Sunday, 23 April 2017

April 2017

  1. April 2017 Jaggi Family Blog

  2. One of the promises God has given to his missionaries as they go about His work says..."your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power." We are thankful for that promise. Our family is well. 

  3. Mackenzie is in the middle of finals at BYU. She has enjoyed her Freshman year, worked hard, played little and taken 3 religion classes to prepare for her mission. She will depart for the Provo mission training center June 7th to learn Korean. She will then go to Busan Korea for 18 months as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

  4. Emma just finished the theatrical musical "Children of Eden" at Bonneville High School. She is preparing for her AP tests, finals and the ACT. She will be applying for university this fall. Her best friend departs for his mission to Berlin Germany (Mandarin Chinese speaking) in July. 

  5. Joshua is an excellent student. He is tutoring kids at school  that need additional help. He turned 12 in January and was so happy he recently weighed over 80lbs. He loves soccer, basketball and football. He is excited and a bit anxious to go to middle school this year. 

  6. Eliza won the 5th grade school spelling bee. She goes to the district competition in a few weeks. She also finished her first dance competition (pirates). Her closet friends play decided in her 10th yet of life that she better learn soccer. She loves running around the field and is getting better. Her coach wanted her to  be a goalie because she had long arms and legs. 

  1. The past 2 weeks we have been blessed to experience Zone conferences with all 270 of our missionaries. One of the topics Sister Jaggi and I discussed with them was The Questions of the Soul...

  2. As human beings, Children of a loving God, it is our privilege and our right to question our place in the universe, our purpose of life etc. I have learned that ALL the questions of the soul may be answered "as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith..." and prayer. The history of our forebears, even the scriptures help us receive these answers. The scriptures have been given to us as a sweet gift. Our charge by the prophets is to do the following "...for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." Indeed the scriptures, especially the restored gospel of Jesus Christ provides guidance, strength and answers to life's most difficult questions.

  3. I share with you just a sample of some of the questions our young people have. The first question is something I have asked and my family has asked as our 33 year-old brother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer. 

  4. Why do bad things happen to good people? 
  5. Why do people I love abandon the Gospel? 
  6. How do I help those I love overcome difficult problems? 
  7. How can I develop Faith? Even the faith to perform miracles, and even move mountains? 
  8. How can I make repentance a joyful process? Especially when I make the same mistakes over and over?
  9. How can I get all of the unnecessary thoughts out of my mind? I'm thinking about the future so much and have trouble living in the present? 
  10. How do I know that Jesus is the Christ And that he can and will forgive me of my sins?
  11. How do I overcome the fear of bringing up the gospel with my brothers and sisters? 
  12. How can the atonement of Jesus Christ mend a broken relationship?
  13. Why does God test us so much?
  14. Why do missionaries/people have to be obedient to receive miracles/blessings? I know these questions can be answered through exercises of faith, study and prayer. May I share with you more of the common questions of the soul and the answers that come from the Book of Mormon. 

  15. You can find the answers for yourself!
  17.    Is there a God? (Alma 22)

  18.     What does Jesus Christ expect of me? (2 Nephi 9)

  19.     How can a belief in Jesus Christ help me? (Alma 36)

  20.     Is there life after death? (Alma 40)

  21.     What is the purpose of life? (Alma 34)

  22.     Why does God allow evil and suffering to occur? (2 Nephi 2; Alma 14:9–11;    60:13)

  23.     Does my infant need to be baptized? (Moroni 8)

  24.     Does God know me? (Alma 5:38, 58)

  25.     Does God answer prayers? (Enos 1)

  26.     How can I find peace and joy? (Mosiah 2, 4)

  27.     How can my family be happier and more united? (Mosiah 2)

  28.     How can I balance my family and career? (3 Nephi 13)

  29.     How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse? (3 Nephi 14)

  30.     How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? (Alma 39)

  31.     How can I avoid sin? (Helaman 5)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Jan 2017

Happy New Years friends and family! It has been awhile since we have written. I am told that others in the family will start writing this year, so the blog may become far more relevant, interesting and fun in 2017. 

The work of God is progressing. Young men and women arrive every 6 weeks from all parts of the world to serve the greater Ogden community.  They are at food banks, homeless shelters, building homes, cleaning parks and helping hose in need, but most importantly they are sharing the "good news." We have a Heavenly Father who lives and loves us and hears and answers our prayers. His Son, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!  

This week, our oldest daughter Mackenzie will receive her mission call to serve in someone's community for the next 18 months. We are excited, but nervous. We have learned to love and care for hundreds of young people. Sending our own somewhere else is just...different. We know she will perform a remarkable service and that she will be kept in Gods hands as she serves. 

Emma is preparing to sing and act in the Bonneville High School Musical, "Children of Eden." Eliza will be joining her in the children's choir. They are loving their mission experience in Utah. 

Consistent with the mountainous region in which we reside, snow has fallen for the umpteenth time. We dream of the beach on occasion but find time to hit the snowy slopes with the kids a few times a month. 

Josh passed the sacrament (the bread and water in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus) today for the first time today. As he passed it, I thought about how the priesthood was restored to the earth after Jesus and all the apostles had been killed many years ago. There was only one way for the priesthood to come had to be conferred by angels who had already died and were resurrected. The experience was miraculous. Joseph Smith recounted the experience in his history. 

68 "We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:
69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
70 He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.
71 Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me--after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood--for so we were commanded.*
72 The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized."

Wow! What an amazing experience!  The heavens are open! God speaks to men and women today. Angels are real! Jesus Christ lives and leads the work! 

Later revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith confirm the purpose of the priesthood. 

18 "And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live." 

And oath and covenant (promise) Josh made when he received the priesthood...

33 "For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come."

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth! We love serving Him. God bless you and your families wherever you are. 

Love, Jeremy, Amy and Family

Sunday, 30 October 2016

October 2016 every 3 months

Over the last couple of months our family has received a common inquiry from many in the community as well as visitors to the home. It usually goes something like this..."so do you feel like you finally know what you are doing as a mission president and wife?" 

The answer is an unequivocable NO. 

Nor do I think we shall ever "really get it." Sometimes In our lives we are called to a ministry so dynamic, challenging, rich, rewarding and growing that we have no choice but to become as the scriptures say..."a tabernacle of clay." We are given responsibilities in the ministry to be shaped and molded. Our Savior is helping us change. I believe it's not just the calling we are engaged in right now, it may be any calling. Each calling helps us grow and there is a reason why we never feel truly adequate.  

One of my favorite books written by CS Lewis (Mere Christianity) says the following...

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on... But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of...You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage... but He is building a palace..." 

Our missionaries and our children are trying to follow the Savior Jesus Christ and his admonition to submit our will to the father as Jesus did so that we can become what He wants us to become. 

 ..."And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." 

Amy and I dropped Mackenzie off at BYU in late August. She was excited and nervous. She has done wonderfully in her start there. She said, "dad, they start many of the classes with prayer." I contrasted her experience with my own first day in an anthropology class at the University of Utah. The professors first words were..."this is not Sunday School." Though I was grateful for my liberal education at the U, I'm grateful for my daughters newfound experience at the Y. I am also grateful for the U sports program. ;)  Mackenzie is providing for herself by working a catering job. She loves her nutrition and English classes most. 

Emma is feeling the "heat" of her junior year of high school. She is taking difficult classes, preparing to take the ACT, working at waffle love, running cross country, singing and dating. She is our busy-body. We love our brief visits with her late at night and watching her become her own person. She is diligent. Her friends love to go to the beautiful Ogden temple for group dates. 

Our church's founder Joseph Smith said around 1840, "teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves." I believe that most of what we can teach our children occurs before their 15th year of life...then they govern themselves according to the principles we have or have not taught them. Without question our influence goes into their 16th, 17th and 18th years of life before they leave home, but a majority of their persona, belief system and values are formed before then. 

Joshua scored another goal in his soccer game Thursday. He loves soccer. He misses the competition level in California but we like the Ayso practice and game schedule. :) He is not keen to practice the piano, but does so daily at the behest of his parents. One of my greatest regrets I have was not learning to play the piano. He won't have that regret. He was proud to bring home an excellent report card last week. He enjoys time with mom and dad most and we are happy he likes that. 

Eliza Rose is our kind and gentle soul. On Amy's birthday this past week she "heart attacked" our bedroom door. (Cut outs of hearts and hand-written notes) She is an extraordinary helper in the home. She played soccer this fall for the first time in 5 years. We are so proud of her for trying new things. She wants to try basketball this winter. 

We were privileged to be with several members of the "Seventy" (Numbers 11:16-17)  this past week. We, like our missionaries were richly edified and uplifted by them. I'm amazed that these good brothers who are called to the ministry in their late 40's or early 50's will serve till they are seventy years old. 20+ years of full-time service to God is astounding. We pray for them and are grateful for what they have done for us. 

We have Heavenly parents who live and love us. When we pray to God, our Father in Heaven, we know that we are His children and that all of us...all people on earth are Brothers and Sisters. God sent His Son Jesus Christ "to atone for the sins of the world." He is our Savior and Redeemer. They have called prophets and apostles to lead and guide us. The first prophet they called after a great falling away from the truth was Joseph Smith in 1820. How do I know Joseph Smith was a prophet? By his fruits. He translated a Book of scripture...the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. When used as a companion to the Bible, we can know "the truth of all things." Prophets and apostles are on the earth today. They lead and guide The Church of Jesus Christ. 

We love you. We miss you our dear friends and family. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Jaggi Family Year 1 Summary

1st Year Summary 
(New missionaries and their trainers) 

It has been awhile since we have written. As stated earlier, the time seems to fly by ever faster and the work progresses at an exponential pace. It is a privilege to be a part of it. 

Some highlights of year 1 from our family. 

Mackenzie - creating whole food / plant-based cuisines that even her siblings will try. Singing and dancing. Making new friends in choir. Simplifying my life. Working at Living Scriptures almost full time. Finishing my book. (Almost!) Getting accepted to BYU.  Hiking in the mountains. Traveling to Europe for my senior trip. 
(Kenzie petting her favorite animal in Switzerland) 

Emma - Mary Poppins performance, running Cross Country, lots of new friends. Turning 16 and going on lots of dates. Driving. Hammocking in virtually every tree-lined place available. I also love having 150 older brothers and sisters (missionaries). 
(Emma and Gwen just getting back from EFY in Provo) 

Josh - Fun with cousins. Settled in more quickly and comfortably than I thought. More friends than I thought. I like Shadow Valley Elementary. Skiing at Snow Basin is awesome.  I love seeing missionaries every Sunday. I love doing Pday activities with missionaries in the summer. 

(Not a missionary Pday activity, but fun on a lake) 

Eliza - I love Lagoon, especially the ride Canibal! Learning to ski. Musical firesides with missionaries. The Book of Mormon readathon with missionaries. We read the whole thing in like a day! I love playing with the Assistants in the mission on Sunday's. I love all the new friends I've met. I love my little cousins. 
(Pday activity at a lake) 

Amy - I love, love reading and studying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Realizing the depth of love God has for all of his missionaries that serve here from all over the world and that have prepared and sacrificed much to be here. Witnessing the devotion, love and consecration of Senior Couple Missionaries, a mission nurse, physician and LDS family services professionals. Attending the Ogden temple regularly. (It's just 15 minutes away!) Reading the Book of Mormon in 30 hours. The Mission President's Seminar last year (and this year) and being instructed by prophets and apostles. Learning from so many people who love the Lord and want to share His gospel which has brought them happiness. Attending and feeling the spirit at 36 stake conferences. (She spoke at each as well). Recreating with our children on Preparation Day (Pday) with intention to create special memories with them. We love the mountains around Ogden. They are green and majestic. 

A few data tidbits of note in year 1
27 family home evenings hosted at the mission home. 
71 dinners hosted (that's a lot of ham) 
Attended 77 baptisms. (859 have happened since July 1 of last year). 
Missionaries conducted 3 musical firesides at the tabernacle with over 4500 attendees. 
117 missionaries departed for home. 131 arrived. 
Spoke at 43 firesides. 
Tested Samsung notebooks for missionaries. 
Launched Facebook for missionaries. 
Set up a monthly temple day for recent converts to attend the temple with their missionaries. 
Set up a monthly missionary health meeting with mission physician, family services, nurse etc to attend to missionary spiritual, psychological and physical needs.  

Most importantly however are the relationships we have established with the magnificent missionaries and people in the greater Ogden area. Our friends here are humble, diligent, smart, creative and service-oriented. They genuinely love their neighbors and do their best to uplift, inspire, set an example and serve. They emulate the Savior and have taught us so much. 

Thank you for your love and support during our 3 year ministry. We feel the faith and prayers of many. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Lessons learned through Joseph Smith's First Vision experience and other Jaggi Experiences

The first place Elder Shawn P. Murphy took me when he picked me up from the mission home my second day in the mission field in late May 1994 was the Newell K. Whitney store, School of the Prophets. It is an historic place in LDS Church history. It was not the Kirtland Temple although we frequented that historic edifice many times the next 7 months. 

As we ascended the stairs to a simple room with wooden floors, a few wooden benches and a table, I was unimpressed with the simplicity of it. Then Elder Brewer, our tour guide and full time missionary commenced telling us the story of Joseph Smith and his first vision. As he spoke, I felt warm...I felt though I were being lifted out of my shoes. The warmth coursed through me and the tears started to flow. I was feeling the spirit of God and the truth of the things which I was hearing. 

"But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name. He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance. Whatsoever thing I have said u to you." John 14:26

Joseph Smith shared and documented the "First Vision" where he saw our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ standing side by side in a pillar of light. The experience occurred in 1820 when he was fourteen years old. (He asked that his experience be documented in 1832, 1835, 1838, 1842) He wrote or assigned scribes to write four different accounts of the vision. He published two accounts of the first vision during his lifetime, the first, known as Joseph Smith History was canonized as scripture in the Pearl of Great Price. The various accounts of the First Vision tell a consistent story though they differ in emphasis and detail. Because it is the account most read and canonized by prophets of God as scriptures, I share a portion of his account here. 

JSH 1:13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction--not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being--just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

What do we now know about theology through Joseph Smiths experience in these last 5 verses? I list but a few that are poignant to me. 

1) God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate and distinct individuals, thus dispelling the notion of a trinitarian godhead. Indeed, the trinitarian notion is "incomprehensible" and false. 
2) Like our God is real, The Son of the Morning, Satan is real
3) Satan doesn't want us to pray 
4) God is more powerful than Satan
5) God and Jesus are full of light
6) Praying "vocally" (out loud) may make a difference in our prayers
7) Reading scriptures leads us to do good things 
8) God hears and answers our prayers
9) God and Jesus have perfect bodies, they point and they speak verbally
10) Jesus has been resurrected 
11) Quiet places are good places to pray 
12) Sometimes the answers to prayers only come in our most desperate hours
13) When we have "anxieties" we should turn to God
14) God knows us by name
15) Jesus knows us by name
16) Darkness may surround us but the light always cuts through the darkness 
17) God commands us to listen to His Son
18) We are always given agency or choice to pursue the path we deem appropriate 
19) If the first President of a now 15 million member church "lacks wisdom" and turns to God; oh how much more need have I to be humble and turn to God
20) "Determination" is a part of the process to receive answers to our prayers

Well, the list of learnings from Josephs history could go on and on. I share but 5 verses of his history; however, there are many more. I am so grateful for the experience of this uneducated farm boy. This experience preceded the translation of the Book of Mormon, Another testament of Jesus Christ. Having these other works of scripture helps us understand biblical teachings more fully. 

Some family side notes: It was an amazing week. Amy and I spent 2 days with President Christiansen, Elders Ringwood and Wilson at the mission presidents seminar. We were taught by the spirit. We were instructed how to be better leaders. We understand better how to help our missionaries. 

We came home from the seminar and Josh and I went on an overnight scout camp in Huntsville. It was beautiful but tiring. (It rained on us all night) I forgot how much I dislike sleeping on the ground in a tent. 

We returned from scout camp Saturday morning and I baptized Joey Morton, a friend we have come to know the last few weeks. 

Last night we experienced a powerful windstorm that felled many trees in our neighborhood. The power is out in several neighborhoods still. One fell on our roof but didn't break it. We are grateful all the missionaries are safe. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Springtime in Utah

We have experienced a beautiful spring here in Utah. The weather has been what the Utahns call a "typical spring." Abundant sunshine and warm temperatures for several days, then snow and rain for a couple days. The contrast is dramatic. Having never experienced such contrast, the kids think it's fun. Their friends keep telling them..."wait till next week when we get real thunder and lighting storms." On our preparation day yesterday we got one last day of spring skiing in. It The weather changes keep us on our toes and the blossoms and annual flowers coming up help us move forward in faith. It makes me think of how steady the weather at home in California has always been. 70-80 degrees and sunny over 300 days a year. I will never take for granted the blessing of Southern California weather. It really is unique in the world. I under appreciated the regular and steady sunshine and warmth of our home. I hope we all appreciate and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the circumstances in which we live, whatever they may be. 

The last several weeks of our spring has provided a fruitful spiritual renewal as well. In January we visited the Provo City Center Temple open house. The restored building which is now an ordinance house maintains its original beauty; however, the added rooms that provide saving ordinances for us and our ancestors provide an even deeper connection to our brothers and sisters in this world and in the next world.  Through Gods holy temples, He is uniting the entire family of Adam and Eve. 
Our tour of the temple was wonderful, but it paled in comparison to the dedication ceremony that occurred March 20th.  Several speakers including temple presidency counselors and their wives, Elder Larry Wilson and Apostle Ballard spoke about the sacrifice of the pioneers to build that edifice and the temple "rising from the ashes" as the building had previously been burned by fire. It was a spiritual feast. All of the congregations in Utah were able to participate in the temple dedication. There were no other meetings scheduled during that Sunday. Even sacrament meeting, our most sacred weekly ordinance was suspended one week for the temple dedication. Everything in the temple leads us to a greater understanding of Jesus. Elder Oaks of the quorum of the twelve apostles gave the dedicatory prayer. The spirit was abundant.   The words at times sounded as if "they were the sounds of the rushing of great waters." God was present. I love the 150 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

March 27th was Easter Sunday. For the 3 weeks leading up to Easter, our mission shared the #hallelujah video - find new life. The video enlightened our minds about the real expanse of the Saviors atonement that can save us from our sins, save us from death and bind our families with us together for eternity. There will not be a "sting of death" because the Savior has overcome it. We hid eggs and Easter baskets, we played games and we listened to scriptures about Jesus. It was a great family day.  

Last week was the 186th General conference of our church. We listened to Apostles and Prophets speak about how to be better husbands and fathers. How to hold family councils. How to understand the purpose of our lives, where we came from, why we are here and where are we going after this life. We learned how to be more humble, obedient, strong and powerful. We learned how to tackle adversity not by asking why me? Rather, what can I learn, who can I help? How can I trust more deeply? We learned that we need to love and find ways to serve the 60 million refugees in this world. That Jesus commission to "love they neighbor as thyself" is a commandment very much still in force. Jesus lives! He sacrificed to help us. We love and miss you all! 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

God is Love

I remember a phrase uttered by a brother at a church meeting in Toledo Ohio in 1993. He was praying and he prayed for "an increased capacity to love." It was the first time I ever heard that phrase. It impressed me enough that I have never forgotten it and I have since said it many times in prayer. 

1 John 4 
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

If our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ are the very embodiment of love, should not we invite more love into our lives? 

I've reflected on love a lot this month. Isn't it after all the month of cupids and cherubs? We had a fairly uneventful Valentines Day. A sweet sister provided sugar cookies for our family and all of the missionaries. Sister Jaggi and I took a few hours on the missionaries preparation day that week and skied together, enjoying the mountain air and a brief solace from a hectic pace. I love my bride. She is an amazing woman...resilient, strong, faithful, musical, spiritual and yes, loving. She left behind her beautiful new home, wonderful neighbors and friends, her music children and their families to serve an unexpected 3 year mission. There is no doubt that we are learning to love more fully and deeply here. We love the missionaries, the people, the work of the Lord, the changes taking place in our family. Because of our experience, I'm left pondering the following....Is learning to love like God loves commensurate with increased sacrifice? 

It's been a few days since I began this blog post. The intermediate hymn of the Ogden Stake Conference was also from the Book of John. Read these wonderful words. 
"As I have loved you, love one another. By this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." It is not a coincidence that as I've been pondering the importance of love, that the song epitomizing love is sung. God is in the details  of our lives. There is no such thing as happenstance...we are in our circles of friends, in our neighborhoods and churches for a purpose. God has placed us together at this time to learn from one another and to love one another. 

So how can we love more fully? When we align our will with the Lords and become "one" we understand what he wants for us and our love deepens for our fellow men and women. I find it interesting that the first words Jesus declares after he introduces himself to the people in the ancient Americas after they had waited for Him for thousands of years are the following in 3 Nephi 11 in the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ...

"11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." 

Jesus immediately aligns himself with His father. He drunk of the cup which the Father had given him, he glorified the Father, he suffered the will of the Father. Later in verse 27, he declares that He and the Father and the Holy Ghost are one. If Jesus, who is the embodiment of perfect love declares He is doing His Fathers will, oh how much more need have we to do what our Savior and redeemer ask of us...commands us. When he was asked in Matthew 22 
"36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

We can, we must love one another better. I love my wife. I love my wonderful children. The blessings of missionary service are certainly being made manifest in our lives. Some of those blessings are simple. Mackenzie was accepted to BYU, Emma passed her drivers license test on the first try. They both were asked to Prom last week. Josh scored 17 points in a basketball game and Eliza got straight A's on her report card. They recognize the blessings and I love them for that. 

I love the missionaries of the Church. We say goodbye to another group of missionaries this week. With each group that leaves, a piece of our hearts go with them. I am amazed at how much love I have for these young men and women. It is a fierce love, a deep love and an abiding love. 

May we all pray for and apply an increased capacity to love.