Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Lost Art

It is often a hard and strange thing to make changes in our lives. The world is an ever changing place where traditions die out and new ones begin. While it is good to change and progress there are somethings that should always be similar no matter what day and age you live in. No matter how hard people try, there will always be those who oppose and this is the case with traditions. Today there are the traditions, that to some have become a lost art. Of one art in particular I have thought a lot about in the past few months. This is the art of courtship.

Today we live in a world where the morals of dating and marriage are constantly changing. There seems to be a lack of commitment and pride in a relationship. There was once a time when the media of the world didn't change the opportunity to date and be social. People could meet in person and talk. It wasn't a hard thing to ask someone on a date instead of just going to hang out. Facebook or texting was never a means to ask someone out. For me, I am a person who enjoys Tradition. For me, I feel that the world as it has made some things so easy, has made other things so hard.

I was talking to my sister the other day about how hard it is sometimes to know exactly what people are saying when it comes in the form of a text or facebook message. Sometimes you think it sounds rude or mean, but the person sending it wants it to sound funny or cute. While I feel that these new technologies are a great thing, dating is one way that does not need to change. We date to find someone to spend eternity with and spending eternity with someone is a huge commitment. A commitment that if we are to keep we need to really get to know the person we are going to marry. Satan knows how hard marriage can be and if he can use technology to put up a false wall for people he knows he can use it to tear apart a family.

Gawain and Gayle Wells teach us in an Ensign article about the importance of coutship. "When we were teenagers, we had the notion that courtship would be a blissful period of strolling down shady lanes hand-in-hand, looking deep into each other’s eyes, and planning the future. This period, we were sure, would immediately precede “happily ever after.”
In reality, we found it to be a time of great adjustment and compromise. Courtship is a time of abandoning independence and learning interdependence. It is the process of developing a trusting, sharing relationship, of learning to listen and really hear, of caring about the other and sharing self. You might say it is a “tenderizing” experience."

To have this experience one needs to spend time with the person they will marry. We cannot know for sure if the person we are to marry is the right one unless we take the time to get to know all we can about them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Till the cows come home

Have you ever wondered about what the phrase means "till the cows come home"? Where in the world have the cows been? I feed mine every morning and probably once a day I have some form of beef for one of my meals. I don't think they ever left, but if they did I am sure glad that they are home now. I think that this phrase can relate to us in many ways in our own individual lives and settings. For one it might be a long punishment. For another it might be a long vacation. For another it might be an attitude to forget about the immediate responsibilities of life having little care for what is going on around you. You see, I think cows are like this last one. Sometimes they could really care less about what is going on around them and they will come home when they want to and how they want to. Usually for me when I want the cows to come home I want them there now so I can feed them and get on my way.

      With the care free slow paced life of a cow there is something that we all can learn from this. Yes it is important to work hard and take care of our responsibilities in life, but sometimes it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Forget about the worries of life and what is going on around you and take a few deep breaths. As I have been out in the world a lot more over the past few years, I Have seen a lot of things that trouble me. The biggest one is in families and individuals everyday lives. It is sad to see when a spouse gets caught up too much in their personal life that they do not have time for those around them, especially not their families. They neglect family time, they spend more time at work and not enough time at home, they pursue personal goals that does not help their family at all, and because of it families draw further apart. Although the cows are often slow they bring great value to the world. So how do we become like the cows and be of use, but still slow down and enjoy life? My Favorite suggestion that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have given us is hold Family Home Evenings. Family Home Evening is a time where we as families can spent time together to learn more about each others likes and dislikes and grow in the gospel. Here are a few things church leaders have said about the importance of family home evening.

       "After twenty years, family home evening continues to help families withstand the storms of life."(Giles H. Florence, Jr.)

"Spending consistent time together is an important part of family home evening. When this becomes a priority, families can be strengthened, individuals helped, and testimonies shared."(October 2005 Ensign)

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 tells us that “there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” including “a time to laugh.” 

 “Young people want and deserve parents and a family they can be proud of... No matter how busy we are, we should take time as a family to relax and have fun together. Our homes should be full of laughter and happiness.
"Even work can be enjoyable if approached in the right way. For example, in families with small children, work such as planting a garden, cleaning the house, or washing the dishes can be approached as a game. This will keep enthusiasm and interest high. Such an approach can help us lead our families toward happy lives that are balanced between work, rest, and play."(Home and Family Relations

     I know that good quality family time can bring families closer together and strengthen them against the things of this world. Most of my greatest joys in life come from the times that I have spent with my family building my relationship with them. I know that as you do the same and spend more time with your family, you will truly remember what joy families are in your life and how much more important they are to you than all other things.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Homeward Bound

I love the movie Homeward Bound. It is a movie that relates so much to so many people especially me in my life. A family who goes on vacation takes their pets which include two dogs and a cat to a relatives house way out in the country. While the three animals are there they decide that they don't like it where they are at and they are going to find their way home. So they escape and begin their journey back home. Their adventure is full of many learning opportunties as they fight through the dangers and trials of being on their own. It wasn't always easy for them. They were used to having someone take care of their every needs. Now they had to work together for each other's safety and lives. The family who loved these animals so much searched hard to bring them back home. Eventualy these animals find their way back home to the people who love them so much. It wasn't easy for them, they had many obstacles to overcome, but they pushed forward with a hope of making it home. And home they made it where they knew they would have the most joy.

    For us in life we may not always like where we are at. We may have trials and struggles to overcome and we want to have a better life. This better life will come as we strive to make it back home to live with our Heavenly Father.

It’s comforting to know that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, suffered all things. He understands your pain and can help you through your trials. When you have faith in God and His plan, you can be assured that there’s a purpose to all that happens to you here on earth. Our time here is short compared to our eternal life.

"Your life didn’t begin at birth and it won’t end at death. Before you came to earth, your spirit lived with Heavenly Father who created you. You knew Him, and He knew and loved you. It was a happy time during which you were taught God’s plan of happiness and the path to true joy. But just as most of us leave our home and parents when we grow up, God knew you needed to do the same. He knew you couldn’t progress unless you left for a while. So he allowed you to come to earth to experience the joy—as well as pain—of a physical body."(1)

"Most of us would probably say we want to live forever. That’s exactly what God gave to each of us when He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for us and to atone for our sins. It’s called resurrection and everyone born on earth, even wicked people, will receive this gift of immortality (1 Corinthians 15:22)."(2)

Having this gift allows us to return home where we can have a fulness of joy forever.

        Two years ago I left on a mission to serve the Lord and his children for two years. I left my family and my friends. I left behind many things that I love and enjoy doing. I went on an adventure of a lifetime to learn and to grow. I grew from a boy to a man. I have learned many things that will help me the rest of my life. It has not been easy, but I have had many people help me along the way. I haven't had much communication with those back home that I love so much, but I know they still care for me and are waiting for me to come home. During these past two years I have been through a lot. I have had many trials. I have watched others go through many trials and gone through some of them with them. I have had joy and happiness. It has been something that I will never forget. Now here in a few weeks I will return back to my home in Arizona. I will be homeward bound to those that I love so much and want to be with forever.

"Coping with calamities can strengthen you and make you more compassionate. It can help you learn, grow and want to serve others. Dealing with adversity is one of the chief ways you're tested and tutored in your life here on Earth. Our loving Heavenly Father has the ability to compensate us for any injustices we may be called upon to endure in this mortal life. If we endure faithfully He will reward us beyond our ability to comprehend in the life to come (1 Corinthians 2:9). Amazingly, with God’s help you can experience joy even in times of trial, and face life’s challenges with a spirit of peace."(3)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Refiner's Fire

“Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.
“Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. … In this way the soul can become like soft clay in the hands of the Master.”                     
 —James E. Faust
The process of refining silver has always been done by a master silversmith because of the importance of doing it right. As the silver is heated the dross or the impurities float to the top and the master silver smith scrapes them off. He then turns up to heat to bring more impurities to the top. He continues this process until all the impurites have risen and been scraped away. During this time he must watch the silver always, for if it is heated too much it will be destroyed. The final product is finished when he can see his reflection in the silver.

“Being human, we would expel from our lives sorrow, distress, physical pain, and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort. But if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of his education.   —Spencer W. Kimball
 So much of our lives are like the process of refining silver. That is what life is, a process. We as human beings are unpure and sinful. King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon teaches us about the natural man that we are, and must overcome.

 19For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchild, ksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19).

“Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquillity. … Father Lehi promised his son Jacob that God would ‘consecrate [his] afflictions for [his] gain’ (2 Nephi 2:2). The Prophet Joseph was promised that ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (D&C 121:7–8).
“Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call ‘the furnace of affliction’ (Isaiah 48:10; 1 Nephi 20:10). Some are submerged in service to a disadvantaged family member. Others suffer the death of a loved one or the loss or postponement of a righteous goal like marriage or childbearing. Still others struggle with personal impairments or with feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or depression. Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become.”
—Dallin H. Oaks

     This life is all about overcoming our natural tendencies to do wrong. In this process we can't do it alone. As we accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and his atonement we become like the silver. Over time the heat is turned up and we have trials that we must face. These trials are what help us to learn and overcome impurities. Then when one trial is over the heat is once again turned up and there are many more trials waiting for us. During these times of trial and agony in our lives we are not alone. Christ is the Master Silversmith. He will watch us always so that we are not in the fire too long and are destroyed. We will not be "tempted above that which we are able to bear"(1).

Orson F. Whitney said:
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

One Nation Under God

I love the song "America, The Beautiful"  It teaches us about what America is, how it was founded, fought for, and preserved today. It teaches us that without God this nation and its people would never succeed. From the ancient civilizations, to the discovering of America, to this very day in which we live, God has had his hand in setting this land appart for an elect people. Those who founded this nation and those who preserve it today do so under the inspiration of the Almighty God.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

For thousands of years this land has been a promised land. A land that God has preserved for those who desire to serve him and obey his teachings. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, taught about the terms by which we must follow in order to keep and enjoy our many freedoms.
Wherefore, this aland is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of bliberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound ccursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. (2 nephi 1:7)

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat                        
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

On several occasions Columbus gave credit to the Almighty. In writing to the Spanish leaders, he said, “Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Who heard of my enterprise, called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?” (Jacob Wassermann, Columbus, Don Quixote of the Seas, trans. Eric Sutton, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1930, p. 20.) During the voyage, after weeks of sailing with no land in sight, mutiny raised its head. Finally Columbus promised the captains of the two other ships that they would turn back if land was not sighted in 48 hours. Then he went to his cabin and in his words “prayed mightily to the Lord.” The next day, October 12, they sighted land. We know a land of liberty and religious freedom was a necessary ingredient in the plan of God. Thus, Columbus and others, particularly those seeking religious freedom, were led to the shores of America. (1)

O beautiful for heroes proved                       
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

That’s the way it was, from Boston to Lexington to Concord, as the war for independence and liberty began. Most of all, it was for people, men and women of courage and vision and faith, strengthened by God as a part of his plan, who struggled, froze, starved, and when necessary, died, that these free states in union might be born, in Thomas Jefferson’s incisive words, “To assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.” (“Declaration of Independence.”) (2)

The success of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War came about through men who were raised up by God for this special purpose. You must read the Declaration of Independence to feel its inspiration. You merely need to study history to recognize that a group of fledgling colonies defeating the world’s most powerful nation stemmed from a force greater than man. Where else in the world do we find a group of men together in one place at one time who possessed greater capacity and wisdom than the founding fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and others? But it was not to their own abilities that they gave the credit. They acknowledged Almighty God and were certain of the impossibility of their success without his help. Benjamin Franklin made an appeal for daily prayers in the Constitutional Convention. In that appeal he said, “If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? I believe without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the building of Babel.” (3)

We believe that the Constitution was brought about by God to insure a nation where liberty could abound, where his gospel could flourish. Joseph Smith said, “The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.” (4)

 We believe that both America’s freedom and the continuing reformation that flourished here occurred in preparation for the restoration from heaven of the full gospel of Jesus Christ. That restoration took place in the 1820s through a man named Joseph Smith. We believe that God and his son Jesus Christ appeared to the Prophet, who described his vision in these words: “I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17.) An important part of the Restoration was the return of the priesthood or the power of God. This was restored to Joseph by Peter, James, and John, who appeared as heavenly messengers and ordained Joseph Smith by the laying on of hands.(5)

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Today we are fortunate to live in a choice and promised land. It will remain free and blessed as long as its people remember the God who gave them life and this free land. We must remember that the family is the basic unit of a strong society. We are all part of God’s family; and as our Father, he expects us to build strong family units. It is in the family that the basic morality and righteousness should be taught that will keep America free. Each member of every family plays an important role in America. For several thousand years throughout this land the great fathers and mothers, the noble sons, the patriot sons, the choice daughters have forged America into what we have today. (6)

It is America’s conscience that has preserved her. America is beautiful only when she is good, when children are laughing in her streets, and love abounds in her families. Without this conscience, civilization crumbles, as it has before on this continent. We are all part of America’s future. Our job is to remember the lessons of the past, to patch up the mistakes and the sins of everything that has gone before. The place to start is within our own families; and as we have been counseled, “No success can compensate for failure in the home.”  (7)

French historian Alexis de Tocqueville said:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world of commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  (Jerreld L. Newquist, comp., Prophets, Principles and National Survival, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1967, p. 60.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Healing Waters

Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.

 The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the "good news" of Christ's sacrifice for us, giving us a path back to the Father.
On our path back to live with our Heavenly Father there are certain things that we must do. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet teaches us about the gate by which we enter to get on the path.

17Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and abaptism by water; and then cometh a bremission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
 18And then are ye in this astrait and narrow bpath which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which cwitnesses of the dFather and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

Baptism opens the gate, beginning the road that will take us back to His presence. This covenant is a commitment we make to follow Jesus Christ throughout our lives. It symbolizes the end of our old life and the beginning of a new life as a disciple of Christ.

Even after we are baptized, we will still make mistakes, however this doesn't mean we have to get baptized again. Instead we have the opportunity to go to church where we are able to renew our covenants.

At Church we sing, pray, and discuss the gospel with the other members of the congregation and we also take the sacrament in remembrance of the Savior. At Church we participate in the sacrament by eating bread and drinking water that was prepared to symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We can take that time to meditate on how Jesus Christ can help us and think about how we can better keep the covenants we have made with Him.
’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer    
Thought it scarcely worth his while                         
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
 Myra Brooks Welch, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” The Gospel Messenger, Brethren Press, 26 Feb. 1921.
   Boyd K. Packer taught:
"We can even “retain a remission of [our] sins.” 21 Baptism by immersion is for the remission of our sins. That covenant can be renewed by partaking of the sacrament each week. 22
The Atonement has practical, personal, everyday value; apply it in your life. It can be activated with so simple a beginning as prayer. You will not thereafter be free from trouble and mistakes but can erase the guilt through repentance and be at peace."  

 I know that through the atonement of Christ we can all be healed. Start now by taking the first step and repent. Through baptism we can be cleansed from sin. As we continue through life we can continue to repent and improve if we will just let Christ help us. We cannot overcome sin alone. It is only through faith and repentance that we can be forgiven, and when we are, we will be at peace.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Small and Simple Things

    Sometimes in life what we do isn't good enough. Now matter how much we do it always seems not to be enough in the eyes of the world. We burn ourselves out trying to fit in or please people, but we still feel like we have not accopmlished a thing. Doubt can be one of Satan's biggest tools against us. He want us to think that no matter what we do it is not good enough. He wants us to think that no matter how hard we try we will fail. Our loving Heavenly Father through his servants teach us differently. The prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon stated:  "Now ye may suppose that this is afoolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by bsmall and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise." (Alma 37:6)

     President Eyring and others in this video testify of the small and simple acts of others and the great impact they had on their lives.

    President Howard W. Hunter (1907–1995) taught that people who have honest doubts can overcome them and gain a stronger faith. “I have sympathy for young men and young women when honest doubts enter their minds and they engage in the great conflict of resolving doubts. These doubts can be resolved, if they have an honest desire to know the truth, by exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. They will emerge from the conflict into a firmer, stronger, larger faith because of the struggle. They have gone from a simple, trusting faith, through doubt and conflict, into a solid substantial faith which ripens into testimony” (1)

     Using the example of drip irrigation, Elder Bednar explained that “with drip irrigation, applications of water are more focused and more frequent than with . . . other methods.” Similarly, “if you and I are focused and frequent in receiving consistent drops of spiritual nourishment, then gospel roots can sink deep into our soul, can become firmly established and grounded, and can produce extraordinary and delicious fruit.” If we understand this, the pattern of small and simple things has greater power. This pattern “produces firmness and steadfastness, deepening devotion, and more complete conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel.” In this way we become “increasingly steadfast and immovable” and “less prone to zealous and exaggerated spurts of spirituality followed by extended periods of slackness.” (2)

     I know that God wants us to be happy and overcome the trials that we face. I know that overcoming life's challenges is a process and takes time. As we take time to recognize the small and simple things in our lives that we do we will feel more useful in the world. We won't need to worry about what the world thinks about us. We will recognize ourselves as children of God who loves us and wants us to learn all we can here on earth. During your times of doubt and trials, take a little time to think of all the small and simiple things you are doing for others. I know that this will bring you a sense of belonging and a strength and a desire to do more.