Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Savior is Born

Hello Everyone, and Merry Christmas!

We got snow finally in Ballston Spa, it looked like someone just spilled a bag of powdered sugar on the grass and it was gone by 9:00am BUT IT WAS SNOW NONETHELESS.

Anyways, as promised here are some thoughts on the Christmas Season we're at the height of currently.  I was recently asked to give a Christmas thought at a Mission Christmas Conference that we had, so turning to the Book of Mormon I began thumbing through the pages following the sign in the heavens that the Son of God had been born.  Not finding what I felt was important I continued skimming the pages, going past the signs of his coming, the destruction following his death, and continued on through his ministration to the children of Lehi.  Just before I turned a page, a verse in the bottom corner caught my eye.  It turned out to be the first verse of 3 Nephi 23 which reads:

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search [the writings of Isaiah]. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah."

So I thought to myself "Fair enough" and promptly repeated the process I had begun in 3 Nephi in the book of Isaiah.  Skimming through chapter by chapter, reading the summaries and key verses.  And truly Isaiah's writings are full of testimony concerning the coming of Christ.  Many marvelous words, penned by an ancient prophet, still hold amazing weight to us in our days, and I echo the Savior's request to search diligently the words of Isaiah.  But the search I was on continued chapter by chapter until I reached chapter 40 of Isaiah.  One verse of this messianic chapter stood out to me in bright contrast and turned into the inspiration for the noted Christmas thought and this post.  The verse in question is verse 21 which reads:

"Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?"

I think at one point or another I've described my love for questions in scripture.  I love them.  They sink deep into my hearts and cause reflection upon my actions and understanding.  This particular verse poses 4 questions in rapid succession that can be posed at anybody concerning Christ, or in this case the Christmas Season.  Concerning this Christmas season we could easily modify the questions to the following:

Don't you know the reason we celebrate?

Have you not heard the "glad tidings of great joy"?

Hasn't this message been shared since the beginning?

Have you not sought to understand this message?

In growing depth these questions simply probe as to our understanding of this wondrous season.  It's a great gift that Christmas comes each year and wasn't just a one-time-deal for the reason that it gives us a chance to reflect upon his birth, upon the mortal beginnings of the Son of God.  It is a special time of year that carries with it joy, peace, and love to all those to seek to understand the import of those angelic words spoken millennia ago: 

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men"

Coming to mortal men was their Savior, the one who could bring personal peace, lasting happiness, and indescribable joy.  What tidings could be more joyous and glad?  It is my testimony that this Christmas season is special, but only becomes such as we grow in understanding of our Savior.  This season is special because it's His season.  It's my desire, for me and you, that we will come to feel the joy and love that this Christmas Season has to offer as we draw nearer to our Savior.  Seek him diligently like the Wise Men of old who traveled far to meet their Redeemer, or like the shepherds who made haste to behold the Babe of Bethlehem.

I love you all, and I love this wonderful season and all that it brings with it.  Merry Christmas!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Time

Hello Everyone, it's almost Christmas, but alas there isn't any snow on the ground here in Ballston Spa.  It looks like the Midwest got our share of the snow for this December.  Sorry!

But simply this week I'd like to direct you all to the wonderful videos, music, and inspirational messages that are on the Church's Christmas website this year.  I invite all of you to share a video, or simply remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas by watching the videos and inviting the Spirit to be a part of your life this Christmas Season.  Next week I'll take some more time and type out my thoughts, impressions, and feelings on the Christmas Season.  


My personal favorite video so far has been The Prayer with David Archuleta & Nathan Pacheco

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fasting and Rejoicing

Hello Everyone!  

Snow Report: Still nothing, but it's cold.  

This week I'd like to take a moment to talk about fasting, considering it was for members of the church a Fast Sunday this past Sunday.  While reading in the Doctrine and Covenants I commenced in reading Section 59 which was often referred to as a revelation geared on "instructing the Saints how to keep the Sabbath and how to fast and pray” (Heading to D&C Section 50).  Included in this section are great passages that talk about attending our meetings and the feelings and works we should have and do as we go about this holy day.  

As I was reading, one verse stood out to me that opened my understanding to one of the great side-effects of fasting and prayer:
"Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer." (D&C 50:14)

Now there's a phrase I had seldom seen paired with fasting, rejoicing.  Within the walls of my head there has been a distinct line drawn between going without food and water, and being happy or rejoicing.  In almost all circumstances these two ideas were conflicting and polar opposites in my mind.  But apparently this is evidence of God's ways being higher than my ways.  Fasting, just as with all other things God brings to light or institutes, has a divine and multi-faceted purpose that I had failed to see, or at least failed to comprehend.  

Before this life we had no body.  We had no hunger, thirst, or fatigue.  Fasting as we know it wasn't an option for us.  We didn't have the option to go without food or water because we frankly didn't need the physical requirements necessary for sustaining life.  When we entered this life we suddenly had to cope with all of the problems that accompany a mortal body.  Along with that comes the responsibility to treat it well.  We can see how misuse of these bodies and poor treatment of them can hinder lifespan, physical activity, and happiness.  Fasting is a way for us to maintain control over the base impulses that are intrinsic in all people.  As far as fasting goes, God could have easily made fasting not of food or water, but of Diet Coke or of strawberries or naps.  But not all people have a natural draw to Diet Coke, strawberries, or naps (I certainly do though), so God gave us the law of the fast in such a way as to make this commandment a true sacrifice for all people.  In this way, God wants us to rejoice and have opportunities to overcome the overarching natural man as a way to learn self-mastery for our specific impulses and desires.  Through fasting we are able to learn the stepping stones for greater self-mastery later on.  For if we're not able to give up something as simple, and for many of us within the United States as plentiful, as food and water, how will we ever gain the desire or drive to give up more difficult habits and imperfections?  

Fasting is a truly inspired law, given to us that we might learn how to become more perfected.  Our Father in Heaven wants us to be agents unto ourselves, and has provided many guides and stepping stones for us to learn how to do so.  Truly in strengthening the spirit and gaining self-control we find cause to rejoice.  We are able to "cleanse the inner vessel" to more adequately cleanse the outer as well (Alma 60:23).  I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Elder Gailey

Monday, November 30, 2015

Trust In God

Hello Everyone, surprisingly it hasn't really snowed yet, or at least snowed and stuck.  But the temperature is dropping, and Winter is just about on us.  The good thing is as soon as it starts snowing we can start hoping for Spring to come back!

Today it'd just like to share a short scripture, but one that has stood out to me recently.  It comes out of the 58th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants in which guidance from the Lord is given and many great pearls of wisdom are given, such as the one I wish to focus on today:

31. Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? 

By far one of my favorite styles of writing is the use of questions, either rhetorical or literal.  In this case the question is more rhetoric.  The Lord points out to us that he has fulfilled all his promises.  If we keep his commandments he has promised blessings, and God is ever-faithful.  From Preach My Gospel in Chapter 6 under the Christlike attribute of Hope it says that hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises.  

That is something that this message brings: hope.  We hope for a brighter future, and eventually a perfect brightness as we press forward through the mists of mortality.  It is through this trust in God that our relationship is built.  For without trust, would our actions fall in line with what he has asked?  Likely not.  From this verse I ask myself the question: Do I trust God?  And more often than not I gauge my trust by a review of my actions.  If I trust that God will bless me as I attend church, am I attending church?  Or if I trust god that he will bless me as I pray daily, am I honestly saying earnest prayers daily?  Questions are the basis for growth in knowledge, I feel that some of my earlier posts have highlighted this fact well enough.  But it's these simple questions, and oft-times simple answers that are able to create the necessary course-corrections needed to stay on the straight and narrow, and not wander into broad roads and be lost.  
Take hope that God is capable and remembers the promises he has made.  Surely God commands, but just as surely does God bless those that obey.  This simple fact I know, for it has been the sustaining influences of his blessings that have kept me afloat over the past year, and it is those sustaining blessings that keep us afloat during all of life's tempests.  I hope and pray that you all have a great week, and truly "with joy...draw water out of the wells of salvation." (2 Nephi 22:3)

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Commitments and Goals

Hello Everyone, I wish for this week to simply share some thoughts of mine on one of my favorite quotes that can be found in Preach My Gospel.  

It comes from Chapter 8 entitled "How So I Use Time Wisely?" and reads simply:

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.” 

-Elder M. Russell Ballard

Within our mission we have had a great focus on commitments and covenants and being true to what we say we're going to do.  Looking back I've actually spoken a number of times recently on this topic.  As with almost every skill learned on a mission, goal setting and committing have applications to our lives before and after our missionary service.  If you a truly committed to a goal, little will stop you from finding time and allocating resources to achieve that goal.  But problems arise when we don't want what we want badly enough to sacrifice for it.  If we truly want to understand the scriptures more, we have to sacrifice time that we could use on other things.  If we want to grow closer to our Father in Heaven, we have to sacrifice time to pray to him with "all the energy of heart" as the Book of Mormon puts it.  

In life, we have a finite amount of time to do things that we want to do.  We can't pour ourselves purely into things that can be classified as time-sinks, or hobbies or activities that you can pour endless hours into with the same outcome.  With our time we should strive to be good stewards of the time we have been allotted.  By setting, and most importantly achieving, goals we are able to use that time wisely because we comprehend that we have a need to accomplish a task in a finite amount of time.  If we fail to do so, as Elder Ballard alludes to, we'll fail to use our time wisely and pour a great deal of time into things that do little to help us grow, learn, and progress.  

I know that before my mission, I sunk my time into many things that didn't exactly have the greatest worth, and it's serving now as a wonderful contrast of how well I'm expected to use my time on my mission.  I've mostly overcome my well-honed skill of procrastination (mostly).  But I'm sure the real test lies ahead, as with all of us.  Greater trials of our work ethic and time management skills lie ahead, and I know that as we perform positively we will gain skills and confidence that will surely aid us later in life and in the eternities.  After all, isn't God able to fulfill all of his words?  And should we not strive to do that amongst ourselves with the goals we set for ourselves?  

I hope you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oaths and Promises

Hello Everyone! 

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon with a Recent Convert while I was on exchange with another Elder in the Zone, we read the following passage that stood out to me:

"And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us...and it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake" (1 Nephi 4:33-35)

This passage stands out to me in the fact that all it took to calm Zoram was a promise from Nephi.  A simple verbal commitment was all it took to turn a frightened servant into a loyal friend.  In this scenario Nephi was holding all of the cards, so to speak.  Zoram had no bargaining power or leverage which he could apply on the sons of Lehi.  So why would Zoram take such heart at a simple verbal promise made by a young man?  I think a large part of the reason rests on the fact that in ancient Israel, a man's word was law.  By the testimony of a mere two witnesses, judgement could be passed.  No need for surveillance footage or fingerprinting services back in the days of Zedekiah (barring the obvious reason that there weren't any at the time).  

So the testimony and witness of two men was held as truth, and lest we think Nephi was alone in wanting Zoram to come into the wilderness, there would have at least been Sam who would understand the import of not wanting Zoram to return to Jerusalem.  Here Zoram had two witneses (if not a begrudging witness from Laman and Lemuel as well) that if he went down unto the tent of Lehi, that he would be a free man and no longer a servant.  

When we ponder on the importance of keeping our commitments and promises it's good to remember that the Lord specifically commanded us to not bear any false witness when he gave the 10 Commandments to the children of Israel on top of Mount Sinai.  Our Heavenly Father is perfectly truthful, and can fulfill all of his promises with exactness.  We too must learn, by trial and error in some circumstances, the importance of doing the same.  Honesty is a heavenly virtue.  It is a virtue that was well held by civilizations of old, and must find it's way back into our current culture.  Honesty is a godly virtue, and as such deserves our attention when pondering ways that we can grow closer to the Savior.  

Honesty is one of those Christlike attributes that I've brushed over in the past, but recently I have found great wisdom and insight as I have worked on being honest in my dealings.  I know that great blessings come as we are honest, for in honesty we are being the polar opposite of Satan who was a liar from the beginning.  Let us all be honest.  With honesty, all things are made better.  

I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, November 2, 2015

"I Will Give You The Good of the Land"

Hello Everyone, it's been a surprisingly beautiful Fall week here in Ballston Spa, it hasn't snowed and stuck yet, but it's getting mighty chilly in the nights.  I guess Winter is almost upon us, but that means Spring is just around the corner!


This week I wish to relate a thought that was given in a Ward Council meeting that I was sitting in on once.  At the beginning a spiritual thought was shared by a member of the council in which he shared the a few select verses from Genesis chapter 45.  By way of introduction, now is the time in the book of Genesis when Joseph, the once youngest son of Israel, has been in the land of Egypt for a great many years.  He has worked as a servant in Potiphar's house, been throw into prison for many years, interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, and was overseer of Egypt's food storage program through the 7 years of plenty and is currently managing the stores in the 7 years of famine.  His brothers come from the land of Canaan to purchase food from the Egyptians during this famine.  After revealing his true identity to his brothers and the reunion that followed, Pharaoh commanded Joseph, his second in command, to do a few things in the following verses:

18. And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt,and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

19. Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

20. Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.


Joseph his commanded to get his family and bring them to Egypt.  We likewise are commanded to gather our family, past and present, and join our Father in Heaven.  And in like manner we are commanded to "regard not [our] stuff" for the blessings of heaven are ours.  I know that at the end of the day, the point of this life is to be able to return to live with our Father in Heaven.  It truly is the greatest purpose in heaven to live as a family together in time and eternity.  

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, October 26, 2015

God Gave us Mothers for a Purpose

       

Conference talks are a source of strength and this week I would like to share my thoughts of one talk in particular.  

When Elder Jeffrey R. Holland began to speak about the divine and grand nature of Mothers past and present, my thoughts jumped immediately to my Mother.  I thought of her influence, guidance, protection, time, energy, and forethought that have gone into my life thus far and will continue to be a part of my life even as I grow older and gain 'independence' (though are any of us truly independent of our mothers?).  As I pondered I had to agree with Elder Holland and his assertion "that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child".  When we ponder the love of God for us and the love and understanding that Christ has for us, we're left in sheer awe that a being could possess so perfectly the heavenly attribute of charity.

A moment that struck me deeply was when Elder Holland related the story of a dear friend who was passing from this life to the next.  As part of his musings at the closing of his life he stated that "however painful it is going to be for me to stand before God, I cannot bear the thought of standing before my mother. The gospel and her children meant everything to her. I know I have broken her heart, and that is breaking mine."  I thought about the love of my Mother and the worry I must have instilled and the sorrow she surely felt as I made mistakes throughout my life.  But I know that through these trials and experiences of mine that my mother, in similar fashion to the Savior, "hath borne [my] griefs, and carried [my] sorrows".  Though in this life I don't have my Heavenly Parents standing by my side visible to the mortal eye while I go though mortality, I do have my mother.  In many instances the voice of my Mother has come to me in my mind to lead me aright and keep me on the straight and narrow.  We may pass through this life separated from heaven, but a righteous and diligent mother is the next best thing. 
God gave us mothers for this purpose.

As wonderful as this message came to me, I must again acknowledge that my own mother has likely been impacted even more by this powerful talk.  It has struck me and instilled in me a great respect for anyone who will or is carrying the title of mother.  I use the word 'carrying' very specifically because the job of motherhood never ends.  It is a calling that will continue through the eternities and will form and shape more of God's children into righteous posterity than any other calling aside from the Savior of the World.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Building Bricks Without Straw

Hello Everyone!

A quick update from Ballston Spa: Snow has arrived (shortly).

We got hit by tiny snow flurry yesterday during Gospel Principles, it only lasted 10 minutes, and none of it stuck, but it's only been 6 months since the snow officially stopped.  Winter's knocking at our door again and I'm breaking out the thermals!

This week I wish to share a unique insight that I learned from a talk given by Vaughn J. Featherstone in September of 1986 to students at BYU in Provo.  The talk, with name identical to the title of this post, is centered on a short passage of scripture from the book of Exodus chapter 5:

5. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying,Let us go and sacrifice to our God.


This passage is Pharaoh's immediate response to Moses and Aaron asking to let the children of Israel go into the wilderness to worship their God.  Pharaoh took this as a sign that they had too much free time on their hands and thus in their spare time wanted to go off and worship, so he increased the burdens upon them.  
From the talk by, at the time, Elder Featherstone he introduces the process by which ancient peoples created bricks with the following passage:

"As all of you know, straw is put into bricks and other kinds of mortar or similar materials to cause an adhesiveness to take place. In Moses’ day straw was essential in making bricks that would not crumble and crack when a little bit of pressure was applied."

The children of Israel would be left to gather what stubble and scraps that they could to build bricks, while being required to create the same amount of bricks; an arduous task to be certain.

In his talk, Elder Featherstone asks BYU Students, and by implication all of us, if we are trying to make bricks without straw.  Are we trying to sustain or gain a testimony or conversion to this gospel by using spiritual scraps, or are we using the wonderful resources we have been given to adequately strengthen ourselves and those around us?

We live in a day when great resources are available to those seeking to learn of Christ and of how we can build a great relationship with our God.  We are given scripture, ancient and modern, to aid us in learning of the plan, purposes, and commandments of God.  We are given support by family, friends, and church members alike to lend us straw when we lack, and we also can help those around us in like manner by lending those who use spiritual stubble some straw to strengthen them in times of need.  

I hope that you all have a great week, and continually build your bricks with straw and not stubble.  Then, when pressure is applied, you will withstand and not crumble under the pressure of trial and affliction. 

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are You Here

Hello Everyone!

This week, I'm a little pressed for time, but wish to type out a quick post based upon a picture I took while I was walking around Amsterdam, NY.  While I was on exchange there we took a detour down a little side street, as we were walking down the hill I noticed the billboard in the picture.  Once I saw that billboard, I knew I needed a picture of it.  

What a great question though, "Are you here?"


Are you where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing?  Are you really there, or are you merely in a physical location?  Something I've learned from my Mom is the difference between hearing and listening.  It's easy to hear what someone's saying, but it's a different thing to listen.  Listening is active, it requires work.  So ponder to yourself if you are where you need to be, and if so, if you're really there.  I've learned for myself that it's important to be where you are.  I can't be fantasizing about the future or the past while I'm out on my mission, it merely distracts from the task at hand.  It's a tough lesson that I feel everyone needs to learn at one time or another.  Be where you are, and work with what you have, because from there you can build greater.  

I hope you all have a great week, and enjoy the picture!

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No Neutral Works

Hello Everyone, hope your week is going well.  The weather here is starting to cool off from the 90's to the 70's which is a pleasant change.  But this week I'd like to talk about something most of us are familiar with: Work.

We all know that there is no substitute for good, hard, work.  There's a well known quote, no clue who it's by I don't remember that stuff anymore, that roughly says that hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard.  We can be as talented and gifted as if we fell straight from heaven, but if we don't work hard, we'll lose those talents and others will pass us by on their road to success.  

But today I'd like to talk about good works.  And I'm not going to compare good works and bad works, because the words good and bad already paint an image that is easy to compare.  I'd rather make a more fun comparison: good works and neutral works.  
 
Alma 5:35 reads:

"Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire"

 We are asked as members of the church and as believers in Christ to bring forth good works; to bring forth good fruit.  We're not told to bring mediocre works or C-Grade works.  We're told to bring good works, plain and simple.  Sometimes the Devil leads men the easiest  as he just gets them, not to do bad things, but do just not do the good things.  Instead of holding Family Home Evening a Father could take on extra hours at work to provide more for his family.  A youth could forgo attendance at Seminary so that they can attend study courses before school.  In these situations the latter options aren't bad, they just aren't the best.  

I'll remind you briefly of Dallin H. Oaks' talk in the October 2007 General Conference titled "Good, Better, Best".  He reminds us that sometimes we need to give up the good for the best.  There are many good ways to spend our time, but we only have so much on this earth.  And are the things we're doing now of greatest worth?  Because "time only is measured unto men" we have an obvious need to learn how to prioritize well, else we will reach the end of our lives and find we've missed out on many a good opportunity and we have squandered our potential (Alma 40:8).  

Time management is hard, trust me.  It was one of the toughest lessons I've learned on my mission. But as I've worked hard and refined my use of my time, I've found that I rarely let my head hit the pillow at the end of the day, wishing I had done more.  I know that if we learn to prioritize on bringing good works, rather than neutral works, we will reach the end of our life and just before we enter into our eternal rest, we'll be at peace knowing that we have been good stewards over our time here on Earth.  

I hope that you all have a great week!  I can't wait to write again.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

On My Honor

Hello Everyone!

This week I was waiting for church to start as we had to be there early for a meeting, but were only required to sit in for the first 10 minutes or so.  We went and sat in our usual spot and I grabbed a bible to read for a short while before people began trickling into church.  While perusing the different books I decided upon reading in the book of Ecclesiastes.  

I read the first few chapters and quickly noted that The Preacher was a huge fan of the word vanity, but despised it's connotations.  Looking past the fact that everything is vanity I began reading in the 5th chapter and not too far in I found myself pausing at the 5th verse, which reads:

"Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

What a wonderful tidbit of information.  This short verse packs a similar punch to a parable told by the Savior during his Earthly ministry:

"A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.  Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first."
(Matthew 21:28-31)


Here we have two scriptural accounts, one posed by The Preacher, and one from The Savior.  They both serve to highlight the importance of keeping commitments and being true to your word.  Imagine how idealistic our society would be if everyone were perfectly honest and true to their word.  Nobody would ever bother to lock their doors, nobody would ever be cheated out of a job opportunity, and nobody would have to worry about things not being finished when they are needed.  And if we were perfectly honest and true to our commitments, then we would have no issues keeping the covenants we made at the time of baptism.  

This is where honesty and integrity truly show their worth: when we put them in the context of the eternities.  When we are baptized, we covenant with our Heavenly Father to keep his commandments and live his standards.  We are promising to do what he asks so that he can bless us with happiness and lasting peace.  But unfortunately we are not perfectly honest and true at all times.  But making honesty a habit will aid incredibly in preventing sin, and will make repentance all the easier for us when we do sin and fall short.  We should seek to be true in all of our dealings, encounters, and experiences.  This habit of being honest leaves your shoulders unburdened by the load of lie and deceit.  Seek to be like Nathaniel, a true man "in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47)

To close this post I would like to share a quote from an address at BYU from President Spencer W. Kimball:

"Keep your promises, my young people. Maintain your integrity. Abide by your covenants. Give the Lord, this year and every year, your high fidelity and fullest expression of faith. Do it “on your honor,” and you will be blessed now and forever." (On My Honor, Sept 12, 1978)

I hope that you all have a great week!

Elder Gailey

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Truly Good, and Without Guile

Hello Everyone!

This week I'm taking my title from a recent General Conference talk given by Michael T. Ringwood.  In his talk he focuses on the need to be truly good, and not be persuaded to do good things based upon wanting success or recognition.  He says that we should seek to do "what [is] right for right’s sake rather than for praise, position, power,accolades, or authority."

In seeking to know more about the phrase 'without guile' I turned to the New Testament where Christ himself  says of Nathanael "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"  Being free from guile is a trait praised by the Savior and a trait needed to receive answers to prayers and have the spirit with you at all times.  To better understand guile, we'll turn to an antonymic phrase to study it more closely: real intent.  

Within the Book of Mormon the phrase 'real intent' often appears alongside council regarding prayers and the attitude of prayer.  We are often exhorted to ask and act with real intent (see Moroni 6:8, Moroni 10:4, or 2 Nephi 31:13) and warned against acting without real intent (Moroni 7:6).  Sometimes I feel that we underestimate the power of our deep-rooted motives or desires in how we go about our daily activities.  But we know that God understands the thoughts and intents of our hearts, and we need to do our best to act as Nephi councils with "no hypocrisy and no deception before God" (2 Nephi 31:13).  

We are counseled by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf to be genuine, both in out relationship with God and with man, in his talk "On Being Genuine" in this past General Conference.  He tells the story of Grigory Potemkin who "desperately wanted to impress [several foreign ambassadors]. And so he went to remarkable lengths to showcase [Russia's] accomplishments.

For part of the journey, Catherine [the Great] floated down the Dnieper River, proudly pointing out to the ambassadors the thriving hamlets along the shore, filled with industrious and happy townspeople. There was only one problem: it was all for show. It is said that Potemkin had assembled pasteboard facades of shops and homes. He had even positioned busy-looking peasants to create the impression of a prosperous economy.Once the party disappeared around the bend of the river, Potemkin’s men packed up the fake village and rushed it downstream in preparation for Catherine’s next pass."

We often have to ask ourselves if the image we present to God and man are the true intents of our heart, or is it all a facade to have the impression of being prosperous, happy, or caring?  I echo both Elder Ringwood's and President Uchtdorf's messages of being truly good, and without guile and know that as we come to be more genuine and truly good, that we will have the blessings of the Lord with us always.  Now how one becomes truly good and without guile, is the million-dollar question, but I won't attempt to say that I know how.  Understanding that process is personal to you, and will take much pondering and studying to discover, but I know that God gives answers to those who diligently seek.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week! 

Elder Gailey

Monday, August 17, 2015

The End of an Era

Hello Everyone, 

So I'm currently reading through the Book of Mormon, trying to finish it one more time before I hit my year mark.  Time sure does fly, I'll tell you that.  But as I was reading a little while ago in the book of Jacob, something stood out to me and caught my attention.  In the first chapter of Jacob, Jacob is relating some of the Nephite history since Nephi finished his record and entrusted the plates to his younger brother.  

Verse 12 of this chapter, though short, made me pause and think for quite some time as I was reading.  This verse reads:

"And it came to pass that Nephi died."

That's it.  That's the whole verse.  It's pretty short, but when I read that my mind was captured by the thought of how sorrowful that occasion would have been.  Nephi was the beloved King of the Nephite people.  So loved was he that after his death, all kinds were called after his name, being called "second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings" (v11).  Nephi was a King who delighted in having his people be industrious.  He taught them many temporal things that they might be a hard-working people.  Early in his reign as their king he "did cause [his] people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands" (2 Nephi 5:17).  He sought for their temporal and eternal welfare, to be a blessing and not a burden upon them.  

Nephi was also their mighty protector.  He had "wielded the sword of Laban in their defence", that they might not fall into the hands of their enemies, who had "swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers" (Enos 1:13).  Nephi was a temporal leader and protector to the end of his days.  
  
But more important than a temporal leader, he was their leader spiritually.  One who could speak unto them to protect them from the temptations of the adversary.  He was the one who unfolded the doctrine of Christ and the great plan of redemption to the Nephites.  To his children he unfolded the mysteries of God, that they might have a greater understanding of that God who created them, that they might not be blind like his brothers Laman and Lemuel.  He had the gift of revelation and prophesy and was able to understand and expound the words of Isaiah.  He understood them and their plainness, which plainness is not comprehended by any unless they have the Spirit with them.  He lead them along the rod of iron so that they might enter into the joy of the Lord and have eternal rest.  He labored his days to bring about the immortality and eternal life of his children.  

Within this short verse must have been great sorrow and it must have truly been the end of an era for the Nephite people.  Likely after the death of Nephi, there were few or no others who knew of Jerusalem and the teachings of the Jews.  Nephi's death symbolized the loss of the personal connection with the Israelites, and symbolized that this righteous branch of Joseph was fully broken off.  This short verse hit me with great power and I have come to understand, in part, the greatness of Nephi's reign and ministry.  He was a man who feared God, and loved his fellow man, and was obedient to the end.  He was a man to be used as an example of the type of people we should all strive to become.  I find the last recorded words of Nephi to be exceptionally fitting to his personality, and they showcase the attribute we could learn the most from Nephi:

"For thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey".

I hope that you call can come to appreciate Nephi as the great prophet, protector, and teacher that he was.  I hope that you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, August 10, 2015

Simple Truths from King Benjamin

Hello Everyone!  This week I want to talk about one of my favorite passages in the Book of Mormon, and one for me that has great power.  

In an address to his subjects, King Benjamin gives many great insights to his people concerning a wide array of topics.  From the purpose of life, the importance of the Savior, service, and what I find to be most important, is an exhortation on what to believe to gain the most out of this mortal life.  This powerful exhortation comes in Mosiah Chapter 4 verses 9 and 10.

King Benjamin begins by telling his people to simply "believe in God" and to "believe that he is".  This simple pronouncement of belief tells us of an important gospel truth.  This truth is that God is, not was.  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and believing this will lead to greater understanding of the doctrines and principles of the gospel, as well as a greater understanding of the purpose behind that knowledge.  A belief in God is fundamental to this life.  Knowing that we have a loving Heavenly Father can bring much comfort to this chaotic life.  Sometimes it is the most simple truths and beliefs that can have the most profound impact on a persons life, for it is those key doctrines that are the basis for all others.  

Continuing in his address he bears witness that God "created all things, both in heaven and in earth".  Once we understand that there is a God, and we know that we are his children.  It is important to know that everything that we see around us was created for us.  God did not take a stroll through the universe, find the earth, and say "What a coincidence, I was looking for a place just like this!"  This earth and all we see around us was carefully created, and often we don't admire or pay full gratitude for the things that we see is intrinsic to this mortal life.  We don't question how the laws of physics came into play, we just know that they work.  We often don't notice the great planning and care that went into the most fundamental parts of this universe.  

King Benjamin goes on to give comfort.  I'm not sure about you, but creating a universe is a little out of my range of skills at the current moment.  But knowing the span between the knowledge of man and God, King Benjamin tells his people "that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend".  But nowhere does he say that we can't comprehend, he simply says that we currently don't.  This life is a time for us to learn and to grow in comprehension that we might one day be like our Father in Heaven and live a life like his.  

Knowing of this span between God and man, and knowing that we are upon this earth for the purpose of gaining knowledge, we must come to understand that there is a way prepared for us to bridge the chasm between heaven and earth.  And this is through "repent[ing] of your sins and forsak[ing] them".  It is through repentance and using the Atonement of our Savior that we are able to become like our Father in Heaven.  But this requires us to "humble [ourselves] before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you".  As Jeffrey R. Holland stated: "It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, 'I’ll change'—and mean it".  We have been promised that as often as we repent, we will be forgiven.  

Perhaps the most important part of these two verses is the very last statement made by King Benjamin.  He states boldly that "if you believe all these things see that ye do them".  Knowing that repentance works isn't enough, just as knowing that studying can help you pass a course won't guarantee a good grade.  It takes work to bridge the gap between God and man, but fortunately that's why God has given us an infinite atonement.  God knows that we are fallible, and has laid from the foundation of the world, a plan that will allow every one of his children to return to him, if they exercise their agency and repent.  

I hope that all of you will pay heed to King Benjamin's exhortation.  His words are great and are still applicable to us in these days.  These words and key beliefs have the ability to change every human life.  I know these things to be true.  I love you all, and hope you have a great week!

Elder Gailey

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Be Equal in Strength

Hello World!

So one of my favorite chapters in all of recorded scripture also is one of the most repetitions and monotonous in all of recorded scripture.  If any of you are familiar with the Book of Mormon and it's stories, you are likely familiar with the 77 verse allegory (76 if you remove Jacob's intro to the passage) of the Vineyard recorded in Jacob chapter 5.  

For background, this allegory, recorded by an ancient prophet named Zenos.  It tells the tale of a Lord of a vineyard who repeatedly nourishes, grafts, digs, and dungs a series of olive trees.  Throughout the allegory the efforts of the Lord of the vineyard and his servant are recorded as they try and preserve good fruit, while eliminating the bitter.  This allegory is long and covers a vast sea of topics, themes, and types, but I wish to focus on two verses located in the latter-half of the chapter: 

65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear‍ away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and lose the trees of my vineyard.
66 For it grieveth me that should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will sweep away the bad out of my vineyard.
(Jacob 5:65-66)

These verses highlight an important attribute of this mortal life.  That attribute is simply that the Lord's will for us is to grown in strength, experience, and spiritual maturity.  But in order to accomplish this goal, there must be an opposition.  Just as weight-lifting achieves no purpose in zero-gravity, so too does life lose it's purpose if there is no opposition.  

In the allegory, the Lord of the vineyard commands his servants to remove the bad branches only as the good branches are able to have strength sufficient.  The Lord has promised us that he will not tempt us above that which we are able to overcome (1 Cor. 10:13).  And so in this allegory, Zenos outlines that the Lord will let us struggle and grow in strength, so that we can become as a tree planted with firm roots and strong branches.  

I believe I have spoken a bit on the need for opposition, for without it we cannot grow.  Remember that it takes no effort to be a loser, or to stay at a low level.  Face those encumbering trials around you and know that God will clear them away as you grow in strength to face them.  I know that the Lord gives us strength sufficient for all trials we endure, all according to the faith that we have in him.  So endure with faith and press forward, knowing that there is a land of paradise ahead.  
I hope that you all have a great week!
Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Family History

Hello Everyone, lets talk about Family History for a moment.  

Today I'd like to honor my namesake, my Great Great Great Grandfather John Gailey. His life and stories from it stand as a testimony to me of the power that comes from a sincere testimony and understanding of Christ and his divinity. He was a man with a strong testimony, who knew his Savior, and who loved those around him. Though I never knew him, the stories I have been told have shaped him to be a great man in my eyes and one that I seek to emulate.  

A verse from Helaman chapter 5 rings in my ears when I learn of my namesake:

"Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land...and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good." (Helaman 5:6)

Great spiritual strength and understanding can come of family history work.  You gain a greater understanding of the power of the Atonement of Christ, and learn great stories that lead up to who you are and where you are.  We should all seek to "sufficiently [retain] in remembrance the captivity of [our] fathers...and...[retain] in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them". (Alma 5:6)

If you aren't currently doing family history, set yourself a goal to find just one more name that you could prepare and archive.  Or you could begin your own history of your current family.  You could save pictures, stories, and journal entries for future generations, that they might be able to remember you when your time is over on this earth.  

I may not have time to do family history while on my mission, but I'm very grateful for those that have gone before me and paved the way that I might do what I am on this earth do to.  

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, July 20, 2015

Member Missionary Work

Y'ello Everyone!

So this week I gave a training alongside my new companion, Elder Holt, on the importance of working with the members.  Now if you're reading this blog, chances are that you're not a full-time missionary with the nametag and white handbook.  So this week I'd like to just share some of the insights that we shared as a part of out training.

The first that I would like to share is a quote by Elder Quentin L. Cook, which reads:

What we desperately need is for member-missionary work to become a way of life—for the Savior’s mandate to share the gospel to become part of who we are.

(Quentin L. Cook, "Be a Missionary All Your Life", given as a BYU Devotional March 2007)

What I love about this quote is that Elder Cook stresses the importance of making missionary work a way of life.  In this quote he implies that member-missionary work is far more than just occasionally going out with the missionaries or giving a referral to them every now and then.  True member-missionary work is shown every day, not just on the days when the missionaries ask for assistance.  It's living in such a way that our testimony is visible, not just something that we say.  

As you all live your lives, stop for a moment an consider whether you share your testimony in everything that you do, or whether you just share it during fast and testimony meetings at church.  A testimony is a terrible thing to keep to yourself, and sometimes the most powerful testimony is the one that requires no words to be spoken.  

Another point on member-missionary work is to show just how awkward missionary work can be at first.  I'm not going to lie, being a missionary is weird.  You talk to a lot of people about a subject that many people avoid talking about in public.  It can be weird talking about religion to a stranger or to a friend if you've never done it before.  But as with anything, the more you practice the less-awkward it becomes.  In an article titled "Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel", which I would recommend everyone read, Elder Clayton M. Christensen gave this piece of wisdom concerning sharing the gospel:

The ability to share the gospel isn’t “gift” that has been given to only few Latter-day Saints and denied to the rest. We have concluded from our own experiences and from watching others that finding people for the missionaries to teach can be easy and natural for all‍ of us—if we go about it the Lord’s way.

Missionary skills aren't restricted to missionaries.  The same skills and gifts of the spirit that are available to the few that wear the tags are available to every member of this church.  Spreading the gospel can become natural, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and try spreading the word of God.  I remember the first few weeks as a missionary.  They were awkward and full of mistakes and mishaps.  There's a definite learning curve, but the more I worked at it, the better I got.  Soon enough, talking to people on the streets or on their front porches became second nature.  And though I still have some fears, many of the large ones have been swept away in the joy of sharing the gospel.  

I just want you all to know that missionary work brings great joy, but I can tell you that all day and it wont change your life.  What will is if you have faith in the promises of the Lord and try sharing the gospel.  Prove the Lord and see if he wont bless you and aid you in this righteous goal.  I love you all, and hope that you discover or rediscover the joy in spreading the gospel. 

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Introspections Insights

Hello Everyone!


So I'm safely in Ballston Spa, New York now and life is going great.  I'm pretty much all unpacked and I'm getting used to my new routine.  The people here are great, but I want to move on to one of my favorite subjects as of late: introspection.  

in·tro·spec·tion

noun
The examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes.

There's the definition of introspection if you quickly type 'define introspection' into Google.  I wish to propose a great scriptural definition of introspection that comes from the book of Haggai in the Old Testament.  Now some of you  may think to yourselves "is that actually a book in the Old Testiment?"  Yes, yes it is.  And it's pretty short and it's not an oft quoted book, but in the first chapter there is some amazing wisdom from the Lord given to Haggai in a very short phrase which reads:

Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:5)

Consider your ways.  What an excellent piece of advice from a loving Heavenly Father.  We are, just as Haggai, admonished to consider our actions and by connection to consider everything that makes the person we look at in the mirror.  Why would the Lord want us to consider who we are and why we are ourselves?  Simply because if one does not understand where one is in relation to God, one cannot possibly make lasting progress in becoming like God.  We are commanded to "be ye therefore perfect" by the Savior (Matt 5:48).  But if we don't adequately understand our own mortal state and the flaws that are inherent within each of us, how can we possibly become perfect.  

Imagine for a moment this scenario.  A college student near the end of the semester walks into one of his classes for an English final.  He sits down and begins to write his essay.  For over an hour he writes based on the generic prompt in front of him about the book he has spent weeks pouring over.  From a stack of blank papers this student produces a long, well written, essay.  He confidently turns in the paper to his professor and leaves the classroom, certain of his upcoming achievement.  Days go by and the professor has finished grading the papers.  The students gather to see their scores and congratulate one another on their success.  But when our fine student sees his grade his is dismayed to find that he has scored far lower than he thought he should.  Filled with a mixture of agitation and incredulity he meets with his professor shortly thereafter and inquires of the reason for his poor performance.  The professor sits him down and explains that the reason for his poor score was that his essay had been written on the wrong book.  The class had required a reading of one book that was supposed to be the basis for the essay, and he used another of his own choosing.  The rubric and scoring was designed for the book specified by the teacher.  And though the student wrote excellently, he has missed the mark.  Though he had worked, he had failed to work hard on what truly mattered.  

So our lives can be if we do not take time to ponder how our actions and works will be graded upon at the day of judgment.  We can spend our lives doing work that ultimately misses the mark on what this life is meant for.  Too often in our lives we can become consumed by the miniscule and become lost in the thick of thin things.  If we do not take time to ponder where we are in relation to the eventual judgment that will take place, we can finish our lives feeling confident that we have done well, but are in for a rude awakening when we are brought before the judgment bar and measured to the only scale that matters in the eternities.  My hope is that all of you will 'consider your ways' and see if they are the Lord's ways.  Follow his footsteps instead of making your own trail.  

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey