October 31, 2012

“Each Fought Well” (to another hero gone)

“Each Fought Well”
(to another hero gone)
 
cji
10/31/12
 
Each to the battlefield to enter
age and sex un-mattering to any
bullets, land mines, bombs blind
disease and other wages of war
lingering a passive death knoll
years to pass uncounted in tears
till awakening only then to die
widows and orphans then to cry
the lingering in our mind fears
who next will blindness toll
once strong and vital now tore
so long ago nightmares remind
striking on the battlefield many
a disease process ‘in venter’!
 
 
Copyright © 2012 – cji
 

"Covenants" Home Teaching Nov. 2012

 
Home Teaching Message: Resolutions
Of Regrets
President Monson, we love you. Thank you for the inspired and historic announcement on the building of new temples and missionary service. Because of them, I’m sure great blessings will come to us and to many future generations.
My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends! We are all mortal. I hope this does not come as a surprise to anyone.
None of us will be on earth very long. We have a number of precious years which, in the eternal perspective, barely amount to the blink of an eye.
And then we depart. Our spirits “are taken home to that God who gave [us] life.”1 We lay our bodies down and leave behind the things of this world as we move to the next realm of our existence.
When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.
However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we made and the things we have done. In the process, we remember many sweet moments that give warmth to our souls and joy to our hearts. But we also remember the regrets—the things we wish we could go back and change.
A nurse who cares for the terminally ill says that she has often asked a simple question of her patients as they prepared to depart this life.
“Do you have any regrets?” she would ask.2
Being so close to that final day of mortality often gives clarity to thought and provides insight and perspective. So when these people were asked about their regrets, they opened their hearts. They reflected about what they would change if only they could turn back the clock.
As I considered what they had said, it struck me how the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ can affect our life’s direction for good, if only we will apply them.
There is nothing mysterious about the principles of the gospel. We have studied them in the scriptures, we have discussed them in Sunday School, and we have heard them from the pulpit many times. These divine principles and values are straightforward and clear; they are beautiful, profound, and powerful; and they can definitely help us to avoid future regrets.

I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love

Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.
Men in particular sang this universal lament: they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the [daily] treadmill of … work.”3 Many had lost out on choice memories that come from spending time with family and friends. They missed developing a deep connection with those who meant the most to them.
Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
Is it?
I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.
In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.
Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.

I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential

Another regret people expressed was that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential, that too many songs remained unsung.
I am not speaking here of climbing the ladder of success in our various professions. That ladder, no matter how lofty it may appear on this earth, barely amounts to a single step in the great eternal journey awaiting us.
Rather, I am speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be.
We arrive in this world, as the poet said, “trailing clouds of glory”4 from the premortal sphere.
Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence.
Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient?
Would it not be wiser for us to “lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”?5
How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman.
We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship.
When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.
Declaring our testimony of the gospel is good, but being a living example of the restored gospel is better. Wishing to be more faithful to our covenants is good; actually being faithful to sacred covenants—including living a virtuous life, paying our tithes and offerings, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and serving those in need—is much better. Announcing that we will dedicate more time for family prayer, scripture study, and wholesome family activities is good; but actually doing all these things steadily will bring heavenly blessings to our lives.
Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.
Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.
The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.

I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

Another regret of those who knew they were dying may be somewhat surprising. They wished they had let themselves be happier.
So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”6
Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.
Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”7
We are commanded “to give thanks in all things.”8 So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for, rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition?
The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold.”9
Brothers and sisters, with the bountiful blessings of our Heavenly Father, His generous plan of salvation, the supernal truths of the restored gospel, and the many beauties of this mortal journey, “have we not reason to rejoice?”10
Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.

Of Resolutions

One day we will take that unavoidable step and cross from this mortal sphere into the next estate. One day we will look back at our lives and wonder if we could have been better, made better decisions, or used our time more wisely.
To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:
·         Resolve to spend more time with those we love.
·         Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
·         Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.
It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret11 and remove the burden of our sins.12 His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart,13 and a determination to do better and especially to become better.
Yes, this life is passing swiftly; our days seem to fade quickly; and death appears frightening at times. Nevertheless, our spirit will continue to live and will one day be united with our resurrected body to receive immortal glory. I bear solemn witness that because of the merciful Christ, we will all live again and forever. Because of our Savior and Redeemer, one day we will truly understand and rejoice in the meaning of the words “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”14
The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day. I pray that we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
“Covenants”
 
cji
11/01/12
 
Coming into this mortality test
leaving the Father and Son
coming to this earth so young
yet having covenants made;
 
Resolutions which are eternal
seeking to return to our home
as strangers here for a time
to become our human best!
 
 
Copyright © 2012 – cji
 

“To Know Truth” Visiting Teaching Nov. 2012

 
Visiting Teaching Message: I Know It. I Live It. I Love It.
 We are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort. It is individual. It is the process of a lifetime.
I am inspired by the examples being set by the righteous members of the Church, including the noble youth. You courageously look to the Savior. You are faithful, obedient, and pure. The blessings you receive because of your goodness affect not only your lives but also my life and the lives of countless others in profound but often unknown ways.
A few years ago, I was in line to make a purchase at my local grocery store. Ahead of me stood a young woman, about 15 years old. She appeared confident and happy. I noticed her T-shirt and couldn’t resist talking to her. I began, “You’re from out of state, aren’t you?”
She was surprised by my question and replied, “Yes, I am. I’m from Colorado. How did you know?”
I explained, “Because of your T-shirt.” I made my accurate supposition after reading the words on her shirt, “I’m a Mormon. Are you?”
I continued, “I must tell you that I’m impressed by your confidence to stand out and wear such a bold declaration. I see a difference in you, and I wish every young woman and every member of the Church could have your same conviction and confidence.” Our purchases completed, we said good-bye and parted.
Yet for days and weeks after this random everyday moment, I found myself seriously reflecting upon this encounter. I wondered how this young girl from Colorado came to possess such confidence in her identity as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I couldn’t help but wonder what meaningful phrase I would figuratively choose to have printed on my T-shirt reflecting my belief and testimony. In my mind, I considered many possible sayings. Eventually, I came upon an ideal statement I would proudly wear: “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.”
Today I’d like to focus my remarks around this bold, hopeful statement.
The first part of the statement is a self-assured, unapologetic declaration: “I’m a Mormon.” Just as the young woman I met in the grocery store was not afraid to let the world know she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hope we will never be afraid or reluctant to acknowledge, “I’m a Mormon.” We should be confident, as was the Apostle Paul when he proclaimed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”1 As members, we are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort. It is individual. It is the process of a lifetime.
The next part of the statement affirms, “I know it.” In today’s world, there are a multitude of activities, subjects, and interests vying for every minute of our attention. With so many distractions, do we have the strength, discipline, and commitment to remain focused on what matters most? Are we as well versed in gospel truths as we are in our studies, careers, hobbies, sports, or our texts and tweets? Do we actively seek to find answers to our questions by feasting on the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets? Do we seek the confirmation of the Spirit?
The importance of gaining knowledge is an eternal principle. The Prophet Joseph Smith “loved knowledge for its righteous power.”2 He said: “Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. … Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.”3
All truth and knowledge is important, but amidst the constant distractions of our daily lives, we must especially pay attention to increasing our gospel knowledge so we can understand how to apply gospel principles to our lives.4 As our gospel knowledge increases, we will begin to feel confident in our testimonies and be able to state, “I know it.”
Next is the statement, “I live it.” The scriptures teach that we must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”5 We live the gospel and become “doers of the word” by exercising faith, being obedient, lovingly serving others, and following our Savior’s example. We act with integrity and do what we know is right “at all times and in all things, and in all places”6 no matter who may or may not be watching.
In our mortal condition, no one is perfect. Even in our most diligent efforts to live the gospel, all of us will make mistakes, and all of us will sin. What a comforting assurance it is to know that through our Savior’s redeeming sacrifice, we can be forgiven and made clean again. This process of true repentance and forgiveness strengthens our testimony and our resolve to obey the Lord’s commandments and live our life according to gospel standards.
When I think of the phrase, “I live it,” I am reminded of a young woman I met named Karigan. She wrote: “I’ve been a member of the Church for a little over a year. … For me, when investigating, one sign that this was the true Church came because I felt I’d finally found a church that taught modesty and standards. I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens to people when they disregard commandments and choose the wrong path. I made up my mind, long ago, to live high moral standards. … I feel so blessed to have found the truth and to have been baptized. I am so happy.”7
The final phrase in my declarative statement is “I love it.” Gaining a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and diligently living gospel principles in our everyday lives leads many members of the Church to exclaim enthusiastically, “I love the gospel!”
This feeling comes as we feel the Holy Ghost witnessing to us that we are children of our Heavenly Father, He is mindful of us, and we are on the right path. Our love for the gospel grows as we experience the love of our Father in Heaven and the peace promised by the Savior as we show Him we are willing to obey and follow Him.
At different times in our lives, whether we are new converts to the Church or lifelong members, we may find that this vibrant enthusiasm has faded. Sometimes this happens when times are challenging and we must practice patience. Sometimes it happens at the peak of our prosperity and abundance. Whenever I have this feeling, I know I need to refocus my efforts on increasing my gospel knowledge and living gospel principles more fully in my life.
One of the most effective but sometimes difficult gospel principles to apply is humility and submission to the will of God. In Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He expressed to the Father, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”8 This should be our prayer as well. Oftentimes, it is in these quiet, prayerful moments that we feel encircled in Heavenly Father’s love and those joyful, loving feelings are restored.
At a Young Women leadership meeting in Eugene, Oregon, I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Sister Cammy Wilberger. The story Sister Wilberger shared with me was a witness of the power and blessing of one young woman’s knowing, living, and loving the gospel.
Sister Wilberger’s 19-year-old daughter, Brooke, was tragically killed several years ago while on summer break after her first year at university. Sister Wilberger recalled, “It was a difficult and dark time for our family. However, Brooke had given us a great gift. We didn’t recognize this as she was growing up, but every single year and moment of her brief life, Brooke had given us the greatest gift a daughter could give her parents. Brooke was a righteous daughter of God. … Because of this gift and especially because of the enabling power of the Atonement, I have had strength, comfort, and the Savior’s promised peace. I have no question where Brooke is now and look forward to our loving reunion.”9
I have a testimony of our Heavenly Father’s great plan of eternal happiness. I know that He knows us and loves us. I know that He has prepared a prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to encourage us and help guide us back to Him. I pray that each of us will put forth the effort to be able to confidently declare, “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.” I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
“To Know Truth”
 
cji
11/01/12
 
Knowing truth is always true
therefore one has to believe
not as strangers darkly lost
unwilling to clearly truth see;
 
Yet truth is not always free
there’s an immortal cost
with the Holy Ghost to share
the Gospels eternally pure!
 
The Savior spoke truth to all
inviting all to the Father return
showing to each the light
leading to the path and way;
 
The same is true now today
to know it and to live it right
all truth thus able to discern
hearing forever’s eternal call!
 
 
Copyright © 2012 – cji

20121031 Devil's Night - CLASSIC REWIND - 1965: 'If I Were the Devil' (Warning for a Nation)


 
 
 

This speech was broadcast by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.


 

 

“Devil’s Night”

 

cji

10/31/12

 

Some lighting torches to burn

others seeking to scare or alarm

luring police or firefighters to gin

trading away any show of good

showering with horror’s screams

sending children in costumes

pretending that it’s Halloween

another names for devil’s night;

 

Worshipping money and greed

extending time to make it dark

endangering the ride to work

to sell more candy and junk

enticing all and just in fun

mocking the righteous truth

doing what the devil would do!

 

 

Copyright © 2012 – cji



October 30, 2012

“Footsteps Growing Faint”

 
“Footsteps Growing Faint”
 
cji
10/31/12
 
The distance increasing always
never seeming to get closer by
as clouds drifting in miles of sky
gone are too many yesterdays;
 
Soldiers treading the war zone
now resting in the graveyards
some in sleep others by shards
each their lives heroes known;
 
Footsteps growing faint in sound
where bands played marches oft
now heard taps and tattoo soft
a drum’s cadence now profound!
 
 
Copyright © 2012 – cji