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