Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Why is the LDS Church Stopping its support of the BSA?

There may be many reasons. I think succinctly,

This is about supporting a program for all of the world. They have been talking about that for many years.

The financial support alone is skewed by our donations to the BSA.

Also, BSA skills/results may not be furthering the missions of the church as much as they think they can do with our own programs.
1. Preach the Gospel
2. Redeem the Dead
3. Perfect the Saints
4. Care for the Poor and Needy

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Practice, Practice, Practice.

I was assigned to speak in Sacrament Meeting today. I was told to speak on the scripture where Jesus told John the Beloved, "Behold Thy Mother".

I searched the phrase and found a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland "Behold Thy Mother" from the Oct 2015 GC.

Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.

Elder Holland then tells a story.

[A] young man who entered the mission field worthily but by his own choice returned home early due to same-sex attraction and some trauma he experienced in that regard. He was still worthy, but his faith was at crisis level, his emotional burden grew ever heavier, and his spiritual pain was more and more profound. He was by turns hurt, confused, angry, and desolate.
  
His mission president, his stake president, his bishop spent countless hours searching and weeping and blessing him as they held on to him, but much of his wound was so personal that he kept at least parts of it beyond their reach. The beloved father in this story poured his entire soul into helping this child, but his very demanding employment circumstance meant that often the long, dark nights of the soul were faced by just this boy and his mother. Day and night, first for weeks, then for months that turned into years, they sought healing together. Through periods of bitterness (mostly his but sometimes hers) and unending fear (mostly hers but sometimes his), she bore—there’s that beautiful, burdensome word again—she bore to her son her testimony of God’s power, of His Church, but especially of His love for this child. In the same breath she testified of her own uncompromised, undying love for him as well. To bring together those two absolutely crucial, essential pillars of her very existence—the gospel of Jesus Christ and her family—she poured out her soul in prayer endlessly. She fasted and wept, she wept and fasted, and then she listened and listened as this son repeatedly told her of how his heart was breaking. Thus she carried him—again—only this time it was not for nine months. This time she thought that laboring through the battered landscape of his despair would take forever.
 
But with the grace of God, her own tenacity, and the help of scores of Church leaders, friends, family members, and professionals, this importuning mother has seen her son come home to the promised land. Sadly we acknowledge that such a blessing does not, or at least has not yet, come to all parents who anguish over a wide variety of their children’s circumstances, but here there was hope. And, I must say, this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would. But little by little, his heart changed.
 
He started back to church. He chose to partake of the sacrament willingly and worthily. He again obtained a temple recommend and accepted a call to serve as an early-morning seminary teacher, where he was wonderfully successful. And now, after five years, he has, at his own request and with the Church’s considerable assistance, reentered the mission field to complete his service to the Lord. I have wept over the courage, integrity, and determination of this young man and his family to work things out and to help him keep his faith. He knows he owes much to many, but he knows he owes the most to two messianic figures in his life, two who bore him and carried him, labored with him and delivered him—his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his determined, redemptive, absolutely saintly mother.

I know that many mothers strongly dislike mother's day. They feel like they do not measure up. I thought that comparing mothers to Jesus might do this even more.  So I shared this story from Brad Wilcox's BYU Devotional in July 2011, "His Grace Is Sufficient"

A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you? 
 
She said, “I just don’t get grace.”
 
I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
 
She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
 
She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.
 
She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”
 
She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.
 
Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
 
Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
 
She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.
 
I said, “Wrong.”
 
She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”
 
I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”
 
She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”
 
“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”
 
Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20).
 
“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”
 
“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”

I was very emotional sharing my talk. I often feel like I am lacking before the Lord. I did not share it, but this same Brad Wilcox talk has what I call the parable of the piano practice. All I have to do is practice, practice, practice. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Friendship and Ministering

As I asked our children and my nieces what was their favorite part of their Millennial Choirs and Orchestras performance weekend. Many of them said that they liked being around their friends.

It made me think about how good a friend I am those that are closest to me. I thought of ministering. How if we minister in the way the Lord did, we become friends. Jesus was friends with Mary and Martha and Lazarus.

When ministering in the church I thought of 3 needs that people have.
1. Being nourished by the good word of God. Being strengthened, encouraged, nurtured.
2. Being needed. People want to know that they have something to contribute that would be missing if they were.
3. Being wanted.

This fits in with friendship. We want to be uplifted by our friendship. We want to feel that we contribute meaningfully. We want to be wanted.

What can I do this week to be a better friend?

Friday, April 27, 2018

What are my abilities? What is my response to those abilities?

https://youtu.be/teUd1GB8kgU

Define responsibility.

What do we do when someone makes choices we don’t agree with?


From "Doctrinal Mastery Book Of Mormon Teacher Material" Commandments Exercise 2.

--
Read the following scenario aloud:

Imagine that during a conversation with some of your classmates at school, one of them criticizes you for your religious beliefs. When you try to respond, the person doesn’t really listen and criticizes you even more. You are hurt by the criticism, feel angry inside, and say something unkind in return. Afterward, you regret what happened and begin to wonder if you should just try to hide your religious beliefs from others in the future.

handout icon
Organize students into small groups of two or three, and give each student a copy of the following handout. Explain that the handout will help them consider how to apply the three principles of Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge in situations like the one you read. Ask the students to work in their groups to complete this activity.

 handout, Practice Exercise
How can I stand firm in the gospel truths I believe in and show love for others whose beliefs are different than mine?

Discuss how you could respond to the question above by using the principles and questions outlined below:

Act in faith:

If you were asking that question, what are some ways you could act in faith?

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

How can you seek to have an eternal perspective when interacting with people you may disagree with or are difficult for you to love? Why do you think this is important to do?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

How could the doctrine taught in Moroni 7:45, 47–48 help you know how to respond to the question?

What other scriptures or teachings of prophets and other Church leaders could help you find answers to this question?

If students need help identifying additional divinely appointed sources that can help them answer the question on the handout, consider referring them to Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s October 2014 general conference talk, “Loving Others and Living with Differences” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 25–28).

After students have had sufficient time to complete this activity, invite a few students to share with the class what they discussed.

You may want to conclude this exercise by reading the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles aloud:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
“Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world. …

“Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 8–9).

Testify of the importance of loving others, even as we stand up for our beliefs. Invite students to ponder how they will seek to use what they learned in this exercise to defend the gospel truths they believe in a loving and Christlike way.
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See also "Dallin H Oaks: What do we do when someone makes choices we don’t agree with?"
https://youtu.be/ZyU4lf7ZmBo

What are we creating in our relationships?

We create our own heaven or hell in our relationships (or somewhere in between).

Am I making our dreams come true? Or are they nightmares?

https://youtu.be/YoFJgLmbYZE

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Don’t throw away the jewels you do have"

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Some of you struggle with certain doctrines or practices of the Church, past or present; they just don’t quite seem to fit for you. I say, so what? That’s okay. You’re still young. Be patient, but be persistent. Keep studying them, thinking about them, and praying about them. Everyone has questions. I suppose even the prophets themselves had and have some questions. But don’t throw away the jewels you do have in the meantime. Hold on to them; build on them. 
Did you know that the two greatest intellectual achievements of the first half of the last century, the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, are in some points in conflict with each other? They cannot both be right in every detail. These are not my words but the words of Stephen Hawking, the great British physicist. Yet scientists rely on both of these theories every day to advance scientific knowledge, knowing that someday the differences will be understood, reconciled, and corrected. (“Prophetic Priorities”, Richard G. Hinckley, May 15, 2007, BYU Devotional)
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This college professor gives her students extra credit for going on dates




From "This college professor gives her students extra credit for going on dates", Lisa Bonos, April 16, Washington Post.
About 12 years ago, Boston College philosophy professor Kerry Cronin added an unorthodox task to her syllabus: Ask someone out on a date, where there will be no alcohol or physical contact. 
Sounds far easier than a research paper, right? A lot more fun, too. 
But when Cronin first gave this assignment, she says her students talked a lot about asking someone out but didn’t follow through. (Later, she tweaked the assignment to give a two-week deadline.) “I realized at that point that the social script of dating was really long gone,” Cronin said over the phone recently. Because hookup culture has become so dominant on college campuses, Cronin says, going on a date has become “a weirdly countercultural thing to do.”

“If we don’t try, we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?”


https://youtu.be/lLmH-ie-XBI?t=7m13s



"From the movie Shenandoah come the spoken words which inspire: 'If we don’t try, we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?'" ("They Pray and They Go", Thomas S. Monson, Apr 2002)

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