Church Talks

The Truth Shall Set You Free
February 21, 2021 by Dustin Ormond
The Truth Shall Set You FreeWhether we cognitively think about it or not, this life is a battle of trying to free ourselves from things that seek to enslave us. These may include:AddictionUnsatisfactory EmploymentPersonal DebtMental DistressDestructive RelationshipsPassionless MarriagesStressful ParentingThe PastThroughout Jesus’ life he set the perfect example through teaching and behavior. In the gospel of John, we learn that while Jesus was preaching about his role as the Savior, many Jews began to believe his words. After calling the believers his disciples, he stated in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” In what ways does Christ and the truth set us free? Although there may be more areas in which Christ sets us free, I will group the things mentioned previously in the same four areas that the children and youth program focuses on: (1) physically, (2) intellectually, (3) socially, and (4) spiritually free. Physically FreeTo begin, I will talk about being physically free. In the April 2018 ensign, a member of the church named Matthew Flitton recounts a story about how addiction robs our physical freedom.“One day my companion and I were walking through a park, when a homeless man walked up to us. This man laughed at us. He told us we were slaves to our religion. He bragged about how he could commit immoral acts and we couldn’t. ‘If I want to drink wine, I drink wine. If I want to do drugs, I do drugs. But you can’t,’ he said dismissively. ‘Your church has taken away your ability to choose.’ He continued telling us all the ways the commandments were holding us back. As he did so, he became increasingly agitated. Finally, he asked, ‘Do either of you have a cigarette? I need one now.’ When we told him we didn’t, he ran off to find a cigarette. That moment showed the reality of captivity and freedom.”This church has constantly advocated keeping ourselves free physically. Each day we can be a little bit better and we don’t need to try to free ourselves on our own. In D&C 68, Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and William E. McLellin were seeking the mind of the Lord and received this revelation in verse 6, “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” Christ will stand by us and help free us. He has healed lepers, those sick with palsy, or raised the dead. Through him, others have been freed of illnesses or have been granted relief. He promises us blessings as well, “For example, when we hearken to the Word of Wisdom, we escape the captivity of poor health and addiction to substances that literally rob us of our ability to act for ourselves” (Freedom or Captivity, April 2018 Ensign).In my own life, I have had struggles and have prayed for guidance. The spirit has prompted me with concrete actions that I could take to improve my circumstances or those of others. For example, I have been a part of priesthood blessings that have led to pregnancy labor progressing smoothly, promised children where hope was dimming, and given life where things were hanging by a thread.Intellectually FreeMany of us struggle to be intellectually free and we would be naïve to think otherwise. Indeed, some struggle with drugs or alcohol as previously mentioned. However, I believe that Satan is more subtlety binding people today in addictions such as pornography, video games, and mobile devices.“We are a sad nation. A study released in 2011 by our government states that more than one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 takes anti-depressants” (up 400% from two decades earlier, 10 Ways to Be Truly Free, AllProDads.com). This jumped to 13% between 2015 and 2018 (Antidepressant Use Among Adults: United States, 2015-2018, CDC). With the COVID pandemic, the usage of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety prescriptions is up 21% and 34% respectively (Americans are taking more anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants during coronavirus pandemic: report, TheHill.com). We perceive with today’s technology that personal freedoms are enhanced, but in reality, they have enslaved many to the point of despair. The struggle is real whether it is clinically diagnosed or otherwise.The general authority Marcos A. Aidukaitis has said, “With so much available on the Internet, we must carefully consider where to apply our efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.”I remember when I was young, we would engage in activities such as street hockey with brooms, steal the flag, eenie-onie over, or ultimate frisbee. Now, we pick up that virtual hockey stick, we throw that virtual football, and we virtually shoot others in a game of tag or steal the flag or capture the base. In fact, screens have taken up so much of our time that the average American spends 5.4 hours a day behind a mobile device checking it up to 63 times per day. Millennials are the worst offender with 12.3% of them spending over 12 hours a day behind their devices (How Much Time Does the Average American Spend on Their Phone?, TechJury.com). In fact, how many are using a device right now instead of listening to this talk? Or pull out the device instead of having meaningful interaction with family or friends that are present?One of the first assignments I give to my students in the introductory technology class is to go 8 hours without any technology. Some comments from the students indicate that this was very difficult; however, other comments indicate this was “refreshing” or that “I need to do this more often”. Russell M. Nelson has advocated fasts from technology and to “make a weekly sacrifice of time to the Lord” (President and Sister Nelson’s Devotional for Youth, June 3 2018).Why is it so critical that we remain intellectually free? In Galatians 5:13, Paul speaks of this, “For…ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”Socially FreeSo by being free, we can socially benefit others. Elder Albert E. Bowen (1875-1953), of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that, “The true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.” However, although we can best serve and help others socially when we are free ourselves, let’s not use this as an excuse from serving others. One show that my family has started watching and really love is The Chosen. This show dramatizes the back story of Christ and those who interacted with him. I love the director’s interpretation of how these events may have occurred. One example from The Chosen is that of Peter and his obligation of financial debt to taxes. When Christ came and told them to cast their nets on the other side, the nets were so full of fish that they began to break. This fish was enough and more to cover the supposed debts of Peter.Elder Edward Dube (First Counselor in the Africa South Area Presidency) had a friend Jerry D. Hymas teach him to remain free from debt, “Eddie, here is a formula for financial success that has worked for me over the years and has enabled me to retire early. When you receive your paycheck, you (1) pay tithing, ten percent; (2) pay ten percent to yourself; and (3) save ten percent for emergency purposes.” Then he looked at me and said, “Never spend money you do not have.” Some say, “If I had more money, I would have a better plan.” What I failed to grasp is that if I had a better plan, I would have sufficient money. Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught us that two basic principles can guide and strengthen individuals facing life’s proving and trying circumstances—preparation and pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ.Social freedom can occur in more than financial obligations to others. These include personal relationships with spouses, children, friends, and others. As a parent, I feel like I frequently fall short in the heat of the moment. In the book, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart, she states, “In the heat of the moment, it may be too difficult to pause and prevent the outburst. But it’s never too late to take that internal inventory. We get endless chances for the pause – we can pause before, during, after, after, after, and after again. There’s no expiration date on revisiting what was going on with me when I flew off my handle or dumped my anxiety on the head of my children.” Further illustrating this point, the site AllProDad.com is a site that focuses on parenting and other topics. One article mentions that, “we need to have confidence that if we pour right things into our children, they’ll turn out just fine. Confess to them when you have blown it and model for them what love and leadership looks like. All you can do is your best and leave the rest up to God.”Let us not let an unkind word or action be our last interaction with others. Let us be willing to repent and forgive ourselves and others as Jesus has said, “till seven times seven” (Matt 18:21).Spiritually FreeLastly, Jesus makes it possible for us to be spiritually free from sin. The crowds gathered around as Jesus was teaching, and the best family and friends could do for a paralytic was to lower him down through the roof. The first thing Jesus said to this man was, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” This is a common phrase that we see from Christ. He was willing to forgive any who came to him with faith and full purpose of heart.Even Peter was a sinner and constantly recognized this. “Fishermen at that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language.  The fishermen of the first century were a man’s man.  They were full of vigor and had boisterous tempers” (Apostle Peter Biography: Timeline, Life, and Death, WhatChristiansWantToKnow.com) which may be why they were called the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). However, the invitation to come from Jesus was enough for him and others to drop what was important in their life and follow him regardless of the cost.In the April 2018 Ensign we learn, “When we follow the prophets’ counsel to hold family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study, our homes become an incubator for our children’s spiritual growth. … By our righteous choices and actions, we liberate them from darkness by increasing their ability to walk in the light.”Final ThoughtsDuring COVID, becoming free in the ways mentioned above may prove difficult as each day may seem like we are reliving our own personal Groundhog’s Day, but as Russell M. Nelson states in his August 2020 Facebook post, “Dear friends, the road ahead may be bumpy, but our destination is serene and secure. So, fasten your seatbelt, hang on through the bumps, and do what's right. Your reward will be eternal.” Jesus confirms this by saying in John 8:36, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."I know that by doing what is right and in line with the gospel truths we can be free physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. I have experienced many blessings in my life from following Christ and his teachings. I urge you to act on any promptings you may have had as you listened today. The gospel is true. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Consistent and Resilient Trust
January 29, 2020 by Dustin Ormond
Influenced by the talk given by Elder L. Todd Budge in the October 2019 General ConferenceSorrowA fact of this life is that all of us will experience sorrow. What is sorrow? It is a “feeling of deep distress, anxiety, or pain caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself.” Sorrow originates either from our actions or actions beyond our control (i.e., actions of others or life events). Sorrow from our actions can either lead to godly sorrow that causes us to repent or worldly sorrow that causes people to only feel bad when they were caught. My talk will focus on events beyond our control and how to overcome the sorrow from them. I borrow from the thoughts and ideas of Elder L. Todd Budge’s talk Consistent and Resilient Trust from the last general conference and the experience of the Jaredites found in Ether in the Book of Mormon for my talkTo begin, I don’t know what the Brother of Jared was feeling when building barges. I imagine that he experienced much sorrow. I too have traveled the ocean, but my travels were on a large cruise ship rather than these smaller barges. Nevertheless, I have felt the power of the waves and the motion sickness that ensues. If I were in the brother of Jared’s situation, I know that I would experience deep distress and anxiety about crossing the ocean, let alone building the barges in the first place. Furthermore, the scriptures don’t even mention how the Jaredites acquired food to sustain them in their journey. On the cruise ship, I have stood on the upper decks and looked out into the ocean and its pure darkness. I try to imagine what this experience would be like if the cruise ship lost power and all the lights went out. No wonder the brother of Jared was concerned about lighting the Jaredite barges. Brother Budge asks, “When striving to live as the Lord commands and righteous expectations are not met, have you ever wondered if you must go through this life in darkness?”Although we may never need to build barges in our lives, the sorrows that we experience are real and happen to each of us. They may be so insurmountable that they feel like this great darkness that the brother of Jared was concerned about. For example, many of my family members have experienced sorrow because of the actions of other family members. I have a friend I work with that can’t physically have children. Another couple we are friends with has struggled with each of their children: their first had cancer, another was diagnosed with “failure to thrive”, and another died at birth. This past Christmas we suffered the flu which switched from physical suffering of aches and pains to emotional suffering of depression.In life, I see two outcomes to our sorrow: (1) we let it break us or (2) we overcome it. Overcoming sorrow may not be easy and it may not be fast. The Jaredites spent 344 days in the barges to cross the ocean and they likely didn’t have motion sickness pills. Nevertheless, we learn from the scriptures that the Jaredites successfully traversed the ocean.In the personal examples I mentioned above, my family members have let sorrow break them to where they resent each other and don’t talk to one another. Additionally, harboring these negative feelings have dampened the effects of the Spirit and have caused many of these family members to leave the church. On a more positive note, my friends who couldn’t have kids, have adopted two children and live optimistic lives. The couple with all the issues with their kids have consistently and resiliently been able to overcome these situations and are a strong example of what it means to overcome sorrow and adversity.Budge quotes a 13th-century poet who states, “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”I am a witness that sorrow indeed wipes everything clean so we can experience new joy. I appreciate good health a lot more after having experienced the flu over Christmas. I appreciate having children even more after having experienced several miscarriages. In addition, I believe these events have enabled us to experience empathy with others at a much deeper level.TrustSo how do we swallow our sorrows instead of letting them swallow us? Brother Budge states, “The good news of the gospel is not the promise of a life free of sorrow and tribulation but a life full of purpose and meaning—a life where our sorrows and afflictions can be ‘swallowed up in the joy of Christ.’”The key here is to consistently and resiliently rely on Christ. To consistently rely on Christ means that we will follow Christ over time regardless of circumstances. To resiliently rely on Christ means that with His aid we will be able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.Heavenly Father declares to the brother of Jared that, “Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.” (Ether 2:25) Consistently and resiliently relying on our Savior and Heavenly Father is vital to be ready for adversity that comes our way.I envision myself as the brother of Jared pushing off from the beach and saying, “Here goes, let’s hope the waves don’t wash us back to the same beach we embarked from.” However, the Jaredites likely had more faith than this as they boarded their “barges, and set forth into the sea, commending [i.e., entrusting or surrendering] themselves unto the Lord their God.” (Ether 6:4) They had this faith even though “many times [they were] buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them.” (Ether 6:6)Have we felt buried below the sea of trials in our life where it is hard to breathe? What do we do in these situations? Are we out swimming in the harsh waters of sea on our own struggling in vain to stay afloat? Or are we in the safety in the barge of our Savior’s care to protect us from these mountainous waves?Although the Jaredites “were driven forth,” there was “no monster of the sea [that] could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.” (Ether 6:10) Furthermore, “the wind did never cease to blow [them] towards the promised land.” (Ether 6:8)Ultimately, the Jaredites “did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:12)From Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, we learn there was one distinguishing feature between those who partook of the forbidden fruit and fell into forbidden paths and those who partook of the forbidden fruit and remained faithful despite the taunting from those in the great and spacious building. This difference is that the first thing the group did that remained faithful was that they fell upon their knees as a representation of their humility and gratitude for the bounteous blessings they had been given. Gratitude despite our sorrow and trials can help us experience joy in the long run.Although we may shed many tears through our sorrows, these tears can be tears of joy. We have shed tears through miscarriage, but eventually tears of joy came in eventually having kids. We have shed tears in depression, but tears of joy came in recognizing the love and support received and given during these difficult times. We have shed tears in seeing family and friends choose different paths from the church, but we constantly shed tears in seeing how the blessings of the gospel have enriched our lives and the lives of others.Brother Budge expresses this joy by stating, “If we are faithful in keeping our covenants, we too will one day arrive safely home and will bow before the Lord and shed tears of joy for the multitude of His tender mercies in our lives, including the sorrows that made space for more joy.”I testify that sorrow can prepare us for joy. Our tears can be tears of happiness. If we just endure, whether it be a day, 344 days like the Jaredites, or a lifetime, joy is promised to those of us who consistently and resiliently trust in and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. If you feel the mountainous waves of sorrow seem to overcome you, I invite you to not just come to Christ but run to him and let him bear your burdens.Bear testimony…In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Building Trust in the Lord
September 10, 2018 by Dustin Ormond
Currently, I teach database and cybersecurity courses at Creighton University. At the beginning of my database course each semester, I present an overview of everything we will cover throughout the semester. I do this so my students can envision their own potential. Essentially, the students are required to model a database, implement a database, and build a web application that connects to the database. Now if that just went over your head, don’t worry the same happens for many of my students (at least in the beginning). When I pass students in the halls, I ask how they are feeling about the class. Frequently, many of them express that they are overwhelmed with what is expected and whether they can really accomplish it. Just last week, I noticed a student who felt so exasperated that it was visibly noticeable. At this moment, I talked with this student, listened to her fears, and proceeded to tell her to take a deep breath and focus on what can be accomplished right now while keeping the end goal in mind. This seemed to calm her nerves. How often do we go through life a lot like this student and others? God presented his plan to us, told us what we need to do to achieve the end goal of eternal life, and willingly guides us throughout the course of life despite our many shortcomings. For us to learn, he intentionally doesn’t provide every single detail along the path. This often causes many of us to feel overwhelmed by everything that is expected, and we wonder if celestial glory is even possible. We often expect perfection of ourselves and wish we had the "perfect" lives that everyone else portrays on their social media highlight reels. I believe that Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to think this way. Just like my students trust that I will guide them throughout the material of the course, I trust that Heavenly Father will guide us through our lives if we seek his guidance in faith. Elder Richard J. Maynes (Oct 2017 GC) of the quorum of the seventy asked his daughter what it means to trust someone. She stated, "Having trust in someone is similar to having faith in someone. Without that trust and faith, there’s fear and doubt. For me, one of the greatest blessings that come from being able to fully trust my husband is peace—peace of mind knowing that he actually does what he says he will do. Trust brings peace, love, and an environment where that love can grow." This brings me to my topic, "How do we build trust in the Lord?" If you have been wondering this, I invite you to listen intently for any promptings of the spirit as we discuss this topic. To build trust in our Heavenly Father and our Savior we should (1) do the small daily things, (2) show love especially amidst trials, and (3) express gratitude. Doing the Small Daily Things How often are we burdened by road construction here in Omaha? It seems like every month a new road is being torn up. To be honest, it frustrates me at times. For example, with Harrison closed, traveling to work and other places is less convenient. However, when it is completed, how many of you get that rush when you drive over a fresh new road? Maybe I am just weird, but I love the feeling of driving on a new road. The problem is that the road doesn’t stay perfect forever. Like many manmade creations, roads begin to wither and crumble with time. Without proper care, little divots in the road change to pot holes and continue to expand until they are very damaging or even dangerous. My in-laws could tell you all about their experiences of driving the roads of Madagascar. Similarly, if we don’t take proper care of our faith, minor doubts creep in then grow and eventually overtake our faith if disregarded. The opposite is true as well, with proper care our faith pushes out any doubts. Take for example my brother: Shortly after his mission, I asked if he was reading his scriptures. He said no but that he was alright because he didn’t have doubts. However, month after month without the spiritual power that comes from scripture reading, his testimony largely faded away. Sure, the residual faith carry-over from his mission lasted for some time but without the proper care, his road of faith began crumbling. Trust in the Lord is not the result of a single action. We may have faith promoting experiences like that of Laman and Lemuel seeing an angel. Or that of my mom who experienced and wrote about strong impressions she had that she would see and raise the children she lost at birth. Or being participants in modern-day miracles through priesthood blessings such as the one that stopped the exorbitant blood loss that threatened C-section for Amy with Annalise. However, no single faith-building experience is enough. Laman and Lemuel chose not to follow the counsel of their father despite the visitation of an angel. My mom now actively fights against the church. In my own experience, even with these powerful moments of faith, doubts enter my mind frequently (more or less on a weekly basis). We cannot rely on past experiences alone to help us fight each day’s battles. Past memories, feelings, and promptings begin to fade emphasizing the need to build our trust in the Lord each day. The simple daily principles of the gospel that we follow will help us fight against the constant bombardment of the adversary. Does it make sense to suit up for one battle in a long war and expect to be protected for the remainder of the war? No! Faith and trust is very fragile and must be exercised daily, if not more often. We learn this truth in Alma 37:6 where it says, "…behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…" Just as the holes formed in roads can be improved with small and simple patches, as soon as we follow the small and simple principles of the gospel, doubts begin to crumble and the spirit helps patch any spiritual holes and rebuild our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Show Love Especially Amidst Trial Disheartened as a young man after losing a football game, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (a former member of the quorum of the twelve apostles) received the following counsel from his mom, "Come what may, and love it!" Joseph B. Wirthlin stated that "…in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result…" He continues, "I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life." I add that not only can we love each moment, but we can show love in each moment by serving others amidst our trials. After living in Nebraska through four winters now and walking some of the paths the pioneers walked, I constantly find myself wondering how they were willing to suffer so much to cross the plains. Yet, countless stories talk about the pioneers serving each other (even if it meant losing their own life) as they crossed. Additionally, I can’t imagine the suffering that Joseph Smith experienced in the various jails of his lifetime. Yet, letters expressing his deepest love were often the focus of his time in jail. It is hard to picture what it was like for Ammon and his brethren to suffer so much hardship while trying to serve those that supposedly despised them. Yet, Ammon and his brethren were able to convert many Lamanites because the love they showed, particularly towards their enemies. The most difficult to comprehend, however, is what the Savior experienced for us in Gethsemane and on the cross. Yet, he healed the ear of the soldier and suffered for our sins in Gethsemane and forgave the Romans and others while on the cross. What do these all have in common? I believe that these people first had a trust in the Lord and second focused on showing love to others despite their extreme circumstances. We would be wise to learn from their examples, to take a moment and stop focusing solely on our own problems but seek out how we can serve others. I promise you that our lives will be much happier if we do this as I have seen this in my own life. I served a companion that I didn’t get along with on my mission only to hear many years later that I was his favorite companion. By doing so our faith and trust in the Lord will grow because we will experience a taste of the love our Heavenly Father and Savior have for us as we share that love with others. Express Gratitude In Doctrine and Covenants 78:19, we read "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." Therefore, by expressing gratitude, we reflect on the things our Savior has done for us. We feel his love in forgiveness and we recognize the personal revelation he has bestowed upon us. As we "live in thanksgiving daily" (Alma 34:38), we begin to recognize the many ways the Lord has blessed our lives and our trust may grow "even an hundred fold." When we need to exercise faith and trust in the Lord again whether tomorrow, the next hour, or the next minute, it will be easier if we have taken the time to reflect on and express gratitude for the bounteous ways our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have already blessed our lives. I really like Joseph B. Wirthlin’s statement that sums up much of what I have said today, "The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him." Like the student I mentioned at the beginning of my talk, it wasn’t until she took a step back and focused on what she could do right now that the situation seemed less daunting. Rather than looking at what others are or aren’t doing, let’s focus on building our trust in the Lord one thing at a time. If we are struggling with reading scriptures, praying, paying tithing, chastity, word of wisdom, anger, etc., take a step back, pick one thing to improve on, and focus our energy and faith there first. I promise that as we take this approach, obeying each new commandment will start to become second nature and we will begin to feel that we can concentrate our efforts on the next important commandment. To build trust in the Lord, we need to do the small daily things, show love amidst trials, and express gratitude. As we do these things, we will realize that our Heavenly Father and Savior indeed do what they say they will do. I bear you my witness that when I have followed this pattern in my own life, my life and the lives of those around me (especially my family) have been much happier. Bear testimony… In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
What's in a Name?
December 11, 2017 by Dustin Ormond
What’s in a name? Solve this riddle, "What is something you own but rarely use, yet it is frequently used by others?" Don’t shout it out but think of the answer. Maybe turn to someone sitting next to you and tell them the answer if you think you know. The answer is, "Your name." So, why is a name so important? Have you ever tried to get someone’s attention without knowing their name? Maybe you are tempted to shout out, "Hey! Tall guy?" and have several people turn and look at you only to sheepishly point at your friend standing next to you. Another more seasonal favorite may be, "Hey you! Over there, with the ugly sweater?" Maybe you carry on an awkward conversation with someone you met before, while struggling to remember their name for 5-10 minutes into the conversation. Yeah, we are all guilty of that one. I am pretty sure if I asked Amy on our first date with the phrase, "Hey hot girl, do you want to go on a date with me?" she probably would have turned me down or our relationship wouldn’t have gone too far. So, how do we (1) truly get others’ attention immediately or (2) begin to establish better relationships with them? Through their name. So, what is in a name? Many of us have names that are given to us as signs of affection such as Sweetheart, Guppy, Buford, or Shoog. Some are obtained when certain events occur such as Husband, Wife, Father, or Mother. Some names portray power such as President and Leader. Some names imply more humble positions such as Servant. Many in this world strive to obtain certain names for the power and prestige that come with them. Nevertheless, almost all names have responsibility associated with them. The problem is that if the responsibility associated with a name is neglected, it can lead to heartache, trouble, or even the loss of the name (e.g. a doctor who illegally prescribes medicine). Luckily for us, one person has lived up to the names he has been called. He has discredited many misnomers attributed to him while holding strong to the most important names found in the history of mankind. Among these names you will find: Savior: 48 times (in the topical guide of the Book of Mormon) Redeemer: 65 times The Righteous Judge: 87 times The Resurrection: 52 times The Life: Various times across multiple terms So, who I am referring to? None other than Jesus Christ. These are only a few of the names of Christ. In the Bible Dictionary, you will find hundreds of other names. Could you imagine if Christ didn’t live up to these names. What promises would we have now? What would be the purpose of life? Thank goodness Jesus Christ came through! Christ is our Savior in that he "save[d] his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21) that every person in the "world through him might be saved" (John 3:17) regardless of circumstance. Without Him, there is "none other name…whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, 2 Ne. 25:20; Mosiah 3:17; 5:8; D&C 18:23; Moses 6:52). There was a price to be paid for our sins so that the laws of justice could be satisfied. Christ is our Redeemer in that "he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isa. 53:4, Mosiah 14:4) by giving "his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28, 1 Tim. 2:6) at the cost of his own "blood … which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28, Luke 22:20). Our part of the bargain is to return to Him through repentance. This may sound simple but often our pride gets in the way. Take for example, two different events that happened this week: I broke my pinky I had a hard time overcoming being offended Which of these two were much harder for me to deal with? The first has burdened me in ordinary tasks such as pulling the milk from the fridge or buckling Tanner in his car seat. If you had seen me try to put my shirt on this morning, you would have had a good laugh! My level of efficiency has diminished drastically which is very hard for me because I consider myself a very efficient person. You would be surprised how much you use the muscles connected to your pinky. The second incident, I felt insulted and betrayed this week and pondered (probably too long) over an event. It affected my mood and relationships with those around me. Satan kept encouraging me to harbor these feelings as "retribution" but, essentially, it was only harming myself. The burden of the first has been very difficult and will continue to be difficult. I may not be able to physically carry things the same way as before, but I can still carry a cheerful attitude (especially while continuing to play ultimate frisbee for another 1.5 hours before knowing it was broken). On the other hand, the burden of the second almost completely crippled me and continuing in that direction would have led to a very terrible future. Thankfully, I asked my heavenly father to help me find in me the power to forgive. The burden I had carried for too long was immediately lifted from my shoulders. It was so easy to forgive this person and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. Christ knows the pains and afflictions I am experiencing so he knows how to succor me and my broken pinky. Additionally, he already saved me from my sins, but it wasn’t until I repented that I felt His redemptive power take control! The only thing that got in the way was my own pride. Thankfully Christ will be our Judge and he isn’t like any normal judge because "he shall judge the world in righteousness" (Ps. 9:8, Acts 17:31; Rom. 3:6; 2 Ne. 29:11; Mosiah 3:10; 3 Ne. 27:16). Even "the secrets of men" (Rom. 2:16) shall be judged by him. When I served on a jury, the judge sat on the stand allowing only pertinent information to be presented in the case. Likewise, I envision Jesus Christ will not allow sins we have repented of to be admissible in "high court." We learn that, "shall not the Judge of all the earth do right" (Gen. 18:25, 1 Sam. 2:10; 1 Chr. 16:33; Ps. 58:11; 82:8; 94:2)? Jesus is The Resurrection in that the "sting of death is swallowed up in [Him]" (Mosiah 16:8) that "he may loose the bands of death which bind his people" (Alma 7:12). The death of a loved one is a very difficult thing to go through. Christ gives us the hope that we will someday see each other again after this time of probation. Christ has stated, "I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25). Not only are we resurrected but we can be resurrected unto eternal life. As we learn in John 17:3, "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." What a glorious day that will be to be in God and Jesus’ presence once again! So what is common between the names of Savior, Redeemer, Righteous Judge, The Resurrection, and The Life? The atonement. None of these names would exist without the atonement. None of us would truly be able to experience the perfect plan of our Heavenly Father and would thus be lost. I routinely teach classes and feel that until I get to know the names of my students, I can’t really relate to them. It is much easier to get their attention as I teach the material of the course. Just as with my students, I don’t think we can truly become familiar with Christ unless we know his names. Every week we take upon us the name of Christ by partaking of the sacrament. So what does that really mean? Do we know Him as our Savior? Do we know Jesus Christ as our Redeemer? Do we believe He will be a righteous judge? Do we know with certainty that we will all be resurrected through him? Do we look forward to eternal life, a gift made possible through him? If we do not believe these things, then now is the time to come to know Him by these names. Now is the time to act so that the burdens we feel today will be lifted. Again, now is the time to act! Don’t delay. Delay only brings more misery and heartache as I am a witness. I testify… May we so live up to the name that we take upon us every week. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Invitations of Our Savior
January 31, 2016 by Dustin Ormond
Invitations ranging from the trivial to the most influential have played a vital role in my life. I have accepted invitations that nearly cost me my life such as climbing a mountain with an extension cord to rescue a lost flip flop (don’t ask…) and other invitations have renewed life such as the invitation to serve. Additionally, I have extended invitations from day-to-day tasks such as "Will you set the table?" to the greatest and most enduring invitation of "Will you marry me?" This brings me to today. What invitations am I receiving and accepting that are of most value? Also, what invitations do I extend truly impact others for good? I would like to look at the life of Christ as an example for us to follow. Accepting Christ’s Invitations Shortly after the death of Christ in Jerusalem, vast destruction and darkness occurred in the Americas as recorded in the Book of Mormon. However when we think of the events that immediately transpired after this, some of us think of the voice from heaven that the people didn’t recognize until the third time. Others of us think of Christ coming down from heaven in majesty and glory. However, immediately after declaring the destruction that occurred among the Nephites, the first thing Christ did was invite (3 Nephi 9:13-14): 13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? 14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. In this case, Christ’s invitation was to repent, be converted, and come unto him. The blessing of doing so would lead to eternal life. He issued the called immediately after describing the destruction everywhere around them. I invite all of us to come unto Christ and line our will with God’s will. Befriending Others In another occasion as recorded in Luke 5:3-7, 10 of the Bible, Christ befriended people such as Peter, James, and John before inviting them to become fishers of men: 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (note: or a sweeping, or a mouthful). 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 10 And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And in the account of Mark (Mark 1:16-17) we learn that the invitation was extended to Peter and his brother Andrew as well saying "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." I wonder if Peter, James, John, and Andrew would have readily left their nets to help in catching men had Jesus issued the call without befriending them. Like the apostles in this account, I invite us to follow Christ’s example and befriend those around us so they can see the light of Christ in us and may be more willing to accept invitations from us to come unto him. Extending Invitations Frequently, we have received the call to invite others to come to Christ whether from scriptures, modern-day prophets, or the Holy Ghost. Additionally, the ward mission plan has been developed to help us respond to this call. Our ward’s focus this year is to invite one person to anything at least once per month. The blessing of the plan is that as we prayerfully and faithfully extend invitations, we promise that the ward will experience growth, member testimonies will be strengthened, and unity will increase. Since the beginning of this plan, I have heard many wonderful experiences from members who have heeded this call. One member in this ward was discussing their new baby with a friend and rather than ending the conversation there, this member invited their friend to have dinner and come meet the baby. Another member talked about the church and the discussion came up about the layout of our church. Rather than proceed to draw the layout only, this member invited these individuals to visit and tour our church. In another experience, a friend of a third member grew up with several members of our church but never once did this friend receive an invite to anything. So this member invited his friend to go to the Mormon Trail Center and his friend accepted. Despite whether the response to these invitations have come to fruition, the joy and excitement that I saw in these members eyes as they shared these stories was overpowering. Just like the fishes filling the boats to the brim, those we invite may also experience joy to the point that it overflows. I can promise that, as we invite, we too will experience an abundance of joy in the friendships we develop and bring others to come to Christ. Facing Rejection When inviting others to come unto Christ, we need not fear rejection. Often, this is a natural outcome of inviting others. Jesus who was the greatest of all was rejected too. We read of the account of a certain ruler in Luke 18:18-23 who explained to Jesus that he had kept the commandments since his youth. Upon hearing this, the Savior extended the following invitation: 22 …Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, 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. Ultimately, Christ’s invitations were met with rejection to the point that the people eventually crucified him. Despite being rejected time after time, Christ never shied from continually inviting others to come unto him. I invite all of us to overcome our fears and act on the promptings of the Spirit to invite others to come to Christ. How many times are we like Peter in John 21:15-17 where we hear an invitation such as to feed his sheep but we need to be told more than once? Let us act on the promptings and invitations we feel right now. Reaping Blessings My personal testimony is the result of an invitation. When I was 14 years old, I was invited to read, ponder, and pray to know these things are true. At one occasion I was seeking help in my youthful and boisterous life. I felt that I should just drop the scriptures open and read the verses there. The scriptures actually opened to Proverbs 3:5-6 which states "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths." This personal experience and invitation from God was a pivotal and foundational moment in my life and testimony. As I feel the spirit, I know that I am prompted to act on certain things such as inviting others to come and learn of our Savior. Regardless of the invitation we extend, we need to have the spirit in our lives. Let us seek the spirit so that we can feel the promptings our Heavenly Father would give us. I close with this reminder from D&C 18:10-16 as a promise. 10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. 12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! 14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! I bear my testimony…
Hastening the Work
August 30, 2015 by Dustin Ormond
What is your reaction to hearing the words "hastening the work?" Do you retreat (maybe just inwardedly)? Or do you think, "Sweet, I love sharing the gospel!" If you are the former, please don’t discount my talk as I will discuss more than missionary work. For now, take a moment to ponder the great missionaries you know from ancient times to modern day: Do you think of Paul (previously known as Saul) who, as we learn in Acts 9:1-6, kicked against the pricks only to hear the voice of the Lord calling him to repentance? Immediately, he left what he was doing and served faithfully from that day forward. Much of the New Testament talks about his missionary experiences. Do you think of Alma and the sons of Mosiah (including Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni) from the Book of Mormon who also repented of their sins to be instrumental in converting thousands of Lamanites of the wicked traditions of their fathers? Do you think of the Anti Nephi-Lehis who would rather lose their lives than sin? Do you think of Wilford Woodruff who brought many to the gospel in this last dispensation? Do you think of a close friend or family member who is not afraid to bring up the gospel when directed by the spirit? Now consider what these individuals or groups of individuals have in common. Let me propose a missionary cycle for hastening the work based on the above examples: (1) they prepared themselves and were converted, (2) they were courageous enough to share the gospel, and (3) they reflected on their experiences which further converted them to the gospel. Preparing to Share the Gospel So how do we adequately prepare to share the gospel? Let me explain using rock climbing as an example: Rock climbing can be an exhilarating and fulfilling endeavor when done correctly. Time and time again in my youth, I would scale the mountain walls completely relying on the rope and my belayer if I fell. Even recently, Amy and I have enjoyed climbing together until something round got in the way. Sometimes, the routes were very difficult, laden with overhangs, which required strength beyond what I sometimes had. In fact, at times, moving up required completely letting go of some holds to get to the next good hold. From below, you may hear what seem to be encouraging words, "Hang in there!" However, for any of you who have experienced the thrill of rock climbing, hanging there is anything but helpful. At least for me, my arms begin to shake, my strength seems to falter, and my mind becomes uneasy. Next thing I know, I lose my grip and my belayer catches me as I fall. Through trials and challenges, we are frequently told to "hang in there"; however, Kevin W. Pearson of the Quorum of the Seventy stated in the past general conference, "Let me be clear: to ‘hang in there’ is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him…Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life." What are we "holding" that is preventing us from enduring to the end? What spiritual jumps do we need to make to get back on the path and endure to the end? What ways are we just hanging there? Is it scripture study, prayer, family home evening, church attendance, temple attendance, or sharing the gospel? From my own experiences, I know that moving forward with the principles of the gospel will make life more joyous and help us become better disciples of Jesus Christ. Occasionally, we fall, but just like with the belayer, if we are tethered to Christ when our strength falters he will buoy us up. Therefore, let’s us do the things that will tether us to Christ. As Ezra Taft Benson has stated, "yesterday’s meal is not enough to sustain today’s needs. So also an infrequent reading of ‘the most correct of any book on earth,’ as Joseph Smith called it, is not enough." (History of the Church, 4:461.). I would also substitute infrequent prayer, infrequent family home evening, infrequent church attendance, infrequent temple attendance, and infrequent sharing of the gospel is not enough. When sharing the gospel, we can take to heart the teaching found in D&C 38:30 that if we are prepared we should not fear. People who want the light of Christ will gravitate to you if you have the light of Christ. I know… Sharing the Gospel According to IBM, "every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (this is equivalent to 2.5 million 1 TB hard drives) — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few." Let us help our friends filter through all this data to find the information that is most important for their salvation. Let us not be too caught up in our own lives and our own digital world that we are unwilling to share the gospel. Neal A. Maxwell, an apostle of this dispensation, when referring to the tugs and pulls of the world said, "Mark it down, brothers and sisters, people too caught up in themselves will inevitably let other people down!" Sharing the gospel can be scary. From personal experience, I have been scared to share the gospel with my friends. My dissertation advisor would always ask me questions about the church, so I decided to invite him to learn more. He declined. I invited my good Baptist friend to hear what we believe about the gospel and was turned down because he feared it would hurt our relationship. I invited an agnostic friend of mine to listen to the gospel and he accepted only to get through the first two lessons and say, "The terrestrial kingdom sounds perfect for me!" Indeed it was scary but each opportunity seemed to relieve a burden that I didn’t even know was there. Boyd K. Packer said back in 2004, "the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." Therefore, let us encourage our friends to study the doctrines of the gospel as found in scriptures and modern-day revelation. According to Ezra Taft Benson, "We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world…I have a conviction: The more we teach and preach from the Book of Mormon, the more we shall please the Lord and the greater will be our power of speaking. By so doing, we shall greatly increase our converts, both within the Church and among those we proselyte…Our commission then is to teach the principles of the gospel which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon." As a reminder, our responsibility isn’t to convert or baptize rather our responsibility is to invite and teach. We can invite others to listen to the missionaries when they ask us questions. We can invite others to come listen to us give talks in church. We can invite others to ward activities. We can invite others to family home evening. Ultimately, our invitation is to invite people to come to Christ. Wilford Woodruff once said, "When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack anyone’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that." The spirit will tell you who to share the gospel with. If a name has come to mind while you have attended sacrament meeting, I invite you to extend an invitation to them to learn more. I know… Reflection on Sharing the Gospel Despite our attempts to share the gospel, many may reject our invitation. We cannot be discouraged, instead we should do as Neal A. Maxwell said, "We can respond to irritation with a smile instead of scowl, or by giving warm praise instead of icy indifference. By our being understanding instead of abrupt, others, in turn, may decide to hold on a little longer rather than to give way. Love, patience, and meekness can be just as contagious as rudeness and crudeness." We can remember that it wasn’t easy for those before us: Many of the original apostles became martyrs. Ammon’s brethren were imprisoned for teaching the gospel. Early latter-day saints suffered trials beyond comprehension. Finally, Jesus Christ "descended below all things" (D&C 88:6-7) so that we would have someone who we could go to in any time of trial. Rather than getting discouraged, we would do good to remember the advice found in D&C 122:7: "And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." I hope we can all have that perspective. Finally, I remind you of the scripture in D&C 18: 13-16 of what we will experience through successful missionary experiences: "And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!…And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" I know…
Heeding the Words of Christ
September 14, 2014 by Dustin Ormond
Inspired by the April 2014 General Conference Talk by D. Todd Christofferson It is good to be with you all this morning. Amy and I are grateful to be a part of this ward and are grateful to those of you who have already extended your hand to help us in any way. We have already grown to love it here; however, we are a little nervous about the winter given the past few days and weeks. We just moved from Mississippi where I would wear shorts 48-50 weeks of the year. So, it is nice to wear pants once again. I recently completed my Ph.D. in Information Systems at Mississippi State University, and we moved here because I am now a Professor at Creighton University. We loved our time in Mississippi but are grateful to move on to bigger and better things, especially when it comes with a paycheck. Even though it is great to have my new job, it is always good to remember the biggest and best thing: to return to live with our Heavenly Father once again. I am so grateful for the role Jesus Christ has in bringing this into effect. However, this is only possible if we truly heed His words. After Christ’s resurrection, Mary Magdalene went to visit Jesus’ body in the tomb. [When she looked] into the tomb…it seems that all that registered in her mind was that the body of the Lord was gone. She hurried to report to the Apostles and, finding Peter and John, said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” [While Mary continued in mourning], the angels had returned and tenderly asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” At that moment the resurrected Savior, now standing behind her, spoke, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Just like Mary didn’t believe or fully comprehend Christ’s words that…“The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again,” how often do we doubt the words of our Savior? When we open our hearts, only then may our minds, ears, and eyes truly understand and see what our Savior has in store for us. It wasn’t until Mary completely understood did her grief turn into joy. According to James E. Talmage: “One word from His living lips changed her agonized grief into ecstatic joy. ‘Jesus saith unto her, Mary.’ The voice, the tone, the tender accent she had heard and loved in the earlier days lifted her from the despairing depths into which she had sunk. She turned, and saw the Lord. In a transport of joy she reached out her arms to embrace Him, uttering only the endearing and worshipful word, ‘Rabboni,’ meaning My beloved Master.” Although we may not doubt that our Savior has been resurrected, there are other aspects in our lives where the pain of suffering and heartbreak would be lessened if we truly knew and understood our Savior. In the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Christ’s victory over death ended the human predicament. Now there are only personal predicaments, and from these too we may be rescued by following the teachings of him who rescued us from general extinction.”What personal predicaments do we need to be rescued from? The answer is found in Alma 7:11-13:“[Christ] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance…”Given that Jesus is already resurrected, it is easy to believe and that someday I too will be resurrected and that my pains, sicknesses, and infirmities will be no more; however, I am less quick to understand that I can be forgiven of my sins. Personally, I feel that I am my worst critic. I believe that I am quick to forgive others, but I really have a hard time forgiving myself. However, D. Todd Christofferson provides some reassuring words:Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, doubts about the omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence of God the Father—who gave His Only Begotten Son for the redemption of the world—are groundless. Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded. Jesus Christ is in fact the only name or way by which salvation can come to mankind. The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner. Faith truly is more than imagination or psychological invention. There is ultimate and universal truth, and there are objective and unchanging moral standards, as taught by Him.Despite our shortcomings, we need to remember to (1) have faith and (2) that “…repentance of any violation of His law and commandments is both possible and urgent.” According to Steve Jobs:When [he] was 17, [he] read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on [him], and since then, for the past 33 years, [he] looked in the mirror every morning and asked [himself]: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, [he knew he] needed to change something.During the Ph.D. program at Mississippi State, it was really difficult to not become self-absorbed and focus on the last hurdle that was between me and graduation, the dreaded dissertation. In fact, I found that I would bring home a lot of the stress I experienced which caused me to not have the best relationship with my kids, particularly my oldest. While completing my dissertation, I realized that the answer to Steve Job’s question in my own life was “No.” I knew I needed to change and began trying to identify ways to change. During the past few months, I have consciously tried to relearn how to be a good father and have made some progress, but I feel that I still need to improve. What is really comforting to know is that if I fall short, I can repent. In the Joseph Smith Papers, William P. McIntire recorded the words of one of Joseph Smith’s discourses from February 23, 1841. In his recording he states: Joseph said he never wanted to hear a man snore louder than he could shout in battle — he did not want a man say O Joseph how I love you and when the time of danger come forsake him. Likewise, let us hearken to the prophets by following our Savior Jesus Christ. If we truly love him, we will stand up for what is right through the good and the bad. We will quickly repent and improve our lives. Let us heed and understand our Savior’s words. I know…
Live True to the Faith
June 15, 2014 by Dustin Ormond
Inspired by April 2014 General Conference Talk by Elder William R. WalkerFrom the talk “Live True to the Faith” by Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy in the past General Conference we learn that “it would be a wonderful thing if every Latter-day Saint knew the conversion stories of their forefathers.” So why is it important that we know the conversion story of our forefathers? I don’t know the exact answer to this; however, as I come to know the conversion stories of my ancestors, I become more converted to the gospel. Stories of our ancestors and early members of the church can be inspiring and motivating. They may help us see our own trials with a better light to enable us to overcome these trialsFor example, if we are struggling with participating in missionary work, we may read stories of our ancestors in order to be more motivated. One such case is that of Elder Woodruff. When on his mission in England, he felt impressed to visit a different part of the country. He immediately listened to this prompting and traveled to the farming country of Herefordshire where he met a prosperous farmer named John Benbow. He was welcomed with “glad hearts and thanksgiving.” He then met a group of over 600 people known as United Brethren “who had been praying for light and truth.” Almost all 600 people were baptized. We learn from this experience that we need to listen to the promptings of the Spirit in our lives. Are we acting on these promptings to invite others to listen to the gospel or are we cowering behind the many, although oftentimes true, excuses.Another example is that of my ancestor Elias Higbee. In reading about his experiences, I can’t express the frustration that I have felt towards the way the early pioneers were treated. On the other hand, I am inspired by their continued faith during their trials. After relentless persecution, our early Mormon ancestors sought help from the Missourian government to no avail. This caused Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee to write a petition to the United States government in 1839. In this petition, they asked for relief from the immense persecution they suffered at the hands of the Missourians. They wrote the letter because “there is a point where endurance ceases to be a virtue.”In their letter they make an account of the persecutions the pioneers experienced. Based on unfounded accusations, mobs were organized to expel the Mormons from their territories. In Jackson County, Missouri, mobs forcibly expelled Mormons from their homes, tarred and feathered them in front of their wives and children, burned down their houses and crops, and left the Mormons without refuge in the middle of winter. Trust me, this could not have been a good situation as I have visited St. Louis in the middle of December and it was COLD! Some women even gave birth in these terrible circumstances. The estimated damages incurred was $175,000 which is equivalent to $5.8 million today.Their persecutions did not end here. These 1200 expelled pioneers eventually resided in Clay County, Missouri where they tried to live peaceably. In fact, they were prosperous and experienced large growth due to the selflessness and caring for others. Their hard work eventually led to them having “the best lands in all that region of [Missouri].” However, after another short three years, jealousy and anxiety began to abound among the Missourians. This anxiety “arose not from what the Mormons had done but from the fear of what they might do.” The Missourians eventually rose up against the Mormons and asked them to leave. The pioneers were promised that they would receive compensation for their properties if they would leave the area. In order to make peace, they agreed to these terms and left; however, they never did receive compensation. They then moved to Caldwell County, Missouri to face similar circumstances only a couple years later. In fact, they eventually were completed evicted from Missouri as a result of the extermination order issued by Governor Boggs. They then ended up in Nauvoo, Illinois, but their trials did not end with them leaving Missouri.Elder Walker tells the story of his great-great-grandparents who were persecuted and driven from Nauvoo. They “felt greatly blessed to receive their endowments in the temple shortly before they crossed the Mississippi River and headed west. Although they were uncertain of what their future held, they were certain of their faith and their testimonies!” With six children, they slogged through mud as they crossed Iowa on their way west. They built for themselves a lean-to on the side of the Missouri River at what came to be known as Winter Quarters in Omaha, NE. The name itself isn’t all that inviting. Don’t get me wrong, Amy and I are very excited to move to Omaha.I can’t imagine crossing the Mississippi river with my children. Just this past Friday, Amy and I took our kids to Dismal’s Canyon. We spent a few hours there and had a great time admiring the beauty of God’s creations. Cameron even remarked, “I love it here, let’s stay here all day.” However, only after a couple hours of hiking, we were completely exhausted. I can’t imagine the situation of telling my children that “we can’t stop now, we need to keep moving” for not only a few hours, but a few months! Or withholding my tears while responding that we will not be returning home.Do we take the countless stories of our forefathers for granted? Today, it may appear easy for us to complain about our situation: “Mom, I don’t want to stop playing this video game!” or “My children are driving me crazy!” or “Writing a dissertation is not very fun!” Despite our current situation, we do not fear we will be chased out our own house or even shot at. We do not fear how we will take care of our children out in the cold with nothing. Nevertheless, our trials are real and may be daunting in their own way. Like our forefathers, we can live true to the faith.Despite the conditions these pioneers faced, many of them lived true to the faith. It didn’t matter that they were cold and hungry, they knew that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them! It didn’t matter that they lost nearly everything, they knew they are children of God! It didn’t matter that they were betrayed, they knew Jesus Christ is their Savior who was also betrayed! It didn’t matter that they were driven from their homes, they knew that God speaks to prophets and apostles to guide them!Can we state with the same surety that we know these same things? If we can, let us live true to this faith. If we can’t, maybe we can study the stories of our ancestors. Elder Walker states that “the more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.”Let us strive to come to know our forefathers so that we can be strengthened by their experiences. Let us not forget our own spiritual experiences. Let us attend the temple, read our scriptures, and pray daily morning and night so that we too are converted. Let us act on promptings immediately. Let us not forget that God loves us so he sent His Son. Let us not forget that this gospel is the good news and that God directs His church with prophets and apostles today. Bear testimony.
The Keys to Spiritual Protection
February 22, 2014 by Dustin Ormond
As a Ph.D. student in information systems, I am constantly involved in researching and learning how to protect personal and corporate information. This is a growing concern. Phishing messages appear to be more legit. Malware, such as viruses, have intruded the various app markets with several infected apps hitting the market. Despite the concerns that exist, there are procedures and technologies in place that can help protect our information; however, many of these recommended guidelines are not being followed which lead to the many security breaches we here in the news. How does the threat against our information apply to the gospel? In D&C 29:34 we read, "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are Spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created." If we look deep enough, we can find Spiritual meaning in anything in life. Therefore, similar to personal and company information, our lives are constantly under attack from the fiery darts of Satan. As stated in 2 Nephi 2:27, Satan and his followers are doing everything that is possible to make us "miserable like unto" them. However, as threatening as this may seem, we also have been promised Spiritual protection. However, like the companies previously discussed, are we using the protection we have been given, or are we prey to Satan by giving into temptation? To help us overcome the Spiritual threats in our lives, we can look to the four primary stages of security as guidance: companies (1) try to deter any misuse of information, (2) where deterrence fails, they have preventive measures in place, (3) in the event these measures are unsuccessful, there should be ways to detect abuse, and (4) where abuse is undetected, procedures are in place to remedy wrongdoings. From a Spiritual standpoint, what tries to deter us from committing sin? What prevents us from the consequences of sin if we heed it? What helps remind us when we are in sin? Finally, what helps us as we try to correct our sins and remains with us after we have overcome our sins? The answer is the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost Deters Us from Sin Lehi, the first Book of Mormon prophet, had a vision of an iron rod that led to a tree of life with serious consequences to those who let go of the iron rod. His son Nephi learned of the interpretation of this dream and the meaning of the iron rod in 1 Nephi 15:24: "And I said unto [my brethren] that [the iron rod] was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. So where do we find the word of God? In the scriptures. By reading the scriptures, the Spirit will be present in our life to help us make righteous decisions and effectively deter us from committing sin. When we stop reading the scriptures, we lose an immense source of Spiritual power. I know… Challenge… The Holy Ghost Provides Preventive Measures to Protect Us from Sin As he was translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was asked by Martin Harris (the scribe at the time) if Martin could take the 116 pages translated to date and show them to family. Joseph prayed to know if he should let Martin take the pages and was told no. Joseph asked a second time and was told no. Finally, Joseph asked a third time and Heavenly Father said yes but on the condition that Martin would only show the pages to family. Joseph lent the pages to Martin who showed the pages to more than just family which led to the pages getting lost. In response to this experience, God spoke to Joseph and said in D&C 3:7-8, "For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble. We can learn from this experience that (1) we need to be willing to pray for guidance and (2) we need to be willing to accept and act on the answer we have been given. The Spirit will guide us to make correct choices, essentially preventing us from committing sin. I know… Challenge… The Holy Ghost Helps Us Detect When We are in Sin As a missionary, I was able to preach the gospel to many people in Chile. Although the majority of them rejected what was taught, some individuals allowed the Holy Ghost to enter their lives. The Spirit confirmed truths that were taught, convinced them of the error of their ways, and helped them realign their will with the will of God. However, although the Spirit does help us detect our sins or even the consequences of them, the Spirit will not always fight against us. In probably a very somber moment of his life, Nephi was granted the ability to see the future of his people. As most of you know, the Book of Mormon ends with a very sad story of complete rejection of the prophets and utter destruction of all the righteous people in the Americas. In 2 Nephi 26:11, Nephi records this experience, "For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul." Genesis 6:3 also confirms that the Spirit ceaseth to strive against man. Let us be quick to respond to the Spirit so that the Spirit will continue to abide in us. I know… Challenge… The Holy Ghost Abides with Us When We Remedy Our Sins After the Spirit has helped us detect the error of our ways, He moves us to repentance which leads us to Jesus Christ. In his book, The Promised Messiah, Bruce R. McConkie (an Apostle of these last days) taught that "if we had enough understanding, we would see that every ordinance of the gospel, in every ceremony that forms part of the revealed church, in every command fulfilled by God, in all things that Diety concedes unto its people, there is something that exemplifies the eternal ministry of the Eternal Christ." The sacrament is no exception. As the sacrament prayers state, "we [are] willing to take upon [us] the name of [Christ], and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]." What is the promise to those who repent of their sins? The sacrament prayer further states "that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]." I know… Challenge… In closing, I want each of us to reflect on the following questions: (1) Do we have the Spirit with us? If not, what do we need to change to have the Spirit with us? (2) Do we receive promptings from the Spirit? If so, are we willing to accept them if/when we receive them? In review, we are constantly under attack by Satan and his followers. Heavenly Father has given us the Holy Ghost to help guide us in this mortal journey. The Spirit helps deter us from sin, provides measures to prevent us from committing sin, helps us detect when we are in sin, and provides the guidance that leads us to remedy our sins. I know the Spirit is pivotal to our returning back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. May we all seek to have the Spirit with us always by at least reading our scriptures, praying daily, and partaking the sacrament! This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Fulfilling Your Calling
March 09, 2013 by Dustin Ormond
Personal example: Traveling home from funeral D&C 84:33-38 For whoso is faithful unto …magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the…elect of God. So how can we find the motivation we need to magnify our callings? Henry B. Eyring in his October 2002 General Conference address titled "Rise to Your Call" lists three things to help us rise to our call: Know that God called you. "The person who was inspired to recommend you for this call didn’t do it because they liked you or because they needed someone to do a particular task. They prayed and felt an answer that you were the one to be called." Just as our leaders need to have faith to extend a calling, we need to have faith to accept a calling. What unforeseen lessons could we learn that will benefit our lives? Who knows? We may become more humble or we may strengthen a weakening testimony. We don’t know what we can learn unless we accept and fulfill our calling. What unforeseen ways can we bless the lives of others? Represent the Savior: Your voice and hands become his voice and hands. Let us speak and do as our Savior would. Your call has eternal consequences for others and for you. "Thousands may call you blessed. Even more than are here." Personal example: Blessings in not receiving the calling we think we should have (deacon, teacher, and priest quorum presidencies). Bear testimony Know that God will guide you. You can receive revelation through prayer and scriptures. "Guidance will come only when the Lord is sure you will obey." Personal example: New zone leader, troubled zone, and scripture study Alma 5:59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him. After a few weeks, things began getting better and people apologized to me. Bear testimony Know that God will magnify you. Your calling will surely bring opposition from outside the church, within the church, or other influences. "There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone." As Joseph Smith was a prisoner in Liberty jail, I am sure he had feelings of inadequacy. All the members were being persecuted as he was locked away in jail. He received a revelation, recorded in D&C 123:17 , pertaining to the duty of the Saints in relation to their persecutors: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. I am sure this revelation not only comforted him but the members as well. Bear testimony Now that we know God will help us rise to our call, what are some specific things we can do to better fulfill our callings? Russell Ballard in his October 2006 General Conference address titled "O Be Wise" lists a few things to help us best fulfill our callings: Focus on people and principles—not on programs. Boyd K. Packer said in 2004 that "the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." Be innovative. Not expand but simplify. Thoughtfully allocate our resources of time, income, and energy. We are never done. Just do the best we can. "Occasionally we find some who become so energetic in their Church service that their lives become unbalanced. They start believing that the programs they administer are more important than the people they serve. They complicate their service with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. They refuse to delegate or to allow others to grow in their respective responsibilities. As a result of their focusing too much time and energy on their Church service, eternal family relationships can deteriorate. Employment performance can suffer. This is not healthy, spiritually or otherwise. While there may be times when our Church callings require more intense effort and unusual focus, we need to strive to keep things in proper balance. We should never allow our service to replace the attention needed by other important priorities in our lives. Remember King Benjamin’s counsel: ‘And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength’ (Mosiah 4:27)." Divide the work and delegate responsibility. After Jesus Christ was resurrected, he gave responsibility to the apostles to lead His church and teach the gospel. The church was expanding rapidly that these apostles couldn’t meet all the needs of the members: Acts 6:1-6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. Eliminate guilt. Rather than calling someone out for something they didn’t do or something they overlooked, catch others doing something right. "I really appreciate…" Gain/strengthen your testimony. Involve the Lord. Acts 9:1–6: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Saul, later named Paul, then became one of the greatest missionaries that the early church experienced. Many of the books of the New Testament are recordings of Paul. President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "There is no more crucial question that a man should be constantly asking than that which Paul asked: ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? There is no more essential answer than that which he received: to go to those who are authorized by the Lord to give directions" (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties[1974], 162). In closing, may we follow the counsel of Jacob, a prophet of the Book of Mormon. Jacob, who saw our day, writes one of the most succinct verses of the Book of Mormon, Jacob 6:12 O be wise; what can I say more? Let us be wise in our stewardship. Bear testimony
Call Back to the Basics
August 31, 2011 by Dustin Ormond
When Amy and I were in our second year of marriage, we visited Zion’s National Park. At this place of beauty, incomparable to any other, exist some of the most challenging, strenuous, and exciting hikes a person can do in this lifetime. One hike that Amy and I were daring enough to tackle is named Angel’s Landing. Let me briefly explain some of the details of this hike, five hikers have lost their life, it is five miles long from start to finish, and it has 21 switchbacks with an elevation increase of 15-50 feet each. From the ground to the peak of the climb is an elevation change of 1488 feet. Near the peak, bolted chains are built into the walls for stabilization. Narrow passageways that are no more than 3-5 feet wide have a 500 foot drop off on one side and a 1000-1500 foot drop off on the other. Now for those of you don’t know me, I love to wear flip flops, or the truth is, I hate wearing shoes. Rain or snow, hiking or biking, I am wearing my flip flops. On this particular hike, I was wearing my flip flops but I tied running shoes to my backpack. Normally, I complete hikes in my flip flops, but on this occasion I saw the need to change my footwear as we approached the top because one slip could mean my death. Warning signs conveyed the importance of using caution from this moment on. After taking my time and carefully making my why to the top, I saw a spectacular view that our camera could not do justice in portraying. Like my footwear at the beginning of the climb, we may have a weak testimony and it may be enough for us at the beginning of our journey in life, our testimony has to start somewhere. However, just like I had to strengthen my footwear, we will need to strengthen our testimonies so we won’t fall when we are faced with hard trials. Like the chains bolted into the wall, some day we will need to cling to our testimonies which are bolted firm in the faith of Jesus Christ so that we don’t slip away. So how many of us have reflected on how is our testimony now? Do we have one? How strong is it? Are we likely to quit at switchback number 5 or 15? Or go astray and lose our lives near the end because we stopped listening to the warnings? Let me ask a follow up question, in a year from now, how many of us will have the same testimony now, will it be weaker? Stronger? What about 5 years from now? 10? Eternity? Let me assure you that such a short time period as one year matters. I know it does. I have seen it. Even one month matters. In fact, everyday matters. Since testimonies are so important, let me discuss five critical things to gain, strengthen, and uphold our testimonies so we can return to our Heavenly Father some day: Scripture Study In elementary school, I was picked on and nearly got in fights every week. It seemed every year, there was a new bully. I was ridiculed, scoffed at, and why? Was it because I was one of the tiniest kids of my class, because I tried to defend myself, or because I was a good student? I don’t know. However, oftentimes, these experiences caused me to question my value and self-worth. One day when I was on a low note, I just opened my scriptures and they fell open to Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." This scripture was the turning point in my life. By trusting in the Lord, everything would work out for my good. Really? What a remarkable blessing. At this moment, I gained a strong witness that our Heavenly father is there and he is listening. It touched my heart in a way I won’t forget. I knew the gospel was true. However, that was my testimony then. I couldn’t just live based on that moment for the rest of my life. It was and is necessary that I read my scriptures daily. By doing so, I have had similar experiences but different enough to help me in my circumstance. I know… Challenge… Prayer President Thomas S. Monson in the recent general conference in the Sunday morning session, recounts an experience of prayer from his childhood: He tells the story as a 12 year of saving a five-dollar bill "during the Great Depression, when five dollars was a substantial sum of money—especially for a boy of 12." Back then, laundry was sent out to the wash and he had "tucked [his] five-dollar bill in the pocket of [his] jeans" which were sent to the laundry. He recounts, "I was sick with worry. I knew that pockets were routinely checked at the laundry prior to washing. If my money was not discovered and taken during that process, I knew it was almost certain the money would be dislodged during washing and would be claimed by a laundry worker who would have no idea to whom the money should be returned, even if he had the inclination to do so. The chances of getting back my five dollars were extremely remote—a fact which my dear mother confirmed when I told her I had left the money in my pocket. I wanted that money; I needed that money; I had worked very hard to earn that money. I realized there was only one thing I could do. In my extremity I turned to my Father in Heaven and pleaded with Him to keep my money safe in that pocket somehow until our wet wash came back." When the laundry returned, he reached into his pocket with his heart pounding and, continuing with story, he said, "When I didn’t find anything immediately, I thought all was lost. And then my fingers touched that wet five-dollar bill. As I pulled it from the pocket, relief flooded over me. I offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to my Father in Heaven, for I knew that He had answered my prayer." We can receive comfort in prayer from simple things to very complex things. Enos set a good example by praying first for forgiveness, for his friends, and then for his enemy. When we obtain a testimony of prayer, we also have the desire to help others. But before that testimony will come, prayer needs to be in our hearts always, not just day and night. Daily prayer strengthens our testimonies because we recognize God’s hands in our lives and we pour out our soul with gratitude. I know… Challenge… Church Knowing that the only people that would read his writings, Moroni in the last days of his life decided to include a few things that he felt were important for our days, Moroni 6:9 says, "And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done." By attending church and attending all the meetings, we too can feel the power of the Holy Ghost to be led in anything. Being led by the spirit has been a constant and reaffirming witness to me and has strengthened my testimony. I know… Challenge… Temple The Bible Dictionary states, "A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness." The closeness we feel with the Lord will reassure us of the testimonies we have and reality of the spirit. Back in Utah, we literally lived across the street from our church building and our temple. I thought it took some effort to go to the temple back then. Now that I am further from the temple, each time I attend, I realize how much more important it is that I go. On my mission, I didn’t get to attend the temple for two whole years. I remember the day I set foot in the temple again, the spirit poured into my soul. Temples strengthen testimonies in family and between couples. I know… Challenge… Family Home Evening When I lived in my parent’s household, family home evening was a rare occurrence as my dad would hold it on his own. Since it was a rare occurrence, I really learned to appreciate those moments. I was able to get answers to questions from my dad, see his example, feel the spirit testify of the truthfulness of this gospel, and know the importance of family home evening. What better place to teach our families then in the home? Teaching has strengthened my testimony and is a good way for my family to see my testimony as well. I know… Challenge… I know these five things will help us maintain and strengthen our testimony. I have seen it countless times with the strong influence of the adversary that is fighting against me daily. Back when I stood on the top of the mountain of Angel’s Landing, I realized how insignificant I am, but how much my Heavenly Father cares about me even with all of His marvelous creations around me. After all the hard work in this life and after being firm in our testimonies, we can have a similar experience of standing above it all with the help of Jesus Christ. We then will experience the greatest joy that we can’t even fathom right now, being with our Father in Heaven and our brother Jesus Christ. I know…
Articles of Faith
October 31, 2010 by Dustin Ormond
When I was young I remember repeating over and over again in my mind the Articles of Faith as I tried to memorize them. I regret to say my motivation for memorizing the Articles of Faith was mostly for the reward involved. To this day, I can’t think what the reward was, maybe a pin or something; however, for all the Articles of Faith, I still can either recite them by memory or state the belief behind them. Why has this been an important part of my life? I wish to refer to a talk given by Elder L. Tom Perry in general conference several years ago and emphasize three main points that show how the Articles of Faith have influenced my life. "What a great blessing it would be if every member of the Church memorized the Articles of Faith and became knowledgeable about the principles contained in each…They contain direct and simple statements of the principles of our religion, and they constitute strong evidence of the divine inspiration that rested upon the Prophet Joseph Smith…If you will use them as a guide to direct your studies of the Savior’s doctrine, you will find yourselves prepared to declare your witness of the restored, true Church of the Lord. You will be able to declare with conviction, ‘We believe these things’" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 28, 30; or Ensign, May 1998, 23–24 ). To begin… The Principles of Our Religion The Articles of Faith plainly state these principles and are a guideline for us as members of the church. If we don’t have a testimony of specific principles found in the Articles of Faith, we might want to focus on strengthening our testimony on those principles. Testify… God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Ghost as three distinct beings Mankind can be saved through the atonement and obedience to the gospel Principles and ordinances of the gospel necessary for salvation Same organization of the church Strong Evidence of Divine Inspiration of Joseph Smith John Wentworth requested a sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of Latter-day Saints to be published in the Chicago Democrat. They, however, were not published so the church published it in their newspaper, the Times and Seasons. As we become more acquainted with the Articles of Faith we can gain a greater sense of the mission of Joseph Smith. As a missionary, we would frequently discuss with those we taught about three things being intertwined: The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the church. If any of these things was false then all the others would have to be false; likewise, if any of them were true then they all had to be true. The Articles of Faith serve as a way to strengthen our testimony of the divine calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet. One of the foundational beliefs is the eighth Article of Faith that states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." Without such a book, many of the original truths of God’s church would be lost. Testify… Witness of the Restored, True Church of the Lord Just as Joseph Smith was a prophet, today we have "the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." Next week we have the opportunity to listen to the prophets and apostles voices. I invite all of us to prepare accordingly to receive insights through the spirit as we listen to their voices. Testify… As of late, I have been trying to spiritually dive into the scriptures to strengthen my testimony. However, I haven’t been sure of the best approach for me personally. I have had in the back of my mind the idea of answering questions I have had or I have heard and compile them related to a given topic. Nevertheless, there are so many places to start. Recently, I decided to start with the Articles of Faith and break each part down for my individual study. It is amazing the spirit that can come through this study. Through my study I feel more prepared to be a witness of the restored church. In fact, we have had several opportunities to share what we believe with others and it has been a wonderful experience. As the 9th Article of Faith states that "we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." I personally believe that God will reveal to us the many great and important things for our own lives as long as we prepare accordingly. Testify… Conclusion I invite each of us to gain a testimony of all the principles contained in the articles of faith. If you don’t know what they are exactly then I invite each of you to study and memorize them. By doing so, I promise we will not only lift our own spirits, but we will be able to reach out and lift those around us, we will be able to answer questions about the gospel directed to us as we witness of the restored and true church of the Lord. Testimony
Finding Joy in the Journey Now
September 25, 2010 by Dustin Ormond
How Does the Past Bring Us Joy? Don’t Let One Day of Regret Fill Our Past The more we fill our past with regret, the less joy we will see in our past. Despite the regret we may feel today, we need to hearken unto the counsel given to Corianton by his father Alma to "not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good." This leads to my next point that we need to…LEARN from but not LIVE in the past Often, I find myself thinking back to my past and reflecting on how great those times were. In many cases, I ponder to myself, "Oh, what would I give so that I could live in those times again?" (i.e. Young Men’s, mission, dating, recently married, etc.) Sometimes, especially in stressful moments, I question why I am not as happy as times of the past. After much contemplation, I begin to realize that the times had their stressful moments as well, but the good memories are the first to come to mind. The challenges from my past, although very different than today, were still existent; however, just like the ones of today, they still forced me to adapt, improve, grow, and stretch myself. Despite the many hardships I may have faced in the past, I tend to think back on the best moments at a given time in my past. When overwhelmed, I reflect on how things were in the past and how this time is but another one of those moments being added to my history; in a few months or years, I will look back and think of how great this time was. As President Thomas S. Monson says, "when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth." So how do we change this focus? How Do We Obtain Joy Today? Act Today "Nothing is as constant as change." Many times we have welcome changes, but sometimes these changes are unwelcome. Since change is happening everywhere around us, we must act today to have joy, otherwise, we will miss our time to act. My wife was reading a Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy by David Burns the other day and she quoted something that has stuck with me since, "What comes first—-motivation or action? If you said motivation, it was a logical choice. However you’re wrong. Action does!! You have to prime the pump. THEN the motivation follows. Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. Since you don’t ‘feel like’ doing it, you put it off. Well, who said we’re supposed to feel like it? If we wait until we’re ‘in the mood’, we may wait forever!!" I add to this statement by quoting President Monson, "there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today." Oftentimes, we may get down on ourselves and may not feel like doing anything, but this is the mentality that Satan wants us to have because if he can keep us down, we will stay down and won’t progress. In addition, we won’t be able to help build the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith through revelation counseled men who were seeking understanding and desiring further detail about their immediate duties to "neither be idle but labor with your might" and through labor we may find joy. While seeking joy we need to… Beware of False "Joy" In our current world, communication is easier with the internet, video games are more accessible than ever, TV shows bring information in our homes more rapidly, etc; therefore, if we let our guard down, we may pursue pleasure which replaces our search for joy. Unlike joy, pleasure is temporary. Time is a very valuable asset in life and often many of us underestimate the value of it, otherwise, we would do things differently every day. "Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes." We can never recover lost time and pursuing things that don’t edify us for prolonged periods of time will destroy us. This is one of Satan’s snares to drag us down his path which leads to misery. A prisoner of war in North Vietnam understood what truly brings joy to us in this world. After two years of being unable to communicate with his family, he was granted the opportunity to write one letter home but had to limit it to 25 words or less; this is what he wrote, "These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year." What would you write if you had 25 words? What things bring you joy today? We can’t be as efficient today if we are not prepared for tomorrow. So… How Does Preparation for the Future Bring Us Joy? Prepare, Don’t Daydream "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." Fear counteracts joy. Sometimes in class at school, I sit and daydream about other activities apart from my class and when test day comes, I am not as prepared as I could be if I were paying attention. In life, we can’t just dwell in the future, but rather we need to do something today. Dwelling in the future will make us fear what we need to get done today. In order to prepare better we need to… Set Goals One good thing to help us prepare for tomorrow is to set goals today, without goals we may do what is quoted from the Music Man, "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays." Let us set goals so that we can find joy and use our time to the best we can. To wrap up, by learning from the past, living in the present, and preparing for the future we can find joy. Let us live every day to our fullest potential. Let us say words left unsaid, do things left undone, and be things we should be. Testimony
Quality Time with Our Savior
May 25, 2008 by Dustin Ormond
So one month ago began the countdown of leaving the ward. I knew my wife hadn’t given a talk since she was around 14 and I began telling her, "Amy, three weeks left for the bishop to call you to give a talk…Amy, two weeks left…Amy, one week left." So I answered the phone on Tuesday and said in a loud enough voice so Amy could hear, "Oh, hi Bishop! How you doin’?" Amy turned to me with a face of horror, "Oh no, that’s the bishop?" Now you know the rest. Ever since last month with the guest we had come and speak to us, a friend and I have often joked that we do the things we do because quality time is our primary love language. For the past two and a half years in this ward, my experience has been full of quality time: With friends: spending time playing games, watching movies, going on trips together, or discussing things of joy or even things that have brought us heartache. With home teachies: with over 15 different home teaching companions and new home teachies with almost every new companionship, I have had the opportunity to visit with many of you, get to know you, feel the spirit in your home, learn to love you, and respect the love you have for our Savior and this gospel. With the ward and bishopric: from dressing up as old people during Halloween to visiting with the bishopric over the many callings and the good and bad experiences Amy and I have gone through. With family: from spiritual strength to spiritual turmoil, seeing weddings, experiencing break-ups, witnessing graduations, and hearing of births and pregnancies, Amy and I have appreciated the support and quality time with both of our families as they are very nearby. With my favorite person in this world, my wife: searching for hours for car keys thrown in the dumpster on a special anniversary, aiding her swollen hand from some kind of insect sting (wedding ring), enduring the nervousness of being accepted first into the Marriott School at BYU, then the Information Systems program, then the Master’s program, and then receiving a internship offer in North Carolina, and sharing every moment of trial, sorrow, joy, and success with tears of joy or tears of comfort. These past two and a half years have been among the greatest of my life, I spent one night crying and laughing myself to sleep as I replayed the past experiences in my mind. Even with all these experiences, one person I have turned to for comfort is my Savior. Spending quality time with our Savior is probably the most rewarding use of our time. Our Savior suffered so great and excruciating pain that as Luke says, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." He suffered pains that would have caused any one of us to suffer death. This great atonement is the greatest event that took place in history as it provides a way for us to return back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s presence. So it is critical that we find quality time with our Savior. I remember the time Amy and I got in a five car accident which caused me to deeply reflect on the value and meaning of life. I found comfort through the Savior, I felt him nearby, I saw miracles through prayer, and I felt assurance that if something separates us through death, we can be together again in life. Truly, as Alma explains to the people of Gideon, "[Christ] will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people." One moment of deep sorrow for me was when someone I loved deeply decided to leave the church. This was a trying time for my testimony. During this time, I found comfort in Alma’s words once again, "[Our Savior] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." Several times I have had the opportunity to give blessings to the sick in the ward and to my wife. In this time of trial for others, I was able to experience a minute part of what the Savior did for us. Alma again says, "He will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." Although I couldn’t really take the sickness of others upon myself no matter how much I wanted to, I could try to "comfort those in need of comfort." Even though the Savior can give us relief in so many ways, the most powerful, I believe, is redemption from the second death, the spiritual death. Oftentimes I feel overcome by my sins and sink down in despair where I lose all hope. When I realize and completely understand that Christ can bring me out of this pit of despair, I find hope, renewed faith, and increased charity towards man. Alma explains that "the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance." When we spend quality time with our Savior, we truly will feel joy in knowing death isn’t the end, experience comfort we need, receive strength during our time of sickness, and see liberation from our sins. While on his mission, Elder Orson F. Whitney dreamed of the time after the Savior’s resurrection where he ran to the Savior’s feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged The Savior to take him with Him. He then recounted, "I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me…[and] said, ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’" Elder Whitney continued, "Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last." The Savior affirmed, "That will depend entirely upon yourself." As we know, our return to be in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s presence for eternity is conditional on how we live our lives today, not tomorrow and not yesterday. Let us have quality time with the Savior and not waste away a minute of our lives. Let us seek the forgiveness we need and should give. Let us live our lives in accordance with how the Savior would. My invitation to you, whether you have been in the ward a couple of weeks or a couple of years, whether you are moving out in a couple of weeks or a couple of years, is that you can spend quality time with those around you and seek quality time with the Savior. Be a friend. Be a good home/visiting teacher. Be an example. Testimony of Friends, Testimony of Bishopric, Testimony of Savior
Mission Farewell Talk
December 15, 2002 by Dustin Ormond
Today I have been asked to give a talk on the scriptures 2 Nephi 27:23-26. I will go ahead and read them. God is Unchanging Re-read verse 23 and discuss: When God says He is unchanging He indicates that His principles of the gospel are forever and will never change. He provides us with the scriptures and modern day prophets to demonstrate that the gospel will never change. We can understand this idea more comprehensively if we take into account that it is our lives that continually change as we progress through life. When we read the Book of Mormon over and over we are impacted in different ways than we could ever think possible. Each time we read the Book of Mormon we receive personal revelation in the areas of our lives that we are struggling in, or we receive answers to questions we might have. God tests us according to our faith. Through the article by Russell M. Nelson, entitled "Constancy amid Change," found in the Nov. 1993 Ensign, page 33, we see that there are four beings who are consistent in the doctrine they teach us: The first is our Heavenly Father who has a glorified body of flesh and bone, inseparably connected with His spirit. Scriptures state that He is "infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God" (D&C 20:17). The second is His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and the chief corner stone of our religion. "He is the life and the light of the world" (Alma 38:9). "There shall be no other name…or any other way…whereby salvation…whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:17). The third personage is the Holy Ghost, whose enduring influence that exceeds time. Scripture assures that "the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever" (D&C 121:46). But the fourth personage is one whom we should be reminded to avoid, Satan is this being. He also exists and seeks "that all men might be miserable like unto himself." Depending on whose plan we choose to follow, God’s plan or Satan’s plan, determines how happy we will go through life. God wants to see us become like Him and we can do this by following the savior’s example. We need to repent of our sins and seek guidance through the Holy Spirit to help us from following the evils of the world. We need to avoid the evil ways of Satan at all costs so that we don’t become miserable like unto him. There exist certain principles that are unchanging or need that we need to follow in order to obtain complete happiness: The first unchanging principle is priesthood. Joseph Smith taught that "the Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157). Another unchanging principle is that of divine or moral law. Transgression of moral law brings retribution; obedience to it brings blessings "immutable and unchangeable." The third unchanging principle is our eventual judgment. Each of us will be judged according to our individual works and the desires of our hearts. We will be eventually placed in the celestial, terrestrial, or telestial kingdom and it will not be determined by chance. The Lord has prescribed unchanging requirements for each. Other unchanging principles include divine commandments—even those that seem to be temporal. Tithing, for example, is not temporal (or temporary); it is an everlasting principle. "Those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever" (D&C 119:4). Another unchanging principle is that of truth. Scripture reminds us that "the truth abideth forever and ever" (D&C 1:39). Truth doesn’t change even though some people’s perspective on truth might be skewed. Finally, we see that family is an eternal principle. A family can be together forever. "If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them…[they] shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions…exaltation and glory in all things…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (D&C 132: 19). If we abide by these principles every day, our lives will continue to be blessed and we will go through life with happiness. Joseph Smith To continue I go to 2 Nephi 27:24-25. The word "him" referred to in verse 24 speaks of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was a very humble little boy. After reading James 1:5, while he was seeking a church to join, he felt that he should kneel and ask in prayer what church was correct, and was answered in JSH 1:19, which states: (read JSH 1:19). This shows that Joseph had great faith at such a young age to seek truth. He found that men were communicating with the Father without real intent and sought the true way of communicating with the Father. In the September 2002 Ensign, in the talk "The Book at Mormon: The Heart of Missionary ProseIyting," by Joseph B. Wirthlin, we discover how great a testimony of Joseph Smith can be: Wirthlin re-tells the story of President David O. McKay’s father serving a mission in Scotland where he encountered opposition toward the Church. President McKay’s father decided to preach the doctrines of the gospel without mentioning the Restoration or the Book of Mormon. As the days passed, his father continued with this approach until his mind became so darkened and downcast that he felt he would have to leave his mission and go home. As a last resort, he decided to go into a cave and pray for help. While he was praying, a voice came to him, "Testify that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God." He consequently changed his approach and began to testify of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result, President McKay said, his father discovered that many were touched by the spirit of his words and believed and were baptized (see David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1976], 11). We can see here the profound influence of a testimony of Joseph Smith can have on the investigators of the church. Joseph Smith was a great young man who, through the Lord, brought forth the Book of Mormon which is a divine testimony of Christ when He appeared on the earth the first time. It also testifies of His second coming. Marvelous Work and a Wonder Re-read verse 26 — Cross reference to 2 Nephi 29:1-2 God will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder in order to fulfill his covenants with us. This is another confirmation that God is unchanging and will fulfill what he commits to do with us. God continues by giving us a promise that the words of Nephi will be a standard unto His people. As we can see today, the scriptures have surely been set as a standard for us to follow. The best standard or scripture to follow is what is contained in the Book of Mormon. President Benson taught: "The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect’ (Moses 7:62). This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work. When we are converted to the Book of Mormon we are converted to the divine prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Either this is all true, or it is not. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained it best when he wrote: "To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and…Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward. "Not everything in life is so black and white, but the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its keystone role in our religion seem to be exactly that. Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, a prophet who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from Moroni’s lips, and eventually received at his hands a set of ancient gold plates that he then translated by the gift and power of God, or else he did not… "I am suggesting that one has to take something of a do-or-die stand regarding the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. Reason and righteousness require it. Joseph Smith must be accepted either as a prophet of God or else as a charlatan of the first order, but no one should tolerate any ludicrous, even laughable middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literally, historically, or theologically" (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 345-46). I would like to bare my testimony…