Spring Cleaning

Reposted from Forward Walking
July 31st, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

My wife and I are currently packing up our house getting ready to move. It is amazing how many things have accumulated in the closets and drawers of our lives. Every drawer we open and closet we clean out leads us say, “Where did that come from,” “I forgot we had this,” or, “I’ve been looking for that!” The clutter in our homes will grow to fill the space available.  It is the same in our lives.  If we don’t consciously choose what we will fill our lives with, they will fill themselves with whatever comes along, and whoever requests our time first.

Wherever there is space something — whether a possession, person, or commitment — will grow to fill it.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to choose the possessions, people, and commitments of our lives, rather than have them choose us? Whether doing some spring cleaning, packing for a move, or taking regular inventory, it is important to differentiate between what is necessary and important to the life we hope to lead, and what is not. We must discern between what we put there by choice, and what simply grew to fill the empty space we provided? In the next few paragraphs

I invite you to take a few minutes today and explore the hidden corners, closets, drawers, and recesses of your life. See what you find.  Why is it there? How did it get there? What is its purpose? How long has it been since you used it?

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Things & Possessions

Our possessions become a part of us, and we a part of them. We use our time, attention, money, space, and resources to care for, keep up, and protect them. Our possessions become an outward expression of who we are on the inside.

Take a look around you – are the outward possessions of your life an accurate depiction of the inner state of your heart? If what you see is not who you want to be then something needs to change. We choose our possessions based on what is, or is not, important to us, or what we consider relevant and true in our lives.

We fill our lives with things which reflect on the outside how we feel about ourselves on the inside. So what do the possessions of your life say about you? As you think about the things in your life, consider the following:

  • What purpose does it serve?
  • How did it come into my life? Was it a gift, an accident, or a conscious acquisition?
  • Why do I have it?
  • Do I protect it and cherish it, or is it merely filler?
  • What is its purpose?
  • What benefits does it provide?
  • What does it cost me to keep it, in terms of space, time, money, attention, or other resources?
  • What does it invite me to be, or become, today and in the future?
  • What image does it portray to others if I am honest with myself?
  • And finally, looking at the answers to these questions, do its benefits outweigh its costs? Is it worth the weight I am required to bear as a result?

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People & Associations

Great men throughout the ages have said that we become the average of the people we associate with the most – in terms of our perspectives on life, religious beliefs, political views, finances, personalities, and characters. Looking at who you associate with the most, and after exploring the questions below, please consider – who are your friends becoming – and is that who you want to become?

If the answers to this question lead you to question who you associate with on a regular basis then please seek new friends, or have a conversation with your current friends about who they want to be, and how they plan to get there. If their aspirations line up with who you hope to become in your life, then all you need do is continue to walk that road together. On the other hand, if you find yourself walking in different directions, seeking to become different people, then perhaps the time to part ways has arrived?

George Washington said, “Associate yourself with men of good reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”  And an unknown author said the following, “Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”

As you think about the people you spend the most time with in your life ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my friends and associations invite me to:

o   be better and become more, and to rise above who I have been, or to regress and forget the truths I have learned in my life, slipping back into mess from which I have escaped, or want to escape?

o   become more like myself, or more like them at the expense of my own identity?

o   instill, deepen, and expand more virtues in my life and character, or to let the vices, weaknesses, and addictions of life grow unchecked, or worse, to actively encourage them?

  • Who am I becoming by my association with them?
  • Who am I when I am with them?
  • Who am I after being with them?
  • Would their life be one I would choose to live? Is it a life I would want to live?
  • Are they a person I strive to emulate, or not?
  • And most importantly, what does my association with them invite me to be, or become, today and in the future?

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Commitments

No matter where we go, or what we do, commitments will fill our lives. Taking the kids to school, studying for a test, doing homework, going to work, filling our responsibilities at church, working around the house, or doing the laundry, are just a few of the things that we will be required to do. Many, if not all, of these commitments are beneficial in nature. But this is not always the case.

There are many commitments however that cost us more than they enrich us. These become the most time destructive bits of clutter in our lives. They rob us of our future and simultaneously replace something beautiful with something hollow and empty in the end. Perhaps they take too much time away from our families, and even when healthy place secondary priorities first in our lives, like an addiction to some hobby, like running marathons or triathlons, at the expense of your family. Or perhaps they shouldn’t even be a priority at all, doing nothing but take from your life while providing a temporary escape from issues that need to be addressed, and not ignored.

These are illustrated best by addictive and self-destructive behaviors of all kind; drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc… In light of this fact we must make sure that our commitments match our priorities.

In the words of Stephen Covey, “Do first things first, and second things never.” 

It is important that we clean out the commitments of our lives regularly so that they do not overwhelm us and leave us shattered, worn, and robbed in the end.

As you explore the commitments of your life ask yourself these questions:

  • What purpose does this commitment serve?
  • Does it move me closer to the person I wish to become and the life I wish to have or lead?
  • How did it come into my life? Did I choose it for myself, was it assigned me by another (like a boss or a spouse), or was it the result of not having spoken up, or saying yes or no?
  • What benefits come from fulfilling this commitment? What does it add to my life?
  • What does it truly cost me to keep it, in terms of space, time, money, or other resources? What is it costing me (emotional health, well-being, etc…)?
  • Does it deepen, or destroy, the all-important relationships between my family and myself?
  • Looking at the answers to these questions, do its benefits outweigh its costs? Is it worth the weight I will be required to bear? And will it make me stronger in the end?
  • And most importantly, what does this commitment invite me to be, or become, today and in the future?

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Conclusion

As you clean out the closets and drawers of your life – and re-evaluate where you stand, looking at how you got to where you are today, and where you’re headed from here forward – please share with us what you found?

Where is your life taking you? And isn’t it about time you had a say in where you’re headed?

Choose your possessions wisely, for they are but the outward expression of how you feel about yourself on the inside.

Choose your friends wisely, for you will become the average of the people you associate with the most.

Choose your commitments wisely for they become the soil from which you will grow, and strive, and reach into the future.

Whether or not the soil of your life is fertile depends, in large part, on what you choose to fill it with. Your choices, and where you choose to spend your time, will determine where you are headed, and who you are becoming. Who will you become, and what will you do?

Only you hold the answer… Isn’t it about time you did some spring cleaning today?

Best Day of My Life

Reposted from Forward Walking
May 20th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

Remember when the best days of your life were filled with simple things–when things like catching a butterfly, chasing a lightning bug, being hugged or tickled by someone you loved, reading a good book, running through the sprinklers, or having a water gun fight were the center of your universe?

Whatever your childhood looked like, what were the little things that could make your day? Was it a smile, a hug, or a moment of fun? Or was it something else altogether?

For the past two weeks, my kids have been bouncing off the walls about the fact that they were getting bunk beds. In fact, just minutes after hearing we might get the beds, the two had already chosen bunks for themselves. After that, they just got more excited by the day. Every day they asked repeatedly when we were going to get the bunk beds and when they were going to sleep in them for the first time.

So it goes without saying that when we finally picked the beds up and brought them home, the kids were ecstatic. Later, while laying on the top bunk, my daughter gave a contented sigh and said, “This is the best of day of my life!”

Isn’t it interesting that children’s lives are filled with these moments–moments that cause them to think, “This is the best day of my life”–one right after another.

What’s even more interesting though, is the specific things that make their days seem so great. It’s not the big things we would think of, but little things that cause children to have the best days of their lives. Things like a fresh chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk; a few moments spent curled up on the couch, snuggling up with a good book; a hug just before bedtime; seeing a real, live fish for the first time; riding a bike without training wheels for the first time; getting a puppy; or any of a hundred other little things.

best day of my lifeBut what about us? What causes you or me to have the “best day of our life”?

It’s the little things (and the feelings behind them) that make children’s lives magical, and lead them from one “best day of my life” moment to the next.

Couldn’t developing this tendency to see and celebrate the little joys in our lives be healthy for us as well? Couldn’t we learn to see the world through the eyes of a child again–focusing on what we have instead what we lack?

Look at your own life through the eyes of a child. What do you have to be grateful for? What one thing would cause you to have a “best day of my life” moment today, if you were a child again?

This past week I watched a cute, little nine-month-old boy, sitting in church with his parents on the front row. Suddenly, right in the middle of the quiet church meeting, he made a noise that I had never heard before. Smiling as wide as he could, he loudly sucked in air while squealing at the same time, resulting in a sound like a jet engine stuck in reverse. The noise definitely got my attention the first time he did it, but what kept my attention (and everyone else’s in the room) was the expression on his face. He was elated. Each time he made that noise again, he laughed and chuckled more loudly. He was learning something new, and he was enthralled by it.

As I looked around the room, every person I saw was smiling deeply, and looked to be thinking back on their own life or their own experiences as a parent. Afterward, no one had anything but good things to say about that boy and his innocent, disruptive noise from the front row. I think everyone in that room could remember feeling just like that little boy once before. Seeing him so pleased with himself as he learned something new was a beautiful moment.

But why do moments like that have to stop when we grow up? Why can’t they continue?

Well, they can and they will. All we need to do is learn to re-apply the principle that causes such moments in our lives.

Having more “best day of my life” moments simply requires you to have a grateful heart. You must see what you have, not what you lack. You must appreciate the moments that exist in your life, and ignore the ones that don’t. In short, you must cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the biggest key to an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

What are you grateful for today? What moments today have reminded you–or could remind you, if you just gave it a little thought–of the “best day of my life” moments from your past and childhood?

As I write this article, my daughter runs past me, pausing to tickle me. Then she runs away, squealing in delight as I try to catch and tickle her in return. And though it distracts from my writing, I am reminded that this is one of the moments for which I must be grateful. Instead of seeing a distraction in my daughter, shouldn’t I see how loved I am in her eyes, and the way she wants to be near me–and loved by me in return? Shouldn’t I see an angel that I am blessed to help raise, care for, and love? That moment made my day, and became a “best day of my life’ moment to cherish for the rest of my life.

I want to strive to see the moments in my life that should make this day and every other “the best day of my life”.

What about you? What moments have you already missed because you’ve been too busy, too distracted, or too focused on what you lack? What moments could you rediscover as “best day of my life’ moments in your own life?

May you have a ‘this is the best day of my life’ moment today, and every day hereafter…

Individual Responsibility

 

What is our great responsibility in this life? To ourselves? To others? To God? What is this life all about anyway, and what is it all for?

While philosophers of all ages have debated these questions the prophets of God have spoken. There are prophets today and they speak the truth as they received it from the Lord himself. All we have to do, if we are truly seekers of truth, is find their words, read them, internalize them, and apply them into our lives. If we follow this divinely appointed pattern our hearts will be changed, our faith will grow, and peace of conscience will settle upon our souls as the dews at dawn.

This week I read, in the words of a prophet, some of the most direct and eye opening comments on this topic I have ever read with relation to the topic of individual responsibility and accountability. For our mutual benefit I share them with you today.

President Joseph Fielding Smith, not to be confused with Joseph Smith, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith taught clearly the answers to these questions. In chapter 23 he said “I am not at all in sympathy with any kind of movement that tends to destroy manhood by encouraging men to be idle… if a man is physically strong and is able to perform services, he should take care of himself; that the Lord expects him to do…”

The Lord said in D&C 42:42, “Thou shalt not be idle for he that is idle shall not eat the bread, nor wear the garments of the laborer.”

And he continued in D&C 75:28-29 by saying that “…every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown… and the idler shall not have place in the Church, except he repent and mend his ways.”

Joseph Fielding Smith continued after reading these two scriptures by saying this “means likewise that a man should be industrious in spiritual things as well as in temporalities by which he makes his living.”

We are here for a great purpose. That purpose is not to live 100 years, or less, and plant our fields, reap our crops, gather fruit, live in houses, and surround ourselves with the necessities of mortal life. That is not the purpose of life. These things are necessary to our existence here, and that is the reason why we should be industrious.

“Why, all these things are but temporary blessings. We eat to live. We clothe ourselves to keep warm and covered. We have houses to live in for our comfort and convenience, but we ought to look uon all these blessings as temporary blessings needful while we journey through this life. And that is all the good they are to us. We cannot take any of them with us when we depart. God, silver, precious stones, which are called wealth, are of no use to man only as they enable him to take care of himself and to meet his necessities here…”

The object of our being here is to do the will of the Fatheras it is done in heaven (which is what?), to work righteousness in the earth, to subdue wickedness and put it under our feet, to conquer sin and the adversary of our souls, to rise above the imperfections and weaknesses of poor fallen humanity, by the inspiration of the Lord and his power made manifest, and thus become saints and servants of the Lord in the earth.

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Conscience & Accountability

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Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “We are dealing with our faith and conscience… I am not dealing with men respecting my (actions and choices) – my dealings are with the Lord… I am responsible to the Lord and will have to answer to Him… If I do my duty, according to my understanding of the requirements that the Lord has made of me, then I ought to have a conscience void of offense. I ought to have satisfaction in my soul that I have simply done my duty as I understand it, and I will accept the consequences…”

“He who sent his Only Begotten Son into the world… also sent every soul within the sound of my voice… to accomplish a mission… we cannot grow in knowledge of the Lord or in wisdom, without devoting our thoughts and our efforts toward our own betterment, toward the increase of our own wisdom and knowledge in the things of the Lord.”

“It is so easy for humankind to blame somebody else for their own mistakes, and so easy for us, because of our human nature, to take credit when the thing that is accomplished is something that pleases and benefits. But we never want to shoulder a responsibility for our mistakes that do not please, and so we endeavor to place that kind of responsibility somewhere else and on others… Let us shoulder our own responsibilities, and not endeavor to place them somewhere else.”

“What would we be without (the gift of Agency), if we were compelled as some people would like to have their fellows compelled to do their will? There could be no salvation; there could be no rewards of righteousness; no one could be punished for unfaithfulness because men would not be accountable before their Maker…”

Take a child for example. If I come into the room and that child is doing something I deem wrong I would open my mouth to correct them. If they turn and say that their mother made them to do it that way I reply, “Oh, I didn’t know that. Sorry. Continue on then.”

Then, if  I still disagree with the action I talk to their mother about it. The accountability for that action belongs to the mother because she is telling the child what to do.

It is the same with the  Lord. If He made us act a certain way we would not be accountable for our own actions. This goes against the whole reason we are here: to learn and to grow. The Lord will not make us do anything in this life. He has left it up to us to choose.

Now He has given us commandments, and told us how we can obtain happiness, but He will force no man towards it. It is up to us to choose our own destiny, be it eternal happiness on the one side, or eternal damnation (or being stopped in our progression) on the other.

We will be held accountable for we have been given our agency. The choice is ours. What will we choose? What consequences will we allow to remain in our lives? If we choose to live righteously they will be sweet indeed.

Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

Commenting on this statement by Joseph Smith, President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “This is the principles upon which we operate in the church. We expect our members everywhere to learn correct principles and to govern themselves.

That is what it means to be Mormon – to learn correct principles, conform our lives to them, and govern ourselves appropriately.

What principles have you learned, or been taught of the Lord, in your life? If you could teach, or pass on, one lesson on how to be happy to your children what would it be?

President Smith continued, “There could be no satisfactory existence without this great gift (Agency)… salvation and exaltation must come through the free will without coercion and by individual merit in order that righteous rewards may be given and proper punishment be meted out to the transgressor…”

God has done for men all that men cannot do for themselves to secure salvation, but he expects men to do all for themselves that is in their power.”

“…it is contrary to the order of heaven… for holy messengers… to come to earth and perform work for men which they can do for themselves… “

“It is a most serious error to believe that Jesus did everything for men if they would but confess him with their lips, and there is nothing else for them to do. Men have work to do if they would obtain salvation.”

———-

“Our two great responsibilities are to seek our own salvation and to work diligently for the salvation of others… Our first concern should be our own salvation. We should seek every gospel blessing for ourselves. We should be baptized and enter into the order of celestial marriage so that we can become inheritors in the fullness of our Father’s kingdom. Then we should be concerned about our families, our children, and our anscestors.”

“It is your duty… to do the very best that is within our power, and not to shirk, but endeavor with all our soul to magnify the callings the Lord has given us, to labor diligently for the salvation of our own house, each one of us, and for the salvation of our neighbors, the salvation of those who are abroad.”

It is our duty TO DO OUR BEST to do ALL WITHIN OUR POWER – because Christ has already done the rest – and NOT SHIRK. It is our duty to STAND UP, CHOOSE RIGHTEOUSLY, and BE MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD.

 

Receiving ALL THINGS with Thankfulness

Earlier this month I went to my daughters First Grade class to talk about what I do for work as a Chimney Sweep. She was excited that I came. By the end of the day I realized that I still expected something of her. All I really wanted was to hear a small thank you for the time I took to be there for her.

As that thought crossed my mind another interjected itself into my thoughts.

“Such is being a parent and often times you will serve your children without thanks. They will have no idea that you helped, or really even sacrificed anything for them. Imagine how often the Lord helps you and how often you don’t even recognize what He has done for you in your life. Imagine how often you forget to give Him thanks after the fact. Have you thanked Him for all the good things He has brought into your life of late?”

What a good question. I was humbled by it’s implications.

I wonder how often we are like my daughter, and after the Lord has given us of His time, talents, abilities, and resources we simply forget to say thank you, or don’t even realize that He has helped us. Now, regardless of whether or not we thank Him He will continue to help us to a point. But perhaps, just as I would have appreciated even a small thank you the Lord would appreciate one as well. When we recognize His hand in our lives and say thank you for His help He will be more likely to help us further – just as any father or mother would their grateful child.

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The Lord asks each of us, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13, 3 Nephi 14:11)

The Lord blesses us regularly in our lives, many times without our asking. We are, however commanded to ask Him for whatsoever things we stand in need of, and then to be thankful for all things that come into our lives – good or bad – ALL things.

In 1 Thessalonians we read, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

And in Mosiah we are “commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things.” (Mosiah 26:39)

And again “ye must give thanks to God in the Spirit for whatsoever things ye are blessed with.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:32)

And perhaps most directly, when the Lord reviews the commandments in the Doctrine & Covenants he states very clearly, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (Doctrine & Covenants 59:7)

And once we have been grateful I ask you what happens then? Will our Father in Heaven continue to bless us? Or will He turn His back on us?

As a parent, or a father, or a brother, or a sister – don’t you want to help those who have acknowledged your hand in their lives? So does He. He wants to bless us greatly and has promised that if we keep His commandments and have faith, trying Him on His word, saying, “prove me now herewith… if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10, 3 Nephi 24:10)

It is clear that the Lord feels this way as well. In scripture the Lord makes us a promise which cannot be broken, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of the earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.(Doctrine & Covenants 78:19)

If we fill the requirements of His promises he says, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (Doctrine & Covenants 82:10)

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It is important for us to be grateful in all things. If we are grateful in all things then we have the promise of the Lord that we shall be blessed greatly indeed. If we would assure ourselves of His help in the future then we must be grateful for the help that He has already given us. This will assure us of His help in the future.

Where have you missed His hand in your life? When have you forgotten to be grateful for a certain blessing, or help, or aid? Whether miraculous in nature, or seemingly naturally flowing into your life through the lives of those around you? Often times the Lord’s Spirit moves upon those in your life in such a way that they become the answer to your prayers. Have you thanked Him for these realities in your life? Have you thanked Him for these moments?

So now I ask you, will you commit to be more thankful today? And to recognize the hand of the Lord in your life?

He desires to bless you more than you can possibly imagine. All He asks is that we ask of Him, in humility, for His help – and that after He has helped us we recognize His hand in our lives and give thanks for all things that come into our lives.

May God bless you in the journey of your life, and may you be filled with gratitude for the many blessings which will flow into your life as a result.

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And just to mention a topic for another day – Once we change our lives the blessings of the Lord will often-times slowly trickle into our lives. This is not at all the sudden blessing we are often hoping for. But… there is a reason for it.

Why is this?

Because often times it takes awhile before the consequences of our past actions fade out of our lives. The Lord will not remove the consequences of our actions. They are ours, earned and chosen. So don’t be surprised if, even after you change your life and begin to trust and follow Him, there are lingering effects from your previous life, and consequences which still must be endured and overcome, their lessons internalized.

Magnifying Your Callings

As I write today I am filled with a profound hope for the future. We live in an amazing time of difficulties and challenges. Everywhere we go we are asked to do more, to be more, and to become more.

As a Mormon we receive callings, or invitations to serve in a capacity of responsibility within our church. All positions within our church are filled by volunteers. They are called in to be interviewed by those who have already been chosen as leaders in the church and are then asked if they would be willing to volunteer their time, talents, and abilities to serve in the offered position.

There is also an expression within our faith that speaks of doing our best: Magnifying our callings. To magnify is to make something larger and bring it into clearer focus. In this context it means to do our best in applying our time, talents, and abilities towards the completion of whatever task lies before us in the performance of our responsibilities.

Almost a month ago now I was extended such an opportunity to serve, a ‘calling’ if you will. All callings operate under the direction of the priesthood keys held by the Bishop of the church, or ward. If you would like a better understanding of the difference between the priesthood and priesthood keys are, as well as what it means to operate under them please review this talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

Last night, as I studied, reading the words of a prophet Joseph Fielding Smith (not to be confused with Joseph Smith) I was struck by an excerpt from a sermon he gave. “If we have a clear understanding of the covenant we make when we receive the priesthood, and of the promise the Lord gives if we magnify our callings, then we shall have a greater incentive to do all the things we must do to gain eternal life. May I say further that everything connected with this higher priesthood is designed and intended to prepare us to gain eternal life in the kingdom of God.”

He continued quoting from D&C 88:33-44 and tells us that “whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become… the elect of God… Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.”

In that scripture we are promised that if we magnify our callings our bodies will be renewed and that we will become the elect of God. The quality of our lives will reflect our commitment to the Lord. Receiving the Priesthood is a covenant between ourselves and our God. Because it is a covenant between us and the Lord it is immovable and unchangeable. The blessings promised are assured us if we fulfill our part of the bargain. It is promised. And the Lord cannot, and will not, break His promises.

President Smith continues, “Priesthood offices or callings are ministerial assignments to perform specially assigned service in the priesthood. And the way to magnify these callings is to do the work designed to be performed by those who hold the particular office involved. It does not matter what office we hold as long as we are true and faithful to our obligations…”

One priesthood office or calling is not greater than another in terms of priesthood power. The priesthood does not change. It is the same for each and every man in the church. The only difference is found in the keys one holds and the responsibilities over which one has authority to function as one holding power in the priesthood. In our personal lives and in our homes our priesthood power is fully operational, according to the dictates of the spirit and our righteous desires. Otherwise it is only restrained, or limited, by the limits of our respective callings. We have the authority to use our priesthood for each and every stewardship over which we have responsibility.

In the next section President Smith talks about Christ exercising His priesthood and how “Christ is the great prototype where priesthood is concerned, as He is with with reference to baptism and all other things. And so, even as the Father swears with an oath that his Son shall inherit all things through the priesthood, so he swears with an oath that all of us who magnify our callings in that same priesthood shall receive all that the Father hath.”

“This is the promise of exaltation offered to every many who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, but it is a conditional promise, a promise conditioned upon our magnifying our callings in the priesthood and living by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God…”

“There is nothing in all the world as important to each of us as putting first in our lives the things of God’s kingdom, as keeping the commandments, as magnifying our callings in the priesthood, as going to the house of the Lord and being offered the fullness of the blessings of our Father’s kingdom.”

What about you? Is there anything in your life more important than the things of God? More important than His work of salvation on our behalf? What is so important that you would be willing to risk eternity to experience in the space of this life?

Will you fill your callings, dedicate yourself to make a difference, and serve others to the best of your ability today?

The Rising Generation in Christ

For those who don’t know – I am a Mormon. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And every 6 months we have a conference the areas in which we live. These conferences are called Stake Conference and thousands gather to discuss as a community what we need to be doing in our lives as a whole – that we may be united and one, in purpose, direction, and heart.

At 9:41 pm on April 12th we’d just gotten back from the Saturday Evening Session of Stake Conference and put the kids to bed.

The conference itself was wonderful, and all about the recent call by the Prophet to hasten the work of the Lord. He has said that the time has arrived that the work of the Lord is to be hastened. The Lord is speeding up His work of Salvation among the children of men in preparation for the Second Coming of the Son of Man, or Jesus Christ.

Will you be ready? Will you be a part of the preparation? Of the expansion of the gospel and all it entails?

I was touched by what I heard. This age is one of the greatest ages in which to be alive. The work of the Lord has been hastened, and is hastening. The gospel will never again be taken, or be allowed to be taken, from the earth – we have this promise in modern day revelation.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Lattery-day Saints will roll forth as a stone cut from the mountain without hands until it has filled the whole earth and shattered all kingdoms built by men. As the kingdoms built by men crumble and fall the Church of God on the earth today, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will rise in power, and might, and dominion until under its banner flock every lover of peace, hearth, and home. Every righteous person in the world will flock to the banner of His church, or die trying.

We live in the most amazing time, a hard time but an extra-ordinary one. Forgotten will be the administrations of Bush or Obama, and the crash of 2008 and those greater yet to come. All the wars and contentions of the world will be but backdrop to the expansion of the gospel.

In the eternal courts of Heaven above the defining eras of our lives will be spoken of in relation to the expansion of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its availability. Whether you lived before or after the coming of Christ, after the Restoration of the Gospel, when the hastening took place, or just prior to the Second Coming of the Lord. In the eternities they will not ask how you responded to the demands of life, nor how you earned a living, but rather how you participated in the gathering of Israel and the hastening of salvation among the children of men.

What will you say? How will you answer?

The youth of the church today will be raised and taught by leaders who have gone astray, seduced by what the world had to offer – and come back stronger, and more sure of their faith, in the end.

The youth will be stronger for it. They will be raised by those who have returned from ‘inactivity’ and will have learned the true cost of the choices presented them as reflected back in the lives and experiences of their leaders.

This will be markedly different from the previous generation. They will be taught from early on to be missionaries, to be examples, and to stand up for what they believe in the face of any adversity. Why? Because it’s true. What other reason could there be? This will perpetuate the acceleration of the Lords work of salvation here upon the earth, and it will be marvelous to behold.

Just as the rock that was cut out of the mountain without hands rolled forth to fill the earth so too will this rising generation spread the gospel message of salvation to all corners of the earth.

Whereas my generation was raised to be good examples and stand up for what we believe in when called upon the rising generation will be called upon to actively rise up and be missionaries at all times, and in all places. They will be taught this from birth on.

So what do you say? Will you participate in the instruction of the next generation? Will you let your voice be heard, your experiences shared, and the warnings of your life sounded so that they can choose more wisely than we did?

What do you say? Will you participate in the hastening of the Lords work by raising the next generation of missionary minded men and women? Will you?

Strengthening the Home

“Ours should be a conscious effort every day… to strengthen the homes which are our Heavenly Father’s first line of defense.” – Harold B. Lee

In a world that is self-destructing itself into darkness we ask ourselves where we can turn to stem the tide of decaying morals and values, dishonesty, selfishness, and pride? Must we focus on our politics, our institutions, or ourselves as individuals?

The answer is surprisingly simple. If we wish to save our country then we must start that saving process in our homes and families. Our homes are the first line of defense in this decaying world of darkness. If they fall prey to the degradation that surrounds us then our civilization falls as well.

Strengthening the home and defending it from any unwanted influences should be our primary goal. The answer to every problem we face as a nation lies in the rearing and raising of the rising generation, and the protection and establishment of the solid homes from which they come. In those homes they will grow and mature as a young plant seeking the light. Let us fill our homes with light that they may drink in the sustaining power of a powerful home.

As Americans we often believe ourselves above the decay taking place all around us, but there is a reason it is called decay. It is often unrecognized until it is too late. Do we take the time to let our children know we love them? Do we teach them about the reality of natural consequences – or do we mitigate all consequences in an effort to ‘keep them from harm’? Do we show them, by example, how they are to live? Do we exemplify moral rectitude, honesty, integrity, honor, and faith in God?

The very cures for the times we live in are found in the children who surround us. The question remains, however, will we raise them in such a way, and from such a place (the home), that they can face the challenges of this world and stand up to the darkness that is spreading even as you read these words.

We must remember that the light is always stronger than the darkness. But that light, it begins, grows, is nurtured, and developed in the home. That is where we must focus if we are save some semblance of the society we cherish in our hearts.

Whatever happened to the America where neighbor serves neighbor? And where when something bad happens the entire community turns out to help and repair whatever wrong was committed? And the most important questions: Do you exemplify such an America? Will your home exemplify these things?

If enough homes in America come to exemplify these values then we will save our country, for in the face of such great light what darkness can stand against it?

If we fortify our homes, we may yet save our country. If we do we will be part of the solution, not the problem.

Will you do your part today? Will you put your family first? Will you fortify and strengthen the presence of your home in the lives of your children, and make it a place of peace, love, and light from which they can go forth and change the world?

I am the symbol of Christianity

I am the symbol of Christianity. So are you.

Every religious practice across the world puts great meaning into its symbols. When thinking of Christianity in general the symbol of the cross instantly comes to mind. It is a symbol of Christ’s death, and the sacrifices we must make to live with Him again. The meaning behind it is important, but it is not the true symbol of Christianity.

To those more initiated in the lore of Christianity the fish has special symbolism as well. During the times of Nero and the apostasy of the church across Europe Christians were heavily persecuted. They were turned in by neighbors and friends, ridiculed, spat upon, and even executed for sport at state events. The symbol of the fish gained special meaning among believers. It let them know that they could speak openly of their beliefs, or that they were among friends. It guided them through the catacombs to where they could meet in secret and still worship according to the tenets of their faith, and the dictates of their conscience. But the fish, like the cross, isn’t the true symbol of Christianity either.

The true symbol of Christianity is found in the Christians themselves. We are the symbols of Christianity.  We are the symbols of everything it means to be Christian. We do not worship the cross, nor a dead Christ, or any image of Him or His prophets in any way, shape, or form. We worship the Living Christ. We glory in the Living Christ, and we live our lives so as to bring glory to His name.

What does this mean – to literally be the true symbol of Christianity?

The way we live our lives should flow from our faith as naturally as water flows forth from a spring. It means that the way we live our lives in such a way that those we meet know of our honesty, integrity, compassion, long-suffering, strength, and love. The only true symbol is Christianity, or of any religion or movement, is found in the lives of those who profess to belong to it.

How do you live your life? And what do you live it for? Are the beliefs you profess instilled into your every action and interaction with your fellow men? Do your actions speak of your dedication and self-transcendent way of life? Or the greed, lust, corruption, and pride that so commonly plague the world? As they say – if we do not stand for something we will fall for anything. What do you stand for?

How will you become a living symbol of Christianity?

You know the answer to that question already – for the actions you must take echo inside the chambers your heart and soul. They are the promptings that have been conveniently ignored throughout your life, or the ways you know you should live but don’t, the truths you have been taught but have forgotten amidst the demands and cares of life.

Will you exemplify, in action, what it is that makes us great and binds us together?

The actions you choose to take today will set the stage for all future generations after you. How will you be remembered?

Transcending Ourselves

Reposted from Forward Walking
February 27th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

Why are we here in this life? The answer is as simple as this: to transcend ourselves.

First, what does it mean to transcend ourselves?

a.)   To transcend means to rise above, go beyond, overpass, or exceed.

b.)  To transcend ourselves means to act differently in the present moment – in a more positive way –  than we would have in the past.

1)     It is begun when we act in alignment with the truths we have been taught.

2)    It is manifest when we finally overcome that which we have struggled with for so long.

3)    It is realized and finally recognized when we find ourselves teaching others how to overcome the same things which we have passed through.

c.)   To transcend ourselves means that we have finally felt the reality of forgiveness in our lives, that peace can be restored to our souls. This will only occur as we change our lives  and seek forgiveness for the mistakes of our past – from others, from ourselves, and from our God. Teaching others is the culminating virtue of repentance.

———-

Second, how have I learned this?

Several years ago, a friend called and asked if we could talk. He was and is an amazing man, more full of love than anyone I have ever met. As we talked I learned that he was struggling in his relationship with his wife. It troubled him to his core. They’d been married for several years, and had been fighting and arguing more than usual. At this point he began questioning if he had done the right thing by marrying her, or if he was the best person for her to be happy with. His words brought tears to his eyes.

After sharing this, my friend paused and asked me what I was thinking.

I’ve made many bad decisions over the course of my life. I will be the first one to admit that I am not perfect in any way, shape, or form. But it is from some of those bad decisions that I learned the most amazing lessons – lessons that changed my life forever.

So when my friend asked me this, several stories from my life came to mind, and I began to share them with him.  One one of the things I shared, in particular, was what I consider the biggest mistake of my life up to this point.

These stories, plus the time we shared together, were enough to change my friend’s perspective on his marriage. Realizations that came to him caused his tears of pain, fear, and uncertainty to turn into tears of joy, peace, and gratitude. He had heard what he needed to hear, seen what he needed to see, and understood what he needed to understand.

However, in sharing my observations – which I learned by virtue of bad choices made throughout my life – I relived many of the emotions associated with them. The shame, anxiety, regret, and sadness that accompanied the initial bad decisions revisited my heart, and I began to see myself as less than I was. The feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty my friend had felt were now duplicated within me.

But, being the wise man that he is, my friend looked at me – both of us were now crying – and said something that I will never forget.

“Dan, don’t beat yourself up. When you can finally teach someone else the lessons you learned because of your bad choices, you can know that you’ve finally been forgiven for what you did. What you’ve done here is beautiful. You’ve taught me from your experience. When you can teach someone something like that – something that you’ve learned from the mistakes of your past – then those mistakes no longer have any hold on you. You are free, and you are forgiven. You have transcended the mistakes.”

In the years since that conversation, I have thought much about what my said that day. There I was to comfort him, and in the end he comforted me and helped me find peace again.

———-

We can transcend ourselves. We can find peace. We can rise above the weaknesses of our lives, and soar like the eagles – confidently moving upon the winds which surround us.

The bad news is that we all have weaknesses, and we will sometimes fall. Each of us will make bad choices and will have to live with the resulting consequences.

The silver lining amidst it all is that there is hope. We can feel peace again. We can be made whole and move forward in our lives. We can transcend ourselves and move onward and upward into a brighter day.

When we can help others overcome, pass through, and learn from the things we have experienced, we unlock the key to our own freedom.

When we can teach or help another pass through the lessons we’ve learned from our mistakes, then we will know that we have finally transcended those things. And, in like manner, we transcend ourselves again and again.

Will you commit to transcend yourself today? What will you change? Who will you help?

Quotes on Being

The words you are about to read are a collection of various thoughts and quotes taken from my personal journals. In them I hope you can find something that will speak to your heart and help you on your way…

They do not follow any logical flow or conclusion so please read as you feel so prompted…

As human beings in this fast moving world we focus much time on how to, how to, how to. Just as vital as what you must do, however, is who you are.

As the germinating seed in growth, reaching up toward the light, becomes all that it was meant to be, so too as we stretch ourselves toward the light do we become all that we were meant to be.

Everyone is fighting hard; first against oneself, then against the world.

In the presence of what we are not, we become what we are; this is called ‘being’. This ‘being’ creates the world in which we dwell, and move, and live; a world of dualities and paradoxes, a world of truth and fiction, of black and white, of right and wrong. In not being all things have being, even you and I.

Contradictions define. Differences made clear clarify both sides. If you would discover what something is: decide what it is not. In not being all things have being.

In finding our purpose the search is not in finding something to do, but rather, in discovering who we are.

It’s not what we are accomplishing; it’s who we are becoming.

It is wisdom in itself to exclude those distractions, temptations, and sins, from the ever closing encircling that is taking place within our lives. We circle ever nearer to those things upon which our hearts are set. True success is found in circling in upon those refining, developing, godly things which invite us to move towards the light – for the end result of such a choice will fill our very lives with light.

In the search for True Self we must not look for it abroad. Many a man has spent his life in search of something outside himself that can only be discovered within.

It is not about accomplishing all of your goals and dreams in life; it is about who you become on the way to accomplishing all of your goals and dreams in life.

Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaketh.

Sacrifice is necessary, for we truly show who we want to become by the sacrifices we are willing to make. It is through the things that we actually sacrifice, however, that we become who we are.

All men become what they think about and they think about those things that they hear, read, see, and do. Guard your mind and you guard your destiny.

Stop seeing what you see and start seeing who you’ll be. Stop seeing what you see and start seeing who you’ll be.

The little things in life make all the difference. They determine who and what we will become.

The things that we learn we do. The things that we love we remember. The things that we live we become. All things that affect us for good or ill have been learned, loved, and lived.

There comes a time when it is no longer enough to show potential, but a time when we must live up to our potential.

True self is revealed when one analyzes the connections between oneself and one’s time; between oneself and one’s responsibilities; between oneself and one’s speech. The revealed differences that come from such an analysis truly show us for what we want and who we are.

We do not teach what we know, we teach who we are.

We form and create our destiny by who we become; all things stemming from our thoughts.

Who we are on the inside reflects on the outside, and in all the people, places, and things that we choose to surround ourselves with.

Who we become is but who we are today, drawn out over time.

Focus on what you are to become, not what you have done.

There come times in life when we must ask ourselves some questions; What do I want to be, do, accomplish, and be remembered as? Each time the answers change and a new journey begins.

The world is neither miserable nor joyous, but the people in it. The world is but a reflection of what we ourselves are.

Life is nothing more than the polishing of the stone we wish to become. To become such we must polish our ideas and in so doing, polish ourselves.

Read it twice, even three times, for it is a subtle difference. We do not become successful by what we do alone, but by who we are. Read it twice, even three times, for it is a subtle difference. We do not become successful by what we do alone, but by who we are.

As in temples of old, the great stone walls becoming sun bleached and marked by all who pass, so it is with the temples of our lives; through the bleaching and purifying process of life, and the marks left by all who pass that we become who we are today, immortalized in stone. We must remember, however, that the greatest shaping effect upon the temple of our lives, does not come from the bleaching and purifying experiences of life, nor from the marks left by those who pass, but from the way in which we have carved the stones and upon what we have built the foundation of who we are.

Until we awaken as the masters of our own Destiny we follow the principles and edicts of the culture and time in which we find ourselves. Will you allow the culture of your time to dictate your destiny? 

Or will you awaken from the dust, stand up, step out, and speak up? Will you decide who you will be? Will you shape the path of your own destiny or relegate yourself resignedly to whatever the world gives you?

What will you decide to be?
Who will you decide to be?
And who will decide, if not you?