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There were two men running in a race. The one runner had no other goal in mind then to be the first to cross the finish line and to be declared the victor. Winning meant everything to him. As far as he was concerned, if he could not win the race, there was no real reason to run the race. The other runner had a completely different attitude. He was definitely in the race to do his best, but to him crossing the finish line first was not necessarily the goal. For you see, this runner was more concerned with running the race well.
And so there they were, both at the starting line anticipating the start of the race. Soon the gun was fired and the runners were off, running towards the finish line which was some distance away.
As the race progressed the runner whose objective it was to win at any cost began cutting other runners off causing some to trip and fall. Some were even injured to the point where they could not finish the race. However, this did not stop this runner. He had a race to win. So he continued on his way. The other runner; however, would stop and help those who had fallen, and ensured that they were off of the track out of harms way. After seeing to the well being of his fellow runners he continued on his way running at a steady pace.
During the course of the race there were some runners who soon ran out of energy and instead of running began walking at a fast pace. There were others who wanted to quit believing that there was no way possible for them to finish the race, let alone win the race. The runner with the goal of winning the race noticed this and was determined to use this to his advantage for this meant that there were now fewer people competing for the prize. Victory to him was beginning to look sweeter and sweeter. The other runner noticing that some of his fellow runners were growing weary would run along side of them and speak to them and encourage them to not quit, but to continue to run the race as best they could. Soon those who had all but given up were reenergized and began to give it their all to finish the race.
Soon the finish line was in sight. The runner whose goal it was to be declared the winner was exhausted. He had run a long, hard race, but with the finish line just in sight he was determined to be the first to cross. He was well in the lead, but there were some runners that were rapidly gaining on him. With all of his might and strength he ran as hard and as fast as he could hoping that no other runner would catch him and pass him and cross the finish line before him. The other runner was a little distance behind. He too now had sight of the finish line but continued to run the race at a steady pace. A short time later, the one runner had achieved his goal. He had crossed the finish line first and thus became the winner of the race. The crowd applauded in excitement.
Shortly thereafter, the other runner also reached the finish line. As he was about to cross the line he stopped. There was a hush over the audience as they were amazed that a runner would stop just short of crossing the finish line. The runner turned and looked behind him. He saw some of his fellow runners that were struggling to finish the race. Without hesitation he ran back to encourage the runners once again not to quit but to push forward and endure to the end. All of the runners finally made it across the finish line with this runner being the last one to cross. For a moment there was a deep silence from the crowd. And then it happened. One by one people slowly began to stand to their feet and applaud this runner. The applause was longer and louder than it had been for the runner who "won" the race. This left the "winner" both amazed and confused. He did not understand why this runner who had crossed the finish line last was receiving so much recognition especially since he had clearly lost the race.
When all is said and done, which of these two runners was the real winner of the race?
Tags: Life Race Kindness Love Charity
Welcome to Spiritual Mathematics 101. What is Spiritual Mathematics? Simply put, Spiritual Mathematics is the concept of utilizing the basic math principles of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division that we learned during our early school days, and applying those principles to our spiritual growth process.
First, let us consider the basic principle of subtraction. Even small children are taught early in their education to understand basic mathematical equations such as two take away two equals zero. Just as this basic principle is learned early in life, the principle of Christâ€™s forgiveness should also be learned early in life. Christ â€śtakes awayâ€ť the sins of those who repent and believe on Him. We could represent this with the simple mathematical equation: Repentance - Sin = Forgiveness. In 1 John 3:5 we read these words, â€śAnd ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.â€ť
Let us next consider the basic principle of division. In Isaiah 53:12 we read, â€śTherefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.â€ť Christ is our perfect exemplar. He gave Himself for us, dividing a portion with the great. As His disciples, we are to follow His example. In 1 John 2:6 we read, â€śHe that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.â€ť We should be willing to divide our time, talents, and treasure to do the work our Heavenly Father has given us to do.
Next, let us consider the basic principle of addition. We would all agree that the way to increase the amount of that which we have is to add to that which we have. For example, if a child has an apple and his friend gives him another apple, he now has one more apple than he originally started with or two apples. We are to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ by adding to, or increasing in, the fruits and virtues of the Spirit. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 we are taught, â€śAnd beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.â€ť We begin with faith and we end with love. Expressed as a simple mathematical equation we have: Faith + Virtue + Knowledge + Temperance + Patience + Godliness + Brotherly Kindness + Charity = Growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Adding these fruits of the Spirit to our lives will help to settle, establish, and strengthen us as Christians.
Finally, let us consider the basic principle of multiplication. Some people seem to have great difficulty in understanding multiplication tables, but in reality, multiplication is nothing more than repeated addition. It is fascinating to observe the great increase that multiplication brings. For example, if you have some good news to share with a lot of people, start out by telling a couple of your closest friends. It is almost guaranteed that each of those friends will tell a couple of their close friends, and so on and so forth until the news is spread over a large area. Christ wants the number of His disciples to be increased. This is done through our missionary efforts of sharing the Gospel and bringing others unto Him. As we do, we will receive multiplied blessings (see Jude 2).
This concludes our class on Spiritual Mathematics 101. May the Lord â€śteach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdomâ€ť (Psalm 90:12).
Tags: Life Faith Patience Trials Endurance
Why is it that some people always seem to want to remain in the neutral zone when it comes to making important decisions as to how to resolve certain issues? Yet, when things do not turn out the way they think they should, these same people become the most boisterous critics and cynics in the room.
It is a certainty that there is a time to speak and a time when it is best to remain silent. There are times when silence can be considered "golden", just as there are times when wanting to freely speak one's mind or voice one's opinion about an issue, especially after that issue has been resolved, can be considered betrayal.
Wanting to always voice one's opinion for the sake of recognition and acknowledgement from others does not necessarily equate to possessing a certain level of intelligence or maturity. Sometimes it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves so as to avoid undue conflict and strife, and even the possibility of having to eventually eat our own words.
If a person chooses from the start to remain in the neutral zone as far as offering their time, talent, and abilities to help resolve an issue, then after the issue has been resolved, perhaps they should continue to remain in the neutral zone so far as their comments and criticisms are concerned.
If we have no desire to be a part of the solution to a problem from the start, then we should not cause additional problems by rushing in at the eleventh hour to offer our proverbial "two cents".
Tags: Life Conflicts Strife Resolutions
I am sometimes a little amazed that some people seem to think that because we profess to be a Christian - a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ - that automatically equates to never getting upset, never murmuring, never complaining, never getting angry, never getting frustrated, never having to face heartaches and disappointments, and perhaps, some even think that Christians never shed any tears or have any sleepless nights. The reality of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth.
Are we not all mortals? Do we not at times feel pain, suffering, frustration, remorse, anger, and the agony of defeats as well as the joy of victories in our lives? Does Christ not know the burdens that we bear and the feelings and emotions that sometimes accompany those burdens? Indeed He does. And He has promised us, just as He did the Apostle Paul in his time of affliction, that His grace is sufficient and that He will never give us any more than we can possibly bear.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus wept (see John 11:35). The Scriptures also teach us that He got angry. See Him in the Temple as He overturns the tables of the money changers because they were turning the Sacred House of the Lord into a den of thieves when they should have revered it as a place that had been consecrated and set apart as Holiness unto the Lord â€“ a place of order, a place of prayer (see Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). Come now to the garden of Gethsemane and see Him as He kneels in prayer throughout the night interceding on our behalf. Hear Him as He earnestly communes with the Father and asks that if it be the Fatherâ€™s will that He would take the bitter cup from Him. Hear Him still in that same Divine conversation as He relinquishes His own will and yields totally and completely to the will of His Father (see Luke 22:42).
This life is a test that is filled with challenges and obstacles that we must face and overcome along the way. But, we need not face those obstacles and challenges alone. In times of distress and trouble the Savior bids us to come unto Him and He will give us rest for our weary souls.
During His earthly ministry as both God and man He felt of the same emotions that we sometimes experience. The main difference is that even though He may have had those same feelings and emotions, He was able to press forward at all times and do the will of His Father who had sent Him - praying in earnest, "Father, not my will, but thy will be done". We, as mortals, on the other hand, often feel inadequate, too tired, or just plain defeated in our struggles, and so it becomes easier for us at times to just give in and give up believing that our burdens are just too much to bear. However, we should take heart in knowing that He is our Great Burden Bearer. When the weight of the world presses down heavy upon our shoulders, He is right there to lift us up and to make our load easier to bear. Listen closely now as He bids us, â€śCome unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is lightâ€ť (see Matthew 11:28-30).
Tags: Life Burdens Trials Tests Faith
Mountains and valleys have always had some sort of significant meaning in my life. I suppose it is because life itself is made up of lofty mountain top experiences as well as down in the valley experiences.
I believe that God, our Heavenly Father, gives us certain mountain top experiences in our lives in response to our faithfulness and obedience, and to keep us ever reaching toward the prize of the high calling. Though we may reach the pinnacle of the mountain, He gently reminds us that we need not become boastful nor proud of our accomplishment, but humbly thank Him in awe and reverence for allowing us to have this experience, and realize that we need to go higher still. Reaching the top of the mountain then is only a beginning, not the end.
Similarly, I believe that God, our Heavenly Father, gives us down in the valley experiences, not to punish us per se, but to teach us humility. It is often when a man is at his lowest point that he tends to look up the most. Knowing this, our Heavenly Father often places us in situations that help us to return our focus upon the One from whence truly comes our help - He who is a very present help in time of trouble. As we look up from the depths of the valley we gain a magnificent glimpse of the splendor of the mountains above, and perhaps just a small glimpse of what being on top of those mountains is like. Being in the bowels of the valley then is not an end to all things, but a beginning of new things that are yet to come.
The Lord never promised any of us that we would journey through this life riding upon a bed of roses in ease and comfort. However, He did promise us that if we will endure until the end of the journey, it will be worth it all.
And so, we find that the terrain upon which we travel as we continue our pilgrimage becomes vast and varied. At times we will be blessed to travel down smoothly paved roads with seemingly no obstacles to impair our way. At other times the road may be dusty and rocky and in order to procede on our journey we have to stop and clear the path before us in order to make it more accessible. Still, at other times, we will face hurdles which we have to get around or go over, or even yet, our greatest challenge will be the mighty mountains that we must climb. Some of the mountains may be better described as hills, but others may seem insurmountable.
Regardless of the size of the mountain, it is our measure of faith that will allow us to overcome this obstacle as well. For we are told that if we have faith, even as the grain of a mustard seed, we will be able to say unto the mountain before us, "Be thou removed and cast into the sea" and it shall be moved.
Let us not approach mountains with fear and trepidation in our hearts, but rather, let us approach mountains with a song and a prayer in our hearts perhaps similar to this one:
Father, as I continue on my journey, I find myself with yet another mountain that I must climb. Try as I might to go around this mountain to get to the other side, I find that I am faced with no alternative but to climb this mountain in order to reach my desired destination. So, help me to climb this mountain with the faith and understanding that I do not climb it alone. You are always near to guide each footstep that I take along the rocky pathway, ready to catch me if I falter and begin to fall. You are there pushing me onward and helping me to keep my eyes focused on the goal when at times I feel like giving up.
The Lord understands that there must be a period of rest from our journeying. It is at that time that He guides us safely down the other side of the mountain and down into the beautiful valley below. It is there in the valley that He leads us beside the still waters and causes us to lay down in green pastures as He restores our souls, thus giving us the necessary strength to press forward and endure to the end of our journey.
Life is full of tests and trials with many obstacles which we will face along the way to include majestic mountains which may seem insurmountable. But, let us take heart that at no time on our journey are we ever alone. He is always right there beside us. So, with a song of gladness in our heart we are indeed able to say, "Give me this mountain that I may rest in the beautiful valley below."
Tags: Life Trials Faith Endurance Patience
To Everything There Is A Season
An Open Letter - From My Heart To Yours
(PLEASE READ IN ITS ENTIRETY)
Dear LDS.Net family and friends,
It becomes my duty this morning to inform you that as of Sunday, 27 February 2011, I will be leaving LDS.Net and closing my account, if but for a short season. This decision is not one that is being made hastily, nor is it one that is being made out of bitterness or anger towards anyone, as I hold no malice nor discontent against anyone here. The Lord knows my true heart, and I sincerely consider all of you to be my family and friends. This decision is one that has weighed heavily on my heart and mind for some time and is being made after much careful and prayerful consideration. I only ask this morning that if you have never read anything else that I have posted on LDS.Net, please take the time to read this treatise in its entirety before jumping to any rash conclusions as to why I have decided to leave, or before voicing any harsh and rash criticisms of the decision that is being made. There are several reasons for making this decision which I will now share with all of you. I have chosen to make this an open letter and not just one to the moderators because I feel that everyone that I have made friends with here deserves to know my reasoning behind leaving.
As some of you may know, I have faced many burdens and challenges over the past 9 or 10 months specifically with all the things that have occurred in my personal and family life as far as the health issues and ongoing situation with the older of my two sisters, as well as, my own ongoing personal health issues. There is no need to go into specific details here. Suffice it to say these challenges have had great demands on my time and have caused great reason to take a step back and re-evaluate what is really important and what is not - the things that matter most in life and the things that do not. I believe that my focus is clear and that my priorities at this time are exactly in order. I must take care of my family and myself first and foremost.
For quite some time, and as a result of personal prayer and personal revelation, I have felt that the Lord is moving my life in a whole new direction. The occurrence of certain events in my life over the past couple of years have clearly testified of this fact to me. And, may I say at this juncture, that I am truly grateful that LDS.Net has played a part in helping me do the work that the Lord has called me to do and to help move my life in the direction that the Lord is leading me.
As I re-read the pages (2- 8 Â˝â€ś X 11â€ť pages, completely full, front and back) of my Patriarchal Blessing, I KNOW that the Lord has a great work for me to do. Because of my faithfulness and obedience, even in recent days, I have enjoyed the fruits of many personal blessings as doors of opportunity have been opened to me that may not have otherwise been opened. It has always been my heartâ€™s desire to become more actively involved with the Church in other areas outside my regular Ward and Stake callings and last year the Lord began opening doors for me after my profile was posted on Mormon.Org. From that experience, I have been blessed to become involved with the online missionary efforts and to work directly with some of the Lordâ€™s great missionaries at the MTC in Provo Utah to help move the work along. I have also been blessed by the correspondence that I have received from various people thanking me for sharing my conversion story and testimony. In addition, I have been blessed to receive correspondence from different areas of the Church inviting me to participate in different projects for which I am truly honored, humbled and grateful. I truly believe that these are the things that the Lord needs me to focus on and devote my attention to at this time.
As some of you may also know, near the end of January 2011 I was blessed to submit an article that I wrote to the Ensign magazine titled â€śHis Banner Over Us Is Loveâ€ť and received correspondence from the magazine that they are planning to use that article in an upcoming issue. I sincerely believe that this too will open new doors of opportunity for me and that this too is all a part of the Lordâ€™s plan for my life. I do not mention this to boast or brag, for there is nothing in my life that I need to boast or brag of, but to merely mention another blessing received and another step forward in doing those things which the Lord would have me to do. Like Nephi of old, I hope to always be willing to say that I will Go and Do the things which the Lord does command, and echo in the words of Isaiah the Prophet, â€śHere am I, send me!â€ť
Although I have enjoyed my season of being a part of LDS.Net, I truly believe with all my heart that the season has now passed and now is the time to press forward and do other work that the Father has called me to do in His vineyard. The field is ripe already to harvest and there remains yet a great work to do.
The Lord has blessed me with the talents and abilities to write and to share those writings through my personal website, blogs, and social network. For the time being, unless otherwise directed by the Spirit to do so, I plan to maintain those sites as they too have proved in days past to be a source of great blessing to many people and excellent missionary tools.
Dear friends, I feel a great call upon my life and I must be about my Fatherâ€™s business. I only pray that after leaving LDS.Net that I will remain friends with all of you. You are still free to stay in touch with me and I would love to hear from you from time to time as to how things are going. You can always find me and my contact information on Face Book (KeithLBrown) as that has proved to be a great missionary tool for me as well. I wish for all of you the very best in your own personal quests and endeavors. May God bless you all.
Sincerely your friend and brother,
Keith L. Brown
1 Peter 3:13-17; Helaman 5:12
Tags: Life Seasons Changes