Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 12, 2015

Four months, three fast Sundays, two transfers, one tired elder.....

What a week. MLC was on Friday. We went to Nairobi on Thursday. We counseled a lot about how to help a lotof the branch presidencies in the zones that we represented work better with the missionaries. So often, missionaries, and members, will feel the Spirit strongly and truly have a desire to repent. But when the rubber meets the road they flake out, or they go back to their habits. I've been there. We've all been there. You've been there when you have said, and meant it with all your heart, that you are going to change. Commitment, good sincere commitment, is good. Most people who desire to repent will commit to do so, and really want to follow through with that commitment. But NOTHING replaces a firm determination.

If we realize that we are not where we should be, He gives us the opportunity to change and to repent. There is no such thing as being forgiven when you have been "selectively obedient." Christ never taught that doctrine. He preached that His gospel is an all-or-nothing gospel. Take it or leave it, but you can't be a halfway Christian.

The great test of life is obedience to God. "We will prove them herewith," saith the Lord, "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abraham 3:25). The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. The great commandment of life is to love the Lord. "Come unto Christ," exhorts Moroni, "...and love God with al your might, mind and strength" (Moroni 10:32). This, then, is the first and great commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30). It is the pure love of Christ, called charity, that the Book of Mormon testifies is the greatest of all-that never faileth, that endureth forever, that all men should have, and that without which they are nothing (Moroni 7:44-47). "Wherefore, my beloved [family], pray unto the father with all the energy of [your] heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become
the [children ] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him" (Moroni 7:48). Why is it so hard for people to understand that God comes first? The first commandment God gave to Moses was "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That preeminence that was
commanded of us still applies today. Why should our own interests take precedence?

I don't mean to preach to you, or to call anyone to repentance, I just feel the urgency of such messages. "There stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto
those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

"And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever." (Abraham 3:24-26.)

I echo President Ezra T. Benson's words: "I wish that every Latter-day Saint could say and mean it with all his heart: 'I'll go where you want me to go. I'll say what you want me to say. I'll be what you want me to be.' If we could all do that, we would be assured of the maximum of happiness here and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God hereafter."

Why would anyone choose do selectively obey God when they know the consequences of such a choice? Why is it such a hard thing for people to keep their "favorite sins" to themselves while giving everything else up to Jesus Christ? It is so stupid and dangerous. Please don't do that. Just fulfill your promise. If you aren't sure that you will be happy, if you aren't sure if Jesus promise that you can be happier by following Him than by following anyone else is really sure, then just test it. Test me. Just try following Christ 100%, no breaking the little commandments, just one hundred percent following Him. I promise you won't regret taking the test.

You may not believe it, but you will actually be happier by following Him than by doing your own thing. Can you imagine? You can be out of this world happy just by doing what Jesus asks you to do. Without reservation I promise that it is the best decision you can ever make. Make it. And if you choose to stray, or to not follow Him fully, and we get to the next life and you are sad and miserable (and you will be forever, with no family, no friends, no fun, no nice things), don't
come crying to me saying "Oh, Jacob, why didn't you tell me that I could've been happy? Why didn't you save me?" I tried! It's not my choice to save you, it is yours. If you want maximum happiness, maximum joy, maximum blessings, just take the road that goes there.

I have four months to go. I miss y'all so much. I bet this is how Papa feels. Just sitting and working and waiting for us. I bet that is how y'all will feel when you pass over. Just waiting to be
resurrected, praying that we can stay faithful, silently rooting us on as we struggle through this war, trying to help others along the way.

I love the administrative genius of the Church. It is such a perfect system, with imperfect people, of course. Imagine if every business worked the way we are taught to, with delegation and stewardship and accountability. Every successful organization that comes to my mind works in a similar way with managers (bishops), corporate employees (general authorities), and a board of directors with a leader. The one difference between worldly organizations and the Church of Jesus Christ is the principle of revelation and the guiding authority of priesthood keys. In a worldly organization, if a decision made by the CEO is unpopular with the Board of Directors, they can overturn the decision, or change it. In the Church, no matter our opinions, which we may be called upon to give, we also have a responsibility to sustain and follow those who lead us with priesthood keys. That is how the church can stay together and be led by Jesus Christ (the absence of these keys is the main reason so many churches were formed
during the great apostasy).

I'm excited to be home.

I love y'all.


MLC picture

Laptop selfie :)

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