Monday, December 17, 2007

My Final Newsletter From Home

It occurred to me that I have no time left here in the states. It's a kinda abrupt feeling for me. I guess it happens to everyone, but you don't realize how close you are until *wham!* there you are. I leave for Utah this Tuesday (18 December 2007) in the morning (or so I hear). From there I will be at my brother's house that night, then report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) early afternoon the day after, on Wednesday. I should be in the MTC for about two months, then it's on to Latvia. Yay!

Due to popular request, I feel it advisable to include a copy of my talk here. Not just for those who asked for it, but also for those who were unable to make it. I think it might be helpful for those reading this blog, as well, so here it is. I have added to the notes I used to give it, so that you could see more what I was aiming for. Here we go:

Blatheration talk given 16 December 2007:
My favorite analogy from all scripturedom is that of the armies of the Lord fighting against the armies of sin. I wanted to put that in perspective, to allow all to know why I have chosen to leave home, school, work, my family, the love of my life, my friends, and my home for two entire years of my life.

First, we know that before this life, we lived with God as spirits. While in heaven, God presented a plan for how we could be more like him. We all wanted to be like our Heavenly Father, so we listened to the plan. First, we couldn't advance any farther without having flesh and bone bodies, like our Heavenly Father has (Luke 24:36-43, DC 129:2). Second, we needed some means to experience hardship, difficulties, problems, and challenges so that we could grow, both in the Lord and in ourselves. We would gain these bodies, come to an earth, and pass through a veil, so that we could not remember our Heavenly Father. That way, we could mess up, learn from those mistakes, grow, and progress. We would need help to return, as we would mess up. Nothing imperfect can dwell with God, therefore we needed somebody to take our imperfections and make up for them. The idea of coming to the earth to become like God, and to share in his glory and power is summarized quickly and well in Romans 8:16-17:

"16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

Two volunteered for the task of leading us on this earth towards that goal, both children of God in high standing (we know that Christ is the firstborn of the Father in spirit as well as physically on earth; Isaiah 14:12, DC 76:25-29 for Lucifer). One was Lucifer, also called Satan, who proposed to make it so everyone would return to live with God again. The catch was that he would make us obey, even to the point of ensuring nobody had any laws given them (for if no laws are given, one cannot be held responsible, therefore they cannot sin). Lucifer also demanded that all the glory for the operation be given to him, since he was making sure we all returned.
The other volunteer was Jehovah, also known as Jesus Christ, who said he would provide a way for all of us to repent of our evils, and be made clean through him. This would enable us to make it back if we wanted to, allowing us to maintain our agency. It provided more growth for us, as we would require faith (essentially trust in the power of a being we cannot see, and only feel the presence of intermittently) and work to learn of His commandments, and to follow them. Jehovah also told us that the glory would be to our Father, and that He would help us make it back if we wanted to.
The battle for freedom to choose turned from a discussion to what the scriptures call a "war in heaven" (Revelation 12:7). Lucifer and those who followed his plan fought against Michael the Archangel (under Jehovah's leadership) and the angels that followed them. Christ's plan, endorsed by our Father, gained more supporters. But many still followed after Lucifer's plan, even "one third part of the hosts of heaven" (Revelation 12:4, DC 29:36-38). We all know which side was victorious. Lucifer and his supporters were cast out of heaven for their rebellion, and we proceeded with Christ's plan. Lucifer and the third that followed him became those to drive us away from God, and to cause us to grow (DC 29:39). To quote the book of Revelation 12:7-12:

"7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (See also Pearl of Great Price--Abraham 4:1-4).

The battle did not end there. As it says in verse 12, Satan was wrathful and came with a vengeance, continuing the battle on earth against those who chose Christ's plan. It began in the Garden of Eden, where he persuaded eve to take of the forbidden fruit. Then continued with turning Cain against Abel. From then on, it has only been a war: Satan against God; those who hearken to the devil and his angels against the Saints of God. This battle is not only a good analogy. It is very literal. There is a being who wants nothing more that for you to be miserable. This being only wants to see you fail, and will do everything he possibly can to make this happen. This being is Satan, a very literal, real being, with real power with his army of hellish angels working without rest to cripple and destroy all who oppose them. Their opposition is any righteous and holy thing. In order to render the forces of God useless, all Satan's host must do is immobilize them. This is easier than you might imagine for them to do: if they can get someone addicted to the television or video games or the internet, or anything else that consumes the vast majority of that individual's spare time to such a degree that they will do that thing instead of other, worthier pursuits, then Satan has succeeded. And its not that these activities are bad in themselves--perhaps somebody has been consumed with learning a language or learning a musical instrument, or even with schoolwork. These are good things. But if they dominate their life, and replace activities such as time with family, studying scriptures, praying, going to church, or making it so that person does not serve his neighbors, it becomes a tool of Satan.
Thus the battle becomes very, very real in all our lives. This brings me to my missionary work in the very near future. This war rages, with many unaware of it. Those who choose not to involve religion in their lives are largely left out of the war, for they are not threats to Satan's power on the earth. A quick story illustrates this: A man known by my father was criticizing the LDS church, commenting on how hypocritical many were. He could see that they preached that a certain thing was unfit for members of the faith, yet they could occasionally be seen indulging themselves in that thing. It wasn't until later, when he became interested in the church for various reasons and began to pursue it did he realize why some fell short. He told my father that he saw a big difference between his life before pursuing God and his life now. Now that he was seeking God, and trying to follow Him, Satan was working much more fiercely against him, and he was finding it difficult to remain on the path. He noted that he felt a tangible power trying to draw him away from the Lord, and that this power, he knew, was Satan's.
Each year, active troops are lost from God's army as they fall to disease, old age, accidents, sloth, sin, ease of mind, contentment, an other vices of the devil (2 Nephi 28:24-27). Those ranks must be replenished. They must be kept strong. I suppose you could think of me as a recruiter, as I am trying to draw all men towards God, and towards the light. I am inviting men everywhere, of all faiths, to fight against Satan and his forces with all they possess, and to create safe zones the globe over, starting in each individual home and extending from there. I possess a further light and knowledge, which I will share will all who desire the strength it provides, and the power it commands. For those who do not want it, I will extend my hand in service, rejoice in the truths we share together, and let them know that there is more if they desire to find it.
That is my mission. I join the ranks of those ever on active duty, armed with the most powerful weapons against the foe ever devised. These weapons are contained on these pages [holds up the Holy Bible and the triple (containing the BoM, DC, and Pearl of Great Price)]. As it states in Alma 31:5.

"5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God" (Alma is the prophet at the time, and had a people hard in heart, and full of wickedness that he desired to return to God).

My deployment in the Baltic States will have been successful if the enemy is forced to retreat upon my advancement, and if the ground gained is held, both while I'm there and after I have left. We all are of this army. Never sheath your sword, never loosen your armor--the war is not yet ended. We must remain faithful, and endure to the battle's conclusion:

"10 [Therefore] strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel" Ephesians 6:10-19 (See also DC 27:15-18).

I want to thank all of you for your support, for without all of you, I could not go in the full armor of God, nor would my weapons be sharp. I love you all, and want to remind you that not only I will be thankful for all the help you have spent preparing me. I know that this church has the full truth of God. I know that I have the power of God to command angels, to heal the sick, to move mountains. I know God is my Father, who loves me. I know Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and that He loves us. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Commander, our Salvation, amen.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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