Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Lord Never Leaves His Servants . . .

Dear Brethren,
I don't have a whole lot to say this week. This week has been pretty good, and the work is continuing to get better. We are still meeting and teaching new people, as well as helping the ones we have been meeting with for a while progress. Everything is on the brink of exploding out here in Broken Bow, and we should definitely baptize some of these people soon enough. However, when the greatest good is being accomplished, opposition occurs. This last week I got to face anti-mormon views THREE TIMES in THREE DAYS!!! Of course, they were ridiculous, and our testimonies are still very strong. The Lord never leaves His servants, and thus, if we always have the Spirit with us and don't let our anger drive it away, the Spirit will always show us the way to conquer the enemy.
Anyway, I do not have much to say today, other than that things are going well. The Lord is constantly answering the prayers of those who truly seek with real intent, for the truth. Testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon are being born every day. My testimony always remains firm of its truthfulness. In my entire 19 months as a missionary, I have talked with many people. Of all of them I have talked to, the promise always stands that if one will sincerely read the Book of Mormon and then pray about it, really wanting to know whether or not it is true, they will always come to know that it is in fact true. I have never met a person who received a "no". The Holy Ghost is constant, in that all who will read and pray, will know. However, unless you want to know, you will receive no answer at all. I have met some who maybe read a chapter over a six-week period, prayed a couple times, and waited for an answer that isn't going to come, because they didn't do their part. So if you are looking for truth, and you have not yet read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it sincerely, do so!
Love you guys! Have a great week!

Love, Elder Christopher Petersen

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Lord's Work is Thriving in Broken Bow . . .

Dear Brethren,
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13).
This week has been an amazing one. Transfers just took place, and I am still in Broken Bow, for what I assume will be one last six weeks. Making it through this transfer will amount to four transfers here. So much has happened, and we are teaching many. I do not know that I have ever had this many wonderful people to teach. They are so great, and I believe many of them will receive the Savior, and be baptized in His name.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, I hope that all of us are declaring His word to the people we are around. Every one of us should be a missionary. I have been "called of him to declare his word" full-time, among this people, but you have also been "called of him to declare his word" part-time among your people, if you are not currently doing so full-time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be the center of our lives in all that we do. It's okay to have fun, live life, etc., but we should also remember to keep our covenants and in all things, in all places, take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ--acting as His disciple; or acting as He would.
I've been putting a lot of thought into some things this last while, striving to refine my teaching skills. Being a full-time missionary for the past year-and-a-half, you can imagine that it becomes easy to get stuck in a rhythm of teaching. I have been working on breaking it, and always trying to find new things to better teach to the needs of those I'm teaching. But without fail, I find that the simple testimony of things that we know are true, always brings the most power--especially testimonies of Jesus Christ, and the Book of Mormon.
Today, I would like to share with all of you something I came across in my reading of the Book of Mormon. I am currently in 3 Nephi. There is a passage that really struck me.
At this point in the Book of Mormon, destruction has come upon the land, in which many people died. The signs of Christ's death over in Jerusalem, are taking place on the American continent (three days of darkness, fire, earthquakes, tempests, etc.). Those who are still living are mourning for their dead, when suddenly a voice comes to them from the heavens, announcing the cities that were destroyed for their great wickedness. Immediately after that announcement, that same voice--the voice of Jesus Christ--says the following:
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me" (3 Nephi 9:13-14). (I encourage you to read the whole passage of 3 Nephi 9:13-22. It will be well worth your time. Will you read it?)
Christ loves each of us so much. For all of those who are troubled, He offers peace. For those who are hurting, He offers healing. To those that mourn, He offers comfort. For those who have trials, He offers strength. He beckons, "come unto me". He pleads, "Return unto me...that I may heal you." His very motive--the love that brought about an infinite atonement--is His love for you. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Brethren, are we denying ourselves of His love and healing? He begs us to come. Will we not do so now? And are we sounding this glad message abroad to all of our fellow men that they may feel His love and peace in their lives?
This world has so much pain. Few people are truly happy, and instead of seeking happiness, they seek all of the evil pleasures that last only for a moment, because that is all many believe they can truly find. But there is peace. There is love. Sometimes we need to go through the pain of trials for a time so that we can grow, but at the perfect moment that we need Him, Christ will always be there to succor us according to our needs.
I love Him, and I hope you love Him. Feed His sheep. Come unto Him always, and repent everyday so that you might take advantage of the gift that He bought for you with a price. I love you all! Have a great week, and go forth with a steadfastness in Christ.

Love, Elder Christopher Petersen

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tribute to Fathers . . .

Dear Brethren,
I hope you all had a great Father's Day! It is a great time to
reflect on Fatherhood, and the Priesthood. I am very grateful for my
father, and all that he has done for me in my life. I love him very
much. I am grateful that I always had him there to bless me with his
company, his advice, his love, and his Priesthood. Having a worthy
father has always been a blessing for my life. I am so grateful that I
have always had a father who has been able to teach me in the ways of
God, as well as how to survive in this hectic world. He has provided
so much for me, and I have been able to live a comfortable and
meaningful life. I remember my childhood as one filled with happiness,
and I greatly attribute that to both my father and my mother. They
raised me in such a way that I was able to learn much by the Spirit of
the Lord. I am eternally grateful.
I hope all of you are able to feel that gratitude and love for your
fathers. Truly our family is a blessing from God, and He gave us
parents for a reason. I am grateful beyond words for both of my
parents, and the wonderful relationships I have with them. Not
everyone has that, so I find it a rich blessing. I am also eternally
grateful for my loving grandparents, and I hope they know I love them
On top of celebrating our earthly fathers, I hope that we were each
able to think of our Loving Heavenly Father. He truly gave us
everything, and I hope that we will do all we can to show that we love
Him. I hope that all that we do will bring honor to our earthly
fathers, and glory to our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father has
made us His work, and His glory. He has always been glorified through
His children--mostly through His only-begotten Son of the flesh and
spirit, but also through us. We can do things to bring Him glory every
day, and as we reach out to our brothers and sisters, we will be
assisting Him in His great work.
Let us show gratitude for our fathers, and go forth living life
in a way that will make them proud. I love you all, and I urge all of
you to keep going forward in righteousness, with a heart full of love.
Have a great week brethren!

Love your
brother in the Lord,

Elder Christopher Petersen

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Tribute to Grandmothers & Grandfathers...

Dear Brethren,

Let us also not forget our beloved grandmothers. I am grateful for my grandparents. This life has given me two wonderful grandmothers, a wonderful great-grandmother, and two wonderful grandpas. As well, my Grandpa Petersen has left great wonder in me, but he passed on before I was born. I am grateful for his life, especially because of how he touched my father's life. Anyway, just wanted to get a shout out to the past grandmas ever! I love both my Grandma Lui who is here with us today, and my Grandma Brown. Although Grandma Brown is in the Spirit World today, I hope that she is aware that I am grateful for her. Love you all! I hope you all got to tell your grandmas how grateful for them you are. Love you brethren and family.

Love, Elder Christopher Petersen

A Tribute to Mothers and Fathers ...

Dear Brethren, my fellow Sons of Mosiah--and you sons of wonderful mothers,

Yesterday we had the wonderful opportunity to recognize--and thank our Heavenly Father for--the sanctity of Motherhood, and of Womanhood. I am eternally grateful for a loving mother who has always cared for me, and who taught me in righteousness. In no way am I perfect, but I feel very indebted to my mother for teaching me how to receive a testimony of things that are true. Though I know that in the end, receiving a testimony had to be a personal thing between me and my Heavenly Father, I feel very much that my mother showed me that path of how to do so. I still remember the first time that I recognized the Holy Ghost consciously--I was seven years old. I was sitting in my bed, and my mother was sitting with me. We were reading the Book of Mormon, and if memory serves me right, we had been talking about the Holy Ghost just beforehand. We talked about how we can feel it even before baptism, but that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is essential to have him with us all of the time. After such a conversation, we read from the Book of Mormon, and then a powerful feeling came over me. I told my mom what I felt, and she told me that it was the Spirit. It was an important moment in my very young life, and I do not think that I will ever forget it. Of course, many times since then I have had to gain my own testimony of different principles of the gospel--and also of the Book of Mormon. I have had to find for myself that this Church is true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith really was His Prophet that restored His church to the earth. Concerning the truthfulness of these things which I have come to find out for myself, I feel that I grew up being able to say--as the Sons of Helaman could say: I "do not doubt [my mother] knew it" (Alma 56:48), for these things are true. Because she knew it, I knew I could know it.
Now, I do not wish to leave my father out, because he has impacted my life so much more than he will ever know. My father and mother have been huge examples to me, and I love them very much. I know also that my dad has a very strong testimony of the gospel, and I learned a lot from it. The nurturing love of both of my parents has given me the support I needed to be here and serve a mission. They gave me support through my trials at home, and out here on my mission. I will forever love them, and I am forever grateful for them. They magnified their calling as parents, and I know the Lord will recognize them for it at the last day.
Brethren, I hope we let our parents know often, how much we love them, and how grateful we are for them. I do not doubt that many of your mothers "knew it", and I hope that we can have the same confidence the Stripling Warriors had in the gospel their mothers had taught them--and I hope we have the same trust they did, in their parents, and in their Eternal God. They knew if "they did not doubt, God would deliver them" (Alma 56:47). Let us honor our fathers and mothers by becoming great warriors, and men who are "exceedingly valiant for courage; and also for strength and who [are] true at all times in whatsoever thing [we are] of truth and soberness, for [we have] been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him".
I fall short--and I know we all do at times--but let us always keep these things in remembrance and strive to become better. I love you all! I know you are engaged in great works--even the works of the Lord. Remember that we have also Heavenly Parents, who love us. I had a wonderful experience concerning this thing, this last week. I will not type it all out for sake of time, but it suffices me to say that this truth is very real. We had a powerful experience with an investigator who believed this thing already, and the night before I was impressed to share with her that we have Heavenly Parents. I hope we can keep this truth sacred, as Heavenly Father does. Let us not take this truth lightly, or make blasphemy of it. If we do this thing, the curses of God will fall upon us. We are privileged to have such knowledge.
I love you all, and I hope we can keep these things in our hearts always.

Love your brother, Elder Christopher D. Petersen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Successful Families . . .

Dear Brethren and loved ones,

I am very grateful for the event of Mother's Day this coming week. Once again, missionaries get to call home. I hope all of you that are out on your missions right now will enjoy and savor that call home, as well as be motivated by it to serve strong! I know that motivation can help me. Our time to serve as full-time missionaries is short. For those of you who have not been out long, or who have not been out yet at all, I am sure that sounds ridiculous to you--but it is so true. I struggle to comprehend that I have been out on my mission for nearly a year and a half. I have been about seven and a half months LEFT!!! It is crazy to me! That's just a measly five transfers or so.
The Lord is very grateful for all of your service, and I hope all of you at home are finding time in your lives to serve. I look forward to doing member work again. I do love full-time missionary work a lot, through the rough times and the good times. So far this has been the best year and a half for my life. You will all find that in full-time service. In your service as member-missionaries you may find that those will be the best times of your life. There is nothing quite like seeing our friends and loved ones accept the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us also not forget that raising our families, and doing temple work, are also forms of missionary work. President Harold B. Lee said, (I hope I get the quote right from memory, but if not it should be close enough) "The greatest of the Lord's work you will ever do, will be within the walls of your own homes". Raising our families, inviting friends into your home to feel the Spirit there, inviting the missionaries into your home to teach a friend or family member--all of these can be very sacred experiences that take place in the walls of our own homes.
Knowing these things, it is no wonder to me that the prophets of our day have said that the place of most sacredness on this earth, next to the Holy Temple, should be our own homes. Think about the profundity of that message. I cannot wait for the chance I have to set up my home one day. I hope to be able to do it right. I have had the opportunity to observe many different family situations, enter many different homes, etc. while serving on my mission. Hopefully I have learned something of great worth from this, as far as how to raise children, and organize a home. One thing that we have taught people that is important, is to keep their homes clean, and watch the content of things that enter their home. Entertainment should be clean--and that can be hard! As far as cleanliness goes, on a grade-scale, I definitely do not get an A. I hope I can even manage a B. But the principle exists that the Spirit of the Lord can better dwell, and be felt, in a clean home.
In Gospel Principles this week, we learned 9 keys to a successful family (by memory, but they should get across the message well enough):
Have family prayer, and pray as a husband and wife.
Have family scripture study.
Have Family Home Evening each week, and teach your children principles of the gospel.
Do things together--such as decision-making, recreational activities, etc.
Have dinner around the table as a family.
Follow the counsel of the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119: "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God"
Be kind, patient, long-suffering, full of charity.
Attend Church Meetings Regularly
Do Family History Work, take part in temple ordinances for the dead, and be sealed as a family in the temple.
If we will follow those nine steps, we will have a successful family. They are as outlined by the leaders of Christ's Church. I hope we can all remember that, and remember to do the Lord's work. I love you all! Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Christopher Dennis Petersen

Church Talk Given on Easter Sunday (Emailed April 25th) ...

Dear Brethren,

Happy Easter! I hope you all had a great one! Mine was a lot of fun, and I got to speak in Sacrament Meeting! It was a very spiritual meeting--not just because I was speaking. We had some other good speakers, and blessing the sacrament really added to my feeling the spirit. It was just a great day.
So some of you have inquired as to what I spoke about, and how it went. My Mom even wanted a copy, so I decided I'll just type it out and send it to all of you right now.

CHURCH TALK (Modified just a tad)

My dear brothers and sisters, it is my pleasure to address you, and to speak today on a subject that is very dear to my heart. In preparing I prayed for the divine guidance of the Holy Ghost--and even now I invite the Spirit of the Lord to be here that He might uplift our spirits, that our minds might be enlightened, and that the Spirit may give me utterance so that we may be taught from on high.
This morning I wish to open with the words of a tender parent, the Prophet Lehi, to his young son Jacob, that are recorded in the Second Book of Nephi, Chapter Two, verses six and seven in the Book of Mormon, which read: "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered". (Continue to 2 Nephi 2:8 later)
These words of a prophet spoken very plainly and simply to his son Jacob, give us a very simple summary of what things must take place in any individuals life in order for that individual to return to live with God. This scripture passage teaches first that redemption comes only in and through Jesus Christ, the Holy Messiah, and through His atoning sacrifice for us. This is the truest and purest doctrine of all the doctrines of the world or the church, that salvation comes through this loving Son of God, who is merciful to all mankind who will come unto Him and allow Him to take them into His outstretched arms. He lives today brothers and sisters, and His is the power to heal even the most broken, torn, and despairing soul. "The worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God" (Joseph Smith), so please, all who are feeling broken, torn, discouraged, or defeated, come unto Him.
Secondly, (referring back to the scripture read earlier) the Book of Mormon prophet teaches his son what the Lord requires of him. he taught that we must come to the Savior with a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. This is truly what the Lord requires: that we come to Him with a humble and willing heart.
King Benjamin, a Book of Mormon king, taught these principles in his angelical sermon, saying: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19)
King Benjamin again taught these things when pleading with his people to put their trust in the Lord. He said, "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins, and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you.; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them".
Speaking somewhat on the subject of humility, I wish to touch just momentarily, on the subject of pride. I am pleased to say that I have not seen many instances of prideful behavior among you, and for the few that I have seen, I do not feel that I should judge, for I too struggle greatly with pride--but every time I start to exalt myself, the Lord brings me back to earth. I find I am humbled, and who am I to fight it? I am nothing before my Father, yet I mean everything to Him. When He humbles me, I have learned to take joy in it.
Pride is a very dangerous thing, brothers and sisters. It is a cancer that easily spreads--a plague that can easily take hold on one's heart, and then it will harden that one's heart until their heart fails them completely. Speaking in a poetic sense as Elder Holland did in his beautiful sermon titled, "Safety for the Soul", the heart in this case become the center of our emotions, the indicator of our character, and the listening device for sensing the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. A humble heart is indeed the key to the doors of heaven. Should we allow our hearts to become hardened and prideful, we shall find that our spiritual sensitivity will decrease greatly.
Many times, pride has been referred to as the "universal sin", and in my opinion, there are two reasons for this title. The first is that pride is a very common sin. It can take hold on anyone. I firmly believe that every man who has ever lived--save Jesus only--has had at least one prideful moment. Each of us should examine ourselves and seek to correct our pride with charity, service, and gratitude.
The second reason I believe pride is called the "universal sin", is because it leads us into other sins. A hardened heart leaves the word of God at naught. We start to sin and justify our sin. Pride causes us to not repent, and to turn away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His true church.
[ A quote that I find we each need to consider, says: "Sin will not keep you out of the temple. Pride will" (Kearney Stake Conference).-wasn't in my talk, cause they have already heard it.]
I do not wish to speak any more of pride, but to instead refer back to my original topic that redemption can only come through Jesus Christ. If we are burdened by this sin of pride--or any other sin--He can take the burden off of our shoulders, if we will repent. His invitation as recorded by Matthew, in the Bible, reads: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30)
As Latter-day Saints we are a very blessed people. We have great reason to rejoice! For us the fulness of the gospel has been spelled out in such beautiful simplicity. By the good graces of our Eternal God, we have been given a knowledge of our Savior's infinite atonement. We have been given the miracles of both The Holy Bible, and The Book of Mormon. Through these sacred records we can more fully come to know our Loving Savior, and more fully come to understand His atonement. What a rich blessing! And glory be to the Father for it!
I wish to conclude with my final point in 2 Nephi 2:8. Previously in verses six and seven we learned that redemption only comes to through Jesus Christ, and that that redemption only comes to those who will come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Now, verse 8: "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise" (2 Nephi 2:8).
Brothers and sisters, we use this Easter Season to celebrate our Savior's great victory over death and hell, and we do this because we know what that means. It means that if we will repent, we too can conquer death and hell, through Jesus Christ. Christ can enable our souls to be free.
We now have a responsibility to make these things known unto all men. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel". Let us not forget that before this life on earth we promised our brothers and sisters, who we loved so much, that we would find them and bring the Gospel to them. We knew the end goal--we wanted it badly--and we knew what it would take to get there. The Prophet George Albert Smith said, "We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter".
It is my testimony that Jesus the Christ lives. Redemption does come through Him. This is His Church, and it is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and was truly translated by it's unlearned translator, Joseph Smith, who was a chosen prophet of the true and living God. We can find relief and forgiveness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we strive to become like Him, we be transformed into something far greater than we could ever make ourselves. I wish to leave you with the dying words of the Prophet Moroni, in the end of the Book of Mormon: "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot" (Moroni 10: 32-33).
I love you all brethren, and I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.