Personal Online Journal

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"It would not have been asked of you"

Elder Holland had a dream/vision where he was rebuked for treating his son badly. What a touching message to me. ("Within the Clasp of Your Arms", Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr 1983)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Are the prophets of God fallible?

In summary I believe this "Question: How are Church members protected against error by leaders?" I particularly like this quote:

"Even with the best of intentions, [Church government] does not always work the way it should. Human nature may express itself on occasion, but not to the permanent injury of the work." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “I Say unto You, Be One”, BYU Devotional, 12 Feb 1991)

See also, "Are prophets infallible? Statements by Church leaders"

In stating that prophets are fallible, it is important that I also see myself as fallible. I "see through a glass darkly" (1 Cor 13:12) I see the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency as watchmen on a tower who have the commission to protect me. Who have the right and ability to see things that I cannot see and can warn me of things to come that I am not aware of.

I see our church as in the period described by Zenos in his allegory of the olive vineyard.
Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.  
Wherefore, dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more, for the last time, for the end draweth nigh. And if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow. 
And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:64-66)
The 15 prophets, seers and revelators are following this direction. They are clearing away the branches that produce the most bitter fruit. That includes the results of the culture that we live in and our ancestors. I believe that "If we faithfully proclaim the gospel, we then receive the promise that we will be cleansed from the blood and sins of this generation." (Peter B. Rawlins, "Endowed with Power," Religious Educator 13, no. 1 (2012): 125–139.) I think that the "blood and sins of this generation" includes the bias, misconceptions and incorrect traditions that we have inherited.

I love how President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said it.
We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. Because we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly. ("What Is Truth?", Dieter F. Uchtdorf, CES Devotional Jan 2013)
If we stay on the old ship Zion, we will be guided safely to receive more light, "brighter and brighter until the perfect day" (D&C 50:24-25). All of the scales will fall off our eyes. We will distinguish all the truth from the error.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

True Principles Applied Bring Success & Happiness

I first listened to this devotional talk at Ricks College in 1991. It is a perennial favorite of mine.

"True Principles Applied Bring Success & Happiness", 5 Mar 1991, Ed J. Pinegar, Former President of the MTC
Download the MP3, BYUI Link to MP3

He talks here about how gratitude is the key to desire.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Take Courage



"Take Courage" Starlight
Bethel Music & Kristene DiMarco

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He'll finish all He's begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing!


He's in the waiting...

Monday, December 04, 2017

To keep in mind as I study the Book of Mormon

Russell M. Nelson said,
My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions. 
(“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?" Russell M. Nelson, GC Oct 2017)
From the Introduction of The Book of Mormon

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “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.” 
(Footnote #9 from '“Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of Our Religion,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2011), 57–68', History of the Church, 4:461; from instructions given by Joseph Smith on Nov. 28, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff.)
From "The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion", Ezra Taft Benson, Oct 1986

If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?”
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It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.
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There is a power in the Book of Mormon which will begin to flow into your lives the minute that you begin a serious study of the book. You will find the power to avoid deception. You find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path.
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"Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains." ("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God". Ezra Taft Benson. General Conference Apr 1974. Also in the First Presidency message of the Jan 1988 Ensign. )

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From "Blessings Resulting from Reading the Book of Mormon", L. Tom Perry Oct 2005
“Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?”

Gordon B Hinckley, in 2005, challenged the world to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.
Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God ("A Testimony Vibrant and True", Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6).
What are the three promises from Gordon B Hinckley?
- an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord
- a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments
- a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God

From Thomas S. Monson, "The Power of the Book of Mormon", Apr 2017
This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.
President Monson spoke for 3 minutes and 27 seconds. In print it is 6 paragraphs. He used one paragraph to announce new temples. He then used 5 paragraphs to tell us of the importance to read the Book of Mormon each day. In his short talk he mentioned that twice in addition to asking us to pray and read the scriptures daily. He did not speak to us in Oct 2017.

What am I doing to keep my testimony vibrant?

Elder Monson asked, "What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today?" His answer is:
I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

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My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
What are the four promises Thomas S. Monson gave if we would read the Book of Mormon daily?
be in a position
- to hear the voice of the Spirit
- to resist temptation
- to overcome doubt and fear
- to receive heaven's help in our lives

"We should not look upon reading and studying the scriptures as an inconvenience and something to be endured. In the word of God is power and nourishment and life." (“Give Heed unto the Word of the Lord”, Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign Jun 2000)

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When I go to the table to eat, I don’t take physical nourishment without asking the Lord to bless that food to nourish and strengthen my body. Similarly, I think when we study the scriptures, we should bow our head and pray—often it would be silently because of the surroundings—but we would pray that the Lord would bless us that we’d be able to understand what we’re reading and that the act of reading the scriptures would summon the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on things other than simply the meaning of what we’re reading. In this way the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to help us receive revelation. But it begins with prayer; it doesn’t begin with reading, like a newspaper or a magazine. ("A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks", Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast • August 7, 2012, See also https://youtu.be/lpzzU62mKhg)
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There are few things that a teacher can do that would have a more powerful, long-range effect upon their students’ lives than teaching them the importance of studying the scriptures, giving them that experience, letting them taste the fruit of daily scripture study. In my judgment, that would go beyond any subject that might be taught from the scriptures, except the fundamentals in the first few articles of faith. Beyond that, I think the most important thing we could do as teachers of seminary and institute students would be to connect them with the scriptures and the results of daily scripture study. ("A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks", Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast • August 7, 2012
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When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls. (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?”, President Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, Oct 2017)   
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My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.
... 
Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!” We need to feel, deep in “the inmost part” of our hearts, that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it. I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, “I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people” to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon.
(“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?”, President Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, Oct 2017)   
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Friday, December 01, 2017

Top 100 C.S. Lewis quotes

I love these.

Top 100 C.S. Lewis quotes, 27 Jun 2012, Deseret Book.

Jesus Christ, Healer of the World

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In Mormon thought, humans are neither capable of unaided advancement to godliness nor accurately described as depraved. They are agents made free by Christ’s Atonement, enticed by darkness while yearning for the light.
“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” is a false teaching.
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We believe that most people both inside and outside the Church “are trying to do right,” as Brigham Young said. “I am in the midst of Saints, or at least of those who profess to be Saints; and if they are not Saints, I think they are trying to become so with all their might.” Yet, we are weighed down. Few of us may feel on the precipice of  damnation, but we all feel wounded and weary. Is there a language that can speak more meaningfully—yet truthfully—to our predicament? 
Translators have difficult choices to make. The term most frequently rendered in the King James Bible as save is the Greek word sodzo. And he who saves is the soter, based on that same word. But when Luke used the identical term sodzo, it was to describe Jesus’ act of curing the blind man of his affliction (Luke 18). Mark used sodzo when Jesus made the girl whole from the plague (Mark 5). And Matthew  employed the term sodzo when the hemorrhaging woman, touching the Lord’s hem, was restored to health (Matthew 9). In all these and numerous other cases, the word often translated as save is more aptly rendered heal. Jesus healed the blind, healed the girl of the plague, and healed the woman with the issue of blood. In other words, rather than render the Messiah’s title of soter as Savior, we could with equal linguistic justification call him Jesus Christ, Son of God, Healer of the World. ("How We've Been Misunderstanding God's Title of 'Savior'", 6 Nov 2017, Fiona Givens and Terryl Givens, excerpted from "The Christ Who Heals" )
Jesus Christ our place of healing.

One virtue of such a substitution is that healing signals the beginning of a glorious journey now unfolding, while saving implies its end. And we are all very much in eternity’s morning. In Joseph’s favorite biblical translation, the word for Savior is das Heiland. Heil is from the verb heilen and means “to heal.” Land denotes a geographical location. Das Heiland could, therefore, be translated correctly as “place of healing.” In other words, our place of healing is Christ. Julian of Norwich emphasized this even more emphatically when she wrote: “The blessed woundes of oure Saviour be opyn and enjoye to hele us.”


Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Disciple’s Plea for Openness and Inclusion

From "A Disciple’s Plea for Openness and Inclusion | An Interview With Elder Marlin K. Jensen" by Terryl Givens.
Download the Mp3  by clicking here.
Get this podcast on your phone (iPhone, Android) You will need to search for Marlin K. Jenson under episodes.

During his 24 years as a beloved LDS General Authority and Official Church Historian, Elder Marlin K. Jensen presided over an historic shift toward greater openness in the LDS church’s approach to its history. In this Conversation with Terryl Givens, we get an intimate glimpse into Elder Jensen’s personal life and thoughts, including: 
- How loving and serving his older brother instilled a determination to include “those who are different”
- The spiritual experiences that led him to consecrate his life to serving in the church
His wish for more “overtly spiritual” church experience
- How our spiritual lives can be enriched by people, practices and writings from other religious traditions
- The challenges and the fruits of complete openness and transparency in telling the history of the church
- The urgent need to embrace those who are different or “don’t meet the norm” in the church
- His stirring witness of Christ 
An attorney by profession who is more at home on the ranch, Elder Jensen became one of the public faces of Mormonism during what came to be called the “Mormon Moment.” He was featured prominently on the 2007 PBS series The Mormons. 

Under his direction as church historian, dramatic advances were made in church history, including creation of the Joseph Smith Papers project, construction of the new Church History Museum next to Temple Square, and greater access to scholars on a number of fronts. Terryl Givens once wrote of Elder Jensen: "Marlin Jensen has done more to further the cause of Mormon history than any person of the current generation."
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I love this story from Elder Jensen

a year ago in our stake conference, a young, bright mother stood and talked about having done her daily scripture read, after which she was sitting quietly thinking about what she had read and then began to reflect on the entire restoration and Joseph Smith. Then there came into her mind the question, “What if all of this isn’t real? What if it isn’t real?” Then she progressed from there to thought about our Savior and the Fall and all of these beliefs that we have as Latter-day Saints, and began again to question. 
Up until that point, she’d had a life much like most Latter-day Saints: a series of progressive experiences confirming what she believed, then had the lived experience of “By this you can tell if it’s God’s doctrine or if I speak of myself.” That’s the experiential part of this: “Any man who will do the will of the Father, he shall know of the doctrine: whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.” 
She, at that point, got into what I would call a spiritual free fall, which I think is happening to many good Latter-day Saints today. I think the way I reason through that in my humble way gets to what you’re talking about, and that is that ultimately it all centers on Christ. What we sincerely in our hearts think about Him, believe about Him, hope about Him, is going to determine the kind of person that we’ll be, I think, and what our actions are going to be. 
So when I look at this world, and I ask the question, “Where is Christ? Who has Him? Who is living like Him? Who is being taught His teachings? Where is it facilitated to do what He did?,” I’m led to our Church. That’s where I come: to this Church. 
That fact, however it got there, to me, is that if someone looks at the New Testament and is trying to find the Christianity that was practiced there, taught there, and written about there in the book of Acts, he will eventually in a thoughtful way come to Mormonism. He will embrace the Christ of the Restoration and with that, takes those historical facts that brought that all to pass. That’s where I come out in my thinking on this.
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When asked about "moments of time in our past are transformative, shaping moments that determine who we become spiritually and intellectually.", Elder Jensen said this first.

I think the first would have been the fact that two years before I was born, my mother gave birth to my older brother, Gary, who is now 77 years old and who, because of oxygen deprivation at birth, has only attained the mental age of about a 5 or 6-year-old. 
He and I were raised sort of in tandem. After my birth, there was a hiatus of about 10 years before my parents ventured to have another child, which may say something about me, but it was significant being raised with that special brother at a time when there was very little provision in the Church, in public education, and society generally for what we now call special needs children. Observing his treatment at the hands of other young people trying to come to his aid; watching my parents devote their life, their resources to his enlargement as a person — I think at a very young age, that became one of the most defining parts of my development. 
I’ve always been a softy when it comes to those who are different and I think it began with my brother — and it remains. We share, within our family, giving him care now that my parents are gone. I’ve been blessed, I think, to have just a little look into the eternities about the person he will one day be. It makes me very grateful that I’ve been nice to him. I’m always desirous of being that way throughout his life because I think he was given to us that we might learn things that we would have otherwise never learned.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Sincerity of Joseph Smith

From “A mere impostor . . . would have broken down.”, Dan Peterson, 8 Nov 2017

In June 1851, a journalist connected with London’s Morning Chronicle published a piece entitled “The Mormons.”  He did not accept Joseph Smith’s religious faith, and believed that Mormonism was conceived in fraud.  “At the same time,” though, he wrote of Joseph,
there is much in his later career which seems to prove that he really believed what he asserted—that he imagined himself to be in reality what he pretended—the chosen medium to convey a new gospel to the world—the inspired of heaven, the dreamer of divine dreams, and the companion of angels.  If he were an impostor, deliberately and coolly inventing, and pertinaciously propagating a falsehood, there is this much to be said, that never was an impostor more cruelly punished than he was, from the first moment of his appearance as a prophet to the last.  Joseph Smith, in consequence of his pretensions to be a seer and prophet of God, lived a life of continual misery and persecution.  He endured every kind of hardship, contumely and suffering.  He was derided, assaulted and imprisoned.  His life was one long scene of peril and distress, scarcely brightened by the brief beam of comparative repose which he enjoyed in his own city of Nauvoo.  In the contempt showered upon his head his whole family shared.  Father and mother, and brothers, wife and friends, were alike involved in the ignominy of his pretensions, and the sufferings that resulted.  He lived for fourteen years amid vindictive enemies, who never missed an opportunity to vilify, to harass, and to destroy him; and he died at last an untimely and miserable death, involving in his fate a brother to whom he was tenderly attached.  If anything can tend to encourage the supposition that Joseph Smith was a sincere enthusiast maddened with religious frenzies, as many have been before and will be after him—and that he had strong and invincible faith in his own high pretensions and divine missions, it is the notability that unless supported by such feelings, he would have renounced the unprofitable and ungrateful task, and sought refuge from persecution and misery in private life and honorable industry.
(A journalist connected with London’s Morning Chronicle published a piece entitled “The Mormons.” June 1851. Quoted in Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 356)
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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Keep in line with the teachings of the Apostles

"I will give you a key that will never rust,—if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray" (Joseph Smith as reported by William G. Nelson)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Monday, September 04, 2017

"It either occurred or it did not occur"

"Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens." ("The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith", Gordon B. Hinckley Oct 2002)

"Inquiries from honest searchers after truth should always be welcomed. Intelligent learners, in any field of knowledge, ask for explanations as problems appear in their studies. Indeed, the questions asked often mark the degree of proficiency attained. Those to whom no problems occur are asleep at the wheel of truth."
(John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. ix)

“The doctrine of the Church cannot be fully understood unless it is tested by mind and feelings, by intellect and emotions, by every power of the investigator. Every Church member is expected to understand the doctrine of the Church intelligently. There is no place in the Church for blind adherence.”
~John A. Widtsoe, Evidence and Reconciliations, p. 226

“The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one-sided but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion or criticism is worth defending”
~James E. Talmage, Improvement Era, Jan. 1920, p. 204

“If faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.”
~George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 216

“Man must learn to know the universe precisely as it is, or he cannot successfully find his place in it. A man should therefore use his reasoning faculty in all matters involving truth, and especially as concerning his religion. He must learn to distinguish between truth and error.”
~John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, p. 8

“Now I have mentioned freedom to express your thoughts, but I caution you that your thoughts and expressions must meet competition in the market place of thought, and in that competition truth will emerge triumphant. Only error needs to fear freedom of expression. Seek truth in all fields, and in that search you will need at least three virtues; courage, zest, and modesty. The ancients put that thought in the form of a prayer. They said, '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’.”
~Hugh B. Brown, BYU Speech, March 29, 1958


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Forgiveness Analogy

I have changed numerous dirty diapers. Some individuals whose diapers I changed as infants are now adults. I have not literally forgotten the soiled diapers, but it is not something I bring up in casual conversation (except when I am making this point). While I don’t bring the soiled diapers up to remembrance, it isn’t as though I might conclude that my children somehow never had soiled diapers.
("Rage and Forgiveness", Meg Stout, 1 Sep 2017, Millennial Star Website)

This is a vivid example. I relate to it as the changer and the soiler.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What is Marriage?

From Tom Stringham. He replied to a FB post.
"What's a marriage then? What's irreplaceably missing in a same-sex marriage?" 
I've written about this before, but to answer your questions briefly: marriage is, in form, a permanent, sexually exclusive union of a husband and wife. What's missing in a same-sex marriage (so to speak) is a husband, or a wife. 
"Most of us take it for granted that homosexual marriage is possible; it's a matter of allowance." 
Maybe that's true, but in my experience it's not, and people who affirm the gendered/conjugal definition of marriage like I do are almost universally misunderstood. It's not that we accept the modern formulation of marriage as a formalization of attraction and love but don't want gay people to have that--it's that we have a different view of what marriage is. 
You can see all this pretty plainly in "The Divine Institution of Marriage", which Bryce attempted to respond to in his blog post. There's very little about orientation, nothing about attraction in it. There's only one reference to love in the romantic sense. 
Rather, the claim is that marriage is an institution which is sociologically fundamental "for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions and values that sustain civilization". There are thirty or so references to children in the document. 
The church is quite clearly trying to communicate a view of what marriage *is*. 
"One purpose of this document is to reaffirm the Church’s declaration that marriage is the lawful union of a man and a woman." 
"Marriage is far more than a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage is a vital institution for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults." 
It even specifically refutes the idea that this is about "allowing" or "rights": 
"In view of the close links that have long existed between marriage, procreation, gender and parenting, same-sex marriage cannot be regarded simply as the granting of a new “right.” It is a far-reaching redefinition of the very nature of marriage itself." 
"The Church’s affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman “neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.”[25] Church members are to treat all people with love and humanity. They may express genuine love and kindness toward a gay or lesbian family member, friend or other person without condoning any redefinition of marriage." 
(See "The Divine Institution of Marriage", Mormon Newsroom, Accessed 31 Aug 2017)
We've all been saying this stuff for years.
 See also http://discussingmarriage.org/

And http://wisegoodhonest.blogspot.com/2015/04/defend-what-marriage-used-to-mean.html

Godlessness of the Gaps?

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At what point does confidence that life can arise from inanimate matter via undirected natural causes become a kind of faith — a faith not all that different from religious belief or an ideological commitment?  At what point might we plausibly begin to speak of a “godlessness of the gaps”?  Will it ever be appropriate, here or with regard to analogous questions, to consider at least the possibility of an intelligent agent?  If so, when will that time come?  When might we be able to say — and, mind you, I’m not necessarily saying it now, with regard to abiogenesis — that scientific openness has become ideological rigidity?
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2017/08/godlessness-of-the-gaps.html#cGK5f1fwwA05EsEe.99
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Offer a New Framework


Here is a quick understanding of how an LDS member might experience Fowler’s Stages of Faith model: 
Stage 1: “Heavenly Father gave me a nose and a family!” (Toddler age learning)
Stage 2: “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, he knows the way!” (Primary age learning)
Stage 3: “This is the True and Living Church restored by God in a perfect way.” (Black and white learning)
Stage 4: “The Book of Mormon was mainly translated from a seer stone?!?!?! If this is true I’m going to have to figure out a new way of structuring my faith in order to fully benefit from what the gospel offers.”
Stage 5: “I love how much nuance there is in the gospel and the history of the restoration. It challenges me with new questions the lead me to a new understanding of the gospel.”
Stage 6: Jesus Christ was at stage 6 and He was at the highest level of charity and was only focused on love and justice. ("Being an LDS Leader Comfortable With Doubt: 8 Tips to Help Those You Lead Who Doubt", Leading LDS, 30 Aug 2017) 

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Friday, August 25, 2017

"If we have truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not truth, it ought to be harmed."

I love this quote,

"If we have truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not truth, it ought to be harmed."
(J. Reuben Clark, as recorded by D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24)

Here is it in context.
By 1917, however, Reuben was asking himself some religious questions that took him years to resolve. In one personal memo he began, "If we have truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not truth, it ought to be harmed." From that premise he added the observation that scientists and lawyers (like himself) were not blindly believing and that they must refuse to be deceived by others or by their own wishful thinking. "A lawyer must get at facts, he must consider motives -- he must tear off the mask and lay bare the countenance, however hideous. The frightful skeleton of truth must always be exposed ... [the lawyer] must make every conclusion pass the fiery ordeal of pitiless reason. If their conclusions cannot stand this test, they are false." During the same year the increasingly introspective lawyer asked himself the questions: Are we not only entitled, but expected to think for ourselves? Otherwise there does our free agency come in? His answer was a resounding: "If we are blindly to follow some one else we are not free agents.... That we may as a Church determine for ourselves our course of action, is shown my the Manifesto [abandoning the practice of polygamy]. We may not probably take an affirmative stand, i.e., adopt something new but we may dispense with something." Perhaps he had never before questioned the assumptions that lay behind some of the simple faith of his youth, but at midlife J. Reuben Clark, Jr. proclaimed that there must be no forbidden questions in Mormonism. 
The directions to which his philosophy of religious inquiry led him were indicated in his musings about two essentials of Mormonism: the revelations of Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Church belief in progression toward godhood. As he examined the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the structure of the Church government, Reuben Clark wondered to what extent Joseph Smith's reading or experience, "his own consciousness," had contributed to what he set down, and when Reuben pondered the Mormon belief in the potential of individuals to attain the godly stature of their Father in Heaven, his logical mind boggled a bit. "Is Space or occupied portions of it divided among various deities -- have they great 'spheres of influence'? War of Gods -- think of wreck of matter involved -- if matter used -- or would it be a war of forces?" In his mid-forties, he regarded these as legitimate doctrinal inquiries but soon realized that each question concerning doctrine led to other questions, each of which was further removed from rational verification. Reuben soon came to the conclusion he described in later years to the non-Mormon president of George Washington University: "For my own part I early came to recognize that for me personally I must either quit rationalizing ... or I must follow the line of my own thinking which would lead me I know not where." 
But J. Reuben Clark soon recognized where an uncompromising commitment to rational theology would lead him, and he shrank from the abyss. "I came early to appreciate that I could not rationalize a religion for myself, and that to attempt to do so would destroy my faith in God," he later wrote to his non-Mormon friend. "I have always rather worshipped facts," he continues,"and while I thought and read for a while, many of the incidents of life, experiences and circumstances led, unaided by the spirit of faith, to the position of the atheist, yet the faith of my fathers led me to abandon all that and to refrain from following it.... For me there seemed to be no alternative. I could only build up a doubt. --If I were to attempt to rationalize about my life here, and the life too come, I would be drowned in a sea of doubt." 
All the confidence of J. Reuben Clark's commitment to rational inquiry in religious matters evaporated. He had once believed that in intellectual faith "we may not probably take an affirmative stand, i.e., adopt something new but we may dispense with something," but Reuben found that such an attempt could only lead to dispensing with everyting [sic]. As he cast about for some way of explaining his position to others, he discovered an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln, who justified reading the Bible despite his reputed agnosticism with the comment: "I have learned to read the Bible. I believe all I can and take the rest on faith." To a friend, Reuben related the Lincoln story and added, "Substituting in the substance the words 'our Mormon Scriptures,' you will have about my situation." He later commended that anecdote to a general conference of the Church. Convinced that no religious faith could withstand uncompromising intellectual inquiry, Reuben concluded that in Babylon as well as in Zion, the refusal to rationalize one's religious beliefs was the highest manifestation of faith. 
(J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years by D. Michael Quinn, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, pages 24-26, link to page photos)

"All of it"

I am listening to "Tough Questions about Mormon Polygamy - Brian and Laura Hales". This quote by Brian Hales stood out to me.
Well, the Gospel Topics Essays are really helpful because they’re dealing
with controversial topics that we never really talked about, or if you tried
to talk about them just a few years ago, people would think that you were
a heretic in church. Also, I’ve had a couple of conversations that have
impressed me, that the church is committed to this. 
One was with Elder Stephen Snow, as the church historian. I had noticed
how much material, scanned documents, the church is now making
available, without charge, for download by any researcher on the church
history library’s website. It’s amazing, it’s staggering the amount of
material that you can now download from that site. I complimented him
on that, and he just said simply, “Transparency is important; the internet is
allowing the church to do many things it couldn’t do before.” 
I also had a conversation with the church historian, who related how he
had asked President Uchtdorf of the first presidency, “How many of these
documents should we make available online?” President Uchtdorf
reportedly said, “All of it.” I’m sure that won’t include church discipline
and temple items, but what President Uchtdorf is reflecting is that the
church can withstand scrutiny. That’s why we’re willing to put up all these
documents and let the critics as well as the believers have access to them. (Transcript)
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It reminds me of this quote “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” -- J. Reuben Clark

And this,
"Our homes are not as strong unless we are using [The Book of Mormon] to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat falsehoods in socialism, rationalism, etc. Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are “hissing forth” with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains."
("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God", Ezra Taft Benson, Jan 1988, Ensign)
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It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. 
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. 
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
(Alma 12:9-11)
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Enhance my Gospel Learning and Find Answers

Over 7 years ago, I had several conversations with a friend over why he decided to stop attending church. I feel the same way today.

There are many great resources available to "enhance gospel learning and help provide answers to doctrinal, historical, and social questions." Gospel Topics, Essays, and Other Resources is a collection of many of them. I also really enjoyed "How Do I Know If I Know?" by John Bytheway. Here are a couple more articles of my experiences: Into the Woods, Jesus was in the Ashes

I feel the same way I did last November.
I choose to believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I choose to believe. I want the truths that they teach to be true. I choose to live as if they are. I have felt many, many times how my life is blessed by living by the principles taught at church. 
I recognize that there are imperfect people at the founding of the church up to the present time. In high and in local callings. I am one of those imperfect ones. 
I love the church. I love the family and friend connections I have because of my association in it. I believe that the church is still undergoing a restoration. That the most bitter branches are being cut off to make room for the sweet fruit. I want to be a part of that process.
("I Choose to Believe")
My Aug 20, 2017 FB Post



Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God

"Our homes are not as strong unless we are using [The Book of Mormon] to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat falsehoods in socialism, rationalism, etc. Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are “hissing forth” with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains."

("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God", Ezra Taft Benson, Jan 1988, Ensign)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/01/the-book-of-mormon-is-the-word-of-god?lang=eng

Monday, August 07, 2017

Dec 2009 "Mormon Church to emphasize care for poor and needy"


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is adding a fourth emphasis to its three-prong mission. 
The LDS Church is adding, "to care for the poor and needy" to the threefold mission of the Church, which is to teach the gospel to the world, strengthen the membership of the Church and perform saving ordinances for the dead. 
The change will be made in a new Church Handbook of Instructions, to be released next year, which will refer to them as "the purpose of the Church" instead of missions. 
Church spokesman Scott Trotter said, "Caring for the poor and needy has always been a basic tenet of the Church. The language reference is simply a description of the purposes of the Church to be included in the next edition of the Church Handbook." 
The change became public over the weekend during an adult session of an LDS stake conference in Holladay, where Bishop Richard C. Edgley, a counselor in the LDS Presiding Bishopric, spoke of the revision at the prodding of the stake president. 
David H. Sundwall, who attended the conference, blogged about it at asoftanswer.com.
See also https://www.mormonwiki.com/Four-fold_Mission_of_the_Church

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands"

Can a woman forget her sucking child, 
that she should not have compassion 
on the son of her womb? 
yea, they may forget, 
yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee 
upon the palms of my hands; 
thy walls are continually before me.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Against Such there is no Law

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galations 5:22-23)
What does "against such there is no law" mean?

Dennis E. Simmons wrote "the Spirit can penetrate anything. No law can be passed which will preclude the Spirit from doing His work with an obedient follower of Christ." ("His Peace", GC, Apr 1997)

This makes sense to me.

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"that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually" (Moroni 7:13) Also, the Holy Spirit continually invites and entices us to good.

I like the analogy of the Holy Spirit as the light that comes from the sun. The light is always shining down on the earth. We may obscure it with clouds of doubt or sin. That does not mean it has stopped shining.


(https://youtu.be/8-vXpnKMtUE)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Changed for Good

I am feeling so grateful for so many people in my life. I have been changed towards Good. Towards God.

I have also  been changed forever. Thanks for both.

https://youtu.be/uzrGFQysfYU

“a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying”

“a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying”
I relate to this. Thanks for sharing Arlena Marie Strode

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/latter-day-saints-keep-on-trying.html?lang=eng

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Three things that are necessary

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.
3 First, The idea that he actually exists.
4 Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
5 Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.
Lectures on Faith
http://lecturesonfaith.com/3/

"Her choice made all other choices possible."

This makes sense to me as a definition of beguiled

While I am unclear on the meaning of the word beguiled, I have been led to the meaning defined in the OP as I have watched and pondered the current films in the temple. Whether or not Eve knew what she was doing in eating the fruit. Her doing so allowed for the existence of us all in mortality and our agency here.

http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2013/08/what-does-it-mean-that-eve-was-beguiled.html

Tempered Loyalties

This is a great article. There is a balance between loyalty to the church organization by repeating the official teaching and loyalty by sharing our view of how it is off course from what we perceive as different from what Jesus would do. Both are valuable. Both need to be tempered.


http://www.ldsliving.com/One-Analogy-Those-Who-Aren-t-Struggling-in-the-Church-Right-Now-Need-to-Understand/s/85869?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=social_button

Monday, July 03, 2017

Television Interview of Dieter F. Uctdorf Circa 1987

From a FB post from Dieter F. Uctdorf, 27 Jun 2017


I recently came across a television interview that I filmed 30 years ago around the time of the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. As you can see, I was a much younger man then. In addition to serving as the chair of the temple committee, I also was a stake president and chief pilot of Lufthansa. It was a very busy time indeed. 
As I drove from the temple open house to the television station, I prayed in my heart that I would be able to appropriately and effectively share my thoughts about my faith and why the temple is so important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
As I arrived, I was told that the interview would be only 2–3 minutes. However, when the breaking news that the station thought was going to happen didn’t materialize, they ended up extending my interview to nine minutes. 
Because the interviewer didn’t expect such a long interview, we reached a point in our discussion in which the interviewer no longer had any prepared questions to ask. This allowed for us to discuss topics which wouldn’t have come up otherwise. We even spoke about how members of the Church dress (on account of my fashionable-at-the-time white socks and skinny tie). 
But as I go back and watch this interview, the thing that strikes me most is that even now—30 years later—the questions and answers we spoke about then are very timely today. 
I would invite you to watch (we have added subtitles) and think about how this discussion from 30 years ago still can apply to you today.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

"The Missionary Speech of All Time"


Update 2018-03-02 From "Elder Holland releases statement regarding missionary story" We can all do well with caution.
Editor's Note: In his remarks during the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a missionary account, which was published by the Church News under the headline: “Elder Holland shares 'the missionary speech of all time' at Seminar for New Mission Presidents.” The article was widely read and shared. On July 31, Elder Holland released the following statement regarding the account:  
"A few weeks ago when speaking to new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center, I shared a story about two brothers, just as I heard it from individuals who knew the family and had heard it recounted by a family member. Within a few days, my office was contacted by the family, who expressed concern that some elements of that account were not accurate due to embellishing by a family member. 
“There are inspiring and important missionary lessons in this story. The older brother did indeed leave his home and his family and for many years pursued the lifestyle I described in my talk. During these years his parents lovingly tried to maintain contact, prayed faithfully for him and even sent local leaders to seek after him. However, at the time his younger brother was called to serve as a missionary, the older brother had already returned to Idaho. With the help of missionaries there, he started the difficult and courageous process of changing his life. In time, he would return to full activity and be sealed in the temple, and he would also have a son who would serve a mission. 
“As a courtesy to me the family contacted my office, wanting me to be aware of the inaccurate parts of the story and offering their help in avoiding any perpetuation of those elements in the account I heard. I am deeply touched by their humility and courage in doing so, and as an equal courtesy to them, I am withdrawing the story completely and request that it not be shared further."


--

This has a great story about how the spirit can direct us in the work of the Lord. From "Elder Holland shares 'the missionary speech of all time' at Seminar for New Mission Presidents", R. Scott Lloyd, Deseret News, 30 Jun 2017.

Elder Holland closed by relating a story — being careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of the participants — of a young man from southern Idaho. One night the young man stormed out of the house and set off to join an infamous motorcycle gang. He succeeded in that resolve and for 20 years became immersed in a culture “of temptations yielded to and degradations explored,” never contacting his parents, who feared that he was dead. 
Eventually ending up in Southern California, he one day was sitting on the porch of a rented home when he saw two LDS missionaries making their way up the street. 
“With a rush of memory and guilt, regret and rage, he despised the very sight of them,” Elder Holland recounted. “But he was safe, because he kept all visitors at bay by employing two Doberman Pinschers who viciously charged the gate every moment that anyone came near.” 
The dogs startled the missionaries as they passed by and continued on, “our man on the porch laughing at the lovely little drama he had just witnessed, wishing only that the gate hadn’t restrained his two dogs.” 
Then, the two elders stopped, looked at each other, conversed a little, “likely said a silent prayer,” then turned around and approached the gate. 
“The Dobermans on cue charged the gate again, hit it, snarling, frothing, and then stopped in their tracks,” Elder Holland said. “They looked at the missionaries, dropped their heads, ambled back to the front steps and lay down.” 
The man on the porch was speechless as they missionaries opened the gate, walked up the path and greeted him. 
“One of the elders said, ‘Are you from this part of California?’ 
“The man said, ‘No. If you want to know, I’m from Pocatello, Idaho.’ 
“There was a pause. ‘That’s interesting,’ the elder said. ‘Do you know the [such-and-such] family in Pocatello?’ 
“With a stunned look, our biker paused, and then, in very measured words, said, ‘Yeah, I know them. They are my parents.’ 
“ ‘Well, they’re my parents too,’ the missionary said. ‘God has sent me to invite you to come home.’ ” 
The younger brother had been born after the older boy had left home. The elder brother did not even know of him. 
“Mom and Dad have been praying for you every morning and night for 20 years,” the younger brother said. “They were not sure you were alive, but they knew if you were, that someday you would come back to us.” 
The wayward son invited the two in, and they talked for the rest of the day and some of the night. He did return home, returned to Church activity and, in March 2015, was married and sealed in the Boise Idaho Temple. 
Commenting on the account, Elder Holland said, “This is a story of the role of Almighty God, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost involved in the work of the ministry to which we’ve been called. 
“The Holy Ghost prompted those parents to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep trusting. … The Holy Ghost inspired that rebellious boy to come to himself like the prodigal he was and to head for California. … The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. … The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman Pinschers notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost prompted those to elders to stop, talk and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. … 
“And, through the elders, the Holy Ghost taught repentance and brought true conversion to one coming back into the fold.” 
Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, “God has sent me here to invite you to come home.” 
“We are sent by God to invite His children home,” Elder Holland concluded. “We do that through the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, on the strength of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Welcome to the divine companionship.”

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Friday, June 16, 2017

What is Essentialism?

A friend of mine commented on this post. I am intrigued by it.

https://www.facebook.com/paula.w.jones.5/posts/10154803744166553

http://gregmckeown.com/book/


Habits to encourage Essentialism from "ESSENTIALISM by Greg McKeown | ANIMATED BOOK REVIEW"
1. Journal
2. Awkward Pause for 3-4 seconds before saying yes.
3. Preserve my ability to choose
  a. Reserve time to think. 15 minute blocks to reflect
  b. Play. Re-energize my brain. Have fun.
  c. Get adequate sleep.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Judge Not and Judging

A friend recommended this talk by Dallin H. Oaks. Noting it here for later reference.

"Judge Not and Judging", Dallin H. Oaks, BYU Devotional, 1 Mar 1998

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Four Rituals that Will Make You Happy

From "New neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy", Eric Barker
May 19, 2017

1. The Most Important Question To Ask When You Feel Down: What am I grateful for?

2. Identify my emotions. Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you. But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

3. Make That Decision. Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest?

4. Touch People. Touching someone you love actually reduces pain.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

How Do I Retain and Strengthen my Desires for Good?

I have heard that hunger is the most important ingredient for success. I love this quote from Napoleon Hill, "There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it."


I have been thinking of this quote in connection with what happened with desire with the people in the Americas when Jesus visited them, "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire, "

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And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire. (3 Nephi 19:24)

Build my Dreams

2017-06-03


I was in the South Pacific musical my senior year in high school. Last night I watched part of it. This song had new meaning to it.

"You've got to have a dream. If you don't have a dream, how you going to have a dream come true?" ("Happy Talk" from South Pacific, YouTube)



Friday, March 17, 2017

How to Transform and Sanctify Beings With Impure Hearts

I love how James L. Ferrell puts justification and sanctification, and justice and mercy in perspective.
Why do we need to turn to Christ? And how, exactly, does the gospel invite us to turn to him? 
To address these questions, we need to understand both our current condition and our eternal possibilities. What is our current condition? As we discussed in the last chapter, our condition is that we are separated from God. To use a metaphor from the last chapter, he is Light and we are not, and we are therefore inescapably apart from him. But what does this really mean? 
Here, another analogy might help us. A good friend of mine spent many years as a judge. He presided over hundreds of drug cases. All were more or less just cases to him until, one day, he lifted his head to see his neighbor standing before him. Things were suddenly entirely more personal. And yet, there was a law, and that law had been broken. He might have liked to set his neighbor free, but what kind of justice would that be if he didn’t do the same for all the others? But if he did the same for all the others as well, what would become of the notion of justice? Or mercy, for that matter? If none are guilty, then mercy is rendered meaningless as well. 
So what problem confronted this neighbor? Two, actually. The first was that he had violated the law in a serious way, and these violations required punishment. In this case, the facts were such that the man needed to go to jail. And his friend was the one who needed to send him there. There is no escape from such personal consequence for violations of the laws of this world. The only way that a violator of such a law can be justified and set free again is for him to pay whatever consequence is associated with the transgression. 
But this man had a second problem, even graver than the first. My friend has told me of the dismal repeat-offender statistics for drug users. After jail terms have been served, justifying their release, the overwhelming majority of offenders nationwide end up before yet another judge for the same or worse offenses and suffer the same consequence as before—over and over and over again. The first problem in such cases is that there has been a violation of the law, but the bigger problem is that the weaknesses and desires that led to those violations in the first place have not been overcome. Although their time served in prison had justified them in the eyes of the law for past offenses, it failed to sanctify them from the weaknesses and desires that had led them to commit those offenses and that would yet induce them to transgress in the future. 
These twin principles of justification and sanctification play a central role in our own situations relative to God. We, too, have two problems. The first is that we have violated the laws of God—our hands, the scriptures say, are “unclean.” The second problem is that our hearts are impure—that is, we still desire things that are not holy. Why is this a problem? Because anything that is unholy cannot be with God. We “must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness,” the scriptures say, “that [we] may be prepared for [his] glory.” “For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” In other words, unless and until our hearts and desires and wills are sanctified as the Lord’s, we will never be able to be with and see the Father as he really is, in the fulness of his glory. Which is to say that the only way to overcome the problem of never being able to catch up to light is to be made light ourselves. 
The problem of life—the problem that the whole plan of salvation and redemption was conceived to solve—is how to transform and sanctify beings whose impure hearts, desires, and wills cannot abide the glory of God into beings whose hearts, desires, and wills can abide that glory. We are, as it were, the repeat drug offender. We must not only be justified or forgiven for past sins but must also be sanctified from any desire for sin. How else could God entrust us with his power?
("Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness", James L. Ferrell p.49)?

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No Service Which is Vile Can be Done to Me

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I think there are many in the world who have experienced significant happiness in their lives even if they do not believe in Christ. Some of the best people I have ever known come from different religious traditions and belief structures, some of which do not include any concept of a Savior. But they love their families. They love their neighbors. They are honest and hardworking and humble. They are willing to see their faults and not to frantically ignore or gloss over them. They are humbly “down” as we have been discussing. And, when they are, I would suggest that they are humbly down before Christ even if they don’t know that they are. 
A passage in one of C. S. Lewis’s books is instructive here. In the final book of the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Last Battle, there is an exchange between the Christ-figure, who is the lion Aslan, and a man who for all his life had been the devoted follower of a wicked and false god known as Tash. When he realized that he had been serving the wrong master, the man fell before Aslan, expecting to be destroyed. But Aslan—the “Glorious One”—“bent down his golden head and touched [the man’s] forehead with his tongue” and said:
Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. . . . I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.
I believe that the Lord’s grace is immense enough that he blesses people with his Spirit even if they know nothing about it. The world over, there are those who are, in effect, kneeling before him even though they don’t know who he is. But he knows who they are. He knows them, and he knows their hearts. And when they or we bow in humble recognition of our faults, we bow before him and are blessed of him. ("Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness", James L. Ferrell p.27)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

“Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds”

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How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken.  Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art!  Then, let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!
“Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds”, Apr 1991, Neal A. Maxwell
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 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
(Heb 12:1-4)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What does it mean to "grind the faces of the poor"?

I remember a Sunday School teacher talking about this scripture. For some reason I pictured someone putting another's face to a millstone. The kind that is used to grind grain into flour. I imagined that they were doing it do they could glut themselves from the labor of the other.

Avarice is a trap that we must all guard ourselves against. We must " not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish....For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have"? (Mosiah 4:16-19)

On the other hand, to those that are poor, King Benjamin says, "I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give. And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received." (Mosiah 4:24-25)

From a FB Post

Friday, March 03, 2017

Judge Righteous Judgments

This morning, I was listening to "Israel, Israel, God Is Calling" from the Jan 2012 CES Devotional by Elder Jeffrey R Holland

I like his explanation of "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24)
In this regard—this call for compassion and loyalty to the commandments—there is sometimes a chance for a misunderstanding, especially among young people who may think we are not supposed to judge anything, that we are never to make a value assessment of any kind. We have to help each other with that because the Savior makes it clear that in some situations we have to judge, we are under obligation to judge
...
In this process of evaluation, we are not called on to condemn others, but we are called upon to make decisions every day that reflect judgment—we hope good judgment. Elder Dallin H. Oaks once referred to these kinds of decisions as “intermediate judgments,” which we often have to make for our own safety or for the safety of others, as opposed to what he called “final judgments,” which can only be made by God, who knows all the facts. (Remember, in the scripture quoted earlier, that the Savior said these are to be “righteous judgments,” not self-righteous judgments, which is a very different thing.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Where to start



Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi, BrainyQuote

Learning to Dance all over my Purpose - Marriage

One of the best books I read about marriage is the The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes. The husband in this allegory learns how to fix his marriage by turning to Jesus and learning to change his own deficits with God and begin giving to his wife as Jesus would.

Another great book is Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself. The personality questionnaire results of my wife are more action based than mine turned out. In some contexts, you would call her more alpha than I am/was. It showed me how good it is to have complementary personality traits. It also uncovered the disadvantages of living in the negative aspects of my dispositions.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

When imagination and willpower fight, imagination wins.

The ant and the elephant. The ant represents our conscious mind and the elephant our unconscious. The ant is logical, the elephant emotional. Ant = words, Elephant = imagination.

The elephant is about 2 million times more active in my brain cells than my ant.

I recognize that if I am going to get my dreams, I must engage my elephant. I can do this by dreaming my dreams in images, in what it will taste like, what it will feel like. To get detailed. I can use my ant by consciously choosing what I feed my elephant. What are the messages, images and imagination I feed my unconscious?

As I persist in feeding what I want to my brain, my faith will increase.

When imagination and willpower fight, imagination wins.

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“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem”
― Captain Jack Sparrow

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fire in my Bones

The brethren who came to preach the Gospel to me, I could easily out-talk them . . . ; but their testimony was like fire in my bones; I understood the spirit of their preaching; I received that spirit; it was light, intelligence, power, and truth, and it bore witness to my spirit, and that was enough for me. [Remarks by Brigham Young, 28 July 1861; JD 9:141; also reported in Deseret News Weekly, 2 October 1861, 177]

Monday, January 09, 2017