Friday, December 19, 2008

End of Semester and Speaking in Church

The one bad thing about having kids is that when one of them gets sick it gets passed to the whole family. It started last week with Emma, then to Anne, and then to Rachel. Now Dad has it! I had to take 2 days of work off this week and, instead of doing anything productive, I languished in feverish misery. Yuch.

The sad part of this is that Dallas and Steve graduated this week. Tonight as Lindsey and Fam go over to Dallas's house to celebrate I am stuck at home taking anti-nausea medicine. ((Maybe it is Karma for any bad things I have done over the year.))

I was driving to work earlier this week and something weird passed me.

I was not sure if it was some idiot with bad taste or a real police vehicle so I made sure I stayed at the speed limit and didn't do anything dumb. Turns out it is a DPS Car that has been "Pimped" for use in promoting the agency. No offense but that year of mustang stank...

Great news for all you fans. You can despair yourself. I created a poster and though it was great. Sorry Cat Lovers...

Lindsey and I gave a talk in church this week. If you want to read it feel free. (If you are in it, sorry... I was on a roll when I was typing it out.) It was sort of funny. The bishop called me late Friday evening because the people who were going to speak in church went off and moved to Idaho!!! He asked if Lindsey and I would talk at the last minute. I told him we would and asked him if there was a subject I needed to speak on. He said the topic was service but because it was last minute we could talk on any subject that we choose. This was the basis for my "High Priest introduction and mandatory dumb joke at the beginning of talk..." ((Yeah you know the type I am talking about)). I told everyone that I would not be talking about Service but rather I would address the upcoming Vikings vs. Cardinals game.
Hey, everyone laughed and it woke some of the people up.

By the way, Vikings won 35 -14 ((Yeah!!!))

Anyway, here is the talk, enjoy.

We are living through difficult times. When I watch the news at night, I hear and see the economic distress of the world, wars, earthquakes, fire, smoke, murders, crime, and once or twice, I have seen the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds.

“… We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. … The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes.” Joseph Smith

Recently in FHE our family learned about the characteristics of Zion. I would like you to imagine living there for just a moment.

Imagine a community where you could leave on vacation and forget to lock your doors for the week that you are gone. You would not have to worry about losing your job because the corporation is trying to maximize the return to shareholders. It would not matter whether you were a school teacher, a janitor, or a doctor, you would be able to maintain an acceptable quality of life. If you were unable to care for yourself the community would be willing to come and talk to you, help you, and make your life wonderful because it would be unthinkable for anyone to be left out. You would not be treated as a “burden” but as a friend.

Let us compare this with the Babylon that we currently live in.

In Mesa, I am not willing to leave my house without locking my doors. In fact, outside my car is locked as I have already had my car stolen once. I have friends who have had their house broken into. We see corporations focus on how much money they could get this quarter if they cut workers. Executives receive bonuses for the cuts. Workers who are laid off loose access to health care, and in many cases, lose their homes and savings. If you are the best janitor you can be, you will still be compensated less than a lousy doctor and I have seen firsthand in my work as a social worker that if you are unable to care for yourself you are treated as lazy, worthless, and on occasion, even abused by your caretakers.

Why were the Latter day Saints unable to bring about Zion in the early days of the church??? According to D&C 101 Saints were unable to establish Zion in "consequence of their transgressions." The revelation continues that among the Saints there were "jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances."

I ask you how much closer are we to Zion today than we were back then???

You may be surprised to find that the subject of this talk is not about Zion but about Service. For I believe that unselfish service is one of the only ways to rid us of the jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires.

Joseph Smith said “Let every one labor to prepare himself for the vineyard, sparing a little time to comfort the mourners; to bind up the broken-hearted; to reclaim the backslider; to bring back the wanderer; to re-invite into the kingdom such as have been cut off, by encouraging them to lay to while the day lasts, and work righteousness, and, with one heart and one mind, prepare to help redeem Zion, that goodly land of promise, where the willing and the obedient shall be blessed. …

Service is a purifying act. In doing it we follow the counsel of our Savior when he said “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”

Jesus was the greatest among all men. In Matthew 23 He Said “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” The Master was the greatest servant for he did exactly what he said he would do in Ezekiel, “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick”

How can service purify us?

Service changes who we are. Years ago, My brother and I were not friends. We were different in both personality and behavior but we were not different in pride. We were both headstrong and stiff-necked. It came to a point that we would not even talk to each other without getting into an argument. Hate and Anger were our constant companions. I tell you this because as I look back on my life this is one of the things I am most ashamed about. Thanks to our Heavenly Fathers great plan and the opportunity for repentance, I was changed though service.

There is nothing like missionary service to help you forget the things that are not worthwhile and focus on the things that are important. In the two years away from my family, I began to see my brother in a new light. I realized that I had been a prideful jerk and there was no excuse for my behavior. I realized that I have no control over my brother but I had control over my actions. After I spoke to the lord about this realization and asking for his forgiveness, I returned to climb the steep hill of true repentance. I began to do things for my brother that he would appreciate. I did this to tell him that I did indeed care for him and that I was sorry for my actions. I did not expect any reward or change in behavior from him. As selfish as this sounds my service to him was for me.

Years have passed from that time. Our relationship is greatly improved from that time and I feel that we have the beginnings of a friendship forming. We can talk without arguing and, this year we even spent a few treasured hours talking about things that I keep close to my heart. The service I gave to my brother has given me the chance to repent and begun to heal our relationship.

Service that you may find “distasteful” or difficult can be the most rewarding service of all. This includes service to people that you may not like or understand. King Benjamin, in his address to the Nephites said, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

This is the first reward of service. It does not matter who receives the benefits of your service, for it is all done to God.

Recently I had the opportunity to go to a soup kitchen and provide a meal for 100 homeless men and women in the area. After spending time with them, I heard stories about their lives and who they were. It is easy for us to place judgments upon people that we do not know. We can call the homeless people lazy and deceitful when we see them as we pass by in a car or are asked for help in the parking lot. It is harder to do that when you are serving them with your whole heart. You will find that there is even room to love the people in need. The knowledge that the homeless people are people and worth the time and service you freely give them helps solve the problem of homelessness better than to dispensing the judgments that come easily to the natural man.

I am an imperfect person and . I am deeply indebted to God and his son. King Benjamin said in his sermon, “I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. 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. And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. 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? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth”.

I do not believe that he said this to give us a guilt trip. He clarifies this statement later on by saying,

“And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”

It is my hope that notwithstanding my imperfections and weaknesses, this message this will give opportunity for the spirit to improve our desire and ability to fulfill one of the great commandments of the Savior, the commandment to feed his sheep. It is through service that we will rebuild Zion - the Pure in Heart, and it is through service that we will retain a remission of our sins, and walk guiltless before god.

Hope you have a great holiday!!!!


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All I ask is that we keep it clean. :)