Sunday, February 12, 2017

Loving in the Savior's way

Happy Valentine's day everyone. 
It used to bother me that I was single on Valentine's day. It doesn't anymore because I think of it as a day to show love towards others. 
None of us is truly alone when we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. He loved us enough that He sent His only begotten Son for us. 

In one of the talks at church today, the speaker spoke about how olive oil is made. Although the process that was used in the Savior's time is not used anymore, it is still the same principle. I have been to the olive press with my mom many times to get our olives turned into oil. Olives are literally crushed to make oil. The remains from the olives are nothing but fine mush. Amazingly enough the oil comes out clear and clean. 

It is in that Garden of Gethsemane (the oil press) that my Savior took upon Himself my sins and yours. It is there where the load of our sins seemed too heavy for Him to carry, yet He didn't shrink. He drank the bitter cup, He stood up and carried the cross to Golgotha where He was crucified...for me...

I have often admired the Savior for His ability to see good in everything and everyone. He even saw goodness in those that crucified Him..In the woman at the well, He did not see a sinner or a Samaritan as others labeled her. He saw a great missionary who would be willing to go to her village and tell people about the Savior and bring others to Him. 

I may have shared this Valentine's message before, but I will share it again because I feel in today's world, it is needed.  As we look at the image below, we may not see the 3D image in it. When my brother Maher gave me the first 3D image, it took me 2 days to see it. But, as my eyes got trained on how to look, I can now discern what the image is in a matter of seconds.

Do you see it? Can you  see the heart in the picture? If you can't then it will take some effort on your part...You need to train your eyes.

Our eyes are human eyes. They are not as perfect as the Savior's eyes. As we look at others sometimes we must look harder in order to see the good in them. There is goodness in everyone, no matter who they are and what they have done. 

I am guilty of speaking badly about some people...For example, I spoke badly of Jim (name has been changed) many times. Jim has done bad things; lied, cheated, and abused others. He spoke badly of me to many of my friends, making up all sorts of lies about me. Yet I met 2 people recently who don't know Jim very well and maybe don't know what he has done in the past. They both told me how great Jim is, how he served them, how he has amazing faith and strength. This made me stop and think...Could they be talking about the same Jim I know? How did I not see that in him? I felt that now I was able to see Jim in new eyes. In the Savior's eyes.  The more I reviewed Jim's actions, the more I realized that he did many good things.

I hope that this Valentine's day we can show love to others. I hope we can express words of love to those that we care about.  Sometimes our method of expressing love is simple, yet it is so important to those we show it to. 

Today, I noticed that an elderly sister in our ward has not been to church in 2 weeks. When I asked about her, I found out that she has been having back pains and therefore was not able to leave her home. So, today I went to visit her...I don't know her very well. Yet she was delighted to see me. It took but a few minutes of my time, but I know it meant a lot to her.

This is how we train our eyes to notice notice when they are sick or in need or when they are simply not there...When they are down or depressed...or when they feel unworthy or lonely.  And then we must act, act as the Savior would. To lift and strengthen and bless others.

May we all be more like the Savior, the perfect one in Charity, even the God of love.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

God Does Speak

21 years ago today, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That decision changed the course of my life and made me a different person. February 4th, 1996 was the happiest day of my life. 

I remember when my friend, Bryce (on my left in the photo), gave me a Book of Mormon and told me that I should read one chapter then pray to know if the book was true. At that time, I believed in God, but I believed in a God that was silent. I didn't know how or IF Heavenly Father would speak to me. 

I started to read the book. Not just the chapter recommended by Bryce, but the whole book. When I finished the book, there was no doubt in my mind that the book was true and good. I did not need to ask God, for somehow I knew it in my heart.

I started going to church and loved the teachings...I decided to get baptized even though my family and others objected and called me crazy. My heart was sad and I felt I may lose my family and friends. But, the feelings inside my heart telling me that I had found the truth were too strong and I could not turn away.  Doing what Heavenly Father wanted me to do seemed to be more important than anything else in the world.

That night, right before my baptism, my roommate left me alone to pray. I had never before that time asked Heavenly Father if the gospel was true or if I should get baptized. I simply felt it without having the need to ask. But, because of Jessica recommendation, I decided to ask Heavenly Father. With my baptism an hour away, turning back would not even be possible I thought. Why ask?  

Nevertheless, I closed the door behind Jessica and knelt down and prayed.  It was that night that I came to realize that God was real and that He was not silent. That He does speak to us. He spoke to me that night and confirmed to me that I had made the right decision to be baptized. The feeling I had in my heart was so amazing that I stayed on my knees for a long time...It was only when Jessica knocked on the door to say we needed to leave that I got up from my knees. 

Ever since that day in 1996, Heavenly Father has spoken to me many times. He has asked me to do things, He has directed me, He has enlightened my mind, He has answered my questions many times. He speaks to me through the Holy Ghost.

President Packer said: "No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration."

I hope each of you know that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you and who hears your prayers. He answers you when you pray in faith..."Ask and ye shall receive", He said. "Knock and it shall be opened unto you...for everyone that asketh receiveth."

Some of you may be discouraged. Maybe you have asked many times and didn't hear an answer. Don't give up, keep praying, keep asking...the answer will come in His own due time, but make sure you are listening. 

Some of you may have lost your faith. I lost mine one day. Things were very hard and I had no strength left. I wanted to give up. I didn't know if God existed, or if He even cared. I used the last bit of energy I had to kneel down to pray...I said: "Heavenly Father, are you really there?" He was there, and He answered me even though I had a small seed of faith and that was all I could offer.

Please go to Him in prayer. Ask Him the questions you want His His love...He is there, He is real, He is loving, forgiving and kind.