Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time and Eternity

People who know me know that I absolutely love my Family. People who know my family know that they are the bomb ( family ever). I've got two top-notch parents and two amazing brothers and three fantastic sisters (plus all of their stellar spouses). There's about a four year gap between the first four and my brother and me. I'm the youngest of the family. My brother, Brett, and I are only two years apart and we are super close. Best friends. We've played basketball together, had life-changing experiences together (see my post: A Refining Experience), gotten Slurpees together, listened to tunes together, played pool together, and everything in between. What can I say...he's a good egg. I'm way close with every single one of my siblings but Brett and I have simply been through a lot together.

This past Saturday my brother, Brett, was married to a gem of a lady, Robyn, in the Spokane Washington Temple. My whole family was gathered together to celebrate the great event...except for me. I was here, in Dillon, Montana as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I am as happy as can be! Why am I so happy if I missed out on the wedding of a life-time? Because I know that I am where I need to be.

RobynBig. Happy. Huzzah!

Spokane Washington Temple

It has always been a desire of mine to attend Brett's wedding and when I first came on my mission a fear of mine was...what if Brett gets married while I am away? I really wanted to be there! But as I have served the Lord I have come closer to Him. I have been able to develop more faith and understanding in the way that He does things. We need to remember when the Lord said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Christ knows that timing is everything and let me tell ya...he's got it down to a "T". But sometimes...we think that we know more than He does. No good! True faith in God is to trust in Him AND His timing. When we allow our will to align with His, miracles happen.

It is God's will that Brett and Robyn are sealed for time and eternity and on September 24th, 2011 that happened. I know that he and his wife are now married forever. Not just until death. Their marriage is eternal. In a holy house of the Lord (the Spokane Washington Temple), they made an eternal convenant (or promise) with God. That is so happy and good! Eternal marriage means everything to the Lord. "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Here is a great video about eternal marriage and the blessings from it.

This is why I am as happy as can be even though I just missed out on my brother's wedding. I know that the wedding happened in the time that it needed to happen. I also know that I have my own obligations to attend to here in Dillon. I am needed here. My family is needed there. But the beauty of it all is that God is everywhere and He is looking out for each and every one of us. He takes care of everything in His own way and in His own time. I would have loved to be at the wedding...but I don't want to be anywhere but right here, right now.

God is eternal and He has it all figured out. I know that I am where He needs me to be and I know that Brett and Robyn Lee are where they need to be. And we are happy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The National Basketball Association is currently in lockout mode. Millionaires are fighting with billionaires. Lame! This means that the league is at odds and all things are at a hault for...who knows how long! Things need to be settled before any moves can be made and before any games can be played. Those who are fans of the NBA will have to wait for the conflicts to be resolved before there is any action. The offseason is always an exciting time for teams to pick up new players, hire new coaches, etc. Now that things are at a stand-still there are many questions that arise. Some questions that I have are: Will the Mavericks compete like they did last year? Will Jimmer Fredette play like he did at BYU? Will Greg Oden hurt his knees so badly that he'll be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life (THAT is unlikely but chances are that he'll get hurt to some degree)? Will LeBron and the Heat put it together and play to the caliber that their roster shows? Will the Jazz trade one of their big men to get a more reliable guard? Yikes! The questions are endless.

If this continued confusion would be rampant and things would get hostile. Some people would try their best to keep the NBA going but they wouldn't quite understand everything and things would be changed. Some people would try to reform the league or start their own. Before ya know it, there would be a ton of different leagues all claiming to be the original one or the best one but they all would be a little bit off. Something (a miracle or, dare I say, a restoration) would have to happen to bring it back! Then we all could enjoy the pleasures of the real NBA that Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and Julius Erving enjoyed!

John Stockton: Short shorts and laser passes. Now THAT'S a basketball player.

This situation of the NBA lockout is strikingly similar to a huge event known as the great apostasy. Jesus Christ ministered on the earth at Jerusalem for 3 years. During this time many heeded His famous call, "Follow me" (Matthew 4:19)and became disciples (followers). He chose twelve to be Apostles (special witnesses), and He gave them (Peter, James, John, etc.) what is called the Priesthood authority. The Priesthood is God's power given to men to perform things in His name like baptism (Matthew 3:11, 13-17), giving blessings to the sick and afflicted (Acts 3:2-9), preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament (Matthew 26:26-29), etc. Christ's earthly ministry ended at His Crucifixion but His work continued through His Apostles and disciples.

The Apostles spread out and did missionary work (what much of the New Testament is about) but they were rejected, kicked out of cities, and killed. This solidified the "falling away" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) from the truth of the Gospel. The prophet Amos of the Old Testament prophesies of this great apostasy as well. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12). There was a famine of truth!

For a very long time, the world was in "lockout" of the fulness of the Gospel of Christ. His Church was changed, distorted, and divided. That is why there are now SO many churches that scatter the earth. People have been wandering the land, looking for truth but have only been able to find a portion of it.

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I am called to proclaim the truth of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His church has been restored to the earth through a prophet named Joseph Smith Jr. At the age of 14 in the year of 1820 Joseph Smith was confused. He knew that the churches that he was attending were not the same church that Christ established with prophets and apostles. He knew that there should be "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). As he was studying in the Bible he came across a scripture in the book of James that states, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Joseph lacked wisdom and he knew that if he asked of God, he would receive an answer. Joseph took these words to heart and he heeded the counsel that he received.

Joseph went out into a grove of trees outside his home in Palmyra, New York and he knelt in prayer to offer up his heart to God. He received an answer. He has recorded his experience as such:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!
The following is a video about the Restoration of the Gospel. It has clips from a film called, "The Restoration" and it contatins words of one of our living apostles (yep, just like Peter, James and John) named L. Tom Perry.

I know that the world was once like the NBA currently "lockout". But through the love of God a prophet was called to the earth once again to restore the truth in its fullness. God has provided us with the Book of Mormon so we can know that Christ loves us and called Joseph Smith to be the prophet of the restoration. He also has appointed a prophet for us in our day named Thomas S. Monson. I plead with you to heed his words for they are the words of God. We will never go astray if we follow the word of God. We will never have a "lockout" again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Everything Grey?

Guster is one of my favorite bands. They are a bit of an unknown band  and I like them a ton (if you are a fan of them then I am a fan of you). They were formed in 1991 (the year of my birth...odd) in Boston, Massachusetts. Lately, I have been thinking about one of their songs called, "What You Wish For". The following is the very beginning of the song:

Woke up today to everything grey
And all that I saw just kept goin' on and on
Sweep all the pieces under the bed
Close all the curtains and cover my head
And what you wish for won't come true

I love this song for a lot of reasons.  Guster is just good all the way around. But one thing that I feel from this song is how badly I want to help this guy out! The singer of this song JUST woke up and he hasn't even given the day a chance yet. He is feeling so down in the dumps for some reason and he needs someone or something to get him out of his depression. He feels the urge to close the curtains, crawl into bed, and escape from the dull, grey world.

All of us have felt a little blue at times. I know, from experience, that the best way to fight these depressing feelings is to think positively. Many people think that they have nothing to be positive about. We must do our absolute best to help those who are low. It is our responsibility to help others. A wise man once said, "If you have nothing left, fool everyone with a smile." Smiling goes a loooooong way. If I am ever feeling low and someone gives me smile or helps me smile I feel instant happiness. It is so great!

But unless this happy moment is nourished it will flee away. A short smile lasts only a short while. What is to be done?

There are so many amazing groups and causes out in the world that give aid to those who suffer from famine, genocide, and poverty. They provide food, water, and protection to those in need. Some of these problems that I have just mentioned are far away from us and through donations we can assist these groups and causes. But there are so many people in our communities, towns, and homes who suffer from lack of hope and happiness. It is in the hands of friends AND strangers to help these souls in need. We, as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God must do our part to strengthen and nourish those around us. Especially those of us who are filled with hope.

In the 1994 General Conference address entitled, "Brightness of Hope", Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,
Being blessed with hope, let us, as disciples, reach out to all who, for whatever reason, have “moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). Let us reach to lift hands which hang hopelessly down.

We can do this. We can help those in need. As I said earlier, a simple smile goes a long way. But that is only one of the many things that we can do. As I have served the Lord as a missionary I have been able to see the great effects of smiling and waving. It is pleasant, kind, and extremely easy to do. The effects of a simple smile only last a short while (that rhymed...unintentional). One other thing that I have seen produce true miracles is simple conversation. First, ask someone how he or she is doing. Then (this part is extremely important) listen to what they have to say! Truly listen to how they feel. As you do this you will see a brighter light in their eyes and you will realize how much they mean to you and how much you mean to them. Because of this simple (yet deeply meaningful) experience a friendship has begun to grow. And from this lasting friendship comes lasting happiness. More smiling and waving, too. The cycle will then repeat itself. One soul will save another, and another, and another...


As I have seen and experienced this my heart has grown immensely. I have a greater appreciation for those individuals in my life who have been there for me. I also have grown closer to my Savior than I ever would have in any other way. I owe my life to my friends and family have have influenced me to serve a mission because with the experience that I have had as a representative of Christ I have come to know Him more intimately and personally. This is priceless!

Christ's Image, by Heinrich Hoffman

Such experience is priceless because it is something that is timeless and limitless. I can apply the simply beautiful lessons of smiling, waving, and conversing as often as I can throughout my entire existence. I plan on it and I hope that you do too.

Now I would like to go back to "What You Wish For" by Guster. The singer must have hope in order to survive his depression. Without hope even all of these smiles, waves, and conversations aren't going to get anywhere. What must we instill in these individuals? Hope. "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41). The surest thing to have hope for is Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. Whatever trial we have faced He has been there and He has overcome because of the miracle of the Atonement. He is our King. His love for us is infinite. When we trust in Him all things are enjoyable and we will be confident that all things will work together for our good. "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward feasting upon the word of Christ and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement 2 Nephi 31:20). The Lord promises us that when we do our best and help others we will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.

The Savior has entrusted us to help and strengthen others through our faith and our kindness. I trust that with these blessings at our fingertips no day has to be a grey day. What we wish for (a perfect hope for eternal life) WILL come true.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Fresh Start

So Fresh...Prince.

Many of you have probably seen the TV show, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air".  I love it! It is Will Smith at his finest (I don't care if he won an Oscar for "Ali"...this is his finest work!). It is all about a respectable and well-established family from California who take in a somewhat troubled young man named Will (Will Smith) to teach him how to be accountable and such. He gets into all sorts of crazy antics with Carlton, Jazzy Jeff, G (the family's butler, Geoffery), Uncle Phil, and many others. Good morals are taught and laughs are had by all. The show is all about a "fresh" guy getting a "fresh" start. Doesn't that sound nice?

We all need a "fresh" start like Will at times! God knows this and that is why he sent His Son to take care of us. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and one of His divine purposes is to give us a clean start. He does this through forgiving and cleansing us of our sins, giving us peace, comforting us when we are down, etc. He has made this possible through the Atonement. His Atonement is broken down into three distinct parts/events and it is beautifully described in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 7. 1) He "[went] forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind...he [took] upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people" (Alma 7:11) while in the Garden of Gethsemane. 2) "And [took] upon him death" (Alma 7:12) as He died for us on the cross. 3) He "[loosed] the bands of death which bind his people" (Alma 7:12) and rose again on the third day thus, making it possible for all of us to be resurrected as well.

The Atonement is infinite, beautiful, perfect, and sometimes overwhelming. I often ask questions like these: How was Christ able to do so much for everyone? Why did Christ go through all of that pain and suffering for someone as insignificant as myself? Even though I do not know everything, I know enough. I know that  our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine. His love for you and me is indescribable and incomprehensible. It is through this love that we are able to have lasting joy, relief, and peace. I know that He sent His Only Begotten Son to show this divine love to us. "Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (1 John 4:7-9). Through the love of Christ we can receive a fresh start.

I promise you that as you honor God and His commandments and you repent you will be able to obtain Forgiveness. You will feel this love. No matter what we have done in our lives we are able to make it right and return to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's loving arms which is a feeling of undeniable warmth, comfort, peace, and truth (Galatians 5:22-23). Just like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, we all can get a "fresh" start.