Sunday, August 19, 2012

Well Done thou Good and Faithful Friend

Over the last few day's I have had a Janice Kapp Perry song running through my mind entitled:

Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant 

You were called to serve a mission by a prophet of the Lord, 
and you bore your solemn witness that the gospel was restored.
You were called that you might testify and teach your fellow man 
the simple truths of Jesus in an unfamiliar land.
Yes, each child of God has promises to keep.
For the Savior has said, "If ye love me, feed my sheep"
Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
Well done, thou good and faithful son.
You have seen the field is white.
You have shared the gospel light.
You have earned the Savior's gentle praise, “Well done.”
You were called to help your brother find the straight and narrow way.
As the Savior's true disciple, you were led by Him each day.
In the service of your fellow man, you're only serving God 
 fulfilling his condition that all men must be taught.
In unmeasured time your mission now is done, 
but a lifetime of joy serving others has just begun.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
Well done, thou good and faithful son.
You have seen the field is white.
You have shared the gospel light.
You have earned the Savior's gentle praise, “Well done.”
Well Done.

I believe that this particular song has been playing in my mind due to one of my seminary boys just returned this past Friday from his mission.

Over the last two years this young man has grown immensely in his personal relationship with his Father in Heaven.
 Today in Sacrament meeting he shared some of the lessons he had learned and how he had grown.

Coming from this small town in Idaho he was never called to "boldly bear his testimony."  
He mentioned that on one of his first outings, he and his companion were invited into a home where the man of the house proceeded to place a bible on the table and made a comment something to do with the fact that the bible he had placed before them had multiple witnesses that The Book of Mormon was a fraud.
His companion related to him that now was a time for him to look this man right in the eyes and bear his witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

My young friend was unable to do that because at that moment in time, he himself was not sure about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, so he began to search, ponder and pray, so that he could find out for himself if the Book of Mormon was true and if the Joseph Smith was truly a Prophet of God.
He started with the Introduction of the Book of Mormon where there are as he related three promises:

1.  "We invite men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the messages it contains, and then ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true.
Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.
2.  Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world
3.  That Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these the last days and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah."

This valiant young man became quite emotional as he shared with the congregation how each and every one of those three promises were burned deeply in his heart and how he personally came to know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
He also came to know his Lord and Savior in a more personal intimate relationship and he knew without a doubt that Joseph Smith had been called of God.
He then asked his Heavenly Father for a chance to redeem his testimony to an investigator of the church.
His prayer was answered.  

He once again came face to face with a man who countered each and everything he attempted to share with him.
I can't remember his exact words on how it came about but the man issued a challenge to my young friend.
He took a breath and then he bore a powerful testimony that "he did not believe that the Book of Mormon was true, He Knew!"
He then proceeded to share with this gentleman that he also "Knew that even though he had never heard a sermon taught by the prophet Joseph Smith, or that he had never had the privilege of standing next to the prophet Joseph Smith; He Knew! that God the Father had called the prophet Joseph Smith to stand as a witness and that there was nothing any man could say that would change his mind on how strongly he felt about the divinity of the prophet Joseph Smith and how the teachings contained within the Book of Mormon had changed his life."  

There was no sparring of words after he bore that powerful testimony.

At a young age I was influenced by the promise the prophet Joseph Smith had made concerning the Book of Mormon:

"I told the brethern that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

I found out for myself the truthfulness of the above statement.  As I searched the pages of the Book of Mormon I truly came to know my Lord and Savior.  It was thorough its pages along with the pages of the Holy Bible and other books that He became and continues to be my best friend. 

It wasn't until I left the sacred walls of the temple in 1997 that I like my young friend, had this great desire to learn more about the prophet Joseph Smith.  During the year of 1998, I come to know and greatly respect the prophet Joseph Smith.  
I too have had the prophets divine calling burned into my soul and like my young friend there is no man or nothing on this earth that will sway my testimony.

In closing my testimony  mirrors one of the last testimonies given by the prophet Joseph Smith:
"And now after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which (I) give of him:

 That He Lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God;
and we heard the the voice, bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--
That by him, and through him, the worlds are and were created,
 and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."

It is my goal that when I am called home, my beloved savior and friend will be there with open arms to welcome me home and I will hear his gentle praise, "well done thou good and faithful friend."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

When Ye Are Serving

Ever since I can remember my mother and poppers were always helping out our neighbors and friends.
They truly lived this statement:

 "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

Over the last few months, thanks in large part to Facebook
I have been reading about my cousins endeavor to raise money to assist with medical bills for a family member that is fighting his personal battle with cancer.

July I had planned on going down and offer my hands to help with whatever she needed help with.
But life has a way of throwing curve balls and I was not able to take my vacation as planned and wound up here working.

I planned on going down this month with my newly requested vacation at the end of this month but once again life has thrown a curve ball and I have a broke down car along with a broke down me at this moment. .

So, to let my awesome cousin know that my prayers and thoughts are with her here I am blogging about her and her wonderful adventure in "service."

Today the only meeting I made it through was Relief Society and my true blue friend had to assist me to her car and home due to my world started spinning so badly I just knew I was going to hit the floor.

At that meeting the Bishop came in and was visiting with us about
"the Gospel in Action."

You have probably seen the saying, "going to church does not make you a Christian no more than parking your car in the garage makes it a fancy car."  (Can't remember the exact wording; but you get the jest of it.)

It is easy to go to church each and every Sunday and pay "lip service" to our God we love so much.
But I believe that the God we love hears much louder when we are actually out and serving our fellow men.
Kudo's to my cousin and all those who are pitching in their time, talents, and everything they have to assist this young man and his family during this battle.

I know for a fact our Lord and Savior is well pleased at what He is witnessing with all the gifts of selflessness that is abounding in Ogden Utah.

This cousin married onto my mom's side of the family, the Coxey side.
 I am proud to bear that name because on that line there has been countless stories of selflessness and sacrifice for those in need.
She may not be in our blood line but she has the Coxey spirit of service and she has a community standing right along besides her along with friends and family.
I so wish I could have have been a partaker in the spirit of friendship and fellowship that was shared this last Saturday.
All those who have been on the front lines are showing what it means to have the "gospel in action."

Whether they are Latter-day Saints or not I do not know, but I do know that they are following the example of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I tip my hat to them because they are truly exhibiting Christ like service.

For my dear dear cousin, keep up the good fight and know I love you and here in Idaho my prayers are with you and your family and once I get me repaired I'm in hopes to throw my hands in and do what I can from a distance.

May the Lord continue to bless and keep you all and may your example extend out and touch others who feel that their simple act of kindness and service are not enough.

"To all my friends that came to my son in laws event today may I say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming, for helping, for donating and just for showing Rich, my daughter Christel and my two beautiful grandchildren that you are there to support him until he is well and on his feet again. If there ever is anything I can do for any of you Please just just ask. Without all of you this event would of been nothing. To my family. My sisters, brother in laws, niece's, nephews, my son Jamie his wife Trisha and all my grandkids my cousins, I say thank you so much I love you all and I know we are truly blessed with the kind of family mom and dad would be proud of. THANK YOU"
(Billie Coxey)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Tree

This morning as I was reading a copy of the Church News this article really jumped out at me.  I found the speakers insights very note worthy and so here I am sharing them with you.  The name of the article is: 

"Stand in The Sacred Grove." 
Church Historian shares
lessons from holy place 

Nearly  200 years after Joseph Smith's fist Vision occurred in the Sacred Grove in 1820 in upstate New York, individuals can still look to the patterns and structures of that holy place as a teacher of important life lessons...After serving as mission president of the New York Rochester Mission--whose boundaries include the Sacred Grove--from 1993-1995, Elder Jensen spoke of the holiness he felt as he visited the area.
"My family and I came to love that grove of trees and to feel the sacredness."...
"A careful observer of nature...can learn some significant lessons from the ecosystem that exists there."
Lesson 1:  Trees always grow toward the light. 
One interesting phenomenon observed in the Sacred Grove is the trees growing on the edge of the original forest 
and those lining the interior pathways,
"They have grown outward--
to escape the over shadowing foliage above them--
and then upward to absorb the greatest possible sunlight.  
Their crooked trunks and branches stand in contrast to neighboring 
trees that grow almost perfectly straight."
Trees, like almost all living organisms, need light to survive and thrive.
"Light is an even more important catalyst in the spiritual realm
 than it is in nature. 
This is so, because light is essential to our spiritual growth 
and the realizations of our full potential as God's sons and daughters.
Please, shun darkness, and like the trees, 
always seek to grow towards the light."
Lesson 2:  Trees require opposition to fulfill the measure of their creation 
Elder Jensen spoke of an experiment conducted a few years ago in a designated area of the Sacred Grove.
To provide the healthiest young trees a prime place to grow, gardeners cleaned out the area and took away opposition that could prevent the trees from growing.  Their hope was that the trees would flourish and develop, as they grew without competition for water, sunlight and soil nutrients.
"As a result, none of the trees in the test plot compared in size or vitality to the trees left to grow more naturally and that had to compete and overcome opposition in order to survive and to thrive."
One of the key doctrines of the Book of Mormon is that there must be opposition in all things.
Elder Jensen taught, "A world with opposites provides choices between good and evil, so that agency can operate.  Equally important, however, is the principle that opposition must exist for spiritual growth to occur--or as father Lehi puts it--for 'holiness' to be brought to pass.
I want to stress that understanding this principle--that spiritual growth requires opposition and adversity--and even embracing this principle at your age is a key to accepting and being generally happy with life."
Lesson 3:  Trees are best grown in forests, not in isolation    
"If  you think about it, in nature it's very unusual to see a tree standing alone.  
They almost always congregate in groves, 
and over time, groves may become forests."
The Sacred Grove, Elder Jensen taught, is much more
 than just a group of trees.
It is a complicated ecosystem that includes numerous 
species of flora and fauna
 that rely on one another for food 
and shelter in the cycle of life.
"God's plan for our lives contemplates a similar interconnectedness and sociality for us.
We are here to work out our salvation together not in isolation.
The Church builds meetinghouses, not hermitages.  
We are asked to attend a specific ward or branch--not to pick and choose our congregation...
This wise policy requires us to learn to get along with each other 
and to be accountable to our Bishop or Branch President; 
not to run and hide when the going gets tough...
Healthy trees need an ecosystem; healthy people need each other...
I we hope to enjoy the sociality of the world to come, 
we need continually to mature socially 
as well as spiritually while here on earth.  
People like trees, are best grown in communities, not in isolation."   
Lesson 4:  Trees draw strength from the nutrients created by previous generations of trees  
Just as a grove of trees flourishes when benefiting from the nutrients of fallen trees, leaves and limbs, so can the lives of Church members benefit from the rich legacy left by those who have gone before them.
"Why do record keeping and the collection, preservation and sharing of history enjoy 
such importance in the Church of Jesus Christ?
Why is it critical for you as part of today's rising generations' 
be mindful of  and draw strength from past generations?
In response, the Church Historian said that it is impossible to live fully in the present--much less to plan for ones future destiny--
without the foundation of the past.
"The knowledge we have of our past 
because of the records that have been kept,
 and of our future because of the scriptures and the prophetic teachings of living prophets, 
provide us the context that allows wise use of our agency 
during our present existence.
History in its most basic form is a record of people and their lives and from those lives come stories and lessons that can reinforce what we believe, what we stand for, and what we should do in the face of adversity.  Not all of the stories that make up our history are of the epic nature of Joseph Smith's First Vision or of Wilford Woodruff's mission to England. 
In fact, some truly remarkable stories come from the lives of 
very ordinary Latter-Day Saints.
They are especially dear and helpful to us 
when the stories involves our own ancestors..."
"Good stories--if true--
make good history.  
Remember, people, like trees, 
draw strength from the nutrients 
created by previous generations.
As individuals
 "stand in the Sacred Grove" 
they are able to stay strong
 against oppositions 
and find encouragement 
from the generations 
                                                                    of faithful Latter-day Saints 
                                                         who have steadfastly stood before them.
These glorious truths, of which I have testified 
have their beginning in the Sacred Grove.
As you have figuratively stood with me in the Sacred Grove, 
so stand always in your minds and in your hearts in that sacred place
 and live true to the truths that God began to reveal there."
(Church News Week of May 13, 2012)

As I read that article I picked up quite a few pearls that I am going to try and acquire.  Unlike the trees, I tend to be one who isolates and tries to hide.  I am great one on one but when it comes to reaching out to a "congregation"  I fail miserably.  I can see I have lots of good things I need to start working on.
And I for one will never look at a tree in the same light.