Filling Your Soul with the Good Word of God

Friday, February 25, 2011

East Valley Mormon Choral Organization Concert

I'd just like to personally invite everyone who lives in the Phoenix area to check out a concert on March 5th featuring The East Valley Mormon Choral Organization. I know many people involved in this organization, including my dad and my sisters, and can promise you that you won't regret taking the time to hear this great choir. I was able to hear their first concert in December of 2009 before I left on my mission and it was a great experience that I really enjoyed. I have continued to hear news about their growth and progress from my family and know that they are even better now. I have a strong testimony in the power of music and the spirit that can be brought into our lives by it. Their latest performance titled Bring The World His Truth featuring "Messiah in America" will definitely be a spiritually uplifting concert for anyone who attends. One that I can guarantee would only increase your testimony in Jesus Christ, His visit to the Americas, and The Book of Mormon. For more info on the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization visit EVMCO.ORG. To purchase tickets Click Here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Popcorn Popping Missionary Style

One of my favorite songs when I was younger and in Primary at church was Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree. It was always just a fun upbeat song that I enjoyed. Now as a missionary I recently, thanks to my mother, came across a new version of Popcorn Popping. But this time it has a missionary twist to it. Here are the words to Popcorn Popping missionary style:
        I looked out the window and what did I see?
       Two Mormon missionaries coming after me.
       They had brought me such a nice surprise,
       A Book of Mormon for my very own eyes.
       They told me if I read it and prayed about it too
       Heavenly Father would tell me it was true.
      It didn't seem to me, but it seemed to be.
      The very best thing that ever happened to me!
Just like this song states there are times when we, as missionaries, catch people off guard. They see us coming to their home through their window, their eyes get big, and they think exactly as the song says, "They're coming after me!" But when people will let us into their homes, and listen to our message they quickly see that it is such a nice surprise. They learn how the Book of Mormon can change their lives if they will simply read about it and let Heavenly Father give them the answer that it is true. I testify letting The Book of Mormon and the missionaries into your home will be the very best thing that will ever happen to you. Popcorn Popping

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go- Part 2 of 2

*If you haven't read yesterday's post about how missionaries receive their mission calls please first read that before reading this post.
   So now that you have an idea of how the Apostles receive revelation for us missionaries and our mission calls I would like to tell you about when I received my call. There is first some paper work you have to submit to the church that states you want to go on a mission and that you have been approved by your local leaders and found worthy to serve a mission for the church. Your paper work and assignment of the call then goes through the process Elder Rasband spoke on. You then receive a letter stating when and and where you'll be serving. This is a very big deal to those who have prepared themselves to serve the Lord and to their families to see where they'll be serving.
   The night I received my mission call is one I'll never forget. As I opened the letter from President Monson I was surrounded by family and friends both in person and over the phone. I had felt pretty calm about opening it and finding out my fate until  I ripped open the envelope, took out the paper, and started to read. Then my heart started to pound. As I slowly read aloud making sure my eyes didn't creep down to where it said I'd be serving I finally reached it. You are hereby called to labor in the Montana Billings Mission.
   My family and friends cheered and the first thought that came to my mind was hey, I know where that is! My quick next thought was I have no clue what is up there. This is when a quick thought of disappointment hit me....Montana? That quickly disappeared though as I soon heard a lot of great things about Montana from my parents, grandparents, and good friend. I went to bed that night with a feeling of great excitement!
   As I look back on that experience, being out on my mission a year now, I can't think anything other than what Elder Rasband testified of. I was called to this mission for a reason! I have been placed in the Montana Billings Mission by inspiration and revelation from an Apostle of the Lord and I continue to be placed in areas of that mission by a mission president for a reason. They both have and continue to be guided by our Heavenly Father who knows the people that I personally need to touch and those who need to touch me. He will continue to place me in the right paths to bring His sheep back to Him.
   As I ponder this and as I leave an area to a new and unknown place one of my favorite church hymns comes to mind. It says
     It may not be on the mountain’s height,
     Or over the stormy sea;
     It may not be at the battle’s front,
     My Lord will have need of me;
     But if by a still, small voice He calls,
     To paths that I do not know,
     I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
     I’ll go where You want me to go.

     I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
    O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;

     I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
      I’ll be what You want me to be.
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I have trust in Him and I know I have been called to serve in Montana for a reason. Some I already know and others continue to be discovered each day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go- Part 1 of 2

For anyone who has ever wondered about the process by which missionaries are called to their designated missions here is an expert from a talk in the April 2010 General Priesthood session by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Seventy. He tells the story of being able to sit in on this process and how it built his testimony that the Lord truly calls each missionary to their specific mission that is best for them and the people they'll be serving. Check back tomorrow to read about how this has affected me in receiving my mission call to serve the good people of Montana.
Elder Rasband: I joined Elder Eyring early one morning in a room where several large computer screens had been prepared for the session. There was also a staff member from the Missionary Department who had been assigned to assist us that day.
First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned. The word “perfectly” said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.
As the process began, a picture of the missionary to be assigned would come up on one of the computer screens. As each picture appeared, to me it was as if the missionary were in the room with us. Elder Eyring would then greet the missionary with his kind and endearing voice: “Good morning, Elder Reier or Sister Yang. How are you today?”
He told me that in his own mind he liked to think of where the missionaries would conclude their mission. This would aid him to know where they were to be assigned. Elder Eyring would then study the comments from the bishops and stake presidents, medical notes, and other issues relating to each missionary.
He then referred to another screen which displayed areas and missions across the world. Finally, as he was prompted by the Spirit, he would assign the missionary to his or her field of labor.
From others of the Twelve, I have learned that this general method is typical each week as Apostles of the Lord assign scores of missionaries to serve throughout the world.
Having served as a missionary in my own country in the Eastern States Mission a number of years ago, I was deeply moved by this experience. Also, having served as a mission president, I was grateful for a further witness in my heart that the missionaries I had received in New York City were sent to me by revelation.
After assigning a few missionaries, Elder Eyring turned to me as he pondered one particular missionary and said, “So, Brother Rasband, where do you think this missionary should go?” I was startled! I quietly suggested to Elder Eyring that I did not know and that I did not know I could know! He looked at me directly and simply said, “Brother Rasband, pay closer attention and you too can know!” With that, I pulled my chair a little closer to Elder Eyring and the computer screen, and I did pay much closer attention!
A couple of other times as the process moved along, Elder Eyring would turn to me and say, “Well, Brother Rasband, where do you feel this missionary should go?” I would name a particular mission, and Elder Eyring would look at me thoughtfully and say, “No, that’s not it!” He would then continue to assign the missionaries where he had felt prompted.
As we were nearing the completion of that assignment meeting, a picture of a certain missionary appeared on the screen. I had the strongest prompting, the strongest of the morning, that the missionary we had before us was to be assigned to Japan. I did not know that Elder Eyring was going to ask me on this one, but amazingly he did. I rather tentatively and humbly said to him, “Japan?” Elder Eyring responded immediately, “Yes, let’s go there.” And up on the computer screen the missions of Japan appeared. I instantly knew that the missionary was to go to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
Elder Eyring did not ask me the exact name of the mission, but he did assign that missionary to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
Privately in my heart I was deeply touched and sincerely grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience the prompting to know where that missionary should go.
At the end of the meeting Elder Eyring bore his witness to me of the love of the Savior, which He has for each missionary assigned to go out into the world and preach the restored gospel. He said that it is by the great love of the Savior that His servants know where these wonderful young men and women, senior missionaries, and senior couple missionaries are to serve. I had a further witness that morning that every missionary called in this Church, and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission, is called by revelation from the Lord God Almighty through one of these, His servants.
       Check back tomorrow for Part 2
To read Elder Rasbands full talkClick Here.
To learn more about Mormon MissionariesClick Here and scroll down to "Missionary Program"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Greater Love Hath No Man

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
      Our older brother, Jesus Christ, showed the ultimate act of love by becoming our Savior. He laid His life down for us so that we can all return to live again with our Father in Heaven. From His sacrifice of performing the atonement where He bled from every pore for us, to giving His life up upon the cross, to breaking the bands of death and being resurrected the third day we will never know or comprehend all that He went through and did for us. And why, because He loves us.
      So on this Valentine's Day when we remember and show our love to our family and friends let us not forget to show our love and appreciation to our Lord, Redeemer, Brother, and Friend, Jesus Christ. And to show Him our love let us stand as a witness of Him at all times, and in all things, and in all places because that's what He has done for us.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

15 A Day, Keeps Satan Away

When I was in seminary during high school we were challenged to read from the scriptures for 15 minutes a day. Now 15 minutes a day out of 1440 minutes in a day is not that much but some how I struggled with this. It always seemed easier to sit down and watch TV, mess around online or with friends. I went in spurts through my four years of high school where I would be consistently reading and then not so much. I could some how never make it a lasting habit. It for some reason took a reading contest in seminary my senior year with the winner receiving food to motivate me. I was able to gain a lot more than food though, I gained a habit of daily scripture study. One that continued to grow to the point now where I love to set aside an hour a day I have to study in the mission field.
    I had always known scripture study was important but until it became a want to instead of a need to or a have to did I realize the power behind the words of God. It became easier to understand the stories and teachings as I read. It became easier to feel the spirit that scripture study brought which made it easier to apply what I was learning to my life.
    Satan has a great hold upon many of our Heavenly Father's children. He's gained this hold by doing as it says in 2 Nephi 28:26 "the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." By convincing people that the basics of the gospel, church, prayer, and scripture study are not priorities in life he can carefully lead us away from those key faith builders, he will surely lead us to "misery and endless wo"(Helaman 5:12). He looks for ways to take away the spirit and then attacks us.
    Now referring to the picture above how do you think scripture reading could have changed Darth Vader's life? Do you think that instead of the evil spirit that tempted him to try to persuade his son Luke to join the dark side that he would have followed the good spirit? Maybe even encouraged his son to attend his priesthood meetings where he could truly learn how to use the force? I think the difference spiritually that 15 minutes a day of scripture reading would have brought to Darth would have changed a lot of events in his life. The same applies to our lives.
   Can you imagine the power the spirit would bring to the world that could defeat Satan if all of us would read our scriptures every day? The old saying goes "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" Well I testify that 15 a day will keep Satan away! If not out of the world at least out of our homes, families, and our lives.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

In honor of it being Super Bowl weekend I thought I'd share a story that I really enjoyed from a past Priesthood session of conference by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. Here is the story told by him in his own words.
I’ll never forget one high school football game against a rival school. I played the wingback position, and my assignment was to either block the linebacker or try to get open so the quarterback could throw me the ball. The reason I remember this particular game so well is because the fellow on the other side of the line—the man I was supposed to block—was a giant.
I wasn’t exactly the tallest athlete in the world. But I think this other guy may have been. I remember looking up at him, thinking he probably weighed as much as two of me. Keep in mind, when I played we didn’t have the protective gear that players have today. My helmet was made of leather, and it didn’t have a face guard.
The more I thought about it, the more I came to a sobering realization: if I ever let him catch me, I could be cheering for my team the rest of the season from a hospital bed.
Lucky for me, I was fast. And for the better part of the first half, I managed to avoid him.
Except for one play.
Our quarterback dropped back to pass. I was open. He threw the ball, and it sailed towards me.
The only problem was that I could hear a lumbering gallop behind me. In a moment of clarity, I thought that if I caught the ball there was a distinct possibility I could be eating my meals through a tube. But the ball was heading for me, and my team was depending on me. So I reached out, and—at the last instant—I looked up.
And there he was.
I remember the ball hitting my hands. I remember struggling to hang on to it. I remember the sound of the ball falling to the turf. After that, I’m not exactly sure what happened, because the giant hit me so hard I wasn’t sure what planet I was on. One thing I did remember was a deep voice coming from behind a dark haze: “Serves you right for being on the wrong team.”

William McKinley Oswald was my high school football coach. He was a great coach and had a profound influence on my life. But I think he could have learned his method of motivating players from an army drill sergeant.
That day, during his half-time speech, Coach Oswald reminded the whole team about the pass I had dropped. Then he pointed right at me and said, “How could you do that?”
He wasn’t speaking with his inside voice.
“I want to know what made you drop that pass.”
I stammered for a moment and then finally decided to tell the truth. “I took my eye off the ball,” I said.
The coach looked at me and said, “That’s right; you took your eye off the ball. Don’t ever do that again. That kind of mistake loses ball games.”
I respected Coach Oswald, and in spite of how terrible I felt, I made up my mind to do what Coach said. I vowed to never take my eye off the ball again, even if it meant getting pounded to Mongolia by the giant on the other side of the line.
We headed back onto the field and started the second half. It was a close game, and even though my team had played well, we were behind by four points late in the fourth quarter.
The quarterback called my number on the next play. I went out again, and again I was open. The ball headed towards me. But this time, the giant was in front of me and in perfect position to intercept the pass.
He reached up, but the ball sailed through his hands. I jumped high, never taking my eye off the ball; stabbed at it; and pulled it down for the game-winning touchdown.
I don’t remember much about the celebration after, but I do remember the look on Coach Oswald’s face.
“Way to keep your eye on the ball,” he said.

There are many things in our lives that call for our attention. We have families, friends, school, work, church, hobbies, and many more things we have to do and we want to do. But there is only so much time in our lives to accomplish what we came here to do, to prepare to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on the things that are most important in life but we need to "keep our eye on the ball" or on what matters most to us and to our Heavenly Father. The relationships we have with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, and our family members will be of greater value to us in the eternal scheme of things than other things we may put our time and efforts into.
     That doesn't mean that we shouldn't enjoy the hobbies or good fun things this life has to offer. But we need to have a good balance and keep our eye on the ball. We can't afford to let the things of the world distract us from what is most important. I would encourage you to examine your life. Decide where you are and what you need to do to be the kind of person you want to be and then Keep Your Eye On The Ball!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our Pre-Earth Life Commitment to God's Team

I recently became aware that today is National Signing Day. Many of you may not know but this is the day that all high school football athletes determine which college they want to attend and play football for. They sign what's called a letter of intent stating that they are committing to play for the school of their choice. For big college football fans and programs this is an exciting day. As fans and as a program you get the opportunity to see the future of your team and the potential stars of tomorrow. There are often times a lot of hype surrounds certain players who have been rated by scouts to be the "cream of the crop". There are also a lot of names that don't receive much attention too. Either way it’s interesting to see what becomes of these players over the next four to five years. As these players enter new environments and challenges they can often meet expectations, rise higher than expected, or become just another player.

    These players, once out on their own away from home, can really take off or get bogged down by the college life. Some may excel in their schooling while others struggle. Some may find a great group of friends who help them make good choices on and off of the field while others fall into a different crowd and soon find themselves involved in the things of the world. Some may work hard to improve their athletic and intellectual skills while others are just there to have fun. Some may listen to their coach’s advice while others think their way is better. It may not be a quick change but over time coaches and fans realize that top prospects and highly ranked players may not have put in the effort to make the cut. They are now sitting on the sidelines watching those who have studied and worked hard get all the playing time and all the glory. This happens all the time in college football.

    So many of you may be wondering how or why this applies to anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ but let me show you the connection. We all once lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to this earth. We had so much potential and we shouted for joy when we "committed" to play on the Lord's team and have the chance to come to this earth to gain a body and knowledge through our experiences. We knew it would be tough but that it would be worth it.

     We now have left our Heavenly Father and are on our own and just like the star football player entering the college ranks we can either meet the expectations or fall short. The decisions we make on a daily basis determine whether or not we gain happiness in this life or the life to come. There may be things in our lives, like the football player, that are more fun at times than practice, or in other words scripture study, prayer, and church. But when we can put the necessary time into our practice, follow our coaches, or Prophet, parents, and church leaders, we can be a better player at the game of life. We will be rewarded with more playing time, blessings, and more happiness. We can become the stars our Heavenly Father wants us to be playing for his team and not Satan's, if we will just focus in on what is most important in our lives. I know we can do it and someday score the greatest touchdown of all, eternal life.
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