Monday, September 1, 2014

9-1-14 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

The Prophet Joseph taught that obedience is the first law of heaven. Laws and commandments from Heavenly Father are given for many reasons: to bless and protect us, to govern us, to increase the joy and order in our lives, to educate us and help us grow and develop confidence, and many others. Rules and guidelines for missionaries are very simply for our safety and to help us be more effective in our work. The two are inseparably connected. There is nothing arbitrary or restrictive about any of the commandments or mission rules. Each one is there for a reason. You may not always understand the reasons for a particular rule but being obedient nonetheless demonstrates our loyalty to the Lord. He has promised that, “the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:34).

I love my calling.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that is mine to return to a place that is so dear to me and to participate in sacred work that is so satisfying. There are many reasons why I feel this way, but near the top of the list is all of you. Yes, you. You are most important to me. I care for your spiritual development, your happiness, your peace and safety, and your success. In actuality, all of these things are dependent on the degree to which you have learned to be obedient. Let it be said of you, even as it was recorded of Helaman’s young warriors, “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness…” (Alma 57:21). What was the result of their obedience and their faith? “And those sons of the people of Ammon, of whom I have so highly spoken, are with me...and the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain...they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.” (Alma 58:39-40).

A missionary wrote last week, “I've recently been reading in Alma and I love the short, but powerful scripture that says, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." Very simply put, I need to decide now whom I will follow. It's a pretty black and white decision to make. During my mission, I've met several people who believe in very "grey areas" as far as righteous living goes. I realize now, it's more important than ever to know what your standards are, know what you believe in, and stick to your guns through thick and thin, no matter what. This world can be, and is, a scary place to live in if we don't have the light of the Savior to guide us.”

Obedience starts with a decision. It requires faith, humility and an earnest desire to submit ourselves to the Savior. Sometimes it requires us to take a stand – to stand against the wind.  To be obedient, we sometimes must be awkward or unpopular as we simply say, “This is not right.” As we persist in being obedient, it gets easier. It becomes part of who we are. It can become one of the patterns that we develop in our lives. Perhaps this was what Nephi was referring to when he said,  “we lived after the manner of happiness” (2Ne. 5:27).  I invite you to begin now – today – to begin a pattern of strict obedience.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Obedient Champions

PS.  We had eight baptisms in our mission last week, bringing our total for the month of August to 55. What a great harvest of souls! Thank you for your faith, prayers, dedication and many sacrifices that went in to those 55 souls that were lead into the waters of baptism. I believe that as we learn to work more closely with members and as we search Preach My Gospel for ways to improve, our faith will be increased so that we can consistently achieve our goal of 60 baptisms per month.

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