Lift Where You Stand

Pres Uchtdorf introduced the principle “Lift where you stand” a few years ago in General Conference.  As an example of someone who lifts where he stands, he recited the story of John Rowe Moyle.  John was a convert to the Church who left his home in England and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley as part of a handcart company. He built a home for his family in a small town a valley away from Salt Lake City. John was an accomplished stonecutter and, because of this skill, was asked to work on the Salt Lake Temple.

Every Monday John left home at two o’clock in the morning and walked six hours in order to be at his post on time. On Friday he would leave his work at five o’clock in the evening and walk almost until midnight before arriving home. He did this year after year.

One day, while he was doing his chores at home, a cow kicked him in the leg, causing a compound fracture. With limited medical resources, the only option was to amputate the broken leg. So John’s family and friends strapped him onto a door and, with a bucksaw, cut off his leg a few inches from the knee.

In spite of the crude surgery, the leg started to heal. Once John could sit up in bed, he began carving a wooden leg with an ingenious joint that served as an ankle to an artificial foot. Walking on this device was extremely painful, but John did not give up, building up his endurance until he could make the 22-mile (35-km) journey to the Salt Lake Temple each week, where he continued his work.

His hands carved the words “Holiness to the Lord” that stand today as a golden marker to all who visit the Salt Lake Temple. 5

John did not do this for the praise of man. Neither did he shirk his duty, even though he had every reason to do so. He knew what the Lord expected him to do.

Years later, John’s grandson Henry D. Moyle was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and, eventually, served in the First Presidency of the Church. President Moyle’s service in these callings was honorable, but his grandfather John’s service, though somewhat less public, is just as pleasing to the Lord. John’s character, his legacy of sacrifice, serves as a banner of faithfulness and an ensign of duty to his family and to the Church.

I’ve had minor cut on my foot the last week or so. I notice it when I get out if the car and walk to my chair each morning and feel a little grumbly. Imagine the experience of John Moyle. I love his powerful example in enduring hardship for the sake of the Gospel cause.  He understood the meaning of “lift where you stand.”  To lift where you stand is to contribute in whatever role you’re in, regardless of the attention received or the status associated with that role.  At its heart, the meaning of the principle is to live your life as a disciple of Christ to the fullest extent in all aspects, even though you may not be considered a leader in the Church.

Perhaps the most dramatic story of Martyrdom in all of the New Testament is the story of Stephen.  Stephen was a mighty man of faith.  And while the scriptures don’t say much about him, it’s clear that his faith in Christ and the corresponding miracles he performed caused a stir in Israel.  So much so, that it served as a threat to the Jewish leadership.  In appearing before the Jewish council, he was full of the power of God, to the extent that he appeared to them as though he had the face of an angel.

After proclaiming the divinity of Jesus Christ, Stephen was stoned to death.  As he died he witnessed the Savior in vision.

So who was this man Stephen?  What calling did he have?  Apostle?  General Authority?  Stephen was one of 7 individuals called to help the Apostles in physical tasks.  One LDS Church article compared his responsibilities to that of an LDS Aaronic Priesthood holder – the Priesthood held by 12 to 18 year old young men.  How can it be that this dramatic story about one of the first Martyrs of Christ’s Church was about a “regular” member of the Church and not about one of the prominent leaders?

Stephen took his role as disciple of Christ so seriously that he gave his life for it.  It wasn’t status or accolades or social acceptance that drove him.  He faithfully served out his calling as witness of Christ in spite of the social perception in his society.

Pres Uchtdorf asks the question, “when we stand before the Lord to be judged, will He look upon the positions we have held in the world or even in the Church? Do you suppose that titles we have had other than “husband,” “father,” or “priesthood holder” will mean much to Him? Do you think He will care how packed our schedule was or how many important meetings we attended? Do you suppose that our success in filling our days with appointments will serve as an excuse for failure to spend time with our wife and family?”

The Savior Himself laid down the foundation for this principle.  He emphasized the important of anonymity when doing the Lord’s work.  Status plays no role.  Matthew 6:1-3 states:

aTake heed that ye do not your balms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the ahypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have bglory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

Pres Hinckley further built on this principle by highlighting the importance of the role every member of the Church plays.  He stated that  “You have as great an opportunity for satisfaction in the performance of your duty as I do in mine. The progress of this work will be determined by our joint efforts. Whatever your calling, it is as fraught with the same kind of opportunity to accomplish good as is mine. What is really important is that this is the work of the Master. Our work is to go about doing good as did He.”

Paul taught that the Church is an organization where each member plays a role towards the building up the Kingdom.  Ephesians 4:11-12 states:

11 And he agave some, bapostles; and some, cprophets; and some,devangelists; and some, epastors and fteachers;

12 For the aperfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the bedifying of the body of Christ:

The pioneer spirit represents what it means to lift where you stand perhaps more than any other example. In the most recent Ensign magazine the brief highlight is told of a Mrs Williams from Wales who died on the trip to America but said that the greatest honor she had ever received was to be able to become a member of the true church of the Son of God, that there was no fear in her breast concerning the other life and that her religion now proved its strength more than ever before. …She continued lucid through the night, and at a quarter past four the next morning her spirit departed in peace, leaving a smile on her lips.”5

Paul further taught in 1 Corinthians 12:21 that all of our talents are required, just as a hand can’t say to the foot that it’s not needed.

Pres Uchtdorf teaches that there are 2 categories people often fall into – serving for the status of it and trying to hide from serving.  Neither of these are acceptable.

Is Doubt Compatible with Christian Faith?

I agree “that uncertainty need not weaken one’s commitment to the claims of a religious life.” In the Book of Mormon, Alma 32, faith is compared to the growth of a tree from a seed. When the seed is nurtured properly, it grows. When our faith is nurtured properly, we can feel the growth of faith in our lives and the influence of the Spirit. This doesn’t mean doubt is gone. It simply serves as a confirmation that the faith is real and should be further nurtured. This is one of the most powerful sermons on the nurturing of faith.

Letter to America’s next generation

Young Adults,

I recently read a blog named a “letter to the church”. It represented a young person’s voice on the subject of gay marriage. There was palpable frustration in that letter that the Christian church of today is alienating young people because of its stance on gay marriage. This letter is my response.

Today’s world is full of mixed messages. We’re told that America is the greatest nation on earth, yet the struggle of the poor class to reach out of its situation seems more difficult than ever. We’re told to show respect for women, yet we see women portrayed in every lewd and offensive depiction imaginable. We’re told that hard work will ultimately pay off, yet untold numbers are being paid billions from a bankrupt national budget for not working.

How do you interpret those messages?  How do you live a good life and follow the rules when it’s not clear those rules are based in something you can count on to be good and consistent?

One of the most painful mixed messages is the issue of violence in society.  We’re told that if we remove the guns or the ammunition or the violent games that it will solve the horrible news reports we get almost daily of innocent victims being gunned down. At some level we all know the shallowness of this argument. Society is fractured at a fundamental level. Violence has soared in the last fifty years. People are disturbed at alarming levels. Passing a law involving a gun restriction of some kind is not going to change the trajectory.

Of all the mixed and even hypocritical messages today, none are worse than the one society sends out today about the institution of marriage. The institution of marriage is precious, we’re told, even holy. We should cherish this institution and preserve it. Yet we see very little in the way of cherishing when it comes to marriage today. Men and women divorce readily when problems arise. Greater and greater numbers skip the old fashioned, quaint “ritual” of getting married at all when deciding to make a decision to live their lives together. What is the meaning of marriage?  Who even needs it?

Fast forward with me a few years into a fifteen year marriage. Lately I’ve been noticing things – small things, albeit – but important ones in the development of my children. Two days ago my nine year accidentally dropped a Cutco knife straight into my foot. How did Dad react?  Well, I could have done better, but I could have done worse too. It was embarrassing explaining the hobble I had in my gait at work the next day. But this was an opportunity for a young boy to see how a grown man handles pain and forgiveness (which I managed to pull off fairly quickly). Where else should he learn this?

A week or so ago, I had a “birds and bees” talk with my twelve year old. Again, the outcome wasn’t one for the record books, but it got the job done. Again, a young man and his father at a small, but key turning point in the child’s development.

Zoom back now to the “getting married” phase of life. When my wife and I were first dating I asked her how she would raise kids. She would learn along the way was at least part of the answer. I wanted something more meaty, an exact philosophy. But over the years I’ve found truth in that answer. How do you respond when your nine year old accidentally stabs you in the foot?  How do you give birds-and-bees talks to twelve year olds?  A proper answer posed to a twenty four year old young man would be, “I have no clue!!!”

But finally this is where the sanctity of marriage comes in. The answer undoubtedly involves being loving. Patience and humor play an important role. But at some level the answer is that it involves a man and a woman learning as they go. There’s no playbook. There’s no perfect formula. But the ingredients for success start with a mom and a dad.

My heart goes out to the victims of gun violence. But my heart goes out to the disturbed perpetrators too. What kind of dysfunctional homes were they raised in?  What did their dad do to them when they dropped a knife in his foot?  Was he even in the picture?

Marriage is still a vital institution today and always will be. It’s primary role is to safeguard the environment in which children are raised. Without being antagonistic toward the homosexual community, we must stand up for what marriage needs to be and work in our own lives to preserve it and be true to the role it should play in society.

The Return to the High Places of Baal

I know a lot of good Catholics. I believe that they’ll receive salvation to the extent that they follow the light and goodness they have. The Catholic Church itself suffers from the same challenge that other partially correct faiths suffer from – they have elements of truth, but elements that are rooted in the philosophies of men. To that extent they’ve lead people away from Christ.

Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Pluralism

There’s a natural urge to want to allow for anyone’s belief system to right and acceptable. As Christians we don’t want to offend others by dismissing their beliefs as incorrect or misguided. On the other hand the truth about God cannot contradict itself, which it would do if we allowed for all beliefs to be correct. If I believe that God is a piece of carpet, what am I going to find out when I die and go to the next life? I’ll naturally be in for a surprise. Jesus taught that there will be many who profess to know Him at that day but will be rejected by Him. At a minimum this points to the idea that large numbers of people will arrive in the next life and find that things are vastly different than they expected.

A day in the life

I think that the idea of Exclusivism has been the most dominant ideology in history, claiming that there was “no salvation outside the Church”. However, as more people have questioned authority and the world around them, we have greatly strayed from this idea. As we have discussed in class, today the majority of people feel that it is acceptable to have a relationship with God without being a person who regularly attends church.

The idea of exclusivism kind of bothers me in a way because it appears as though those who follow this ideology focus more on telling people who are not of the Church that they are not going to salvation as opposed to just keeping to themselves and focusing on their relationship with God. It is almost as the people who have favored exclusivism in the past feel extremely superior because they are a part of Church and…

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Lukewarm

Someone struggling with questions about a weak statement of faith. I like the points being made in the post.

(a)typical amateur

Consider the statement of faith used during Palm Sunday services at my church:

I believe that God made me and is shaping me still, leading me on a journey through life, through death, and into a new creation.

I believe that Jesus Christ watched creation and me being made, that he stepped into our world to travel our path, that he still journeys with me and all people, walking with us through life, through death, and into a new creation.

I believe that the Holy Spirit moves through creation, gathering me and all humanity into relationship and new community, leading us through life, through death, and into a new creation.

I recited it along with everyone else, but without any of the eagerness I heard in some voices. The more of it the congregation read, the more lukewarm and unsubstantial it seemed to be. As Clara Peller used to say…

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Fear

Christina presents some interesting challenges: how to share your faith, how to utilize your talents. As she prays in faith, God will guide her.