This is Jonathan's pre-mission talk given in the Sacrament Meeting of the Sherwood Hills Ward, Edgemont North Stake on July 25, 2010.
As many of you know, I have been called to serve as a missionary in the California Carlsbad Mission, speaking English. In case you’ve been wondering, I didn’t bribe anyone to call me to a place like that. For those who have been asking, no, I won’t be visiting the Carlsbad Caverns. Those are in New Mexico. I don’t actually enter the MTC until August 4th, so when you see me at church next week, don’t be alarmed, I’m still going on a mission.
I’d like to thank you all for supporting me as I prepare to go out into the mission field. This is a truly amazing ward. From the time I was in primary up until now, I have had outstanding teachers and priesthood leaders, and to each one of them, I would like to say thank you so much, they know who they are.
I have been fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends throughout my life. We’ve had a lot of fun, but most importantly, they always support me in whatever I may do, and make sure to set me straight when I’m doing something dumb.
Most of all, I’ve been blessed to have a family like the one I have. Immediate family as well as extended family have been there all the time. My aunt and grandparents demanded that they buy something to help me get ready for my mission.
My brothers and sisters are always around to give me support and advice for my upcoming mission. My sister Camille has appointed herself my Missionary Police. “Are you reading your scriptures every day? You should go on splits. Are you riding your bike everyday? Are you getting up at 6:30 every morning? Is your hair in a part? You need to have your hair in a part.” It’s been good to have someone to keep me in line!
My parents most of all have been there all the time. They have supported me every step of the way, through the bad times, and the okay times, and the great times. And I know they will continue to support me in every way they can.
Brothers and sisters, we live in a pretty rotten world. Evil abounds in this world. Satan attacks us as every turn. It is our job to resist those abundant temptations.
Satan was with us in Heaven before we came to this earth. He knows each and every one of us; he knows our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Unlike us, who are now here on this earth with bodies, he did not go through the Veil which made us forget our pre-earth life. He knows exactly where to target us.
President James E. Faust taught that “We need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James counseled: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” And Nephi states that “he hath no power over the hearts” of people who are righteous.
We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, “The devil made me do it.” Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him.
The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” He also stated, “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed.” So Satan and his angels are not all-powerful.”
So how do we build up our ability to resist these temptations? One way is by listening to the Holy Ghost and its quiet promptings.
President Faust continues “Satan has had great success with this gullible generation. As a consequence, literally hosts of people have been victimized by him and his angels. There is, however, an ample shield against the power of Lucifer and his hosts. This protection lies in the spirit of discernment through the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift comes undeviatingly by personal revelation to those who strive to obey the commandments of the Lord and to follow the counsel of the living prophets.
This personal revelation will surely come to all whose eyes are single to the glory of God, for it is promised that their bodies will be “filled with light, and there shall be no darkness” in them. Satan’s efforts can be thwarted by all who come unto Christ by obedience to the covenants and ordinances of the gospel. The humble followers of the divine Master need not be deceived by the devil. Satan does not sustain and uplift and bless. He leaves those he has grasped in shame and misery.”
2 Nephi 9: 28-29
From my own experience, the Holy Ghost is your best friend in a rough situation. Your mind may be clouded and distracted by stress, the heat of the moment, or fatigue. When you are feeling pressured and tempted to do something you might not want to, have the discipline to stop for a minute. Wait for the Holy Ghost to prompt you. Often times, he will tell you to get out of the situation. If you can’t feel the Holy Ghost, you know to get yourself out of there. All you need to do is stop and think twice about things you’re going to do.
Something I do, is I try to ask myself, “Will I regret this after I do it?” If the answer is yes, or even a maybe, it’s time to do something else.
Do something else. Satan selects his disciples when they are idle and bored; Jesus selected his when they were busy at their work either mending their nets or casting them into the sea. This alone shows us that we need to stay productive at all times. When we are idle, our thoughts wander. Bad thoughts lead to bad actions. Bad actions lead to sorrow and regret.
As we read in the Book of Mormon, being a Nephite wasn’t easy. The Lamanites attacked over, and over, and over. But for a great part of their nearly 1,000-year history the Nephites resisted. The Nephites were obviously committed. Why didn’t the Lord take the Lamanites away?
There were many reasons. But the bottom line is, life is a test. We are here to prove we will choose the Lord no matter what.
Boyd K. Packer helps us remember the following:
First, God doesn’t tempt us; Satan does.
Second, God allows Satan to tempt us as part of the test. But He limits Satan.
1 Cor. 10:13.
Third, being tempted isn’t a sin. We sin if we give in to temptation.
Fourth, if we fail, it was our own decision. If the temptation seemed too great, it’s usually because we didn’t resist when we had the opportunity. We are often our worst enemies by putting ourselves in a position to fail. Even after Captain Moroni had prepared the Nephites with better armor and city walls, anyone who wandered outside was an easy target.
For example, if immoral thoughts are a temptation, are you avoiding the shows, music, Web sites, and other things that trigger them? Or are you outside the walls, just to see if any Lamanites are around? True commitment to keeping the commandments means we try to live as far from temptation as possible.
Fifth, as we resist current temptations, we gain strength to resist future temptations.
Finally, if you give in to temptation, which we all do sometimes, you can turn back to God through repentance. Resisting temptation is more than fleeing sin; it is pursuing righteousness with all your heart.
We need to show God that even after resisting 1,000 times, we will choose Him the 1,001st time too.
I’d like to end with an analogy I like to think of.
Imagine yourself in a military somewhere. You’re trying to shoot down some walls that fortify your enemies. If their wall is poorly built and maintained, maybe made out of cardboard, held up by toothpicks, it can easily be brought down by a BB gun.
If it is a little stronger than that, you might need to bring in a rifle.
If the enemy has maintained their wall a little better than that, a BB gun and a rifle won’t work, but maybe some hand grenades will, or some cannon balls.
Satan tries to destroy our protective walls. Satan will never give up on us. He’s gonna bring in howitzers, tanks, or missiles—anything to break down our wall. Let’s be smart and reinforce our walls to incredible strength. If he does end up damaging our wall, let us be quick to repent and repair our wall. If we do not, he will send more attacks where our wall is weak, and if we are not careful, bit by bit he will tear us down, and overtake us.
2 Nephi 28: 20-26
Build up your wall with the strength of Christ, and you will not fall captive to Satan.
Bear short testimony