Filling Your Soul with the Good Word of God

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NIT Champs Represent the Lord

The 1951 BYU basketball team has accomplished a lot in life but they'd be the first to tell you that winning the National Invitational Tournament, which at that time what equivalent to today's NCAA Tournament, was not the most important. As champions they were able to represent not only their school but their faith as basketball playing missionaries. As they traveled to Brazil after the NIT tournament they didn't wear their normal BYU gear, they wore shirts with the word "Mormon" on them to represent the LDS church. In Brazil at that time there was only one mission, now there are 38. These players definitely had a part in the people of Brazil being interested not only in watching them play basketball but learning about their church. What a great way to represent their faith. I commend this team and these men for not only how they played the game of basketball but also their missionary mind set they had while doing it. As we jump ahead 60 years we see this team has accomplished a lot more since their victory in '51. Their team over the years has consisted of seven LDS Bishops, four of them have served in Stake Presidencies, one was a General Authority, one a Patriarch, and one served as a mission president. We see that this team have kept true to their faith, have kept their missionary mind set, and have all found a love for serving the Lord.
          Watch this video from Mormon Times to learn more.

This video and statistics about the 1951 BYU basketball team came from the above video produced by Mormon Times.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Danny Ainge: Finding a Balance in Life

In the 1981 NCAA Basketball Tournament in the sweet 16 BYU was trailing Notre Dame by a score of 47-48. What happened next is what has become one of the greatest finishes in college basketball history(see link below to view). With seven seconds on the clock the ball was passed into Danny Ainge. Ainge, who was named the national collegiate player of the year and won the John R. Wooden Award, drives down the court past all five Notre Dame players and lays the ball in for the game winning shot that advanced his team to the Elite 8. Still to this day that is the furthest the Cougars have ever made it in the NCAA Tournament. This amazing play was only the start to a great career for Ainge. He went on to be drafted by the Boston Celtics where won two NBA Championships and finished his career with 11,964 career points.
   Moving on in his career he was an NBA coach for the Phoenix Suns for three years and more recently became the general manager of the Boston Celtics in 2003 and eventually compiled a team that won the 2008 NBA Championship.

   As if managing an NBA Championship team wasn't enough for Ainge he was called to be the Bishop of the Massachusetts Weston 1st Ward right after the NBA Finals. Ainge, who had been in the bishopric already for five years said he had thought there would be some changes but this wasn't quite what he had thought. “But, honestly, there was no way they were going to call me, with my schedule, to be a bishop,” he says. “I had my doubts when they called me to be bishop, but I think that it will just compel me to find balance even more.” said Ainge. Ainge's daughter commented on her parents and her Dad's new calling by saying “despite the time and effort they are about to start putting into this ward, they are excited and eager to serve. It has been a great reminder of what great people my parents are and how blessed I am to have such great examples.” Michael Dowling a sportscaster in Ainge's ward and one of Ainge's home teaching families said “A lot of people are going to find out exactly how good of a guy he is and how much he cares about people. He’s our home teacher, and he really looks out for my boys . . . as a home teacher and a bishop would.” Ainge says, “The service element helps me to balance my life, and to buoy me up”
   It's great to see how a faithful member of the church is able to balance both his love and career of basketball with the dedication to his faith and serving his ward members as a Bishop. There is no doubt that Danny Ainge is someone we could all look up to and learn from his example of finding balance in our lives.
Danny Ainge Coast to Coast Game Winning Drive VS. Notre Dame

Quotes taken from The Mormon Times and BYU Magazine

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Madness Missionaries

There are 14 Mormon basketball players who before making a big impact for their teams on the court this March have made big impacts on peoples lives by serving LDS missions, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here's a list of those players and where they served their "best two years".

   Brigham Young University Cougars:
Jackson Emery
Noah Hartsock

  • Jackson Emery, a senior guard from Lone Peak High School in Alpine, served a mission in Mexico.

  • Logan Magnusson, a senior forward from Wasatch High School in Heber City, served a mission in Vancouver, British Columbia.

  • Brock Zylstra, a sophomore forward from Bonita High School in La Verne, Calif., served a mission in New Zealand.

  • James Anderson, a junior forward from Page High School (Ariz.), served a mission in Guatemala.

  • Noah Hartsock, a junior forward from Bartlesville High School (Okla.), served a mission in Salt Lake City.

  • Chris Collinsworth, a sophomore forward from Provo High School in Provo, served a mission in Australia.

  • Nick Martineau, a sophomore guard from Davis High School in Fruit Heights, Utah, served a mission in Chile.

  • Stephen Rogers, a sophomore from Mountain View High School in Mesa, Ariz., served a mission in Cleveland, Ohio.

  •         Utah State Aggies : 

  • Tyler Newbold, a senior guard from Payson High School, served a mission in San Bernadino, Calif.

  • Nate Bendall, a senior forward from Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, served a mission in Nauvoo, Ill.

  • Brady Jardine, a junior forward from Twin Falls High School (Idaho), served a mission in San Antonio, Texas.

  • Brad Brown, a redshirt freshman from Orono High School in Orono, Minn., served in Porto, Portugal.

  • Tai Wesley, a senior forward from Provo High School, served a mission in Mexico.

  • Matt Formisano, a senior forward from Heritage High School in Centennial, Colo., served a mission in Mexico.

  • Most so called experts would say a college basketball player is crazy for taking two years off of basketball to serve a church mission but I think its great to see that these players have been able to balance a love of basketball with a love of serving the Lord. And I have no doubt that the Lord has blessed them for their service.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Krešimir Ćosić: Basketball Star and Churchman

    Before there was Danny Ainge and before we even knew what a Jimmer was there was Krešimir Ćosić. Krešimir Ćosić was born in Yugoslavia in 1948. He started his basketball career playing in 1965 for the KK Zadar. He lead his hometown team to the Yugoslavian national championship and later represented his nation at the Mexico City Olympics where they won a silver medal. In 1970 he ventured over to the U.S. to play college basketball for Brigham Young University. Ćosić, an Atheist, didn't choose the school based off of religion but rather just the desire to play American basketball. In fact he says he knew nothing about the church. " I had never heard about the Church before I came here. In Yugoslavia most of the young people are completely atheistic, and that’s the way I lived. When I came to Provo I didn’t change. I was an atheist for two years while I was in Provo. Nobody was farther from becoming a Mormon than I was. I just lived my way, and people lived their way. I obeyed all the rules of BYU, tried to be as good as I could, and tried to play ball and do my studying and other things.." says Ćosić.
        While changing religions was no where to be found on his radar he quickly became a fan favorite. As a 6'11" center he sure didn't play like one. He was famous for his uncenterlike skills like leading the fast break, putting up long outside shots, two handed layups, and shooting underhand shots along the baseline against taller defenders. This play quickly earned him nicknames like “the wild giraffe”, “the runaway camel”, and “the tallest guard in the league.” Averaging 19.1 points per game he helped lead BYU to two WAC titles and became the first foreign player to earn All-America honors.
        After two years of playing ball and attending school Ćosić wanted to know more. "When I was a junior, I decided to figure out a few things. I had things I wanted to know." In 1971 after meeting with the missionaries he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When talking about his conversion Ćosić says "I didn’t decide to join the Church because of any one thing. There were some things that I wanted to know. I had a few questions that no one could answer. It just happened. We as Mormons believe in personal things everyone can know by himself. It all depends on how bad you want to know something. That’s the whole point. If we have a desire in the Church to know something, we will know it; there’s no question about that. If something is really bothering you, you probably go to somebody for advice. If it’s football you want to know about—what kind of a play you are going to play—you can ask me, and I don’t have any idea. I just can’t help. It’s the same if you’re going to the wrong church. They can’t give you an answer. So you ask, and find out, and you join the true church. So I just decided to join the Church."
        The Church not only effected Ćosić but on many others from his native land. He first served as the LDS presiding priesthood holder in post-communist Croatia. He was responsible with the translation of The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants into Croatian. Later he was able to introduce the gospel to Yugoslavia. Many believe that because of Ćosić's influence Yugoslavia recognized the Church in 1975. In the same year, Church leaders formed Yugoslavia's first Latter-day Saint congregation in Zadar. Between 1993 and 1998, the Church provided thousands of tons of food, clothing, bedding and medical supplies to Croatia. Since 1995 the Church has participated in a project to assist Croatian farmers. Currently there are just over 500 members in six congregations in Croatia.
        In 1995 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and passed away at the age of 46 years old. We may never know the full impact Krešimir Ćosić had on spreading the gospel to others but this does help us know that our Heavenly Father is always looking for ways to move His work forward, including using a basketball player to open up others to Him.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    The Spiritual Side of Jimmer

    Jimmer Fredette has had an amazing season on the basketball court this year leading the BYU Cougars to a #8 national ranking and a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament, which starts today. Even being a missionary in little Dillon, Montana I've seen the effects of "Jimmer Mania". There has been a lot of buzz surrounding his performance on the court from members and non members alike. This has also sparked a few conversation about the church. This video produced by Mormon Times takes a look at Jimmer and his spiritual side, how the gospel has shaped his life, and how he believes he's been blessed with a God given talent. As a Mormon, a missionary, and a big BYU fan it's nice to see someone put on such a pedestal who is so down to earth and willing to recognize the role the gospel and God has made in his life.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    A Hoops Reunion

    Here's a great story from the Church News on Jimmer Fredette's father's conversion story to the church and the connection he was able to make with the missionary who converted him and their sons.
           As a cliché, "It's a small world" can ring remarkably true in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thanks to a world-wide proselytizing effort that has sent missionaries to locales across the globe to find, teach and baptize people for more than a century and a half, the Church can sometimes resemble one massive, extended family. Members everywhere seem to know someone who knows someone who knows someone. ...
    For a pair of old friends (one a returned missionary — the other, his former investigator) their "small world" could be aptly measured at 94 feet — the length of a college basketball court.
    In 1969, Idaho native Kimball Rogers was called as a Mormon missionary to the Cumorah Mission, headquartered out of Rochester, N.Y. During his first winter in the field he was assigned to the Glens Falls area of New York not far from the Vermont border. There he met a recent convert named Bonnie Fredette who had a younger brother, Al, who was investigating the Church. Both Elder Rogers and 18-year-old Al shared a common passion — basketball.
    Elder Rogers was eager to teach Al the missionary discussions. So he threw down a challenge underneath the Fredette family hoop: "If I could beat Al in a basketball game in his driveway, he would listen to a lesson."
    Al Fredette can't recall the outcome of those outdoor contests 41 years ago, but he does remember picking up some snacks for the missionaries and inviting them "to come inside and talk for awhile." Later that summer, Al was baptized by his older brother, Dennis, who had joined the Church in Germany. Elder Rogers was eventually transferred to another area and the two young men lost contact.
    Fast forward four decades. Al Fredette had passed on his love of basketball to his son, Jimmer, who had established himself as one of the nation's top college ball players at Brigham Young University.
     Three time zones away from New York and living in Arizona, Kimball Rogers had raised a ball player himself. Youngest son Stephen claimed junior college All-American honors at Mesa Community College last year then transferred to BYU prior to the 2010-2011 season.
    Before the start of the season, Jimmer told his dad about a promising new teammate named Stephen Rogers. The name meant nothing to Brother Fredette, who still lives in upstate New York and serves as the ward mission leader in the Glens Falls Ward, Albany New York Stake. "Jimmer just told me Stephen was a good, tough player who shot the ball well."
    Kimball Rogers had not forgotten Al Fredette. He can point to passages in his missionary journal and read about winter afternoons spent shooting hoops together in the Fredette driveway followed by missionary discussions in the family living room. "I could still remember him in my mind."
    The two men, now the fathers of grown children, were reunited following a BYU game last year at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. Kimball immediately recognized his former investigator. "I knew it was him — the (family) all share the same Fredette look," said Brother Rogers with a laugh.
    Brother Rogers introduced himself by his first and last name. "That didn't help because I only knew him as Elder Rogers," said Brother Fredette. He remembered his old driveway "rival" once Brother Rogers clarified that he was "Elder Rogers" from 40 years ago.
    "We shook hands and gave each other a hug," said Brother Rogers, a member of the Evergreen Ward, Mesa Arizona Central Stake.
    The old friends marvel at the circumstances of their reunion. "It's amazing," said Brother Fredette, "We've both got sons playing at BYU at the same time."
    "It makes you realize how small the world is," said Brother Rogers.
        LDS Church News Story

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    sElection Sunday

    The Sunday before March Madness starts is known as Selection Sunday. This is the day that the NCAA selection committee determines which teams, deserve which seeds, in the "Big Dance". Similarly there was a time in heaven before the foundation of the world or our "Big Dance" where all of us were called and elected in some way. All of us received some form of this call to help the Lord with his work while we are on this earth. The Bible dictionary states that the calling and election "has to do with God’s choice of persons or groups to accomplish his purposes, some may be elected by him to one thing and some to another. Although the Lord uses certain individuals to accomplish his purposes, it does not necessarily follow that these persons will automatically receive a fullness of salvation thereby. Each must, for himself, hearken to the gospel and receive its ordinances and covenants from the hands of the servants of the Lord in order to obtain salvation. If one is elected but does not serve, his election could be said to have been in vain, as Paul expressed in 2 Cor. 6:1."
      So how does a calling and election compare to the selection of teams to play in the tournament? Just like we have to be faithful and righteous to obtain and fulfill our election teams in the tournament are not guaranteed anything. There might be a team who has played great all year and is one of the top teams in the country. They have earned and been given the right to the number one seed in the tournament but again this doesn't guarantee them anything. If that team is not faithful and doesn't continue to work hard they may slip and lose causing that "election", of being that top team, to no longer be theirs. On the other hand there may be a team, or someone, who is placed in a tough situation, like a 16 seed, who may rise to the occasion and because of their hard work, faith and righteousness, they are able to obtain more, help the Lord, in ways not imaginable at one point in time, like #14 Weber State knocking off # 3 North Carolina in 1999 or # 14 Cleavland St. beating #3 Indiana in 1986.
        This is truly a great lesson to learn that nothing is guaranteed in life, even when elected to you by God. The Lord will give us opportunities to help him and to receive blessings in this life but it is up to us to live worthy and be faithful to obtain those blessings. Just like it's up to that number one seed to keep playing hard and win to obtain that right to being called the champions.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Mormon March Madness

    It's March Madness time! So Davis' Daily Bread is giving you a full serving of March Madness with a Mormon twist, Mormon March Madness! For the next month your spiritual belly and your craving for basketball will combine to help you learn how the game of basketball has shaped the lives of many Mormons. So get your brackets ready, your scriptures out, and check back frequently to hear inspiring stories from on and off the court.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    It's All About Coming Home

    For an Arizona boy like me March means two things, NCAA March Madness and MLB Spring Training baseball! As the sun comes out, the weather gets warm, and school takes a break for two weeks there is no better place to spend an afternoon then at the ballpark watching your favorite team get ready for another exciting baseball season as you chow down on a hot dog and peanuts. This time of year, now on a mission, can be a little tough as I think back to those good ol' days. But as these feelings come back to me and as the itch of spring fever has hit, just as the snow also hits here in Dillon uh!, I think about how America's past time compares to our lives.
       As a player in the game of life we all started at home with our Heavenly Father, just as a baseball player starts his journey at home plate.  We look forward to the future and the hopes that we might have the chance to hit a "home run" in life. As we stand there anxiously waiting we wonder what life will throw at us. Whether the fast balls or curve balls of life that come our way will result in good, a base hit, or bad, a strike out. As we have our first successes of life, or hit, we make it to first base. Now our whole goal is focused on making smart choices on the base paths, earth, to make it home. We have other people, batters, and obstacles, great pitching or fielding by the opponent, that will get in our way at times and try to keep us from making it to our final destination. But as we continue to work our hardest, rely on our coaches and team mates, family, friends, and our Savior and as we make an effort to run fast, never look back, and endure to the end, we can make it back home to where we started. We will score a run, eternal life, as we step on home plate and hear the umpire, Heavenly Father, yell "SAFE!" This will be the ultimate reward for our hard work and our team's support.
        “In my beginning is my end…Home is where one starts from…In my end is my beginning.”-T. S. Eliot

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    The MTC

    The Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah is one of 17 MTCs world wide. Here is where 4,000 19 to 25 year old LDS young men and women gather to be trained for periods of three to twelve weeks on be missionaries and representatives of the Lord. The missionaries focus their whole day on learning more of the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, teaching skills, potentially a new language, and how to get along with their mission companion, who they are with 24/7. It can be a grueling period of time for some But this time causes you to very quickly become a missionary and you soon find yourself literally eating, sleeping, walking, and talking missionary work. This causes you to feel a great increase of the Lord's spirit with you as you focus on doing His work.
       I remember when I first entered the MTC. It was a great feeling to know that I was finally on MY mission! As you grow up a member of the church you hear stories about other's experiences at the MTC and on their missions. It was just a great feeling to know now it was my turn. I was so excited when they first placed that famous black missionary tag on me. As I read Elder Davis and saw my Saviors name along side mine, I felt a flood of emotions. This was for real.
        As time went on in the MTC it was amazing to see 4,000 other young adults just like me who had prepared themselves to be in this same situation. What also hit me is that my Heavenly Father was aware of each and every one of our individual situations and needs. He had a hand in all of our lives and how great it was to know we were all joining Him and His work. At first it was a little tough to stay 100% focused all the time. When you are sitting in some sort of classroom setting from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm with only bathroom and meal breaks and your hour of gym time it can become tiring process.  Over time as I got used to the missionary schedule and started to dedicate myself fully to learning and preparing myself to be able to teach the people in Montana it became easier. Before I knew it my time at the MTC had come to an end. I think the thing that I will always remember the most though is singing "Called to Serve" with 4,000 other missionaries before a fireside. The great feelings of that power and emotion of God's missionary army singing together was Amazing and something that will always remain my MTC highlight!

        To learn more about the MTC watch the video below or visit For a virtual tour of the MTC Click Here.

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