Hi again everyone! I'm pretty sure I always start off my e-mails in the same way, but I can't remember. Either way, I want each of you to know that I sincerely hope it's been a wonderful week. Each day is truly such a gift and I hope you've been able to see it as such. Know too that YOU are a gift to so many around you each and every day.
One of the greatest gifts our Father in Heaven gives to us is the people around us, our family. We are surrounded by family each and every day. Each person you see is your brother or sister, a son or daughter of that same God who gave you life. Family members often resemble each other. By seeing my Dad, you will have a pretty strong idea of what I look like as I truly resemble him. We too can resemble our Father in Heaven. Not only are we created in His image having a physical body of flesh and bone as He does, but we can literally resemble His very countenance. Such a resemblance is a gift as we follow Christ.
"And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" (Alma 5:14).
We are blessed to receive the image of God in our countenances as we enter into His fold through following the example of His Only Begotten Son, even Jesus Christ. The greatest step we take in receiving the image of God in our countenances is through baptism by the proper Priesthood authority of God.
Carl Upson took this step over 50 years ago as a 20-year-old boy working as a musician on the streets. He came from an abusive family who made him feel that he was never worth much of anything to anybody. As he learned about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, about The Bible and The Book of Mormon and their supportive roles to one another in inviting all people every where to come unto Christ, he started to feel something different. He started to feel not his earthly circumstances with his family change, but he felt something much more powerful. He felt that he was coming closer to his Father in Heaven, and that he was important to Him. Carl listened to the missionaries, took everything to prayer and was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When Carl recounts this day he says he truly felt profound joy. He says that although the heavens didn't open and he didn't hear the voice of God, he felt a spirit that was more tangible than anything. He felt that God was speaking to him the very same words that were uttered at the time of our Savior's baptism by this same Priesthood authority.
"...This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17).
Can you imagine how much this meant to him? I was not there at Carl's baptism but as he recounted this experience I knew that that day, he had truly received the image of God in his countenance. He had been spiritually reborn and had received the gift of the Holy Ghost. For all who were there, I knew they could see a resemblance of our Heavenly Father in his face. What a precious gift it is to receive our Father's image in our countenance as we are born of Him.
We knocked on Carl's door my first week here in Reno. His eyes lit up as he saw our name tags and immediately welcomed us into his home. Carl is now in his late 70's and has been less active for quite some time but has been eager to come back to church. I may not have been there at his baptism, but just yesterday I was able to witness him as he was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood of God.
I watched as Bishop Rader, Brother Watts and Brother Turner laid their hands on Carl's head and bestowed upon him the Priesthood authority of God. Carl was overwhelmed by the spirit that was there...really, we all were. I may not have been there to see Carl enter into the waters of baptism, to see him receive the image of God in his countenance, but I have been able to see him make decisions to have the image of God engraven in his countenance.
"I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?" (Alma 5:19).
The gospel is about so much more than doing, it is about becoming. It is about so much more that receiving, it is about engraving. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not settle with leaving us the way we are, it's purpose is to elevate our divine nature to the surface that we may become like Him. At baptism, we may receive the image of God in our countenances, but what a glorious day it will be, to look up to Him at that last day, and see our eyes in his, to see that we recognize His light because we have tasted of it in our own lives.
|Was on splits with Sister Jump (from Temple Square) and Sister Boots for an hour and a half...through much prayer and diligent seeking we found 5 new investigators in that short time! Thank you Heavenly Father!|
Jess is an investigator we have been teaching over the phone since I have been here in Reno. He is recently out of prison and looking for a whole fresh start in his life. Just this last week we were able to meet with him in person. There he stood, covered in tattoos crawling up his neck and even across the bottoms of his eyes. There he stood, a son of God. We spoke with him, the spirit touched his heart, and he has now accepted baptism. He is now looking forward to receiving the image of God in His countenance and willing to take the steps to have His countenances engraven that it may forever stay with him. You should have seen the joy in his eyes, you should have felt the thick spirit, as he thought of what grand joy it would be for people to see him for his countenance, for the light and not for his tattoos. For the son of God he is.
I invite each of you to write down something each day that you have done to have the image of God engraven in your countenance. I promise you that as you make resembling your Father a priority in your life, you will truly become like Him and be filled with a hope that you will one day stand beside Him, proud of the life you lived and all you are. I testify to each and every one of you that this is the Restored gospel of Jesus Christ. You will never have to search further than your Heavenly Father to know that what I am saying is true, take it to Him and I promise He will show you who He is and who you can become through His son, Jesus Christ.
Sister Briggs :)
PS. Forgot to mention we have a new companion...Sister Clegg from Spanish Fork, fresh from the MTC! We love her and are humbled to be serving with her! :)
SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, The Achievement Day Girls of the Cascade Crest ward, Mary, Becca, Sara, Barry, Brother & Sister Donakey, Grandma Hill, Robert Donakey, Grandfather and Grandma Jeanie, Sister Hoyt, Kelsey Christensen and her lovely Mother! :)