Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yesterday we took Courtney to Logan to pick up her "new car", which is actually Allison's old car.  We spent the day with Allison and Clayson and had a fun time.  Just being together was fun.  The big news is that Clayson will not be going to Chicago for his job.  The company met and decided to leave the Utah part of the company in Logan, so he will stay in Logan!

We had a picnic in the park and played a little two on two football.  I'm not sure who won, but it was fun, and a beautiful day.  We went to get Aggie ice cream and then walked around Utah State as we wound our way back to the park where we had left the car.  We called cousins to see if we could drop by, but they were all out doing other fun stuff.

After our visit, Courtney got in her car and left for Draper where she will be doing a paid internship for the summer.  She will live with Grandma and Grandpa.  She is very excited to spend the summer with them.  Nancy and I enjoyed our drive home through the spring hills of Idaho.

 We took one car to get Aggie ice cream.  We left it there and walked back through campus to the car we left at the park where we had our picnic.  It was a nice (long) walk.
We walked through the cemetery on campus as we wound our way back to the car.  It was really pretty. 

That's it for today.  Below is a talk I gave a couple of months ago in church about faith.  Feel free to read it if you want to, or not.  As I wrote it I had good memories of our visit back East with Logan and his family and all those involved.  It was a blast!

Have a great week!

I thought about several titles for my talk.  Faith in Every Footstep, Keep the Faith, Move Forward in Faith, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Doubt Not Fear Not, Things hoped for But Not Seen, and The Seed of Faith.  All good titles, but  . . . 

The title of my talk is “Help Thou Mine Unbelief.”  This comes from the story in Mark 9 about the father who brought his diseased son to Jesus to be healed.  Jesus said, “. . . all things are possible to him that believeth” to which the father replied “help thou mine unbelief.”

As I prepared this talk I was reminded that faith is a gift from God and that it is to be diligently sought after as one of the best gifts.  I should always be praying for help with my unbelief, and engaging myself in actions that would allow my faith to grow.
A few years ago we went to Niagara Falls as part of a family vacation.  I’d always known that Niagara Falls was big, but being there brought a new appreciation for the size and the beauty of the falls. 

Charles Blondin was a famous tightrope walker.

“His greatest fame came on September 14, 1860, when he became the first person to cross a tightrope stretched 11,000 feet (over a quarter of a mile) across the mighty Niagara Falls. People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat.

He walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times... each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded. One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet in the middle of the rope!

A large crowd gathered and the buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oohed and Aahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across - one dangerous step after another - pushing a wheelbarrow holding a sack of potatoes.
Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! 

Then, he asked for the participation of a volunteer.  He addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?"

The crowd enthusiastically yelled, "Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. We believe!"

"Okay," said Blondin, "Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow."

Not one person volunteered!

This unique story illustrates a real life picture of what faith actually is. The crowd watched these daring feats. They said they believed. But... their actions proved they truly did not believe.  (  Stories about faith).  

Apparently, they did not really have full confidence and trust in Blondin’s abilities.
The fourth article of faith tells us that the first principal of the Gospel is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In his book “The Articles of Faith,” James E. Talmage says that faith as used in the scriptures means to have full confidence and trust in the being, purpose, and words of God (Talmage pg. 96).  That confidence and trust is often displayed by our actions.

The other night, my wife Nancy and I were watching bible videos on for family night.  We noticed that many of the miracles of Christ depended on the actions of faith from the people involved. 
For example: 
1.     John 9:1-41; Remember when Jesus healed the man who was born blind.  After making clay and putting it on the man’s eyes Jesus told him to: “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.”  And then, the scriptures tell us the man’s action of faith:  “He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”
2.     John 5:2-12; When Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath he said, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.”  “. . . and immediately the man took up his bed and walked . . . “  That was his action of faith.  He had to pick up his own bed and walk.
3.     Mathew 4:18-22; Jesus said to Peter and Andrew “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  Peter and Andrew’s action of faith is then recorded:  “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”
4.     Mark 2:1-12; And remember the actions of faith of the friends of the man who was stricken with palsy.  Jesus was in a crowded house teaching and the man’s friends “. . . uncovered the roof where Jesus was:  and. . . they let down the bed . . . “  so Jesus could heal him.  These were definitely good friends and definitely actions of faith.  These friends had faith that Jesus could heal their friend, but they also had faith in the man who was to be healed.

It’s a given that none of us are perfect and we each, like the man on the bed, have our own afflictions and challenges to be healed of.  We all carry burdens.  Wouldn’t it be great, in spite of that reality, if we were friends like the friends who carried the bed, and had faith in the man on the bed?  When we express that faith in each other through actions of love, support, tolerance, and understanding, we show faith in the atoning sacrifice of our savior.  Faith that we can change, that we can endure, and that good things will happen as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As it says in James 2:17, “Faith if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Recently we’ve had the opportunity of attending tithing settlement with our bishops.  Many of us paid our tithing as an expression of love and obedience, but we also had faith that through the action of paying tithing, the windows of heaven would be opened to us, and we would be blessed. 

Just this week I went to You tube and watched “The Windows of Heaven”.  A church video about the time of President Lorenzo Snow.  The church was in debt at the time.  Recognizing that debt meant bondage, President Snow was impressed to take a trip to Southern Utah.  He wasn’t sure why.  But, when he got there, he was impressed to preach the doctrine of tithing.  There was a drought in Southern Utah at the time, and he promised the saints that if they paid their tithing that the windows of heaven would be open to them in the form of rain.  

As you remember, the people believed and had faith in the prophet.  When they showed their faith through their action of paying tithing, it rained. 

I testify, and you know that we are all blessed in different ways when we pay our tithing.  Just as we are blessed when we keep any of the commandments.

I believe the miracles in the bible and other scriptures really happened, but sometimes they are on such a grand scale that I fail to make a personal connection.  I know that keeping every commandment is required, but I also know that there is a personal plan for each of us and we show our faith through simple, difficult, and unique actions based on our circumstances.  

Experience from serving as a bishop twice and once as a transient bishop, and life in general has given me the opportunity to meet with many great people.  Perhaps you might identify with some of them.  For example:
1.     A good, faithful priesthood holder who has lost his job and has a family to support.  His action of faith is to continue searching for a job while being humble enough to accept help from those who love him, including the church.
2.     A clinically depressed person who suffers from bipolar disorder and is homeless and separated from her family and friends.  Her action of faith is staying alive every day.
3.     A young woman who lived in her car because if she went home her father would beat and abuse her.  One of her action of faith was to continue going to school to get an education.
4.     A man who was excommunicated from the church.  His action of faith was to do all that was required to return to full fellowship.
5.     A young person who has doubts about the church and what it teaches, but is striving to understand and build his faith.  His friends are relentless in making fun of him for wanting to remain faithful while he searches for a testimony.  His action of faith, as was Paul’s, is not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
6.     A man who fights the urge to stay in bed every day all day because he wonders if he can make it through another day.  His action of faith every day is to get up, get going, help someone, and believe that he is a son of his Heavenly Father.
7.      A widower who misses his wife dearly and wants nothing more than to be reunited with her.  His action of faith is to keep living and serving until he is called home.
8.      People old and young who have broken serious commandments.  Their action of faith is to visit with their bishop and get back on the right road.
9.       Finally, people from foreign non-Christian lands who have come to know Christ.  Their action of faith was to be baptized against all their cultural and family norms.
The list could go on.  

As I’ve associated with these good people, I’ve come to recognize that they have some things in common.

First, they are surprisingly cheerful and optimistic.  At various levels, the abiding faith of all these people was and is that God lives and has a plan for them.  They have faith that The Lord Jesus Christ is their savior, and that the atonement, no matter how difficult to understand, is real.  Their faith is demonstrated by their actions, and their actions bring them hope and optimism to continue on in good cheer.

Our faith helps us understand who we are and where we are going, and gives birth to our ultimate hope which is eternal life.

In January of 2000 Billy Grahm told this story.  He said “I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who was honored by Time Magazine as the 'Man of the Century.'

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it. 

The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are.  We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.'

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are No problem. You don't need a ticket.  I'm sure you bought one.'

Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'"  (End Quote)

Brothers and sisters, we have been blessed to know who we are and where we are going.  We are sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us.  Someday, we are going back to Him to experience eternal life.  When we show through our actions that we have full confidence and trust in the being, purpose, and words of God (faith), our hope will increase as will our cheer.

Remember Niagara Falls and the tight rope walker, and liken that to our Savior and ourselves.  We need to do more than just believe he can do it, we need to get in the symbolic wheel barrow and trust him to get us to the other side safely and happily.  When we engage in actions of faith we will be buoyed up by hope that will enable us to live our lives cheerfully.

Of course, this is often easier said than done.  Just as getting in the wheel barrow at the edge of the falls was difficult even for those who really thought Brondin could do it.
That’s why it’s important to remember the father of the sick son in Mark when he said to Jesus  . . . “Help thou mine unbelief.”  He was asking for the gift of increased faith.

James Talmage says, We should always remember that though it is within the reach of (everyone) who diligently strive(s) to gain it, faith is nevertheless a divine gift.  (Talmage pg. 107)  

May we seek the gift of faith, show that faith through our actions, and have faith in each other so we can move cheerfully forward together.

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