Category: Eternal Principles


Why am I so Blessed?

My life is awesome, I love it and I want to make the most of what God has given me.

Why am I the one who receives all these choice blessings though?

I was raised in a home with two parents who loved us, we never seriously struggled financially, our extended family was supportive. I was given the freedom to choose what activities I wanted to do and what friends I wanted.

I was given every opportunity to do activities in high school, I was raised in a home where I was taught about Christ and his Gospel from a very young age.

Why?

I’m not any more special than the homeless man we see whenever we go to Walmart to shop, I’m not more valuable than the criminal facing 10 years in prison, than the prostitute who was forced into that sort of living.

I’m just like them, we’re all children of our Heavenly Father.

Christ and a Child

So why?

Why we’re they not born into loving homes comparable to mine?

Why are there children born who will struggle every day to fight off hunger and sickness while I have been given so much.
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, I wish I did but I don’t.

All I know is I am blessed, extremely blessed and odds are so are you.

Maybe I’m blessed and others are not cause our Father knew they were strong enough to get through those things and I am not. Maybe it’s because I needed to learn certain lessons only learned in a life of safety while they needed to learn the opposite.
And maybe we’re all in our own situations because of our predecessors choices.

God has given is this amazing gift of Free Agency. The ability to choose, to learn good from evil.

Sadly while that gift can being amazing learning and blessings it can also bring devastating results. One mans actions brought the world to its knees, and so it is today.

Just think of a world where everyone loved one another, where each and every human being was seen as a child of God. There would be no domestic violence, no wars, no unloved children.

It’d be glorious.

So today I want you all, to go out of your way to be kind. Remember that everyone is your brother and sister. Absolutely everyone.

Yes even that driver who just cut you off as you we’re getting I work.

Yes even that man who you find so very very creepy.

Yes even that woman who you know could be better if she just tried.

Yes even that murderer who was just sentenced to life in prison.

They are still your Heavenly Parents children.

They’ve made a few mistakes, so have you, love them all the same.

I know there is a plan to get us all through life, that Jesus Christ is the Savior and that through him we can be healed.

In Jesus Christ’s name Amen.

Never Give Up

Sorry its been so long since I posted anything, sometimes stuff comes up as a missionary and you just don’t get all the things done you want to.

 

Regardless you shouldn’t give up.

 

Giving up is one of the worst things you can ever possibly do in life. Giving up on your dreams, you love, on life or hope.

 

So often people dream, they want to be awesome and great and have fun.

 

For today will you look up, remember that you can be great. You are a child of God after all, its your heritage.

 

Don’t give up on your dreams, goals because you can reach them. You can do all that you set your mind to, just keep going, by doing the small and simple things and persistently doing that which is good we will reach what we are working towards.

 

Be happy, remember God, work hard.

 

After all as that wise prophet Nephi has said,

Joy

Life isn’t meant to be endured, its meant to be lived.

That One

Wow its amazing how much there is too learn. I remember way  back before I had left home thinking I was ready to go and serve my mission, be the best Elder ever, come home, go to school and ride off on that adventure called life.
I’m going to focus a bit more on that first part, the part where I was leaving off to go on my mission. Early on in my mission as I was serving in my first area I wondered, why am I not making a difference? Why are people not listening to us? Why, why, why? I felt like I was sinking like Peter when he was going to Christ.
Jesus and Peter
During this time of hardship and frustration my trainer and ultimately one of my best friends shared this story with me and it changed me and it still changes me, even though I’ve known this for months.
    A young man was walking down the beach at sunrise with his grandfather. It was low tide, and there were many creatures to be seen. They laughed, talked, and explored the tides, until they reached a spot where thousands upon thousands of starfish covered the sandy beach.
     “Grandpa? What is going to happen to all these starfish?”
Starfish
     “They are going to dry out and die on the beach, then high tide will come and wash them all up and it will happen again tomorrow.”
     “That’s awful! Isn’t there something we can do?”
     The young man then picked up the nearest starfish, and hurled it as far as he could into the ocean.
     “What are you doing? There’s no point. You can’t save all of them, it’s just the way it has to be.”
     The young man continued. He threw another starfish in the ocean, then another, then another.
He wasn’t going to give up that easily.
     “You can’t save them all, it doesn’t matter!”
     The young man threw one more starfish into the ocean, turned to his grandfather and said,
     “It mattered to that one.”
     He turned around and threw another starfish. Without a word, the grandfather bent down, picked up a starfish, and hurled it into the ocean.
   Sometimes being a missionary you feel like the grandfather, you see so much filth, so much sin and so much bad you just want to give up. You want to quit and go back to a blissful ignorance. However as disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to help those we see in need.
In honesty this has gotten me through the hardest times on my mission. There have been many times when I’ve felt like I’m not doing anything, nothings changing and since it never has it never will change.
But that one. One thing I can promise is that you will make a difference to that one, you will find that one.
For me, I’ve found that “one”, you can find that one who needs a hand, a shoulder to cry on, the one in need of comfort. When you serve them and help them you’ll know, you’ll know the difference.
The great thing about this work is that its not our work, we aren’t in charge, we have the Godhead at our side. As it says in D&C 68:6, we will be standing right alongside our Lord Jesus Christ.
We will make a difference, not because it is our work or we are that strong, but rather because when we side with Christ we know that good will prevail.
When you feel like your not making a difference or not doing enough just remember,
It matters to that one. 
Starfish 2
Only thing is missing is a Frisbee

Only thing missing is a Frisbee

I love sports. Sports to me just are something amazing. When two teams, individuals or whatever are competing in fair, honest and skillful competition it just seems to be one of the most beautiful acts. I could spend hours and hours playing different sports and they just never got old and its not like there is one best sport, all have good things in them, we all just have favorites.

 

So what does my love of sports have to do with changing , well a lot actually.
In Ultimate Frisbee there are many different ways to throw the frisbee. You throw the Frisbee to work it down the field and your ultimate goal is to have a team-mate catch it in the end zone.

Throwing a Disc

Throwing a Frisbee

In Ultimate there are many different throw types but the most common ones are flicks and backhands. Anyone can pick up a frisbee and usually they’ll be able to throw the frisbee one of these two ways.

It will fly fairly straight, not wobble till the end and can get to the destination.

It will be a good throw. However when the game is on the line you don’t want just a good throw, you want that throw to be absolutely perfect. You want it to be your best throw you’ve ever thrown.
This is where the change comes in.

 

Before the game, before you need to be ready you can choose to be good, you can choose to put in some effort to get better or you work your tail off in an attempt to be the best.

 

You can decide at any given moment you want to change. That you need to act different and be a different person.

 

In our mission we have a phrase, Good, Better, Best. Taken from Elder Oaks talk called Good, Better, Best.

 

At any time we can decide whether we want to settle for being good, or whether we want to be the best.

I like being the Best, what about you?

I like being the Best I can, what about you?

We can live forever just going about doing what we’ve always done or we can strive to be better and work at improving. This change, this becoming better has a name.

Repentance.

 

When we repent and try to become more Christ-like, become perfect we change for the better. There are so many ways to become more like Christ. To list a few, when we serve others, study the scriptures, when we make God the center of our lives, when we stop worrying about things and start taking care of people. All of these ways force us to look outward and change.

 

Change for the better.  Now we won’t become perfect overnight, you don’t become the best you overnight without work. It takes work, so much work.

Work, work, work

Work, work, work

 

We always have someone on our side who will never let us down. When we want to change to become better we have Christ, the perfect coach, motivator, leader to help us become better.

 

Christ always stands at the door knocking and ready to come in and help us, but its up to us to let him in. In order for him to change us we have to let him in.

So will you let him in?

He's ready are you?

 

So this last Sunday Elder Pemberton and I were talking with Brother Le Bel, our Ward Mission Leader about church standards and doctrines. So while we were talking Bro. Le Bel made an interesting statement that really stood out to me.

 

“As much as we like to think we aren’t like the children of Israel, we are. How often do we look for exact rules or ask how far is the limit on various things.”

 

That made me wonder, there often is a lot of gray area that is left open to members of the Church. Yes we have a prophet of God who leads us but how often are exact stances left unsaid.

 

I’ve realized more and more on my mission its very often.

 

We aren’t given exact rules because you don’t learn anything with rules, you can always find ways around the rules. So there’s this dilemma you face, which path to follow, which way do you go.

 

Which way do you go?

Which way do you go?

So lets compare life to this path a little.

 

Neither one is particularly special, one goes left and one goes right and both look to be about the same. Without some further knowledge or outside help you’ll be making the decision of which way you choose to go blind.

 

So to the uninformed hiker either path is good.

 

We can be like this in life.

 

When we come into this life we don’t have knowledge, we’re born with a clean slate and we come here to learn and get experience.

The great thing about this life is that we don’t have to go at it alone. We have the instructions and leadership that we need.

 

Our Heavenly Father has given us the scriptures to guide us home. In the Book of Mormon we can learn life lessons from the writings of prophets and just ordinary people who tried to live their faith in their every day life.

 

So the hiker with the map will be able to look down the map, see what the terrain with each path is like and know which one is the best one to take.

 

In real life the Church provides us with the necessary maps, resources and other such stuff that we’ll be able to find our way on our own. But they don’t force you to follow the “straight and narrow”.

 

We have to figure things out on our own, we can always ask our Heavenly Father and he’ll give us the answer but not when we think we need it.

 

Our Heavenly Father has given us the tools to figure out right and wrong on our own, he wants us to learn and grow and that’s what he’s going to let us do. He’s going to let us work for answers.

 

Work can cure a lot of things

Work can cure a lot of things, and not just cattle

So maybe that’s one reason life is so hard, so confusing and without exact doctrines defined by our prophet and the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We already have the tools to find them, they’re in the scriptures and its our job to find them.

 

I know that by studying the scriptures we can find answers to many of life’s greatest questions and always know that what we are doing is right.

 

How do you learn what is right and wrong?

So for me and for most other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there can be a lot of ways living our faith can be hard.

This would be me, a normal Mormon boy

This would be me, a normal Mormon boy

 

Being a born and raised member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormon many people have asked why am I a member.

 

Those who tend to have an unfavorable outlook on the Church and all members will say I am just a member because it is what I was raised with and I was brainwashed into it.

 

Others will say that there are many great benefits received from the Church by being a member and that would be why.

 

Others say that it might have a peaceful feeling and it’s what feels good to me.

 

Yet others will say how I am a member because I couldn’t handle reality without a crutch and that crutch being my beliefs in deity.

 

And still more will say I am merely following in my families footsteps because my family would be disappointed in me if I left the Church.

 

Whenever I encounter these sentiments I have many thoughts but one thing that always comes up is how none take into account that I might have been able to use my free will, my agency to choose to be in the Church and have that belief in Christ.

 

To be quite frank, if I hadn’t believed this Church was Christs church there is no way I would have kept going as a teenager. For a long time I didn’t know that this Church was true, I didn’t know that there were indeed prophets on the Earth, I didn’t even always know if Heavenly Father really was there.

 

But I wanted to know.

 

However throughout this time I believed it might be true. I had lived in the Church, seen my parents examples of living the Gospel and I had seen many of the blessings that the Gospel brings. Despite all of those examples, I still couldn’t say I knew my Heavenly Father knew me, that this was Christ’s Church and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Effort

 

It took studying and work for me to learn that all of this is as it claims it is. It took my own actions     to get me motivated to serve a mission and to stay a member of the Church.

 

 

 

That’s the thing so many people do not get about Christ and life in general.

 

The good things, the things that actually last take that hard work. Knowing that God is there, that Christ really died for us, that will take work.

Work can cure a lot of things

Work can cure a lot of things

One of my grandmothers was a firm advocate of this. One of her favorite quotes that permeated my families lives and mine was entirely about this principle.

 

 

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth doing will take time to do.”

 

So what is ultimately important is not so much about the stuff of Earth. But the knowledge we can gain about our Heavenly Father, Christ and the morals that can only be learned from right and wrong.

So what are you doing that is worth doing well?

 

Christ and children

Christ doing whats worth doing

Christmas and Service

Sorry its been so long since I posted but E. Pemberton and I have been super busy with the Lords work.

 

So as we all reflect this Christmas season I’d like to share my testimony of Christmas and what it and Christ means to me.

 

I once heard the best place to start a story is in the middle so that’s where I am going to start.

 

Every Christmas my family does a number of things that make it special to me and all of them we do together which is what makes them so great.

One of my favorite things we do is a Secret Santa (hopefully none of the people we did read this). I absolutely loved doing this.

 

I mean what kid when they’re little doesn’t love to ring someones doorbell and run, its just so exciting.

So for many years I didn’t understand this really, I mean it was fun but I never understood how it was really all that Christmas related.

It wasn’t until I was well into high school did I realize why we did this Secret Santa.

 

A lady whose family we had been being Santa to had been asked to speak at church the Sunday after Christmas.

During her talk she mentioned us. Her Secret Santa’s.

 

She spoke how we had brought so much joy to their family that season and how even though sometimes meals or bedtime had been interrupted by the occasional doorbell it had made her kids so happy. Everyday in December she told how her kids had asked when Santa was coming, when they could catch Santa.

 

I learned that even this was service.

We were caring for her kids and showing them that someone was out there playing with them. That someone wanted her family to be happy. It was super special because I learned that though I got so much happiness, I was able to bring others more.

I was able to be the tool to bring a bit of that magic of Christmas to those kids lives.

 

Its kind a like missionary work, the Gospel, service or any Christlike attribute.

 

Even though we give of ourselves we get much in return. We are able to lighten others loads and help them feel our Savior’s love.

 

So that’s what Christmas to me is all about.

 

Remembering our Saviors love and trying to help all my brothers and sisters to feel the love our Heavenly Father and his Son have for them.

 

So this Christmas try to serve your brothers and sisters more.

 

Find someone whose load needs to be lightened and as you do that I can promise you that as those you serve feel our Fathers love you will too.

 

So Christmas, that great holiday. It means so many different things to so many different people but to me, to Elder Logan Longhurst it’s very simple.

Christmas means love.

A Book with no Equal

So I love to read, I can read all night and still want to keep going. Doesn’t matter if it’s fantasy, mystery, historical, sci-fi or adventure. Really it didn’t matter what tho of book, so much as it was good.

 

I can list countless books that have influenced my life or storks I’ve learned from but no book has taught me as much as the Book of Mormon.

 

Now from a purely historical point of view, the Book of Mormon tells a fascinating tale of two rival nations and many political and religious intrigues of the culture.

 

From the spiritual point of view, the Book of Mormon has no equal.

 

The Book of Mormon tells of morals, lives of men and women truly lived the gospel whose examples we can learn from. The Book of Mormon contains examples of faith, hope, love, courage, and charity.

 

In the Book of Mormon there are the men and women who become our role-models, our hero’s. Moroni, Ammon, the Stripling Warriors, Mormon or Nephi are just some of the many hero’s we can learn from. If you were to ask a member of the Church who these people are they would be able to tell you the traits and how they were great leaders we can learn from.

 

But what makes the Book of Mormon the most compelling to me is not its exciting tells or the men and women whose lives are contained in its pages. But rather with what the book says to do.

 

Moroni, the last writer/prophet of the Book of Mormon, invites us to pray, find out if this book is true.

 

 

In essence Moroni is saying prove me.

 

Prove me. Prove me.

 

 

Moroni isn’t asking us to take his word that this is true, he’s not asking us to follow Joseph Smith blindly and just take his word that this book is true.

 

No, Moroni tells us to prove him.

 

He promises that either God will reveal that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God or that it won’t happen.

 

The Book of Mormon can’t be half true, it can’t be just a good book.

 

It is either all of God or all of the Devil.

 

Really that’s pretty much it.

 

So that’s what us missionaries are out here to do, we want to give people that chance for themselves to find out if this is true. To either prove what we’re saying is true or prove that it isn’t.

 

We invite others to find out if this true because if it is, it will be the most important news you will receive in your life.

 

So do you want to know what the news is? Well you gotta give this book a chance then.

BOM

Children of God

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?”

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us.
It’s in everyone, and as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

a poem by Marianne Williamson

 

This poem is powerful, it has truth and to me it is inspiring.

 

What stands out to me the most is the second stanza. Its so common in life for people to take the easy way, or to take the backseat in life and to just go through the motions. Rather than using the talents their Heavenly Father has blessed them with they prefer to be comfortable and just do the minimum.

 

This is especially huge in pianists in the Church.

 

So some background, in the Church music is an integral part of life. We sing hymns in nearly all our meetings and so what’s needed is people to lead and accompany the music and its the leaders responsibility to find those people.

 

However that is something far easier to say than to do.

 

For many Bishops and other leaders though finding ward musicians can be a challenge to say the least. To begin with there usually are only a handful of people who can play or know enough to lead the music.

 

And out of this handful there are those who don’t feel comfortable using their talent because their afraid to make a mistake.

 

So all this accounts to making it very hard to fill those callings.

 

Back at college my bishop when he learned I played the piano immediately asked if I was willing to play at church. I responded I was but I didn’t understand why.

In our ward there were several music majors, all far more talented than me. Why did I need to play when I make common simple mistakes while accompanying when there were those who will one day be master pianists in the same congregation.

 

In response to my question Bishop Hall responded, “You are needed to play, because you have the ability and the will, its not about who is more accomplished than you, all that matters in a calling is whether you will do your best.”

 

Wow, it doesn’t matter that I’m not the most skilled, it doesn’t matter that I make mistakes as we sing the closing hymn.

 

That was a new idea to me, I thought the most qualified were the best but that’s a common misconception.

 

One I had had for quite a long time.

 

Bishop Hall taught me right there. A wise man imparted the simple truth to an 18 year old boy that is true for every child of God no matter the situation.

 

Use the talents God has blessed you with to bring light to others.

 

By keeping that light hid we serve no one and we should want to serve everyone.

 

Just as Christ taught in Mathew 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”

 

So use that light, that talent that God has given you and inspire others. You might make mistakes but that’s okay because as others see you striving to be the best you can be you will be that example they need to let their light shine forth.

 

So no matter what you are asked to do, do it and know that as you strive to do your best and use the talents your Heavenly Father has given you you will be living to your potential.

 

Your potential as a Child of God.

 

So use your talents, be wonderful, magnificent, amazing and serve with all your heart might mind and strength. I can promise you it will be worth it.

 

After all you don’t want to just go through the motions in life, you want to live life to the fullest and that dear brothers and sisters is done by using all your talents and abilities, not just some of them.

 

So go be amazing. You are a Child of God.

 

Child of God

Being Exceptional

So when I first became a missionary in the missionary training center or the MTC, my group was headed by a branch president, someone who presides over meetings, offers us advice and keeps going in the right direction. Basically he oversees us. My group was lead by President Stice.

 

Now President Stice was in his early 50’s, like a coach who is extremely firm in his beliefs but doesn’t force them. He always would explain them and try to help us see why he acted the way he did.  He does it his way and tried to be the best example he could for all of us new missionaries. He would use enough fire to really get our attention and to motivate us but not enough to really hurt us.

 

So our first night in the MTC he asked us a simple question. “What type of missionaries do we want to be?”

 

Pretty simple question right?

 

Now this was our first night so keep in mind we were as timid as little rabbits still venturing into the great unknown of missionary life. So as you can imagine it was pretty silent for a little while.

A couple of the bolder souls started trying to give answers . “Good, obedient, diligent, the best.” were some of the answers.

 

President Stice looked at us in a loving but firm way and informed us of what answer he was looking for.

 

“Exceptional.”

 

“I want you all to be exceptional missionaries. It’s easy to be an average missionary but to be an exceptional one, that takes something special but it will make all the difference, I promise.”

 

Now this doesn’t just apply to being a missionary, it can go for everything. So think about what type of student you are, what type of worker you are, spouse, brother, sister, discipleship of Christ.

 

Just like its easy to coast through being a missionary. Doing what’s required what everyone else does, just going with the flow. Being average.

 

I however want to focus on being a follower of Christ.

 

Do we live as Christs followers at all times? Do we really do what Christ would do? Do what Christ wants done?

 

Of course the answer for all the time is no. We all make mistakes we’re human. The important thing is are we trying. Are we trying to be exceptional followers of Christ?

 

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is being exception. During those hard times when everything goes wrong, when you feel you just can’t do it by yourself. When you feel you just can’t stop making mistakes.

 

Its during these times we need to remember, God gave us our weakness’s.

 

In Ether 12 we are taught we’re given our weakness’s by our father so that we can grow. We grow in the hard times because its in the hardest situations that we learn the most.

 

Just like the finest steel is forged in the hottest fire so are the strongest testimonies and strengths are forged in the hardest of times.

 

An apostle of the Lord taught this in his talk of Come What May and Love It. In this talk Elder Worthlin taught that when we are going through those hard times we can choose to be discouraged by it or we can choose to move on and learn from our experiences.

 

As we learn to love the hard times with the good we’ll be able to grow, in faith, in strength and in understanding of our Father’s plan for us. We will become exceptional sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Our father may have left obstacles in our paths, mountains to climb but I promise you, if you rely on Him you will be able to overcome.

 

In closing I would ask you all to watch this video, “Mountains to Climb” and try and relate with those in it. Think of a trial you’ve had or are having in your life and after seeing how these people overcome think how the Gospel can help you just as it has helped them. I promise that with the Gospel of Christ as the center of our lives we will be able to overcome our mountains.

We can be Exceptional.