Thursday, June 12, 2014


...for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come. (Helaman 16:22)

When I read this the word "stir" really caught my attention.
I absolutely love chocolate chip cookies and have a lot of pride in the Kasteler family recipe. When I stir the ingredients together to make the cookie dough I do not put everything in at once. I add the ingredients gradually.

Then I gradually stir them together. The more I stir, the more mixed up they get. The mixture gets to the point where it is hard for me to distinguish between
      butter and egg,
              sugar and flour,
                      vanilla and brown sugar.

When Satan is stirring us up to do iniquity he doesn't ever tell you to break all of the commandments at once. He starts where you are and gradually puts in little ingredients.

In a mixture of good morals, and a testimony of Jesus Christ, Satan puts in a tablespoon of laziness. Then he adds a dash of "politically correct". Then he stirs up those ingredients for a little while. When you read the scriptures, God puts some peace and direction into your life. Satan then pours in a cup of doubt and some "everyone else is doing it". Then he continues to stir so gradually that you hardly even notice the ingredients he put in. Meanwhile, throughout your trials God teaches you to be more patient and loving with those around you and those ingredients are added. Then Satan throws in my personal favorite, a few teaspoons of procrastination.

When Satan starts stirring again things get more and more confused and mixed together. It is hard to distinguish between
          peace and laziness,          
                     patience and procrastination,                    
                                 good morals and "politically correct".

I see two problems here. First, Satan is putting things in my cookies that I do not want in there. Second, he is stirring up all those ingredients so it is next to impossible to sift out the bad ones.

I say "next to impossible" because there is a glimmer of hope.

In elementary school and up through high school I learned the basics about physical and chemical changes. I learned that when I am stirring ingredients together to make cookie dough, a physical change is happening. A physical change CAN be undone. Somehow, someway, I can separate the ingredients. But once I plop the dough on a cookie sheet and stick it in a 325 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, it goes through chemical change. Once this chemical change happens, it CANNOT be undone. There is no way to separate those ingredients ever again.

Satan has really corrupted my cookie dough. Before I put it in the oven I need to remove those bad ingredients. I can't let the physical change of stirring them together become a chemical change that cannot be undone.

So how can we do it?

I am by no means a chemist, and I don't know exactly how physical changes can be undone to separate the ingredients in cookie dough. But I do know that when Satan is stirring us up to do iniquity the way to separate the ingredients and take out the bad ones is called the Atonement. Jesus Christ suffered for all of our sins, imperfections, and impurities in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then he died on the cross and rose again three days later.

Jesus Christ made it possible for us to take out the bad ingredients that Satan puts into our cookie dough.

I'm not a chemist. I don't completely understand what needs to happen to reverse a physical change. And I don't completely understand exactly how the Atonement works either.

But I know that it does work.

Through the grace of Jesus Christ we can not only separate all of the good and bad ingredients, but we can completely eliminate the bad ones. I know that cleansing and purifying happens through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we have faith in Him, ask Him for forgiveness, be baptized for the remission of sins, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end, we can gradually eliminate all of the bad ingredients in our lives. We can become the people that we are meant to become.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
(Moroni 10:32-33)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


What does clay have to do with God?

Just like prophets prophesied of Christ coming in the Bible, prophets writing in the Book of Mormon also prophesied of Christ coming. Mosiah 3:5 says:

"For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases."

Tabernacle of clay?

This tabernacle of clay that was prophesied of Christ coming to dwell in is a body of flesh and bones.

My study of the word clay was a little messy so I decided that a visual would be best.
I would love to write pages and pages about what I learned from this word study and how we can apply it to our lives. Instead, I would love for your to receive your own insight and revelation from the Holy Ghost about how this applies to you.

I simply want to testify that we are all dwelling in our own tabernacle of clay. We must allow ourselves to be molded and shaped by the potter, our Heavenly Father. We must yield to Him, be led by Him, and adjust our lives to be more like Him. If we do this, "the Lord will make much more out of [our lives] than [we] can by [ourselves]. He will increase [our] opportunities, expand [our] vision, and strengthen [us]." (For the Strength of Youth, 43) He will shape us into the beautiful, magnificent, unique vessels that we were meant to become. I know that He loves each one of us.

"Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?" (Mormon 5:23)

Photo courtesy of

References and other links:
"A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit" by Bruce D. Porter
"Jeremiah: As Potter's Clay" by Jean A. Tefan
"The Potter and the Clay" by President Heber C. Kimball
Moroni 9:6
Isaiah 64:8
Jeremiah 18:3-6

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I know that God answers our prayers. But what if I am praying and tell my Heavenly Father that I really want to get a pony? What if I ask very sincerely and promise Him that I will feed the pony and take the pony on walks?

In John 14:13-14 (see also John 15:16; 16:23-24) it says "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

In that scripture Jesus Christ gives us a condition to answering our prayers. We must ask in His name and then He will do it.

In a previous blog post I discovered what it means to take upon us the name of Christ, but what does it mean to pray in the name of Christ?

I was taught by my parents and church leaders to always close my prayers "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

So when I pray for a pony, is this good enough?

Dear Heavenly Father,
I would really like to have a pony. I promise that I will feed him every day and take him on walks. I know that thou always hears and answers my prayers and I know that thou can make it possible for me to have a pony.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Will God grant my desire?

As I have studied, pondered, and prayed in my life, I have come to know that there is more to it than just saying Jesus Christ's name at the end of your prayer.

The bible dictionary entry for prayer says "Christians are taught to pray in Christ's name. We pray in Christ's name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ--when His words abide in us. We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ's name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man's heart."

The Bible says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7)

The word "abide" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means to "dwell, remain, last".

Elder Jeffery R. Holland taught about the word abide. He said, "I gained even more appreciation for this admonition from the Lord when I was introduced to the translation of this passage in another language, in Spanish that familiar phrase is rendered "permaneced en mi." Like the English verb "abide," permanecer means "to remain, to stay," but even gringos like me can hear the root cognate there of "permanence." The sense of this then is "stay--but stay forever." ("Abide in Me")

So in order for our prayers to be in Christ's name, His words must dwell in us forever. Like the bible dictionary says, we must be asking God for things that it is possible for Him to grant. We must become like Jesus Christ and know what God's will is for us. Then we will desire the same things that the Savior desires. Then when we ask for those things, our prayers will be in Jesus Christ's name.

According to John and the bible dictionary, my prayer for a pony is probably not in the name of Christ. Right now, as a missionary it is completely illogical for me to have a pony. I don't need a pony in order to do missionary work. In fact, a pony will take me away from what is important most as a missionary. I have been called by God to serve Him and represent Jesus Christ. Even if I promise that I will take care of the pony, God is not going to grant that desire if it is not His will.

I know that becoming like Jesus Christ and causing His words to dwell in us forever and our prayers will be His mind and His will. And they will be answered. James E. Faust said, "What a glorious day it will be for each of us when we pray with confidence that 'if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.'(1 John 5:14)"(The Lifeline of Prayer)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


"And now... behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 36:3)

I know from some very real personal experiences that God usually does NOT take away our trials, troubles, and afflictions. But I also know that he has never made me struggle alone. During those times, He was always there supporting me.

Merriam-Webster defines the word support as: to hold up or serve as a foundation for, uphold, advocate, champion, protect.

The index to the Triple Combination says "see also Help; Maintain, Preserve, Uphold".

God is there for us when we need Him. He is there to be our foundation. He is there to uphold us, protect us, and help us. He is our advocate. He wants us to master our weaknesses, defeat our enimies, and triumph over our trials. There are some days that He is there just to hold us up.

And what does He ask of us? He asks us to put our trust in Him. We must trust Him. We must trust that He will take care of us and support us in our trials. We must trust Him that if we keep His commandments, he will bless us. We must trust Him that He will answer our prayers. We must trust Him. If we do, He will support us in our trials and we will "be lifted up at the last day".

Elder Robert D. Hales, an apostle of the Lord said, "On a few occasions, I told the Lord that I had surely learned the lessons to be taught and that it wouldn't be necessary for me to endure any more suffering. Such entreaties seemed to be of no avail, for it was made clear to me that this purifying process of testing was to be endured in the Lord's time and in the Lord's own way...I learned that I would not be left alone to meet these trials and tribulations..."

Whether the support of the Lord comes through other people, sacred experiences, or the Holy Ghost, they do come. Trust in Him and you will always have the support you need. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, March 31, 2014


I've been studying the word humility for about a month. I've come to realize that humility is like a large umbrella. It encompasses so much. It is incredibly important if we want to follow God and someday return to live with Him again. It is vitally important if we want to have joy in this life.

This is what I have learned:

To be humble is to recognize that you have strengths and weaknesses.
It is not making claims based on those strengths and those weaknesses.
It is remembering that God is in charge and that ultimately, your strength comes from Him.
It is giving Him the honor and the glory for your success.
It is always being grateful to Him for everything that you are and that you have.
It is submitting yourself to God's will.
It is never drawing attention to yourself, for better or worse.
It is continuing to learn about yourself and God through study and prayer.
It is praying to Him daily, kneeling down, admitting that you need Him and asking Him for help.
It is repenting of your sins, changing yourself to become more like Him, aligning your will with His.
It is relying on Jesus Christ's Atonement and grace.
It is never being jealous, fearful, or prideful.
It is never complaining, only obeying.
It is never comparing yourself to others.
It is accepting and embracing correction and reproof.

It is putting your trust in God and Jesus Christ for everything and in all situations.

I know that if we rely completely on our Heavenly Father, we will have joy and one day return to live with Him again. We can look to Jesus Christ and see how perfectly humble, submissive, meek, and lowly in heart he is. We must follow his example and work to develop the Christlike attribute of humiliy.

"Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27, Book of Mormon)

Over the past month I have studied humility in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, True to the Faith, the KJV Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Preach My Gospel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I was listening to this General Conference talk given by Richard J. Maynes this morning and wanted to share it with you.

After we have been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost we can't just stop there. That isn't enough. We must then endure until the end of our lives and then we will receive eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:15-20).

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word endurance means "the ability to withstand hardship or stress, fortitude".

I then looked up the word fortitude and found a very beautiful definition which says, "a strength of mind that enables one to meet danger or bear pain or adversity with courage".

Just because we enter the straight and narrow path by being baptized, doesn't mean that we will be free from pain, temptations, and trials. Bad days will still come. Sometimes we will make a wrong choice. There will be times we feel we can't handle it any more.

"And ye shall be
hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13)
It takes dedication, perserverance, and self-discipline to build spiritual strength enough to endure. It is not easy. We might be persecuted and hated for it. But, we can never give up. We must strive to choose the right every day, no matter what.

Preach My Gospel defines enduring to the end as "remaining true to the commandments of God, despite temptation, opposition and adversity thoughout life".

I know that as we continually choose to follow God's commandments, develop perserverance, dedication and self-discipline, and bear our trials with courage, we will have the strength to endure. Peace will come into our lives and we will realize that although we are not perfect and life is sometimes very hard, we will one day return to God's presence and He will recognize the effort we have put in and we will be rewarded with eternal life in His presence. "This is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God." (2 Nephi 31:21)

"The quality of our eternal future is proportional to our ability to endure in righteousness...our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion." -Richard J. Maynes

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I was reading this scripture a couple days ago:

"Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart I have written my law, fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings." (2 Nephi 8:7)

I want to focus on the word know.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of know is: to perceive directly, have understanding or direct cognition of, to recognize the nature of, to be acquainted or familiar with, to be aware of the truth of, to have a practical understanding of.

So in this particular scripture it is addressing all of us who "know righteousness". So how do we know if we fall into that category?

I was thinking about people I know. Not the people that I "know of" but the people that I truly know. When I know someone it is usually because I have been around them, I know what they do and where they go. I know how they react and even what they would say in certain situations. If I know them very well, I know their weaknesses and what makes them happy. I might even start to talk and act like them. Some people even say that when you spend a lot of time with someone you start looking like them.

I think the same ideas can be applied to "knowing righteousness". It takes a lot of work. You have to spend a lot of time with it. You have to get to know it so you know what righteousness says and what it does. You need to know it so well that you talk like it, act like it, and even look like it.

So if righteousness was a person, who would it be?

Jesus Christ was and is the only perfect person to ever live on the earth. He is righteousness. If we want to know righteousness, we need to know Jesus Christ. You need to spend time with Him. You need to learn about Him. You need to know what he does and says. You need to talk like Him and act like Him so there is no doubt in anyone's mind that you know Jesus Christ.

3 Nephi 12:48 says: "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (See also Matthew 5:48)

A modern apostleRussell M. Nelson said, "Our adoration of Jesus is best expressed by our emulation of Jesus."

Our Savior, Jesus Christ has invited us to become perfected even as he is perfect. We all make mistakes, but as we continue to learn about Jesus Christ we can know Him, become like Him, and become perfected. Every day we can get a little closer to becoming like Jesus Christ. Every day we can know righteousness better than we did the day before.

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 5:8 which says,

8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

In Merriam-Webster the word name is defines as: a word or words by which a person or thing is known, having a distinguished reputation.

As I have been studying taking the name of Christ, everything I found falls into three categories.
1. What it means to take upon you the name of Christ.
2. What you have to do to take upon you the name of Christ.
3. Blessings that God grants if you do your best to take upon you the name of Christ.

So here is what I found while studying these three questions:

1. What it means to take upon you the name of Christ.
  • Me, personally, as a missionary, I literally take upon me the name of Christ as I wear the name tag that bears not only my name but Jesus Christ's name as well. I represent him.
  • Like Merriam-Webster said a name has a certain reputation. Jesus Christ had a distinguished reputation. To take upon me his name means that I have the same reputation.
  • Someone who has joined the church of God and are called the people of God (Mosiah 25:23-24).
  • Someone who is Christian, a true believer (Alma 46:15).
  • Will be called by the name of Christ in the last day (3 Nephi 27:5-6).
  • You see yourself as His (True to the Faith, 23).
2. What you have to do to take upon you the name of Christ.
  • Glorify God (1 Peter 4:13-14).
  • Be willing to be obedient unto the end of your life (Mosiah 5:8-10).
  • Follow Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 31:13).
  • Repent of your sins (2 Nephi 31:13).
  • Be baptized (2 Nephi 31:13).
  • Desire to take His name. (Mosiah 25:23-24).
  • Don't contend (go against) the Holy Ghost but receive it (Alma 34:38).
  • Be humble (Alma 34:38).
  • Worship God wherever you are (Alma 34:38).
  • Thank God for all of your blessings (Alma 34:38).
  • Be faithful (Alma 46:15).
  • Endure to the end (3 Nephi 27:5-6).
  • Put Jesus Christ and His work first (True to the Faith, 23).
  • Seek what He wants rather than what you want or what the world teaches you to want (True to the Faith, 23).
  • Renew the promise that you will take His name upon you every week when you partake of the sacrament (True to the Faith, 23).
3. Blessings that God grants if you do your best to take upon  you the name of Christ.
  • Happiness (1 Peter 4:13-14).
  • The spirit of glory and of God will rest upon you (1 Peter 4:13-14).
  • You shall be found on the right hand of God (Mosiah 5:8-10).
  • You shall receive the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:13).
  • You will be able to speak with the tongue of angels (2 Nephi 31:13).
  • You will be a part of the church of God (Mosiah 25:23-24).
  • His spirit will be poured upon you (Mosiah 25:23-24).
  • You will be blessed and will prosper (Mosiah 25:23-24).
  • You shall be saved at the last day (3 Nephi 27:5-6).
Wow. That is incredible really. I can bear witness that these things are true. That if we are baptized by someone holding the authority of God, and as we promise that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, then we truly will have blessings poured upon us. It isn't an easy thing to do. We can't just accept Him as our Savior and be saved. We have to live our lives in a way that we represent him.

Have you taken his name upon you?


1 Peter 4:13-14

2 Nephi 31:13

Mosiah 5:8-10

Mosiah 25:23-24

Alma 34:38

Alma 46:15

3 Nephi 27:5-6

True to the Faith, Baptism, 23
"When you [are] baptized, you [enter] into a covenant with God. You [promise] to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and sere Him to the end. You renew this covenant each time you partake of the sacrament. When you take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you see yourself as His. You put Him and His work first in your life. You seek what He wants rather than what you want or what the world teaches you to want."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Mosiah 15:23
They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

Merriam-Webster says part of the definition of "through" is: by way of, in the midst of, by the means of.

Now let's see them in context.

Mosiah 15:23
They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; 
thus they have eternal life by way of Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

Mosiah 15:23
They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; 
thus they have eternal life in the midst of Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

Mosiah 15:23
They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; 
thus they have eternal life by the means of Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is the way that we can receive eternal life. Because of His atoning sacrifice we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for eternity. He made it possible. He is the only way to get there.

"Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 3 Nephi 28:35)." (Brad Wilcox)

I know that if we do the things that Jesus Christ has asked of us, we will be able to live with God and with those we love again. But we must do what he says. We must comply with His set of requirements. Faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. Those are His requirements. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

full purpose of heart.

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto god as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts." (Jacob 6:5)

While reading this scripture, one phrase stuck out to me in particular: full purpose of heart.

So I looked up each of those words in my good ol' Merriam-Webster, and this is what I found:

full: filled, complete, abundant, extremely, entirely, the highest or fullest state or degree, the utmost extent

purpose: an object or result aimed at, intention, resolution, determination

heart: the whole personality, one's innermost being

So what does it mean to come with full purpose of heart to God?

According to these definitions, it means that our entire personality, our innermost being is completely and entirely aimed at, determined, and resolved to follow God. We intend on following God and are extremely committed to doing so.

(See February 21, 2014 post to learn more about the word follow.)

Does this mean that we are perfect?


We all have to work on it. We have a long way to go before we will be perfect. Fortunately, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to feel all that we feel and to go through all that we go through. Because of that magnificent sacrifice that he made, we CAN work on it. We CAN repent of our sins. We CAN improve every day. We CAN get closer and closer to perfectly coming to God with full purpose of heart.

We will one day be able to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my Heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise." (Psalms 57:7)