom was when He truly understood the meaning of His station. Being "about His Father's business," had him in the temple, studying, worshiping, and strengthening other children of the Lord. It is incredible to think that at such a young age, He knew is purpose. He knew the tremendous things that God had in store for Him. He had the conviction and discipline to work and speak by the Holy Spirit in all things. An excellent example for us all if their ever was one.
I conclude in His name, Jesus Christ-- Amen.