President's Pen 12-28-15 (New Year's Resolutions)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose 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. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I hope you all enjoyed Christmas and that your conversations with family and loved ones energized and inspired you.  “A Savior Is Born” should be our message throughout the entire year so keep your desire to share His birth, His mission, His life, and His Atonement with all.

This is the time of year where we now look to the future and a New Year.  For many it is a time of goal setting accompanied by resolutions to do and become better.  The number one goal for many this time of year is generally to lose weight.  On New Years day, the gym is filled and for the first two to three weeks of the New Year many are hard at it, but by the end of January, the gym is back to the normal flow of people and goals are just empty wishes that never materialized.  Why is this?

In Preach My Gospel it states, “Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.”  It also goes on to say that goal setting and planning in a missionaries world are acts of faith. 

Here’s what I have found… New Years resolutions and goals fail for a variety of reasons, but the biggest obstacle is that a person’s heart isn’t in it.  Or in PMG terms, the goal doesn’t reflect a true and real desire of the heart.  In other words, you have to be emotionally invested enough to make it happen, or within a short period of time the goal becomes a distant memory.

The desires of our heart are what fuel the fire, regardless of how daunting the task, difficult the journey, or how many obstacles are put in our way.  When we want something, care for something, and desire something bad enough, we prioritize it and get it done, if not, it’s just a nice thought and something we ultimately discard or put on the shelf.  Have you experienced this? 

Goals that are reached require internal motivation, the kind that make us want to leave easier paths behind, ignore external motivation, or be comfortable with the status quo.  You’ve heard the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, for many it is because they ultimately lack the real desire, true intention, and determination to act.  Their heart just isn’t in it…

This of course is not the type of people or missionaries we have in THSM.  We know our purpose, our mission, and our goal; to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the end. 

All we do points back to this message, purpose and the Doctrine of Christ.  You have the internal motivation to wake up on time and exercise each day because you know the goal.  You study every day individually and as companionships because you know the goal.  You find, teach, and invite others to receive a remission of their sins because you know the goal.  You work with members, role-play, plan, follow up, improve your teaching, love your companion, talk to everyone, use time wisely, etc., etc., because you know the goal. 

In your heart you desire God’s children, your brothers and sisters, the opportunity to fully access the Savior’s Atonement, to be clean, to receive the Spirit and power of God in their lives, and to endure to the end.  You know the only way this can happen is if they demonstrate faith, repent and are baptized.  There is no other way, no other path, no better road, and no better destination.  Because you know this, you work towards your goal as it has been written on the fleshy tables of your heart.

The THSM mission goal will be the same this year as it always has been; 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.  This is the most important thing, this is why you are here, and what you eat, sleep, drink, dream, breath, and do every day. 

As we go into the New Year I will help us be more focused than ever on this priority.  I want you to continually to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing helping or hindering me, my companionship, my area, my ward/branch, my potential and current investigators come unto Christ?  Am I paving the way with good intentions or good acts?  Is this a goal or desire of my heart, is it something I’m working towards, or am I a dormant participant watching the time go?

To use the teaching from Moroni and in the spirit of applying the scriptures to ourselves, “For behold, my brethren (Elders/Sisters), it is given unto you to judge (discern), that ye may know good (Faith, PMG, Planning, People Not Lessons etc.) from evil (idleness, disobedience, the opposite of all PMG, MHB, etc.); and the way to judge (discern) is as plain (the only intelligent way), that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.  (Moroni 7:15)

Now, all of us at times need the reassurance that this goal is obtainable, that it can be done, and that you can do this.  The natural man is so persuasive at times and as it states in the scriptures, you have to put it off!  I will simply remind you that this goal is not yours alone and that it is the goal and cause of the Father and the Son.  The scriptures tell us that they will be on our right hand and our left, to bear with patience our afflictions and that He will give us success, that His work will not be frustrated. 

The Savior himself tells us, “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come. (D&C 68:6)

Be of good cheer in this, His work, find the internal motivation, if it doesn’t already burn within you.  As PMG states, “As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase.”  Just like Lehi, you’ll want to share this fruit; it will consume your thoughts, your actions, and your desires.  You will turn outward (think of others) not inward (think of yourself) and then have an eye single to God’s glory. 

In 2016 I am eager for you to commit and make a goal to have the Vision to Baptize. This comes with an understanding of the full Doctrine of Christ and your purpose as a missionary.   This comes with an understanding that you’ll help investigators progress by setting goals and making plans to help them on the path towards returning to live with God.  This path for you includes becoming a PMG missionary and using all the tools, talents, and abilities God has blessed you with.  When your goal becomes the desire of your heart, along with your faith, prayer, fasting, study, and the Spirit, you can’t fail. 

My prayer is that you’ll recommit and set a New Years resolution to become the type of disciple that wears the Savior’s name with honor.  The power is within you to be anxiously engaged in this good cause and to do many things of your own free will and choice.   Whether or not you allow this to happen will come down to what’s in your heart.  I know there are many of you well down this path and I am grateful to you for it.  Keep up the great work, there is no better cause, and the Lord will bless you.  We LOVE you!

Mission Update

 Elders & Sisters, for the month of December we had 18 souls enter the waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins.  We rejoice in these new converts.   As we enter the New Year we will be updating the standards of excellence to help all succeed in the work.  With a Vision to Baptize, we must also have the vision to find, teach people not lessons, follow up, and keep our new converts.  All should be able to accomplish our standards each week and month if we work smart, set goals and make plans, and have sufficient faith that God will bless your efforts.