President's Pen 3-12-18 (I am Bound)

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!  Thanks for your goodness and for your ever increasing desire to teach repentance and baptize converts.  We do this for our God, our (religion) faith in Him, our freedoms (agency), our peace, our families, and for the families we’ve come to invite and help.  I love being a missionary with my whole soul!

In Proverbs we are taught an eternal truth, but also a dilemma for mortal and fallen men and women, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov 3:5)  The counsel to trust the Lord in all we do is logical, rational, and clearly the correct choice.  Our problem, however, is we often lean to our understanding and perhaps better said, our way of doing things.  Why do we do this!?!

Mormon does a brilliant job of summarizing this point as he describes the wickedness of the Nephites.  “Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!  Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. (Hel 12:5-6)  In other words, we know better, we’ve got this, no help required, I can figure this out on my own…  (911 call though just in case it doesn’t go my way, please answer :)

The Prophet Jacob saw this same pattern with his people and taught, “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4:10)  And we also learn from Alma that we should, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good…” (Alma 37:37).   Very simple teaching, the Lord stands ready to bless us, and yet, we can be quick to turn from the Lord and walk our own path.  Dumb, there I said it, it’s dumb. 

How in the world can we be so foolish and not trust the being who gave us life, is all powerful, and knows perfectly what we need if we just trust and follow him?  Why, the natural man is an enemy to God, that’s why.  So, God knowing this says the following…  “And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you.”  In other words, “Hey, natural man, listen up, I’m going to help your natural self out.  Let me give you some guidance and you’ll know what you need to do.” He then goes on to say,  “Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.”  In other words, “I’m going to spell it out for you so you’ll understand, do these things, listen to my Spirit, be good, and I’ll save you from yourself!” And then comes the moment of trust, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” Oh snap (as the kids are known to say), you mean I have to do it your way or I don’t get the blessing?  And then the battle within rages and we have to decide whether we’ll do it God’s way or our way, even when we know that it’s the only smart and logical thing to do.  (D&C 82:8-10, thanks for allowing my liberal interpretation of the scriptures)

We can bind the Lord… It is a 100% guarantee of blessings being poured upon us if we simply do what he asks of us.  There has never been nor will there ever be a better contract written.  We accept the terms, do it His way, blessings in the bank.  And yet, we waffle and wonder if there’s a better, more simple, easier, or convenient path.  We look for a loop hole, or an out clause where we get to make our cake and eat it to.  Dumb.

As missionaries we have this same contract given to us, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say…”   We know the prophets and apostles speak the will and mind of the Lord, so let’s take this one for a ride… “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.” (President Thomas S. Monson -2013)

If it were a commandment from the Lord, and it is, He might say, “My dear missionaries, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you regarding member missionary work… In other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to your benefit as you go about doing MY work.”  In President Monson’s quote we find the Lord’s counsel and direction (work together), how to act (ways are prepared to share and act in faith), and the blessing (He will assist us in our labors).  It is then up to every missionary that walks the planet if we will follow this inspired counsel.

There are a multitude of ways for us to do it… plan to work with them, every lesson a member present lesson (video or face to face), real daily member connections (not just a group text or thought), working with the ward council, asking for assignments, teaching, inviting, and following up.  Included in our member effort is a focus on less active and part members (children of record 9+, prospective elders , etc).  At times we think this route is too slow, we’ve tried it before, the members don’t help, I want it to be easier, they never have referrals, we can’t eat with them, and on and on… So, we go about it our way.  We don’t get to know them, connect with them, teach or invite them, we hang out with them, or avoid them all together.  Yes, it takes time, and trust is needed, and we earn their referrals, but when we do these things consistently and well, the Lord blesses us because we are doing what He says!

Another topic, glad you asked… “My dear missionaries, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you regarding technology use… In other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to your benefit as you use the safeguards for using technology.”  Do I need to restate the blessing of being one, guided by the Spirit, staying focused on your purpose, and becoming disciplined? Some might say, “Thanks for that great recommendation and I’ll see if it works out for me, but in the interim I’m going to keep doing what works for me, or it’s just too hard, marshmallows are too delicious to pass up…”  Ay, caramba!  The stated promised blessings from the Lord’s prophets, seers, and revelators, “As you learn to follow these safeguards instinctively, you will become a more effective instrument in the Lord’s hands, and you will unlock the door to blessings in your life and in the lives of those you teach.” Boom, enough said, drop the mic, peace out!

Now I could write for pages on other examples, but I think you get the point.  Obedience to mission standards, effective planning, focused individual and companionship study, effort and diligence are all choices and all bring promised blessings.  We can do it our way, or we can do it the Lord’s way, but the blessing will only come if we bind the Lord.  Some may say, however, I know of missionaries who are disobedient, don’t do it the Lord’s way, and they still baptize, I don’t get it.  The question I would have you ponder is… Is that missionary any better off, any more converted, any more aligned to God and His will? Are they any less of the natural man/woman? If that missionary baptizes a thousand souls, but is no less converted to the Lord, was their mission a success? If you are tempted to feel or think this way, may I remind you that, “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (Samuel 16:7)  You serve with all of your heart, your might, your mind, your strength and let the Lord bless you how and when He sees fit, but trust that He will. 

Elders & Sisters, I know the Lord’s way is the best way and the only way.  I too struggle with my dumb moments, and like all of you, am easily beset with temptations and the desire to lean unto my own understanding.  I have found through experience that this route never lifts, fills, or gives peace to my soul.  I can testify that when I do what the Lord says, I always receive the promised blessing, always.  I invite you today to ponder on areas of your missionary service or in life where you can trust in the Lord with all your heart.  In some cases, that may mean you need to start doing things that you know you should do, but for some reason choose not to.  For some of these things it will likely require an AR list check as we are good at rationalizing or justifying why we don’t do some things (i.e., tried it, doesn’t work, going to do my own thing).  In other cases, it may mean that you need to stop doing things that you know keep you from receiving all the blessings you desire.  Repentance is beautiful… The Lord delights in blessing His children, do what He says, and He will ALWAYS keep His promises.  Your conversion to Him and His gospel is what I desire most for each of you; that will be the true measure of your mission.  Our Heavenly Father knows and loves us, the Savior enables us with His grace, the Spirit changes our hearts and helps us put off the natural man.  The Lord is bound as I do what He says and I commit today to do better!  I know these things are true.  Love ya!

President Hall