Saturday, June 25, 2011

Your Best Friend

One thing that I have gained a greater appreciation for since coming on my mission is the fact that the Savior, Jesus Christ, is my best friend. He is always there for me and He knows me perfectly. He knows me more than I know myself. When I think of my best friends...they are those who I have had the most experiences with. They are those who have stood by me when I have done what is right and who have corrected me when I have done what is wrong. Together we steamroll, lazertag, watch movies, play pool, play 2k, play basketball, get Slurpees, etc. Best friends are the best!

Through the Atonement (Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary as well as his Resurrection on the third day) Jesus Christ knows me (and you) perfectly. He has literally experienced my life, for better and for worse. He knows exactly how I feel and He is always there for me. I know in my heart that He is always there for me. He has experienced everything that I have experienced. He knows me. He loves me. Therefore, he is my best friend. He is everyone's best friend. However, Satan wants us to feel abandoned, alone, and depressed. He tells us that God has left us and He doesn't love us. That is a lie.

His empathy is earned here in Gethsemane.
Recently, I have been drawn to a certain group of scriptures found in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. They are the teachings of the Prophet, Isaiah. First, my friend sent me a letter telling me that one scripture in particular stuck out to her and helped her know that Christ will never forget her. Before receiving the letter I had already been studying those chapters in the Book of Mormon. So, these groups of scriptures have been on my mind a lot lately and they give me comfort and strength. They say, "But, behold, Zion hath said; The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me - but he will show that he hath not. For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me" (1 Nephi 21:14-16). It is not a question of whether the Lord will forget us or not. It is a matter of fact that He cannot forget us. He suffers as we suffer. He rejoices as we rejoice. Our walls (lives) are always before Him. We are graven upon the palms of His hands. What comfort we receive from this knowledge!

In my darkest hours I have been uplifted by Jesus Christ. I have felt His strengthening hand through my hardest times. He has never taken away my problems. He has never intervened and stopped bad things from happening to me. He has never intervened and stopped me from doing something bad. He is not a God of control. He is a God of support. He has always helped me see my problems. He has always put others in my path to help me when bad things are happening to me. He has always given me resources (family, friends, scriptures, church, music, etc.) to help me see when I am doing something that is bad. Jesus Christ knows me and knows what I am capable of. He helps me help myself.

Adversity is something that we all will suffer. It is a part of life. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this, "Adversity will be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives. We cannot avoid it. The only question is how we will react to it. Will our adversities be stumbling blocks or stepping-stones?" (Adversity - Ensign July 1998). (Please read this entire article. It is the best article I have ever read on facing adversity.) How will we handle our trials and tribulations? Will we let them tear us down or will be allow ourselves to be strengthened in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10)?

I know that as we hold fast to the teachings of the Gospel, we will have a more sure knowledge that Christ is there for us. He will be with us. "And whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88). Afterall...He knows you. He is your best friend.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


So, I have decided to write a blog about my Pops...
Pops cereal.
No...not this kind of Pops.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu of the NBA
No...not Pops Mensah-Bonsu either.

THIS guy:

My Dad, Dave Lee.
There he is. This is my Pops. My daddy. My example. My friend. He is sweet like Pops cereal (Big Bear loves the honey) and he is ALMOST as good as Pops Mensah-Bonsu in basketball - just shy of the prime age of 59 I might add!

Fathers Day is a very important day of the year. It is also one that gets overlooked FAR too often. I love my dad so much and he has helped me in every facet of my life by simple example. He is a stud. I honor and respect him. The Bible teaches that we must "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long in upon the land which the Lord thy god giveth thee" (Exodus 20:12). I know that as I have honored my father I have been given strength and I have been aided beyond my capacity to understand.

As I think back on my youth I am able to remember the lessons that I learned. I did not learn these lessons through someone yelling at me, hitting me, or even TELLING me what to do. I learned these lessons through someone SHOWING me what to do. ‎Clarence Budington Kelland said, "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." My father is  my example. He is my guiding light. It is through reminiscing that I have been able to understand the full magnitude of his influence in my life. Here is an example...when I was attending seminary (a scripture study class before school) the teacher (who happened to be my mother) asked the class this question: Who in your lives is a great example of humility? I sat and pondered that thought for about fifteen seconds and my own father's face came to my mind. I had not previously categorized him as a humble person but when I took the time to think about it, it became obvious to me. My father is extremely hard working, he does a lot of good at work, home, and within his church callings, but he doesn't brag about any of it (except for maybe his ability to shoot his handguns particularly well). He goes about his work because it is his duty. He has an obligation to work hard and he does so with perfect balance. Never have I felt that my father neglected me. Through his humility he SHOWED me how to work hard, to be a great family man, and to be a true disciple of Christ - all at the same time. I am forever indebted to my father for that.

One thing that my father has SHOWN me is the importance of being a good husband. My father loves my mother. I have seen that from the tender years of my youth and it is something that I will never forget. He treats her with respect, honor, compassion, and kindness. He treats her like a queen. "Nevertheless neither is that man without the woman, neither the woman without theman, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11). "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22). I have never seen a better living example of one who emulates these two scriptures than my own father. I have learned to be a good husband because of his example.

Some of you who know my father know that he has a love of the TV show, 24. Some might even say that he IS Jack Bauer.

"We're running out of time!" -  Jack Bauer
Now... 24 is a great show and Jack Bauer is a good model for courage, bravery, and awesomeness...but Jack Bauer is not who my father strives to be more like. My father looks to our perfect example. Our Heavenly Father. My earthly father is my guide through my times of struggle. He helps me in all that he is able. He is there for me when I succeed. He is there for me when I fall. As I struggled at home, my father listened to and helped me whether that was on the phone or while playing pool. As I struggle on my mission when I am "about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49) my father writes me letters much like Mormon did to his son, Moroni, at the end of the Book of Mormon to buoy me up and strengthen me. He loves me as our Heavenly Father loves all of His children.

I would like to challenge every single one of you out there to ponder about your father and what good things he has shown you by example. Then...thank him for all that he has done. He will love it! So dad...thank you. I love you so much and you have no idea what kind of effect you have had on your children and everyone else around you. I love you. You are my guide throughout my youth (Jeremiah 3:4).You are my Pops!

Some of us may not be able to personally thank our earthly fathers for what they have done. But we can ALWAYS thank our Heavenly Father through prayer. Heavenly Father will always be there for us. When we turn to him we are strengthened more than we can imagine. Blessings await the thankful.

Thank you, Daddy. Happy Fathers Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spiritual and Basketball Responsibilities

(Lyrics to "Responsibility" by the band MXPX)

Responsibility? What's that?
Responsibility? Not quite yet.
Responsibility? What's that?
I don't want to think about it; we'd be better off without it.

We are all accountable for things in this thing called life. We are accountable at work, at home, and at play. At the root of all of our accountability is our God-given agency. We are free to do whatsoever we will with what we have in our lives. We must be responsible with the agency that we have been given or else we will be throwing away this great gift. Many people take this gift for granted. Sadly, MXPX had it all wrong! We need to embrace this gift of agency and responsibility and realize that we would NOT be "better off without it". In is critical on our path to happiness!

The only thing that is truly ours in this life is our right to choose. Our possessions/riches are not our own. Not even our bodies are not our own. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We must recognize that what we have been given is God's and that we must use our agency to come closer to Him.

We all are naturally good at things. Some are very smart. Some are crafty. Some are artsy. Some are athletic. Some catch my drift. These talents come from God. He has given all of us spiritual gifts to bless our lives and the lives of those around us. We all have our own individual roles in our lives. We need to find what that role is and then do our absolute best to magnify our responsibilities.

Here is a basketball example:

Derrick Rose

Kobe Bryant

Kevin Durant

Each team needs to have players who are good at certain aspects of the game so that the team can have success. Each team should have a starting line-up with a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward, and a center. Each team needs someone at each position to maximize their role and strive to do their best. There are certain players that are exceptional at doing that. As a fan of the game and the NBA I believe that the following players would be best at finding and making the most of their gifts. Point Guard: Derrick Rose. Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant. Small Forward: Kevin Durant. Power Forward: Kevin Love. Center: Dwight Howard. Sixth Man: Jimmer Fredette (the Jazz better draft him with the twelfth pick...). All of these players recognize their gifts that they have been given and they know that they are accountable for them. They all maximize their talent and (with that recognition) would make a great team. Can you imagine a team with Derrick Rose leading the offense, driving the lane and finding an open Kobe Bryant to hit a clutch jumper? Or Kevin Love throwing a deep outlet pass to a sprinting Kevin Durant for a fast-break play? Or Dwight Howard getting an offensive rebound and then throwing it down with authority for a dunk? Or Jimmer Fredette coming off of the bench and torching up the scoreboard with fancy footwork and deep, deep, deep threes? WOW! That would be great! But it would only be possible if they all came together and maximized their gifts.

Kevin Love

Dwight Howard

Jimmer Fredette

This principle is true with spiritual gifts as well. We all have special gifts and talents that are given to us by God. Moroni explains what some of these gifts are in Moroni 10:9-18. But I would like to focus on some of the more "underappreciated" gifts of the Spirit. Elder Marvin J. Ashton spoke of such gifts if the 1987 November Ensign article, "There Are Many Gifts". He said, "Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost. We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us." I am certain that we ALL can pin-point that we have one or many of these gifts. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all recognized and magnified these gifts that we all have and work together in the service of God?

We MUST do our best to share what we have been given. Joseph F. Smith said, "Every son and every daughter of God has received some talent, and each will be held to strict account to the use or misuse to which it is put." We need to use, share, and exhibit our talents so that we can help our friends and acquaintances bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). To do so would be to maximize our agency and responsibility. Responsibility? What's that? Well, MXPX, it is our door to immortality and eternal life.