Friday, September 25, 2015

Of Raging Tempests

Jesus wearing white and red robes, with arms outstretched, standing near His Apostles on a ship that is being tossed on large waves.
Awakening the Savior, one of His trusted Apostles cried out, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Taking in the scene of chaos around Him--the driving winds, the near-flooded ship, and the frantic Apostles--Christ stands up, rebukes the storm, and then rebukes the Apostles for their lack of faith.

As I have read this story over the years, question has repeatedly come to mind: on what grounds did the Savior call into question their lack of faith?

In the Bible Dictionary we read that "Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true, and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation." Doesn't that describe what occurred in this scene on the ship? The Apostles found themselves in the middle of an awful and dangerous storm so they turned to the Savior with hope that He could save them from their dangers. How can He then turn around and question their lack of faith?

As I have personally studied this principle of faith and worked to apply it in my life, I have learned a number of things that go beyond the simple definition stated above. It is certainly true that faith is a "hope for a better world" as based upon and founded in Jesus Christ. But this is not an exhaustive definition, this is only one aspect of faith.

In order to have real, substantial faith, our turning to Christ must be a reactive and instinctive choice rather than a safety net in case our own efforts fail to save us. Christ is not, indeed cannot be our backup, our plan B. As taught by multiple Book of Mormon prophets, "there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Lost Art Of The Plugger

This past week has seen me spending a lot of time in prayer and contemplation about life. A number of things have been combining to cause me to pause and look at where my life is, where I would like it to go, and what I need to do to make that a reality. As I have been pondering these things, studying different aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and consulting with God in prayer two powerful things have happened. First, I gained a new perspective on what it means to have patience. Secondly, the Lord showed me that patience is one of the gifts that I have been blessed with in my life.

I have always been good at school and academics in general. I have never struggled with grasping concepts or with taking tests or completing assignments or even falling behind in any class. I hadn't realized how rare this was until I came to college. Here I met and interacted with many people from vastly different backgrounds who had varying approaches to school work and I have been able to see how much some of them struggle.

One of the biggest clues I had that something was different between me and many of my peers was when midterms or finals came around. To me these tests felt like any other test. I had taken dozens if not hundreds of tests; what made these any different?

And yet here my friends were staying up late and getting up early to study, going to special three-hour-long review sessions and frantically trying to shove an entire semester into one week. I finally understood the phrase "burning the candle from both ends" as I watched my friends prepare for exams.

For me, finals week just marked the end of the semester. For most of them it marked the busiest, most stressful part of the semester. I always felt like I must be doing something wrong, as if I were missing out on part of the experience of college and that it was just too easy. I knew that my classes weren't easier than those of my peers, so I figured maybe I was just incredibly lazy and care-free while at the same time being very blessed to be intelligent.

It wasn't until yesterday that I realized that there isn't something wrong with me in this regards. The key came down to the difference in our approaches to the rest of the semester. My approach is not revolutionary, it's not even that surprising. But what is surprising is how uncommon it is to find.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

A few weeks ago I read a book that got me thinking. What is love? From a religious standpoint there are two types of love. There is the love that the world promotes which is, in general, more accurately described as lust-driven passions. This is evidenced in the amount of pornographic, adulterous, single-parent, abusive, and other such devastating situations in which many people live their lives. This is a "love" that is easy to find and develop. To do such, simply act on your carnal instincts and enjoy society's definition of love.

But then there is the other type of love; that is, the love which Jesus Christ so perfectly demonstrated: the love for everyone--especially those who hate(d) Him--which caused the Savior of the world to lay down His life and suffer and die for each and every one of us so that we may one day live again. This is a love which is just as easy to find as the world's version, but much harder to develop. This love is a gift from God and takes a very concerted effort to develop, which efforts include not only avoiding the carnal passions of mankind but in many cases, doing just the opposite. This is the love which I seek to discuss in this blog post. This is true love. This is a love which is eternal and far more beneficial for everyone involved than the other version.

I do not presume to be an expert in love. In fact, I will be the first to tell you that I am still very far away from having Christ-like love. Which is exactly why I feel qualified to make this blog post? This isn't coming from an expert or a professional, but rather from someone like you who is trying to develop relationships that will be firm and lasting. This is coming from someone who has observed, studied, and taken note of many aspects of love. Here is a brief compilation of some of my thoughts concerning true love.

Observation 1--Love and pain are not disjoint
Many people who do not believe in any form of God ask the question, "If this God loves us so much, why do bad things happen in the world?" This is a very valid question and one that I have often thought about! One day as I was pondering this question, another question came to my mind: does allowing pain imply a lack of love? When thought of from the perspective of a "God" to us, it can present quite a conundrum. But when brought down to a more applicable level, the answer is quite clear. Allow me to illustrate via a personal example.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

Are you perfect? Do you consider yourself to be perfect? What about your life; is your life perfect? Take some time to ponder those questions, then continue reading this post.

Last October, in the Saturday morning of session of general conference, Elder Scott D. Whiting of the Seventy spoke on the subject of temples. He shared a very instructive story about the attention to detail that is in every single aspect of building a temple, even those aspects that would be entirely unbeknownst to all but a very select few such as the quality of the sanding beneath wallpaper.

The very precise nature of the temples is one of the many things that makes it such an amazing and inspiring place to be. Every temple I have visited has been a marvel to behold. The intricate carvings on the doors and the handrails, the peaceful nature of the paintings on the walls, even the flowers see to point to peace and serenity and help me feel the Spirit of the Lord in great abundance as I attend the temple. The grandeur of each and every temple is truly a marvel to behold.

I was raised with the understanding that temples are houses of the Lord. On the outside of every LDS temple is the engraving "Holiness to the Lord - the House of the Lord". As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we put such an emphasis not only on temples in generally but on the beauty and cleanliness and perfection of every temple because we believe that they are quite literally the houses of the Lord. As such, we believe they should be constructed to the best ability possible so as to demonstrate our love and appreciation to our Father.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Logan, Utah awakened this morning to the sight of a fresh-fallen snow. I didn't find this out until I logged onto Facebook while eating my breakfast and saw that a few of my friends had commented on the snow. "That is strange," I thought, "At about midnight last night the sky was clear and I was more than warm enough in the light jacket I had on." Yet in spite of the comforts I had enjoyed just seven hours previous, here I was faced with a centimeter of pure snow.

Along with this snow, I was faced with an decision that to me was a no-brainer but which I considered as I pondered about writing this blog post today. I love the snow. I absolutely adore everything about the snow: how it improves the landscape, how it feels, the symbolic nature of everything being covered in pure white, the cleansing, etc. Snow is one of those tender mercies of the Lord so for me, snow is one of the ways that my Heavenly Father reminds me that He is still there, that He is aware of me, and that He loves me. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two Months

Two months ago today I awakened to the hustle and bustle of preparations being made for a wedding. It was the first time in two years--731 days--that I didn't wake up to the obnoxiously loud and terrifying shrill of my $5 alarm clock from Walmart. While I did enjoy being able to sleep past a highly regimented hour, a part of me felt hollow and distant. That alarm clock had been one of the only consistent things in my life over the last two years.

As cheap as it was and as much as I hated it, that alarm clock symbolized to me the most important and most powerful time in my life. And now, waking up without it for the first time, it hit me that this period of my life had come to a close. Tears came to my eyes as I thought back to what I would be doing at that same time on a Monday morning one week before. "Right now," I thought, "I would have finished my two hours of studying and I would be in the midst of an hour-long Skype call with Johnathan."

But not this Monday. No, this day, I would awaken alone, shower, prepare for the day alone and wonder what I would do with my time, a pattern that would fill each day of my new life. So many more choices; so much more freedom; so much less accountability. It was liberating. It was exciting. It was terrifying.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Coming Home

Following is the transcript of the talk I gave when I came home from my two-year mission on July 14th, 2013 (pictures taken from a special exhibit at Thanksgiving Point of statues of Christ):

If there’s one thing I love, it’s being able to witness people making covenants. If there’s another thing I love, it’s being able to witness people renewing those covenants. I love sacrament meeting. I love sitting at the front, getting to watch people as they rely on the Atonement. There’s nothing more important, more fundamental to the gospel—to our lives—than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Isaiah taught, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” I testify of that.

I’d like to thank the youth speakers. Thank you, for setting the tone, for inviting the Spirit. Thank you, also, to the young women for that beautiful song. I have gained an undying witness that that is true, that He will not fail us. And that is exactly what I want to talk about today.