Monday, May 12, 2014

An Invitation

Hello family and friends!  
It was so cool to SEE my family yesterday (through Skype... I promise I'm obedient).  I love how my friend Aaron described it.  It's like the year-and-a-half time gap we've been apart disappears and we feel like we never left.  It doesn't feel to me like we have been apart that long, but maybe my family wouldn't agree with that one :)
I had an interesting study this morning.  I was reading about Abinadi and at the end of Mosiah 17, it explains how his testimony was sealed with his blood.  I then thought about all the antichrists in the Book of Mormon.  When death was facing them, all of them denied what they were saying.  Yet prophets like Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, John the Baptist, and Joseph and Hyrum Smith didn't back down even though threats of death were present.  I thought back to Elder Holland's "Safety for the Soul" talk.  
He said,

"Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."
There are two zones in our stake.  The other set of zone leaders is teaching perhaps one of the most prepared investigators ever.  He knows Hebrew, Greek, Italian, English, and is now working on Spanish.  He is going to the Spanish ward in El Monte because he is engaged to a member there.  He has been studying for the last 6 months and just showed up at church one day saying, "I want to be baptized."  Now, the reason I bring this up.  So this guy is super smart and very well read.  His father is even more refined.  At the moment, he is against his son getting baptized because he is still under the impression that it is a cult.  This soon-to-be convert said to his dad, "Set aside everything negative you have heard about the church.  Now you cannot honestly tell me that you believe that the Book of Mormon could have been written without the power of God."  His dad didn't have any words to respond.  The conversation ended there.  And that's because there is no worthy, logical response.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I have loved coming to see how the Book of Mormon really is the keystone of our religion.  There is no way to tear it apart.  For that reason, the Book of Mormon accompanied with the Spirit make up the most powerful tool for conversion.
I think too often, we think about conversion as what happens in the lives of investigators.  They switch from one church to another, therefore they convert.  Paraphrasing Elder Bednar, testimony is to know what is true and conversion is to be true to what you know.  We are all still working on our personal conversion as we continually strive to be true to what we know.  The best tool to help us get there? The Book of Mormon.  President Becerra invited all of us to read the Book of Mormon before President Villanueva gets here July 1st, so the Book of Mormon has been on my mind a lot recently.  I invite you all to take your scripture study one step further, whatever that step may be.  I recently read a talk by Elder Bednar from a CES fireside called, "Reservoir of Living Water."  I recommend that you all check that out if you feel stuck in your studies.
I love you all and I KNOW that this is the only church that has any power to save us from the consequences of sin.  And I KNOW that "in the ordinances, the power of Godliness is manifest."  I love you all and invite you all to take your conversion one step further.  A prayer that will always be answered is asking our Father, "Father, what do I need to give up to better know thee?"  This is my invitation. 
Thank you for all the love and support! Till next week.

Elder Christensen

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