Monday, February 16, 2015

Fear, Anger, Hate and Suffering

I recently gave a talk in church that was based on a talk called Living the Gospel Joyfully and while I was speaking the Lord in my mind asked me to compare the blessings that Lord attempts to give to a proverb from Star Wars; Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering.

While giving this talk it came to me that when we put up our umbrella to resist the rain of blessings or the sunshine of the light of Christ shine upon us. The turn around is that when we see others get the blessings of heaven and our own sins blind us from seeing our own blessings we are quick to become fearful. Has God forgotten me? Am I worthy of no blessing at all? Our own ambitions and hesitancy keeps us from pressing in a good direction that would lead us to strengthen our faith and regain our blessings through repentance and the charity of God; we go down a path of witch many have not returned. As children of God we know all to well that the proverb of the Jedi ring true but there was no alternate so that we could avoid this path so I propose this one...

Faith leads to Trust, Trust leads to Charity, Charity leads to Happiness. I know that it might seem cheesy by making a mirror of this age old movie quote but I think that seeing its opposite opens our eyes so that we can see both the good and the evil paths and make our new choices with what we have learned.

When we are quick to judge because we decide to look at the blessings of others over what is on the other side of the scale that they are called to balance, we fail to realize the blessings we have in conjunction with our own blessings. Let us remember to have faith so that we might build upon that over fear. Lets hope that we do not listen to our fear and short comings over our faith and inner power that God has given us both to grow with and share. We have the makings of greatness in us, let us bear one another's burdens and show the strength of the Lord.

Image is found here.

Come Clean

Dedicated to my friend Doc Thompson, Skip LaCombe and all the gang at the Morning Blaze.

I have listened to a great guy and the zany show that started out the Doc Thompson show and was later turned to Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson and Skip LaCombe. When I first started the guys introduced me to new rules that you could live your life by and one of those rules is rule #3 Come Clean.

I am not certain but I believe that Doc and Skip would appreciate the scripture reference of my faith that says...

The Lord wants us to, as Doc says, come clean. That means to be honest in our dealing with our fellow men and with our maker. We as a race of beings spend too much time hiding our motives that they become our new identity and the truth then becomes irrelevant. Doc has on more then one occasion pointed out that although some 'preach' one thing they do another thing. Not because they might mean well but that the message is more important then the messenger. Such 'messages' if not cut clear and concise can be bleached with a blurry and poisonous undertone that overcomes the fruit of the message. The sudden need to put a clause to our message to exempt some or condition others becomes more important then what we have said.

Thankfully the Lord Jesus in his ministry was very clear to call for faith on the the Master, repentance and obedience to the commandments that our Father and God has given to us so that we might return to Him. Because we exercise obedience, we will be able to come with clean hands and a pure heart free of the sins of the world.

I am grateful to Skip and Doc for making this rule a big part of their morning show and being a clear example to what a follower of Christ should be in in deed and in thought and though this post is short I want to say that I am grateful for the message and want to pass it along.  

Image is located here

Monday, February 2, 2015

Living the Gospel Joyfully

This week has been an exciting one. One filled with birthdays, super-bowls and a calling from the ward leaders mainly doing a talk in church on a talk by Utdorf that he have to the sisters in the Relief Society conference the week before General Conference. The Ward leadership have taken this time to do a bit of role reversal in that we were asked to read talks from conferences that we were not in attendance.

When General Conference has come around in the past I have tweeted about it. The excitement of a communal view of the conference has been exciting. I was not aware that the woman's conference might of not got the same attention as the general conference got. Perhaps I assumed too much when I thought that the women and the leadership would be talking about women in or and the priesthood. Who would of thought (without reading the conference) that there would be a talk that could really help us all... guilty as charged.

Now getting to the subject at hand. President Utdorf's talk first starts about how he appreciative about the women in his life. The role of mother, daughter, sister etc. mean a lot to this fellow that has given a lot of credit to women in his life. To that credit, I add my own kudos to the wife, sisters, aunts, my only birthday girl, and mother and grand-mothers that have blessed my life with a ray of hope and sunshine when I needed it. Truly I have been blessed by the better half of the world.

Among some of the things that the apostle points out to the sisters (that we could take a note brethren) is that we should be diligent about keeping the commandments because as he said “The promised blessings of God to the faithful are glorious and inspiring. Among them are “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths”. And it takes more then a spiritual birth certificate or a “Child of God Membership Card” to quality for the incomprehensible blessings.” the strong point that the apostle made at this pint was that we must gain a willingness to obey the commandments that the Lord gives us and that we must walk the path of discipleship if we are even to start on the path of righteousness. He even points that strait is the way and narrow is the gate that leads to salvation.

One other thing that the apostle pointed out is that he was sure that “God knows what we don't”, meaning that the one that knows the whole plan and our part of the plan should know how we can improve the outcome and being obedient to His commandments. “In other words” continues the apostle, “He not only knows what is best for you; he also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you.” Than said the man, “Should not we cherish the light posts he gives that guide us through the darkness and the trials of mortality? They mark the way back to our heavenly home!”

His greatest paragraph in his talk comes down to talking about the invisible vault of blessings and makes some kind of a 'Precious' that God would hold from his children but then turns it around and says that its like a rainfall that those that have sin in their life are using an umbrella and keeping themselves from the very thing that our Father really really wants us to have.

So then he brings it back around. Its not just doing our callings to complete them but seek a means to bless our brothers and sisters every day. This probation and we only have this one time to show Him that our Saviors sacrifice and example are truly part of our daily lives. We must realize that there is all types of testimonies and Saints in our lives and being actively involved in their lives will greatly enrich our own. Remember that “there is no sign on the door that says that your testimony must be this tall to enter”. Were that the case a lot of us (including me at times) would not be allowed in. Our lives are not a ride but it sure feels like one at times. Let us not condemn others for their ride when our own becomes slow because of our blessings. Let us bless others so that their ride can become bearable at times. We must do our best to bless others so that your own light will shine with our brother and sisters instead of in spite of our own.

So with now said let me finish my talk with the very words of an apostle of Jesus Christ has said by saying this....

Your testimony of the living Son of God and His restored church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may not come as quickly as you desire, but I promise you this; if you do your part, it will come.

He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.
More than you could ever imagine, He wants you to achieve your destiny—to return to your heavenly home in honor.
I testify that the way to accomplish this is to place selfish desires and unworthy ambitions on the altar of sacrifice and service. [Brothers and ] Sisters, trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ; keep His laws and commandments. In other words—live the gospel joyful.
It is my prayer that you will experience a renewed and an expanded measure of the beautiful love of God in your lives; that you will find the faith, determination, and commitment to learn God’s commandments, treasure them in your hearts, and live the gospel joyful.
I promise that as you do so, you will discover your best self—your real self. You will discover what it truly means to be a daughter of the everlasting God, the Lord of all righteousness. Of this I testify and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Image is found here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Change is Constant

This week as a primary teacher I have learned that with all the changes that my life has been through (yea I am a teacher of a bunch of cute rambunctious and fun four year olds) I have come to the conclusion that I am not getting out of change. I even went to the temple to see if God would slow down the changes. Yeah? Um... no.

I then thought about it. Change is good. I mean it means fresh underwear (you like that don't you?) fresh vegetables, fresh oil in the car, new technology and subjects to talk about. While change might be hard we must learn from it. The changes that we go through can be hard at times but cleaving to our core keeps us from going crazy from the changes that are moving faster and faster (or so it seems). We just need to hang in there. When Thomas S. Monson talked about the drastic change in his life from a future in the Navy to serving the Lord and relying on Him to change his path, it made me think. My path was pretty good with great friends and experiences. I was sure that it wasn’t going to change. I knew that it was hard on my marriage but I need to provide and I could not (or would not) see other possibilities. It took change to make my vision clear (well more cloudy than clear but...).

In the movie the Lion King, Rafiki told Simba that the past is hard. I don't think that it always is the past that is hard but the change from it. When some one dies they are gone and the past is now different from your present. When your car is wrecked, your past is different then your present. Its what we do with the experience that shows that we need the experience again. If we do not learn then the lesson is taught again.

What we do next with our lives is important when we encounter that create a desire for fear. Reaching out in faith is tough and at times I have spent a while on my knees wondering what is next because I don't have the usual routine any more and digging deep and seeing what you are really made of is important.

I know that this post is mostly for myself because I need to hear this but I hope that perhaps it can be useful to you as well.

Image here

Monday, January 12, 2015

Faith Without Works

A popular phrase among us Saints is a verse in the New Testament (James 2:26) Faith without works is dead... and how true that is. Lets look at it from a temporal point of view. Like a garden or fire, it needs constant watching and maintenance if you want to keep it clean and functional. Faith works a bit like the same way. Its one thing to say that you love Jesus but how can you love Jesus who you have not seen when you do not love your neighbor who you have seen? Faith is the evidence of things that are not seen. When we show faith we are showing that we are the evidence of God love for others through our charity and true love for others. When we show our work, we show that we know something like math or writing. You and I can claim all we want to we can do something but it is completely useless unless we do something.

While some might have an issue with my first paragraph because they would want to argue grace and works blah blah blah... I want to be clear that I am well aware of the grace of the Master but I want to stress emphasis that this world is a hard place to live in right now. It has been this way for a while (perhaps our whole lives) but it is important to do what we can to push back evil with good deeds and a righteous living. I recall the phrase 'bad things happen when good men do nothing' (Edmund Burke) and it could not be more true than it is today. Faithful men loose faith when we fail to show our faith.

We must be a faithful people and not just believers. Believers know and do nothing. We cannot be so overwhelmed by what is going on when the whirlwinds and tempests destroy what we know to be 'normal' and show that we are a faith building people by picking up the pieces when the damage pushes us down. Let us be eager to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that need comfort; than get up and build our lives by building the lives of others so that we can say that we are builders and not wrecking balls. Be it physical, mental or spiritual if you are a faithful person you can help others either through your work or direct others to where they can get help. Nothing but temporal things will be lost if we are constantly attempting to show our faith.  We must remember that temporal things are just that, temporal.

Image found here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Teach Me to Walk

The song Teach me to walk in the light has been running through my mind all week. I wasn't sure why exactly. At first it was the tune; mellow, light and comforting. Some time later I began to recall the words. Being a primary song, I had been singing the song since childhood so the words came naturally.

Teach me to walk in the light of His love
Teach me to pray to my Father above
Teach me to know all the things that are right
Teach me, teach me to walk in the light

The first verse is a plea to a loving parent to be a teacher for something that the child doesn't know. For us older children of our Father who have lost our parents it could be a plea to God Himself. To those of us that have parents but are parents, we continue to turn to the sages that are our parents to continue our teaching so that we can teach our children. Finally, for those that are children themselves, young, single and free it is a request to a parent to be out guide. Sometimes I am not sure what I was asking when I ask for what seems like basics. I have seen and experienced a lot; things that I would have not otherwise experienced if I had not asked the simple requests of the first verse.

Come little child and together we'll learn
Of God's commandments that we may return
Home to his presence to live in his sight
Always, always we'll walk in the light

The second verse it seems is a reassurance to us because of our request. We as parents realize that our mortality is a continuous learning experience. We are barely masters of our lives and when we become parents we learn together both raising our children but blazing a trail that hopefully our own parents have led for us to follow. Times have changed from our parents to ourselves and it will continue to change when our children reach adulthood but its important to help our children have a solid and sound foundation while continuously solidifying our own. My own parents grew up in the '60's and '70's, myself, '80's and '90's and lastly (but not least) my kids are growing up now. The lessons that apply to me, my wife, my parents, grandparents, etc. still apply to my great kids and this hymn and poem says a lot about that.

Heavenly Father, we thank thee this day
For loving guidance to show us the way
Thankful we praise thee with songs of delight
Gladly, gladly we'll walk in the light

After receiving a great gift of lessons that are line upon line and precept upon precept we show our thanks. I know that at one time one of my blogs (I cant remember witch) I wanted to ram all my knowledge and insight into each and every child because I was so worried that the children would need it the way that I got it. How gratifying it is that our Father (who probably thinks the same at times) exorcizes restraint and lets us walk on our own and ask at our own time and speed. The same has to hold true for us as parents. The simple things like Family Home Evening and daily family prayer and scripture reading is a great teacher (though at times I wish that I could give so much more). I am just grateful that I can teach my kids songs and poems to let them have something to hum at times alone.

Its nice that I grew up in a great home full of song and for those that have not thought on that take some times to play 'Sunday music' on the sabbath. Just that act alone will stir thoughts and feeling that allow Father to teach our children when we are not there. I know that I will not be there for ever for my sons and daughter but when the time comes I hope that I will have left the tools that they need to be the men and woman that they need to be for this future.  

The image is here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hows your jersey?

For some of us Saints we proudly profess our faith to Saint and gentile a like but when we reflect on how our soul looks to God do we hold up? For some of us we are familiar with being a fan or patriot of our team (you know your team). We have the jersey, the colors on our bed spread and posters on our wall; we go as far as painting our faces and chests on game day to show out spirit for the sport and the team. The question I want to ask is what does our jersey for the countenance of Christ look like? Do we have bright colors and repent often so that it shines (like washing it and replacing it when it needs it). When we go out in public are we wearing the colors of a honest and forthright Saint? Is His image in our countenance? ….Or do we hide it under a bushel (as the scriptures term it). Are we ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

These were some of the questions asked while we were studying Malachi today. Oh sure there was reference of “Will a man rob God?' and 'Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers' but I picked up a subtle message that screamed to me to write about. I know that there are Saints out there that dedicate their time, talents and energy to the building of the kingdom but are we also building our communities, neighborhoods and families? I know that for some their jersey offends the neighbors because they are gentiles or and you are Saint but for some of us we live in places where we all wear the same jersey but some are tarnished and ripped; there are holes and stains or all together hidden. Why? Why should they hold up their colors up when the neighbor holds the colors stronger and prouder than they? For example, living next store to the bishop or elders quorum president. It can sometimes be intimidating but we should show our spirit.

The song says “Who's on the Lords side, who? Now is the time to know.” When it comes to our jerseys, are we showing our colors; are we bright and shining examples? I am sure that when we root for our team that our colors do not dim, is it dimming for the Lord? We need to do some serious self examination.

There is a story (personal one of course) where I was keeping a 'clean' van all year long for the company that I was working for. I thought that the van could be a shining example of what vans should look like when they come back to the office for their annual visit. When I arrived I was met by a pal of mine who showed me his van and how dirty it was. It was spic and span. I almost felt ashamed thinking of my own van. I learned at priesthood this week that we are our worst critics and worst cheerleaders. On the other side of the coin is us being our most eager to pardon our sins and rooting for our success when we are complete failures. My company 'jersey' was dirty but it took seeing it from others point of view to see it because being alone on the road didn't show it. This leads to the importance of gathering together oft (partly so that you can see what clean is). No so that we can become the paparazzi and point fingers at our superficial surface to to point the finger at ourselves and see if we are holding up to our own standard and what we believe the Lord's standard for us is.

We have a unique opportunity to show who we are and while our jersey is not on our outside we can make it shine like it is. Let each day be a gauge for measuring ourselves so that we can become the better person. There are many things that the Lord has given us so that we can improve (tools if you will) its just a mater of using them. See you next week and Happy New Year. 

Image is located here