Grateful for the Opportunity to Serve

Sunday I was formally released from my calling as 2nd Counselor in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency in my ward. This is the same ward I was baptized into about 5 years ago. I remember hearing from a previous Bishop with such a release can come a flurry of emotions. My most powerful right now is gratitude. I will not lie, I was sad to be released.

For starters release is a term we use in the church to acknowledge our current Calling (position/job) term has come to an end. The only callings that you cannot be released from are if you are called to be an apostle or Prophet/President of the church. So local and area positions can come to an end.

It was indeed an honor to serve the brethren of my home ward. Of course releases can come without warning. sometimes followed by another calling, or the basis that the Lord saw fit for your skills and gifts somewhere else. I am planning on moving soon, and while I am sad to see my time in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency come to an end, it will allow me time to focus on house hunting and packing.

When I called my girlfriend after my meeting with the High Priest, she reminded me of something I had told her a year or so ago, that “It’s a part of serving God, and that the Lord will indeed find work for you to do…”. I pondered long and hard about it, and found comfort in the fact that indeed there will always be work for me to do in the Lord’s kingdom.  One quote, my favorite Book of Mormon quote comes to mind…

“But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it, Amen”

1Nephi Chapter 9, Verse 6

No matter what I know the Lord will guide me towards my truest potential!

As I said before, it was an extreme honor to serve my brethren, some of who helped me out and showed great fellowship when I was a new member of the church. I feel through my service in the presidency, I was taught more lessons from those good brethren. I have no idea what the next few months hold as I prepare to move to a new town, and a new ward, but I’m confident in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ, and my kind and gracious Heavenly Father.

This summer has been a very emotionally draining one, and I do know I will now have time to focus on feelings I may have tried submerging regarding the loss of my grandmother. I think within the next month or two, finding myself spiritually and emotionally will be of priority. I’m so grateful for the love of a wonderful family, an amazing girlfriend, and great friends, through this. As I have said, it was my grandmother and her Christ-like example that led me to my faith. She always urged me to follow God in everything I did, and I know I wouldn’t be here without her.

Through it all one thing is for certain and that is the growth in my testimony, that I know that Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father are there every step of the way in our lives. I know and wholeheartedly believe that families are eternal, and that This church is true! I know that we have a living prophet in Thomas S. Monson here on this earth, and I know no matter how old I am or what my condition is, the Lord will always put opportunities to serve and teach in my path, and I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ….

Amen.

Gerald R.

 

Free Write (2/11/2015)

As most of my regular readers and friends know, I serve in my singles ward as an Assistant Mission Leader. I’m 25 and I’m a convert to the church. I love my calling, and I love serving in the capactiy that the Lord allows. So my calling and situation in my ward is really awesome and I wouldn’t trade it. It allows me to serve others and share the gospel, and seriously quite honestly, what more could you want?

So in January, I decided to do a self assessment of myself, and also after a regularly PPI, or a Personal Priesthood Interview, with a member of the Bishopric. I wanted to better magnify my calling, and do more service and work. I wanted to give more of myself so that I could carry out the Lords plan.

So I decided to get better at reading the scriptures, praying more, and start making it to my meetings on time, no excuses, and go to the temple more regularly.

Well I’ve been doing those things, and I’ve seen the change, and it’s awesome! I see it makes my relationships with people more better, and I just feel so more connected to the spirit, and able to hear it’s promptings so much better.

So Sunday we had the Monthly Stake Missionary Correlation meeting, and we were prompted by the Stake President to begin praying more for opportunities to share the gospel. But not just pray in general, but to pray everyday, and also to share our testimonies>

So usually most people gain full testimonies of things through basic action and reaction. So I took my Stake President’s council on praying for opportunities to share the gospel…

Lo and behold if it didn’t take three days for something to happen and that council to come to pass.

So I get to my office, and sit at my desk and start the daily ritual of turning my computer on and setting up my stuff for work, when a friend of mine who I ahd worked with at a previous job and had went to high school came up to me. HE lifts shows me “The Restoration” pamphlet handed out by every missionary usually on the first visit.

He asked. “this is your church right?”

I quickly replied, “Yeah dude,” At first I thought he had gotten the one I usually leave on my desk, but came to find out he had indeed met with missionaries, who had helped him at a time, referring to them as angelike in their timing and thier service when his car broke down. I was floored. This person is a long time friend, and here he was telling of this powerful experience he had just had. We shared a few more words and then I finished logging in.

Quickly I felt prompted to give him the Book of Mormon I kept in my desk for just this type of sitation. I wasn’t sure if they had given him one, but I decided to take a chance. I held the book in my hand, a little nervous, as anyone is before sharing a big part of their faith. I decided to just do it. I went over to him when I had a little bit of time, and I hadned him the book, explained a little about it, and then he shared he was going to be coming to church next weekend. He’s married so there wouldn’t be a visit to the singles ward. I told him I’d love to go if he’d have me there, and if he had any questions that he could come to me. He was gracious and thanked me.

It was such an extraordiany experience. I have had many missionary opportunities, but it really cemented my testimony on the daily prayer of such opportunities.

Simply put the Lord is going to put those opportunities in front of his disciples when the time is right. Pray for such opportunities, stay versed in the gospel to the ebst of your abilities, and keep yourselves in a lifestyle and mindset to recieve direction and inspiration of the spirit, and you will indeed have the fire and power of Heavenly father, and be a great missionary.

Being a missionary is not just putting on a name tag, as Elder Neil L. Anderson in the April 2013 General Conference talk said-

If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.” And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle” 

We can all be representative of Christ without putting a suit on. In my experiences with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, the best missionary work comes from everyday disciples of Christ like you and I. We will see the blessings that come to one’s life when they accept Christ, and we will also feel the joy of missionary work.

I testify as you choose to lift your voice in the name of Jesus Christ that you will be empowered and you will have the Holy Ghost with you to direct your actions in conjunction with God’s plan. I bear my testimony that the gospel is true, and that we can all spread the message of love and salvation in the example of Christ, and we can lead other’s to salvation through our daily actions and words. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ…

Amen

Thoughts from Sacrament- “Finding Happiness in the Gospel”

So I was sitting in Sacrament this Sunday where the topic had alot to do with the plan of Salvation and agency, but my mind was taken back to how the gospel of Jesus Christ has shaped me throughout the last few years. So therefore I will be sharing those thoughts in this weeks installement of “Thoughts from Sacrament”.

AS you all know, from a previous blog, I was a convert. I always had a belief in Christ, well for the most part before my baptism. But I didn’t have any real personal guidance. My parents and my grandparents were amazing and tried to guide me. But for some reason or another I decided I knew better, and well I didnt. I kind of just went with the wind, and did whatever felt right in the moment. I was very short sighted in the early years of my adulthood. As I told the Sunday school class I taught, before accepting Christ into my life, the only things that mattered to me in college was throwing a 16 pound metal ball at track meets (Shot put) or what party I was going to. Didn’t have a strong career plan outside joined the Baltimore City Police dept, and even that was up in the air.

When I think about everything that happened or I went through before I found faith in a higher authority, I am not ashamed…. In fact I’m grateful for those trials. Those trials got me to where I am today.

To some the commandments that are given aren’t easy. And honestly it’s very true. There are some commandments that are harder for some. When you think of the Law of Chasity which means (No Sexual relations before marraige), or The Word of Wisdom (No Alcohol, drugs, or harmful substances, no coffee or tea) or the Law of Tithing (10 percent of your income to the church, for use of upkeeping holy buildings and welfare programs), Keeping the Sabbath day holy (Attending church meetings on sundays, not shopping, and other activities that dont promote the spirit.) some of those can be hard to follow. And there are many others, but those are just a few. To be honest when they were presented to me before my baptism, I was a little nervous on if I could follow them, and it wasn;t easy. But I see the light in my life when I do follow commandments, because I have a testimony that they come from God for the betterment of my own life.

When I think about it, you truly need a testimony on each Commandment to truly be able to follow them. For example in January’s Ensign, the 1st Presidency’s message main focus was on “Following the Prophets”, well that’s a very Broad Statement, because we can go back almost 200 years and to be honest they’ve said many things. So what you have to do is break down what the Prophets have said.

So 1st off, the point is gaining a testimony that there are Prophets on the Earth today. Today in 2015 it is President Thomas S. Monson.  For me, i remember the first time I truly felt a spirit about him, was the first time I heard him speak in the October 2011 Conference before I was baptized. I felt it in my heart that he was indeed a great man, and called of God. Through study of the gospel and lessons with the missionaries I knew this man to be a man of god. And in my first monthly installment of Home Teaching I’ll go more in depth.

Well once I had a testimony in the Prophets, I started to gain a testimony of the commandments. But just learning them wasn’t enough. I had to live the commandments before that testimony to grow.

Everybody is different. Some will have problems in one area, but strive in another. That’s just how life is. But there’s the saving grace that our Heavenly Father knows we’re not perfect. We’re going to slip up from time to time, and that’s where the Atonement comes in, for someone has already died for our Sins. All he asks in return is that we strive to be better everyday, and to be honest that’s not a bad trade.

So once you’ve made these changes, and found a testimony, and continually try to follow the commandments you will find Joy. One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon says this

O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gateand continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life” 

Jacob 6:11

We’re all on the path to make it back to be with our Heavenly Father. We will all have different paths to take on this journey, we will see different trials, and different joys, but one this is constant and that is the Word of God. That is the Gospel and his commandments. For they come from him that we must obey. For when we obey these commandments we shall be blessed.

So I will leave you with a challenge…  I love challenges therefore I offer them out as well. Pray on a commandment you may be not so good at. Pray hard and seek out a way to become better. The mission is not to be perfect today, but to be better than you were yesterday, always striving for Eternal greatness.

Spirit and.Body

It’s no secret that the body and the mind are connected. We’ve heard many times, that a clean body makes a clean mind. But what about the spirit….

My girlfriend and I decided that we’d start eating better. We’d start working out, and bettering our bodies, with the goal of having a long enjoyable life together.

No lie she fears for me, and the horrible ways I eat and the lack of workouts as of late. Quite frankly she has good reason, and in my experience it’s best to listen to your other half.

When she met me 5 years ago, I was an athlete. I was preparing to go play college football, working out all the time, and at a good slim 250 pounds. Over those 5 years I’ve had many roller coasters in my weight and workout regiment. Not even a year ago, I was at the pinnacle of my physicality. Back in February, I had no doubts in my mind that I could’ve walked onto BYU’s football field and played football like I did when I was young….

Then something happened…

I got injured. I hurt my back to the point where I couldn’t walk, I got scared, I stopped working out, and I stopped caring….

Not caring screwed me over. I work a desk job. I don’t work the manual labor jobs of years past, and sit at a desk for 9 hours a day. I eat like complete crap, and I don’t workout.

Well as of a week ago, my girlfriend and I were talking, and she again for the millionth time let me know she worried for me, after about 6000 times it begins to sink in and you decide maybe it’s time for a change.

The first part was the dieting, Eating clean, and striving to stop bad habits formed over the last year, the second and most important part was getting over my fear of getting hurt again. That fear and that pain in my lower back was loud in my ears and kept me away from any gym.

Monday, I packed my gym bag that morning, and I got my preworkout ready, and I got prepared for a day 1 of a new start. That meant:

1.   Only water and juices that are natural.

2.   Limiting the amount of bad food I put into my body (*much harder than you think, a few slip ups)

3.   Working out atleast 3 days a week until I can get back up on my normal “Beastmode” like levels.

4.   Trying to sleep better.

5.   Focus on the matters of the spirit more…

Now lets jump into number 5…. “Focus on the matters of the spirit more…”

When most people think of getting healthy, they don’t consider the spiritual matter behind it. Now it’s no secret I am a spiritual person with a deep testimony in our savior and his gospel, but until a few days ago, it never occurred to me that maybe the other thing holding me back from being healthy was the lack or atleast the limit of spirituality I had put on myself…

Let me explain. The combination of Spirit and body is no secret. When I was in high school, I used to tell my mother all the time “My body is a temple”. It was a mantra I lived by. No drinking, no smoking, no bad foods, working out constantly, and being ready to lay someone out on Friday.

Now over those next 5 or so years after high sxhool, I began to deter from that mantra, and certain changes took place. Especially when I was away at college during off season.

I have a firm belief as it has been taught, that a good healthy spirit wont find residence in an unclean body! If we live healthy as well as spiritual lifestyles our lives will be better.

The last 8 or so months in many aspects have been some of the best months I’ve had, but in terms of health have been horrible, and it’s all because of how I felt about myself. Living in the fear of possibly injuring myself kept me away from the gym, in turn my body took a turn for a route I did not want it to go, and constantly being reminded by friends that “oh you should get back at it… there’s some pounds you could lose… you’re just not who you were…” got annoying real quick, and it sucked to be honest. I didn’t want to do it because my friends told me to do it. But it was more or less the loving words of my girlfriend that helped me get over that hump.

The thought of her and I going far in eternity and then me not being able to continue this mortal journey with her because I had health issues, or the thought I wouldn’t be able to play with my future children because I was broken apart and fat scared the crap out of me. Or even worse the thought of my parents burying me…

So I changed…. Although it is not easy

Being healthy and finding that spiritual balance is about many things, but none is more important than your own personal influence.

If you’re in the process of making a spiritual and physical change, find and hold to something that matters most. There’s a scripture that I remember reading and I’ll paraphrase, “Where your heart is, is where your desires will be”. With a healthy body, and regular spiritual involvement, whether it be church attendance, scripture reading, temple attendance, prayer, what ever it may be, and at the end of the day that spiritual and mental strength will help to get over any obstacle that is holding you back.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors! I hope you can find a point in your life when Beast-mode meets the Spirit!