The Dennis’s Survive Church

Posted by Culley Davis on

As little Shelly leaned forward to the mic, her words were clear and easily heard by everyone. She said, “I love baby Jesus and I love my mommy and daddy. I love when Elder Johnson and Elder Davis come to our home to talk about Jesus. They make our home feel so good when they are there. I’m glad my dad doesn’t want to smoking anymore, ( everyone laughed little ) so he can live with me and mommy for a long, long, long time. I love it when we all kneel and say our family prayers together. Amen.”

The power and spirit which this sweet little girl had as she shared her testimony was so powerful, it melted everyone’s’ hearts. Alice and Harry had tears in their eyes big time as little Shelly jumped down and came back to sit on her daddy’s lap.

To say that the first day at church for the Dennises was amazing and eventful would be an understatement. Alice was just swarmed in Relief Society with hugs and warm hand shakes. Harry in Priesthood was fantastic as he introduced himself, told where he worked and about his family. The brethren where just wonderful to him before, during and after class. It took us 30 minutes after church before they could leave the chapel to go home and Shelly loved primary and showed her parents what she had drawn in class and she said, “I learned a new song today!” Then she started singing, “A sun beam, a sun beam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.” To say that I was excited to teach the Dennises the final discussions that next week would be an understatement.

Next week came and during the fifth discussion, which I think was Wednesday night, I asked Harry and Alice how they felt about becoming members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There was such a sweet and special spirit in their living room. I bore witness of the truthfulness of what we had been teaching them and that, “the Lord moved and directed me to find you in the phone book as I was coming back to Columbus on the bus.” I told them that even before that, the first time we had ever meet, there was a connection there and I felt I had always known the Dennises and that we were the best of friends in the premortal existence and that this is why the Lord sent me on my mission and why, “I wanted to teach you these things myself with Elder Johnson.” Elder Johnson followed up with how he felt the first time he had met them and that Elder Davis had told him, “This is a special family that would make great members of the church!” He also bore witness to the things we had taught and invited them also to accept the Lord’s invitation to be baptized in His true church. The tears flowed down everyone’s’ cheeks and the Dennises accepted baptism.

Church the following Sunday was even more amazing. I swear you would think an apostle was coming to visit because the members were just all over them. I just sat back and fought back the tears. I was so overjoyed to see all the love that was being exchanged between everyone. It was like one big family reunion. That day in both the Relief Society and Priesthood we announced that the Dennises wanted to be baptized and the place went wild with excitement. I never to this day have seen such fellowshipping and welcoming.

When the big day came for them to be baptized, which was just a couple of weeks later, our mission president came, the entire mission staff, and I kid you not, at least 200 plus members or more came. They almost filled the chapel and it was so packed in the baptismal area, it was standing room only and out into the hallway.

As Elder Johnson and I each wore our white jumpsuits with Harry and Alice my joy was so full. As we took pictures, I was bursting with the love of the Lord and my Savior and this wonderful family that the Lord had directed me and Elder Johnson to baptize. Alice was baptized by Elder Johnson and I baptized Harry. As I placed my right arm to the square to say the baptismal ordnance, I could not speak for a few seconds and as I started to quote those most sacred words to that prayer, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ’, it hit me so hard that I was doing something for and in the name of Jesus Christ that if He, Jesus Christ, were here, these are the words He would say. My joy overflowed as tears ran down my face and it took all I had to finish the words to this ordnance. As I lifted Harry up out of the water, we embraced with the biggest hug ever, and I could not speak for several minutes.

After we all got dressed we went into the chapel to confirm them members of the Church and to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them, which to me is my favorite part. They both go hand in hand and you can’t do one without the other, but bestowing membership on someone and giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost is so very special and sacred. To feel the spirit of the Lord as the words are being given to you by the Spirit as to what to say is beyond description. For just a few minutes it seems time comes to a stop and eternity comes forward, as the vail gets so very close and thin and you can feel so much love and peace from the other side; heaven is so very close as you give promised blessing for those who have been baptized for their future journey in the Lord’s Church.

I don’t know how to break away from this part of my story and my experience in baptizing the Dennises, but the weeks to follow were wonderful as we saw each other often at their home and at church. After a few months however, I got transferred again, back to Cleveland. I only had about 4 to 5 months to go and I would be going back home to Santa Ana, California.

I was sent to be a companion to a missionary who had been out about a year. He was from Idaho and what was more remarkable, the day I had arrived, that night I was asked to baptize the older brother of a lady I had baptized when I was there with Elder Val. I was so touched and honored to be a part of his baptism as he had been taught by the Sister Missionaries when I had left. His sister, Karen, had been working on him for several months and finally, he agreed to take the missionary discussions and on the very day I was to arrive in Cleveland, which was a Saturday I believe, he was to be baptized and Karen asked me if I would come and baptize her brother. He wanted me to baptize him because I had baptized his sister.

Later, when I was getting to know my new companion, (he had been out a whole year and still hadn’t had a single baptism), on my first day in the new area we not only get to go to a baptism, but I get to be a part of it! Of course I explained how and why this all came about to Elder Foster, but I felt sorry he had not had that wonderful experience yet. When you walk hundreds of miles knocking doors, that 95% of the time get slammed in you face, and you ride a bike for endless miles checking referrals from Temple Square, you get spit on, called names, have food thrown at you as people drive by, and you have not had anyone who will let you teach them, let alone be converted and baptized, it’s pretty hard to keep your spirits up. You start to wonder, “why am I here and does the Lord have a reason for me to be here?”

So Elder Foster and I had long talks and got to know each other pretty well and I asked him if he would like to baptize someone in 30 days? He said, “What do you mean? We don’t have one single person we are even currently teaching. This is one of the hardest areas in all of Ohio.” We were just outside of downtown Cleveland, where just about every night someone got shot and you were always hearing gunshots at night. He said, “I would love too, of course, that’s why I came out here was to teach people about Jesus Christ and His church restored to the earth; but in 30 days?Wow! I don’t think so, not that soon.”

I told him, ‘I have the faith and I believe that if we really work hard, go the extra mile, read and pray and study and fast just a little more than we are asked to and totally commit ourselves, I feel with all my heart, Elder Foster, that you and I both will be standing in a baptismal font at our church with at least two new people who will believe our message. We have nothing to lose and all to gain and if you will work with me and believe with me I promise you right now, in the name of Jesus Christ, that we will find, teach and baptize someone who the Lord has prepared for us to find. Do you believe we can?” Elder Foster said, “I believe that you really believe that. And because you believe that, I believe that, but I’m a little doubtful, to be totally honest with you. But like you said, I have nothing to lose, so I’m with you!”

So were went to work, and the both of us prayed and studied like we both never had. We worked longer before dinner time and after. We stayed out later and we made use of all of our time, wisely and with a happy heart. By the end of the first week, as we were tracking, knocking on doors, we finally came to a home and a nice lady answered the door. She had a son and two daughters. We told her we were missionaries sharing a message about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she invited us in. We looked at each other with that smile of joy, but tried not to look too happy we got invited in. We opened with a prayer and thanked the Lord for directing us to this wonderful family and we had a great first discussion. They asked some good questions and seemed very interested in our message. We left them with a couple of pamphlets and a Book of Mormon with some scriptures to read from it. We then asked them if we could return and share more of our message with them. We mentioned that we had 7 lessons in all and would love to share all of them with you. They all seemed very excited and interested. The son was only 6 or 7 years old and the daughters were 15 and 17, I would guess.

We came back two days later and before we got started, we discovered that they had all read everything we had given them and they had all started reading the Book of Mormon, but they had to take turns because they had to share the same book. They had questions and I was so impressed and excited that the mom was so interested as were her daughters in our message. Before we left this time we gave them each their own Book of Mormon’s and they thought that was cool. About every two days or so they had us come back and the spirit whispered to me that they were going to be baptized. Elder Foster asked me what I thought and I said, “The Lord has heard our prayers. This is where we are supposed to be.”

As we approached the time for the BIG QUESTION, “Will you be baptized?” we were discussing the Savior and His church and the need to be baptized and Elder Foster bore one of the finest, most heartfelt testimonies I have ever heard. He was in tears as were the rest of us from his words, and that is when we asked them, as the Lords representatives, would they accept baptism into His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and they said ‘yes’. We looked at each other and just smiled. When we got outside and on our bikes, we could not contain ourselves and let out a big yell, “Yes, Yes, and thank you Lord!”

Two days before our 30 day period and commitment to the Lord was up, Elder Foster and I were wearing our white baptismal clothes, as was the family the Lord had helped us find, and Elder Foster had his first baptism and confirmation. It was such a great experience! My joy again was so full, twice this time. First, for this wonderful family and second, for my dear friend, missionary companion, and brother, Elder Foster, who, to this day, he and I still talk and see each other quite often.

A few days later the phone rang. This time it was not the mission president but it was Harry Dennis. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his voice and after we chatted for a few minutes, the real reason for his call came forth. He said, “Elder Davis, for a few years now, Alice and I have tried to have another child and I have gone to the best doctors here in Ohio, the best fertility experts around and we have tired everything under the sun and then some, but Alice cannot get pregnant. I have spent several thousand dollars and to no avail. Nothing has worked. Alice and I have been talking about this again for the past week or so, and we wanted to ask you a question and a big favor. We believe that the Lord did direct you to find us. And we believe that the Lord moved you, inspired you, spoke to you, if you will, in such a way, that we knew what you were saying and teaching us with Elder Johnson was true. So we have a question for you, if you would be so kind to consider for us.

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His Hands

Posted by Culley Davis on

When we are born into this world, we cannot even stand.
The first things that we feel are others’ caring hands.
Mothers, fathers, doctors, and nurses use their hands to meet our needs.
Before we even know what’s what, we’re blessed by their kind deeds.

Then we feel the hands of others whom we love:
Siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who are sent from up above.
When we’re young, their loving hands guide us to do what’s right.
Without the hands of family and friends, we may give up on our fight.

As we continue to grow older, we encounter more hands still,
Trusting many others to help us climb life’s hills.
Teachers, colleagues, church members, and employers support us when we fall.
Policemen, firemen, coaches, and trainers inspire us to stand tall.

Pilots, drivers, tour guides, and mechanics keep us on the move.
Dentists, pharmacists, chiropractors, and doctors ensure our health improves.
And then one day, we might find the true love of our life.
Afterward, we hold the hands of a dear husband or wife.

As you can see, every day we trust in many hands.
We rarely spare a second thought; we’re so focused on our plans.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos that’s within,
Why many of us don’t know whose hands we’re really in.

So why do we question the greatest hands of all?
The hands that dearly loved us even before the Fall?
The hands that offer peace to every girl and boy?
The hands that can guide us to a land of untold joy?

Jesus is the One who cares for us the very most,
The One who looks after our needs like a good host,
The One who’s always there for us, twenty-four/seven,
The One who watches over us, looking down from Heaven.

How many people did He heal with the touch of His blessed hand?
How many lives did He save after writing in the sand?
How many lives does He continue to save each and every day?
If you reach your hand out to His, He will never take His away.

How many children did He hold and bless with His precious hands?
How many footprints did He leave upon the worn sand?
How many people does He try to warn and keep from harm’s way?
Did His hands not feed the five thousand, thus granting them a new day?

Some loaves of bread, a couple of fish—He touched them, and they were fed.
After they remained in His presence, over them a peace did spread.
The blind were made to see again; the lame were made to walk.
The afflicted became whole again as the Savior talked.

The water must have blushed when touched by the Master’s hand,
For it reddened into wine in a vision most grand.
When He saw His reflection, He knew what this was for,
Was it not for His mother whom He loved and adored?

At the close of His ministry, as His life drew to an end,
He called out to His Father, His true and dearest Friend.
With hands clenched tightly, He pleaded for the trial’s end,
To do the will of God above that we might live again.

As He prayed to His Father, He bled from every pore.
His hands must have been full for the sins that He had bore.
He took upon Himself the sins of all past and future men
That we might have everlasting life and live with Him again.

They took His robe, tore His clothes, and tied Him to a post;
Jesus received no mercy even though He loved us the most.
They even flogged and beat Him without a blink of remorse.
They tortured our dear Savior as if it were a matter of discourse.

His hands then carried the rough and heavy cross.
He bore this until His strength was almost completely lost.
His time was soon approaching; Golgotha waited up the hill.
He suffered to please His Father, to see eternal life fulfilled.

Roman soldiers took His hands; they nailed them one by one,
The wrists, hands, and then the feet of the only begotten Son.
He bled some more for you and me to wash away our sins,
The only One so pure and clean who could make our new life begin.

Three days went by, and miraculously from the tomb He rose.
He came first to Mary, and these are the words He spoke:
Know that I do live again; tell the others what you have seen.
I’ve come to finish my Father’s will and free humankind for Eternity.

Jesus appeared again as they gathered to know His will.
In shock, they gazed upon their Savior, and all became so still.
He declared, Feel the marks of the nails that pierced my hands.
It was here I felt the truth of my Father’s eternal plan.

Know that I’m your Savior and your ever-loving King.
I came to give you proof of my love and eternal reign.
I promise you, as said by prophets and holy men alike,
That all may enter Heaven and have eternal life.

Before He takes us all under His holy wing,
We must love Him as our Savior and accept Him as our King.
As we give our love to others so that we all might be friends,
He will do the same for each of us until the very end.

Yet of all the hands in which we invest,
Why do we struggle to trust the hands that offers us the very best?

No other hands have done more for all mankind.
No sacrifice was greater, for it left no one behind.
What hands can do more to comfort, heal, or caress?
No other hands can give us peace in the face of eternal rest.

He is the only One that helps us understand
How sin, pain, and sorrow can be erased at the Lord’s command.
All His love and power live in the simplest of hymns.
There will never be another we can trust more than Him.

Today, tomorrow, and forevermore, His hand always extends,
Pleading, imploring each of us to worship Him again.
He comes to us with patient hands stretching from above.
He calls after each of us, unceasing with His love:

Come unto me, all yea that labor and are heaven-laden still.
Take my yoke upon you, feel my love, and be healed.
And be thou clean and free from sin, just as the Lord commands,
And taste the joy and happiness found only in our Savior’s loving hands.

Culley W. Davis

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About The Book

Posted by Culley Davis on

The primary reason why we are all here on this earth is to learn to become more like our Heavenly Father, to eventually be even as He is. The Lord knew that during this mortal journey many things would happen to us that we have no control over and that many more things would happen to us that we would have control over. These decisions and choices would lead to us making many mistakes, both of commission and of omission in this learning and growing process we call life.

Our loving Father also knew that the primary way we would choose to learn and grow would be through making many mistakes. How many times did each of us fall before we learned to walk? Hundreds, maybe thousands of times. How many tries did it take for us to learn to ride a bike for the first time? Those who have taken music lessons to learn to play any instrument, how many notes or keys did you miss just to learn one simple song? Thousands of mistakes and slip ups, right? Should we feel bad for doing so? No!!! We are learning. But many, if not most, become frustrated, upset and even angry with themselves in the process and quit.

How many times have we said or heard others say, “I wish I had stayed with taking my music lessons when I was younger.” Well, this mortal journey is no different than learning to do ANYTHING else on this earth. It takes time. It takes practice. And we will make thousands of mistakes along the way. We will make them every single day until we die but the secret is not to feel too bad when we do slip up and make those hundreds and thousands of mistakes, but that we NEVER QUIT trying. We need and want to learn from our daily mistakes and sins and we must realize there is no other way to learn and grow except to fail and fall many times, but each time if we get back up, we can and will do a little better, if we don’t beat ourselves up in the process.

Our all-knowing and loving Father in Heaven knew full well, perfectly well, that this would be the case and so to help us succeed and make sure we could all make it through this tutoring process, He gave us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, that through His great and eternal sacrifice no matter how many times we fall and fail, He will help us get back up and do a little better with each try. However, we must never stop trying; that is the key. We have His promise that if we never quit or give up, neither will He, in helping and working with us to get us through this learning and growing process so we can return back home and do what He does.

Jesus Christ possesses more love and kindness, more compassion and tenderness, more forgiveness and understanding than all the people who have ever lived on this earth, or on all of the innumerable worlds that Jesus Christ created with His Father in Heaven combined.

His wisdom and ability to touch and change lives has made a footprint, an impression on mankind that will never be filled or forgotten, even by all of the best men and women who have ever lived on this earth combined. So great is His influence and love that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saved not only this wicked earth upon which we live, he saved all of God’s creations, worlds that are as numberless to us as the sands of the sea.

This is the full and complete purpose and meaning of what the Savior’s atonement offers us. This is what His sacrifice was all about; to help us succeed and feel good about ourselves in this learning process. No matter how many times it takes, each of us can do this. We each have the spiritual DNA of our Father in Heaven. We are His offspring, His Children and with that, we have been blessed with His power to come forth and be like Him, for we are of Him. Through Jesus Christ and only through Jesus Christ can this be accomplished and all of this has been placed WITHIN OUR GRASP if we so desire it and do not ever give up on taking our daily lessons of life.

Of this I promise and testify.

Culley W. Davis

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