Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"All Things with Thankfulness"

So this is a great time of year to reflect on all the things that we have been given.  As I was studying the scriptures getting ready for the holiday, I came across a couple of verses that really stood out.  The first one is Doctrine and Covenants section 59, verse 21.  It reads: "And in nothing does man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."  I think it is amazing that in all the things we stupidly do, God still loves us and it is only when we deny His hand in our lives that He is displeased.  It gives some good motivation to be grateful.

Now compare that verse to Doctrine and Covenants 78:19.  It reads: "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, even more."  Those who are grateful for everything, instead of being cursed are blessed more than they can imagine.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

So it wouldn't be right if I did not write what I was grateful for.  Of course, this won't be a complete list, but I'll do my best.  I am grateful for......

family, friends, my mission, beautiful sunrises, scriptures, prayer, my testimony, church leaders, the prophet, Montana, cars, heaters, trench coats, house, the fire that burned our house, snow, trials, people who tell us no, people who tell us yes, other missionaries, President and Sister Gardner, food, this country, the soldiers that laid down their lives defending freedom, the soldiers that are still fighting, technology, science, school, education, mail, money, clothes, rain, sunshine, moonlight, stars, this Earth we have to live on, Mormon Tabernacle choir, other music, movies, chess, board games, card games, my health, my life, my eyes, my fingers, my mouth, my hair, my legs, my brain, my heart, chemistry, history, math, English, talents, gifts, the love of our Heavenly Father, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and especially the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  May we all try harder to "receive all things with thankfulness."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who's team are you on?

Currently as football season progresses, fans from all over the country and wherever they may be root for their favorite players.  When football season ends, then basketball begins and hockey players hit the rink.  Baseball seems to be going on all the time and tennis starts in the spring.  Golf and soccer take over during the summer and then we are back to football.  As each sport takes its time on the news stations, there are fans that are involved in as many aspects of their players' lives as possible.

On the local level, little league sports and high school teams and everything in between play their very best to show their skills.  Cities and communities unite behind their players and cheer all the way to the championships.  When the teams win, the cities rejoice; when the scoreboard shows a loss, the communities feel as bad as the players do.

As we all know behind all of the athletes in whatever sport is a great staff that consists of coaches, managers, referees, and even the water boys.  Everyone has a role to play to make the team; any one person out of place will damage the team's potential to win in the end.

One of the scriptural stories I have been pondering for a while is found in Exodus chapter 32.  The Israelites have decided to reject the law given to them by Moses and began to worship the golden calf.  After getting mad at the people, Moses in verse 26 asks a poignant question.  He says "Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me."  Those who had not rebelled came to Moses and put an end to those who had forsaken God and were against Him.

I have often wondered how I would respond to that question.  Are the things I do in harmony with what the Savior's game plan is, or am I part of the opposition?  How do I show my devotion to the Lord's team?  What is my role in this play of the game and how can I do it to the best of my ability?  If I need to make changes, what are they?

As I have reflected on my individual duty, I have realized that there are so many other players that I can look at their example.  The prophet stands as quarterback, directing the work as it moves forward and calling each play in harmony with the Coach's plan.  Men like the bishops and stake presidents of the church are like the pitchers of baseball and the forwards of basketball and soccer, directing the action in their spaces.  Missionaries form the doubles tennis teams all across the world as they spread the gospel message of the Restoration and of happiness.  And of course, our Heavenly Father directs the work as Head Coach with the Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost as His Assistant Coaches. 

Each person on the planet has their position to fill; each one a duty to perform.  Let us each find our purpose in this great battle of life.  The game is not over until that final whistle blows.  You never know, the game winning pass may be meant for you.  "Who's on the Lord's side? Who?  Now is the time to show." (Hymns 260)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?

I have recently been pondering on something that is central to missionary work; service.  I have no idea how many people I have helped move, cords of wood I have helped chop, animals I have helped taken care of, bales of hay that I have stacked, and all the other random acts of service I have been a part of while on my mission.

We read in the scriptures all the time the necessity and commandment to serve one another (See Matthew 25:31-40 and Mosiah 2:17). Something I have realized is that genuine service does not have to include a 26-ft U-Haul trailer and five hours of moving boxes. Service can simply be saying hello or opening a door for someone. In the end, as long as we serve is what our Heavenly Father is looking for. So take some time this week and try to serve someone each day. Enjoy a short video clip of President Thomas S. Monson discussing service.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The sun is such a wonderful thing.  Without it, we would die due to cold and lack of food.  With it we can enjoy the beauty that surrounds us on this marvelous world. 
Every night we go to bed hoping that tomorrow will be just as good, or maybe a better day than the one we just finished.  Every day the sun rises letting us know we have another chance to do better.

Is it not wonderful that the Son is always there, encouraging us to do and be better.  Everyday shining light through the darkness of the world. 
("The Lost Lamb" by Del Parson)

Friday, November 5, 2010

"As I Have Loved You"

The Savior was once asked what the greatest commandment of all was.  He answered that the first was to love God and that the second was to love our neighbor as ourselves.  How do we love others?  How do we show them we care?  Those are questions that I have tried to reflect upon and learn from so that I can find happiness; for if we do not, then we suffer and are miserable and lonely.  I came across this poem that I think explains that idea.  It is called "The Cold Within" written by James Patrick Kenny:

Six humans trapped by happenstance … in bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back,
For of the faces round the fire, he noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way, saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes; he gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.
Their logs held tight in death’s still hand was proof of human sin,
They didn’t die from the cold without. They died from the cold within.

Now compare that to the peace that the Savior gives.  Some of His last words to the apostles were, "A new commandment...That ye love one another; as I have loved you (John 13:34)." 

How has the Savior loved us?  More than we will ever be able to understand.  How must we love our neighbors?  Just as Jesus Christ does.  How can and must we show our love?  Whatever it takes. 
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