Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Now Get Up

There are times in my life that I think that I am able to do what the Lord says I can do. To be what he says I can become.

I love the part in the New Testament where Peter goes out onto the water to meet Jesus. When they saw him on the water Jesus said, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid". Peter replied, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." Peter demonstrated his faith. Because he did, he was able to do incredible things.

More than stopping bullets and walking on water, if we have faith we can do greater works. To be able to persuade other independent agents to experiment on the word of God. We can love them. We can demonstrate the power and life and joy of living according to the carpenter of Nazareth. That is more powerful than walking on water because we are able to inspire an individual will to decide to change their heart. To allow the Lord to enter into them and make them a changed creature.

But in order for me to do that, I have to remain in the Lord. The longer I remain steadfast and immovable I can be a sharper tool for the Lord. I have to live in balance. I have to do the urgent and important things that keep me nourished and sane. Able to see things for what they really are. I ask the Lord to help me remember the plain road. The simple and easy things that I can do every day to keep me in His path. That open my possibilities to do all He has asked me to do and to be.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Honor People's Agency

Three principles that will help influence others for good.
Be persistent.
Be patient.
Let the person act as an agent. Don't be constantly acting upon the person as if they were an object. Some people misunderstand agency. They say, "well they have their agency. They can do what they want." Elder Bednar says this is a misunderstanding of agency.

I'll Run to My Shepherds' Side

Next Time 

Lyrics ("The Garden" by Michael McLean & Bryce Neubert. Arrangements by Greg Hansen & Dan Waldis, Sheet Music, CD)

You may think life is hard
Just because you haven't grown.
You should stay right where you are,
It's much harder up here on your own.

You can lose your way so quick
Danger awaits every turn.
Trapped inside this brush so thick
And wondering what you've learned.

The next time I think
I can stray from the fold,
I'll remember the fix
That I'm in right now.
The next time I wink
At a truth I've been told,
I'll stop in my tracks somehow.

The next time I act
Like I know it all,
The memory of this
Will come rushing in.
And when I look back
I will always recall
Just how big a fool I've been

Next time I won't get lost.
Next time I'll see the signs.
Safe in the shepherd's footsteps
And never too far behind.

Next time I won't get caught
In this tangled web of mine.
But I'm filled with fear
As night's drawing near,
There may never be next time.

The next time I'm loved
No, I won't run away
To some secret place
Where I can hide.
The next time I'm called
At the end of the day
I'll run to my shepherds' side.

Next time I won't get lost.
Next time I'll see the signs.
Safe in my shepherd's footsteps
And never too far behind.

Next time I won't get caught
In this tangled web of mine.
But I'm filled with fear
As night's drawing near
There may never be next time.

To have a Personal, Private Spiritual Experience

Elder Todd B Hansen was the visiting area authority at our stake conference recently. At one point in his talk to us he had the 12-18 year olds stand up. He asked them what they thought was the single most important thing that would keep them converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What would nurture the seeds of testimony? He didn't give the answer right away. He said that the church had spend considerable amounts of time and effort researching this question.

The answer was to have a personal, private spiritual experience. To do whatever it took to have the spirit of the Lord wash over them. What kind of things helps prompt that? Praying with real intent. Intent to follow what the Spirit tells you to do. Write it down. Have these experiences over and over. It gives us power over temptation.

It reminds me of this quote,
When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:151). (Quoted in Chapter 7: The Holy Ghost, Gospel Principles, (2011), 31–33)
It is important to note that not every experience with the Holy Ghost leaves an indelible impression. I have had some such experiences. More often than not, my experience with the Holy Ghost is like a portion of oil for my lamp. Over time you can see the results of my experiences. A full resevoir that can be drawn upon when needed.

I know others that have not felt the emotional manifestations of the Spirit. They experience it more as a clarity of mind.

It is important to recognize that many people experience the Holy Ghost in different ways. But it is vital that we become able to recognize the influence of God in our lives.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Am

I am not my depression
I am not my stretch marks
or any other part of my declining body or mind.

I am a son of Heavenly Parents.
They know me in my heart and my divine potential.
They know my pain and my heartache.
They know my missteps and my surrenders to sin.
They love me anyways.

They love me enough to let me choose.
Let me learn the hard way.

Yet they always beckon through their Firstborn. The Anointed One.
The great I AM.

Jesus came to earth to show me. To run to me when I call with
    a sincere heart with intent to follow.
Because I am done with the self-inflicted pain.
I am done with dangerous detours.

Let my heart be satisfied in the path the Lord leads me in.
To move inch by inch, mile by mile to where He is.

Not just a place but a way of being.
With only the inclination to do good to be good.
Willing to sacrifice all my sins.
Step by step, He leads me.
To freedom from the shackles.
To greater capacity to do good.

I am not my sins. I am not the desolation of the Fall.
I am a son of Divine Heavenly Parents.
They will guide me to where they are.
To live a life like them.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Missionary Discussions (1985)

The following is from a web page of a BYU faculty member on what the missionary discussions where about from about 1985 until Preach My Gospel was introduced in 1999.(

What do the missionary discussions teach?

In order to become a member of the LDS Church, generally one must go through a series of 6 lessons, or "discussions" with church missionaries. (There are another 6 lessons after one becomes a member.) Most of the discussions contain a "commitment", or challenge, for the interested party. This is consistent with Christ's statement in the Bible (John 7:16-17) "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

The 6 discussions go something like this:

1st Discussion- very basic intro to Mormon views on God, Jesus, some information on Joseph Smith, specifically his First Vision, and an introduction to the Book of Mormon (with a challenge to read some and pray to ask God if it is true).

2nd Discussion- more details on the mission of Jesus (how he overcame death and sin for us), gospel basics such as faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and a challenge to be baptized.

3rd Discussion- more on Joseph Smith, and the Restoration (restoration of divine authority, as well as restoration of the church), and a challenge to visit the local church services.

4th Discussion- The Mormon view on the purpose of life, called "The Plan of Salvation". This includes doctrine about the pre-Earth life, reasons why we are here, and what we have to look forward to in the hereafter. One focus is on the proper use of our physical bodies, and challenges to live by the Law of Chastity (no sexual immorality) and the Word of Wisdom (certain substances are proscribed) are issued.

5th Discussion- More about becoming Christ-like. An emphasis is placed on overcoming our natural selfish tendencies. Fasting is taught, with a challenge to follow the monthly fast, as well as donating "fast offerings", which are typically the monetary equivalent of the meals skipped during the fast, used to help the needy. Tithing is taught, with a challenge to live the law of tithing after joining the church.

6th Discussion- Teaches about the "three missions of the church" (perfecting the Saints, proclaiming the gospel, and redeeming the dead), and reviews the commitments required for baptism.

This version of the missionary discussions was put into place around 1985, I think. As mentioned, it is very much geared towards "commitments", or the policy of "try it-- you'll like it!"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Understanding the Importance of Scripture Study

From "Understanding the Importance of Scripture Study", Elder David A. Bednar, Ricks College Devotional, January 6, 1998, mp3, video.

"The word ponder means to consider, to contemplate, to reflect upon, or to think about. The process of pondering takes time and cannot be forced, hurried, or rushed. As described by Nephi in the verses we just read, pondering is very much related to our covenant responsibility to 'always remember him." 

"the scriptural treasures we seek in our lives cannot be borrowed or loaned or obtained second-hand. We must each learn to open the vault door by applying the principle of work."

Monday, February 16, 2015

What is Moral Agency?

From Connor Boyack
Agency requires three things: options to choose from, freedom to choose, and consequence for the choice. Like a three-legged stool, agency can be weakened or destroyed (in theory) by attacking any one of the three.

Doctrines, Principles, and Applications

Brother Barber from our bishopric taught the deacons quorum today. I was impressed by the following quotes from Elder Bednar. I used this presentation to collect them

Doctrines, Principles, and Applications are the Why, What and How of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A gospel doctrine is a truth—a truth of salvation revealed by a loving Heavenly Father. Gospel doctrines are eternal, do not change, and pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of Heavenly Father's sons and daughters... Gospel doctrines answer the question of "why?" (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, (2011) p. 151-152, 154, quoted at
A gospel principle is a doctrinally based guideline for the righteous exercise of moral agency. Principles are subsets or components of broader gospel truths. Principles provide direction. Correct principles always are based upon and arise from doctrines, do not change, and answer the question of "what?" (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, (2011) p. 154-155, quoted at
Applications are the actual behaviors, action steps, practices, or procedures by which gospel doctrines and principles are enacted in our lives.  Whereas, doctrines and principles do not change, application appropriately can vary according to needs and circumstances.  Applications answer the question of “how?”  (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning” pg. 156, quoted at KeyStoneEducation)
Somehow we seem to be drawn to applications as the primary way to "fix" things, to make life better, to be "doers of the word," to achieve desired outcomes, and to help the Church operate effectively. And far too often we emphasize applications without the necessary understanding and divorced from the doctrinal context. We may focus on applications because we like to believe and feel like we are in control, because we have confidence in our own experience and expertise-"the arm of flesh" (2 Nephi 4:34)-or because we are only doing what we have seen other teachers and leaders do. We may think as we serve in a quorum or auxiliary, "I am going to make this happen; I am going to manage this the right way." We all would do well to remember that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Church, and He is able to do His own work (2 Nephi 27:20). (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, quoted at
Whatever the reasons, emphasizing applications to the exclusion of fundamental doctrines and principles does not produce spiritual power, protection, and direction.  (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, quoted at

"the answers always are in the doctrines and principles of the gospel" (Increase in Learning, p. xv, quoted at,

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Alma 31:5)