Pardon the interruption. This doesn't have to do with Primary but I do want it on record one day for my little chickies pictured above.
Brothers and Sisters, it’s a pleasure to be here with you this Sabbath day. I want to tell my parents I love them and thank you for always being there for us. I’m just going to come right out and say it, it might be a little sacrilege, it might be a little un-American but it’s who I am. I dislike hotdogs. I don’t even remember the last time I had a hotdog. I refuse to cook hotdogs for any of my family and whenever a family member eats a hotdog, I make sure to give looks of horror and disapproval, if not vocal gagging sounds. When someone told me what was in a hot dog, they changed my life. They proclaimed truth. They proclaimed knowledge of very important value. It’s changed the way I eat and live. It may sound like I’m babbling, but I do have message to share this day, and it’s my prayer that the spirit will be with us and that we can grow closer to God by it’s divine power.
A person spoke up and told me about hot dogs. It changed me. How often do we share messages that can change the lives of others? The Bishop asked my husband and I to speak on “Proclaiming the Gospel”. The word “proclaim” is situated in an interesting spot in the topical guide, coincidence- I think not- between the words “proceed” and “procrastination”. Do we proceed and go forward sharing our testimonies often, or do we procrastinate sharing our beliefs?
I was born and raised in Sparks. Home means NV to me. My husband and I met at BYU. It was at the Black Student Union and my roommate and I were debating whether I should go after Joe- who was gaunt and starving looking or another guy who was meatier but had different sized eyes. The choice was fairly easy. I was 200 pounds lighter with a dashing personality he couldn’t refuse and snagged him right up. I had dated quite a bit but Joe was the first guy I met that just could not talk about anything other than his mission. He was obsessed. He served in Dallas TX… God bless Texas! Spanish and English speaking. He talked about the different families they taught, he talked about his love of Mexican food, he talked about the weather and dogs trying to kill him in the ghettos, he talked and talked and talked… and I actually listened. I’m pretty attention deficit and bore easily, yet his love for the gospel enthralled me. He even continued his mission a few months after his 2 years were up, because he loved proclaiming God’s truth to others. Besides his stunning good looks and rock hard biceps this was what attracted me most to him. He was a man of God. He was worthy of the sacred priesthood he held. He made the world a better place by proclaiming the gospel. And he does so to this day!
I want to break up the word “proclaim” into 3 parts. Declare, Preach, and Publish as found in the topical guide.
First, Declare. We have a popular phrase we like to quote in our house. It’s by the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown himself and is slightly modified. “Girl…Say it loud, say it proud.” Declare. State it - whether it’s in your home, school, testimony meeting, the grocery store or King’s Chinese Buffet. Abinadi didn’t shrink before King Noah, he told it like it was. Mosiah 12:33 “I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved.” Same chapter 12 verses 25 and 26 “Have ye taught this people that they should observe to do all these things for to keep these commandments? I say unto you Nay; for if ye had, the Lord would not have caused me to come forth and to prophesy evil concerning this people.” He declared this most important truth in Mosiah 15:1 “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.” The modern day apostles don’t beat around the bush either, in the document The Living Christ they say “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”
Now there is a small clause with this that should make sense, D&C 11:21 “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” What is your testimony? What do you know to be true? Do you have to be a scriptorian and know the family histories line by line in the book of Numbers? This scripture isn’t meant to scare anyone off, but just before you go declaring the word of God make sure you know who Joseph Smith is and that we don’t go boozing around town as part of the word of wisdom, young adults aren’t forced to go to BYU, etc. Except for my girls, you will bleed blue.
Preach on sister. No really, the second part of my talk is about just that “Preaching”. First we declare, then we preach and further expound. How important is it to preach? Jonah 3:2 “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee…” And Jonah didn’t and he was swallowed by a whale and had to live inside it for 3 days. The apostle Paul probably echoed Jonah’s sentiments when he stated “…Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:16 We have been told by President Spencer W. Kimball, “Every member a missionary.” We have resources all around us to help. The scriptures, modern day revelation, prayer… to be used often, daily, not sparingly…even a book called “Preach my Gospel.” One scripture that is a theme within this book is D&C 112:28 “But purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it.” Do we as members take the place of missionaries? Absolutely not!!!! We don’t have discussions on our own and baptize in the pond in the backyard. Missionaries have been called and set apart by God to specifically preach the gospel as ordained servants. But we can sure open our mouths to our neighbors and friends or complete strangers and teach and testify. Opening mouths is only one part, we need to remember actions speak louder than words. Follow Christ, do as He did.
Thirdly, I chose to focus on the word publish. When is the last time you wrote down your testimony? Will generations to come have a record of what you believed in? Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” I never served a mission. I wanted to, but my husband said if I left he wouldn’t wait for me. I’m smart, I thought Ok, we’ll just serve one together! So while I’ve never had that official experience I have published my testimony and through the miracles of God and the internet, people in 208 different countries can witness that I know that Jesus Christ lives. From Ireland to Nigeria to the Cayman Islands, Sofia Lykes has said it loud and said it proud. I bring this up not to toot my own horn,because really... I am nothing!!... but to just state that if we wish to share and humbly ask God for help, He will help!
I know my daughters Christina and Maria know this – Mommy loves you very much. You are my angels. You are perfection. You are heaven here on this earth. We share our testimonies together weekly in Family Home Evening. I also know that one day I’m going to be on the other side of the veil and I don’t want there to ever be a question to their children or the world for that matter that I know Heavenly Father loves us all. That Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and sicknesses. I declare, preach, publish. I proclaim we will one glorious day be resurrected and stand before our maker.
My son is also proclaiming the gospel. I am often asked how many children I have. I have 3. I don’t skirt around the question, even though I know sometimes it makes others uncomfortable. Our son died of SIDS almost 5 months ago now. His life and death serve a very important purpose and God’s will always be done. We don’t see it as a trial or great tragedy, it’s part of the plan and we’ll be reunited in the resurrection. Besides, I know his sweet perfect spirit is very close by me each day. The veil is thin. I would really be remiss if I didn’t thank you all for the wonderful support and charity you have shown us in our hour of need. Words will never do justice for the gratitude that is in my heart. Food, prayers, visits, hugs, listening ears, Kleenex, an outstanding and amazing visiting teacher, a home teacher who shoveled our snow… you name it, it was given. And we are eternally grateful. May you be blessed with heaven’s highest blessings for mourning with those that mourn. We are very humbled to be part of such an outstanding ward family. And to be led by such fine priesthood leaders like the bishopric. (Small insert to blog readers- you too are wonderful, I don't know where I'd be without all your prayers and love so THANK YOU!!!)
I’ve been told often that now I really have a reason to work hard since my son is waiting for me, but this is absolutely false. I valued being sealed to him when he was alive just as much as now. I’ve always had a reason to work hard and that is because I love my Savior. I love my God. I desire nothing more than to enter into Their presence and have Them say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” What are the desires of our heart? Do we desire others to have a part of this glorious gospel and happiness?
Don’t be discouraged, we may not convert by the 1,000’s every week and that’s OK. In Isaiah 27 verses 12 and 13 “…ye shall be gathered one by one… they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Never judge a person, just share. Listen to the Holy Ghost. President Lee says it much more eloquently- “The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not intended just for a continent or a segment of the earth. The gospel is intended for every soul that walks the earth, they are all children of God… Our responsibility is to bring to the world the message of truth, to show the world that within the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are to be found the solutions to very problem that afflicts mankind… No matter where they live, whether they are rich or poor, no matter what their station in life, their color or their background, they are loved by us and we desire to help them to achieve their highest expectations…”
We never know when we will be called to proclaim the gospel. I bear solemn testimony we must be ready at all times to witness the divinity of Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on this earth, this day. We must declare, we must preach and we must publish. Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? We must proclaim the change that the world needs. We must help gather His children and keep them safe. All things are possible with God through the Atonement of His Son. Of this I bear testimony of, in the name of my Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ Amen.