Thursday, December 18, 2008

Words of the Prophet: A Glorious Season

Featured Article of the month :

Words of the Prophet: A Glorious Season
By President Gordon B. Hinckley

In each of us there is at Christmas time something of our childhood. We all revel in the fun of Christmas—of giving and receiving tinseled presents, of singing favorite carols, of feasting on goodies we never miss at other seasons, of gathering together as family and friends, all having a wonderful time.

But there is something else, something better, and that is to sit together as families and read again the fascinating story of the birth of Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem of Judea.

A Season to Remember the Savior
It is proper during this season when we commemorate His birth that we remember the Lord Jesus Christ in reverence and with love. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life.

When all is said and done, when all the legions of the ages have passed in review, when man’s terrible inhumanity to man has been chronicled, when God’s great love for His children has been measured, then above all stands the lone figure of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the living Son of the living God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One.

Isaiah spoke of Him centuries before His coming: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Nephi, long before the Master’s birth, was given a vision of His coming. He saw in that vision the mother of Christ, “a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins” (1 Nephi 11:15).

Of her He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, and the angel said unto Nephi, “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:21).

And Nephi “beheld that he went forth ministering unto the people, in power and great glory; and the multitudes were gathered together to hear him; and … they cast him out from among them.” And He “was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world” (1 Nephi 11:28, 33).

All of these ancient visions were fulfilled. He came to earth. He walked the dusty roads of Palestine, teaching the people, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, raising the dead, giving His life on Calvary’s cross, and rising on the third day to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

He had been the Creator of this earth, under His Father’s direction, for as John records, “without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). He was the great Jehovah who spoke with the prophets of old.

He was the lowly babe who came to earth in the meridian of time and brought to us the gift of Christmas. He was the Resurrection and the Life, who brought to us the wonder of Easter. There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.

I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

A Season of Increased Love
And so at this Christmas season, we sing His praises and speak our words of faith and gratitude and love. It is His influence in our lives that stirs within us more kindness, more respect, more love, more concern. It is because of Him and His teachings that we reach out to those in trouble, distress, and need wherever they may be.

What a glorious season is this time of Christmas. Hearts are softened. Voices are raised in worship. Kindness and mercy are reenthroned as elements in our lives. There is an accelerated reaching out to those in distress. There is an aura of peace that comes into our homes. There is a measure of love that is not felt to the same extent at any other time of the year.
Said Jesus: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12.)

May I remind us at this Christmas season that if only each of us would reflect occasionally on that Christ-given mandate and make an effort to observe it, this would be a different world. There would be greater happiness in our homes; there would be kinder feelings among our associates; there would be much less of litigation and a greater effort to compose differences. There would be a new measure of love and appreciation and respect.

There would be more generous hearts, more thoughtful consideration and concern, and a greater desire to spread the gospel of peace and to advance the work of salvation among the children of men.

A Season of Meditation
Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It reaches out beyond our power to comprehend. It is magnificent and beautiful.

It is peace. It is the peace which comforts, which sustains, which blesses all who accept it.
It is faith. It is faith in God and His Eternal Son. It is faith in His wondrous ways and message. It is faith in Him as our Redeemer and our Lord.

We testify of His living reality. We testify of the divinity of His nature. In our times of grateful meditation, we acknowledge His priceless gift to us and pledge our love and faith. This is what Christmas is really about.

For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself—these are of the true essence of Christmas.

© 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rules to live by

I'm no shinning example of these by any stretch of the imagination but at least I've come up with something to work towards. I think that perspective fits in with my rules to live by. Ha!

25 Rules to live by:

1. Find a way, adapt and overcome. Always find a way. That will put you in the successful minority. Most people give up, but you must be creative, be tenacious, be diligent and do what most won't. Stretch yourself out and deal with some pain. Difficulties are not insurmountable.

2. Reach the finish with success. Many of us are great at starting something and don’t finish it. Doesn't matter how smart you are, or how much potential or talent you have, if you only ever half-do things, are fence sitting or lukewarm; the 'Master of Incompletion' you’re just not going to make it happen. Success is less about talent and potential, and more about commitment. Make yourself be committed. All or nothing! Decide what you want out of life and go get it.

3. Make the tough decisions. Most people would rather someone or something else make the tough decision for them. The biggest determinant of what our life will look like is the decisions we make, and don't make. It isn’t fate, chance or luck; it's all you. Success is a choice. Our use of agency defines who we are and nothing more.

4. Be truthful, about who you are. Be honest, you're an idiot at times, a whiny baby and you know it. We all are at times. This admission is not to be confused with senselessly beating yourself up over your faults and short comings, no, this is about honest self-assessment and a level of self-awareness that most people will never have. You're biggest challenge will always be you. Maximize your strengths and strive to overcome your weaknesses. Life is a battle for self improvement.

5. Nourish and strengthen your Spirit and mind. We are more than just a body. Develop your spirituality on many levels. Let God be involved in your life. Pray, study and meditate, learn new things and increase overall knowledge of life and people. Develop close relationships and show kindness and charity towards your fellow men and love to God.

6. Maximize your potential. Too many people die with their hidden talents still in them. The main reason for this is fear. Deal with your fear (and laziness and procrastination) or waste your talent and live a life of compromise and regret. Use your gifts to better the lives of everybody.

7. Happiness and success won’t fall into your lap. Too many people have a 'luck' mentality; they hope that success will 'happen' to them. They wait to be 'discovered' or for their 'big break'. It’s just doesn’t work that way for 99% of us. Create your own big break. Look for, and create, your own opportunities. No one is going to give you what you want, you have to take it yourself.

8. Hang out with high-achievers and limit draggers. Self explanatory really; you become like those you hang out with. You marry who you date, you reap what you sow. etc. Choose good relationships to help improve your own life and the lives of others.

9. Take care of your body. This is not about vanity or ego. This is about function and health. This is about maximizing your potential. If you're out of shape physically or dump garbage like alcohol or drugs into your body, it will impact negatively in every area of your life; relationships, career, finances, emotional state, mindset.

10. Change what you can and forget about what you can't. Too many people invest way too much emotional energy and time in things they can't change and way too little in the things they can and should and in doing so, all they do is hinder their progression and performance.

11. Be less of a critic. You've got enough of your own issues and weaknesses to work on. People who constantly criticize others are typically insecure, envious, resentful and often jealous. Judge wisely and let go of petty differences. Choose your battles carefully and beware of pride.

12. Don't make excuses, make plans. Stop talking about it. Take action. Do it now! You can only impact tomorrow by what you do today.

13. Develop social and communication skills. In terms of 'life skills', this is near the top of the list. Consciously and diligently work at becoming the most effective communicator you can be. It impacts on every area of our life. Consciously build and nurture great relationships in all areas of your life. Overcome shy behaviors and engage in intellectual conversations everywhere.

14. Invest yourself into others lives. Be generous with your time, your knowledge, your talents and gifts, your money and your love. The best return on investment has nothing to do with money. A true reputation or legacy is not built by money but by the way you live.

15. Be accountable for where you are, who you are and what you are. Even if you have a 'reason' to blame - don't. It serves no purpose and never helps a situation. You will never find a solution by focusing on the problem. Move on, change yourself, and don’t try to change others, just be an example for good.

16. Control your emotions, especially anger and fear and jealously. When we take action from wrong emotions we hurt others and ourselves. Don’t let emotions determine who you are. It is a setup for a life of highs and lows and much regret and disappointment. Thwart depression by controlling your emotions. Hold to truth and learn to love what you have. Emotions are natural and can help us if we understand them better.

17. Trust and respect those who have earned it. This doesn't mean be rude, paranoid and fearful and closed off from the world. It means what it says. Don’t automatically trust and respect people. They should have to earn it. Open yourself bit by bit to grow and build relationships. We live line upon line. Recognize the world can sometimes be a scary place. We need to take caution but don’t let it hold you back from embracing the good out there.

18. Don't base your future, on your past. Too many people are hostages to their pasts, whether good, bad or ugly, so they simply create or expect a certain future or outcome for themselves. Our history is not necessarily any indication of what our future could be. Life can change at any moment. Make your future what you want it to be. Bad cycles can end with you.

19. Expose yourself to different ideas, cultures, religions, places, environments and people. It's crucial for your development. Too many people live in their safe, little box for eighty years and then they die. This is regrettable. Be a truth seeker and expand your mind. Look into and contemplate who you are, why you are here and where you are going. Look past what the eye can see and what the heart can come to know.

20. Step out of your box and into reality. Take on healthy risks and challenges, physically, emotionally, psychologically and professionally. This is how we grow, learn, adapt, change and improve. 'Safe' is boring, depressing and unrewarding. There’s more to life than just what you know already and how you do things. Wake up from ignorance and expand your mind. Search for ways to learn and become better. Stretch yourself a little.

21. Laugh and have fun and do it often. Look for the fun in things, and have fun, if you're not happy, try something new. Laugh a little more, and laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor is under rated. Don’t always be so serious, free your mind and live life to the fullest. Remember temperance and balance and moderation in all things.

22. Get clarity and certainty about what you want. Set goals then start reaching towards them. Be prayerful and take time to make big decisions, start thinking for yourself and creating some momentum and possible solutions. Stop letting others tell you what to do with your life. You make your own dreams come true. Sometimes it takes trial and error, you’ll figure it out.

23. Don't spend your life waiting for the 'right time'. It's a myth. If you're breathing, it's the right time. This doesn't mean be irresponsible or stupid, or naive; it means don't waste years waiting for the planets to align perfectly. The 'right time' excuse is merely a form of procrastination. It is completely based on fear and doubt. Have faith and be believing. Be an optimist.

24. Find the good. Consider every day an opportunity to live, laugh, learn and love. While many walk around with the world on their shoulders, choose to be different. Choose to be the exception. Choose fun. Choose to find the lesson. Choose happiness. Choose to be a good person. We may not be able to keep peace and harmony in the world, but we can die trying. I think that is the point. We may not be able to change the world, but we may change someone's view of the world, and that may make all the difference. I think that is the point too.

25. Humility and meekness. Live and communicate with drive, passion and humility. Arrogance and ego are ugly and destructive. Humility is not weakness but power for good. Deal gracefully with trials and hardships and heartaches and you will become a better person for them. Others may seem to be getting ahead faster but you will pass them all in the end and great will be your reward.

There maybe more, but this is a good starting place. Constant improvment and progression. Hoohah!