Posts

Somethingism

Do you believe in ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ ?
Our beliefs define who we are and what we do.
Belief โ€“ โ€œthe feeling of being certain that something exists or is trueโ€
Somethingism โ€“ โ€œan unspecified belief in some higher forceโ€
Iโ€™ve met so many people here who believe in something, but theyโ€™re not sure what that something is.
When you believe in something – when you believe it to your very core – your genuine actions speak for you.
Action starts with one critical element: ๐‘ฉ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’‡!
Your actions will speak louder than words when you stand strong in your beliefs.
When you live by what you believe in, you not only make a difference to yourself, but also your family, your friends and your community.

Belief is the result of experience.

Beliefs can bring us together or even tear us apart.
Belief is a way of understanding and discovering ourselves and the world around us, both things seen and also unseen.
We all believe in things we canโ€™t see, because frankly itโ€™s not possible to see everything. For example…
– Do you believe in love?
– Do you believe in mercy?
– Do you believe in kindness?
– Do you believe in hope?
– Do you believe in justice?
All of these things we canโ€™t see, but we know exist.
When it comes to spiritual things, I believe the answers are much the same.
Hebrews 11:1 states, โ€œNow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.โ€
Believing is part of life.
When it comes to matters of faith, I have confidence in my experience of reality.
I experience the fruits of my faith, every day.
The deepest things in life are not seen but felt.ย  They bring joy.
When those deepest things get into our hearts, our very natures are changed.
And so it is with our beliefs.

I believe in something.

That something is a someone.
He is Jesus Christ.
In your pursuit of something, I know that the most important something you can learn, comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I invite you to come to know Him and love Him as I do.
As He said to the ruler of the synagogue in Mark 5:36 โ€œโ€ฆBe not afraid, only believe.โ€
Consider this invitation from The Book of Mormon.
…in Alma 32:27 โ€œBut behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my wordsโ€
๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ง?

Understanding

Let me dispel the misunderstanding…
Today I will be attending church in Utrecht (again).
I first attended there over 28 years ago, on Sunday 5th September 1993.
It was my first Sunday in the Netherlands.
I had no knowledge of the language and struggled throughout to understand.
Thankfully Monic was on hand to help my understanding a little.
Consider for a moment the word ๐ฎ๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ง๐๐ข๐ง๐ .
It is defined as – “to know how something works or to know what something means.”
As everyone knows, I am religiously active as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In my efforts to promote understanding, perhaps I can be a bit annoying and even unduly enthusiastic about my faith at times!
I certainly understand how easily that can happen, as the subject of religion can be a little touchy for many people.
Have you ever wondered why I am so anxious to share my views?
Like me, you may worry about the conflicts in the world, the political turmoil, the economic instability, and the pressures of living in a world where illness, or the death of a loved one may have taken their toll on you in all kinds of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional ways.
I certainly do not understand the complexities of all of the volatility and turmoil in the world.
Through it all however โ€“ your family are probably the most important thing in the world for you.
As you look to the future, you may be anxious what it may hold for you, your partner, your children, and your grandchildren.
At times, I am.
But then I stop and remember my why.
My understanding of a much greater plan, which I believe to be immensely important for everyone.
It centres around my belief in Jesus Christ.
He always brings peace and safety.
My faith in Him it is not passive; it is very active.
Like so many others, maybe you are searching for something?
Just as Monic helped me understand Dutch a little all those years ago, our missionaries can help you come to understand a little more about the purpose of life, why you are here, the plan of salvation and even answer that question that troubles so many โ€“ is there life after death?
Perhaps itโ€™s time, once and for all to understand these things, to let God prevail โ€“ He is no great mystery after all.
I promise – you too can ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’….
#HearHim

Is there a God?

Frequently I’m asked – “Is there a God, is there a creator?”
In answer to that question, consider this response…
“What are the odds that a tornado spinning through a junkyard would create a Boeing 747?” – Bruce C. Hafen.
In Alma 30:44, Alma states to Korihor “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion.”
A study of the sciences, helps us to understand that if the earth were just slightly closer to the sun, then all life on earth would simply be burnt up.
Conversely, if the earth was slightly further from the sun, then all life on earth would freeze!
I choose to believe that a divine power holds things in place through laws that have been irrevocably decreed from long before this earth was created.
I know that no matter what era we live in, we can find peace in the powerful parallels between the scriptures and our own lives.

Face the Fear!

โ€œArenโ€™t you a little nervous?โ€ asked the missionaries. โ€œNot reallyโ€ I said, โ€œwell maybe a tiny wee bit!โ€
And off we strode to stand out front of the theatre in Amsterdam yesterday.
What a hoot we had, talking to those exiting the theatre. It was fun. I really enjoyed myself as I talked with many people about their experience.
Several times I was invited to see the musical, โ€œit is great entertainment,โ€ said many.
Entertainment โ€“ โ€œthe action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment, or diversion provided especially by performers.โ€
My response was โ€œno thank you, perhaps youโ€™d like to read the book instead.โ€
The official church statement about the musical reads:
โ€œThe production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change peopleโ€™s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.โ€
The Book of Mormon certainly changed my live โ€“ forever!
I met Tom, a production assistant, touring with the show. We talked for a while, and I shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with him.

Face the Fear

I was overwhelmed by the fearlessness of all the missionaries. With faith they were able to quiet their hearts in the midst of the confusion and uncertainty in the moments that followed.
It is a daunting task!
Yet, each one of them with great courage spoke to the very best of their ability, addressing complete strangers, over and over again.
To young men and women everywhere โ€“ have faith against fear, faith with great courage and conviction in Him who will not forget us or leave us alone.
All missionaries teach and testify of our Saviour โ€“ Jesus Christ.
In General Conference yesterday, President Russell M. Nelson said; โ€œHis gospel is the only answer when many in the world are stunned with fear. We have the sacred responsibility to share the power and peace of Jesus Christ with all who will listen and who will let God prevail in their lives.
The spiritual darkness in the world makes the light of Jesus Christ needed more than ever. Everyone deserves the chance to know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Every person deserves to know where they can find the hope and peace that โ€œ[passes] all understandingโ€ (Philippians 4:7).โ€
If youโ€™ve seen the play, then Iโ€™d suggest you may want to read the book, as I know the Book of Mormon changes lives for the better, and it can change yours too.

Attitude – The Little Engine That Could

โ€œMake no small plans. They have no magic to stir menโ€™s soulsโ€, said Spencer W. Kimball.
Some years ago, I considered my own plans and questioned if I had set my sights to low?
Have you?
Perhaps doubts and fears kick in, along with feelings of inadequacy. You may even resign yourself to living a life of mediocrity and dissatisfaction.
Have you been there?
On occasion, I know I have. But what is really possible?
As a child I recall the story of โ€œThe Little Engine That Could.โ€
Remember the story of the engine that broke down…..
A big passenger engine, the freight engine and then an old engine passed by, but none of them would pull the train over the mountain. Then a little blue engine came by, she was not very big, and was only used in the yard and had never been over the mountain, but she said to herself โ€œI think I can, I think I can.โ€ So, she hooked herself up to the train and with all her might and determination, eventually climbed to the top of the mountain, then going down the other side said to herself โ€œI thought I could, I thought I couldโ€
Thomas S. Monson frequently stated that โ€œAttitude determines altitude.โ€
Simply stated, fulfilling our potential in this life, depends primarily on our positive attitude, and the inner belief that we really can make a difference.
We can put our trust in the Lord and be positive.
Yet, our faith is often tested.
Choosing faith requires strength, not weakness.
With the help of Jesus Christ and as we exercise our faith in Him, I believe we can overcome any challenge and raise our vision higher.
I love this scripture from Isaiah 40:31 โ€œBut those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will lift wings like eagles; they will run, and they will not tire; and walk, and do not faint.โ€
We must learn to hope, to dream big, to set goals and to take action.
Begin today โ€“ you will never regret it!

The Book of Mormon Musical

Our version is ๐ฆ๐š๐ซ๐ ๐ข๐ง๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ different.
This week The Book of Mormon Musical arrived in Amsterdam (again) for another (shorter) run this time.
The musical playfully pokes fun at our religion, telling a fictional story of two young missionaries who are sent to Uganda to spread the message of our faith. Itโ€™s satirical, filled with music and dancing it provides inaccurate myths and misinformation about the church, its also vulgar and filled with profanity (so Iโ€™ve been told).
The official church statement about the musical reads:
โ€œThe production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change peopleโ€™s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.โ€
What I do know is this, our missionaries here in the Netherlands have been standing outside the theatre after every performance having some incredibly powerful conversations with the theatre goers.
People are friendly interested and genuinely excited to meet a โ€œrealโ€ missionary.
Unlike the depiction in the play, I personally know that our missionaries are a force for good in a world filled with commotion. The message they bring is one of peace and hope and an invitation to come unto Christ.
If youโ€™ve seen the play, then Iโ€™d suggest you may want to read the book, as I know the Book of Mormon changes lives for the better, and it can change yours too.
PM if youโ€™d like a copy, or better still, if youโ€™d like to meet with the missionaries โ€“ theyโ€™re pretty friendly (and funny) actually! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Deep Roots

Storms blew across Europe on Friday.
Whilst walking through our neighbourhood yesterday, there was plenty evidence of fallen trees.
We passed a few trees that had been uprooted. Their roots seemed quite shallow, without much depth.
For a moment, I wondered if they would have survived the wind and storm, if their roots had been deeper.
Similarly, each of us will face the winds and storms of adversity in our own lives.
As the wind blows, are you prepared to withstand the buffetings that follow?
Seedlings fall to the ground, and dependent upon a number of factors, some may flourish and grow into mighty trees.
Opposition, challenge, and difficulty are part of growth. It takes time, effort, perseverance, set-backs will be inevitable and adaptation certain.

Roots

โ€œBut unlike trees, we can choose to deliberately develop the spiritual root structure for our lives. We decide where to set our roots down and how deeply to sink them into the soil. Daily decisions make tiny, almost imperceptible differences in the roots of our faith, the effect of which becomes foundational.โ€ โ€“ says L. Whitney Clayton.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma likened the word of God to a seed and spoke of the need to nourish the seed’s growth into a tree:
“And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
“But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.” (Alma 32:37-38.)
It is my personal witness, that as we weather the storms of life, we will be strengthened by learning of Jesus Christ.
As we deeply root ourselves in the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and exercise our faith in Him, He will fortify us against any buffetings from winds and storms that will come.

Signatures

โ€œThat simply cannot beโ€ฆโ€ I thought puzzlingly to myself โ€“ โ€œanother ๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’๐’„๐’†?โ€
Let me explainโ€ฆโ€ฆ
Coincidence โ€“ โ€œan occasion when two or more similar things happen at the same time, especially in a way that is unlikely and surprisingโ€
Last Sunday, both Monic and I spoke in the Apeldoorn Stake Conference. I chose to speak on a question that is regularly posed to our missionaries, โ€œDuring the past month, how have you seen the hand of the Lord in your work?โ€
In my talk, I shared a few quotes from a number of different missionaries in response to that question.
Regularly, in my daily journal writing I also record experiences that are simply beyond mere coincidence.
Quite frankly, in recent months I have seen this manifestโ€ฆ. constantly.
President Thomas S. Monson said, โ€œWhen we are on the Lordโ€™s errand, we are entitled to the Lordโ€™s help.โ€

Signatures

In my personal library of good books, one of my favourites is โ€œDivine Signatures.โ€
Author Gerald N. Lund learned that with the Lord, there are no coincidences, only sacred autographs.
“Sometimes the Lord sends his blessings in such a highly unusual way, dramatic or precisely timed manner, that it might be likened to a ‘divine signature,'” Lund writes. “It is as though the Lord ‘signs’ the blessing personally so that we will know with certainty that it comes from him. In doing so, God not only gives his blessing, but at the same time he strengthens our faith and deepens our testimony of him.”
I want to share my testimony of that (and I am choosing my words carefully) – ๐Ÿ๐š๐œ๐ญ.
I am now a witness to the fact that, day in, day out, week in, week out, I see tender mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His divine signature manifest in the details of our missionary service, it is His confirming hand.
The Lordโ€™s signature is in the details.
Yesterday, I had a personal testimony of another one to add to the list of a multitude of others.
A faith filled conversation in the morning, a faith filled action in the afternoon, manifest a remarkable coincidence or in essence a divine signature of the Lord only a few hours later in the evening.
And the result?
Another sure witness that The Lord is in the details of each of our lives.
I hope that we can all recognise the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us.
Exercise your faith in Him, stop, pause and reflect, then ask yourself โ€œhow have I seen the Lordโ€™s hand in my life today?โ€

Like flame unquenchable – passing the torch

“What do you see in this image?” I asked in the online mission conference yesterday.
I invited all in attendance to take a long look at the image, and to carefully consider the thoughts that arose in their mind.
A few moments before, all 9 of our departing missionaries returning home in 7 days time, shared their final testimonies, one by one, with their peers in the mission field.
Throughout that intimate hour, the feelings of each of their hearts were intertwined with our hearts, being knit together in love, respect and admiration. There was a feeling of connection, togetherness and unity for a few special moments of time.
Deep and meaningful emotional connections come quite unexpectedly at times. When they do, donโ€™t be afraid to welcome them, gently explore them, embrace them and cherish themโ€ฆ.forever.
Each missionary has served faithfully, diligently and given their all throughout their service of 18 or 24 months and some a little longer. It is not easy to be a missionary!
In preparation for that moment, I hunted that morning for a picture that would capture the feelings of my heart, as I expressed my love for them one by one. I found this image below.

The Imagery…

In my mind, the image depicts two Olympic champions.
The one on the right is more senior, older, more experienced, wiser, a winner, looking a little wrinkled and perhaps just a little tired.
The one on the left, is younger, a little inexperienced, ready to learn, ambitious, fresh and keen to pick up the torch of the older Olympian.
All of our missionaries have the capability to be champions of whatever it is they choose to pursue. But in that moment, I saw something very special.
The 9 returning missionaries, were just like the older Olympian on the right, having given their all, their flame of Gospel testimony burning brightly, filled with warmth, light and hope.
They were in turn passing the flame of their individual torches, as a beacon to the world if you will, to the new up and coming generation of missionaries already infield and those arriving next week.
Poised to move forward, these younger missionaries primed with their torches are prepared and ready to carry the flame of the Gospel ever faster, higher, stronger and together, emulating the journey of those who went before. Indeed they will be standing on the shoulders of giants.
Many years ago, Brigham Young said… โ€œLet the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable.โ€ Without question, I am a personal witness of covenants burning like an unquenchable fire in each of these missionaries hearts.
As the torch passes from one generation to another, that fire and flame will continue to burn and shine, bringing light to an ever darkening world.
During this Christmas season as we remember our Saviour Jesus Christ, He is the light of the world, whose flame burns brightly in each of our missionaries hearts, wherever they serve around the world. Invite them into your homes, their message is sweet, beautiful and will alight a flame of hope in your life forevermore. Please consider the special gift they carry with them.

Doubt your Doubts

“No, I just can’t do it!” said the coachee.
As a professional coach I have heard that comment on so, so many occasions. It is frequently followed by limiting or debilitating stories of some kind of another.
Centuries ago addressing this issue William Shakespeare in “Measure for Measure” wrote; “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
Much has been written in more recent recent years about our mindset.
Listening to Max Whitlock the British Gymnast after winning his 3rd Olympic Gold medal yesterday, he talked about the importance of a growth mindset, by focusing on the process and ignoring the distractions that come, then enjoying the challenge as much as the conclusion.

๐’๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐“๐ข๐ฉ๐ฌ

Another way to look at is to doubt your doubts, before you doubt yourself, by addressing your inner critic directly.
– In short – question your doubt!
– Face the fear, look at it and break it down into smaller actionable steps.
– Remember most folks have impostor-y feelings, fairly often, its quite normal!
– Focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t do.
Remember the view that you adopt for yourself will profoundly affect the way you lead your life.
What can you do today to dismiss those doubts?