Choose to Have a Good Day!

(learning)


My daughter was telling me this morning that the announcements came to her class last Friday. I asked her what that meant and she explained, “We got to lead the Pledge of Allegiance for the whole school. Then we said, ‘Choose to have a good day’ right after.” 

Choose? Surprised, I looked at her and said, “That was a nice thing to add.” 

She said, “We say that every day after the Pledge.”


Maybe my daughter has told me this little ritual about her new school before, but for some reason it stuck with me today. 

“Choose to have a good day” 

Not “Have a good day,” or “I hope you have a good day,” which are two phrases I use often as my kids rush out the door.

Her school doesn’t even say, “Try your very hardest to have a good day and chances are, you will.” But they use the simple word, “choose,” and they use it each and every day.


Interestingly enough, I taught a lesson yesterday in my church about this very thing. I teach an adult class on the Book of Mormon every Sunday (Gospel Doctrine)–which I love–and yesterday’s lesson was about a young man named Nephi.

Nephi was the fourth son of a prophet who lived in Jerusalem around 600BC. This prophet, Lehi, was told by the Lord that his family must leave their home, their beds, their gold and food, and travel into the desert. Nephi’s older brother’s weren’t too keen on this. In fact, they complained quite regularly throughout the journey. In all fairness, their travels were under extreme conditions–think Saudi Arabia in mid-July without any modern-day conveniences. They’d probably never lived out of a tent before. Probably never walked that far in their life. There wasn’t much fresh water or shade. There wasn’t a Delta Airlines flight to take them where they needed to go. There wasn’t even a Taco Bell around the corner when they ran out of food. So when Nephi’s bow broke–their only source of food–the complaining went hog-wild (without the hog). 


I tried to picture myself in the heat of a desert, without food, watching not just myself, but my entire family including my little kids starving.

Quite frankly, I would have been in the front of the line at the complaint department.

Even the prophet Lehi was dragged into the murmuring. But not Nephi, good old Nephi. He had this attitude that the Lord commanded them to leave, so they might as well make the best of it. He went out, found some wood (in the middle of a desert) and made his own bow and arrow. All without complaint. Needless to say, he came back with enough food to save his entire family, including all the complainers.

In short, he chose to have a good day. 

Too often I get sucked into the popular and all-too-easy notion that things are forcing me to behave a certain way. I didn’t get enough sleep so I’m going to be grumpy today. The kids are fighting so I have to yell back. Yeah. Not cool. But what makes this extremely uncool is that my attitude affects the entire family. My husband might be grumpy, or one of the kids, and the rest of us get along just fine. But if Mom’s grumpy? Forget it. The domino effect takes all of 10 seconds and suddenly the whole family is grouching at each other. It’s horrible, but it’s my reality. It all starts with me. 

So…

I’ve set the goal for this week at least, that I will CHOOSE to have a good day each and every day. It’s a choice. It’s a choice. It’s a choice. Maybe if I tell myself enough times (and put it in writing), it will stick. Like I taught yesterday, attitude changes actions and I’m ready to change some of mine. I’m hoping that if I have a good attitude, not only will I choose to have a good day, but I’ll find a way to actually MAKE it a good day. Or as my friend likes to tell me, “Fake it ’til you make it.”

One of the most inspiring stories of this kind of attitude is Viktor Frankl, a well-known Holocaust survivor. His pregnant wife was taken and killed by the Nazis. His parents, too. Even his brothers. Viktor was stripped of his clothing, his pride, and everything in the world that mattered, yet he chose to remain positive in those concentration camps, which in turn ended up saving his life. He lived to be 92 and spoke often of his experiences. If you don’t know who he is, google him or look him up in your local library. His life is truly inspiring.

One of his most profound quotes is this: 


“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the
human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of
circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

So today and tomorrow and the next day, I’m going to choose to have a good day.

Attitude changes actions

Anyone else with me? Fake it ’til you make it?




Happy 400th!

When I get online every day, my homepage pops up, which has a quick list of news articles from around the world. Most days I ignore these articles, but today one caught my interest:

King James Bible: Queen marks 400th anniversary.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15754581

My first thought was, why on earth would Queen Elizabeth be celebrating the anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible? And even beyond, why the heck did the liberal media care?
Sometimes I’m really slow. 
Before that, I should mention that I’ve been aware that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the KJV for some time now. I teach an adult Sunday School class in my congregation where we have spent the entire year (to my utter delight) studying the New Testament out of the KJV. My church, the LDS/Mormon Church has asked that all English speaking members use the KJV. So I have grown up with it. To say that I love teaching out of the KJV would be a gross understatement. I eat up every moment of it. It’s been so awesome and I’ve learned so much just this year!
So I’ve been interested in any articles talking about the 400th anniversary of this incredible book. With that, I saw earlier this year that BYU had produced an awesome documentary (no, that is not an oxymoron) that is entitled “Fires of Faith.” It is a three-part documentary going through how the King James Version came to be in 1611. You can check it out here. It is very, very well done and informative. I had no idea how much controversy was involved, or how grateful we should be to have this beautiful translation of God’s word.
But even with all this, I still couldn’t figure out what the Queen of England had to do with anything.
Again, I’m really…really…slow sometimes.
It finally hit me that this is the anniversary of the KING James Version of the Bible, as in King James I, King of England in 1611. As King of England, James I was also the head of the Church of England, and sanctioned this particular translation.
Okay, so that explained why the British Monarch, namely Elizabeth, would want to celebrate. But still, front page news?
Then I remembered that British Monarchy isn’t like our US Presidency. You aren’t elected into it, you are born into it. Or in other words:
Queen Elizabeth II is King James’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter. (That’s nine greats if you’re counting.) Of all the people in the world to help celebrate, surely she should be one of them. How would you like having your ninth great-grandpa’s name on your Bible? Cool, eh?
I also got to thinking today about how less than a decade after this translation was finished, the first permanent settlers sailed for America. Only 9 years later! That can’t be a coincidence. Especially considering how much of Colonial America was shaped by the Bible. The article above even points out how much of today’s English is influenced by the language of the KJV.
Another thing I learned (can you tell I’m excited?) is that it took 54 scholars to create the KJV. I knew it was a lot, but didn’t know it was that many. Not only that, but those scholars were contemporaries with William Shakespeare who died in 1616. In fact, they could have just walked across the field and asked, “Hey Shakespeare, what do you think of this particular passage?” or more accurately, “Pray tell, Sir William, what dost thou thinkest of said passage below?” Which explains why, at times, reading the KJV feels like you’re reading Shakespeare.
And yes, I agree–partially–with people who say that the King James language can be very cumbersome and difficult to understand. It can, but it is also absolutely, positively beautiful. And well worth it, in my opinion!
For example, in most new English translations of the Bible, the common phrase is rendered “Faith, Hope, and Love.” And yet in the King James Version it says “Faith, Hope, and Charity.” What is the difference between love and charity, you may ask? Well, charity isn’t just any love, it is defined as “The Pure Love of Christ,” which is something far greater than just love.
Apply that to an excerpt of Paul’s great sermon in 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve listed just a few verses side by side to show a quick comparison. The NIV, a popular version of the Bible today, is on the left, while the traditional KJV on the right.  Note the difference in language.
And if you go back and substitute “The Pure Love of Christ” in place of every use of the word “Charity,” the language becomes even more powerful.
“And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not (the pure love of Christ), I AM NOTHING…Now abideth faith, hope, and charity (which is the pure love of Christ), these three; but the greatest of these is charity…Follow after charity (the pure love of Christ).”
So yes, the KJV can be a bit cumbersome and confusing at times, but it is also incredibly, amazingly beautiful. And poetic. I think it is well worth the effort! But even beyond, I think the King James Version of the Bible has shaped our society, our language, and the history of America more than we will ever know.
Happy 400th KJV!

Are Mormons Christian?

(teaching)

Honestly, I’m growing tired of this question. I know I shouldn’t be because it is a privilege to proclaim my belief in Christ over and over again—plus, I have the feeling this question isn’t going away anytime soon. But in my experience, a large number of people who ask this question think they already know the answer. To me it’s ignorant to say Mormons aren’t Christian. The official church title is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Easy enough, right? I wish.

It seems like the LDS Church is tiring of this question as well because last week, when things heated up in the political scene and the Church was questioned on this topic—again—they simply referred people to mormon.org and told them to do their own research. (http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-response-to-not-christian)
On a personal level, I’m the gospel doctrine teacher in my congregation—the Sunday School teacher for adults. This year we are studying the New Testament and right now specifically, the Pauline epistles. This has been so fascinating to me because I have been closely following politics at the same time. When I take something I love (my LDS faith, the New Testament, and politics) and throw it all together, I’m suddenly bursting with things to say.
In case you didn’t know, there are two Mormon/LDS candidates running for US President. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.
Because of their religion, there are some Americans who are questioning whether Romney or Huntsman would be a good candidate. I take offense to that. I greatly take offense to that. If you want to reject a candidate based on their social issues, foreign policy, or their economic plan, fine. But religion?
As I teach Sunday School each week and study the Book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, I am seeing huge parallels between what happened to the early Christian Church—specifically with Gentile converts—and what is happening to Mormons today.
The Jews who had converted to Christianity were some of the early leaders after Christ’s death, and incidentally also the missionaries sent out to spread the gospel. But as the gospel spread, and as more and more people outside the Jewish beliefs joined Christianity, some of the Jews suddenly cried, “Outrage! They believe differently than us, therefore they are not Christian!”
For example in Acts 15, the people from Judaea were saying that “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses; ye cannot be saved.” (Sounds kind of like, “Except Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman believe our interpretation of the New Testament, they cannot be saved).  Chapter fifteen goes on to say that they had “no small dissension and disputation with them.” Sounds familiar.
In consequence, all the apostles and elders met in Jerusalem to settle this matter. Once the decision was reached, Peter then says that to the Jews, “God, which knoweth the hearts (of the Gentiles), bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us.” In other words, God is the judge, and he judges them to be Christian.
Yet the contention continued. Many Jewish Christians couldn’t stand it and Christianity began to spread more quickly among the Gentiles than with the Jews. The Epistle to the Hebrews seems to be Paul’s firm warning to them: “You better be careful Jews,” was his basic message, “Lest in your zealousness, you completely miss the mark. You think you know what salvation is, but I’m telling you, you only know the half of it.”
Now…there are obvious differences between Gentiles and Mormons and Jews and mainstream Christians today, however, the story has many similarities.  And rhetoric.

“Hey! They don’t believe exactly like I do. What the heck?! They must not be Christian!”

I guess we never learn, do we?
So as a Mormon/LDS member, how do I define the word Christian? Well, a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and Son of God. Someone who believes He is our Redeemer and the only way by which we can return to our Father.  Since I believe all these things strongly, as do my fellow Mormons (see mormon.org), I state that we are resoundingly Christian.
(I have to add an amendment in here. For those not of our faith who are defending our faith either privately or publicly–Thank You!)

To end, I quote my favorite scripture from The Book of Mormon which, by the way, is sub-titled Another Testament of Christ.
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)  If that isn’t ‘Christian’ I don’t know what is.
To borrow from the Mormon media campaign…“My name is Rebecca. I’m an author, a composer, a mother, a Mormon, and I’m a Christian.”
FYI…List of famous Mormons you may have heard of:

Politics:
  • Mitt Romney, GOP front-runner for the 2012 Presidential election
  • Jon Huntsman, GOP candidate for the 2012 Presidential election
  • Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader: Democrat
  • Glenn Beck, Political Commentator, Radio Broadcaster, and NY Times Bestseller
  • Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, and a whole slew of Senators, Representatives, and Governors across America (16 total).
Sports:
  • Jimmer Fredette, NCAA 2011 Basketball National Player of the year and current guard for the Sacramento Kings
  • Steve Young, former NFL quarterback
  • I know there are a bunch of others, but I don’t really follow sports. There’s a list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latter_Day_Saints
Entertainment:
  • Gladys Knight, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
  • Donny and Marie Osmond, singers, actors
  • Neon Trees, rock band
  • Stephen R. Covey, motivational speaker and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective…
  • Richard and Linda Eyre, motivational speakers and NY Times Bestselling authors
  • Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Jon Heder, otherwise known as Napoleon Dynamite
  • Rick Schroeder, actor
  • David Archuleta, American Idol Runner-up
  • Six contestants on last season’s “Biggest Loser” TV show
  • The 5 Browns, famous classical piano siblings
NY Times Best-selling Authors (this gets its own category since there are so many I follow):
  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” series
  • Ally Condie, author of “Matched”
  • Richard Paul Evans, author of “The Christmas Box”
  • Orson Scott Card, Shannon Hale, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Jason F. Wright, etc.
Business:
  • David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airlines
  • Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott hotels
  • CEO of Black and Decker
  • Former CEO of Dell
  • And a whole bunch of others.
Chances are, at least a few of those Mormons have influenced you in a positive way.