President's Pen 6-12-17 (Commitments, Commandments, Covenants)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  As we come to understand the Savior’s Atonement, we have a greater desire to share it!  This is a true principle and I pray that you will each come to a greater understanding of how the Savior has personally atoned for you.  When you do, teaching repentance and baptizing converts will become your vision and your effort. 

“And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things…” (D&C 52:14) I love that the Savior and His gospel is established upon a pattern that helps us know what we need to do to return to his presence.  As missionaries, the pattern we follow is established in our purpose… First, we invite all men and women to increase their faith in Christ and come unto Him by extending commitments He would have them accept.  Second, we help them by teaching God’s commandments, that when followed, further demonstrate their faith in the Savior and His Atonement and their willingness to change (repent).  Third, because of their faith in Jesus Christ, we help them make covenants (baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple) so they can endure to the end.  Commitments, Commandments, Covenants is the pattern we follow.

If we begin with the end in mind, we realize that everything we work towards is to help men and women increase their faith in the Savior so they can make covenants with God.  As we study King Benjamin’s talk, we can see the pattern…  His teachings increased their faith in the Savior (by the Holy Ghost), he extended commitment invitations, the people had a greater desire to keep the commandments, and they wanted to enter into a covenant to do God’s will. (Mosiah 5:4-6) The result was exactly what King Benjamin desired, “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”  (Mosiah 5:7)

To teach this pattern effectively to our investigators, I believe it is important for you to remember how your faith in the Savior has lead you to covenants you are asking others to make and keep.  Do you know them all?  Each week we are blessed to review all covenants we have made as we partake of the sacrament.  The beautiful pattern we seen in this is that we have the opportunity to ponder our own faith in the Savior, review our own commitments, evaluate whether or not we are keeping the commandments, and if we are living up to and keeping our covenants.

Consider the following covenants you renew each week and evaluate how you’re doing.  Equally important is to remember the blessings you are promised as you keep your covenants.  These blessings are not comprehensive, but I share a few that I am most grateful for. 

Baptismal Covenants – The promised blessings… We will always have His Spirit to be with us and we will be clean…

·         Remember the Savior – We fulfill this covenant as we trust, acknowledge, repent, do His will and remember His life, His teachings, His example, and His Atonement.  We might ask ourselves, “Do I always have the Savior’s name on my lips and on my heart?”

·         Take His Name upon Us – We fulfill this covenant by putting the Lord first in our lives, by striving to think and act as He would, and by standing “as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places”.  It means we do His work and we strive to develop His attributes.  We might ask ourselves, “I wear His name on my chest, is it also written on my heart?  “Am I engaged in His work, am I worthy of His name?”

·         Keep His Commandments – We fulfill this covenant when we are willing to “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” (D&C 84:44).  Start with the first and great commandment, all others will follow… We might ask ourselves, “Do I do His will or mine?

Temple Covenants – The promised blessings… We will have power, have the Savior’s name upon us, and angels will have charge over us.   We will be able to walk back to the presence of the Father and live with Him again…

·         Obedience – We fulfill this covenant by aligning our will and desires to God.  Obedience is the first law in heaven and aligns us to all the other commitments and covenants we make.  The Savior was always obedient and always found doing His Father’s will.  We might ask ourselves, “Am I obedient to the standards I teach and know to be true (including mission standards)?”

·         Sacrifice -- We fulfill this covenant by our willingness to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake —“our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very lives if need be.” (Elder Bruce R. McKonkie) We might ask ourselves, “Have I given up the things of the world that distract me from serving with all my heart?” 

·         Laws of the Gospel -- We fulfill this covenant when we do our best to live the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.  We must repent, we must be baptized, we must receive the Holy Ghost.  These laws, and many others (tithe, fast, forgiveness etc. etc.) are unchangeable and bring us back into the presence of the Father.  We might ask ourselves, “Are there any gospel laws I don’t clearly understand or any I need to live more fully?”

·         Chastity -- We fulfill this covenant by letting virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly.  During our mortal existence we are to learn self-mastery and control our desires, passions, and appetites.  Breaking this law is selfish and mocks God.  We might ask ourselves, “Are my thoughts and actions clean and virtuous?”

·         Consecration – We fulfill this covenant as we consecrate our time, our talents, and anything else the Lord blesses us with to build up His kingdom on the earth.  A consecrated missionary is the 4th missionary and one that we all strive to become… We might ask ourselves, “How am I using my time, am I developing my talents, am I focused on building the Lord’s kingdom?”

Oath & Covenant of the Priesthood – The promised blessing… We will be given all that the Father has…

·         Magnify our Office/Calling -- We fulfill this covenant by serving in each calling to the best of our abilities and by reaching out to bless those we have stewardship for.  As missionaries, our calling is to labor diligently and to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. We might ask ourselves, “Is the Lord pleased with my service, am I doing what I’ve been called to do?”

Elders & Sisters, I love the patterns our Father in Heaven has given us so we know what we need to do to return to His presence.  As we are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants, “He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” (D&C 88:22)  Our time on earth is to learn how our faith in the Savior, our keeping of commitments, commandments, and covenants prepares us to live in celestial glory.  I invite you to review the covenants you have made each week as you partake of the sacrament.  Evaluate your life and be grateful to the Savior, that despite our weakness, He will help you overcome as you do your best.  I also invite you to begin with the end in mind by recognizing that when you help others increase their faith in the Savior, you are putting them on the path to commitments, commandments, and covenants.  There is no other way men and women, including us, can return to live with God.  We are a covenant making and a covenant keeping people.  I testify in the Savior’s name, that the blessings prepared for us by making and keeping these covenants, will be far greater than any sacrifice we ever make.  I love the Savior, He lives, this is His work, and let us all put people on His covenant path.  Love ya!

President Hall