Monday, November 3, 2014

Prepare your spirit

The most important part of emergency preparedness is spiritual.

Sermon on the Mount. Public domain.
We know this from the scriptures, but I was reminded of it during my first time checking in with the energy field of the Ebola virus. When I discovered that a belief blocking immunity to Ebola was "[Survival] is worse than death," I had the most sickening feeling to my body and my spirit as I felt what it would feel like to watch everyone around you die gruesome deaths. And I remembered Revelation 9:6:
6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
That is how I felt as I experienced what it feels like to live when everyone you love has died horrific deaths. I realized: dying gracefully would require a huge amount of faith, but so would survival.

If society ever does fall apart, the most important thing will be spiritual preparedness--faith that is strong enough to sustain a person no matter what. Faith to sustain a person in death, or in a life that could be more miserable than death without the hope that comes from faith in Jesus Christ.
So how does one build the kind of faith that can sustain in times of "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21)?

The Bible Dictionary defines faith:

Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10:14–17). Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.
The entry goes on to further explain that while faith is a gift, it has to be sought after and cultured in order to grow into a strong tree.

Planting the seed

The seed can grow into a tree. Image here.
Faith is often compared to a seed, as in the metaphor above. How do we obtain a seed of faith?

As the Bible Dictionary explained, we have to "hear the testimony of those who have faith." That's why LDS congregations have "testimony meeting" once a month, where members are invited to come up and share their witnesses of Christ's divinity, along with testimonies of other gospel principles, such as charity or tithing. Hearing the testimony of another person is how the seed of faith is planted, and sharing a testimony helps it grow.
An easy way to hear the testimony of people who have real faith is to read the scriptures. The Holy Bible has been inspiring faith in millions, for hundreds of years. Reading the words of Christ as transcribed by people who had faith in Him and personally knew Him is an incredible way to build faith.

The Book of Mormon also contains the words of Jesus Christ--or at least it purports to. The book comes with a promise that is very relevant to this discussion of faith, and this promise is found in Moroni 10:3-5:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. 
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
The scriptures. From
The promise is that if you can muster enough faith to A) read the Book of Mormon, B) remember and ponder God's mercy towards the children of men, C) ask of God to know if these things are true or not true, with a sincere heart and real intent and faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it to you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, by following a very simple recipe, a very simple set of instructions, you can actually receive a divine witness as to whether or not the book is true or not.

Reading the book is an act of faith. Asking God about the truthfulness of the book with real intent--meaning, willing to change your life depending on the answer you get--is another act of faith. And then receiving the witness of truth strengthens your faith. It's like a giant cycle of faith-building.

If you don't have any faith, I recommend trying out the test. Worst case scenario, you waste five hours reading a book. Best case scenario, your faith in Jesus Christ strengthens incredibly and your life changes forever for the better.

If you already have faith in Jesus Christ but haven't read the Book of Mormon, the same goes for you: worst case scenario, you learn a little bit more about what other people believe about Jesus. Best case scenario, you feel like you understand the Gospel better than ever and feel a deeper-than-ever

Growing faith
relationship with Jesus.

Faith grows through exercise. Exercises of faith include but are not limited to:
- Daily scripture reading: exercising faith that studying God's word will benefit your life.
- Daily heartfelt prayer: exercising faith that God listens to and hears you, and cares.
- Service with a loving heart: exercising faith that God blesses those who bless His other children.
- Paying tithing: exercising faith that when we sacrifice a tenth of our material increase, God rewards us with more than what we sacrificed.
- Storing extra food and water: exercising faith that God inspired modern prophets who counseled this.
- Getting out of debt: once again exercising faith in God's prophets who have counseled this.
Bigger exercises of faith might be to turn your fertility over to God, trusting that He won't allow a pregnancy at the wrong time for you or your family, or to trust that all the things that don't make sense that pop into your mind are true. Exercising faith like this actually strengthens your faith so that you can exercise more faith.

The Bible has a great treatise on faith in Hebrews 11, and the Book of Mormon has a great one in Ether 12. The Bible Dictionary, as well as these scripture chapters, teaches that with enough faith, one can heal, command the elements, and do basically anything as long as it aligns with God's will. As Jesus said, faith as a mustard seed can move a mountain.

I don't think He was being metaphorical. Faith is the power to literally move literal mountains.


Growing faith is one of the most important things we can do to prepare for anything. Faith in an ultimately just yet loving and merciful God gives us the strength to forgive others and the world for the wrongs we suffer; it gives us the strength to let go of the outcome and trust that He has everything under control, even if we don't. Faith is what will give us the strength to die with grace or live despite horrors.  Building up a food storage or making other survival plans will be futile without a sufficient storage of faith in God and Jesus Christ that can weather the storms of anything the world has to throw at us. 

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