Monday, July 11, 2016

Homecoming Talk (January 2015)

Good morning everyone! My name is Elle Struempler and none of you know me, but I just finished my mission. I served in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Today I was asked to speak on developing Christ-like attributes. In Preach My Gospel it says, “Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They come as you use your agency righteously. Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with these attributes; you cannot develop them without His help.” I know that we can all develop Christlike attributes and become better people as we live the gospel.

The first Christlike attribute I would like to talk about is Obedience. In Preach My Gospel it says, “Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom.” I know that this is true from personal experiences. When we align our will with God’s will, we can be completely obedient and this leads to true happiness. In my mission, we always said that obedience brings blessings, and exact obedience brings miracles. After being out for 6 months, I was transferred to open a new area. My companion and I went out to work. We wanted to find, teach, and help people to be baptized. We tried to be exactly obedient and followed all of the mission rules completely. I know that we were rewarded for our obedience because of an experience that happened our first Sunday at church. A family came up to us and asked us if we could prepare the wife and her 9-year-old daughter for baptism in three weeks. They had been investigating the church for years and years, but when we got there, it was finally the right time. Exact obedience does bring miracles.

Article of Faith 3 says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” Obedience doesn’t only bring miracles, but it brings salvation. I know that as we strive to follow Christ and be obedient to Him, that we will all have eternal life.

Another important Christlike attribute is Virtue. Preach my gospel defines virtue as, “Virtue originates in your innermost thoughts and desires. It is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. Since the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unclean tabernacles, virtue is prerequisite to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. What you choose to think and do when you are alone and you believe no one is watching is a strong measure of your virtue.” We can’t just act the way that Christ would want us to act; we need to think the way that Christ wants us to think. Preach my gospel compares our mind to stage. We read, “Your mind is like a stage in a theater; in the theater of your mind, however, only one actor can be on stage at a time. If the stage is left bare, thoughts of darkness and sin often enter the stage to tempt. But these thoughts have no power if the stage of your mind is occupied by wholesome thoughts, such as a memorized hymn or verse of scripture that you can call upon in a moment of temptation. By controlling the stage of your mind, you can successfully resist persistent urges to yield to temptation and indulge in sin. You can become pure and virtuous.” As we control our thoughts, we can be in control of our actions. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” We know that as we think of good things, our actions will follow with good things.

The next Christlike attribute I would like to talk about is Charity. In Preach My gospel it says, “A man once asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:36–39).
Charity is “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). It includes God’s eternal love for all His children. We are to seek to develop that kind of love. When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel” Charity and obedience are connected, because when you have charity, you desire to obey all of God’s commandments.
In Moroni 7:46-47 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” I once heard a quote from someone about faith, hope, and charity. Hope will eventually be lost, faith will eventually turn into knowledge, but charity is the love of Christ and endures forever. I had amazing experiences with charity on my mission. God helped me to love people in a way that I never thought was capable. It was the most amazing experience to walk up to someone’s door, knock on it, and then feel an overwhelming sense of love for this person that I didn’t even know. I felt this urgent desire to help this person to gain the knowledge they need about the gospel. I was so sad when they rejected the gospel, and so happy when they accepted the invitation to learn more. This experience helped me to learn about charity and about how we are all important and loved by God.

Patience is another key Christlike attribute. If anyone wants to learn patience, go on a mission. In preach my gospel it says, “Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith—you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.” It is important to have patience with yourself, other people, and the Lord’s timing. We aren’t going to be perfect, so we need to be patient with ourselves. We will be able to learn and grow from our mistakes. We need to be patient with other people because they also aren’t perfect. They have their agency as well and will do things that we don’t like. We just need to remember that we are all learning and growing. Lastly, we need to be patient with the Lord’s timing because he knows all. He is going to answer our prayers and help us when He sees fit, not during the exact moment of our desire. We can trust in our all-knowing Heavenly Father to do what is best for us.  An example of this is in Mosiah 23:21, “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.” We will grow from our trials as long as we have patience.

The last attribute that I would like to talk about is diligence. It says in preach my gospel, “Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. The Lord expects you to work diligently—persistently and with great effort and care.” We need to all be diligent in our service to the Lord. We can never give up. I was in one area for 6 months, and after being there for 3 months, I started to get frustrated. We were finding, working hard, and trying to teach people. Nobody was progressing in the gospel and it started to get hard. I got to a point when I thought that nobody in that area was ready for the gospel. But with my companion’s help, we were able to continue to serve diligently. Our effort was rewarded when we met this man named Ken. He was riding his electric wheelchair home from getting subway. We were able to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and he was curious to learn more. He is an extremely humble man, after getting brain cancer at the age of 14. He was so ready for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were able to teach him many times and helped him progress. He said that the church just made sense to him and eventually was baptized. I know that because of our diligence, we were able to find Ken.

I was blessed to be able to start to develop this Christlike attributes. My mission president taught me how to obey with exactness, serve selflessly, and to be filled with charity. Everyone in my mission prays for these Christlike attributes every day at 9am. I know that as we ask for these gifts from God, that He will help us develop them.

So how to we get Christlike attributes? There is one idea in Preach My Gospel and I know that these steps work. It says,
Identify the attribute you wish to develop.
Write a definition and description of the attribute.
Record questions to answer as you study.
List and study thoroughly passages of scripture that teach about the attribute.
Record your feelings and impressions.
Set goals and make plans to apply the attribute in your life.
Pray for the Lord to help you develop the attribute.
Evaluate your progress periodically in developing each attribute.

I know that as we do these steps, we can become more like Christ and use His atonement to improve ourselves. We can evaluate ourselves by asking ourselves a few questions that are also found in preach my gospel.

How can I develop this attribute?
What must change in my heart, mind, and actions to develop this attribute?
How will keeping covenants help me develop this attribute?
How will developing this attribute help me qualify for the Holy Spirit and become a more powerful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

We all have the power to change our lives and become more like Jesus Christ. This comes from using our agency to align our wills with Jesus Christ.

In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” We need to choose to develop these Christlike attributes so that we can have eternal life.

I know that this gospel is true and that it is the only way home to our Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and that He performed the Atonement. Through the atonement we can be forgiven of our sins and become clean. We can always start over. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. We can all apply Moroni’s promise for ourselves to gain that knowledge. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ’s church and he had the priesthood to do so. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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