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Sunday, January 15, 2017

letter - Stand as a witness of God, Art and Lisa's sealing

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I have had an answer to my prayers this week.  A couple of months ago when I read Elder Anderson’s recent conference talk A Witness of God  this part stood out to me.  “I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray, like Alma taught, for opportunities “to stand as [a witness] of God…”  So during several of my prayers since then I’ve asked for opportunities to stand as a witness of God.  This week I have had an opportunity to stand as a witness of God during some conversations on Facebook with two of my cousins who are both inactive in the church.  One of which no longer believes in God.  As a PS the end of this journal entry/letter I will share the things I wrote as I did my best to stand as a witness of God.

The kids’ Christmas break ended this week and they had to go back to school on Tuesday.  I was so used to sleeping in that I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school.  I was so tired.  Tilly felt lucky she got to watch a movie on the iPad while I slept for another hour. 

Friday evening Chad and I flew to Salt Lake so we could attend Art (Chad’s Dad) and Lisa’s sealing on Saturday morning.  I rarely fly anywhere, but I’ve flown twice in the last two weeks.  Flying makes me a little bit nervous, so I’m glad that I’ll stay on the ground for a while now, but a little sad that I don’t have a trip to look forward to.  The trip to Salt Lake was very nice but very cold.  I don’t like cold weather, it hurts.  Hot weather doesn’t hurt, unless you get a bad sunburn.  Art and Lisa’s sealing yesterday morning was beautiful and they had a delicious luncheon afterwards.  It was fun to meet Lisa’s kids, our step brothers and sister.  I have more siblings, can you believe it?  Counting all my siblings, Chad’s siblings, our step siblings and all of their spouses and Chad and I now have 45 siblings!  That’s got to be some sort of record or something.   Tyler and Jennifer were very nice to watch all of our kids and get them to and from the school for sports activities while we were gone.  Thank you Tyler and Jen!  The kids had a blast.  

I’ll close with a quote from Elder Ballard that I read today.  "Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured. ...Encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly" (To Whom Shall We Go?).  I love each one of you. I love people who have different opinions and beliefs than me. I love it when they ask me questions about how I feel or believe with civility and without ridicule. I try to do the same for them. As we do so it deepens our understanding and friendship with each other. If anything I write ever offends you, please talk to me about it.


P.S. This first thing I share is a letter to my cousin Carl who asked me to share an example how exercising my faith has helped me determine what is true.

January 9, 2017 


In response to your request that I give you an example from my own life where the exercising of faith has determined what's true, I have written down a few experiences to share with you. I have had several examples of where exercising my faith has helped me to know what is true, but I will share three with you. 

#1 - This past year I have wanted to come closer to Christ and to learn more about him so I decided to exercise my faith by reading a little bit in the book Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage each week along with my normal daily personal scripture study. As I’ve read that book about His life I have gained a stronger knowledge of the truth that He is the Son of God and my Redeemer. 

#2 - Throughout my life, I’ve noticed the truth that Christ’s teachings bring me joy and happiness, when I do not apply Christ’s teachings in my life I’m left with regrets and unhappy feelings. I especially feel joy and happiness as I try more fully to incorporate Christ’s teachings into each of my relationships. I am for sure not perfect at this, but through His help, after I have asked for it in prayer, I can better remember what He taught and when I am tempted to get angry or seek revenge I instead find myself seeking to understand others’ point of view and I feel more love and am able to show more love. I have more peace, less regrets, and deeper more meaningful relationships. 

#3 - When Chad and I were new parents I more fully learned the truth that when we pay tithing the windows of Heaven are opened unto us. Chad and I had a tight budget since I stopped working in order to stay at home with our son Spencer and we sacrificed my source of income to do so. I remember walking the isles of Walmart, looking in my cart, mentally adding up the cost of the items in the cart and deciding which things to put back on the shelf. Around that same time, as I was balancing our check book and paying our bills I wrote out our tithing check. I was not tempted to keep that tithing money, but I said in my mind something like, "this is a lot of money, I sure hope we will receive blessings for this." I acted on my belief that tithing is a correct principle (faith is action) and I mailed it to the bishop. As I reflect over the years since then, I have recognized many blessings, not all of them have been monetary, that have come from mailing that check and paying tithing on every other increase that we have received. I have felt impressions at certain times that some blessings I have been given are a direct result of being a full tithe payer. I acted in faith to pay tithing and received knowledge that the principle of tithing is true. 

Whenever I seek to know if a principle is true, I live it, or “plant the seed” as Alma chapter 32 teaches us. That is the way the Lord works, we have to live a principle in order to receive a witness of its truthfulness. I love you and hope you find the truth that you seek. 

Love your cousin, 

These other things I share are the things I wrote in my Facebook conversations with Carl and Sterling, two of my cousins.

·         Well I know from personal witnesses that have come from acting on my faith of things that I believe are true, that there is a God. Personal witness is something that each person needs for themselves. It is the strongest and most sure evidence that no one can take away from you. The eyewitness accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon add to my personal witnesses. Not the other way around. I hope that each of you continue to find peace and happiness in your life. And I hope that you'll find evidence that God is indeed real. But even if you don't I love you no matter what.
·         In order to find out if God exists, everyone has to follow the doctrine of Christ. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Each person has to do this for himself/herself. You have to live what you believe/hope is true to find the answers. No one can prove it for you.
·         I believe in the God that is the Father of my spirit. The God that sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to atone for my sins and the sins of all mankind. I know He is real, I have felt His love, especially as I have been through some very hard challenges. Faith has worked for me and I believe it will work for everyone who tries with pure intent. Yes several religions say that you must rely on faith, because that is what Jesus Christ taught and that is what God has taught from the beginning. Yes religions have been changed and there are several religions, that is why there was a need for the restoration of Jesus Christ's complete church.  I am not the one searching for truth. I've found it, and I am at peace. I was just sharing the way that everyone can also know what is true. You don't have to believe it or try it... but you won't know unless you do.
·         I'm glad you would really like to know if God is real Sterling. Jesus gave you a way to really know in John 7: 16-17.
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Try to follow Gods plan again by exercising your desire to believe and following God's doctrine of acting in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end again. Do it with and open heart not trying to disprove it. With real intent. I believe you will find the witness you desire.
·         You can verify both the scriptures and the existence of God by doing the things I invited you to do. The answers are the same for children and adults. Christ's doctrine is simple and basic yet profound with layers and layers of meanings.
I love these questions you're asking, they don't bother me as long as it stays civil like it has been this time around. Questions are how we got the Doctrine and Covenants. That's how Joseph Smith found out God and Christ are real.

Having these conversations has a good experience for me.  I was glad to put down in writing my testimony.  In the past some conversations with my cousin have not been civil, but this time they were kind.  It was nice.  I don’t know if I made any difference in their lives, they have to do the work it takes to gain a witness of the truth, but it has been a good strengthening experience for me.

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