Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Most Important Pearl of All

In the world of pearls, it seems like there are limitless options. When you go to a jeweler you have the option of white, black, pink, round, oblong, salt water, fresh water, and everything in between. These pearls are each the result of an oyster coating over and over again some foreign object it finds lodged inside its shell. Each one is appraised beforehand to determine how much it is worth and at what price it can reasonably be sold. Each year people travel all over the world in search of the biggest, best, and most expensive pearls to sell to their customers. To many that pearl would represent an achievement in their lives and a sign of their wealth.

In the scriptures, a reference to a pearl is made to illustrate the kind of wealth we should seek. In Matthew 13:45-46, the Savior likens the kingdom of heaven to a "pearl of great price" that a merchant man gives everything he possesses to obtain. The Lord was instructing his listeners that his gospel, or the way to the kingdom of heaven, was worth anything we may be required to give up. To the rich young ruler Christ said that if he would give up his treasures and follow him, then he would be able to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:20-22). In most of our lives, the Lord requires us to offer are desires and our sins to him. He asks us to stop doing those things that are contrary to the commandments and follow him. To some it may be quitting an addiction to cigarettes or alcohol. For others it may mean foregoing Sunday activities in order to worship him in church. No matter what the sacrifice may be, Christ has always promised that the reward, or pearl, would be worth far more than anything we may have given up.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flip-flops and Scorpions

Although I've never actually been stung by a scorpion (we don't have many in Idaho), I imagine it to be a fairly painful experience. As a young boy, Elder Kearon knew exactly what to do and what precautions to take in order to avoid being stung by one of these. However, like most of us, he disregarded those precautions because of casualness in his behavior. We see instances like this all around us. We all know that by obeying the speed limit we reduce our risk of being in a serious accident, yet how many of us speed anyway? We know that wearing our seat belts may very well save our lives, yet how many of us neglect to buckle up?

The same principle applies to our spiritual lives as well. It may not be a scorpion, but it may be a sin or addiction that we are taught to avoid. Our parents or leaders may spend hours discussing ways to properly protect ourselves from these dangers, but in the end it is our decision whether or not we will follow their council. One such "scorpion" may be drug abuse. My parents always warned us of this danger and told us that if we would surround ourselves with good influences or good friends, we could protect ourselves and put on those "shoes." I've tried to follow council such as that throughout my life and have luckily been able to avoid many of the pit-falls that claim much of today's world. It may not always be convenient or even popular, but if we'll just put on our shoes, we'll be protected from the stings in life.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Latter-Day Saint Temples

In many places that I have visited, the most beautiful buildings are often the temples. The one in this picture is the Palmyra New York temple and is one of my particular favorites. Sitting atop a small hill, it seems to stand as an ever-lit beacon calling for mankind to enter and partake of its blessings. Sometimes I encounter people who are curious about temples or may wonder why we even have them. The simple answer is that a temple is literally the House of the Lord and we come closer to him by being in it. A temple is a place where we can enter into covenants with God and receive greater blessings at his hand. But without questions, the greatest blessing that comes from temples is the opportunity to be sealed as families for time and all eternity. Many marriages in the world today are "til death do we part," but in the temple, couples and families are able to make their relationships eternal. No more will the sting of death discontinue a family, rather it just relocates a few members until all are once again reunited in heaven. In this video, based on a talk by Elder Nelson, members talk about temples and their love for them:

As a missionary, we strive to bring people to Christ by helping them receive the gospel and enter into their first covenant, baptism. But baptism is hardly the end of the road, rather it is the beginning. The most beautiful blessings our Father in Heaven has to offer us are available as we make and keep covenants in his holy temples. The blessings of eternal life with those we love are available if we will always keep the temple in our sights and strive to receive the blessing therein.  For all those who have not yet attended the temple, continue working towards that goal so that one day you may receive that blessing. For those who have been to the temple, continue to go back. As we return to the temple often we learn, grow, and understand more of our Heavenly Father's plan for us. God has given us a piece of heaven on earth, let us all take advantage of it.