Monday, November 25, 2013

The Peaceable Followers of Christ

Dear Family, Thank you for your continued prayers, emails, and letters. I really do feel the power of your prayers and often if I am going through a hard time I just think of the many prayers that are offered each day in my behalf. That seems to empower me and give me the extra endowment of faith that I need. So thank you for your prayers. Last week in my email I talked about becoming like a little child and shared the experience of teaching Christian (Saul and Sofia's six year-old son). This week we were over there and as we were leaving Sofia told us that that morning Christian told her about the dream he had had the night before. He dreamed that he and his father went to church with Elder Larson and I and what's more, in the dream Christian and Saul were wearing white shirts and ties! What a sweet little boy. I don't think he has ever been to a church in his whole life but we are hoping to be able to help his parents be able to finally come. We stopped by to teach the Padilla's on Monday night. They are doing really well although they didn't come to church because they were out of town. We taught them the Word of Wisdom. All the kids said it would be no problem giving up coffee. The dad said he could give up drinking alcohol (he said he hardly ever drinks) but that coffee would be just about impossible for him. We talked with him and he committed to fully live the Word of Wisdom until our next lesson on Wednesday and we promised to bring all sorts of hot chocolate. He said he doesn't like normal hot chocolate because it is too sweet. On Wednesday, we kept our end of the deal and he kept his. He proudly announced that he hadn't had any coffee. We then heated up water/milk and made three different kinds of hot chocolate. We also threw in some hot apple cider (I fell in love with that stuff at BYU) and it was a blast! He kept trying the different kinds but when he tried the apple cider he said, "Wow! I am never drinking coffee again!" We were so happy. Once we all settled down we read Mosiah 2:31-41. Eva made the comment at one point that the verses are very intense. She was right but after we read verse 41 the Spirit came really strongly. We bore our testimony of being obedient to the commandments of God and promised them the blessings they need in their lives. As we did so, the began to cry. The Spirit was just so strong. They bore their testimonies of the Restored Gospel and how they knew this was the true church. They all then accepted a baptismal date for the 7th of December. The dad and young man still want us to help them overcome the doubts about not praying to the Virgin Mary, but said they still wanted to be baptized that day. What a great blessing! Elder Larson and I left the lesson full of the Spirit and overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity we have to serve the Lord and His children. On Wednesday and Thursday, Elder Johnson and I spent some time with President Ashton setting our mission goals and focus for 2014. That was a really fun and good experience. I always enjoy learning from President Ashton and to see how he thinks. Being around him so much has been a great blessing for me. On Wednesday we began with a study on charity. We spent an hour on Moroni 7:1-11. I didn't know that there was an hour's worth of study material there but it is. We spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a peaceable follower of Christ. We learned that it means we are kind and patient and full of love. It was a really good study that just made me want to be kinder to people but I still didn't understand it too deeply. Then in correlation on Sunday, Hermano Perez (our Ward Mission Leader) shared Moroni 7:1-4 as his spiritual thought. He focused on what it means to be a peaceable follower of Christ and how part of it is that we are kind to people even when they reject us. Then today in my studies I was reading in Matthew 20 and read about how Christ teaches His apostles about the greatest being the least and the servant. What struck me so powerfully though is what happens immediately after in Matthew 20:29-34. 29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 ¶And, behold, two ablind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? 33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34 So Jesus had acompassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received bsight, and they followed him. So after teaching the apostles about being humble and being a servant, Christ then shows them this principle. As I studies this morning I began thinking about the multitude from verse 29. These people were followers of Christ. They were sacrificing to follow him. I am sure it was hot, they walked a lot on dusty roads, they didn't eat very much, and they were giving up all aspects of a normal life to follow him. Needless to say, they were fairly converted followers. I also thought about the fact that within this multitude I am sure many had already been healed by Christ. He had lifted their hands when they had hung helplessly down and given them strength to walk for maybe the first time in their lives. And so for whatever reason they followed Him. And yet following Christ is not enough. When this multitude saw the two blind men crying out for the help and healing that they knew only the Savior could offer, the crown turns them down, rebukes them, and tells them to hold their peace. They were followers of Christ but not peaceable followers. They too were blinded but in a much more dangerous way. They were spiritually blind and refused to look past the rags and lack of wealth and status. This multitude was refusing the very same blessings of help and healing that many of them had probably sought at one point. But then there is the Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Prince of Peace. He stands still and lovingly asks how he can minister. He asks what can He do to lift the burden of these two blind men who are so weighed down yet filled with faith. He sees them with spiritual eyes and recognizes their potential. He knows that they have great faith because they continue to call out to him after being rebuked by the multitude. He knows that they have sufficient faith to be healed and that after receiving their sight they will follow Him and be true disciples and walk peaceably before Him and their fellow men. And so he has compassion on them. I am so grateful for the Savior. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I know that His is the only name given under heaven whereby we can be saved. He is my friend, my example, and my guide. I love Him and I want to be like Him. I want to walk peaceably before Him blessing and ministering to all those that may be in my path. On Saturday the Bishop called and Elder Johnson and I ended up speaking in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. He taught the Restoration and I followed him and taught about the Atonement. What a special gift it was to stand and testify of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost bore witness to my soul yet again of the Savior. I know He lives. He loves us. He guides this work through His living prophets. As we repent we can access His mercy and grace and we are forgiven and made clean. I have felt of the power of the Atonement in my life so many times and now have the wonderful privilege to help others feel of the same power and blessings. Could there be anything better than that in the whole world? I love you. Elder Case P.S. Happy Thanksgiving! P.P.S. The picture is Ramon Padilla. He is ten. I walked out of the front room to find him for the lesson and he was hanging upside down on the pull-up bar with a nerf gun aimed at me. I love that family!

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