Sunday, October 10, 2010

Focus on the Savior

I just wanted to share something really quick on this wonderful Sunday afternoon. Today in Sunday School our lesson talked a little bit about building our foundation on Christ. The teacher asked us the question of how do we get rid of confusion in our lives or what do we do when the spiritual storms come to our lives? Believe it or not the first thing that I thought of was a song on the new Zac Brown Band CD. It's a song called "Quiet your Mind". The basis of the song is that with everything going so fast in life sometimes you just need to quiet your mind because "if you're too busy talking you're not busy listening to hear what the land (I thought it said "Lamb" the first time I heard it and it would fit here) has to say. The fact is that sometimes we have so much going on in our lives that we forget to quiet our minds so we can hear what the Lord has to say. Often he tries to speak to us through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost but our minds are so cluttered and so loud that we drown out what the spirit is saying. We need to quiet our minds so that we can focus on the Savior. This point was brought home to me in a dream I had a few weeks ago. Some of you are probably thinking, "A dream? Is this one of DJ's crazy action packed dreams?" Well actually this is one of a very few dreams where I woke up and immediately knew it was from God and had an actual meaning. In the dream I was in a room filled with my immediate and extended family. Everyone was talking and having a good time but I was very confused. Everyone was loud and having their own conversation. Yeah I know this sounds like family home evening right? Well then the room started to swirl back and forth and I couldn't focus on anything. I began to be worried and wasn't sure what to do to relievethe confusion. I caught a glimpse of a picture on the wall of Jesus. I knew right away that if I wished to get rid of the confusion I had to put all my energy into focusing on that picture. As soon as I did this the confusion left and the room stopped swaying. I woke up soon after but the message was clear to me. I had so much going on in my life that I was forgetting to focus on the Lord. I knew what I needed to do and as soon as I did that I literally felt the confusion leave my life. I still had the same tasks that needed to be performed and still had the same amount of time to do them but now my focus was in the right place and the confusion was gone. Sometimes we just need to quiet our minds and listen to the Lord and place our focus and our trust in him. If we do this then Satan will not be able to confuse us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Avoiding the curse of Laman

OK so some of you are probably thinking one of two things: RACIST! or Why in the world would I want to be any whiter than I already am? Let me just say that if having perfect olive dark skin is a curse then it's one I guess I'll live with the rest of my life! (Don't hate). So what curse am I talking about? Let me just throw a scripture  in here to illustrate it for you:
And after the aangel had spoken unto us, he departed. And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to amurmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? (1 Nephi 3:30-31)
Seriously Laman? My mom always told me I had a disease called selective hearing (My wife would argue that I still do) and selective memory but this is bad! One minute you have an angel come down from heaven, lay down the law as you are beating you younger brothers with sticks and then literally a few seconds later you are already murmuring. How can you faith be so weak? I mean c'mon! Right? I'm sure we're all thinking the same thing: There is no way my memory is that bad or that my faith is that weak! Well in the words of Lee Corso let me just say "not so fast my friend". To convince you that you probably experience the curse of Laman just let me share a personal experience from my life.
Before I get into the story I will share a brief background: Prior to this semester I was an Exercise Science major looking to get into the Teaching Physical Education/Coaching program. Since I had only taken the prerequisite classes the semester before, I had planned on applying for and entering the program in the Winter of 2011. Longer than I wanted to take but it looked like the best I could do. After dabbling around in college for a few years it was time for me to get finished with my major so I could support a family. So lets jump right in then.
Monday: First day of classes at BYU. I had my class schedule all worked out and my work schedule was perfectly placed around it. It was shaping up to be a pretty good semester with most of my classes in my program. The only problem was that I wasn't actually in the program so there was a slight possibility that I would have to retake a couple of them. Here was where the Lord stepped in and started working miracles. When I arrived at my second class of the day I spoke with one of my teachers and explained my situation and asked if I should take the class I was in and if it would count for my major when I got accepted. She told me that it would not, but she told me that the program head was in her office and I should talk to her because they had already admitted someone into the program that same day. I went straight to her office and spoke with her. She simply handed me an application and told me to fill it out. Then she sent me to another professor to get some other stuff straight. I was in the program! It was amazing actually. Everything seemed to be falling into place. It was quite obvious that the Lord was indeed on my side and preparing the way for me. Then there was the hang up: I had to had a couple of classes to my schedule that conflicted with my work schedule. I began praying and decided that if this was what the Lord wanted me to do then he would continue to prepare the way.
Tuesday: I went into work on Tuesday and explained my situation to the people in charge of scheduling. I told them how I had to add a couple of classes and that I needed to change my work schedule. I wasn't really worried about it because this company is usually very good at working around school schedules. To make a long story short they were "unable" to make the changes and I was forced to quit my job in order to continue my schooling. As I sat at home wondering about the future I began to doubt if I had indeed made the correct decision. "What if it was a mistake to quit,"I asked myself. Maybe I should have just dropped the classes to continue working. Did we really have a sufficient enough income to pull this off? Like Satan always does he began to introduce doubt into my heart. As the doubt crept in my faith crept out and I started to waiver in my convictions. How soon had I forgotten the feelings of the spirit in guiding me to the direction I had come. Now here is how you avoid Laman's curse and forgetting altogether. You may murmur for a moment but there is only one way to nip the curse in the bud. I got down on my knees and began praying for faith. I asked my Father in Heaven to reassure me that I was indeed doing what he wanted. I asked that the way would be prepared so I would know that it was the right path. As I got up off my knees my memory was restored. I began again to remember how good the Lord had been to me and how he had already prepared the way. Because Ashleigh and I had been faithful at paying our tithing I was not worried that we would not meet our financial needs. Soon I remembered that even before I had lost my job the Lord had already helped us. Just a few weeks earlier Ashleigh had been given a promotion at her job and her new income would be more than the combined income of both of our jobs before I had to quit. How amazing and loving is the foresight of the Lord? I wonder at how quickly any of us can forget all of the good things the our Savior has already done for us! We should all look at our own lives and see where we have let Laman's curse destroy our faith and then get down on our knees and ask God to renew our faith in him. I promise if you do this you will, like me be allowed to remember again "the greatness of the Holy One of Israel".

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Entropy and the Eternities

Have you ever asked yourself how time works? Why do we keep time on earth but God does not? I ask myself these questions quite frequently and I ponder them often. So why am I telling you this? Well today I was at the mall exchanging a pair of jeans that I bought yesterday for a pair a bit larger. (Marriage is starting to take it's toll) While I was walking out of the mall I noticed a book signing just outside the bookstore and the book they were selling just happened to catch my eye. I wasn't that interested though so I moved on but as fate would have it I was walking the wrong way so I had to turn around and walk past the book again. I was feeling a bit sorry for the guy doing the book signing because there was no one there and he was sitting alone just waiting for someone to want his book. So being the softy that I am I stopped to ask him about his book. I can't remember what the title was but the topic struck something inside me. It had something to do with traveling to other places in the universe through light. The young Prince in the book inherits a space ship made of gold that allows him to travel to different places as long as he is a "faithful knight". Sounds like a good fantasy book so I prod him on a bit and ask him if he does scientific research before he writes or if it is pure fantasy. Of course he does lots of research before he writes and so he shares an idea with me. He rhetorically asks me, what is time? As I'm thinking he responds that he believes time does not exist with out entropy. That became the center of my considerings for the next hour or so until I arrived at somewhat of a concrete conclusion.
For those of you who it's been a while since your last science course, entropy is this: Randomness and disorganization. The second law of thermodynamic states that as you move "forward" in time the entropy of  the universe is always increasing. In other words things become more disorganized as you move forward in time. Even when you organize something your self (such as baking a cake assembling a computer) you are putting in more energy than what is given out and so the net effect is negative. So time does not exist without entropy. Let that sink in for a minute. If things do not become more disorganized (they remain in the same perfected state) then time does not exist. Time for humans is a simply a sequence of events IE the sun comes up and the sun goes down and we have one day. But from an eternal perspective time is measured in terms of entropy. The older your body gets the more it decays and experiences entropy and thus time passes. The three nephites for example don't experience time in this sense. Their body's do not decay and so the only time they experience is in sequences of events. They see decay and entropy around them and so they can measure those events as a sequence in time. 
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden there was no decay and no entropy in their isolated system and so there was no time. There were only sequences, one thing obviously happens after another but because nothing changes there is no time. This would lead one to believe that the closer man (or the earth) gets to perfection the less you would experience time. A perfect celestial body and earth would, like God, not experience entropy and therefore would not experience time. 
We also learn from Abraham that Kolob is the closest planet to God. On Kolob one day is 1000 years on our earth. According to the above theory, Kolob would be in a more perfect state then our world and that would explain why time moves slower on that planet. Another explanation could be that our earth is decaying at a rate 365,000 times that of Kolob. It would a appear once again that the closer you get to God and perfection that "time" or entropy seems to slow down. 
This is all interesting and I hope it leaves you pondering but it's all really useless if there is not practical application. Maybe you will find your own and thus better you life. Here is my application and you can use it if you want.
Sin and death decay the body. They are spiritual entropy. Christ suffered and died to overcome these two obstacles that we obviously could not overcome on our own. We will all experience death but because of the resurrection we will all live again with an immortal body. In order to overcome sin we need to come unto Christ and let him guide us to perfection. Every time we sin our spirits decay. They move farther away from our Heavenly Father. But because of the atonement we can actually overcome entropy! Sin does not have to move us away from our Father. If we come unto Christ he will help us turn our weaknesses and sin into strength and righteousness. We will move closer to God, perfection and Eternal life. I know this because I can read it in the scriptures and I can see it in my own life. I know this may not make perfect sense but I hope I did a descent enough job that at least you may take something from it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Story of the First Foolish Tradition.

As the sole write and creator of The Book of Laman, I am posed with the almost impossible task of choosing the first foolish tradition that shall be eradicated. In future posts I will rely on my readers keen ability to spot foolish traditions and report them. Today, however I will be forced to rely on my own dry whit and wisdom.
The first tradition had to be good. Like the picture in my title it had to be monumental, funny and touching (but in a different way). And so the tradition was chosen: The Monthly Histomony.
Definition: This tradition actually has nothing to do with your allergy medication. (If you do hear of a monthly histomony for allergy I would be in the market though) Histomony is a combination of couple of words. History and Testimony. Hence a monthly histomony is the recitation of the history of a certain month given during fast and testimony meeting.
History: The histomony actually has it's origins in the "thanktemony". Thanketmony is the combination of thank yous and testimonies that we learn in primary. The thanktemony is not inherently wrong and should not be discouraged in younger children. It did however develop into the histomony that we know today.
Why is this a foolish tradition: Well there is nothing wrong with a histomony if it were given during fast and histomony meeting. Unfortunately for the histomony givers there is not such meeting in the LDS church. Histomonies should be discouraged during fast and TESTIMONY meeting because they are not TESTIMONIES. Giving a true testimony in front fellow worshipers strengthens ones testimony of the gospel. Giving a monthly update of your personal history does not strengthen your testimony but does few a negative things. First off it detracts from the overall spirit of the meeting. Second it takes the opportunity from someone else to give a meaningful testimony. Lastly it is as a wise person once said, "putting icing on crap". The giver of the histomony believes he or she is giving a testimony and that they are consequently growing in the gospel. When in reality there is either a lack of knowledge about what a testimony is or the actual lack of testimony and so no growth is occurring.
Possible solutions:
1. Call out the histomony givers during Sunday School.
2. Set an example by cultivating your own testimony and setting the example on fast Sundays by sharing your own testimony with your ward or branch
3. Shout down thanktemonies and testimonies during your own "lecturemony".
4. Befriend the histomony giver and find out if he/she either lacks a testimony or lacks the understanding of what a testimony is. Try and lovingly help that person gain a testimony of the gospel.
Lastly if you are a histimony giver and are covering your own crap with icing or if you know someone with that tendency then I've got some serious advice. Ask yourself if you really desire to have a testimony strong enough that it will give rise to a new desire: to share your testimony. If the answer is yes (or if you were one of the group who simply "knows" someone who's covering the crap) then grab the nearest copy of the Book of Mormon. Go to your room/study/grove or equivalent. Turn to 3 Nephi Chapter 11. Before reading say a prayer in your heart and let your Heavenly Father know your desires. Read Chapter 11. Read Moroni 10:3-5. Follow the instruction given in those verses. Now go share your testimony. It doesn't have to be in sacrament meeting but it does need to be shared. If you don't see immediate results then repeat the process and choose different chapters in the Book of Mormon each time.
And thus ended the First chapter of The Book of Laman.

Quote of the day: "A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). As we profess truth rather than admonish, exhort, or simply share interesting experiences, we invite the Holy Ghost to confirm the verity of our words. The power of pure testimony (see Alma 4:19) does not come from sophisticated language or effective presentation; rather, it is the result of revelation conveyed by the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost." -Elder David A. Bednar