15 December 2011

Its Mean, Green, Hates Christmas, and Lives in Us.

Christmas is almost here.  Actually, only 10 days until it is here.  Now, I am serving a Spanish mission, so when I look at the word Christmas I see the word Christ and the word mas which in Spanish means more. So its just a quick thought today about how during this season, there should be so more of him. 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave this talk during a Christmas devotional called Seeing Christmas through New Eyes.  I really really liked this talk.  The rest of the talk is even better, so I recommend reading that.  But it applies to everybody and anybody who has ever felt even the least bit of stress come because of the Christmas season.
"Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot . . .
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Who-ville,
Did NOT!2
The Grinch, that memorable character from a classic children’s story by Dr. Seuss, had a heart that “was two sizes too small,” and he hated everything about Christmas. Through the course of the story, however, he undergoes a dramatic transformation when he learns that there is more to Christmas than decorations and gifts.
Perhaps the Grinch’s story is so memorable because, if we are honest, we may be able to relate to him. Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season? Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed by the packed calendars, the stress of finding gifts, the pressure of planning meals and events?
We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that annoy and overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! . . . But HOW?

Christmas is a time to center everything on Christ, not having Him take second shelf to the traditions and hustle and bustle of the season.  So this year, instead of becoming ever more like the Grinch, let us make all the more room in our hearts for those around us and for Christ.  Don't just make room for Him, but let Him be the focus this season!
_Elder Halbert

09 December 2011

Mormon: The People, the Church, the Prophet

Ever wondered why Mormons are called Mormons? 
Here's a brief explanation from the church's official website. http://lds.org/topic/mormon/
For more information visit on their beliefs, doctrines, or services visit  http://www.mormon.org/ or http://www.lds.org/.

Mormon: "Mormon" is a term commonly applied to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church is sometimes inaccurately called the "Mormon Church" because its members believe that the Book of Mormon is an additional volume of scripture to the Bible. The Book of Mormon is named after Mormon, a fourth-century prophet-historian who compiled and abridged many records of his ancestors into the Book of Mormon.

Mormon: The People 

Mormons live and work in every state of the United States and throughout the world. They value their family, their communities and the countries where they reside. They actively participate in business and agriculture, education and the sciences, government, the entertainment industry and news media. They work in public service and professional fields and serve as ambassadors, legislators, judges, and CEOs. There are currently five U.S. senators, including the senate majority leader, who are Mormon.

Mormon Woman PrayingMormon: The Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the fourth-largest religious institution in America, with over 6 million members in the United States and a total of nearly 14 million worldwide. While the term "Mormon Church" has long been publicly applied to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a nickname, it is not an official title, and the Church encourages the use of the full authorized title. There are nearly 28,000 Mormon congregations worldwide, with meetings held in more than 180 languages, and Sunday services are open for anyone to attend. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well known for its humanitarian work and has teamed up with Catholic Relief Services, the Red Cross, UNICEF, and many other agencies to help relieve suffering throughout the world. The Church also operates the world's largest genealogical library, located in Salt Lake City, and has one of the world's largest databases of online genealogical records. This database can be accessed for free by anyone at FamilySearch.

Mormon: The Prophet

Mormon was an actual historical figure in the Book of Mormon. He was a prophet, military general, and record keeper who lived about A.D. 311-385 on the American Continent. He was a military leader for most of his life, beginning at age fifteen. He also kept extensive historical and spiritual records of his people, who lived in the Americas. After recording the history of his own lifetime, he compiled and abridged the records, engraved on plates of gold, of previous prophets. These plates were part of the record from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon in the early 19th century.

06 December 2011

Why We Listen to Thomas S. Monson.

In my blog today, I include and quote excerpts from the talk entitled, "Profile of a Prophet" by Hugh B Brown. I'll start by paraphrasing the beginning of the talk.  Hugh B Brown had an interview with a man of high regards in London England.  Its a little longer than normal but well worth the read.  The dialogue goes as follows.
 I began by asking, “May I proceed, sir, on the assumption that you are a Christian?”
“I am.”
“I assume you believe in the Bible—the Old and New Testament?”
“I do!”
“Do you believe in prayer?”
“I do!”
“You say that my belief that God spoke to a man in this age is fantastic and absurd?”
“To me, it is.”
“Do you believe that God ever did speak to anyone?”
“Certainly. All through the Bible we have evidence of that.”
“Did He speak to Adam?”
“To Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and on through the prophets?”
“I believe He spoke to each of them.”
“Do you believe that contact between God and man ceased when Jesus appeared on the earth?”
“No, such communication reached its climax, its apex at that time.”
“Do you believe that Jesus was the Son of God?”
“He was.”
“Do you believe, sir, that after Jesus was resurrected a certain lawyer, who was also a tent maker by the name of Saul of Tarsus, when on his way to Damascus, talked with Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified, resurrected, and had ascended into heaven?”
“I do.”
“Whose voice did Saul hear?”
“It was the voice of Jesus Christ, for He so introduced Himself.”
“Then, … I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to man.”
“I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.”
“Why do you think it stopped?”
“I can’t say.”
“You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?”
“I am sure He hasn’t.”
“There must be a reason; can you give me a reason?”
“I do not know.”
“May I suggest some possible reasons: perhaps God does not speak to man anymore because He cannot. He has lost the power.”
He said, “Of course that would be blasphemous.”
“Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps He doesn’t speak to men because He doesn’t love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.”
“No,” he said, “God loves all men, and He is no respecter of persons.”
“Well, then, if He could speak and if He loves us, then the only other possible answer, as I see it, is that we don’t need Him. We have made such rapid strides in science, we are so well educated, that we don’t need God anymore.”
And then he said, and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war: “Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why He doesn’t speak.”
My answer was: “He does speak. He has spoken, but men need faith to hear Him.”
We have a prophet today.  God does speak to us through him.  Christ's one and only true church is again on the earth.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
_Elder Halbert

01 December 2011

What's a Prophet in the LDS Church?

Prophets. All throughout scriptures, particularly the Bible, God has had a prophet.  The purpose of a prophet is to guide the  people, or to tell them God's will for them.  Abraham was a great prophet who was willing to do anything that the Lord asked of him.  Moses was also a great Prophet who led the Children of Israel out of captivity.  Elijah and Elisha were more great prophets from the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, John the Baptist as well as Peter were ordained prophets.  But there seems to be a gap here.  After Peter, there was no more record of prophets.  For some reason, God had ceased talking to man by means of a prophet.  In Amos 3:7 its reads that Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servant the prophets.  That promise from God is still true.  God has again called prophets to lead and guide his people.  The prophet today is named Thomas S. Monson is he receives revelation on behalf of the Lord's church today.  Read Thomas S. Monson's most recent talk from the 2011 General Conference of the church titled "Stand in Holy Places" or "Dare to Stand Alone" or learn more about prophets at Mormon.org.  There is a prophet today!
_Elder Halbert

29 November 2011

Man of Honor

Honesty is a principle that is lacking in today's society.  To be or find an honest man is a rare occurrence.  Dishonesty comes from selfishness; when it is easier to sacrifice integrity than to face the consequences of one's actions.  Selfishness motivates someone to take an extra couple of minutes on a lunch break, or to not provide a full day's work.
Karl G Maeser said regarding honesty.
 "I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!"
Let us all work on being completely honest with those around us.  People's respect for you will increase as they come to know you as a man of you honor. In the name of Jesus Christ.
_Elder Halbert

26 November 2011

What's in a Name?

In the 2011 October General Conference address Elder Russel M. Ballard gave a talk entitled "The Importance of a Name".  In it he talks about the importance of calling our church by its real title, that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day SaintsElder Ballard says "Let us develop the habit ... of of making it clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the name by which the Lord himself has directed that we be known."  While Mormons is a nickname that we are often called, it is not how we should refer to ourselves.  When we are baptized, we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, not Mormon's or Moses's or Joseph Smith's nor anybody else's name.  We are followers of Jesus Christ.  
 Anyways, that got me thinking about names.  When we are all born, we receive a name.  That name is shiny and new, polished and clean.  As we grow up, we make mistakes, sometimes putting a smudge, a scuff, a scratch, or even a dent in our names.  Sometimes those smudges can be cleaned off, however some of the scratches are there to stay.  In the end though, there is only one name that was dragged through this world without getting a scratch on it.  That is the name that we take upon ourselves when we are baptized; the name of the Jesus Christ.  Baptism into the true church of God on earth is the way that we take the Lord's name upon us.  Keep your name bright, that we may be counted worthy to be baptized in His perfect name, in the name of Jesus Christ.
_Elder Halbert

22 November 2011

Thanks Giving Goodness

Thanksgiving is almost here.  It is my very favorite holiday.  It is a celebration and expression of divine favors and goodenss.  At first I think of the turkeys and spending time with family and football.  But like Christmas, the true meaning of Thanksgiving can easily be forgotten amid the football games, the preparing of mountains of food, and of the hustle and bustle that always comes when extended family is in town.  But, outside of the prayer or grace before the meal, how much time do we really take to give thanks?  Thanksgiving can easily become another Christmas or Easter, with its true meaning being put on the back burner and replaced by bunnies, elves, parades, turkeys, 5K's, and football.  So, this season as the impending feast nears this Thursday, Take a moment to get down on your knees and personally thank your Maker for the bounty that He has blessed you with this last year.  Thank Him in your families for all that you have and set that example for your children. 
President Thomas S. Monson, a modern day prophet said the following in a talk entitled, "An Attitude of Gratitude".  He states "If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."  In Psalms 118:1 the first part reads "Give thanks unto God, for he is good."  To the prophet Joseph Smith the Lord said "Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let you hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks".  In the New testament, the Lord heals ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks.  So this week especially, tell the Lord how grateful you are to Him.  Try to be the one thankful leper.   As we develop this "Attitude of Gratitude" we will be less apt to complain and look at the bad in our lives and more prone to possessing the virtue of gratitude. 
_Elder Halbert