Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings

The more I try to put my life in accordance with God's will, the more I realize how much he is asking of us. I used to think that we just needed to obey the commandments and ask God about important decisions. But I'm learning that it's not that simple.

It is good set and pursue righteous goals, yet James warns us that planning without leaving room for God's will is arrogant and sinful.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. - James 4:13-17 (ESV)
It's easy to see how this applies to big decisions such as pursuing a profession, choosing a spouse, and deciding where to live: make sure God approves of your decision. And in my opinion, that's easy. But Alma takes it a step further.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. - Alma 37:37
Alma teaches us that we need to ask God about everything we do. Obviously it can get carried away. A common example I hear in church is that God doesn't are about which socks we wear. But what if one day it did matter. Would we be willing and prepared to listen?

I am reminded of a trip  from Spanish Fork, UT to Rexburg, ID. After loading everything into our car, I returned to the house one last time. I was either retrieving an item I had forgotten or making sure that all doors and windows were locked. While in the basement I had a strong feeling that I needed to bring a rope and tarp that I saw on the floor. I deliberated for a short them then concluded, "I don't need it for shelter. We're not camping. If the car breaks down then we still have the car. I see no reason to bring it."

Somewhere near the Utah-Idaho border we saw dark storm clouds ahead. It was obvious that we were soon going to drive through significant downpours. I saw a pickup truck stopped on the side of the road. The passengers were out trying to secure the load. I immediately knew that the rope and tarp was for them, not me.

When I pray in the morning I try to review and counsel with the Lord. After preparing and studying and before working I often pray to make sure I'm still on track. Sometimes everything is okay. But sometimes He wants changes. A couple of weeks ago He asked me to write a letter to someone before working. This morning I knew that I needed to plan on speaking with someone today. I don't know why I need to speak with them, nor why it needs to be today, but I've learned not to question. Counseling with the Lord consistently leads to seemingly insignificant changes to my plans, and I'm always glad I listened.

I am learning that the Lord is willing to play a very active role in our life. If we counsel with Him in all our doings then he really will direct our paths.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Peace and Hope of Christ

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. - John 14:27
Righteousness brings with it a promise of blessings such as joy, peace, and hope. These are mostly comfort blessings; they help life feel good and make us expect that life will continue to be good. But that train of thought is flawed. The peace which Christ offers us is not that everything will be okay in this life but that everything will perfect in the next life.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. - 1 Corinthians 15:19 
Our hope in Christ is for eternal life, for becoming a joint-heir with Christ, and for a glorious resurrection.

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.