Personal Online Journal

Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking Away Stumbling Blocks

1 Nephi 14:1 "And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks"

This smacked me in the face as I read it this evening.  I really don't want to stumble in my faith, so what must I do keep from tripping over them?  I must "hearken unto the Lamb of God".  The first place my mind went was that I must follow the doctrine of Christ.  There are a couple of places in the scriptures that I remember the doctrine of Christ being detailed.  2 Nephi 31-33 and 3 Nephi 11

What the doctrine of Christ is:
- Repent 3 Ne 31:11 " become as a little child" 3 Ne 11:37 and 38
- Be baptized 2 Ne 31:5, 3 Ne 11:33, 2 Ne 31:13 "follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism"
- Receive the Holy Ghost 2 Ne 31:13, 3 Ne 11:35
- Endure to the end 2 Ne 31:16, "Pray always" 2 Ne 32:9,

The doctrine of Christ is Not:
Contention 3 Ne 11:28-29

There have been several things in the last several months and years that I have wondered about in the teachings of  the LDS church.  The last thing I want are stumbling blocks.  This scripture makes it clear that the Savior will manifest himself to me in word, power and deed unto the taking away from me the stumbling blocks before me.

What a promise!

"How is it that ye have forgotten..."

My co-teacher in primary, Matt Bejot, first read the Book of Mormon when he was 11 years old because a teacher challenged him to.  He extended the same challenge to the boys in our 10-11 year old classroom for this year.  I think it is a great idea.  I couldn't very well have the boys do it and not me.  So I am going to read the Book of Mormon this year with them. The last time I "read" it was when President Hinckley challenged everyone to read it by the end of 2005.  I lot of what I did though was listen to it on CD.  As a family we have been slowly reading through it for years now. I feel so excited to read it again.  I had caught up with our goal of 2 pages a day.  At that rate you finish it in September.

Today, as I was catching up I read the following phrase three times in 1 Nephi 7:10-12, "How is it that ye have forgotten?"  There have been many times that I have forgotten the goodness of the Lord in my life.  It is such a good reminder to me the remember the blessings of the Lord in my life.  To remember my testimony.  My experiences.  Sometimes it doesn't make sense intellectually.  But my spirit feels it.  There is a knowledge that comes from receiving Love.  From feeling forgiveness.  From relationships where healing occurs where I never hoped there could have.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Trust God, Be Happy and Work Hard

I found this quote at LDS Alive in Christ.

“Instead of worrying or grumbling that our prayers have gone unanswered, we should delight ourselves in the Lord. Be grateful. Be happy. Know that the Lord, in His time, will bring about all your righteous desires—sometimes in ways we predict, sometimes in ways we could not have possibly foreseen.” (Emphasis Added. Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Improving Our Prayers,” Ensign, Mar 2004, 24–31, MP3)

It reminds me of the But If Not talks given in General Conference not too long ago.  It also reminds me of my short list of things to remember when I feel overwhelmed or discouraged, Trust God, Be Happy and Work Hard.

I trust God when I remember that I do believe that in His time, the Lord will bring about all my righteous desires.

I am happy when I remember to give thanks both specific and general.  When I am grateful for all that I have been blessed with.

When I work hard I feel a satisfaction I get no where else.  It seems I get this feeling when I make my work a part of the sanctification plan of the Lord. (3 Nephi 27:20)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Leadership isn't a crown, it's a shovel

I remember coming across a phrase a few months ago, "The priesthood isn't a crown, it's a shovel."  I may have read it here. It reminds me of King Mosiah as he describes he does not want to be a burden to the people he serves so he tills the ground for his own food. Many of the principles of leading as God leads are given in D&C 121:34-46.

As I searched for this phrase this morning, I also found this post.  What a great example of lifting where I stand.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

How can I question without losing the Spirit?

This is a question that Elder Robert Hales asks in "Gifts of the Spirit", Ensign, Feb. 2002, page 12 (MP3). Underlining added.

How can I question without losing the Spirit? This is a question often asked of me by young people. All of us have questions at times in our lives on policies, procedures, or even principles. The best way to find the answers we seek is to search out the solution for ourselves.
How do we go about it?
First and foremost, it is our attitude, or how we ask the question, that is very, very important. If it is a demand, one loses the opportunity for an answer.
Second, if we have strong feelings about the way something should be and are unwilling to listen, we may lose the opportunity to get an answer.
One only has to remember when Martin Harris wanted to take home pages of the Book of Mormon translation to show to others. Joseph Smith prayed to the Lord a number of times to finally be allowed to let the man do it. The Lord knew that the pages would be lost. But sometimes we want something so much and keep praying about it that the Lord lets us do it for our learning experience.
Sometimes we are drawn into seeking and giving answers that bring recognition or notoriety to “our” thinking and to “our” opinion. Don’t look for signs or answers that build you up. Humility and submissiveness to God will always be fundamental in receiving direction from Him.
Others operate in a spirit of gratitude to the Lord for the gospel and concentrate on correcting their own imperfections. We can develop the ability to discern what spirit is influencing others and ourselves. We should seek and pray for this gift lest we be deceived.
The gift of discernment is like the rod of iron; it will keep us on the path toward the tree of life, which means eternal life.
Elder Hales also gives some words of caution. It seems this talk was given in August 1993.  He is speaking from his direct experience with leading church councils starting as an assistant to the quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1975, First Quorum of the Seventy in 1976, presiding bishop in 1985.  He was then called as an apostle in 1994. (See Wikipedia) (Underling added)
May I take a moment to talk of some cautions taught me by experiences that I have observed regarding the gifts of the Spirit.
Too often people feel that answers to their prayers and their pleading for guidance and direction will be given in dramatic manifestations or through a direct voice giving specific directions from a heavenly host. My personal experience and my observation of the Brethren as they guide and direct the Church and solve problems has taught me that the answers come oftentimes over an extended period of time with almost a natural solution whereby people take actions on the feelings of their hearts—which bring them peace and comfort—rather than through dramatic revelation.
Let me give you an example of how I learned this lesson. As a regional representative, I was traveling with President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) to a stake conference for the selection of a new stake president. We had been driving in a car for more than an hour discussing the Church and priesthood administration. For some reason, I asked a question that, at the moment I asked it, I realized was inappropriate.
The question I asked President Romney was “What is the most spiritual experience you have had as an Apostle of the Lord?” There was a pause. It seemed like an eternity. Then he said, “I believe what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught, that if we would keep our spiritual experiences to ourselves, many more spiritual experiences could be shared with us.”
It seemed like there was a long period of silence after that remark, and then he said to me, “I owe you a better answer.” Then he gave me great counsel. He said the greatest spiritual experiences of his life had been when he had been on assignment from the President of the Church or the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, as we were that day. He said: “We will interview 25 or 30 priesthood brethren, and there will be more than one who will be qualified to be the stake president. But after we have done all we can do, we will get on our knees and pray to our Heavenly Father. We will tell Him of our feelings of who the new stake president ought to be and the reasons why. We will tell Him of the needs of the stake at this time. Then He will give us a confirmation.”
It was interesting that he said “us,” because it was true on that occasion that as we knelt and prayed, we both were able to receive a confirmation.
This is one of the best examples that I have had of what the gifts of the Spirit are and how they are manifest in our life’s work. Apply the principles taught by President Romney to understand that you can have discernment and confirmation of the concerns that confront you, such as choosing a companion or choosing a career that is best for you.
Isn’t it interesting that President Romney was sent to interview 25 or 30 men to choose one stake president rather than being told directly who it should be before his arrival? This is what the Lord means when He tells us to study it out in our own minds. Too often we want to be given answers to questions and problems that, if they were given in the manner we ask for them, would take away our agency and the blessings that come from reaching out to the Lord for answers and direction.
Some think it would be nice to have “spiritual fortune cookies” we could open to find the answers to life’s challenges. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a labeled jar we could reach into for our answers? But that is not the way it is meant to be.
I would like to express my love for my companion. I would not be what I am without her. I love her dearly. She has gifts of the Spirit. We study the scriptures together, and many of the concepts I teach have come because we have had companion study and prayer. That is why I am who I am, and I must acknowledge that.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Hand of God Reaching Out

I remember hearing this talk by Elder Eyring now over three years ago.  Perhaps someday I will be as good about recording the hand of the Lord in my life.

When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when …” and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.
My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done." (Henry B. Eyring, "O Remember, Remember", Ensign, Nov. 2007, 66–69, YouTube)  

Lucky In Love

I am so lucky to have my sweet wife.  She is so patient and persistent and oh so fun to be with.

Do you hear me,
I'm talking to you
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I'm trying
Boy I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

They don't know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss
I'll wait for you I promise you, I will

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Lucky we're in love every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

And so I'm sailing through the sea
To an island where we'll meet
You'll hear the music fill the air
I'll put a flower in your hair
Though the breezes through trees
Move so pretty you're all I see
As the world keeps spinning round
You hold me right here right now

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
I'm lucky we're in love every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

Ooohh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooooh ooooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

He saved you, anyway

From Sara

You're drowning. And no one is there to care.
Trapped under the ice. You pound on it, desperate to break free.
But all you do is crack the ice. It does not break. 
That always happens. You come so close to being free, but regardless
You're still stuck. Miserable, lonely, crying.
You start to sink lower and lower. Looking side to side, wanting help.
But finding none. Only seeing darkness.
You look down. Darkness. Reminder of your misery. Reminder of your 
Longing to be happy. Reminder of the path you are heading to.
The path that you do not want to take. 
You keep pounding on the ice. It does not break. 
You try to not take the path you so desperately hate, but you sink 
Further and further.
You reach as far as you can towards the ice. Your fingers touch it.
You gather strength enough to pound once more. But to no avail.
Why can you not break free? Are you not good enough? 
Thoughts of worthlessness. They are the death of you. Pulling you 
Even lower than you were before. 
You are ready to give up. Just follow the inevitable, follow the path
You do not want to take. 
You stop yourself from glancing down again. You almost look side-to-side.
Then you remember that you have not truly looked up. Only to pound on the ice.
But if pounding has not worked in the past, why would it work now?
You look up anyway. You do not pound on the ice. You see the cracks that 
Your seemingly futile efforts have made. And beyond the cracks, there is light.
You wish you had the strength to break the ice.
To go beyond this place of darkness. To a place of warmth and comfort. 
But you do not pound. You think about how worthless you are. 
But then you think about how there was no light before you started pounding.
Maybe your efforts were not worthless after all. 
You realize that you can not break out on your own. 
And when you stop trying to do it on your own, and you look at the light,
You realize there is a hand stretched out. 
He breaks the ice for you. He pulls you out of the darkness.
He provides you with warmth you never imagined.
And that is when you realize that you tried your best,
and although your best was not enough to save yourself, He saved you, anyway.
Because despite your loneliness, He was there. He was always there.
You stopped trying to save yourself, and learned to trust Him, who loves us all.