Character and Obedience

Speaking of character in a recent article Richard G. Scott said, “It is the manifestation of what you are becoming. Your character will be the yardstick that God will use to determine how well you have used your mortal life… Strong character is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished… Your character is being solidified by consistent correct choices… Neither Satan nor any other power can weaken or destroy your growing character. Only you can do that through disobedience…”

In the development of character obedience is at its core. It is our character, or our habits of obedience or disobedience, that are at stake in every decision we make, big or small. And in reality there are no big decisions – only small ones.

The real question is whether or not we will choose to cultivate a habit of obedience to the laws, commandments, and revelations of God? Or whether will we cultivate a habit of disobedience to those same laws as we seek to serve ourselves?

Whatever habit we create in the small decisions of our daily lives will be the habit we act from in our moments of crisis and confrontation.

It isn’t about the size of the decisions we make. It’s why we make them.

Are we are cultivating a habit of obedience, or of disobedience, to truth and direct revelation?

Will you trust God and cultivate a habit of obedience to the truths of the gospel and what you have received as personal revelation? Or will you cultivate disobedience as you rationalize the deviations and distractions that take you from fully living as you know you ought, no matter how sound, reasonable, or logical, such rationalizations may seem at the time?

—– Receiving Revelation —–

Nearly a year ago I was sitting in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Taking in the calmness which surrounded me I began to wonder what God thought about my beard. I’d heard, and participated in, numerous arguments back and forth about whether or not it was acceptable to have a beard in the temple, or in church at all. I wanted to know God’s thoughts on the matter and determined to ask Him as I sat there.

Bowing my head I reaffirmed to myself and to God that whatever He told me I would honor and obey, aligning my life with whatever I was taught. I know that it was precisely because I felt this way that I received an answer.

Thoughts flowed calmly into my mind as I listened, “You may grow your beard as you like, my son, but when you come into my house, whether here (in the temple) or in one of my chapels I would ask that you come clean shaven before me. It will show the respect you have for Me and help you prepare yourself spiritually for coming into my house.”

Since then I have shaved each and every Sunday prior to going to church and every day that I have attended the temple.

Now, I do not try to insinuate in any way that I have received revelation for the church at large, or for anyone but myself. This is a personal commandment I received in response to a heartfelt prayer. It came as I sincerely sought the mind and the will of the Lord regarding how I should act before Him. Aside from the commandments of the gospel, which are for all men, you must seek your own revelation and confirmation with regard to how you should live your life. The interesting thing is that often you will already know the answer before you ask – you will have already felt what is right and in prayer will find the confirmation of what you have already felt in your heart.

—– The Small Things —–

So why is this story important?

Well, this past Friday a rather large and painfully obvious cold sore had formed on my upper lip. It was not a pretty sight and I had decided not to shave that morning because of it. I told myself that shaving would risk the possibility of nicking it with my razor, which would hurt, and that having a beard would serve to hide it somewhat so that it didn’t stand out so much.

So Sunday, prior to going to church, I was trimming around the edges of my beard, questioning if I really should shave my beard off all the way or not. As I pondered this questions began flooding into my mind…

“What is more important to you? Keeping the commandments of God or how you appear to others? Will you obey God and honor the promptings, revelations, and commandments you have received – no matter how small they may be? Or will you endeavor to hide your imperfections, and disobey the word of the Lord concerning you, for fear of what others will think? What is more important to you? Keeping the commandments of God, or worrying about how you are perceived by your fellowmen?”

Well that was very direct, I thought. And there was my answer. There was no explaining that away as an overactive mind. Those questions were right. The choice before me was very clear. And though it was not what most would call a big or important choice it was. In reality there are no big choices, only small ones. I was reminded that all big things hinge upon the small and simple things of life and that by very small things are great things brought to pass. The great moments of our lives will be but comprised of smaller moments all put together.

Some of the biggest lessons of my life have come from the smallest and simplest experiences of my life. This would be no different. This simple cold sore had become an instrument in God’s hand to teach me a deeper lesson: to remind me that every decision in life is 1) a small one, and to teach me that 2) it is really about whether or not we cultivate the habit of obedience or disobedience to what we have received.

If I chose to follow God’s commandments now (shaving), what most would call an unimportant decision, then wouldn’t I choose to follow God’s commandments when it really mattered? If I chose to follow His commands now when the discomfort to myself would be small, slightly physical and a little socially, then wouldn’t I do so when the discomfort, and consequences, were real?

If I hold true to the revelations He has given me, and the truths of the gospel, in the small decisions of my life then won’t I hold to them when the larger decisions of life arise? Won’t honoring what I have received now help to cultivate the habit of obedience so that when I am sorely tempted or distracted it can be relied upon to keep me upon the sure path of truth?

—– Self-Evaluation —–

What about you?

Are you cultivating a habit of obedience, or disobedience, to what you have received? What are the small things that you need to work on? What truths have you forgotten, or been distracted from applying in your life? Where have you rationalized the deviations which have led you to this point? And where can you improve and get back on track?

What small decision will you make today to come into alignment with the truths you already know in your heart to be true?

That one decision will make all the difference.

When A Loved One Commits Suicide

Reposted from Forward Walking
January 24th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

As an oldest child, I am used to fixing problems—both in my life and in the lives of my siblings. With the suicide of my brother in 2008, for the first time in my life I faced a problem that I couldn’t fix.

dan and bro

My brother lay in the hospital for a week before he died, and I couldn’t do a thing about it. He’d attempted suicide in the side yard of our house. He shot himself while I was working on my truck on the other side of the house. My mother was doing dishes and my father was working in his office. My father and I both heard something, but didn’t connect it as a gun shot. After all, why would a gun go off in the middle of the neighborhood?

It was a small-caliber gun, and the shot sounded to me like a dropped bolt or a nut. I looked around for what I had dropped and, not finding anything, went back to work. My father said it sounded like he’d dropped a pen on the hardwood floor. He too looked for what had made the noise, couldn’t find anything, and went back to his work.

My mother, however, felt prompted to go outside, ended up finding my brother, called 9-1-1, and got him to the hospital. I ran around back when the ambulances pulled up in front of our house, and my mother came out of the back yard crying. My father had gone back there the moment my mother called for him. I can still remember my father holding my brother’s head in his hands, putting pressure on his wounds until the paramedics could take over.

After three brain surgeries and many prayers, the doctors reconstructed my brother’s skull as best they could and stitched him back up. The hospital scans showed no brain activity beyond what was needed to sustain life. The pressure in his brain fluctuated dangerously, and his hypothalamus had stopped functioning all together. His body could no longer heat or cool itself properly, so the nurses heated and cooled it alternately using heated blankets and ice.

While my brother was in the hospital, our lives stood still. Neither my father nor I went to work, and my mother virtually lived at the hospital with my two sisters. Over the course of the week, we all spent time grieving in our own ways.

During my grieving and answer-seeking process, I wrote frequently. This is actually when I started my first blog, which I have continued to this day. Between that and the conversations I had with family and friends, I began to process the changes that my brother’s choice had suddenly brought into my life.

Prior to that moment, the things I had dedicated my time to were meaningless. The only thing that really mattered in my life now was family. That was it. Nothing else even held a candle to the importance of my family.

Maybe if I had been around more, this wouldn’t have happened, I thought. Maybe I would have seen the signs and been able to stop him. Maybe I could have helped him more. There had to be something I could have done–right?

As my brother lay in the hospital dying, there was nothing to do but wonder what I could have done differently. I was his older brother. Wasn’t it my responsibility to look out for him, to care for him? Wasn’t I my brother’s keeper? Wasn’t I partially at fault for what he had done? Couldn’t I have done more?

I shared these thoughts with a friend, thinking aloud about everything I could—and SHOULD—have done to save him. I couldn’t help but cry. My friend stopped me, and spoke kindly amidst my tears.

“Dan, who do you think you are? You’re not Superman. You can’t save everyone…”

And she was right.

Today I share that same message with those of you who have lost someone dear to you and blame yourselves in some way for their loss. If you’ve ever asked what you could have done differently or how you could have changed the outcome, you are asking the wrong questions. These questions only lead to pain, not healing.

In the wake of tragic events such as suicide, these kind of thoughts are inevitable to some extent. It’s what we do with the thoughts when they come that determines whether we begin to heal or whether we prolong the process of our healing by wallowing in self-blame.

In the midst of such a loss, I know it seems like healing will never come. But I promise you it will. The light of hope will again shine in your life, and you will find purpose once more.

But you are not Superman any more than I was.

Those we love have their agency—or freedom of choice. As they use this agency, they may make choices that hurt themselves and cause us great pain. And while we would do anything to save them, what becomes of them is ultimately their choice.

We cannot mitigate the effects that other people’s choices will have on our lives. None of us is at the center of the universe, but the actions of one truly can affect the lives of all around them. As you mourn a loved one’s bad choices, please recognize and accept that your reactions affect those around you, too. And though you may be in pain, recognize that there are those who need you in their lives as well. Your decision to either move forward in the healing process or wallow in self-blame will have unintended consequences on those you love as well. Please choose to heal. Please be present with those who are still with you.

We can only help those we love if they let us. In the same respect, others can only help us if we allow them the opportunity to do so.

It took me some time to realize that we cannot take responsibility for the choices and actions of others. I could not have changed what my brother did, even if the circumstances had been different—only he could have changed it.

We can—and should—love them, help them, and encourage them to make good choices in their lives, but—in the end—the choices are theirs to make.

It is a hard thing to do, but we must relinquish the responsibility for our loved ones’ actions to them. We must let them live their lives . We are not responsible for the self-destructive choices they may choose to make. To believe otherwise requires us to live our lives forever condemned to misery and self-blame.

This is not to say that we should never try to save those we love!

dans bro1In the years leading up to his death, I tried everything I could think of to help my brother, as did my parents. And I know we’d do all of it it again in a heartbeat if we could. For what is love but the desire to save those we love from pain?

But always remember, You’re not Superman. You can’t save everyone…”

Please start now to let go of any self-blame you may be hanging onto, and let your own healing process begin.

If you would like to read more of Joshua’s story, or what we went through as a family in the wake of his passing, please visit CaringBridge. Since Joshua’s death in 2008, my family has founded the Freeman Family Institute in his honor.

The Only Sure Foundation

In the distance a Man walks amidst the waves of the sea. They rise and heave, moving all around Him, undulating back and forth as they threaten the very foundation upon which He seems to stand. And yet, in spite of everything He sees, He walks peacefully, calmly, and serenely forward through the squall to come to those who stand in need of saving.

The image of Christ walking calmly and serenely on the water, amidst the winds and waves of the sea, brings peace to my troubled soul and teaches me much.

Imagine the most violent storm the world has ever known. Then imagine a man walking calmly forward through it all. He holds his head high and his eyes are bright and clear. The waves roll and churn all around him. The wind, try though it might, cannot seem to make him seek cover from its might. It seems that a great calm surrounds the space immediately around him and his feet find footing where there seems none. On he walks through the billowing storms of life.

We are in the midst of such a storm as you read these words. The sacred and the spiritual is under attack at levels unimaginable but a few short years ago.

This image, this vision, is of you and I at our best. It is of you and I when our lives are based on truth and light, in line with the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is a promise in scripture. It is as real as our faith is deep.

As the storms of life beset us and the winds threaten to blow us off our feet, as the waves threaten to swallow us up into their depths and wash away the foundation upon which we stand, I think only of Jesus Christ and the sure foundation upon which he walked, and upon which we must walk if we will survive the storm which surrounds us.

And what is that foundation you ask?

The foundation of His gospel. If we build our foundation upon the gospel of Jesus Christ then it will not matter what storms rage in our lives, or how unsure our footing may seem to be at times.

As long as we walk forward, in faith, trusting in God, and give no place in our hearts for fear, we shall walk forward firmly and deeply rooted upon the only sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

If we would walk calmly forward amidst the storms of life, amidst the waves of sin and temptation which seek to drag us down into their depths, then we must build our lives upon the rock of our Redeemer. We must build our lives around Christ. He must be our center.

From that decision forward into the rest of our lives we move.

Will you place Christ at the center of your life? Will you give place for Him in your heart and change your life to let Him in? Will you build upon the foundation He teaches us how to build?

If your answer is yes then you may confidently look forward in faith for the day when you too may walk calmly forward amidst the storms of life and find solid footing upon which to stand. It will not be a solid foundation as the world sees it but a solid foundation as the Lord sees it. It will confound the wise and give strength to the weak. It will be accessed through humble prayer and right living. It will not be able to be bought or purchased for any price and if, in our moments of need, we are bereft of it we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Upon what is the foundation of your life based? Upon what, and whom, do you stand? When the storms of life best you will they find your foundation wanting or will it endure even the buffetings of even the most mighty storms?

Will you choose to build your life upon the only sure foundation – the only foundation that will give us “peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come?” (Doctrine & Covenants 59:23)

You Were Built for Relationships!

Reposted from Forward Walking
January 8th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

“The way I figure it, YOU were BUILT for relationships!” he said.

Sitting in the desert, I poured out my soul to a dear friend Jeff Martin. He had a deep well of wisdom from which to draw, and although I wasn’t expecting anything in particular, I was curious what he would say.

I listed off all the reasons I couldn’t be in a relationship. I was too free-spirited. I didn’t want to get ‘stuck’ in a resentful relationship or ‘settle’ into one. Doing that wouldn’t make anyone happy. And I didn’t want to have someone ‘stuck’ with me either. What kind of a life would I be offering them? How could I ever settle down and stop changing? I loved change too much.

Jeff smiled. “You say that you have commitment issues and that you can’t be in a relationship because you’re afraid of getting stuck, of being unable to change. You think that you’ll be trapped and lose your freedom to change. Well, you’re wrong.”

I was skeptical. I was wrong? I couldn’t see how. What could he possibly say that would change anything?

I nodded my head, inviting him to continue.

“Several years ago,” he began, ”I was working a lot with married couples who were separated, wanting a divorce, or already divorced. Their relationships were suffering, and they no longer desired to be together. In every instance–without fail–they had grown apart. One of them had changed in some way that the other hadn’t. One would always say to the other, ‘Why can’t you be like you were before?’ Each of them wanted the other person to change and meet them where they themselves were. Because one of them changed and the other didn’t, they literally grew apart. The couples who couldn’t change in the relationship as life evolved, ended up separating.”

I listened intently. He was talking about change, but so far he seemed only to confirm my fear, not remedy or lessen it. Where was he going with this?

He continued, “These couples grew apart because one of them changed the other didn’t. The point is,they didn’t change together. From everything I have seen, it is the people who love change the most who are best prepared for, and BUILT for, relationships. If you are willing to change, learn, and grow–together–you can succeed. It was the one thing consistent with all the relationships of the couples I worked with: they didn’t change together.

You love to change. So, the way I figure it, YOU were BUILT for relationships!”

He was right. Committing to a relationship meant committing to change WITH someone I love. We could change together for the rest of our lives.

What wasn’t to like about that?

In that moment, something clicked inside of me. I suddenly saw the world in a different light than before. I saw with fresh eyes the women and relationships in my life–as well as the actions I took on a daily basis to avoid both.

A pit of anger grew within me. I turned and swore at Jeff. “I can’t believe you told me that! Aghh! Why did you have to do that?!” I growled, and turned away.

He chuckled and began to laugh, “Wow. I hit that one right on the head, didn’t I?”

———-

dan2

My hope is that I can pass on the gift Jeff gave to me in that moment–the gift of an altered perspective.

For many years, I didn’t want to be in a relationship because I worried it would stifle me, and that I would grow to resent myself and the woman I married. Jeff opened my eyes to the reality–and necessity–of change in relationships. I wasn’t some screw-up that could never be happily married. I wasn’t damaged beyond repair. Enjoying change wasn’t the kiss of death to a relationship. On the contrary, it was the breath of life.

That lesson is one I needed to hear, and I will be forever grateful for it. The moment Jeff’s perspective expanded before me, I knew that I could no longer live as I had before. The funny thing is, I was angry because I didn’t want to change!

After this conversation, the entire direction of my life altered, and I suddenly wanted to be in a relationship.  I wanted to find someone I could love and change with for the rest of my life. That was an adventure, a life, an eternity, that I could commit to.

To those who are single, I ask: Will you commit to such an adventure? Will you accept that maybe–just maybe–you were BUILT for relationships, too?

And to those who are already in a committed relationship, married, or considering the possibility of divorce, ask yourself this question: Are you willing to change together?

If you want your relationship to succeed you must be willing to change, but not individually. You must change together. Successful and happy relationships are not about sacrificing yourself to become what your partner wants, nor about them sacrificing themselves to become what you want. This is not to say that you will sacrifice or change the same things, but that the sacrifices and changes you make must ultimately serve the same goals and bring you closer together. Support one another. Sacrifice together. Grow together. Change together.

Will you recommit, to the adventure you committed to in the past? Will you accept that maybe you were BUILT to succeed in your relationships too?

Whom do you serve?

Yesterday we went to the LDS temple in Monticello. Many thoughts flooded into my mind  as we drove there about the way in which we follow, or serve, the Lord our God.

So, why do we keep the commandments of the Lord, great or small?

Let’s use these questions as we evaluate the potential reasons why we keep, or don’t keep, the commandments of the Lord:

    1. Do we keep them because the Lord has commanded us to keep them?
    2. Do we keep them because we see some benefit, real or imagined, in keeping them?
    3. Do we NOT keep them because we DON’T see some immediate benefit in keeping them?

 

We must strive to be as Adam when, after being driven out of the Garden of Eden, offered sacrifices unto the Lord…

“…an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6)

 

As we drove I asked myself why I was going to the temple this week? I’d always been told to go to the temple with a reason or a question. What was my purpose? What blessing was I seeking? What area of my life did I want help in? What did I need?

Then it struck me. I was not going to the temple because of anything I needed or wanted in particular.  I was going to the temple because God has asked me to. If, after everything God has given me, he asks that I come regularly into His house and worship Him what excuse could I possibly give that is of any worth?

Did he not command us to draw near unto Him?

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:63)

And how can I draw near unto Him, or seek Him diligently, without going into His house regularly?

 “And again, verily thus saith the Lord: Let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts. And if they persecute you, so persecuted they the prophets and righteous men that were before you. For all this there is a reward in heaven.” (Doctrine & Covenants 127:4)

 

How often do we wait until the commandments of the Lord serve some personal need or desire before we honor them? Shouldn’t we be as Adam and honor the commandments of the Lord because of who He is? And not because we will receive some perceived blessing or benefit – now, or in the future?

Whom do we serve? The Lord our God? Or ourselves?

 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

 

IF we only keep his commandments when life gets hard, or when we have a problem, or when we need his help, we do nothing but serve ourselves.

IF we TRULY serve God we will keep his commandments, living our lives according to His word, regardless of whether or not we understand, agree with, or find them in our best interest. We will do so because of who He is and because He so commands.

God sees all things as they are, as they were, and as they will be. He knows what we stand in need of before we even ask.

If we seek to draw nearer unto Him we must ask ourselves this question: Do we trust wisdom and knowledge of the Lord our God more than we trust our own skewed perspective of reality?

IF we keep his commandments only when we deem them worthy, or necessary, we do naught but serve ourselves.

IF, however, we keep them regardless of what we see and understand we walk in faith, nothing wavering… then, rest assured, we shall come to know, in time, why it is that God has asked, or commanded, us to do these things.

 

We say, “Tell us why and we will keep thy commandments.”

God says, “Keep my commandments and I will tell you why.”

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” (Doctrine & Covenants 8:2)

He says,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom. (Doctrine & Covenants 39:5-6)

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.” (Doctrine & Covenants 63.23)

The mysteries of the kingdom and the peaceable things of the kingdom are the whys we seek prior to keeping the commandments. Here we clearly see that IF we keep the commandments God will give us the whys. He will teach us why, show us why, and give us the experience of why.

We are told repeatedly in scripture to ask in faith, nothing waivering.

 

Well, what does it truly mean to ask in faith?

To ask in action.

 

Faith is the motivating force of all action. Without faith in what we are doing we never take any action. Faith is the precursor to any and all action.

Therefore if we truly have faith in Christ we will choose to act and keep His commandments. When the scriptures say we must ask in faith it is asking us to do more than merely say we believe and profess it in word only. To ask in faith is to ask in action, or in other words, to ACT in FAITH.

 

Action cannot be removed from any faithful petition we put before the Lord.

Go now my friends, act and move forward in faith, answering this question as you go:

Whom do you serve? And in whom have you placed your trust?

In yourself? Or in the Lord your God?

The Mystery of Godliness

What is godliness? What does it mean to be, or become, or remain godly? (The text of a talk I gave 11/16/2013)

So what is the mystery of godliness as outlined in scripture?

In Doctrine and Covenants 19:10 the Lord says, “For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great it is!”

Godliness is the process of becoming more like God, of acting as He would act, of being as He would be – that is godliness.

To be Godly we must be above the pursuits of the world. To be Godly we must rise above what the world tells us is correct and live a higher life. If God himself were here how would He live? What would He do?

Now – we are not perfect and we are not God. Therefore, we will make mistakes. That is why we are here. Whether we like it or not we will sin. But that is why Christ came down to this earth and suffered and died for our sins. He sacrificed Himself that we might repent and become more like Him. Developing godliness in our lives is a key step on the road to obtaining that sure hope of eternal life of which the prophets have spoken.

Developing godliness is a commitment to become like Him. It is a commitment to TRUST in the processes by which we become more like Him, and through which He leads us. It is a commitment to trust in God’s timing.

BECOMING LIKE HIM?

    • Doctrine and Covenants 128:24 | Malachi 3:3 | 3 Nephi 24:3 | Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness…

HE IS THE REFINER AND PURIFIER OF SILVER AND GOLD AND MEN

Have you ever looked into a mirror? In a window? Sunglasses? Water on a clear and pristine day? In metal? Or In the eyes of another?

Everywhere we look we see ourselves reflected back. In others we see readily the things about ourselves that we both love and hate. If we see something in another the chances are it is present to some extent, or has been, within ourselves. It is the same with the Lord. He suffered all things in the Garden of Gethsemane and understands all things. As he looks at us he sees his own experience reflected back – that He may have compassion upon us. He knows what we are going through and He knows where we stand in our hearts. Will we be able to stand when he appeareth? Will we be able to abide the day of his coming?

He is refining and purifying us as we speak. It is through the experiences of our lives that He works. He knows we are sufficiently purified when he can see his own image reflected back from the mirrors of our souls. He knows we are pure when our actions become his actions and our attributes mirror his own. He sees our hearts and He knows us.

So HE can see US as we are. If we allow Him to refine us he will be able to see his own image reflected back in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Developing Godliness in our lives is a commitment to trust ourselves into his hands amidst the refining and purifying fires of our lives – whether those fires come in the form of our dashed hopes and dreams, divorce, heartache, health problems, financial struggles, or any other trial, affliction, or struggle through which you are passing. No matter where you are or what you are struggling through God is there… and just as the refiner of silver never takes his eyes off the silver God will never take his eyes off of you.

But I must ask – When we see HIM will we see ourselves reflected back if we are pure?

    • 1 John 3:2-3 | Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    • Moroni 7: 48 | Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

We shall see HIM as HE is BECAUSE WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM. What will we recognize in HIM that we must develop in ourselves? And allow HIM to HELP US develop in our own lives?

If we are to become more like Him then we must begin to learn of Him.

Who is He? What are his attributes? What attributes are we striving to develop in our own lives?

The attributes of God are fully listed in several places in the scriptures: (tell story of research here)

(Doctrine & Cevenants 4:6)

6 Remember faith, a virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

  1. Faith (the motivating factor behind all action, or inaction)
  2. Virtue (built through repentance, baptism, forgiveness, enduring to the end –Innocence vs. Virtue: Innocence is a lack of experience. Virtue is remaining pure in spite of experience.)
  3. Knowledge (comes from experience, study, and application of what we learn)
  4. Temperance (comes from experience – either from forgetting what we have been taught at times and then remembering it or from bouncing back and forth between the extremes –the goal of learning is to lessen the extremes in time)
  5. Patience (developed as we experience the heartaches and setbacks of life)
  6. Brotherly Kindness (developed as we experience hardship that humbles us and receive kindness from others in our moments of need. Stems from empathy and love.)
  7. Godliness (The process of becoming more like God, of acting as He would act, of being as He would be)
  8. Charity (The pure Love of Christ – which we cannot possess save we know Him)
  9. Humility (recognizing our own nothingness before our Maker and all creation at this time)
  10. Diligence (this is how we endure to the end – being diligent in well-doing and in doing what is right)

And in 2 Peter 1:2-10 we are taught much of the purpose of these attributes:

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (Through these promises: the gift of the spirit and the blessings that come from keeping the commandments of the Lord – then He lists out the attributes of God again:)

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Whom to know IS eternal  life)

    • John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, (What things? Develop these attributes that they be in you and abound) ye shall never fall:

Now, that is a promise.

So how do we develop Godliness in our lives specifically?

It will be different for everyone. We must let HIM refine US as HE will.

He will give us opportunities to grow and progress.

Will we take them? Or will we waste them – and prolong the days of our probation until it is everlastingly too late?

To be Godly, or develop godliness in our lives, is to commit to the process of refinement that He puts us through. It is to commit to the fires of life and trust that He IS watching us… that He DOES care… and that He WILL uphold us in the end.

No matter how bad our life may be – no matter if we are as Job – losing family, friends, possessions, and health – if we can see the face of God in the end with confidence – what have we truly lost in the purifying and refining fires of life? Nothing.

And what have we gained? Everything. Literally.

It is my testimony that we can develop Godliness in our lives and gain the confidence that when we stand before Him we will know Him because we will see Him as HE is – because we will be like Him!

Promises of seeing God from scriptures.

  • Doctrine & Covenants 67:10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.
  • Doctrine & Covenants 88:68 Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
  • Doctrine & Covenants 93:1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

Goals for the New Year

As I conclude this year I look back and am pleased with the progress I have made in certain areas of my life. Looking forward, however, I see more room for growth and change. I see areas of my life that need, and deserve, attention and improvement.

So what are these areas of improvement in my life this year?

 

#1.The first and most important thing that I will establish in my life this year came to me as I rose this morning. Upon it I shall found every other habit I seek to establish this year.

Upon awaking this morning these words played over and over again in my mind:

The most important thing you can do in your life is have the Spirit with you. The most important thing you can do for your relationships is to have the Spirit with you. The most important thing you can do as you teach is have the Spirit with you. The most important thing you can do as you write is have the spirit with you. The most important thing you can do in your work is have the spirit with you.”

How true it is. Having the Spirit present in my life truly is the MOST important thing in any endeavor of my life.

 

#2. Each evening I already read in the sacred texts of my faith (the Bible and the Book of Mormon). This year I will deepen the moments spent each night in my sacred texts and study more than I do simply read.

 

#3. I journal off and on depending on what is going on in my life on a daily basis, journaling substantially more when the experiences of my life have caused me to reflect deeply. This year I will conclude the study of my sacred texts each night with time spent on my knees praying and journaling.

 

#4. With the advent of a new relationship in my life this past year we have collectively sought to create good spiritually uplifting habits as a couple. One such habit is to read from the Book of Mormon and kneel in prayer together each night. This year we will continue this habit and read and pray together each night that our relationship may be strengthened regularly.

At the end of March we will be getting married in the Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah. Continuing this habit will help to prepare us for our union there, and for continued spiritual growth as a couple from that point forward.

If you are curious why we, as Mormons, build and get married in the temples of our faith please watch this video below or click here:

 

#5. This year I will write each day. I currently write off an on and though I know, and feel, I should be writing every day I do not. This year, whether journaling, writing an article for this blog, of for Forward Walking, or working one of my many book ideas I will write for a total of 1 hour each day.

 

#6. And finally, after so many goals that have to do with my spirituality (studying sacred texts, praying, journaling, etc…) and one that has to do with what I truly want to do in life (write) it is time that I focus upon my physical health as well.

Last year I began working out regularly and have greatly enjoyed the benefits of doing so. Since moving to Grand Junction I have upset my schedule and the way I was used to working out. This new year I have recommitted to reestablishing that habit again. I will workout 6 days a week and follow the workout schedule I have created in order to keep my body, and mind, in optimal condition for the spiritual growth I expect, and plan, to undergo this year.

 

So, what are your goals? What things are most important in your life? Are you willing to create the goals necessary to bring you the life you long to live?

God bless you this new year, and may you always live worthy of the companionship of His Spirit…

Petitioning God with Clean Hands

In the movie Ephraim’s Rescue the main character, Ephraim, discovered that the Lord had given him the spiritual gift of healing. As his life progressed he came to realize the power and reality of his gift, as well as the responsibility bestowed upon him to use it properly.

Prior to giving a blessing, by the laying on of hands, he always washed himself clean. He washed his hands, arms, and face and also washed the face and neck of those he blessed. I wondered why he did so and was rewarded when a woman in the movie asked him why.

Ephraim, in a quiet tone, said, “None of us are truly clean. But we must do our best to be so as we petition the Lord for his blessings.”

So it is for each of us in our lives. None of us is clean, nor can we be except through the atonement of Jesus Christ. No matter what we do we can never be fully clean except through Him. Therefore should we strive to do all we can to be as clean as we can when we do supplicate Him in faith.

When we kneel before the Lord and petition Him for aid of any kind let us strive to be clean – of body, mind, and soul.

Will we strive to be as clean as we possibly can in petitioning the Lord for his aid and the blessings which he so desires to bestow upon us?

In striving to be as clean as possible we show Him respect. He knows of our efforts, and the desires of our hearts, and He will bless us according to our faithfulness.

Now, let us go forwards from this moment and live our lives in such a way that we may always kneel worthily, in cleanliness and confidence, before our Maker as we petition Him for aid.

Ephraim’s Rescue

Last night we watched a new inspirational film based on real historical events. It is highly spiritual and touched my soul. It is about men and women who draw closer to God through hardship and who sacrifice everything in pursuit of truth. It is also about one man who wants nothing more than to be a good man and the influence he has on others because, knowing he is imperfect and unclean, tries anyway.

ephraimsrescue

Ephraim’s Rescue is a spectacular movie that I invite all who have any inclination towards spiritual things to watch. It will touch your heart and soul. It will invite you to be something more, to rise above the hardships and trials of your life, and serve others to the best of your ability.

Ephraim’s Rescue, just like the gospel of Jesus Christ, does not ask you to be perfect, but it does ask you to try. It asks you to give your all. It shows us the impact one good man can have when he tries to overcome his carnal nature and become something more… a good man.

Watching Ephraim’s Rescue leads me to question what it is that God is preparing us for as a people and as a nation?

Have you noticed how many movies and television series there are now about surviving apocalypses, hardships, and trials of all kinds? Think back on how many movies you’ve seen which invite you to step up, be kind, serve others, stand for something, and become something more.

Watching Ephraim’s Rescue I thought of many other movies of our day which depict men and women rising above the hardships of their lives in an effort to draw nearer to God and maintain their humanity, their very godliness, in the face of adversity.

As I have grown up the style and type of popular movies has changed. It has happened because of the times in which we live and the times towards which we move. We are in a time of great change and there are further changes on the horizon. It happened before and it will happen again. We are part of a great cycle in time and if we look around us we will see where we fall into the cycle and be able, to some extent, to predict the future.

thefourthturningI invite you to read a book which opened my eyes to this great cycle and our place in it in our day and age. It is fascinating and I invite you to take action and read it. It is written by William Strauss and called The Fourth Turning.

The spirit of the Lord is moving, and has moved, upon the hearts of men and women all over the world. He is preparing us for what is to come and He will continue to prepare us for what is to come. All we have to do is listen to the spirit and trust in Him.

Whether or not you are Mormon the message of this movie couldn’t be more needed in this world than it is today, or at least hasn’t to this point. I find it sad to admit but I do not think the world will get any friendlier to those of us who profess to have faith of any kind. It is time that we come together, men and women of every faith and creed and strengthen one another against the world.

It is time that we have faith, as Ephraim had, and seek out excellence wherever we may be, in whatever we may be doing. Let us also strive to be good men, as Ephraim did, and recognize the guiding and preparing hand of God in our lives. He will prepare us for what is to come.

Only one question remains: Will we rise to the occasions presented us and become men and women of God? 

The Way of Habits

It is the habits we choose to keep, in the face of change, that shape our future.

Having recently moved to Colorado I did not realize, until now, how attached I was – not only to my habits, but to the way in which I performed them.

In Arizona I had a built-in gym in my apartment complex that was accessible to 24/7. I could walk down the stairs and be at the gym in less than a minute. I could workout any time of the day or night without driving anywhere. It was extremely handy and fit easily into my busy schedule.

Then I moved to Colorado and discovered something. I was more habituated to how I worked out than to working out itself.

In other words:  The way we perform our habits is just as important as are the habits we choose to form. We are more habituated to how we perform our habits than we are to the habits themselves.

When you move, or when life changes all around you, it is easy to lose yourself in other things. Your schedule has changed, there are new demands on your time, old opportunities are no longer available, and the new options aren’t as desirable as the old ones. Whatever the reason you have let the habits of your life slip, don’t let it continue! It isn’t worth it!

I was more habituated to how I worked out than I actually was to working out itself. 

I was used to working out at my gym in Arizona as it was set up. I was used to the equipment there. I was used to walking only a few feet to get there. I was used to being able to workout anytime.

Now that I am in Colorado things are different! I am engaged to a wonderful woman with 2 beautiful children, whom I love dearly. The mornings and evenings I spend with them. After they go to bed my Fiance and I spend our time together. The gym is a 10-15 minute drive from here and between driving and working out that would be a lot of time away from the people I love.

Since coming to Colorado I have fought to reestablish my habit of working out. I have sought new workouts and recently purchased weight equipment so that I can workout at home and spend the least amount of time away from those I love.

It has been hard because at times I have been disenchanted with the changes that came with the move – at least when it came to working out: the equipment here was limited, I don’t like doing some of the exercises that are available to me, the gym is not as close as I am used to, and when is there even time to workout anyway?

How often are we disenchanted with the changes that come into our lives and let our habits slip as a result? Don’t the habits we establish help us shape the future we know we want? So when things change in our lives shouldn’t we simply change with them, adapt, adjust the way in which we perform our habits, and continue to create the life we long to live?

While the habit of working our regularly was a part of my life I learned that working out was not truly the habit I had created; but the way in which I worked out. It was everything surrounding it that I was struggling with. I still had the desire to workout but I hadn’t established a new habit of how to workout yet.

When change comes into our lives will the habits we have established remain? Will we change the way we perform them and recommit to living them again and again or will they fall away from us because we weren’t willing to change with them?

The life we create will depend on the habits we instill. Those will depend on the actions we repeatedly take, and continue to take, as things all around us continue to change.

And life will continue to change. That much is certain. Everything in life changes. Change is the only constant. Will you change with it and continue establishing the habits that will create the life you long to live?

Will you establish, and keep, the habits that matter most? Will you take the actions necessary to change and adapt with life, keeping your habits alive, on a daily basis? Will you change the way in which you perform them as everything around you continues to change?

These are the questions I have been asking myself lately. Will I actually keep the habits that are important to me as everything continues to change? Will I learn a new way of doing them when the way I am used to doing them is no longer available?

It is not only our habits to which we are attached – but the way in which we perform them.

We create our future as we choose, establish, and maintain our habits. What will you choose? Will you adapt the way you perform your habits to match the way in which you live, the way in which you wish to live?

This past week I have taken action and acquired weights to mirror the workout habits, schedules, and processes to which I became habituated in Arizona. I have created a similar atmosphere here, in my new home, as existed there.

In short – I am recreating the way I performed my habits in the face of change.

Will you?