I gave a talk at Stake Conference last Sunday and I have had a few people ask me for a copy of my talk. So I figured I would just type it out here to make it easy.
I also did a video of it here, if that’s easier for you too.
Here is the script-
2 Nephi 32:3
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
Good morning brothers and sisters. My name is Tarrin Pendergrass. I am a daughter of my parents who aren’t even in this stake but came anyways. I am a daughter of our Heavenly Parents. I just turned 33. I am a wife and a mother of 10. And I know theres gotta be a few of you out there who’s thinking… wait a minute… 33 and 10? My husband had 7 and I had 3. When we got married in January, I became a mother of 10. It has been a little crazy, a little overwhelming, and incredibly good! But… I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
The topic I was given to speak on was Feasting upon the Words of Christ, but not only that, 2 Nephi 32:3 – Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
I’m here to tell you that these words are so so true! And now I can go back and tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up LDS. Recently, I’ve had a few people ask me, basically, what made you go inactive? Because I recently came back to church from being inactive for about 16 years.
It wasn’t any one big thing. Any one defining moment. It was tiny little decisions that led me away, baby step by baby step.
I stopped going to church around the age of 16. That means I stayed inactive for about 16 years. During that time, I went to college, I got married, I became a midwife, I had 3 babies of my own. Then, my ex husband and I decided to take a big risk and moved to Taiwan.
Now, I’m just one of those people who like to believe the best in everyone and every situation, but Taiwan was hard. Even though it was really interesting to be immersed in that culture, it was so isolating. So what do you do when you feel completely isolated? Personal Development. I started reading every positive book I could find on how to be better, feel better, and become better. And then it was like these light bulbs started going off in my mind. I saw my life as it really was for probably the first time in at least… 16 years. I saw my previous marriage – and I know marriage isn’t easy – but there was a lot there and my marriage was clearly starting to fall apart. It was during this time that I called my dad and just said – I don’t know what to do. What should I do?
He told me every marriage is hard but maybe my ex husband would consider going to church. Any church. For that connection to Christ changes lives. Serving others changes lives. Well, I knew that wouldn’t be happening, but what my dad said next was probably the biggest light bulb that I ever had go off.
He said – Faith isn’t something you have, it’s something you choose and learn.
My first thought was “oh – I’ve been teaching myself not to have faith all of these years!
That struck me so hard. It was exactly what God knew I needed to hear to open that door.
So, I secretly downloaded the Book of Mormon onto my phone. Secretly because I did talk to my ex husband about that I might want to go back to church (I had actually wanted to about 5 years before but he had basically just said no then) what he said this time was that it would be “divorce worthy”. So I secretly started reading the Book of Mormon.
I knew that I had to at least find out how I felt about it. I had to know if what was in these pages was true. So I read it cover to cover in about 2 months.
I was about 3/4 done reading it and I already knew that it was true – when we decided to move back to the United States. We knew our marriage definitely wouldn’t last if we didn’t do something. We decided to move to Utah instead of going back to Oregon where we had lived before. I finished reading the Book of Mormon and things were just not getting any better. I kept getting this feeling that I should ask my dad for a blessing and at first I was like “nooooo” because then he would know and there would be no going back!
But every time I even spoke to my dad or texted him, there’d be this voice “ask ask ask”. You know that really uncomfortable feeling you get when you know you should get up and bare your testimony and you’re just looking around to see if anyone is going to get up and walk up there first and the Spirit is like – get up before I make you crawl out of your skin? That’s the feeling I had every time I spoke to my dad… for like a week. So I finally texted him and asked for a blessing which he came right over to give me.
About a week or so later, I told my ex husband that I wanted a divorce.
Now, there’s a lot in our marriage I’m leaving out because it doesn’t matter. And 5 years ago when I had told him I wanted to go back to church and he had said no – I wasn’t ready to choose church and God over my marriage. But after reading the Book of Mormon, really reading it because I had to know if it was true or not, and receiving a clear resounding yes – this book is true and it is from God. I couldn’t make any other choice.
So that Sunday after I told him I wanted a divorce, I got my 3 girls dressed up and we went to church. Their first time ever and my first time in 16 years. This first church visit was almost 11 months ago. Since that first time I read the Book of Mormon one year ago, I’ve read it cover to cover 2 more times. Each time I learn more and more. I find what seems like brand new scriptures all the time. I find verses that speak to me and help me with my day to day life – daily!
This last year, I’ve read the Book of Mormon 3 times, I’ve gone through a divorce, been a single mom, met my current husband – which I’ve never prayed so much about a relationship in all my life. We met and 6 weeks later were married. But I know without a doubt that he is exactly the person I was supposed to marry and that his kids were meant to be mine as well. I never envisioned myself as a mother of 10 but then again I never envisioned most of the things that my Heavenly Father has brought into my life in the last year.
And it is only by God’s love, grace, and infinite understanding and orchestrating that I am standing in front of you today.
My testimony of this gospel and of the Book of Mormon are way stronger than they ever would have been if I didn’t first understand what it felt like to be without it all. And I’m not saying that’s the way to go – but for me personally – who happens to be a moderately stubborn person… I think God knew that I would need to see and feel the difference.
This gospel is light. Those light bulbs that went off in my mind were well timed and well placed by a Heavenly Father who loves me intensely and unconditionally.
Whether you’ve been in the church your whole lives, or taken a break and come back, or if you are new in the gospel – we all have to be converts. Because at some point in our lives, we all have to read the Book of Mormon with one intent. To really know and feel and testify of the truth of it. And when we’ve done that and gotten our own personal conviction and revelation that this book is true then we can really begin to live this gospel. It all starts here. I implore you to read this book and pray your hearts out to feel the truth it contains. To feel your Heavenly Father testify to you personally the truth because this is the only way that your faith will hold firm. And, my friends, we need strong testimonies in this gospel. We need people who will stand up and testify of the truth in these pages. It took me a long hard road to learn this and I will never let this truth go because I have gotten confirmation from my God without any doubts whatsoever.
In Alma 53:10 it says – And now behold, I have somewhat to say concerning the people of Ammon, who, in the beginning, were Lamanites; but by Ammon and his brethren, or rather by the power and word of God, they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla, and had ever since been protected by the Nephites.
The word of God has incredible power and we are blessed to have an entire book full of words of God. Now I want to tell you a few reasons why I love this book so much. Some people believe it’s simply a history. A history of peoples long gone. But it’s not.
This book was written for us! It’s full of advice, prophecy, hope, love, secrets for those willing to look for them, and power.
These prophets saw our latter days and knew by the grace of God what we would need to read. Can you imagine these prophets being shown our day and age? Living in their time and seeing ours? I want to read you this scripture – just for fun – it’s in 2nd Nephi Chapter 12 – the synopsis reads , Isaiah sees the latter-day temple, gathering of Israel, and millennial judgment and peace—The proud and wicked will be brought low at the Second Coming—Compare Isaiah 2. About 559–545 B.C. Then it goes on to say in verse 7 – Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
The prophet Isaiah is describing the latter days. He saw them. He was shown us! Sooo… do we have chariots? I mean, I’m sure there’s a few out there – but do we have “neither is there any end of their chariots?” “a land full”… of chariots? No! Cars on the other hand… how else would an ancient prophet of God be able to describe the things he saw? He’d use the vocabulary he has. Remember when I said there are secrets in scriptures for those willing to look for them?
Line upon line does not mean sit back and wait to be taught. It means read it over and over and over again.
Each time you do, pray. Pray for your minds to be opened. Your eyes, your ears, and your heart to be opened. Prayer is a dialogue. It’s not meant to be a monologue. Talk and then pause, listen and respond to what you feel or hear, and I guarantee you will learn deeper and deeper truths each and every time you read this book.
Besides finding hidden messages of cars in the Book of Mormon, how else can we apply this book written in ancient times to our modern lives?
It’s actually really easy to find ways to do this when we really know that it was written for us. Let’s go back to 2nd Nephi 32:3 – Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
Stephen R. Covey spoke in 1974 saying – prayerful scripture study is also the key to personal revelation. Nephi taught that the Holy Ghost speaks “the words of Christ” and that if we would “feast” on the words of Christ we will be told all things that we should do. In other words, the Holy Ghost will give us guidance. Whether we accept that guidance depends on our faith and obedience to the light already given. (line upon line – remember?) and this part is really cool. He says, The verb “feast” is most instructive, it implies savoring, believing, loving, pondering, meditating, relishing, all of which bespeak a spirit of faith and obedience.
When we regularly feast on the words of Christ (prayerfully study the scriptures) they become planted in the fleshy tables of the heart.
2nd Corinthians 3:3 says – Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
And then the Holy Ghost will bring them to our remembrance of consciousness, as each occasion demands – perhaps somewhat like a computer would draw on its data bank to solve a problem.
We are not asked to memorize the scriptures. We all can’t be scriptorians. I’m definitely not! We are asked to feast. To love, to relish the words. And then the Spirit will bring to our minds what we need when we need them.
One of my favorite bits of advice for reading the scriptures and applying them to our lives is to insert your name. Visualize you being there, being a part of the stories. Visualization is uniquely human and powerful. Putting yourself into the shoes of Nephi, Alma, Jared, King Benjamin, and any other person in this book can give you new perspective, renewed faith, and confidence for your life. Try it!
In 2011, Elder Neill L. Anderson said: In todays world, the arrogant arguments of Korihor – the anti-Christ, find listening ears:
“Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.”
“Behold, these things which ye call prophecies… are foolish traditions of your fathers.”
“Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see…”
“Every man prospers according to his own genius, and conquers according to his own strength.”
These are things we hear today. These are things I let myself believe when I left the church. The adversary doesn’t need new tricks when the old ones still work so well.
He goes on to say – We need our own secure and settled faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we need help in strengthening our families so that this faith flows into the hearts of our children and grandchildren. Faith in Jesus Christ, when solidly anchored in our souls, brings true conversion, and in its wake – repentance, honest discipleship, miracles, spiritual gifts, and enduring righteousness. This is an important part of the divine mission of the Book of Mormon.
One of my favorite gardening tips I’ve gotten – also from my dad – was “when you think you’ve watered it enough, water it some more.” I think this little tip can be applied in so many areas of our lives.
When you think you’ve prayed enough, pray some more. When you think you’ve learned all of the answers, ask more questions. When you think you’ve read the Book of Mormon long enough or enough times, read more, read it again.
Just like plants in the garden need more water, our spirits need everything we can give them. And if we can do this, I know for a fact that we can grow, progress, and get the personal revelation that our prophet is urging us to seek. And the Book of Mormon is how we begin.
I say these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.