Sunday, July 27, 2014
Today I was racking my brain with what the Lord wanted me to write about. For hours I thought about how rough my week was and how I had prayed and prayed to have a solution to the problems that I had had this week thinking that the blog post would be about perseverance or something like that. I was sure that it would be about me me me…. I was wrong.
At church I was given the opportunity to have such great speakers especially one missionary that spoke with such power and vigor that the spirit couldn't be denied. I thought, ‘well this was great and now we are done. There will be no need to have the other two lessons as this missionary has summed it all.’ Again I was told by the Spirit, ‘you are not writing about this’. Really? Wow! Then what?
I had a prompting on Saturday of the spirit of one of my ancestors to go and start finding my father’s family. I went to the genealogy class today and though that the work had already been done and there was nothing for me. I was intrigued and loved the class and thought I’d take a moment to see the website familysearch.org and I was certain that I would see the whole family. Man I was wrong. There is a feature that shows all of your family in a circle and half of it would be mom and the other would be dad; my dad’s half of the pie was GONE! I knew that there was some members of the family that had done the work and I could even recall from memory my dad’s genealogy up to the fifth generation but on this website it didn't exist.
As I listened to the class, I head how you could put photos and stories of your family in the site and I realized that my family story had only half been told. The stories of the roofer that had raised a family in PA or the German soldier from WW1 that had left his home country to raise his children in the States only to be a soldier of WW2 was not told. These and several more had never been told and their songs never sung except in my home.
Such anticipation and excitement changed my view of how I was going to tell my story and show that there was more than a story of a simple coal roofer’s grandson who took time to recreate his history for all to see. I know that I have had a great story. The shock and surprise that I can create in story and fable is, in fact, what genealogy is all about. My son asks me about the stories of our family and what he has accomplished. He wants to know of the metals and honors that men have given to our fathers and mothers; he wants the stories of their courage and tenacity; he wants their greatness to rub off on him. I’m no soldier; I am a son and great-grandson of one. I’m no roofer but I am a grandson of one. My mother’s family already knew the importance of the stories of the family and created a book (about 300 pages) of the family that she came from and I need to see if I can do the same with what my father’s family has done.
What does that mean for you? Do you remember what Uncle Owen told Luke? He told his nephew that his father was a miner on a space frigate; turns out that the secrets were always there if he let the Force guide him. Are we letting the Spirit guide us and show us the secrets and great discoveries that await us or are we hoping that the spirits of our fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts, no matter how far away they are from us be lost or forgotten because of our negligence. I thought myself the matter closed but no longer. I aim to do some work so that they will not be lost. Please do the same.
Image is from here.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Lord, give me the ability to fit the task and forgive me for asking the task to fit my ability.
I am certain that this is a simple prayer that could be given by every saint if they knew what we were going to be asked to do. Reflecting on that phrase or proverb I have come to realize today that I have been asking for a career that fit my ability and not the other way around. Not because I am prideful (though I am sure that I am) or that I was not suited for other jobs. I just had slipped into a shallow pool of thinking fearing that I could not swim or that the sharks of my mind would kill me in the water. I realize that for a moment I have become as Peter and have begun to sink into the water because I relied too much on the strong arm of others and my faith was not sufficient.
All too often we saints have been brought to a new learning and understanding of the gospel and the way that we approach the new knowledge can be much like a primitive man approaches fire; either it’s with faith and courage or fear and anger. The examples that we go through in our lives reflect that in our willingness to go forward with faith or run like hell away from it. David faced his Goliath upfront and direct because he had faith and not with a sword or battle tactics swimming in his head. Our jobs or responsibilities should be faced with the same faith of David. Instead of saying why, say why not? Moses led with a speech impediment; I can work in communications (or whatever my job is in the moment) with my lack because the Lord will lead the way and direct me (and my career) in the way that I should go.
Nephi liked the scriptures a lot and would often apply them to himself. He wanted to use the example in such a way that he could do the Lords will and do it as others had done it. For those that fail to see how the Lord could help us in our jobs and careers, we must remember that God inspired men to create the world that we enjoy. There is no technical data or complex skill that he doesn't already have a full and complete understanding and He likes sharing. Sometimes my prayer would be ‘Lord, help me help my stupid self.’ I need to change that to ‘Lord, teach me to meet and exceed the needs of my task so that I can do it in the future and remember the experience’. Brigham lead saints across a country untamed and established a territory; Joseph read and translated a book when he didn’t know how to read it;
I am certain that the Lord can help each and every one of us in our own personal struggles. Just have to have faith, pray and apply yourself to the task. ‘Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along’, says the song. We get nowhere if we sit and ask the Lord direction but are not willing to get a compass and our shoes dirty. We must remember also that they that are with us outnumber those that are against us; just do your best and the Lord will help you fill the gaps.
Image is from here.
Image is from here.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
All week I have been pondering about the reference of Baptism of Fire and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It came from a reference that a fellow saint made when he put out a question “What is your thoughts on Baptism of Fire?”. Naturally I have a response but I do not know why that stuck with me all week. Even when we took time discussing baptism at church I could not help it but realize that I didn’t have a clue; in that moment I had become as a little child and was again working on understanding the gospel of Christ. So at this time I would like to show you what I have learned and how limited my knowledge of the subject is.
A fellow at church made a point while discussing it at priesthood meeting that when a surgeon finishes operating on a person or animal (let’s not leave out veterinarians), when they are finished their instruments are cleaned again for further use. This is not a mere washing of the outside with water but put through intense heat to insure that it is clean and can be used for the next person or beast. I reflected on that and said within myself that perhaps this too is necessary for our souls. Along with the outside of the soul being washed and renewed through the baptism and sacrament, we go through a refiners fire to be a vessel of the Lords; a Baptism of Fire.
A few months ago it was shown to me that the two sacrament prayers are distinctly different from one another. The speaker told us that one prayer was for those who could wholly keep the higher law while the second was for those of us that when we couldn't keep the higher law would then be blessed by the lesser law. Many of the saints are blessed to have the baptism of water and are clean and declared a member of the Lords church but fail to keep their second estate or baptism through exercising faith and renewing their covenants. Though they are still saints they have their issues and cannot have the spirit of fire with them to teach them new things and bring new things to their understanding. I forget that the Lord is smart and uses fail safe processes to insure that his children have a means to come back to him. I forget that there is two parts to baptism, two parts to sacrament. He (the Lord) repeats for both redundancy and clarity. He has taught through his servants that prophets that we can repent and that as long as we are alive that we can return to him through prayer and fasting. Nothing can stop that.
I am certain that now I am rambling so I will close. I thank God that he is my teacher and that plain and simple truths have been revealed to me and my brethren and sisters; that our teacher is not giving us a pass by making life simple just because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Father really cares about my success here and I am grateful for it and though it is hard at times I am better for it. Have a great week and I will post soon again.
Refer to Loren C. Dunn’s talk for more insight on the subject.
Comical image is from Mormon Cartoonist
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Last night I was talking to a good friend about our different points of politics which as it turned out was not that different on the subject of firearms. While my view is that men should be able to arm themselves with what they see fit and the government be damned, his view was that of arm yourself for defense only and military weapons should not be in the hands of civilians. The common thing was that we both believe in a armed citizenry. Now the Lord at that time after the conversation brought to mind that there was some parallel to the things that the Jews requested in times of the kings and that was more knowledge than they were prepared to understand let alone use. My friend made a strong point that it was important to know how to use a fire arm and what it was capable. He noted that most people are not aware of the power of military grade weapons and that it should not be given to them. At that time I was thinking of the power and knowledge that the Jews received. It overwhelmed them and caused their fall. Would I be overtaken by my lack of preparedness if I were to use something outside of my understanding to defend myself, say an AR15 like the deep doctrine of the kingdom. Would I be easily beguiled by Satan as a thief in the night?
Children are given a limited understanding of the gospel because to overwhelm them is damning. The Lord gives us power according to our understanding of the gospel and what has been given line upon line. We do not quickly give a shot gun to a child who doesn’t know the power of BBs. Those that would quickly assume that TV, radio and the internet will educate our children in the gospel as well as it has done about fire arms are bound to see children hurt spiritually or physically.
Our responsibility is to shelter first, educate second and then show through limited experience the emblems f the gospel like we do firearms. The gospel is a powerful thing. It changes lives, hearts, enriches lives and brings us all closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that this can be also damning but with a careful course, it is the most enriching experience. Why wouldn’t we expand the gospel to the world? If we do it right and allow the Lord to be our teacher and guide it has no limits. We want to insure though that we take the steps that we were taught much like the steps of using a gun, safety, education and limited use under the direction of a teacher so that we are duly prepared.
May we all find strength in the gospel, may we teach by example and may we bring others closer to Christ.
Image is located here.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I as a parent want so badly for my children to have the faith and knowledge that I have acquired my whole life in seconds so that they will not make the mistakes that I have made. My wife keeps telling me that they must be taught and learn by example and their own experience. Its so frustrating. I just want to dump my knowledge into their little heads and tell them that life is going to be hard but worth it and to prepare for it.
My experiences have taught me that this cannot be so. Two very good examples are when then President Kimball wanted to tell Israel and the saints of the dangers that we were to face it seemed that the Lord had to tell his son not to as such things would be both detrimental and damning. We have had to learn of our fate because we have not listened to the prophets on our own. The little messages that they give are so very important.
Secondly is the ordinances in the temple have changed from what my parents experienced to what I have experienced. The stress of keeping the covenant of God was, I think, stricter and with greater emphasis than it is today. The covenants had consequence (something not taught today) if disobeyed and perhaps its was for our parents so that they would be firmer in the faith. I do not know why it was removed but here we are.
As parents we are desperate to insure that our kids do not make our mistakes. How much are we like Alma when his son Alma turned from the church would give our lives to change it. We,like Alma, warn them and coax them, teach them and bribe them, all with the intention to insure that the Spirit will reside in their homes when they are adults. We worry about if they are ready for the priesthood or adulthood. If we have not taught them enough about the Kingdom. I have learned to let go and that the Lord will teach them where I could not and when I could not.
Every night I pray that they even get a inkling of what I have been attempting to tell them all month. That they will not have to wonder through my desert but enjoy the milk and honey that I have attempted to insure that they have. Am I good for attempting to make it easier or better. I hope so. I just fear that their fruit will become bitter because I have removed the oppression and challenge. That they will spoil because of the good soil that they reside. Alma had his son become apostate and hang out with royal rich kids, partly because he couldn't openly teach prayer in his home (thanks to some priests of Noah). Are there priests of Noah in my life, Goliaths if you will, that are influencing my children by default? Man I hope not. I just continue to follow the Prophet and hope that my kids will just turn out ok. In the mean time my wife and I will be strong as we can and good examples.
Image is located here.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
I have been reflecting on what I learned at church today. The Sunday school lesson stood out the most. We talked about three faith promoting saints Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Each of these Israelites had their own case that lifted their faith and sent them to places that they would of never been had not the Lord been part of their lives. Deborah strengthened Barak to face the enemies of Israel, Gideon faced thousands with his three hundred and Samson, a repentant soul, brought down the house of the Philistines with the strength of the Lord.
I was thinking of how the Lord in his infinite wisdom has given each of us our own trial or test. Barak asked the prophetess to be there to strengthen him as he faced an enemy that could have crushed Israel. In other words he asked someone with more faith to assist him so that his faith would be stronger. Gideon asked the Lord for a miracle, not to test the Lord but to affirm his own faith that he was being obedient and that the Lord would be there for him and his three thousand brethren. Finally the Nazarite, Samson who had done so much that would have soiled Israel’s good name asked in fervent prayer to be an instrument one last time and allow him to destroy the enemies of his people. He would give his life and seal his testimony of the power and divinity of God by destroying pillars that held the building up.
I think of the trials that I have been asked to go trough and at first I thought that I was going to die from them. I am eternally grateful that I am alive but more than that I love the fact that I have learned from the experiences that I have been in. I have learned faith and gained knowledge from plain and simple things that could not have happened if I had not seen the miracle that they were.
At one time two weeks ago I was talking about training wheels in reference to riding a bike and the lesson that we gain when they are removed. We are asked to ride alone, no extra wheels, and sometimes we fall but most of the time we have gained the faith to balance and stand on our own and just as we were infants being taught to walk; our parents are always there and will cheer us on as we accomplish things for ourselves. The more I learn about walking on my own by faith the more scared I become because like flying, as you look through the window you realize that you are leaving the ground. Your initial thought is fear of falling but you keep rising. Somehow I think that my faith has got to that pivotal moment where the wheels have left the ground and I realize that I am rising. Part of me wants to shout for joy but the other part wants to throw up from fear. I trust the Lord it’s just a new experience. I sense that this flight of faith has been for a while as I have begun to see and recognize the miracles of my life and have made special effort to thank my Father in Heaven for them and the chance to see them come to pass in my life.
I know that not everyone will have these types of epiphanies because the test is different for each of us. You can’t cheat on this test; the answers are unique for each of us. Attempting to cheat will only result in unhappiness. Let us each take some time to recognize the faith promoting miracles in our lives. Don’t cheat yourselves of the great experience that God has given us.
Image is here.
Image is here.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Today we talked on a talk by Linda Reeves about Protectionfrom Pornography and the topic was strange it started out as a discussion on protecting ourselves to protecting our children and building a good relationship so that we can teach them how to direct their own course away from the wicked things of the world. All the while we were talking couldn’t help but reflect on the things that I have taught my son and a friend of mine who passed away. Both examples of the things I discussed were a great influence.
One of the things that we discussed was first establish a relationship of trust. Children will be more eager (and I guess friends to) if you care about what they like. My son listens to what I care about because I care about the things he cares about. He wants me to know that games of all kinds are part of his interest. My friend Christine before she passed had a strong interest of her boyfriend, family, volunteer service and job. Because I was willing to show genuine interest in what they felt was important, the things that I felt important were listened to.
I have taught my children and my friends a few things, because I want my children to avoid things that are poison to the mind and body to treat your relationships as an opportunity to really get to know someone. Porn teaches lust and objectism (ok it’s not a word but you get the idea; someone is an object and should be treated like such). Hormones, kisses, sex and such are good things but like fire that is not honed and controlled can result in a bon fire that is out of control. The damage done from a wild fire is repairable but could have been avoidable. The same is true for porn and things like it; avoidable and preventable. Teaching children to know that kissing is safe but that ‘soul’ kissing is dangerous teaches them the difference between a match and blow torch; both can be used to ignite kerosene but one clearly over does it; could cost you your life or just your eyebrows. Some of the rules of dating I taught to my friend Christina, my children at the time were too young but I aim to pass them along so that they get it too.
“Christina, take your time to build relationships and you too can have the relationship that [my wife] and I, your Mom and Dad have. There were rules that [my wife] and I always followed on our dates and here they are....
[Ihave to] a PLAN date. I knew where I was going on the date. [I was] PAYING for the date; if there was money involved, I was paying for the date. [I should be] PREPARED for the date; if there was any prep needed (what to wear or have on your person) I made sure that [my date] knew.
Other rules we had been Rule of the Trinity. Avoid being alone; date in public and/or with friends. Avoid being in the dark; learn what they are like in the light. The great dates are in the light. No movies (there is no communication or learning and it’s in the dark). Avoid lying down; this is self explanatory.
Any combination is fire but all three was the absolute fire.
Finally when things are getting to hot and heavy, [my wife (then my girlfriend)] was the one to initiate Water Breaks. That’s when the kissing is too much and the touching is too much and its time to break apart before something happens. She would yell "OK we need a water break and then get away from me so that she could clear her head, maybe get a drink but definitely get away from the kissing and touching.
One you can pass on to your nieces and nephews (and children should you have some) is the two feet rule.
The door is two feet open. You are two feet apart from your date/interest. Two feet on the floor at all times.
At any rate I am now rambling. Good luck and God bless.”
An excerpt from my message to my find Christine.
It has been two years since I gave that wisdom to Christina and I will give that wisdom to any one interested and at most my sons and daughter who will one day have an interest in girls and boys and will internalize that and keep them safe and informed. Kids are smart but do dumb things (sometimes) but if they have a good relationship with parents they will then at least be willing to talk about things before they happen or things when after they happened. We want kids to talk to us no matter what. Like our Heavenly Father, we want our kids to be eager to avoid mistakes because they were well taught or come to us (and those that would help) if they have made mistakes. My friend lost her life to a disease and will always be missed but I hope that the things that I taught her will be a asset and blessing to her in the next life as it is to my kids in this one.
Hopefully I will have armed my children my with wisdom and have given you something to share...
The picture is of my friend Christina (August 1985 to November 2011)