I watched a Tucker Carlson interview today where he spoke with an atheist activist about successfully shutting down an afterschool club that studied the Bible. Mr. Dan Barker was very pleased with the outcome on the standing that he’s done a good thing by getting this school to shut down this club. I listened, as the smug, self-righteous man patted himself on the back.
But then I went to my personal Urim and Thummim (Google) and searched for this Dan man, and very quickly found a complete bio of the man. Dan has spent the better part of his life (since age 15) preaching and teaching Christianity. But now the “more enlightened” version has founded an anti-religion foundation where he goes around trying to shut down anyone who believes differently from him.
Basically Dan had a crisis of faith and now wants everyone to celebrate it with him, and if we don’t we are the mistaken ones. He’s the one who has been enlightened. Well, Dan, not be a jerk, but where I come from we call that being a quitter, not enlightenment.
And while I’m at it, last week I was using my Urim and Thummim and came across a website that as I read it I found myself agreeing with it and being taught by it, and thinking that the author was a very good author (Anders) that knew his LDS doctrine quite well. But about two thirds of the way through the article Anders started saying that Joseph Smith was a fraud, and the Doctrine and Covenants was the biggest fraud that Joseph Smith ever foisted upon the world and that we shouldn’t believe anything the LDS Church teaches because it was never the intent of the Lord to use Joseph Smith to restore the church, but only to translate the Book of Mormon.
Yeah, quite a spin, huh? After further investigation I found that Anders is a man who was born a member of the LDS Church, served a mission, married in the temple, served in stake and ward callings, but after being enlightened is now on a crusade to set all us erring Mormon’s straight.
Again, where I come from they don’t call that enlightenment, we call it being a quitter. Sorry Anders, but I don’t want to celebrate in your crisis of faith. Plain and simple, you quit believing. You stopped having faith. You didn’t endure to the end. You gave up. And no amount of tricky wordsmithing, or wresting the scriptures (Alma 13:20) is going to change that.
But in both these instances I was saddened. Why? Because you could read in both these men’s biographies of many, many years of crisis. You could tell they wanted to believe. That’s how they grew up. Then they went through a struggle (we all do), and didn’t come out on the other end stronger, and better, but came out on the other end stronger and bitter. And now they use their bitterness to fuel their hatred for what they once loved.
And I empathize with their stories. I truly was sad for them. I’ve struggled. I’ve suffered. I’ve had to endure some pretty hard things. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to show off, and I don’t want this to be in any way a muscle flexing contest of who has struggled more. We can compare scars some other time. But my point today is these men would have you believe that their crisis of faith was where they made an enlightened turn for the better. I on the other hand would adamantly disagree. They quit. They lost their faith, cursed God, and quit.
That reminds me of a Bible story. Sorry Dan, this is my blog and I can teach from the Bible anything I want. Anyway, let me tell you the story of a very good man who suffered more than most of us. I think in a muscle flexing contest he’d have us all beat, he’d win in the scar counting contest too. The man I am referring to is of course Job.
He was a good righteous man. God allowed loser-turd to afflict him and as a result lost seven sons, three daughters, his wealth, and flocks and herds, and he also had serious physical illnesses. Even his wife lost faith:
9 ¶ Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. (Job 2:9)
But even still Job remained faithful to the Lord through his indescribable sorrow and suffering. He even had the fortitude and unquittingness (I made that word up) to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. … He also shall be my salvation. … For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth … yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 13:15–16; Job 19:25–26).
Job was not a quitter.
I don’t know if you saw it or not, but the Church put out a statement this week that announced that President Thomas S. Monson will not be attending his regular meetings. Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the church gave a statement to the press this week, where he said, “Because of limitations incident to his age, President Monson is no longer attending meetings at the church offices on a regular basis. He communicates and confers with his counselors on matters as needed.
“President Monson is grateful that the work of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles continues without interruption. He appreciates the prayers and support of church members.”
I mean no disrespect in asking, but does that make him a quitter? And I emphatically answer, “Absolutely not!! In no way shape or form!” President Monson is one of the many examples I have in my life that demonstrate a lifetime of commitment and enduring to the very end with unflinching faith. And I don’t think for a minute that just because he is unable to attend his meetings does not mean he has stopped being the monument of a man he has always been. He hasn’t quit, he’s just slowed down.
And he certainly is one of the mightiest of finishers.
In his talk given in 1972 then Apostle Thomas S. Monson said:
One Wednesday I paused before the elegant show window of a prestigious furniture store. That which caught and held my attention was not the beautifully designed sofa nor the comfortable-appearing chair that stood at its side. Neither was it the beautiful chandelier positioned overhead. Rather, my eyes rested upon a small sign that had been placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Its message was brief: “Finishers Wanted.”
The store had need of those persons who possessed the talent and the skill to make ready for final sale the expensive furniture that the firm manufactured and sold. “Finishers Wanted.” The words remained with me as I returned to the pressing activities of the day.
In life, as in business, there has always been a need for those persons who could be called finishers. Their ranks are few, their opportunities many, their contributions great. (April 1972, Thomas s. Monson, “Finishers Wanted”)
Did you do the math on that, he said that 45 years ago. This man is most certainly is a finisher and not a quitter. We would do well to follow his example, and hearken to his teachings. And while we’re at it, pray for him, that these last days (years) of his life are blessed.
Further on in his talk he mentions a couple other quitters. He says of David that he, “commenced well the race, then faltered and failed to finish his course.” And then he said of another quitter:
So it was with Judas Iscariot. He commenced his ministry as an apostle of the Lord. He ended it a traitor. For thirty paltry pieces of silver, he sold his soul. At last, realizing the enormity of his sin, Judas, to his patrons and tempters of his crime, shrieked: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4.)
Remorse had led to despair, despair to madness, and madness to suicide. He had succeeded in betraying the Christ. He had failed to finish the apostolic ministry to which he had been divinely called. (ibid.)
So what are some of the characteristics that set the finishers apart from those who quit and fail to finish?
I think the scriptures give us quite a few exhortations and clues. Have you ever paid attention to the words, steadfast, immovable, frim, continually, unceasing, and of course “unquittingness?” Let’s take a look at these words and how they are used in the scriptures – they can teach us quite a bit about the characteristics of being a finisher.
Lehi tried to teach his “quitting” sons what it takes to be a finisher:
9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
10 And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord! (1 Nephi 2:9-10, emphasis added)
And then in the book of Mosiah King Benjamin exhorts the people to be finishers, and then shares with them the amazing blessings given to those who do finish and not quit:
15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:15)
I think it’s important to note here an extremely important distinction, and that is found in the popular metaphor and parable of the wise man who built his house upon a rock, while the slothful man built his on the sand.
Helaman taught his sons to build their house upon the rock:
12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12, emphasis added)
At the very end of the Book of Mormon Moroni teaches us to become perfected in Christ and tells us to do that we must “deny ourselves of all ungodliness.”
I love this phrase. There is so much doctrine found in these words. I would venture to say that as Dan and Anders went through their crisis’ of faith, they didn’t deny themselves of all ungodliness, but rather allowed the insidious liar to get them to do what Joseph Smith warns us about in Doctrine and Covenants. Sorry Anders, I happen to believe the Doctrine and Covenants are some of the most Godsent words we have on the earth today, and I am grateful for the truths I have learned from its pages.
In Doctrine and Covenants 121 Joseph Smith teaches us what happens to those who do not deny themselves of all ungodliness:
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. (D&C 121:37-38)
Dan, Anders, King David, Laman, Lemuel, and Judas all became quitters because they didn’t deny themselves of those things that would stop them from being finishers. They sought to cover and hide their sins, to gratify their pride, their vain ambitions, they started to exercise control and compulsion on others – the heavens withdrew and they were left unto themselves to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints and fight against God, and some of them are still fighting to this very day.
Friends, build your foundation upon Christ, the rock of your salvation, that when the quitter of all quitters shall send forth his mighty winds, and his shafts in the whirlwind, and all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, and believe me it will beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo.
Notice I haven’t ever said that the storms won’t come, and that the mighty winds won’t blow, no they most assuredly will come. They come to all of us. It’s part of life. It’s part of your mortal journey to have to endure them – we all will.
The important part is that you don’t quit denying yourself of ungodliness – ever. The important part is that you become perfected in Christ – after all He is the finisher of your faith.
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, emphasis added)
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