Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Drawing Closer to God

I am reminded that it is not for me to build a stronger relationship with God. In Neal A. Maxwell's All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, Elder Maxwell teaches that our relationship is established to God through our lineage. We can do nothing alter this reality. Instead, we can possibly draw closer to God, worship, adore and obey but our relationship is established in the premortal life and will remain into the eternities.

I have gone through my battles, maybe even foolishly sought out a battle of wills with my Heavenly Father. I have sought out complexity rather than simplicity. I thought that by proving to God that I in fact have my own agency--a fact I needed not prove to the source who granted it to me--I could find joy independent of His help or blessings. Elder Maxwell captures my foolishness...
"...do we childishly want to play-act just a little longer-risking righteousness and true happiness merely in order to be reassured about our independence?"
I have definitely been guilty of this in my past. I am beginning to learn, by the sweat of enduring the trials He has allowed to enter my life, that true freedom comes from living the commandments, surrounding myself with friends who fear and love God, and ceding my will to His.

It is also about doing more than avoiding the bad. It is about actively pursuing the good. Elder Maxwell teaches "even if we avoid wickedness, our journey will end in the suburbs, somewhere short of the City of God."

I desperately want to make it to the City on the Hill. But there are days I feel weak. Elder Maxwell teaches about a key source of inner strength...
"When weary legs falter and detours and roadside allurements entice, the fundamental doctrines will summon from deep within us fresh determination. Extraordinary truths can move us to extraordinary accomplishments."

I know that focusing on the fundamental doctrines of the gospel and committing to living the pure religion of Jesus Christ will, and has in large measure, offer me the fresh determination that the trying times of the present require.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


In Uchtdorf's April 2011 talk, he spoke of patience. Patience is a virtue that is learned over time and with practice. Studies show that those who can obtain this trait are largely more successful in the future than those who do not. In October, Uchtdorf again spoke of patience and said often we pray for patience but we want it right now.

I have come to believe that God gives us trials and blessings in a calculated amount of time. There are things we need to learn and grow from along the way. Each experience refines us, so that we might become Christlike.

There are many stories of patience and perseverance in the scriptures and I am grateful that I have them to look to and learn from. As I reflect on and evaluate my own level of patience I am keenly aware that there trials of patience ever present and some that lie ahead. How will I deal with them? I feel strongly that this comes down to obedience and understanding the nature of God. Drawing closer to Him and asking what I can learn from these experiences. I also feel that patience carries with it the reward of gratification and delight when the blessings are finally revealed. Heavenly Father is generous.

“Patience means staying with something until the end. It means delaying immediate gratification for future blessings. The work of patience boils down to this: keep the commandments.”

The work of patience boils down to keeping God's commandments, exercising hope, and never giving up. I am committing myself to more patience and seeing my trials through.

The Pursuit of Freedom

I have been thinking quite a bit recently on the topic of freedom. As Americans we often take for granted the freedoms offered us based on our nationality. As members of the church, we may not appreciate the spiritual freedom that comes from living the gospel.

Rarely in life are you faced with actually placing a value on personal freedom. I find myself in that situation now with my agency tied to someone who is prepared to do and say anything to continue to perpetuate a false reality. It would be easy to resent this circumstance...even conclude that it is contrary to God's Plan to be tied to another soul acting in unrighteousness. My orientation instead is to do all I can to obtain my freedom. I have faith this will be done in God's way and in His own time.

Quoting F. Enzio Busche...

"Freedom for most people of the world means “freedom from” the absence of malice or pain or suppression. But the freedom that God means when He deals with us goes one step further. He means “freedom to”—the freedom to act in the dignity of our own choice."

I plead to my Heavenly Father each night to grant me this blessing. The blessing to act in the dignity of our own choice. I know he hears my prayers. It is my duty to be sure I learn the other lessons He would have me learn as I wait on the Lord.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


As I read through the talk by Elder Oaks from this past General Conference, I was really struck by one of the questions asked in the talk.

Are we truly ready to have our Maker judge our desires?

This got me thinking, what are the greatest desires in my heart? Are they pure? Are they truly mine? Are they in line with the teachings of the Gospel? Are they achievable?

When asking such questions, I am overwhelmed with the idea that our greatest desires can be accomplished when we put our Heavenly Father and His commandments as the first priority in our lives. I can actually fulfill those desires because they are part of the Plan of Happiness. Furthermore, my Heavenly Father knows what those desires are and the corners of my heart that possess those desires. Our greatest desire should be to ultimately gain life eternal. There are other, but equally important desires that allow us to achieve this ultimate goal. They must be righteous, and they must be stepping stones to fulfilling that ultimate desire. Desires, priorities, and actions build upon each other. I remember learning the story of a wise man building his house upon a rock. The rock in this scenario is our desires. That builds a foundation for all other things to come to pass, and to whether the storms that come our way.

Elder Oaks talks about that foundation in the following quote.
"Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life."

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I Will Finish My Race

I have come to learn that no matter how much you prepare, life will offer twists and turns that could never have been anticipated. I feel like I had spent 30 years of my life preparing for the most important calling of my life only to have that identity temporarily stripped away on account of the agency of another. This event caused me to stumble, to question my identity, even my self worth and the adversary would have had me give up on the hopes and dreams I felt may no longer be attainable. At these times in our lives we have a choice. We can accept a life of despair or we can choose the hope that is ours through the atonement and the Plan of Salvation.

I love sports and the Olympics in particular. My experience of preparing for marriage and fatherhood only to stumble made me think of a moment tied to my youth I will never forget. Having recently returned from the UK, my mind turns to my hero, Derek Redmond and his father Jim. Derek stumbled at the very moment he was destined to be crowned in greatness. He had a choice to either give up--and no one would have blamed him had he done so, or rather fight--which was choice which he did with his wonderful father be his side. Rather than embrace failure, he inspired a planet.


I can relate to Derek's trial. I feel I am only just now getting off my knees to finish my race and my Heavenly Father is rushing to my side to help me on my way.

My hopes and dreams are very much alive. In fact, there is more light ahead of me than I have ever experienced in the past.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What is Hope? A blessing? A commandment?

Much of what I do at work revolves around change. Change is hard mostly because the future is uncertain and humans despise uncertainty. I certainly do. But what is it about change that is encouraging, that allows the minority of us to take the chance, to embrace that unknown? It is hope. Hope of something better in the future than what we have today.

At work, that is about better efficiencies, better customer relationships, a kinder public perception of our industry, and hopefully better outcomes for patients.

In our spiritual lives are the changes that we are making, and we are always changing whether we like it or not, driving us towards hope or closer to a state of despair? There are times in our lives where it may seem that positive change is not enough. A slow and steady progress may just seem too little to comfort our broken hearts. The Lord has an answer for us even in these cases. Ezekiel teaches us...

Eze 36:26
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

The Lord promises breath of newness. A heart of flesh touched by the finger of the Lord. This doesn't mean a heart impervious to the stones that will come but one that just maybe will be able to endure those stones just a little better than the last time. This instills a tremendous amount of hope...particularly since the Lord has seen fit to offer me a rejuvenated heart and soul. What a blessing!

But is hope always a blessing? What does the Lord expect of us? Ether offers some insight here...

Ether 12:32
32 And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.

The Lord has prepared a way for us but the Plan of Salvation requires no man to fall into the Lord's embrace. Ether tells us that we must have hope. Hope certainly is a blessing but it comes from action on our part. To strive for hope is a commandment.

There are great rewards for those how follow the Lord's command. Even when times are good, we must still have hope. In so doing, protection is offered.

1 Thess 5:8
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

My helmet has been beaten and battered. It has lost its shine and has dents and scratches from the pellets of the adversary but it is strapped on for the hope of salvation is mine.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

cast not away therefore your confidence...

I'd like to quote Elder Holland in this beautiful adress he gave to BYU students years ago. "It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our lives."

I have thought and pondered on these words lately. Many times, when we are tested at the brink of good things happening we mistakenly take it as a sign that we are either not worthy of the blessings, or it is some sort of signal that we won't achieve our wishes. Elder Holland suggests that being tested is necessary, and these very trials will bring us confidence in the end.

One thing we can always have confidence in, is the fact that Heavenly Father keeps His promises. Knowing the nature of our Heavenly Father gives us the ability to have condfidence in our own lives. We know that he desires to bless us in abundance.

Quoting President Hinkley, "we cannot sign on for a battle of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight—a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless."

Rewards are so delightfully sweet when we have had to work to recieve them. This of course requires obedience and patience. With each reward, our confidence builds and we are prepared to be tested again.

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward."

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Friday, 13 January 2012

Constant Spiritual Orientation

I have been pondering over my demeanor at church and my demeanor at work and home. Do you ever feel like we act differently at church than we do elsewhere? Are we more inclined to stop and serve someone who needs a little help? Are we more inclined to lend praise or offer a compliment at church member than we would a co-worker?

One thing I'd like to do is be more spiritually consistent. One can accomplish this goal by raising the standard to the highs that church worship brings out in me or lower my standards to the level that I operate when I might be less spiritually in tune. Clearly the former is the goal but I think it will take a level of consistent spiritual consciousness I may not presently possess.

In order to accomplish this task, I will need to heed the words of Nephi in 1 Ne 11:36

36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.

If I can seek the praise and blessings of God over men, my goal may become obtainable.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

1 Nephi 10

As my relationship with Heavenly Father has strengthened over the last year, He has been incredibly generous with his Spirit. There were months in London where I carried a small notebook in my pocket to write promptings as I new if I didn't acknowledge the promptings as they came, I might not remember them, or worse, might not continue to receive them.

One of the results of this closeness with God is being able to relate the scriptures readily to my current circumstances. We are reminded of the scriptures power to do so in 1 Ne 10:19

19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
I love the Book of Mormon for its ancient teachings that help illuminate the mysteries of God in our day. I pray my thoughts and actions and the people I draw close to can help me be a better man, priesthood holder, and servant of our Heavenly Father.

Monday, 9 January 2012

the tree

This evening I was asked if there was a certain part of Lehi's vision in the Book of Mormon that had special meaning to me. The answer is yes, and very much so. I have always loved the "tree" part of the vision because it represents the God's love for His Children and the desire that they return to Him. This is a message of Hope.

I imagine if I saw such a tree I would want to take in all of it's wonder and eat of it's fruit in abundance. Lately I feel like I crave the Love of God and the more I ask for it, the more he gives. This dream is a representation of that Love, and that partaking of the fruits of the tree are a representation of eating the fruits of the Atonement. "Greater Love hath not man that this". When I try to comprehend the sacrifice Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made for me, so that I may experience joy and eternal life. The tree is an exquisite representation, and only begins to touch on what that might feel like.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

be of good cheer

I have struggled these past couple of days, enduring the storms of life as you could say and trying to endure it well. We all have trials right?

I read an article today by Josoph B. Wirthin that had some very good points and scriptures references, referring to enduring our trials. One thing he pointed out is that Heavenly Father will not take our trials away, even if we are doing all that is right. That is a humbling thing to think about, especially when we pray for them to pass from us and plead with him to ease the pain of the trial.

Heavenly Father wants to see how we will handle these situations, but He also doesn't just abandon us. As the Savior says in the Doctorine of Covenants, "Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you and will stand by you."
It is comforting to know that although Heavenly Father will not take my trials away, even if I pray my guts out, but He did send His son to sacrifice His life so that he could understand and walk with me in my path. What a blessing it is to know that with surity.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us

Today I had a discussion with my best friend Camille about Hope. I chose to focus my scripture study on this topic. I came across a set of scriptures in Ether which talk about those who believe in God will have a surety of Hope and that Hope comes from faith. Camille and I discussed how these two things go hand in hand. You can not have hope without faith and it is difficult to have faith without the hope that better things will come along. This video was powerful for me so I thought I would keep it on here to refer to later, when I am again needing a little hope.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Tonight I looked up some scriptures on patience. I have several friends who are going through trials, and I have endured a few myself in the past month. Ultimatly, aside from faith it is our patience that is going to get us through those trials. In fact, I wonder if the very reason I have them is to teach me patience. In D&C 67 we read, "Continue in patience until ye are perfected."

I am not sure that I will ever obtain even close to the amount of patience I am supposed to have, but it is something to strive for each day in the work place, with school, in relationships, in understanding. I am grateful for the refinement of this attribute.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

the parable of the sheep

I was looking up some scriptures on Christ in The Bible when I came across this parable at random. In Mathew 18 we read that if a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray he will go out and look for the one sheep and leave the other ninety nine. And if he finds that one sheep, "He rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray".

This is really interesting and humbling to think about. Often times as members of the church who are really following Christ's teachings we may feel we deserve God's Love and Happiness more than another. That's not true. It made me think that if I were lined up with people of all kinds, some following, some struggling, some pacing along that Heavenly Father would not pick me out of that crowd simply because I am following His commandments. Heavenly Father has the capacity to love each of us the same, and He does.

It made me think also that I must do what's right because I want to honor Heavenly Father and please Him, but not because I want His approval over another. It is a gift to be righteous, because it is for my own good and benefit. It heightens my self esteem, gives me clarity, provides comfort, and increases understanding. The reward is great for those who follow, and we shouldn't be worried who Heavenly Father goes looking for, or is rejoicing in. We should pray for them, and help Heavenly Father out!