Showing posts with label #mormon.org. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #mormon.org. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2016

Don't Go and Box Jesus Up with the Christmas Ornaments: #LIGHTtheWORLD All Year Long


Many inches of snow fell where I live this Christmas weekend.  It was silent and perfect.  A magnificently white Christmas.  This morning the sun is melting what the snow plows left behind on the roads and the trees are sparkly and wrapped up in perfectly white fluff.  It looks exactly as the world should look on the day after Christmas.  A happy sun and a glistening earth that must be rejoicing because it by itself knows we have a Savior and a way back to God, a way to repent and be made clean again, a Heavenly Father who loves us eternally and completely.  Why wouldn't the earth rejoice when Christ Himself is the one who made it?    

The #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign has been a great experiment.  Many participated in small and large ways.  Some did it quietly and kept the exercises to themselves, while others posted on social media and shared their thoughts and experiences.  I did a little of both.  Some topics I chose to blog about, some I wanted to keep just to myself, and some I shared with my family and friends only.  

There isn't a #LIGHTtheWORLD day on the advent calendar today for December 26.  I woke up this morning a little melancholy about not having a "day" to choose an action for or come up with one of my own, but I decided I could indeed make up one of my own.  For me it will be #LIGHTtheWORLD by keeping the fire alight in your soul and in your life.  Don't let it end with the advent calendar.  Don't stop focusing on Jesus Christ just because Christmas is "over" for another year.  

I learned many things by participating in the campaign designed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was a terrific experience for me.  I learned many new things by thinking of broader ways that the various daily themes applied to me, to our family, and to the world.  I chose to dig a little deeper and do a little stretching.  Some days I simply reflected and studied more, and other days were more of a big experience.  


Today on December 26, I am wondering if the Lighting of the World will continue.  It should.  It needs to.  Did we only participate because it was a good thing to do during Christmas?  On what level did we commit to more closely align ourselves with Christ and His teachings?  For the things that we did that were a little difficult for us, are we committed to change or will we quickly go back to our "natural man" ways?  Was our commitment to the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign broad and inclusive to all our brothers and sisters, a.k.a, the world, or did it only apply to our small circles of family and friends?  

Personally, I noticed some things that I thought were a speck sad.  People writing about the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign and focusing on Christ, but also refusing to say hello or be kind to certain people.  Still there were others who appeared to be using the campaign to get ahead in social circles---the 'look-at-me" mentality of "aren't I the greatest person ever born," instead of really making it about Jesus.  In recent years I've noticed a trend of the socially politicizing of Christmas gifts and Christmas cards.  There are people who send cards every year to family and loved ones and the ones who take some people off the list one year, but put them back on the list the next year.  I guess it's a good way to know where you stand with some people, whether or not you got a card that particular year.  Many people don't send cards at all anymore.  I guess it's a tradition that has become expensive and tedious and some feel it's old-fashioned.  I think it's a grand tradition that should never die and it's one of my favorite parts about the season, the getting and sending of cards.  

Most importantly, I noticed many beautiful things around me this Christmas time.  Maybe it was simply because I was consciously choosing to look for those good things.  I learned of tremendous acts of sacrifice and service at the school where my daughter teaches; things that I'm pretty sure would never have happened at the schools my own children attended.  I am grateful for the service given to my son and his new wife 1200 miles away when they needed help replacing a dead car battery and my son was sick and needed a blessing.  My own youngest sister came to my aid when I needed help running errands because I wasn't well enough to drive.  A friend in my neighborhood took me to the store and shared her time and sense of humor with me.  Many people from my church congregation offered love and support when I fell ill a few weeks ago.  And out in the world of holiday hustle and berry-colored bustle, I witnessed things by total strangers that will last in my memory for a very long time.  




I guess what's on my mind today is what will I do to continue to Light the World?  I don't ever want to fall in line with society and box Jesus up with the tree and the lights, only to pull Him out and back into my life for a few weeks again next December.  I don't want to be like the people who profess to be followers of Jesus during Christmas, but when there aren't any excuses to drop off goodies, they go back to ignorance and intolerance.  It's none of my business what you will choose to do.  I am only in charge of myself and my commitment to Christ and His Gospel.  I can only be who I am and try to become better by applying the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I can only try to have integrity by being sincere in my actions and interactions.  I guess some people might be offended by this, but I don't use Christmas to get ahead in social circles.  For me and for my family, Christmas is about Jesus.  

For me, Christmas is also about integrity.  It's about doing what you say you're going to do.  It's about not giving up when the crowds in the tall and spacious building and the devil himself are laughing at you.  It's about looking to the ultimate example of the One who finished gloriously what He started and what the Father asked Him to do.  Because They loved us and still love us, God called Jesus to perform the ultimate assignment ever given and Jesus did not shrink.  He did not let us down.  He was true to the end and He is still being true.  Some people don't believe this, but He does actually expect the same from you and me.  God expects us to be true.  He expects us to win.  He expects us to try.  And He knows we can because He has given us the Way, the Truth, and the Life in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.



My hope and prayer for myself, my family, and the world is that we will continue, or start in the first place, to focus on Jesus Christ and His gospel.  The whole point of even being here at all is not about us---it's about Him.  It's about serving Him by serving others, honoring Him by respecting and honoring others, loving Him by loving others, and repenting and seeking forgiveness and also forgiving others.  The mistake we make is judging others, their motives, and their hearts.  Nobody knows another person's heart except God and Christ.  Why are we so hard on each other then?  One wrong word said in error or in honest ignorance means a lifetime of condemnation in some circles, but God and Christ are pleading with us to repent truly and humbly and then we are forgiven freely?   No wonder the world crucified Jesus.  I used to wonder how that could happen, but the older I get, the more I see how it did.  

We choose every day which side of the fence we walk on and how closely we travel alongside that same fence.  Are we trying to straddle the line with one foot in both camps?  I personally don't believe in fence sitting and I don't much care for people who do.  I know who is the leader of fence sitting and it's not Jesus.  

On this December 26, 2016, I know that I want to continue to Light the World, even if it's in my own heart, my own home, my own marriage, and my own family.  I made a covenant when I was baptized that I would do so.  I'm not even close to being perfect and I'm grateful that perfection is not required in mortality.  But a pure heart, a soft heart, and clean hands are what are required and they're completely and totally achievable in this earthly life.  One more new year is around the corner and with the excitement and personal strength that has come to my life from #LIGHTtheWO#RLD, I will promise to keep the light afire in my heart and in my life.  And I hope you will, too.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#LIGHTtheWORLD: Rejoice in Christ and Keep Your Promises



My husband has some very special aunts and uncles and a particular one came to my mind today in thinking of the #LIGHTtheWORLD theme today which is, "Jesus read the scriptures and so can you."  I thought of Uncle Scott.  He has been gone for several years, but what he taught me in those short years I was acquainted with him left a lasting impact on me.  He loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he was converted.  He loved the Savior.  At his funeral it was shared that his favorite scripture was this one from the Book of Mormon, in the book of 2nd Nephi, Chapter 25, verse 26.  It reads:

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, and we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  

I had young children when this great man named Scott passed away.  He showed so much kindness to our family and taught us so much.  He knew what was important.  He had money from a very successful business and could have had a fancier house and a nicer car.  But he drove a broken-down Chevy Suburban that had to be one of the earliest models.  It had seat belts that didn't work and even broken seats.  But in that truck he took us up rocky red cliffs and very close to careening drop-offs in San Juan County, Utah, to show us the beauties of God's magnificent creations.  He loved people.  I didn't know him that well, but I knew he loved even me.  He had lost a young little son many years ago and then many years later, his beloved wife.  Then he found himself ill with cancer.  But he was still happy.  He still wanted to serve people.  He still wanted to drive us on adventures when we came to visit.

The last time we saw him, he was thin and frail.  He still insisted on coming along to our adventure to Monument Valley.  He didn't drive this time.  He came to be our tour guide.  Oh, how I loved his stories and his impressions of that country.  It was one of the most spiritual adventures I've ever been on.  Knowing that he was so sick, but wanted to share that time with us and his sister, my husband's mother.  He had promised our young children a ride on one of his tractors before we came home, but I noticed how tired he was getting and we didn't want to say anything to remind anyone, knowing he had already given us so much of himself.



We had spent an evening up at the family cabin in the mountains surrounding Blanding, Utah.  It was a lovely time for all and I loved seeing how much compassion he had for his children and grandchildren, sisters and brothers, kin of every kind, and his friends.  He was weak and thin, but still loving and teaching.  We decided to slip out quietly, return to where we were staying and journey home the next morning.  It was starting to get dark after all.

After getting down off the mountain and back into town, we stopped at the grocery store for some snacks and breakfast items for the next morning.  When we came out of the store, who do you suppose was waiting by our car?  Uncle Scott.  He remembered he had promised to show the kids the tractor and he was a man of his word.  I couldn't believe it.  It tore me up inside.  He insisted and you always want to please Uncle Scott.

We followed Scott over to the tractors.  He picked out a nice big back-hoe that he thought the kids would like.  He insisted they get in the tractor scoop and he got behind the controls and gently lifted them up and down, slowly and gently.  A simple little ride in a tractor scoop for a few short minutes.  I could hardly keep the tears back.  I knew we would not see him again in this life.  I knew he knew it, too.  And I knew why he kept his promise.  Because a promise to ride in a tractor is a big deal to a little kid, but mostly because he was a Christ-like man.  He didn't just study about Christ or teach about Christ.  He lived like Christ.  He didn't take more than he needed and he lived freely.  He didn't lose his faith or testimony when he lost his sweet son and his beautiful wife.  And he didn't stop serving when he himself became ill.  No, Uncle Scott did all of these things, preaching of Christ, talking of Christ, but mostly rejoicing in Christ.  He knew what Christ meant to him and should mean to all of us.  Uncle Scott understood.  He knew that Christ will always keep His promises and to be like Christ, Scott was determined to keep his own promises.  Even to little children who wanted to ride a tractor.  I am sure that it will be similar, but on a much grander and fantastic scale when we come to fully and completely realize just how Jesus is really going to come through on the promises He has made to us, if we will be worthy.

The new scriptures my husband gave me for my birthday!  The others were completely worn out!

The holy scriptures speak for themselves.  I love the Bible.  I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart.  It changed my life and the lives of so many people for good.  I know it is true!  It is the word of God.  I have read and studied it many times and prayed to receive an witness from God that it is true.  My prayers were answered.  The Holy Ghost testified to me that it is indeed God's word.  It testifies of Jesus Christ and He is the prominent figure in the sacred record.  An excellent article about this is found here, Names of Christ in the Book of Mormon.

If you've never read the Book of Mormon or need to read it again, I encourage you to do so.  It's the story of all time.  It's packed with drama, war, redemption, love, brotherhood, and peace.  It will do your heart good.  It just might change your life---it could even save your life.  I know it has the power to make us happier.  Anything that gets us closer to Jesus has to be a good thing!  

If you'd like a free copy, click here to receive one, Get a free copy of the Book of Mormon!