Personal Online Journal

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?

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.

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.

See also "Dallin H Oaks: What do we do when someone makes choices we don’t agree with?"

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?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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

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)

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?”

"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

See more great memes at

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book of Mormon Experiment by Jeff Sheets

From "Professor Sheets Demonstrates The Connection Between Faith And Advertising", By maddynf, Posted May 25, 2017,
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.

See also

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) 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.


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.

"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.)

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.


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.

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.

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.

Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint.
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.
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.
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.
("Meek and Lowly of Heart", David A. Bednar, Apr 2018 GC)

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Bright Red Shawl

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.