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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lost and Found


Formula for Success
When you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
To work day and night for it,
To give up your peace, your sleep and your time for it,
If only the desire of it makes you aim strong enough
Never to tire of it.
If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you dream and scheme is about it,
If gladly you'll sweat for it, fret for it, plan for it,
Pray with all your strength for it.
If you'll simply go after the thing you want
With all your capacity,strength and sagacity,
Faith hope and confidence, stern tenacity,
If neither poverty nor cold nor famish nor gaunt
Nor sickness nor pain of body and brain
Can turn you away from the aim that you want
If dogged and grin, you besiege and beset it,
You Get It.

Vaughn J. Featherstone

It seems that when you loose something that was a part of you, you find who you are underneath. Prior to being laid off I was all about getting home and sitting on my butt and enjoying the kids and wife with no real plan for change. Well that has changed a lot; a real lot. What I learned on the road and the life lessons that God has given me have prepared me for this and I didn’t even see it coming.

Alas learning and applying are two different things. We can learn how to drive through a training course and books all we want but until we get out there and risk it (even a little) we will never know what driving is about. The Lord knows that I talk a big game and am a great motivator but when it comes to motivating myself, I really need to listen to myself and go and DO IT. When Vaughn wrote that poem, I get the sense that he had applied the very things that he was inspired to write. He wanted to be close to God and there he was at a pulpit showing what had got him there. We should take that same spirit of go get it and become what we want. Life will get in the way but either you can use life as a crutch to pull you to your goal or complain that it is a weight to pull you down away from your goal.

Do you remember the movie Mulan? In it Mulan (now known as Ping) was asked to climb a pole to the top with two heavy weights on each hand. The Captain Shang demanded that they use those weights as a tool to get there. One represented strength and the other discipline, both were needed to get to the top.

In our lives I think that we are asked to carry the same weights and from it we will become the butterfly or swan that we were meant to be but some of us find it too hard and quit too early. We are not ugly ducklings or caterpillars for ever. The opportunity is always there, its a matter of finding who you are deep inside and pulling yourself from what you learned in training and applying it to what you want. Training is over for some of us and for others its just beginning. It is up to us to know where we are with the Lord and apply what we have learned and then go and get it!

So now back to the title that this article is written about. I think that we sometimes are lost or have lost something that we thought were a big part of us but its like a diamond in the rough, when what you thought was part of you is taken away you will see what you truly are. We have all the time in the universe but what are we doing with it? We should strive to acquire what we want and what we are so that when we show the Lord our talents at the end of our lives we will show that we doubled them. We are not lost; to the Lord we are exactly where we need to be but if you think that your life needs to change take time to assess your assets and see what you need to do to change your course and use the Lord as your compass (but that's for another time). Have a great week brothers and sisters. Oh and Merry Christmas!

Vaughn J. Featherstone's image

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reflecting pool

This last weekend was tough. There was cause for a lot of reflection as I was let go from my old job of eight years. As I reflected on the experience there was tears and comfort from the Spirit. As I was praying on what I should do (panicking) I was told by the Spirit that I should be still and know that my Heavenly Father has got this and has had it from the foundation of man. He knew that this was coming and that the experience would be to my benefit. But... enough about me.

This week we got the chance to study Ezekiel and the experience that he had with the Saints of ancient days. There was one particular experience that he had where he was crying repentance to the people and they just would not listen. Famine, pestilence, war and death threatened them all because they were so casual with their faith and to familiar with strange gods (I know its the Nephite cycle). They were doomed to have the scattering prophecy occur sooner than they thought.

During this time there was one experience where the prophet was able to get the waters to rise just by constantly dipping into it. This caused the Saints of those days to reflect on what was going on and who was in change. This caused me to reflect. What do we do to reflect on the success and failure that we have done for our Father in keeping his commandments? Are we so relaxed with our faith that we fail to see the constant flax cords that attempt to pull us away from those things that would be deemed holy?

In some of the early days of the Saints, we were asked to keep a journal and that was supposed to be our reflection pool so that we could look at ourselves as we were and once was. When I turned over my company phone, I failed to realize that this was the way that I was keeping a journal (silly me) so now I find that those photos and words of reflection are gone and its time to start over. The chapter that I am starting is such that I don’t know where I am going but I look forward to where it will land. I have God before me and behind me; to my left and to my right. If anything this will be a short chapter and I will be back to my old self with a new perspective. I have to say that this has been the most invigorating experience that I can ever say that I have had (and I have had brain surgery... eight times). This is my second firing from a job and this time (unlike the first) will have the Lord as a companion to the experience. I will not be alone. I'm so excited.
Reflection Pool

This last weekend was tough. There was cause for a lot of reflection as I was let go from my old job of eight years. As I reflected on the experience there was tears and comfort from the Spirit. As I was praying on what I should do (panicking) I was told by the Spirit that I should be still and know that my Heavenly Father has got this and has had it from the foundation of man. He knew that this was coming and that the experience would be to my benefit. But... enough about me.

This week we got the chance to study Ezekiel and the experience that he had with the Saints of ancient days. There was one particular experience that he had where he was crying repentance to the people and they just would not listen. Famine, pestilence, war and death threatened them all because they were so casual with their faith and to familiar with strange gods (I know its the Nephite cycle). They were doomed to have the scattering prophecy occur sooner than they thought.

During this time there was one experience where the prophet was able to get the waters to rise just by constantly dipping into it. This caused the Saints of those days to reflect on what was going on and who was in change. This caused me to reflect. What do we do to reflect on the success and failure that we have done for our Father in keeping his commandments? Are we so relaxed with our faith that we fail to see the constant flax cords that attempt to pull us away from those things that would be deemed holy?

In some of the early days of the Saints, we were asked to keep a journal and that was supposed to be our reflection pool so that we could look at ourselves as we were and once was. When I turned over my company phone, I failed to realize that this was the way that I was keeping a journal (silly me) so now I find that those photos and words of reflection are gone and its time to start over. The chapter that I am starting is such that I don’t know where I am going but I look forward to where it will land. I have God before me and behind me; to my left and to my right. If anything this will be a short chapter and I will be back to my old self with a new perspective. I have to say that this has been the most invigorating experience that I can ever say that I have had (and I have had brain surgery... eight times). This is my second firing from a job and this time (unlike the first) will have the Lord as a companion to the experience. I will not be alone. I'm so excited.

P.S. For those accustom to me posting an image, I apologize. I was going to use the Lincoln Memorial reflection pool but the image would not come up. Image I wanted is here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A day of prayer

We just celebrated Thanksgiving a holiday that was established by the first president of the United States of America. Originally it was called a day of prayer and that it was to be celebrated to honor our country and its freedom. It’s funny how time has passed and it’s evolved through the ages. Lincoln used it to bind the North with the South. So what has become of us?

When we take freedom for granted we tend to bastardize the very things that we hold dear. For a lot of us this is our faith. Just look at what we have done to the very symbols we hold for God and his people. Prayer is mocked and atheists are encouraging the removal of it. We are becoming (could be beyond the point) a people that have no gratitude for God or one another. It shows in our shopping habits after the holiday that we call Thanksgiving. We have become so numb from the commercialization of the holidays that we cannot see anything good nor hear it either. The songs and jingles flood our ears and images flood our eyes because we just will not turn it off.


What is to be done? Do you remember the call to listen to the still small voice. He is not in a shaking mountain or roaring river that we would call media. He can be found in the simple things of life; the very things that make us thankful for what we have. Let us take some time this week to give thanks to our maker for giving us a great country, faith to guide us and friends and family to hold dear. Let us remember those that have no friends, homes, warmth or joy. Indeed we really want to say every day “God bless us, everyone”. Be kind to others this holiday and extend a worm heart so that we all can enjoy the next holiday. 

Happy holidays.

Image found here.