Sunday, August 31, 2014

From A Stumbling Block to A Stepping Stone

If you have not yet noticed, here is a news flash for you: We all face trials and misfortune. No one escapes it. All of us are also born with strengths and weaknesses, with pros and cons, with perfect imperfections as John Legend sings.

When your Heavenly Parents created you, they made you perfect in every aspect they could. There was one part of you they would not touch. That part was your intelligence. They would do their very best to teach you, give you information, help you gain an eternal perspective and become firm and wise. This they could not force on you. Progress is dependable of one's decision to work.

Because the lessons we are being taught are of eternal value, they are not easily learned. Some lessons must be learned through heart ache and tears, some lessons require the world to crash into a thousand pieces. Of course not all lessons are this hard to learn. Most of them are rather casual and mundane in the end. Regardless of what kind of a lessons we are talking about, they require an active decision to turn into a learned lesson.

The trials and misfortune we face are a collection of results of our weaknesses conflicting with other's weaknesses, our own private struggling or the influence of our environment. Internal trials are the only ones we can directly influence. They may escalate into external trials. External trials are something that we cannot directly influence or control. Especially if we are talking of misfortune caused by nature.

For some, well... for most of us, some of these trials may be and are overwhelming. Luckily not one, save for our Savior Jesus Christ, has been called to pass through all of them. To educate us of eternity and it's principles our Father has made a personal study plan for every single one of us; all according to our individual needs.

An exceptionally important phase in this plan begins with your birth. Where you are born, wether you receive rich or poor beginning, wether there is a lot for you to go through or not, wether your challenges will be spiritual, mental, social, physical or emotional, it is all included. There are enough lessons to learn and mountains to climb for each of us.

When you face a trial, no matter the form, source, time or place, there are some important decisions we must make.

1. You must choose if you will acknowledge and recognize the situation.
2. You must choose if you will embrace the life we have at that given time and make the best of it.
3. You must choose if you will seek the lesson that will provide progress.

You have been given a divine attribute: agency or moral freedom to act as you please. What you decide at each turn will in the long run determine wether you end the race in victory with wisdom and joy of experience or hating life, the world and yourself.

You have a choise and you'll make it now. The blocks that make you fall and lose balance will be the steps that elevate you to a higher plane if you choose to let them be what they were meant to be, lessons of eternity.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Identity VS. The World

Identity is probably the major factor in our self-esteem and self-confidence. Those with a sense of identity have the benefit of knowing for themselves who and what they are. They naturally are more confident in their interaction with others and square with the world and it's events around them. If I could have it my way, I would have all know who they are but the only one I can directly influence is myself. So let me share myself with you today.

1st I AM a beloved son of Heavenly Parents

This is where I want to begin. This knowledge, yes, this knowledge is the foundation of everything I am.

The Father of my spirit, of who I am, is God. He is a God who knows all things. He can foresee the ending of each path I consider, of each choice I think of. The best thing of all is that I can ask Him for help. He is there to answer my questions with knowledge that is sufficient for me to make a choice at each given time. He guides me in my daily life. He is NOT a silent God.

The Mother of my spirit, of who I really am, is the Queen of the universe and she reigns with my Father. I wish I knew more of her but for now it is enough for me to know that She exists. She is there. She weeps when I weep. She rejoices when I rejoice and when I fall Her love is there to bear me up.

2nd I AM a man

I have always been, I now am and will always be a man. Who I am physically and spiritually cannot be altered by philosophies and opinions of the world. My gender is eternal. I was a man before I was born and I will be a man after I have moved on from this world.

Gender is not a choice. It is a divine attribute. I can either embrace it or waste it in denial. I have chosen to embrace it and the expectations that God has for me with it.

3rd I AM a bearer of the Holy Priesthood

As a man I have a responsibility to be an extension of my Heavenly Father's arm. Because I accepted the calling and qualified myself for it, I was given the Priesthood (an authority to act in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ). I have a solemn responsibility to keep myself worthy and always be ready to answer a plead of a heart that needs healing or a desire of a mind that needs clearing. If feet don't know where to go, ears which voice to listen to, hands what to do or eyes where to aim, I have a responsibility to be ready to act when they call for help from the Heavens.

4th I AM a son of my mortal parents

I have a mortal mother and a mortal father. They were given a responsibility to create a physical body for me and then raise me to become a righteous man, a loving husband and a good caring father in my own time. They were given a charge to teach me what my Heavenly Parents expect of me and then help me on my way; on my way to be the best I could.

They are who they are and they are not perfect but they are the reason I have come so far. I have a responsibility to honor them and remember what they have taught me. They have been the ones helping me find who I really am.

5th I AM a boyfriend

I am in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. I have responsibilities towards her, towards our future together. I must keep myself worthy of her. I must make and then keep myself ready and able to take care of her.

I have a responsibility to cherish her, be there for her when ever she may need me. Love is a commitment and a responsibility. That is why it is the source of the greatest joys and sorrows.

6th I AM a teacher

I have also been called to teach children of the basic principles of the Gospel. I have a responsibility to be an example in trying my best to live according to what I teach myself. I must learn and study to be able to teach. I have a responsibility be a help to them to learn what the Gospel really is about and help them see it is something they can love and embrace.

7th I AM a composer

Lastly I am a composer. I have a responsibility to develop myself. I have a responsibility to have a focus and prioritize my time so that I will be able to do what I love now and in the future. This is the talent I received from my Father in Heaven and I must take care that I put it to good use.

If you don't have it clear to yourself who you are, write a similar list and make it clear to yourself who you are. Be honest and consider the words you write. Some of these things might change over time, career identities as an example. More might come. In the future I aim to be a husband and a father. They will then be a part of who I am and I must live accordingly.

But there must be something that will NEVER change. You need a core that is harder than steel, more firm than Finnish granite. Make sure that you have such a point on your list.

The world will try to break you. Morals and definitions will change. What is now a no-no will be acceptable. It will try to make you bend with the wind and shift with the waves. What it calls a change of times does not mean that you must give up what you are.

Once the world knew there was a God and now it denies it. You don't have to when you know. Once gender was what you were born with and now it is changed with a thought and a knife. You can still be what you were born to be when you know. Once the world knew what their resposibilities were and now they have only themselves. You still can do the right choices when you know.

Find out who you are and be strong when the world goes it's way.

Godspeed, my Friends!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Live in the Light, Be the Light

Everyone wants to be independent and self-sufficient. I hope so to say the least. Being self-sufficient can be a source of great boost for self-esteem and confidence in facing the rigors of this life.

When I say self-sufficiency you probably think of being able to finance your life or provide food for yourself and those you are responsible of. Maybe you think of being free of debt. You actually own what you have. All this is true and right.

How about mental self-sufficiency? How about social? What does it mean to be mentally and socially self-sufficient? It is obvious that these have a great impact on how self-sufficient you are when it comes to material things.

To begin with, I want to quote a very well known passage from the Bible. Sermon on the Mount is a wonderful section in the New Testament; very rich in wisdom. Christ teaches in the very beginning:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (King James Version)

In essence Christ is telling us to be spiritually, socially and mentally self-sufficient. He tells us to be active, not passive. He tells us to be contributors, not just consumers.

It is easy to live a life in the light of someone else. It is easy to just feed on the light others produce. It is easy to walk forward when you have someone in front of you showing the way.

Then comes a day when the Light you have used to get by dies. All those years your Light has been there for you looking after you. Now it is gone. Instead of just one losing the way, there is now two. One of them is You.

Light will get tired. Light may take a wrong step. Light might become a victim of life. Light is a vulnerable mortal. Light is just a human being.

What do you do then? Are you prepared? You must take the torch and be a Light yourself.

You must be self-sufficient.

Being mentally self-sufficient means that you are able to increase your knowledge and understanding on your own. It means that you are not satisfied with what you know now. You want to learn more and you are ready and willing to make the effort to find out. You want the data become your data. You don't want to borrow someone else's data. Men and women of God are interested of personal knowledge and understanding.

Being socially self-sufficient means that your behavior, opinions and actions are not dependant on your company. It means you know who you are. You also want to be the uplifting influence in your environment. You don't need a certain person to be with you all the time from the moment you open your eyes until you open them again. It also means that you are able to tie new friendships; real friends, not trophies.

This has many things in it and I could keep on writing the list but I trust you get the point. When you are immaterially self-sufficient you become a light for the people around you.

My intention in writing this was to remind you, myself and all of us of one thing. Don't plan to live your life in the light of another vulnerable mortal human being. You MUST work towards being able to stand by yourself on your own two feet. This because the day when your Light becomes too weak to support you both might not be too far away and you must be able to support yourself and lift your Light.

Godspeed, my friends!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ignorant Believers

This particular subject has many reasons, forms and levels of intensity. Among many others, this most likely is not a newly found accusation. I bet there have been similar discussions held on various forums for even more diverse collection of audiences.

Why are religious people considered as dumb, ignorant and/or otherwise less intelligent? During my short life I have encountered a few reasons. Now I would like to share them with you.

Tradition is a common card. A believer is a believer just because of tradition. It is part of the culture. He follows his parents. The core idea is that the believer does not think by himself and just takes what he is born with.

Partial or complete disregard of science causes much contention between the believers and the secular world. A believer refuses to accept proven and tested theories. He promotes ideas and behaviour that contradict research and studies of the better educated. The believer defends himself from something "more convincing" that seems to be not what he has thought to be true. Instead of facing this challenge with study and research he just rejects the whole of it. It is easier.

Insufficient understanding of the scriptures, teachings and doctrines is also a target. A believer might be new or old, a convert or born to the faith. A believer does not know everything. The world wants to know everything before committing to God or Faith. To a believer it often times is enough to receive a comforting feeling that tells it is going to be all good.

I'd say these are most common accusations of a believer's stupidity. At least they are the ones I have encountered the most. In short we are defensive fools who are not able to think by our own. Naturally we cannot allow this to be true.

In some faiths and cultures it is a tabu to question and ask if something does not make sense. It is a sad thing. God gave us an ability to think and reason. We should use it, promote and encourage it. We should never deny an individual's freedom to think and come to conclusions. Some go to the extreme. Sometimes violence and even death is used as a punishment. I don't believe a God who gave intelligence would then suddenly deny using it.

If you find yourself in one of these three categories, I encourage you to think for yourself, for your own sake. Even though we should look after each other and warn those who are in danger, we all work on our own salvation. One simply cannot be saved in ignorance.

If you are part of something because of tradition, stop it. Like sabbath, tradition is for people not the other way around. Find out for yourself if it is true, if it makes sense, if it actually works, if it takes you forward in life. Does it make you feel whole?

Religion and science, both are about truth. They go hand in hand. Do not reject the other because of what the other says. Study it, learn and you will go far.

Science attempts you understand how our universe and everything in it physically works. There is only one way how this clock works and science wants to find out what it is. Our knowledge of it gradually increases. Something that we thought we figured out today might be proven wrong tomorrow because someone figured out something new. Men and women who do this important work do their very best.

Religion is not attempting to explain how this physical world functions. It never was it's purpose. Religion tells us why all this. It reveals our relationship to God. It teaches of the spiritual things. Like in science, there is only one truth. If something exsists, there is only one truth of it. And that truth – the truth of morals, principles and what is spiritual – is what religion is after.

If you don't know your faith, study! God loves you, if there is something fishy, wrong or harmful coming He will warn you IF you want to know. Be sincere in your study. It is the most important factor. If it is true and right, you will know of it. You don't need to know everything. You need to know the basics. You need to have a foundation. Then on that you can build a house of true knowledge.

Now my friends, don't be ignorant but be careful.