Monday, September 26, 2016

August 22, 2016 “Do you love me more than these?”

August 22, 2016

So this week we were in ward council and the Bishop told us to go find the counselor in the Elder’s Quorum.  He’s a returned missionary, sealed in the temple, and 27 or 30 yrs old.  He’s got a wife and a kid, and acts like a super punk.  He thinks his life is alright, but he actually only comes to church only once ever three months. So he counts as a less active.  The Bishop told us that he doesn’t need any numbing antiseptic stuff, he needs a good stiff chewing out.  So, we went looking for him! 

We had actually visited him before, but hadn’t done much more than that. We went looking for him, on Sunday night.  We tried to talk to his family, but found out that he no longer lived there, he had moved.  We are going to have to find him, we learned that he moved within the ward boundaries.  Since he wasn't there, we were talking to the guy who owned the apartment building where he used to live.  The owner lived in a lower apartment with his wife.  We asked him if he would like to hear the message we had to share, and he said yes!  That was a surprise, because we were in a richer area in a nice neighborhood, and usually in that part of town the people rarely listen to us or accept very much.  But he seemed really receptive, which was very cool. 

So we came into his house, we taught the first vision, and it was one of the most spiritual lessons ever.  There were no distractions, there was no huge speaker blasting music outside, there were no people passing on loud bikes, trucks, and no little kids screaming.  It was actually quiet and peaceful.  We were able to teach and testify about the restoration all the way through, and the spirit was strong.  It was so awesome!  We will be visiting him again next Sunday.

Saturday we found a less active.  We got the referral from Hermano Cavrales, he’s one of the high priest group leaders.  He’s super funny!  He’s helped us a lot with investigators and less actives.  He’s a super cool guy.  In his childhood, his mom had him when she was only 16, he never had a Dad.  He lived in Barranquilla for a long time, then left to live on the streets when he was just 12.  He drifted around, ate garbage, and survived.  At 18, he had planned to go into the military.  He got married, then at 21 he found the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s been a strong member since that day. 

In his house, he has a nephew that lives there with him, who is 21.  His name is Andres.  He went and served a full 2 year mission.  He went to the temple, has done everything he was supposed to, but he is now completely inactive.  We didn’t know he was living there until recently, but we went over to his house and sat down and had a really good direct talk with him. We taught him about John 21:15-17, when Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Talking about the fish.  As we were talking to him, he had a lot of excuses about why he no longer comes to church.  He works at a nice company, and he has to work on Sundays.  But even beyond work, he no longer reads his scriptures, he doesn’t pray, he doesn’t do anything else.  So we were really direct with him, and he was really squirming.  We got to the question: “Do you love Jesus more than your work?”  

It was one of the saddest moments I’ve had on my mission.  Here he is, a returned missionary, I thought about his mission president, his companions, the leaders in his mission that he worked with, all who tried to help him, and here he is after all he’s done, and he can’t answer that he loves Jesus more than his work.  Wow.  Since he could not answer us, we testified that he needed to make some changes.  We pretty much called him to repentance, right there in his own house. The next day, he changed his shift at work and came to church!   It was one of those moments we will always remember.  Usually we invite with love, we’re patient, we work with people.  But this was a very direct and bold visit, and we called him personally to repent and change. And he did it. 

If there is anyone reading this that has returned from their mission and is doing something dumb, open your scriptures.  Ready John 21, think about Peter after his mission, and answer the question Jesus asked him, “Do you love me more than these?”  And figure out what “these” are for you—work, hobbies, friends, a stupid game, TV, being lazy or sleep.  Whatever it is, I hope you pick the right answer.

This week we had a really cool ward council.  The members are really super direct.  We’ve gained a lot of confidence with the Bishop and the Priesthood leaders here.  We talked a lot about the ward members who are all returned missionaries.  When they make assignments and ask people to do things, they always look at the strong people.  If they have asked others, and they failed to do their assignment, they have taken them off the list of people to send.  And it made me sad to see a name they took off.  They said, oh he can’t do it, he’s not very excited, he no longer works like a returned missionary.  Wow, it’s so very important to do the things you know you are supposed to do.  If you go on a mission, make good changes in your life, but then return home and just live the life you were living before, you obviously missed something.  There is a great purpose—we all have to progress, keep working, and doing something different everyday.  We should always be worthy of the Bishop’s trust, and have the Bishop’s confidence that you can go and help people. 

I have been reading a talk about Pride.  The biggest things I’ have learned is that we look at Pride as something being selfish, self-centered, slow to forgive…these things are just the fruit of pride.  The ROOT of pride in Spanish is making an enemy or drawing a line.  Any type of competiveness.  Anytime you draw a line between yourself and someone else, to make a comparison, that’s when Pride starts. Whether it’s big or small, good or bad, that’s when pride starts. There should never be a line between you and someone else.  The object of pride is to put yourself above everyone else.  It’s not like having new car, but it’s having a “newer” car  than your neighbor.  It’s not having a “newer” house, it’s thinking you have  nicer house than your neighbor.  There are so many fruits of pride.  We should not put ourselves above other people.  We need to be more worried about what God thinks. 

What we need to think is, “How can I elevate someone to my level or higher?” If we’re constantly looking for that, we will be filled with humility.  It’s hard to think about what’s good for somebody else. It’s easier to think about what I want.  Pride is the universal sins.  It’s one of the great addictions.  Look for humility in all that you do.  Maybe you can make this your personal study topic this week. 

Hope you guys are doing great.  Hope everything is going well. 

Have a great week.
Elder Burk  

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