Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Faith Precedes Knowledge

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

One of the miracles of the Book of Mormon is that the Lord showed Mormon our day so he knew what things in the records he was given would be most helpful to us as we navigate the challenges of our time. (Morm 8:35)

We often have opportunities to visit with members of the church who have lost their way. Often they are recent converts, but sometimes they are life-long members. It is interesting to see that they have allowed the lack of knowledge/answer to one particular question or another become a stumbling block to their ability to believe anything. So they are willing to throw out the 90% they do know in exchange for the 10% they don't know. Rather than assuming there is an answer and it will come in time if they are patient, they demand an answer immediately and claim that if they can't find an answer, they can't believe.

With the vision of our day that Mormon had, he included some valuable message for us to remember. There are two anti-Christ's whose experiences are shared in Jacob and Alma. Both are former believers and make similar demands to those we hear today. First Sherem says to Jacob:

"And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost..." (Jacob 7:13)

Later Korihor makes similar demands of Alma, but goes further by saying:

"If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.

"I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe." (Alma 30:43,48)

In both cases, the demand is for "proof" so, they claim, that they can then believe. What they don't seem to understand is the Doctrine of Christ. Alma teaches the Zoramites in Alma 32 that "And now as I said concerning faith—faith IS NOT to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (v 21). He then teaches them that knowledge comes through the exercise and nurture of faith and, over time, can become a perfect knowledge. (vs. 22-34) The ironic thing is that once it becomes a perfect knowledge, faith becomes "dormant" and is no longer a need.

In the New Testament we read of one of the twelve apostles (Thomas) who hadn't received the opportunity to see the risen Lord for himself. Feeling sorry for himself he states:

"Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." (Jn 20:25)

Later the Resurrected Savior teaches Thomas an important eternal truth when He finally appears to Thomas and says:

"...Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

"And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (Jn 20:27-29)

The Savior values and blesses us for believing and gives us perfect knowledge AFTER the exercise of our faith.

Elders and Sisters, remember these principles. We act because we believe. Consistent actions based on true principles will lead to perfect knowledge eventually. Let's be sure we don't cast aside the things we know when we are confronted with something we don't know. Our hope is that, instead, we can demonstrate the faith of the father of the young man possessed of an evil spirit who pleaded with the Lord to heal his son by saying, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

This much we know. God lives. He is our literal Heavenly Father. He loves us so much He sent His son to ransom us from the Fall so we could return to His presence. His Kindgom has been restored to the Earth in our day as well as the authority to perform saving ordinances for all of His children. We are on His errand and we will succeed as we act in faith.


President and Sister Mortensen

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Sheep Hear My Voice

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

One of great messages the Savior teaches about His sheep is that they "hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Our primary objective in the very first lesson is to help an investigator learn to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd by helping them understand what to "listen" for. If we make sure we teach clearly how to hear an answer to their prayers, we will increase the number of "sheep" that follow Him.

Our objective in modifying the way we teach the "How to End Teaching" outline in zone meeting was to focus both on being sure we are taking the time to make sure our investigators know what they should be listening for as well as giving them a reason for us to return after every lesson. Please make sure you are confident in role playing these skills.

In our mission we talk a lot about shepherding. We often cite Ammon's experience in Alma 17 as the example for us to work with members to "encircle" our investigators to lead them to the water. Interestingly, we see that the Savior, consistent with his role as the Good Shepherd also encircles us. In D&C 84, we read:

87 Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.

88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

He has angels encircling us and is trying to help safely lead us to the water...the Living Water which is back to Him. In order for that to happen though, we need to be sure we, like our investigators, know what we are listening for. The best way for that to happen is to be sure we are observing the morning schedule by having meaningful personal and companionship studies. It seems that the greatest casualty of the new schedule is companionship study. Elders and Sisters, we must plan to have companionship study, counsel together about what we studied in preparation for companionship study and HEAR his voice as we will qualify for the revelation and direction we so desperately need.

Our invitation to each of you is to make sure you can be called His sheep because you are doing what is necessary to hear His voice and follow Him as He will lead us to those who He has prepared.


President and Sister Mortensen

We attended Zone Meeting in the Houston West English Zone last Friday. We were uplifted by the training and inspired by the wonderful discussion among this group of missionaries. What a blessing to serve among them!

Sister Halliday trains on shepherding

Elder Jones trains on Unity

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Wonderful Week, A Wonderful Month, and Many Many Wonderful Missionaries!

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

We have loved hearing the reports of your temple experiences this week. We are so happy for the miracles you share of finding family names and then of the experiences you are having in taking them to the temple! We hope you each had wonderfully edifying and revelatory experiences in the house of the Lord. It is such a blessing that we have the temple in our mission to allow us to remember the blessings we enjoy and those we seek to share with all who live in this area.

We also want to congratulate each of you on the wonderful work you are doing. We have had the most convert baptisms this month than any February than in the history of this mission and March is shaping up to keep the things rolling! It is inspiring to see so many of our brothers and sisters find the peace that comes from being clean and receiving the blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no greater gift that Heavenly Father has for His children in mortality.

We enjoyed the blessing of participating in the Bear Creek stake conference this weekend. The two Seventies who were sent to reorganize the stake pulled us aside on two separate occasions to let us know that is rarely the case that they have interviewed members of a stake and had so many of them comment on the need they feel to rise to a new level of discipleship to match that which they are seeing in the missionaries. As we mentioned in our letter last week, members are not only observing you, they are being inspired by you. You are TRUE messengers!

We feel privileged to serve with you and are excited to continue to work diligently with you to strengthen and establish the church in this part of the Lord's vineyard!


President and Sister Mortensen

We attended District Meeting in the Klein District last Friday. What a great district! We loved it!

We held a Mission President's Fireside tonight in the Klein Stake. It was a wonderful evening with beautiful music and testimonies. Here are some of the picture taken before the fireside.

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