Monday, June 7, 2010

Intellect/ Spirituaility #40

Dear Friends and Family,                                                                                                                                                                                 June 7th, 2010

I want to start this e-mail with a few quotes/talks I've found going through old Conference editions I've discovered as I've packed things. Not that I'm sure of a transfer, but technically, we should be moving on Transfer day either way, and I've only packed things I don't use regularly. Anyway,
"The Future is as bright as your faith!"- President Monson
"I am a nobody... if [I] ever forget it, the Lord will remind [me] of it instantly, and it will not be pleasant." - President Packer
"None but fools will trifle with the souls of men" - Joseph Smith
"I am reverent, for reverence is love" Primary song
"Sunday Will Come" - Elder Wirthlin (I highly recommend this talk!)
"Let Us Be Men" - Elder Christoffersen (the best talk ever)
"Discipleship" - President Faust (also awesome)
I love the Conference editions. I hope to collect a stack of them when I get back home. How blessed are we to have living Prophets and Apostles to fill us full of insight into the mind of our Heavenly Father?!

     These past few weeks have been a great example of President Packer's quote up there. Last week, especially, Elder Q. and I felt like we had a lot of lessons that didn't pan out the way they should have. As we sat down and talked about it, we realized we've been a little prideful.... well, a lot prideful. Getting a shout-out at Zone Conference for our efforts last transfer didn't help. Anyway, it hasn't been that we sit around telling everyone what awesome missionaries we are. Rather, it was manifest in our teachings. We've been too intellectually centered. We have not been relying on the Spirit, but rather our own brains. Which is why last week failed so miserably. Not to say that the Gospel can't make sense intellectually, but rather that it just doesn't penetrate that way. As we taught a well-to-do doctor, it came out of my mouth (meaning, I don't remember planning on saying it) that his intellect was getting in the way of the Lord. God does appeal to the intelligentsia in His methods because that's just not going to help all His of children. The Spirit and prayer are for everyone, even the illiterate and ignorant. It is the spiritual, and not the rational that God asks us to rely on.
     This leads to a powerful scripture I found in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 32:5. The context is this – It is just after Nephi has made clear the Doctrine of Christ, which concludes with the importance of enduring to the end. Nephi, with prophetic insight, realizes the next question is "Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost are tangible things. How do I endure to the end?"
2 Nephi 32:5
" For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."

This is why the guidance of the Spirit and relying on the Lord is so important. God cannot flesh out His will for each of His children in the scriptures. There are billions of us!! Instead, we are invited to "ask, seek, and knock" to know what we must do to endure. Now, to do this requires personal righteousness. As Elder Q. and I recognized our weaknesses and attempted to correct them, we realized the Lord has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. One man who was investigating the Church in Liberia, but lost contact when he moved here, sprinted over to us. "My people! I've found you!" One sister walked by later, and in the middle of a lesson with someone else, asked "Excuse me. How can I find the real Church from the Bible?" A member appeared during a lesson, and realizing we were teaching his cousin, immediately testified and resolved the investigators concern. The Lord has blessed us as we remember that we are “nobody".

Striving to act upon the will of God, and repenting as quickly as possible, THAT is personal righteousness. This was especially evident as President Smith talked to us last Zone Conference. "I start to receive promptings for what is to be taught here about 10-12 weeks out," he said, "and the Spirit has been persistent in saying 'Your missionaries are doing well, but they would do so much more if they would strive to be more obedient!'" Obedience is synonymous with personal righteousness. It is what is required in order to handle the powers of heaven. We then received a thorough instruction on Christ. What is it that made Him our Savior? Was He created better than us?

Wow, this is going to get disorganized, but it's relevant. This also connects to the fact that most people we taught this week were intellectuals who struggled with the concept of Spirit, and Soul.

Christ was the firstborn of the Father. This does not refer to His status as Only Begotten, but rather, in the spiritual sense. We all were created spiritually before we were born. We lived with God before our birth on this earth. Christ was the first created by Father.  If we were to go back into our spiritual memories, there would never be a time we could find without Christ. Now, this being said, the means by which God created Christ was not different than you or I. His status as Firstborn did not give Him any edge. His greatness and glory stem solely for His obedience to the will of the Father. Indeed, in His existence, He never once went contrary to God. As he obeyed the direction of God, this gave Him greater glory and power, as God's commandments are just directions down this path. We loved and revered Christ as our older brother. His obedience prepared and qualified Him to be sent as our Savior and Redeemer. Throughout His mortal life, He never deviated from His course. I say His, because under the direction of the Father, He authored and set in motion the plan of salvation. The atonement was as much His desire as it was Heavenly Father's. Anyway, in His perfect life, it was His humility and deference to the commandments of God that gave Him power to perform miracles, to heal the sick, and ultimately, break the bands of death.

This reflects 3 important aspects of my testimony. I know that we are spiritually the children of a loving Heavenly Father. I know He will lead and guide those who wish to be. I know that Christ, our eldest brother, lived a perfect life, and ultimately suffered for our sins, opening the path to overcome spiritual death. He died on the Cross and rose the third day, giving us the gift of immortality. And I know it is through humble obedience to the Lord that we can claim these blessings for ourselves.

Now, as the last thing I learned this week, I add this. Our testimonies are nothing without action. Just as the body without the spirit is dead, our testimonies are lifeless shells if shared only on the first Sunday of the month. I hope that to the people of the Buduburam ward, as well as you, my dear friends and family, that my testimony is evident in what I DO, and not just in what I say.

Elder W. Farnbach

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