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Saturday, October 30, 2010

My New Life-- Stephanies' Story

This story is so awesome. I love her faith and her unwavering trust that the Lord "seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). I hope you all enjoy her story and find personal application to your personal struggles.

Much Love,
Elder Spendlove
PS Here's a link to Stephanie's blog. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

FAQ Fridays: Are Mormons Christians?


Have you ever wondered if your Mormon friends are Christians? Well, here's a really cool video by a Church leader describing how he came to know that Mormons are Christians.
Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reflections from a Rain Gutter

 This morning I had the privilege of cleaning out some gutters for a member of the Church here in Fairfield.  And, much to my chagrin, despite the fact that I am 6' 5", I still had to use a ladder.  When I got up there, you can imagine it wasn't exactly a pretty sight (well, you don't have to imagine--here's a picture); the stagnant water, rotting vegetable matter, and tar from the roofing wasn't exactly a pretty smell either.

Mmm... tasty...

 When my bare hands proved ineffective, I decided to get down to business with a trash bin, some gloves, a trowel, and a block of wood that I used as a scraper to get all the sludge moving down the gutter and into my trowel. 

Ready for Battle!

The work went quickly as I scraped and slopped the smelly, slimy sludge into the awaiting maw of the garbage pail who seemed to be much more receptive to the goop than I (probably out of a sense of duty more than anything else).  But even when the last remnants of the debris were in the pail, we had a layer of tar-paper silt at the bottom of the track that was preventing the remainder of the stagnant water from exiting the gutter; it had to go.  Elder Marsh, my trusty companion, pulled out the hose, and after some trial-and-error, decided that spraying down the gutter one section at a time from atop the ladder would be better than me blindly trying to reach up there and wash it down with the wand extension.  At last the gutter was clean--pure (or I should say purer; I don't know if I would drink it) water flowed out of the bottom of the spout.  It was ready to traffic some serious rainwater! That is...Until next fall.

I thought about the implications of all of this as I had my hands wrist-deep in decaying palm fronds and brown water.  It reminded me of how quickly our lives can get clogged if we don't take care to "clean the gutters" before it gets too bad (granted, these weren't the worst gutters I've seen--it just hasn't really struck me until now).  If we allow it, sin, selfishness, the cares of the world, and all the other junk we have to slog through every day can really bog us down so we can't feel the "Living Water" (Jesus Christ) flowing through us.  Our belief will become stagnant and what was once beautiful and alive and useful will become dead. 

We have the opportunity to clean out our gutters, whatever stage they may be at, through the power of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  When we get to work to remove bad influences, repent of our sins, and not return to them, our spiritual rain gutters will allow pure Living Water to flow through us. That's some serious cleaning power!

Ta-Daa!

Much love,
Elder "Gutter Buster" Spendlove

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

God is Our Loving Heavenly Father

I have considered many things lately about my posting, and one of the things I want to do is talk about a different principle of the Gospel that we missionaries teach each Wednesday.  So basically until I notify you otherwise, you can expect a little tidbit of simple doctrine every Wednesday.  :)

Today I wanted to talk just a little about our Heavenly Father (God).  Like His name implies, He is literally our Father, not just some ephemeral mass somewhere in the cosmos.  We look like He does--we were created in His image after all-- and we have the potential to become like Him someday.  He really loves us a LOT--check out what Paul has to say about it:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38 & 39)

Pretty cool, right?  Like he says, the love of God is manifested in the fact that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our mistakes and fill in the holes that we or others leave in our lives (see also John 3:16)!  Amazing.  There are many ways that God shows His love for us which we will discuss in the coming weeks; I want to share one way that I feel His love.  I know God loves me because He always gives me a second (third, fourth, fifth...) chance!  Because He will never give up on me, He allows me to come to Him with my boo-boos and be healed through the power of His Son.  Pretty miraculous that somebody as imperfect and foolhardy as I could merit such love and mercy--but that's the thing about God.  He is a God of miracles. 

If you have felt God's love in your life recently, post a reply here so others can feel of His love too, then share the love by inviting your friends to check out my blog and add me on facebook!  We're trying to get a worldwide web of love started here! 

Much love,
Elder Spendlove

Friday, October 22, 2010

Simple Testimony

We met with a mother and her two children tonight and talked about how we knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  The kids were baptized in April in Longbeach, CA;  the mom is going to be baptized in November.  I asked her how she had come to know he was a prophet.  "It just feels comfortable," she said.  "There's no way he could have made up something as wonderful as this."  It's so true.  Sometimes we can't see all the reasons or understand all the intricacies of God's will.  But we can feel the truth.  As two of Christ's disciples walked along the road to Emmaus after His crucifixion, they met the resurrected Savior, travelling incognito, Who expounded all the scriptures concerning Himself unto them.  They didn't immediately recognize their Lord, but what they did recognize was the feeling of the Holy Ghost--they asked, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way...?" (Luke 24:13-32). 

It is by that same burning of the heart that I and this wonderful mother and her two amazingly spiritual children know the truth of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith.  Just as I don't need to meet the Savior in Person to know He is the Son of God, so too do I know that Joseph was His prophet for these last days.

MUCH LOVE,

Elder Spendlove

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"And He Gave Some, Apostles..."

My super awesome older brother (who finished his missionary service in Peru this August) posted this video on my facebook page today.  It is a really tender and sweet video about the chance that we have to come unto Christ and feel His mercy, love and understanding every day.  I especially love the fact that it is narrated by apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ ("We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth" [Articles of Faith 1:6, emphasis added].  Essentially, the apostles called by the Lord today have the same calling and commission to testify of Jesus Christ, direct the affairs of His Church, and stand as special witnesses of the Savior.); these men, these "special witnesses of Christ", tell of the glory of the Atonement so beautifully and so simply. I am grateful to know that God is a God of Order and has established His Church on the earth once more, built upon the same "foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). 

Some have said, "well, isn't it enough to just believe in Jesus Christ?  Why do I need some organized religion to tell me how to believe or act?"  The answer lies in the 4th chapter of Ephesians, verses 11 through 14:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man...
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive...

We need these apostles and prophets, teachers and pastors, so we can, like the scripture says, come in the unity of the faith!  It is plain to see in today's world that there is much disunity, especially among the sects of Christianity!  Thus, it is imperative that we rely upon the men whom God has chosen to be our guides, to be our "foundation", with, of course, Jesus Christ as the "chief cornerstone".  And how can we be certain they are actually called of God?  It all goes back to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He received the priesthood (the power and authority to act in God's name) from Peter, James, and John themselves, fulfilling the declaration "no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron [by the laying-on of hands]" (Hebrews 5:4).  Through an unbroken line following this pattern, the apostles and prophets of today hold that same authority.

I am grateful that there are authorized servants of the Lord upon the earth today.  I know that if we follow their counsel we will be safe and we will be built upon a firm foundation.

MUCH LOVE,

Elder Spendlove

P.S.  Here's some additional reading/listening/viewing about prophets today!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"To Fulfill All Righteousness"

I just created a photo album on facebook with all of the pictures of the people I have helped baptize while on my mission.  **Brief Explanatory Note:  As a missionary, my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by receiving the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.  Helping people prepare for baptism, the first covenant or two-way-promise we make with Heavenly Father, is central to what I do as a representative of Jesus Christ.  We missionaries invite people to be baptized because it is what Jesus wants all of us to do (we'll talk about this in a minute). **  As I reviewed the photos (quite thankful for the miracle of digital cameras!), what struck me about each photo was the look of peace and happiness on the person's face.  I know that each of the wonderful people I helped prepare for baptism knew by the power of the Holy Ghost that what they were doing was right.  Baptism is such a beautiful, wonderful, life-changing thing;  I am grateful that it is central to what I am called to do.

Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).  Period.  Jesus Himself, sinless though He was, perfect in every aspect of obedience though He was, was baptized by John the Baptist "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15, see also 2 Nephi 31:4-7), or to accomplish every single commandment God had given Him.  It is pretty clear from the scriptures that baptism is important.  The Book of Mormon gives us further insight on our need to be baptized: "[Jesus' baptism] showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, [Jesus] having set the example before them.  And he said unto the children of men, Follow thou me.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we [are] willing to keep the commandments of the Father...[who] said: Repent ... and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son" (2 Nephi 31:9-11, empahsis added).  It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal.  If we intend to follow Jesus Christ, Nephi says, we must follow the commandments of the Father, i.e. be baptized!  I think I've made my point.

There are so many blessings that come from baptism.  We are promised a newness of life (Romans 6:3-5); we are promised to have the Holy Ghost's companionship (2 Nephi 31:13); eternal life and resurrection (Mosiah 18:9); we are received into Christ's church; the list could go on and on.  All my friends I mentioned above who got baptized are experiencing and enjoying those gifts right now.  I know that anyone who wants to can enjoy those blessings as well.  It takes a little doing, but I can testify that if you will prepare to be baptized by someone who holds the authority to do so (I will explain that further another time), you will enjoy all the blessings mentioned in the scriptures.  You will feel the love of God more abundantly in your life and you will be happier.

MUCH LOVE

Elder Spendlove

Monday, October 18, 2010

"He Hath Filled Me with His Love..."

You know, sometimes life is just hard.  As a missionary, there are a lot of things that worry me and that can get in the way of my happiness.  Whether it's my personal weaknesses, the choices of others, or if it's just the way the cookie crumbles, I am (as I know all of you are) faced daily with things that are just not very fun to deal with.  Nephi, a Book of Mormon Prophet, felt similarly.  Even though he was a man of great faith and spirituality, a man whose relationship with his Father in Heaven could not be considered shallow, he exclaimed, "O wretched man that I am!...my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about by the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins" (2 Nephi 4:17-19).  Do you ever feel like that?  Do you ever feel "encompassed about" by bad choices, whether yours or others', temptations, trials, or just the everyday beatings of life?  Yeah.  Me too.  But check out what Nephi says at the end of verse 19: "nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted" (emphasis added).  Wow.  Isn't that great?  He knows in Whom he has trusted--his Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the Savior.  Then he goes on to talk about all the great things the Lord has done for him (this is where I got the title of my blog--verse 21!),  giving one of the most beautiful testimonies/prayers of the heart in all of scripture.  I invite you to read the rest of this chapter; it's so powerful.  I know that your Father in Heaven will answer your prayers and your yearnings too.  Even though life is really hard sometimes and you just want to throw in the towel, remember that there is One Who suffered for not just your sins, but your pains, weaknesses, sadnesses, heartaches, and insecurities (see also Alma 7:11-13 in the Book of Mormon and Isaiah 53:3-5 in the Old Testament).  Jesus Christ knows how you feel.  He has felt the sorrows of your heart.  And guess what--He wants you to run to Him. 

"Awake my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my peace." (v. 28)  I hope that this post has helped any of you who are feeling down.  I know that whenever I feel depressed, I can turn to my Savior, Who picks me up and helps me get going again.  And the best part about it is we have all of the answers to the deep, yearning questions of our souls in the scriptures.  The Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the words of modern-day prophets are all there so we can know of the promises the Lord has given us if we follow Him.  You can follow Him too. 

Have you had any "questions of the soul" you can't seem to get answered?  Comment below and I'll do my best to answer them from the scriptures.  And keep in mind that sometimes personal questions take time, faith, and lots of prayer and study of the scriptures to answer--I will do my best to point you in the right direction.  I can testify in the name of the Author of all peace, Jesus Christ, that there is peace to be found, there are answers to be had.  Have faith and seek diligently, "for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:8).

MUCH LOVE,

Elder Spendlove

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Few Things...

Hey everyone!  Hope you all had a good Sabbath.  Just a few housekeeping things real quickly.
  1. If you read my blog, you should "follow" it (see bar at right) so it can have more hits!   The more hits it has, the better chance it has at showing up on google, bing, yahoo, and other search engines, which means that untrue, anti-Mormon stuff will not show up as readily.  Thanks! 
  2. I have added a box on the side bar with the weekly Gospel Essentials lessons for the Fairfield 1st Ward.  Other wards may be on different lessons around the world--that's just what we're  on.  I recommend studying the lesson manual before hand if you have one (if you don't, ask the ward mission leader or bishop where you're at for one!).
I will post a real blog post tomorrow.  I didn't have much time tonight, but I wanted to make those few things known.  I hope you all are looking forward to a new week and a new day to follow Jesus Christ!

MUCH LOVE,

Elder Spendlove

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The Words of Eternal Life"

I want to just talk briefly today about following Christ.  There is a big misconception out there that Mormons aren't Christians.  Well I want to make it publicly known that that is absolutely untrue.  As an authorized representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see, it's His church!) I am called to stand as a witness of Him and His church before all people.  And as such, I want to testify that I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He came and suffered for each one of us individually.  He knows your weaknesses, your pains, your insecurities, your doubts, your fears, your heartaches--all of it!  He suffered and died for each and every one of us so we can be happy and so that we can return to live with Heavenly Father eternally as families after we die.

I love something that Peter said of old to the Savior.  Jesus, after declaring some things about His divinity to His followers who promptly turned and "walked no more with him", asked his apostles, "Will ye also go away?  Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:66-69, emphasis added)  That's the key, my friends.  If I weren't a follower of Jesus Christ, I don't know where I would be or where to go.  But because He lives, because His truth and His gospel ("the good news") have been restored on the earth through Joseph Smith, a modern-day prophet, I know where I am going--to live eternally with my Father and my family.  I pray you will all find the truth of this message as you study it.  If you have any questions, please comment below or look me up on facebook.  I can get you in touch with some missionaries who, like me, know this message is true and want nothing more than your eternal life with Heavenly Father as well. 

MUCH LOVE,

Elder Spendlove

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Come and See"

So I've been studying the New Testament recently (since mid-September probably) because I want to gain a greater understanding of what is in there.  I started the book of John today, which is probably my favorite of the four gospels (I don't really know why--I just like it a lot!), and already, 3 chapters in, I've gained some really cool insights.  I wanted to share one thing today that really stuck out to me.  Before I begin though, I want to explain something about studying the scriptures.

We Mormons know that the best way to learn is to "learn by the Spirit"--you may have heard some of your Mormon friends talk about that before.  What that means is that the Holy Ghost (or "Holy Spirit" or "Spirit of God", etc.) teaches us the things Heavenly Father wants us to understand. Jesus said of this, "But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26, emphasis added).  We learn in the book of Galatians, chapter 5 verses 22&23, what feelings accompany us when the Holy Ghost is teaching us: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance..."  So basically, when you study the scriptures and feel those feelings, you can be sure that you are being taught by the Holy Ghost.  I know that Heavenly Father wants us to feel and seek after those feelings so we can know that what we are learning is true, even if it doesn't make sense to our brains all the way at first.  (*Side Note* If you meet with us missionaries, we will invite you to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon, which we know to be the word of God along with the Bible.  When you follow that course and ask in faith, sincerely wanting to act upon the answer you receive, you will feel the feelings of the Holy Ghost telling you it is true.)  SO, that having been said, let me tell you about a few of the things the Holy Ghost taught me this morning.

I really liked John 1:46, "And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."  Philip was a follower of the Savior from the beginning.  When telling his friend Nathanael about Jesus who came out of Nazareth, which was thought poorly of by the surrounding communities of the day, Nathanael questioned whether anything good could even come from Nazareth!  Philip's reply is the reply we missionaries (and members of the LDS Church) give to all--Come and see!  Come and see the gospel of Jesus Christ in action; come and see what light the teachings of God's prophets, ancient and modern, can bring into your life and the life of your family; come and learn more of Jesus and follow His example by exercising faith and being baptized (for more on Jesus' teachings about baptism, check out John 3:3-8.  This invitation to be born again, to be renewed is a wonderful, loving invitation to "come and see" the blessings of the path Jesus laid before us!).  This is the invitation I personally give to all of you.  I loved the peace the Spirit brought to me as I read that.  I am thankful for the chance I have to follow Him and to share His teachings with everybody I meet.

I hope this has been helpful.  The best thing you can do is to pray about the messages we share.  We may not be eloquent, but we know the message is true--we know by the power of the Holy Ghost.  Come and see.  You can know too.

MUCH LOVE,
Elder Spendlove

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day One

Well, this is my first time blogging ever, so I hope you'll bear with me as I seek to fulfill my purpose as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  That's a big mouthful--in essence, I am here to answer questions about the gospel, teach people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and help people enter into the covenant of baptism for a remission of their sins and to enter the path that leads back to Heavenly Father.  I may not be the most eloquent blogger; I may not have every single answer right away; I may not be the funniest or the smartest or anything like that; however, I know that I have been called of God to share the truth of the Restored Gospel with everyone!  I know that the message I share is the truth, and I know that you can know too through sincere study of the Book of Mormon coupled with heartfelt, earnest prayer, as promised in Moroni 10:3-5 in the Book of Mormon.  I hope you'll check out my facebook page (Elder Chris Spendlove) and chat with my other missionary friends and any Mormons you know!  This gospel will bless your life if you'll let it.  Allow the truth to change your life and draw you closer to our Savior Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. 

As far as my other posts go, I'll be answering frequently asked questions, sharing spiritual insights and ideas, and teaching basic principles of the gospel.  Please feel free to comment, but remember that other viewers will be reading these so please keep your comments appropiate (family friendly).  I look forward to embarking on this undertaking and hope that many of you will come to the same happiness and light that has blessed me, my family, and countless others with whom I have had the opportunity to share it.

With MUCH LOVE,

Elder Chris Spendlove

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