Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017-05-07 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

I love you so very much! I am grateful that you are serving a mission. I am grateful to be able to serve with you. Thank you for your faith and testimony. Thank you for having special prayers as a companionship four times every day asking the Lord to bless you with baptisms.
Sometimes when I am counseling with a missionary, he/she will say: "President, sometimes I just go with the flow." Even though the missionary may be talking about relatively small decisions, it is very hard for me to hear. Whenever I hear this, an odd picture comes to my mind. It is the picture of this missionary floating down a very dirty flow of sewer water. The water is filthy and smells terrible. If the missionary goes with this flow, he/she will end up spiritually dying.
It reminds me of Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon: "Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake, and the depths thereof are the depths of hell." (1 Nephi 12:16)
It also reminds me of Nephi's warning about the tactics of Satan: "...and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell."
Notice that Hell is always "Down." Going with the flow always takes you "down."
Satan wants you to take the "path of least resistance", the easy path, the popular path. He wants to gradually take us away from the path of righteousness.
Succumbing to peer pressure, worrying about being accepted by others, following others in laziness or bad actions...all of these are "going with the flow."
When Joseph Smith was young, he was chastised by the Lord for "going with the flow:"
" should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words--yet you should have been faithful." (DC 3:7-8)
When my children were young, they would sometimes ask for permission to do something that was not safe or wise. When I said "no" they would say "But Dad, everyone else is doing it!" My response was always a question: "If all of your friends went and jumped off a cliff and died, would you follow them?"
Going with the flow will bring you unhappiness and misery in your life. Going with the flow will destroy your worthiness and your opportunities for the blessings of the Lord. Going with the flow will hurt your career and it will hurt your family. Going with the flow will make you dishonest and unreliable. Your spouse and children need someone they can trust to always do what is right...not a "go with the flow" kind of person.
Many people "go with the flow" because they think it will make them popular. In reality, no one respects someone who is too weak to stand up for himself. No one respects a weak, blind follower.
Think of all of the people you truly respect. They are people who stood up for what is right, regardless of the consequences.
Jose Rizal, one of the great heroes of the Philippines, gave his life for his country rather than "going with the flow."
Joseph of Egypt, who had been sold into Egypt as a slave and who finally was seeing success in his life, had to make a choice. When the wife of his master tried to tempt him to break of the law of chastity with her he could easily have gone with the flow and kept his position. Instead, he did the right thing. He rejected her by saying: "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" When she grabbed his clothes "he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and GOT HIMSELF OUT." (Genesis 39:11).
When we are faced with the temptation to do the wrong thing, to go with the flow, we need to follow his example: reject the temptation and get out!
As I think of the missionaries I respect the most, it is those who do the right thing, because it is the right thing, all the time, no matter what. I am very happy for the missionaries who find many new people to teach and who are successful baptizing. But I truly respect those who I can trust to do the right thing, because it is the right thing, all the time, no matter what.
Think of Daniel in the lion's den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, Alma, Abinadi, Nephi, Mary, Samuel and of course, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The decision to Be Strong does not only apply to big things. It also applies to small things in our lives. It applies to the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the small acts of disobedience and the small acts of love.
You were sent to this earth to Act, not to be Acted Upon. You are an Agent, not an Object. Now is the time to stand up on your feet and do the right thing, because it is the right thing, all the time, no matter what.
I echo the dying words of Lehi to his children:
"O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea even from the sleep of hell...Awake! and arise from the dust...And now, that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you...arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart...Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness." (2 Nephi 1)
I pray that the Lord will bless you to be strong in your life, to make the right choices, to stand up for what is right.
"...I do know, that whosoever shall put his trust in God shall be supported in his trials, troubles and afflictions and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 36:3)
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler