Sunday, October 17, 2010

Freedom and Protection

I have written about this subject before, and since it is always on my mind I'd like to touch on it again. This time I'd like to talk about agency and how it relates to protection.

I have heard many times from others, "I don't believe in organized religion because it's not right to have so many rules. There is no freedom in that, and we are here to experience freedom. If I am following someone else's rules then I am not free." Eventually I observe many of these people are not "free". Bound by sin, chained to addiction (pornography, drugs, alcohol) caught in the grip of lies and deceit and a prisoner of their own choices. I have found that when people shun from the commandments of God because they want to "feel free" they end up losing their precious freedoms and are far from happy.

In His great wisdom God set up a clear path for us to follow trusting that we would use our free agency to choose His path where we can find safety, happiness, peace and freedom. At the same time Satan has set up a path of destruction, that if we follow, leads to misery, pain, suffering, and imprisonment. We are no longer free.

I have seen several people in my life make poor choices that change the entire course of their life. We are always exercising our agency and that is why we are here. This test that we endure is truly a test of not only our faith and works but also our choices. In this past General Conference Elder Mervyn Arnold said it best when he said, "We are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions."

When we choose to not follow the commandments of God or the words of the prophets we lose vital protection. Without spiritual protection we are left vulnerable to the enticements and influence of the adversary. Again, that is a consequence of our choices and actions. When we invite Satan into our lives, our bodies and our homes we are giving him permission to have power over us. We are giving up our freedom. That great deceiver will have us believe that this is not true. We are in denial that we are following Satan. That is how he works.

Remember - the smallest, quickest choices and actions can invite him in and change our lives forever. A sip of alcohol invites him in, a pornographic image invites him in, a vulgar and offensive movie invites him in, vulgar and offensive music invites him in, distancing yourself from the Lord invites him in. Once he is "in" he makes himself at home. It is subtle at first and you may not even notice for quite a while. Eventually you'll feel something lacking, you will feel depression or sadness or even anger. The only way he can be cast out is by the power of the Lord. Exercising your agency to call on the Lord and committing to follow him again is the only way. As this happens Satan will fight hard to keep his place in your body, mind and home. How hard you are willing to fight will determine the outcome.

How we exercise our free agency grants us certain rights, freedoms and privileges. When we choose the right we are blessed, protected, happy and free. Angels have dominion over us and keep us safe from Satan and his grip. If we have never followed commandments or the words of the prophets or we have abandoned the Lord on His holy day we may not even know how much we are lacking. We may feel that things are just fine and we are happy. Trust me - if you follow the straight and narrow path and commit to following all the commandments you will feel what true freedom is. You be blessed far beyond what you can imagine. This I know to be true - and I say in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who's Side are You on?

The feeling has come over me lately to talk about the importance of defending "all" of the words of the prophet, his counselors, our leaders and the Lord. We can't just pick and choose what we want to agree with - we either follow all the words or we are not on the Lord's side. We need to make a decision who’s side we are on so when the time comes that we are put on the spot or have to make a decision it has already been made.

The right decision isn’t always the popular one. We have to remember do we fear God more than man? Then it doesn’t matter if we are looked down on or less liked by others because we have chosen to defend God. What God thinks is most important not man.

The Lord speaks to His prophets and apostles and the words they speak over the pulpit are His words and what he wants us to hear at this time. When we sustain the prophet and his apostles then we sustain their words as well. If we disagree with the prophet and his apostles then we disagree with the Lord and we are not sustaining His prophet and apostles.

We may be placed in awkward situations where we are confronted by others about our beliefs or values. It is important that we defend what is right and stay true to the gospel. If we are looked down upon for doing so then those relationships with the individuals who mock are not worth maintaining. If we support and sustain the prophet and the Lord, then we must support and sustain their words as well.

Anytime we disagree with the prophet, his counselors and called leaders, then we place ourselves in a dangerous and vulnerable circumstance to be easily influenced by the adversary and swept away in his deceit. If we pray to have an understanding of the words of the prophet, his counselors and our leaders then the Holy Ghost will provide that understanding to us.

In these last days we need to be prepared to stand strong and firm in defending what we believe. It will not be easy and we will not always be popular but we will be held accountable for our actions and how we have influenced others.

The lyrics to the hymn "Who's on the Lord's side?" have been strong on my mind. I think they sum this message up best.

Who's on the Lord's Side?

(1st vs)

Who's on the Lord's side, who?

Now is the time to show

We ask it fearlessly

Who's on the Lord's side, who?

We wage no common war

Cope with no common foe

The enemy's awake

Who's on the Lord's side, who?

(4th vs)

The powers of earth and hell

In rage direct the blow

That's aimed to crush the work

Who's on the Lord's side, who?

Truth, life and liberty

Freedom from death and woe

Are stakes we're fighting for

Who's on the Lord's side, who?

In these last days as they get worse, people will either be on the Lord's side or the adversary's side (even if they don't realize it). There will be no middle. Ask yourself now, "Who's side am I on?" "Do my actions represent the side I want to be on?" Make that choice today so you don't find yourself in a place you don't want to be. I know that by doing so you will be greatly blessed. Remember, there is safety, protection and peace on the Lord's side, something you won't find on the adversary's side. This I say in the name of Jesus Christ amen.