Note from Brad: Today I am pleased to publish a guest post by my friend Deborah Royal. Enjoy!
Unable to attend our own ward one Christmas, my husband and I went with our daughter, grandchildren, and some friends, to a different denomination’s services. Really different from our usual Sacrament Meeting. It was one of those services where there is a pause so everyone can shake hands and say hi to all those around them. Well, probably not now, during the pandemic, but this was a couple of years ago.
It was called “Grace Community Church”. I loved it. I loved the music. I loved the testimonies. I loved the excitement that flowed through the congregation. People were speaking up and sharing and there was lively singing to drums, guitars, and pianos. It stopped short of dancing in the aisles, but it was close. Though, of course, I missed taking the sacrament, and seeing my friends.
The big thing, for me, was that during the pastor’s sermon, which was projected up on a big screen in the front, he spoke about something that really caught my attention. I have been thinking about what he said ever since.
What caught my attention was the word “ABLAZE!”
I can’t remember if he said ablaze with the Spirit or with the Light of Christ or what HE said. But something inside me asked “Am I ABLAZE?” Am I ABLAZE with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I was when I was baptized, for sure. Am I still? Does the Gospel stir in my soul and motivate me to do good things? Hard things? Right things?
Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “The central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.” (link)
And it seems to me that we have more scripture in this church than in others because we have the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and Pearl of Great Price and the J. S. Translation of the Bible!
We have so much—we actually have the RESTORED GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST—not just The Book of Mormon and the other modern-day scriptures, as mentioned. We also have living prophets, temples, knowledge of Eternal Families, the Priesthood of God, and on and on.
I came home from that service, and I think that is when I stated posting scriptures on my fb page every day.
Also, I had been invited to become part of a group of women of all faiths who want to learn more about other approaches to worship. One of them had said–and pardon the wording, this was a few years ago–to her husband, I wish we had a “Mormon” on this panel. Her husband said “You want a Mormon? I’ll get you a Mormon!” and he went to our ward building and found people who gave him my name. Our current Relief Society President and I attend now. On zoom. At one point I started to wonder if I was ablaze enough with the Gospel to really show them what the GOSPEL is. So, I have been trying harder to be ABLAZE when I meet with them.
My husband and I have been meeting on Zoom with the missionaries at least twice a month for the last couple of years, and we have had a few discussions about the difference between a testimony—knowing the gospel is true—and being converted.
You can know the Book of Mormon is true, without really being converted. But for me, that time is way over. I really need to be converted to AND ablaze with the Gospel.
We, in this church, also have a deeper understanding about the nature of Satan. The devil isn’t just a nebulous evil force. He is real. We see his “realness” in the temple. We read of him in the Book of Mormon He is alive and walking through the earth right now. We need to be aware of that. We need to focus our energies on doing what we need to do, and on overcoming his temptations and we definitely need to not give into fighting each other about politics and such.
In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read that Satan desires “that all men be miserable like unto” himself. He is trying to destroy our souls.
But D&C also says: “Pray always … that you may conquer Satan,” D&C 10:5. The Scriptures would not say that if it were not possible, right?
I have sometimes fallen into using sarcasm (kind of a family trait), and I have been working to give it up. Sarcasm, even in the form of memes, is dangerous and divisive right now. And memes, no matter how funny they are, do not usually encompass the complexities of life. They just come out fully on one side. Instead of that I am going to try to listen and to show love, no matter what “side” a person is on. That is one of the things I am committing to in order to become ABLAZE with the Gospel in a way that stands out more.
If I really think about it, I don’t believe my Father in Heaven or my Savior want me to be dissing any of their children here on earth, or anywhere else. They want me to show LOVE, to show the way back. Even if my brothers or sisters cut me off in traffic, or make a rude comment to me, or take the last piece of chocolate cake, I can remember the Eternal Plan of Salvation and be ABLAZE with love and forgiveness.
So, because of that one word that struck me, stayed with me, and caused me to read the scriptures with new eyes, I have been trying to be better, kinder, more deeply engaged in the Gospel, more repentant, more forgiving, and a better example.
Speaking to Oliver Cowdery, the Savior said:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” (D&C 6:21)
I know that Joseph Smith was inspired to do what he did so we would have all that we needed to survive these Latter Days! And the last few years have again been trying the souls of all who are on earth. We cannot give up. We must remember who we are and why we are here. Not, in my opinion, to argue politics—in person or on social media.
Social media is not inherently evil—it can be used for good for those who need companionship and cannot get out, or those who need accountability of support groups, and those who need to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and why we who are members are ABLAZE with that Gospel! But we must consciously use it for good.
Random physical violence has seemed to grow lately, as well. Which just emphasizes how much the world needs to be ABLAZE with the PEACE of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of what I know about the Restoration, I should be so Ablaze with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that my hair looks like it is on fire.
I no longer make yearly resolutions–I make daily goals–but if I were to make a resolution for the year 2022, no matter what month I was in, that would be it—that people would see how the Gospel is BURNING inside of ME!