gift

It’s not enough that I’m new to blogging and still have tons to learn to get good at wordpress-well at least good enough to wing it on my own to avoid calling on my virtual support gurus every week- now I’m exploring Twitterland! Here I am!! Now what?!!

Oh dear! Can you imagine how tough it is to express anything-something within 140 characters for me?!! More than once a day?! What am I thinking! Another learning curve. Oh, yay.

It’s helping me make new ‘friends’. I’m reading a larger variety of topics per day than I ever have in my life. Words catch my eye and before I know it, 2 hours have vanished. No, I’m not addicted…just desperate to catch up with this social media and figure out the successful tips, tricks and Tweets of Twitter. And by the way, if you have tips and tricks, please do pass them on!

Twitter tweeted “The importance of building your list”.  I know it’s important to build a list. I’m curious to know how. I got introduced to the concept of a “marketing funnel”.

I read “you must learn how to market yourself if you’re ever going to sell an information product, or any product or service for that matter.”  Well, I’m not in the selling business but growing my “list” is key to inviting more readers to my blog. Right?  So I continued.

Here’s what a marketing funnel looks like:

The author continues, “The idea is that you generate the interest of your potential clients and customers, or your readers through offers.  You begin with a free offer or a freebie, which is something of value that you give away for free.”

 

Well, folks! I have soooo let you down!! That is not how I began my relationship with you! (Actually, it sounds like manipulation to me.)

I reflected and quickly it became apparent that I have no freebies to offer you. None! No checklist, no ebooks, no special report, no e-course or free audio. Not yet. Wow. I may as well quit, then. Right?

Without fail we all enjoy free gifts. There’s something at our core that derives pleasure and satisfaction when we walk away without paying for something we deem valuable.

All of a sudden, the biggest and best freebie to offer you materialized! Look!!! If I knew how to edit the funnel above, I’d change the words from the top down:

  • Freebie = Atonement
  • Entry level Product = Baptism and Confirmation (gift of the Holy Ghost)  A little is asked of us. See, at this level, Heavenly Father is still gifting.
  • Mid-range Product = Revelation (a relationship with the Godhead)  At this level there is a price to pay: obedience to commandments, reading our scriptures, prayer, keeping our covenants- we are still receiving gifts from Heavenly Father.
  • High End Product = Exaltation (The ultimate reward)

The first model gives freebies and then has expectations of the customer. “The more information that they receive from you and the better they get to know you the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future…Without the power of a list, you don’t have much chance to get your product out there…”

Examine briefly our model: We are all familiar with John 3:16. “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.” (KJV) How many of Heavenly Father’s children are rejecting this most precious of gifts, freely given? Why?

And then-Jesus Christ promised the gift of the Holy Ghost. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things…” John 14:16 (KJV) Another gift has been offered! How many of Heavenly Father’s children are rejecting this marvelous gift? Why?

By the Holy Ghost we are given countless gifts, if we continue to live righteously and receive them. “God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” Hebrews 2:4  (KJV)

Back to the author of the online article-she adds, “The reality is the power and often times the “money” is in the list.

Well, some of this may be true, however I was involved in business long enough to know that most people on ‘the list’ don’t give it their all. Some people get in with freebies and that’s all they’ll take. Some give/buy into the products –again, they only go part way. And then there are those who give it all they’ve got, striving for money, success and power.

Isn’t this just the way it is in the Christian world? Some believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His atoning sacrifice, but deny the gift and power of Holy Ghost. Others believe in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost, but have little interest in paying the cost of discipleship. And then there are those who accept it all and give it all they’ve got- with exaltation as the ultimate goal. Yes, there is a cost: believe, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure faithfully to the end.

Heavenly Father has a plan for our happiness and salvation. We are loved, treasured and cared for very much. Matchless and priceless are the treasures already given and offered to us.  It certainly does not begin to compare with any freebie this world may offer. He has promised each of us eternal life and exaltation and asks comparatively little in return. His returns far outweigh anything that it might cost us. Anything.

Life Without Hope

I contemplated murder. For a day or so I deliberated how and when to kill ‘Chet’ -get rid of him- my mind engulfed with dark evil thoughts, anger and bitterness deadening my heart.

Frustration, rage and bitter resentful sensations replaced my previous feelings of warmth, affection, and the happiness I had shared with him. I no longer could speak with Chet. I wouldn’t speak to him. I became more locked into my miserable self made prison, completely blind to any goodness that resided in him. Suddenly one day, a glimmer of light shot through the dark and thankfully, I came to my senses and left him. It was that easy to stop short of becoming a real murderer.

No one but me and the Lord knows how close I came to acting out my (or were they mine?) thoughts and feelings. I left Chet-completely left town. For a long time I was haunted by the realization that I even got to that point in my heart and in my mind.

You likely think I’ve made this up. I’ve learned much from that experience. Because of this and other spaces I’ve been in, I’ve come to believe that most people that do not recognize the light of Christ, and haven’t the privileges offered by the gospel of Jesus Christ live absolutely the most wretched mortal lives.

A Christian Lacking the Promised Holy Ghost

Afterwards, I became a Christian. As I read my Bible I learned the differences between good and evil, truth and error. I learned how God wanted me to think and to behave. I learned that He loved me. I learned to trust Him. With all my being, desiring to honor, to serve and to please Him, I gave Him my all. That is what the lists of Feelings/Emotions in Part One  are all about. That is the plan I followed. That was a start.

When I’d left home I wasn’t affectionate, confident, happy, sensitive, warm or grateful about anything, or tender hearted. I barely knew what the word ‘tender’ meant. I had lots of work to do. I made every effort to rid myself of all negative feelings/emotions and thoughts and actions. I read my Bible. I studied. I prayed.

I was giving my best effort and still, 2 Timothy 3 spoke loudly to me. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…proud, abusive… ungrateful…unholy, without love, unforgiving…without self control, brutal…—having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

I focused on acquiring kindness, peacefulness, love, joy and happiness. And still, it seemed to me that I didn’t quite measure up with others’ ability to be gentle, kind and loving-at least not on the inside.

At this point is where I believe we get stuck. We try our best and still, remain confused and powerless. We feel bad whenever we fall short. Our thoughts (if we examine them) betray our standards. Or should I say, God’s standards for us. Our feelings in motion speak loudly to everyone around us, of our lack of humility, perfection and holiness. The extent that Satan uses our ignorance and weaknesses to his advantage is atrocious. This creates confusion in our lives. Of course the adversary prefers that we don’t know this truth.

I didn’t understand it then. Now I do. Yes, I had come a very long way from the young woman that had harbored thoughts of resentment and murder. But I still experienced harsh thoughts and feelings in some situations. I still was too familiar with feelings of impatience, guilt, pride, and anxiety.

There still remained a certain amount of hardness- areas that lacked feeling in my heart. I could not erase or remove these on my own, no matter how hard I tried. No matter how much faith I had. No matter how many times I read my Bible. A thorough cleansing had to occur.

Today, this is the way I see it: I believe that these experiences are very close to where one begins to feel that feelings are undependable. On our own (without the benefit of the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that Jesus Christ promised to send) we don’t recognize His magnificent gift. We must flounder.

“I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with Spirit and with fire…burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11

The Companionship of the Holy Ghost

With the indwelling of the gift and personage of the Holy Ghost, a new promising world opened up to me. First, I began to cry almost every time I knelt in prayer. A lot. Some days, I cried so much, the amount seemed ridiculous, even to me. I cried for forgiveness. I cried with pain. I cried when I felt the promised comforting hand of the Lord.

I cried especially when my heart began to be soft enough to actually FEEL the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I cried when His love overflowed the capacity of my heart to contain it all. I cried for joy and happiness.

I didn’t understand all those tears at the time. But I knew it had something to do with the hand of the Lord. And what was happening? My heart was being cleansed of any remaining darkness and pain. The rock hard section that I had not succeeded in wearing off with my own effort was being sanctified by the working of the Holy Ghost, provided by the gift of the Atonement.

I knew it one day on the phone. I was surprised to hear a soft tone in my voice that I had never recognized in myself. It was confirmed by my friend’s surprised response.

Here is my explanation for confusion regarding our feelings. We all have thoughts every waking hour. The Lord can prompt us with thoughts (the still small voice). And then, once we believe and recognize the possibility of that, it becomes important to know that Satan will also make every effort to inject his not so quiet thoughts into our minds and hearts as well. If we are not taught and when we do not recognize this- yes, there will be immense confusion. Our feelings will then definitely be undependable.

“From the beginning God chose you to be saved

by the sanctifying work of the Spirit

and through belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13

 

How do we learn to differentiate these voices which prompt our thoughts and affect our feelings? That is where the power of the Holy Spirit is meaningful. This is where the importance of a sincere heart and real intent come in.

Let me give you an example. One day, as my Bishop gave me advice, I felt a weight settle on my heart even while my mind accepted what he said. I promised to go home and pray about the matter–to consult with the Lord what I should do.

As I drove away, my thoughts instantly ran wild. “(You) don’t belong in this church.” “(You) should leave and never come back”. “This is all wrong”.  I had not gone a block and just as suddenly, I recognized, “Hey that’s not how I think. These are not my own thoughts! Where did that come from?”

As a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ I had been thoroughly thrilled and felt privileged to belong. I’d been given a powerful testimony of the truth of the restored gospel and I had never had a doubt of the veracity of the teachings. I loved my Bishop and I trusted that he had been prompted by the Lord. When I did approach the Lord in prayer, He did let me know that indeed, the Bishop had been correct in directing me thus.

Does this example show you what I am trying to explain? Because of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, because of His sanctifying power, and because of the tremendous feelings of love that Jesus Christ had poured into my heart, I was able to recognize a different foreign feeling. Because my heart had no doubts about my church and no malice towards my Bishop, (my thoughts & feelings were pure) I was able to recognize that this was not my ‘voice’.

If I would have had any negative feelings towards the church, if I would have lacked confidence in my decision to belong here, or if I would have held a grudge against my Bishop, do you see how these thoughts might have created confusion in my heart and in my mind? If I had not had the benefit of experiencing gentle loving thoughts and feelings from Christ, delivered by the Holy Ghost, I might have believed that Satan’s thoughts originated with me. The outcome might have been entirely different.

I know that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” is the only true church on earth today. I know that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind and lives today. He is doing what He promised and empowers His faithful children when we accept His gift.

“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” Helaman 3:35 (BOM)

Continued in Part Three, we will briefly consider the effects of strong emotions and recognizing feelings from the Holy Spirit.