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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Look Ahead and Believe, nothing fearing!

Leave it in God's Hands

     If there is one thing that I have come to learn in my life it is that we can not control every single little detail of our lives. There are so many other variables that are entailed in the outcome of any given situation. Here I wish to share an example that I saw while growing up where things went south even though the guy in the story always did what he could do to help these situations turn out in the positive.

     Growing up I used to watch the older kids in town and in my church and try and be like them. I remember spending lots of time doing this. One of these particular people I would watch had many experiences that to me seemed like pretty hard and awfully hard to face at times. I watched this kid pretty closely while he would play football and in wrestling. For four years I watched him work as hard and even harder than anyone on the football team. He was such a great player and still each year as a team they struggled and would lose a heartbreaking game in the state championship game. The wrestling season seemed to mirror almost the same exact situation. In wrestling as a team they did have some success though, and he was always a big part of that success. He would put in the extra practice time and do everything that he could to become the wrestler that he knew he could become. His sophomore year I watched him get in to the championship match and battle his heart out. In the end with a couple not so correct calls he lost that match. It was hard to see him having worked so hard to have to go through an experience like that. The next two years I saw him go through the same terrible experience in his finals matches at the state tournament.

 

     Wow! Those are some experiences that are never very easy, especially if you are someone that loves your sports, and you are surrounded by people who has those same desires and passions. If you have ever been through something similar to this I am sure that you can add your witness that you also know it isn't easy to handle.

     This guy from the story who is now a man is much the better man because of these experiences. He wasn't ever a person to get down on himself about these situations and worry and fuss over them. The teams in football for years before he got into high school were so dominant, and his was as well. But for some reason the teams he was on never were blessed with a championship win. I don't take anything away from them for this, but I give credit for who they have become because of it. Year after year they came back fighting and being well coached and well taught in the basics of the game. With time and years the football team began to be blessed once again with championship wins. One of the great things that I saw as a blessing from watching this kid was that I also watched him go through similar and comparative struggles on the wrestling mat as well. Now, I am someone that hates to lose! Second in my eyes has always been just as bad as fifth or sixth. From this kid I learned that taking sixth can be just as beneficial as taking first. Life isn't about the place you take, but how hard you try. When it all comes down to it, it is how hard we tried. He had a really hard time it seemed the first year when he lost in the finals at the state tournament. I think it took him a while to get over it. The next year it wasn't near as bad, and didn't seem to effect him for near as long of a time as it did the year before. By the time it got to be the last year that he took second there didn't seem to be near the struggle with it that there was the second time. Only hours after a devastating loss he was having a fun time and laughing and joking around and having a good time with the other guys on the team. To this day he is a happy and positive person that I look up to for an individual that knows how to cope with trials in his life.

     I know that not all trials are the same and some are more attached to our emotions than others. But I also know that there is a common help for all of these trials. I believe that it is all in something higher that we make it through these hard times in our lives. For this kid both of these trials were probably greatly overcome because of great coaches who always kept him and the team positive and motivated to do their best. He also probably received a lot of encouragement from his family at home to press forward. I would imagine that he spent a lot of time looking back on these times and pondering on them and about how he could learn from them.

 

So how did he learn from them?... and how can we do the same!?

     We relate this all back simply to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His coaches would help him to be encouraged and more motivated to do better which in gospel terms can be called having faith that he can do better in the future. Next his coaches would help him to be better at the basics and correct anything that he was doing wrong, and also teach him new techniques to make him better. This is what we call repentance, the process of changing to make bad things good and good things better. Third he would have to make the simple decision to be on the team so that he could even be placed in the situation to win. We often refer to this as two steps called Baptism and Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We make a simple decision and commit to be a part of the team, and then we have the opportunity to succeed as long as we stay on the team, and we all work as hard as we can. Joining the team is like being baptized, and having the opportunity to win is like having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit, in our lives. This now all seems like a system that is complete. But this isn't a complete process or system. At the end of the sports season everything from that season is over, and you have to go through the exact same steps next year to succeed. This is called Enduring to the End. We continue to go through this cycle as long and the season starts.

     In our lives we often will hit a couple cycles in a week or day, and sometimes even in an hour or minute. The important part is to always remember the last cycle we went through and make the point to start it again. We have to join the team and go through these things to win the title.

    We are all hoping and desiring to return to live with our Heavenly Father one day, and be at the top of the podium with him. This is how we can do it.


     As we wind down the year of 2013 I hope that we can all look at the many cycles, processes, or systems that we went through this last year and learn from them. What I would like to invite you to do when you do this is to learn from them, and then Look Ahead and Believe, nothing fearing that the next cycle will be better! I know that it can be, and I learned that when I was younger by watching this great kid who was always a standout example to me about looking ahead for what's good to come.

     Life is full of Cycles, and the best way to get through these different cycles that go on around us each and every day is to get on the cycle and into the process that God has created for us - The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can't always control those little details around us, but we can control the little things that we do, and as we do so we will begin to end up on the top.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I will Live as Narrow as His Truth

People in Your Path


     This last Sunday I was sitting in the lounge of my apartment complex  when a lady that works there walks in with two guys that she had been giving a tour of the place to. The one that looks younger hung back in the room that I was in and he asked what I was watching. I honestly hadn't even looked at the TV that was turned on up on the wall, and I turned to see what was on. As I was doing that he said, "You aren't watching it are you." more in statement form rather than in question form. I agreed with him, and we had a small conversation. As we were talking he asked what I was doing as a missionary, and I told him that I go around and spread the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it blesses families and individuals each and every day. He was overjoyed to find that I was a Christian and sharing God's Word.



     We continued to talk for a couple of brief minutes there in the lounge and then we split ways. Before we did so, we had the opportunity to say a prayer with one another and feel the spirit as we parted ways. This 19 year old boy was enthusiastic and contagiously optimistic about the Gospel and Jesus Christ.



     I think that we can each learn a little from this interaction that I had with him. We can learn to simply talk with the people around us and have a nice conversation and that the Gospel will be brought up in one way or another. We can also learn that Jesus Christ is central to God's Plan of Salvation, and He wants ALL people on earth to enjoy the blessings He so willingly wants to bless us with!

     The best thing that I learned from our short interaction actually came from a phrase that he said.

"I will Live as Narrow as His Truth, but as Wide as His Grace."


     I want to invite us all to think about this phrase as we prepare to enter a new year and as we make changes in our lives from day to day. We must know that to return and live with our Heavenly Father we need to follow His Gospel with the knowledge of His Grace.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have More Christ In Christmas This Year

Spread the Joy this Christmas Season


     I want everyone to pay attention to the little things that God has blessed you with this season and take a hold of them and cherish them. As you go about the next week I want you to pay attention to those that are around you and picture yourself in their shoes. 
                                                                   - Do they have a job to buy some presents?
                                                                   - Is God in their life and can they see it?
                                                                   - Where is their family today and will they see them this season?
                                                                   - How would you like to be treated this Christmas?

 
 
     I know that the first three questions you can rarely answer for someone that you see for the first time on the street or in a store. So this is really simple what you can do. There is one question that you can control. "How would you like to be treated this Christmas?". So Control what you can. "...be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

  

     Now you can lend a helping hand, hold a door, give a warming smile, and a sincere hello. It's all about the love behind the action! We each desire to be loved and cared for and especially in this Christmas season. Be like the good Samaritan and help those you see in need. 

 
  
     Christ taught in the most effective way, and that is by example. "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." - John 13:15 As you show love and appreciation for the things that you have been given this year and radiate that love to others, you will see an increase in the Spirit of Christ, (that some people call The Spirit of Christmas) in your life and in the lives of those around you. I testify that this is true. We must try to be like Christ and then, as we do so we will help others to learn about him and His gospel. 

     - Because of the Gifts of God will live on this great planet.
     - Because of His love we each have a family.
     - Because of God we have a Savior Jesus Christ.
     - Because of this Great gift of a Savior our sins have all been paid for.
     - Because our sins have all been paid for we can live with him again.
     - Because of this The Greatest Gift of God He Celebrate Christmas!

     Show Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ you love them this year by Celebrating Christ's birth in a humble stable. Help others come to know of this great message and share the Love and Light of Christ with those around you.

"...by Small and Simple things that Great Things Are Brought To Pass..." - Alma 37:6-7.
Put your light on a hill, "...that they which come in may see the light." - Luke 11:33



Saturday, December 14, 2013

So you think you KNOW!?



Knowing is a process of applying Active Faith


  •      Do you know your car is still in the parking lot?
  •      How did you know you would be with your family today? 
  •      Were you sure that the sun would come up this morning?
     Now, are you really sure that you know?

     I venture to say that these things are not a matter of knowledge in our lives. These things are a matter of Sure and Active Faith. Why do I say that?  How can I say that?
 
   


   You might argue that you know your car is still in the parking lot because it is such a safe neighborhood and your car has a great anti-theft system, and to top it all off, you have left your car parked in the same place over 100 times and it has always been there when you went back.




    



     You had no idea if you would be together as a happy and healthy family at the end of the day today. But you figured you were all going to safe places and with good people.





   




     The sun has always come up, every single morning of your waking life and as far back as history could ever reach. It is such an implanted "knowledge" in your head.





     Think of the first time that you parked your car outside in a parking lot in a town where there were many cars stolen that same month. Think about how frequently you would go to the glass doors to make sure that it is still there. How regular would you actually take a step outside to reassure yourself that it was still parked where you left it? These are things that would have gone through your mind as you left your car parked there the first time. After that you no longer worried about if your car was there or not because experiences had proven that it would be there when you went back.

     Do you remember a time when you were young and in just a couple hours you came down with the worst flu you had ever had? How about the day you heard about a friend who's family had experienced a tragic accident? When you came home and the dog had been put down? So many days of your life you had gone to school or work and returned to a nice warm house with a happy healthy family. It has become a regular routine and something you expect.

     
     Has the sun ever not come up in the morning!? It's so easy and simple to feel that we know it will come up in the morning. What if it was dark for three days with all kinds of disasters like it was in the America's at the time of Christ's death?


     I am here to say, "Take a step back and realize, you don't know those things." You might really feel like you do, but they are a simple matter of faith. What I really want you to see is that you have faith, and you act on it each and every day!


     You might be feeling down on yourself and struggling in your beliefs. It might not be as easy as it once was. Someone you know might me in you exact situation, or one similar to it.

     How can you grow and become stronger in your Faith? You have to start by...

  • Realizing what you have 
     See the strength in your faith that the family will be together at the end of the and that the car will be outside when you check next. When you wake up in morning just soak up the shining sun. Each of these things happen in huge part due to Your Faith! You have Faith!
  • See you have Faith in something bigger
     Because of our creator the sun will be up when you are working tomorrow. Because of the police force in the area, your car will still be in the parking lot. Because of your free country your family is gathered at home safe and sound today.

  • Now Exercise that Faith each and every Day!

    You Do Have Faith and You Have a Father in Heaven Who Loves You.
  
It is because of our Faith in Christ that we can one day gain a 
knowledge of Him, and live with Him again.

Please... realize the Faith that you have and build upon it!

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Feed Before Dark

     This time around I have done something a little different. I have told the story, but left out the connection to the Gospel. I want to have you as the readers post how you would connect the gospel to this story. I am going to start doing this so that you are getting the chance to interact here as well and so you can help one another. Thanks for your support on this blog. I hope you are enjoying it and that this new style will be better.

Sorry I don't have pictures for this story, I hope I can paint a good enough picture in your mind.


Scared and Running Fast

     I had to have been about five or six years old when this story took place. I am going to tell it according to my remembrance and I am sure that some others might not fully agree, but I assure you that my record is the most correct. - (my personal disclaimer)

     When I was growing up we always had about 20 horses or so, and that requires a fair amount of daily feeding. As a young little boy this was something that I had the so called privileged to do after I got home from school in the afternoon and Sundays as well. This particular Sunday I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I must have been busy playing with a game or a dog or something. Maybe I was watching a movie who knows. But... Who could blame me!? I was just a little boy. Well, the horses could!

     So It's obviously pretty dark as it gets dark around 4:30 in my home town in the thick of winter. My whole family was around and the older siblings that were married were out at the house as well. It's later in the evening and we are all just sitting around the kitchen table and talking when Dad starts to go around the table and ask the kids if the got their chores done today.

     Ooops! Up to this point in the day the chores had slipped past my energetic little brain and then when Dad started asking everyone about their chores it hit me that I hadn't done mine yet today. Now being a little older I am looking back at this point in the story and thinking, "Come on, man can't you just feed the horses!?". I am sure that you are looking on it the same way. Well let me tell you, my family always looked at it that exact same way. All the kids are giving their answers and feedback to Dad and it gets to be my turn and of course out of reaction from the natural man, I lied and told him that I had fed them. Then he being much wiser asked why they were all pacing the fence line outside. See this created a problem, I already wasn't a good liar and could hardly not tell the truth, and it was especially bad when I was caught red handed. Ok, now we are all starting to think what a ridiculous kid I was!

     Of course I was immediately told to go out and feed the horses. I replied that I didn't want to and I made arguments that my older brother should do it because he is the one that didn't have to feed them all week because of his sports practices after school. To me this made perfect sense, but not to everyone else. I was then told that I had to go out and feed them tonight and there was no way out of it.

     All that sounds pretty easy from an adults perspective on the job. The thing that people didn't understand was my complete and udder fear of the dark. I mean, every single time I stepped outside I thought that something or someone was following me and that I would have to defend myself at any second or run as fast as I could. This idea doesn't and shouldn't excite anyone that is normal, which I was. So as they continued to tell me that it was my job to go out and to feed the horses I proceeded to argue against it. Finally I realized that I wasn't ever going to get out of it and I finally said, "Fine! I'll do it!" I wasn't happy about it, but I decided that I just had to do it.

     Now I have to paint a picture in your mind first of where our house lies and the barn and the shed that I had to feed from. My house lays running from the east to the west long ways, and on the top of a small ridge. about 120 feet up the ridge and a little to the south is our barn, which runs from the north to the south long ways with an opening on either end. Now, down the hill to the south about twice as far as the barn is from the house there is a little 8' x 16' shed where we had the hay to feed the horses. Another 10' beyond that there is a fence that runs the ridge line from the northwest down to the southeast. To feed the horses all I had to do was toss a couple of small bales worth of hay over the fence in different piles. This is the rough layout of things. I will add more details as the story goes on. The only other thing to mention is that it was about 5 to 10 degrees outside and there was around two to three feet of snow on the ground.

     I got bundled up in my snow clothes and headed out to feed. I was taking my sweet time, and I don't know why, that doesn't make sense at all. On my way out to feed I checked the cord that ran to the electricity to the barn to make sure it was plugged in so that I could turn more lights on when I got there. It was unplugged, but I plugged it back in. I turned on the peak lights that were on the western side of the house facing the barn as I stepped out the side door to head to the barn. We had placed these lights to point towards the barn earlier in the month when we had put up the Christmas lights. I took the long walk on the snow beaten path up to the barn and when I got to the closest corner of the barn I started to creep along the boardwalk and then I quickly dashed across the southern open door to flip the light switches for inside the barn and the peak lights that pointed towards the feeding shed.
   
     At this point at least half of the stress seemed to be gone since I had the lights on and I could see what I was doing out feeding. As I went to feed I walked another narrow snow packed path to the shed and and went about my feeding. The whole time I have been so quiet just listening for any noise out of the ordinary that would mean something or someone was out there.

     While walking back towards the barn from the feed shed I thought that I heard a noise. I tried to play it out of my thoughts thinking that my mind was playing tricks on me. As I wondered if it was real I listened more intensely to the noise. I was so quiet and slowly walking. I went a couple of steps and things seemed to be quiet and then I heard it again. Every time that my feet touched the snow I heard some sort of thing coming in contact with some wood. I didn't know what to think and all of a sudden my brain started running a million miles an hour thinking about what it could be. I calmed down a little bit and came to my senses. I was going to take a couple of quicker steps and see if the sound picked up pace with my steps. As I did so it happened. The noises I had been thinking I was hearing were real! Every time that my feet touched the ground, no matter how fast I heard this noise syncing with my footsteps. I knew that I had to keep my cool or whatever or whoever it was was going to make it's move soon.

     I continued to walk towards the barn and trying to stay as calm as possible. I was able to do this so well. I was quite proud of myself actually! I figured that I would simply just unplug the cord in the garage for the barns electricity and then I could have those lights lighting my back path as I went in to the house. At this pint my nerves and brain juices are flowing so fast that you probably couldn't imagine it! I got to the barn and I put my back against the wall facing the south where the boardwalk was. I kept my eyes peeled for anything that might be out there somewhere. I shimmied my way to the corner of the barn and finally everything that I had been holding in this whole time exploded! I took off on a dead sprint for the house! I was scarred to death and I wanted to get inside as fast as I could!

     Have you ever heard of Usain Bolt? Well I probably would have beet him in this distance race even if he had perfect conditions! It was about three seconds and I had flown through the outside door through the garage and into the kitchen door and broke down gasping for breath on the kitchen floor.

     When I had burst through the door into the kitchen the whole family running in from the living room to see what is going on. After a good long breath catching I was able to calm down enough to tell them about what had just happened. I was scared to death and there wasn't anything that you could do to get me to walk back outside. But the good thing was that I had fed the horses and so I was done for the night. I went out into the garage and took of my clothes and came back inside.

     When I came back inside the family was just sitting around and talking when Dad walked in to the kitchen from the front room. The first thing that he said was, "Why are the lights still on up at the barn?". Amongst all of the confusion I had purposefully left the lights on when I left the barn, but once I had ran inside it slipped my mind to unplug the cord in the garage for the lights up there. So easy answer and a good response from me was, "Ok, I'll just step out into the garage and unplug the cord."

     For some reason that didn't seem to satisfy the family and Dad and they were insistent on me going out to the barn and shutting off the lights individually. Ya right!! You weren't about to catch me dead walking outside again after an experience like that. I had just been scared to death and I wanted absolutely nothing with whatever was outside. Their persistence seemed to drive my young boy emotions to a high and I started to feel really sad and scared and I could have started to tear up, I don't exactly recall that part. But I do remember that there was no way I was going to be getting out of it. Once again, after already being pushed to what I thought was the limit and beyond they were going to do it again to me. The only response that I could even think of to try and help my case out was, "Fine, I'll do it!!! But only if Savanah will come with me." They really wanted me to have to do it on my own. This is something you might not ever figure out or understand if you didn't grow up in a bigger family. Who knows? Maybe people in smaller families learn the same things. None of the older siblings wanted me to get babied because they all claim that they never got "off easy". Well so went the argument about whether she would come with me or not. With time they agreed that she should come with me. I remember that she wasn't all that happy about coming with me.

     Once her and I got to the garage door ready to walk up to the barn she told me that that's as far as she would go with me and I sort of got angered and super scared again, but I convinced her to go up to the barn with me. What a long walk that was. I had her walk in front while I had a good grasp on her coat. I was intently listening to the sounds around me to see if I could hear anything again.

     As soon as we got to the corner of the barn where I had sprinted inside from I instantly put my back against the wall and began to shimmy towards the entrance into the barn. The lights were still on and had the area lit up, but I was still so weary about there being something out there or even worse, inside of the barn. When we reached the end of the boardwalk by the one side of the opening of the barn door we stopped for a second. The opening was eight feet across and about 7 feet tall into the barn. I was trying to get my sister to walk over and flip off the lights and then we would both run back. She would have none of that and she stood her ground well. We were both freezing and I was younger and so once again I lost the battle. I was going to shut the lights off myself.

     Inside of my head I was thinking that we needed to have the gate at the end of the boardwalk wide open and my sister to the side so that as soon as I hit the lights off I was going to take off towards the house. To get to the lights I planned on running and putting my back against the wall checking out my surroundings and then taking off as soon as I knew I was in the clear. That's just what I did.

     Instantly I dashed to the other side of the entrance and put my back against the inside wall in the barn. As soon as I did I quickly flashed my eyes around the barn to make sure I was good before I took off. My eyes were running about a million miles an hour and probably skipped over this scene two or three times before they saw anything.

     Straight in front of me and eight feet across the way. On the other side of the wall from where my sister was waiting for me I saw the outer profile of a human being standing behind an upright post in the barn. Instantly everything froze and my heart seemed to stop beating. I heard a raspy voice say, "Nice night little boy".

     I jumped straight in the air and glued myself to the wall about three feet up for what seemed like half of eternity. While I was frozen in position the hooded figure stepped out from behind the post and stepped towards me at the same time that my sister on the boardwalk did. It was then that the hood slipped off to show my second to oldest sister. Both of my sisters joined in what laughter at the scene before them. Just moments later I fell from my glued position on the wall and while out of air I still found the air to still yell at them for the emotions, frustrations, and anger running through my blood.

     We returned inside and the whole family was laughing. Apparently this was all planned and they had even been out on the front porch watching when I ran inside the first time, hence why they seemed to run in from the front living room and why they were so insistent on me going back outside to turn the lights off.

     Through the process of the next several months and years I was able to get over my fears of the dark and no longer have issues with going out in the dark like I did in the past.     

 But only if Savanah will come with me." Haha ya that was an argument of sorts as well for a little bit, and finally they agreed that she would come with me. Savanah is my sister that is a couple of years older than me and so I must have figured she could protect me from whatever dangers were out there.