Farewell talk on testimony

Today was farewell talk #1 of 2! While I added a lot of stuff in after, here are the notes I read off!

Testimony Talk  ||  September 22, 2013

So for any of you who don’t know me, I’m Devon and Lynette Romney’s second child, first daughter. Its totally okay if your thinking, “I didn’t know they had another daughter” because I’ve spent the last year and a bit in our Stake’s Singles Ward, while attending Eastern Washington University. Also, if you’re really out of the loop, I’m leaving on October 9 to serve the lord in Singapore and Malaysia. Because I’m leaving in 17 days, pretty much everything in my remarks will be turned around and applied to missionary work.

In the culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the word testimony is one that is said frequently and used by everyone, even the young children. Every month we have a fast and testimony meeting where anyone who wants can stand at the microphone and bear their testimony. Children as young as four or five even get up and start their remarks with “I’d like to bear my testimony.”

Defined secularly a testimony is just a written or spoken statement. For Example, the defendant gave his testimony of the crime scene in court.

By our church: A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. For example, I have received a witness of the truthfulness of this Gospel, therefore, I have a testimony of it.

O Leslie Stone said: “a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel is the most precious possession [you] can have. It cannot be purchased. No one can give it to [you]. It can only be secured by prayer, by study, by faith, by repentance, by righteous living, and by listening to others bearing their testimonies, and through the manifestation of the Holy Ghost.”

We have so many accounts of latter-day prophets having to lean on their testimonies in times of trial. I’m sure that we’ve all known people who say such things. Some of us in this congregation may have had experiences were we’ve relied on our testimony more than any person in our lives.

While a testimony cannot be touched and felt in a tangible way, we can still see it in ourselves and others. We can build it, we can share it, and we can break it, just like any home or building.

But first, why should we want gain a testimony?

  • You cannot gain a testimony if you do not want one.
    • This is key to missionary work, because those who aren’t seeking with never find.
  • You cannot teach a principle if you cannot testify of it.
    • As a missionary, all I’m going to do is teach principles of the gospel and then testify of them. I cannot testify without a testimony.
  • When you understand and have received a spiritual witness of a principle of the gospel, hard choices in life become more black and white.
    • This is not to say that all hard choices are eleviated, but we are better equipped to make a righteous decision.
  • Above all, testimonies bring peace to broken souls because of knowledge and faith.
    • A lot of investigators mention that they feel guilt for their sins. By introducing them to the atonement of Jesus Christ, not only can they be relieved of their guilt, but they built their testimonies on it.

A testimony is built on interactions with faith.

So once you have a desire for further knowledge and testimony, President Stone gave us these:

Ways to grow our testimony:

  • Study our scriptures.
    • To study means to read intelligently. Just reading and forgetting is not studying.
  • Keep the commandments.
    • The scriptures say “if ye love me, keep my commandments.” If we turn this statement around, by not keeping the commandments of God, we are saying we don’t love him.
  • Attend church meetings.
    • While some people say they can have religion and a relationship without God without organized religion, we attend church meetings not only to take the Sacrament but to be lifted up by those around us.
  • Have good friends who lift us up.
  • Stay away from evil.
  • Repent.
  • Pray.

These line up almost perfectly with the challenges given to investigators through out their teaching process. I think this just goes to show how even members of this church are investigators of sorts when it comes to chasing after knowledge.

One way to lose a testimony is complacence. O. Leslie Stone also said that when a testimony is not getting stronger, it is getting weaker. However this is a slow descent to oblivion.

In my opinion, the fastest way to banish a testimony from the soul is through blatant disobedience to the Lord’s commandments. When we are unrighteous, the spirit abandons us. The whole point of a testimony is that the spirit of God witnesses to us of truth.

Now I want to address the youth of this ward. You teenagers are on the horizon of adulthood. Give it a few years and you will be away from Mom and Dad and out of the comforting arms of this ward. And heres a little secret for you. Just because you get old doesn’t mean you magically acquire a testimony and all the tools you need to withstand the harsh conditions of the secular world. I echo the prophets and apostles when I plead with you to be firm in the gospel now! Today! If you haven’t begun your journey to apostleship then commit to starting right now by repenting of your shortcomings and asking for strength to be what the lord needs you to be. If you procrastinate it any more than you will miss out on the ideal time to grow your testimony.

My final thought on testimony is one by C.S. Lewis. Said he, “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun; not because I can see it, but by it and everything else.”

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