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. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Apostles and Prophets of Jesus Christ

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

We were privileged to spend time with A member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles last Saturday.  This apostle grew up in Cache Valley, (Logan) Utah. He served a mission to Japan as a young man and was called to preside over the Nagoya Japan Mission from 2005-2008. He was called to the first quorum of seventy at age 53 after returning home from his mission, thus dedicating the next 17 years (seventies receive emeritus status at age seventy) of his life to God. However, at age 60, last October after serving in the church as the presiding Bishop for 3 years, he was called as an apostle, a lifelong calling. 

Before our morning meetings started, The apostle was getting acquainted with a stake president and some of the brothers in the small room when he asked me, "are you a part of the Jaggi family from Logan?" I said that I was, however my grandfather moved from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City after World War 2. He asked who my grandfather was, and I said Stanley Jaggi. He didn't know a Stanley, but he said the following... And I'm paraphrasing and praying to capture the essence of what this wonderful apostle said so you can feel what he feels about the Jaggi family and by extension, all of your families. He said that for about 10 years, what he considered the most formidable time in his life, Brother Jaggi and Brother Schmidt came to his home.  He was probably about 6 when He first remembered their visit. He said they were older High Priests with gray hair and thick Swiss accents. They seemed like heavenly beings to him at the time. They were faithful and came every month. They brought a spirit of power, authority and love. They served his family by helping in the yard or with house projects. He said he wished he had the information and understanding of the gospel that he has now, because he remembers "being taught" by Brother Jaggi. He remembers the feeling more than anything. As he spoke, I felt our progenitors near. The spirit bore witness as he spoke of the sweetness and joy the gospel brought to the Gottfried Jaggi (my great grandfather) family. I cried with appreciation and told the apostle, "Thank you." He said the Gunnell family was also valiant and he remembers one of the Jaggi's marrying a Gunnell and he couldn't think of a more celestial union in all the world. He said "there aren't any better families anywhere." 

As I look at our family tree and timing, (This apostle was 6 in 1961) he had to be referencing the great patriarch of our family, Grandpa Gottfried who was in his 70's at the time. Thinking of great grandpa on an apostles couch makes my heart soar. 

Why am I so grateful for this experience? My family was not a "pioneer" family. My grandfather Stanley was a beer-drinking, chain-smoking, tattooed covered World War 2 veteran. I didn't know till later in life that my father, who is now a very faithful man had his "epiphany" moment sitting in the back of a police car with 2 broken hands. Then and there he decided that there had to be something better in life than stealing, fighting and cars. He walked into an LDS church the next week. His bishop befriended him and he was on a mission in Africa 2 years later. 

How grateful I am to be the son of Robert and Judy Jaggi, the brother of Mark and Elizabeth, Kelli and Matt, Tim and Liz, Chad and Stephanie and Kristen. How grateful I am to be the husband to Amy Anne Stewart. Our ancestors made great sacrifices for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the blessings our immediate and extended families have realized have been "an hundredfold." May God continue to bless my family and the families of the missionaries of the Utah Ogden Mission as we journey on the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life. 

The missionaries of the church are in the right place at the right time doing the right things. The  graphic below represents how a missionary facilitates the reception of the Holy Ghost by their investigators. They cannot push the Holy Ghost or the message of the restoration to anyone, they just create an environment where the spirit may come and teach. This was given to us by a general authority. I love their simple practical teaching.