Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Joseph Smith

This... Is Elder Coles.  Joseph Smith is great.  He truly was called of God to restore the church of Jesus Christ back onto the earth.  This one day........... This is a true story (that didn't happen to me), but I'm going to tell it like it happened to me.  This happened to Joseph Smith.  For more details go to Joseph Smith History.

It was early spring in the year 1820.  I was confused.  You see, At this time there was great religious excitement in the region of the country where I lived, and it seemed like the whole district of the country was affected by it.  There were great multitudes of people uniting themselves together into different religious parties, some contending for the Methodist faith, some for Presbyterian and some the the Baptist.  Priest contending against priest, convert against convert.  It was a very confusing time for me.  After attending different churches and different meetings, I was still confused, because they all understood the same passages of scriptures so differently. 

I often asked myself "What is to be done?  Which of all these parties are right; or are they all wrong together?  If any one of them are right which is it, and how shall I know it?"  I decided to turn to the Bible for answers.  I was reading in the book of James in the New Testament, and I came across a scripture in the first chapter in verse five that struck me with more power than any verse I have ever read before.  The verse says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  I thought if any one lacked wisdom at this time, I did.  I decided that I would do as James directed, and to ask God which church I should join. 

I retired to a grove of trees and I knelt down and started to pray.  When I started to pray, I received an answer that I was not expecting. 

I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other: "Joseph, this is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him"

All I wanted to do was to find out which church I should join.  I was answered that I should join none of them.  But I had actually seen a vision.  I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither would I dare deny it. 

This... Is Elder Coles again.  This actually happened.  God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and answered his prayer.  He was later called to be a prophet, translate the book of mormon, and restore the Church of Jesus Christ back onto this earth.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints has the fullness of the gospel, and a fullness of truth is where true happiness lies.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Restoration of Truth

This... Is Elder Coles.  I like the game telephone... even though it is probably the silliest games ever, I still like it.  I seem to like to do alot of silly things.  Anyways this one day we were playing telephone........... (Based on a true story, and I'm actually in this one.)

The game of telephone was about to start.  Everyone... and I mean everyone was getting so excited for this game.  This was going to be legendary... because none other than Roe Vonson was going to be starting off the game with the best line ever to be passed around the circle.  Roe... started the game.
"Be excellent to each other... and... Party on dudes!"  It was the most epic line anyone had ever heard in the history of the game of telephone.  The person who he whispered it to (Spanner) was blown away.  As Spanner gained his composure... he passed it on to the next person.  I was sitting about half way around the circle when the line was whispered into my ear.
"ashweshababashooweeshabba... Party on dudes!"  I was confused.  I didn't really understand why everyone thought this line was so cool... because it didn't make any sense.  I whispered it into my friends ear, and apparently I am no good at this game and she just laughed the whole time I was telling her the epic line.  Long story short... the most epic line in telephone history got distorted and the only way we found out what the line was at the end Roe stood up and told everyone what the line was.

Alright... lets tie this to the gospel.  Jesus Christ came down to earth, and while he was on this earth he established His church.  He didn't establish 1000 churches like we see today.  He established HIS 1 church.  Jesus knew he would be slain for the sins of the world, so he gave his priesthood authority to his apostles and they were to take charge and run the church after he left.  The people listened for a time, but then they killed the apostles as well, and that priesthood authority was taken off the earth along with the apostles.  Without this authority, people relied on human wisdom to make sure the church ran smoothly, and some plain and precious truths were lost and distorted to conform to the ways of men, such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (kind of like how the most epic line in the game of telephone was distorted) and many churches were formed.  The only way that Jesus' church could be established once again, (and the only way Roe's epic line could be known to everyone) is he had to come down and appear to someone and call them to establish his church once again, and that is exactly what he did.     

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Atonement

This... Is Elder Coles.  I... really just want to share this dream that Jeffery R. Holland shared in one of his Ensign articles. This is a dream that Elder Orson F. Whitney had while he was on his mission.

“One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. … I stood behind a tree in the foreground. … Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed … : ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’
“As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.
“Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour. …
“Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.
“All at once the circumstance seemed to change. … Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.
“I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning."

The atonement of Jesus Christ is real.  He did suffer for our sins, and because he did we are able to repent and become clean again if we turn to him and have faith in his atonement and repent and be baptized.  I love the savior and everything he has done for me! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Light of Christ

This... Is Elder Coles.  For some reason, I have gotten alot of speeding tickets.  I have no idea why though..... Well maybe I do.  I may have driven faster than I should have a few times.  This one day........... (This is a true story, names are fictional of course)

Frent, Frooke and Weed were playing together on a fine summers day.  They were sitting in the grass, giggling like they always do but not really doing anything wholesome.
"Alright lets go do something," said Weed.  They pondered and pondered on something that we could do and finally...
"I want an Ipod touch, lets go buy one," Frent said.
"You know those are like 250$ right Frent?" Weed asked.
"Yeah I know, but I just decided I need one so I'm going to buy one right now!  But I dont want to drive... can one of you drive?"
"No Frent, if you want it you have to buy it."
Frent realllly didnt want to drive.  But he had already made up his mind he was going to buy and Ipod touch.  Today.  So he gave in and he drove to the store which was about 45 minutes away.  Because Frent didn't want to drive, he thought the faster they got there, the faster he could stop driving.
"Frent, maybe you should slow down!" said Frooke, who was freaking out.
"Pff no way I never get pulled over."  They made it safely to the next town without getting pulled over.
"Alright Frent you really should slow down there are so many cops in this next town, you will get a ticket for sure!"  Frooke really wanted to make sure Frent didnt get a ticket.
"Pff no way I never get pulled over."
Sigh.... Frent should have listened to Frooke.  Frent got pulled over and he got a ticket  :(

Have you ever noticed, when you are about to do something wrong, or if you are doing something wrong, there is always something inside of you telling you that it is wrong?  In this example, there was someone literally telling Frent that he was doing something wrong, and I'm sure there was something inside of Frent telling him what he was doing was wrong as well.  This feeling we get is a gift from our Heavenly Father to us.  In the Book of Mormon in Moroni 7:16-17 it says
"For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.  But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him."

We talk to alot of people who smoke and drink, and everytime that subject comes up they say "I know its wrong and I really should quit."  How do they know its wrong?  It is the light of Christ which is in them telling them that they are harming their bodies.  We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that those things will make us happy.  And they might, for a time.  True happiness comes from following that voice telling us what we should and shouldnt be doing.  I would invite you all to re-evaluate yourselves on if you are following what the light of Christ in you is telling you what to do.  If not, you might be getting a ticket!

“I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The possibilities

This... Is Elder Coles.  I grew up in a small town called Taber in southern Alberta in Canada.  Because we lived in a small town, we were often bored and we had to be creative to have some fun.  This one day.........(This is a true story, names are fictional of course)

It was raining.  It was cold (probably like 3 degrees Celsius, 38 degrees Fahrenheit.)  Frent was over at his friend Bensers house and they were sitting there, looking out the window, wishing the rain would stop.  There was no sign that the rain was going to stop.  Just when they were about to be lame and go play video games, they got a phone call.
"Yo whats up," it was their good buddies Clarren and Spanner.  "We are going to be picking you up, and we are doing something so crazy, we will have no choice but to have fun.  Prepare yourselves mentally and physically for our coming."  And they hung up.  Frent and Benser had no idea what to do, so they just waited for them to come over, and when they did, their minds were blown.

Oh yeah... they ghetto tied a canoe the top of a car.  Frent and Benser were freakin out and were excited for this epic adventure they were about to embark on.  They took them to a nearby pond where they canoed around in the freezing cold.  It wasn't as fun as they thought it would be.  It was too cold and they were all wet when they were done.  (It was actually pretty fun.)

Alright... I know exactly what your thinking.  What does this have to do with anything??  How can this story bring me closer to Christ??  Well lets see if we can apply this to life.

I know that there is so much more we can get out of life then tying a canoe to the top of our beat up cars.  Life has so much more to offer, and we should not sell ourselves short and aim to go canoeing in the rain.  We can be with our families forever, we can find true peace and happiness in this life, and eternal salvation in the life to come.  If you feel like there is something missing in your life, I know you can find it.  Often times we give up looking for how we can fill that missing thing, and settle for something short and we go canoeing in the rain.  But I testify that we are capable of so much more.  In Romans 8:16-17 it says: "The spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the childeren of God: And if childeren, the heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and will help anyone find that thing they are looking for, and will help them get more out of life.  Realize how special you are, how special everyone is, and that no one has to settle for anything short of eternal life.  I have been trying to do this, and help people not settle for anything, but to help them get the most out of life, and I do this by inviting others to come unto Christ, and to find true happiness, because that is where true happiness lies.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It might look fun but...

This... Is Elder Coles.  I like to have fun.  I have a super fun group of friends back home.  They are nuts.  We liked to do some crazy things and have good clean fun.  This one day.................(This is a true story, names are fictional of course). 

On a fine wintery day in southern Alberta, there were some kids who were quite bored.  There names were Creston, Frent, Weed and Frooke.  It was cold out, and there was snow on the ground.  But this did not dampen their spirits.  Oh no it did not. 
"Lets go sledding!" Creston said.
"YEAH!!" said Frent, Weed and Frooke, all in unison.
So they decided to go to the tallest, biggest most dangerous hill they could find.  And let me tell you, I have heard about this hill, and its nuts.  The journey to get there was just as nuts.  Climbing through bushes, going up and down hills, sliding accross a pond of ice they werent sure would hold them.  Oh I'm sure it was epic.  So when they got there, naturally they were not about to go home until they had a few good runs down this hill.  It was nicknamed King Hill.  I've heard it is a 67 degree angle.  When they got there, they were scared. 
"Guys, I dont know if this is a good idea..." said Frooke who was very scared.
"Oh come on Frooke you only live life once," said Weed, quite rudely. "I'm gonna go for it! Punk aint dead!"
And he jumped on his sled down the hill.
Weed found out very quickly that this was not a good idea.  .  Oh no it was not.  Weed thought it looked safe to go.  But oh no it was not.  The hill was sheer ice and Weed probly went down at 40mph and half way down he scraped his face and there was blood everywhere.  This was not a pretty scene His friends saw that he was hurt and they got him up and took him to the hospital where they patched him up and life was good again.  But they learned a lesson.  Even though something looks fun, it doesnt always have the best outcome.

You are probly wondering... why is he telling this story?? What does this have to do with helping others come unto Christ??  Well... lets tie this to a story in the book of mormon.  In 1 Nephi chapters 11-14 Nephi is recieving insight on a vision that his father recently had, known as the vision of the tree of life.  In this vision Lehi beheld a tree "that was desirable to make one happy... and it is the love of God" and a straight and narrow path led to this tree, along with a rod of iron.  In 1 Nephi 11:22-23, talking about the tree, it says "yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the childeren of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things... Yea, and most joyous to the soul."  The love of God is something that everyone desires, but people do not know where to find it.  So, they go and do things that look fun and that bring them happiness for a time, but end up hurting them in the end.  Did you make the connection??  We need to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to the tree of life, and not deviate by doing things that bring us short term happiness, like drinking and smoking, and sledding down hills that look fun, but to search for the long term happiness, and that is Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Being Phat

This... Is Elder Coles.  I often ask myself... why are missionaries so fat??  Statistics say that 74% of all missionaries gain at least 40 pounds on their mission, and that only 32% of all missionaries who go home lose that weight. (Statistics also say that 94% of all statistics are made up on the spot... just like those ones were.)  I have been out three months and I have gained 10 pounds, and that is alot of weight gain for me, who has weighed 155 pounds for the last 3 years of my life.  If I keep at this pace... I should be about... 240 pounds when I get home.  My gosh.  I hope I dont keep at this pace.  Food is something we like as missionaries.  Why?  I dont really know it must just come with the name tag. 

There are alot of ways that you can get fat.  There is a way though that you can get PHat.  See there is a big difference between being fat and being phat, and who doesnt want to be phat??  Because being phat just means that you are the coolest ever.  Let me explain how you can become phat...

1. In 2 Nephi 32:3 it says:
"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore I said unto you, feast upon the words for Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."

2. In 2 Nephi 9:51 it says:
"... and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness."

Yes, to become phat we must feast on the words of Christ.  Studying the words of Christ help us to be more like Christ, and that is when we become the coolest ever.  I feel like I am getting phatter and phatter each day (maybe a little fatter to) because I study the Book of Mormon each day (and I eat lots).  So this is my invitation to you all, to join with me in becoming phat, and to read the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Serving a Mission

This... Is Elder Coles.  Some people have asked me... "Why are you serving a mission??  Why give up TWO years of your life?  You could be going to school... playing with your friends... working... getting married... and you put all that off to serve a mission??  Why??"

Then I say "I dont know" and then I want to go home.....

I know exactly why I'm out here.

1. The prophet of our church has commanded that every able young man should serve a mission.  I want to be obedient to the man who was called by God to lead the restored church of Jesus Christ today.  Simple as that.

2. I know how much happiness this gospel can bring, and I want to share that with others.  The message of the restoration of the gospel improves the quality of peoples lives.  I know that to be true because I have seen it.  In others lives as well as in my own life.  Knowing that Heavenly Father loves me enough to restore his church, the church that Jesus Christ established, built upon apostles and prophets, while he was on the earth, is very comforting.  I want to do everything I can to be obedient to what I know to be true, and as I have done so and as others have done so, nothing but blessings come from it.  True, it is impossible to escape the hardships of day to day life, and no one is exempt from the challenges that life has to offer, but God loves us... and his Gospel has been restored back on the earth... and we have a Prophet to lead and guide us... and we can be with our families forever... how great is that??  I'll tell you how great its super great and I am happy knowing these things, and I want others to know about it as well.

3. The growth that takes place as I live the Gospel everyday for two years.  Not everyone gets the opportunity to have personal study and study the scriptures for an hour each morning, then have companionship study for an hour each morning, then go out and try to find people who are looking for the truth and who are ready to hear the message we share for the next 10 hours, and then go home and sleep and then do it again the next day for two years.  Not to mention the many trainings that we do to help us become better teachers, and throw in about 14 prayers each day.  Like I said, not everyone is able to do these things,  but luckily I have the opportunity to do so, and the growth and development has been nuts.  It has been said "The study of the gospel will change behavior, better than a study of behavior will change behavior."  I know this to be true as well,  and I know that these two years will help me grow and become a man better than anything else I could be doing right now.

4. It has been said the more you walk around in the rain and snow looking for people to teach the hotter your wife will be when you get home??  I dont know this to be true but I sure am hoping.

5. Developing a relationship with the Savior.  I have gotten to know him more in these last 3 months than I have ever in my life.  And I still have 21 months to get to know him even better.  Holy cow.  I am looking forward to these next 21 months.  Gaining a knowledge of what the savior really has done for me and for everyone is pretty tough.  The atonement is so complex, I probably wont ever understand it.  But I can try.  And as I do so I come closer to the savior and life is better because of it.

These are the reasons why I am out here on a mission.  I know that I will be blessed for my service and I am able to be a blessing to others as well.  I know that this church is true and the work we do as missionaries is a sacred thing and I am greatful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission!