Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Love and Law

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

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

"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”,

I think we should look at what the pro-life and pro-choice movements have in 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.


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 "

"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


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).

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)

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.

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