Monday, January 25, 2016

All Things Unto Me Are Spiritual

Hello Everyone, apparently NYC is getting a lot of snow so everyone assumes we have a ton.  Nope, I still see grass outside.  Yeah it's cold and the wind is awful, but no snow!

I'm going to take some time now to create a scenario:

Imagine you're on the varsity [insert sport here] team back in High School.  You performed well in the tryouts and easily made the team.  You've got your jersey and you're feeling pretty good about yourself.  During the season you play your games and tend to come out on top.  Not always, but more often than not you do pretty well in your games.  One day you're invited to a tournament from outside your region, you accept and show up to the tournament, unaware of who you'll be up against.  You walk onto the [court/pitch/field/arena] and wait for the opposing team.  Eventually the opposing team enters and you realize that you're playing against world class athletes, not High School students.  The game begins and immediately you are shown how the game is really played.  
A situation like the one above took place not too long ago in our mission.  Out mission has a lot of great missionaries.  There are a great deal of missionaries that are dedicated, obedient, faithful, and loving.  I feel as though a lot of us assumed that we were doing pretty good, I know I did.  So when the opportunity arose to learn about Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel titled "How Do I Use Time Wisely?", I was excited, but felt that I was already competent in my planning and preparation skills.  To play into the scenario above I walked right into the match with a little swagger in my steps thinking that I'm well prepared and capable.  Nope.  Before my mission I would likely have said that I was got 'shown up' by the instructors from Salt Lake City.  But I've realized that instead of showing me up they instead showed me how.  It was in no way they're intention to crush what effort I was putting in, but to help me reach higher levels.  There's a very large difference between showing someone up and showing someone how, but sometimes it can be hard to discern.  

I was shown, not just taught or told, how to plan effectively.  Examples were given, videos were shown, and the Spirit was felt in great measure.  Leaving the training session I felt in awe of how far I yet had to go to reach the level of proficiency in planning that I want to have.  But I was shown that it was possible to reach that, so I determined to become better.  And since that moment I have gained a greater understanding of verse 34 from the 29th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads:

"Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created."

These principles of planning and goal setting are eternal and spiritual.  The application for missionaries is specific and direct, but the general principles lead to wonderful growth, and more importantly growth and improvement in the areas the Lord thinks we need work on.  It's my hope that I'll get down the principles of Chapter 8 well enough to be a blessing in the lives of those that I serve so that when I return home eventually I will have the skills and experience necessary to do great things in my life and be a blessing in the lives of those around me.  

Preach My Gospel teaches amazing things.  For those of you that teach classes, study Chapter 10. For those of you that struggle with effective personal study of the scriptures, read Chapter 2.  If you feel that you want your prayers to be more heartfelt, read the Pray with Faith section in Chapter 4.  If you want to use time more wisely, for the amount of time we have on this Earth is unpredictable, then a thorough study of Chapter 8 and the principles found therein will help and bless you throughout your life.  I know that Preach My Gospel is a tool for members and missionaries, and teaches correct and eternal principles and I challenge you that if you don't include it in your study to use it now and again.  It explains things with clarity and power, and is a wonderful study guide and reference material.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, January 11, 2016

Humility and Wisdom

Hello Everyone!

Recently I've stared up a practice that I had at the beginning of my mission, and that is writing down a list of things I want to study, or things that caught my eye that warrant further reading and investigation.  Today's post is the result of that practice.  

As I was reading through the 32nd chapter of Alma, where Alma gives a great discourse on faith and how the word of God can be likened unto a seed, verse 12 caught my eye.  

"I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble."

As I read through this verse my mind made a connection between the attributes of wisdom and humility; or between the acts of being humbled and learning wisdom.  This was a connection that I hadn't given much thought to before now, but it sparked my interest enough to lead on a scripture chase to find more answers concerning the subject.  

I suppose the first point to bring up is why we need to be humbled.  In most cases we have need to be humbled because we aren't living a commandment or principle, either at all or in as great of a measure as our Heavenly Father would have us live it.  We need to be humbled so that we can learn to pray more earnestly, or to truly search and ponder upon the scriptures, to learn how to take council from the Lord and not to try and council him.  In his talk "Beware of Pride" Ezra Taft Benson makes the statement that "The Lord will have a humble people" and much as Alma declares in chapter 32, we can either choose to be humble or compelled to be humble.  One of the many reasons that the Lord will have a humble people is that the humble are malleable, prepared, and softened that they might hear, understand, and act upon the word of God.  

As in the previous line, there are three main types of people:

1. Those that merely hear the word, much like those that only heard the story when Christ taught in parables.  They only saw the surface content, and didn't probe any deeper.

2. Those who heard and understood the word that took the time and consideration to probe deeper into the teachings of Christ and of the prophets.  Understanding is a good first step, for it empowers the pupil far more than in just hearing a nice story.  But an understanding is not enough in the perspective of eternity

3.  These are they who hear the word, cherish and understand it, and become doers of the word.  They get down to business and work.  In one of my favorite quotes currently, Vaughn J. Featherstone relates the difference between understanding, and doing:

"The teacher or leader must not only be first in knowledge, in prophecy, and in understanding the mysteries, but he must also be first in performance. I believe that it is not only an offense to the people but also an offense to God when priesthood leaders, teachers, and members of the Church never really get down and serve the people, do not do their duty, do not magnify their callings, and do not fill their stewardships. We ought to bend our backs in our callings in such a way that our words and teachings are always racing to keep up with our acts." 

 ("Charity Never Faileth", Vaughn J. Featherstone, BYU Speeches Feb 1979)

If we are truly humble, we will become doers of the word that we might come to know of the doctrine more fully (John 7:17).  In ways we all embody the above three attributes.  We all at times merely hear the words, but don't comprehend.  Or we understand what is being said, but we don't bother to act.  But when we hear, understand, and apply our hearts to understanding as Abinidi teaches in Mosiah 12:27, then we are truly wise indeed.  

The Lord will have us be humble, so that we can learn to apply ourselves in a way that blesses us, and those around us.  It is truly in action that we learn wisdom, but if we, as imperfect beings, were never humbled we would never have a reason to change our ways for we would see no need to.  I know that being humbled isn't the greatest feeling, because it means that we were wrong and have had to check our pride.  But the feelings of joy and the comforts of the Spirit that come as we align our will step by step with God's will far outweigh the momentary discomforts of admitting that we aren't as perfect as we'd like to believe.  

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week!

Love, Elder Gailey