Talk Given to Buenaventura Ward – Ogden, Utah 1-20-2013

Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters, I am Brother Jeremy Peterson from the Stake High Council. It has been just over a year since I last spoke to you. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be with you and to share a Gospel message. Before I begin, let me express the love that our Stake Presidency has for you. Our Stake Presidency’s thoughts and prayers are with you. We are all very excited and optimistic about your recent change from a Branch to a Ward. The Lord is blessing his people and it is through your faithfulness and commitment to the Gospel that has brought about this great blessing. Also, you may notice that I sound a little stuffy. I am fighting a head cold so please forgive me if I grab a tissue or two. I would recommend disinfecting the microphone after my talk today. First, brothers and sisters, let’s discuss our membership in the church. Our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a great privilege. We have the blessings of the priesthood, the saving ordinances of the Gospel, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and many more. Yet, this abundance of spiritual gifts comes with an equal responsibility. Neal A Maxwell spoke about this in his book titled And These Things Shall Give Thee Experience. When describing our obligation as Disciples of Christ, he states bluntly: “Truth is a relentless taskmaster.” The Lord has poured out his spirit and blessings upon us and even more await us if we can find greater ways to serve in the Lord’s Kingdom and to serve our fellow man. Now, in regards to serving in the Church, I am not suggesting that we should aspire to be Bishop or Relief Society president. Besides, I am sure each would trade you places in a heartbeat. What I am suggesting is that whatever calling we have or whatever calling your Bishop is inspired by the Lord to extend to you, we should do all within our power to act and perform those duties with diligence, seeking the lords will, and do it all with cheerfulness. Service is a two way street of love and blessings. Both the giver and the receiver benefit. Is it any wonder then that our church congregations are made up exclusively of volunteers? Our lay ministry is a prime example of our true commitment to Christ and to each other. Our performance in our callings should not be done for personal recognition or strictly out of a sense of duty to our priesthood authority. While duty is an important aspect, our thoughts and actions should be motivated, at the most basic level, by our love for our fellow man. President Thomas S. Monson has spoken exhaustively on this subject. In a recent talk he said: “The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives”. On another occasion he spoke regarding how we should view our membership in the church: “May we ever remember that the mantle of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility. Our duty, in addition to saving ourselves, is to guide others to the celestial kingdom of God.” We should remember that nothing in this life lasts forever. A loaf of bread will last a week. A gallon of milk will last two. Our clothes will last a couple of years. And our cars will last a few. But let us never forget that the relationships and the bonds that we form with our fellow man will last throughout this life and onto the next. So how do we go about forging these bonds? The answer is simple: We work together toward the common good. Spencer W. Kimball elaborates on how the Lord works: “God does notice us and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” Therefore Brothers and Sisters, the responsibility lies with us to do the Lord’s work. When we are out on the Lord’s errand, it is more likely that we are to fulfill his purposes than if we are home watching movies or playing video games. Some of us may be struggling to find time to do our home teaching or our visiting teaching. Some of us may excuse ourselves from shirking on our calling by saying that we are simply too busy. The Lord knows our capacity and our circumstances. If we desire to serve him and approach him in prayer, he will show us the way to make time for His work. The answer may be as simple as turning off the TV or asking for a different shift at work. Whatever your circumstances, I promise you that if you approach the Lord in prayer and desire, he will show you how to accomplish what he has asked you to do. Nephi, if we remember, found himself in difficult circumstances before in obtaining the brass plates from Laban. Nevertheless, we read in 1Ne. 3:7: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

Now Brothers and Sisters, I ask that you will permit me to speak on a sensitive subject for a moment. This Ward has a very unique identity as it relates to other Wards in our Stake. This ward has a boundary that overlaps many other Wards and has been created around a common language among its members. This common language (except with the help of a translator for today’s talks) makes it easier for us to speak and to hear by the Spirit and for each of us to be edified. However, this common language also indicates a common heritage that is distinct and different from the majority of people living in our Stake who share their own common language. I am currently honored to serve in our State House of Representatives as a state lawmaker. From time to time, there are questions brought to our government about how to properly treat and deal with immigrants. Many opinions and ideas are expressed by the various members of our Legislative body. As I have watched and been a part of the deliberations, it has been apparent that not all of the opinions presented have been favorable. I can tell you that within our lawmaking body of government, there are individuals who have an unfavorable perception toward some people who have immigrated or desire to immigrate to this land. Some of these opinions are based on a lack of information or knowledge. Luke 2: 52 teaches us about Christ’s personal growth prior to his ministry: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. As the Buenaventura Ward in the Ogden Utah Stake may you strive to increase in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man. Today’s message of service is key to accomplishing this. I would suggest that service in our wards and communities is the bridge that overcomes misunderstanding and softens the hearts of those who would have unfavorable views towards us. So, brothers and sisters, let us be found in service to others. While we know the duty of our callings, some of you may be wondering what it is that you can do in the community. Here are some ways we can serve in our local community: • Volunteer with a local community organization. Good organizations have the following characteristics: Beneficiaries are allowed to solve their own problems through participation and work. Leadership in the organization is honest and competent. Their programs promote self-reliance.  Support worthy community activities that help the poor meet basic needs or learn skills.

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Help new members of your community learn English. (Participate in the Daily Dose Program. I cannot emphasize this enough.) Assist with literacy programs. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, refugee organization, low-income health clinic, or school. Support after-school activities for youth. Support local food drives by food banks and pantries.

Brothers and Sisters, I appreciate the opportunity I have had to speak to you today. It is my prayer that we commit ourselves today to serve more often. Everybody wins when we heed the Lord’s call. May God bless you in your efforts. As you call upon him in prayer and become acquainted with Him through the scriptures, he will show you the way. I leave this message with you in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

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