Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I love serving in the Elders Quorum

It is easy to look at the Elders Quorum as a bowl of leftovers.
Likely there are insufficient active members to cover home teaching assignments. Adult male converts often move away or can’t be located. Prospective elders often outnumber the active elders. Faithful elders often travel or move for employment or educational reasons. Some are called as high priests or receive major assignments outside the quorum. - Elder Dale E Miller
I love working in the Elders Quorum. Many of the men there have enormous potential that is waiting to be unlocked, men who "are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12). They want to be good but think it's hard or don't understand what to do next. These men just need someone to love them and show them the way.

Visit them. Teach them. Talk to them. Love them. Many of them will respond.

I have seen it happen. The men are usually quiet in church, if they are there. They have testimonies but the flames are small. I have seen them go to the temple; I have seen them turn into bishopric counselors; I have seen them become faithful home teachers; I have seen them become better fathers.
And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. - D&C 84:106

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dedication to God

I've attended two baptismal ceremonies recently. I didn't speak at either of them, but if I had been asked to speak I would've shared two scriptures I have read recently.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. - Colossians 3:1-2
You have decided to follow Christ and are showing your intentions through the covenant of baptism. Baptism is symbolic of the death of your old life and the birth of a new life; you are going to be raised by Christ. You ought to keep your sights on heaven. Remember the promises of salvation and being raised again with Christ in the last day. Don't let your sights be pulled down to the things of the earth.
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. - 1 Thessalonians 2:12
You will be given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is an astounding privilege to have the Spirit of God as your constant companion. It will fill your life with light, hope, peace, and knowledge, and guide you back home to Heavenly Father. Be worthy of it's companionship -- always. You will do your self a terrible disservice if you ever put yourself in a situation that offends the Spirit. Walk worthy of God and He will bring you home.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Guidance In My Profession

Yesterday I needed to brainstorm and design some significant changes to a project I work on. It included some technical challenges which I had intentionally avoided in the past. I was having trouble focusing in my office at home so I went outside and sat in a field near a pond. Inspiration came, a design was found, and the technical challenges were overcome. I closed my eyes to pray and presented the plan which He helped me form. The response came, "That's good but I need you to set it aside for now. You need to work on this other thing first." It is gratifying to have His guidance even in my professional pursuits.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spreading Lightness in the World

Do all things without murmurings and disputings - Phillipians 2:14
There are times in my life when my motto could have been "Do all things with murmurings and disputings." Complaining is easy and sometimes even enjoyable. And yet most of us don't like to be around people who constantly complain.

In Julian Treasure's 2013 Ted talk titled How to speak so that people want to listen, he shares seven deadly sins of speaking, one of which is negativity.
Complaining is viral misery. It's not spreading sunshine and lightness in the world.
He continues to explain "four really powerful cornerstones, foundations, that we can stand on if we want our speech to be powerful and to make change in the world:" honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love.

That reminds me of Paul's explanation about why we shouldn't complain.
That ye may be... in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world - Phillipians 2:15
Think about the people whose company and conversation you enjoy the most. Chances are they spread lightness with their positive and complimentary manner. I have a goal to be more like that some day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Fear of Death

In high school I had conversation with friends about death. I admitted that I feared death. Not only did I fear the pain that is often associated with death, but I also feared the unknown. Even though I was religious and knew well what we believed about heaven and the afterlife, there was still a lot we admitted to not knowing. Some were inconsequential, such as "What will I look like?" while others were more serious, such as "Could I tolerate living forever?"

10 years have gone by since then. I no longer fear death. I have learned a lot more about what life will be like after death, and my assurance in its reality has dramatically increased.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. - Phillipians 1:23
I can relate to Paul. There is something inside of me that looks forward to being liberated from the burdens of mortality.
Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world. - Ether 12:4
There is a better world, and I look forward to living there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's Not About Me, It's About Them

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4
I am intensely intrigued by this instruction. Notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't tell fathers to control their anger and to honor God. Instead, this scripture focuses on the children. "Don't make them angry. Teach them to honor and obey God." It's not about me, it's about them.

We can see this contrast in different approaches to discipline. An easy rut to fall in is disciplining for the sake of discipline, justice, and sustaining the rules. "You broke the rule, now you must suffer." While disciplining, have you ever thought, "This might be unfair and unreasonable, but rules are rules?" It happened to me today.

Your behavior will be different if you approach discipline from the perspective of the child. "He just hit the kitten with a stick.... again. How can I teach him to be nice to animals?" "I want him to stop playing in his milk, but he doesn't seem to understand why it's a bad thing. Is it a bad thing?" I don't ask myself those questions often enough. I would be a better parent if I did.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

June Was Too Late

We had been planning for some time to move and live near my wife's family in Missouri. All the pieces but one had fallen into place. There was a wedding of a close friend that would occur at the end of June in Provo. Do we move before the wedding and travel back for it or do we wait and move afterwards? It was a hard choice.

I wanted to move earlier and just come back. I disliked the prospect of sitting on my hands for a month just waiting until we could move. But buying plane tickets or committing to drive 20 hours there and 20 hours back was no small thing. My wife thought it was much more practical to wait until after the wedding, and I knew she was right.

But I couldn't get over this strong feeling that we needed to move earlier. We talked about it many times. Once in April I said to my wife, "I feel like something terrible is going to happen in your family. Almost like somebody is going to die, but not quite as bad." Another time I said, "I just feel like June is too late." But again, it was terribly impractical, so we kept our plans for moving at the end of June.

Then near the end of May one of my wife's uncles died. He lived in Utah and her parents decided to drive out for the funeral. They offered to bring their large 12 passenger van and pick up a load of our stuff to take back to Missouri for us. It would save us a ton of money and hassle. The plan was to live without most of our stuff for the duration of June until we moved then hopefully fit what was left into our mini-van.

Striking a balance between what we needed to live for one month and what we could fit in our van was impossible. On Saturday, May 24th we decided that we would move early. We weren't taking our furniture and we only lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. We were confident we could fit everything we needed into the 12-passenger van with some overflow into our mini-van. We left Utah on the 28th and arrived in Missouri late on the 29th.

In the morning of Saturday, May 31st, the last day of May, just 36 hours after arriving in Missouri, my 11-year-old brother-in-law was involved in a serious accident. He was partially crushed by a backhoe. He sustained 13 broken ribs and a punctured lung.

My wife and I quickly remembered the conversations we had while deciding when to move. "Something terrible is going to happen." "June is too late."

We wish that we had listened to the gentle prompting about moving in May, but we're grateful that God found a way to get us to Missouri on time anyways. We marvel at the simple yet profound nature of the knowledge he shared with us. June was too late.

My brother-in-law has recovered well. He doesn't have his full strength back yet, but for weeks he's been running, wrestling, working, swinging on ropes, and all sorts of other things that farm boys do. His rapid recovery was quite miraculous too.