Archive for May, 2008

We were blessed to have Elder Bednar visit our stake this weekend for conference.  Among other things, he taught many truths and principles of the gospel that are familiar, but not entirely correct.  I wish to discuss a couple of these things that I have learned and relearned.

One of the first things Elder Bednar said was that he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  I know that he is, but it is interesting to hear him say it so plainly and without any trace of self satisfaction.  There is no conceit, agenda or self righteousness expressed at all.  Yet, along with that statement of fact, he also said he wanted us to be uplifted, rebuked and instructed during the course of the meetings. 

He then talked about the word “meeting”, and told us he did not want the “meeting” referred to as such, or even a conference session.  Rather, he would that we would view these “meetings” as a revelatory experience.  Along with that, he promised that if we approached the “meeting” in that fashion, we would have things revealed to us that we needed, and those things might or might not be actually discussed during the time together.

He then said, paraphrasing, “When an Apostle reads and speaks the words of a fellow Apostle, they have the same authority”.  I take the term “fellow Apostle” to mean those living and dead.  In the history of the ancient and latter-day church, there have not been that many Apostles.  I am sure that number is less than 150.  Considering the size of the church and the population of the world, the words that Apostles speak must be regarded as the Word and Will of Jesus Christ and certainly special to hear.  Apostles, remember, are special witnesses of Christ and His name.  When an Apostle speaks the words of a fellow Apostle, that word has the same authority as the original speaker.  I could liken it to a corporation where Christ is the CEO, the boss, and all of the Apostles, living and dead, are members of the board with equal authority given to them from the CEO to act and speak as the CEO would have them do.  The catch is, the CEO gets to pick each member of the board, and he will only pick those who are of like mind to Him and are willing to follow His instructions exactly.  That doesn’t mean these board members are mindless robots.  Rather, they are given to charge to watch over the corporation and invite any who will to join it.  Likewise, the Apostles are instructed to watch over the church, preach the gospel, and to minister to those who will join it.

Now, with this kind of introduction, perhaps some of the other topics I will present in this forum will look a little different.  Hopefully, I will be able to present them in a way that does justice to the spirit of their delivery.

There’s a lot of media coverage lately on that Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  The talk shows, of course, are playing audio over and over with Wright saying “God D—n America”, blaming AIDS on the government, promoting racism, etc.  This is a man who is supposedly a teacher and preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, one who should be engaged in helping and leading his people to higher levels of righteousness. 

I would like to contrast this Jeremiah Wright to Elder David Bednar and make some observations.

First, I would like to talk about the manner of speech.  Jeremiah Wright shouts, and curses, and I’m sure waves his hands fanatically (I have never actually seen him “preach”).  His voice is loud and strong and causes one to listen whether he wants to or not.

Elder Bednar’s voice is your average speaking voice, clear, precise, and strong.  In the 4 hours I listened to him this weekend, I never heard him raise his voice once, but he spoke in clear, animated language devoid of offensive words.  His voice, quieter than Wrights, causes one to listen because he wants to.

Elder Bednar’s words are those of the gospel of Christ.  They are uplifting words from the scriptures.  They are full of explanation and education.  When Elder Bednar speaks, he conveys the power and authority of God and invites the Holy Ghost to bear witness of his words.  The words of rebuke are spoken plainly, then followed by instruction on what should be done for correction.

In contrast, Jeremiah Wright speaks words that are demeaning and harsh.  Instead of power and authority, we hear anger, fear and sometime hatred.  It is difficult if not impossible for the Holy Ghost to be present.  Instead of learning truth and testimony, the people are whipped into a frenzy.  This is not worship as the Lord would have us do.  Instead, the people have become mindless and blind, following a voice that will not lead towards bettering themselves.

Now, after much of Wright’s sermons have been publicized and criticized so much, he is explaining and defending his actions in very public forums.  He does not renounce much of his fanatical preaching.  Instead, he uses these forums to promote the very things he preaches and declares it representative of the so-called ministers and churches of his race of people.  In the course of his defense, he says he was misquoted and taken out of context.  Yet, his own words stand as a witness against that defense.

I don’t see Elder Bednar wanting or even needing to defend the things he spoke about for nearly 4 hours this weekend.  The doctrines and principles he spoke about were given in plain and simple language.  His words were bold yet gentle, and never once was there hateful or foul languag.

Having been to a few meetings at other churches, I must say that I have not encountered one where the pastor has been on a tirade of Wright’s proportion.  I must also say that I have found those services empty, without meaning or passion, and entirely lacking of the spirit.  Few even bothered with the sacrament or communion.  All were happy to pass the plate and collect the money.

I suppose that I could go on and on, but the point of this little piece is to simply show that those who properly teach of Christ do so with meekness and clarity, rebuking when necessary, then showing forth that increase of love as spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants.  Their words lift and inspire, instruct and edify, showing the love of our Father and our Savior.  They speak with the true power and authority of God, inviting the spirit to testify truth.  What a blessing it is to have the true gospel.

The Saturday Priesthood “revelatory experience” was indeed that, an opportunity to learn and receive revelation at the hands of an Apostle.  Some of the purposes of revelation are to receive divine truth, answers to prayers, or even having your thoughts directed in a certain way. 

In this vein, Elder Bednar conducted a question and answer service, but explained that some questions were better than others.  The questions that don’t have as much to offer in a revelatory manner were not ones he wished to entertain.  So, I will be having a series of posts that deal with these questions and answers, along with some insight, revelation, and in a couple of cases, understanding I received.

Before I begin, I wish to expound on this term “understanding”.  During the course of answering a question, Elder Bednar addressed this term, and had a couple of interesting things to say about it. 

First, he said that the word “understand” in the scriptures does not mean cognitive learning.  It is, rather, related to revelation and sealing of testimony in the heart and mind.  Knowing about the gospel does not mean “understanding” the gospel, or any virtually any principle within it.  There are many people in the world who know scripture inside and out, and can make a serious effort toward claiming they know, understand and live the gospel.   But true understanding is dependent on the Holy Ghost sealing testimony, and the person being converted to the gospel.  I will discuss conversion in another article.

Several passages of scripture stand out in my mind that deal with “understanding”.  The first one that I wish to address is Doctrine and Covenants 9:7.  In this passage, Oliver Cowdery has attempted to translate from the gold plates, but has not been able to.  In answer to his question as to why, the Lord says:

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

The message is twofold.  Oliver did not understand the actual principle of how the translation worked.  This is an obvious conclusion.  But I think, in light of Elder Bednar’s remarks, that Oliver also did not understand because the testimony of the ancient record had not been sealed in his heart.  He was not converted.  Joseph, at this point having many visitations from heavenly messengers, was very likely fully committed to the will of God, even though the church had not yet been restored, nor the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It is quite possible this occurred before the Aaronic Priesthood had been restored. 

Stepping back to Section 8, the Lord describes what revelation is in verses 2 and 3:

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.”

The Lord tells us exactly what revelation is and how it occurs.  I submit that this is the essence of “understanding”, the testimony being given by the Holy Ghost, and sealed in the mind and heart, just as Elder Bednar told us.

How do we get this understanding?  It is not just some thing that comes over us at random or just because it’s nice to have.  Alma 17:2-3 gives us a great example of how that happens.  In these verses, Alma was traveling from Gideon to Manti when he met the sons of Mosiah, who had been prophesying and preaching for 14 years among the Lamanites.  Starting in the middle of verse  2:

“…yea, and they (the Sons of Mosiah) had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

But this was not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with the power and authority of God.”

They had learned the word of God by “searching” the scriptures, not just reading or scanning.  They had fasted and prayed much.  They had been active in teaching the gospel, in this case, for 14 years.  The results of these actions was a “sound understanding”.  They had been converted and the testimony had been sealed in their hearts and minds, to the point of being filled with the spirits of prophecy and revelation, and teaching with the power and authority of God.  Could the sons of Mosiah have been able to do these things if they had merely been knowledgeable about the scriptures?  No.  The evidence of this was manifest by Elder Bednar himself, as he taught in the spirit of revelation and prophecy, teaching with the power and authority of God.  Elder Bednar is no different than Alma and the sons of Mosiah in this respect.  The biggest difference is Elder Bednar’s ability to travel a lot faster to a lot more places.

So, with all of this understanding, and ability to have these blessings, do men such as these have room to grow and things to learn?  Absolutely, as evidenced in Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  In this section, President Joseph F. Smith received this vision, apparently one among many, and in verse 11, says:

“As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.”

He continues in this section to describe what he saw concerning the dead, the preaching of the gospel, and the resurrection.  What I wish to focus on is his language regarding how he saw this revelation…”the eyes of my understanding were opened”.  President Smith was the prophet, one who communicates and received revelation from the Lord.  His understanding of the gospel had to be what Elder Bednar was describing.  Yet, his eyes of understanding had to be opened to see the revelation the Lord had for him.  In so doing, the Holy Ghost would have sealed those things in his heart and mind, just as has been described.

Doing a search of the word “understand”, there are many references in the scriptures that provide great examples of this subject, spread among all of the standard works.  Indeed, the Apostles, both ancient and modern, are not covering new material, but are clarifying and expounding on a gospel principle that has existed since the beginning of man.

Now, realize that Elder Bednar did not say all of this.  In fact, he said very little about “understanding”.  However, as I have said, he taught by the spirit of revelation, and with the authority of God.  The meaning of this subject was made clear in the few moments he spent on it before moving on to other things.  When Elder Bednar promised that we would have things revealed to us, he was right.  I realize I have a long way to go to reach this level of understanding, and I never knew exactly what it meant. 

My testimony is that this principle is true.  We need to have this kind of understanding.  The next article is about ministering, and in the course of that discussion, we will see that true ministering and understanding are very related

One of the questions asked of Elder Bednar was, “What does it mean to minister”?  Elder Bednar asked Elder Nielsen (I believe our area authority Seventy) to answer first, then he would continue.  However, for the purpose of this discussion, I will not distinguish much between the two.  Rather, the answers intertwine and work well together.

We were referred to the chapters in the Book of Mormon from Mosiah 23 to Alma 15 as an example of what describes the word “minister”.  These are the chapter that talks about Alma’s ministry, rich with examples of what Alma did and said while teaching the people.  Note the word “did” in that previous sentence.  It is important.

We read from Doctrine and Covenants 43:8:

“And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments which I have given.”

Here is a reason for meeting together in conference, that me may instruct and edify each other.  The entire six hours of conference this weekend was incredibly instructive.  The Lord gives the reason for this when he says “that ye may know…how to act upon the points of my law and commandments which I have given”. 

There is an action word here.  Act sounds a lot like Did, except it is the present tense, not past.  Alma, having learned the world of God, preached that word (acted) and established congregations, instructing and edifying the people (acting some more).  Those people followed the instruction (acting themselves) and in many cases, were a happy and delightsome people for a period of time.

I submit that acting upon the word of God, instructing, edifying, home teaching, filling callings, paying tithing, etc. are what it means to “minister”.  We devote our lives to helping and uplifting those around us.  It also means that when we have positions of responsibility, we fulfill those jobs as seriously and completely as we can.

Going to Doctrine and Covenants 61:3, we learn an important principle that will help us minister:

“But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.”

Joseph Smith and others were travelling down the Missouri river.  The Lord foresaw danger and warned them.  In this passage, special attention was paid to the words “moving swiftly” and “inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief”.  In other words, slow down.  We should not be in a rush while ministering.  While it is true that many things have a schedule and deadlines, I don’t think that people and souls do.  Progress is very often measured against time.  If we move along too fast, we may miss something important that can make a difference for good in someone’s life.

Now, to get back to the original question of “What does it mean to minister”, we can answer it with some better detail.

To minister means to serve.  Service can be anything that someone needs in their life, from weeding a flowerbed to changing a flat tire, to giving a Priesthood blessing.  It includes teaching the gospel, baptizing, and giving testimony; taking a dinner to an afflicted family or driving an elderly person to church qualify as ministering. 

In order to serve or minister, one must know how to do it, whatever form it may be.  For example, it is difficult for one who does not know plumbing to do a proper pipe repair job.  The same principle applies to those who would teach the gospel.  One must first learn the gospel and be practiced in it to be able to preach it.  For many professions, before one can practice their learning, they must pass a series of tests to prove their competency.  Is the gospel any different?  Yes and no.  The Bishop is not going to issue a test to prove ability to preach, but in order to be effective, one must have testimony given by the Holy Ghost, and that is only given after one studies, learns, and prays diligently.  In the example of the sons of Mosiah, we have already shown that they first searched the scriptures, learned the word of God, and prayed and fasted.  They passed the test, that of receiving testimony from God, and they were thus able to minister with the power and authority of God.  In similar fashion, if a young person joins the church and wishes to serve a mission, they must be a member for a year prior to going, giving them time to study and learn.

Now, do you have to have the full testimony before you serve?  Part of that testimony is gained by serving.  Like every other occupation, hobby or endeavor, practice makes perfect.  Those who learn medicine practice medicine in increasing levels of responsibility and difficulty while they are learning.  The gospel is no different.  As one learns principles of the gospel, one puts them into practice and perfects them while learning new principles, and the cycle continues.  In order to minister, one learns while they minister, but you always have to start somewhere and spend some time gaining your knowledge and testimony before you start.  As you begin to minister and continue learning, your testimony grows and you draw close to your Father in Heaven.

Ministering means acting on your knowledge.  If you don’t act, your knowledge does you no good.  In the account in Alma 17, the sons of Mosiah had been laboring for 14 years among the Lamanites, and were returning to Zarahemla, where they would serve some more.  That is action.  The results of those actions, as already mentioned, are the spirits of revelation and prophecy, the result of hard spiritual work and ministering.

In the scriptures, it becomes obvious that serving is one of many ways that we earn forgiveness from the Savior.  As we minister to those whom we have responsibility for, and even those whom we don’t, our faith and testimony increase.  The more this occurs, the closer we get to being converted, a subject that was also talked about and will be discussed in another article.

To summarize, to minister is to act and serve.  As Elder Bednar pointed out, talking about action in a meeting does not constitute ministering.  Meetings are necessary and sometimes required for organization, preparation, instruction and training, but the real ministering takes place outside of meetings.


Prayer (May 2008)

   Posted by: John    in Church Meetings, Elder Bednar, Older Posts, Scriptures

There was a question about prayer, and I did not manage to write the question down fully. However, there are some interesting things that came about as a result of that question.

Elder Bednar referred to a conference talk he gave that centered around asking (praying) in faith.  He then talked about some principles of prayer that I am sure everyone knows, but don’t get talked about or even thought about often.

First, answers to prayer may not come immediately.  Everyone knows that, but it is still frustrating when you pray and don’t perceive that you have received an answer.  A great example of this is Nephi, when he goes to get the brass plates from Laban.  It took three tries to get those plates.  Laman and Lemuel were ready to give up after the first failure.  (I suppose it could be said they were ready to give up before trying the first time!)  Nephi was ready to try again.  And then again, before he was successful.

One wonders how many times Nephi prayed about seeing Lehi’s vision before he actually received it.  We don’t know, but I am sure that it was more than once.  What would have happened if he had given up?  Nephi was a man of great faith.  He prayed knowing he would receive an answer, and he did.  When we pray honestly and sincerely, we need to know that our Father in Heaven knows when to answer, and it may not be right that moment.

Second, praying and not doing anything until you receive an answer was described as “faithless prayer”.  This sounds very strange, but think about it.  If you are praying to be led to someone who seeking the gospel, but you never go out to look for that person, what good is the prayer.  Waiting for someone to knock on your door and proclaim they want to hear the gospel is a colossal waste of time.  The chances of that happening are almost none.  Instead, do pray for that blessing of finding someone, then actively work at it.  When we pray AND act in faith, we stand a better change of receiving an answer, as well as the blessings associated with it.

A good illustration of this principle is with Nephi again.  He and his brothers have failed the second time to get the brass plates.  Nephi’s brothers are upset, as usual, and go through their familiar murmuring routine.  Nephi says in 1 Nephi 4:6:

“And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”

We know that Nephi approached this task with pray, vocally and in his heart.  In this passage, Nephi admits that he didn’t know what he was going to do, or what was going to happen.  However, he was led by the Spirit.  We know what happened.  Laban was out partying because he had stolen Lehi’s stuff.  He was drunk, unconscious, and in Nephi’s power.  The answer didn’t stop there.  Nephi was able to pass himself off as Laban, wearing the clothes, and speaking in a voice that sounded like Laban.  The servant was fooled, and Nephi got the plates.  The answer still doesn’t stop.  Laban servant followed Nephi out the city until they met Nephi’s brothers.  The servant tried to get away, but Nephi prevented it and the servant decided to go with them.  Considering all the events of the evening, that is a remarkable answer for someone who didn’t know what would happen but submitted to following the spirit’s lead.

Third, prayer does not have to be formal or vocal.  I am not talking about prayers for meeting, the sacrament, blessings, etc.  I am speaking specifically of personal prayer, just you and the Lord. 

 We are encouraged to pray out loud to our Father in Heaven.   In most circumstances, when we go to pray, this is just fine.  There are times, however, when vocal prayer just doesn’t work.  Personal prayer with God should be just that…personal.  When necessary, pray silently.  Further, prayer does not have to be strictly formal.  We should still address God as he is, our Father in Heaven, because he is, after all, God.  But we should talk to him as a friend, and friends don’t too often follow strict formal conversation.

We have often heard the phrase “have a prayer in your heart” or the term “continuously praying”.  How can one do that?  A person has to live, work, eat, and sleep, among many things.  I believe that having a pure heart is a key to praying continuously.  As we drive, work, or shop, we can be pondering the scriptures, thinking about a conference talk, or even just mentally conversing with our Father in Heaven.  While driving to home teach, we can be mentally preparing ourselves to feel the spirit and know what that family needs.  In these kinds of ways, I think we are “continually praying” to our Father.

It cracks me up that prayer, to someone who doesn’t pray, sounds so one-sided.  Many time, I feel like my prayers are one-sided.  I’m doing all the talking.  What we need to do is listen.  If we are in the right frame of mind, the spirit will give us the things we need to pray about.  We need to open our spiritual ears.  It isn’t easy.  There are so many things to distract us.  That’s one reason why the Lord makes reference to praying in our secret places, those locations where distractions and disturbances don’t exist.  When we can concentrate, meditate and pray without disturbance, we will be surprised how much easier it will be to hear our Father in Heaven.

Saturday’s Evening conference session brought out another topic in this current progression.  As I have read over my notes, I have realized that there was a flow of topics from faith to action to conversion.  I have already written much about faith and action, but conversion is the next topic to cover.

It was mentioned in one of the meetings that testimony was not the same as conversion.  I thought that a little odd when I first heard it, but it makes a lot of sense after some pondering. 

Testimony is knowledge of truth, revealed by the Holy Ghost.  In order to have an active testimony, one must have faith or confidence in God.  Exercising our faith to action, as mentioned previously, will increase our faith and strengthen our testimony.  As our testimony becomes stronger, we develop stronger faith, and act further.  It is a continuous circle that, as long as we work at it, grows.

But…our testimony can also dwindle, as well as our faith.  Testimonies are sometimes fragile, and if not strong enough, we can forget the truths we have learned and wander off into strange paths, as Nephi saw in his vision of the Tree of Life. 

So, our testimonies and faith are things that need constant nourishment.  At what point do we become truly converted and what does that mean?

We often refer to new members of the church as “converts”.  This is true in the point that they have left behind other parts of their life to start anew in the true church of Christ.  But are they really “converted”?  Are we who have been members of the church for a long time really converted?

In the scriptures, there are several examples of people who became converted, and there is an interesting side effect of it.  In once such example from Mosiah 4 and 5 we read about the effects of the conversion process on people.  King Benjamin is delivering his speech from the tower.  He has just spoken about the atonement and forgiveness, and exhorted the people to repent.  The people had fallen to the earth and prayed for forgiveness.  Then, in Mosiah 4:3

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.”

So, the people will filled with joy and the spirit because of their faith, and were forgiven of their sins.  The rest of the chapter is filled with things that king Benjamin exhorts them to do.  Then, in the beginning of chapter 5, the kings asks the people if they believed his words.  Mosiah 5:2 describes a difference in the people:

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: 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.”

The words I want to focus on are “mighty change” and “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually”.  The mighty change referred to is more than just having a testimony.  Gaining a testimony changes us, but the mighty change is the process of conversion, fully applying the atonement of the Savior and being sanctified by the Spirit.  This is the baptism of fire, or the Holy Ghost, that Jesus spoke of in John 3:5, “Except a man be born or water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”   The result of this sanctification is the desire to do good continually, totally abandoning any desire to sin.  Conversion is the absence of sinful desire, and the fullness of doing good.

Now this begs the question, if you are truly converted, do you still sin?  The answer is, yes.  Unfortunately.  But, think about this in real terms.  If you don’t desire to sin, you will see sin as an abomination.  Chances are you are going to be real good at identifying things that would be called sin and avoiding them.  Never sinning implies perfection.  We aren’t going to be perfect in this life.  But, as we work and progress, we are constantly changing, improving, working on areas we need to “clean up” in our lives.  The better we become, the less we will sin.  Remember, that the definition of sin is knowingly breaking a commandment.  If we are truly converted, our sins will be more ones of omission, rather than commission, and, while serious, they offer ways for us to improve.  The covenants me make at baptism, in the temple, when we obtain the priesthood, those cover the very serious offenses against God and man.  Keep those covenants, and the serious sins of commission are in check. 

Along the way, something else happens to us.  When we become converted, we become submissive to the Lord.  Keeping the commandments is an act of submission, not a great and boastful thing, but something sacred between us and God.  Remember we are here not only to gain a body but to see if we will do whatever the Lord commands us to do.  Following the commandments fully and exactly is an act of humility.  It brings into focus the phrase “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”.  A broken heart is one that is broken to following the will of the Lord.  A contrite spirit is one that submits to the Lord.

One can almost picture people who are converted, with broken hearts and contrite spirits as people who are incredibly meek and mousy.  After all, the world would have us believe that these godly qualities are weak.  Consider Nephi.  He was a man “large of stature”, as he states in his first book, who knew of the goodness of God.  Nephi had visions, saw angels, followed the spirit, and did marvelous things while under the direction of the Lord.  Nephi was converted, and strived to do good continually.  Nephi stood up to his brethren who tried on numerous occasions to cause him harm.  He withstood their taunts and physical blows.  He radiated the power of God at times when his brothers knew to touch him would mean their physical deaths.  I cannot picture Nephi fitting the world’s perception of one who is meek and mousy if they possess a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 

Alma, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, the later Nephi, Captain Moroni, Mormon; these great and powerful men were not weak.  They were not mental midgets as the world would claim.  They were strong in the Lord and they were strong in mind and body.  The scriptures are filled with their stories, along with others, who were able to teach with the power of God and do great and marvelous works.  How could they do that if they were not converted?

As I listened to Elder Bednar, it because obvious to me that he is in the same class.  He teaches with the power of God because he is converted, having no disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

I submit that this is the goal of this life, to become converted to the Lord.  Having a testimony  is not enough.  We need our testimony, for without it, we will not progress.  But we need to strive for that conversion process, to gain the desire to do good always, and forsake every wrong and bad thing.  It is not easy, but if I believe if we work on it every day, it will happen.  Our lives are but for a short time, but if we earnestly strive for it, the Lord will bless us.  May we become converted to the Lord and desire to do good the rest of our lives.