Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful for the chance to speak to you this morning. Seeing as the last time I was asked to speak in church, I completely forgot about it, I do feel like things are going better this time. It is comforting to see so many familiar faces. I am grateful for our faithful little 9th ward. I am thankful for the friends and family that are here today. Judging from the smiles on your faces, there are quite a few of you who are delighted to be finally getting rid of me!
I'd like to start off by reading the poem "If I Only Was the Fellow" by Will S. Adkin. Let me warn you, a portion of this poem is written with a strong accent. So forgive me if I draw my on drama experience a little.
If I Only Was The Fellow
While walking down a crowded city street the other day,
I heard a little urchin to a comrade turn and say,
"Say, Chimney, lemme tell youse, I'd be happy as a clam
If I only was de feller dat Me mudder t'inks I am.
"She t'inks I am a wonder, an' she knows her little lad
Could never mix wit' nuttin' dat was ugly, mean or bad.
Oh, lot o'times I sit and t'ink how nice, 'twould be, gee whiz!
If a feller was de feller dat his mudder t'inks he is."
My friends, be yours a life of toil or undiluted joy,
You can learn a wholesome lesson from that small, untutored boy.
You need not be an earthly saint, with eyes fixed on a star:
Just try to be the fellow that your Mother thinks you are.
-Will S. Adkin-
If we really were the kind of person our mother thinks we are, how much better would we be?
At times it can be difficult living up to the high expectations of our parents. If you'll pardon a personal example, I have experienced this first-hand.
Anyone who knows me has probably heard of my uh .imperfect driving record. Heaven may forgive and forget past sins, but unfortunately State farm Insurance does not. This explains my extreme fear the first time I was ever pulled over. To my embarrassment I admit that I was pulled over for drunk-driving despite the fact that I sure wasn't drunk. This story started as a not so innocent practical joke war between me and some of my friends. I use the term "friends" very loosely in this case. Once our battling factions ran out of the classics like toilet paper, and silly string we were forced be more creative. My truck fell victim to the worst attack. Thugs sprayed cooking spray on my windshield, leaving the world a blurry mess. Foolishly, I decided to drive anyway. I realized how
dangerous I was being, but the streets were empty, so I pressed on. It took flashing red and blue lights to finally come to my senses. As I imagine the sight of me trying my hardest to stay in the lines, I understand why the Officer was shocked to find me sober. It may have been how absolutely horrified I was, but the officer took pity on me and let me go with a warning.
Unfortunately this story is only half over. I was then faced with the mini-moral dilemma of whether or not to admit this ever happened or just bury it. I decided since I didn't get a ticket I did not need to tell my parents. No harm, no foul right? I went to bed foolishly thinking that would be the end of it. Much to my surprise.my mom had a dream that night. That morning she shared her dream. She told that she in her dream I had broken a window. But I had the courage to tell her about it, despite the consequences. Her next words were, I quote: "I know that if you ever did anything wrong. you'd tell me about it."
I'd felt that I had been personally ratted out by revelation! It could have just been a coincidence, but I heard the message loud and clear. The Lord wanted me to be open with my parents, even if it was something trivial. I knew I had to come clean!
I learned a valuable lesson that day. At times when I was tempted to make choices that weren't correct, I could think back and realize my parents didn't just hope I would choose the right, they fully expected I would do so. That knowledge made it much easier to make the right decisions.
Our parents aren't the only ones that expect us to make the right decisions. So do ur friends, our coworkers, our neighbors and church leaders. We also have expectations from our Heavenly Father. The poem I read discussed how good the world would be if we acted the way our parents thought of us. Imagine how much more powerful a change it would be if we all were the person our Heavenly parents expect us to be. Heavenly Father has made it very clear how he expects us to act. During his sermon on the mount, Jesus commands us, in Matt. 5:48 to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
This may seem like an impossible commandment. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we can ever be perfect. On our own this is true. But as Nephi said, "I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he should prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." Jesus Christ is the way that we can accomplish this commandment. We may not ever be perfect in our lives, but we can all be perfected through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Still, it can be difficult living up to our expectations, because perfection involves doing the right things for the right reasons. Too often we do things we good things, but don't get anything out of it. We read our scriptures, but don't take anything to heart. We pray for guidance, but don't stick around long enough to receive answers. Sadly, what holds many of us back isn't our actions, but our attitudes.
Our attitude can make a big difference in our lives. Whenever I was having a bad morning, I remember my dad would simply tell me to change my attitude. He'd tell me I had the choice to be miserable or happy. At the time, his statements only made me angrier. Since then I have realized our attitudes determine far more than how our day is going to be. Our attitudes play a role in living up to God's expectations. Knowing that, I searched for ways to improve my attitude.
I found that the scriptures are full of ways to improve our attitudes, and progress towards perfection. A classic example of attitude is found in 1st Nephi. When the Lord commands Lehi's sons to retrieve the plates from Laban, we get a great demonstration of how attitude affects our progression. Nephi's response is classic. "I will go and do." While, Laman and Lemuel's responses are a little less inspiring. In chapter 3 verse 5 it says, "And now behold the brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the
It is tempting to be critical of Nephi's brothers. After all, "It is going to be hard!" is a pretty pansy response. However, we sometimes forget that retrieving the plates was hard. It involved hiking the same distance as
from here to St George, and then back. It involved marching right up to Laban, the Jerusalem equivalent of the Godfather, and asking for the plates. It was a huge risk, and Laman and Lemuel knew they could easily lose their lives. And did they do it? Yes. They complained but they did it. How often do we follow their example? We do our home teaching, but we complain about it. We fast but we complain about it. Now it is a good thing, a great thing, to do the right things. But to live up to our divine expectations we need to have more of Nephi's unwavering faith.
So how do we adjust our attitudes? To make that kind of change we need to keep in mind a larger perspective. I learned a lesson about this principle when I was a Teacher in the 3rd ward. It was my first experience with the
now legendary Pack Pedal Paddle. Now I could make a lot of jokes about how Brother Borup got us completely lost several times. I could point out that every time Borup promised us "Just one more mile" we planned on two or three. But I won't mention those things; that just isn't how I do things.
Actually I found that our journey through the High Uintas could teach a lot about of journey through life. I remember specifically a section of the trail that seemed only to go up. We climbed for hours, each time we reached what we thought was the summit, we saw an even higher hillcrest. Finally standing on the highpoint of the trail, we were able to look down into the beautiful valley below us. Among the trees we saw small mountain lakes and a larger one that we knew was our destination. Looking at that lake it seemed so simple. We would walk down and arrive with enough light to cook dinner and rest. Unfortunately, what seemed so easy when we saw the whole landscape became much more difficult once we were surrounded by trees. Without seeing the big picture we had to follow a small trail a long distance. We even lost our way at times, and said a prayer that we would find the trail again.
The similarities of our own journey through life are obvious. When life is smooth, and we are on top of the world our destinations seem so clear. We are certain who we are and where we are going. Unfortunately, when we are in the thick of things such certainty is sometimes lost. Without that far sight we can lose our way. If we are lucky, we will have role models, and leaders like Brother Borup and Brother Monney to help us out of the woods. I am very grateful for the many leaders that have helped me along my way.
The scriptures offer other examples of ways to change our attitudes. One example comes from the book of Moses. In this story, Moses has a powerful spiritual experience. If you would like you can turn to Moses 1.
Read from Scriptures V 1-2
Moses had the opportunity to see the Lord face to face and learn directly from him. If you had the chance to be instructed by the Lord what do you think he would teach you? I think it would probably be similar to Moses'
In verse 3-4 He says
It is very significant that The Lord calls Moses His son. The first thing the He wanted Moses to know was his divine identity. The Lord repeats that statement several more times, reaffirming Moses' role. The Lord wants us all to remember who we really are. We are children of God. Once we realize that, it becomes much easier to make the right choices. Once this sinks in, the Lord show Moses all his creations, and the plan of happiness. After witnessing all things, Moses is left alone, to consider what he has seen.
His statements in Verse 10 say a lot about his changed attitude.
This statement shows us that he had truly humbled himself. However it is important to realize that although that we are nothing compared to God, but we are everything TO God.
In this verse 39 he tells Moses:
Moses' knowledge of who he is strengthens him when temptation sets in. Shortly following his vision, Satan comes to stop the new prophet. We can learn a lot from Satan's strategies.
In Verse 12 it says:
Notice the first thing Satan does is call Moses a "son of Man." He is trying to make Moses forget and doubt his potential as a Son of God. Moses' response in verse 13 is perfect:
We can respond in the exact same way. When we are faced with temptation we can tell ourselves that we are Children of God. We have the glory as children of God, so why would we trade that for the darkness of Satan?
This chapter of Moses is essentially a self-help book on self-motivation! The Lord was giving all of us a way to boost our attitude during hard times. If you'll permit one more personal example, I feel I learned a related
lesson early in life.
When I was 7 my mother and our neighbors planned a picnic at a beautiful spot along the Provo River, near BYU. It was late fall, so the waters were shallow and slow. My mother and the ladies watched and relaxed as their children cut loose enjoying the warm sun. As we little boys wandered off, my mom got suddenly nervous. The other ladies weren't worried, but my mother suddenly received a strong impression that she had to find me. She took off at a run being led by the Spirit. What she couldn't have known without the Spirit was that I was about to do something incredibly stupid.
Near where the water runs under the street, a part of the river was dammed by a metal floodgate. In this small area the water was much deeper. Near the bottom the gate was part-way open, and the water was pouring violently through the opening on the other side. Yet the water on the surface was dead still. So much so that a thick layer of trash and moss had the collected on the surface. In my childish haste, I saw this layer of foam
and mistook it for dry land.
And so, when my mother followed the Spirit to my location she arrived just in time to see me jump from dry land and get swallowed by the murky water. I had taken swimming lessons but the hidden current below was pulling against me. As I came up to the surface kicking hard I saw the face of my mother, for just a second before being sucked under again. I surfaced again and tried to grab her outstretched hand, but missed. I kicked hard and surfaced again, and this time I felt her arm grab me, and pull me towards the surface. I was cold, wet, out of breath, but because of the Spirit, and the quick actions of my mother I was alive.
I tell this story partly because it has so much meaning to me. I also feel that this story has many spiritual parallels. The first lesson I learned is that when the spirit tells you to do something, you do it immediately.
Don't wait, or else the opportunity may be lost. President Spencer W Kimble had a motto. He would often say, "Do it. Do it now!" It isn't enough to receive a spiritual impression if we don't act on it. As it says in James 1:22 "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."
The second lesson I learned was the symbolism of the still water. Satan will try to trap us. On the surface sin may seem peaceful and inviting, but below there are dangerous forces trying to pull us under.
Finally the last lesson involved my mother. She has confessed to me she felt guilty her that her first instinct was not to jump into the deep water with me. While a dramatic dive would have been more exciting it could have
led to her to being pulled under the water as well.
We all have friends that aren't doing the right thing. It can be the hardest thing in the world to stand by and watch them slip away. In our desperation to help it can be tempting to dive in with them. In our desire to keep an eye on them, we can start to make small allowances. We'll go to a party where alcohol is served in order to protect them. This is a noble desire, but if we spend time where the spirit can't be present, how long before we start to slip? How can we pull them out if we too are struggling against the current? It is difficult, but we must be sure our footing is secure in order to help others.
On that day, my parents said something which has grown more significant to me lately. My father said "The Lord saved you for a reason. You have work still to do." We are all here for a reason. Heavenly Father loves us and would not send us down here to drift. We all have a work to do, every one of us.[And then he did. Hee hee hee!]
Right now I know exactly what it is that I am called to do. I have been called, like all of us to share the Gospel with the world. I am thankful for the examples I have had. JT Ferrin, Sean Vest, who are just beginning to serve. And all the examples of those who have served, even for a short time; they have shown me the power of missionary work.
I am so thankful for my family. They have been everything to me. I know everyone says this, but everyone else is wrong, because I have the best family in the world. I am thankful for my sisters, Beth Ann who has been an example to me my whole life. I am so grateful that she served a mission, and has shown me how wonderful, and difficult it can be. I am grateful for Corinne, who is just so full of life. I am grateful for the chance to laugh, and fight, and just act dorky with her.
I want to thank my parents. My mother who tirelessly serves our family; I know the Lord will bless her and my family the way he has blessed me.
I also want to thank my father. He was my friend when I didn't have any, and when I did have friends he became their buddy too. I am so thankful for him.
I also want to thank my friends and family who are visiting. They have meant so much to me. I also want to thank the adults who have meant so much in life, all my scout leaders and church leaders and the Bishopric.
I should probably stop before I sound like an award show. But before I let everyone go, I would like to bear my testimony .
There you go, folks. My little brother rocks. The End.