Personal Online Journal

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Bring With You All That You Have Of Good And Truth"

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We invite all, the whole earth, to listen to this account and take measure of its truth. God bless us as those who believe in His divine manifestations and help us to extend knowledge of these great and marvelous occurrences to all who will listen. To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. ("The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith", Gordon B. Hinckely, Oct 2002, https://youtu.be/-NWJEZkn9bU?t=1125)
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Friday, December 07, 2018

God loves Broken Things


Broken
(Words by Kenneth Cope; Music by Kenneth & Eliza Cope)
—inspired by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland  
Broken clouds give rain
Broken soil grows grain
Broken bread feeds man for one more day  
Broken storms yield light
The break of day heals night
Broken pride turns blindness into sight  
Broken souls that need His mending Broken hearts for offering Could it be that God loves broken things  

Broken chains set free
Broken swords bring peace
Broken walls make friends of you and me  
To break the ranks of sin
To break the news of Him
To put on Christ till His name feels broken in  
Broken souls that need His mending Broken hearts for offering I believe that God loves broken things  

And yet, our broken faith, our broken promises
Sent love to the cross
And still, that broken flesh, that broken heart of His
Offers us such grace and mercy
Covers us with love undeserving  
This broken soul that cries for mending This broken heart for offering I’m convinced that God loves broken me Praise His name—my God loves broken things  

So, broken cloud—Give rain
And broken soil—Grow grain
And broken bread—Feed man for one more day  
© 2004 Merge Right Music (BMI)
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Picket Fence or Razor Wire

Will I line my heart with a picket fence or razor wire?
The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to. 
In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it. 
Let us apply the idea of a gateway to the heart to receiving personal revelation. Nephi taught, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” Elder David A. Bednar noted the use of the word unto: “Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not necessarily into the heart. … Ultimately, … the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter.” 
Why just unto the heart? Individual agency is so sacred that Heavenly Father will never force the human heart, even with all His infinite power. Man may try to do so, but God does not. To put it another way, God allows us to be the guardians, or the gatekeepers, of our own hearts. We must, of our own free will, open our hearts to the Spirit, for He will not force Himself upon us. 
("Opening Our Hearts", Gerald N. Lund, GC Apr 2008) 
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A house with a white picket fence around it.



Fence with razor wire.

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Jesus gave a warning about the weightier matters
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23)
What are the weightier matters? Can we attend church, family scripture study and family prayer and not let the weightier matter sink deep into our hearts?




Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Revealed Pattern of Spiritual Progress for Individuals and Families

In slides 20-26 of this presentation, I put together the examples Elder Bednar used to show that "the sequence and timing of [the prophets] over many decades can help us to see one united and comprehensive work and not just a series of independent and discrete initiatives." (From "Gather Together in One All Things in Christ", David A.  Bednar, Oct 2018)

If I have time in my Seminary lesson, I will use it as an example of revelation that has occurred in my lifetime.

It is part of this lesson “Prophets and Revelation, Part 1,” Doctrinal Mastery Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Material (2017)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Will talking about this awaken my child’s sexuality and cause problems?

“Ideally, parents will learn to shift from the ‘big talk’ mentality to that of an ongoing conversation,” said Brother Gibbons. “Not that you dwell on it all the time or become casual about it—it is sacred—but it will come up in small ways continuously. It is not just a talk about sexuality; it’s a conversation about our God-given feelings and our aspirations of what we can become as families.”

(Brother Lee Gibbons is a product manager with the Priesthood Department, https://www.lds.org/church/news/how-to-teach-children-about-sexual-intimacy?lang=eng)

https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/will-talking-about-this-awaken-my-childs-sexuality-and-cause-problems?lang=eng

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Serious Trouble

"Many years ago, I was first counselor to a district president in the eastern United States. More than once, as we were driving to our little branches, he said to me, 'Hal, when you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.' Not only was he right, but I have learned over the years that he was too low in his estimate. Today I wish to encourage you in the troubles you face."

Henry B. Eyring, Oct 2018
https://youtu.be/_aSsN2vru1A?t=28
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/try-try-try?lang=eng

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Love and Law

We need to be loving and respect the commandments of God.



https://youtu.be/SsrZ1XqwQlg

From the video of Dallin H. Oaks from Oct 2016:
As Latter-day Saints, many of us (not all of us) but many of us are inclined to insist on the law and do so in an unloving way. 
I receive many letters from people who are devastated at the choices being made by someone in their family. And they say, "What are we to do?" And the first thing I always suggest is keep loving them. In the end, that is something you can always do. 
We have to have in mind, the commandments of the Lord, which I'll refer to as the law and also the great commandment to love one another. And those will come into conflict when someone we associate with is not keeping the commandments or keeping the law. That makes is harder for us to associate with them and to love them. And yet if we love the individual, and at the same time, keep a tight hold on what we know to be our responsibilities to the law, it's possible to do so. 
We benefit by having people among us from different backgrounds. And the challenge of having people among us who bring a different point of view, a different background, different ways of thinking, different values to some extent, it's great. And it's a personal benefit for our progress. 
We should not start off our interaction with people who are making different choices than we desire, by arguing about their choices. It's better for us to start off talking about, "Where are you coming from? What are your basic values? What do you want to accomplish?" Then in that context, we can explain that we are concerned about the Lord's commandments. Because what's important to us is to stay on the path to Eternal Life. 
We are given commandments. When we obey those commandments, we are obedient. The consequence of being obedient to commandments is to put ourselves in harmony with the eternal law that permits us to grow and progress toward eternal life. 
The Savior commanded his followers to "love one another as I have loved you". So we look at how He loved us. He sacrificed himself for us. He was concerned always with the individual. He had a wonderful outreach for people. I think those are all indicators of how we can love one another like He loved us. If we make him our role model, we should always be trying to reach out to include everyone.
This video is featured on  https://mormonandgay.lds.org


"I will speak of restored, gospel truths that are fundamental to the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please consider these truths carefully. They explain much about our doctrine and practices perhaps including some things not yet understood." (Sat Morning Session talk by Dallin H. Oaks,  6 Oct 2018, Timestamp 3:35)

"In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith." (“Lord, I Believe”, Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr 2013)




Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Face to Face Event with Elder Cook with a Focus on Church History

I just watched this Face to Face devotional broadcast Sep 9, 2018. It left me with such a sweet spirit. The church is investing so much time effort and money to make the history of the church accessible and understandable to anyone who wants it.

Life is messy, our history is as well. I am grateful for my spiritual ancestors. For their sacrifice. For their example in following Jesus.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Abortion, Birth Control and the Sexual Economy

Unwanted pregnancies are caused by men and by women. The truth is that the contraceptive pill has radically changed how men and women relate to sex and marriage. (See “The Economics of Sex”, https://youtu.be/cO1ifNaNABY)

I think we should look at what the pro-life and pro-choice movements have in common.
https://mormonhub.com/blog/life/pro-choice-pro-life-common/


When a man and a woman create a child, they are both responsible for their action. The woman certainly has an immediate and physical, emotional and possibly social cost. The man should be held accountable as well.

The best situation is where the woman and man are already married and choose to have children. We do not always have that situation. We should do what we can to persuade those closest to us to relate to sex in this way. It creates the least harm.

What do we do when it is less than ideal? Pray. Seek guidance and compassion.

From my perspective once a couple is pregnant, the choice as to whether to have the child is over, except in rare cases.

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From President Faust Nov 1995

During a prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C., on 3 February 1994, Mother Teresa gave the most honest and powerful proclamation of truth on this subject I have ever heard. ..., “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Elizabeth Smart - Overcoming Trauma: Forgiveness is not for the other person. It's for yourself


"Forgiveness is not for the other person. It's for yourself "
https://youtu.be/UvmDbhBEG4Y

"Today, one of her captors was released from jail. This is Elizabeth Smart’s message about being at peace with her past and finding her power back."

From a FB post from Goalcast

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Expound and Exhort

From seminary lesson "Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67"

Expound means to teach something in greater detail
Exhort means to strongly encourage someone to do something

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Distinction Between Justification and Sanctification

From Seminary lesson "Doctrine and Covenants 20:1–36" and D&C 20:30-31

Justification (verse 30) means to be forgiven, pardoned, and declared not guilty. Sanctification (verse 31) means to become clean, pure, holy, and Christlike.

More from D. Todd Christofferson:
“Because of ‘the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice,’ Jesus Christ can satisfy or ‘answer the ends of the law’ on our behalf. Pardon comes by the grace of Him who has satisfied the demands of justice by His own suffering, ‘the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God’ (1 Pet. 3:18). He removes our condemnation without removing the law. We are pardoned and placed in a condition of righteousness with Him. We become, like Him, without sin. We are sustained and protected by the law, by justice. We are, in a word, justified. 
“Thus, we may appropriately speak of one who is justified as pardoned, without sin, or guiltless. For example, ‘Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world’ (3 Ne. 27:16; emphasis added). Yet glorious as the remission of sins is, the Atonement accomplishes even more. That ‘more’ is expressed by Moroni: 
“‘And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot’ (Moro. 10:33; emphasis added). 
“To be sanctified through the blood of Christ is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin. The Prophet Joseph Smith testified: 
“‘And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us— 
“‘That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear [justify] the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness’ (D&C 76:40–41)” 
(“Justification and Sanctification,” D. Todd Christofferson, Ensign, June 2001, 20–22).
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Monday, September 03, 2018

Gospel Topics, Essays, and Other Resources

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 prepared a lesson for Seminary focusing on how we can seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources.

Here is a picture take from this video that addresses how Joseph Smith used a Seer Stone to translate the Book of Mormon.



A great video on how creating a stone wall is like building our faith
Act in Faith: The Stonemason 

A slide presentation I prepared for a Seminary class.

FairMormon: Well-reasoned and faithful responses to doctrinal, historical, and social questions.




Saturday, September 01, 2018

Three Church History Films

There are three church history films that have captured my imagination recently. Part of it is from the visits I had this summer in Nauvoo IL, Kirtland OH, Palmyra, NY and Fayette NY.

I highly recommend them
Days of Harmony (2016)
A Day for the Eternities (2016)
Kirtland: America's Sacred Ground (2017)

"Mary Whitmer Sees the Gold Plates" LDS Church History, YouTube, Aug 22, 2018





Saturday, August 25, 2018

Story of the Three Trees

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!”

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world!”

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. “I don’t want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”

Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell.

“Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest. I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell.

“Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!”

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.

But the woodcutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.

The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail on an ocean, or even a river; instead, she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.

“What happened?” the once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God...”

Many, many days and night passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams.

But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.

“I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said.

And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.

Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.

The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.

And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her.

She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth tremble with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything.

It had made the third tree strong.

And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.

That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

The next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you want, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Source unknown

Copied from https://bible.org/illustration/story-three-trees

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Personal insights from Wendy Watson Nelson about President Nelson

Neil L Andersen posted this

[Begin Quote]
After returning to Salt Lake City late last night, Kathy and I have continued to think about and talk about the experiences of the past few days with deep appreciation for the unparalleled experience of being with President and Sister Nelson. Listening to Sister Wendy Nelson bear testimony of President Nelson’s prophetic calling and having her give a glimpse into what it has been like in their home since he became the Lord’s prophet, strengthened the faith of those who listened. Sister Nelson spoke of her own witness of President Nelson’s prophetic calling.

She said, “Two days after President Monson departed the Lord gave me a singular, most distinct experience with my husband. So distinct, so vivid, so clear. Every detail of that experience is seared in my mind and heart forever. Two days later it happened again exact same experience again” (to her alone).

She said that it was “too sacred to share over the pulpit,” but that “because of that I can take any witness stand and testify that Russell Marion Nelson is the Prophet of the Lord. Russell Marion Nelson is the living prophet of the living Lord.”

For Kathy, for me and for many other saints, her comments about revelation were powerful and reinforced our belief, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants it is the same.”

Sister Nelson explained that in their 12 years of marriage, she had watched the process of revelation and inspiration upon her husband but that since becoming the president of the Church, those revelations have “expanded exponentially.”

She explained, “He keeps a lined yellow pad of paper beside his bed.” Then she declared, “In the morning he holds up a half page to one and a half pages of notes with joy.”

Although she said that sometimes she remains close to him when this process is happening, sometimes she does not. She recounted a night in January when “I got the prompting, ‘move out of bed now.’”

“Two hours later he emerged from the room. ‘Wendy, you won’t believe what’s been happening. The Lord has given me detailed instruction on what I am to do.’”

Sister Nelson said that during the “last eight months it has been an experience to send my husband off to work. He comes back, different than when I sent him off in the morning. I have seen him change at the pulpit. I have heard him use phrases he hasn’t used before. I’ve seen him make changes at the pulpit.”

She said that just a few weeks ago speaking to young adults in a sacrament meeting, “I saw 30 years fall away.”

I, too, would add that it was amazing to me that a man fewer than three weeks away from being 94 years old could go to the pulpit last night in Toronto with no notes, never repeating himself and speaking for 45 minutes, with the audience of 8,000 riveted on him and his message. When I commented on this after the meeting, President Nelson said, “Well, these people have come from a long way. They come prayerfully. The last thing they want me to do is come to the pulpit and read them a talk.” It was an experience of revelation.
[End Quote]

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Covenants of the Endowment

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“The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions” (The House of the Lord, James E. Talmage, rev. ed. [1976], 84).
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“We are a covenant people. We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 35).

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See also “Lesson 4: Receiving Temple Ordinances and Covenants,” Endowed from on High: Temple Preparation Seminar Teacher’s Manual (2003), 16–20

Friday, July 20, 2018

Coming to Ourselves: The First Timid Step

I have been listening and reading "Bonds That Make Us Free Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves". This morning I was thinking about how I might introduce the book to my children.

I first read an early form of this book before it was published. I attended a class from the Arbinger Institute around 1997. The concepts in the book were a paradigm shift for me. I recognized how many of my problems were of my own making. After over 20 years, I have not put into practice many of the principles in this book. I hope to instill in my children the principles and practices that this book teaches and causes to inspire.

I hope to further nurture a climate of change and accountability and growth in my family and friends. Part of this is selfish. I know that I have a better chance of changing, being accountable and growing when I ask it of those nearest to me.

The last part of the sub-title stood out to me, "coming to ourselves". It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
(Luke 15:17-19)
What does it mean to come to myself?

Coming to myself is one of the first steps of repentance. We become aware of what we have created. We resolve to go, confess and accept the consequences. In the story of the prodigal son, he did not think it possible that he could be restored in his relationship with his father. His father showed him immediately that he urgently longed for a restoration. He ran and fell on his son's neck.

Matthew R. Linford describes how the father in this story risks the shame from the community. He loves his child. God rejoices in our turning to him. He runs to us and embraces us regardless what others might think of him.
As Bailey notes, in Middle Eastern culture, a man of the father’s stature would always walk in a slow, deliberate way. He would never run, let alone race. In addition, for a man in robes to run, and especially for him to race, he would need to gather his robes in his arms and expose his legs. Both running and exposing his body would cause him tremendous shame in his community — these would be unthinkable acts. Thus, no doubt to his utter amazement, the prodigal son sees his father take at least some of his shame upon him, racing partly naked through the village. This act would draw at least some of the attention and scorn of the community from the returning child to the benevolent father.
("The Parable of the Benevolent Father and Son", Matthew R. Linford, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 149-178, Quoted on www.mormoninterpreter.com)
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While he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that a joyous return is possible for any “who have taken your spiritual inheritance and left.” 
“Note the words of the parable of the prodigal son: ‘And when he came to himself.’ Have you not also reflected on your condition and circumstances, and longed to return? 
“The boy in the parable wanted only to be a servant in his father’s house, but his father, seeing him afar off, ran to meet him and kissed him, put a robe on his back, a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and had a feast prepared for him. 
“So it will be with you. If you will take the first timid step to return, you will find open arms to greet you and warm friends to make you welcome.
("Viewpoint: Repent and Return to Christ" quotes "Everything to Gain—Nothing to Lose", Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference Oct 1976. Emphasis added.)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right"


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In February 1847, nearly three years after the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, he appeared to President Brigham Young and gave him this message: 
“Tell the people to be humble and faithful and sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right.” 
(Brigham Young, Quoted from "Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Joseph Smith Chapter 7: Baptism And The Gift Of The Holy Ghost", Original in Brigham Young, Office Files, Brigham Young, Vision, Feb. 17, 1847, Church Archives.)

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You may surround any man or woman with all the wealth and glory that the imagination of man can grasp, and are they satisfied? No. There is still an aching void. On the other hand, show me a beggar upon the streets, who has the Holy Ghost, whose mind is filled with that Spirit and power, and I will show you a person who has peace of mind, who possesses true riches, and those enjoyments that no man can obtain from any other source.
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
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You will find if ever we seek to do something else besides carrying out the dictates of the Holy Spirit, we will get into the fog and into darkness and trouble, and we shall be ignorant of the way we are pursuing. Every day that we live we need the power of the Lord—the power of his Holy Spirit and the strength of the priesthood to be with us that we may know what to do. And if we will so live before the Lord, the Spirit will reveal to us every day what our duties are; I do not care what it is we are engaged in, we should first find out the will of the Lord and then do it, and then our work will be well done and acceptable before the Lord.
... 
Through all my life and labors, whenever I have been told to do anything by the Spirit of the Lord, I have always found it good to do it. I have been preserved by that power. … Get the spirit of revelation with you. And when you get that you are safe, and you will do exactly what the Lord wants you to do. 
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
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Every man who receives that Spirit has a comforter within—a leader to dictate and guide him. This Spirit reveals, day by day, to every man who has faith, those things which are for his benefit. … It is this inspiration of God to his children in every age of the world that is one of the necessary gifts to sustain man and enable him to walk by faith, and to go forth and obey all the dictations and commandments and revelations which God has given to His children to guide and direct them in life. 
... 
Every man should get the Spirit of God, and then follow its dictates. This is revelation. It doesn’t make any difference what the Spirit tells you to do; it will never tell you to do anything that is wrong. 
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
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Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. 
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly. 
("Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives", Russell M. Nelson, General Conference Apr 2018)
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See also "Learning to Recognize the Spirit,” Family Home Evening Resource Book (1997), 64


Monday, July 02, 2018

Suicide Prevention: Understanding Suicide

From Dale G. Renlund, "Suicide Prevention: Understanding Suicide", Mormon Channel on YouTube. 2 Jul 2018
There's an old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever. That is totally false.
I believe the vast majority of cases, will find that these individuals have lived heroic lives and that that suicide will not be a defining characteristic of their eternities. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

National Memorial Takeaways

The one thing I visited that inspired me more than any other were the quotes in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.


Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC


From https://www.nps.gov/thje/learn/photosmultimedia/quotations.htm
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Inscriptions: 
Rotunda
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
-Excerpted from a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800.
Southwest Portico
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We...solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of a right ought to be free and independent states...and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."
-Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence, 1776. 
Northwest Portico
"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively."
-Excerpted from A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, drafted in 1777. First introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, after he had become Governor. Passed by the Virginia Assembly in 1786, while Jefferson was serving as Minister to France. The last sentence is excerpted from a letter to James Madison, August 28, 1789, as he was returning to America to assume his position as Secretary of State. 
Northeast Portico
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan."
-Excerpted from multiple sources: "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," "Notes on the State of Virginia," "The Autobiography," letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786). 
Southeast Portico:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
-Excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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

There may be many reasons. I think succinctly,

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

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

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Practice, Practice, Practice.

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

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

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

Elder Holland then tells a story.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Friendship and Ministering

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

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

https://youtu.be/teUd1GB8kgU

Define responsibility.

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


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

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Read the following scenario aloud:

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

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

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

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

Act in faith:

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

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

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

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are we creating in our relationships?

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

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

https://youtu.be/YoFJgLmbYZE

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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

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

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




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

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


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



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

#bookofmormonandme Image from https://www.instagram.com/p/BbIZ4KmlVZ-

See more great memes at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/bookofmormonandme/





Monday, April 16, 2018

Book of Mormon Experiment by Jeff Sheets



https://youtu.be/S2JiB9eTHtg

From "Professor Sheets Demonstrates The Connection Between Faith And Advertising", By maddynf, Posted May 25, 2017, byu.edu
Setting up stations in public areas around the world, [Jeff] Sheets and his team traveled to a diverse number of locations, including London, England; Chicago, Illinois; Cape Town, South Africa; and Sydney, Australia. At these different locations, the team invited 531 pedestrians (one person for each page of the book) to read a page of the Book of Mormon, looking for references to God and Jesus Christ on their respective pages. Participants not only came from different geographic locations, but had diverse religious affiliations and cultural identities. Sheets explained that the Book of Mormon Social Experiment was a powerful reminder of the similarities of God’s children and the Christian message of the Book of Mormon. Participants were surprised at how much their page related to the practices in their own religion. 
“Through this experiment, the participants each became a witness that their individual page testifies of Christ,” said Sheets.

#BookOfMormonExperiment
See also https://youtu.be/7GfWTiWgP7w


Personal Revelation

Someone asked, "What are some of your favorite go-to scriptures or conference talks about how the Spirit and personal revelation works?"

Here are some great answers:


 "Usually we think of revelation as information. Just open the books to us, Lord, like: What was the political significance of the Louisiana Purchase or the essence of the second law of thermodynamics?...aside from the fact that you probably aren’t going to get that kind of revelation...this is too narrow a concept of revelation.”
Elder Holland, Cast Not Away Your Confidence (BYU Devotional)

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-and-modern says, "Latter-day Saints do not expect God to simply hand down information. He expects us to wrestle with the complications of life through prayerful searching and sound thinking."

"Good information leads to good inspiration" President Nelson, most recent General Conference

President Hugh B. Brown (wait for it)- “We should all be interested in academic research. We must go out on the research front and continue to explore the vast unknown. We should be in the forefront of learning in all fields, for revelation does not come only through the prophet of God nor only directly from heaven in visions or dreams.** Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration.**”

Paraphrasing D&C 1:24, revelation comes to us "in [our] weakness, after the manner of [our] language, that [we] might come to understanding."

"I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many that God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principles so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, groveling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak unto us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities" (Brigham Young, July 8 1855, JD 2:314).

Monday, April 09, 2018

Misplaced Faith

There are many things I disagree with Kirby about. I agree with this statement,

"If someone else’s vile behavior causes you to question your core beliefs, it’s only a sign that you had your faith misplaced to begin with." ("Kirby: When a church leader falls, it shouldn’t shake your faith unless you had your faith misplaced to begin with", 8 Apr 2018, The Salt Lake Tribune)

This is a very important topic. It is important to place our faith where it cannot be shaken. That is in the rock, Jesus Christ.

The tricky part is that we learn of Jesus initially from only fallible sources, people, books, even scripture. The trick is to connect to the Holy Spirit. And that is tricky. What is emotion? What is only a desire to believe. We have to look to the results. The fruit.

Over time, I need to learn to trust my interactions with God. After 45 years, I am still working on that. I hope. I trust, to a degree.

It is vital to separate worship of God from any thing else. It is vital to teach these principles to those around us.

Some questions I am asking my friends:

What do you do to help those around you and yourself center your faith in Christ?

What are some examples of placing faith in something other than God?


My job is to introduce you to the Divine and help you begin to see the divine in you. To ask you to join me to awaken and encourage the same in others.

Light a fire of exploration in others about Jesus and how He can transform our lives.

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Some might place faith in the fact that they are paying their tithing and fulfilling their calling. That they have bound that Lord to prevent bad from happening in their lives.

If something bad does occur, this can fracture our faith.

I think this is an example of misplacing faith.
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"Do not... put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an Apostle or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. ... Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or woman."
(George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star 53:658-659, 673-675.)
https://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/review/16/2/S00017-5176ad2f5804e17Bitton.pdf

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Tools for Doctrinal Mastery

Here are some tools to learn doctrinal mastery.

Get a printed booklet of the scriptures. (pdf, buy)

Book of Mormon

Click here for a Quizlet going from the phrase to the scripture reference and the Doctrinal Mastery Topic it goes with.

Click here for a Quizlet going from the scripture reference to the phrase describing it. (the tag line)

Install the mobile Quizlet mobile app.

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Being an Agent to Act

I find so much power in this video. Agency, Faith, Patience and a toddler learning to walk.
That is what we are. Babies of God, taking our first steps. As we trust in Him, we act. We step into the unknown and we receive power to do all He asks us to do. 



https://youtu.be/4WIuG9VqG4M

I transcribed it because I felt like I could not capture the power of the words that was coming to my heart.
If we did not have moral agency, we would simply be puppets manipulated by the strings of fate. 
In my understanding, the great purpose of mortality is to learn in ways we could not have learned in pre-mortality. And we learn in mortality, lessons that prepare us for eternity. 
The natural man and the natural woman says, "There is no way I'm taking this step. There's no way I'm moving into the darkness, until the light moves and I can see where I'm going."The requirement is that we take the step anticipating that when our foot hits the ground, the light will move. Now the first time we do that, it's not doubt, but there's a little bit of uncertainty, even a little bit of apprehension, which is quite normal. 
It works almost like a helix, where we take that first step based on "the substance of things hoped for", there comes "the evidence of things not seen". (Heb 11:1) It's not a perfect cycle that's never interrupted, or that is totally smooth. But, line upon line, that increase is incremental and gradual. 
Now the other thing, I don't want to talk about faith in the Savior as if it is a trait, and there is a formula and if I just follow the elements of the formula, then I'm automatically going to get more. It's a spiritual gift, but we have to be doing our part, to be able to be in a position where we can receive the gift. And it always requires that we act first and then the power comes. 
Most of the time we'd like to think, "Well give me the power and then I'll act." But the Savior's gospel teaches that first that first we act then the power comes. We don't know where to go. We don't know what to do. But my trust in Him enables me to act. He blesses me with His power. That confidence increases. We then can, ultimately, navigate the most difficult circumstances in life knowing that we will never be alone and we will always have His help. 
One of the things that is required is that "we wait upon the Lord". That's another scriptural phrase that I'm drawn to all the time. The depth of the lesson is often only realized line upon line, precept upon precept over an extended period of time. 
The greatest gift the Father gave to us was His Son. And the gift that comes to us through the Savior's Atonement is agency. So agency is essential to the Father's plan and it is the capacity to act and learn from our own experiences. That is the very essence and purpose of being here in mortality.
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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Strong Self-Restraint

The phrase "strong self-restraint" stood out to me as I listened to David A. Bednar describe the Christ-like attribute of meekness.


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Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint.
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Pahoran was blessed with perspective and strong self-restraint to act rather than react as he explained to Moroni the challenges arising from a rebellion against the government.
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As we come unto and follow the Savior, we increasingly and incrementally are enabled to become more like Him. We are empowered by the Spirit with disciplined self-restraint and a settled and calm demeanor. Thus, meek is what we become as disciples of the Master and not just something we do.
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The consistency of the Lord’s willing submission and strong self-restraint is both awe-inspiring and instructive for us all. As an armed company of temple guardsmen and Roman soldiers arrived at Gethsemane to seize and arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. The Savior then touched the servant’s ear and healed him. Please note that He reached out and blessed His potential captor using the same heavenly power that could have prevented Him from being captured and crucified. 
Consider also how the Master was accused and condemned before Pilate to be crucified. Jesus had declared during His betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Yet the “Eternal Judge of both quick and dead” paradoxically was judged before a temporary political appointee. “And [Jesus] answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.” The Savior’s meekness is evidenced in His disciplined response, strong restraint, and unwillingness to exert His infinite power for personal benefit.
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("Meek and Lowly of Heart", David A. Bednar, Apr 2018 GC)



Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Bright Red Shawl



https://youtu.be/6J4cbItCoX0

Listen for what the story told by Elder Bateman can teach us about scripture study.
In order to come unto Christ and be perfected in him, each person needs to receive a testimony of the Lord’s words. Some individuals falter because they fail to open the books, others because they read casually. As one would expect, there is a difference between diligent searching or “pondering over the scriptures” and casual reading. A Church history story illustrates the difference. 
A small six-year-old boy wandered away from his handcart company during a storm and was lost. When the storm subsided, Robert and Ann Parker realized their boy was missing and began searching. For two days an organized search was unsuccessful. The decision was made that the company must move on because of the approaching winter. 
A pioneer journal records the following: 
“Ann Parker pinned a bright [red] shawl about the thin shoulders of her husband and sent him back alone on the trail to search again for their child. If he found him dead he was to wrap him in the shawl; if alive, the shawl would be a flag to signal her. Ann and her children took up their load and struggled on with the company, while Robert retraced the miles of … trail, calling, and searching and praying for his helpless little son.” 
One suspects that he did not just casually look behind a few trees or leisurely walk along the trail, but that he vigorously investigated every thicket, every clump of trees and gully or wash. 
“At last he reached a … trading station where he learned that his child had been found and cared for by a woodsman and his wife. [The boy] had been ill from exposure and fright. [But] God had heard the prayers of his people. 
“Out on the trail each night Ann and her children kept watch and, when, on the third night the rays of the setting sun caught the glimmer of a bright red shawl [above her husband’s head], the brave little mother sank in a pitiful heap in the sand. … [She] slept for the first time in six … days.” 
The story illustrates the difference between just looking and searching diligently. A casual, infrequent exposure to the scriptures will generally not open the door to the whisperings of the Spirit or provide insights into the Savior’s life and character. We need to search the scriptures with the same vigor that Robert hunted for his son and with the consistency of the mother searching the horizon if we expect to hear his voice and know his words.
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

"For Those Who Feel Overwhelmed at Church"



https://youtu.be/NnqvAHyRtv0

"BYU professor, and author of the new book "The Atoning One," shares this touching story of a woman who admitted to being overwhelmed by Church and how he responded as her ecclesiastical leader." From a FB Post of LDS Living.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

"God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work"

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God, the Father of us all, uses the men of the earth, especially good men, to accomplish his purposes. It has been true in the past, it is true today, it will be true in the future. 
“Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of His Church to help it along,” said the late Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve. “They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. … Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the truth; while others remain unconverted … the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in His own due time. God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous for any one people. … We have no quarrel with the Gentiles. They are our partners in a certain sense.” (Conference Report, April 1928, p. 59.)
("Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints", Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference Apr 1974)
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Monday, March 05, 2018

What does it mean to be a rough stone rolling?

Joseph Smith Jr once called himself a rough stone rolling.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred. (Discourse to Saints, May 1843; DHC 5:401, Quoted in "Joseph the Prophet:", J. Lewis Taylor, Ensign Jun 1973)
What does it mean to follow in a similar path? In elder's quorum today we counselled together on "How can we better prioritize all of our different responsibilities?" ("First-Sunday Council Meetings", Come Follow Me for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society October 2017) The facilitator and I talked afterward. He used the term "guerrilla tactics" for the ideas we came up with.

As I consider what tactics I use, my first ideas are that I must continue in the systems that work for me: daily prayer and scripture study, weekly sacrament meeting attendance with other Sunday meetings, regular temple attendance. In addition, I can see the obstacles or my weaknesses as Joseph saw his opposition. Press forward with faith. Allow the rough edges in my life to be chipped off by my persistence.

I am also reminded of a quote from a BYU devotional, we can become paralyzed by perfection. ("That's How the Light Gets In") A better way is to iterate our attempts at solutions. Over time, we get better. 




Saturday, February 24, 2018

The history and implementation of the Word of Wisdom


Why was there such a gradual approach to accepting the Word of Wisdom as a commandment? President Joseph F. Smith offered the following opinion: “The reason undoubtedly why the Word of Wisdom was given—as not by ‘commandment or constraint’ was that at that time, at least, if it had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law.”
("What You Don’t Know About the 100 Most Important Events in Church History", Quoted in LDSLiving.com
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Other Church leaders advocated a more measured approach. When a theater employee apologized for giving President David O. McKay a cup with the Coca-Cola logo on the outside, the prophet quipped, “I don’t care what it says on the cup, as long as there is a Coke in the cup.”
(David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, by Gregory A. Prince, Wm. Robert Wright, Quoted in LDSLiving.com)

See also https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Word_of_Wisdom/History_and_implementation

Friday, February 16, 2018

How I Lead as Bishop After a Faith Crisis | An Interview With Dan Conway

From LeadingLds.com
Dan Conway is a bishop in Newcastle, in northeast England, and has also served as an elders quorum president. He served a mission to Scotland, and works as a digital marketing executive. In this episode Dan walks us through his crisis of faith prior to being called as bishop, and how that affected how he leads now.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Josh Weed Being Mormon and Gay

I was astonished when I read "Turning A Unicorn Into A Bat: The Post In Which We Announce The End Of Our Marriage". I had thought of Josh Weed as an example of how a gay person might navigate being Mormon and Gay. I have few answers.

I liked this story from Deseret News, "The Weeds' story is one of many stories of LGBT Latter-day Saints that continue to be written"

I like this message that Dallin H. Oaks said in 2013



"There is so much we don't understand about this subject, that we'd do well to stay close to what we know from the revealed word of God. What we do know is that the doctrine of the church, that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married, has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same gender attraction" (Dallin H.Oaks)

Monday, February 05, 2018

Do we create meaning or is it discovered?

Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin talk about if meaning exists outside of people creating it in their minds starting about 7:45


https://youtu.be/iRPDGEgaATU

Religios belief evolved. (About 1:21:00)

Reasons to Believe



I relate to this. There is part of me that worries about how this video or other things might expose my friends and families to things that might cause them to doubt.

We are in the fullness of times. All things are becoming available to those who seek them. The genie is out of the bottle. Instead of trying to put it back in, we need to be willing to see things as they are. To seek for the truth.

I love the phrase he uses, "reasons to believe". There are reasons to believe. There are reasons to not believe. Outside of all these reasons, I choose to believe because I choose to believe.

I want the things I believe to be true. Because it brings me hope. Because I see the good it creates as I and those around me act on them. To live a life living the covenants we make. To live in a state of asking for help to enable me to live up to my covenants.

Jesus Christ is the source. He is the one that created all we see. He is the way, the truth and the life. He called on Joseph to organize his church. To make available the covenants necessary to bind us to him.

Joseph was not without flaw. Neither are the ones who followed him and those who lead us today. We all see through a glass darkly. We must all rely on the power of God to save us and to lead us to all that is good and true.

Let us be courageous. Let us live lives that show the power of God that is in us. When we don't, let's get back up one more time than we fall. Collectively and individually.

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My FB post about this.

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An analogy from my friend Amanda
When the brother of Jared went to the Lord asking him to help his solve two problems with the barges he built, the Lord solved one of the problems and then told the brother of Jared to figure out a way to solve the other. And so he did. I sincerely believe that the Lord could have offered a more effective solution, but that wasn't the point. He wanted the brother of Jared to think it out and then come back to the Lord; and so must we; including the leadership of the church.  
I absolutely believe that some of the controversies or problems we face as a church could be solved easily and effectively by the Lord, but that's not the point. He wants us to learn and grow, to depend on each other and to try to work many things out for ourselves. If we didn't, it would be like us doing the homework for our children. Sure they'd get all the answers right, but would never learn anything for themselves.





Sunday, February 04, 2018

Fault Vs Responsibility



From https://youtu.be/USsqkd-E9ag :
This speech is about taking responsibility for your happiness and your life-situation. When you blame others, you give away your power and you become a victim who is at effect to bad things happening to you.  But when you Take Responsibility, you now have the power to take charge, take control, and create a better life.
"It really doesn’t matter whose fault it is that something is broken. It’s your responsibility to fix it." -Will Smith
"It's not your fault if your partner cheated and ruined your marriage. But it is for damn sure your responsibility to figure out how to take that pain and how to overcome that and build a happy life for yourself." -Will Smith
"Fault and Responsibility do not go together as socks." -Will Smith
"When something is somebody's fault we want them to suffer. We want them punished. We want them to pay. We want it to be their responsibility to fix it. But that's not how it works, especially when it's your heart." -Will Smith
"As long as we're pointing the finger and stuck in whose fault something is, we're jammed and trapped into victim mode. And when you're in victim mode, you're stuck and suffering." -Will Smith
"The road to power is in taking responsibility. Your heart, your life, and your happiness are your responsibility and your responsibility alone." -Will Smith
"Taking Responsibility is not an admission of guilt." -Will Smith
"Taking Responsibility is a recognition of the power that you seize when you STOP blaming people." -Will Smith
"Taking Responsibility is an act of emotional self-defense." -Will Smith
"Taking Responsibility is taking your power back." -Will Smith
I do not own the copyrights to the footage used video. All credit for this speech goes to Will Smith. No copyright infringement is intended. 
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