Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Teach them young

Written by Makana Hansen

In an effort to be honest, its tough for me to read my scriptures. I'm not sure why. I think it is similar to working out and eating healthy... everyone knows its good for you but not everyone does it consistently. I know this is a weakness and I feel so blessed to have this challenge in my life. 

Why? Why do I feel blessed to struggle with reading the word of God? Well it is simple really. Every day that I do it, I feel powerful. I know I can conquer anything that Satan throws at me. And the thing is, I am powerful when I put God first. That is His promise. 

My husband is really a leader in putting God first. I think my kids get that attribute from him. Last night my 5 yo DD read the story of Ammon from her Book of Mormon. And not just the one about the sheep, but also the one about the Laminates (converted because of Ammon, now called Anti-Nephi-Lehi) burying their swords deep in the earth, covenanting to never again take up arms

That example of the fathers covenanting with God trickled down to the sons. They saw the example of righteousness daily. They were taught the things of God and cultivated for themselves a testimony. And so each day I read my scriptures. My children often see me and while I struggle to do it, I do have a testimony of the power found in seeking His words daily. Last night was a confirmation to me that its trickling down to my children. How thankful I am to my Heavenly Father for the chance to teach these sweet spirits.

Today I hope that even if reading the scriptures are hard for you too, that you may keep trying as I do. Because the example you are to others is a price beyond measure.

You can click here and request your own free copy of the Book of Mormon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Book of Mormon -- A True Book!

Here is a short video of my family bearing our witness of the truthfulness of this book. I love it with all of my heart, and could never deny the light and truth that comes from reading it. If you read and pray to know that if it is true or not, the spirit will manifest to you its truthfulness. There is no doubt in  my mind that it will.
This book has blessed me in so many instances in my life. I could not be more grateful for it in my life. I have gained so much spiritual insight, comfort, and love from it. It is my go to when I am down and depressed, because no matter what; after I read a few verses I am overwhelmed by the love our Father in Heaven has for us.
One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 1:15. It reads: "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally int he arms of his love." I love this verse because for one it shows how powerful of the Atonement. Secondly, I love this verse because when I was having a hard day I read it and instantly felt the arms of my Savior surround me. I felt the profound love that He had for me and knew I would be alright. I could never express enough the gratitude I have for the sacrifice of our Savior and for the love that He and our Father in Heaven for us. Read this book and you will find that love.
I know this church is true with all my heart. I love it with all my heart, might, mind and strength. And I could never depart from it. It has made me the person I am today. And because of that I am forever in debt to my Father in Heaven.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Take a STAND

STAND - 2013 Youth Theme

It more important than ever before for us to stand for our values and for our religion. The world has become so overbearing, that it is harder than ever before to stay on the straight and narrow. Therefore, it is more important today than at any point in history to have a strong foundation and be an example to others. We must stand for truth and righteousness.
 I love this video and how it shows the power of this gospel. This truly is the true church. We are so blessed to be apart of it. Let us go forth and show others the blessings of this gospel. There are so many people faltering. Lift them up and show them the joys of this gospel. Be a good example to those around you.
"For he that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Let us give our life to the Lord and bring his sheep back into the fold. We can do this by being a good example, and sticking to our standards that are so much higher than the world's. If we give all that we have for the Lord, He will give everything and more to us in return. The Lord's way is definitely the right way.
I love this gospel, and the happiness it brings into my life. This video is so powerful because you can feel how strong these prophets were, and that they stood for something that truly is right. We too can be exactly like these prophets of old as we stand for truth today. 
Don't get bogged down by the world, and remember the blessings that come from sacrificing for the Lord. He loves you. He wants the best for you.
Stand up and rise oh ye faithful generation and see your worth. Let us promise Him that we will Stand for Him and be not moved. The time is near, so gear up now.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Have ye received His image in your countenance?

Alma, one of the great prophets of the Book of Mormon asked centuries ago, "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" 

 What do people see when they see you? Do they see you as a disciple of Christ? C.S. Lewis said, "Don't shine so others see you, shine so that through you others can see Him." Are we too worried about how others see us that we forget who we are really representing?

Another word for being born of God or having a mighty change wrought in our hearts is the word conversion. The people of King Benjamin tell us what true conversion means. " Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."

I like to think of conversion not as a singular event but as a process. Bruce R McConkie said, "It (conversion) does not occur instantaneously. It comes to pass by degrees. Repentant persons become alive to one spiritual reality after another, until they are wholly alive in Christ and are qualified to dwell in his presence forever.” 

 Alma then asks a series of question to help his people examine their lives and their depth of conversion. He asks:

 26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? 27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins? 28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life. 29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless. 30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? 31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!

 If any of these questions made you wince or hurt, you are not alone, but that doesn't mean it's ok. When I read these questions they motivate me to try harder, to become better, to rise above my natural tendencies and to change my heart and become converted once again. None of us know when our life will end or when the Savior will come to the earth again. Let us be ready for Him. It would be a very terrible feeling to be called up to the judgment seat and be filled with guilt and terror. I hope at that day that we will not shrink before Him, but that we can confidently look at Him, having received His image in our countenance.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Brother of Jared

"Because of the faith of Brother Jared, he was able to see the finger of God." -Ether 3
I'm excited to write about one of my favorite Book of Mormon prophets, the brother of Jared. He lived at the time of the confounding of languages that we read about in Genesis. The story while true is very symbolic of our own life as we journey through the hardships of mortal life to our promised land in the Celestial Kingdom.
The brother of Jared, or Moriancumer, made prayer such a part of his life that the Lord blesses him, his family and friends so that their language is not confounded at the time the people are building the tower of Babel. But for some reason he then forgets to pray for several years. I can't imagine that he completely stops praying. Maybe his prayers became casual or were not offered with real intent. Either way I feel like there is hope for me when I've said prayers that probably only made it to the ceiling in my room because I was in a hurry or too tired. One of Satan’s greatest desires is to keep us from God's guidance, comfort and love by neglecting our prayers.
Moriancumer experience shows us how three different ways God answers our prayers.
The first way was when Moriancumer prays to know how to get air for the barges and the Lord answers directly and tells him how he can do so. (Ether 2:20)
The second way he might answer us is when Moriancumer needs light for the barges the Lord tells him to think of the solution. (v.23)
 Brother Michael Wilcox a religion teacher gave a humorous antidote about how he would answer the Lord if he was told to come up with a solution. He said I would tell the Lord just 'blow softly" In fact he said you could make it like a cruise ship where we could sip our lemonade and get tan up on deck. If it takes a little longer it’s okay.
We want the way to be easy and sometimes even believe that it should be because we are keeping the commandments and so God should reward us for being faithful. But actually over and over again in the Book of Mormon we are taught that it is through trials that we become like the Savior. 
The third way he answers us is to tell us to trust him. Go forward with assurance that no matter the hardship I will be there. (v.24) Or as our late prophet President Hinckley stated, I don't know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work. 
Moriancumer shows humility in his appeals to the Lord. He never tells the Lord what he wants done or makes demands of him. He doesn't even ask the Lord to change his circumstances but instead asks how to deal with the problem.
Through repetition (so we won't misunderstand what he's trying to tell us and to show us what He thinks is important) the Lord teaches that we need to be tight as a dish (Ether 2 :17} or in other words have a strong testimony that never wavers because there are going to be some turbulent days in our lives ( Ether 2:24 for ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you.)
The Lord’s concern in this record isn't about having a tight vessel but allowing us to see from this story that he needs us tight as a dish with a strong testimony so we can return again to him worthy to be in His presence.
Could there be a more touching story than this one that ingrains into our minds that the Lord does indeed know each of us individually and that He will reach down and touch our efforts in school at home and at work and  fill them with light. That despite heartache, trials from divorce, loss of spouse, or fortune we will have light continually (Ether 6: 10) whether it was above the water or under the water. Hebrews says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth.” During our darkest days that scripture will be a beacon of light to us reminding us that He does care he does love us and is listening. I think there is great power in that. We have faith and then comes the fiery trial and we end up with greater faith. And like the brother of Jared and his family we can sing praises (v.9) instead of becoming bitter or sad or depressed. We can thank God all the daylong (v.9). Did you read that? All the day long. Oh wait it doesn't stop there it continues and says, and when the night came they did not cease to praise the Lord. I don't know how they did that and stayed positive when they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind (Ether 6:5) and buried in the depths of the sea because of the mountain waves which broke upon them and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.(v6)  But through all those tests and challenges it was their prayers that got them through for in verse 7 in Ether 6 it says when they had gone through all the above then they did cry unto the Lord (they knew the source of their deliverance) and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. He'll give us peace and comfort and even in our darkest days. 
Now if we go to Helaman in the Book of Mormon chapter 5 verse 12 we see a similar counsel Helaman gave to his sons. 'And now my sons, remember , remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ the SON of GOD that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built which is a sure foundation a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.

Our faith will grow through trials as did Moriancumer as he says in Ether 3:4-5 Behold O LORD THOU CANST DO THIS. What incredible faith that one line says about the brother of Jared. We too if we remain faithful and true through every type of adversity and trial can have the faith to not only see the Savior but Become like Him.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Don't be Afraid to do What is Right

"And now, when Abinadi had said these words he fell, having suffered by fire; yea, having been put to death because he would NOT deny the commandment of God." -Mosiah 17:20.

It’s incredible that Abinadi would die even by fire to be a witness of this gospel. He knew it was true with everything inside of Him. He loved the gospel, and he loved our Father in Heaven.
In our home we have three words written over a doorway: But If Not. This saying reminds us to be faithful no matter what. It comes from a story in the Bible, about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when told they would be thrown in a fiery furnace said, “Our God will deliver us, but if not, we will not deny him.” In life it doesn't always work out the way it did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were saved. It sometimes can turn out like how it did for Abinadi.
I chose to write my first post about Abinadi because, for me, he is the greatest hero in the Book of Mormon. He courageously stood for truth when it was unpopular. In the end his main testimony was to not lower his standards, to not recall his words, and to not deny the commandments of God no matter what. We may not have to have the death sentence pronounced upon us but it takes courage to stick to our standards when so many are following the ways of the world. We find we are ridiculed just as Abinadi was for having clean language, not dating before sixteen, having a serious boyfriend in high school, dressing modestly, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy.
While attending high school, some boys came up to my brother Tanner in the hall. With sneering voices they said, “Tanner you’re such a pansy because you don’t swear.” Without hesitating Tanner replied, “No you are the pansies because you can’t control your tongue.” It would have been so easy for him to fall into peer pressure, but he stood fast in his beliefs. However, the power with which he responded made the boys turn and shrink away from him.
If you are altering your standards to escape the judgments of others, stop it. Stop trying to justify or rationalize your actions. The Lord needs a strong people. Not next week or next year, but today. These are the last days and we must prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. It is so critical for you to understand that we must put upon us the Lord’s standards and stand for truth and righteousness at this time.
How do we get the power and strength that Abinadi had? We can serve others, speak kindly to others, especially your family, bearing your testimony in either timely or untimely situations, reading the scriptures daily, saying our morning and night prayers, and having family night. Too often we let sports, school, friends, or any other activities get in the way of doing these things. But there should be no excuse to keep the Lord’s commandments. Be like Abinadi who made no excuse to deny the commandments to the point of dying.
Sometimes it may not be easy because you may question yourself, “why don’t I just do it, they are going to think I’m so dumb if I don’t.” Don’t listen to those thoughts. Please brothers and sisters don’t fall into Satan’s trap of peer pressure.
As I try to do my best in everything I do, I tend to fail like everyone else does here and there. For example, while attending BYU, I have been struggling to do well on all of my exams. Each time I get a low grade, I am devastated. I often wonder, why even try to get a better score when I just keep getting the same low scores over and over again. But that’s when I remembered that faith wasn't just for when things were going right but faith meant we trust that God has a plan for us even if things don’t turn out the way we hoped. I have found that when we respond in faith to trials the Lord strengthens us.
We must have that same faith that Abinadi had. Elder Simmons said, "Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. ... Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not. ... He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. ... Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. ... we will trust in the Lord. Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. ... He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. ... we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has."
I have a very strong testimony that each and every one of us had been given a special mission here on this earth. The only way we can find out what that is and accomplish it is by first putting ourselves out there like Abinadi. Do the unpopular and stand as a witness of God at all times. I know for a fact that Christ needs us at this exact day and time. The time is now, He comes so soon and we must build our army of Helaman and not fear opposition or the judgments of others, just as Abinadi did not fear. We must be strong, which strength will come from the Lord. Don't forget that great challenges make great men and women.

In our house we have saying written on the wall, " Et si omnes ego non," which means: Even if all not I. Never forget that you are a child of Heavenly Father and that He loves you. Stand up for what you believe in; bear your testimony frequently in words as well as actions. Please brothers and sisters, do not follow the world, God needs you to follow Him. I feel that is so crucial in this day and time.