Thursday, May 10, 2012

"The Kick"

Being a runner, one key phase that separates the boys from the men is what is called a "kick".  This is the last speed change and or sprint before the end of a race.  Many have given suggestions as to what make up a good "kick".  Lelissa Desisa is a long distance star from Ethiopia.  When asked what makes a good kick he responded by saying, " It is not easy to develop a strong kick.  You can train to improve your speed, but the final kick doesn't always come from speed training.  It comes from inside of you based on who you are and how aggressive you are as an athlete." 

I love that response.  The kick is not solely based off of preparation but what one is.  How true this same principle is when we apply it to each of us.  We are each a part of the race of life.  Certain parts of the course require a more determined mind to keep going.

We each have a divine heritage.  We each have what it takes as well as the resources to do whatever may come to help us grow and learn in life.

It seems many of the trials and challenges that come to us seem unaccomplishable, to hard, non beatable, etc.  We can overcome anything that is thrown in our direction.  The small David slew the gigantic Goliath .  Daniel interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Christ overcame the world and provided a way that all mankind might be saved.  Each of us have the needed resources to be able to get through anything. 

 "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it(1 Corinthians 10:13)."

I testify of this truth. The Lord is faithful.  He is merciful.  There is not anything that comes into our life that is not achievable. Let us have God like faith to overcome all.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What have I done with Christ's Grace?

Watch this video and then read the rest of the article.

While I was watching this video the question came, "What have I done with His Grace?"

This question prompted part of a BYU devotional given by Brad Wilcox.  He titled his remarks "His Grace is Sufficient".  I would like to quote part of his talk.  "I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, 'You Mormons are trying to hard to earn your way to heaven.' I say, 'No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven.  We are preparing for it.  We are practicing for it.'  They ask me, "Have you been saved by grace?'  I answer, "Yes, Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully- yes!'  Then I ask them a question they have not fully considered: 'Have you been changed by grace?"  What a great question.  Have you and I been changed by grace?

In the LDS Bible Dictionary under "Grace" it says, "The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.  It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts."

In reference to the underlined portion, we are all lost without the Grace of God (John 1:8-10; Mosiah 16:4). Grace is the divine power to do everything and anything that is beyond our own power, ability, and capacity.

What am I doing with this gift of potential, love, and endless happiness?  I hope we are using it to better understand our worth.  I hope we are using this priceless gift to try harder the next moment, chance, or day.  I hope we are using this gift to more fully love all around us which includes ourselves. I hope we are using this gift to prepare for heaven.  Because of grace we are never to far away from hope, peace, and joy. Because of Grace the Savior is right there. 
In closing Brett Sander's said, "A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ's life."  I hope we allow and use grace to accomplish just this.  That of our life being a mirror image of Christ's.   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Impossible" I think not!

Glenn V.  Cunningham was born August 4, 1909 in Elkhart, Kansas.  Glenn grew up in the country and attended a school house.  His job was to arrive before everyone else and use kerosene to get the wood stove started, so when the teacher and other classmates would arrive the school would be warm.  Glenn showed up one morning when he was eight to start the stove fire with his thirteen year old brother Floyd.  The only thing that was different this morning was the container, that usually contained Kerosene, had accidentally been filled with gasoline.  The teacher and rest of the class arrived at the school house to discover the school on fire.  They quickly ran in and dragged out Glenn's body which had been badly burned on the bottom half.  His brother was not as lucky and was killed.  Glen was brought to a hospital and while he was in bed he heard the doctor tell his mother that he would probably not survive.  Glenn made up his made he would survive, and he did.  Later he heard the doctor tell his mother they needed to amputate his legs because they were useless to him.  His mother would not agree to the amputation.  Glen's response was a personal promise to himself that he would walk again.  He made it out of the hospital alive, but was confined to a wheel chair.  His legs had no feeling.  His parents would message his legs in hope that his legs would respond in some way, but they did not.  One Sunday he was wheeled outside.  He through himself out of the wheel chair and army crawled to a fence post in the yard.  With only his upper body strength he dragged himself up the post and dragged his lower body around the yard in a walking motion.  The grass was quickly trodden down around the fence as he went around and around the yard. Eventually he could walk with assistance.  Then he walked on his own and eventually ran on his own.  He was so excited that he ran everywhere.  He joined the Elkhart High School Track Team.  He started winning races for all of Kansas.  At the State Outdoor and National Interscholastic meet he set  the record in the mile when he ran it in 4:24.7.  He then went on to run at Kansas University.  There he won six Big- 6 , eight AAU national titles ,and an impressive two national NCAA titles all in the mile race.  He earned the nickname of "Kansas Ironman".  He went on to place fourth in the 1500 meter race at the Los Angeles Olympics. He toured Europe and went 20 for 20 in those races.  The next year he set a world record when he ran the mile in 4:06.8.  In Berlin in 1936 in the Olympics he placed second in the 1500. He was best when it came to indoor; he won six Wanamaker Miles, and as a consequence he was named the Outstanding Track and Field Performer in the history of Madison Square Gardens.  In 1938 when running at Dartmouth College he ran the mile in 4:04.4 setting yet another world record.  After earning a master's degree From Iowa University and a doctorate from New York University he retired and opened the Glenn Cunningham Youth Ranch in his home state of Kansas.  On this ranch his wife and himself helped to raise over 10,000 children who were underprivileged. 
Yet another story of overcoming what others defined  "impossible".  In Luke 1:37 Gabriel has just finished telling Mary that her relative, Elizabeth, is pregnant even in her old age.  He then says," For with God nothing shall be impossible."  Do we really believe "nothing shall be impossible" with God?  There are countless stories of people who did not accept man's definition of "impossible" but instead turned to God and became and achieved so much more.  I have seen this evident in my life.  "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"I was offended"

As a missionary I come across many different people from many different backgrounds and concerns.  One that has been coming up a lot is the challenge of being offended.  In this case, these members were offended by members.  I have thought on this topic a lot and would like to share a couple of things I have learned. 

To start off I am going to quote an apostle of Jesus Christ -Elder Bednar.  "When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."

Offense is a personal choice.  If we allow ourselves to be offended then it is often blown up out of proportion and context.  We quickly start to assume it was malicious and intended.  Before we know, the spirit of contention has taken over us and the spirit has withdrawn and we are left to ourselves.

So how can we decide not to be offended?  Elder Bednar gives us the answer in reference to Psalm 199:165 he says, "Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ , you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense."

That is where the power and courage come from.  I have discovered that when one chooses to be offended they run away from Christ when they know Christ is where peace and comfort will come.  Let us run to Christ.  Christ himself pleaded for us to come to him when he said, "I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  He also said, "I am the way, the truth , and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." So will you walk towards Christ always?

We must decide to take God's challenge to Enoch.  That of, "Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you" even if someone misjudges or insults us.  I believe and have seen evident in my life that when I choose to serve the Lord with all of my "heart, might, mind, and strength" then those opportunities to distance my self from Christ are easy decisions to stay close to the one whom I was currently serving.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cliff Young

"Impossible" to Reality

Cliff Young waving during ultra marathon One of my heroes is a man named Cliff Young.  He was considered a nobody until 1983. 

Australia hosts a grueling 543.7 mile long ultra-marathon which goes from Sydney to Melbourne.  Only world class athletes who specifically train for this race compete.  They are usually backed up by large companies and are in the prime of their lives. 

In 1983 the usual world class athletes lined up to start the race, but there was one person who stood out from the rest of the competitors.  His name was Cliff Young.  He was 61 and wore overalls and work boots.  The press, athletes, and spectators questioned Cliff and his ability to run the race.  In response to their criticism Cliff said, "Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn't afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I'd have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I'd always catch them. I believe I can run this race."  They allowed Cliff to run the race and thought he would quickly drop out.

The gun went off and the "world class athletes" left Cliff in the dust.  To add hurt to insult Cliff did not even run normal.  Instead of running he shuffled.  Many spectators were worried for this man’s health and safety. 

The rest of the athletes minus Cliff knew the race would take 5 days.  Each day would be spent running for 18 hours and sleeping for 6 hours.  This is what they did except for Cliff. He ran through the night.  At the beginning of day two he was asked about his race plan.  He told them he was going to run through the night until he finished the race.  That is what he did.  During the last night he passed the last "world class runner" and finished the race with a new course record. 

A consequence of winning was Cliff received $10,000.  Cliff gave his earnings to other runners in the race.  He kept none for himself. 

Cliff's heroism did not stop here.  He entered the race the next year placing 7th even with a displaced hip.  A couple of years later when he was 76 he started to run around Australia’s boarders.  He accomplished 6,520 of the 16,000 kilometers before he had to stop because his only crew member became ill.  Cliff died when he was 81.  He changed how this ultra-marathon was run.  Many competitors have mirrored his shuffle technique.  It now is called the Young-Shuffle.  Scientists have studied it and have found it to be more energy efficient.  3 winners since have used the Young-Shuffle.  Also the runners now do not stop running until they have completed the race.

I love this story because of Cliff's determination.  He did what others defined as "impossible" because he did not confine himself to those limits.  We do the same thing with ourselves.  We to often limit ourselves.  President Hinckley said something prophetic on this topic.  I will change the audience to fit all of us.  He said, "You are [children] of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it."  "If" we "take control of it."  We can either be birds that go along with the wind and puts little effort into it or be a bird that fights and goes against the wind and go places that others only dreamed of but never worked towards because they defined it as "impossible".

We can do all that God has commanded.  Nothing is impossible with the Lord.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Line upon Line

In the Book of Mormon a prophet by the name of Alma is counseling his son Helaman.  In the process he says, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.  And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37:6-7)  This principle of small and simple things or baby steps is an eternal principle.  The Lord knows this.  Satan knows this as well.  We see both using this to destroy or exalt us.  Let me share with you some examples from both sides which are found in the scriptures. 

Lets start with Christ's usage of this principle.  In the Book of Mormon we read about a young man named Alma who went around with his friends seeking to destroy the church of God in the land.  While doing this an angel came to them and told them they either stop what they are doing or be destroyed.  They chose to change their lives and repent.  Alma later comes to be a prophet of God.  While going around and teaching the people he shared with them how he was converted.  He said, "Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me." (Alma 5:46)  I find it fascinating he did not say it was by this angel which commanded him to repent, but instead it was done by "small and simple things."
Know the opposite side of the spectrum, that being Satan.  In the Book of Mormon again we find how Satan destroys and degrades an individual one decision at a time.  Lehonti was from the people of Laman.  A man from the people of Nephi had come into his land and convinced the king to make him leader over the Lamanite army.  He did this with the intent to take this army and make his people, the Nephites, subject to him.  Lehonti with some of the army fled to a hill to escape the consequences of this man named Amalickiah. 

Amalickiah took the portion of the army that is still around to the base of the hill.  He sends up messengers to tell Lehonti to come down to the bottom of the mountain so they could talk.  Know this group including Lehonti was, "fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites." (Alma 47:6)  Because of this determination Lehonti declines Amalickiah's offer.  Amalickiah sends two more messages both coming back denied, so Amalickiah goes up the mountain almost to the camp of Lehonti and asks him to come down just a little and that he could bring his guards with him.  Lehonti did and a plan was created where Lehonti would bring his soldiers down and encompass Amalickiah's army and they would in turn surrender and Lehonti would have the whole army; Amalickiah would become second in command as a part of this trade.  Lehonti liked this and the plan worked just as it was laid out.  Lehonti got control of the whole army and Amalickiah became second in command.  Once Amalickiah became second in command he, "caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died."(Alma 47:18).  Amalickiah just had to get Lehonti to move down little by little and before Lehonti knew it he was died.  

We also see this principle with the story of King David.  Satan got David to commit adultery.  He did not tempt him right away with that, but he got him down to that level a little at a time.  An apostle of the Lord, Elder Holland, quotes a proverb when he said ,"a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,  so watch your step."(Lao Tzu, in John Bartlett, comp., Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 14th ed. (1968), 74.)

Let us watch our step.  For that step decides what direction we are going in.  Remember if we do make a mistake there is always a way back through Jesus Christ.  He lives!  He loves us!