Dearest Cultural Hall!
June 10th was my farewell!! I fasted last week so that I would have the Holy Ghost with me while I prepared and delivered my 20 minute speech. Oh Boy, He sure came through for me because my words were His! I invited about 200 people, and there were 396 that attended! Wahoo! Our family used my farewell as a missionary opportunity by inviting strangers we met in the grocery store line, smokers in their cars, and old friends who haven’t been to church in 15 years or never at all! Having a farewell opened my eyes to show me that I should invite more people to church with me more often!
Whenever I tell people that I’m going to Iowa, almost everyone says, “Oh Boy! Have fun with all that corn!!” So we decided that we’d have a “Corn Fest” at my house after my talk in church. We ate corn dogs, frosted corn flakes, Corn Chex, corn chips with salsa, corn on the cob, roasted corn, and popcorn! Hee hee, we definitely heard people crackin’ a LOT of corny jokes that day!! ;P
In all honesty, it’s against church policy to have a farewell party during church, but my mom felt like she needed to have a big farewell party because all of the other missionaries around us in Utah do. We also wanted to “pay back” for all the food we had eaten at the farewells around us. It was also a chance for family and friends that hadn’t seen each other in years had a chance to meet! (Plus…it motivated my mom and dad to make the yard look nice.) So we technically were rebels….but it was for a good cause, right???
Fare Thee Well My Loved Ones!
Stephanie Tobias—June 10th, 2012
Hello Brotheren and Sisteren, as the folks at BYU would say! Thanks SOOOO MUCH for the musical number!!! And for being here and in my life when I’ve needed you! Ahhhhh to see all of you in the audience supporting me is just one other reassurance that God is happy with this decision I made to go on a mission!
The purpose of my talk isn’t only to define grace or recite scriptures that tell you what grace means. Instead, I pray that the spirit will touch your hearts to change the way you view Jesus Christ’s amazing grace and change the way you view the purpose of repenting. Repenting is not only a commandment we do for God, but it’s a blessing that God offers to us to change into the best person we can be. To truly understand the grace that God has given to us, and the grace he has in store for us, we need to understand the different levels of love. In my ponderings, I discovered that there are 3 degrees of love that we, as humans, can try to obtain in our earthly life.
|3- Charity (continually help as the Savior would)|
|2- Love (listen and act)|
|1-Compassion/mercy (See someone in need and reach out your heart to them)|
**However, there is another degree=GRACE. BD: Enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Given through JC, Receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.
We’ll never be able to obtain because God knows ALL of our faults and sins and weaknesses, but still loves us more than anybody else in the world can. He suffered the atonement so that he can have this powerful grace to exercise upon us. Nephi says (2 Nephi 25:23) it is by grace, after all we can do, that we are saved. These 3 steps of love that we have to offer can lead to a higher life, but they won’t save us unless we have the Grace of Christ to help us be reconciled with God. “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
He is our advocate with the father (D&C 110:4). So he’s going to be the one who lifts us up from the steps to take us to live with our Heavenly Father if we have faith, repent, get baptized, agree to live according to the commandments, covenants, and other obligations that He has set for us.
Sometimes we think that sinning disqualifies us from the grace of God and that we have to “earn” our grace. He loves us and understands us more than any other human being can even comprehend, even ourselves! So when we sin, he’s willing to work with us. Romans 5:20-21 says: Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
To understand this scripture a little better, I’m going to relate a story from a talk entitled “His Grace is Sufficient.” By Brad Wilcox. This talk honestly changed my perspective on Christ’s merciful hand and is my favorite devotional given at BYU.
He said that Christ’s arrangement on Earth is similar to a mom providing a child with piano lessons. The mom pays the debt in full to the piano teacher, and so she has every right to want something in return from the child. She wants her child to practice even though the practice doesn’t pay the mother or piano teacher back in dollar bills. Practicing is a way to show appreciation to the mother and take advantage of the chance to live a higher and more talented life. The mom receives joy from seeing her child improving and using their gift, not from getting repaid. So she keeps calling for more practice!!
Even after a lot of practicing occurs and a pianist hits a wrong note, the mother wouldn’t say that he isn’t worthy to keep practicing because he wasn’t perfect. The mother just expects him to keep trying and to be content with the progress in the right direction that he’s taking.
“Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven? When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous.”
Some people understand that grace comes after we repent, and it does. But a lot of people don’t know that it’s there for us every step of the way as well!! J 2 Corinthians 12:9-my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Why try then? After we die, we will all have the beautiful blessing of being resurrected. The time we spent on Earth is the preparation to meet God and we will feel so much more comfortable in front of His overwhelming power if we tried our very best to please Him while we were on the Earth. We also show appreciation to the Savior when we follow Him and use the atonement to live like Him.
We also want to try to change ourselves because Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from, but also what He has saved us for. His atonement provided an investment in our future by paying for our piano lessons allowing us to practice so we can change for the better.
We DON’T HAVE TO WAIT for heaven to experience this power!! J An example of the FRUITS OF GRACE in the BOM is when King Benjamin (Mosiah 5:2,4) gave a very powerful sermon that told his people about the atonement. Afterwards, the people “Cried with one voice,saying ‘we know of the surety of the truth because of the spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. . . Wherefore we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.”
Another example is after Christ came to theAmericas(4 Nephi 1:15-16), the Nephites were prosperous and happy for about 230 years. “There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. There were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness, and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”
Thus we see that we can change from the natural man to a happy and saintly man through Christ with the grace that He gives to us. If we understand the Grace of God correctly, the atonement and the repentance process comes into play much easier. We don’t feel forced or pressured into the repentance process, but rather invited and enticed that comes from the Love of Christ. Heavenly Father wants us to repent to dwell with Him more than we do. Christ will be the one at the judgment bar, begging all of us to repent. We all have to change, and he’s with us for that learning process! J
–I am SOOO excited to lose myself in the service of the Lord who has given me everything that I am. (Testimony) I encourage everyone to do their best to make it through the temple—it is the happiest place on Earth! Move overDisneyland, because the temple has no comparison to you buddy! It’s free, everyone is welcome, and you don’t have to drive toCaliforniato go there. J Thanks again for attending (close)! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
For those of you who don’t know where I got called to serve to, I’m going to the Iowa Des Moines,Mission! Even thoughIowaisn’t the most “talked about” state, I already feel such a strong connection to the people that I’m going to meet there and I can’t wait to see what they’re like! J Just like Lord calls missionaries to where He needs them to be, I believe that the Lord assigned all of His children to where they were born and raised to learn things specifically that He needed to learn from the people they met there. Everyone I’ve met (ward, school, work, strange coincidences) have taught me things that the Lord needed me to learn and I’m forever grateful for them! That’s one reason I invited you, because you’ve left an impact on me! So never feel ashamed of where you grew up, because you learned unique things that the Lord wants you to learn, and everyone’s learns differently! I feel so blessed for this opportunity to stand here in front of all of you, who have touched my life in more ways than you know.