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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Working Hard and Smart. Our journey to the Hall of Fame!

Football is a very complicated sport.  There are a lot of variables that determine what makes a player successful, what makes teams good, and how a team wins games.  I've compiled a simple list of players from the NFL that have strengths and how those strengths apply to their game. 

First of all, to make it to the NFL is a tremendous accomplishment, and to play for many seasons is an even greater achievement.  It takes a lot of work to make it pro, but there are different types of work that can get one to be a pro.  The two that I want to focus on are working smart, and working hard. 

The first example of someone who works smart is Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a Harvard graduate.  Need I say any more?  However, he had an amazing start to his career, where he came in as a backup to orchestrate a come from behind victory.  Though he has shown flashes of excellence in his career, he has a reputation for being a journey-man quarterback who can't stay anywhere too long.

The next example is that of someone who works hard: Vince Papale

Vince Papale didn't play football in college, and went straight from semi-pro football to the NFL.  He had a 3 year career with the Philadelphia Eagles and was a true source of inspiration for working towards a dream.  In fact, most people know him from the Disney movie Invincible that came out a couple of years ago.  Though he played in 41 of 44 games during his career, he saw limited action and never started in an actual game.

What I want to focus on, though, is the Hall of Fame, the greatest of all accolades an NFL player could ever achieve.  What does it take to get into the Hall of Fame?  It takes a little more than being smart, or simply working hard.  Some may say that it's God-given, but with anything God gives to us, we need to develop it.  Simply ask Jerry Rice, who in this video is considered the greatest football player to ever play the game.

It takes a combination of smarts and a solid work ethic to become a Hall of Famer.  You can't have one without the other.  It's the same thing with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In order to get to the Hall of Fame, or back to our Father in Heaven's presence, we have to work hard and smart.  In modern-day revelation we learn that "the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth."  The scriptures warn us about being prideful in our own wisdom (see Proverbs 3:7, 2 Nephi 28:15, 2 Nephi 15:21).  The prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon teaches us, however, that "to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."  I love how we have to hearken (verb!!!) to what God teaches us.  Once we know truth, we have to act on it and show God the evidence of our faith.  Once we know God and His teachings and we start to live a Christ-like life, we will be able to inheirit all that our Father in Heaven has (see Romans 8:16-17).

Sunday, April 24, 2011


"Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen..."
                                                                                              Luke 24:5-6

I know that my Redeemer lives.  Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

"And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,

"Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him...

"I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

"(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

"And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas...

"Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

"But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

"And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

"And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified...

"And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

"...He delivered Jesus to their will." (Luke 23:13-14,16-18, 20-25)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What do clutch players and prophets have in common?

The basketball season is winding down.  The playoffs are coming up, and it's crunch time for everybody.  Though NBA players are all amazing, there is a difference between being a superstar and a winner.  Though a superstar may know how to play the game really well, a winner knows how to win the game, even when the pressure is on.  Check out these clutch ballers.

When time is winding down, you want to get the ball to someone you can trust, someone you know can nail the shot when the final buzzer tics.

 So now.... what does a clutch NBA player have in common with a prophet?

You can count on them!  In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos said:

"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

Heck, even God passes the ball to the prophets when it's on the line!  He trusts them so much that he will reveal His secret to the world through the prophets.  Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, immediately said after he was given his speech back that (Luke 1:70-71):

"he (the Lord) spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;"

We know that God is the "same yesterday, today, and forever",  and that he will work the same way forever.  Heck, in this crazy world we live in, has there ever in recorded history been a greater need for a prophet on the Earth?  Though there may be many self-proclaimed 'prophets', the Savior gave us a guide on how to know of a true prophet!  He says (Matthew 7:16):

"Ye shall know them by their fruits."

What fruits is He talking about?  The Apostle Paul clarifies that they are the fruits of the Spirit, which are (Galatians 5:22-23):

"love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"

God once again speaks to us today through a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.  God continues to speak to us through revelation by means of prayer and also by means of His chosen servant.  I know that as we follow the prophet, we cannot be led astray.  What comfort it is to know that God has provided us with a clutch player to count on in the closing seconds in these latter days!  Listen to the words God has directed us to hear on what matters most in this life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Spiritual White Picket Fence

I want to talk a little bit about gates (really, just a little!).  What is a gate?  One dictionary definition of a gate is as follows:

"any means of access or entrance"

Whenever I think of a gate, I think of the classic American dream white picket fence leading to a beautiful house.  Let's take a look at what I'm talking about!

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi talks about a gate that leads towards eternal life.  He says (2 Nephi 31:17):

"17Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost."

In order to get to the house, the first step you must enter is the gate.  Being baptized by the priesthood authority of God is the first step towards following Christ.  At baptism, we covenant with our Father that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ (or to be Christians), to always remember Him (not only once a week, or twice a year), and to keep His commandments (see Moroni 4:3).  Last Sunday, Kate entered that gate and received the Holy Ghost.

Now, is Kate's journey finished?  Is that all that she needs to do, and she's set for life?  The prophet Nephi continues his sermon by saying (2 Nephi 31:19):

"Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."

Just like the first step towards entering the house is by the gate, we still need to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to the our Father's mansion.  Once we do that and endure to the end, we will be able to enter our Father's mansion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I love movies!  I think they strike a lot of cords with everyday life and how we interact with one another.  I especially like the movie Galaxy Quest because I think that's EXACLTY how a lot of sci-fi movie fans are (I know, I'm a Star Wars nut)!  Tim Allen plays a tv star Jason Nesmith, who plays an epic, Star Trek-like officer Commander Peter Quincy Taggert.  Commander Taggert's coin phrase is:

Never give up!  Never surrender!

In the 1980 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, California, two great teams collided for the last game of the season.  One team featured a future Hall of Fame running back, while the other hosted a future Super Bowl winning quarterback.  It seemed like the match of the century, but early on it became what appeared to be a lopsided blowout.  That is..... until..... well, watch and find out!

Jesus Christ himself taught us that "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."  Endurance is an eternal principle, and one that is necessary for our salvation.  It makes me think, however, what it is that we must endure?  The prophet Nephi tells us that "unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved."  So we need to follow the way that Christ showed us to live.  The apostle Paul teaches that we must "endure afflictions".  The Lord gave this qualification to the prophet Joseph Smith: "endure it well", which I believe means that we have the right attitude when we endure anything.  Last of all, in his epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote the following (2 Timothy 2:10):

10Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Enduring to the end is not easy by any means.  Thankfully, the Lord promises us such tremendous blessings if we endure to the end, in fact, the greatest blessing he can give us is achieved by righteouse living to the end.  In another revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord promises us (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7):

7And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Sometimes we may feel like we are losing the battle of life.  There are times we feel like we can't go any further, but we can do "all things through Christ who strengtheneth [us]."  We can be victorious as we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives.  He will support us.  He will make our burdens light if we but turn to Him.

Finally, the legendary football coach Woody Hayes once said:

"Paralyze resistance with persistence."

When Satan tries to resist us, persistantly follow the example of our Savior.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Steve Young

Okay...... so........ I LOVE football!!!  Heck, I've loved football for as long as I can remember.  My passion for this artful sport really sparked once my very own San Francisco 49ers won their 5th Super Bowl in the winter of 1995.  The orchestrator of that championship winning team was my childhood hero, my icon, my football idol, the one and only..... Steve Young!

BOY was this guy good!  Even now his highlight reels are something extrodinary to behold!  He passes that football with such accuracy, but not only that when he's running out in the open there just isn't anyone more exciting to watch.  He can make the most out of nothing at times, but is really at his peak when he is 100% in charge.  I feel like there are a lot of life lessons to be learned with football, and in this interview, enjoy the highlights.... but more importantly listen to how his joy and passion for football can correlate to our lives.

The Book of Mormon teaches us that "all things denote there is a Supreme Creator".  Along with being chalk full of life analogies, there are a lot of spiritual analogies to be learned as well; things that point us to God.

For example, it takes a lot of study, a lot of practice, and after a while playing football simply becomes a part of you.  As you study the doctrines of Jesus Christ and practice them in your everyday life, eventually it will be a part of you.  I really like how he talks about not being able to see over the big guys, but he still makes something happen.  Sometimes don't we face our own 'big guys' (like.... a Goliath for instance)?  We still need to overcome them, otherwise Satan will sack us and knock us to the ground.  There are times when we need to stick to our plans and trust in what God gives to us, and sometimes we need to run out of the pocket and use our agency wisely.  At the very end, Steve was talking about how he loves when he throws the ball, gets hit, and then has to look to the sideline because he can't see everything.  Isn't that so true in our own lives?  Their are times when we can't see the direct result of our actions, but when we look to the sideline we realize that something great happened because of that action.

Look at instances in your own life at how things correlate with your own relationship with God.  I know that in anything we do, it can bring us closer to our Supreme Creator.  I know that God lives, not only because I see how the sport of football can bring me closer to Him, but how everything testifies of Him.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Finding Treasures!

So just a couple of days ago, Elder Stout and I went out with Dan to go geocaching.  Geocaching is kind of like a hide and seek game involving nature and a GPS device.  People will go out and hide little goodies in a container of some sort and hide it in the wilderness using specific navigational points of longitude and latitude.  Once you get near the position the satelite takes you to, it's up to you to find the container, whether it's in a tree, under a root, inside a rock cavern, or wherever.  Here's a some of my recorded adventure documents!
Holding the GPS.... it's around here somewhere!
Is...... is it HERE?!?!!!?!?!!!
Found it!!!  Now I get to see what goodies I want!  :)  (We got a little plastic doggie!)

Finding these hidden treasures involved a lot of work.  First.... we needed to have faith; faith that there was something hidden, something that could be found, and faith that we would be rewarded for our efforts.  Once we aquired that faith, we needed to allign our coordinates and trust in a source higher than us (the satellite).  Once we had that faith, and alligned ourselves to a higher source, we had to go and do, and seek out the treasure!  Thankfully, we had help from another source, the map and description we printed out online.  With all of these tools combined, we were able to receive those treasures.

God works in the same way through prayer.  When we have faith in Him, when we allign our will with His will and trust His will, when we go out and act on our faith (and not have dormant faith), and use the written sources God has given to us (the scriptures), we will be able to receive treasures from on high!

So.... go out and do it! Seek those hidden treasures God has in store for you!  ;)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Small and simple=YES!

A couple of days ago, we noticed that our neighbors were moving out of the apartment complex.  They had a U-Haul outside and were struggling, the two of them, to get all of their furniture and house items from point A to point B.  Even though we had things to do and places to go, we asked them:

"Do you need some help?"

Those five words sparked a tremendous friendship.  They allowed us to help them, and after a little bit we had three more people from the church providing service to our neighbors whom we had never really met before.  It was long, hard, and painful at times, but being able to render charity to my neighbor and tend to their needs not only blessed their lives and situation, but touched my life in a very special way.

Now...... you might wonder how this all correlates with shining metal!

In the Book of Mormon, the scriptural records of ancient America were engraved upon metal plates so that they could be preserved for many generations to come.

In the Book of Alma, the prophet Alma is handing down the records to his son , Helaman, and teaching him about the importance of these records.  He counsels his son that because of their sacredness they need to retain their brightness and that the responsiblity of shining them belonged to him.  I can just imagine Helaman replying "But dad...", but Alma gives this timeless counsel:

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.  And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

Shining metal is a small thing to do, but it brought about a great thing, in that we now have the Book of Mormon to help testify of Jesus Christ.  Asking that simple question to my former neighbors gave us a tremendous opportunity to express the "pure love of Christ."  Think of the small and simple ways that God blesses you in your everyday life.  We're able to breath, to walk, to communicate, to experience a beautiful day, to enjoy our families, to eat ice cream...

.... all small and simple things that bring us joy in life!  I'm so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is the source of all joy.  He makes it possible for us to erase the sorrow we bring upon ourselves, and through His Atonement we can return to live with Him someday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Temples and their importance!

You've probably noticed the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay Area on this blog page.  You've also probably noticed the beautiful white and gold structure that looks across the bay.  Among the clearly visable hills on the Oakland skyscrape lies the Oakland Temple.  Both the Bay Area and the Oakland Temple are symbolic of my home; that of my Earthly home and that of my future Heavenly home.  The Temple is a beacon for the world, and played an especially important role in the late 1970's.

So there they were... Oakland, California!  California was trying to save energy, so the Church dutifully turn off the exterior lights on the Temple Grounds.  Not long thereafter, they received a call from the San Francisco Port Authority asking them to turn the lights back on!  Supposedly the Temple is located directly across the Gold Gate Bridge and serves as a guide to the Oakland Harbor.  The Oakland Temple not only serves as a beacon for sailors, but pilots use it as well to navigate.
The definition of a beacon is as follows:

"a guiding or warning signal, as a light or fire, especially one in an elevated position."

The Temple serves as a guiding signal to Christ.  It is elevated spiritually above the world and is literally the House of the Lord.  It is a place of spiritual learning and a place where we continue making covenants or promises to the Lord, such as that of sealing families for time and all eternity.

I remember the first time I was able to step foot in the interior of a temple.  It was in 2006 when the Sacramento Temple was open for a tour to the public.  I'm standing on the far left with my friends Lester, Scotty, my older brother Jordan, and Jon.

As I looked around, the Spirit of the Lord confirmed to my heart that the Temple was truly the House of God, and a foretaste of the eternities.  It became my goal, my vision, my beacon you might say.  There is no other home I'd rather dwell in than that of one of my Father's mansions (John 14:2).

Recently in the former USSR republic of Ukraine, members of the church celebrate the building of the Temple in Kyiv.  Watch and pay attention to how special the Temple is to the lives of Latter-Day Saints throughout the world.

For more information on temples and why we build them, check out this site.