Sunday, December 29, 2013

Elder Phillips Farewell Talk: December 29th 2013

Elder Phillips Farewell Talk: December 29th 2013
Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”
“We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”
·       WHY WOULD HE ASK THAT WE CONSECRATE ALL??? My hope today is that we’ll see more clearly with the eye of faith and hear with our hearts the answer to that question as I address my assigned topic….
“Are the Windows of Heaven still open to us today” pouring down temporal and spiritual blessings?
My remarks were guided by Elder Uchtdorf & Elder Bednars Talks in Conference. As I pondered Malachi 3:10 “prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”.
·       Prove me now herewith, WOW is the Lord challenging us to prove He’s serious, YES
·       He throws down his credentials as the Lord our God that has every right and also the power to follow through on this promise.
·       Open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it…
·       I realized as I pondered this sacred challenge that the greatest blessing that’s been poured out of Heaven is sitting here today and there’s almost not room enough to receive it. My Children, Grandchildren, Adopted children from the 137th ward, BYU/UVU Institute friends, our Primary class and our Ward Family.
With this Spirit lead understanding of Fathers greatest blessings being poured out of Heaven it focused what I’d share today on how we improve what we “See and Hear” coming from Heaven….
Given that we’re family I want to be completely candid.
My personal experience is that the windows are wide open but I wonder if our “eyes and ears” are.
My question is have we developed our: Spiritual eyes so that we can see these extraordinary blessings/miracles that flow from the heavens?  
Have we developed our Spiritual Ears to hear Fathers voice instructing us through His Prophets & The Scriptures giving us a grateful heart?
We know that God is all powerful. We have Faith and experience that the windows of heaven can open and pour down “Spiritual and Temporal Blessings”, but is simply knowing that God can do something enough? Faith filled eyes and wide open ears are needed to also understand why “sometimes” He doesn’t.
Moroni reminded us that, along with being all-powerful, God is also all-knowing (Moroni 7:22)
We can trust Him because He SEES the end from the beginning, and He has a plan for us. I know this is true…This lesson was taught to me early in my Church Life when I had been a member of the Church for only 3.5 years …
One of my most important Spiritual Test’s came as I began my 1st Mission to England. I needed to “see it the Lords Way and get out of his way”. I had to be willing to Listen carefully to what the Holy Ghost was saying to me spiritually and not fear my fears.
The Lord required me to get on that plane to England not knowing if Starla would be there when I got home. But God knew, and he needed me to learn to trust him in all things... Including willing to lose the love of my life to Obey him, no matter what the price. This was one of my most profound lessons learned from that experience.
It begs the question, given we’re all Family: Are we willing to give up what we love, to obey him because we love him more?
Shouldn’t He be the love of our life and if He is won’t we love LIFE more and begin to SEE the blessings he showers upon us.
I got on that plane not knowing the answer to my question of why He’d required the sacrifice of my mother to join His Church, the sale of all my worldly goods to pay for my Mission but then He was asking me to give up the love of my life to go serve him on a Mission. Yes that’s exactly what he was asking me!
Only after I exhibited the Faith in Him to obey his call and get on that plane to England, then and only then could He give me the answer to my prayers and the “peace and understanding” I needed to deal with my fears of losing her.
I believe because I got on that plane and obeyed Father, he has allowed me to have her as my companion for over 40 years. This companionship has created 5 children & 11.5 grandchildren that are my greatest blessings poured out of heaven.
Yes I believe that the Heavens are still opened because of these children and their children that are the joy of my life.  I can “see and hear” them every day and so can their Mothers and I thank my God for pouring this profound blessing out of heaven.
I believe until we’re willing to put our most precious possessions (my children & grandchildren), our dreams and plans on Gods alter we will not understand the Sacrifice that Jesus the Christ made for us. It’s my experience that when we finally surrender “our will” to our Master then and only then can He heal our blind eyes and deaf ears so that we can See the touch of the masters hand in our lives an*-d hear His Voice calling us to serve Him. 
We can “hear the voice of the Lord” as Isaiah, whose teachings contain many powerful questions. One of these questions occurred in a vision Isaiah received while he was in God’s presence-and God needed a messenger. Isaiah recorded, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said; here am I; send me” (2 Nephi 16:8)
“Whom shall I send?..... Who will go for us? How do we hear these questions today?
Elder Faust taught, “Some of the most rewarding times of our lives are those extra mile hours given in the service when the body says it wants to relax, but our better self emerges and says, here am I send me. (2 Nephi 16:8)
A great example of understanding this principal of “Here am I Send Me” was a story about Elder LaGrand Richards.
President Richards was sent to Spokane Washington, and stayed in the home of the Stake President, President Romney. This is the father of my best friend from my mission and how I heard this story. President Richards was on assignment from the Prophet to find a new Stake President and introduce him to the Stake on Sunday. He came to Spokane on Friday very sick and had to retire to bed very early upon his arrival. Saturday Morning came and President Romney the Stake President that was being replaced told his wife not to wake Elder Richards and he’d go and begin the interviews that had already been set up. They all prayed he’d be able to recover in time to accomplish the required task.
The learning from this story is what Sister Romney my best buddy’s mother had witnessed when she went to check on President Richards.  She found the door cracked so she listened to see if President Richards was up. She heard him pleading with the Lord to heal him for the next two days so he could complete his responsibilities assigned by the Prophet. He told the Lord that he could be sick when he got home but had no time to be sick now. Elder Richards got up from his knees, showered and got dressed then proceeded to accomplish all that he was called to do. He did get home safely but was sick for a week but not until his responsibilities to the Lord were fulfilled.
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said; Here am I; send me” (2 Nephi 16:8)
I wonder what drove this servant of the Lord?  Could it be he hears the voice of the Lord calling out to him?
President LaGrand Richards is on the other side now but if we asked him are the Windows of Heaven still open to us today (pouring down temporal and spiritual blessings) what would he say?
I know what LaGrand Richards said to a young man in England because I was there teaching him a second discussion in our Mission Home. President Richards was again on assignment visiting our mission and staying in the Mission Home with us. Elder Richards walked in the living room of our Mission Home and just sat down during the discussion I was teaching and listened to what was being taught. I stopped and asked one of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever known to please take over. This modern day apostle of the Lord not only wrote Marvelous Work and a Wonder that was very instrumental in my own conversion from the Catholic Church but was at one time the second bestselling book second only to the Book of Mormon. As a side note Brother Richards didn’t want to take any money for his book because he knew it was inspired of the Lord. They make him take something so he said he’d take a buck. I love this servant of the Lord. Let me get back on track.
He had already served 25 years of missions by the time he sat down in that discussion. I was overwhelmed with my own inadequacies compared to this master teacher and servant of the Lord. All He said was please continue elder, so I did. At the conclusion of the discussion I turned to Elder LaGrande Richards and asked if he’d like to add his testimony. He said that he would and got up and started walking over with his hand out to where David was sitting. He stood to shake Elder Richards hand and soon found he was being pulled close. LaGrande put his arm around him and asked if he believed what was taught? He said yes I believe it all. Elder Richards with his arm around him pulled him closer and said as he hugged him, son then “Get your boots on”. I had never heard that saying before or since but we both knew what he met. The young man said when he was pulled in tight by Elder Richards that a powerful feeling pulsed through his body giving him a peace and assurance of the truths that were taught. He was baptized soon after and has flourished in the Church.
I am grateful for the precious time I was privileged to share with Elder Richards over a dinner table with him sharing 25 years of missionary experiences, shinning his shoes, standing in our early morning circle to recite the 4 section of the Doctrine and Covenants with this great one standing next to me. I knew I was in the presence of a disciple of Christ.
I am certain that after reading Marvelous Work and a Wonder and the personal experiences I had with him that he would declare that the Lord continues to “open the windows of Heaven and pour out his blessings upon us that are both temporal and spiritual.
Elder Oaks explained that Miracles & Blessings are not available for the asking on our timeline. D&C 88:68 clarifies that they only come “in his own time, and in his own way”.
It’s my personal experience that when I can truly be in the place of “thy will be done” that I’m set free from most of the self-imposed stressors of this life as we learn to accept his timing and His will.  The true miracle is that our eyes will be healed to see the blessing that are “flowing from heaven” every day. This vision and knowledge fills us up with His Love and gratitude for a Father that’s in the details of our life.
I stand as a witness that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. We stood just a few weeks ago in the Holy Land in the place that Elder Harold B. Lee stated that he feels Jesus could have been laid to rest here.
We went to the great sites of Jesus’s miracles but the greatest miracle is that we knew He lived.
We saw his birth place from far off but felt Him so close because we had the Holy Ghost.
We went to the Jordan River where the Savior was baptized but came away feeling so grateful for our own baptism.
We went to Peter’s home at Capernaum but found a shrine not an apostle.
We went on a ship on the Sea of Galilee and felt what it would be like to ride on those Holy Waters with the Master.
We witnessed what faith it would have taken for Peter to leap from that vessel into the tempest tossed seas.
We understood more profoundly that the miracle wasn't Peter walking on water or even our Savior reaching down to save him. It was that Jesus walked along side of this faithful, faith filled servant of the Lord until he got him safely back in the ship. It became clear to us that the representation of Peter’s walk is also ours.
It is my testimony that Jesus the Christ has rescued me by the waters of baptism, and made sure that I had a constant companion even the Holy Ghost to ensure I would find his record, and his prophet in these Latter Days. He also provided additional witnesses all along the way to mark the path so I wouldn't get lost. I cannot deny what I know and want my Children and Grandchildren to hear my voice that the Gospel is True and again on the earth. Be true and faithful to the Plan of Happiness and you will find the true happiness in this life and the life to come, I so testify this day. 

I will always love you, 
Elder James K. Phillips