Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sumbission, part 2

It seems to have been last week that my little trial became apparently more intense. For whatever reason there may be, my mind flashed to the football camp scene from the movie Remember the Titans. It's the part where the coach asks, "What are you?" Their response comes loud and clear, "Agile! Mobile! Hostile!" Coach Boone then asks, "Will you ever quit?" The team resounds their intense reply, "NO! WE WANT SOME MORE! WE WANT SOME MORE!" That lead me to ponder my situation further. I thought, "Hmmm, I'm here in the crucible in the middle of the refiner's fire. I can feel and see some imperfections and impurities in myself." My thoughts lead me to want to ask the Lord to turn up the heat so such things would burn off quicker. "I know I can do anything so long as He's with me," I thought, "I can face it if He goes with me." Luckily my thought process didn't end there. It struck me how impatient it would be to actually ask the Lord to quicken the process. I also noted how little that would demonstrate trust in the Lord's knowledge and understanding. My final thought drifted back to, "Not my will, but Thine be done. Do what is necessary, Lord and take all the time You need to. Grant me patience to see this through." It was rather humbling to realize that I was being impatient and distrustful.
More often than not the Lord is like a dentist. So long as we're taking care of our mouth and teeth, the visit is routine and relatively painless. However none of us will take perfect care of our teeth. We go in to have something done about some pain or odor, etc. Frankly, I want my mouth to come out perfect. I do what little I can, but the rest must be done by the Master Dentist. My attitude, then, must be, "Here I am Lord. Do what you must to make me better. Take the time You must." Dentistry isn't always as quick as we would like. We might be in the chair for several hours. We may need several follow-up visits. That's okay; it's normal. What is not okay is to sit in the chair and say, "Ya know, I have another appointment in an hour, can you hurry it up?" and certainly not, "There's a pain in my left eye-tooth and you're not doing anything about it. Do you really know what you're doing?"
We must exercise our faith in the Lord in such times. We hold on our way, trusting that the Man doing the work knows what He's doing. We know He has walked with us in times past and when the path became too hard He carried us. We can't rush the work, but we can ask for our faith in His knowledge to give us patience until we reach the end of the ordeal.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I often ponder on the subject of faith while I'm working, normally only while we're in the truck so that I'm doing it without driving. This week it crossed my mind that faith and obedience are linked to love.
Consider for a moment John 14:15 "If ye love me keep my commandments". Jesus laid it down rather black and white that we demonstrate our love for Him by keeping his commandments. Now think about this description of faith found in the Bible Dictionary: faith comes by righteousness. Keep in mind that we demonstrate, at the very least, a particle of faith when we obey the Lord. So in keeping the commandments we show and exercise both faith in and love for the Lord.
The particle of faith leads us to plant the tiny mustard seed. Faith and obedience lead us to nurture that seed until it grows to maturity. This develops our faith in the Teacher further because we have evidence of the truth of what He taught. We develop love for the teacher as we reap the harvest of our faith.
These three principles I hadn't ever considered before, but now they seem to be intertwined in an intricate pattern. Obedience without love is mechanical. It makes a person seem more like a robot than a warrior. Faith does not happen without some love for without love faith seems like the robot walking into the dark without any purpose.
I submit that while the three principles can exist and faith and obedience can be done without love they are devoid of purpose as such. Love gives EVERYTHING rhyme and reason. It's the tempo, the beat of our marching band. Without love we are but empty temples, beautiful, but nonetheless without the motivation to perform the work. Love leads a child to better obey his or her parents. Love for a school leads an athlete to stand strong in the sporting arena. Love for the Lord leads a young man or woman to leave home and serve an unknown people. Love is a gift from Christ and being from Him it is our motivation to follow the Good Shepherd. When we emanate that love clearly, it leads others to follow us while we follow Him.
Love and faith are a seed and sprout therefrom into a great tree. Obedience with love is powerful and under the direction of the Master Horticulturist will lead a tree to grow to it's fullest potential.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My little experiments muwahahaha

So honestly these weren't some mad scientist's experiments, but rather personal experiments in my own lifestyle and behavior. I recently returned to setting goals for myself on a weekly basis and have doubled my efforts to keep a couple in particular.
The first goal of behavioral change was to quit watching TV. While setting goals I realized that I was spending a massive amount of my free time watching TV, particularly on Friday and Saturday, my days off. Four or five weeks ago I set out on this venture. I happily report that I've watched a mere 45 minutes of actual programming. I don't count movies seen on a movie channel, in the theater or on disc. I do admit to having watched 3 movies since I set out to change my habits.
While it has been somewhat difficult to fill my time with worthy activities it has also been rather rewarding. The first Friday or two I did spend that extra time on my laptop wandering cyberspace (this is another habit which is to change). As time has moved forward I've found the attraction of television fade out once again. I find myself stretching my mind a little to decide what I'm going to do. I've had more time to do a couple of little projects around the house.
The second change has been facilitated by the first. The second has been to attend the temple more often. I've averaged one visit a week for the last four weeks. The experience has been incredible. Not everything can be told, but I can say I've found added strength to face my challenges and more determination to do what is right. By cutting out television I freed up time and gave myself more will-power to get to the temple and obtain the blessings God has for me there.
Quite honestly television in and of itself can be a good thing. We watch general conference, educational programs, and a few good movies. There also exists a much larger group of programs that are mindless, senseless, pointless or nonsensical. These often distract us from doing great things. They may very well be intended to do good and some are not evil in and of themselves, but they do distract from doing better things. Going to the temple has been one of those better things for me. Next I want to do my home teaching and visit more people out there. The things that I can do to help someone else thrill me! There is so much good that can be done without television. Last week I already began cutting back my time on the internet. Though it will not fade away completely the time online will be decreased. Good can and does come because of the internet or television, but if either distracts me from the great things I can do then I say rather simply, "I have better things to do."
Good is the ultimate enemy of great. Why? We wrap ourselves around doing good when there are even better acts of charity, service, and love we can accomplish IF we're willing to take a leap of faith and leave behind the good for something better.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Perseverance is easily the hardest word to swallow and live while going through a trial. When the trail is long and rough, we've been hiking for hours, and we're worn out holding out to the end is the last thing most of us want to do. We want to stop, to quit. When the tribulation is the harshest and the persecution the sorest most of us don't want to hear anything about enduring; we only want the end to be NOW! In all actuality, when things are the hardest and roughest is when we most need to persevere.
Perseverance is intricately intertwined with patience. It's hard to be impatient and persevere at the same time (hard, but not impossible). While persevering it's necessary to be patient because the end is rarely in our line of sight, but we are arriving there.

I found a quote in seminary one day and kept it. It goes something like this:
"Some men quit when they begin to tire
Other men quit when they're about to collapse
But only the best men know that the body tires long before the mind
It is then that the impossible becomes possible" -unknown-

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yes, a sports metaphor, or two...

In case you're unaware, I played football in both middle and high school. It was one of the most grueling and trying sports I've ever endured. Physically, it pushed me as hard as I could go. Mentally, it gave me a new perspective.
This post should be considered a continuation of "Pain". I've detracted from the one-word titles for this one because it's a very personal metaphor I'm going to relate.
I played on the line, all 145 scrawny pounds of me. I might have weighed in at 150, soaking wet with all my gear once my muscle had become lean. Playing on the front line is a challenge. The job of any lineman is to keep his quarterback safe. He IS the front line, the first defense for the offense. He HAS to hold his place, or if necessary, move his opponent out of the way, drive him to the goalpost if necessary.
The one drill I remember for getting us to drive and push, both consistently with each other and constantly to the end of the play, was the sled. Five colored dummies were attached to a steel frame made to slide with relative ease, provided that we pushed together and at the right height. The coaches often stood on the frame to add to the challenge. Sometimes we had to push the sled and three coaches. They were often right there near us yelling and screaming that we couldn't give up. We had to keep going. I pushed that sled my share of miles through the 6 years that I played football.
I came to realize that I often confront challenges, trials, pain, anguish, temptation or tribulation the same way I approached the sled. I push against it. I shove. I line up, look it in the eye and drive for all I'm worth. Admittedly, I've done this enough that my emotional or spiritual cleats are worn almost flat. Occasionally they slide. Many times I fall. Whenever I fell while pushing the sled, I got back up. Seems like I face many giants in my life. I'm pushing for all I'm worth. The Lord has assigned some coaches to encourage and to push me. They're mean sometimes. Other days they're tough as nails. They push and yell and scream for me to keep going, but not once have they told me to give up, to quit. It hurts. I cry out in pain and agony sometimes. But I REFUSE to quit. I've not failed, EVER, until I quit.
The following clip comes from the movie Facing the Giants. I couldn't help but feel Brock's pain and frustration as he cries out "I can't! It hurts!" and I couldn't help but feel the encouragement from his coach. I carry a special relationship to this scene. Brock wears my number and he carries Jeremy on his back. I cried, because I've been in that kind of spot. The coaches were pushing, yelling at me to keep going. I felt the tears of relief and accomplishment as he reached the endzone. Christ is the head coach on my football team. He's there along side me, always walking with me.

I also ran distances in high school. As a freshman my track event was the mile. As a sophomore and a junior running 2.5 to 3 miles was conditioning for wrestling. As a senior, I ran cross-country. Running is a grueling and testing sport in it's own right. The physical training is requisite; the mental drive is tantamount. This poem relates a race to life.

Get up and Win the Race
‘Quit’ Give up, your’re beaten!‘ they shout at me and plead.
‘There’s just tto much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.’
And as I started to hang my head in front of failures face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will, as I recall that scene,
And just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children’s race. Young boys, young men, I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn’t hard to tell
They all lined up so full of hope. The thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his Dad, that he would be the one.
(The whistle blew).
To win, to be the hero there, was each boy’s young desire.
And one boy in particular, his Dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought. ‘My Dad will be so proud.‘
But as he sped down the field across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped,
Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
So, down he fell and with him hope. He couldn’t win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But, as he fell, his Dad stood up and showed his anxious face.
Which to the boy so clearly said, ‘Get up and win the race!‘
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
‘I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.‘
But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face,
That steady look that said again, ‘Get up and win the race.‘
So up he jumped to try again, ten yards behind the last,
‘If I’m to gain those yards,’ he thought, ‘I’ve got to run real fast.‘
Expanding everything he had, he regained eight or ten
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
‘Defeat!‘ He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
‘There’s no sense running any more, three strikes, I’m out, why try?‘
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had fled away,
So far behind, so error prone, closer all the way.
‘I’ve lost so what’s the use?’ he thought, ‘I’ll live with my disgrace.‘
‘Get up‘, an echo sounded low, ‘Get up,’ it said, ‘you haven’t lost it all.
For winning is no more than this: to rise each time you fall.“
So he rose to win once more, and with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit,
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
Still he gave it all he had and ran as through to win.
Three times he’d fallen, three times he rose again.
They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line, first place,
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the finishing line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race,
And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, ‘I didn’t do so well.‘
‘To me you won.‘ His father said. ‘You rose each time you fell.‘
And now when times seem dark and hard and difficult to face,.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall,
‘Quit! Give up you’re beaten!‘ they still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says, ‘Get up and win the race!‘
-Author Unknown -

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Several topics float in my mind this morning, but I believe I know which one I shall address. Frankly, it's an interesting topic that has great reward, if you're willing to follow through. It's a principle that many strive to apply; I can say I make a strong effort to do so. And I have the perfect example of it to follow.
All of us have our own individual desires. The things we want to do and try to do are limitless. In most instances this is good. It's important to have goals and dreams that are our own. Occasionally we pit our desires against the fence the Lord has set up to protect us. This fence is, of course, the standard code of conduct. I will not delve into defining these standards; just understand that I will refer to them from time to time.
The Lord told Isaiah "For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are my ways your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). It's quite apparent that our thoughts and ideas are not always the same as the Lord's. Even when we elevate our thoughts it's possible to still not reach that altitude. But as we strive to make our thoughts and ways, our very lifestyles, such as the Lord would want we rise above the spiritual smog that surrounds us. When we learn to humble ourselves to the point that we echo the Savior's word "not my will but Thine be done" we lose ourselves. The petty little things we do everyday lose meaning. We see others the way God sees them. We want what He wants. Spencer W. Kimball once said, "When obedience ceases to be an annoyance and becomes our quest then will the Lord endow us with power from on high." Let us make obedience our quest, our desire. Let it be our burning passion. Do we need to ask the Lord about everything under the skies? No. Include him in the big decisions. Ask him when you're confused. Follow the answer you receive. Do this and He will give you strength beyond what you have ever known.