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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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   The sensation of human guilt is as universal as it is varied. All of us have experienced at least some form of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or self-directed anger which tells us quite bluntly that our behavior fell below our standards. Guilt affects each of us in a similar way; we feel to some degree that we did something wrong, and we regret getting into these circumstances. But as each person is unique, so is each sin, and therefore each episode of guilt. So many nuances and subtle emotions can mingle with each episode, creating an experience that is simultaneously unique and all-too-common.
   This emotion, which is never pleasant, can be a very useful tool. A healthy dose of guilt causes us to recognize that we can do better, that our actions were unacceptable, that there is room for improvement, and motivates us to fix the situation. But used to excess by an over-critical mind, unnecessary guilt shifts the focus of shame from one's actions to one's overall worth as a human-being.

Some anxiety and depression is caused by physical disorders, but much (perhaps most) of it is not pain of the body but of the spirit. Spiritual pain resulting from guilt can be replaced with peace of mind.
In contrast to the hard words condemning sin, listen to the calming, healing words of mercy, which balance the harsher words of justice.”
-President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As Elder Packer's quote implies, the duty we have been given by Jesus Christ to “forgive all men” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10) applies not only to others, but also to ourselves.
   We all learn pretty early-on in life that other people are not perfect, and that we shouldn't expect perfection. But pretty often, we take a bit longer to learn that we shouldn't expect perfection from ourselves. It is commendable to reach for perfection, and to try every day to get a little closer, but when we set the bar at perfect, and view everything that falls short as failure, we're bound to get quite disappointed with ourselves.
As any athlete knows, the key to success is practice and persistence and dedication over a long period of time. It is much easier to climb a staircase or a ladder than it is to jump directly from the ground to the same height. No high jumper has ever gone directly from the couch to a nine-foot vertical jump at the Olympics. This would be a marvelous overall goal for anyone to think of setting, but a goal that lofty would need to be comprised of many smaller goals to become a reality. “First, I'll work on routine and get that down. Then, I'll work to clear five feet. Then, I'll try to clear five feet and three inches, etc., etc.”
   A beginning jumper shouldn't be discouraged that he can't immediately jump over a house, and similarly, we shouldn't be discouraged just because we have some way to go on the road to spiritual and moral perfection. It's not something that happens right away, but something that comes little by little as we continually work for it.

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   God has said that if we wish to live with Him once more, we need to be perfect, but He knows that we can't possibly do that on our own. As mortal beings, we are naturally weak and undisciplined. It is not only expected that we will mess up throughout our lives, but inevitable. So how can God expect perfection from children He knows are incapable of it? 
   It is with this in mind, that our Heavenly Father sent is Son, Jesus Christ to live among us. As God's Son, Christ had the capability to fully temper and control the natural urges and temptations that His mortal body would experience. Having absolutely no sin of His own, Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, and also for our pains, infirmities, and yes, our guilt. He felt all of it. He experienced every bit of suffering that human family had, did, and would ever experience. And why? This was the price paid to allow us an out from our sins.    
   Thanks to this atonement made by Jesus Christ, our Savior, if we do everything we can to fix the situation presented by our misdoings, and gratefully acknowledge the miraculous sacrifice that Christ made, we can fully repent. And as far as God is concerned, the sin never happened. We are as clean and pure as the day we were born. This is how we achieve perfection, through Christ.
   As we earnestly repent of our sins and misdeeds, and look upon Christ, we are given the wonderful gift of a clean conscience. There is no point to carry the shame with us once we have been forgiven by our loving Heavenly Father. It is time to forgive ourselves, and jettison any self-hate from our souls. God doesn't count it against us anymore. Why should we?




 
 
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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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Jesus Christ takes on many roles. He is our teacher, our master, our elder brother, and our redeemer, just to name a few. One exceptionally large role he fills is as the Son of God. But what does it mean to be the Son of God? Aren't we all God's children?



 
 
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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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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.


 
 
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Those of us who can see generally take this ability for granted. We hear this a lot: that we, as people, expect some mundanely normal experience to be a given. But it's all too true. You don't know what you have until you no longer have it. The visually impaired know all too well that sight is a blessing of the greatest kind. This was no less true than in the time of Jesus Christ.
Sometime before Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, the Savior was traveling through the city of Jericho. As He came into the city, the people of Jericho were understandably stirred up by His presence. A stone's throw away, a blind man sat by himself, wondering what all the clamor was about.
This man, unable to see, was probably unable to work. Though being blind is still no picnic, obviously it wan't like today, when the blind are blessed with many advanced tools allowing them to function in the everyday world. Nor did the blind (or those with any handicaps for that matter) have laws in place to protect them from unemployment and poverty. In many circumstances, a handicap could be a social death-sentence. The blind, dumb, deaf, and lame could only sit on the periphery, dependent on the kindness of others.
When this particular man asked a passerby, He learned, to his delight, that the crowd was stirred up because Jesus of Nazareth was passing through. This was his chance. The man yelled out to his Savior, pleading, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" 
The people, shocked by how loud and audacious this man was being, scolded him. They told him to hold his peace. It was not dignified to be so bold. But he did not care. It didn't matter what these people thought. Jesus had come to bless him, to lift him out of his humble circumstances. He yelled again, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me!"
The Lord commanded that this man be brought to Him. With the man before Him, He asked, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?"
The man knew what he required. Trusting in his God, he said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."
Pleased with this humble man, Jesus said, "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee."
In an instant, his vision was restored. Before him stood his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, the sweetness of that first of many wondrous sights this man would see. He got up, and followed his Savior, and the multitude glorified God.
Even if our physical eyes are in perfect health, we all may lose our sight. Being blinded by our carnal desires and worldly temptations, we may at times find ourselves lost in the darkness, with seemingly no way of getting back. I testify though, that if we but have faith, and turn unto Him who can restore our vision, that we can know the way to true happiness. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that way, and through Him and Him alone can we be made whole. His eternal power will open our eyes if we but ask. We need not be ashamed that we come to Him, for why would the opinions of other's matter when our eternal happiness can be secured through Him we approach?
I leave you with this message in the His holy name, Jesus Christ-- Amen

 
 
We all make sacrifices. Every one of us has at one time or another given up something for a greater purpose. We all know how this feels. But one thing that none can begin to comprehend is the magnitude of the sacrifice our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ made on our behalf. A mortal being cannot feel the same degree of love, or experience the same level of devotion that our elder brother had for us. But through the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost, one can come to appreciate and relish the gift that our Lord has given us in the atonement, and we can learn to accept this gift in our lives and apply it where we are in need.
The atonement of our Savior was an all-encompassing sacrifice. Prior to the time of Jesus, believers followed what is known as the Law of Moses, the code of righteousness given by God in that era. With the coming of Jesus Christ, however, the Law of Moses was replaced with a higher law.
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus and his twelve apostles convened in the top floor a house, and had what we refer to as the Last Supper. Jesus broke and blessed bread for the apostles and explained that it was a representation of his body. He blessed and passed around wine, explaining that it was a representation of the blood he would shed for them. These actions would in time become known as the Sacrament.
After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples walked into the garden of Gethsemane. The Savior told his disciples to stay back and kneel, to pray that they enter not into temptation. He continued to walk several yards further, until he was alone. It was then that Jesus Christ prayed to his eternal father, and begged,  saying, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Our Redeemer suffered there in the Garden of Gethsemane. He felt every pain, experienced every ailment, and endured all sorrow that man had ever, and will ever feel, all at once. He writhed in pain, and in his agony, he bled from every pore of his body.
He was then betrayed by his apostle, Judas, who sold him to the angry Pharisees, who beat him, mocked him, unjustly tried him, and crucified him, one of the most painful forms of murder that man has ever devised. He gave up the ghost, and ascended unto his father, returning three days later as a perfect, resurrected being.
This pain was not needless. Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered these agonies to understand us, to descend below the deepest depth that man could sink to, to empathize with all pain and sorrow that man could feel. His agony atoned for our pains and ailments, but more importantly, it atoned for our sins. Thanks to the Lord's sacrifice, we can activate the atonement when we sin, we can repent, and turn away from our sins by partaking of the sacrament and washing away our sins with the help of our Savior and Redeemer.
We must always remember the love and devotion that Jesus Christ feels for us. He, as our elder brother, wants nothing less than for us to succeed. The life he freely gave and the crushing burden he freely bore are indeed a testament to his loving care, and he loves us all unconditionally. 
I leave you with my testimony, that our Savior Jesus Christ is the literal son of God, that he atoned for our sins so that we could come closer to our father. I testify of our Savior's love, of my love for him, and of the perfect example of righteousness he is in my life. I close this article in his holy name, Jesus Christ--Amen