Monday, July 14, 2014

Signing off....61 Things I have learned.

Family and friends,
I can't believe that it's already here. I have never experienced so many mixed emotions than I have recently. These past 2 years have been the best for my life up to this point and I will never forget the eternal significant lessons that I have learned out here. Over the past 2 years in my journal I have compiled things I have learned while out here. I know that there is a lot and I don't believe most of you will read them all, but if I could sum anything up, read #61 please. See you in a couple of days. :)
1.                  God is a “one by one” God.
This one is self explanatory, I have learned for myself that God knows us individually and intimately. The way he governs is one by one.
2.                  God is a “day by day” God.
I have experienced this so much out here. I have had days where I thought I couldn't continue I was so tired, but I felt strengthened and peaceful day by day as I kept moving forward. He really is there day by day.
3.                  We can “saber” God or “conocer” God.
This inspiration came in Stillwater during a study. Saber is the Spanish verb "to know factual things". Conocer is also the Spanish verb to know "or be intimately acquainted with." Before the mission, I intellectually knew of God, but I now can say that I conocer Him.
4.                  The promptings of the Holy Ghost will help us accomplish things over and beyond our own abilities.
Mom and dad, you might recognize this one. This has been a huge learning lesson out here. I could tell you story after story, miracle after miracle abut how many cool things have come from one single prompting. Without the Spirit in my life, I could not do what God wanted me to.
5.                  To worship is to emulate. (We worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
This one was really important to me. I have come to realize that we worship our Father in the name of Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost. There is God the Creator, God the redeemer and God the testator. We worship the father and as we receive Christ, "we receive His Father".
6.                  “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
Got this quote from a missionary out here. It's from Jefferey R. Holland. I know it's true. I have been pushed to my limits over and over again and just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, God gave me an opportunity to become more like Him.
7.                  Honesty comes from humility.
I was sitting in Braums one day in Stillwater and a man came up to bash with me. I refused and so we had a good talk on pride and humility. Together, we came to this conclusion. Think about it. We are only dishonest because we care to much about what we look like to others so we hide and lie and cheat. The humble are always the most honest.
8.                  The Holy Ghost isn’t mormon.
This one's a classic. So many ignorant people always came up to me and said "Elder Cutler, our investigators felt the spirit in their church, what should we tell them?!" or "I feel the spirit in my church, therefore, your church can't be true"....Wrong.  The Spirit's role is to bear testimony of truth and wherever truth is, there will you find the Spirit.
9.                  Sometimes “enduring to the end” simply means enduring to the end of today.
I kind of alluded to this above, but boy do I believe it. Take it one day at a time and if that's too much, take it one hour at a time. :)
10.              Christ is the foundation, not the Bible.
Do NOT get me started on this one. The Bible Belt has solidified my testimony of this point. So many people out here put their faith in the Bible and yet they don't understand Christ. "Well where does it say that in the Bible?" or "If it aint in the Bible, it is not from Christ". WRONG. If we could only understand the nature of God and Christ, we would recognize that they speak, not spake. Christ must be our foundation, not written scripture(written scripture is there to help us understand Christ.) Revelation is the key.
11.              Setting a goal without a plan is wishful thinking.
I believe in this. The secret to all success is goal setting and making plans. If you want baptisms, set a goal and make a plan.
12.              When the dog becomes the problem, pray.
HAHA!! I hope some of you get this one :) Hint: Ed. 3rd
13.              More important than talking is listening.
There is so much more accomplished through listening. Never once did I need a sermon to fix my problems, but I did need someone that would listen and sympathize.
14.              Faith is not hopeful clinging, it is assurance.
To all the atheists: Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge, but it is to have a certain kind of knowledge. Paul puts it well, "Faith is the ASSURANCE of things hoped for the EVIDENCE of things not seen." We don't cling desperately to the idea of a God out of wishful thinking. We believe because we have experienced and collected evidences.
15.              “To live with gratitude in our hearts is to touch heaven”
This is a quote from President Monson. I had a rough time in Shawnee and I wondered why I was so upset, but then the Spirit whispered to me that I needed to be more grateful. I felt at peace.
16.              We may act, or be acted upon.
There are so many people that choose to let their circumstances act upon them. I have learned through experience that we can overcome our circumstances through faith. That is the whole purpose of mortality, to overcome. We are powerful beyond measure to act, and not be acted upon.
17.              Obedience to law is liberty.
Classic "missionaryism". Who would have ever thought that laws make you free? ;) What makes this country free...the constitution. If I were to sit down at the piano and try and play Beethoven right now, I would not be "liberated" to do so because my abilities restrict my liberty to do so. But if I were to follow the laws and theories of piano, eventually I would be free to play Beethoven whenever I wanted. Obedience to law is liberty.
18.              There is no such thing as ‘falling in love’.
Like I said, we have a choice. I was so dumb always saying "mom, I just fell in love with her". Sikeeeee!! We choose to love!! Love is a choice!! :)
19.              The principle on which the government of heaven is conducted is “revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the Children of God are placed”.
This is my favorite quote in preach my gospel. I would be willing to bet that over 95% of the Christian population does not understand this principle.
20.              We don’t know God because we don’t know His children.
I love this!! The closer I allow myself to get to His Children, the closer I get to Him. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"
21.              It is possible to be joyful in unhappy times.
Joy is long term, happiness is short term. I have been unhappy in some hours of the day, but in the grand scheme of things, I can still be "swallowed up in the 'joy of the Son'.
22.              God speaks “line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little there a little”
It takes patience to understand God's will because as we are writing our "books of life",  he only gives us the next line to work with.
23.              Christ knows how we feel, even when we have food poisoning.
While I was in Edmond 3rd at the beginning of my mission I got food poisoning. I remember one night puking 15 times. The next morning I was still puking. As I leaned over the toilet, I thought to myself, "Did He really feel this?" and an overwhelming spiritual hug took over my whole body. He really did feel what we feel.
24.              “A bell isn’t a bell until its rung; a song isn’t a song until it’s sung; the love in your heart wasn’t meant to stay; love isn’t love until you give it away.”
Enough said. Quote by Pres. Monson.
25.              Sometimes, no answer at all is your answer.
I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I have not received and answer, but in those times I recognize that, that is my answer. Sometimes He listens, and sometimes, He leaves it up to us. :)
26.              Atonement: It’s not a noun, it’s a process.
This is the story of my mission. This is the story of my life. To be at one with Christ and God is to be happy. Atonement is an ongoing recurring process until one day we will sit down with them in the Celestial Kingdom and we will be "pure, even as they are pure".
27.              A testimony is knowing something is true, conversion is consistently being true to what you know.
Classic Elder Bednar quote. This was me before my mission and my mission taught me how to be true to what I know. As I did that, I became acquainted with Them.
28.              Priesthood keys are real.
Holy Cow! I have gained a STRONG testimony that priesthood keys direct this work.
29.              Faith is believing that, behind each mortal experience there is an eternal significant lesson to be learned.
This came to me as I was writing in my journal one day. I believe it. There is something always to be learned.
30.              “When you cannot love someone, look into their eyes long enough to see the rudiments of the child of God in them”
This is a quote give to me by the Orgills. I love the wisdom it speaks. I have had to do this many times out here to people that really dislike us. Make eye contact! :)
31.              We are more susceptible to being taught while climbing a mountain because we are humble and willing to listen.
I learned this in a testimony meeting in Stillwater. We always hear about prophets climbing to the top of the mountain to be taught. I always wondered why, but now I know. :)
32.              You can never slice a piece of cheese so thin that there won’t be two sides.
I have learned for myself that I am not always right. :) I have loved learning to council out here. The Spirit edifies all when we do.
33.              Covenants intensify faith.
I went through a covenant spurt during studies awhile back and learned this. Promises from God allow us to be sure that things will come to pass. There is a "light at the end of the tunnel"
34.              Repentance is turning away from the past and walking forward into the future towards Jesus Christ.
I went through a DIFFICULT time in Shawnee because of some things from the past. I fasted one day and I got my answer that sunday after church. It all clicked with me then.
35.              Everyone goes through refining processes, but not everyone will be refined in the process.
Like I said, we can act or be acted upon. :) Through opposition we are given opportunities to be refined and more like our Father in Heaven.
36.              “We cannot earn exaltation, but we can indicate through our faith and behavior that we desire it more than anything else.”
"You Mormons think that you can earn your way into heaven"....I've heard it over and over and over. (Sheri Dew)
37.              Sometimes the solution is “tickle fight”.
We have had situations where tickle fights are the only things that work. :) Funny stories.
38.              “Sometimes God withholds His answers so He can create a pocket in our hearts big enough to place the answer in it.”
Mom, you sent me this quote and it perfectly explains what I went through the past couple of months with BYU.
39.              Soccer does not define who I am and what I can be.
I thought I could be confident because of my abilities to play soccer before I left. Now, it doesn't matter to me.
40.              Addictions are evil.
I have seen families and people destroyed because of addictions. They are horrible. They are scary. They are
41.              I was “born of goodly parents”…and they were right.
So many times out here I have found myself saying "Wow, I sound like my mom". They were right about everything.
42.              The devil is real.
I have had experiences with ministering to people with evil spirits and casting things out. The devil is real.
43.              “Teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves.”
Story of my mission. Great quote from Joseph Smith.
44.              There is absolute truth.
I am SO SICK of hearing, "well, you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe, we'll all be okay in the end"....We should care a little more about what is true and what is not. There is no salvation in believing something that is not true.
45.              You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink.
We did a training on this one time. It's kind of the same thing as the quote from Joseph Smith, but its got the OKIE twang in it :)
46.              ‘Remember’: Keep a journal.
This has been grilled into me by the Spirit. I love going back and reading past journal entries. It helps us "remember" which is a covenant we make each week.
47.              Take the lid off and jump.
If you put a flea in a jar without a lid, it will jump out. If you put the lid on, it will only jump just barely below the lid. When you take it back off, it cannot jump any higher. When that flea has posterity, those fleas are genetically trained to only jump as high as the lid would have let them. But if you put a brand new flea in the jar, all of them will be trained to jump out again. So it is with missionaries and their respective areas.
48.              Being a witness is much more than belief, it is experience.
I have learned that through all my trials and opposition, God has taught me how to be His witness. This is the way we gain evidence and knowledge about Him.
49.              Sacrifice is only an eternal investment.
Before my mission, I thought I was making a sacrifice. Ha.
50.              To sin is to “miss the mark”
Greek word for Sin=hamartia, which means to miss the mark as in shooting arrows at a target. Anything that is taking away from our purpose to inherit eternal life is sin.
60.  "Get on your knees and pray, and then get on your feet and get to work"
Love this quote from president Hinkcley. I believe that diligence coupled with prayer will solve everything after being out here.
61.  Grace doesn't make up the difference, it is the difference.
I wanted to end on this one for a reason. I was sitting in church on sunday wondering if I had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish during my two years. Thoughts like this ran through my head...."Did I work hard enough?" "Did I put it all on the line?" "Did I accomplish everything that I was supposed to?". I then realized that I did not work hard enough. I did not put it all on the line. I did not accomplish everything I was supposed to. There was always one more person to talk to that I may have missed. There was always one more person waiting to hear about the Book of Mormon or Bible. There was always a little more I could've given. I could've said this a little better. I could have smiled one more time. I could have done this and this and this..... THEN I realized this. God doesn't care about what I have done. He only cares about who we have become as a result of what we have done. I then remembered the word ATONEMENT. Have I become more "AT-ONE"  with Christ and my Heavenly Father? Has my heart been changed? I answered with a resounding yes. I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love. I have been redeemed. My past is behind me and my future is right now. I now can say with confidence that I know the Master better than I did yesterday not because I have seen Him, but because I have become more like Him. I have learned for myself that His grace is not needed only to make up for what we lacked. His grace is the reason I did what I did yesterday, and it is the reason I am who I am today. His grace changed my heart through faith and repentance on His name. I can conclude that  in the process of leading others to Christ, I have been led to Him. I am His witness in a new and better way than I was yesterday. He is MYbrother and He is MY Savior.

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