Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gratitude

This will be the last post that I, Paul Bezas, will write myself on this little blog. After this my mom will update the blog with updates from my emails home each week. Oh, boy. I will report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah this upcoming Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011. I will be serving a two year, full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm not gonna lie... This is just so chill!

As I sit here tonight, musing on my thoughts, my heart is very full. I am so very grateful. :) I have been blessed with so much in my short nineteen years of life. What better way can I share my gratitude than to put all personal endeavors aside and serve those around me. For that is what the Lord would have us do. I can't wait to get goin'! As Elder Calhoun from The Best Two Years would say, "I'm re'd'-to-go!" Oh, I love that movie. It's gold, dude.

Am I nervous? Ohhhhhh, yeah. Do I speak Slovak fluently? Or at all? Ha. No. But that doesn't matter! Why? Because. This is the Lord's work. As our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has said on numerous occasions- "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies." I have no need to fear. The Lord is with all those who go about His work. I love this talk from President Uchtdorf- Click on me! Are there other things that I could be doing instead of going on a mission? Sure. But as I've thought about it, I've asked myself- If I were to stay home... would I really be doing anything more worthwhile than I would on my mission? Nah. Not anything that can't wait for two years. This is my duty. This is our duty as those who have been given the priesthood to go forth and bring the great news of the gospel to our brothers and sisters around the globe. The gospel of Christ. He is our Savior. He will save us, as we strive to live righteously. We've been given so much; all He asks is that we keep His commandments. And serve those around us. "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" The Lord is with us.

As I am preparing to leave my home and family for two years, along with great friends that have been there for me, I am filled with bittersweet feelings. I know that making this sacrifice will bring blessings to them. There is a part of me that doesn't want to leave them. But I know that I'll see them again. Life goes on. :) After speaking in church, I had the opportunity to eat lunch at home with some close family that was able to brave the icy drive from Utah to come hear me speak and wish me well as I am soon departing. As I spent time with them, I was filled with such gratitude for the family that I have. They are so good to me. I couldn't have it any better! Just one of my many blessings. I will miss them dearly while I am gone. But again, I know I will not be alone.

Later on, I had the awesome chance to see one of my good friends give his farewell talk as well in his home ward. That was awesome. He'll do great and will be a dynamic missionary! I know it. :) In recent days, I have decided that one of my favorite hymns is "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." This was reinforced again as we sang the closing hymn at his farewell, as we sang that comforting hymn. I will admit that when I am touched, I will choke up and emotion does overcome me. In this instance, I was able to hold back the tears, but I realized that that time of parting is rapidly approaching. I love the words-

"God be with you till we meet again,
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you,
God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus.
"Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

"God be with you till we meet again,
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing round you,
God be with you till we meet again.

"God be with you till we meet again,
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threat’ning wave before you,
God be with you till we meet again."

I am so very grateful for my family. They have changed my life. Definitely for the better. :) I am also grateful for the many friends that I have made in different areas and times of my life. You have had an enormous impact on my life. I thank you for that. It was so great to come to church today and to see so many of my friends come to support me. That was a very pleasant surprise. I love you guys. And I love the leaders I have had in the church, both in Florida and here. You have made such a great difference in my life. Thank you. You might never know to what extent you make an impact, but just know that from my perspective- what you do makes a huge difference!

I love the gospel. I would be such a different person without it. I am so blessed because of it. I have purpose to my life thanks to the gospel. I know to whom I can look to for hope. Jesus Christ is my foundation. He is my friend.

I love you all and I'll see you in two years!

Dovidenia!

s láskou,
(soon to be) Elder Bezas

P.S. I get set apart tomorrow night as an elder and a representative of Jesus Christ at 9:30 by the stake president. How sweet is that. I'm stoked!

February 27, 2011 - Elder Bezas's Farewell in Church

Here is Paul's talk he shared in Church the Sunday before he left.


Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. It’s great to be with you all today. It’s been a while. Bishop has asked me to speak on the role the Holy Ghost plays in the conversion process.

Although on one level or another, a majority of us might be familiar as to what the Holy Ghost is, I feel it might be good to briefly review who He is. From Gospel Principles, we read that,
“The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. He is a ‘personage of Spirit.’ He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere at the same time. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are called the Godhead.
They are unified in purpose. Each has an important assignment in the plan of salvation. Our Heavenly Father is our Father and ruler. Jesus Christ is our Savior. The Holy Ghost is the revealer and testifier of all truth. The Holy Ghost is our Heavenly Father’s messenger and is a special gift to us” (32).
A mission statement is something that helps give one direction and purpose. From the previous quote, we may ascertain that the Holy Ghost’s mission is to “bear witness of the Father and the Son and of the truth.” In Moroni 10:5, we read that “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

It is through the Holy Ghost that we come to know that Jesus is the Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). The Holy Ghost will always confirm to our hearts when truth is spoken.

Within our lives, there are times where we must part ways with loved ones. It might be for a short period, or until we are reunited with them after this life. For a moment, think back on those times in your own life. It is at these times of parting with those we hold dear where we speak of that which is of most worth to us and that which we value. We share our love with them and may exchange items in order to remember those who we will be absent from their presence.

With that in mind, we can relate in a sense to the Lord’s apostles, knowing the Lord would soon leave the earth. Christ shared the following with them, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16-17). 

The Lord wants nothing more than for us to endure the trials that we face in this life and return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father in peace and joy. He also knows that we cannot make it alone through this life. This is in part why He has given us this second comforter of the Holy Ghost. What a tremendous blessing this is! I know that for me personally the Holy Ghost has been one of the greatest comforts in my life. Christ does not leave us comfortless!

Having the gift of the Holy Ghost is a privilege and we should view it as a sacred gift. For that is what it is. How does one qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost? In order to know the answer, one must first know the difference between the light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

All of God’s children upon the earth have the light of Christ within them:  "For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (Moro. 7:16)." 

The Bible Dictionary shares that the light of Christ is “enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ…The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost” (725).

One not familiar with the phrases commonly used within the Church might call the light of Christ one’s conscience. The light of Christ helps us to know between right and wrong and truth and falsehood.

President Boyd K. Packer said, “the Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ. A teacher of gospel truths is not planting something foreign or even new into an adult or a child. Rather, the…teacher is making contact with the Spirit of Christ already there. The gospel will have a familiar ‘ring’ to them.”

We gain the gift of the Holy Ghost as individuals after we have repented and been baptized by immersion by those with the proper authority, holding the priesthood—God’s authority to do His work here on the earth. We then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as it is conferred upon us through the laying on of hands by those holding the Melchizedek priesthood. We are given the right to have, whenever we are worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

So how is the Holy Ghost involved when one learns of the restored truth of the gospel and becomes converted? Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit: “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals…feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true” (Nov 00, 75).

As we strive to make changes in our lives in order to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost in our lives, we will come to know of the truthfulness of the gospel. In John 7:17, we read that “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” We will feel a measurable difference in our lives as we keep the commandments. Even in the small things. As we do this, faith to obey Christ will develop within us.

In a world where so much is at our fingertips instantaneously, recognizing the presence and promptings of the Holy Ghost might seem beyond comprehension in comparison. Many voices through numberless venues in the world compete for our attention. Ever present, the Spirit also seeks for our attention. If we are not listening, we will oft times miss out on the promptings and comfort the Holy Ghost offers.

Christ understands each of us better than we understand ourselves. He knows how to reach out in a way that will help us. Likewise, the Holy Ghost may speak to us in different ways, but the methods are the same. As we learn how the Holy Ghost communicates with us personally, we will be more capable to recognize when he is prompting us. 

The following are ways the Spirit may reach out to us. They are found throughout the scriptures, and I will share a few of them. If you’d like to refer to this list, it’s on page 96 of Preach My Gospel
  • The Spirit gives feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, comfort and hope. 
  • He offers ideas within our mind and feelings in our heart. 
  • He occupies the mind and presses on our feelings. 
  • He helps scriptures have strong effect. 
  • He gives good feelings when something is true. 
  • He enlightens the mind. 
  • He replaces darkness with light. 
  • He strengthens the desire to avoid evil and obey the commandments. 
  • He teaches truth and brings it to our remembrance. 
  • He guides us to truth and shows things to come. 
  • He reveals truth. 
  • He guides and protects us from deception. 
  • He glorifies and bears record of God the Father and Jesus Christ. 
  • He tells us what to do. 
  • He helps the righteous speak with power and authority. 
  • He testifies of truth. 
  • He sanctifies and brings remission of sins. 
  • He carries truth to the heart of the listener. 
  • He enhances our skills and abilities. 
  • He edifies both the teacher and the student. 
  • He will give us comfort.
[personal example- D&C 6:36]

When we hearken to the Spirit, it will always lead to our ultimate happiness. It is revealed to us in the scriptures that Men are that they might have joy.” God wants us to be happy. The promptings of the Spirit are there to help us endure to the end. Life may not be easy, but having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost that comes with being worthy of it definitely makes it easier. 

We are not perfect. I know I am definitely far from it! Being worthy simply means trying our best each day to be a little better than we were yesterday. Progress is the goal. We may stumble. We will make mistakes and sin. But the point is to repent. We cannot dwell in sin and expect the Holy Ghost to stick around. 
To clarify, we must understand what the true choice is that lies before us. We might think the choice is to repent or just not repent. But we are misled if we believe that. The Lord revealed unto Joseph Smith: “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;...But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19).

So from this we learn our choice is to receive Christ, come unto Him...or to suffer—even as the Savior of the world suffered because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us back. He loves us.
We must stand after we fall and walk back to the Savior. He will cleanse us from our mistakes. As President Packer put it, “Save for the exception of the very few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ” (New Era April 05, 6). 

Jesus Christ loves us beyond our comprehension. He just wants us back. The Holy Ghost can help us do that.