Well, the last two years have come to a close. My service as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come to an end. That, however, doesn't mean that my testimony of the Church or its truthfulness has diminished. Here is my testimony for all of you!
Over the course of my mission I was able to read the Book of Mormon at least 3 times. Each time I opened its pages and truly began to search, instead of read, to discover, instead of scan, to internalize, instead of simply learning the words, I found that the Spirit, The Holy Ghost, would testify to me in its quiet way that the book was true. I know that The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and that it teaches and testifies of Him, His love for us, and His plan to bring us all home again one day. The Spirit is one who will lead you into truth, we are taught that by the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:4-5). Through my study I came to know the consequences of choosing wrong and the blessings that come from choosing right. I learned the feelings that accompany righteousness are true and lasting happiness, peace of mind and heart, love for others, a desire to share the good we have, and a life full of purpose and direction because we know where we came from and where we have the potential to go after this life.
I learned that the consequences of sin consist of remorse of conscience, an empty heart, fear, pride, anger, lies, and every other negative thing that pulls us away from our Savior. I came to recognize the times in my life when my actions were filling me with these negative feelings and realized that it was the time to repent and to change from the fear to the peace, the anger to the kindness, the empty heart to one that can love. I know for a fact that The Atonement of Jesus Christ works. I know that it can change, not only your actions or feelings, but your very nature and disposition. It can change you so that the evils you once desired no longer have a hold on you and that the pride that ruled your life can be changed to humility as you follow the counsel of the Savior to follow Him.
I know that Christ lives because I have felt and continue to feel His influence in my life. I know that the peace I have found is only because of Him and what He has done for me. The changes in my desires, my thoughts, and my actions have been dramatic to say the least and to say that I did all of that by myself would be as false as trying to convince you that the sky isn't blue. Men can change behavior but only the Savior can truly allow us to change our nature. The Atonement removes the consequences of our past mistakes as we take them to the Savior in repentance, and it is through that repentance, that turning to God, that we are able to rebuild, restart, and become reacquainted with the things of righteousness in this life.
I know that the man I am now is a product of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I am grateful for how far that He has allowed me to come thus far. I know that God loves us, that His son Jesus Christ died for us, was resurrected, and now lives to guide and direct His church on the earth today. I hope you know that He loves you. He can change you if you'll let Him. I leave that with you in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
A Wise Father
There once was a man who had many children. This man was also the most powerful, perfect individual that ever lived. As the perfect Father, he wanted for all of His children to grow up and be worthy of the inheritance that He had to offer. As His children grew and prepared to leave home He gathered them together for one last family council. There He put forth the plan, requirements, and potential challenges that lay ahead for His children as they progressed through life away from home. Being a perfectly loving and wise Father, he knew that not all of His children would be able to live up to what was asked of them to receive the inheritance He wanted to give them.
A Noble SonThe firstborn Son of this family was very close to his Father. He wanted to see the success of His brothers and sisters just as his Father did. He prepared himself and went to the Father of this great family and offered a plan so that the rest of His children would have a greater chance to come back Home. His plan was talked over, debated, and eventually chosen as the best way to make it back.
The Plan UnfoldsJust as the Father predicted, His children, once away from home began to wander and forget the things that they had been taught. They began to rebel and they began to lose hope in ever making it back to the loving but just Father who had so plainly set up the way back to Him. The firstborn Son came and was the only one who was able to fill all the requirements, make all the steps, and qualify for the inheritance that the Father had hoped to give to all. Thankfully this elder brother after receiving all that his Father had to give, turned and offered to each of His brothers and sisters the chance to share with Him.
This Son knew that the Father was justified in refusing His goods from the rebellious of his children. After all, He had told them of the consequences of their misdeeds. However now that the Son had access to all that the Father had, He was able to lay forth a set of conditions upon which He would share His inheritance with each of His siblings who would do what He said to do. The Father was just, the Son was merciful, they both were full of wisdom and love. They opened the door to each child to find his way back Home.
We Are the ChildrenThe Father in this story, is God. The Firstborn Son is our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. The children are each and every one of us. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). None of us could have done what our Savior volunteered to do so that if we would follow Him we could return Home one day. Our Savior has promised that if we follow Him, have faith, repent, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and keep all of His commandments as best as we can, He will open the doors of Heaven to us. Not because we filled a checklist, not because we scored high enough on a test, but because our Savior loves us and is willing to forgive us of our mistakes and to save us from our sins.
I know that our Father in Heaven loves us, that His son Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior and Redeemer. We follow Him and our good actions stem from our relationship and love for Him and His work. I know that He loves us. I know that He watches over our stumbling steps and does all He can to helps us get back to Him. I know Christ lives. I leave this with you in His name. Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
There seems to be a notion among many religions that Mormons are "working their way into heaven" which is the source of many negative and incorrect rumors, thoughts, and philosophies regarding Mormons, faith, and works. The hope that I have in writing this article is to dispel any misconceptions that any may have about the role of faith and works in each of our lives.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
This scripture lays it out pretty plainly that it is the grace of Christ that saves us "through faith" and that salvation can't be accomplished by our acts. The work that Christ did for us, none of us could ever do for ourselves. It also tells us that we were created to follow Christ in His good works. The Savior is our perfect example "who went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). We were told by Him that the way to show Him our love was to keep his commandments (John 14:15).
Many wonder to themselves "If we are saved by grace and it is a gift from God... Why do those Mormons think that they need to do so much? They go door to door, they have 3 hours of church on Sundays, they serve those around them, and so many other things. Do they feel that faith isn't enough?" Not at all. It is our faith that motivates us to do all the things that we do. I'm sure that nobody told Paul to sit back and relax and just have faith. He was following the commission that Christ had given to the Apostles to preach the gospel. He took it upon himself to exercise his faith in that way. He helped others gain faith in Christ. That is the same mission that our proselyting missionaries are out doing today. Their entire purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost into their lives. They don't serve to mark something off of some sort of checklist that will get them to Heaven.
Lets look at James 2 for a moment where it has this to say: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17). Let's cross reference this to the Savior's great sermon on the mount where He said:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven... Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock... And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand"
(Matthew 7:21, 24, & 26 italics added).
All these scriptures, along with others, are the basis for why Mormons seem to be preoccupied with works when, to us, we are only trying to do all the things that Christ has commanded us. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Which commandments? All of them. Of course we aren't going to be perfect, that is why He came "to save the world from sin" (3 Nephi 9:21) He commanded men to repent and be baptized, He commanded us to love our neighbors, He commanded to preach the gospel, and on and on and on. His words and commands never cease. He has given us many things to work on in this life that will help us to become more like Him and it is our faith in Christ motivates us to become like Him.
No matter what good things we accomplish in this life, we cannot for a moment think that we are making our own path into heaven. Christ made the path, Christ made the rules. We follow Him, His commandments, and His example. That is the way to salvation through His grace. I hope this has cleared up any questions any may have about why our church seems to "work" so much.
I know that obedience to God's commands is the way to happiness with Him in this life and in the next, I know that when we have true faith that we will desire to do good to others as He would, for this is how we show Him our love. I know Christ lives. I know He speaks today. I know this because I have exercised my faith and done my best to follow Him. I know that as we find a balance of faith and works we will be happy followers of our Savior Jesus Christ. For He is the way to Salvation. I leave this with you in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
When we come to a choice or decision in our lives we often forget to ask ourselves "Which path would God have me take?". So often it is just our whims or spur of the moment decisions that take us down the paths of our life. God can see the whole picture of where we are and where we can go. In the moments of our life when we are awaiting an answer to a question or guidance from on High we often get caught up in our wants and our desires when we should be focusing on what He wants and desires for us. We have to follow the counsel of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, he taught that we must "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" (Mosiah 4:9).
The ability to put our will aside and follow Him is one of the greatest tests of this life that we are all taking part in. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19 italics added). We must be willing to yield to the will of God by listening to the messages we receive from the Holy Spirit. Following the Lord is how we find enduring happiness. Forgoing temporary happiness is well worth the eternal peace and satisfaction that comes from obeying the will of the Lord.
I know that when the day of your next big decision comes that if you will turn to the Lord and do as He directs that you will find that you are in the right path. "Do what is right, let the consequence follow" is the counsel we should take in all our decisions (Do What is Right Hymn 237). Follow the Lord. Follow His plan. Have peace. I know He lives and that His plan is best. In His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Today's post was written by a great man, I have been privileged to see him come into this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is his story:
"Mormon by the Grace of God
I was baptized Lutheran when I was very young, too young to know what baptism was or even to comprehend god,
Didn’t go to church much mostly weddings, funerals and baptisms, sometime on Easter as my first wife was Catholic,
As I grew older I realized there must be something else, a larger power, the Earth may have been created with a big bang but how did life begin,
So as I grew I went to Sunday school a friend was going too, can’t even tell you which religion it was but I started to understand God,
This man they called Jesus, born of Mary, a virgin woman whom gave birth to a son, son of God
People were drawn to a manger by a power they didn’t understand, a Holy Spirit that entered their soul,
Now I believe in God, his son and the Holy Ghost,
So since I was baptized Lutheran I went to the church and they preached from the bible, and talked of balloon mortgages for the church and what I could do to serve the church,
No, not what I understood God wanted of me,
I was invited to go to a Southern Baptist church, was preach to that I was going to Hell if I watched day time soaps, if I danced or played cards,
No, not what I understood God wanted of me,
I went to a Methodist church, a non-denomination Church, Presbyterian, a Synagogue and even listen to the Jehovah Witnesses, really 140,000 will be saved,
No, not what I understood God wanted of me or his plan,
So I didn’t really go to church as it was always what I needed to do for the Church and then I would see the same people whom preached at me, whom judged me, doing things that went against the Commandments,
A priest can forgive me for my sins; money can buy my way to my salvation?
No, not what I understood God wanted of me or his plan,
So years passed, my life was a roller coaster of ups and downs, never really happy, never really whole, something was missing, I couldn’t find a way or church to help me spiritually,
I divorced a couple times, my daughter living apart, drinking, smoking, parties, not being a very nice person, falling into his grasp, I now know is what the adversary wanted, my soul darkened and weak, to cease my quest and to stop the word of God to stop the spread of the Gospel,
I began asking of God on my own, when I was alone and quiet, is this it, can there be no lasting happiness,
Can I not create a better life for my daughter or for myself, is this my life, is this it, can’t I make life better for my soon to be grandchild? Is there a God?
The power of prayer! Never underestimate it,
I prayed in my way, maybe not perfect, maybe not the way it’s told in the Bible but I prayed,
Soon I began to see changes, small at first, things turned around at work and life was a little easier,
Then my soul mate, a woman I was originally engaged to came back into my life after being for separated 32 years when I was in the Marines and she going to college,
My grandchild was born healthy and beautiful; I got married to Christine, a new house;
But still something was missing, there are still hurtles, bumps in the road, the adversary trying to detour the inevitable,
I continued to search for a way to be better, to find complete peace and happiness,
Then God and I know in my heart that God sent me Angles, Angles in the form of Mormon Sisters,
I was drinking and smoking in my garage when they happened by, I was watching football,
I said hello as they walked past, they asked if we could talk and for a reason beyond my comprehension I said sure,
The Holy Ghost works quietly doesn’t he, there was an air of comfort talking to the Sisters,
The Sisters didn’t judge me, I was drinking and smoking and my language was probably less than appropriate,
The Sisters didn’t preach at me, we talked, they asked me questions about life, they didn’t offer corrections, they didn’t judge,
The Sisters asked if they could return, I said yes without a thought, no reason and no idea why just yes,
My journey has begun as the Sisters taught me, then my wife joined in, eventually my daughter,
They asked if I would attend church and I wasn’t ready for a while but eventually I decided why not, let’s try another church,
I found I didn’t try another church, I found the true church,
No one judges us, everyone was so friendly, kind and sincerely concerned for us,
I wasn’t preached at but prayed with; the only mention of money came from the teachings of tithing and their not passing a plate,
We were invited to events, into people’s homes that had never met us, is this real?
I’m confused, the Bishop doesn’t get paid and the church doesn’t pay its servants?
Servants, service, a calling, someone actually, a church actually follows the word of our Savior?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
It’s the true church, the restoration of the gospel as Jesus Christ taught, as God wants it to be,
Service towards our fellow man living and past, praising Jesus Christ, praying to God,
Loving one another, loving our Savior and all he has done for us,
Feeling his power, his glory, his grace, his love, his love for us his children,
I want to be part of this, teach me, I will follow,
The Baptism, as I call it “my bath”,
The bath that cleansed me, washed away the old me and I rose from the water new, clean, restored,
The stress, the weight of the world in which I was carrying was light, the stress gone,
A feeling of freshness, I feel great!
I Eric Maurice Matzke am a Christian;
I attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
I am Mormon!!!
Are you Mormon? You should be!
This is my testimony and I say this in the name of my Savior Jesus Christ.
I know, as Eric does, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's church restored to the Earth in our day. Will you come join with us in following the Lord Jesus Christ? May the peace of God be upon you.
Please accept a visit from some of our Missionaries as he did: Request Missionary Visit
We hope to hear from you soon!
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
This life is full of opportunities to serve and to lift others around us. What we do with those opportunities is what matters. The Lord has said "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" but He has also said "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25:40,45). The Lord has made it very clear in those verses that when we serve those around us, or when we ignore those around us, it is as though we were doing the same unto Him. I know that as we do our best to take care of those in need and to care for those who struggle through this life we will be doing the work of the Lord. The Book of Mormon teaches that "when ye are in the service of your fellowbeings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). I have had many opportunities in my life to serve others, there have been times when giving of myself was really hard to do, or I felt inadequate to serve the way that was asked, but always with the help of the Savior was I able to help those around me who were in need.
My challenge to everyone who reads this blog is to find someone today who you can serve. Find a simple act of kindness that you can extend to one in need. I promise that as you serve and afterwards you will feel the Holy Spirit testify to you that what you did is right. You will know that the Spirit has touched you if you feel the fruits of the Spirit which are "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23). The Lord loves you. As you serve His children you will show Him how much you love Him.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Now as we have begun 2014 we all have another chance to analyse our lives and find somethings that we can leave behind and that we can improve! We can learn from the story of Lot's wife in the Old Testament and know that we should never look back when we know there is a better future ahead!
May we all be blessed with the determination to press forward and never look back! Happy New Year!!!!
May we all be blessed with the determination to press forward and never look back! Happy New Year!!!!