Saturday, March 15, 2014

Being Fully Converted

Being Fully Converted.

1. What does the word convert mean?
                A. To cause change in form, character or function
2. When we are converted our character changes by our acts of obedience being rooted in the correct motivations. I would like to present three causes for obedience that can each be likened to a seed that grows into a plant. ( Alma 32 )
                A. One motivation behind being obedient can be fear of consequence. Examples: Natural effects of sin that are negative, or reactions from family members or friends who are more obedient, and what they may think of us not making choices like they do.
                              I. How was it that lamen and Lemuel were able to see angels of God and witness miracles, yet their characters did not change, and they were not fully converted? It was because their fear of consequence was motivation for their changed behavior on occasion. In 1Nephi Ch 18, after Nephi had been commanded to build a ship in order for his family to get to the promise land , as they were sailing on the ocean the wives of Lamen and Lemuel started making themselves merry and behaving in inappropriate ways. After Nephi expressed concern about their behavior they tied him up. The Liahona stopped working, and a fierce storm frightened Lamen and Lemuel. In 1 Nephi 18:15 it says, " And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depth of the sea. And after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgements of God were upon them, and that they must perish save they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore they came unto me and loosed the bands that were upon my wrists." We see that their fear drove them to do the right thing and untie Nephi. After Nephi was untied the Liahonna began to work again, and the storm stopped.
                               II. Are there times in our lives that we pray harder and show more obedience because we are afraid of something in our life and we seek the help from God, but as soon as we have nothing to be afraid of our diligence in scripture study and prayer cease? Do we sometimes attend meetings or activities because we fear the consequence of what our family and friends might say or think about us if we did not attend or follow through on a calling? I know for me, I have lived this way in my life. I am thirty years old now, but years ago my obedience was motivated by the testimony of others, and fear of disappointing them. I served in callings only out of going through the motions, but not with my whole heart involved. This attitude of mine did not allow for growth, and when you aren't growing, you are actually in a decline. Since my roots of conversion were not strong, and they were not deep, as soon as adversity hit I was not strong enough to withstand it. I stopped asking God  what his will in my life was? And my prayers sounded a lot like please help this to happen, or I really need this, instead of what is your will for me in my life Father in Heaven?
In Jacob 4: 10 we are told that we should seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.

                   B. Another motivation for obedience can be our desires to be rewarded. When we keep the commandments roots will grow, and we have planted the seed, but in order for the roots to be grounded and strong, our motivations can not come from wanting to appear a certain way to anyone, or thinking only of the reward or blessings that come from obedience.
                                I. Satan's plan was to take away our agency and for him to receive
  He was seeking his own reward as his motivation for becoming our savior.
                               II. There was a certain ruler who had a motivation to be obedient that was reward based. Because his motivation to follow Christ was grounded in the reward, the roots of his conversion were not strong enough to give him strength enough to let go of his worldly desires.
Luke Ch 18 : 18-24
 18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit aeternal life?
 19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is agood, save one, that is, God.
 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit aadultery, Do not bkill, Do not steal, Do not bear cfalse witness, dHonour thy father and thy mother.
 21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the apoor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
                               III. Like this young ruler I too know what it is like to not have the strength that comes when we have correct motivations in our obedience. I did not have the strength to give up worldly desires. As I was living off of others testimonies, and just going through the motions I was not able to have the Spirit direct me, and I stopped asking what it was that I should do? I married a non-member, and I spent my time on my own selfish pursuits. One of my pursuits was running for a local running shoe store, where they paid for my races, shoes, and Coaches. I ran on Sundays, I made my team mates a priority over church callings, and church activities, and I could very easily be compared to this young ruler who couldn't give up his worldly desires. I have suffered many consequences for not deepening my roots of conversion, and I do not want this to happen to anyone else. Thankfully, I was able to open my eyes with the help of God, and change my motivations to one that deepens the roots of conversion, and gives added strength through the Spirit that we are blessed with as we are worthy and obedient.
                      C. The motivation for obedience that will make the roots of conversion the most deep, and the most transforming to our character is our desires to be obedient because we love God and want to make him happy. As we love God, our desire to please him is strong, and we seek out his counsel through prayer and scripture study.
                             I. In John 14:15 God says if you love me keep my commandments, and in Mark 12:31 it says that the second greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. As we love God, he provides us with love for our fellow men. In 1840 the prophet Joseph sent an epistle to the twelve where in he taught that, " Love is one of the chief characteristics of diety, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be sons of God."  "A man filled with love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race." Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

                              II. In Mosiah 28 we have the account of Alma The Younger who had gone about destroying the church of God. After an angel appeared to him and he says he was repenting nigh unto death, he was redeemed and went about proclaiming the gospel  because he loved God, and when we love God, we want to love others. We can read in Alma 28:3 about Alma's motivation to serve and be obedient to God. His motivation was not out of fear of consequence, or because family and friends said he should do these things, but it was for this that we read in VS. 3: Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea even the very thought any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

                             III. The experience that I have felt as the Atonement worked and works in my life gives me a love for God that is not expressible to the depth that I feel it. I have made poor choices in many instances in my past, because  my roots of conversion, were not deep enough, but as I have become obedient to the commandments, and counsel from Apostles and the Prophets, and with my motivation being grounded in my love for God, my conversion has been deepened so very much. So much in fact that I have felt the Spirit give me direct guidance to questions that I have had in my life. I hope for everyone's conversion to be deep enough to ask our Father in Heaven what his will for you in your life is? And that when you ask, you can truly follow through on the counsel that he gives you. As I felt my conversion grow deeper, my desire to attend the temple was strengthened, and even though my husband was very against it for years, I was able to put faith and trust in my Father in Heaven and tell my husband that I had to go. As we take these steps of obedience with a pure desire to please God, he blesses us, and he blessed me that everything in my marriage was able to work out even after this conflict, this is a wonderful blessing because attending the temple at least every other week is an incredible strength in my life. As my conversion deepened I was also given specific direction as to a profession that I should go into. As I was looking for a doctors office a few years ago, I had a thought from the Spirit that I should go into a particular office that was not my doctor and not even close to my doctors office. As I followed the prompting, I found out as I went inside, that the office was the registration office for Nurse Assistant Certification courses. At that moment the Spirit very strongly told me that I was supposed to do these classes, and now today I am privileged to work in the hospital with amazing nurses and very sick patients. As I have worked in this environment my love for God's children has grown even more, and I know that Father in Heaven was able to bless me with that instruction to gain that education and a job that would help me grow characteristics and attributes that would help my conversion to become even stronger.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


I.What is humility?
        A. In Hebrew scriptures humility is drawn from a root word ( a-nah ) which means to be afflicted, humbled or oppressed.

II. How did Jesus Christ show humility?
        A. He was born to be a Savior and king yet he was born in a stable.
              1. He did not place himself above anyone else.
        B. He had no home.
               1. He did not feel entitled to anything special even considering who he is.
        C. He was perfect, yet he was baptized.
               1. He did not justify why the law did not pertain to him, and he did not place himself above any law.
        D. He showed that he understood that he needed and could gain strength from God, Our Father in Heaven, by fasting for forty days, in order that he might gain strength for the upcoming events.
                 1. He was willing to endure physical and emotional discomfort, to show sacrifice and receive strength.
         E. He said even in his greatest pain, not my will but thine will be done, as he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane.
                   1. He always explained that all he did was because of the Father, and showed his greatest desire was to do God's will.
         F.He showed that he was humble by asking God for help many times throughout the scriptures.
                  1. He was aware that he needed strength and help from his Father, God.
                   2. My absolute expression of his humility was in his Intercessory prayer as recorded in John 17:9. In this prayer he shows great love for his Apostles and us. He asks God to help them, and us, as he says VS. 9: I pray for them : I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me, for they are thine. VS.11: And  now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee Holy Father, keep through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. VS.20: Neither I pray for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.

III. Three ways that we can be compelled to become humble.
            A. There is a great account in Alma 59 that encompasses three different ways that we sometimes are compelled to become humble. I think it is important to recognize some ways that we can become humble, in order that we might respond in a way that growth and development can come to us.
                     1. First I would like you to remember the armies of Helaman, and the stripling warriors. These warriors were holding true to a promise that their parents made after they were humbled because of SIN. As their wars caused so much blood shed, their parents became humbled to repentance which allowed for a desire to change to be wrought upon them. They burried their weapons of war and promised to never fight again, so we can see in this instance it was SIN that was the element that caused their humility unto repentance. We can see this in our own lives when we SIN, it always causes negative affects in our lives. Some examples are ; if a person lies, they will have to cover up more lies, and eventually will be caught in a lie, and others will not trust them. If we envy others, the negative affect is unhappiness, and most likely a failure to have healthy relationships. As sin creates negative affects sometimes and hopefully we can recognize the need for change.
                        2. Now we will fast forward some and now the leader of those same stripling warriors is in trouble. He does not have enough men to help in his battles and many of his men are lost through death. Captain Moroni whom was even charged over Helaman was very angry that this had happened because he already had sent a letter to the Chief Judge Pahoran explaining that Helaman's men needed help. Upon not receiving this help, and hearing of the death of Helaman's men Captain Moroni sent a letter in anger to the Chief Judge Pahoran, and in this letter he basically blames all of Helaman's men's deaths on Pahoran. He also threatened if he did not recieve help they would leave their position and take what their army needed. When Pahoran received this letter he could have very easily have been very offended as he was being blamed for people's deaths. This happens in our lives as well, sometimes people can complain to us about our actions, and become angry at us, whether or not the reason is valid, we can respond in a humble manner the way that Pahoran did to this letter. Pahoran was humble because he was only sorry for what had happened, even though it was not his fault. In Alma 61:9 he says, " And now in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but I do rejoice in the greatness of your heart." In VS.2 he says, " I do not joy in your afflictions, yea it grieves my soul." Then he goes onto explain that he was taken out of the judgement seat where he would not have the authority to send men to help him because he had been driven out of the land by some wicked men who wanted a king. And so the element that brought humility here is others. Other people can give us advise, express our wrongs, and they may even be trying to help us.We can accept their advise humbly. When the advise is wrongfully given we can chose to humbly react in a positive way, by only showing love.
                         3. In Alma 62:41 we learn that because of Helaman's men being lost it brought them to be humbled. So the last element that compelled them to humility was a trial, an affliction or sorrow. We can read in VS.41 it says, " But behold because of the exceedingly great length f the war between the Nephites and Lamenites many had become hardened because of their afflictions insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility. " Sometimes in our lives we are faced with trials, or tragedy like a loss of a job, the death of a family member or friend, and as well health issues can me a major affliction for some.

          IV.  How can being humbled bring us blessings?
                A. When we chose to react in a positive way to these examples I have mentioned we are chosing to be humbled, instead of harvesting anger, or resentment in our hearts. If we use these experiences to humble us, we will desire to make a change or receive strength from God through PRAYER.
    Just like when Christ needed help he prayed so can we pray for strength to change, and endure our trials.
             B. When we continually say daily prayers and keep a continual prayer in our hearts, it helps bring our desires into alignment with God's will for us. It also can compel us to REPENT.
              C.  As we repent it allows us to have the HOLY GHOST with us more. As we have the Holy Ghost with us more, we will be enticed to do more good, and we will  be given the strength that we need to make changes in our lives.
                               1. In D&C 6: 14-15 it explains how when we pray to receive instructions, the Holy Ghost can give us instructions. We read :

14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast ainquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
 15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy amind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been benlightened by the cSpirit of truth;

V. I  will share a story that explains that when we are humble we can be given instruction and opportunity to become the individuals that God wants us to be. Just as Jesus Christ prayed to God the Father for us to become one with him, we can gain the strength that we need to develop attributes and characteristics that he has, and that he desires for us to have. I know that being humble enough to recognize that we need God's help will help us become what he desires of us.
 A. There was a story of a tiny striped caterpillar and how he joined a pile of other squirming, pushing
caterpillars who were trying to get to the top of the pile. It was only when he talked to a certain
yellow caterpillar that the two of them decided that getting on the top wasn’t really what they
wanted most. So, they climbed down and away from the others. They enjoyed being together,
and they ate and grew fat until one day they became bored, and they wanted to find out if there
was more to life. The striped caterpillar decided to find out by climbing again to the top of the
caterpillar pile. The yellow caterpillar felt ashamed that she didn’t agree but decided it was
better to wait until she could take action she could believe in. So he climbed, and she wandered
aimlessly until she saw a caterpillar hanging upside down on a branch and caught in some
hairy substance. She said, “You seem to be in trouble. Can I help you?” “No,” said the hanging
caterpillar, “I have to do this to become a butterfly.”
“Butterfly? What is a butterfly?”
“It’s what you are meant to be. It flies with beautiful wings and joins the earth to heaven. It
drinks only nectar from the flowers and carries seeds of love from one flower to another. Without
butterflies the world would soon have few flowers.”
The yellow caterpillar exclaimed, “It can’t be true! How can I believe there’s a butterfly inside
you or me when all I see is a fuzzy worm? How does one become a butterfly?”
The hanging caterpillar said, “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a
The yellow caterpillar began fearfully but continued the process until at length she became a
butterfly. Then she helped the striped caterpillar learn who he was and leave the pile to become what
he was really meant to be. . . .
So it is for us as Latter-day Saints. We too must act worthy of ourselves and the glorious vision
of truth and eternity which has been restored to us. That vision of eternal growth and gentle, loving
persuasion is too great a dream to let go of when we hunger in our hearts to be one with our Savior.
The power is in you to reach out and claim those blessings. You have the powers within you to be
Christlike. It is what you are meant to be.
(Barbara B. Smith, “The Powers Within You,” speech given at Brigham Young University on 1 February 1981)

I am so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life that has provided me with all of the knowledge that I need to become eternally happy. I am thankful for a loving Father in Heaven who provided us with a Savior, so that we might be able to come to this earth, learn and grow from life experiences and try our best to become like him. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly love us all so very much, and they do want to provide us with incredible blessings that we can't even imagine. My hope is that I will be humble enough to follow the Spirit when I do pray and ask what it is that I need to change, in order that I can become not just like them, but become one with them? My prayer is for all of us to remember his desires and will for us, and that we will come together as Brothers and Sisters in the Gospel to provide each other strength and love.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

                                                            Emily Turano :)