Are you an optimist?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

A few weeks ago at church we were studying in Numbers 14 in the Bible in which Moses sends out 12 spies to look at the land that the Lord wants them to inhabit.

Ten of the men come back and tell how wonderful the land is, but that the cities are too big, the walls are too tall, and the people are too strong.  They even go so far to say that they should find another leader to take them back to Egypt.

However two men, Caleb and Joshua gave a good report and were ready to go in and inhabit the land.

So all 12 men saw the same thing; what made the difference?

The two men said “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:8)

So the difference is not in the situation itself, but how they looked at the situation. Caleb and Joshua looked at it with the Lord on their side. Specifically they had hope in his promises.

Hope is trust in god’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future…

James E. Faust, Oct 1999

So with eyes toward God and his promises and hope in him we can find optimism in our own lives. 

As we face situations, let’s look for the positives, the possibilities, and the good.  In doing so we will find great joy and happiness in our life. We will find other people enjoy being around us, and that we have purpose in what we do.

You will experience greater joy in life as you eradicate adult-onset pessimism and substitute childlike optimism. 

Optimism is a virtue that allows us to see God’s loving hand in the details of our life.

Anthony D. Perkins, Oct 2006

How do you see the world around you?

It’s much more enjoyable to be an optimist!

There are no dead ends

The other day while hiking I came to the end of a path and it just stopped. The all-trails map I had on my phone said it continued on; connecting with another path in just a short distance.

I turned a different way down another dirt forest road thinking I might have made a mistake, but it took me in the opposite direction. I was getting a little discouraged and was about to turn around.

I went once again went to where the trail ended and looked around more carefully, but to no avail. All there was was forest and leaves and logs. So with my map in hand I took a deep breath and headed straight into uncharted territory–toward where the path should have been.

Hiking up hill and over stones and sticks and around a few trees I finally–about 20 feet later found a faint path that soon led me to my final destination at the summit.

I could have given up. I could have turned around. But I really wanted to get to my destination. With a little extra perseverance, walking into the forest for a bit, and taking some extra time, I did get to where I wanted to go and enjoyed the extra beauty on the way.

In life we may feel at times that there is a roadblock in front of where we want to go. We may not see any way to get to our destination.

We may try right and left but its not the right path. We may feel lost or discouraged.

But just like on my hike, sometimes we may need to go forward into unplanned or unfamiliar areas–with faith relying both upon what we know and a prayer and help from God.

Don’t give up. don’t think you can’t do it.

With a little more effort and faith push forward until you are back on the path to where you want to be. What you learned along the way may be valuable to you in the long-term.

There are no dead ends. There is always a way out. What you learn in one failure you utilize in your next success.

Henry FORD

In my life, the things that give me this extra push forward are prayer, reading the scriptures, helping others, and listening to the spirit of the Holy Ghost.

It isn’t always easy, and sometimes my path in life goes into unfamiliar or unmapped areas, but if I stay focused I can reach the summit.

Never let something block your path without trying all you can to find your destination.

Yoke Ourselves with Jesus Christ

What is a yoke and why do we want to be yoked to Christ?

From Matthew 11:28-30 we read:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laded, 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 until your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A yoke is beam of wood fitted to 2 ox’s shoulders that maximize the pulling force, but also offer the least pain and most comfort to the ox. To function properly they are fitted for the particular ox. And when yoked together they can accomplish so much more than they can alone.

I love the imagery of this scripture of coming to Christ in this way,  but have always been bothered a bit about Him saying His yoke is easy.

What do you mean His yoke is easy? 

He suffered in the garden for all of us, endured a false trial, friends betrayal, and other injustices throughout his short life. And in the end he gave up his life on the cross in a barbaric matter.

How could His yoke be easy and His burden light?

Then I had a new thought—a switch in perspective.

Maybe He means that if we come to Him during our life, His yoke is easier than if we go at it alone.

If we try to go through our own trials, burdens, sins, and difficulties by ourselves—making choices alone, that definitely could be more difficult than if we have someone to share them with.

If we turn our burdens over to Him, that burden—that load—that yoke becomes lighter.  Not from any doing of our own, but because of what he did for us—and continues to do.

As we share the yoke with him, we maximize what we can do together and minimize the pain in doing so. And that yoke is perfectly matched to our own needs individually.

A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke. His yoke requires a great and earnest effort, but for those who truly are converted, the yoke is easy and the burden becomes light.

Howard W. Hunter Oct 1990

Don’t go at it alone. 

Invite Christ to be part of your burdens.  Share his yoke—take it upon you—and you will find great peace and rest.

Through the Fog

The last few weeks I have gone hiking twice where it became foggy around me. As I did so I was reminded of an experience I had years ago while living in Southern California.

At the time, I was only living a few miles from where I worked in a small business complex. As I headed outside that morning I was barely able to see across the street because the fog was so thick.

I had to be very careful maneuvering out of the neighborhood. The main street had two lanes each way and in order to see where I was going and stay in a straight line I had to straddle the dotted line between the two lanes going my way.

I had made this trip a hundred times before, but now all of a sudden my way was blocked by a wall of fog. However, I could see small signs along the way that helped guide me forward.

Through the gloom I could see the faint signal helping me to know I was at the next major intersection. The lighted sign of a business shone through allowing me to keep moving forward. Then I saw the large shadowed silhouette of trees looming through the fog which let me know that I was by the large park that was near my office.

As I turned into a driveway I could see the fog swirling around the parking lot lights and knew I had finally arrived.

Looking back on this experience I can realize that no matter how thick the fog was, my destination was still there and the sun was still above me, it was just blocked momentarily by the fog. 

But by paying careful attention to a few markers along the way I was still able to make it through safely. 

In our life we may encounter moments of fog that appear to blog our progress. But we too can get help from small markers along the way. A phone call from a friend, a short prayer to our Heavenly Father, awareness of other blessings around us, words of inspiration in a scripture, and keeping faith that our destination is still there.

God’s word is tailor-made for gray-slush days. It sends a beam of light through the fog. It signals safely when we fear we’ll never make it through.

Charles R. Swindoll

The “foggy” trial and circumstance we may periodically find ourselves in is as temporary as the fog blocking the sunshine on my way to work that day. It will lift, and when it does we can find ourselves in one of two places. We will still be on the same true path forward or we can be diverted and be lost.

To stay on the right path during these difficult times we need to focus on things of eternal nature. Just as the sun is still there behind the fog, the eternal Son of god, Jesus Christ is always shinning and ready to reach out and help us if we stay focused on him.

Jesus Christ is the Light and Life of the world. Let him walk before you and he will light the way.

Renewal

A year ago we had some horrendous fires east of us here in Oregon. It burned over 1 million acres, including a lot of my favorite hiking places as it destroyed small towns, upheaved peoples lives, and devastated such a large area.

This last week I participated in a service project at church to help clean up one of the state parks that was affected. We cleaned out burnt logs and plants, weeded camping spots, cleared trails, and replaced new walkways.

Afterwards I drove a bit farther to one of my favorite places that was hit hard. One park next to the Santiam river was totally destroyed and is closed, but I went down a small road on the other side of the river. There I saw whole swaths of burnt forest, houses still being rebuilt, and land that had been cleared after the fires.

As you can see in this picture, although the trees are still bare and burned, grasses, small plants, and bushes have begun growing again. Someday the forest will return.

Life is being renewed. 

In the dictionary, “renew” means to give fresh life or strength to, re-establish something, or resume an activity.

Whenever I am frustrated or experience my own trials I remember things like this and know that I can also be renewed. I can find new strength or enthusiasm or re-establish a positive relationship.

This may be through prayer, scriptures, being out in nature, enjoying time with a friend, meditating, or pondering our priorities in life.

Just like the forest, we can grow once again. It may start off small–just a few small blades of grass or a bush–or a small task, or new goal, but we can grow once again into a mighty forest.

Clutter

Look around you–is your life full of clutter?

When my children were younger and we would go on family vacations I loved being in a hotel room. It was clutter-free; no toys laying around or anything shoved into the corners.

When I would get home, our house looked so crowded. There were so many things everywhere! Immediately my apprehension went up and I was more tense. How was I going to get anything done?

Now our house wasn’t that bad, but compared to the clean hotel room we had a lot more things lying around. I realized that the hotel room isn’t really set-up to live in. But I still felt some anxiety when I got home.

The last time we moved we downsized quite a bit. I spent a month going to the dump or to goodwill almost every day to get rid of all the things that didn’t really matter.

Now our home is much less cluttered and it feels great! I know where things are, and each time I enter inside I feel good. I can relax with no apprehension or worries about feeling overcrowded with things.

But what about our own lives? Do we have clutter that is keeping us from accomplishing things?

Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.

peter walsh

Each of us should take time looking at the activities in our own lives. Are we crowding so many things in that we are frustrated, or tense, or irritable, or just plain stressed out?

We can make an inventory on what we are spending our time on. Then list what our goals and dreams are. Are what we are spending time on leading to those goals or are they distracting from it?

A cluttered life is a life that you do not have control of. It is a life in which the things you have surrounded yourself with, and allow to use up your time, are controlling you and negatively influencing your happiness and eternal progress.

william r bradford April 1992

The things we spend our time and focus on will dictate the outcome of our lives. Are we focused on the right thing?

Is there some clutter that we need to get rid of in our own personal lives in order to get the results we want and to become the type of person we want to be?

If so, start now to de-clutter. Get rid of something that is distracting you from your goals.

Focus on the eternal, on your relationship with God, and on helping others.

And before you know it your life will have more peace and direction and be clutter-free!

Spiritual Power

There are many types of power in the world.

Political Power, physical power, and natural power are a few.

Many years ago I worked for McDonnell Douglas, an Airplane manufacturer in Long Beach California. At the time they were building a new airplane; the MD-11. This plane sat 280-400 people, weighed six hundred thousand pounds, and had engines large enough to fly 7-10K miles without stopping. 

When it came time for the first inaugural flight, we were allowed to go up on the roof of our six-story office building which was next to the airport. I remember watching it go slowly to the other end of the runway and then you could hear the roar of the powerful engines as the plane started moving faster and faster. Then miraculously this huge plane lifted up in the air and flew right over our heads, tipping its wings to us. 

The crowd cheered at this amazing site. I could hardly believe there was something that was so powerful to lift that large plane off the ground.

But with all the power in the world, what kind of power has the ability to last the longest and do the most good.

Personal Spiritual power. Because it comes from within. It comes from the spirit inside of us; that portion of our being that came from God.

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.  Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life.”

Ezra taft benson

So real power; eternal power; ultimate power comes from God, our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. And we get that power into our own lives by looking outward towards others and helping and serving them.

The source of our spiritual power is the Lord!  The ultimate source of spiritual power is God our Father.  The messenger of this power is the Holy ghost.  This power differs from electrical power. An electrical appliance consumes power.  The use of His spiritual power replenishes our power.  While electrical power can be used only for measured periods of time, spiritual power can be used for time and eternity!

Russell M nelson

Spiritual Power will change the world much quicker and more efficiently than political, monetary, physical, or natural power.

Spiritual power isn’t concerned with always being right, with treating others differently, or subjecting others to our own whims. Spiritual power is concerned about the eternal welfare of each and every persons soul.

Let’s think about what we can do in our own lives to have more spiritual power. As we do so we will be able to lift others, feel more joy, and be better able to prioritize all that we do.

Take a Step

Nature has a way of helping me to strive to be better.

On my hikes I always marvel at the majestic beauty around me. The tall and straight trees, amazing mountains, and inspiring waterfalls always instill in me the desire to do better.

A few weeks ago we stopped by Smith Rock (East of Sisters Oregon) on the way back from a weeklong vacation. I was caught up in the majesty of these tall and imposing rocks with a picturesque river winding through them. 

I saw steep switched back trails up the sides and I know many people go rock climbing there. Unfortunately it was too hot that day for me to do much more than just hike down to the water and back up again.

But as I stood at the base of Smith Rock and looked up I thought about what it must take to climb those rocks. How can people do that?

The answer came to me…one step at a time.

We all strive to do new things in our life; some of us have natural abilities and others have to work harder. But we can all try.

And that trying comes one step at a time. It may be a small step or a large one. 

But striving to do more, be more, and accomplish something in life begins with a single step forward.

Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.

Shannon L. Alder

What is it you want to do? What is it you want to be? 

Make a plan and start.

Take courage and inspiration from nature around you. A single wildflower may grow quickly or a tall tree, deep ravine, or mighty rock structure may have taken hundreds or thousands of years.  

For you it may take a day, week, month, or years and years to become what you want to be…but start now.

Everything worthwhile in your life starts with a choice. 

A choice to move forward one step at a time.

Zeal

In the Book of Mormon one of my favorite words is Zeal!  This is a word that denotes a strong feeling. It means ardent, excitement, ferver, and enthusiasm.

We see it first in Mosiah 27:35 where the sons of Mosiah after being converted to the gospel go about “zealously striving to repair all the injuries” they had done while preaching against the church before their conversion.

Then we see it in Alma 21:23 where King Lamoni (son) is taught by Ammon and his people were zealous for keeping the commandments of God.”

Later in Alma 27:27, 30 all of the Lamanites that had now accepted the truth and had been converted were “distinguished for their zeal towards God and also towards men…” and “they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord.”

It is great to see how Ammon (and his brothers) zeal lead to the zeal with King Lamoni and his people, and then spread to all the Lamanites that believed.

Do we feel zeal in our life? And if not, how can we?

The answer lies in the story of these sons of Mosiah. In Alma 17:2-4 we read:

…for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.

And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him.

We see in the above versus that they searched the scriptures, prayed, fasted, and confessed their sins. By doing this they had the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

All of these people had zeal in their lives because they took the time and performed the steps nessesary to have the spirit of revelation with them. When we have revelation, or inspiration as it is called many times, with us in our daily life we feel an excitement for life and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then we are in a position to help others feel this zeal and influcence our friends, families, wards, cities, and nations.

What steps do we need to do better to have this kind of zeal in our own life? Prioritize them now and don’t miss out on this feeling.

Learn more about the Sons of Mosiah and those they taught in this video. https://youtu.be/znleUXF1nW4

Be of Good Cheer

How do we find courage to carry on during difficult moments of life?

The following story was told by S. Gifford Neilson,

“In 1978, I stood on a football field in a stadium packed with 65,000 fans. In front of me were several very large opponents who looked like they wanted to take my head off. It was my first game as a starting quarterback in the National Football League, and we were playing the reigning Super Bowl champions. To be honest, I questioned whether I was good enough to be on the field. I dropped back to throw my first pass, and as I released the ball, I was hit harder than I’d ever been hit before. At that moment, lying under a pile of those massive athletes, I wondered what I was doing there. I had a decision to make. Would I let my doubts overtake me, or would I find courage and strength to get up and to carry on?

He went on to say that many of the challenges in our lives would be more important than his football game.

For strength during difficult times I turn to the Lord, Jesus Christ for help.

I turn to him through prayers to Heavenly Father that are said in the name of Jesus Christ. I turn to him through the scriptures, and I turn to him in my heart as I contemplate his life and sacrifice for me.

At one time Jesus had sent his disciples away on a ship, but a terrible storm arose. In the middle of the storm they thought they would perish but then a person came to them, walking on the water. At first they were afraid, but then they heard him speak.

Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

Matt 14:27

Later he told Peter to “Come” to him on the water.

Throughout history Jesus Christ helps to lift us from our daily challenges and struggles by telling us such invitations and encouragement as Come unto me, Follow me, Be strong and of a good courage, Repent, Believe, and I am the light of the world.

All of these phrases should give us hope and help us not to fear. We learn, that we are never alone and that there is always someone that understands us.

We find courage to get through difficult times by allowing Jesus Christ into our lives, following the commandments of Heavenly Father, and listening to the whisperings and comfort of the Holy Ghost.

We can’t do it alone—we need help.

And one of those that is always there to help us is our Redeemer, our Lord, and our Savior Jesus Christ. His way offers us peace and endurance and hope.

His way is the only way to have the courage to overcome doubts, fears, and challenges in our life.

As we make a life long study of Jesus and try to emulate him, turn to him, and have faith in him, we will be blessed with his spirt in our life.

In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33
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