Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017-02-27 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,
We have just finished a sacred time together. All 200 missionaries of the Philippines Manila Mission gathered together to learn from, and learn with, an apostle of the Lord. We have been greatly blessed. I want you to know that I am grateful for you from the bottom of my heart. When I had a few minutes to speak with Elder Bednar privately he asked me what has affected me the most during my time in the Philippines. I told him how much I love you. I told him how much I respect and admire you. I told him how precious you are to Sister Ostler and to me. I also told him how much I love the Filipino people and what a chosen, special people they are. And then we went in for our group photo and you were singing "We Thank Thee O God for A Prophet." The Spirit filled the room. We then went into the chapel for our meeting and you sang our mission song: "A Marvelous Work." Your testimony and spirit filled the room. Many of us were in tears. You bore your testimony and showed your faith through your song. And then I watched in amazement as you courageously shared your insights, asked questions, and answered questions. Thank you for being the best missionaries in history!
In my brief testimony during the meeting I shared about a similar training meeting with Elder Bednar several years ago when I was serving as a stake president. During the meeting he mentioned that someone had asked Elder Packer to share with them what he had learned about the Atonement of Jesus Christ during his 40 plus years as an apostle. Elder Packer said: "No. I cannot. I could tell you some things, but you would not really learn what I have learned." Elder Bednar then suggested taking a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon and marking every mention of the Atonement. He then said that we should go back and review what we had marked and write down what we learned. I did this and my understanding of Jesus Christ and His Atonement were changed forever. My testimony of the Christ became much deeper and more meaningful. My life has been changed forever.
After the meeting on Saturday, we distributed special hard-bound copies of the Book of Mormon along with a bookmark and marker. I now invite you to TAKE ACTION to do something similar to what I did. Here is the invitation:
Read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before May 30. Please start no later than March 1st. The bookmark you received with the special copy of the Book of Mormon shows you what you need to read each day for 90 days to reach the goal. You will need to read about 6 pages per day.
Choose ONE topic to mark in this special copy of the book:
1. Faith: This includes marking Teachings about Faith and Stories of Faith
2. The Atonement: This includes marking everything you see about atonement and grace, as well as the blessings of the Atonement: forgiveness, redemption, peace, healing, etc.
Choose one of these two topics and make this your "Faith Copy of the Book of Mormon" or your "Atonement Copy of the Book of Mormon."
I promise that, if you will do this, your life will be changed, your teaching will be much more powerful, and you will have a much stronger testimony of the gospel.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: "Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: "There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path."
President Thomas S. Monson taught: "Read the Book of Mormon. Ponder its teachings. Ask Heavenly Father if it is true. During that process you will feel the Spirit of God in your lives. That Spirit will be part of your testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's true Church on the earth today. That testimony will help you resist temptation."
President Marion G. Romney, formerly a member of the First Presidency: "I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein...The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."
May the Lord bless us as we read the Book of Mormon together and as we serve the Lord with all of our hearts.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler