Wednesday, August 31, 2011

...With a Burden

I was recently reading through old things I've written and came across a small comment I made years ago: When you carry a load you need to keep your head bowed and your knees bent. What an interesting correlation between physical and spiritual burdens! Look at this man carrying a load of sticks on his back, you'll notice that indeed, the only way it is possible is because his head is bowed, and his knees are bent.

Now think of your own challenges in life. Sometimes the problems get heaped on your back one stick at a time. Sometimes they seem impossible to carry. But it IS possible! Just keep your head bowed and your knees bent. God is our relief. When you turn to him he will "ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs" (Mosiah 24:14) How incredible! All we need to do is turn to God in constant prayer. Keep our knees bent, our heads bowed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

...With Building Faith

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon I came across this verse:

"For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith." (Ether 12:30)

I thought that was pretty cool: the brother of Jared moved a mountain! I'd aspire to move as much as an ant hill! Can you imagine how much faith it would take to create such a miracle? I doubt there are many people out there that have that much faith. So, how did the brother of Jared do it?

Earlier in the book we read about the family of the brother of Jared. As the Lord confounded the languages at the tower of Babel, the brother of Jared prayed that his family would be kept safe. God led them to a beautiful area, rich in the resources they needed. His family was there for four years when the Lord came again and "for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." (Ether 2:14)

The brother of Jared, a prophet of God, had a time of weakness. For four years he didn't trust in God or turn to Him for direction. But, rather than fall back into making that same mistake, he corrected his wrong and worked hard to build his strength in God. Then, after what I'm sure took a lot of work and time, the brother of Jared eventually built enough faith that he saw Jesus Christ in the flesh and even had enough faith to move a mountain! What an incredible example of making "weak things become strong." (Ether 12:27)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

...With the Bottom of the Bucket

I was recently in a church meeting and had the opportunity to learn from a great man. I'd like to share his story and its important moral with you:

"When I was a young man of about twelve years, I bought my first milk cow. I named her Sue, after a Johnny Cash song. Sue brought me pride: I milked her every night and morning, faithfully bringing the milk to the house without fail, careful not to let anything get in the bucket.

After a few months, Sue started to dry up. Before long there was no milk. This was not pleasing to my mother, who was trying to feed four growing boys and my sister. When we ran short on fresh milk she would sometimes substitute powdered milk, although I insisted it tasted like ground chalk, and when given to calves would immediately give them the scours.

One day my mother developed a new idea. She came to me and asked, 'Bill, don't you have a cow that just calved?' I didn't really own this cow, it had just wandered into the yard one morning. Evidently this cow was  so wild no one wanted to claim her. My mother insisted, 'tomorrow morning you will start milking it and bring the milk to the house.'

The next morning I struggled with the cow, but was finally able to get her into the barn. I roped her back legs together, pulled over my stool, and began to milk. I thought 'this isn't so bad. Evidently you can turn any cow into a milk cow.' I still remember as she turned her head back, looking right at me, a plot in her mind. Just then she started to buck and the rope came loose on her legs. I tried fervently to balance myself on the one legged stool and keep the milk bucket upright. When it all came to a stop the cow had one foot inside the milk bucket. I weighed my options: carefully spill the milk and face the wrath of my mother and chalky milk, or hold on until the old cow takes her foot out of the bucket. Wanting to live a long life, I chose the later.

After the cow finally lifted her hoof out of the milk I stuck my hand in there and dredged out some of the straw and other filth that was at the bottom of the bucket. I hauled it back to the house and strained it the best I could into the gallon jug.

The next morning as I came into the kitchen I saw my younger brothers eating some cereal which mom had bought at the local store. In the middle of the table was the milk jug. I noted about four inches of sludge, from the previous mornings rodeo, had settled to the bottom. My brothers offered me some cereal and were confused when I told them I was feeling a little lactose intolerant that morning.

I've learned that life is like a bucket of barnyard milk: you can stay up on top with the Lord's cream, or you can drink at the bottom with the devil's dredges. Happiness and joy are at the top with the Lord, misery and discomfort are at the bottom. Don't go into the dark; do what is right. The challenge of life is to stay close to the Lord by obeying his commandments. All of us sometimes fall short of perfection and sin. Thank goodness there is hope through repentance. This is the journey  our lives. Be true to yourself. Be valiant and Christ-like. Don't drink from the bottom of the bucket."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

...With Babes in the Woods

I recently met a woman who had a lullaby she sang to her children each night. I was privileged enough to hear her song and her explanation of it's importance:

                        Oh, don't you remember, a long time ago,
                        There were two little babes, their names I don't know.
                        They strayed far away one bright summer's day,
                        And were lost in a wood, I've heard people say.

                        And when it was night so sad was their plight,
                        Oh the sun it went down and the stars gave no light.
                        They sobbed and they sighed, and they bitterly cried,
                        Then the two little babes, they laid down and died.

                        And when they were dead, the robins so red
                        Spread strawberry leaves all over their heads.
                        And all the day long  they sang their sweet song
                        Of the poor little babes who never did wrong!

It's an interesting old English song, with a surprisingly comforting tune, contrasting the story it tells. Yet, this experienced mother taught the message of what this song warns against: when the song was originally written, it was meant to keep young children from wandering in the woods. Today we don't have woods to wander through, but we do wander through danger each day. This song warns of wandering away from the light of what we know, and entering into a world of darkness through sin and denying God.

So, although the story may be simple enough, I hope, after looking at it again, we can heed it's warning and keep God's commandments, staying in the light.

Friday, August 5, 2011

...With The Better Part

Recently I've been doing a study of the New Testament. As I have worked my way through the four gospels, I continue to think back to the story of Martha and Mary. It consists of simply 5 verses:

 "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

The more I think on this short story the more powerful it becomes to me. Anyone who knows me will attest that I tend to be a workaholic. As I place myself in this scene I know which person I would be: Martha.

There is nothing wrong with working, serving, and being mindful of others, but the issue here is that Martha was putting work above God. There are many good things we can do, but there is also much better. We may not all put work before God, like Martha, but we may put other things like friends, social status, money, or even ourselves. How often do we take a moment to sit down and read the word of God? How often do we ponder on Christ's sacrafice and ressurection? These are the things of eternal value -- the better part. God's love and guidance is that "which shall not be taken away" from us.
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