Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Special Witness of Christ

We had the wonderful blessing this weekend to see a prophet of God in person, and to shake his hand. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to visit us right here in Denton (the last time we've had an Apostle come through to our Stake was in 1981, I am told).

Yes, in our Church we believe that there are living prophets and apostles on the earth today. In fact, "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth" (Article of Faith 1:6). We hear from our Prophet and the Twelve Apostles every six months at General Conference, where there is a huge gathering at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, that is broadcast to our meetinghouses worldwide. Because it is such a worldwide church, though, we rarely get visits here. This was a special treat!

I was impressed with his joyful spirit as he entered the room. He began quickly shaking the hands of the congregation--and when I say "the congregation," I mean that he walked through every pew and shook the hands of each of the (1000? or more?) people present. He had time enough for all of us, young and old alike, just like the Christ of whom he is a special witness. It brought tears to my eyes.

One of the parts of his address that struck me the most was about this principle, of standing as a witness. We covenant at baptism to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places," (Mosiah 18:9), but do we really do this? I get "witnessed" to on almost a daily basis at my place of work, yet I am incredibly shy about my own faith. I read devotionals daily, but am afraid to pray--even though I've been saying prayers in public as long as I can remember. I am a terrible witness.

My goal is to reunite the temporal and spiritual sectors of my life, so that there is not any occasion of distinction between the two. Incidentally, one of my favorite talks by Elder Oaks, "The Challenge To Become" relates to this topic. If we are true disciples of Christ, it will show in how we live our lives each day, not just on Sunday.

I know that Christ lives and that He loves me. I know that because He loves me, He gave His life so that I might repent and return to live with our Father in Heaven. I know that He sends his prophets to the earth to guide us and lead us back to Him when we stray, and that there are such prophets on the earth today! I know that we are called to love and serve one another as Christ would, which means loving without question. I know our Father in Heaven sent the scriptures so that we could learn of Him, and that in their pages are the things that will lead us closer to Him.

I'm grateful for the gospel light in my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silver, gold.

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.

This weekend has been one of the busiest I can recall. Also, it has been one of the best I have had in recent memory.

It started out by having dinner with the ol' quartet on Friday evening. I haven't kept in touch with those guys since having finished at UNT. It's amazing how quickly you forget how much you enjoy being around a person if you haven't seen them in a while! Luckily for me, Colin is better at maintaining friendships than I am, and lets me know when he's in town. We invited him for dinner, and decided to invite the other guys while we were at it, for a little reunion of sorts. Having a good friend is like riding a bike--it just comes right back to you.

Today began at the nursing home, singing primary songs with the kiddos. It was a wonderful experience to see the residents beaming, and to see the kids just singing their little hearts out. I'm proud of those little guys!

After that experience, we had lunch with the Hartfields, eating some excellent pizza (Hot Box, yes!) and enjoying still more excellent company. It's crazy--I've known those guys since we were in Chem-nasty together in high school! Now they have a little baby girl who is so ridiculously adorable. She has two really good parents--warm, kind, and just . . . sparkly. I don't know. They're good people.

As if that's not enough fun, then I got to go to a wedding reception of two more high school friends. It was a mini high school reunion in its own rite. I haven't seen most of these people since I graduated in '03. Yikes.

The thing that has gotten me about this weekend, though, is that people do change, but they stay the same, too. I guess there are characteristics that are inherent in us, and we will always be who we are at the core. There is something comforting about that. We grow, and we progress, but we will always be the same collection of traits, of characteristics that make us unique.

Let the fun continue.