Thursday, 27 February 2014

Creative Reasoning

     So usually I tell stories that either happened to me, or happened to someone I know, but this week I was thinking a lot about this story that is actually more of a parable.  So I thought I'd share it.
     There once was a man standing at the top of a very tall cliff.  There was also a tree at the top of the cliff.  He was leaning with one arm up against the tree and gazing out at the incredible view when suddenly an unexpectedly large gust of wind came along and threw him right off the edge of the cliff.  In that moment of terror he fell and flailed his arms and legs helplessly.  Miraculously his hand caught hold of one of the roots of the tree on the top of the cliff that was protruding from the cliff face.  He took a minute to calm himself down, realizing he was still alive, and then looked for what to do next.  After surveying his situation for a little while he realized he was pretty stuck, there was no way of climbing up, and no way of climbing down.  He did the only thing he could think to do, he prayed.  God answered his prayer and he had a short dialogue with God.  The conversation went something like this;

Man: "Can you help me get back on top of the cliff?"
God:  "Yes of course, but its a matter of if you are willing to accept my help.  I have a few questions first, do you believe that I created this cliff?"
Man: "Yes I definitely do!"
God: "Good, do you believe that I created the tree, the root of which you are holding onto right now?"
Man: "Yes I believe you created this tree."
God: "Ok, well do you believe that I created the gust of wind that blew you off the side of the cliff?"
Man:  (humbly)  "I..... Yes, I don't know why you created the gust of wind, but yes  I believe you created it."
God: "Do you believe that I could create a gust of wind that could push you back up on top of the cliff."
Man: (pause)  "Yes I believe you can."
God: "Ok then, let go of the root."

     This story illustrates a lot of principles and can be applied to a lot of things.  I wanted to talk about the creation.  I don't know how God created the earth, I know what it says in Genesis but I have no idea what that entails.  I don't endeavor to try to explain how God may have created the earth.  I have theories, but to me it isn't very important how God created the earth, but I think the question that is more important is why did he create it?

     Under the Direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth as a place for us to come and experience mortality.  Just like the man in this story didn't understand why God created the gust of wind that pushed him off the cliff, I don't understand all the why's to the creation, for example, I don't like mosquito's and I don't understand why God created them specifically.  But I know that the creation was for us, it was done because God loves us and wanted to give us this opportunity, to give us somewhere to come and experience mortality.  While in this life we don't remember our pre-earth life.  We must walk by faith, not by sight.  Just like the man is asked to let go of the root and exercise trust in God, we too must often exercise trust and from showing that trust, our faith will grow because God will keep his promises to us.  A humble perspective with trust in his purposes will help us focus on the important questions.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Playing with Fire

    When I was a boy, I would periodically go camping with my father who was always pretty enthusiastic about nature.  When I was 12 years old I had very different feelings than my father and hated the thought of having to go outside without a good reason. Every year there was a camping trip we would go on in the mountains near our home in Colorado.
     One year, as the sun was setting, we started to work on starting a campfire.  My dad realized he had forgotten to bring matches or any sort of lighter.  It wasn't a big ordeal though because we would do what is called car camping, which was my favorite type of camping because your tent is usually only a stones throw away from the car.  So he sent me with a big ball of lint he had taken from the clothes dryer before we left and told me to light it on fire using the cigarette lighter built into the car.  Not hard to convince a 12 year old to take the assignment to light a fire.  
     Unfortunately I had no idea how to use the thing.  I used my common sense as best as I could though and pushed the cigarette lighter down until it lit up.  After sitting there a few minutes I got impatient and pulled on the cigarette lighter, which was on a spring so it popped right out and I lost my grip on it, but I hadn't pulled the tray out for it to fall in.  So the nearly fully heated cigarette lighter landed on my lap, to which I panicked and grabbed it and threw it on the seat next to me.  Next, I reached over and tried to pick it back up to use it on the lint.  But I was clueless when it comes to these things and grabbed it by the metal which was very hot.  I severely burned my fingers and screamed in pain.  My father came over and showed me how to use the cigarette lighter properly and help me nurse my 2 burn injuries.  
     So before this life we lived with God as spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.  He has a body of flesh and bone and we were just spirits.  We could never become more like him or enjoy all the blessings he had in store for us without experiencing mortal life.  He presented a plan to us to come to earth and gain a physical body and to learn and grow and gain experiences.  
     This plan was centered on Christ, who would make it possible for us to return to our father in heaven, as well as on agency, which is a gift form God and is the ability to chose.  How we use this gift will decide our eternal progression.  
     The purpose of this plan that God has for each and every one of us is to learn and grow and become more like our father in heaven.  When my dad showed me how to use the cigarette lighter I instantly wanted to become more like him and learn how to do it, but I was a bit weary admittedly about going anywhere near that thing again.  Learning both to be careful around hot objects, as well as how to use a cigarette lighter, came from personal experience.  This life is a huge opportunity provided for us by our heavenly father, it is up to us how we choose to use it.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Avoid Flat Tires

     So this week I wanted to talk about a tractor. The tractor that I have in mind is called a combine. It is a tractor that harvests, threshes, and cleans grain. The story is a tragedy and it comes as so often many things do, from laziness.
     That morning was like any other, Stockton woke up and got ready for the day. He was going to be working all morning for his dad by driving the combine over a huge field his family owned. What a day what a day! Driving the combine was one of the most boring jobs he had to do on the family farm. The technique is quite simple, drive for about 10 miles 1 way, then when you get to the end of the field you turned it around and go the other way, similar technique to using a vacuum cleaner, you just want to run over every square inch of the field. The combine his family had was very expensive, and went about 8 miles per hour while harvesting.
     After a few hours of driving it was getting quite warm, and Stockton hadn't gotten the best nights sleep. He knew he should just take a break, but his pride, and the possibility of displeasing his father kept him going. After a few close calls, eventually the inevitable happened and he fell dead asleep while making a pass on the field, about halfway done with the field. The combine, of course, had cruise control and continued along it's path and slammed down one of the fences surrounding the property.
     Unfortunately somehow one of the posts of the fence created a puncture in the tire of the combine, which was surprising because the wheels are very durable and should have been just fine. This was a costly mistake, it was a front tire and would cost the family about $1000 to replace it. You can imagine Stockton's father was not overly impressed by the reason why the incident had happened. At the end of the day it was put down to pure laziness. That or a lack of common sense. It was a pretty embarrassing situation.
     The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that I believe along with the Bible is scripture and the word of God. Together, they support and teach us about God and are powerful witnesses of him. They contain God's warnings for us today, and how we can be happy in this life and have eternal life in the life to come. By reading and praying about both of them together, you can come to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
     Sometimes a lapse of concentration, or a foolish move on my part can cause me to experience bad things. But I know that by paying attention and taking the simple steps to strengthen my testimony, that it will lead me to increased happiness. It is as simple as reading the scriptures, praying about them, and attending church. Nearly as simple as turning a combine around, it may be intimidating at first if you are asked to do it, especially if you have never had the experience of driving a combine before. Likewise going to church, reading, and praying, seem difficult at first but are actually very simple steps that anyone can take. I have seen how doing this has helped me to find more happiness and avoid a lot of tragedies in my life. I have found and maintained a testimony that God is there from these things.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Baseball Miracle

     2 guys were walking along the street talking.  One was a baseball player, he was the starting pitcher for a university, we'll call him Benny, the other man was planning on going to university very shortly, we'll call him Scotty.  After a few hours they picked up some abuse in the form of a young group of boys around 14-17 years old that started following them and yelling the 3 words of profanity they knew again and again at the men.  Eventually they started throwing rocks which Benny and Scotty pretty much completely saw coming as they continuously tried to walk quickly and diligently away from the neighborhood.  
     They hurried down the street but Benny lost his cool as the children chased them, it might have had something to do with getting hit with a rock or two.  He stooped and picked up a rock.  Scotty was about to express his concerns for the situation but then it was too late.  As the abuse escalated and the shouting intensified, Benny pivoted, and threw the rock as hard as he could towards the children.  BANG!  as the rock hit a stop sign right in the dead center and left a large gash in the metal.  The children went absolutely silent.  The throw had been so fast, and so accurate and unexpected.  For weeks after this, whenever the men would walk by, the children would run out and bring rocks to Benny so they could watch him throw them.  
     This story is one that I love!  To me I learned from it that a lot of incredible things in life come from difficult beginnings.  The men were persecuted and went through a hard time.  But out of that situation, because it was handled in a good way they were able to become friends with the kids.  If you think about this story, the children would have never found out about Benny's incredible throwing arm if bad things hadn't happened first.  
     Bearing that in mind, I wanted to talk about what is called the great apostasy which led into a restoration.  From my last post I said that an apostasy is a time when there is no prophet on the earth.  This is a difficult situation comparable to the story.  After the death of Christ and the apostles, there was an apostasy.  The priesthood authority was lost, there was no longer a prophet of God on the earth to maintain the standard of worthiness and receive revelation on behalf of the world.  From this apostasy many churches were created by men.  Eventually truth seeking men and women realized there was a problem and called for change, they were known as the reformers.  
     These people recognized that they were not prophets but called for change, some even recognized the need for an eventual restoration of the gospel.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I believe that Christ's church was lost from the earth, but now has been restored by God, that he has called a living day prophet, and a quorum of 12 apostles just like the organization that existed in Christ's original church.  From a difficult situation, a lot has come. When we handle difficult situations correctly we often have miracles in unexpected ways.