Saturday, December 31, 2011

Declaring vs. Doing

Unfortunately for Michael Scott, declaring bankruptcy is not as easy as merely yelling the word "bankruptcy." He probably was confused when someone told him that if he would only declare bankruptcy, his problems would go away. The real problem, though, arose in Michael's misunderstanding of what it meant to "declare" bankruptcy. In reality, declaring bankruptcy is a lengthy process, requiring dozens of forms, consultations, and court hearings. It is something that takes a lot of work and is hardly a passive or easy process.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives as well. There are some in the world that would say all that is necessary is to say that you believe and that will suffice. Christ spoke against this lack of responsibility when he said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21)." In addition to "declaring" our willingness, we also have to "do" the will of the Father. So what is the will of the Father? When speaking to the people in the Americas, Christ said, "And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day (3 Nephi 27:19-20)." There is a way to become clean and it is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He has asked that we but have faith, repent, be baptized, receive and follow the Holy Ghost, and follow his commandments to the end. Or in other words, "the will of the Father." At times it may not seem like the easiest process, but the gift of becoming clean and pure is worth any sacrifice we may have to make in our lives.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Will You Give This Christmas?

It's Christmas time was again! Every year when December rolls around, I get excited for the season and the joy it seems to bring into everyone's life. One of the most often questions asked this time of year is, "What are you getting someone for Christmas?" Even though the focus of Christmas may change over the years, the concept of giving has always remained at the heart. When most people think of the first Christmas gifts given, they usually think of the 3 wise men and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In reality, however, the first gift given was the gift of our Savior given by our Heavenly Father that first Christmas night. The immortal words of Isaiah still resonate today, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)." Truly this was a day that generations of men and women had faithfully waited for. A day when the Savior would come, and with his life and his death, open the doors of salvation to all of God's children.

So, what will you give this Christmas? Why not give the one of the greatest gifts we can: to give of ourselves. As we give of ourselves in service and love to others, we are following the example of Jesus Christ and giving as he would give. We feel the spirit of Christmas in abundance and then realize that it is in fact, the spirit of Christ. As President Monson states, we more fully understand Christmas when we but drop the last syllable and recognize Christ as the purpose of it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Golden Rule...and birds

Growing up I was taught, as were probably most of you, what is called the "Golden Rule." In short the Golden Rule is as follows: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Seems like pretty good advice if you ask me. If I don't want people to mock or degrade me, then the best thing I can do is avoid that behavior towards others. When our Savior Jesus Christ was teaching his apostles, he shared this important point. He said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34)." Christ's life was the ultimate example of love and service. His commandment to the apostles was that they follow his example to love, encourage, lift, and edify.

One of my favorite examples of acceptance and tolerance growing up was the Pixar short film "For the Birds." In it we see those who mock, bully, and degrade and how they will eventually end up.

Our little blackbird friends could have learned a great lesson taught by the Lord in the Book of Mormon. The prophet Moroni was praying to the Lord because he was worried that those who read the book would mock his writing. In response the Lord said, "Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness (Ether 12:26)." The promise given to Moroni is valid for us as well. If we are meek and humble, the Lord will not let others take advantage of weakness. He is willing to make our weaknesses strengths is we will but seek his help. The flip-side is true as well. If we seek to mock and take advantage of others, the Lord will show what "fools" we are. In the end we can gain a valuable lesson from the scriptures and these birds: loving and accepting others will produce the greatest happiness and least embarrassment.