Monday, December 15, 2008

White Christmas

Since we will be in Arizona for Christmas we decided to do our Christmas presents from mom and dad here. We decided to do it on Saturday because we are going to be so busy this week getting ready to come home. Santa is still going to bring the kids a few things to Arizona on Christmas day. It was one of the best Christmas's ever. It was so stress free and laid back. Friday night we had some friends over and had pizza fondue, which is what my family has always done on Christmas eve. So it was a perfect fake Christmas eve. Saturday morning we opened presents. The rest of the day the kids just played quietly and laid around the house. In the afternoon I was upstairs getting ready to go out on a date with Chase. I heard all of this yelling and screaming. I thought the house was burning down or someone broke something. I came running down to figure out that it had started snowing and they were so excited they were screaming. We had given the kids snow bibs and sleds for Christmas they had them on in 30 seconds and were out the door. They don't understand to sled the snow has to build up. It was hilarious. It was a perfect ending to our little Christmas. Through the night it continued to snow and we have a little bit. It is below freezing tempetures all week and more snow to come. Even though there is snow and it is about 20 degrees the sun is shining so brightly. It is beautiful!

Church Talk

We had to talk in Church on Sunday, Here is my talk.

I was asked to speak on the Savior. It was a very difficult subject for me. I feel like it is so personal and I don’t have any great stories or events to tell. I have just always known that He lives and that He is real. I have felt His love and sustaining power. There are many examples by which I know He is real:
• When I hold my brand new babies
• When I receive a priesthood blessing
• When I look at the beauty of the earth
• When loved ones have passed on
• When I attend the temple.
These are quiet assurances which occasionally come; I can’t prove these to others. Yet they come as a form of Knowledge. Or as James E. Faust called it, “A feeling you can not give utterance to because it is so unspeakably personal.” In answer, the master said that quiet reality “can speak peace to our mind concerning the matter.” D&C 6:23. In quiet moments I feel His love.

The Savior gave us the greatest gift of all. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Through his great atoning sacrifice, he cut the knot of the cords that bound us, and gave us freedom to go forward on the road to immortality and eternal life. He is our Lord, our Master, our Redeemer, our King, our Ruler and our God. He is our advocate and He is always there for us. “The Son of man hath descended below them all” D&C 122:8.

In Gethsemane and on Calvary, in His horrible suffering and death, the Savior descended below all things, just as in His resurrection he ascended above all things. Jesus Christ encompassed either personally or vicariously the whole range of possible human experiences and circumstances from the worst to the best. He knows more about pain, grief, loneliness, contradiction, shame, rejection, betrayal, anguish, depression and guilt than all of us combined. For in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the hill of Calvary, Jesus took upon himself the sins and the pains of the entire world.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

However low we may fall, our Redeemer has already been there for the sole purpose of giving us a way back, and that we can live eternally.

I’d like to read a letter that my brother Sam wrote while on his mission, to be read at the farewell of his younger brother.
May 1998
Come Unto Christ
Recently I sat in a discussion with a fiery young preacher from another denomination. He was willing to listen to most of our message, but he had the usual doubts and questions about the truthfulness of the Joseph Smith story and the Book of Mormon. At the end of the discussion he asked what was our purpose as Mormon Missionaries.
“To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” I replied.
“But why?” he asked.
“To help people to come unto Christ.”
“But what makes you Mormons think that you’re so different? Why is your invitation to come to Christ so different the invitation that I make weekly?”
The proposed question took me at a loss of words. I felt the answer in my heart, but I could not find the words to express it verbally.
He continued quite arrogantly: “I know the bible from cover to cover, I know the prophecies, I know about His birth, His life, His teachings, His death and His resurrection. I studied theology for 4 years; I know everything that there is to know about Jesus Christ! You can’t teach me anything more about him!”
My reply came only after a short pause, “Yes, you know everything about Him, but do you know Him?”
Frustrated with my question and persistence he blurted out “That’s impossible. He died! He ascended! He lives in Heaven. We can’t see Him! We can’t feel Him! We can’t know Him until He comes again!”
Brothers and Sisters, that is the difference. Others know about Him; they know the story. But we know Him. We are the only ones who do. The world considers this a prideful and at times, a crazy claim, but it is true.
We know Him because we have taken His name upon us
We know Him through scripture study.
We know Him through prayer.
We know Him because we hear His voice twice a year as we gather to hear His prophet speak.
We feel His presence each sacrament meeting as He binds broken hearts and heals hidden wounds.
We know him because we have the gift of the Spirit and finally, we know Him because He is here! He is so close! He is among us; He never left us.
Our relationship with Him is personal. Savior to disciple, teacher to student, brother to brother, friend to friend. None other dares to make that claim. No other can. Two days after that discussion I stood in a baptismal font with a drenched Chilean man. He asked me jokingly through tears “are you sure that you are not the Savior?”
“I’m positive, but I am His friend.”
The spirit was overwhelming. We held each other crying as we soaked in the unmistakable presence of our Brother. That moment we had both taken one more step closer to Christ. He was there; we felt his arms around us.
I know that He lives. I feel His presence daily. And each day that passes I get to know Him a little better.
“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know Him.” (2 Nephi 2:8)
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
We, as Elders, as Defenders of the Faith, we walk, we talk, we preach, and we act in His name and under His direction. He is our Leader, our Captain, and our Friend. He knows us and we know Him.
And know, my dear brother and fellow servant, and all those who are preparing to join the Heavenly ranks. Be not afraid only believe. Mark 5:36
The best advice that I can give to you is what the Lord said to His young and awkward servant... “go forth and do as I commanded, thou shalt abide in me, and I in you, therefore, walk with me! Moses 6:32,34.
He is our guide. He will lovingly show us the way. Walk with Him and let Him walk with you. He knows the path, he knows us, and He will help us overcome.
God lives! He is our Father. Christ lives! He is our brother. Joseph Smith saw and knew them personally.
I love this gospel. I love it because by it, I can get to know my Savior and King. Come unto Christ! Come and know our brother. Help others to know Him! This is our sacred duty!

[End of letter]

The Savior gave all of mankind this great gift and we are blessed to have the truth and as Sam said, it is our duty to share this with everyone. How sad it would be to live in this world and not know what we know. To not feel the Savior’s love or know Him. We must come unto Christ and share with our brothers and sisters.

President James E. Faust said, “It is my testimony that we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. But with the assuring comfort of a personal relationship with God, we will be given a calming courage. From the divine so near we will receive the quiet assurances: “My son, peace be unto thy soul. Thine adversity shall be but a small moment and then if you endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high. Thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” D&C 121:7-8

I have a certain knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is our divine Savior. I know that He lives. From my earliest recollections, I have had a sure perception of this. As long as I have lived, I have had a simple faith that has never doubted. I have not always understood, yet I have known through a knowledge that is so sacred to me that I cannot give utterance to it. I know and I testify with an absolute awareness in every fiber and innermost recess of my being that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and Divine Redeemer and the Son of God. My we ever be obedient to his with, “Come unto me thy Savior.” (D&C 19:41)”

Like President Faust whose testimony was so sacred that he could not give it utterance, and my brother Sam who had a loss for words to describe the answer in his heart, I have a hard time putting my testimony to words. The closest, I believe, comes from the hymn, “I know that my redeemer lives…”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Santa

On Tuesday morning we had a little cookie party and writing letters to Santa. We invited the kids friends from the ward and the neighborhood. It was a lot of fun. Gideon really got into it. He would spend so much time on one cookie it would be so covered with decor you could not tell it was a cookie.He also had to have a finger full of frosting between each cookie. He loves the frosting.