Where is your faith?

In the eighth chapter of the book of Luke, we find several stories. One of the stories is that of Jesus and His apostles were on sailing on a lake, when a mighty storm came through. While the apostles were scared and frightened because of the storm, they found that their Leader, was asleep aboard the ship. “And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.” (Luke 8:24)

 

What makes the tale memorable for me is what follows this event, and the Savior handles the remaining of the situation. Looking at His chosen apostles, who are to assist Him in carrying out His gospel and love, it is fair to say that Christ is disappointed in them. “And he said unto them, Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)

 

Even though it would be far from the last, this event would become one of the most important lessons the Savior would teach his disciples during His time on earth. Its interesting, and imperative to note, that as time goes along, and Christ and His disciples teach and convert people throughout the land, the Savior still continues to teach those He has chosen. A simple question He asks them, “where is your faith?” In my interpretation of this sequence, He might have also said, “do you really think I was going to let you drowned? And even if I did, do you not have faith in that which I have taught you?”

 

For us, even though we can obviously see where the Lord is coming from, imagine yourself in that situation. When the water suddenly begins to fill the boat, would we also lose faith, and begin to ask where our Lord is? Would we quickly forget the eternal plan that the Savior has for us? In the book of John it clearly says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27). It doesn’t make exceptions, the Savior never wants us to fear, He wants our absolute trust, our faith.

 

When I was serving my mission, I encountered several frightening situations. In two consecutive weeks, a tornado touched down in or near my area. The second storm, came very close to where my companion and I lived. I’ll never forget the night as long as I live. We were having dinner at a member’s house, when all of a sudden we were notified from our mission president to return home because a tornado was coming towards us. Responding relatively slow to his text, we continued to eat at the member’s home, and enjoy the night, even though we could see dark clouds in the sky outside the window. When it came time to depart, torrential rain, high winds, along with loud claps of lighting was the scene we walked out to. Though the members urged us to stay inside their home, we told them we’d be fine, knowing that our house was less than five minutes away.

 

Running to our car, we were immediately drenched in water. As I got into the drivers seat, I told my companion that there was no way I could drive us home due to my bad vision, and asked if he would. Being a little braver than I, he hopped in to drive the car, and began back home. During that drive, it was clear that the tornado couldn’t be far from where we were, and to me it was one of the most terrifying scenes I’d ever witnessed. Driving through water, and seeing the destruction that mother nature could offer up, in that moment my faith had completely eluded me. I was almost one hundred percent that something bad was going to happen in that drive, especially when another member, who happened to be our neighbor, called us and yelled at my companion and I that we weren’t home yet.

 

Once we were back at our apartment, coming to the conclusion we were safe, I started to realize how cowardly I had shown myself that night. In those minutes in the car, it was clear that my faith wasn’t sufficient for that situation. Interestingly enough, the next morning during my personal study, I came across this account in Luke, and felt embarrassed, and read those scriptures as if the Lord was asking me, “Elder Thomas, where was your faith?”

 

In a popular Mormon Message, President Russell M. Nelson tells of a story when he was on a plane that almost turned deadly.  While in the air, the aircraft’s engine exploded, sending the plane spiraling down to the earth. In that moment, President Nelson recalled seeing a woman who was in obvious fear and in tears, coming to the realization that her life was about to be over. In his own words regarding the situation, “I was calm, I was totally calm, even though I knew I was going to my death. I was ready to meet my maker.” The flight made a miraculous recovery at the last second, and landed safely in the field. “If you’ve got faith, you can handle difficulties, knowing with an eternal perspective that all will be well,” said President Nelson in what he learned from the experience.

 

How do we obtain faith such as President Nelson, or other noble men and women, who have learned to trust the Savior. In order to secure that trusting in the Lord, we must live in the way that He wants us to live. Living as He lives, gives us hope for the life after this life. As we go through our day to day lives, and do what we’re supposed to spiritually, we can obtain the faith of living with our families after this life, no matter how it ends.

 

I have a testimony of faith, even more so a knowledge that my faith continues to grow. I want to live my Heavenly Father and Savior, and also my family after this life. I testify that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, so that we can overcome our challenges, and by doing so increase our faith through those challenges. I testify that the Savior knows you, that He watches you, and will never leave you. I add my testimony to this scripture that I will close with, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18).  He will come to us, as we come to Him.

The people saw great light

Today, being the start of the new week, I’d like to talk to you about the hope that is Jesus Christ, and the light within Him. There will be times in our lives, in which we will be in a place that seems dark and lonely. For some, that moment may not be very long periods of time, but for others, the time in darkness may be for years. What I wanted to talk to you today about, is that our Savior knows who is in darkness, He is aware of us, and has a task for us to perform in order to get out.

 

In Matthew chapter 4, we know that the Savior, in the beginning of the chapter, is just coming off being tempted of the devil. Afterwards, Christ “dwelt in Capernaum,” (Matthew 4:12). Several verses later, speaking of the people who were around Him, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Matthew 4:16)

 

What was is about the Savior, that the people saw great light? It was the hope that Christ brought. Obviously He is the Son of God, but at first glance, people didn’t know that about this Man from Nazareth.

 

What really stands out about this particular scripture, are the passages just following it. The book says that Christ ventured to the shores of Galilee, and began preaching to the people, in particular, a group of fisherman. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  We all have read this passage thousands of times, or at least have heard it from our ward mission leader, attempting to motivate members to do missionary work. That being said, notice the next verse, and how it relates to verse 16, about seeing “great light.” “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him; And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20,22)

 

What motivates us to move, to get up, and to be better? Is it our significant other? Our parents? Though they will light the fire within us many times throughout our lives, it is the Savior of the world that will provide us to become better. In Him we see great light. However, even though He provides that light, that hope, it is up to us to take that next step.

 

 

When we see light in Christ, it is because we want to improve ourselves, to become more like Jesus Himself. That’s what Peter and the other fisherman saw in Jesus the moment they met Him. They may not have known, but in terms of spirituality, they were “people who sat in darkness,” and Christ was the answer.  We all are entitled, whether we’re members of the church or not, to receive an answer that Jesus can provide us with the happiness in this life, and that’s what Peter knew. When Christ them to follow Him, they didn’t just think about going, they didn’t say, “Hey Jesus, we’ll think about it then get back to you!” The scriptures uses the words straightway and immediately.

 

This gospel isn’t one for those who wait around, waiting for things to happen. It is for those who have hope in the Son of God, act, and have the faith that their life will improve.

 

Like I mentioned before, all of us will experience times of darkness, and for some of you, it may be happening right now. To all of us, because everyday can be one of new light, a new chance, and a fresh start. I testify that Jesus Christ is that great light, and His atonement can you bring you out of any darkness that you may sit in. He is the answer, the solution, and the way to eternal life. May we all have the courage to accept that light, and not just accept it, but follow it, until we become better people, and more like Christ.

Aaron Judge steals All-Star Week

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past several months, the New York Yankees have a rookie named Aaron Judge, who is taking the baseball world by storm.

 

This past week in Miami, Judge was the center of attention in the sports world. The 25 year old was the champion of the Home Run Derby on Monday, and then started in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

 

Judge, who is adopted, grew up in Linden, California, and was a standout in three sports. In football, Judge received scholarship offers from schools like Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA to play tight end. Ultimately, Judge chose baseball, and was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft. However, Judge chose to attend Fresno State University.  Aaron played for the Bulldogs, and interestingly enough, won the college baseball Home Run Derby in 2012.

 

In 2013, Judge was drafted by the New York Yankees with the 32nd overall selection.

 

The man who stands at 6 foot 7 and weighs 280, has gained the notice from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. “He is a tremendous talent on the field and really appealing off the field,” Manfred said to the Baseball Writers Association. Manfred said that Judge is the kind of talent “that could become the face of the game.”

 

Judge’s stats so far in the 2017 season, fully show that he can become the new face of baseball. Judge leads the majors in home runs (30), as well as placing in the top three in the AL in batting average (.329) and RBI’s (66).

 

Judge brings a swing, and a face, that the Yankees have been looking for, for a while. Since Derek Jeter retired in 2014, the franchise has been searching for a player that New York City could fall in love with. The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, and has only won two since 2000. One thing as well that Judge brings to the Bronx bombers that has been missing, are home runs. The Yankees have been looking for someone with power for several years, in fact, New York has had only two players in the last five years to hit for more than 30 home runs in a season (Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in 2015).

 

Not just do the Yankees need someone like Aaron Judge, but Major League Baseball as well. Even with players like Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, the popularity of baseball has been declining, and lacks the excitement that the NFL and NBA brings. Judge, along with Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, have the opportunity to bring the excitement of baseball back to its rightful position in America. Judge and Bellinger represent the two largest cities in America, and similar to the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, can capture the nation with a thrilling home run race, with Bellinger just five homers short of Judge.

 

 

Midnight Thoughts: Brett Favre was Overrated

He’s the country boy from the deep south, with a sweet accent, and a sense of humor that still has us football fans laughing whenever we hear clips of him mic’d up. He’s the man who stole our hearts, and captured the imagination of football fans everywhere with his love of the game that he portrayed every Sunday. He’s a Super bowl winning quarterback, multiple MVP winner, and the king of making nothing plays into instant classic highlights. I’m of course talking about the legendary Brett Favre.

 

Throughout his 19 year NFL career, America could not get enough of number four, and neither could I. Though he played for the Packers most of his career, he developed into one of my favorite players in league history, mostly for his down home style, and incredible humor that exemplified how every football player should play the game.

 

As the years have passed since his retirement, I’ve watched a lot of Favre games, and studied his career probably more in depth than any other NFL player.  Throughout this fun process, I’ve come to the conclusion, a sad reality, that Brett Favre is the most overrated player in NFL history.

 

Before you rip me to shreds, believe me, I’m in just as shock as all of you are. I love Favre, but I also have to come to the facts.

 

  1. His performance in big games:

In 1996, Brett Favre could absolutely do no wrong. He had just won the Super Bowl for the Packers, and seemed destined to bring home several more Lombardi trophies back to Green Bay. A lot of people don’t take this into consideration, after that one Super Bowl, Favre sucked in games that mattered. Take for the instance the very next year. The Packers in 1997, make it back to another Super Bowl, and their opponent? A Denver Bronco team that was quarterbacked by John Elway, who completed just 12 passes the entire game, and no touchdowns. The Packers entered that game as 11 ½ point favorites, and Favre was just coming off another MVP year. Favre was less than stellar, and the Packers were upset in that game 31-24.

 

Fast forward to 2002, Green Bay is hosting the Falcons in the wild card round of the playoffs. Remember, prior to this game, the Packers had NEVER lost a home playoff game at Lambeau Field EVER. Plus, it was January, and the Falcons were a dome team. As you could probably guess, the Pack were heavily favored. As you could probably guess however, given the nature of this article, the Falcons whooped Green Bay, behind the play of a guy named Mike Vick. Favre turned the ball over three times, and the Packers were embarrassed 27-7.

 

Five years later, it’s the 2007 season, and Green Bay had a magical year, going 13-3, and looked as if Favre would return to another Super Bowl. The Packers were hosting the NFC Championship game, at home, against the Giants, a team that even though went on to win the Super Bowl, lets be honest, the Packers were better than. In what would be his final game as a Packer, Favre threw two costly interceptions. His last one, coming in overtime to Corey Webster, which put the Giants in Green Bay territory, setting up a game winning field goal, shocking the Packers 23-20. That Webster interception, was his last throw wearing yellow and green.

 

  1. He’s the all-time leader in interceptions!

Yes, in 2007, Favre broke the NFL record for career touchdowns, and passing yards, a record that some believe makes him the greatest quarterback who ever lived. As the Grinch who Stole Christmas would say, “wrongo.” Here’s another record for ya, Favre threw 336 interceptions over the span of 19 seasons, putting him number one all time. To make matters worse, in 24 postseason games, Favre threw 30 interceptions in those games.

 

Whenever fans think of Favre interceptions, there’s just too many to think of! The first one for me that comes to mind, brings us to the 2003 NFC divisional round of the playoffs, when the Packers were looking like they could upset the Eagles in Philly. Green Bay had the ball on their 42 yard line, and it seemed as if Favre and the Packers could knock off the Birds. Insert the gunslinger. In his only pass of overtime, Favre threw one doozy of a toss. I can only describe this throw, I’m laughing as I write this by the way, in two examples. One is a punt, kicked right to the defender, and the other is when you’re playing catch with a young kid, and you throw it real high as if you’re bombing a touchdown. Luckily for Brian Dawkins, he was the recipient of probably the worst pass of Favre’s career, and Brett out threw the receiver by probably fifteen yards. Dawkns made the easy interception, and the Eagles went on to win.

 

The second one is almost painful to type, because its such a bad pass. I said that the Eagles pick was the worst throw of his career, but this one probably is. Brett, in 2009, turns into a Purple People Eater, and is a member of the Vikings. Miraculously, he takes them all the way to the NFC championship game, in a showdown in New Orleans against the Saints. In a game where Favre took an absolute beating, he was leading the Vikings down the field for a potential game winning field goal that would put Minnesota in the Super Bowl. Does this scenario sound familiar? (2007 NFC Championship game) Any who, Favre and the Vikings were on the Saints 38 yard line, with Brett flushed out of the pocket trying to gain more yards. Instead of throwing the ball away, or running to gain a few more yards, Favre commits a quarterback sin, and throws across his body, which was then intercepted by Tracy Porter. The game went into overtime, and the Saints wouldn’t give Favre another chance, ultimately kicking a game winning field for themselves.

 

  1. Everything else.

I only gave two legitimate reasons to support my claim, but by golly I believe I’ve done it. Yes, Favre is headed to the Hall of Fame, no doubt about it. Though I think the aspect of Favre I hated most, was how he ended his career. Favre retired not once, not twice, not three times, but a grand total of four times! The first time Favre Watch would come on, it was exciting. Though after he pulled a Fredo Corleone and became the biggest trader in the history of Wisconsin, joining the Vikings, then it just became ridiculous. Favre is like the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies, when you see them they’re awesome, five years later you realize how stupid you were.

This Day in the NBA, June 28th

So in case you’ve been living under a rock, or backpacking and trying to find yourself, a lot has happened today in the NBA. Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets, and Phil Jackson was let go from the Knicks.

 

Now this NBA off-season, which has lasted barely two weeks, has had more drama than Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl, any other fans out there, no? ok.

 

Now this Rockets trade does mean certain things, both for H Town and the Clippers.

 

First of all, lets start with happy news, and if you’re a Rockets fan, today was a wonderfully happy day. This is a team that fell to the Spurs in six games, during the second round of this years playoffs. Even without Paul, this Rockets team very well could’ve defeated San Antonio. What Paul brings to the table, is his competiveness, along with his 18 points and 9 assists per game he averaged during this past season. James Harden averaged 28.5 points per game this year, and the next closest in that category was Eric Gordon with 12.9.  Chris Paul walks into Houston, and immediately becomes the team’s leading passer and second leading scorer. Without Paul, Houston still managed 55 wins and a third seed in the competitive Western Conference, and with this addition, I firmly believe that the Rockets will jump ahead of their rivals in San Antonio and grab that second seed. Though lets be honest, nobody is beating Golden State, its just not going to happen. Houston gave up a 2018 first round pick, as well as Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverly, but honestly, once the trade was made done, fans of the Rockets couldn’t even tell you who those players were. In 2017, Houston produced the second best offense in the league, and that was with Harden leading both in scoring and passing. Now just think about the effect that Paul will have, the man who is tenth on the all time assists list.

 

Now for the sad news, and that is the Clippers. This is a franchise that has always been a little depressing. In the early 2000’s, it was a franchise that had no hope, and played the red headed step child to the Lakers. Then, when they acquired Paul and drafted Blake Griffin, they became a legitimate threat in the Western Conference, or so we thought. In the Paul and Griffin era, the team never reached the finals, and most recently got knocked out in the first round by the Jazz, in a seventh game at home. With Paul gone, the team’s future depends entirely on what Blake Griffin does, who is a free agent come Saturday. Though they weren’t left completely bare after the trade this morning, it sure does feel like it. If the team re-signs Griffin, the group of players they inherited from Houston could allow LA to develop young talent, and take advantage of next year’s draft and free agency period. Now, what Clippers fans are dreading, is to see Griffin sign somewhere else, and if that happens, this next season will be a long one, and they will again become the second team in the town, behind the Lakers.

 

Finally, we go to the Big Apple, to the toxic situation that is the New York Knicks. This morning, the team parted ways with their team president, legendary coach Phil Jackson. While Jackson was pure magic as a head coach, winning 11 titles with Chicago and the Lakers, his three year tenure with the Knicks was depressing and extremely disappointing for New York fans. In his three seasons as GM, the Knicks went 80-166, in comparison, Jackson’s 95-96 Bulls team went 72-10. In an off-season that has the basketball world on its heels, the timing of departing for Jackson was surprising, just 72 hours before the start of free agency. While his record as team’s president is a clear indicator that a change needed to be made, Jackson’s recent feuds with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis gave the Knicks no choice but to move on, as Jackson was preparing on moving one, or both players to make way for his triangle offense. Jackson walked into Madison Square Garden, with hopes to capture the franchise’s rich history, but instead he stunk up Manhattan even more, with the icing on the cake coming when Porzingis skipped out on his exit meeting with Jackson back in April. With Jackson’s departure, the Knicks suddenly have a brighter future than they did 24 hours ago, with a promising coach in Jeff Hornacek now allowed to run his fast paced offense that brought the Phoenix Suns success.

 

Dwight Howard got traded, and nobody cares

If Paul George, DeAndre Jordan, or several other NBA players would’ve been traded yesterday, you would have sat up in your chair and take notice.

 

As you were scrolling down on your Twitter feed yesterday, right in between the latest of Trump’s profile and what’s happening in Georgia, you saw that Dwight Howard had been traded. You looked at it for a split second, then kept scrolling.

 

Why is that? I remember, and I know you do too, when he was the best center in the league and absolutely tearing the league apart when he was playing with the Magic. Still to this day, Howard averaged 13.5 points a game, and over 12 rebounds a game. Statistically, Howard is right up there with DeAndre Jordan, and is considered one of the better centers in the game.

 

Interesting though, when Jordan’s name was thrown around with trades, it would be to Phoenix for the NO. 4 overall pick. When Howard was actually traded to the Hornets, it was for a sack of marbles and a few baseball cards.

 

Alright alright, here are the real stats of the trade. The Hawks gave away Howard and the 31st pick of Thursday’s draft, and the Hornets gave away Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and the 41st pick of the draft.

 

After signing a three year deal, worth $70.5 million with his hometown team, Howard didn’t perform up to the expectations. In the playoffs, he averaged just eight points and 10.7 rebounds, in a series that the Hawks could have won, but instead lost in six games.

 

Howard, who turned 31 this past year, will earn $23.5 for each of the next two seasons. Howard, who is still an All-Star caliber player, can certainly make a difference with the Hornets, who still have Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum.

 

What still baffles me is the fact nobody seemed to care about the trade. Worse yet, people were tweeting about how much they didn’t care about the trade. It makes you think about what Howard did to get such a bad rep, and all this negativity. The case is definitely still out there as to whether or not Dwight can perform at such a high level, as for me, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Howard in yet another jersey in about two years from n

Durant shines, Warriors up 2-0

If there was one takeaway from game two of the finals last night between the Warriors and Cavaliers, it’d be this, Kevin Durant is hungry for a championship.

 

Coming up on the year anniversary of Durant’s signing with the Warriors, he now stands just two wins away from capturing his first title. Coming off an impressive 38 point performance in a game one win, Durant was hot again on Sunday night, scoring 33 points, helping Golden State to a 132-113 win, going up two games to zero in the series.

 

One of the biggest storylines coming into the game, was the return of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr had been out six weeks, due to health issues. He was back on the sideline to witness his team put up one of the most impressive offensive performances by a team in recent finals history. The Warriors exploded, as well as the Cavaliers in the first quarter, with Golden State putting up forty points in the first twelve minutes.

 

While the Warriors were lighting up the scoreboard all night, LeBron James had himself another spectacular game, tying Magic Johnson’s record with his eighth triple double in a finals game. James finished with 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Kevin Love quietly had 27 points, while Kyrie Irving struggled, going 8-23 from the field shooting.

 

As well as Durant having another big night, Steph Curry was again masterful. Curry also finished with a  triple double, with 32 points, 11 assists and ten rebounds. Though the best news for Golden State might have been the reemergence of Klay Thompson, who woke up from drought, shooting 8-12 for 22 points.

 

Now, coming off back to back double digit losses, the Cavs know that game three on Wednesday back in Cleveland is a must win. Never has the home court advantage of the Quicken Loans Arena meant more than the next two games for the Cavaliers. To avoid another possible 3-1 deficit, or even a sweep, Cleveland will have to win the next two games at home to even the series. The one main difference in being down 2-0 in 2017 compared to the same situation last year, is Kevin Durant.

 

We all know that these are the best two teams that basketball has to offer, and its pretty special to think about. Recently retired player Paul Pierce in a postgame show, told a national audience that Durant had surpassed Lebron James as the worlds best player.

 

While Pierce may stand by his comments, LeBron is still the undisputed king of basketball, and also the reigning champ, and Durant is still looking for his first ring. Game three on Wednesday will serve as Durant’s biggest game of his life up to this point, and he’ll have to go through the king to get the title.