"Make no small plans: This is the vision I have for the South. I believe that one day the South will baptize more people into the church than all other English speaking missions in the world together....We will see the time when we will baptize hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands...In your day you will see a million members of the church in the South. There will be temples plural in the Southern States. What a great call you have to serve with these marvelous people." President Spencer W. Kimball

Thursday, December 5, 2013

FROM PH: Purification

Sent Date: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Elder Perkin of the Seventy will tour our mission January 16th and 17th. Perhaps you can consider accepting the challenge to purify yourselves in preparation for a visit from a Special Witness of the Name of Christ.

I would like to talk about the importance of doing everything in our power to be worthy of having the Spirit with us as we strive to find our brothers and sisters who are ready to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have come to realize just how much we value the great gift of the Spirit in our lives as full time missionaries. We all stand for something we value more than rubies or gold for we know that we are sons and daughters of God who wants nothing more than to have us return to Him and dwell with Him forever.

I want to tell you about a division of soldiers in Napoleon’s army many years ago. At the end of battle this division was totally surrounded by the enemy. Less than 100 men remained alive with their French flag atop the hill. All the rest of the division had been killed. Four cannons, loaded with shrapnel faced these last embattled soldiers. The soldiers were told to lay down their flag or be killed by the point blank blasts of the cannons. The Frenchmen decided they would rather die than lay down their flag and surrender. They were all killed. 

Do you think these men laid down their life for a piece of fabric that was their flag? Of course not. It was the principles and values which their flag stood for that were so meaningful. Today let’s talk about what our principles and values are as we strive to draw closer to our Heavenly Father as His missionaries. We are trying to allow Him to mold us into the missionaries He needs here at this time. I believe that each one of us wants to be an instrument in His hands to be led by the Spirit in doing His work. I’m sure there is not one of us that would not like to be a more effective missionary. 

I would like to read about a missionary’s experience from a talk given by Elder Gene R. Cook written while he was serving as mission president in Uruguay. I feel that it has a very important message that
will teach all of us. The following story is written in the missionary’s own words: I was transferred to a new area and was working hard. In terms of spiritual things, I was starting to understand more deeply, yet there was still something missing. I began to read the scriptures more thoughtfully. More accurately, I began to search the scriptures. As I did, I became aware there was still something missing.

One day a member informed us that he had an investigator that was ready to be taught and he volunteered to attend the first discussion. The discussion went along as usual. At the conclusion, my companion and I bore witness of Joseph Smith and then turned to our friend. He paused for a moment, looked at the young lady and said, “I know that Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet of God.” The room filled with an extraterrestrial force. The investigator started to cry.

As we walked home, I was baffled. The man said the exact same words that we had said but the result was dramatically different. When he spoke he had an influence that we did not have. There was no question that the influence was the Holy Ghost, but this man seemed to have it in a different way. There was still something to be learned. I had to find out what the secret was so I returned to the scriptures. It seems like we were so close to being effective and yet we just could not make it happen. After several weeks of searching and praying, we attended a meeting and heard a well-known church leader. He spoke about the scriptures as a source of strength, and about the process of spiritual influence. His words caused a burning in my soul. When he finished his address, I intentionally lingered behind. When I was finally alone with this man I asked him for a few moments of his time. I explained my desire to be a more effective missionary. I told him about the lessons I had learned. I told him that something was still mission. Finally he spoke. He said, “Elder, when these pretty ladies pass you on the street, what do you think about.”

Before I could answer, he asked,“do you ever speak sarcastically to your junior companion?” 
“Do you get up at 6:30 a.m. every morning?”
“Do you keep every mission rule?”

His list of questions grew longer. Finally he said, “These are things that keep you from hearing the promptings of the Holy Ghost and from being his companion. If you want the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, then you must purify yourself. I will tell you how to do it. Go home and fast for a day in the attitude of fasting and prayer. Make a list of every behavior that separates you from the spirit. (The Spirit will tell you what to put on the list) Once you have made your list, go to the Lord. Covenant with the Lord that you fast from the things on your list
for 40 days. In other words, for 40 days you will do nothing that appears on that list. 

“You cannot just stop the old behavior and start the new ones. You need the help of the Lord. So each morning go to the Lord and specifically promise Him that you will avoid each item on your list. Ask for His help so you can have extra strength, and at night go over the list with the Lord. If you failed on some items, figure out why. Tell the Lord. Ask for more strength the next day.

“Go through the process for 40 days. If you do, you will find that your most basic desires have changed. Your spirit will flourish and the Holy Ghost will become your constant companion.  You will become an effective tool in the hands of the Lord.”

We went home determined to make the concept work. We began to fast and we began to make a list. It proved to be much harder than we assumed it would be. I would pray and then I would feel impressed to write down some item. Then arguing that there was nothing wrong with the particular thing I would fight the impression. For example, I felt impressed to put golf on the list. (Who told me to put that on my list? The Holy Ghost prompted me to do the things I needed to do to hear him better). My response was, “There’s nothing wrong with golf. We only play on preparation day.” I ignored the fact that on the other six days my mind continually dwelled on how to play better. I wrestled with the Spirit and then finally wrote golf on the list. It is interesting that from the moment I wrote it on the list; I experienced the most intense desire to play golf. Everywhere I turned there was some reminder, some temptations to break the commitment. So it was with each item on the list. Each day I had to fight all my natural inclinations and turn to the Lord for the help necessary to overcome myself. Sometime between the 30th and 40th day, I suddenly realized that my desire for the things on the list had disappeared. It was as if a great anchor had been cut from me.

The last morning my companion and I knelt in prayer and then started out the door. I was impressed to back again and pray. With unusual confidence I addressed the Lord, “Father, these are thy children. We are now doing everything within our power to live the gospel. We turn the burden over to thee. Please carry us the rest of the way.”

We went to our first appointment. Halfway through the discussion, our investigator began to make an excuse that he could not be baptized because he did not know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. “Your real fear is that your mother will disapprove if you join the Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, I promise you that your entire family will embrace the gospel because of your courageous example. The Lord wants you to be baptized now and it is necessary that you comply.”

I had never before done anything like that. In fact, I knew nothing about his mother. He hardly  mentioned her. While I could hardly believe what I had said, a familiar spirit entered the room. This brother began to weep. He committed to be baptized that following Saturday. The experience repeated itself. At our very next meeting with each investigator there was a celestial manifestation and every one of them was committed to baptism. In an 8 week period, 16 people were baptized. It was an unusual number for our mission! While the number of baptisms was large, the truly impressive thing was the change in my companion and me. We were different people. Our most basic desires and motives had been altered. Credit and recognition were no longer of any consequence. From the first time in our live the things of God were more important than the things of this world and the honors of men. Our sensitivity deepened. We noticed how often we would cry. Several times a day we would be brought to teach by a prayer, a talk, a discussion, a scripture, or almost anything would deeply touch us. Our concern was continually focused upon others. For the first time we could understand Nephi’s claim, “For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night because of them.” We could understand the statement because for the first time we could understand Nephi’s motives.

We became constant companions with the the Holy Ghost. Because our motives had changed because we had an eye single to the Glory of God, the Lord could trust us and we experienced the Power of the Priesthood and became effective tools in His hands. I believe that purity is one of the main keys to being an effective missionary by allowing us to have the active influence of the Spirit. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The pure in heart are those who are free from moral defilement or guilt, who have bridled their passions, put off the natural man and become saints through the Atonement.” Most of us cannot be classified as pure in heart yet, but we are commanded to be working on this.

Helaman 3:35 “Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

I CHALLENGE each of you to fast from food and water for 24 hours, and in the spirit of the fast write a list of at least ten things that “keep you from hearing the spirit” (or 10 of your natural man inclinations that you want to change). REMEMBER, IT WILL BE THE HOLY GHOST INSPIRING YOU OF THE THINGS YOU NEED TO LIST. Then fast from the 10 items on your list for 40 days in order to be purified so that the Holy Ghost will be your constant companion while you are doing this missionary work. This fast is not a fast from food and water, but it is a fast from your natural man tendencies. It is a period when you deny yourself of all those natural man things on your list that you want to change. You might include eliminating things that prevent you from hearing the spirit, such as: 
1. Eliminate all distractions that prevent you from having a meaningful personal study hour every morning.
2. Avoid any unwholesome thoughts.
3. Stop sleeping in-even 5 minutes.
4. Avoid expressing any irritation you may be inclined to experience with a companion.
5. Think of other’s needs fist-do away with the “I” pronoun.
6. Avoid any music that does not conform to mission standards.
7. Put pride out of your mind and heart.

You may wish to include some positive things you wish to do such as:
1. Maintain a positive attitude about all aspects of missionary work.
2. Set yourself a definite goal in memorizing the scriptures.
3. Being rigorously honest in your accounting- don’t give yourself the “benefit of the doubt”.
Commit yourself to overcoming a fear that you still have of some aspect of missionary work. How many of you will be willing to commit with me to do this for 40 days of fasting from our natural man tendencies? I know it will make a difference. I know it will make our mission better. It will make each one of us better.

Moroni 7:48 “Pray unto Father that we may be purified even as he is pure.

D&C 50:29 “And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be


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