Monday, October 6, 2014

Oct 5, 2014 Be Perfected in Him

One of the activities we run at the church here is a free English Class. The main purpose of the class is to try and find people who want to learn more about the gospel, but it's also a really great opportunity to help a lot of people who need to be able to speak English to be competitive in their job. We have been spending a considerable amount of time lately working on making our English classes more organized and conversation based but we also realized that it wasn't doing as much good as it could be doing because we simply weren't teaching very many people. So, we decided to do some advertising.

Several months ago we made signs to hold on the side of the road by the church but Elder Martinson and I felt that the signs we being underused, so we encouraged all the missionaries serving in branches that operate out of our building to go out and hold the English class signs whenever they were sitting at the church waiting for appointments. This worked really well. We had many people stop and ask for information and many more that were interested in learning more about the gospel or joining in with our worship services. However, the first week after we started this advertising push we only had 7 people come to English Class due to a Khmer holiday (we average around 55 in three classes). We decided to just laugh it off and keep trying.

 This last week we had 123 show up to class. The 70 or so that came for the first time packed themselves into the foyer where we had only one sign in sheet (we quickly made 5 copies and got another table). When you double the amount of students in your class it gets a lot harder to teach. And I mean a lot harder. We can't just lecture either. The whole point of the class is to get them talking and practicing their English with native speakers there to help them. We had only three classrooms ready and only 3 lessons prepared and enough worksheets for about half of them. It was pretty crazy. We're hoping to split into 5 classes this week. Ideal class sizes would be around 15, but that doesn't seem feasible right now..

Random side note, 6 of those 70 or so new people came to sacrament meeting with my ward and several more went to the other two wards. Pretty cool.
I've been thinking a lot about becoming perfect lately. In Matthew 5:48 Christ taught us to be "perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." This command to be perfect is repeated a number of times throughout the standard works including to Abraham (Genesis 17:1) and the Nephites (3 Nephi 12:48; 27:27). It's a matter of doctrine that "the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save e shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them (1 Nephi 3:7)", and so it follows that He truly does expect us to be perfect. How can we, imperfect "natural men" (Mosiah 3:19), expect to be perfect like our Father in Heaven? There are a lot of possible answers to that question and I want to share an example from the sporting world to illustrate just one.

In 1984 the Miami Dolphins were the the best team in football. They went undefeated, 14-0, in the regular season and won three straight post-season games including the Super Bowl. The first and only ever "perfect season". Now that's not to say that the team was perfect or even that their so-called perfect season was perfect, I'm sure they had their ups and downs, but their imperfections were swallowed up in a greater victory, that of overcoming all opponents, all obstacles, and taking home the championship.

When we got baptized and made sacred covenants, you and I joined a team, and unlike the 1984 Miami Dolphins who had no perfect players on their roster, our team captain is perfect. He is Jesus Christ. He is our exemplar. He is our savior.

During His mortal life nearly 2,000 years ago, the Savior, Jesus Christ, performed an act known as the atonement that is central to all human history (The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles). Bruce R. McConkie wrote, " We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name" (The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).

You and I and all of us who believe on Christ's name and show that we are willing "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places... [by] being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that [we] have entered into a covenant with him (Mosiah 18:9-10)" have joined His team. When we are weak, he is strong. When we fall, He lifts us up. Though we will sin, when we feel godly sorrow and repent, He takes those sins upon Himself, the sins of all mankind, and He suffers, but He is strong and we are cleansed. Our team is not perfect, but we are undefeated.

President Boyd K. Packer taught, "it was understood from the beginning that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect. It was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another (The Atonement)". Rather, the plan was that we could be saved by grace, after all that we could do (2 Nephi 25:23). So we have a disclaimer. We cannot sit on the bench and watch Christ save the day. Even though we are imperfect, unprofitable servants, we have a personal responsibility to follow Him with all our heart, might mind and strength. Our Heavenly Father may not expect us to be perfect now, but He certainly expects us to try. When we try with all our heart to follow Christ's perfect example, we can be made perfect through His atoning blood.

At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni makes one final plea to all who read: "... come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ".

To those of you who have joined Christ's team through baptism by immersion by proper authority, be a team player. Follow the rules. When you follow the commandments that Christ has set for you, you will never lose another game.

For those who have not yet joined this team, and especially my friends who may be reading this, I encourage you to learn more about it. We do not capture those who walk into the chapel and lead them captive to the baptismal font. Rather, we welcome the curious and those seeking for more. I promise that all those who learn about and apply the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will see that it is good and it will bring them happiness. Only after learning about and applying the teachings of the church could one make an educated decision about whether or not one should decide to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Come and be perfected in Christ.
-Elder Vore

Elder Vore and Elder Martinson

With Chan Finel, Sokpheakday Kong, and Nimol Kosal

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