The healing of the blind man

I love the story of the blind man being healed by the Savior that is found in the book of John. It not only records the experience of the Savior healing him, but also demonstrates the faith that is required for anyone who would be healed by God. It seems that in addition to the test of having to endure living his life without the ability to see, the man’s faith and integrity are also tested after he is healed and receives his sight.

It’s indication of his faith that the man responds right away when the Lord tells him to “wash in the pool of Siloam”. He doesn’t hesitate, even though he likely has to slowly feel his way there, he is blind after all. He obediently washes and is healed, it was a miracle evident to everyone around him!

We’re then given insight into the level of the man’s loyalty to Jesus as he is questioned and hassled by the Pharisees who want him to deny that it was Christ who had healed him. They don’t seem to put much effort into denying the fact that he was healed, it was too obvious. They were in a position of power and were doing their best to intimidate the man into turning against the Savior so they could have a witness against him. The man didn’t give in even though there could have been consequences for withstanding the Pharisees. He stood up for Christ and the truth of what happened to him. The Pharisees in their apparent disgust then “cast him out”.

After the man has been cast out, the Savior comes to him again, with comfort and possibly to confirm that his integrity and unwavering faithfulness is recognized and approved of by the Lord. Jesus then asks him if he believes in the Son of God. The man didn’t realize at first that Jesus was speaking of himself, he had thought Jesus was a prophet. Now understanding, the man answers, “Lord, I believe”.

Though my story is quite different from this man’s story, I’ve spent a large part of my life spiritually blind. During one of the more extreme periods of blindness, there came a point where the Lord reached out to me in a way that I couldn’t ignore, offering His healing. During this time I had become very sick physically and spiritually. I honestly didn’t think I would live much longer, and my family were concerned as well. I made several visits to the doctor but they were inconclusive. I pled for the Lord’s help, made significant changes in my life that were needed in order for me to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the Lord raised me up and changed my heart. This is as obvious to me that Christ’s power healed me as was the miracle of sight given to the blind man in the story above. What the Lord did for me was a miracle. I simply wouldn’t still be here without the Lord intervening, through His power and through loving family members who gave me Priesthood blessings, prayed for me and helped in other ways.

 I still can only partially comprehend and understand the great change He has brought about in my life in such a short time. I know the healing I have received is from Christ. It has taught me about the depth of God’s love and that He doesn’t give up on us. I love and trust Him more deeply. I learned that I have to still trust and rely on Him completely. I know that Jesus Christ has the power to heal us, if we will trust Him, turn our hearts to Him and follow His commandments. I also know that the power of the Priesthood is real, that the power of God is manifest through those who hold the Priesthood, and that this power ultimately comes from the Savior himself.

Why are some people born blind? Why do other people choose to not see the truth? Why does it take some of us so long to learn the things we need to learn? Why are we sometimes afraid to allow the Lord into our life to heal us, and to change us into the people He knows we can become?

I return to John chapter 9:

“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:39-41)

And finally, on another occasion Jesus taught why many of us don’t see more miracles like this in our lives:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt 13:15)

Quotes From Neal A. Maxwell

I’ve always respected and looked up to Elder Neal A. Maxwell for how he says things in a humble yet powerful way. His quiet, careful speech, his intelligence, his love for righteousness and for the Lord is all something to take notice of and review from time to time. I testify that he was a man called of God.

The true Christian is a communicator.
-All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience

Truly we work and live on a streetful of splendid people, whom we are to love and serve even if they are uninterested in us!

No love is ever wasted. Its worth does not lie in reciprocity.

Occasionally some individuals let the seeming ordinariness of life dampen their spirits. Though actually coping and growning, others lack the quiet, inner-soul satisfaction that can steady them, and are experiencing instead, a lingering sense that there is something more important they should be doing . . .as if what is quietly achieved in righteous individual living or in parenthood are not sufficiently spectacular.

God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family.

Those of little faith frequently mistake local cloud cover for general darkness.

Wisdom and Order

Thus worshiping, serving, studying, praying, each in its own way squeezes selfishness out of us; pushes aside our preoccupations with the things of the world.

Many of our daily choices are not intrinsically hard, but we make them that way. Some choices are matters of preference, not principle. We have a way, at times, of exhausting ourselves and the supply of goodwill while struggling over what are preferences—not principles!
Wisdom and Order

If, in the end, you have not chosen Jesus Christ it will not matter what you have chosen.

Prayer, Joy & Happiness

Recently I have felt that it is important for me to work on offering more heartfelt and sincere prayers, and to focus more on the joy and happiness that I have now and ahead of me. Here are a few quotes from the past general conference that I found to be meaningful. Hearing and reading these words and the rest of these (and other) talks from the recent LDS general conference was an answer to my prayers. I offer my testimony that these are men and women who have been called by the Lord to serve, teach and share these inspired messages. I share my own personal witness that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, a man who has dedicated his life to serving, encouraging, and loving others and teaching people to follow Christ.

“As you pray to Heavenly Father in faith, “he will console you in your afflictions, … [and ye may] feast upon his love.” President Henry B. Eyring shared that his father’s prayers during a losing battle with cancer taught him the deeply personal relationship between God and His children:

“When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: ‘God needs brave sons.’

“And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.”

– Carol F. McConkie (and quoting Pres. Eyring)

“Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.

If we focus on the joy that will come to us, or to those we love, what can we endure that presently seems overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair, or simply impossible?”

– President Nelson

“Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.

We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us. He does nothing save it be for our benefit. He has told us, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1

From the depths of my soul and in all humility, I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.”

– President Monson

Dieter F. Uchtdorf Shares Experience As a Refugee

Providing insight to the current refugee crisis in Europe, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares his experience as a refugee in Germany during WWII. He expresses that as the members of the LDS faith we should never “label” any people, and should help people in need throughout the world, and help them to become self reliant.

Community Effort (Northern Virginia) to assist Syrian refugees:

Greatest Happiness in life Comes from Following God’s Laws

Inmeme-monson-commandments-1578491-mobile church the other day a missionary spoke and shared the story of when his father was being taught by the missionaries. His father had been meeting with LDS missionaries for a while and was skeptical of the fact that we claim to have a living prophet that receives revelation to lead and guide the church. One day the missionary told him boldly, why wouldn’t there be a prophet alive today? With all the turmoil in the world, with all the wars and political and social conflict and unrest? With all the immorality in the world? Why wouldn’t God send a prophet like he did in other times of the world’s history to help show us the way? Why not now? He has sent a prophet today!

I share my own testimony that God loves all of his children throughout history and sends prophets, even today to teach us the truth, and sometimes just to remind us of what is right. Here’s some recent words from President Monson on the happiness that comes from following God’s laws and not giving in to voices that would persuade us to do otherwise:

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”7 We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”8

I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.

Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.

May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness.

President Thomas S. Monson, “Keep the Commandments”, Oct 2015 General Conference

Joseph Smith on why we should seek Knowledge

I feel like I gain treasures of knowledge every week just by attending church, but I rarely post about it. So here’s a few things that were meaningful to me from church today. This first quote from Joseph Smith wasn’t read in its entirety but the first part of it was and I really liked it, so I looked it up:

“Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge;

“…The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! …

“… Let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy. And now, brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things, and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God always, He shall give unto you knowledge by His Holy Spirit, yea by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost [see D&C 121:26].

–Joseph Smith
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith)

 

This quote from Elder Andersen was also brought up at church today and I love it, also about Joseph Smith, in answer to Joseph’s critics:

“…questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your mind, and move forward!”

Elder Neil L. Andersen: “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice”

I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he did see God the Father, and Jesus Christ. I know this is true, I love hearing the words of the prophets and Joseph Smith’s prophetic teachings are among the greatest. I feel the more I study his life and teachings, the more I realize how powerful they are– all pointing to Christ, His life and His mission. I love the Lord Jesus Christ and know He is our Savior!

A Favorite Bible Verse, from James

In honor of International Bible Day, here’s a verse from the Bible that is meaningful to me, from James chapter 3:

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:16-18)

As Jesus taught us, and his brother James confirms, “blessed are the peacemakers”.

Treasures in Heaven

Last night my wife and I were discussing D&C 133:30, and how as part of the gathering of Israel, the tribes from the north “shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.” Are they bringing treasures of worldly wealth, gold and silver, or spiritual treasures? Although I don’t doubt that this scripture in D&C likely has more than one meaning for “treasures”, we both agreed that the more valuable gift they could bring is spiritual treasures, like those mentioned in Luke 12.

Today, probably not coincidentally, I was given an offer for a job that is a great blessing to me and my family. We’ve been praying for this for a long time. I feel that it is a direct blessing from a loving, kind and generous Father in heaven. He knows our needs, knows how to sufficiently provide for them and will do so abundantly if we trust Him and follow His commandments. I know this. Even in the times when we’ve struggled over the last year or so with not being sure about which direction to go, where to establish ourselves, and even concerns about whether we would be able to provide for all our needs, He has been with us the whole time. He never leaves us. He’s been teaching us, healing us, and preparing us.

I feel extreme gratitude right now, God has been good to me. I happened to see this video online and after watching it I am convinced even more how directly I’ve been blessed today and how important it is to keep this blessing in perspective. Of course we need a job and income to provide for our families, and God desires to help us with these things. Of course the Lord wants us to be successful. Of course he can give us what we need. Sometimes we need to struggle and experience difficulties in order to learn the necessary lessons of life so that we’re able to properly receive the blessings he wants to give us, recognize them and appreciate them. But where is our real treasure? What is our heart focused on and our ultimate desire?  I feel immense gratitude toward God for blessing me with income that my family needs, in a generous way. That’s His nature. As we’ve struggled along the way this past year, I feel even more blessed that he has opened the windows of heaven in blessing us with spiritual treasures of growth, knowledge and experience we will take with us into the eternities.