Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Evils of Pornography

Today I attended a wonderful farewell for one of my best friends, J. He leaves for Argentina soon to serve a two year church mission. Good luck, buddy!
After I came home, as I sat down to eat, my mother came in to talk. She told me that the Bishop of our ward had spoken today, plainly, about the dangers of pornography. We then discussed my fears concerning it and the dangers behind it.
Talking with my mom about this terrible plague caused me a lot of grief. Why choose to devote an entire blog post to it then? Because of the importance of shining our light in and to the world.

Warning: For those of you that really know me, you are aware I am blunt. This post is blunt, for the best purposes. I wanted to warn you before you get too invested.

In the talk given before J's, the woman who spoke explained how the natural man is an enemy of God. How today the world justifies in a thousand ways that wicked and vulgar things are okay, because they are "natural". If God decrees something is sinful, nothing can change that, not even the views of the world. When I think about the concept of pornography, I am disgusted by how accepting the world is of something so terrible.
I remember when my innocence was first shattered and I learned what the "M" word meant. Not only was I disgusted by the word, I was disgusted that the devil could be so strong to manipulate people to do such a thing. In fact, many good people in the world today do not have any idea that such a thing could be wrong. Why? It's been accepted as natural.
However we know, "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man..." [Mosiah 3:19; Book of Mormon]
Does this scripture mean God made men evil? No, but he gave us freedom of choice, and the devil's power is strong, so we are corruptible. We cannot and should not use this marvelous gift of agency to exercise such dark sin.

What a scary thought. And what a scary world. Sometimes I feel like it's all I can do to not worry about the future. This world will just keep getting more wicked, won't it? And where does that put me as a future mother? What about my children, how can I protect them from the evils of this natural world? In fact, sometimes, it seems like I am without hope.

But that is absolutely the wrong way of thinking. Because we have a Savior. We have a merciful God and a loving Savior that surely seem to say, hey the world is wicked but I didn't allow you to come here so you would succumb to it. I made you stronger than this. I prepared you to fight this.
Jesus declares in a prayer to the Father, "Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me." [3rd Nephi 19:29] There is hope for purification in a wicked world.
My mother went on to explain that they had a discussion in church about this great evil. One of the ladies in my ward raised her hand and said,
"It's easy to think that when you are married, this appetite (for pornography) will be satisfied. THIS IS WRONG. After you are married, you have gained a great and wholesome thing. This does not replace the wicked and natural desires you have for pornography, nor does it dull them. The temptation will still be there."
My Bishop then explained, "The only thing that can replace the evils of pornography are the powers of justice and mercy from our Savior Jesus Christ." Surely He is the only one that can save us from such a great evil.

What must we do? Whoever you are, whether you are a mother or father, a man or woman, a teenager or an adult. What must we do to protect ourselves from such a strong, influential and so easily accessible evil? K-9 is great. But it can be hacked. Here's the answer: Teach. Teach your children, teach yourself. God will conquer in the end. We are commanded to have faith before fear, "Be not afraid, only believe." [Mark 5:36, KJV] Do not play dumb to the evil. It is real, it is out there. Learn how to flee from it. Learn how to protect yourself from it. Do not go to movies that promote it. Do not read books with the evil in it, do not spend excessive time on your computer just "surfing the web", do not listen to anything that could bring you near it. Especially do not click that button on the sidebar that leads you directly to it.

I have met one person in my life who though highly absorbed in this web of sin, had no remorse. If you find yourself in this situation I say to what Alma (a prophet of God) once said to his people, "Can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls full of guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?" [Alma 5:18; Book of Mormon] or perhaps the words of Jacob: "Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them, and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pieced with deep wounds" [Jacob 2:85; Book of Mormon]. Just remember this applies to your family, wife and children, whether they are on this earth yet or not.

Pornography is real. My bishop told us that it is a 12 billion dollar industry. That's a lot of sickening money. It's not something we can just wish away. But it is something that we can protect ourselves from. Surely it is something we NEED to protect ourselves from.

What do we do then, if we know someone stuck in the trap? It is all lost? Of course not. We have a Savior that they can work with to overcome their addiction, and there are things we can do as well. If we know someone involved in pornography, we have been commanded to forgive and forget. But we also cannot sell ourselves short. We keep ourselves as pure as we can and expect the same out of our future (or current) spouse. We accept the forgiveness of the Savior and strive to keep ourselves modest, virtuous and an example for good.

In the end, God will win. That is a fact.
Satan is going to try to take as many people as he can with him. Another fact.
IMPORTANT FACT: We can't let him. Stay on the Lord's side, and keep others with you.

If you have fallen into the evil, visit your bishop and repent. Our prophet has commanded us, "If you are involved, cease now." If you are worried about someone who has become involved in pornography, confront them or express your concerns to the bishop. No matter whether it's your second cousin, uncle, brother, niece, or best friend, forgive them, and help them out.
The Lord is there for you. He will help you break the habit, and comfort those whom you have harmed. Perhaps most importantly, He will help you forgive yourself after you truly repent.

I may seem like just an 18 year old girl, but Sister Dalton (previous Young Women's general president) always said, "One virtuous young woman can change the world." And so I'll do my best.

I'm grateful for our Savior's continuous love.
As President Monson says, "Your Heavenly Father loves you- each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God's love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply, always there." [October 2013 Conference, We Never Walk Alone]

I know this is true. May we stand as pure, forgiving, examples of light who stay away from the wicked world and it's natural habits and instead spend our time loving and serving another, for that is truly what God desires of us.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Because We See.

Since I last wrote, I have started college at the magnificent Brigham Young University.
Everything good they say about here is more than true. It's a beautiful campus, and in this campus you can choose to have a beautiful life.
It took me until a couple weeks into school to realize that principle though The key is to choose.

From the very moment we got there, reality sunk in. Essentially because everyone was special, nobody was. Every one had a musical talent, was the top scholar in their school, completely involved and completely loved. And suddenly everything that had made us different before made us exactly the same.
Realizations like these left doubting thoughts in mind. You know the ones. the "You're not good enough"s and the "See, you're not special"s and the "You really thought you could do this?" lies and thoughts from the devil that overwhelm and cover you in a heavy blanket of doubt and despair.

I found myself surprised by these degrading thoughts. I mean, c'mon! I was at BYU for goodness sake, and so shouldn't Jesus be in the lobby of the JKB or under the lamp post by Freshmen Hill or waiting for me outside my BOM class with his arms open wide, saying "Everything is going to be okay!" Saying, "You are important, you are loved, you are special." Well I found out later He had been, I just hadn't been looking.

I am going to be completely honest here. I didn't think college was going to be that hard for me. I thought it would be a breeze, hard for everyone else but fore some reason, I was exempt. Frankly I was wrong. My Book of Mormon professor announced the first day that we would be reading the entire first half of the Book of Mormon in two weeks. If we weren't able to do this, than a substantial part of the grade would be lost. We were to monitor ourselves, reading 20 pages a day, and then report at the end of two weeks if we were able to accomplish the task. Though it was something as great as the Book of Mormon,this seemed to be another thing to overwhelm me and add to my ever-present "to-do's" in college. I began the task with a reluctant heart.
I'm sorry to say I didn't appreciate this assignment until 2nd Nephi (the second book in the Book of Mormon). It was near the end of a particularly mentally and physically exhausting day when I sat down to read 2nd Nephi 10.
It was when I read vs 23 that my entire college perspective would change, "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves-- to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
I don't think any scripture has hit my heart so hard before, "Remember," the Lord told me, "You are free to choose." I'm almost done with the first half of the Book of Mormon, and this time through has strengthened my heart forever.

So my call to you is to remember to choose. And to have the courage to cheer up your hearts especially when it seems like you can't. Even when the darkest day overwhelms you and you feel deserted. Have to courage to choose the way of everlasting life.

I have one other point to make.
My Book of Mormon professor, who I'm really starting to appreciate had us share experiences of when we have been mocked because of our beliefs. One of the girls shared the classic accusation of the church that we "blindly obey." With full vigor my Book of Mormon professor proclaimed, "Isn't that interesting. They do not understand. We do not follow because we are blind. We follow because we SEE If there is anything that I learned from my first weeks of BYU, it is that I follow because I see.
I now see the Savior waiting outside the WILK. I see Him in my home ward, and in my FHE group. I see him next to the girl that sits alone in the Cannon, beckoning me to come join them. I see Him everywhere. I follow and obey Him because I see.

I echo my words with the prophet Ammon, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but i will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things... for which we will praise his name forever." (Alma 26:12; BOM)

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you , I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." (Alma 26:16, BOM)

This Church is true, and God loves us.
I know it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Never Too Late

President James E. Faust once said, "I am grateful that it is never too late to change, to make things right, to leave old activities and habits behind."
Earlier this week after attending the pre-op appointment with my doctor (I'm getting my tonsils removed tomorrow), I was ready to back out of the whole thing. I was scared for the rough recovery, I was nervous about the procedure, I was upset I couldn't eat ice cream.
After sharing these thoughts with my mom while walking out to the car (I obviously didn't pay for the 2 pre-op appts)she turned to me and said, "Audrey. You can leave your tonsils in and they will continue to give you nothing but problems. Or, you can get them out, have a rough week of recovery and solve any other problems that they could cause you in the future." Needless to say, I continued on without another thought of revoking the surgery. I want those things out of there more than anything.
I think that's what President Faust was trying to say a little bit. Repentance is tough. In fact, it's a really rough process if you are doing it right. But. It will solve problems you've had in the past, and it will prevent future problems. Just like the removal of tonsils.
While it might be too late for some old geezer to get their tonsils removed :) it will never be too late for someone to accept Jesus's atoning sacrifice and be saved.

by having Him we have it all.
by loving Him we love all.

I know that if we have faith, mere faith, in Jesus Christ, than He will accept us on our own. But we also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17,20; KJV)and we prove our faith by our works (James 2:18; KJV). In 400 A.D. the prophet Moroni wrote concerning our Savior,
"And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things we are expedient in me." (Moroni 10:23; Book of Mormon)

We can choose to be unstoppable through Christ.
We can choose to be unstoppable for Him as well.

Our goal should be to go back to His presence for His goal is to get us back with Him.
I was in my mission prep class a couple weeks ago (a class provided by my church to prepare me for serving a church mission) when a girl raised her hand and profoundly said "You know what I realized? Some things I can only get through because Christ conquered them already and is fighting them with me!"
Please remember that. You are never alone.
It's been said that He is mighty to save.
This I believe. There is no one He can't reach, no one He can't comfort, no one He'll deny. including you.
If you are weary, lost, sick, alone,or even afraid, lean on Christ. Rely on Him. Pray your heart out reaching the heavens and I promise you. He will not leave you comfortless. Be sincere with God and He will return the favor to you.

A French poet once wrote:
Come to the edge
No we'll fall
Come to the edge
No we'll fall
we came to the edge
He pushed us
We flew

Trust Him, and you will fly.

I know the Savior lives. I know He loves all us individually for He is the only one who truly understands us.
I know He is willing to be our Rock when we have to fall.
I know He knows us for He died for us. Not as a group, but as His people. Let Him heal you.
I love my Savior.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church; open to all who wish to come and join.
And my invitation is that to you:
Come and join.
Talk to those Mormon missionaries next time you see them.
Talk to your Mormon friends about their beliefs.
Talk to God about your hopes, dreams, doubts and fears.
Come unto Christ, and be saved.
It is never too late.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

With Healing In His Wings

After studying the New Testament in my high school seminary class last school year, I knew that reading the New Testament one time through would never be enough. If you haven't read the New Testament for yourself, I challenge you to read and study it. Even if you haven't gotten the chance to read it lately, do it. It's a beautiful book of scripture that contains pure testimony from those who knew Christ firsthand. It testifies that He is the Son of the Living God, and more importantly, that He lives.

Chapter 19 of the Book of John is an account of the Savior's suffering and death. This one of the hardest chapters in all scripture for me to read, but comfort came to me when I searched a cross-reference from the footnotes in the scriptures. It is found in the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ, and another book I highly recommend reading. One of the Lord's prophets, Nephi, writes "Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on His name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name." (2 Nephi 25:13, Book of Mormon, italics and bold added)

In my weekly Institute class (a class for young adults to learn more about Christ and His Gospel) we were challenged to find a scripture that would help someone we love to resist and avoid the enticements of the flesh. I sat and pondered and finally came up with Isaiah 53:3-5.
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not...Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted... But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed."

Why would that help? It's the very reason I'm posting today. It's because Jesus Christ IS the reason. He's why we have everything, why we are given so much. He is the Master Creator and Teacher, He is the King of Kings and the Holiest of Holies. He is our Savior.
He didn't suffer without a cause. He suffered for us, for when we are weak it is through Him that we can become strong. Ever feel like giving up? Don't. The Savior didn't give up when He chose to suffer for you. Is it hard to fight temptation, to overcome sorrow, to believe that very bands of death have been broken? Yes. Yes it is. In fact, it seems rather impossible. But in the end we must remember, "with God nothing is impossible." (Luke 1:37; KJV)

If you are sick, if you are worried, if you are failing, please remember that Christ HAS risen with "healing in his wings". Please remember if you are suffering that "with His stripes we are healed". If you can, if you will, and if you recognize the pure joy that comes from our Savior, echo with me the voice of the prophet. "My soul delighteth to prophesy concerning Him... and my heart doth magnify His holy name."

"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.. that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24)

Please feel free to visit to watch Bible videos. They strengthen my confidence in Christ and I'm sure they will do the same for you.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

our Savior's love

Last night we went to the airport to welcome back my brother's best friend from his mission in Fiji. Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (commonly known as "Mormons"), are called and set apart by men of God to go serve and share for two years the happy message of Christ's Gospel back on the earth today. Truly they are hearkening unto the Master's call and promise. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have command you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20; KJV)

I can't wait until the day I get to serve, but for now I know that I can listen and obey to the Savior's words, right here, right now.
I read today in John when the disciples of Christ leave Him, for He has proclaimed that He is indeed the Savior of the World, the Son of God. When Jesus asks the twelve if they "will also go away" , I am humbled by Peter's sweet reply: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life... And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:67-69; KJV; bold added)

Have you ever really thought about the Savior and His purpose? I've been taught about Him since I can't remember when but He became real to me these last couple years. I absolutely love reading, studying, and pondering Him and His great ministry. Surely He was greater than a mere prophet, surely He was literally the greatest thing that has ever happened in all of existence. and what's cool, what's REALLY cool to me, is that He isn't some obscene, greater than thou, unreachable figure. He came down and suffered for us, died for us, and was raised again so that we might be too, but did He leave us there and drop us like flies? OF COURSE NOT! The Resurrected Lord and Savior of all the earth, of every nation, cares about YOU. Loves YOU. Wants to have you clasped in His arms. Will you come?

A great point was made by Brad Wilcox when he said, "There is no place for sin in heaven. There is a place for sinners who are willing to confess, learn from mistakes, sincerely progress through a repentance process, and welcome the power of the Atonement." The greatest Being who has ever walked the earth saved YOU from your sins. He saved us all out of pure love. Are we willing and wanting to use this miraculous gift of repentance He gives us?

Sometimes I feel super inadequate. Like, really. I get all down in the dumps and can't think of anything positive about myself or anybody else. I wonder why the Savior even bothered to make such a sacrifice for me, an imperfect teenage girl who continues to roll around in the mud pit of imperfection and sin. And then I realize that's precisely the point. That's exactly why He did it! So that when we realize, "hey, I don't like this mud pit! It stinks, and I'd do anything I can to get out of it" He reaches out to us, grabs us by the hand, washes us off, and sets us on the path back to Him again. But it won't work unless we put in some effort. We never have to feel inadequate or unworthy if we are striving to feel His love.

God is good. Great. Wonderful, Powerful, Smart, and Kind. I am so thankful He sent His Son for us, or else we would all be lost and fallen souls.
Some believe in the Trinity. If that is what you believe, please understand that I am not undermining you or criticizing your beliefs in any way. I have many friends who believe in this concept. But I have studied, listened to modern-day prophets, and KNOW... Absolutely know, that they are two Separate beings. Do they have the same purpose? Absolutely! They want us back with them... but better than we left them. And through their Genius Plan, Jesus Christ has given us a way back to return to the Father.

Thanks and glory be to God.

Please, if you have any comments or questions about our beliefs as Latter-Day Saints, comment(appropriately)below and I can answer/address them! Please also feel free to search or for more answers. God will help answer them if you honestly seek.

My final scripture to share (after this extremely long post) is in 3rd Nephi 27: 14 (This is found in the Book of Mormon; a companion to the Holy Bible and another testament of Jesus Christ)

Jesus says: "And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me". He wants us to come home. He wants YOU home.
Let's make Him proud.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Glorious Days like today

Well, yesterday (June 28th) was my very own eighteenth birthday. It seems a little unreal but mostly I've just been waiting for this day my entire life. I saw the glory of God all around me throughout the entire day. I had a cousin born in the wee hours of the morning, I went with my summer camp to the movie "Monsters University" and was surrounded there by people that love me and people that I absolutely love. I work with children ages 7-21 that have special needs and disabilities. It's a beautiful job that has taught me so much about who I am as a person and taught me true love and the charity that the Savior has for all His brothers and sisters and all our "special needs".
I love the Lord and know He loves me. And if you're reading this, He loves you too! I promise.
I'm so grateful for good friends that make my birthday and for the best family. EVER. Thank you guys!!!!
I'm so grateful for a loving God who takes care of me, for a brother serving a mission for our church in Italy, and days like yester/today when I communicate with the people that I absolutely love in every single way! (technology, person, prayer) Show the world YOUR light today. What sets you apart?
Thanks be to God for these glorious days.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

For God So Loved the World

One of my all time favorite scriptures can be found in Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV)

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

I am nothing special.
The one thing that sets me apart is that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'm a Mormon. But even then I'm not that different because I don't do miraculous things, have a lot of money, or save the world. But through the Lord's help, I can change the world.
I have faith that if I let my "light shine" then Christ, my Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost will do the rest. I'll give all I have to share the word, obey what they say, and do God's will. I try and continue to share my light with all God's children, every human being through service and smiles.

A great verse says:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16; KJV) (capitalization mine)
And through my life I try to reply,
"Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24 KJV)