Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Safe from the storms and in good spirits...

Guess who saw Elder Porter??? This guy!!! I saw him at Transfer Point and we hugged and talked, it was so good to see an old friend from home... that storm last week blew through and it was pretty scary! The sirens were blaring and it was pouring rain and hail, etc. Luckily no funnel clouds touched down near us, so we were fine.

This week as usual we did a lot of tracting and contacting Less-Actives. A member in the ward came up with a great idea that we are going to implement soon. This member created a flyer for us and it says

"Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be in your neighborhood on this date at this time to answer questions such as:
1. Who was Joseph Smith?
2. What is the Book of Mormon?
3. How families can be together forever and not "til death do you part."
4. And the purpose of life.

if you would like to set up an appointment in advance here is our number"

So kind of like that. We'll hand those out to a neighborhood and then go back at the time we scheduled and that way the people know when we'll be coming by and separates the wheat from the tares early and those that will listen or have questions will be home or call us. So we are excited to see how it works.


Many a time I oft find myself discussing the issue of authority with a member of another faith, or a pastor. There is a question I like to pose to them:

---> Where and how did you gain your authority to minister or where did your pastor gain his authority?

They tell me "Oh, he got it or I got it from graduating from a bible school." or "I felt as a child compelled to become a minister so I apprenticed a pastor or decided to start my own church."

I have yet to have a response that tells me they received it by the hand of a prophet or from God himself or an angel. There are many scriptures that help point us in the right direction about the Priesthood:

>Hebrews 5:4---one must be called of God as was Aaron, Aaron was called by a Prophet of God and ordained at his hand.

>1 Corinthians 4:20----the kingdom of God is not found in scripture but in the authority which would result in having a prophet and the authority to perform ordinances thus creating the kingdom of God.

>Acts 1:22---witnesses were ordained

>John 15:16---apostles were chosen and ordained

>Matthew 16:19---God's power only can seal things on Earth and it Heaven

I am thrilled to think I hold the Priesthood, that I'm an Elder. It's as if I hold a sacred heirloom from God passed down all the way to me and that if I stay worthy of it, God through me can bless others around me and it can change me to be the man of God he wants me to be. I'm thankful our Heavenly Father trusts us with such a gift, with such a power. Whenever I give something special to someone I always hope they treat it with care and respect, and that it is used. He must feel the same way, he is giving imperfect mortals his power and authority and I am sure he hopes and wishes all of his sons that receive it, treat it special and act like they are priesthood holders.


I can't speak about the Priesthood without speaking about the second half of it, which is motherhood. I heard a good quote the other day from a sister in the ward giving a talk about how she wasn't married until she was 37 and how when she asked her husband if he was still willing to have kids (because she really wanted to have children and be a mother and he already had kids) and her husband said the greatest statement,

"Denying a woman motherhood, would be like denying a man the priesthood."

So very true. I have heard that the Priesthood can't function without Women and that the family can't function without a loving Mother or the Priesthood. So you must have both. I think there is such a special bond between a mom and a child. They get the privilege of housing God's spirits and to raise and care for them. Every child owes their life to their mother. Mother's have a special penetrating love that can be felt in a hug, or a kiss on an owie, or in a homemade lunch, or in a little note, or in loving counsel, or in chaperoning teenagers around. They do everything for their child's well-being often neglecting their own time for their children.

Of course there are instances where parents use their agency contrary to Heavenly Father's plan and neglect their duties or treat their children with hostility and cruelty, but my prayer is that we can have love at home and if you are or were raised in those type of circumstances I hope you can forgive them and turn and raise a family in the way you wished to have been raised. I bet it is very hard, for I know not what it is like, but I do know that God loves us all and that the Atonement covers all.

I have been extremely blessed to have been raised by a worthy priesthood holder and a wonderful loving mother. I am who I am because of them.

Elder Blackburn

Monday, May 20, 2013

Staying in Fayetteville

Hello family and friends, 

Transfer calls came and I am staying here in Fayetteville for a little bit longer. However, Elder Archibald is getting transferred to Broken Arrow, OK. My new companion is going to be Elder Rose. And guess what?! Elder Porter is getting transferred real close to me! He's going to Prairie Grove, AR! I am thrilled that I will be able to see an old friend from home. Who would've thought that many years ago that me and Jakey Porter would be all grown up and serving together. What a joy! (for those of you who do not know the story here..Elder Porter and Elder Blackburn are from the same ward and grew up about a block away from each other)
Yes, I have heard of the severe weather going through the midwest right now. Hold on to your seats and get in those tornado shelters folks, it's gonna be a bad one! We have entered the Tornado season so they're beginning to tear through the midwest. I'm safe though, Arkansas steers clear most of the time from the crazy storms. This week was a good ol' week filled with countless hours finding people to teach. Many miles walked and many doors knocked and being so exhausted by night that when it is time to go to sleep that as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm fast asleep. This week while tracting we found some potentials and am excited to try by them again. We are teaching a small group of investigators and my favorite investigator owns a french bull dog named Dexter. Our objective is to get him (not the dog) to church. I think that is that hardest for investigators just to come to church.  


While talking with people at the door or on the street many people are confused and don't see the need for some of our doctrine or can't understand how we got/"came up" with those ideas or say, "that's not talked about it the bible!" Well, many churches claim to just follow the bible and that's it. And that's about as far as they get. Let me illustrate an example that will explain my point: If the world were to destroy every bible on the earth, how many churches would remain? One. And that one is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is because our doctrine doesn't come from just reading the Bible, it comes from revelation. Every other church just reads the bible and tries to follow it or mimic it but ultimately they end up just preaching the same information over and over and nothing really happens. Luckily for Latter-day saints we have Prophets and Apostles and continuing revelation that builds "Line upon line and precept upon precept." Our gospel knowledge is increasing as we understand the doctrines Heavenly Father has allowed us to have. Our doctrine can be found in the bible but we don't need the bible for our church to function properly. That may sound rash but if you think about it, Heavenly Father revealed everything we need anew. He gave the Creation accounts in the revelations known as the books of Moses and Abraham, he gave us the Doctrine and Covenants which outlines every priesthood office, how the church works, how and why we do ordinances, revelation on ordinances, specifics on the plan of salvation, clarifies bible passages, the need for temples etc. etc. and then the Book of Mormon is our testament of Jesus Christ and his relation to us and that he is the Savior of the world and atoned for our sins and it is through him we are saved; it also testifies of the prophet Joseph Smith. We don't need the Bible to uphold our doctrine, we teach as missionaries that the Book of Mormon is the KEYSTONE of our religion. And this is all supported by Christ when he tells Peter that upon this Rock (which is the principle of revelation) I will build my church. Revelation is absolutely necessary in Christ's church. The Book of Mormon as our keystone represents that principle of revelation because if that book is true, everything else is. You need not worry. Just follow the Prophet, he will never lead us astray. Isn't it miraculous that we members are part of the True and Living Church? We live in a time where there is a Prophet of God leading us! We live in the time that all the ancient prophets testified of: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times! We are part of the "Restitution of All things."

Elder Blackburn

Mother's Day Call

It has been five months since we spoke with Elder B - the time has really flown by.  He was is usual funny self teasing his siblings and talking with he soon-to-be brother in law for the first time.  He closed with his testimony and we loved every minute of it!


Well, another Mothers' Day comes and goes and now I am left to myself it seems for another seven months until Christmas rolls around. It was wonderful to hear your voices and listen to all the exciting things that have transpired. I felt at times though, I was just rambling, I suppose that is what happens when one has so much to say in so little time. I thought this time I wouldn't cry but when a son hears his mom's voice it doesn't matter how tough he is, that sweet nurturing voice he has known since birth brings down that "tough/grown up" wall and the tears start flowing. Mom you are an elect lady and I consider you a modern day Emma Smith...you live your heritage well and are an example of your ancestors, I know they are proud.

I have labeled this "Part 1" because I have decided to use this time to discourse on doctrine that way not only do I learn from the experience but others who read hopefully are edified as well.

The Gift of Tongues

As we tracted this week we came across a pentecostal preacher. He was kind and took the time to discuss some subjects with us. I came away with the spirit of study and knew I had my next problem to solve. He told me how they believe in the same church set up and revealed in the book of Acts. Their goal is to have a church as close as possible to that church and try to meet all the criteria. (they are Pentecostal due to their almost obsession with the Day of Pentecost). As I studied the book of Acts I realized they miss a few verses that explain the purpose for the "Gift of Tongues" v. 6-8 shows how it was so that every man could hear the gospel preached in their OWN tongue.


Since they believe in the same church organization held in the New Testament, I then asked this man, "Sir-if you have the same organization as the church in the New Testament, then you would have a prophet and twelve apostles who receive revelation just like how Peter received revelation that the Gentiles could have the Gospel, is this so?"

He then proceeded to explain that they didn't. I thought to myself, How can this be so? How can people actually join themselves to something with so many errors? Revelation can be given to anyone but only for themselves and for those they have stewardship over. Revelation in regard to the Prophet and Apostles is for the world and for the people of the church. Christ's true church MUST work on revelation because that is what Prophets do - receive revelation to know 1. How to progress the work in the Kingdom 2. when a prophecy is fulfilled 3. Reveal new doctrines that the Church is ready to receive. <---all of this being God's will. We learn all things "line upon line, precept upon precept." Some things have changed in both doctrine and practice in the church and that is a GOOD thing because we cannot remain the same...the leaders learn "line upon line" as well.


Because of the Great Apostasy many people were left with no direction. No Prophet = No direction, no direction = no progression, no progression = no enlightenment and no revelation. The Catholic church had become intertwined with political issues and all other christian churches broke off from them. Through the years God had prepared America for the "Restitution of all things" and that began at the time of Joseph Smith. When Joseph Smith read Eph. 4:5 he knew that, that was not so because of all the confusing sects of religion. As he continued reading he came across the classic scripture of James 1:5 which said that if someone lacked wisdom they could ask God and he would respond back freely. He was impressed to do so and one day the spirit impressed upon him that he needed to go and ask of God. As he did so the heavens that were thought to be sealed were opened and Not only did just Jesus Christ appear but God, the Eternal Father appear. He called Joseph by name <---that is so awe-inspiring because that means he knows YOU TOO. He told Joseph that he had a great work to do and that he would be prepared to be the Prophet to restore all the keys, doctrine, principles, authority, ordinances, etc. that were since lost. And he did just that however we know we still don't have all things revealed to us and just like the Article of Faith 9 states he has many things yet to reveal to us. God knew that without a great miracle it would be very difficult to have people believe on this new Prophet and that there needed to be evidence for us, his children, to know this great work has begun. So he all along had the Ancient Americans prepare their life story which included the Gospel, dealings with God, doctrines of salvation, and testament of Jesus Christ's Atonement, etc. We can know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and really did do these great things and restore Christ's church to the Earth by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. We don't have to believe what other people say, we can find out for ourselves by exercising our faith --by reading and then receive an answer from God --- by praying then we will know it is true --- by the spirit which will manifest itself by a warm, comforting feeling, of peace or love or joy. It is absolutely necessary we gain a testimony of Joseph Smith because he opened the way for us to Christ. We cannot have a true testimony of Christ without a testimony of his servant Joseph Smith, it just isn't possible. Because without Joseph Smith we would never be able to work out our salvation and use Christ's atonement to return to our Heavenly Father.

Elder Blackburn

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Funny Fayetteville

Wow! Looks like you guys had an exciting week! All this cool stuff is happening while I'm gone, pretty neat to see... life doesn't slow down.... Well I won't be growing up so no need to worry there. ha just kidding. 'tis life I suppose. Well, this week was okay, I was pretty sick but we still got some work done. Excited for a fresh week to get work going here. This area is kind of funny (hence the title) it is a city that like can't make up it's mind if it's a city town or country town. It's unlike any other area I've been in. It is an area that's never really had that much success but we are determined to get it going. This week the weather has been kind of weird, in the history of Arkansas it has like never snowed in May.....it did last week. And it rained everyday of last week besides one. So winter is still hangin' on, it's going to go from winter, right into summer. Tracting wasn't as good as last week but I think it was just a rough week for everyone. While tracting though I saw some pugs and I pet them and one of them only had one eye, so I call 'em the "one-eyed-puggess-face", I think I'm going to buy dog treats so I can give the dogs a treat as I pass (At least I can brighten someone's day) Even though for humans we have the best treat ever, the Gospel. 

Elder Blackburn