Personal Online Journal

Friday, December 09, 2011

I've always been able to count on you

At 17:08 in the video Mr Willie Krueger imagines himself visiting the baby Jesus in the manger.
I'm Willy Krueger and I'm custodian over at the Beck Apartments, but, but you know that, don't you. You know that. I guess nobody here can see me or hear me except you. I didn't bring a gift, I, but I, I guess that's not important. Thank you for everything you've done for me. As long as I can remember you've been right by my side. I'll never forget when you walked with me right in those first few hours after I lost Martha. I-I've always been able to count on you, when I felt dark inside and when I... You were right there, right, every time, right there. Even when I didn't feel good about myself, I knew that you cared for me enough, and that, that made me feel better. Like that time I got mad with Mabel Huntington because she broke her pipes on purpose just so she could have somebody to see while I came up and fixed them for her. Boy, I hollered at her, boy I hollered real loud. But then, then I got to thinking - you loved Mabel just as much as you loved me and I should treat her the way you want me to. I believe I talked to you about that at the time. Well, I started visiting her and we became friends. I saw her almost every day until the day she died. I love you. You're my closest, my finest friend. And that means that I can hold my head high, wherever I go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Emphasis added)
At the end
'Narrator: "I love you." That's what Christmas is all about... Clarissa said it to Mr. Krueger; Mr. Krueger said it to Jesus; and Jesus in so many ways said it to all of us.'

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Something in the Way She Moves

There are a couple of James Taylor songs that sum up how I feel about my wife and her soul saving influence in my life. I am so grateful for her love, patience and example of unwearied diligence. "She has the power to go where no one else can find me and to silently remind me of the happiness and the good times that I know"

Something In The Way She Moves
Something in the way she moves, or looks my way, or calls my name
that seems to leave this troubled world behind.
And if I'm feeling down and blue or troubled by some foolish game,
she always seems to make me change my mind..

And I feel fine anytime she's around me now, she's around me now almost about all the time.
And if I'm well you can tell she's been with me now.
She's been with me now quite a long, long time and I feel fine.

Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning
and I find myself careening in places where I should not let me go.
She has the power to go where no one else can find me and to silently remind me
of the happiness and the good times that I know, and then I just got to go then.

It isn't what she's got to say but how she thinks and where she's been.
To me, the words are nice, the way they sound.
I like to hear them best that way, it doesn't much matter what they mean.
she says them mostly just to calm me down

And I feel fine anytime she's around me now, she's around me now almost about all the time.
And if I'm well you can tell she's been with me now.
She's been with me now quite a long, long time and I feel fine.

Mean Old Man
On my own
How could I have known?
Imagine my surprise
Just a fool
From a tree full of fools
Who can't believe his eyes
Imagine my surprise

I was a mean old man
I was an ornery cuss
I was a dismal dan
I made an awful fuss
Ever since my life began
Man, it was ever thus
I was a nasty tyke who was hard to like

I had to misbehave
I did things in reverse
Refused to wash or shave
I was horrid to my nurse
I got back what I gave
Which only made me worse
I had to have my way
Which was bleak and gray, oh dear

Living in here
One hundred years of rain
Such a drag
This riches to rags
With just myself to blame
A dirty low-down shame

Silly me
Silly old me
Somewhere outside my mind
Clever you
Walking me through
Willing to lead the blind
Just in the nick of time

Who gets a second chance?
Who gets to have some fun?
Who gets to learn to dance
Before his race is run?
Who gets to she'd his skin?
Who comes up born again?
Who was a mean old man
'til you turned him into a golden retriever
Puppy dog
Who's a good boy?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't demand things that are unreasonable

"Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don't demand things that are unreasonable. But, demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference." ("Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them" Elder Russell M. Nelson shares a personal story to give encouragement for when we feel "weak in the heart.")

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unrestrained Bluntness

I have had some interactions online that immediately came to mind when I read this comment.

"So many people think unrestrained bluntness is the ideal simply because it is honest - not realizing that honesty can be expressed in numerous ways. Sometimes boldness is necessary - but sometimes, though true, it is cruel, lazy and cowardly." Papa D

Yielding to the Enticings

When I woke up this morning it was clear what I was to do.  

I had been angry with my son when I hit him with the pillow. I didn't realize it at the time but I was upset when he made that noise while I was reading the scriptures. The noise I could barely hear. When I asked if him if he was making noise, he just smiled like he thought it was funny. My thought was that he was not showing me respect and I was upset. Then when he was messing around with his brother and threw the pillow at him, I acted without thinking. I picked up a pillow and hit him with it.  I did it in anger, to force him to submit to me.  

So I was angry with my son. I wanted him to submit to me before he made the noise. To not do it in the first place.  I didn't not want him playing fun when I was reading scriptures. I was upset when he pointed out that I was angry and that I should be setting the example. I was stewing last night.  

I apologized to my son in the car before we left this morning. I let him know that it was not OK for me to be angry even if I felt that I was being disrespected by my son. I also let him know that the right thing to do if you do get angry is to admit what you did wrong and apologize. If it happens one to one, then you apologize one to one. If it happens in public, you apologize in public. I said I was planning to apologize when our family was together again tonight.

It was this scripture that helped me to recognize my fault and what I was to do to be reconciled.
D&C 42:88-93
 88 And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.
 89 And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.
 90 And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many.
 91 And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God.
 92 If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.
 93 And thus shall ye conduct in all things.

I also thought of this scripture, Mosiah 3:19. Am I to submit to the Lord because He is an angry God? Because I am afraid of what my punishment will be? Or because I am afraid that He might be angry with magma simmering just underneath the surface? 

No that is not right. It is not the way God is. If I am to have the respect of my children, I am to model the behavior of my perfect Father in Heaven. God may reprove betimes with sharpness but not because He loses his temper. Because he gives correction at the time when it will be received best. He does it with the sharpness or exactness of the Spirit.  In a way where we will only receive it if we are willing to listen.  

Then I have received the challenge from the Holy Ghost to change. To turn my face to God. To turn to the better way. To leave behind anger and all its chains. It is because God loves me and is willing to reason with me to teach me the ways of happiness that I have the respect I have for God. I love Him because His first loved me. He loves me enough to correct me in a timely and uplifting way.


Friday, October 14, 2011

The difference between confessional belief and convictional belief

Here is a good essay on the difference between confessional belief and convictional belief.  The following gives a good taste of it.
I’ve never heard my dad preach about the importance of self-reliance. Rather, he simply invested in several years worth of food storage and water, planted a garden and an orchard, purchased chickens, and learned how to care for bees. 
I’ve never heard my dad sermonize about caring for the elderly. Rather, he simply invited his mother-in-law to live in his house, spent hours remodeling the bathroom so she could more comfortably use it, remodeled her bedroom to give her more space, and is currently building a ramp so that she can drive her wheelchair into the backyard and enjoy the outdoors.

What Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ

I just came across an article that describes in detail what Mormons believe about Jesus Christ.  To me it is a comprehensive and accurate essay of my beliefs of Christ, though a little academic.

It is "excerpts ...taken from an address to the Harvard Divinity School in March 2001 by Robert L. Millet, former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University"

The money quote from the article,
Given the challenges we face in our society — fatherless homes, child and spouse abuse, divorce, poverty, spreading crime and delinquency — it seems so foolish for men and women who believe in God, whose hearts and lives have been surrendered to that God, to allow doctrinal differences to prevent them from working together.

On how we differ from traditional Christianity about Jesus Christ.
In an effort to satisfy the accusations of Jews who denounced the notion of three Gods (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) as polytheistic, and at the same time incorporate ancient but appealing Greek philosophical concepts of an all-powerful moving force in the universe, the Christian church began to redefine the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One classic work describes the intersection of Christian theology and Greek philosophy: “It is impossible for any one, whether he be a student of history or no, to fail to notice a difference of both form and content between the sermons on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. … The one belongs to a world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers. … The religion which our Lord preached ... took the Jewish conception of a Father in heaven, and gave it a new meaning.” In short, “Greek Christianity of the fourth century was rooted in Hellenism. The Greek minds which had been ripening for Christianity had absorbed new ideas and new motives.”[i] 
What is the result? Such Platonic concepts as the immutability, impassibility and timelessness of God made their way into Christian theology. As one group of Evangelical scholars has stated: “Many Christians experience an inconsistency between their beliefs about the nature of God and their religious practice. For example, people who believe that God cannot change his mind sometimes pray in ways that would require God to do exactly that. And Christians who make use of the free will defense for the problem of evil sometimes ask God to get them a job or a spouse, or keep them from being harmed, implying that God should override the free will of others in order to achieve these ends. ... 
“These inharmonious elements are the result of the coupling of biblical ideas about God with notions of the divine nature drawn from Greek thought. The inevitable encounter between biblical and classical thought in the early church generated many significant insights and helped Christianity evangelize pagan thought and culture. Along with the good, however, came a certain theological virus that infected the Christian doctrine of God, making it ill and creating the sorts of problems mentioned above. The virus so permeates Christina theology that some have come to take the illness for granted, attributing it to divine mystery, while others remain unaware of the infection altogether.” [Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker and David Basinger, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downer Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1994), 9–10.]
A quote given from Joseph Smith in the article.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible that the Lord should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion that I should say ‘for the salvation of his creatures in these last days’ since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word [the Bible] which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient or Abraham. … Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of [God’s] approbation in the sight of heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him. … I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in the ancient days were saved in the kingdom of God. … I may believe that Enoch walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. … And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries as soon [as] he ever did to theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did? Or is he a respecter of persons? (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 297–301; spelling and punctuation corrected.)
 I loved the story of the beginning of the dialog Robert Millet has had with evangelical Christians.
A number of years ago a colleague and I traveled with two Evangelical Christian friends to another part of the country to meet with a well-known theologian, author and pastor/teacher in that area. We had read several of his books and had enjoyed his preaching over the years. As a part of an outreach effort to better understand those of other faiths (and to assist them to understand us a little better), we have visited such institutions as Notre Dame, Catholic University, Baylor, Wheaton College and various religious colleges and seminaries. We met this particular pastor and then attended his church services on both Sunday morning and Sunday evening and in both meetings were impressed with the depth and inspiration of his preaching. 
The next day we met for lunch and had a wonderful two-hour doctrinal discussion. I explained that we had no set agenda, except that we had admired his writings and wanted to meet him. We added that we had several questions we wanted to pose in order to better understand Evangelical theology. I mentioned that as the dean of religious education (at that time), I oversaw the teaching of religion to some 30,000 young people at Brigham Young University and that I felt it would be wise for me to be able to articulate properly the beliefs of our brothers and sisters of other faiths. I hoped, as well, that they might make the effort to understand our beliefs so as to represent accurately what we teach. 
Early in our conversation the minister said something like: “Look, anyone knows there are big difference between us. But I don’t want to focus on those differences. Let’s talk about Christ.” We then discussed the person of Jesus, justification by faith, baptism, sanctification, salvation, heaven, hell, agency and predestination, premortal existence and a number of other fascinating topics. We compared and contrasted, we asked questions and we answered questions. In thinking back on what proved to be one of the most stimulating and worthwhile learning experiences of our lives, the one thing that characterized our discussion, and the one thing that made the biggest difference, was the mood that existed there — a mood of openness, candor and a general lack of defensiveness. We knew what we believed, and we were all committed to our own religious tradition. But we were eager to learn where the other person was coming from.
Jesus is the "prototype of all saved beings, the standard of salvation" see Lectures on Faith, 7:9

How should we react to those who do not consider us Christian?
Knowing what I know, feeling what I feel and having experienced what I have in regard to the person and power of the Savior, it is difficult for me to be patient and loving toward those who denounce me as a non-Christian. But I am constrained to do so in the spirit of Him who also was misunderstood and misrepresented. While it would be a wonderful thing to have others acknowledge our Christianity, we do not court favor nor will we compromise our distinctiveness.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"through Christ which strengtheneth me"

Here is a good lesson from "Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement" by Stephen E. Robinson May 29, 1990. (mp3)
Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection drives us to despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice portion of the gospel that says he can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about ten years ago. My wife and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well; I'd been promoted. It was a good year for us, though a trying year for Janet. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the CPA exam, and was made Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, we had family home evening. I was in the bishopric. I thought we were headed for "LDS yuppiehood." Then one night the lights went out. Something happened in my wife that I can only describe as "dying spiritually." She wouldn't talk about it; she wouldn't tell me what was wrong. That was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things. She asked to be released from her callings, and she would not open up and tell me what was wrong. 
Finally, after about two weeks, one night I made her mad and it came out. She said, "All right. You want to know what's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong. I can't do it anymore. I can't lift it. I can't get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society stuff and get my genealogy done and write the congressman and go to the PTA meetings and write the missionaries . . ." And she just started naming one brick after another that had been laid on her, explaining all the things she could not do. She said, "I don't have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can't do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control, and I do. I'm just not perfect, and I'm not ever going to be perfect. I'm not going to make it to the celestial kingdom, and I've finally admitted that to myself. You and the kids can go, but I can't lift it. I'm not 'Molly Mormon,' and I'm not ever going to be perfect, so I've given up. Why break my back?"
This is one of my favorite talks ever.  It brings me hope.  I came to recognize that the Savior is called this because he saves.  Robinson uses a funny illustration, "What good is it to have a savior if no one is saved? It's like having a lifeguard that won't get out of the chair. 'There goes another one down. Try the backstroke! Oh, too bad, he didn't make it.' "

I particularly like the analogy of a merger.  Me as a bankrupt small business and the Savior as a large corporation with much assets.  We merge and my liabilities merge with His assets and together we are solvent.  The merging is the covenant he uses another analogy that fits even better, Marriage.
He proposes to us a covenant relationship. I use the word "propose" on purpose because it is a marriage of a spiritual sort that is being proposed. That is why he is called the Bridegroom. This covenant relationship is so intimate that it can be described as a marriage. I become one with Christ, and as partners we work together for my salvation and my exaltation. My liabilities and his assets flow into each other. I do all that I can do, and he does what I cannot yet do. The two of us together are perfect.
I love the Savior.  I know that I am ever in need of His help.  As I work the plan of His proposal I overcome the effects of sin.  If I fall and stumble, He is there for me, if I will allow the covenant relationship to work.  If I allow Him to help me to save me from the less than good in me.

Update:  I changed the title of this post from "I can't do it" to "through Christ which strengtheneth me" from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".  I like focusing on the positive the reality of what my covenant relationship with Christ enables.  Not the inaccurate negative of the original title.  I used the original title because surrender to God is so important.

See also parable of the piano

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"three things are necessary"

From the Lectures on Faith 3:2-5:
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God, unto life and salvation:
First, the idea that he actually exists.
Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.
I have quoted this passage many times on my blog.  It is center to my faith and walk with God.

"Today I will be a follower of Jesus Christ"

"Today I will be a follower of Jesus Christ"

It is this quote from Richard Bushman that caused me to write about him today.  He has been called the "Mormon Explainer".  And I really liked the way he responded to a question about The Book of Mormon musical on broadway, "'The Book of Mormon' is like looking into a fun-house mirror; the reflection is hilarious but not really you"

Deseret News recently wrote and article about Bushman.  I recommend it to you. "Being a Mormon in a Mormon Moment"

Friday, September 09, 2011

"the great question which is in your minds"

What is the great question? 
"whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ" Alma 34:5

Amulek goes on to say that Alma, his teaching companion along with Zenos, Zenoch and Moses had "proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation."

He then goes on to teach and testify from his own witness.  Before going on to teach of the proper use of prayer he ends with this.
14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

 15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

 16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

 17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

This is such a powerful testimony to me of Christ.  Such clarity that I have found about the doctrine of the fall, of justice and mercy and grace and exercising faith unto repentance.  What a gift!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Come Unto Christ

Over the last 24 hours it seems like a message has been coming through.

Last night as we read as a family, "And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God." Ether 12:18

This morning as I read I came across this, "my brother has proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation" Alma 34:6

As I drove to work this morning I saw this on a window of a car next to me.  The reverence and submission to God touched me.  It made me think of the "I am a Mormon" campaign that will be starting in my home town soon.  It made me think of what I would put on my car.  The bumper sticker I came up with was one with the words "Come unto Christ".  To me is it filled with hope, challenge and healing.

The phrase "Come unto Christ" appears 4 times in the Book of Mormon and once in the Doctrine and Covenants.  It is in this message that my hope has grown.  I am invited as Nathanael, come and see.  He pleads with me to look and live.  As I offer up my whole soul unto Him, I am changed.  I become, inch by inch, what I most want to become, a son of God.  A son by adoption, through His blood.
And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. (Omni 1:26)
What greater message is there?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inspirational Quotes

Added Nov 2018

"The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today." (Harold B. Lee, “Chapter 4: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2011), 27–36)

Added Aug 2015
"Yes, Armageddon lies ahead. But so does Adam-ondi-Ahman!"
(“O, Divine Redeemer”, Neal A. Maxwell, Oct 1981)

Told to John Taylor before he was baptized. 

"Now, we have nothing particular to promise you, only the favor of God if you will live righteously and keep His commandments. You may be persecuted, afflicted, imprisoned or put to death for the testimony you may have to bear, for the religion you are called upon to obey; but we can promise to you that inasmuch as this is the case you will have eternal life." ("
Chapter 4: Obedience, a Sacred Duty", Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, (2011), 30–37)

Added Jul 2015
“It takes less courage to end your life in a burst of glory than to face the mistakes you’ve made and start over.” 
Lynn Austin, Fire by Night

“If you go to bed at 10:00 and get up by 6:00 a.m., things will work out for you.”
Gordon B. Hinckley, in Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (1996), 166–67, As quoted in "Filled with Life and Energy" By Randal A. Wright

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

Added Apr 2015
"So many honorable individuals in the world do so much without what we, as members, call gospel fulness, while some of us, unfortunately, do so little with so much!" (“From the Beginning”, Neal A. Maxwell, Oct 1993)

Added Mar 2015
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.


Added Feb 2015
"The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives, if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: 'Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.' Opportunities to do so are all around us. Do not miss them by waiting too long on the road to Damascus." ("Waiting on the Road to Damascus", Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Apr 2011)

"When you pick up a stick at one end, you also pick up the other end" (As they say in Zanzibar, David Crystal, as found at

St. Augustine said “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

Added Jan 2015
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” (C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man)

Added Dec 2014

"Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!" ("Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority", Richard G. Scott, Oct 2014)

What more can I do to "be persuaded to do good continually"? (Ether 8:26)

"Unlike most other religious denominations, within the LDS Church the higher one's educational attainment, the more likely one is to remain religiously active." ("The LDS Church Is Anti-Intellectualism but Not Anti-Intelligence: The Importance of Light and Truth", Ray DeGraw, Dec 2014)

"When results are recorded, results improve. When they are recorded and reported they increase even more." (Paraphrased from a talk Elder Quincy Wilson gave on Sun Dec 28, 2014, he was a missionary that served in my ward. )

Added Nov 2014
"I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves." (Brigham Young, “Sermon,” Deseret News, Oct. 31, 1855, 267; quoted in Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens, The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith (2014), 63. quoted by D. Todd Christofferson, "Free Forever, to Act for Themselves", Oct 2014)

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Joseph Smith Jr. History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 30)

Added Oct 2014
"To determine if something is good you should be willing to look at it from the perspective of others." (an online friend)

'The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church. Why? Because decisions of these leaders must be unanimous. (D&C 107:27) Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached! They are committed to see that the Lord’s will truly will be done. The Lord’s Prayer provides the pattern for each of these 15 men when they pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." ("Sustaining the Prophets", Russell M. Nelson, Oct 2014)'

"Adulation is a disease I fight every day" (Gordon B. Hinckley, circa 1998)

"In this matter of counterfeit intimacy and deceptive gratification, I express particular caution to the men who hear this message. I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. What an unacceptable response to such a serious issue! What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of mature accountability, perhaps even pursue a university education and prepare to affect the future of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of the world, but yet does not have the mental capacity or the moral will to say, "I will not do that thing"? No, this sorry drugstore psychology would have us say, "He just can't help himself. His glands have complete control over his life--his mind, his will, his entire future." (Jeffery R Holland, "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments")

"The Savior empowers us with His grace, not because we've earned it, but because He loves us perfectly." Sheri Dew

"Even if there be no hereafter, I would live my time believing in a grand thing that ought to be true if it is not. No facts can take the place of truths, and if these be not truths, then is the loftiest part of our nature a waste. Let me hold by the better than the actual, and fall into nothingness off the same precipice with Jesus and John and Paul and a thousand more, who were lovely in their lives, and with their death make even the nothingness into which they have passed like the garden of the Lord. I will go further, Polwarth, and say, I would rather die for evermore believing as Jesus believed, than live for evermore believing as those that deny him." (Fiona Givens personal creed. Taken from a George MacDonald book.)

Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience. I have now found out why. There are two things in every Temple: mechanics, to set forth certain ideals, and symbolism, what those mechanics symbolize. I saw only the mechanics when I first went through the Temple. I did not see the spiritual. I did not see the symbolism of spirituality. Speaking plainly, I saw men, physical state, which offended me. That is a mechanic of washing…. I was blind to the great lesson of purity behind the mechanics. I did not hear the message of the Lord, “By ye clean who bear the vessels of the Lord.” I did not hear that eternal truth, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” The symbolism was lost entirely…. And so with the anointing, following the washing. Do you see the symbolism?… How many of us young men saw that? We thought we were big enough and with intelligence sufficient to criticize the mechanics of it and we were blind to the symbolism, the message of the spirit. And then that great ordinance, the endowment. The whole thing is simple in the mechanical part of it, but sublime and eternal in its significance. (Address delivered by David O. McKay at the dedicatory services of the additions to the Arizona Temple, Mesa, Arizona, December 30, 1956, David O. McKay Scrapbooks #162)

Added Sep 2014
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Ana├»s Nin)

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Just as meekness is in all our virtues, so is pride in all our sins”
(Neal A. Maxwell, "Meek and Lowly", Oct 1986)

Added Mar 2014
"Be excellent to each other." (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) )

Added Nov 2013
"Heaven is a place, but also a condition; it is home and family. It is understanding and kindness. It is interdependence and selfless activity. It is quiet, sane living; personal sacrifice, genuine hospitality, wholesome concern for others. It is living the commandments of God without ostentation or hypocrisy. It is selflessness. It is all about us. We need only to be able to recognize it as we find it and enjoy it. Yes, my dear brother, I’ve had many glimpses of heaven." ("Glimpses of Heaven", Spencer W. Kimball, Dec 1971)

Added Apr 2013
"Don't think your testimony is meaningless if you didn't have a dramatic conversion. Every conversion cost the same amount of Christ's blood shed on the cross...The determining factor is not how exciting your conversion was but how excited you are about your conversion." Beth Moore

Added May 2012
Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith, Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, p. 59, History of the Church, 5:23–24.)

Added Feb 2012
"Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Repentance", Oct 1991)

"Just as meekness is in all our virtues, so is pride in all our sins" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Meek and Lowly", Oct 1986)

"Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent" -unknown

Added Aug 2011
A Facebook friend of mine asked, "Your favorite/most inspiring quote. Go!"  Here are my favorites from among them.

If you do not quarrel, no one earth will be able to quarrel with you...Recompense injury with kindness...To those who are good I am good, and to those who are not good I am good; thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere I am sincere, and to those who are not sincere I am also sincere, and thus all get to be ...sincere...The softest thing in the world...overcomes the hardest.
-Lao Tze

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
--Socrates, as quoted by Plato in The Apology of Socrates

‎"From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, from the laziness that is content with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it has all truth-O God of Truth, deliver us." - Unknown

"We cannot be saved until we have risen above all our enemies, not the least of which is ignorance." - Joseph Smith

Learn to like what doesn't cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.
Learn to like people,
even though some of them may be different . . .
Different from you.
Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction
of doing your job as well as it can be done.
Learn to like the songs of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening,
puttering around the house, and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset,
the beating of rain on the roof and windows,
and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.
Learn to keep your wants simple and
refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.
--Lowell Bennion

 We are the music makers, and the dreamer of dreams. --willy wonka

From V for Vendetta:
Creedy: Die! Die! Why won't you die?... Why won't you die?
V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

You can't force people to approve of you, agree with you, be impressed with you, love you or even like you. Stop trying!...and Remember 3 things and save yourself lots of unneeded heartache: You're not God. This ain't heaven. Don't act like a jerk.- Fr. James Martin, SJ

"You can get a lot further with a kind word and a gun, than just a kind word" (The character of Al Capone in The Untouchables)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

‎"Question with boldness even the very existence of god. because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage to reason than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas Jefferson

‎"If the cosmos could create butterflies and Einstein's mind with a chemistry set that contained hydrogen, oxygen, sodium, and fewer than a gross of other elements, we may be able by mastering the elements of love to perform the alchemy that will change our lives from gross matter to gold." -Sam Keen

As I have loved you, love one another. - Jesus Christ

"It would seem that among those who vigorously pursue the life of the mind in particular, who are committed to the scholarly pursuit of knowledge and rational inquiry, faith is as often a casualty as it is a product. The call to faith is a summons to engage the heart, to attune it to resonate in sympathy with principles and values and ideals that we devoutly hope are true, and to have reasonable but not certain grounds for believing them to be true. I am convinced that there must be grounds for doubt as well as belief in order to render the choice more truly a choice—and, therefore, the more deliberate and laden with personal vulnerability and investment. The option to believe must appear on our personal horizon like the fruit of paradise, perched precariously between sets of demands held in dynamic tension. One is, it would seem, always provided with sufficient materials out of which to fashion a life of credible conviction or dismissive denial. We are acted upon, in other words, by appeals to our personal values, our yearnings, our fears, our appetites, and our egos. What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance." ~"Lightning Out of Heaven": Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community
Terryl Givens

"There is no victory without honor", from my son's history class in Sep 2011

"a religion which will not help a man in this life will not likely do much for him in the life to come" (Joseph F. Smith quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley Apr 2001 "The Perpetual Education Fund") From a FB friend Sep 2011

"The human soul, like a charioteer, must drive two horses as it progresses toward Heaven. The horses must work together or the chariot will just go round and round. …It would be unfortunate if either should outstretch the other. Over-emphasizing intellect to the neglect of spirituality, and over-emphasizing faith without the application of reason are both unworthy of practicing Latter-Day Saints. We cannot achieve spiritual excellence without intellectual rigor, and intellectual excellence is hollow without active spirituality. We need to have the spirit as we learn, and we need to have learning as we build faith. Working together, faith and intellect help us achieve the Latter-day Saint goal of eternal progression." (Reflections of a Mormon Historian p.229)

Here is what I posted, ‎"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" D&C 123:17

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Korihor's Philosophical Tapestry

I found a great series of posts that explains so much about this story in the Book of Mormon at  I was reading Alma 30 about Korihor who taught that "Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see".   I remembered reading something about it online and found this series.  I posted about an article he refers to in 2007.

I really like how he explains why Alma doesn't refute every claim Korihor makes.  He also explains why Korihor was arrested when it seems he is only exercising free speech.  He refers to "Candle of the Lord" by Boyd K Packer.  That has the story of trying to explain a testimony as trying to describe the taste of salt to someone who has never tasted it.

I loved the series.  I love this story in the Book of Mormon and the lessons I have gotten from it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Most Correct of Any Book

Joseph Smith is quoted in the introduction of the Book of Mormon, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

The way I see "most correct" is that it has teachings that will get a person nearer to God if they live by them than any other book.

I like the statement Moroni makes about mistakes in the Book of Mormon.
Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been. (Mor 9:31)

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Our family has been watching a TV series Merlin made by BBC.  It is so fun.  I don't remember anything that I felt uncomfortable with.

Our experience reminds me a little of A Thomas Jefferson Education.This is a book a friend of mine inspired me to buy.  The legend of Merlin is a classic.  This series definitely seems like a classic interpretation of the legend even if it does not follow many of the classic elements.

There are themes of courage, determination, patience, overcoming prejudice and more I am sure.  My wife already came up with an idea to challenge our children to find their quest.  And to write about it.

I am so excited.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Yearning for God

On Sunday my friend Bruce shared his testimony to our congregation.  There was a part that resonated with me. He talked about how he had left the church.  Later he had remarried.  He thought he should be happy.  Yet he felt a deep loneliness.  He described it as being because the Spirit had left him.

There have been a few times that I felt that.  I felt a yearning for God and a life God would bless.  For me these times serve as a warning.  That a life lived only for myself will ultimately be empty.  When I forget myself and serve others as I think God would, then the Holy Presence comes into my life.  Then I feel an abundance of life and love.  My Yearning has turned to Surrender.  Surrender to God and how I feel he wants me to live. Now it is only to practice those truths.  To work each day to keep the presence of the Spirit in my life and to serve the Savior of my soul.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down", Lyrics

It was this song by Johnny Cash that helped me remember that feeling I had and that I feel Bruce described.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Angels Envy Men

I love this quote from Hugh Nibley:

...above all the two things we can be good at, and no two other things can we do: We can forgive and we can repent. It's the gospel of repentance. We're told that the angels envy men their ability both to forgive and to repent, because they can't do either, you see. But nobody's very clever, nobody's very brave, nobody's very strong, nobody's very wise... We’re not tested on those things; but the things the angels envy us for, we can forgive and we can repent. So three cheers, let’s start repenting as of now.
(Emphasis is mine "The Faith of an Observer," 2 from Of All Things! Classic Quotations from Hugh Nibley by Gary P. Gillum, Film Documentary)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Giving Ourselves in Love

I read a good article today on the difference between covenants and contracts.  In it, Jeffrey Thayne points out that covenant is not a word in regular use today.  Sometimes an economic contract is used to try to explain what a covenant is.
A contract is formed when two parties, each with particular needs or wants, make an agreement to supply the other’s wants in exchange for their own... If conditions change significantly so that one member of the contract can no longer hold up their end of the deal, the agreement is dissolved.
One example he gives to contrast the meanings of covenant and contract is how I approach my marriage relationship.  If I am consumer-oriented or if I approach my marriage as primarily about personal fulfillment, I may take a 50-50 approach.  I expect my wife to contribute 50% and I the other half.  On the other hand, if I treat my marriage appropriately, as a covenant, I think of what I may do to serve her.  My focus is on her and not myself. I like the quote he gives from David Lapp:
In courting and choosing whom to marry, we would do well to focus on the person and to remind ourselves that marriage is about giving ourselves in love to another person, and not primarily about individual fulfillment. … Marriage isn’t necessarily a ticket to our own version of individual fulfillment. What if your future wife becomes severely paralyzed? What if your child has Down syndrome? I suspect we have not adequately wrapped our minds around the meaning of marriage until we have considered the possibility that at any moment, whether during the honeymoon or in mid-life or in old age, tragic circumstances could call us to give up almost everything—our dream career, our comfort, our “happiness” — for the sake of the beloved.
I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the phrase "But if not, … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up"*  Jeffery concisely put this principle as,
The only blessings that are unequivocally promised us in this lifetime for strict obedience are peace of conscience, companionship of the Spirit, and discernment.*
The sermon of King Benjamin describes very well how our covenant relationships are not always profitable.  There is something of a pay it forward principle that is not included in a strictly contractual relationship.

I covenant because I am grateful to God and his mercy and his generosity.  I trust that He will continue to bless me in His own time and in His own way to my eternal benefit.  I love the way Jeffrey closes.
When we truly understand the nature of a covenant, we will realize that the first solution to difficulties in our covenantal relationships is not renegotiation or even communication (which connotes a two-way contractual agreement). It is to realign our hearts towards service, compassion, commitment, forgiveness, and love. Each of these terms connote a one-way submission of the self to the Other, which is what I believe covenants are all about.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Emotional Bank Account

My good friend Buzzz shared this recently.  I don't want to forget it.

"For any relationship to succeed, five positive things need to be said to every one negative. There are NO exceptions!"

Another friend said that this particularly applies in conflict.  I have also heard it described as an emotional bank account.  You need to be focused on deposits and withdraw less.  Not that you use it as a score board.  Just thinking about what can I do to make this experience more meaningful and positive.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Learning to Hope

Steph and I met Mariama Kallon on our trip to Utah.  She is from Sierra Leone.  She told an incredible story from her life in Learning to Hope in the New Era of Nov 2006 pdf

It was a great reminder of how blessed I am with the security and clothes and home and food I have readily available to me.

Gratitude and Paying it Forward

A few years ago I watched Pay It Forward.  It has had a profound effect on my life.  In it, a boy growing up in a less than ideal situation is challenged by a grade school teacher on the first day of school with an assignment on how they would make the world a better place.  (Spoiler alert: I don't think the following spoils the movie but perhaps you may)

He takes the assignment to heart.  He decides to do something for three people that they cannot do for themselves.  Something that is meaningful to them.  When the person wants to pay them back, you have to tell them that they cannot pay it back.  You have to pay it forward.  The person is then challenged to so the same.  Pick three people and do something meaningful for them that they cannot do for themselves.  And the chain continues.

The boy only has a mom at home.  He finds a homeless, heroine addict and invites him to his home and feeds him.  The man sleeps in the bed of the truck in the garage.   His mom finds the man and just about shoots him with her shotgun.  The man ends up fixing up the truck for his mom.  The movie actually starts with a few of these meaningful acts of kindness.  At the beginning of the movie, a reporter has one of these things done to him.  The movie is about how the reporter traces these acts of kindness back to the boy.

To me this movie was a power story of the principles of gratitude and paying it forward.  I first learned of these principles from the sermon of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon.  One of the things he teaches his people is that all are beggars before God.  That He has granted us our life and that He blesses us when we obey His commandments.  He always blesses us. We are forever in His debt because of this.  We cannot pay him back.  The only way we can try to pay him pack is to pay it forward.  Bless the lives of those around us in meaningful ways.

It is one of the geniuses of the plan of salvation. God provided that we could live on earth where there is the opportunity to choose between good and evil.  When each of us (except Jesus) chooses evil we place ourselves in eternal jeopardy.  We separate ourselves spiritually from God.  It is only through the grace and power of God that we have the opportunity to accept His salvation.  His plan is the ultimate pay it forward story.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Law of Increasing Returns

I just listened to "A Law of Increasing Returns" by Henry B. Eyring.  It is a fireside talk he gave March 28, 1982. I love to hear him talk.  I have been touched by so many of his talks.  He spoke about his father,
He just had a general bias toward putting in hard work up front and letting the rewards take a long time to come, even forever.

Even in the confusion of the last night I spent with him, he gave me some advice. I was helping him walk. I’m not even sure he knew I was there. But very clearly, almost with a booming voice, he said, “Well, let’s just do the homework tonight, and we’ll see how the exam goes in the morning.” He’s getting the grade now, and he spent a life doing as much homework as he could. Most of us could move profitably toward a little more homework and leave the grades for tomorrow.
 There are so many people I know that fit this.  That put in more than they take.  Not the least of them if my sweet wife.  She is so patient and persistent and loving and hard working.

Henry Eyring went on to share some hints on how to be better at working and waiting.
- Finding humor in the present
- Seeing the blessing of the present
- Keep my eye on the distant goal
- Remember the blessings that will come

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Civility Experiment

This literally brought me to tears.  I have been a part of a few online groups where we have torn each other up.  There are also times when through the messiness of all our backgrounds there at least comes understanding.  Even if there is not agreement.

I think we may be judged by how we treat those we passionately disagree with.  Do we vilify them, or do we seek understanding?  Do we allow ourselves to be stirred up to anger or do we extend the true love of Christ?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Thursday

From Tarzana Joe

I am sitting at the table
Waiting for dinner to be served
It’s a big traditional spread
Someone brings out bread
It looks good but I’m told to wait for the blessing

It’s been a great week.
The crowds were big and steady
Why can’t we eat, already?

We’re all here but we’re waiting for Him
And no one seems to know the hour He’s coming

Wine is poured; but again, I’m told to wait for the blessing

Then He comes in; He says a prayer and finally we eat
(Someone says something about feet.)

Everyone is talking and having a good time
Until He says, Tonight, I will be betrayed by one of you.”

And suddenly, I am certain that he is talking about me.

-Tarzana Joe Easter 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Debates on the Reality of God

A link on the side of berry blurbs gave me the opportunity to stay up way too late watching a debate on the existence of God.  I may have more to say about this here but for now I just want to remember how to get to it again.

Dinesh D'Souza Debates Daniel Dennett

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Can't Do It All At Once

"I can't do it all at once", that is the title to a Kenneth Cope song.  One of my all time favorite songs.  It speaks to me.  I seem to go at two speeds, full force forward and comatose.  Berry Blurbs posted recently on how most  people resist large changes.  I am no different.

I look back on the last several decades and sometimes I don't see much.  It is the patterns of behavior that I see that have of late disheartened me.  Like either taking on too much or becoming a sluggard.  There has to be a happy middle ground.  I can relate to the feeling Nephi had of himself.  Perhaps we all look too harshly (and sometimes too leniently) at ourselves.  (Maybe all sin comes at the extremes of behavior)

In 2009, I referred to a talk be Jorge Zeballos.
Immediately after teaching that “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength,” King Benjamin indicated that “it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize." (Jorge F. Zeballos, “Attempting the Impossible,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 33–34)

This seems to teach a perfect balance.  Do not run too fast, but be diligent.  Papa D wrote yesterday a very good post on balance.

All these things make me think of the time I decided to teach myself to tie my shoes differently.  I had always made the first cross knot by putting the right string over the left.  I then proceeded to tie with the loop starting in the right hand.  This produces an adequate knot.  I learned from my wife many years ago that it also is not as pretty and balanced.  When I would tie a ribbon around one of my daughter's waist in the same way I tied my shoes, it produced a knot that leans one way.

So I decided to change how I tie my shoes, partly so it would be more automatic for me when I tied my daughter's bows.  More so, I wanted to practice changing.  In the spirit of this post, I wanted to just change one little thing.  So I started tying my shoes by putting the left string over the right.  Then I continued as I did before with the loop in the right hand.  I now tie a much more balanced knot and my daughters have prettier bows (though I am sure I can further improve my technique).

Anyway, here is to a late, not new years resolution.  To change a few things in my life, just a few, maybe I will start with one.  I haven't decided what it is yet, but I commit to change even a little for the better.  To be diligent as King Benjamin suggested but not at a pace that winds me too much.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage"

Sometimes life gets too busy.  There have been times when I go through the motions because that is what must be done.  If I don't refresh my own well, if I don't take the time to drink deeply of the living waters, the precious plant of testimony will wilt and with continued neglect it will die.

I often think of the vision of the tree of life.  Sometimes I have found myself away from the rod.  Bumbling in the mists of darkness.  The true danger is that once blinded I may not want to return.  Doubt can be a poison that affects my spiritual reasoning so that I cannot see what is real.

This afternoon I listened to "Start Early and Be Steady" by Henry Eyring.  He gave this talk in Oct 2005.  I think about the changes that have happened in my life in the last five and a half years.  I think about several individuals and families and how their lives are so different, for what I see towards the worse.  I think about those that have remained healthy both spiritually and otherwise.  What has made the difference?  I do not know the hearts of others, but I do know mine.

Elder Eyring gave this talk several months after hurricane Katrina.  Many were in the mindset of what they could do to be physically prepared.  A few weeks ago, one of the most strong earthquakes ever recorded hit Japan.  I understand that the Japanese were more prepared than most.  Elder Eyring spoke of spiritual preparation:
That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.
So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.
So have I prepared?  I guess I have somewhat.  Perhaps the worst storms of my life have not yet come.  What I do know is that I want to be prepared for whatever comes.  Sister Clark on Sunday referred to this talk by Ronald Bartholomew.  He quotes Elder Ballard,
some parents become so expert at filling every physical desire for their children that they begin to suppose that all is well in this life and that their eternal stewardship is progressing right on schedule. … I believe that we must pause and take a careful inventory to determine how well our families are doing spiritually. We could ask how well are we feeding, nurturing, training, and exercising the spirits of our children; or how well have we taught, trained, loved, and inspired our children to build their spiritual muscles and strength? … Remember, eternity is now, not a vague, distant future. We prepare each day, right now, for eternal life. If we are not preparing for eternal life, we are preparing for something else, perhaps something far less.
I don't want less.  I want what Abraham wanted,
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (Abr 1:2)
So what do I do to be prepared?  I am not to trifle with sacred things, like my testimony.  I won't consider it a mere experiment I am trying out, I am to hold it dear and nourish it by the good word of God.  I am to add to my oil that cannot be bought or borrowed.  By obedience to what the Holy Ghost has confirmed to me.  I am to pray.  With earnestness, with patience, with trust.  I am to build up a hedge around my family and friends.  I am to listen to the watchmen on the tower, the Seers.  I am to rejoice in the promise and evidence of continuing revelation.

I will start early, and be steady.  I have seen the blessings of those who have.  I have seen the results of those who have not.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If everyone cared

I noticed this Nickeback song for the first time today as I brought Sam home from his baseball game.  It has great lyrics.  Now to think and act upon myself and my family, those on which I have influence.  If I cared, If my family cared.

From underneath the trees, we watch the sky
Confusing stars for satellites
I never dreamed that you'd be mine
But here we are, we're here tonight

Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"
(I'm alive)
Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

And I'm singing
Amen I, Amen I, I'm alive
Amen I, Amen I, Amen I
(I'm alive)

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along

Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"
(I'm alive)
Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died
When nobody died

And as we lie beneath the stars
We realize how small we are
If they could love like you and me
Imagine what the world could be

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

We'd see the day, we'd see the day
(When nobody died)
We'd see the day, we'd see the day
(When nobody died)
We'd see the day
(When nobody died)

Start Early and Be Steady

On Sunday, Sister Clark gave a great talk.  I think she was referencing Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady by Henry Eyring.   I loved this talk and it has been quite a while since I listened to it.  I am noting it here so I remember it with my "talks I picked" tag.  Here is a link to the MP3.

Some quotes from it:
What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.
So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.
We are the spirit children of a Heavenly Father. He loved us aBlogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.nd He taught us before we were born into this world. He told us that He wished to give us all that He had. To qualify for that gift we had to receive mortal bodies and be tested. Because of those mortBlogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team bodies, we would face pain, sickness, and death.
We would be subject to temptations through the desires and weaknesses that came with our mortal bodies. Subtle and powerful forces of evil would tempt us to surrender to those temptations. Life would have storms in which we would have to make choices using faith in things we could not see with our natural eyes.
We will need to have developed and nurtured faith in Jesus Christ long before Satan hits us, as he will, with doubts and appeals to our carnal desires and with lying voices
Let me suggest to you four settings in which to practice quick and steady obedience.
  One is the command to feast upon the word of God.
  A second is to pray always.
  A third is the commandment to be a full-tithe payer.
  And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects.
Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord’s commands.
The best time to resist temptation is early. The best time to repent is now. The enemy of our souls will place thoughts in our minds to tempt us. We can decide early to exercise faith, to cast out evil thoughts before we act on them. And we can choose quickly to repent when we do sin, before Satan can weaken our faith and bind us. Seeking forgiveness is always better now than later.
As my father lay in his bed near death, I asked him if he didn’t think it was a time to repent and pray for forgiveness for any sins that were not yet resolved with God. He probably heard a little hint in my voice that he might fear death and the Judgment. He just chuckled quietly, smiled up at me, and said, “Oh no, Hal, I’ve been repenting as I went along.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Do I have Root in Myself?

Yesterday we studied the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 in Sunday school.  One phrase that stood out to me was in verses 20-21.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
To have root in myself is to provide the Lord fertile ground in my heart.  Are there parts that are hard within me?  Are the places I don't trust that the Lord can heal?

I love the song Broken by Kenneth Cope. The Lord love when we break up the soil of our heart.  When we gently plant the seed of his word into more and more areas of our soul.  That we might have joy in the growing and in the fruit his grace offers us.  Yet only I can break up the soil of my heart.  Only I can invite the Word in my soul.  The Lord will never violate the sacred boundary of the heart.  We are agents unto our selves.  Only we can do that sacred work.

The Parable of the Bicycle

Last night I shared the parable of the bicycle with our children.  I read it first when I was an older teenager.  I read Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson.  He gave a speech about it in 1990.  There was an article in the Ensign about it in 1992.  It is one of the things that truly changed my life.  Because I planted the seed it had.  I invited it into my own heart and tried its goodness.  More than any other seed in my life it has grown up to bear fruit in my life.  I know with out any doubt it is true.

Sometimes in our lives we can think that we need to be as perfect as we can be, then the Lord will save us.  It is possible to get caught up in the gospel of the checklist.  That we go down the check list and say am I reading my scriptures daily, am I have FHE every week, Do I date my wife every week?  Am I doing my home teaching?  Etc etc etc.  We can go on and on and on.

That is why I love the parable of the bicycle and the other principles that is taught by Stephen Robinson and others that teach the power of the Atonement of Christ.  He saves us before we even hear the word.  He saves us as we first hear the word.  He saves us as we decide to bring that precious seed into our heart.  He saves us as we nourish it with great care.  He saves us as we continue in persistence in caring for the tree.  He saves us when we have great joy in the fruit.

He also saves us as we get up off the ground when we fall.  Even if it is the upteen, thousand, millionth time.  He saves us when we are discouraged with "How many more times will thou forgive me for this sin?"  Or when we think "I am never going to get it all right",  I can't be a perfect Latter-day saint.  We only have to surrender our heart to Him.  We have to trust that He can do what He says He can do.  That he can make us Celestial material.  The humble in heart know that they will never be Celestial on their own.  Our own measly 61 cents will never carry us all the way.  Yet my 61 cents means a lot to me.  It means that I am fully committed to my covenant relationship with Him.

One of my sons asked me yesterday as  we were re-planting the irises  in our new flower bed, "Dad, I've been thinking lately.  When do you and mom ever find time to have fun?"  I answered, "This is fun to me.  I love to plant things and see them grow."  As I grew up I know that I thought of that as I thought of my parents.  We always seemed to be doing one project or another.  There was always work, work and more work.  As I think back on if though.  They are my best memories.  I remember building the shed with my dad.  I remember when it was so hot in the summer when my mom and us were doing the paper route that my mom got sick.  We had to pull over to the side of the road and she opened the door and she had to vomit in the road.  Did she stop? No.  We kept at it. because we were helping keep my brother out on his mission.

Is our work hard, yes.  The Lord required all from us.  He gave nothing less.  When I think of the price Jesus pays for me I am so grateful.  I want to get up and keep going.  Just thankfully do my part.  My measly 61 cent part.  The part that I have put my back and heart and soul into.  The part I hope to continue to work to freely give as my offering to the Lord.  But what happens if I only earn 60 cents.  Or my I make a bad investment or lose it because of my foolishness?  The Lord knows our hearts.  He knows what we really want.  What we have put our efforts into.  He is Just and He is Merciful.  All will be worked out.  We just need to keep getting up and humble asking for forgiveness.

If we lose sight of the saving grace of the Lord we can too easily give up.  We must be careful to retain the hope that we once held.  We must not let imperfection we find in the church from keeping us from honoring the covenants we made with God.  He is able to make us holy.

See also parable of the piano

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"Many things which they cannot understand"

I wrote in January that I did not want to stumble.  I found the following passage from Jacob 4:14 very interesting.
But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
The Jews desired for many things that they did not understand.  The Lord provided these things to them that they may stumble.  I remember reading that before and thinking how foolish they were to seek for things that they cannot understand.  I have been guilty of this.

I must be seeking for that which satisfies.  Nephi prayed that he would be strict in the plain road.  I know that satisfying understanding comes from following what I know to be true.  I am confident that those things that I cannot understand will be answered eventually.