Saturday, June 3, 2017

2017-06-04 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,
You are doing a wonderful job! You are working hard. You are exercising faith. You are opening your mouths and talking to people. You are studying, praying, teaching and learning. You are amazing!
This work is hard. It is good work. It is sweet work. But it is not easy. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me and to everyone who knows you.
We all know that we have many things to overcome as missionaries: heat, rain, rejection, companionship communication problems and opposition are a few. But sometimes the most difficult challenge is inside our own heads.
A wise man once said "As a man thinketh, so is he."
What we think is what we become.
Sins do not drop on us from the sky. Sins come because we allow sin to have a place in our thoughts.
"But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15)
The story is told of a man who was traveling in the desert on a camel. One day a terrible, fierce sandstorm arose. These sandstorms can kill a person who is not protected. The wise desert traveler pitched his tent and took shelter inside. He left his camel outside. Camels have thick fur that protects them from the storm, so they are safe. But the blowing sand still hurts and is uncomfortable. As the storm become stronger and stronger the camel begged the traveler: "Can I please just put my nose in the tent? I just want to breathe. Only my nose and nothing more." The traveler thought there would be no harm in letting the camel do this. "Only your nose and nothing more."
After a few minutes the camel begged: "Can I put my head in? The wind is so strong. Only my head and nothing more." The traveler did not like the idea but he thought it would be OK. So he said: "Yes, only your head and nothing more." After the camel put his head into the tent he realized how good it felt to be out of the storm, so he tried to put his whole body into the small tent. The tent collapsed and the traveler died in the storm.
Why did he die? Because he allowed the camel to put just his nose into the tent.
Sometimes we do the same thing. We think that a small evil thought or criticism or doubt will not hurt, but it leads to something much worse than we expected.
Sometimes we rationalize that just a few bad thoughts won't hurt us, that we need to tolerate some of these things. Alexander Pope said:
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too often, familiar with her face, FIRST WE ENDURE, THEN PITY, THEN EMBRACE."
Another author wrote:
"All the water in the world,
no matter how it tried,
Could never sink the smallest ship,
unless it gets inside.
And all the evil in the world,
The blackest kind of sin,
Can never hurt you the least bit,
unless you let it in."
How do you fight the battle of the mind? You do not do it by letting your mind be empty, vacant. You do it by filling your mind with positive, constructive, spiritual, encouraging thoughts. I do it by reading the scriptures, listening to conference talks, singing hymns and consciously thinking uplifting thoughts.
Many people have trouble controlling their thoughts. Why? Because the mind is like a muscle. It must be exercised to be become strong. Another reason is that most people listen to whatever comes their way. They think about whatever comes drifting by. But you have learned by now that your mind always has a movie playing on a screen...AND I AM ALLOWED TO CHOOSE THE MOVIE.
I invite you to fill your mind with good, virtuous thoughts. Practice controlling your thoughts. Push out the bad AND replace it with the good.
Bad thoughts will still come floating in from time to time. When this happens, immediately fill your mind with positive spiritual thoughts or music. This is a battle that all of us fight.
The greatest promise I know of for keeping a clean mind is in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46:
"...and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion..."
May the Lord bless you, my dear fellow servants.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler