I spoke in church on Sunday.
Figured I might as well post it here as well. 😊
Good morning Belmead Ward family.
I’m going to be real honest with you here. I don’t really want to be the Bishop. I genuinely enjoy serving, but there are a lot of places I’d prefer to serve. Nursery Worker, Bulletin Editor, Sunday School teacher. I’d absolutely destroy those callings. But…
If there is one perk of being the Bishop is that I get to see you when you walk in. It warms my heart to see you walk in that door. It’s too early, it’s cold, getting to church (especially if you have kids) is a hassle. So, thank you for being here. Thank you for exercising your faith in this way. Thank you for contributing to my faith by being here. Especially you parents. Thank you for showing your kids that the gospel of Jesus Christ is important to you. I promise they won’t forget that.
That goes for all of you tuning in virtually as well. I want you to know that I appreciate your faith as well.
I’d like to do a little experiment. I’m going to read off a list of challenges. When I say a challenge, you are currently dealing with I’d like you to stand and remain standing.
Feel like you don’t fit in
Life hasn’t turned out the way you planned
Some type of strained relationship
Struggle with church history or church doctrine
Problems that seem impossible to solve
Feel like God isn’t listening
You feel like you just don’t measure up
Now I’d like to make 2 points:
(Point #1) Look around. How many people are standing up? That’s right, just about everyone. Everyone has challenges. Everyone has problems. So, the next time you’re feeling like you’re the only who’s life isn’t perfect, remember this. We all have problems. We’re all in this together.
OK, you can sit down.
(Point #2) To borrow from President Nelson’s April 2021 General Conference Talk, “Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” he said (I’m taking these quotes our of order),
“…the answer to each of your challenges is to increase your faith.”
“Everything good in life—every potential blessing of eternal significance—begins with faith.”
“My dear brothers and sisters, my call to you this Easter morning is to start today to increase your faith. Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life…”
On behalf of the Bishopric and the Ward Council, my call for you today is the same. To increase your faith.
Each year we are directed to set a direction or a vision for the ward. After a lot of hours consulting with the dedicated members of the Bishopric, the amazing members of our Ward Council, and what felt like way too much time reading, pondering and praying, this is the vision we’d like to put forward for the Belmead Ward family.
Let me break this down in 6 points:
1. First off, you will notice there is no date on this.
I don’t want this to be a 2022 goal, I want this to be a “let’s work at this until we need to work on something else” type goal. So maybe we move on to something else in 6 months, or maybe we’re still working at this 5 years from now.
2. What is a vision exactly?
As most of you know, I teach entrepreneurship at NAIT. One thing we teach our students is that business owners need to create some type of vision for their business. Here are some well know examples:
Disney: “To make people happy.”
Google: “To organize the world’s information.”
Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Ben & Jerry’s: “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way.”
Ultimately this is a goal that the founders believe will best leverage their busines towards success.
The law of leverage is perhaps best illustrated by the story of Archimedes. Archimedes, a mathmetician and inventor in ancient Greece, proudly proclaimed to the king that there was no weight he could not lift. He said, “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth.” Not believing his claim, the king challenged Archimedes to move a large ship that “all the Syracusans with their combined strength were unable to launch.” It is said that Archimedes “with no great endeavour but only holding the end of a compound pulley … [drew] the ship along smoothly and safely as if she were moving through the seas.” Using leverage, Archimedes was stronger than “all the Syracusans with their combined strength.”
Joseph Smith also taught us of leverage when he said: “…that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm…” (D&C 123:16)
Nephi, as well, taught that, “…by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (1 Nephi 16:29).
Which leads to me point #3.
3. I believe that you and I increasing our faith will be the Archimedes lever for our ward family.
If we individually, as families, and as a ward family strive to increase our faith in Jesus Christ, all the other blessings will fall into place. We will all experience greater peace and happiness, we will have greater strength to endure the inevitable trials to come, the isolation we have felt throughout this pandemic will lessen, we will see miracles in our lives. To borrow and idea from a talk Jim Clelland recently gave, “No matter the metric, life will be better with increased faith.”
Why is this so? Why is increasing our faith so important?
To quote our dear prophet again,
“Everything good in life—every potential blessing of eternal significance—begins with faith. … Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life, even though your personal challenges may loom as large as Mount Everest. Your mountains may be loneliness, doubt, illness, or other personal problems. Your mountains will vary, and yet the answer to each of your challenges is to increase your faith.”
If you and I want good things in our life, it begins with faith.
4. We want you make this your own.
What will make the greatest impact in my life will not be the same as yours. Set your own goal. What change in your life will have the greatest impact?
You’ll notice the acronym PSSST here. My kids didn’t like my acronym, but I think they just discount any ideas that come from old people, so I ignored them.
PSSST – Prayer, Scriptures, Sacrament, Service, Temple.
If it helps, maybe this is how the Holy Ghost communicates. Pssst. Still small voice. (Insert shoulder shrug)
This is not meant to be prescriptive, but instead just a reminder of those things that build our spiritual foundation. The gospel essentials that our faith is built upon. If you are lacking in some of these areas, then maybe that is a good place to start in building your faith.
Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded us of what foundational faith is built on when he said,
“We tend to emphasize moments of sublime spiritual understanding. These are precious instances when we know the Holy Ghost has witnessed special spiritual insights to our hearts and minds. We rejoice in these events; they should not be diminished in any way. But for enduring faith … there is no substitute for the individual religious observance … which sometimes resemble initial baby steps. We do this by consecrated commitment to sacred sacrament meetings, scripture study, prayer, and serving as called.”
As you set your own goal, I would also encourage you to ensure it is attainable. The goal to read the scriptures for 2 hours a day, pray 3 times a day, an hour of family history each day, attend the temple twice per week, magnify your calling, and be a perfect ministering brother/sister, will definitely increase your faith. But not only will you burn yourself out, but this goal will suffer the same fate your 2022 diet already has.
One of my favorite talks from the past General Conference is “One Percent Better” by Elder Michael A. Dunn. He tells the story of how the British cycling team was considered a joke for more than a century. Then in...
“2003, Sir Dave Brailsford was hired. Unlike previous coaches who attempted dramatic, overnight turnarounds, Sir Brailsford instead committed to a strategy he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains.” … “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.” Later in his talk we learn that, “During the past four Olympic Games, Great Britain has been the most successful country across all cycling disciplines.”
So, what is the 1% activity that will increase your faith?
5. Mountains to Move.
We of course can’t tell God what to do, but there’s no reason why we can’t plead our case for specific blessings.
In Luke 18, the Savior gives the parable of the importuning widow. It says:
“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
Commenting on this parable, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:
“When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. That was the Savior’s message in the parable of the importuning widow. … Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress.”
So, ask God for your righteous desires.
Mark 9:23 reminds us that “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
And Matthew 17:20 teaches us that “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
6. Tender Mercies Received.
We all know that God’s plan does not include getting exactly what we want precisely when we want it. As frustrating as that can be, we trust that an all knowing, all loving God, gives us what we need instead of what we want. In the immortal words of The Rolling Stones, “You can't always get what you want, But if you try sometime you'll find, You get what you need.”
So, exercise your faith and plead with God to move the mountains in your life, but also train yourself to see the hand of God in your life.
Elder David A. Bednar defined the Lord’s tender mercies as...
“...the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You may not immediately receive the exact blessing you were hoping for, but I testify that tender mercies will come as you strive to increase your faith, and train yourself to see them.
So that’s the vision. Increase our faith in Jesus Christ, and life will be better.
Let me end with 2 quick final points:
(1) Faith is everything.
There’s a reason it is the first principle of the gospel. It all starts with faith.
To quote our prophet again,
“Everything good in life…begins with faith.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that.
"There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, that we cannot meet with faith.”
Choose faith. I promise it will lead to good things.
(2) In order for this work you've got to go all in.
The gospel of Jesus Christ just doesn’t work with half measures. The blessings that come from living the gospel of Jesus Christ: Peace, strength, hope, joy, fully come to those who are fully committed.
What are you willing to sacrifice for your faith? For help? For answers? For strength? To move the mountains in your life?
God can only do his part if we do our part. I plead with you to start today to do what it takes to increase your faith.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.