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In 3 Nephi 7, we learn that many were baptized “with water” and such a baptism would be “a witness and a testimony” that they had repented and had received a remission of their sins. 3 Nephi 7:25:

 25 Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.

What else do we do that shows we are disciples of Christ?

When we fast and our children see it is a witness and a testimony to them.

When we sacrifice our time to help our neighbor, it is a witness and a testimony to them that we truly worship our God, for when we “are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17).

When we attend the temple, it is a witness and a testimony that we honor and respect they covenants made therein.

We as Saints are living witnesses and testimonies of Christ, His teachings, and the Restoration of the Gospel.  May we remember that and live as such.

After baptism and confirmation we received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the gift and promise that the Holy Ghost will reside with and guide us at all times as long as we live worthy.  There is not promise that living worthy will be easy, nor will listening or hearing the Holy Ghost but over time, as we become more familiar with the Spirit and how he speaks to each of us, we will be able to distinguish the Spirit from other feelings or distractions.

In addition to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, we can enjoy the accompaniment of angels just as Nephi (3 Nephi 7) did.  He ministered “with power and with great authority” to the people.  He angered some, but they could not disbelieve his words.

But then we learn that he was ministered to by angels DAILY!  Why? Because of his great faith.  3 Nephi 7:18:

18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.

We too can enjoy the companionship of the Spirit and be ministered to by angels if we live worthy and are faithful

Strength and confidence is gained by repentance and humility.  That is one lesson taught in 3 Nephi 4 (verse 33):

33 And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction.

How often have we doubted ourselves because we knew we were not living as we knew we should?  It is through following the Spirit and correcting wrongs in the sight of God and through humility in prayer and fasting that our confidence will “wax strong”.

I have recently thought about me desires and my attempt to do everything.  Unfortunately, I have also recently learned I cannot do everything I want to if I want to do them at high enough levels.  I need to prioritize and pick my battles.

I have also felt ill-equipped personally to really do some things I thought I should be able to do.  Whether it is my recent realization that I am not in as good of shape as I used to be or suddenly filling in for an absent Sunday School teacher is not as easy as it was on my mission.  I then remembered Gidgiddoni’s strategic move to defend against overreaching and instead his focus to prepare the center of his forces.  The Book of Mormon puts it this way (3 Nephi 3:20-21):

20 Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.

 21 But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.

If we prepare ourselves in the center by developing our faith, talents, thanksgiving, by bettering our marriage, fulfilling our spousal responsibilities and picking to only extend ourselves when needed, then the Lord will deliver us.  What a great promise that I hope to always remember and be able to apply to my life.

I started reading 1 Nephi this past week and read 1 Nephi 18:2:

Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.

I couldn’t help but think of all the instructions I have received in my life regarding guidance and instruction.  How many times have we heard the the way the world suggests doing things differently than the Lord would have us do?  Whether it be building a a family or home.  Or regarding secular ideas sex, government, or politics.

While I am unequivocally not a fan of Brigham Young University, it has been recent news that their football program has gone independent and their other sports left the Mountain West Conference and joined the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC).  Many thought this move showed arrogance, envy towards the University of Utah, and was not smart strategically.  They have put themselves in a position of losing relevance in the landscape of College Football and may lose out on major money unless they win (and win big).

This has led some to speculate that University and Church leaders are looking to de-emphasize the importance of athletics at BYU and maybe in the future abandon athletics all together (like they did at BYU-Idaho). At this point, I do not necessarily espouse this position, but it is becoming increasingly clear that BYU leaders (under the instruction of the General Church Leadership) has the goal of building and maintaining a university that is built “not after the manner of men” but “under the manner which the Lord” shows them.

It will be interesting to see what happens to BYU Athletics, especially while viewing it through this lens.

It amazes me how much attention the recent comments from Pastor Robert Jeffress have gotten.  Besides just calling Mormonism a cult, he has denounced other world religions as cults as well, including Islam, Hinduism, Judaism.  While I find these comments disturbing, I find the lack of outrage among the Republican candidates just as disturbing…but understandable.

Most of the Republican candidates fall into Jeffress’ realm of acceptable Christendom and many probably agree with his outrageous comments.  They are also very aware that if they denounce his comments they will lose favor with the people’s votes they are all vying for.

My biggest problem with the recent events and comments (or lack thereof) is not necessarily the substance, but varying and adapted language.  Most of the national media are fixated on the outright bigotry towards Mormonism, but they are missing the underlying message of Jeffress’ comments.  Jeffress and the national media are speaking two separate languages.  For Jeffress a cult is any religion that was founded by and man and not Jesus Christ and he therefor concludes that Mormonism is a cult because it was founded by Joseph Smith and Islam is a cult because it was founded by Mohammed.  However, Mormons true beliefs are that The Church of Jesus Christ was founded by Christ himself and then restored by Joseph Smith as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Just as Martin Luther may be distinguished as the founder of Protestantism or the Englishman John Smyth may be called the founder of the Baptist Church.

Another altered definition that Jeffress is working with is the definition of Christian.  For him, a Christian is not just one who believes in Jesus Christ and believes he is the Son of God and Savior of Mankind, but a Christian is one who, to a large extent, accepts the agreed upon doctrine that the Southern Baptist Convention says is true.

The problem is the media, and much of the country, are speaking a different language than Jeffress.  While his language is clear to much of the South and Evangelicals everywhere, the message is missed by the Mainstream media based in New York and Washington DC.  It is only when the media understands this message and explains it to the masses that the secret agenda of Jeffress and his candidate Rick Perry will show there true stripes: a Southern theologian and politician both illfully prepared for national scrutiny and embarrassing trying to inject religious bigotry in the race for the President of the United States.  And, unfortunately, it just may work.

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