I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes.
Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes
people believe in little or nothing, yet they give their lives to
that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as
we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what
you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.
We discovered that an individual would know the Church was true only to the degree he or she was true to the Church. By being true to the Church, there seemed to be an unlocking from within of a divine sense of a testimony - a conviction that came from obedience.
Once we learned this transcendentally vital lession, we stopped trying to convince people by persuasion, reason, and the use of scripture alone, for this approach stirred up their self doubts. Instead, we encouraged investigators to obey, to change, to repent, to pray, to live a commitment, to attend church, to study the Book of Mormon. This approach, when followed, minimized self-doubt.
We must all hold two pulses simultaneously - God's and man's. We can never serve man's deepest needs without God. Neither do we serve God and his purposes without serving his children in his way. Am I really feeling the pulse of the Lord - praying to him; receiving his Spirit, understanding his ways and designs - if I am unloving, critical and judging of his children?
This truth became so clear in the mission field. Those missionaries who claimed to be so close to the Lord but were not to their companions and contacts served neither the Lord nor his children. They began to use the gospel, like the praying Pharisee, as a tool for judgement and rejection and self justification. Some of their opinions were right, but their spirits were wrong. Their unloving use of the religion of love distorted their perspectives, destroyed their effectiveness, and increasingly isolated them.
...Unless we hold the pulse of both heaven and earth, of God and man, learning from both, appreciating and loving both (God first), we hold neither. There is no power, no influence, no life in truth without love. There is no vision, no lifting power, no conviction, no light in life without truth.
Our greatest role in relationships is to be a light, not a judge.
What does all this mean to you and me as individuals? It means that God, as our Father, made all these arrangements for you and me. We were part of his eternal scheme. And so it is not enough merely to observe these various anniversaries, but we must recommit and rededicate ourselves to uphold the convictions and the principles upon which the blessings we enjoy are predicated. We too must be prepared to sacrifice, where necessary, to keep our freedoms inviolate. My father used to say: “The true way to honor the past is to improve upon it.”
Therefore, we should love God more. We should serve our fellowmen better. We should keep all the commandments. We should be better prepared as parents to teach our children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord, and to assume their responsibilities. It would be tragic if for fear of the challenge involved the descendants of those who gave so liberally and sacrificed so much shrank from the duties of their day and time.
Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” I testify that that is God’s truth. Christ is everything to us and we are to “abide” in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him, the Savior of us all, and to this His Church, which bears His holy name. He is the vine that is our true source of strength and the only source of eternal life. In Him we not only will endure but also will prevail and triumph in this holy cause that will never fail us. May we never fail it nor fail Him.
“Abide in me” is an understandable and beautiful enough concept in the elegant English of the King James Bible, but “abide” is not a word we use much anymore. So I gained even more appreciation for this admonition from the Lord when I was introduced to the translation of this passage in another language. In Spanish that familiar phrase is rendered “permaneced en mi.” Like the English verb “abide,” permanecer means “to remain, to stay,” but even gringos like me can hear the root cognate there of “permanence.” The sense of this then is “stay—but stay forever.” That is the call of the gospel message to Chileans and everyone else in the world. Come, but come to remain. Come with conviction and endurance. Come permanently, for your sake and the sake of all the generations who must follow you, and we will help each other be strong to the very end.
So often we are tentative and don’t move forward with conviction. We feel our way along, as if we were afraid in the dark. It is so much better to turn on the light of faith and move ahead with energy and commitment.
If our course is wrong, we will quickly recognize it and make the necessary adjustments. But if we pursue a course tentatively and indecisively, it is difficult to know whether it is right or wrong in time to correct it.
The Lord said, “I would thou wert cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15).
We should decide now to make our decisions prayerfully and then move forward with faith, energy, and determination.
And I did tell those people that I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that I knew that the Book of Mormon was the word of God and that I knew that the church had been restored through Joseph Smith. And it's interesting, because in that moment I came to know -- and one of our church leaders has since taught -- that beautiful principle that the acquiring of a testimony, the acquiring of a conviction, is in the bearing of it, in the stating of it; not that it's self-conversion in that process, but that if the Spirit, which is what we believe, the Holy Ghost really convinces us -- and it's there because the Bible teaches us to help us come into all truth and to know truth; that's the role that the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost is to play -- then somehow by walking down that tunnel, maybe just from the light into darkness a little bit, brings the light and the conviction.
That, for me -- I'm not a born-again Christian, because we don't have that terminology, and we don't have that experience as is had maybe in some churches -- but that was the moment, really, when my hope and my tender belief turned into something really solid, which has been the foundation for the rest of my life. It's what motivates me. It's what gets me up in the morning. It's what carries me in the duties that I do. It's what gives me joy and satisfaction from knowing that my way in life is the way I should be going. And it came about in that moment. So when people say, "How was your mission?," I say it was everything, because I've never been the same since that little moment.