Sunday, July 14, 2013

Farewell Talk

Testimony and Conversion
Becoming a Disciple of Christ

The purpose of missionary work is to invite people to come unto Christ, to gain a testimony of Him and of the Church and to help them become converted unto the Lord and become a disciple of Christ. I am blessed to have been called to perform this work with my brothers and sisters in Brazil.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said that a testimony "is a convincing knowledge given by revelation to [a person] who humbly seeks the truth." This can be a testimony of any truth, but in Helaman 5:12 it says ""

David A Bednar, in his talk from October 2012 General Conference "Converted unto the Lord," taught, "Seeking...latter days."

Doing these things (asking, seeking and knocking) requires faith. It is important to remember the teaching in Alma 32:21 that "faith..." This is a lesson that I have remembered again and again as I have sought knowledge upon which to build my testimony. Faith is not having a perfect knowledge. We do not know everything and we will probably never know everything. But that is okay. I have been very fortunate, in developing my own testimony, that I have applied the "spiritual scientific method" also found in Alma 32. When being taught a new principle or after gaining a new piece of knowledge, I have notice the selling inside that either strengthens or depletes my testimony. Recognizing that when something I have heard causes me confusion I know that it is not from God, but if I strengthens my faith it is from God. If it is from God then I act upon the knowledge that I have received.

In gaining my own testimony, some principles cam more easily to me than others. If I had a doubt, however, I would usually turn to the scriptures and to the Lord for answers. When I felt doubt or was upset about something, I wish I had had Elder Jeffrey R Holland's talk from April 2013 General Conference "Lord, I Believe" to help guide me. Elder Holland teaches a poignant lesson using the story of the man who came to Jesus to have him heal his son. Elder Holland teaches, "when facing...walk by faith."

Sadly, in coming to the current state of my testimony and conversion, I now recognize that I have often put up spiritual pavilions, as taught by President Henry B Eyring in October 2012 General Conference. These pavilions cast great shadows over my path. President Eyring asserts "Many of us...His will and His time." When faced with struggles in our personal testimony and bumps on our road to conversion, remember that it is never God who removes Himself from us, but rather us removing ourselves from God. We would do well to remember the lesson taught in Ether 12:6.

We all experience a trial of our faith. This is necessary to help us grow and progress on our path to conversion. Neil L Anderson taught in his talk from October 2012 General Conference "These fiery...comes into view."

There have been two fiery trials that stand out in my life that have definitely helped me to become more converted unto the Lord. When I was 16 I left to work at a Boy Scout camp about two hours away from home. I only knew two people at the camp and was a little homesick, but overall I was having a lot of fun. One night after writing in my journal and reading my scriptures, I received a call from my dad saying that my grandpa was dying. This was extremely devastating to me at that time. I love my grandpa; he was always very kind to me and told the best stories. Over the past year, after putting him in a nursing home, we had watched him degenerate and it was heartbreaking. I was inconsolable. I then heard a voice in my mind that told me that if I kept the commandments I WOULD see my grandpa again. I had never felt so much peace. I knew that was true. Families are forever.

The second trial came a little over a year ago. I was dating a guy I had known for four year and he and I cared about each other a lot. However, this guy was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not have a few of the same standards. I wanted nothing more than for him to be baptized and to be a worth Priesthood holder. I shared all he would allow with him about the gospel. I gave him scriptures and taught him how to pray. I moved to Jackson Hold, Wyoming to work for the summer and things in our relationship just got harder. One night, having no friends and no one there I heard a voice telling me that it was time to break up with him. I had done all I could do for him. It was not up to me and my timing; it was up to the Lord and His timing. This lesson is one that has recurred as I have been waiting for five months to leave on my mission. There are many prayers for good things that may not come because everything is done in the Lord's timing.

These two trials of my faith wrought in me a change of heart. I was not the same person after these experiences. I became determined to try harder and to become the person God wanted me to be. I was experiencing a change of heart. Returning to Elder Bednar's talk, he continues "The essence...testimony."

This change can be seen in Peter, a disciple of Christ. In Matthew 16:15-18 he testifies of Christ prior to receiving the Holy Ghost. This is Peter's humble testimony at the beginning of his path to conversion. In his talk, "The First Great Commandment," Elder Jeffrey R Holland provides insight as to what occurred next on Peter's path. After the death of Christ, Peter returns to his boat and takes up his prior profession of fishing. He is unsuccessful until a stranger appears on the shore to give him some advice. Here Elder Holland tells the stranger commands "Cast the net...what they did to me." Peter then went and followed the Savior's admonition to "feed his sheep and save my lambs." After the day of Pentecost and the baptism of three thousand souls and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter then testifies in Acts 4:8-12. This is in beautiful contrast to the simple testimony, which only grew after Peter forsook all to follow Christ. 

After we are converted, we are likewise called, as Peter, to become a disciple of Christ. We are called to follow the admonition to "feed my sheep." Elder Robert D Hales in his talk "Becoming a more Christian Christian" taught "As Christians today...I'll be what you want me to be.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have help my brothers and sister in Brazil to come unto Christ. I add my testimony to that of an African martyr, whom Henry B Eyring quoted, and his poem "The Fellowship of the Unashamed."

I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. 
The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. 
The decision has been made—I am a disciple of His. 

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. 
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, 
tame visions, worldly-talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. 
I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, 
am uplifted by prayer and I labor with power.
My face is set, my is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, 
my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. 

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, hired away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. 
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversity, 
negotiate at the table of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. 

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have preached up, 
prayed up, paid up, stored up and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus, I must go till He comes, give till I drop, 
preach till all know and work till He stops me. 
And when He comes to claim His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. 
My banner will be clear!

I know these things are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

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