Month: Nov 2013

Be Ready Always to Give an Answer

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Kirk Cameron on Being a Christian

1 Peter 3:15-17 (KJV)

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

The Purpose and Blessings of Thanks Giving

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Horn of Plenty Thanks GivingTraditionally,every fourth Thursday in November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. However, Edward Sanford Martin, a graduate of Harvard University and a founder of the Harvard Lampoon, and the first literary editor of Life Magazine, had a totally different perspective about Thanksgiving Day. He said,

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.

Family Gathering Thanksgiving DayFor many people, Thanksgiving Day is a joyous time when family and friends from both near and far gather together for a day of feasting and celebration. As they enter the home of their hosts they smell the savory aroma of the delectable victuals prepared for the banquet that will soon be set before them. In addition to the bounteous meal, there will be Thanksgiving Day parades and football games to watch, and of course, a time for catching up on all the latest family gossip. But amidst all the joy and excitement, do families remember to take the time to bow their heads and give thanks for the many blessings, both small and great, that the Lord has bestowed upon them? Or, is this just another family gathering and an opportunity to partake of a delicious meal and sit back and watch football games? In other words, is Thanksgiving Day truly a day of Thanks Giving?

Mon and Dad Early YearsAs a boy growing up, I can remember that some of the most exciting times around our home occurred during the holidays. My beloved mother absolutely loved the holidays, and Thanksgiving Day was one of her favorites. My mother would spend the day before and the morning of Thanksgiving carefully preparing the feast that we were to partake of later that day. I can still smell her homemade rolls, candied yams, and mouth-watering turkey cooking in the oven. There was also homemade dressing and gravy and some sort of vegetable. For dessert my mother would make delicious homemade sweet potato pies. I used to love to eat the left over dough that she had after making the pie crusts. When the meal was finally ready and set on the table, we would gather around as a family, and before anyone would have their first bite, we bowed our heads and gave thanks for our many blessings, the meal which was placed before us, and a special blessing upon the hands that had so lovingly prepared the meal that we were about to partake of.

Family PrayerHowever,Thanksgiving Day was not the only day that we paused to give thanks for the many blessings that we received from above. From the age of small children and continuing into our adult years, we were taught that every day was a day of “Thanks Giving.” We were taught that there is always something to be thankful for and, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As we learned to give thanks, we also learned to fear not, to let our hearts be comforted, and to rejoice evermore (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:1). We were also taught to not only give thanks for the large blessings that we receive, but for the smallest of blessings as well –in everything give thanks.

Give ThanksThe scriptures are replete with reasons why we should always give thanks unto the Lord. In Psalm 92:1-2 we learn, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” In Psalm 107:8-9 the Psalmist exhorts, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” And in Psalm 69:30, the Psalmist declares, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” The pages of scriptures record accounts of many people who expressed their thanks to the Lord. For example, King Solomon expressed gratitude for Divine faithfulness and goodness (see 1 Kings 8:14-21). King David thanked God after winning a battle (see 2 Samuel 22:1-51, Psalm 98:1). And there are many others.

In 1863, shortly after committing his life to Christ and while America was still in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln penned “Proclamation of Thanksgiving.” It was this proclamation which eventually led to the establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday. Abraham Lincoln wrote these words in his opening paragraph:

Abraham LincolnThe year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

I draw attention to President Lincoln’s words, “To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come.” How often do we take the blessings of the Lord for granted, forgetting to recognize from whom all blessings come? How often are we found guilty of getting so caught up in the grandeur of things that we tend to miss or dismiss the small things that come into our lives to bless us as well? In that same proclamation President Lincoln reminded us,

The Blessing of the LordNo human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It is not the size of the blessings that should concern us, but rather the acknowledgement of those blessings which are bestowed upon us that should call for every day of our lives to be a day of Thanks Giving.

Mormon Young Man PrayingWe should even be thankful in the midst of storms and tribulation. The Apostle Paul said, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4). He knew that, “all things work together for good to them that love God,to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God will allow storms to come into our lives to send our roots deep into the soil of His Word. As someone has wisely said, God will sometimes place us flat on our backs to get us to look up. Someone has also said, we will see more when we are on our knees than when we are standing on our tiptoes.

The story is told of a man who once watched a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. In an effort to help it, he took a razor blade, and carefully slit the edge of the cocoon. The butterfly escaped from its problem and immediately died. God has a purpose for making the butterfly struggle. It is the struggle that causes its tiny heart to beat fast, and send the life’s blood into its wings. In the same way, the trials that we face in life also have their purpose. They make us struggle—they bring us to our knees. They are the cocoon in which we often find ourselves. It is there that the life’s blood of faith in God helps us to spread our wings.

Faith and giving thanks are close friends. If you have faith in God, you will be thankful because you know His loving hand is upon you, even though you may be standing in a lion’s den, or facing the sweltering heat of a fiery furnace. Regardless of our circumstances or station in life, all of us have so much to be thankful for. God has “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises” and “more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (2 Peter 1:4; Psalm 19:10). We need to believe those promises and thank God continually for them.

An old farmer once had an ungodly relative visit him. After the farmer had bowed his head and thanked God for the food they were about to eat, the relative rudely said,”What did you do that for? There’s no God. We live in an age of enlightenment.” The old farmer smiled and said, “There is one on the farm who doesn’t thank God before he eats.” The relative sat up and said,”Who is this enlightened one?” To which the farmer quietly replied,“My pig.” If we are to be enlightened, let us be enlightened by the fact that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Let us be enlightened in our understanding that every day, not just Thanksgiving Day, should be a day of Thanks Giving. I leave these humble thoughts with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.Amen. Happy Thanks Giving!

What are some of the things that you are thankful for?

The True Master of My Destiny

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Heavenly Father Welcoming His Son HomeI am not in this world to live up to the full expectations of others, therefore I refuse to allow anyone to dictate to me what I should or should not be doing with the life that I have been given. Anyone is free to make suggestions and offer constructive and thoughtful criticism, but no one is the master of my destiny. I serve only one TRUE Master, and it is He who wrote the beginning chapters of my life, and it is He who knows what the last chapters will say.

I have found in my young 54 years of life that oftentimes others raise the bar higher and impose stricter standards for others than for themselves, and when people do not measure up to their predetermined expectations, they are found quick to ridicule and judge those people, and in some instances label them as failures or as nobody.

I am not a nobody, nor am I a failure, nor will I ever accept being labeled as a nobody or failure by someone else. In my Heavenly Father’s eyes I am somebody. I am one of His children. And if I become a failure on this pilgrim journey, it will not be because others have deemed it so, but rather because I have failed myself.

I am not here to strive to win the praises and accolades of men for that is not my goal. My goal is to live my life as pleasing unto the Father, and if I do as He commands and endure to the end, I will have truly succeeded in this life, regardless of what the world thinks or believes. My ultimate goal is to hear Him one day say, “Well done good and faithful servant!” There are no earthly rewards that man could ever give me that will ever compare to the eternal rewards that will be mine when I return home and meet the Master face to face.

The Reach of Our Thanksgiving

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Dr. Charles F. Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia delivered a Thanksgiving message to his congregation titled “The Reach of Our Thanksgiving.” In this message he explains why we are to give thanks for all things – the good things in life, as well as the adversities that we face.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

A Guy Writes a Confession Letter to His Daughter with Down Syndrome

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This story will stop you in your tracks and make you think about the real meaning of life. It will make you realize that there is a time and a purpose for all things that happen in life. There are no coincidences, nothing happens per chance, and God makes no mistakes. This story will help you realize that life is not all about “you,” but rather true living comes in learning to live our life serving others and helping to attend to their needs. We may never know the “Why?” of everything that happens in life, but if we remain faithful, and continue to put our trust in the Lord, His grace is enough to see us through any situation.

O Taste and See That the Lord is Good

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WaterfallIn Psalm 34:8 we read, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” In this verse “taste and see” does not mean that we are to check the Lord’s credentials, but rather it is a warm invitation to “Try this, I know that you will like it.” Compare this to what we are taught in 1 Peter 2:1-3,

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

As we trust in the Lord daily, laying aside all of those things that would otherwise hinder our spiritual growth, we will come to experience just how good and truly wonderful He is.

We read further in Psalm 34:9-10, “O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” And in Psalm 31:23-24 we read,

O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

We say and believe that we belong to the Lord, but do we truly fear Him? To fear the Lord does not indicate that we stand before Him trembling, but rather it means that we show deep respect and honor to Him – we reverence Him.

We demonstrate true reverence by our humble attitude and our genuine worship. Throughout the scriptures we learn that reverence was shown by many different people. Each of them had varied reactions when they were in the presence of the Lord, but all deeply respected Him, and because of their respect, they were each richly blessed. For example, in Genesis 17:1-8 we read of the reverence that Abraham showed:

1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Another example of one who demonstrated true reverence was Moses. We read the following account in Exodus 3:1-10:

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the aangel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

David states that “there is no want to them that fear him [the Lord]”. He also states that “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” We may question what David is saying  because at times it may appear that even though we seek the Lord and reverence Him, there are still may things that we lack in our lives. What we fail to realize is that David is not making a blanket statement that every Christian will always have everything that he wants or desires. This is David’s praise for the Lord’s goodness in his life. The life lesson that David is teaching us here is that those who call upon the Lord in their hour of need will be answered and sometimes in unexpected ways. We need to remember that the Lord knows what we need even before we ask Him and He knows our deepest needs are spiritual. Many Christians, even when faced with unbelievable poverty and hardships still maintain enough spiritual nourishment to continue to live for the Lord. David was saying to have the Lord is all that we really need. The Lord is enough! If we ever feel that we don’t have everything that we need, we should ask ourselves these questions:

  1. Is this really something that I absolutely need?
  2. Is this really good for me to have?
  3. Is there perhaps a better time for me to obtain that which I desire?
  4. Is it best to wait?

Even if we are able to answer yes to all of the above questions, the Lord may allow us to go without to help us learn to be more dependent on Him. He may be trying to teach us that we need Him more than our immediate desires.

In Psalm 34:11-14 we read,

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it  (See also James 1:26; Romans 14:18-19; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:10-12).

David feared the Lord and for the most part chose the way of goodness and peace. He even treated some of his enemies with kindness (see 1 Samuel 24:1-8; 26:5-25).

Scriptures often connect the fear of the Lord with obedience. For example in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” And in John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

The Lord promises great blessings to His people. In Psalm 34, for example, we learn that He has promised to:

  1. Free us from fear (34:4)
  2. Deliver us from trouble (34:6)
  3. Guard us (34:7)
  4. Show us kindness (34:8)
  5. Supply our needs (34:9)
  6. Listen when we talk with him (34:15)
  7. Redeem us (34:22)

And also in Psalm 34, we learn that we can appreciate those blessings when we:

  1. Seek Him (34:4, 10)
  2. Cry out to Him (34:6, 17)
  3. Trust Him (34:8)
  4. Fear Him (34:7, 9)
  5. Keep from lying (34:13)
  6. Turn from sin, do good, and seek peace (34:14)
  7. Have humble hearts (34:18)
  8. Serve Him (34:22)

David said that a person who fears the Lord doesn’t lie, turns from sin, does good, and promotes peace. Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church. It includes obeying the Lord in the way we speak, as well as, the way that we treat others. We are encouraged to fear and trust the Lord, and to exemplify faith, truth, obedience, and goodness in our lives. As we do these things and apply them to our own lives, not only will we be richly blessed, but we will then be able to warmly invite others to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.

Lessons I Learned From My Father

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Dad Short Order Cook

My father, the late John Wallace Brown, began working as a short-order cook during his High School years and continued working in that profession up until the time of his death on 20 November 2006, at 71 years of age.  He would be promoted during his career to Kitchen Manager.

Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), taught,

A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children. . .Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released (Ezra Taft Benson; “To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, November 1987, pp. 50-51).

I have often found it easier to write about and speak of my beloved mother than my father. It is not because I did not love and respect my father, for I did, but for several years ours was an estranged relationship. It is partly because of that relationship that in March 1981, at the young age of 23 years, I made the decision to leave home and join the military. It would not be until the twilight years of my father’s life that I would finally begin to have a more complete understanding of the man he really was.

The last time that I visited with my father was the weekend of my 48th birthday in October 2006. He looked aged, tired, worn out, and troubled about many things. What I saw before me was not the same person that I once knew. Seemingly gone from him was the vibrancy of living. The things that he had once found pleasure in doing had suddenly become passé to him. What I saw was a man who had run his course in life, and was now ready to just sit down and rest awhile.

The rest that he so desired came on Monday, 20 November 2006, at the age of 71 years. Though saddened that he was physically gone, there was also an air of relief that he was finally at peace and no longer had to deal with the mundane things of this world.

I shall forever be grateful for the life lessons that he taught me. It has been those valuable life lessons that have helped to mode and shape me into the man and the person that I am today.

One of those valuable lessons that my father taught me was how to be resourceful. As a boy growing up my family did not have a lot of money and so we often had to rely on the resources that we had available to sustain life. Instead of spending a lot of money at the grocery store for example, my father, for many years, planted his own garden and grew fresh vegetables and other things such as strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe to be used as sustenance for his family and himself. He also enjoyed planting beautiful flower gardens for my mother.

We did not have elaborate banquets to feast from, or gourmet meals to eat, but there was always enough to satisfy each hungry appetite with some left over for meals the next day. Very early in life I became acquainted with our good friend Quaker Oats, as oatmeal for breakfast was a staple. Meat such as venison and rabbit were often given to my father by friends who hunted and wanted to share their bounty. The chicken that we ate often came from those who raised and bred chickens. My mother was usually the one who had the honors of killing the “bird”, cleaning it, and preparing it for the family meal in addition to her delicious homemade dumplings.

My father was also resourceful in making fun things for his children to play with such as bows and arrows, and kites made from sticks and newspaper with a piece of cloth tied on the end for a tail. He even used scrap materials from old toy wagons and such to build us go-karts that my siblings and I spent hours of enjoyment playing with.

In addition to teaching me about how to be resourceful, my father also taught me how to be thrifty. He taught me that it doesn’t take a lot of money to be able to survive in this world; a person just needs to know how to manage the money that he has, and realize that he cannot put out more than he takes in. He also taught me that “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is not a sound way of managing finances. Sooner or later you still have to pay Peter what he is owed.

When my siblings and I were in school we never owned name brand sneakers, expensive sports jackets, or designer jeans. The only name brand that we were remotely familiar with was the wonderful brand called Fruit of the Loom. Most of the shopping for our school shoes and clothes was done at stores such as Sears, JC Penny, or McCroy’s. In our earlier school years, a lot of our clothing was purchased at Mr. Curley’s, a local discount clothing store. Our school supplies were purchased at Woolworth, the local dime store, or some similar place where supplies could be bought at reasonable prices. We did not have fancy, expensive, designer backpacks to carry our books in; we carried them in our arms. We did have lunch boxes with a thermos inside, but very often we took our lunch in a brown paper lunch bag. We were required to cover our textbooks to help protect and keep them for future use, and instead of buying fancy book covers, we used the brown shopping bags that were gotten from the grocery store and cut them to fit our textbooks.

My father was a frugal man who believed that spending money unnecessarily was utter foolishness. “A penny saved is a penny earned” was his philosophy. That is not to say that he was a penny-pinching miser or anything of the sort for he spent money on the necessities of life, but he also strongly believed and taught his four children well that there is a vast difference between what we think we want and what we really need. He would also spend extra money to take us to fun places like Ocean City in the summer or to the fair in Harrington Delaware. He also made sure that we got a gift on our birthday, and at Christmas there were lots of presents under the tree for everyone.

Dad Early Years

Perhaps one of the reasons that my father was so careful with his spending was because he came from a humble upbringing and always worked hard all of his life to have the things that he needed and to provide for his family. And so, another important life lesson that my father taught me was the value of hard work. “A little hard work never killed anyone” he would say. Throughout his life he often worked at least two jobs to make ends meet. In the latter years of his life he worked as a Preparatory Cook in a local restaurant during the day, and then would come home and go to work, often until dark, in the lawn care business which he established and became very successful in. He was definitely not a stranger to hard work. When he laid his head on his pillow at night to rest, he could do so knowing that he had put in an honest day of work.

Another life lesson that my father taught me was that we can all learn new things if we have an open mind and are willing to be taught. We often defeat ourselves in life because we refuse to be teachable and to venture out and try new things.

For example, my father was very good with his hands and loved to build things. One of the things that he built was a work shed where he could work on his projects. It started out as a small one room work shed, but as time went on, he decided to add an addition to house all of his tools such as shovels, rakes, hoses, lawn mowers, etc. Once his lawn care business started to grow, he decided that he needed to expand even more and built another addition to house his lawn equipment and supplies. I might add that all of this was done by building from the ground up – nothing was prefabricated. He also ran all the electric himself and installed all the lighting, light switches, and electrical outlets that were necessary. I might further add that the lawn care business that he maintained was completely established by him, and he worked diligently to get his customers and faithfully served them until the time of his death. He did not take any expensive courses in carpentry or electrical installation. He did not major in Business Administration at a major university. He simply used the knowledge that he had obtained by watching others and put that knowledge to practical use. He was able to carry out many of the things that he did because he was teachable and willing to venture out and used what he had learned to have the things that he needed.

The acronym that I use to help me remember the life lessons that my father taught me is “Remember The Home Team” (R.T.H.T.) That is, (1) Be resourceful – learn to use the things that you already have at your disposal, (2) Be thrifty – learn to separate your wants from your needs and be a wise steward over the funds that you have, (3) Be a hard worker – be able to lay your head on your pillow at night and rest knowing that you did not waste the day that the Lord had given you, but that you were a wise steward of time, and you seized the day and did an honest day of work, and (4) Be teachable – have an open mind and be willing to learn and try new things.

The valuable life lessons that my father taught me are not only lessons that I remember, but lessons that I will not soon forget. My father was a great teacher and mentor. I only pray that I was as good a student as I should have been to learn and apply the valuable lessons that he taught me.

And the Children Shall Lead Them. . . .

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Band of Football BrothersChildren are the future leaders of the world. Their small acts of kindness, and their random acts of love for another are noteworthy examples for all of us to emulate in our own lives. To show love and kindness towards another person costs absolutely nothing, and the rewards and dividends received in return are great.

For the Love of Our Brother

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It has been wisely said, “Service is the rent we pay for our own room on earth.” We should be carefully reminded that the rent is due on a daily basis, and because of that, we will never receive a receipt that is stamped “paid in full.”

Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught:

Mormon Helping Hands Alabama
It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowman, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves. In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by loosing ourselves, we find ourselves. (Spencer W. Kimball; “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, December 1974, p.2, 5).

Have you ever stopped to wonder what it is that truly motivates you to do the things that you do? Do you go about life seeking only those things which will gain you some type of personal recognition, or do you do the things you do, thinking not solely of yourself, but with the best interests of others at heart?

Love One Another

For example, I have been blessed with the talent and ability to be able to share my thoughts and feelings through the things that I write and share with others. But, sometimes I have to take a step back and ask myself if I am writing in hopes that someone will recognize my talents and abilities, or am I writing in hopes that someone will read what I have written and be blessed by what they have read. I pray that the latter will always be true. I pray that I will always live my life with the realization that it is not about me and what I may be able to do, but what I can do to be a blessing to others. Even with my writing I am in some small way rendering a service to others. Russell C. Taylor, a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ, taught, “Service opens windows in your life instead of just mirrors that always reflect yourself.” Therefore, I strive to live my life in such a manner that the things that I do are not just for me, but because of the love that I have in my heart for my brothers and sisters.

I personally believe that to a certain extent we all want to be recognized for the things that we do. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in ourselves that we fail to see anyone else but ourselves.

Mormon Youth Teaching

Even sometimes when we are preparing a message or a lesson for Church, we tend to feel that it has to be the greatest message ever delivered or the greatest lesson ever taught. Afterwards, if we are not careful, we can feel as though what we said or taught was ineffective, especially if no one comes to us and thanks us for our “great” efforts. If we find ourselves in this situation, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “Was the message that I delivered or the lesson that I taught for my glory or for His glory?” If we look at things in the proper perspective, of being in His service and bringing Him glory, our entire approach – from preparation, to delivery, to finish will be different. We will experience a certain peace unlike any other. A peace that “can come to both the giver and the receiver as we follow the promptings of the Spirit to serve one another.” (Barbara W. Winder; “Draw Near unto Me through Obedience,” Ensign, November 1985, p. 96).

Along those same lines we need to ask ourselves what audience we are intending to reach with our message. Do we expect that our message will reach the world, or do we focus on reaching the one who desperately hungers for the spiritual bread that we have that can satisfy that hunger? Our concern should not be for any type of self recognition, but our focus and concern should be for the love and edification of another – for the love of our brother. Even when we are delivering a message or teaching a class, we are rendering a service to our brothers and sisters.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught,

Visiting Teaching Mormon
God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” (Spencer W. Kimball; “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, December 1974, p. 5).

And Elder Richard G. Scott taught,

If you would be loved, love another. If you would be understood, show understanding to another. If you would find peace, harmony, and happiness, lift another (Richard G. Scott; “The Power to Make a Difference,” Ensign, November 1983, p. 71).

Serving One Another Faithfully

In every area of our lives – in the home, on our jobs, at school, in the community in which we live, and in the Church that we attend – we have the opportunity to be of service to our brothers and sisters. Some of our acts of kindness and service may be great, some may be small. Some may be noticeable, and some may not be noticeable at all. In some cases the one receiving the service may be totally unaware as to who rendered the service, but as President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “Loving service anonymously given may be unknown to man – but the gift and the giver are known to God.” (Thomas S. Monson; “Anonymous,” Ensign, May 1983, p. 57.)

Perhaps Bryant S. Hinckley summarized it best when he said:

Service is the virtue that has distinguished the great of all times and which they are remembered by. It places a mark of nobility upon its disciples. It is the dividing line which separates the two great groups of the world – those who help and those who hinder, those who lift and those who lean, those who contribute and those who only consume. How much better it is to give than to receive. Service in any form is comely and beautiful. To give encouragement, to impart sympathy, to show interest, to banish fear, to build self-confidence and awaken hope in the hearts of others, in short to love them and to show it, is to render the most precious service. (Quoted by Homer S. Ellsworth; “The Love That Never Ceases to Be,” New Era, June 1975, p. 14).

As we journey through this life, it is my humble prayer that we may do so realizing that we are not the center of the universe and the sun does not rise nor set merely upon us. If in our lives we are able to help our brothers and sisters to lighten the heavy load that they may bear, in even the smallest of ways, then our living will not be in vain. Let us live our lives realizing and understanding that it is not all about “me.” The real blessings in life come when we forget about ourselves, and focus on doing things that will help lift another – when we do things for the love of our brother.