Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving season is prime time to ponder what we're grateful for. It's remarkable to think about the things a loving Father in Heaven has blessed us with. I will list just a few:
  • Seasons. I love fall. I also love winter, summer and spring. The changing seasons bring renewal and excitement. They symbolize eternal things. They remind me that God is always watching over us. Sometimes the best answers to prayer come directly from His creation—a warm ray of sunshine across my face, a flurry of white snow, a cool spring rainstorm. Truly He sent us to Earth to find joy in His handiwork.
  • Food. Nobody likes to go hungry, but billions across the world do every day. I'm grateful that I've never had to worry about what my next meal is going to be. There is always enough and usually more to spare, and then I am blessed to share what I have with others.
  • Music. Good music inspires me. Life would be dull without the stirring crescendos of classical artists and the enjoyable melodies of my favorite contemporaries. In this I stand with Johann Sebastian Bach, who said, "God gave us music that we might pray without words."
  • Missionary work. Sharing the gospel is difficult work. I've been serving as a missionary for nearly nine months. I've never been so physically and emotionally exhausted. But I'm learning things I never imagined I could learn, and I'm growing in ways I never would have thought possible. Two years away from home pays personal dividends that you cannot put a price tag on.
  • Family. I love my family. They mean everything to me because they are everything to me. I cherish my relationships with my brothers, sister, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I'm grateful for the knowledge that I can live with them forever.
  • Jesus Christ. I cannot adequately express how thankful I am for my Savior. I will never understand how or why He suffered for me. I cannot comprehend the depth of His love. He knows me like nobody else does because He's been where I've been. I marvel at His love and His mercy.   

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are You Spiritually Malnourished?

Periodically on the news you see horrifying accounts of starvation and thirst in third-world countries. We naturally feel sympathy for those who must endure such extreme suffering.

There is another kind of malnourishment, every bit as damaging and probably even more prevalent in the world today, but it is not so readily visible to the untrained eye.

Spiritual malnourishment is the cause of much that is wrong in today's society. Contributing factors include pervasive and blatant disregard for God's commandments; halfhearted, irregular prayer (if one prays at all); infrequent, casual scripture study (if one reads at all); and rampant deception, dishonesty, profanity, pride and immorality.

Spiritual malnourishment leads to an inability to feel gratitude, love, and the Spirit. It causes one to feel discouraged and depressed. Intent on filling up the emptiness they feel inside them, spiritually-malnourished individuals often turn to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, money and other selfish pursuits instead of turning to God.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said

"[I]n our contemporary success and sophistication [many] walk away from the vitally crucial bread of eternal life; [many] actually choose to be spiritually malnourished, willfully indulging in a kind of spiritual anorexia."

The solution is humility. When we are humble, we show the Lord we are willing and actually hungry to learn. The Lord will not deny knowledge to those who seek it; He will not deny living water to those who thirst for it. Humility entails admitting that we are often wrong, that we don't have all the answers, and that we are powerless to make it through this life without God.

The blessings of humility are best illustrated in this simple verse of scripture
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.