Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Touch these Stones, O Lord, with thy Finger

Yesterday, I discussed the brother of Jared's barges. They were tight like unto a dish. Well, I'd like to continue looking into the brother of Jared and his dealings with the Lord. Specifically, in this blog, about the lights he used to light to ships.
It was a problem that the brother of Jared ran into, wondering how he was going to light the ships. Certainly they couldn't put in windows, they would drown, and they couldn't use fire for obvious reasons. But they couldn't just ride for who knows how long with no light. There had to be a simple solution, and the brother of Jared, being a faithful man, knew exactly where to go: He went to the Lord. Unfortunately for b.o.J. (for short), the Lord wasn't about to hand him the answer. How often have we run into this? A problem that we just can't figure out, but obviously the Lord can... but then He very kindly tells you, "Nah". That's what b.o.J. had, and rather than just giving up, and losing faith, he decides to try to figure it out himself. Well, after an undisclosed amount of time (probably a while), b.o.J. decides to try to meet God halfway. If He won't just magically solve the problem, I'll show effort to try to fix it, and ask him to magically fix what I got. So, b.o.J. hikes up a mountain, and moltens rocks. Basically, he makes some big, glass balls. They're clear and shiny, and could easily (if sprinkled with fairy dust, or something like that) light their journey. So, after this, b.o.J. goes again to his Heavenly Father, and says, "Hey! I know you said you wanted me to figure it out, but I'm still kinda struggling... But I got these rocks!" I'm sure God may have chuckled a bit, but was nonetheless appreciative of the effort b.o.J. put into it. Not only was he willing to do the work, but he showed great faith by asking the Lord to just touch the stones, knowing that that would be enough. So, the Lord rewarded b.o.J. according to his faith, and in so doing, the glass stones he had were lit up for the journey.
We'll all run into problems in life where we can't possibly see the solution to. It seems like the only way to fix it would be with magic, and unfortunately (very unfortunately), we don't have Harry Potter around to fix it all for us. Rather, we have our faith. We need to be willing to solve our own problems, because God isn't going to just sit back and zap everything into perfection. Sometimes, He'll make it easy for us, and a prayer will suffice. Other times, He'll want us to show some effort on our parts. And still other times, we're in a situation we need to be in, and will just have to grin and bear. The Lord will reward us if we show forth faith and are obedient. If at first, we don't receive an answer to our prayer, or a logical solution to our problem, don't be discouraged. Work towards the goal. Do whatever you can do to solve the problem, and have faith. Let me repeat: HAVE FAITH. Then will the Lord bless you in a (sometimes) magical way. I know this from personal experience. But, I had faith, and I did all I could, and just when it seemed like there was no hope, BOOM! Magical answer! The Lord likes to keep us on our toes, sometimes. Don't become discouraged. Simply "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope" (2 Nephi 31:20).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tight Like Unto a Dish

In the opening chapters of Ether, we are introduced to Jared and his brother (aptly referred to as the brother of Jared). The brother of Jared communes with the Lord, and is told to build barges. This brings up many questions: how many? how? how will we breath? how will we see? All valid questions, and all answered by the Lord.
In construction of the ships, the Lord lays out the exact designs, "and they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish." (Ether 2:17). In being tight like unto a dish, the barges were sealed against the water, so there was no worry of them filling and everyone sinking, which would be bad. They know it will be tight because these were the designs given to them by the Lord. Now, the issue of them being tight like unto a dish did present one problem, the problem of air supply. If it's airtight, then no more air can come in, and once the air in the barge is gone, they'll all suffocate. This is pretty simply solved, the Lord instructs the brother of Jared to simply put a hole with a stopper to allow air in, then stopper again when water starts coming in.
I'd like to focus on "tight like unto a dish". This is said many times in the verse in description of the barges. Everything, the top, bottom, side, and door are all tight like unto a dish. What does that mean for us? The benefit for the barges was that it would for sure keep out all the water. That was the main danger being presented to them (that and sea monsters), and what they worried most about. We're just going to set off on this grand voyage in these big wooden barges, in the wide open sea, with absolutely no knowledge of where we'll be or where we're going? We'll drown! But, thanks to the Lord's instructions, that didn't happen. We can seal ourselves. We can make ourselves tight like unto a dish the same way the brother of Jared did with his barges. By following the Lord's instructions and doing as He says, we protect ourselves from the dangers that surround us and want to get in and drown us. As we make our lives tight like unto a dish, we are better able to avoid/resist temptations, and keep ourselves afloat, guided by the Lord, towards that promised land. And all the while, the Lord will provide us with air to breath, and light to see. Are you tight like unto a dish?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pride Cycle

Today, I finished the Book of Mormon (not the whole Book, just Mormon's book in the Book of Mormon). Here we see the beginning of the end. After Christ has visited, the people all convert to the gospel, and they have all things in common. For years and years they live in happiness and harmony. All is well. But then, after a couple centuries, pride starts to swell in people. They start thinking more about themselves, and putting on costly apparel, and looking good. They start contending, and people start thinking they're better than others. Suddenly, the people are on a quick downward slope. Before you know it, there are wars going on. Mormon is asked to lead the Nephite army against the Lamanites. There is blood and carnage. Mormon feels great sorrow for his people, because he and his son appear to be the only righteous people left. He sees that, after much death and bloodshed, his people are sorrowful, and he gets hopeful because he thinks they might remember their God, and repent. But, they don't. They simply have pity for themselves. This makes Mormon, once again, very sorrowful. As he continues to lead the armies, they grow in strength, and are able to defeat the Lamanites. As they do this, they boast of themselves, saying they did it themselves, and swearing by the heavens and God's thrown that they will kill their enemies. Mormon is not having any of that, so he resigns as their leader. He eventually comes back to lead them again, but they are all killed, every Nephite, except for Mormon, his son Moroni, and 22 others. The Lamanites are now pretty much the only survivors, and want to finish off the Nephites once and for all. Mormon, who has the plates containing the record of the people, gives it to his son Moroni. Mormon is eventually killed, and Moroni finishes the record before sealing them and being killed. It's just amazing to see how, in the span of 400 years, and entire people can go from being righteous and happy to being so wicked. The pride cycle is seen all throughout the Book of Mormon, where the people are righteous, get blessed, grow prideful, become wicked, are punished, repent, are righteous, get blessed, grow prideful... etc. etc. But, never has it been seen where the cycle doesn't... well... cycle. This is where it all ends. There is no upward climb, now. There is no returning to righteousness. There is no remembrance of their God. This is where the cycles stops, because the people have become so wicked, prideful, greedy, and vain. They have completely turned on the ways they have been taught. They have dug themselves into so deep a hole that there is no climbing out.
It's interesting that this happens after Christ comes. He introduces to them the Gospel and sets in order the way they should live. He ordains his disciples, and gives them the charge to teach. Everything is going so well for so long. It really makes you wonder what exactly happened to make this happen. How is it that the people of that time were just so wicked and vile that nothing, not even the words of Mormon exhorting them to repent, could bring them from the brink of destruction? What was different about those people?
The world has moved so far away from God. We see it everywhere. Things like drug use, sexuality, and language are viewed as everyday things, part of our normal lives so it's no big deal if they're displayed on TV or in magazines or wherever. Because of this, we become desensitized to things that should bother us. There are so many things out there that Heavenly Father doesn't like, that we think are just normal things. We too often have the "it's no big deal" mind set about it, and aren't bothered by the things we see. Let us always remember our Lord, and never ever be like the Nephites, where we forget Him and turn on Him. We need Him in all aspects of our life, and if we remember that, and keep his commandments, He will protect us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Will Ye Also Go Away?

In the New Testament, there is an account very well known throughout Christendom. While preaching at the Sea of Galilee, Christ fed 5,000+ people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. Afterwards, they gather up the leftovers, and have 12 baskets still full. This was just one of many miracles Christ worked, and it surprised even his followers. When Christ asked them how they could feed them, none of them even considered that He had ways of doing it beyond the ordinary. Following this event, the next day, the people sought Him out in Capernaum. They came to Him, wondering how He got there, as they had seen His disciples leave the previous day without Him on a boat, and no other boats went. (The solution, if you know or read, is that He had walked on water to their boat). Jesus didn't even answer them. He simply rebuked them for seeking Him out, not because of His miracles or because they believed on Him or because they wanted to keep His sayings, but rather because He had fed them yesterday, and that's what they wanted again. They just wanted a free lunch. He did it the day before, surely He could do it again! They weren't too fond of this, and then called Him out on His claim to be the Messiah. They wanted a sign from Him, because, as they said, "What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." It was then that Jesus made His claim as the bread of life. " I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Christ was willing to give them the bread of life, just as He offered the woman of Samaria everlasting water. This agitated some people, that He, the son of Joseph and Mary, people they knew, would claim to be someone so divine. After reaffirming His claim of being the Son of God, one sent of God to be the living bread, many of His own disciples were offended. They didn't know how to take what He was saying, and left Him. He then turned and asked his Apostles if they too would leave. Peter, in his zeal, answered "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
Let us be like the Apostles, and like Peter. We can't be offended, either by the words of the Lord or the words of His servants. Everyone at some point will say something that won't sit well with others. It's important that when we are those that don't take it well, that we not let that effect the eternal. It should be no reason to have negative feelings towards the church as a whole. A bishop's comment does not reflect the entirety of the Church. No one is perfect, and we all make dumb comments. Remember: the blessings that come from following the commandments are important. They're eternal. And they're not worth throwing away over some little comment.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Behold I have given unto you my gospel...

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
Those are three of the most powerful verses I've read in the scriptures. They come from 3 Nephi chapter 27. It is a perfect summary of Christ's purpose, and His. He died for us, that we may be lifted up. It's through His pain and suffering that we are to be saved. We have the chance to repent because of it, and we may choose to do so, and to follow His commandments, to receive our Eternal glory. We will be judged according to our works, as pointed out here, as well as in the Bible (Revelation 11:18; 20:12,13). Through our faithfulness and obedience will we be rewarded. The Lord asks us simple things to do, and if we do them, we have great things to look forward to.
It's not that we work our way into Heaven. We aren't going to be told we're saved because we did good things. Scriptures don't say that. Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross to give us the opportunity to be cleansed of our sins. No unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of God, and we are all unclean. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It is only through Christ's Atonement that we may be saved, because it is only through repentance that we may be cleansed, and repentance calls upon the Atonement. We are saved by grace, and judged according to our works. The Lord has laid out a plan, and expects us to follow it. We may choose to do so, and be rewarded, or not, and suffer the consequences. Every act of obedience brings blessings. Every step down the straight and narrow path brings good results. We cannot and will not be punished if we are living righteously, and we cannot and will not be rewarded if we are not. We have guides to know what to do: we have the Scriptures, and we have a Prophet. Thanks to these blessings, we never have to wonder. We can always find the answer to our questions, and always know which direction to take.
The Lord suffered great and terrible things for us. We are indebted to him more than we'll ever be able to repay. The least we can do is honor Him, respect Him, and follow His commandments. We're asked to do pretty easy things, and it's the least we can do for what He did for us. Plus, even with the great debt that we are in, He still blesses us. So, through simple obedience and righteous living, we get even more blessings, and we show our respect to our Heavenly Father, and His Son.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Firefighters are awesome. Who else would willingly run into burning buildings, sometimes multiple times, to pull out other people, get their partners back, or just put out the fire? Obviously they're paid to do this, but you don't go through a couple years of training voluntarily if something like that wasn't something you wanted to do. They're heroes. My brother is a firefighter. He works for the Columbus, Georgia Fire Department. He's also a paramedic, so he not only pulls people out of those burning buildings, but he gives them medical aid, too. He's someone I definitely look up to and admire a lot. I have always had respect for firefighters, but now that I know everything they go through in their daily work, that respect has multiplied exponentially. They give of their time, energy, and even well being and personal safety to do what they have chosen to do. They give 110% to help people, and put their lives on the line everyday, with no regrets, and seemingly no fear. There have been plenty of inspiring stories centered around firefighters. One I remember hearing is about a firefighter who ran into a burning building three times to save the kids inside. He started in a fourth time when someone told him that that was all the kids. He yelled back, saying he saw one more. While he was in there, the roof collapsed. When they finally put the fire out, they went in and found their now killed companion, huddled over a doll. He had thought it was a child, and sacrificed his life in an attempt to save another. My brother has a couple pretty cool stories too. While putting out a fire, he discovered in one of the rooms several animals. He got all of them out, unharmed. Another time, while fighting another fire, there was a person inside. While his partner provided cover with the hose, my brother did his best to pull the man out. He had suffered so many extreme third degree burns that my brother could hardly get a good grip on him without his skin sliding off life a glove. He finally was able to get a good handle and pull the man out to safety. My brother has several heroic stories that I love to tell people.
What if we were all like this with what we did? What if we were all like this with the Gospel? The Gospel of Jesus Christ can save people. It will put them on the right path and give them the knowledge they need to have eternal life. We can save people's lives just like firefighters do. This message we have is the most important thing we have, and others need it just as much as we do. They risk life and limb for complete strangers, why shouldn't we do the same? They've made their choice, they've joined their brotherhood, and they know what they do. We've made our choice, we've joined our brotherhood, and we know what we do. Let us be like firefighters, giving our all to help those around us. We face much less risk helping those around us as the firefighters. We're not asked to run into burning buildings, to risk our lives, we're simply asked to share the wonderful message with our friends and neighbors. What we have, they need, so let's share it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


In John chapter 4, we read of an experience Jesus had with a woman of Samaria. He meets her at the well, and asks her for a drink. She then questions why He, a Jew, would ask a Samaritan for a drink, when Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. He then explains of living water, water that He has that if she would partake, she would never thirst again. She misunderstands the metaphor, and wants actual water that will forever quench her thirst. She then comes to the realization that He is no ordinary man, first claiming Him a prophet, then realizing his full divinity as the Messiah. She goes and spreads the word, and many people hear her words and come to see for themselves. Verses 41 and 42 read: "And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." It was after they had seen for themselves, witnessed the Man Himself, that they knew who He was. They had to learn it, to experience it, rather than just rely on the words of others. The woman gave them reason to believe, but it was interactions with Christ that made them truly believe, and know who He was.
This is what we do. We aren't out here to convince anyone, or to make them believe what we say. We give people a reason to believe, and a desire to know, and then it's up to them. They have to go straight to the source: Just as the people of Samaria knew it was the Messiah when they heard His words, people of Montana (or wherever you may be serving) can know the truthfulness of our message by hearing and reading the Word in the Book of Mormon. We can testify until we're blue in the face, but that's not what is going to convert them. My testimony is my own. I can't loan it to someone, and someone else can't take it for their own; they need to develop their testimony just as I have, and as countless others before me have: Through studying the scriptures and praying to know if it's true. It is through the Holy Ghost that people will know truth. "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). We invite all to come and see. We give them a reason to believe, and the Lord makes them believe. That's why we're here, that's what we do. Our words aren't enough. The Spirit is.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


So, I'm completely stealing this idea from another missionary. Elder Garcia did this a couple weeks ago (or so) and I liked the idea. I feel like it would be helpful for the people reading my blog to know who I am, so they can feel more of a personal connection to what I write in my blog.
I guess I'll start with the basics: My name is Gideon Holbrook, though for the past 10 months, and next 14 months, it's Elder Holbrook (which never gets old). I have been called to serve in the Montana Billings Mission, and while here have served in Lewistown and Three Forks, and am currently in Bozeman. I love it. I am a convert to the church, I joined when I was 18 (over 2 years ago now). I'm the only one in the family. I'm from Fort Collins, Colorado, but I spent a few years in my younger age in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I love Massachusetts and plan on making Boston my home. I come from a family of 5. My mom, 2 sisters, and a brother. My dad passed away when I was 12. I'm the youngest sibling. My oldest sister lives in Wellington, CO with her husband and baby, my brother lives in Alabama and works for the Columbus, Georgia Fire Department, where he is a paramedic firefighter (and a hero), and my other sister lives in Fort Collins.
My main interests are pretty standard: Music, movies, comic books... I'm kind of a nerd (as seen here), and am ok with that (that sounds familiar...). I've been playing the bass for about 10 years, and the guitar for about 4. I was in bands all throughout junior high and high school, and one band post high school. They were all ska bands... For those who don't know what ska is (and don't feel bad, not many do), it's pretty much sped up reggae mixed with punk, with horns added in for flavor (trumpet, sax, trombone). It's amazing! I played bass in all of them. Playing a show is one of the coolest experiences ever, and I'm greatly looking forward to going back and experiencing it again. I love reading. I'm a pretty big literary buff. I've read a lot of books, and intend on reading quite a few more. I love comic books, which fall under literature, but have fun pictures. I've worked at 3 different movie theaters for a combined total of over 4 years, and am a big movie guy. I know a lot about movies, and actors... and pretty much just pop culture in general. It's fun stuff. As for sports, I pretty much only follow soccer: MLS and EPL. Go Rapids! Go Chelsea!
I am so incredibly grateful for the wonderful gift of the gospel in my life. I've made a pretty big change joining the church, but I don't regret it at all. It's given me a new perspective, and given me drive and purpose I'd never had before. Serving a mission was a tough decision, but the right one. I have learned so much already, and am so glad I'm here. I love every second of it. It's helping me become a better person, and improve on areas that I definitely need some help on. I can't wait to see what the future holds for me! I know this Church is true, I know that Jesus is our Christ and Savior, that He died for us, and rose again, conquering death, and the He lives. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and the he restored the gospel and Christ's Church. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon, and that it is true scriptures, words of God as written by His prophets.

Monday, March 14, 2011

When Life Hands you Lemons...

You make lemonade, right? Well, what if life hands you a grapefruit? If you're anything like me, you don't want a grapefruit, grapefruits are gross. The fun little saying is meant to just mean "make the best of your situation". Sometimes, it's really easy to get so caught up in all our lemons that we just focus more on how hard everything is rather than trying to find the solution. There are tons of sayings we can use: Every cloud has a silver lining, the sun will come out tomorrow, life's tough, get a helmet. But does saying something really help? Can you help someone out just by your words?
Absolutely you can. Think how much comfort we can get from the scriptures. Sure, those are inspired men of God, but why can't you be too? Even if you can't come up with something super profound and meaningful to say, someone else has already, so you can easily share that with them. Knowing your scriptures, especially the ones that have helped you, will allow you the ability to share with others when they're going through a hard time. The Words of God will always help someone, if they open their hearts to it. Anything in the Bible or Book of Mormon could easily lift and encourage someone. So, look over the scriptures that have meant the most to you, memorize them, and be ready to share them with people having a rough time.
Back to my grapefruit analogy: I don't like grapefruits, I don't like grapefruit juice. Making grapefruits into grapefruit juice wouldn't be a solution to my problem, it would just give me a bunch of gross grapefruit juice I don't want to drink. So, basically what I'm trying to allude to is what to do with a really big problem. If there doesn't seem to be an easy solution, what do you do? Sometimes, there is no easy "lemonade" solution. In that situation, still look for the best, and look to the one who made lemons and grapefruits. The Lord is your ultimate source of comfort. He'll send the Comforter, or the Holy Ghost. And always remember how Jesus suffered for our pains, and he knows all the we will go through. If you pray and read your scriptures, the Lord can and will talk to you, and show you how to make even those giant, gross grapefruits into delicious, sweet lemonade. All things are possible through Christ!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Giant Elephant... in the Sky... He's Invisible.

Ever seen the movie "Horton Hears a Who"? It's a good one. Oftentimes, children's books made into movies aren't good, but this one was. I liked it a lot, especially the punk rock Who who just says "YEEEEAAAAAH!" and wants a high five. Good times. It's a fun little movie with a good message: A person's a person, no matter how small. But, if you delve a little deeper, you can take our lots of little messages in it. So, let's do that... First of all, Horton is a giant elephant. Ok, I'm sure you can find little metaphors and stuff for that, but it doesn't go along with what I'm saying, so moving on... He has a flower, and on the flower is a speck, but the speck isn't just a speck, it's an entire life-sustaining world. On it is a civilization known as the Whos (not to be mistaken with the '70s rock band). At first, he only communicates with the mayor of Whoville (the obvious name for their city). Horton, who pretty much holds their safety. If he lets them go, they could all die. Or he protects them, and they survive. Horton, being a good guy... er... elephant, decides to help them. The mayor of Whoville has to convince everyone, now, that there is a giant elephant in the sky that they can't see who's protecting them. This is a rather difficult task. Eventually, Horton makes himself known to the entire population of Whoville.
As the story progresses, Horton runs into opposition from a certain angry kangaroo, and all sorts of crazy stuff happens before the Whos collective shouting of "We're here! We're here! We're here!" makes it all the way from the tiny little speck and everyone can hear it, making them all realize Horton isn't crazy after all!
Alright, you really don't have to dive that deep to notice something here. Someone is literally holding a world in their hands (kind of), and communicates with one person? Hmmm... Obviously, this is much like Heavenly Father, and His communications with his Prophet(s). The Lord chooses some of some of His children to be messengers for Him. They're given the incredibly difficult task of convincing people that He's real and to preach His gospel. Eventually, if the people are willing to hear, and listen, they can know the of His existence. He'll reveal Himself to them. And, when danger comes about, we all need to call on the Lord, and He'll save us.
This isn't the greatest of analogies, but it's fun. God hears our prayers. We may not always hear Him, and it may often seem like we're talking to a giant, invisible elephant in the sky, He does hear us, and He will save us from evil kangaroos.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fun with Legos

Life comes at you in little pieces. We never get our life as a completed masterpiece, we have to work at it, building it up with the small portions we're given. Sometimes, those pieces come as bigger pieces, like when we go through a tragic time that makes us grow faster than we'd like to, and sometimes they come in little tiny pieces, like with everyday experiences. Everything comes with time, and in pieces that you have to construct, and what you choose to make with the pieces given is up to you. Think of it as a box of Legos. I'm sure, if you were anything like me as a child, you had a HUGE tub full of random Lego pieces that you would have to dig through to find the next one you needed for your creation. You would often be searching in the very corners to find the right one. You took all the big pieces, and made your foundation. Then you took the smaller pieces to build the actual structure, and give it more detail. Often times, looking at others creations, it can seem like they got a lot bigger pieces than you, and were able to make a bigger, cooler thing much quicker. Or maybe they just got to buy a really cool Lego set that makes a really neat thing, and you're just stuck with this hodge podge selection. You look at all these great pieces of Lego-art, and you're jealous that all you have is some multi-colored house that would hardly pass building inspection. But, we are all capable of making amazing things with our Legos. Sometimes they may be spotted with random colors, sometimes you use two or more Legos to fill in one piece, and sometimes the towers on your castle aren't smooth, but it is still something wonderful. What will you make with your Lego pieces? Will you make something you can be proud of, something that showed the hard work and dedication you put into it, something that could be on display at Lego Land? Or is it some shoddy work, some lame, lopsided house that you just threw together quickly, with no good support, and a clear lack of concern for it's appearance?
Heavenly Father has blessed us greatly with this opportunity to come to this world, to make mistakes and learn from them, to grow and progress, and choose the right path. He has given us the skills we need, and provides the pieces. He also gives us the wonderful gift of agency, the ability to choose. We can choose which pieces we use, and which we push aside. We can decide the order in which we use them, the colors we use, and the sizes we use. We can choose what we make, how we make it, and how big we make it. It's up to us, and we need to always be keeping in mind that what we're making is going to make isn't just some little project. It's not just some fun little thing we make, then go Godzilla on and destroy. It is something that will last us into the eternities. If we're not full happy with it now, we've got a long time to be not happy with it. We should strive to make it exactly what we want it to be, so that we can happily take it into the eternities.
But, let us not forget: Legos are fun! I would love to sit there and spend hours just messing around with them. That's something very important that is often overlooked. Life will have hard times, that is unavoidable, but it can and should be fun as well. So, grab your Legos and get to work!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So, another transfer is drawing to a near. Week 6 is upon us, and transfers are in sight. It's always an exciting time for missionaries, wondering what's going to happen, if you're leaving, if your companion is leaving, where you're going, who you're going to be with... Friday of week 6, you just stare at that phone all morning waiting... and waiting... and waiting...
But for some, it's not up in the air. For some, they know exactly what they're fate is: drive into the mission home, spend a couple days there, then board their plane home. They've fulfilled their twenty-four or eighteen months, and now they get to go rejoin the world. I've been around several missionaries who were in their last transfer. Pretty much every transfer, except my first, I was in pretty close contact with someone who could see the end in sight. It's always interesting to see how each individual person takes it, but I've been happy to see the ones I've been around not be effected by it, and still working hard to the very end. I have pretty close ties with the group going home in, now, just over a week. My trainer is one of the homebound, and I'll be sad to see him go. He taught me so much and really helped me know who I want to be, and what kind of missionary I want to be. He showed me the ropes, and got me ready to work hard for 2 years. I've been spoiled the last 3 transfers that, if I wanted to, I could call him everyday (though I haven't taken advantage of that). But now, he'll be home. Sure, I can write him and keep in contact, but just knowing that my trainer isn't in the field with me anymore is kind of a bummer. I'll miss him, and will be happy to see him again, post-mission. A few missionaries I got to be pretty good friends with have already taken that leap and are back home already. I've made so many friends, from all over the country (well, not all over... Pretty much Utah, California, and Arizona), and I definitely plan on meeting up with them once again.
All the missionaries I've met so far have been great. They work hard, they care about what they're doing, and their testimonies are rock solid. I've learned a lot from so many of them, and am definitely the missionary I am from serving around such great people. Each have their individual strengths, their own way of doing things, and their unique flair, and it definitely makes for very interesting companionships. I'm so grateful for all my leaders, District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Assistants, for the great dedication and work they do. I am who I am because of their example. I'm so glad to be serving a mission. I cherish every moment, and wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I send my love and appreciation to those who are finishing, my support and encouragement for them about to come in, and thank the Lord I still have 14 months of this amazing work!

Monday, March 7, 2011

God, be Merciful to Me, a Sinner

Luke 18 gives us a parable of two men praying, one a Pharisee, the other a Publican. Publicans were looked down upon by everyone, and term "sinners and publicans" was used frequently, closing linking the two together. Pharisees, on the other hand, were holy religious men. They were showy in their devotion to their sect, and made sure everyone knew just how spiritual they were. The parable reads: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
I love the mental image this parable paints. I can just see the Pharisee, clothed in fine clothing, standing tall and proud, with a look of smug satisfaction on his face, looking towards the heaven and proclaiming his superiority, and thanking God for his selfish doings. Then, off to the side, probably even behind the Pharisee, stands the Publican. I picture him as a working man, hardened by physical labor, his hands calloused and dirty, his clothing humble and worn, his demeanor that of sorrow and remorse as he reflects on what he's done. He can't even lift his eyes up to Heaven, fearing the possibility of an upset Lord looking back at him, ashamed of the deeds he's done. He pounds his chest, showing his grief, and in pure humility, not justifying his actions, not glazing over his shortcomings, but begging for mercy. Asking the God of all, a perfect, exalted man, to look down on him, a lowly, despised sinner, made filthy in the eyes of the Lord by the ways of the world, with compassion and sympathy. To show forth mercy undeserved to this man. He recognizes his sin, he feels great distress, and he wants to be cleansed of the dirt the sin has smudged on him. It's different from the dirt that gets on his clothes from walking, or from working. It's a dirt that can't be seen by anyone but himself and the Lord, and it's a dirt that can't be cleaned with merely soap and water. It's a dirt that can only come off through the blood of the Lamb. He cries unto the Lord for forgiveness. He recognizes his fallibility as a human, knowing that he's far, far from perfect, and he goes to the only one who can make him whole again, his Heavenly Father. "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." In his humility, the Lord states, he will be exalted. Let us be as this Publican, this sinner: let us always go to our Heavenly Father and say to him "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Saturday, March 5, 2011


"Remember Lot's wife."
A simple scripture. Short, sweet, and to the point. Christ's words in Luke 17:32 may seem simple at first glance, but if you think about it more, you discover just how profound of a statement it is. We often make simple phrases, such as "Remember the Alamo", "Remember the Maine", or "Remember the Titans" to use as a motivational phrase to strengthen our commitment. Never forget the things that happened here. Remember the Alamo, and the loss it was to us. Don't let it happen again. Remember the Maine, and how it was sunk by our enemies. Don't let it happen again. Remember the Titans, and their dedication and perseverance.
But why remember Lot's wife? Well, who was Lot's wife? Obviously, she was Lot's spouse. Who was Lot? Back in the Old Testament, there were two cities that lived in utter sin and wickedness, Sodom and Gomorrah. They were so perverse that the Lord was ready to just wipe them out. But first, He sent angels to go and see if they could find enough righteous people to make it worth it. There weren't, but there was one man, and his name was Lot. The angels warned Lot of the coming destruction, and he took his family and fled. They were warned not to look back at Sodom and Gomorrah, or they'd be turned into a pillar of salt. As they fled, Lot's wife looked back, and just as was told them, she turned into a pillar of salt.
Now, the sin wasn't in physically turning around to look. Lot's wife crime was deeper than that. She didn't just glance back, she looked back, longingly, wanting to return, missing her life there. She was leaving sin and deprivation to live in righteousness, but she couldn't leave behind her home. She didn't want to. When she looked back, she was saying that she wasn't repentant of what she had been doing, and that she didn't want what she was being given. She was desirous to continue living in sin.
That is Christ's admonition to us in Luke 17:32, that we remember the fate of Lot's wife as a result of her choice to look back. Not just to the city, but to her past. We must make positive steps forward in growing in faith and coming closer to our Heavenly Father. As a result, we often leave behind pasts that are colorful, and filled with mistakes. We must forsake these things, and leave them in the past where they belong. If we start to look back, to miss our past, and to want to return to it is when we start to slip, and become as Lot's wife. Stay strong, and endure to the end. And always Remember Lot's Wife.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Unity, as One Stand Together!

"And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them.
"Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty." (3 Nephi 2:11,12)
Throughout the history recorded in the Book of Mormon, we see lots of wars and contentions amongst the Nephites and the Lamanites. The feud started back when Lehi first brought his family out of Jerusalem into the wilderness, when Laman and Lemuel, his oldest two sons, were angry. Then, when they came to the promised land, what is now known as the American continents, Laman figured he would receive his birthright, being the oldest son. But, Nephi, the youngest and most righteous son, got it instead. This furthered the contention that already existed amongst the brothers, and caused a rift between them, and created the two classes: Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites were usually the more righteous, having the gospel with them, whereas the Lamanites took after the wicked traditions of their fathers. However, Nephites were not immune to temptations, and would often fall into wickedness, whereas Lamanites weren't immune to the Spirit, and many converted to the gospel, and were righteous. It was often said that, come the judgment, it would be better for the Lamanites because they didn't have the light and knowledge that the Nephites had, and sinned in ignorance. This rivalry kept up until the bitter end, when Moroni alone was righteous amongst the people. 
However, despite this long standing rivalry, they put aside their differences when a problem arose. They were sick of the Gadianton robbers and all their pillaging and plundering. The Lamanites were righteous, as were the Nephites, and they banded together and put their faith in the Lord, crying out in prayer for his help, and they were able to defeat the Gadianton robbers, though it took a few years.
We must be willing to do the same. The work cannot progress singlehandedly. No one person can save the world, it takes a team. Even Batman teamed up and joined the Justice League, and even Wolverine was part of the Avengers. But besides just teaming up, we have to be willing to work with anyone, so long as the goal is common. If you have a similar goal, who cares how you're different. One of my former companions was pretty much my polar opposite: he loved sports. Sports was his life. He watched, he played, he talked about... pretty much the only thing he watched on TV was ESPN. And he didn't know a thing about music. Music is to me what sports was to him: my life! Music was the center of pretty much everything for me. How could we possibly get along? Well, we did. Very well, too. For 3 months we were companions, and now I definitely count him as one of my best friends. 
A common goal must unite us all, despite our political views, despite our differing tastes in music, movies, etc., despite our social and economical standings... let nothing tear us apart and keep us from reaching that goal. Let us put our differences aside, and work together!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Make your Choice

Life is all about choices. Big or small, they have an impact. Each day, we are faced with hundreds, even thousands of choices to make. Often times, they may not seem like that big of a deal, and it may seem like they won't have any long term consequences. And often, that's true. What you eat for breakfast today probably won't effect who you marry. But, there are many choices that we make that will effect the long term, and many of those are ones we don't expect. Obviously, there are big glaring choices that should be made. Should I follow Jesus Christ? Should I obey the commandments? Should I always be setting a good example? Those are pretty easy ones to answer "yes" to, because those will effect you today, tomorrow, and forever, into the eternity. As the Lord says in Luke 16:13, "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is the material, the worldly, the temporal. If we serve mammon, let our own selfish desires take precedence, then we are letting that take us away from our Heavenly Father. We can only hold to one, the other we have to despise. So, hold to the One that brings life eternal.
Our choices stretch far beyond what we can even comprehend. In Helaman, Samuel the Lamanite preaches to the people, and he tells them, "and now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free." We are able to act for ourselves, and choose whether we will follow our God and be righteous, or be wicked and perish. Nephi reaffirms this in 2 Nephi 2:27: "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."
We must choose for ourselves: eternal life or death. The only way to eternal life is through Christ our Savior. It is through his Atonement that we can repent and be forgiven, and it is only through that that we can return to our Heavenly Father and have eternal life. So, in the words of the great prophet of old, Joshua, "choose you this day whom ye will serve...", and keep in mind the eternal significance of your choices.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't Forget to Pray

I have writer's block right now, so I'm going to blog about it. (Take that, writer's block!) Writer's block is annoying. I really want to try to have a new blog up everyday for all my adoring fans (or at least the few people who stumble across my blog). If I don't post a blog, my page views are around 2-10 (if I'm lucky). Whereas, I can expect to see 20s even 30s when I do post a new blog. But, it gets really hard to think of something to write about 6 days a week. I really should do a better job of really committing myself during my morning studies to find something really good to blog about, but even then, sometimes there just doesn't seem to be a full-length blog in it (though, that's probably my fault). So often, I just sit and stare at the computer screen, hoping something pops into my head. Often, it does. Sometimes, it doesn't. There have been several days when I just couldn't think of anything, so I just skipped a new post. It can get frustrating and annoying racking your brain for something original, catchy, and uplifting to write. Often, when I stumble across a halfway decent idea, I force out a few sentences, then go distract myself with something else for a few minutes before returning to the task at hand. It can be a pain, but I suffer through it, and out comes a blog that appears to get pretty well received.
The same problem can apply to all of us in a much more serious setting: prayer. How often do we fold our hands or arms, kneel down, and just kinda blank? It's happened to me on multiple occasions. We just have no idea what to say. What could we possibly say? God knows it all anyways, right? Why ask Him for something He knows we need? Or thank Him for the things He knows we're thankful for? Or we just don't know what it is we need. We get to a point where we're so stuck in a rut, so confused, and have no idea what help we even need, so how can we ask for help? That was has been a big one for me in the past. The point of prayer is not to redundantly state the obvious, or to have it be some masterful, eloquent personal sermon worthy of publication. Prayers are simply your conversation with God. Yes, He knows what you need and what you're thankful for, but that doesn't mean He doesn't want to hear it. Always offer up your thanks. "O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." (1 Chronicles 16:34). Always remember that the Lord will help when called upon. Just like President Uchtdorf said, "When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer- no matter how eloquent the oration."“When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer—no matter how eloquent the oration.” We rely on the Lord for everything, and He's more than happy to help out, as long as you ask in faith, and show your willingness to do the things necessary. Prayers are what connect us to our Heavenly Father, and what help us overcome our problems. Never let paryer's block stop you from communicating with your Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Sports rivalries are what make sports fun. Being a soccer fan, I have several rivalries that I'm personally concerned with. The Colorado Rapids are rivals with Real Salt Lake. Chelsea FC are rivals with Arsenal... and Manchester United... and Liverpool... and Tottenham... There are a few. Also, being a Red Sox fan, I have nothing but disdain for the Yankees. There are other major rivalries existing in all sports. This makes it personal for you. It's one thing just to watch the game, and want your team to win just because it's your team, it's quite another to have more than just a win on the line. If your team is playing that team, the team you hate more than any other, it makes it more intense. You want a win because it gives you bragging rights. It means one more feather in your cap. It's not just a win, it's a victory! A triumph over the foe! Nothing makes me happier than to see my team beat their rivals, which, unfortunately, hasn't happened too often recently, but there are always times I can look back to: Chelsea's 1-0 victory over Manchester United last year, Red Sox coming back from down 3 games to none against the Yankees, pulling off a series win in the 7th game to clinch the ALCS in 2004 (and later going on to win the World Series), Rapids... Well, at least they won the MLS Cup last year! These rivalries make it exciting as it makes you feel more involved and connected with your team, even outside of the game. You show your support by wearing your colors, and if someone's wearing the wrong color, you let them know that.
However, we must always remember a simple fact: rivalries aside, we're all on the same side. We're all children of God, and we should never let anything (especially something as trivial as sports) cause contention amongst us. I've seen many times a sports argument turn into something much too serious. We can't be divided. We must stay strong in our purpose, or we'll fall. It's not just sports (obviously), it can be anything, from serious things like politics, economics, or our overall view of the world, to simple things like sports, music, television, whatever. The point is, we're all trying to get back to our Heavenly Father, and we all need the help of others to do so. Who cares if you don't agree with the person next to you? Who cares if their opinion seems illogical and dumb? Who cares if they like the wrong team? "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another." (3 Nephi 11:29). You know who said that? Jesus Christ. Contention is of the devil, and will never solve anything. Don't get so caught up in your own opinions that they turn into "facts". Opinions are just that, and no matter how much you think them, they'll never be commonly accepted. People are stubborn and hard to change, and you'll find it difficult, if not impossible, to change someone to your way of thinking, especially if you go about it in a contentious way. We're all brothers and sisters, and we should treat each other as such.
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."