Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutions and the New Year

(Talk given on Sunday, December 27th, 2009 at Scottsdale Coronado Ward, Scottsdale Arizona. Ben Hur)

When Leyla and I were asked to speak about resolutions and goals, I was like…

“Darn, so much for flying under the radar!”

Setting goals and coming up with plans for the future are something I like doing, and on most days, I think I am pretty good at it.

However, follow through is not one of my strongest suits. When I get started, I take off like a rocket. Maintaining momentum is the part I tend to struggle with.

“Now, why am I saying all of this…?”

Because of my struggles with ‘achieving’ my goals, I have sought out solutions of one kind or another to help me get closer to where I want to be.

Through prayer and my own personal efforts, not to mention the help of my lovely wife, I have found ‘ONE’ common theme to solve my dilemma.

“Just Do It!”

Taking action and continuing to take action is the only way to get any task done.

Of course, it helps to ‘WANT’ what you are questing after, but ultimately… you have to act in order for a thought to become reality.

For me, one of the biggest secrets to making it through this process has been facing my fears and obstacles.

No matter what we want to achieve in life, the road will often be sprinkled with mistakes and stumbling blocks.

Being prepared for this fact of life, and knowing that it cannot be avoided, has helped me realize that these bumps in the road are out of my control in most cases, and are only lessons of how ‘NOT’ to do something.

Using this knowledge as it pertains to the gospel and one of my personal passions, I would like to challenge everyone to create for themselves a spiritual goal relating to fellowship.

Having been ‘less active’ and ‘inactive’ for a little over a decade, I am coming from a place of experience when I suggest we reach out to our less active brothers and sisters.

From time to time we’ll hear someone quote David O. McKay’s saying,

Every Member A Missionary

How often we actually heed this calling… is only something we can answer for ourselves.

Many of us, including myself, find ourselves wrapped up in our own lives and all that it pertains.

Day-to-day life in today’s world tends to steer us towards more worldly tendencies where the spirit often gets drowned out and keeps us from hearing its promptings.

Whatever the reasons may be for their inactivity, it’s safe to say that many of our fellow members have, at one point or another, been touched by the spirit.

“What can we do as individuals, if not on the whole, to let these brothers and sisters know we care?”

For me, the simplest thing that really meant a lot to me… was knowing that somebody cared.

Even better, that more than one person realized I wasn’t around, and ‘truly’ cared enough about me to let me know.

Now just take a moment to reflect…

“Would you want to “Fellowship” with people who didn’t speak with you?”

“What if no one noticed you weren’t at church and ‘NEVER’ expressed to you personally ‘in’ or ‘outside’ of church that your presence was missed?”

Let us all try to find our own personal way to reach out over this coming New Year.

Maybe we can mail a post card or a calendar of Ward events. Or, we can reach out with a phone call, or even a personal visit, and not just to our Home or Visiting Teaching families.

If we all took only a few extra minutes a week to reach out to a handful of people, seeds could be planted.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that one of our ‘active’ members has taken it upon themselves to find out the birth dates of other members of varied activity and send them a card for their birthday.

“Can you imagine what it might feel like to receive more than a handful of birthday cards from a list of strangers?

No pressure to come back to church, or to perform in some other manner.

Just acknowledging that an individual is remembered, thought about, and loved.”

Something that touched Leyla’s and my heart and contributed to our coming back this last time, was a care package the sisters put together as a relief society project.

Certain life events had us teetering on the edge of whether or not we felt wanted enough to return. It really meant a lot to us and was a contributing factor in our coming back.

One thing we cannot do is give up and not even try.

We can’t worry about whether we will offend or turn people off of the gospel.

For many, the porch light isn’t even on.

If you think about it…

“Would you be offended if someone expressed care and concern for you?”

I know I wouldn’t be.

Growing up, I was my father’s home teaching companion. With some words of wisdom from my mother, she encouraged my father to take along a little note or treat to our inactive families.

One family in particular opened up over time and eventually allowed us in the door. Ultimately, they came back in due time and received several calling as time moved on. One of which, was scoutmaster, where the brother turned out to be a great source of inspiration to me even until today.

This lesson that I learned at such an impressionable age has stuck with me. A lesson which lends to why I try each month to have a flyer or treat for my Home Teaching families even now.

It’s the little things that mean a lot. Even if your budget doesn’t allow, do the best you can to reach out.

Start out with those who you are called to serve monthly, and then expand that list a little each time. And don’t do it just once. Follow up occasionally and let those members know it wasn’t a one-time thing.

Many of us here can relate to one another in more ways than just the spiritual kind.

Being family… maybe we can spend time outside of church with more than our usual cliques.

Many families I know, even if not all are members of the church, tend to come together often enough to share a meal or even have some fun. And some even gather more than once a month amidst busy schedules and all.

Even Uncle Jim or Aunt Suzy who are infirmed and bed-ridden are included and never forgotten.

We are all here on the same journey. We ARE family; brothers and sisters striving to return home to our heavenly family.

Any way we want to paint the picture, we can’t fool our father in heaven.

It is my hope that by next Christmas we will need the chapel overflow in order to fit our family.

[Bear testimony…]

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