Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are You a Fence Rider?

Years ago in seminary, I had a teacher who gave a powerful lesson one day on righteousness. He said that there was no such thing as riding the fence in the gospel. Good and evil is black and white and there is no gray. At the time, this was a new concept for me but it made sense. He quoted Matthew 6:24 which reads:

“ No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”

He then proceeded to teach us that if you aren’t serving the Lord, you are serving Satan. By not serving the Lord, that pleases Satan as this is a service to him. He gave examples of circumstances when people may not be living the gospel to it’s fullest but because they are still kind to others and believe in God they are on the Lord’s side. In reality they are not on the Lord’s side because they are not attending their meetings, keeping all the commandments, or serving in their callings. They are just riding the fence. They may not be committing adultery or murder but they are not keeping the Sabbath day holy, being honest in all their dealings or truly standing up for what is right. They are lax in their standards and good works. They believe in God and the gospel but they are not living in a way that would reflect what they believe. They are at a place in their life spiritually where they consider themselves in the middle. Doing just enough to get by and justify that they are on good terms with the Lord. They go through the motions of attending church or reading scriptures but then talk bad about others or have poor integrity. Becoming casual in the gospel or doing things that you know are wrong outweigh the good and please Satan in more ways than one. You may despise Satan and all he stands for and would never dream of following him. However you are doing just that when you “ride the fence”.

There is God and there is Satan. There is good and there is evil. There are no other choices. This is why there is no gray. You are only kidding yourself if you believe there is. It just makes sense. Satan would prefer that we think we are following the Lord and hear us justify to ourselves the reasons for our bad choices and actions. It's easier for him to get us to make bad choices when we think this way.

We are held accountable in the next life for what we know here on Earth. If we know that there are certain things we should be doing that would be very pleasing to the Lord and we are not doing them, we will have to answer for that. Often times when we are not serving the Lord we are not doing it deliberately. We are not trying to rebel or purposely sin, or hurt the Lord. Most often we just aren’t thinking about the repercussions our choices have. We aren’t understanding the grand scheme of things or looking at our life with an eternal perspective. We are just living in the moment for the here and now.

I met a man the other day who was a very talented piano player. As I sat and chatted with him in a lobby he began to tell me how depressing and disappointing his life was. He weighed 350 pounds, was diabetic, suffered from arthritis, just had all of his teeth pulled, had foot problems, asthma, severe back pain, was on oxygen and spending his days lying in a hospital bed in his son's living room never leaving the house. He was retired, divorced and living with his son's family. He was not involved in any activities outside of the home. He did not have friends, hobbies, work, or anything that occupied his time. He had nothing to look forward to and said he was very lonely. After talking with him I learned that he had the ability to drive, walk, use the computer, talk on the phone, lose weight and so forth but he chose not to. It was easier for him to sit on a bed all day and not have to do anything. All he did was eat and sleep all day. The depressing and lonely feelings had caused him to become very bitter and negative. The remarkable thing about this was that he was very talented on the piano (as I got to hear him play earlier that day) and he attended his church faithfully each Sunday and played the organ. That's where he drew the line though. On Sunday's he went to church but the rest of the week he sat in bed and loathed in self pitty. He was not paralyzed, did not suffer from anxiety, mental illness, or social disorders. He had just simply made a decision to keep to himself and had become lazy. He figured he was still a good person and as long as he didn't bother anyone he wouldn't have to worry about sins, relationships, conflict or any other troublesome issues. He would just simply "exist" but not truly live.

Sarah Menet passed away in 1979 and shortly later was miraculously revived. During her death she crossed over to the other side without being permitted to pass through the veil into the spirit world. She was taught and shown many things that would later help her change her life for the better and help others.

Interestingly, she was taught something about people who fly below the radar. She says:

"This person doesn't progress, help others, or care. In a way, he or she just takes up space, doing nothing worthwhile. Unfortunately, I learned there are a lot of spirits who come to earth and become this way. They live to "party" and spend countless hours trying only to entertain themselves or satisfy their wants, which they will never fill because these pleasures are empty and have no lasting or eternal value. They do nothing to elevate mankind or contribute to the improvement of the world. Such positive contributions may be large or small because all do not have the same power to make a difference, but the important thing is to try. Even very small acts of kindness can make a big difference. I believe that many souls in the world will thank us for what we assumed was unappreciated or insignificant."

I have many friends, family members and acquaintances who fly below the radar. They do the bare minimum to get by. They talk the talk but fail to walk the walk. They don’t go out of their way to serve others or the Lord. They have the knowledge but they don’t practice all that they know to be true. Yes, they are still good people and kind to others but just being kind won’t be enough on judgment day. We need to serve the Lord. We are here on His business. This life isn’t just for our benefit. He needs us to help Him, to do His work. We are His hands here on Earth.

In the hymn “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?” the chorus sings

“Who’s on the Lord’s Side Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly; who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?”

The battle of good and evil has been going on since the beginning of time. This battle is real and we are all in it whether we choose to be or not. We know from the scriptures that eventually the battle will end and good will prevail. We should all want to be on the Lord’s side and help fight the fight.

In any battle, a soldier that let’s down his guard our sits on the sidelines will eventually meet his fate. Don’t let that happen to you. Stand up for what you know is right. Live what you believe. Serve the Lord faithfully in all you do. Don’t sit on the sidelines, fly below the radar or ride the fence. You are not defending or serving the Lord when you do this. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in. When you are not strong you are weak. When you are weak you are vulnerable to the influence of the adversary.

Sarah Menet talks about this battle in her book There is No Death when she says:

"There is an evil kingdom here on earth that is directed by Satan. There are people on earth who serve him, just like there are people who serve God and Jesus. Many people knowingly serve Satan while others serve his purposes without understanding how they are doing so...The adversary's armies, born and unborn, are all over the world working towards his goal."

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said:

"We too easily and too often get caught up in seeking the honors of men rather than serving the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength."

We have been taught time and time again in the scriptures about the importance of serving with all our mind, might and strength.

2 Nephi 25:29

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

Doctrine and Covenants 4:2

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:47

But if the children shall repent, or the children’s children, and turn to the Lord their God, with all their hearts and with all their might, mind, and strength, and restore four-fold for all their trespasses wherewith they have trespassed, or wherewith their fathers have trespassed, or their fathers’ fathers, then thine indignation shall be turned away;

Doctrine and Covenants 59:5

Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.

Doctrine and Covenants 33:7

Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that the field is white already to harvest; wherefore, thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind, and strength.

Moroni 10:32

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

My Conclusion

Ok, so why is this message so important and how can we make sure we are on the Lord's side?

In our time music and the media is Satan's biggest weapon. There are so many top 40 songs that contain lyrics that completely defy God and all He stands for. The melodies are catchy and popular and its so easy to want to tap your feet to the beat and get these songs stuck in your head. There are so many movies with great reviews from the critics, and they receive awards, praise and recognition by the world but they are full of questionable content that also defy God and all He stands for.

When we bring these "weapons" into our homes and minds we are unknowingly fighting against the Lord. lWe are serving Satan and supporting his purposes. Filthy language, pornography, premarital sex, vulgar talk , jokes and imagery are all things that even if we don't personally participate in them we are supporting them by watching them and laughing at them.

We need to be more careful and clear in what we really stand for. I will not watch rated R movies and I will walk away from PG-13 movies that are offensive to the Lord. If they are offensive to Him they are offensive to me. We should be more careful that we do not become desensitized by all of this. We should find these things offensive.

If we are standing up for what is right, and fearing God more than man we are serving the Lord and fighting for His cause. Doing this in addition to serving others and putting effort into our callings and all we do to serve Him will keep us where we need to be to embrace judgment day and not fear it. Go above and beyond in all you do and you "shall not fear". The Lord will bless you or your efforts.

Tell me what you do in your daily life to fight the adversary. Comment below.

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