Sunday, May 24, 2015

Losing Yourself in Service to Others

I usually look forward to Saturday being my day of relaxation and self-indulgence. I rarely get much self-indulgence so Saturdays more often turn into grouchy days. But a recent Saturday was different.

In the morning I woke up early to weed the strawberry patch. I went in for breakfast just in time to inhale some toast before running off to help a family move. Before and after lunch I installed our window air-conditioner unit and rototilled some land. Then I went with my son to watch grandpa hook a disc mower up to the tractor and prepare for mowing (grease, pump up tires, check fluids, sharpen blades, etc). At 3 PM was a baptism followed by a visit to a friend who I haven't seen at church for a while. After dinner I went with five other men to help someone else load furniture into a U-Haul trailer. I spent a little more time in the strawberry patch followed by a brief birthday celebration then bedtime for the children.

In the evening someone mentioned their irritation with another person's actions. Usually I would be irritated too, especially since Saturdays are my grumpy days, but I wasn't that night. I sat there thinking about how great I felt. I wasn't worried about anything. Nothing was getting under my skin. I had no problems.

How did that happen?

I spent the entire day working and serving others. I did nothing for myself except eat. I proud of how productive I had been and I was filled with charity. I remembered that I'm not the only person with needs.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. - Matthew 16:25
As I listed to someone voice their irritation that night, I knew the antidote they needed was to lose themselves in serving others--I had just proven to myself that it works.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Free Agency and the Problem of Evil

I was thinking this morning about the elect of God and how some denominations believe that the elect are chosen. You can't blame them for that because the scriptures appear to teach it. But that would invalidate their free agency. A husband might say the he chose his wife, but we know it's more involved than that if only because the wife has a choice too. In the same way, God does not force some to be saved and prevent others from being saved. He would love for all of us to be saved. But we choose for ourselves whether salvation is something we want.

While pondering that, I realized that free agency solves the problem of evil. God didn't create good spirits and bad spirits. He created innocent spirits with the gift of agency. Using that agency, some made choices that corrupted them while others made choices that purified them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Robes Washed White in the Blood of the Lamb

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. - Revelation 7:14
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. - 3 Nephi 27:19
I want to repent of all my sins. I want to be clean. I have no egregious sins, but I have plenty of small ones.

How do I do this? The hardest part seems to be identifying the small sins.

My wife and I have been holding a daily contest for almost two weeks now to see who can say the least number of negative things. I have learned that it takes a lot of time and work to overcome small weaknesses.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Passion

On one of our first dates, my wife asked me, "What are you passionate about?" I responded by saying, "Nothing." She didn't like that answer. I've had to defend my stance ever since.

Passion used to have a negative connotation for me. I associated it with dogma, ignorance, and intolerance. Passion was the the only thing that the far right, the far left, and the Middle East had in common. Even the scriptures counseled us to "bridle all [our] passions."

I'm a little wiser now. I see that passion can also be good. I feel passionately about God, Jesus Christ, and my family. I have a passion for truth, excellence, justice, and mercy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How I Met My Wife

At the Vatican Summit on Marriage, President Henry B Eyring shared the story of how he met his wife.
As the meeting ended, I saw in the crowd a young woman. I had never seen her before, but the feeling came over me that she was the best person I had ever seen. That evening she walked into our church meeting in Cambridge. Another thought came to my mind with great power: “If I could only be with her, I could become every good thing I ever wanted to be.” I said to the man sitting next to me, “Do you see that girl? I would give anything to marry her.” We were married a year after I first saw her. - President Henry B Eyring
That sounds a lot like the story of how I met my wife.

Shortly after returning to BYU from my mission in Chile, I looked out my kitchen window and saw a young lady across the way in her living. I did not know who she was. I could not see her face because her back was towards me while she talked to her roommates. But I felt a light radiating from her and something inside of me leaped for joy. I knew she was the type of woman that I wanted to be with for eternity. We too were married one year later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Love Not the World

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. - 1 John 2:15
Does that seem repetitive? When I thought about why the qualifying statement was needed, I realized that sometimes we draw a circle around certain behaviors and lifestyles and say, "That's the world. As long as I'm not all that, I'm not the world." Then we cherry-pick one thing from the circle and justify it by saying to ourselves, "It's not the world. The world is all that." John lists three worldly favorites for being cherry-picked:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. - 1 John 2:16
I like the phrase "pride of life." Other translations show that it means ostentation. I've lived in places where it seemed that everyone's primary concern was obtaining and spending more money. They were rich with large houses, fine clothes, and many cars. Yet somehow they never seemed to have enough; they were consumed by the pride of life.

I'm in a position where I could be wealthy if I wanted to be. It's very appealing and something I think about frequently. The dream of a large house with money leftover to splurge on my family is appealing in many ways. I'm grateful for learning that there is no value in riches for the sake of riches; it often causes more problems than it solves.

Someday, those that are consumed by the pride of life will lose everything they have dedicate their life to and stand before God with very little to show.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. - 1 John 2:17

Friday, November 14, 2014

The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not

The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. - 1 John 3:1
That short phrase fascinates me. I've been thinking about it for two days. Lets flip it around to say something similar which ought to be true of Christ's disciples. 
Therefore the world knoweth him, because it knew us. 
Many people have had that type of influence on me, such as my wife.