Join the Ranks

Greetings readers. I’m hyped about this week; I’ve got lots of cool and practical insight about lots of things. I will do my best to try to organize and tie them all together, but hopefully there is something of value to all.

First of all, I’ve gotta talk about that UFC fight last night. Conor McGregor vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. McGregor, the little Irish dude, knocked out Cowboy and won the fight in about 40 seconds. Now I’m not much of a UFC fan, and I don’t really understand the rules, but I do know that a knockout is good, and I do know that finishing off your opponent in less than a minute is incredible. All the hype around this fight, and the fact that it ended so quickly, is why it caught my attention. I watched the replay of those 40 seconds, and I excitedly realized what McGregor did. Sure, he added to his many titles, but how he actually won it got me pumped up. He made the first move and immediately opened a cut on Cowboy’s shoulder. I love it. Then out of nowhere, he kicked Cowboy pretty hard in the jaw, causing him to stumble back out of surprise. What I loved most is that McGregor noticed that his opponent’s guard was down and didn’t stop attacking until the fight was over. While Cowboy was dazed, McGregor delivered an absolutely lethal blow, knocking Cowboy to the ground, before mercilessly unleashing on him, breaking his nose and winning another title.

Ladies and Gentlemen, opportunity is here, you just need to take it! A lot of people will die unsuccessful because they didn’t recognize small opportunities before them and take them. If McGregor hadn’t saw his chance to go after Cowboy while he was vulnerable, he may not have won that fight. If Nephi had decided to wait for a different opportunity to get the plates instead of killing Laban right then and there, heck we might not even be here! People across the world have radical dreams or aspirations, but never act on them. They say, “Oh, I’ll start tomorrow.” A great lesson I’ve learned as an athlete is that tomorrow never comes. Some opportunities are only available to you today. So, start today. What do we proclaim about America? “Land of the free, home of the brave”? Don’t ever get it twisted. America is everybody’s land, but it ain’t everybody’s home. It is only the home to those who make it their home! It is only the home to those brave enough to get up and go get it! Those who “make it their home” achieve personal freedom. “Humankind’s main motivation is to seek and experience personal freedom” (Brendon Burchard).

Think about it. We’re all about freedom in this country, but the government doesn’t give us personal freedom. If you centered your life around politics and the 40+ hour work weeks some business gives you, you’ll find very quickly that there’s gotta be some kind of overwhelming reason within you for why you do what you do! How else could the righteous Nephites have gone and slaughtered Lamanites? They were fighting for their wives, for their children, and for the freedom of their civilization. That was a physical war. Today, we are enlisted in a very real war against a very real enemy, just without bloodshed. We are in a psychological war against Satan and his demons. Understand that we are in this war. Understand the difference between the war we’re currently fighting and the war the Nephites fought. Physical warfare = fighting for the freedom of country or civilization. Psychological warfare = fighting for personal freedom, whether it be your own or a loved one’s. To protect our loved ones, we must become elite warriors. Warrior = a physical fighter, but one who harnesses intensity and determination (aka Warrior Chemistry), or fighting harder. Elite = fighting with stratagem, or fighting smarter. In Alma 43:30, part of the war chapters of the Book of Mormon, it says that “knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem; therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take.” Just like one of Captain Moroni’s spies, we can prophetically make an educated guess about what our enemy, Satan, is going to try next against us. If we love what/who we’re fighting for enough, we need to learn how to become our own spy. I keep going back to what President Nelson said about how it will be impossible to survive the coming days if we do not learn how to receive personal revelation. Gospel = revelation…. liberty = freedom… hence why personal revelation gives us freedom.

Now why aren’t we taking these opportunities, even if we do recognize them? We shrink out of fear of failure and guilt from the past. I define guilt as a sense of spiritual powerlessness, even to the point where one is lost to the cause of Christ and the relation of that cause to oneself. “The great tragedy today is not that people are sinning; the great tragedy is that Satan uses the guilt of all that sinning to strip people of their once radical dreams and replace them with a superficially pleasurable ‘safe’ and ‘happy’ life” (John Piper). The tragedy is that Saints are not overcoming this guilt and getting on to what God sent them to do! But lemme tell you. We know that there’s a book of remembrance, a book that contains all of the ugly sins that both you and I have done. Colossians 2:14 describes it as “the handwriting of ordinances against us”. But read the whole verse…

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

This record of debt to God, of our good and bad, the bad being plenty long, is the warrant for our arrest and execution in the next life. But God (who is The Executioner), nailed this record of debt through His son to the cross, allowing it to die on that cross with our Savior. That’s why the Atonement is so personal, and that’s why the personal freedom and joy that rose with Jesus Christ is so crucial to obtain in this life. If we can remember what that feels like, we’ll have that “feeling” always to be with us (sacrament prayer), and that is what we’ll fight for! Feelings aren’t physical, and neither is the current war. Understand that. Understand that we must learn more of our chemical and mental states to stay at our very best psychologically in order to win this war.

I believe that as Christians, we readily accept the mercy of our Redeemer and God in Their allowance of our list of sins to be forgotten and forgiven. The great trial that follows, however, is forgiving ourselves and shedding the guilt that the enemy bombards us with. It is at this stage that we need personal revelation more than ever to achieve freedom from this guilt. Personal spiritual experiences are different for everyone, but from what I’ve experienced, I can testify that the characters of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are not guilt-inducing.

Through a close relationship with The Godhead, we can be led to (not always just given) the revelatory words/media that will help us to succeed in this war. I plead that we may all remember why we fight, and that we can all overcome the binding guilt that so inherently follows with sin. Get to know your Savior, for by doing so, I know that we can more easily accept His Atonement. I close with the pleading words of Elder Holland, “We are at war. This is a life and death contest we’re in. Come join the ranks… come join the ranks.”

2 thoughts on “Join the Ranks

  1. I love your second to last paragraph, especially the comment regarding “shedding the guilt.” I think of Enos, whose “guilt was swept away” mainly because he had “cried unto the Lord in mighty prayer and supplication for his own soul.” Personal, sincere prayer is so important. When we kneel and share our burdens and needs with the Lord, opening our hearts, He will always bless us and we will always feel His love. And He will lead us to personal spiritual experiences as we follow His promptings given to us through the Holy Ghost.

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  2. The example you gave of the fight where Cowboy was vulnerable and was knocked out quickly by McGregor reminded me of how quickly Satan is able to pull out all the punches so to speak and knock us down. It’s difficult to recover from that and be able to get ourselves back up again after one of Satan’s blows. But the Savior will always lift us back up again no matter how many times we allow Satan to knock us down. If we allow Him to help us back up and fully take advantage of what He did for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, He can heal us and make us whole again.

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