Spirit

A few times in my life I’ve had occasion to visit Pentecostal church services. Once, a small band played jarring loud music followed with exuberant shouts of praise. Another time, at a tent meeting the congregation prayed aloud-everyone at the same time!

This was intermingled with an evening of enthusiastic singing and clapping. Confused and feeling empty, I believed I was the problem because I had not recognized the Spirit.

Yet, eight years ago, when I desired to find a church that believes in the Holy Spirit of the New Testament, I did consider revisiting these charismatic and energized services.

I expected noisy obtrusive clapping and singing to become a part of the paradigm shift I’d have to undergo. I was willing to learn to adjust if that’s what it would take to ‘get the Spirit’.

“the Lord was not in the wind…the Lord was not in the earthquake…the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” 1 Kings19:11-12

Afterwards, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I became aware of a quiet and reverent attitude that I had not anticipated, and one that I deeply appreciated.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

In fact, as I pondered the alternative choice, I was very relieved that Heavenly Father led me to a church that is not as demonstrative as I’d thought one must be and where I never would have felt comfortable. I have rejoiced about this many times. His ways truly are higher than our ways.

“As for God, His way is perfect” 2 Samuel 22:31

testimonyThe feelings I receive from the Holy Spirit are similar to those I had experienced at different times over the years while I was quietly reading my Bible. Then, my heart would swell with truths that filled my soul, God’s peace and love feeling very near.

“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all.” Boyd K. Packer

I love our services. There is no mistaking the Presence of the Spirit, although our meetings would never be considered charismatic in nature.

Feelings of peace, gratefulness, love and joy are magnified when God brushes the heart. And often overflow.

When have you felt caressed by His Spirit?

Truth is truth. It is absolute. I LOVE that about truth. Even if you do not agree with me whenever I express a truth, it doesn’t matter! If it is truth I cannot change it.

We cannot change TRUTH to make it become what we might like it to be. We can attempt to bend, twist and make it convenient or more comfortable for our lifestyle but this still does not make it absolute truth.

TruthIt’s like black and white. Either it is truth or it’s not. I wouldn’t like just a little bit of truth. Been there. Done that. Just a little bit of truth is way too frustrating. I feel stuck. Or confused, I lose sight of the right path.

I’d like it all. Well, as much as I can humanly contain, please!

 

“Opinion? Of course, there is a difference of opinion; but again, opinion cannot change laws or absolute truths. Opinions will never make the earth to be flat, the sun to dim its light, God to die, or the Savior to cease being the Son of God.” Spencer W. Kimball

Truths are discovered. An unschooled four year old may not know that 2 +2 = 4. But it is true, even while he has not yet discovered it.

There was a time when people believed the earth to be flat. Still, this did not change the truth of its spherical shape. Before it was discovered to be so, opinions likely differed, but did not change this solid truth.

Spiritual truths, invisible to our mortal eyes are that much more absolute. Jesus Christ has said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). That has got to be an absolute truth.

Unchanging. Whole. Perfect.

We are promised that the Holy Ghost- He being Truth will guide us into all truth. On this temporal plane is it possible to know completely absolute truths?

“When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what he hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Beginning with the tiniest grain of faith and believing what Jesus Christ has said, is a great start to seeking His guidance. Being led along we are able to increase our own knowledge of the truth little by little. Suddenly one day we shall see plainly that glorious absolute and perfect Truth.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

Once Heavenly Father had occasion to shower me with His love and comfort, I went from believing that He is wholly love, to experiencing His all encompassing love filling and overflowing my heart and being until I could not contain it all.

The more times this happened, the more I have been able to learn from, imitate His love and feel a similar warmth, compassion and kindness for others. I am learning to become more like Him according to love.

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37 (NASB)

Like God’s love, truth works in my life in a similar way.  My first testimony of the true gospel proved to me that the Book of Mormon is true. However, I did not know the absolute complete truth of the restored gospel-yet. It was not fully revealed to me. If it would have been, I suppose my need for faith would have vanished and my progression would have been halted.

“The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the Origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration. For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the Source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him.”                                Richard G. Scott

Instead, little by little I sought to know and understand more and I learned to ask of the Lord. “The Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). He reveals God’s truth when we seek it. I believed that He would reveal His truths, and believed and hoped that He would communicate with me. I was willing to persevere, seeking Him humbly and (sometimes) patiently.

And I had many questions. “Were we truly spiritual beings in the presence of our Heavenly Father before coming to this earth?” “Which is the only true church accepted by Jesus Christ?” “Was this church organized through revelation by the Savior?”

“Was Joseph Smith a true prophet?” “Is Thomas S. Monson the prophet called by the Lord today?” “Is there life after death?”

Some truths were confirmed even without my asking.

 “He has given the key. You may know. You need not be in doubt. Follow the prescribed procedures, and you may have an absolute knowledge that these things are absolute truths.

The necessary procedure is: study, think, pray, and do. Revelation is the key.

God will make it known to you once you have capitulated and have become humble and receptive.

Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn. With preconceived religious notions stubbornly held, one is not teachable.

The Lord has promised repeatedly that he will give you a knowledge of spiritual things when you have placed yourself in a proper frame of mind.

He has counseled us to seek, ask, and search diligently. These innumerable promises are epitomized by Moroni in the following: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)

What a promise! How extravagant! How wonderful!”  Spencer W. Kimball

I love the clarity of truth. I love the feeling of expansion in my heart, in my mind and soul. I thrill that our hearts and minds are created to recognize truth.

If there was no such thing as truth, how could there be a right and a wrong?

I’m grateful for our loving Father in heaven who promises to reveal His truths and faithfully does so in remarkable ways. I know that once a person knows absolutely the truths of the gospel, even upon threat of bodily harm or death, it will not be denied. That perfect assurance is what I love about Truth.

Walking briskly, I stopped abruptly to stare at a lone tree. Not a thing unusual about it-not distinctly beautiful or breathtaking.

Passing it by for years, I had never noticed it before. However, this day there was something different about it.  It must have been the way the sun was shining on it.

Curious, I crossed the road to inspect it. It had berries! And as I got closer, I could see their powdery blue prolific little orbs.

I stared, contemplating. What kind of a tree produces this blue fruit? I wondered what value there is in its fruit. I believe everything created by God serves some purpose.

There the tree stands; doing what it was created best to do. Given life and light, it stands alone. It just is. Facing each storm that lambastes it. Growing stronger. Straighter. Enduring. Year after year.

Not attracting much attention. Unnoticed by the casual observer, it seems apparently not good for much. Yet in season and when the time is ripe, it produces the fruit that it was meant to produce.

The Lord…will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Isaiah 51:3

How very much like Heavenly Father’s children.

Have you ever found yourself feeling totally alone? Like that lone tree. What was your wilderness? A widower? Are you a single mom?  Grieving orphan? A virtuous teen making choices that alienate you from the vast majority? Terminal illness?  A student?

Or ‘other’, presently? The rest of the world races by unaware of you.  You may linger in your wilderness 30 days, a year, 40 years, or for a night.

“God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deuteronomy 8:2

I don’t know about you; however I do not have a desire to experience the wilderness. But you know, sometimes we don’t have a choice. If we don’t choose the wilderness, it may be brought to us. Then it may be that we must stand in the Light, face the storms and strive to grow stronger.  And straighter.

Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it…ye shall know them by their fruits…every good tree bringeth forth good fruit…by their fruits ye shall know them” Matthew 7:14-20

Numerous souls have spent time in the wilderness. Think of those people you admire and long to understand, know or emulate. Among these, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the prophet Joseph Smith, and not least, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Each was familiar with the feeling of being alone. Each stepped out of pace apart from the rest of the world.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” Matthew 4:1

Each stood alone and is now known to us because she/he produced the fruit that served and blessed countless lives. Some temporally. Some spiritually. ONE eternally. Each learned their life’s purpose or mission and served her/his brothers and sisters as best they could-at home, in the community, abroad or universally.

By the way, superior to any other person, Jesus Christ still stands-at the right hand of our Father in heaven. Countless pay Him no mind at all. Millions upon millions pass Him by year after year never heeding His direction and not at all interested in seeking His truths.

“There shall be no other name  given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” Mosiah 3:17

To the casual observer He may not be recognized for Who He is. Today, resurrected and alive, He continues to serve and work in our behalf. He leads His true church in these latter days.

The power of His atoning sacrifice continues to bear fruit in obvious ways. Yet in season and when the time is ripe, He promises to produce and will bear fruit in ways that we cannot yet comprehend or imagine.

Have you found yourself feeling totally alone? What is the fruit you are meant to bear?