Friday, February 28, 2014

One Direction

Originally I named my blog "Come unto Christ" only to realize that I wasn't really going that direction with any of my posts. I wanted to avoid going in every direction, so I narrowed down the topic a little. What I came up with was "Planning on Progressing." There is only one direction that I want to take this blog, and that is forward.
We are expected to progress. I don't care how slow. Our purpose right here and right now is to move forward. That is our direction. The path to perfection is straight and narrow. Each step towards Christ progress. Lucky for us, life isn't a game of flappy bird. When we fall off the narrow path, we don't die and start again from ground zero. We get up, brush ourselves off, and keep flapping. Too many times, I find myself taking a "more fun" path. I look back at the path moving forward, and I can't see the end. But you don't always have to see the finish line to know it's there. That's why I get back on the straight and narrow and keep moving.

Too many people think that faith is a crutch. That us Christians lean on faith to explain the unexplainable. We need faith because we are too weak without it. Faith isn't about finding an explanation. I don't make excuses for my beliefs so I can keep on believing. Faith is about progress.

"Faith is knowing the sun will rise." A sunrise is when the Earth spins around in the morning and the sun becomes visible from our side of the Earth. The Earth is round. That means I can't see the other side of the Earth no matter how good my vision is. So imagine I'm running a race. The course is straight and narrow, but the end is the opposite side of the world. I can't see the finish line even though it's straight ahead. Do I opt out of the race? "Oh, I can't see the finish line, so it's probably not even there." Good logic... Without faith, I won't start running. I won't move forward. I'll either sit around and go nowhere, or I'll try a different direction. My own direction. One that has no finish line where my father is waiting to congratulate me. I have faith that God's direction, my direction will take me where I want to go. Perfection.

I am far from perfection, and the road to perfection is straight and narrow. I can't see the perfect me because it's too far way. But I know it's there. So I'm going to continue moving forward. That's the direction God gave us. There isn't another way. There is one direction and that is forward towards perfection. No one is asking you to be perfect, but Christ has asked us to work on it. I'm planning on following His advice. I'm planning on progressing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What if the Mormons were Right?

People are in a hurry in New York. They don't have time to be listening to 20 year old kids tell them,

 "I can't prove it to you, but trust me, I know this message is true."

Who is going to listen to that? I certainly wouldn't want to give 20 minutes of my precious time, right as I sat down for dinner, to listen to his "fairytales."

So why should anyone listen? Well, I can answer this question with another question.

What if those young, innocent, smiley, kids with the white shirts and bikes actually know what they are talking about? What if the Mormons are right?

If the Mormons are right, then,
 "this Church was restored in our day by Jesus Christ Himself. Here you will find the authority to act in His name—to baptize for the remission of sins, to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to seal on earth and in heaven." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
 In other words, if Christ were to come visit Earth this weekend, he would attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for His Sunday service. And He would preside in the meeting.

If the Mormons are right, then God has revealed another testament that Jesus is the Christ called The Book of Mormon. This added testament gives a lot of clarity to some unclear doctrine such as:
  • Why baptism is important, and how it should be performed
  • That God is the same yesterday, today, and forever
  • A better understanding of the story of Adam and Eve
  • Our personal relationship with God
We have a pretty long list. If you really want to know more, you can try, but I don't want to bore everyone with the endless list of blessings the Book of Mormon provides.

If the Mormons are right, then further knowledge about God's plan for his children has been restored, such as:
  • We are LITERALLY God's spiritual children
  • Those who did not have a chance to receive the gospel of Christ during their life on Earth will still have a chance to accept the gospel and be saved in the "spirit world." That means your baby wasn't thrust down to Hell just because it died before you could rush it over to the nearest church and have it baptized.
  • FAMILIES ARE FOREVER! This is my personal favorite. As I have said many times before, God loves us, and He loves families a lot. We are His Children after all! And He wants us to continue to have those beautiful family relationships for all eternity. Heaven would not be Heaven without this.
If the Mormons are right, then we have the "fullness of the gospel" plainly taught to us through ancient and modern prophets. This gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are plainly understood because of the restored knowledge we have today. Those 5 steps are interconnected, and when we follow this pattern that Christ Himself taught, we can learn, grow, and progress to become perfected through Him. Sound familiar?

If the Mormons are right, then you can learn how to not only believe in Christ, but show everyone that you try your best to act on that belief.
It may be:
  • home teaching/ visiting teaching
  • a calling to serve as a leader, door greeter, party planner, clerk, librarian, Sunday school teacher, ward missionary, chorister, organist, cub scout adviser, or whatever else the Bishop can come up with
  • living your life as an example for your family and friends
  • raising your kids to be strong, productive, independent individuals who will contribute to society
  • or simply striving to make yourself a little more Christlike today than you were yesterday
Here's President Uchtdorf again: "Believing in God is commendable, but most people want to do more than listen to inspirational sermons or dream of their mansions above.4 They want to put their faith into practice. They want to roll up their sleeves and become engaged in this great cause." 
If the Mormons are right, then the world has a bright future. No one can stop the work from progressing. Those young guys with the white shirts and bikes are coming, and they are coming in larger numbers than ever before. If the Mormons are right, you may find that God loves and blesses His children a lot more than you realize.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Learn from a Shopping Cart

Coach Cornell told a story of a father and son. After they had finished shopping, the father, as always, walked a short distance out of his way to put the shopping cart away in one of those dispensers that you find everywhere in the parking lot. His son asked him why he always puts the cart back. It's so easy to just leave it next to the car.

"That's what everyone else does," the son mumbled under his breath.

To this, the father replied,

"There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who put away their shopping carts, and those who don't."

Coach Cornell continued with this story and explained something about how we should have integrity, and be honest, and be the kinds of men who would put away our shopping carts. I admit, I don't remember the story perfectly, nor the life lesson behind it. This story was told to me over 3 years ago. A story about a shopping cart, and I still remember that day in school where he told that story. I don't remember what I learned in math class, I don't remember if that was a bench day or a squat day. What I do remember, is that Coach Cornell's shopping cart story taught a valuable lesson.

I learned from a shopping cart.

I didn't learn the intended lesson from this shopping cart story. I can't look back and say, from that point onward,  that I had more integrity. What I can say is that I can learn a life lesson from a shopping cart. 

Turns out, you don't need an amazing teacher, father figure, or friend to make tomorrow better than today. All you need is a shopping cart. Or a picture of Elvis, or a shiny rock, or an ice cream cone. This world was created as a training ground for us. I don't remember the day I figured out my purpose in life. I guess you could say I was blessed to grow up learning about it. But the day I realized that I am here to learn from my mistakes and get better, must have been a life changing day. We are on Earth for no purpose except to learn, grow, and to help everyone else to learn and grow. We should be happy about that! Excited even. Imagine how much potential we have. Are we holding ourselves back? If our purpose in life is simply to be better, then should we not be improving every second of every day?

We should, and we can.

So here is a call to action for anyone who wants to improve from this little Sunday School lesson. Stop waiting for someone to pop up into your life and teach you how to be a better person. Take a walk outside, look at the beautiful world you live in, and learn from it. Teach yourself a lesson. Sunday Your grandpa probably has some pretty motivational stories, but even he can't teach you a life long lesson like a good ol' shopping cart can. It may be hard to take in, but you can learn from a shopping cart.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Eternally Singles' Awareness Day

So today is Valentines Day. It is also Singles Awareness Day. I've heard a dozen other nicknames for this day of the year, usually made up by sad, lonely singles who are trying to be happy about something while all their "in a relationship" friends are out on a romantic date.

Don't worry, I'm not here to make fun of, tease, or degrade singles today. That wouldn't be fair. Singles get enough of that already. And I don't really have the right to make fun. Trust me, if there is anything worse than being single on Valentines Day, it's having a significant other who you can't see, or even speak to on Valentines Day. So enough of all that...

I was thinking this morning... "Singles awareness day" is supposed to mean something along the lines of:

Oh look everyone! That person didn't get any chocolate or flowers today because no one loves them! They should just go cry in their room with a bucket of ice cream.

But I thought of a better way to truly make everyone aware of a real singles problem,

Eternally Singles' Awareness 

Until death do we part. That's what the guy performing your marriage will likely say. Until death do we part? Really? If I heard that as part of my vow on that most anticipated day, I don't think I would even bother with the marriage! Who only wants to be with their spouse until death? What happened to happily ever after? I don't want happily for the rest of their lives... I want happily ever after.


People have told me that they like to think long term in a relationship. Why would you spend time dating a person if you didn't think there was a chance you will marry them one day? Why continue, if you know you aren't going to finish? Well, I think long term too. When I think about my girlfriend (Emily), I don't make plans for when I'm going to dump her, and who I'm going to date next, and so on and so forth. If I didn't have the intention of marrying Emily, then I wouldn't still call her my girlfriend! But I do.

Every week, Emily and I write a letter to each other. And every week, my favorite part is at the very end when she signs:

Love Emily,
Your Eternal Companion

You see, Emily and I don't waste our time thinking temporally. We have every intention of spending eternity together.

Why? Because Heaven would not be Heaven without my eternal companion by my side.

This is what sets apart The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Eternal Families. So I want to make everyone aware of those dreadful words "until death do you part." And I want to spread awareness that it does not need to be so.

Spread the news! Singles awareness day! Everyone in Heaven is single according to everyone else, but it does not need to be so. You don't need to spend every Valentines day after you die eating a bucket of ice cream while you remember the good old days when you used to have a family.

That is not Heaven.

I know that my family can be together forever. I know that my family WILL be together forever. I love them. And I cannot imagine life without my family for all eternity. God understands families. He knows how important they are, because we are all His children! and I know that He wants us to live happily ever after with our family, because He loves us. So spread awareness. It's Eternally Singles Awareness Day.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

God is not Omnipotent

I remember a question my little elementary school friends used to ask people as a joke.

"Can God create a rock that is so heavy he can't lift it?" hahahahahahaha!

Good one guys.

So I asked my dad this question. His immediate answer was... nope! God can't create a rock too heavy for him to lift. God cannot do everything.


It's blasphemy, I know. One of the most important concepts of the gospel is summed up by a simple question:

Who is God?

Well, He is our loving Heavenly Father. He LOVES us. If God did not love his children, then he would cease to be God. Many people seem to struggle with any concept that is not directly addressed in the bible. Those people limit their knowledge. Can I not come to my own conclusions about God? Can I not use my own brain to think things through, and figure out who God is? Can I not pray and seek revelation for my life, and thus, gain an intimate, personal relationship with my Father that lives in Heaven?

I can! And you can too.

I love that I can speak with God, and I love that He can speak back to me using the scriptures, or His messenger, the Holy Ghost, or through other human beings. I LOVE THAT! Am I the only one that thinks this is absolutely amazing? I hope not.

In Doctrine and Covenants it says, "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." D&C 82:10

So does that not limit God? It does, but not in a bad way. In what way does this limit God? This makes Him trustworthy. 

God is trustworthy. I can trust Him! I sure hope we all can trust God. But I won't complain that He has given us a bit of insurance with this guarantee. You see, when we enter into a promise/covenant/contract, we, as honest people, keep that promise. God is honest. Therefore, he keeps his promises. This limits God's power, but what if God wants it that way? I don't think God is reckless. He doesn't just go around doing whatever He wants, he is perfect, and perfect people are always honest!

So we have been told that God so loved the world that he sent His only Son. Jesus Christ. He sent his son because He loves us sooooo much. He told us he does.

God CANNOT not love us.

God is not omnipotent. He cannot stop being perfect. He will always love us.

That's a promise.

I don't care who you are. I don't care what you have done. I don't know you. But your Heavenly Father knows you. He knows you perfectly. And He loves you SO much that he sent His Son to save you, to teach you, and to change you into the person that you were destined to become.

Our Heavenly Father will never cease to love us. He can't.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Don't like yourself? Sounds like a Pride Issue

I had an interview with my mission president today. My relationship with my companion is struggling right now, so the chance to chat with the Spiritual Giant, President Calderwood was much needed. Here are some highlights:

"I'm not frustrated because I don't get along with my companion, I'm frustrated because I don't know how to fix it! I think it was easier with my last companion because he isn't super confident. I WANTED to lift him up."

"So would you say you need to feel needed?"

"Now that you mention it... YES!"

After this, President had me figured out. He used a graph to illustrate my problem. I modified it a little, but it looks something like this:

Lack of Self Worth _______________Trust________________ Exaggerated Self Worth

Most of us, when we think of "pride," we think of that spoiled rich kid, or the captain of the football team who would never look down upon average people like us. *shutter* 

But there is another form of pride that has been eating away at me, and millions of others around the world, and I don't think anyone is noticing quite yet.

If you don't like yourself, chances are you may need to let go of a little pride. I'm not talking about the rich kid pride or the football player pride. I'm talking about the average person who is trying so so hard to just make the cut, and seems to always fall short kind of pride. What if the reason we never make the cut, is because we are setting our own standards? What if the only one we are failing is ourselves?

So I need to feel needed. Why? Well, it's because apparently I think that I'm not important unless I am helping someone in some way every minute of every day. And that makes me prideful. The universal sin. I trust my own actions to bring me self worth. Apparently it's not enough for me to know that I am the son of deity. It's not enough to know that my God knows me by name and loves me. 

That's not enough.

Well it should be. The cold hard truth is, none of us are in the middle (though I suspect my mom is pretty close). Everyone can see the right side pride. Probably because they want to be seen. But no one seems to notice the left side pride. 

Mormon 8:36 

And I know that ye do awalk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not blift themselves up in the pride.

I would add to this that few do not tear themselves down in their pride.

Where do we put our trust? Do we trust ourselves? Or do we trust in Him who lived a perfect life, and set a perfect example for us?

I have a lot to work on, but after today, I'm going to work on those problems with an attitude of trust. Now I see that I don't need to set my own expectations. The Lord's expectation is progression. Nothing more and nothing less. I can make it over that bar. You can too.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

I'm trying to be like Jesus

There is a great song that the primary kids (3-11 yrs.) sing in Sunday school.

It's called, "I'm trying to be like Jesus."

I was listening to this beautiful song in the car a couple days ago and decided that it's my new favorite song. After all, my entire life is completely centered in this one simple sentence right. I'm trying to be like Jesus.

1. I'm trying to be like Jesus;
I'm following in his ways.
I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

2. I'm trying to love my neighbor;
I'm learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.
Taken from
Words and music: Janice Kapp Perry, b. 1938

You were all dying to know what this wonderful song said, so there ya go! But today I want to focus on the title. I'm TRYING to be like Jesus.



I love this concept. I mentioned a scripture in my last post about when Christ taught his commandment to us to be perfect. Luckily, Jesus Christ wasn't just a great teacher. He came to earth not just to teach us and demand immediate perfection, but to save us. And because he, in his perfection, suffered and died for our sins, we now have the ability to try.

So why is this so hard? All we have to do is TRY to be perfect! We are growing grace for grace, and that growth comes from our commitment to try and try again. I have learned the great lesson to never tolerate where I am at, but to always try to be better. That's not to say I'm never happy with who I am. I am very proud of ground I have covered. I am surely a better man than I was last year, or the year before that. But I'm not satisfied either. I'm not done. I've been singing this song for 17 years now and I'm not done. I'm still trying.

So back to my question, why is this so hard? How come some people still have a hard time even trying to be like Jesus, let alone actually becoming like him. Honestly I can't figure it out. But I think it might be pride. Too proud of ourselves. We know better than Jesus. Let's be honest. He lived 2000 years ago, so there's no way he knows the answers to MY problems. Pride pride pride. I'll talk about that more another time. But while you are waiting, maybe give Jesus a try...