The Cost of Discipleship

meme-holland-love-1240450-tabletI had the opportunity to speak in a congregation this past Sunday, and as many in the church find to be the case, I learned more for myself than I was probably able to teach anything to those in attendance. The topic was Living True to Our Faith, and how the principles of commitment, covenants, and obedience enable us to do that.

One point that I rediscovered in my preparation is the idea that the cost of discipleship is sometimes high. The world today is very politically-correct and inclusive, regardless of spiritual or moral guideposts. For disciples of Christ, we find we can’t always be both PC and be true to what we believe is ok with God. Pick nearly any hot-button issue in society and culture today, and you will probably find that being on the side of what’s popular and being a disciple can’t always go together.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of Christ, spoke on this very topic in April. Quite simply, he said “Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all.” It may not be easy, but there are blessings promised with discipleship.

3 reasons to see Meet the Mormons (and learning about Mormons isn’t one of them)

I’m trying to think of the last time I took my family to a movie and came out

1) with everyone saying they liked it,

2) feeling inspired to be better, and

3) knowing that the money I shelled out for six tickets was going to be donated to charity.

That’s what happened Monday night when we took the family to see Meet the Mormons for Family Night. Now before you think I’m writing this to say you should go see the movie so you can understand my faith better, hear me out. …Because I’m not going to say that, nor am I certain this movie would even do that for you.

Look at those attentive faces! This may have been just after I said "No, I'm not buying you popcorn."

Look at those attentive faces! This may have been just after I said “No, I’m not buying you popcorn.”

First, everyone liked it. With four boys ranging in age from four to 14, finding something for everyone is no easy task. True, I think they were excited to see the word “Mormon” on the big screen, but probably not as much as if we were seeing a superhero action flick. A young woman in Time Square in NYC introduces the film as, yes, about Mormons, and light-heartedly shows how the faith is sometimes misunderstood and frequently graces punchlines in mainstream entertainment (they boys perked up when the clips from The Simpsons and South Park came on screen). All in good fun, and it gave us all a chance to laugh at ourselves. The intro simply positions some of those common misconceptions, but it’s over very quickly.

Second, I left feeling inspired to be a better person (employee, neighbor, husband, dad, son, community member). I think the last time that may have happened is when I went to see, um, I can’t remember. I just said I don’t even think this movie is intended to help people understand our faith better. The reason I say that is that after watching all 118 minutes, I realized this movie could just as easily be called “Meet the Methodists” or “Meet the Rotarians.” Point is, every group, be they faith-based, community-based, or service-based, has members who are UNextraordinary by societal standards but do incredible good in the world. The movie features six individuals from around the globe who happen to be Mormon, but lead lives focused on doing good. After each vignette, I thought “Ok, this one is my favorite” only to find myself saying the same about the next story. I am so blessed to know people in my every day life from all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs who inspire me to try a little bit harder to be a little bit better. If you like movies like that, I guarantee you’ll come away feeling the same and, almost as an after-thought, remembering “Oh yea, they were Mormon.”

Tertiary (ok, that’s a fancy word I recently learned for “third”), net proceeds go to charity. That’s right, net proceeds (box office proceeds less distribution expenses) from the theatrical release of the movie go to the American Red Cross. Read more about that here in the Red Cross’ own announcement, and on the movie’s website here.

No fancy summary, just please consider going to see Meet the Mormons. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think so please come back and leave a comment for me.

#MeetTheMormons #AmericanRedCross #ShareGoodness

mtm1

Why do Mormons talk about their Church so much?

Many people may wonder “Why do my Mormon friends/co-workers/neighbors seem to always be talking about their church or asking if I have questions about faith and God?” You may have questions you’d like to ask us because you’re unsure of the motives. Or, you may not know any Mormons to ask.

This two-minute video explains why we Mormons so freely share messages of our faith. Just as Christ invited his disciples to “come and see,” so do we have a desire to invite those who mean the most to us to simply learn more or find answers to your questions.

Click here to chat live with a representative of the Church if you have questions: http://www.mormon.org/chat

#ShareGoodness

Meet the Mormons…in a theater near you

Like movies? Looking for a good one to see this weekend? How about “Meet the Mormons,” opening nationwide this week. Net proceeds go to the American Red Cross.

From the website meetthemormons.com, “Meet the Mormons examines the very diverse lives of six devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Filmed on location and across the globe, Meet the Mormons takes viewers on a journey into the day-to-day realities of individuals living in the U.S., Costa Rica, Nepal and beyond. From their individual passions to their daily struggles, each story paints a picture as rich and unique as the next while challenging the stereotypes that surround the Mormon faith.”

Because of Him

Video

Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. Because of Him, death is not the end, and life takes on new meaning. We can change, we can start over—and we can live again with God. This Easter, celebrate His life and discover all that’s possible because of Him.

Visit EASTER.MORMON.ORG to find out why Christ is the greatest gift God has given us.

#becauseofHim

“Why do bad things happen?”

I live in Overland Park, Kansas, not far from where a madman, bent on harming people, opened fire and killed three people and wounding more outside of a care facility and a community center yesterday. It was a cowardly act of violence and hatred and a senseless loss of precious life. [CNN article here]

A Google search of the phrase “why do bad things happen” returns over 2,000,000 results. It’s natural when things like this happen to ask that and “if there is a God, why does He let these things happen to good people?” Trouble is that we don’t often have or know the easy answer.

It’s not a new question. Throughout the ages people have asked themselves the same when personal trials, human suffering, and the choices of others have impacted the innocent. Many of the things we must go through require faith, trust and courage.

I believe that there IS one complete, eternal, and true answer. That is that we are God’s children, He has a plan for us, and through his Son Jesus Christ all will be made well. Because of Him, we can find peace in times of suffering and sorrow, and because of Him, all will live again with the promise of eternal life together with our families.

As Christ was suffering in the garden for our sins and transgressions, he prayed to the Father “if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42) His suffering was because of the actions and choices of others. But He understood that in God’s plan, there are times when we must bear the burden of pain and suffering.

For that to be of comfort and answer the question “why do bad things happen,” one must put their faith and trust in something higher than themselves. For those looking for answers, might I suggest this article: Five Scriptures That Will Help You Get through Almost Anything?

As Christians everywhere remember the gift Christ gave us on this Holy Week, we reflect on His sacrifice on Good Friday. However, the day we look forward to the most is Sunday. Easter Sunday. It was on Sunday that He taught us that there is hope, there is a time when suffering and sorrow will be behind us, and that despite what this life brings, there is an eternal plan for our happiness. “Sunday will come.”

Let’s #LiftAnother and do good

Whose load does the Lord need YOU to lift? Join with us and #LiftAnother as we draw close to Good Friday. Read more below.

#LiftAnother

At the recent General Conference, Elder David A. Bednar spoke of bearing up burdens with ease and the role the Atonement of Christ plays in doing that. For some reason, I’d never thought of the Atonement as an enabler to do good to others. I’ve always just thought about It’s impact on me personally as it relates to repentance and forgiveness. But of course Christ would have us lift others, mourn with them, comfort them, and go about doing good continually (Acts 10:38, Moroni 18:9)

As a lead-up to Good Friday, let’s do good and lift another by easing someone’s burden and helping them feel Christ’s love. Let’s see what acts of Christlike kindness and service can be rendered during this season when Christianity reflects on the Savior’s sacrifice for all of God’s children. Stretch yourself, seek out someone who really needs you, and do something to ease their burden. Whose load does the Lord need YOU to lift?

If you feel inclined to share your experience, add the hashtag #liftanother to your story on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or here in the comments. Consider inviting others to join take the challenge to #liftanother.

What would Christ say to prophets today?

Image

Ever wonder what Jesus Christ would say to prophets and apostles in our day? The 184th General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held April 5-6. Find out what modern-day prophets and apostles shared with the world. Summaries of the many things shared can be found here

A few of my favorite quotes:

“Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

“Our Savior has the power to cleanse and heal you.” – Linda S. Reeves

“Love is the very essence of the gospel and Jesus Christ is our exemplar.” – Thomas S. Monson

“Forgiveness should go hand-in-hand with love.” – Thomas S. Monson

“You have the Savior of the world on your side. How can you fail?” – Gary S. Stevenson

“Pure Christlike love flowing from righteousness can change the world.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

 

 

The Lord’s power to cleanse and heal

“Our Savior has the power to cleanse and heal you.” #SisterReeves #LDSConf“

I have witnessed the powerful changes that come to those who put their faith in the Lord’s plan. Sister Reeves taught a wonderful lesson this morning on the healing and cleansing power that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.  She spoke of those struggling with the challenge of sin, and she specifically addressed the of pornography and other moral storms that are harming the family and home.

There is hope. There is light. There is a plan to overcome. It’s not easy, but I know that lasting change is available in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t care as much about what we’ve done wrong as He cares that we want to be better. I have experienced this healing and cleansing in my own life. And it’s by no means a “once-and-done.” Perfection has evaded me😉 and so I have regular need to repent and ask the Lord’s help to do and be more than I am.

As a parent, I’ve learned more about our Heavenly Father’s unconditional love for us, His children. No matter what trouble my own children may get into or cause, I love them. I want them to be happy, and I have a responsibility to teach them correct principles and enable them to “govern themselves.” I will do, as any parent would, anything to help them when they struggle or need comfort. That’s what the Lord does for us. He is a God of as many chances as we need to overcome our imperfections. For that, I’m grateful.

PowerToClense

 

 

Resurrection

Mormons believe in the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after His crucifixion. Because He was resurrected, we, too, will be resurrected at His second coming.

“Christ was the first to be resurrected and never die again, to posses forever a perfect, eternal body.” #ElderAmado #LDSConf

Resurrected