Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Be the Leaven

Hey there Everyone, hope your week is going well!

So this week I wish to talk about one of my favorite parables from the Gospel of Matthew.  It's a pretty short one, but I've come to love it recently as I've been studying the importance of doing good and being good at all times. The parable comes from Matthew 13 verse 33, which reads:  "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."  

So I love this short parable, one because it references baking bread which is one of my favorite things, and it also references what we as people should strive to do as we go about our mortal probation, which is simply to uplift the world.  To "lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Preach My Gospel, p168)

A message similar to this one was the basis for the General Conference address by Sister Linda K. Burton where she spoke of the importance of lifting one another in our families. One of the quotes that she used from Elder Robert D. Hales has stuck with me recently, which goes as such:

"Thee lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll ascend together"  
 (Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty,” Ensign, May 1999)

Within our society we should be looking to help uplift those around us.  Many of our spirit brothers and sisters are worn down and wearied by the world.  They are in need of our support and any strength we can lend.  When Christ was upon the earth he came to serve, not to be served.  And if we desire to live a life like Christ's we should go about doing things as he would do them. 

I would challenge each of you to be the 'leaven' in society that will lift those around you.  We are all striving towards creating Zion, but the people in that glorified city didn't become that way because of one person living a Christ-like life.  Zion was created as every member of that society lifted one another until they were brought up in their glory. 

Look for at least one person that you can uplift this week.  Look for someone that may need a kind word, or some assistance that you could gladly render.  What small act of service you render may make the world for someone else, never underestimate the power of simple acts of kindness, for it is upon simple acts that we gain our salvation and "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).
I wish you all the best, and I can't wait to write again next week!
Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Because they knew not..."

Hey there everyone!

I thought this week I would talk for a little while about Laman and Lemuel, specifically from one lesson that I learned from them.

It has been pointed out to me, and I would now like to point it out to you if you didn't know, that every character in the Book of Mormon is either an example, or a warning.  To list a few examples there is Nephi, Nephi, and Nephi.  They're all great men with unshaken faith in the Lord.  And those are Nephi son of Lehi, Nephi son of Helaman, and Nephi son of Nephi; respectively. 
Some examples of prime warnings to us are Korihor, Nehor, and of course the subject of today's blog, Laman and Lemuel. 
We often look at Laman and Lemuel and see their story as almost comedic.  There is the oft repeated cycle in the 1 Nephi where a trial comes, Laman and Lemuel murmur, Nephi shows faith and works miracles, and Laman and Lemuel repent for a short while before murmuring again about some other inconvenience.

I have often wondered how and why Laman and Lemuel could be so hard in their hearts that even a visitation of an angel wasn't enough to set them on the right path.  To cover the how, lets turn to the very beginning of 1 Nephi, beginning in Chapter 2, Verse 12:

"And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them."

This scripture was one that I have missed many a time while reading the beginning of 1 Nephi.  But it tells where Laman and Lemuel made their grave error in their path to salvation.  They strayed so far from the 'straight and narrow' because they had disregarded the teachings of the prophets and the testimonies of the future birth of Christ.  And while this is how Laman and Lemuel became warnings, I find the why to be even more intriguing. 
We learn about the all important 'why' to Laman and Lemuel's actions in the 17th Chapter of 1 Nephi.  Amidst Nephi's obedience to build a ship, Laman and Lemuel in their usual fashion come and mock Nephi's righteous example, seeking to tear him down even to being "exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when [Laman and Lemuel] saw that began to be sorrowful they were glad in their hearts".
In the rebuttal to their mocking attitude, Nephi drops some doctrine on his brothers from the Plates of Brass.  In verses 26 and 51 of the above chapter Nephi states:

Now ye know that Moses was commanded of the Lord to do that great work; and ye know that by his word the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground."

And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that should build ship?"
I find there are two things to be learned from these short passages.  One is that Laman and Lemuel were not completely ignorant of the past.  They understood and even believed that Moses, Abraham, and Jacob were men that were called of God and performed many great and miraculous things.

In the second item to note we see that Laman and Lemuel, despite their belief in the books of Moses, believed that the works of God were merely a thing of the past.  They did not, and it seems that they could not, believe that God was still a god of miracles. 
A lesson to be learned from this is to never put the things of God in the past.  Don't restrict your belief in God to that of a partially loving or partially powerful deity.  If we desire to not be like Laman and Lemuel, believe that God is, not that God was.  Understand and study the scriptures with the mindset that if "the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men," he can still do so today.  Equally important with the worship of God is having the understanding of who it is we worship.  I exhort you to focus this week on growing in understanding of who you worship.  Know who your Heavenly Father is, because without understanding who your God is and his manner of working among us, your worship is misplaced much like Laman and Lemuel's. 
It has become my firm testimony, and I use the phrase become because I did not always know this, that God is our ever-loving Heavenly Father.  He perfectly understand us and our struggles.  Just as he has worked in the past, he is working in the present, and throughout the remaining time on this earth, he will be working among the children of men as they are faithful in keeping his commandments. 
I hope and pray that you all have a great week, and I'll speak to you again next week!
Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, April 6, 2015

He Lives

Hello Everyone!

So this week, I would like to do something a little different.  Seeing as how it was both Easter Sunday and General Conference this weekend.  I would like to issue you all a mini challenge for this upcoming week. 
The challenge is as such:  Follow the link below and watch the video "Because He Lives".  I would then like for you to find two things.  One is a quote or a story from General Conference pertaining to the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ.  The second is a story from your own life, or a testimony of Christ's Atoning power.  Once you have both of those things, I would challenge you to post on Facebook or a personal Blog, the video, quote, and story/testimony for the world to see.

I find it so amazing to hear how the Atonement of Christ has enabled people to become better humans.  But I find it more amazing when I see and hear of people sharing those stories so that others can partake of the joy that is available to all of our Heavenly Father's children. 
I would like to just bear my short testimony of the power in the Atonement.  It allows us not just to change those negative portions of ourselves, but it also enables us to enhance the positives.  The purpose of this gospel is to make bad men good, and good men better.  I know that the Atonement can work miracles in your life.  There isn't a day that goes by when you can't use the Atonement, and not a day goes by when you shouldn't use it.  You can never repent too much or show too much gratitude for what the Savior has done.

Because He Lives: http://www.mormon.org/easter

I love you all, and hope that you had a wonderful weekend!
Love, Elder Gailey

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Roots and Branches

Hello Everyone!

So this week I thought that I would share a scripture that caught my eye during my most recent read-through of the Book of Mormon.  I think that most of us know of the great allegory of the tame and wild olive trees in the 5th chapter of Jacob.  Some of us love the chapter and the great insights into the mind of our Heavenly Father.  Others look at it as a trudge though a never-ending series of grafting, digging, pruning, and dunging.  I personally love this allegory, and so does Jacob as it appears.

After relating this 77 verse parable to the Nephites, Jacob continues his address by expounding upon the tale in the 6th chapter of Jacob.  This is where my focus will be.  More specifically I would like to focus on the 4th verse in this particular chapter, which reads:

"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God."

As I was reading through this verse, a tie in to recent activities in the church stood out to me.  The phrase that hit me was that our merciful god remembereth the house of Israel "both the roots and branches".  In line with the allegory, we can see how we as current house of Israel are the branches.  We are currently flourishing and giving life to the tree of which we are a part.  In missionary work, at least the sort that I am partaking in, our focus is generally on the 'branches'.  But I would like to make a push, in line with the recent "Temple Challenge" for the youth of the church, to find and to do missionary work for those in the 'roots' category.

I would like to echo Elder Anderson's challenge to the youth of the church.  To see the video of this challenge if you haven't already, feel free to check out the link below.  But I would like to extend this challenge to all people.  Temple work, and work in the church in general, are not age specific.  Temple work is for all of the church, and I would encourage each of you to find just one name from your 'roots' that you can bless by preparing to take it to the temple.

I would encourage all of you to gain the Spirit of Elijah, and see the great worth in temple work and completing temple ordinances.  Remember the scripture in the15th verse of the 18th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads:

And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
Find that one soul, living or dead, that you can help bring into the kingdom of our Father.  I hope that you will all partake in the joy of temple work.  And I pray that you all have a great week, it truly is a blessing to be able to write to you all.

Love, Elder Gailey