Monday, April 14, 2014

Staying Strong in Courage and in Faith

Today I wanted to talk about some of my all time biggest role models, no they are not Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardasian, Justin Beiber or Drake, today I want to talk about Esther from the Bible, the Anti Lehi Nehi's from the Book of Mormon and my dad.

So the first story I love is and my first role model is Esther. Esther was made queen after the other queen was done away with. Esther went in to the king as herself and ended up being the one he chose out of all the other maidens! Though this had happened, Esther had not told the king she was a Jew. Later on in Esther's story the Jews were going to be put to death, but they were her people, she was one of them. Later, Esther and Mordacai are speaking through Esthers servant, Mordacai says to Esther in Esther 4:14-15, "..Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape the king's house, more than all the jews. (15) ..And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" What he was telling her was, don't think of yourself and how you're going to escape, think of your people! And who knows, maybe you were sent to come to be queen at this time, for a special purpose. Later we see that Esther decides to go into the king (of course she has a few banquets first but after that) and to tell him that she is a Jew and ask him to spare her people, before and while this is happening out all around the kingdom her people are fasting and praying for her! Can you imagine how much courage and faith that would have taken? I mean seriously! Seriously think about it! Here she is, she is probably the only chance her people have of surviving of living but at the same time going in to the king without an invitation is punishable by death! By Death! Do you realize that at any given time that she just went in to him he could have her put to death? Imagine what she must have been feeling, I know I might have been thinking, "Gee, these could be some of the last thoughts I ever think, I could never see my family again." I mean can you imagine? I don't think any of us truly can but what we can see and learn from her were faith and courage. She would have had to have so much courage and trust in the lord to put her life in his hands and not only for her sake but for other's sake as well, this would impact generations and generations! In the end we see that Heavenly Father kept her safe and that the kings heart was softened towards her and the Jews and that they lived all because she had faith in God and trusted him. Think of what a difference she made.

My second role models are the Anti Nephi Lehi's from the Book of Mormon. The Anti Nephi Lehie were originally a part of the Lamanites, a bloodthirsty, prideful, people. After being taught by the missionaries and turning to the lord they changed their names and changed how they dressed so as not to be confused as the Lamanite people. They changed their name to Anti Nephi Lehi, probably declaring themselves neither on nor the other (Since the Lamanites had come to hate the Nephites, vise versa and so on and so forth). When I read this story it made me cry. The Anti Nephi Lehis had become so converted to the truth and had repented so fullheartedly, they had been born of god (had a mighty change of heart) and put off the natural man or what they naturally would when they were lamanites. They were so committed to the lord. If you have scriptures go to Alma 24: 8-12 if you don't go to this link: to see how converted and dedicated to the lord they were and how they felt as well as what they resolved to do. These people had been a bloodthirsty, war seeking people. They loved killing people and they didn't mind doing it, they had many weapons of war and they weren't afraid to use them but as we see, the gospel changed them, they had a mighty change in heart. After you read those scriptures read Alma 24:13-19 and see exactly what they did. Doesn't it astonish you the kind of change that took place within them when they let God in they went from wicked to righteous. In these verses we see that they resolved to bury ALL their weapons of war, that means all means of protection! Some of you might be thinking, "Were they crazy?" but no, they were so devoted to their God and had repented so fully that they would "suffer even unto death rather than commit sin." How much faith do you think they must have had? How much faith do you think you would have had to have to do that? To give up all means of protection even if it meant not defending yourself when being attacked. You see, to fully give up their sins they had to put them away, hide anything that would give them the temptation to do the same things again, avoid similar situations that would bring up the urge to and for them that meant hiding their weapons deep in the ground (this can also be compared or likened to sinning, repenting and staying away from temptaion). The next very faithful thing that happened (this is what made me cry the most) was when they were attacked. (Alma 24: 20-22) The Anti Nephi Lehis heard that the Lamanites were coming, that they were annoyed and angry with them and blood thirsty and what did they do? They prayed and praised God. Even to the end. When the Lamanites came and they could see them in the distance THEY CAME DOWN TO MEET THEM, KNELT BEFORE THEM AND BOWED THEIR HEADS AND BEGAN TO PRAY. I think this was one of the few times that such courage and faith has ever been shown. After doing this "Without meeting any resistance, they (The Lamanites) did slay a thousand and five of them, and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with  their God." Think of how scared you would be, think of the families they must have had but the trust and faith they must have had in God. Holy cow. Now, we KNOW that they are blessed and went to be with God because they were faithful and trusted him and his plan up unto the very end, to the very last moment of their lives they gave their lives to God and they put their trust in him. How many of us would be willing to do that? I can't say I would but I can't say I wouldn't.. the thought of how much courage and faith they must have had is unfathomable to me, but what examples they are. After this happened look at the result! Read Alma 24: 23-26. In these verses we see that after seeing this the lamanites hearts were softened and they stopped killing them, "And there were many whose hearts had been swollen." "And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them up again, for they were stung for the murders that they had committed, and they came down as brothers (the Anti Nephi Lehis with the Lamanites because of their example).." Look at what an impact it had, their faith not only brought them blessings but it softened the hearts of their adversaries, and the Lord didn't take them out of it because he knew that they would be safe after it was over, that they would return to him and that so would the Lamanites. "And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt they were saved." "And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people." (Alma 24: 24-27)

The last role model I would like to talk about is my dad. My dad is such an inspiring, funny but hardworking man. His life has not been easy. He grew up in the small city of Hermosillo, Mexico with his single mother and two brothers. Sometimes there was barely enough for them to eat, sometimes there wasn't much of a Christmas and work for him started at an early age, he wasn't baptized in the church until he was 17 years old and luxuries were few. Though my dad grew up in harder circumstances it shaped him into the wonderful man he is today. He has learned the importance of work and is a hard worker, he is honest, reliable, wise, trustworthy, inspiring and he perseveres. The reason we are here in Ecuador is because he was called to be a mission president in our church to direct the missionaries in this area. One night my dad told me a story about Julius Ceaser. He explained to me how Italy had been set up and how one side of the Rubicon river was the army and military area while on the other side was the government and higher class. It was known throughout Italy that to cross the Rubicon was to pose a threat to the government or just outright declare war or rebellion. So, if one were to cross the river it was either go hard or go home (die). After explaining this to me he then told me that Julius Ceaser decided one day that he was going to cross the Rubicon river with some men. These men vowed to protect him with their lives, even knowing what they were getting themselves into! Over the Rubicon they went and obviously he didn't go home, Julius Ceaser went down in history and his empire was one of the grandest ever built, his reign and his empire became some the most famous and remembered empires and dictatorships in all of history. Why this story was relevant was pretty plain to me, all of us cross the Rubicon at some point in our lives, sometimes more than once, but once we do we either go hard or fail not trying at all "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars." But what my dad told me made his struggle and the trying of his faith more real to me, he said "This is my Rubicon (This mission), and in my Preach my Gospel book I wrote "I am crossing the Rubicon"" I can already see what hard things my dad goes through, the disobedient missionaries, transfers, all the phone calls and worry and responsibility for so many souls but when he said this it kind of made things even clearer to me, this is something that tries his faith that requires courage and strength for him, not sometimes but everyday, counseling others and overseeing everything, dealing with problems and the constant worry that he is not good enough or that the job is not well done. I would like to take this moment to tell my dad, "Papi, you are more than good enough and everything you do makes a difference for good in this mission, you are truly directed and inspired by God and I love you:)" . Think of what faith and courage it had to require to leave his home and family, his grandchildren, children, all of his favorite things, food, places, his country, what he was comfortable and used to, his friends, his business all to be left behind for the unknown, for the service of his church and for others, for the service of the missionaries and for the service and love of his God. Can you imagine? But imagine also the generations that will be blessed because he is crossing this Rubicon, because he is putting away his weapons of war, because he is risking his life for his people (so to speak) think of how he will be blessed.

I hope that someday I will be able to become more like these faithful people and all the others that I didn't even mention, I hope I can become stronger and develop a faith that is unshakable and that one day I can feel that the faith within me is sufficient enough that I would be willing to give up my life for my beliefs, my people and for generations of my family. I love this church and this gospel and I know it is true and I know that God loves each and every one of us and that if we develop this faith we will be blessed in strengthened in our every day lives and that our generations and generations will be blessed.

What are you willing to do for your faith?

Quotes about faith / Words of Wisdom
Quotes About Faith In God | God, Faith, and Love - God Photo (31725465) - Fanpop fanclubs | 2013 Religious Quotes About Faith In God 2013 Religious Faith Quote
Inspirational Quote - Fear Quote - Sunflower Photograph - mounted print wall art - Let Your Faith Be Bigger than Your Fear | See more about inspirational quotes, inspiration quotes and faith.
Hope On. -Elder Holland, April 2013 General Conference

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