So honestly I think I've been to our ward this summer about 4 or 5 times but I’ve missed church about that many times to. Brother Davies and Brother Taylor have definitely taken advantage of this because almost every time I walk into a class where they are conducting or teaching they don’t hesitate to say something like “are there any visitors with us today?? You over there.. I believe it’s brother Rogers? Would you stand and introduce yourself?” or “we’re so glad to have you here with us brother….. brother…. Gosh I just can’t seem to recall who you are because you’re hardly here.. why don’t you just introduce yourself.”
And my mom actually came to me a few weeks ago and tells me I need to go to my home ward more often because someone had asked her how I was doing in Africa because I hadn’t been here so they thought I had left.
So for Brother Davies and Brother Taylor’s sake I’d like to introduce myself…I'm brother Rogers or soon to be Elder Rogers and I’ve lived in this ward for roughly 14 years and I have a lot of friends that had mission calls to leave in the summer so I was attending their farewells and there were at least one or more of those every Sunday so that’s where I’ve been and I also had my appendix out a few weeks ago which didn’t help my attendance either.
I’m leaving this coming Thursday to the Ghana MTC where I will be for 10 days and then I’ll catch another flight to Sierra Leone where I will gratefully be serving for the next 2 years of my life and if you’re wondering where exactly Sierra Leone is at just come and ask me at my house anytime on Friday.
So about a year ago I was standing on a field in the Weber County Fair Grounds and I had just barely played a lacrosse game with my team when my buddy Jake Kapp runs up to me and grabs me by the shoulder and just stares at me in the face with these huge eyes and just a really shocked look about him and I’m thinking something along the lines of…“Jake?? Please don’t kiss me or anything that’s gonna jeprodize our future friendship.” And then he sputters out.. “Dude…. President Monson just announced that Elders can go when they’re 18 and Sisters can go when they’re 19.”
And I was like “What are you talking about?” and right as I’m saying that it clicks in my head. I still can’t believe it. So I’d just like to show you quickly how much has changed in one year. I’ll use the 2012-2013 football seniors. Last year we all lived within about 5 miles of the school and now…..
1. Stockton Larsen is in Minnesota,
2. Ryker Garrett is in Mexico City and
3. Tyler Brown will be joining him in a few months,
4. Elijah Toa is Ventura California,
5. Jayden Garcia is in Angola Africa,
6. Lucas Cavazotti is in St. George,
7. Adam Walsh is in Paraguay South America,
8. Harry Williams is in Manchester England
9. Chad Russell is in Anchorage Alaska, and
10. I will be in Sierra Leone
so between all 10 of us there will be a total of around 35,000 miles of distance away from our high school. I can’t believe that a year ago we were playing football and now I’m in church giving my farewell talk, which brings me to my topic The topic Brother Saunders gave to me to talk about today was not my friends or miles from home but something along the lines of how the commandments have helped me prepare for my mission.
First I’d like to talk about a commandment found in Exodus 20:8
Read Exodus 20:8
I know that in my house regarding this commandment there is a very blurred line on what is okay to do on Sunday and what isn’t okay to do on Sunday.
For example… To my mom watching any kind of football on Sunday is “the devils way of distracting us on the day that we should be furthering ourselves spiritually.” And she’s probably right. But I see it as one group of men working against another group of men to eventually come to the mutual decision of which group was more prepared to overcome the obstacles that the other group of men placed before them.
But where exactly is the line drawn when it comes to Sunday and what we should and shouldn’t do?
In his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” The prophet Spencer W. Kimball explains to us where the line needs to be drawn as far as “keeping the Sabbath day holy”…“The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things.
Abstinence from work and recreation is important but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, sleeping, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day to which he is expected. Failure to do these proper things is a transgression on the omission side.”
In the For the Strength of Youth there is a section about Sunday Observance and in this section it says… Sunday is not a day for shopping, recreation, or athletic events.
So it really clarifies it in For the strength of youth that you can’t watch any athletic events… which is a real bummer but at least you can watch baseball.
H. Aldridge Gillespie said in his talk in the October conference of 2000… Today is the Sabbath. It does not end when we leave this session; it does not end if someone calls on the phone or knocks at our door inviting us to come out and play, go for a ride, to a ball game, or shopping; it does not end because we are on vacation or someone is visiting us, whether member or nonmember.
When I read brother Gillespie’s comment it made me realize how easily we sometimes justify doing things on Sunday that we normally wouldn’t do because someone is visiting from out of town or we forgot to buy ice cream for a family barbeque or there is some event on TV that rarely happens.
President Monson told a story about Brother Clayton M. Christensen in the October conference of 2010 and of his choice to keep the Sabbath day holy. The story goes like this….
When he was 16 years old, Brother Christensen decided, among other things, that he would not play sports on Sunday. Years later, when he attended Oxford University in England, he played center on the basketball team. That year they had an undefeated season and went through to the British equivalent of what in the United States would be the NCAA basketball tournament.
They won their games fairly easily in the tournament, making it to the final four. It was then that Brother Christensen looked at the schedule and, to his absolute horror, saw that the final basketball game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. He and the team had worked so hard to get where they were, and he was the starting center. He went to his coach with his dilemma. His coach was unsympathetic and told Brother Christensen he expected him to play in the game.
Prior to the final game, however, there was a semifinal game.
Unfortunately, the backup center dislocated his shoulder, which increased the pressure on Brother Christensen to play in the final game. He went to his hotel room. He knelt down. He asked his Heavenly Father if it would be all right, just this once, if he played that game on Sunday. He said that before he had finished praying, he received the answer: “Clayton, what are you even asking me for? You know the answer.”
He went to his coach, telling him how sorry he was that he wouldn’t be playing in the final game. Then he went to the Sunday meetings in the local ward while his team played without him. He prayed mightily for their success. They did win.
I wasn’t exactly playing for a team that was headed to the championship game in British college basketball but I do have an experience and I feel that it relates closely to Brother Christensen’s.
Everyone that has gone through primary knows that we have always been taught since our early primary days to live by the ten commandments and to never brake them and of course being so young our little minds are affected by something in psychology known as group thinking.
Which is when we all agree on what the majority of the group is thinking which is “Of course we will always follow the Ten Commandments and we will never break any of them.”
And then we grow older and start to realize that it is up to us as far as what we decide to follow and if we do want to follow these commandments to the best of our abilities. Anyways I decided to follow these commandments and I had never really been tested in my decision until last year.
Last spring I decided to try out for a competitive lacrosse team that I had wanted to play for. I made the team and had played for them through most of the tournaments and games throughout the following summer. In November every year there is a lacrosse tournament held in Las Vegas and this team travels to play in it every year.
So November roles around and my family and I pack our things and head to Vegas for a nice weekend vacation and so that I can play in this lacrosse tournament with my team. We get there and find out that the championship game will be played on a Sunday.
I was thinking at this point that we’re in Vegas and it’s a pretty popular tournament so there’s probably some pretty good teams here so there’s a chance we might not even make it to the championship.
It turned out that the competition there was hardly competition. In fact we outscored our opponents a total of 64-4. Now that we were supposed to play in the championship the next day it was time to make a decision right? Wrong.
What I didn’t know is this was a repeat of last year. Last year the team had made it to the title game and the Coach who was an active member of the church had told the head of the tournament that his team will not play on Sunday’s so the team had to forfeit.
So just as the year before we had to forfeit the title game. I definitely wasn’t exactly happy with this because if any of you haven’t heard yet Clearfield high’s football team hasn’t even had a playoff shot for quite some time. So as you see this was a huge accomplishment for me to be in some kind of title no matter how easy it was.
Even if my coach hadn’t made that decision I know that I probably would have had to skip that game… because if I hadn’t my mom would’ve made me walk home from Vegas.
Now how has this helped me prepare for my mission? Brother Christensen said later on that, “It is easier to follow the commandments 100% of the time rather than 98% of the time.”
Through my experience I have learned that what Brother Christensen said is true. And I also have found that if I follow one commandment 100% of the time it helps me to strengthen my commitment to other commandments in our church.
Now I’d like to talk about obedience to the commandments and how we are blessed at the end and to show this I’d like to quickly read and relate to a story out of the sports section of today’s newspaper. The story goes like this.. Matt Labrum, the coach of Union High school held his football team after their loss two weeks ago for an hour and a half not to discuss their 40-16 loss but to discuss how the players act off the field. He told the varsity and junior varsity players to turn in their jerseys and that they no longer play for the Union High football team. Each player on the team received a letter that outlined the problems and told them what they would have to do to earn back their spot on the team. Along with that the letter said “The lack of character we are showing off the field is outshining what we are achieving on the field, We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow through adversity and success on and off the field. We want a team that others want to associate themselves with and support; winning isn’t the most important criteria for that to happen.”
Instead of practicing Monday and Tuesday, the players participated in many types of service projects around the community. Wednesday’s practice was replaced by a two-hour study hall, the players needed to show significant improvement in any class they were struggling in.
Instead of rebelling most of the players responded well to this treatment and after the study hall the coaches returned black and gold jerseys to 32 of the 41 players. The other nine will have a chance to regain their spot for future games but only after they complete the items on the list.
Just like this coach placed rules in front of his players for them to complete in order to regain their spot on the team the lord has placed his own rules, also known as commandments, for us to obey and follow in order to regain our spot next to him.
The importance of 100% obedience to our lord’s commandments is what allows us access to his blessings, promises and also eternal happiness.
Parents and especially Dad
Sabbath day as well as other commandments
100% obedience to commandments