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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Prize the Sweet

Twas the week before Easter and all through the blog,
not a post had been written!  Elder Spendlove, you dog!

This week, 2000-some-odd years ago, marked the last week in the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He must have known what was coming--His imminent suffering, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection.  He surely anticipated that bitter end to His life of service, but faced it with bravery and love because He knew what that would mean for the rest of us, His brothers and sisters--freedom.  Freedom from death, from hell, from being barred from the presence of our Heavenly Father.  And He did it all for us.

How sweet that truly is.  I am grateful that my Lord and Savior suffered the bitter so I could know the sweet.  Of course life is hard and of course I make mistakes.  But when I truly repent and follow Him, looking for His peace and His strength in my life, I am blessed.  I can overcome.  I can face the trials of the day-to-day with serenity and faith, knowing that He overcame the world.

With the weight of His responsibility crushing down on Him that last week, He did not seek to comfort Himself.  As He had ever done, He turned outside Himself and gave these beautiful words of comfort to the hearts of His Twelve Apostles:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (John 14:27)
I love Him.  I love the peace He has left me.  Whenever I am afraid or alone, whenever I am uncertain or can't seem to figure things out, I know I can rely on that promise of peace.  My bitterness is replaced with inexplicable joy--"the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).  One young man long ago who had experienced the pains of sin described his conversion, his rescue by Jesus Christ like this to his son:
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Jesus is the fountain of sweet, pure, living water.  And this weekend we commemorate His triumph over the bitter.  If you have anything bitter in your life you want removed, I invite you to pray, study Christ's words, repent, and be baptized by someone who has Christ's permission to do so.  Those bitter tastes can be replaced with the sweetness of redemption through Jesus Christ.  I know they can.

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Minesweeper

"Great.  We've come this far and now we're stuck," spat Jonesie.  It had happened--we'd gotten through the jungle only to find ourselves in front of what was obviously a minefield.  It wasn't very wide across, but it we'd seen the telltale signs enough to know that it would be less-than-smart to traipse across the stretch of dirt in front of us--I could even see some of the treacherous green devices on the ground ahead of me.  Despair was as thick as the humidity as we set our packs down and drank for a minute from our canteens.  I looked around the group--a ragtag platoon out here in the hellish nightmare of Vietnam, stuck between impending Vietcong action on the other side of the jungle and a treacherous minefield in front of us.  Talk about a rock and a hard place!  It was me--Spendlove--, Jonesie, Smitty, Burt, and Cap'n (Captian Scott Buckman); we'd lost the other half of our little band in the jungle and to enemy gunfire.  We were dirty, sore, almost out of ammo, and doing our best to not lose hope. 

I thought of home, my mother and father, my brothers and sister, my friends, the folks in our town who frequented our family store where I'd swept and stocked shelves and counted change before I was drafted.  It all seemed so far away.  I had gotten over the tears long ago, but I couldn't help wondering, once again, if I'd ever see those faces again.  I leaned up against a tree and sighed heavily as Jonesie got up and began to pace.

"What're we gonna do?  I mean, it's not like we have any metal detectors or anything!"  He was right.  It's not like we were equipped to make it through unharmed. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why?

I walk out the door for another day here in this place and I ask myself
Why?

I look at the blue, blue sky and see the birds and hear the sound of the wind in the trees and ask myself
Why?

I feel the warmth of the friendly sun on my face, basking in its goodness and walking in its light and I ask myself
Why?

Why do I feel so good when I help someone or say a kind word?
Why do I long for love and long to show love and to be loved?
Why do I feel like there's something else out there beyond these four walls and the canopy of the sky?

Why?

Two guys in ties walk up to me and ask if they can talk to me
Why?

They tell me I can find out who I am and where I came from and where I'm going when I die.
Why?

They say God loves me and He's my Father and He wants the best for me, even when I can't figure it out
Why?

I begin to feel something real swelling inside, a familiar, happy feeling.  Like Home.

Why do I feel good when I reach out to God?
Why am I feeling like I can overcome the things I never did like?
Why is this so real to me, such an obvious answer to such a puzzling question?

Now I know why.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Even as a Child

We had an awesome spiritual feast today--the 181st Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Every six months the leadership of the Church gives addresses about subjects of faith, hope, Jesus Christ, and how to be better disciples. Pretty awesome, huh?  (If you have any other questions about General Conference, facebook me or visit this site)  One of my favorite talks today was from a woman who spoke about children and their examples to us of humility, patience, unconditional love, and devotion to Jesus.

Once, when Jesus was asked who was the greatest in God's kingdom, Jesus brought a little child in front of His followers and said,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 
It makes me wonder how I'm doing in becoming humble like a little kid.  Note also that Jesus wants us to become childlike, not childish--there is a definite difference. 
A father and child very near to my heart!

Remember when your parents told you to do something or not to do something and it didn't make sense to you?  Remember when you did it and you saved yourself a whole mess of trouble? or maybe you disobeyed--caused you grief, didn't it?  God doesn't expect us to know all the reasons He gives us, but He does expect us to trust Him, just like a little child totally and completely trusts their parents.  I know there are things in my life that I don't understand (and there will be plenty more!); but that's alright.  We are children of our Heavenly Father and Father certainly knows best.  It's alright if we don't get it all the way the first time or if there are things that bug us or get in our way.  That's all part of the test of life.  I know that if we will believe in what God says to us through the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, and prophets, we will be alright.   

Consider what a Book of Mormon prophet had to say on the matter:
For the natural man is an enemy to God, ... and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit... and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a childsubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
I know that it is through the Atonement (the sacrifice and sufferings) of Jesus that we can become the childlike people He knows we can be.  If we practice being like children in our attitude toward God and His commandments, we will be happy, blessed, and be on the way to realizing our true potential as sons and daughters--children--of our Heavenly Father.

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

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