Monday, August 14. 2006
As a word of warning, I'm going to be trying desperately to be funny, because if I'm not funny, well, then I'm just nervous. And that's no good at all.
About a year ago I gave a talk to this congregation as I was preparing to enter my first semester of college. I mentioned in that talk that I was quote: "freaking out". Those days prior to starting school can't compare in the least to this time in my life. I've watched several of my brothers, friends and fellow ward members give talks such as this one as they prepared to serve the lord. Now, here I am... and I'm freaking out.
I have been given a topic to speak on today. I have 6 items to speak on which, by themselves, could take up an entire meeting. I am to speak on the 6 'Be's originally given by our prophet, Gordon B Hinckley, a few years ago to a large assembly of youth and young adults. After reading over the talk, I thought that it would be best to just read the prophets talk aloud to you. After all, he worded things such that I couldn't possibly hope to improve upon them. But that would be cheating. I will however be quoting from his talk a lot.
I want to exhort those of you who are preparing to serve a mission or debating whether to serve to listen closely, as I will be tying things closely to missionary preparation. Of course, the counsel is for everyone, so the rest of you listen up as well.
My first quote from president Hinckley is as follows, quote: "..of all the challenges that have been faced in the past, the ones we have today, I believe, are most easily handled. I say that because they are manageable. They largely involve individual behavioral decisions, but those decisions can be made and followed. And when that happens, the challenge is behind us." End quote. I want to clarify something. He states that our challenges are the most easily handled. That does not mean that they are easy. It means that they are easier than wandering for 40 years in the desert after living in captivity for generations. This is because, in the end run, we are in control. We aren't in bondage, being forced to not keep the commandments. It is up to us.
I'm going to start on the 'Be's now.
King Benjamin in the Book of Mosiah gives a memorable address to his people. He speaks on many things in this address, but something that seems to be emphasized is gratitude and service. In Mosiah 2 Verse 23 he speaks of God saying:
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
From the beginning of our existence, we have been in debt to our father. As we try and repay the debt by keeping his commandments, he continues to bless us. This just puts us more in debt. We must have utmost gratitude to our father in heaven, for he gave us everything. For just one example of what we should be grateful for, I quote President Hinckley:
"Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do. Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help. Think about the meaning of His Atonement. Read about Him and read His words in the New Testament and in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Read them quietly to yourself and then ponder them. Pour out your heart to your Father in Heaven in gratitude for the gift of His Beloved Son." End Quote
Just the example of the Atonement shows that we owe the Lord everything. But he doesn't ask everything of us. To find out what he requires, lets jump back to verse 22 of Mosiah 2.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
To me, this doesn't sound like a bad deal. We owe him everything, yet he only requires that we keep his commandments? We are given so many rights and blessings, this is simply proof of the mercy of the Lord. Be Grateful means keep the commandments.
I again quote president Hinckley:
"Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training."
The importance of being smart seems simple. Be smart and you will be blessed because of the training. This only refers to education though. To be smart can also mean something much more simple. Think.
Think before you speak. Think before you act. Think ahead to the consequences before doing something potentially damaging to body and spirit. The old saying "Look before you leap" has a strong tie to being smart. Would someone with perfect eyesight do something dangerous blindfolded, not knowing what to expect 1 step ahead of him? Of course not.
Think about the consequences your actions can have on others. Sometimes the affect your actions have can be clear, but sometimes it can be fuzzier. Once in the comic Peanuts by Charles Shultz, Snoopy stole Linus' blanket and turned it into a sport coat. After a few days of withdrawals, Linus had kicked the addiction to his blanket. However, Charlie Brown felt guilty because of what snoopy had done, and gave Linus a new blanket, hooking him once again. Feeling even more guilty, he goes to Lucy for advice. She simply says: 'In all of mankind's history, there has never been more damage done than by people who "Thought there were doing the right thing."'
To this I respond: think a little more. To close on Be Smart, I quote one of my favorite scriptures for it's simplicity and conciseness. Jacob 6:12 O be wise; what can I say more?
This is perhaps one of the most serious of the be's as it involves matters of worthiness. I wondered how I might approach such a topic. Let us look at the different definitions of the word "clean". Free from dirt or pollution. Free from contamination or disease. Unadulterated. Pure. These are definitions of a very literal sense, such as laundry, but let's relate them to moral cleanliness. It's been said that immoral things are dirt, but how often are they referred to as "pollution"? The word pollution has a very distasteful sound to it. As does contaminate, which implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source. The dirt or foulness does not come from within us. And now for my personal favorite: disease. A condition of the living animal or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning. Moral uncleanliness impairs our normal functioning. We cannot be involved in it and act normally, think normally, and most especially treat others normally.
There is a wide variety of practices that remove purity and cleanliness from someone, but most can be prevented simply by following Paul's teachings in Corinthians 3
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
It's a simple solution. Do not defile the temple. This is easy to relate to such things as the Word of Wisdom, Tattoos, and other things that pollute our bodies physically, but gets a bit trickier as we move on. I still think it applies though. The scriptures are for everyone, right? So, That means that everyone is a temple of God. The spirit of God dwelleth in everyone. Are we not to respect the temple of god completely? So many things of an immoral nature shows complete disrespect to others. Things such as swearing, pornography, and violence have a dramatic affect on others, as well as yourself.
Why stay clean? Well, other than the fact that God shall destroy any man who defile the temple of god, there are several reasons. For the sake of time, I will only touch on one. You priesthood holders out there have a special privilege. Those of you with the Aaronic Priesthood, are preparing for the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is important that you receive that priesthood. If you don't believe me, go home and read D&C 84. It is very important to be clean when preparing for the Melchizedek priesthood as well. Perhaps more importantly, is staying clean as a Melchizedek priesthood holder. Not only to keep the covenants you make, but to be worthy to exercise that priesthood. It was brought up to me when I was ordained an Elder that the one cannot use the Priesthood on themselves. It is simply to serve others. You must always be in a position where you are worthy to exercise the priesthood for the sake of another.
I go back to the dictionary for this one. True is defined as STEADFAST and LOYAL. I find the Hymn "True to the Faith" an excellent guide to 'being true'.
Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!
True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To GodÃƒÂ¯Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃƒÂ¯Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.
Be true asks us where our priorities are. The kingdom of god on earth needs to be where our loyalties lie. To quote president Hinckley again:
"You who are members of this Church must have a loyalty to it. This is your church. You have as great a responsibility in your sphere of action as I have in my sphere of action. It belongs to you just as it belongs to me. You have embraced its gospel. You have taken upon yourselves a covenant in the waters of baptism. This you have renewed each time you have partaken of the sacrament. These covenants will be added to when you are married in the temple. You cannot hold them lightly. They are too great a thing. This is the very work of God designed to bring about the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters.
Walk in faith before Him with your heads high, proud of your membership in this great cause and kingdom which He has restored to the earth in this, the last dispensation of the fulness of times. Why? To bring you happiness." End Quote.
Being True is WHY missionaries serve. Believing in the cause of righteousness is absolutely why I have chosen to serve. I go to spread the faith that my parents have cherished. To spread the truth to which martyrs have perished, To God's command, Soul, heart, and hand, so that Faithful and true we will ever stand.
Humility has always been a tricky one for me. To quote the TV show "House": "humility is an important quality. Especially if you're wrong a lot.... Of course, when you're right, self-doubt doesn't help anybody, does it?"
To refute the statement I just made, I look to Alma as he is teaching his son Shiblon in Alma 38.
14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy - yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.
It may seem a bit harsh to say that we are unworthy before god at all times, but no one is perfect. Acknowledging that fact is humility. But humility shouldn't lead to depression. It should simply lead us to improvement and progression. President Hinckley said, Quote: "I believe the meek and the humble are those who are teachable. They are willing to learn. They are willing to listen to the whisperings of the still, small voice for guidance in their lives. They place the wisdom of the Lord above their own wisdom."
So, Self-doubt really doesn't help anybody. Don't doubt yourselves, simply place the wisdom of the Lord above your own. Once we can humble ourselves and trust the Lord's wisdom, "the Lord thy God shall lead thee by thy hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."
This leads me to:
There is a simple formula for prayer in our lives. Pray when you get up. Pray when you eat. Pray when you go to bed. I could not find this teaching anywhere in the scriptures. Instead, what is found in the scriptures goes something like this:
Luke 18: 1 states:And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint
2 Ne. 32: 9: But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
D&C 10: 5
pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.
D&C 20: 33
Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;
So, When you pray in the morning, at meals, and at night, you're praying. To be prayerful, you must, in addition to your formal prayers, pray always. To give some advise on how to do this, I quote Elder Henry B. Eyring
"Just as you can have love in your heart always, your heart can be drawn out in prayer always." End Quote.
We all feel love. Love of a parent, a child, a sibling, our friends and acquaintances. It is a good thing for us. For Jesus said to his apostles, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Just as the love we feel for one another resides in our heart always, so should a prayer unto the lord. A prayer of thanksgiving. A prayer for our minds to be clear. A prayer for us to conquer Satan and remain clean. A prayer that we can be Humble and True.
If we can do all of these things, we will find ourselves in a position closer to our Heavenly Father. We will be closer to our savior, Jesus Christ. We will find ourselves hearing the promptings of the still small voice. If we live our lives in such a fashion, how great will be our joy in the kingdom of god on earth, and after.
I am excited for the opportunity I have to serve the Lord on a mission. I expect it to be difficult. I actually look forward to it, for I know that it will teach me and that the Lord will be with me through it all. I'm thankful for my Family and for the Love and support they show me, and for the examples they are. I'm thankful for my friends and for all that they do for me. And I am thankful for this ward. This has been my ward my whole life. Now I go on a mission, and as my parents are planning to move, expect that I won't return to this ward. Now, the bishop has made it abundantly clear that I am going to report to this ward as well as where my parents are living, but I won't be a part of this ward any more. I would just like to thank all of you for preparing me for this day, and for the days to come as I serve the lord.
I bear testimony of the things which I have spoken on today, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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