Background

The following story is about a seminary teacher and a powerful object lesson he taught his class one day. Seminary is a scripture study program for High School aged teenagers throughout the world run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Seminary Donuts

Brother Christianson taught Seminary. He had a open-door policy and would take in any student that had been throw out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went to Brother Christianson’s class.

Steve was told that he could not be late, so he always arrived arrived on time but never more than just one second before the bell would ring. He would always sit in the very back of the room and was always the first to leave after class was over.

One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Brother Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “you think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?’

Steve answer was “Yeah, I DO.”

Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many push-up can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time before.”

“Do you think you could?” Brother Christianson again asked.

“Well, I can try, “ said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said.

Steve said “well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”

Brother Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited, after all it was Friday, and this was the last class of the day. They were ready to get an early start on the weekend.

Brother Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?” Cynthia said, “Yes”

Brother Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, ”Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Cynthia can have a donut?”

Steve said “sure” and he jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Brother Christianson put a donut on Cynthia desk.

Brother Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked,”Joe do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes!” Brother Christianson asked, ”Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups. Joe got a donut.

And so it went down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut. He went down the second aisle, until Brother Christianson got to Scott.

Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When Brother Christianson asked, “Scott, do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “well, can I do my own push-ups?”

Brother Christianson said, “ NO, Steve has to do then,”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Brother Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

Steve stared to do ten pushups, Scott said” HEY! I SAID I DIDN’T WANT ONE!”

Brother Christianson said, “Look, This is my class room, my desks and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by his time, Steve had begun to slow a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took to much effort to get up and down. You could see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Brother Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Brother Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, Do you want a donut?” Jenny said “NO.”

Then Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten pushups. Jenny got a donut.

By now, the students were beginning to say “NO” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was beginning to put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweet on the floor beneath his face, his arm and brow were beginning to get red from the physical effort involved.

Brother Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch Steve work for all those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Brother Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class some more students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the side of the room. When Brother Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to get worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Brother Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Brother Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose tough on each one?”

Brother Christianson thought for a moment, “well, they’re your pushups. You can do then any way that you want.” And Brother Christianson went on.

A few minutes later, Jason came to the door and was about to come in the room when all the student yelled, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “ NO, let him come in.”

Brother Christianson said, “You realize if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”

Steve said, “Okay.”

And Brother Cristianson replied, “I’ll let you get Jason out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?” “Yes.”

Steve, will you do ten pushups so Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, Bewildered was handed a donut and sat down.

Brother Christianson finish the fourth row, then started on those seating on the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift him self. By this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls were cheerleaders and very popular. Brother Christianson asked, “ Linda, do you want a donut?” Linda said very sadly, “no, thank you.”

Brother Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, Would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve very slowly did ten pushups for Linda. Linda got her donut.

Brother Christianson turned to the last girl, “Susan, do you want a donut?” Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Brother Christianson, Can I help him?”

Brother Christianson said with tears flowing down his own face, “No, he must do it all alone. Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his very last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, after having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Ending:

Brother Christianson then turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, after completing all that was required of him, Pleaded to the Father, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ Collapsed and died on the cross. And so many in the world, like us, leave this special gift on the desk, uneaten.”

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All Work and No Play

27 September 2010

To everything there is a season – a time to work and a time to rest from one’s labors.

“What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

Right now I have a very determined focus on some very specific goals in my life. I am spending almost all my time working on the accounts of my clients and striving to help them be successful. I am also using the limited free time that I have to be a good friend, a good brother, and most importantly a strong support to my bestest friend.

With all of these activities there isn’t time left over to read and write as much as I would enjoy doing. Nor is there time to go and play and have fun with people like I have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years. For four months now I have been intensely focused on my work and I am making great strides as we move forward.

This area of my life has been neglected for some time, so the past few months have been very good for me, and hopefully are good for our clients as well. As I look to re-balance my life by focusing on this particular area I feel very optimistic about how things are coming together.

To everything there is a season – “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” And right now I am planting!

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Mormons and Business

19 June 2010

I’m reading a great book right now Thou Shalt Prosper, written by Rabbi Lapin. Interestingly enough, some of the points he makes about why Jews are successful in business are mentioned in this piece about why Mormons are successful in business. Looks like the House of Israel is being prospered and looked after by a loving God. It’s good to be an Ephraimite. Anyone else want into the family? Everyone is welcome!

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“Los Suns”???!

5 May 2010

So, I’m not going to stop being a Suns fan over this — even though I think the front office and the players are just wrong. I can’t say I disagree with the organization voicing their opinion – I just disagree with their opinion. Now I guarantee you this would be a lot more fun if they wore jerseys that said “Legally Suns” or “Suns 1070″ or “ARIZONA Suns,” but I wouldn’t ever expect that from a group of elitists who are ultra-PC and sometimes clueless due to their own arrogance.

As I’ve watched this unfold I have been completely disgusted by two things:
1) The complete and total misrepresentation of what the law is, what it is intended to do, and how it will be carried out.
2) The utterly contemptible reactions that are based purely on misrepresentation.

There is a serious lack of understanding on the matter because no one is doing any research. They just hear what is being said and then spout off their opinion.

I went through the bill with a fine tooth comb and having lived in AZ for 9 years and in Mexico for 2 years, I feel like I have a good background to formulate an accurate picture of what is going on see my post on SB 1070

The only thing I have against professional sports organizations being politically active is they are almost always wrong — at least in the last 30 years. I will only tolerate the ignorant opinions for so long because at a certain point you have to stand up for your principles and reject this type of activism even if it means giving up something you enjoy participating in, such as professional sporting events. In the mean time I’ll voice my opposition to bad judgement and at some point I will become active myself in protest of such bad judgement.

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Pruning

24 April 2010

Here are some thoughts on a wonderful concept that deals with many different aspects of our lives.

God is the Gardener

I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’ ”

Time passed. Years passed, and I found myself in England. I was in command of a cavalry unit in the Canadian Army. I had made rather rapid progress as far as promotions are concerned, and I held the rank of field officer in the British Canadian Army. And I was proud of my position. And there was an opportunity for me to become a general. I had taken all the examinations. I had the seniority. There was just one man between me and that which for ten years I had hoped to get, the office of general in the British Army. I swelled up with pride. And this one man became a casualty, and I received a telegram from London. It said: “Be in my office tomorrow morning at 10:00,” signed by General Turner in charge of all Canadian forces. I called in my valet, my personal servant. I told him to polish my buttons, to brush my hat and my boots, and to make me look like a general because that is what I was going to be. He did the best he could with what he had to work on, and I went up to London. I walked smartly into the office of the General, and I saluted him smartly, and he gave me the same kind of a salute a senior officer usually gives—a sort of “Get out of the way, worm!” He said, “Sit down, Brown.” Then he said, “I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You’ve been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer. Someone else will be made a general.” That for which I had been hoping and praying for ten years suddenly slipped out of my fingers.

Then he went into the other room to answer the telephone, and I took a soldier’s privilege of looking on his desk. I saw my personal history sheet. Right across the bottom of it in bold, block-type letters was written, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” We were not very well liked in those days. When I saw that, I knew why I had not been appointed. I already held the highest rank of any Mormon in the British Army. He came back and said, “That’s all, Brown.” I saluted him again, but not quite as smartly. I saluted out of duty and went out. I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, “You are a failure. You will be called a coward when you get home. You raised all those Mormon boys to join the army, then you sneak off home.” I knew what I was going to get, and when I got to my tent, I was so bitter that I threw my cap and my saddle brown belt on the cot. I clinched my fists and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.

And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness and my bitterness. While kneeling there I heard a song being sung in an adjoining tent. A number of Mormon boys met regularly every Tuesday night. I usually met with them. We would sit on the floor and have a Mutual Improvement Association. As I was kneeling there, praying for forgiveness, I heard their voices singing:

“It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me;
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.”
(Hymns, no. 75.)

I arose from my knees a humble man. And now, almost fifty years later, I look up to him and say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.” I see now that it was wise that I should not become a general at that time, because if I had I would have been senior officer of all western Canada, with a lifelong, handsome salary, a place to live, and a pension when I’m no good any longer, but I would have raised my six daughters and two sons in army barracks. They would no doubt have married out of the Church, and I think I would not have amounted to anything. I haven’t amounted to very much as it is, but I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go.

I wanted to tell you that oft-repeated story because there are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, “God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.” Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings.
— Hugh B. Brown, God is the Gardener, BYU Address 1968

Sometimes God wants us to do the gardening ourselves. This can be an incredibly difficult process. Here is a wonderful way to think about and approach this task:

Pruning

This is a great video by Dr. Cloud, it’s about 6:32 long…Pruning

Good Better Best

We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives…

As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all…

Stake presidencies and bishoprics need to exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their “divinely appointed duties.”

Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.
— Dallin H. Oaks, Good, Better, Best, Conference Address October 2007

So we need to prune the trees of our lives, don’t we? That is as hard for me as for anyone, but I’m sure we will have the help of the Lord as we look through our lives and try to find the things (and the people) it is time to say goodbye to. Pruning isn’t “nice,” but it is courageous!

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You Go Get Your Palace

20 April 2010

One of my favorite movies of all time is Cool Runnings. This is the transcript of a very inspiring scene that demonstrates what happens quite frequently in life. We share our dreams with someone only to have them laughed at, and we are told that they are impossible and we can’t or won’t make it.

Yul: Say whatever it is that you want…’cause you’re just like every other fool on the island. You’re going nowhere, Sanka, and you’re thrilled to death about it. But you see me? You see me? I’m different, ’cause I know exactly…where I’m going…and after l, Yul Brenner, win the Olympics and become famous…I’m going to leave the island…and live right down there.
[Pulls out picture of Buckingham Palace]
Sanka: [Laughing]
Yul: What are you laughing about?
– What are you laughing about?
Sanka: That’s Buckingham Palace. You plan on living there, you’re going to have to marry the Queen.
Junior: Yul, that’s where the Queen of England lives.
Sanka: Face it, Yul Brenner– You can start calling yourself Madonna…but you’re still going to end up in an outhouse shanty like every
other dock-working nobody.
Junior: Mm, says who?
Sanka: Says me, rich boy. What do you know about it?
Junior: Well, I know my father started off in a one-room hut.
– Now he lives in one of the biggest homes in Kingston.
Sanka: Well, he ain’t your father.
Junior: He doesn’t have to be. All he has to do is know what
he wants and work hard for it. And if he wants it bad enough, he’ll get it.
Look, believe me, Sanka…the more Yul Brenners we got making it in this world…
the better off this world will be, especially for Jamaicans.
Go ahead, Yul Brenner.
Go get your palace.

This scene has probably played out hundreds of millions of times in tens of millions of lives – just this week! We must not throw our pearls to swine and we must not let the nay-sayers win the day. Because the more people like YOU we got making it in this world…the better off this world will be.

Go ahead, [insert your name here]. Go get your palace!
Buckingham Palace

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Loyalty

12 April 2010

Having loyal friends who you can trust and rely on is one of the most precious blessings we can be afforded here in our mortal life. Our loyal friends are as valuable to us as an arm or a leg, and losing them makes life extremely difficult. In thinking about loyalty I think it is good to not forget that it is a two way street. We do not merit the loyalty of another if we ourselves are not loyal. Trust and common purpose lie at the core of loyalty and trusting relationships require an equality in order to exist.

In Spanish the word “loyal” is translated as “leal” and when translated back into English “leal” is often interpreted as “true.” The fight song of my Alma Mater has a line that says, “loyal, strong, and true…” Those who know me, know that one of my favorite quotes of all time is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Polonius says:

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

While we’re on the subject here is a definition –


loyal: Date: 1531

    1: unswerving in allegiance: as a : faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government b : faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product
    2 : showing loyalty
    3 obsolete : lawful, legitimate

synonyms see faithful
— loy·al·ly ˈlȯi-ə-lē adverb

“Unswerving in allegiance;” to me that’s a grand and noble characteristic. I hope that I might be able to develop greater loyalty to the causes that life is all about. I also hope that I might be able to attract loyal people into my life and be worthy of that loyalty.

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