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The Master Puzzler

“I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about the church, why people stay, why they shouldn’t stay, church doctrine vs. church policy, the list goes on & on.
I heard a powerful analogy at church today that I want to share here for myself to look back on, and also for those who may need to hear it.

The Analogy…

The analogy, or parable if you will, was to think of the gospel, the church, God’s plan or even just LIFE, like a puzzle. When you start a puzzle, you start with what you know. You work on the outside pieces, pieces with clear edges, pieces you are confident belong.
As the puzzle continues, you may run into various pieces that don’t seem to belong, that fit weird, or don’t make sense. But you don’t throw out the entire puzzle just because you can’t figure out where that piece goes. You know there’s a bigger picture coming into place. You set aside that puzzle piece and keep working at the rest of the puzzle. Eventually, the picture will become more and more clear and it will be obvious where that seemingly unimportant, or incorrect piece goes. You’ll be glad you didn’t give up or throw that piece out because you’ll see the bigger picture.
There are many things I don’t have the answers to, but I know that God is the master puzzler, if you will, and every piece of this life; the gospel; and his plan is there for a reason. (1 Nephi 11:17❤️) Even if we can’t see where it fits now, don’t let what you don’t know or understand stop you from what you do. Keep doing the puzzle. Keep all the pieces in sight until you know where they go. I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it. 🤍 ”    – From a social media post by Emma Hixson

Why not religion?

Why not Religion?
As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks taught: “[Religion] remains the most powerful community builder the world has known. … Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age. The idea that society can do without it flies in the face of history.”
Nearly 2 years ago, we received an unexpected call from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Subsequently, we were asked to preside over one of the 411 missions of the church.
In time we were assigned to the Belgium Netherlands Mission, serving here June 2021 – July 2024.
Our life’s have changed.
It is a voluntary assignment.
So – why did we accept the call?
It was a moment that really mattered – it was a day of determination.
Simply stated, Jesus Christ is the reason.
It’s also because of a strong conviction of the truth of this work and I choose to let my faith show.
That said, the subject of religion can be touchy, especially where we live now!
Religious views are a deeply personal and even sacred thing.

Religion should be three things:

Firstly, it should provide answers to basic questions that the sincerest human beings ultimately come around to, namely what is our purpose in life…?
• Where did we come from?
• Why are we here?
• Where are we going after this life is over.
True religion should offer answers to our minds that our hearts can respond to.
Secondly, it should provide a way for us to live and find happiness not only here on earth but also in the life to come.
Thirdly, it must provide a way to provide a confirming witness that the religion is true, which in turn motivates and encourages you to live that way.
Like millions of others, I’ve found that through the Book of Mormon.
As Neal A. Maxwell once said, “Do not dare to read the Book of Mormon seriously, or you may suddenly realize that it is inlaid with incredibly important insights from a millennium of sacred history.”
Answering those three things and choosing to live my religion, motivates me every day.
If you are serious – it will answer all your questions too.
How can faith & religion help you in your life?

Somethingism

Do you believe in 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠?
Our beliefs define who we are and what we do.
Belief – “the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true”
Somethingism – “an unspecified belief in some higher force”
I’ve met so many people here who believe in something, but they’re not sure what that something is.
When you believe in something – when you believe it to your very core – your genuine actions speak for you.
Action starts with one critical element: 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒇!
Your actions will speak louder than words when you stand strong in your beliefs.
When you live by what you believe in, you not only make a difference to yourself, but also your family, your friends and your community.

Belief is the result of experience.

Beliefs can bring us together or even tear us apart.
Belief is a way of understanding and discovering ourselves and the world around us, both things seen and also unseen.
We all believe in things we can’t see, because frankly it’s not possible to see everything. For example…
– Do you believe in love?
– Do you believe in mercy?
– Do you believe in kindness?
– Do you believe in hope?
– Do you believe in justice?
All of these things we can’t see, but we know exist.
When it comes to spiritual things, I believe the answers are much the same.
Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Believing is part of life.
When it comes to matters of faith, I have confidence in my experience of reality.
I experience the fruits of my faith, every day.
The deepest things in life are not seen but felt.  They bring joy.
When those deepest things get into our hearts, our very natures are changed.
And so it is with our beliefs.

I believe in something.

That something is a someone.
He is Jesus Christ.
In your pursuit of something, I know that the most important something you can learn, comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I invite you to come to know Him and love Him as I do.
As He said to the ruler of the synagogue in Mark 5:36 “…Be not afraid, only believe.”
Consider this invitation from The Book of Mormon.
…in Alma 32:27 “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words”
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧?

Is there a God?

Frequently I’m asked – “Is there a God, is there a creator?”
In answer to that question, consider this response…
“What are the odds that a tornado spinning through a junkyard would create a Boeing 747?” – Bruce C. Hafen.
In Alma 30:44, Alma states to Korihor “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion.”
A study of the sciences, helps us to understand that if the earth were just slightly closer to the sun, then all life on earth would simply be burnt up.
Conversely, if the earth was slightly further from the sun, then all life on earth would freeze!
I choose to believe that a divine power holds things in place through laws that have been irrevocably decreed from long before this earth was created.
I know that no matter what era we live in, we can find peace in the powerful parallels between the scriptures and our own lives.

Attitude – The Little Engine That Could

“Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s souls”, said Spencer W. Kimball.
Some years ago, I considered my own plans and questioned if I had set my sights to low?
Have you?
Perhaps doubts and fears kick in, along with feelings of inadequacy. You may even resign yourself to living a life of mediocrity and dissatisfaction.
Have you been there?
On occasion, I know I have. But what is really possible?
As a child I recall the story of “The Little Engine That Could.”
Remember the story of the engine that broke down…..
A big passenger engine, the freight engine and then an old engine passed by, but none of them would pull the train over the mountain. Then a little blue engine came by, she was not very big, and was only used in the yard and had never been over the mountain, but she said to herself “I think I can, I think I can.” So, she hooked herself up to the train and with all her might and determination, eventually climbed to the top of the mountain, then going down the other side said to herself “I thought I could, I thought I could”
Thomas S. Monson frequently stated that “Attitude determines altitude.”
Simply stated, fulfilling our potential in this life, depends primarily on our positive attitude, and the inner belief that we really can make a difference.
We can put our trust in the Lord and be positive.
Yet, our faith is often tested.
Choosing faith requires strength, not weakness.
With the help of Jesus Christ and as we exercise our faith in Him, I believe we can overcome any challenge and raise our vision higher.
I love this scripture from Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will lift wings like eagles; they will run, and they will not tire; and walk, and do not faint.”
We must learn to hope, to dream big, to set goals and to take action.
Begin today – you will never regret it!

Signatures

“That simply cannot be…” I thought puzzlingly to myself – “another 𝒄𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆?”
Let me explain……
Coincidence – “an occasion when two or more similar things happen at the same time, especially in a way that is unlikely and surprising”
Last Sunday, both Monic and I spoke in the Apeldoorn Stake Conference. I chose to speak on a question that is regularly posed to our missionaries, “During the past month, how have you seen the hand of the Lord in your work?”
In my talk, I shared a few quotes from a number of different missionaries in response to that question.
Regularly, in my daily journal writing I also record experiences that are simply beyond mere coincidence.
Quite frankly, in recent months I have seen this manifest…. constantly.
President Thomas S. Monson said, “When we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help.”

Signatures

In my personal library of good books, one of my favourites is “Divine Signatures.”
Author Gerald N. Lund learned that with the Lord, there are no coincidences, only sacred autographs.
“Sometimes the Lord sends his blessings in such a highly unusual way, dramatic or precisely timed manner, that it might be likened to a ‘divine signature,'” Lund writes. “It is as though the Lord ‘signs’ the blessing personally so that we will know with certainty that it comes from him. In doing so, God not only gives his blessing, but at the same time he strengthens our faith and deepens our testimony of him.”
I want to share my testimony of that (and I am choosing my words carefully) – 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭.
I am now a witness to the fact that, day in, day out, week in, week out, I see tender mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His divine signature manifest in the details of our missionary service, it is His confirming hand.
The Lord’s signature is in the details.
Yesterday, I had a personal testimony of another one to add to the list of a multitude of others.
A faith filled conversation in the morning, a faith filled action in the afternoon, manifest a remarkable coincidence or in essence a divine signature of the Lord only a few hours later in the evening.
And the result?
Another sure witness that The Lord is in the details of each of our lives.
I hope that we can all recognise the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us.
Exercise your faith in Him, stop, pause and reflect, then ask yourself “how have I seen the Lord’s hand in my life today?”