Monday, March 25, 2013

Powerful Testimony of Christ

I accidentally came across this video while looking for something else. I'm glad I did. This man's story is absolutely incredible! It's powerful and amazing and makes me want to do a better job sharing the gospel and serving the Lord. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stake Conference

We were privileged to have Gene R. Chidester of our area Seventy preside over our stake conference this weekend. The constant message was missionary work.

Last night at the adult session it was very interesting to listen as Elder Chidester spoke from promptings of the Spirit only. He would tell us that the Spirit has just prompted him to tell us something and then he would say it, and then from there be guided by what the Spirit wanted him to do or say next.

During the last 15 minutes he opened it up to a Q&A to the congregation and passed around microphones. One of the things he encouraged the entire congregation to do was to Google the Wentworth Letter and to read it. He mentioned that it contains fulfilled prophecy for our time. The Wentworth letter is a letter that was written by Joseph Smith to "Long" John Wentworth, editor and proprietor of the Chicago Democrat. He quoted this excerpt from it:

Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, the East Indies, and other places, the standard of truth has been erected: no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.

Here is a link to the letter

I have a strong desire to be a part of missionary work every day of my life. This blog is a great way for me to do that, and I so much enjoy sharing my testimony here often. I pray that this letter will touch and impress the Spirit upon those who read it. The words in it are true as I have felt for myself. This I say in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Group Petitioning the Church

I heard about this on the news this morning. The reporter said that this was planned just in time for April General Conference. Just to make sure I heard right, I did an online search and found this website, which is brand new.

This is a new group that just sprang up and they are seeking for women to be ordained to the priesthood. I've had a feeling over the last couple of months that this year we would be seeing and hearing about something like this just because of recent similar stories.

If you get a chance, read their FAQ page and I'd love to hear your thoughts. I personally am not seeking to have the priesthood nor would like to petition the leaders of the church for changes regarding any issues. I've always been happy and content with how things are and I trust that the Lord has set up His church the way He has for a reason, even if we don't understand.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Confessions of a Mormon Bishop

I absolutely loved this! I'm not a bishop but I feel this way right now about my current calling. Tonight while serving in my calling as Relief Society Activity Chair I experienced many feelings of inadequacy and was very humbled. One of the speakers at our activity tonight spoke about this very topic - how we always wonder "why me?" there are so many more qualified people. The truth is, we are where we need to be so we can grow how we need to grow.

I loved hearing this from a bishop's point of view. This is a must read!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bishop's Message

In church today we had a combined third hour with the Relief Society and the Priesthood. I felt so blessed to have been there, on the front row listening to the bishop's message of warning.

Having been recently out of town, having sick children, subbing a lot for primary and serving in the primary all last year, I was very fortunate to have been able to attend all three meetings today and hear the wonderful and eye opening messages that were shared. 

The second hour (Sunday school) was all about missionary work and how it is that stone rolling down the mountain. A brother spoke of a mission that currently has 60 missionaries and is expected to triple over the next few months. Another sister mentioned that around 150 or so missions have recently opened up and now women consist of 50% of the mission field where they used to be closer to 14% or somewhere around that number. It's amazing.

Our Sunday school teacher said that today the field is white and ready to harvest more than ever before, and the Lord has already sowed the seeds, we just need to do the harvesting. I was reminded of a conversation I had with my brother last week. He served his mission in Ireland about 14 years ago. He said that it was a tough mission and he only had about two prospects interested in the gospel the entire time. He felt bad that he didn't have the success he had hoped for.

Well, a few months ago he had a dream one night that he was called to go on another mission in which he would bring many souls unto the Savior and there would be many baptisms. When he woke up he figured it was a dream foretelling of a time when maybe his kids were grown and gone and he and his wife could serve a mission together. Then, two weeks later he was called as the ward mission leader. He lives in Spanish Fork. Over the last few months of serving in this calling he has found many people in his neighborhood who he has invited to meet with the missionaries - four of them have been baptized. So, two years in a foreign land with no baptisms and three months in his own neighborhood with four baptisms - amazing! He said that it has been very rewarding and enriching to serve in this calling and he finally recognized that this was the mission his dream had foretold of.

In these last days (or hours as we might call them) gathering everyone to Zion is the ultimate focus and goal of the church. People are ready and the Lord is preparing them to hear His gospel. I feel that the many great trials that are on their way will be what softens the hearts of many and prepares them to hear and accept the gospel.

We have these opportunities all around us every day and if we have the desire to serve, than we have already been called.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 sums it up perfectly;

 Now behold, a amarvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
 Therefore, O ye that embark in the aservice of God, see that ye bserve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand cblameless before God at the last day.
 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are acalled to the work;
 For behold the afield is white already to bharvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in cstore that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
 And afaith, bhope, ccharity and dlove, with an eeye single to the fglory of God, gqualify him for the work.
 Remember faith, avirtue, knowledge, btemperance, cpatience, dbrotherly ekindness, fgodliness, charity, ghumility, hdiligence.
 aAsk, and ye shall receive; bknock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

During the third hour the bishop stood and said that he has been recently warned by the Lord that something drastic is about to happen and he has been prompted to prepare our ward temporally and spiritually as quickly as possible like never before. His eyes and expression were intense, and he didn't appear happy to be delivering this message. He didn't say if it was something local, national or global but just that he hoped these warnings were wrong. 

After he spoke, there were three additional speakers who spoke about how to get our ward prepared for what is coming. Our ward is a new ward of only three months. In the past wards I have been in, there were efforts to prepare the members but not as quickly and as intense as this. We quickly were told about a plan to divide the streets into sections of 6 households with a priesthood brother as a block captain and that each unit will be in charge of helping each other when the crisis hits. We are going to have several upcoming meetings to take inventory of everyone's skills and supplies so that we can help take care of each other and know our resources.

The messages continued on the path that all will not be well soon and we need to be ready for things to get worse and worse. This is what it took for my husband to finally be willing to discuss these things with me. He usually despises talking about the last days, warnings and what's coming - but now he is finally on board with me and I'm grateful for the message of warning that our loving bishop shared with us today. I feel blessed to be living in a ward with so many members who are in tune to the spirit and who have a desire to help everyone prepare. My heart yearns to become a more Zion like people and I'm ready serve, love and give all I have for the building up of Zion. 

I love this gospel, I love the Savior and I love trusting in God and seeing His hand in all things in my life. I'm striving to be more like the Savior and extending love and compassion to all. I know what awaits us will be bitter sweet - but I am willing to deal with the bitter in order to enjoy the sweet.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Stake President's Wake Up Call to Members

A friend of mine that lives out of state and who I haven't talked to in months called me out of the blue the other day and told me about this amazing stake conference a friend of hers attended, I believe in Bountiful. Her friend forwarded the Stake President's talk to her and I asked her if she could forward it to me. 

This was very recent just a few weeks ago, and after reading it I was very awakened - so to speak. It's just another confirmation of what we already know but when it comes from the mouth of a stake president over the pulpit, it hits a little closer to home.  

Now, realize that this talk was written for the members of this particular stake. This is not from the first presidency of the church - still it's a wonderful talk, that I felt inspired to share.

I copied and pasted it straight from the email, so I appologize about the large, bold and bright red fonts. I'd love to hear your thoughts, or if you attended this meeting.  

Mon Feb 04, 2013 

On Sunday we had the best stake conf I've ever attended.

The Stake President was the concluding speaker.

Below is his talk exactly as he emailed it to me today. Sorry for the length but there was nothing I could cut out of it. It was that good.

Stake Conference General Session Talk: 2/3/13 President De Visser 

My dear brothers and sisters, it has been a wonderful conference weekend. I have been inspired by those who have shared their stories and testimonies. I have been equally inspired by the music. I have learned that it is not an easy thing to plan a stake conference. Much fasting, prayer, and deliberation go into it and I have felt the spirit of the Lord guide me in selecting our speakers and topics.

I express my appreciation to those who have participated. The spirit of the Lord has been with us in abundance, and I pray that it will continue to be with us as I now address you.

Another year has come and gone, but not just any year – it was the year 2012. A year about which much was speculated, predicted, and some would even argue prophesied. And while the most discussed prediction or prophecy – that of the Mayans concerning the end of the world – did not come to pass, I feel and believe that 2012 will still prove to be one of the more significant years in our life time.

Let’s take a moment and look back at a few things that happened in 2012:- Gaza fired missiles on Jerusalem causing heightened unrest in the Middle East - The Director of the CIA, a man considered to be of the highest moral integrity, resigned due to improprieties and adultery- The UN Ambassador was instructed by the White House to cover up what happened in Libya, attempting to minimize the deaths of four Americans who were murdered- There was an attempt to raise taxes during the worst economic times since the great depression- Hurricane Sandy, called the “perfect storm” hit the east coast causing great devastation- Iran became closer to a nuclear weapon- The use of marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado- Some states legalized same sex marriage- 23 states began a petition to secede from the nation- Russia strengthened its coalitions with North Korea and Iran- Forces aligned to stop school prayer, but allowed the handing out of birth control- The government used tax dollars to fund abortions- Examples of violence, gambling, drug misuse, and infidelity were more prevalent than ever- Hollywood promoted parenthood without marriage.
Education scores of our youth plummeted to their lowest levels ever- And finally, we were brought to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
In my opinion, the first 30 days of 2013 have proven to be the same. In fact, my head is spinning at all of the insanity and craziness that is happening in the world. Now, I want to make it clear that it is not my intent today to be controversial, political, or even dire. My intent is to state the facts as I see them, as the Stake President, having been moved upon by the Holy Ghost. When I speak from this pulpit as the Stake President, the primary intent of my voice is one of love and compassion, but I also have an obligation to use my voice as a warning when it is necessary. Today is a day when I choose to use it primarily as a voice of warning hoping you will realize and understand that it is in love and compassion for you that I do. 

Each of us has our agency and we are free to act for ourselves. We are agents unto ourselves and each of us is free to take what I say as he or she will. You may choose to disagree with me. You may even choose to ignore me, but I have been impressed by the spirit to say what I must say. Never in my life have I witnessed a more stark difference between good and evil than I did in 2012. Never has there been a greater moral, economic, or political decline in society, than there was in 2012 and over the last few years. These climates combined, were as bad in 2012 as they have ever been in the history of the world. The current moral condition of our world and country reminds me of the condition described in Helaman, chapter 5, verse 2, and I quote:

For their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening with destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.” 

In 2012 the voice of the people spoke loudly and clearly as it chose: 
- Socialism over capitalism
- Entitlements over free enterprise
- Redistribution and regulation over self reliance. 

Unfortunate as it is, this should not come as a surprise to any of us who have spent the better part of our lives as members of this church. The scriptures and the prophets have warned us for hundreds of years, and have been trying to prepare us for this time. The scriptural and modern-day prophesies we have read and heard throughout our lives are no longer prophesies to us – they are now our living reality.

Let me take a moment and share with you a few of the scriptural and modern-day prophesies and quotes that I find interesting and revealing.
First, on November 9th, 2012 ( just a few months ago) the First Presidency issued the following statement:

 “We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people.” 

The most glaring part of this statement, to me, is the acknowledgement from our prophet and the First Presidency that we are living in difficult and turbulent times.

Now, listen carefully to these two quotes. To me, these quotes are fascinating, and they reflect the ability of our leaders to see and predict the future. In 1976 (this statement was made over 35 years ago) while serving as a President of the Seventy, Neal A. Maxwell said the following: 

I fear, that, as conditions worsen, many will react to the failures of too much government by calling for even more government. Then there will be more and more lifeboats launched, because fewer and fewer citizens know how to swim. Unlike some pendulums, political pendulums do not swing back automatically; they must be pushed. History is full of instances when people have waited in vain for pendulums to swing back”.

In 1966 (this statement was made over 45 years ago) while serving as an apostle, Howard W. Hunter said this:

The government will take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” [When this happens] Both have lost their freedom. Those who “have,” lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who “have not”, lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got “something for nothing,” and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift”.

Now I quote from 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1-4:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”.

Sound familiar? 

It does to me, and as the Stake President, I not only see it happening throughout the world, but I also see it happening right here in our stake. These conditions described by Paul concerning the wickedness of the last days, are being realized right before my very eyes. 

As the Stake President, I see and hear all manner of sin – violence, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, and immorality of every kind. I believe there are not many things left for my eyes to see and my ears to hear. Evil is escalating at an alarming pace even here at home. Just as the Savior prophesied concerning the conditions in the world that would precede his Second Coming: “iniquity does abound, the love of men does wax cold” (JS-Matt. 1:30) and “all things are in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts do fail them, for fear has come upon all people” (D&C 88:91).

I now quote Elder Bednar in a talk he gave one day after the tragic events that occurred only 45 days ago in Connecticut.

He said:

We live in a world that grows increasingly confused and chaotic - ever more evil and dark. Nothing could have emphasized that truth more than the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Connecticut.” 

With his comments, Elder Bednar also quoted recent comments made by President Packer, who said

“The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace.” 

Now, pay close attention to this next sentence brothers and sisters – President Packer said: 

“I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.” 

President Packer goes on to say: 

“I know of nothing in the history of the Church, or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, and even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now, they are spread across the world, and they are among us”.

Brothers and Sisters, as I said last year during Ward Conferences –we are in the count down.” 

Again, I say to you, that the scriptural and modern-day prophesies we have read and heard all throughout our lives are no longer prophesies to us – they are now our living reality.

If there was ever a time in the history of the world for a people to wake up, pay attention, and get it together – now is that time. 

This is a defining moment for us, and we cannot delay. We need to get our temporal and spiritual houses in order. It is a must. Difficult times are still ahead and we need to be prepared.

In my opinion, the last 5 years have put us on notice, and they should serve as a wake-up call in both temporal and spiritual matters.All throughout my life I have been counseled by our church leaders to live within my means and get out of debt. In fact, there was no topic talked about more by President Hinckley, during his time as the Prophet, than living within our means and getting out of debt. As I look back on the last 5 years, it is no wonder to me why he did. We experienced the worst economic, political, and spiritual times in the history of our country, and even globally. 

The words of President Packer during his visit to our stake 4 years ago still ring loudly in my ears when he mentioned this topic and warned us, by saying: “This time is different. We have not experienced this in the past. This time it is global, and it will be deeper and last longer than anything we have economically and spiritually experienced.”

Today, it is easy for us to reflect upon his words and know that he was right. Many of us would be better served today if we had taken his warning more seriously. 

For example, from 2008 to 2009 our stake experienced a 150% increase in welfare assistance to its own members. That assistance stayed about the same during 2010 and 2011. In 2012 we saw some improvement, and I am happy to report that we are now only 70% above our pre 2009 level of assistance.

While there are some of us who could have done better, all in all, I commend you brothers and sisters. We are one of a few stakes in the entire church that remained a Fast Offering Giver rather than a Fast Offering Receiver during this time – meaning that we were able to meet the temporal needs of our own members and still have a surplus to pass on to the church to assist other stakes. 

I also want to commend you for following the counsel of your priesthood leader to prayerfully consider a more generous Fast Offering. It is overwhelming to me that during this temporal meltdown you have risen to the occasion and given more generously. I am very pleased to report that over the past 4 years our fast offering contributions have increased by 11%. This is amazing, especially since we now have 1,000 members less in our stake than we did in 2008. So, I thank you brothers and sisters. You are wonderful and I promise the Lord will continue to bless you as you continue to give generously.

Now, while temporal and economic conditions appear to be getting somewhat better, 

let us not kid ourselves about what is really going on. 

Any improvement is only temporary

and the conditions we have experienced 

over the last 5 years will eventually and certainly return, 

and even get worse. 

Let us not forget the last 5 years, and let us learn from it. Let us all finally follow the counsel of our prophets to live within our means and get out of debt. It is possible to get out of debt if we live within our means, but it is not if we don’t.

Now, not only is temporal preparedness vital for our mortal existence, but it also sets the stage for us to be spiritually prepared. The most important matter for us to consider right now and always is our spiritual preparedness.

Over the past 4 years, it has been a wonderful exercise for me to call upon the Lord for guidance and direction concerning this stake, and in particular the setting of stake goals. It has been an interesting evolution to witness. Let me share with you part of a statement we prepared for all of us this year (a copy of which can be obtained from your bishop):“As the Stake Presidency discussed, pondered, and prayed about our stake goals for 2013, we were impressed by the feeling that goals should be a matter of focus and commitment at a personal level.

In conjunction with this direction, we encourage each individual member to set their own goal based on the following question:What goal can I make that will bring me closer to the Savior?

Let me repeat: We encourage each individual member to set their own goal based on the following question: What goal can I make that will bring me closer to the Savior? We trust that as you prayerfully consider and ponder this question, it will be clear to you what your goal should be.

We also testify that your personal commitment and discipline to fulfill this goal will indeed bring you closer to the Savior and will give you spiritual strength to remain firm and steadfast in the gospel regardless of the circumstances.

We are impressed to share with you one goal you might consider, as you ponder the question: What goal can I make that will bring me closer to the Savior?

Spend time each day reading and studying the Book of Mormon.

Two others which are not in the statement but which I would like to also suggest are: 
1) Don’t let a day go by in your life when you do not humbly and sincerely kneel before God to thank Him for your blessings and plead with Him to give you the spiritual strength to meet the challenges which are coming.

2) Perform a spiritual self examination. Examine every aspect of your life. Identify those things for which you need to repent and then do it. Simply put, focus on your own personal worthiness.

In the end, the only things that will matter will be our personal worthiness and our relationships, especially the one we have with the Savior. 
Brothers and Sisters, President Packer was absolutely right when he said: “I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.” As difficult as it may be to embrace, it is simply God’s plan. The moral, economic, and political conditions of the world will not, overall, get better. 

You and I were held back for this special time to prepare the earth for the return of 

the Savior. I believe many within the sound of my voice will be part of, and 

witnesses to, all of the events that will transpire prior to the return of the Savior. 

This will require each of us to be temporally and spiritually stronger than we are 


In closing let me share a quote from Heber C. Kimball:

The time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to the extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint, from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brothers and sisters, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a TEST, a TEST is coming, and who will be able to stand?"

This church and each member of it has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to be temporally and spiritually prepared, and have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. 

The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess these things will fall.” Brothers and sisters, the test has come. It is now upon us. No man or woman will be able to endure what is happening now, or what is ahead, if we are not temporally and spiritually prepared. If you are not, you will not stand.

I love you brothers and sisters. I testify to you that I speak the truth. I have a personal witness of the Savior and I know that He lives. He is the Son of Almighty God. He will return in glory and He will sustain us through the difficult times ahead if we do our part and are temporally and spiritually prepared. And, I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.