Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Inspirations July 20, 2008

What kind of missionary are you?

I had a bit of personal revelation today as I taught my Young Women (girls 12-18) a lesson on learning to share the gospel. We live in a time when the possibilities of how we share the gospel are as endless as our imaginations.

Russell M. Ballard, a latter-day apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church), had an article published in the Church's magazine, the Ensign, that talks about sharing the gospel online. My mother spoke about it being a good talk, but that the idea didn't really interest her. I, however, gobbled the article up. I felt it to the center of my being. I knew, more than ever before, the internet was my opportunity to be a missionary.

I'm painfully shy in person. Those who have known me since high school days have seen me in a more forward light, as I'm much more myself around those I know well. The thing is, I don't know a lot of people really well. I've become much more extroverted as I've advanced in years, but I'm still very particular as to who gets to see the "real" me.

Because of this trait, sharing my testimony with anyone and everyone has always been a difficult thing to do. My testimony is very personal, something I received when I was 17. Though I'm happy to relate it to those who are members of the Latter-day Saint Church, sharing it with those who aren't feels like putting my child in front of a firing squad. I'm worried what I hold dear and precious will be shot down.

This was one of the big focuses in my lesson today: how do we overcome our fears, our insecurities, our lack of knowledge and share the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in the latter days? How do we bring our spirit brothers and sisters back to a knowledge of who they are, of why they're here on earth, and what they can one day become?

It seems like a "duh" suggestion for those who've heard this most of their lives, but first and foremost we fast and pray. These supposedly simple acts open us up to personal revelation and brings the Holy Spirit in to our hearts. We need to be specific in our prayers. What do you want to see happen, both for yourself and the person you hope to make contact with?

Next, we wait. We practice faith and patience. We look for opportunities to open up before us. We don't give up if our first attempts fail. As I spoke on this I was immediately reminded of the children of Lehi, found in the Book of Mormon - another testament of Jesus Christ. There were four sons as the history begin: Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam. Laman and Lemuel were quick to give up when things got tough. Nephi and Sam were not. If Nephi hadn't practiced both faith and patience, he would never have received the "Brass Plates," or the ancient record of the Jews from Adam on down. His family would have quickly fallen into apostacy. He didn't give up.

We may have a hope and a wish for light be brought into the lives of a loved one. We may try once or even twice to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, but it may be rejected. Just remember, sometimes it takes years for people to recognize the truth. Practice patience. Keep yourself open to every spiritual prompting. Be faithful in your attempts.

When Mitt Romney began his race for president, he must have known, as did our Heavenly Father, what focus would be brought to the "Mormons." Suddenly websites popped up all over the internet, some good, some bad. I had an extraordinary opportunity to be part of one of the good ones. LDS Blogs is not offiliated with the Church officially, but it's a way for Church members to share their testimonies, their insights, and a far more realistic view of what this gospel is all about. It was our chance to begin some missionary work. Those of us who began writing discovered from our blog manager that when someone does a search engine on "Mormons," they find countless numbers of anti-mormon sites. There is a huge effort to change this. If you look at the top of the site, there are links to other helpful sites.

We've learned to put links in all of our posts to help those who may not know what things like latter-day apostles, the Pearl of Great Price, and High Priests are. This is one of the reasons you see me clarifying or placing links to certain things in my posts.

I began this blog with the inspiration to have the word "Mormon" in the name. I knew it's what Heavenly Father wanted, and that it was yet another chance to share my testimony with those who might chance upon this site. I cannot be afraid of any one person's comments or hurtful words, which I've not had to deal with as of yet, thank goodness. It is more important for me to focus on possibly influencing just one person to think kindly on this Church.

We also need to study the gospel. You can't teach about things you don't know. Don't be afraid to tell someone who's asking a question if you don't know the answer. Guide them on to the official Church website, look things up with them, or ask for a little time to look up the answer yourself. Take some time to study the basics of this Church. Think of D&C 11:21 which reads, "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men." If you want to be able to teach others about Joseph Smith, you need to study his words and about his life. As you study the Lord will grant you His Holy Spirit and through this you will be able to bear your testimony in such a way it will work towards the convincing of others.

This post is getting longer and longer, and I feel as though I haven't said half of what is in my heart. One last thing I wish to impart is this: we can all be missionaries in our own ways. Some of us write beautiful poetry, or compose incredible music, or write inspiring stories and sermons. Some of us work hard, show extraordinary strength in the face of hardship, serve without asking for recompense or recognition. Some of us provide needed money, have a gift in teaching others, easily make friends out of strangers, set an exemplary example. Some of us are natural righteous leaders, fearless when it comes to calling others to repentence, or provide a listening ear to those who feel utterly alone.

We all have our own ways of being a missionary. We all have unique gifts when it comes to sharing the gospel.

What kind of missionary are you?

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