Sunday, October 20, 2013

"We have the choice to either fulfill the Lord's time, or just fill it and get through the day" 10/14/13

Dear all,

Even though Heavenly Father might get weary of you praying for me (ha ha), I need them everyday.

We saw some absolutely incredible blessings this week of finding people to teach, working with members and even finding a man that is going to be baptized.

I really do believe that when it all comes down to it, our personal choice coupled with the choice-enabling mercy of opposition helps us to become what we need to be.

Everyday there is the choice to either fulfill the Lord's time, or just fill it and get through the day. If we set Goals, plan, and follow the Spirit it really does bring about miracles.

General Conference was one of the most incredible things this week as well (we watch it later than you guys). We watched all 10 hours of conference and I enjoyed every minute of it! I came with specific questions and received very specific answers! More than anything else, I came to a better realization of why we need a prophet in our day. I feel that in my daily conversations with people here in Ukraine and the experiences that we experience, all is divinely orchestrated. In fact, we met a lot of people today that said something similar to the same thing: "There are many paths that lead to God." My response was always "No, there is only one. Period." I think that both my thinking as well as the common thought of the people are equally true in part and flawed in part. Too often in the Church we note other churches don't have all the truth; we look at our church as the One True Church of Jesus Christ...kind of a heaven and hell, you're-in or you're-out kind of a view...however, we should not forget the merciful plan of our Creator. He created a perfect plan that would allow all of us to receive a fullness of His blessings; He gave His perfect Son, who showed the perfect and only way to receiving those blessings. We often call that perfect path that Jesus Christ walked and taught His Gospel. To help us walk that path, the Savior Jesus Christ organized His church, calling apostles that were authorized by Christ Himself to teach the path and help all walk it. Even when Jesus Christ was not on the earth, Heavenly Father's plan had not changed, and He wanted all to know how to follow the Savior, His Son, and receive all the Blessings. Thus divinely called messengers of God, or Prophets, come into play. A prophet is called of God, given a correct knowledge of the perfect path and the power to walk it. The Prophet, according to the command of that same God that created the Plan, teaches the people the path and helps them to walk it.

Without living prophets as our mouthpiece of God, we are left to interpret the path according to our own wisdom...not to mention that the power to walk the path is inexistent without prophets. The prophets in our day, as we were able to see from General Conference, are given to us to teach us the path and help us walk it. We can choose our path, we can choose our doctrine, we can even choose our commandments, but in the end, only the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to lead us fully to our Father in Heaven and His blessings. Partial truth gets us part of the way. There are many paths in life. Each of us have our own. But our Father in Heaven, His Son Jesus Christ, their prophets of old, and their divinely called and ordained Apostles of today solemnly declare that there is only one path that leads to Eternal Life: Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

We simply invite all to see if this life is for them...our Father in Heaven invites all to find out if His life is for them.

We were able to meet with a wonderful woman this week and her 3 month old baby girl. Imagine it if you will: the fall leaves gorgeously changing colors, the air crisp, and the Gospel to bless families restored on the earth. We were able to sit there with this mother and just talk about church, prophets, Jesus Christ, revelation, the Gospel, etc. all focusing on the Family. The Gospel is not some abstract collection of saving doctrines; the Gospel is the perfect pathway of life that leads to peace, happiness, and joy. It is far from abstract; it is the most real thing of this life. When we teach as members or missionaries, we shouldn't repeat the same mistake that I have so many times in the past: giving information. In sharing the Gospel, the end goal isn't to talk about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, living prophets, or even the remission of sins. The end goal is to take these wonderful topics that grace our Sunday school classes, sacrament pulpits, and conversations with friends and relate them to the why of it all. Understanding the why of the Gospel takes it from abstract to relatable reality. Think about this. In your conversation with your friend you can talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how through Him we can be cleansed of sin. That's true, but unless they are exceptionally spiritual-based, the likelihood of that enticing them to act is pretty small. Let's try adding the why to it: Jesus Christ suffered for us so that when we make those mistakes and feel that overwhelming guilt, we can be free. We can all relate to feeling more free from burden can't we? But even that is not real end of the story. Christ suffered for us so that not only could our guilt be removed, but so could our sins, leaving us clean to where it would be as if we had never made those mistakes and on top of cleansing, he gives us the strength to do better next time. Okay as your average-joe being able to continue my life with the things I learned but with a clean streak sounds pretty good and on top of that that the Atonement helps me be a better person - that's pretty appealing...but that's not the end of it all either. Jesus Christ, in suffering for our sins, allows us to be relieved of guilt, become clean, do better next time, but for what? So that we can in the end of it all live with our families and with our Loving Father in Heaven for all time and all eternity with out end. That is what will get you. The doctrines of the Gospel are only precious to us not because they exist in it of themselves, but because of what they bring to us as a result of living by them. This kind of missionary work we can all do: "I love to go to Church every Sunday because my family is strengthened in this life and I have complete confidence that I'll be with them forever. Would you like to come and experience it for yourself?" The words of a dear new friend echo through my ears that she said after our meeting with her: "I'm really just a simple person. The doctrine just isn't that interesting to me." To my friend and to everyone that reads this, and to you too mom, I just want to say that yes, the doctrine is not the essence of life, but the results of living the doctrine is why I find joy in what I believe. It makes my life the best it can be, and I can't deny that. 

I love you mom and want to thank you for all your support! Share your testimonial that is personable, relatable, and has the "why" attached, and then in love invite someone to come and see for themselves. This is how missionary work is meant to be done. 

Give the twins a hug for me, tell Kayla great job on her talk, and tell Kenzie good luck on hers!

Elder Claypool

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