Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Is God Really Just A Placebo?

 

Have you ever heard of the placebo effect? I have surprisingly heard many different definitions for it, even though it is something talked about by most anyone at one point or another. For the most part, however, when someone brings it up they describe it as wanting to feel something badly enough, or telling yourself something long enough, that it eventually happens. The most prominent example and use of placebo is in medicine and medical studies. Often times doctors will give a patient a placebo medication to see if they can help them without having to use the medication itself. They might give a patient a sugar pill instead of vikadin or a saline solution instead of some other medication. All in all, the placebo effect has become quite useful and quite successful as the body heals itself without the actual drug.

I have talked with a wide variety of people over the last two years, all with their own beliefs and stories. I have talked to the multi millionaires, the homeless man on the side of the street, the people in between, a man claiming to be the reincarnated James Dean, and a man that called himself “Rastamahn” who just walked around with his rasta beenie and sunglasses telling people about his visions. I have talked with Catholics, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, Baptists, Methodists, Wickans, Pagans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Rastafarians, Pastafarians, and members of almost any other religion you can think of. They all have their beliefs and I am fine with that. That is our God given right. With most religions the basics tend to be the same; a belief in a form of deity, basic morals and values, an so on. I expected this, coming on a mission. However, there is one question that was posed to me that I was not expecting and have been thinking about since my first weeks on my mission. “Is God really just a placebo?”

I was sitting in a family’s living room talking to them about their beliefs, when out of nowhere the wife asked the question, “is God really just a placebo?” I don’t really recall what my companion and I said, but it ended up turning into this battle between science and religion that got nowhere, as in all battles between science and religion. It was a great, sincere question that this woman asked and I have been fighting to find out how to word the answer ever since. I cannot promise that my answer to the question will be the answer that will change the world’s perspective; however, I pray that, at least for some, it will help.

In order to answer the question I need to set one thing straight; science and God need not fight against each other. In fact, they go hand in hand. The Lord uses science to fulfill His will; He just knows a lot more about science than we do.

So, are the feelings that we claim to be the Spirit of God really just a simple placebo effect? Are we asking to feel The Savior’s love so much that we eventually feel it because that is the way our body works? Some will say yes and will proceed to explain to you the inner workings of the mind and body. Others will say no and explain the inner workings of the spirit. I say, using the old adage, “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”

An apostle once wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17) And again, a prophet wrote, “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.” (Alma 5:40). To put it into today’s terms, good comes from God. ALL good comes from God. Whether it is a thought that you should stop and help someone push their car, a feeling of peace or happiness, or any of the other countless ways you can do, feel, or think good, it is from God. Call it placebo if you want, just know that “placebo” is simply man’s explanation and term for God’s miracles.

Some may claim that the life saving cures and procedures that are used today were simply scientific breakthroughs by intelligent men and women. I have an immense amount of gratitude for the brilliant doctors, scientists, and others who help with these breakthroughs. They have saved lives of those I know and love. However, even these breakthroughs, whether or not the men and women who made them believed in God, were inspired by the One who created us all.

So, is God really just a placebo? No, my friends, He is not simply the result of the placebo effect. He is very real. I have felt the power of His hand in my life. I have felt His redeeming love. I have been lifted out of a darkness that nothing of this earth could have brought me out of. He is real. The feelings of peace, joy, love, faith, and so on as you read scripture and honestly pray to your Father in Heaven are very real. Of this I testify, and will continue to testify of until I shall see Him face to face and see Him as He is.

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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

I have been thinking a lot about phrases that our parents say to us as we are growing up. Phrases such as,”there are starving kids in [enter country here] that would love to have this food! now eat it!”, “don’t stick your lip out, a bird might come and poop on it!” (My grandma said that one to me. It scarred me for life.), and, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So, these phrases keep going through my mind and each time, I realize, more and more, just how profound our mothers and fathers really are. See, I never understood why my mom was telling me that there were starving kids in other countries. How did that apply to my needing to eat my food? I would always think to myself, “man, if there are starving kids, why would I eat this food? I thought you’re supposed to be teaching me to not be selfish. We need to send it to them!” I think what my mom was trying to teach me was that I needed to be grateful for what I had by comparing my situation (a cranky, spoiled kid who didn’t like Lima beans) to kids that had less, and sometimes had nothing at all. Profound. However, I want to talk about another phrase today, and no, not the bird pooping on your lip one (I still don’t see how a bird is going to be able to do that. That is one skilled bird). No, today I wanted to talk about the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. I love reading. I grew up in a house where watching the tv was the last thing my parents wanted me doing. We didn’t even have tv for the first few years of my life. Instead, we read books. All kind of books; fantasies like “Harry Potter”, “The Inheritance Cycle”, and “Lord of the Rings. Historical fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, and all the other good reads. I even read a cookbook once, and not to try to cook something out of it. I simply needed something to read and the food on the cover looked good. I always chose the book that had the coolest cover. Some had pictures of dragons, some with army men, and, my favorite, pictures of Jedi. (How can you turn down a book with a Jedi on the front?) Whatever the book may be, if it had a cool cover I would read it. Sometimes this way of picking books didn’t end up so well. I started one book at least six times just because I liked the cover, however, I couldn’t get into the book. It was boring, didn’t have a very good plot line, and the characters seemed stiff and cold. On the other hand, I was once searching for a good book to read when my brother suggested a book with probably the most boring cover I could think of. It was a smaller book with a burgundy cover with a bird on the front (something like that). I finally decided to give it a try and from page one I was captured by the greatness of the book. It had a good plot, great writing style, and the characters were real to me. I felt like I was in the story itself. From these experiences I have learned that the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be taken literally. On that note, I have read a book that I believe to be the number one most judged book, possibly in the world, simply because of the cover and it’s title. Every day, I go out and try to tell people about this book. Every day, it am told that it is not worth their time, even though most of them have never even read a page. It’s terribly frustrating. See, this isn’t just some book that I enjoyed reading. This is the best book. A book that literally changed my life forever. It continues to change my life today. It is called “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ“. I’ll be the first to admit that the Book of Mormon doesn’t have the most exciting cover. It’s just a simple blue book with gold lettering. No pictures or crazy designs on the front (some editions might have a different cover), no extra creative title. Nothing about the cover itself would make you want to read it. However, I can promise you that our parents are wise when they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. It is the word of God, just as the Bible is the word of God, and it will change the life of anyone who reads it, as it has changed mine. That is the promise of the book and it is my promise to you. Don’t judge this book by its cover or by the words of men. Give it a try, read it, ask God if it is His words and find out for yourself. I promise you that you will never regret it! man-giving-book-of-mormon-225221-gallery (If you would like to learn more about this AMAZING, FREE book, check out Mormon.org, ask any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “Ask the missionaries! They can help you!”)

Ebeneezer Scrooge, The Grinch, And Elder Herrick

Christmas for most people is one of the happiest times of the year. It’s full of presents, Santa Clause, Singing, and goodies, that, I’m sure, are made completely out of sugar and food coloring. Houses are decked out with colorful lights and those giant blowup decorations, and in every window you can see a Christmas tree which, if they’re anything like my family’s trees, are decorated with a lifetime of memories, lights, and mismatched tinsel. During the Christmas season everyone is practically floating they are so happy and excited. Everyone, except for Ebeneezer Scrooge, The Grinch, and me.

I didn’t always hate Christmas. Up until I was about ten or eleven I was one of those “Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow” that found it hard to sleep on Christmas eve. After a while thought, it started to become for me what I now see it becoming for others.It was a chore. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved getting the presents and sugar; I just hated everything else. Caroling was simply singing songs that I hated to my parents friends, and freezing my face off while doing it. Buying gifts seemed like a waste of money, and, worst of all, my family would come into town and somehow someone would offend someone else, causing a four hour all out war. Not my idea of “The most wonderful time of the year.”

As time went on I started to hate Christmas more and more. It got to the point where I resented anyone who liked Christmas. I hated receiving gifts. I was “an angry elf”. Every time I would watch any of those “real meaning of Christmas” movies where they say that the real meaning is to give not receive, I would want to gag. When my family would go caroling I would hide in my room and pretend to be asleep until they left then go watch something like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

You see, things like getting presents and singing about a reindeer with  red noses never seemed like much fun to me. It never made sense why we celebrate a fat man who sneaks into children’s homes and gives them presents after eating their cookies and milk, no matter how jolly Old Saint Nick was. I had this mindset for quite a while. Each Christmas would ware on me until one day not so long ago.

Strangely enough it didn’t happen during the Christmas season at all. There were no “Yuletide carols being sung by a choir” or carolers singing merry Christmas wishes. In fact, I was in a class on the New Testament one day in the spring just before Easter. Fitting really. You see, my problem with Christmas, when it came down to it, was that the “reason for the season” had been lost. There was no meaning. So, the teacher of the class was talking about the final days of Jesus Christ. His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His Crucifixion, and finally, the resurrection on the third day. Something hit me that day. Something very real and very powerful made me realize the meaning of this time of year.

I know it’s Christmas time now and everyone likes thinking of Christ as a babe lying in a manger, but when it comes down to what is truly important nothing compares to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without it His birth would have simply been a pretty cool birthday party. I know that the parties, presents, and songs about magic snowmen are fun, and I no longer hate them, but I testify that the reason for the season is, and should be, Jesus Christ. Not just His birth, but His life, sacrifice, and resurrection as well. THAT is what Christmas is about. He made it possible to be with our families, Him, and our Father in Heaven for eternity. So, have a good time. Carol, eat an enormous amount of food, and have fun doing it. Don’t be like I was, that’s definitely not what Christmas is about. Have your traditions and the stockings and the lit up trees, but when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas, it isn’t Santa, Rudolph, or presents under the tree, but Jesus The Christ, Lord and Savior. Our True, Redeeming friend.

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Time To Make A Choice

The other day Elder McCarthy and I were biking around Ocala, Florida, trying to find people to teach. We don’t usually bike but this day we decided that biking is what we needed to do, and I think I found the reason. However, let me just say, I’m not the best cyclist in the world.

Well, as we set out on our little adventure things were going alright. My legs weren’t burning yet, I wasn’t hungry, and we knew where we were going. We were heading to go do some work on the computer when we realized that we didn’t have the key to the Family History Center in the church. We decided to wait for a little bit and hope that someone would get there. Luckily they did. As we were leaving we realized our second concern: we didn’t know the area (Still don’t) and we didn’t bring my GPS. That wasn’t too big of a problem because Elder McCarthy had a little map and we could kind of guess where we were going.

Four hours into our day we found ourselves lost numerous times, out of plans, and out of energy (I think that one was just me). It got to the point where Elder McCarthy, who is in much better shape than I am, was quickly going farther and farther ahead of me. At one point I remember trying my best to bike up a fairly steep hill and thinking I didn’t really have the power in me to make it to the top. I angrily said (either out loud or in my head I can’t recall), “I hate biking. This is stupid.”

After I spent a good 30 seconds pouting I remembered something that I had grown up hearing, “Happiness is a choice.” Finally, it clicked in my mind that this was completely and utterly true. Now, I realize that there are people who go through things much harder than biking up a hill that make this a very difficult choice, but regardless, it is still true. You see, no one could have come up to me and said “Hey there Elder, I rode bikes on my mission too, I know how you feel.” The answer at that time to that would have been something to the effect of, “Get out of my face!”

However, there was one man, one perfect man, who DOES know how we feel in EVERY instance. Not only does he know how we feel, he has taken that pain upon himself so that we don’t have to bear it alone. He has said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Why is happiness a choice? Because Jesus Christ has made it possible. He has suffered and died for us. Not just for us but for YOU, personally, and for me. He has suffered so that You and I don’t have to suffer to the fullest degree. I have felt that power in my life, and not just when my legs were burning on a bike. I know that the cleansing and healing power of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and Atonement are very real and has been the best choice I have ever made. May we all choose to allow Christ to help us when we are all biking up our own hills. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

A Casserole and Some Dish Soap

One day, my roommate and I were given a casserole. I have to be honest, it was gross. We both had one serving and then wanted nothing to do with it. The next day went by just like the rest, then the week, then the next three weeks. We started to notice that our apartment started to smell a little funny. It was getting to be a mess so we decided to clean it up. Everything was great until we found the casserole. We had failed to put it in the fridge or throw it away and now we had to deal with the consequences. The consequences being mold, the worst smell imaginable, headaches and sickness, and a competition deciding who would clean it up. It was something that I still have nightmares about.

Believe it or not, we have all had moldy, smelly dishes on our counters at one point or another. Maybe not literally as in this case, but I’d say they are much more damaging. The moldy dishes I am referring to are the “moldy dishes of sin”. We all do it. Unfortunately, we, as humans, tend to mess up and leave a proverbial casserole on the counter. The natural result being smell and mess. in the case of sin we call it Guilt. When we sin we are doing something contrary to the will of God which leaves us feeling, honestly, pretty horrible. Again, that casserole smelled HORRIBLE.

However, we are not doomed to a life of mold,smell, and guilt. There has been a way provided for us to overcome the effects of sin. Just as dish soap and air fresheners were able to overcome the smell and mold of that casserole, the Atonement of Jesus Christ has been provided for each of us to overcome sin and find the happiness and peace that comes from using the gift of repentance.

It is my personal testimony and witness that there truly is a way to find true and lasting peace and happiness in the chaotic world that we live in. That way is Jesus Christ. I know that he is my personal savior. He has suffered and died for me. He lives. He is there with me, and with you every step of the way. That dish soap was always there, but I had to USE it for it to work. It is the same with repentance. We must take full advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is my promise that those who do this will feel the wonderful effect of His Redeeming love.