Personal Online Journal

Monday, December 08, 2008

Despise the Shame of the World

Earlier this year in Sunday school, I picked up the phrase: despise the shame of the world. (2 Nephi 9:18)

One meaning of this could be the way I sometimes beat myself up over things I should be doing. Instead of focusing on what I have not done, just get busy doing something good. Put in my best effort. Ensure that I am not overextending. When the day is done, be satisfied with what I have accomplished.

In Joseph Wirthlin's final sermon, "Come What May and Love It", he talks about not taking ourselves too seriously. Laugh about the antics of my life.

My life is designed perfectly by Father in Heaven and myself. Each day I can chose to be happy and then get to work. I can choose to despise the shame of the world by doing my best, keeping balance in my life with play and exercise and rest. That is a much better choice than defeating myself in my own head.

Power comes when we exercise our faith in Jesus Christ. For me, that sometimes means trusting that we will save me from even my lack of faith. There was a man who brought his child to Jesus to be healed.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (Mark 9:23-24 emphasis added)
"You will be strong enough, if you believe in Love"

Farmer sings "If I had words" to Babe

My wife says I dance like the farmer on "Babe". It is true. I accept and celebrate my dancing nerdiness.

If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a morning golden and true
I would make this day last for all time
And fill the night deep in moonshine

If I had words to make a day for you
I'd give you a morning golden and true

"That'll do pig, that'll do"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Things will work out"

Soon after the election I received an email with quotes from "Meeting the Challenges of Today" (Neal A Maxwell, Oct 1978 BYU Devotional).
make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21).
President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had "never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life" (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.
We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.
I put my trust in the oracles of God. They are watchmen upon a tower. (Ezekiel 33, D&C 101). Does that mean I am absolved of the responsibility of learning of what is right to do? No. The Lord expects us to study out the decision and then take it to Him to confirm. When the Lord gives clear counsel, how quick are we to observe it? (See "Quick to Observe", David A Bednar)

Following is the quote from the email.
Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened. ... Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat.
This is prophecy from 1978 being fulfilled in our days.

He goes on to discuss the principle of foreordination as a principle to help us in trying times, "the doctrine of foreordination properly understood and humbly pursued can help us immensely in coping with the vicissitudes of life."

This statement reminds me of President Hinckley when he said, "Things will work out. Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Liahona, Jun 1995, 2)

Neal Maxwell also warned, "Isolated from other doctrines or mishandled, though, these truths can stoke the fires of fatalism, impact adversely upon our agency, cause us to focus on status rather than service, and carry us over into predestination."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meekness -- A Dimension of True Discipleship

Over a year ago I listened to "Meekness -- A Dimension of True Discipleship" ( by Neal A Maxwell. I just found my notes and thought I would post them so I can find them easier later.
In that premortal council wherein Jesus meekly volunteered to aid the Father's plan, He said, "Here am I, send me." (Abr. 3:27.) It was one of those special moments when a few words are preferred to many. Never has one individual offered, in so few words, to do so much for so many, as did Jesus, when He meekly proffered Himself as ransom for all of us, billions upon billions of us!
In contrast, brothers and sisters, we often see in our unnecessary multiplication of words not only a lack of clarity, but much vanity. Our verbosity is sometimes a cover for insincerity or uncertainty, whereas the subtraction of self reduces the unnecessary multiplication of words.
Meekness is one of those attributes acquired only by experience, some of it painful, for it is developed "according to the flesh." (Alma 7:11–12 .) It is not an attribute achieved overnight, nor is it certified to in only one exam—but, rather, "in process of time." (Moses 7:21, 68–69 .) The Savior said we are to "take up [the] cross daily"—not just once or occasionally. (Luke 9:23.) His rigorous requirement places a premium upon our having meekness.
The meek think of more clever things to say than are said. And it's just as well, for there is so much more cleverness in the world than wisdom, so much more sarcasm than idealism.
The meek can be bold
Meekness permits us to be prompted as to whether to speak out or, as Jesus once did, be silent. But even when the meek speak up, they do so without speaking down.
I stress again that meekness does not mean we are bereft of boldness. A meek, imprisoned Joseph Smith displayed remarkable boldness in rebuking the grossness of the guards in Richmond jail:
"Silence, ye fiends of the infernal pit! In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die this instant!" (History of the Church, 3:208.)
Meekness rests on trust and courage. It is reflected in Nephi's meek acceptance of an assignment, saying, "I will go and do …" (1 Ne. 3:7 ) without knowing beforehand all the implications of what he was undertaking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Spirit of Power and of Love

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all I need to do. Often then, I do nothing. It is better to just be up and doing and then remember the following.

Remember not to run faster than you have strength. Mos 4:27 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:7

I truly feel that there is a power that comes into my life as I foster a spirit of obedience. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Therefore dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His hand to be revealed." D&C 123:17

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"You'll never rise higher in all your lives"

I agree with this
"Behold how great is your calling” (D&C 112:33). How great is your calling! You are not sent here to take pictures. You are not sent here to play. You are sent here to find and teach. That's our opportunity, our challenge, and our responsibility. You'll never rise higher in all your lives than you will do while you are in the mission field. That may sound like a strange thing. I said that once in Argentina many years ago, and about ten years later I received a letter from a young man who said, "When I was on a mission in Argentina, you came there and you put a hex on me. I haven't been able to lift it. I have been no good ever since. I failed in school, I failed in my work, I failed in my marriage." I didn't put a hex on him. I simply told him that he would never stand taller, never rise higher, than while in the service of the Lord, and his subsequent life demonstrated that.

This is the great day of your opportunity to establish within yourselves habits of work that will bless you throughout your lives. Said the Lord, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you." (D&C 88:67.) If you concentrate on the work of the Lord, if you give it everything you have, your whole body shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you. Gone will be the darkness of sin. Gone will be the darkness of laziness. Gone will be all of these negative things. That's the word of the Lord to you and to me.
(Belgium Brussels Missionary Meeting, June 12, 1996) As quoted in (Gordon B. Hinckley, The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997, p. 362)
And this
If we want to keep the Spirit, we must work.

There is no greater exhilaration or satisfaction than to know, after a hard day of work, that we have done our best.

I have often said that one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.

We must not give Satan an opportunity to discourage us. Here again, work is the answer. Missionary work brings joy, optimism, and happiness. The Lord has given us a key by which we can overcome discouragement:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30; italics added.)

In the Savior’s time, the purpose of a yoke was to get oxen pulling together in a united effort. Our Savior has a great cause to move forward. He has asked all of us to be equally yoked together to move His cause forward. It requires not only a united effort; it requires complete dependence on Him. As He said to His early Apostles, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Our work will be light and easy to bear if we will depend on the Lord and work.
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Keys to Successful Member-Missionary Work,” Ensign, Sep 1990, 2)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Mathematics of the Infinite and Eternal

On the way home from Utah, my wife and I listened to a new album from Kenneth Cope, "All About You". As I listened to the song "Him, and Him Alone", I thought of my calculus classes at Ricks college my freshman year.
How could I think it's mine to merit
Or speak of my share in it
This saving work he wrought alone
I've been a fool to believe I'd earn it
Or suppose I could deserve it
By words and deeds I'd call my own
From this day on
I know I'm saved by Him alone
Comparisons between the infinite and the finite is comparing apples to oranges. Anything that has bounds turns to zero when compared to something that goes on and on. How can my compassion compare to His when my compassion ends with my impatience? Also consider that any compassion I have comes from His grace. All that I have, all that I am comes from God. Anything divine in me comes from Him.

There is another hand. He has said that we are saved by grace after all that we can do, 2 Nephi 25:23. What is all I can do, when compared to His payment for my sin? Amulek said, "there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world", Alma 34:12 (see also 2 Nephi 9:7). If I choose not to accept his sacrifice, He will not force it upon me.
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.” (2 Nephi 33:1; emphasis added) 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.” Seek Learning by Faith (Gerald N. Lund, "Opening Our Hearts")
So here is the paradox. God requires that I allow Him into my heart. That I excercise my faith unto repentance. That I allow Him to change my heart from carnal to spiritual. He requires all that I can do. Yet this effort, is insignificant when compared to the saving power He offers. I am saved by Him alone because of this comparison. Yet my effort is not insignificant. If I do not strengthen my faith by my prayers, and good works His saving power is limited.

I believe God will save us from any sin we allow Him to. Be that anger, greed or complacence or impatience. He wants every joy to be ours. If I follow Him, if I ask for His help, He will continue to save me from the sin in me. I will live happily in the uplifting of others around me. By living my life as He would if He lived it. Each day, that is the challenge. To willingly give away my own desire, to do His instead and gain the rewards.

Update 2015-03-12
This article seems to jive with what I believe and seems to explain it from another angle. \
"The Salvation Equation"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To be Healed

Just before the Savior appeared to Lehites of ancient America, he spoke from the heavens. There had been destruction because the people as a whole had rejected Him. They had cast out the righteous from among them. They had destroyed their government with their organized crime. Those who had not been killed listened to the voice of the Lord. This passage stood out to me.
O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? 3 Nephi 9:13
I have been spared many times in my life. I continue to remain in this life. I have a chance today to more perfectly live my life according to the joy the Lord has.

This verse reminds me that I can never be worthy before the Lord on my own. I need His mercy. He immediately grants it to me as I do my best to follow Him. As I return to Him, repent of my sins, and as I am converted I am healed by Him.

I have felt His sweet healing. I need it again today and each day. He is as close as our hearts are willing. My we turn our hearts and be healed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"conformity the day the Red Sea opened"

Our bishop chose the message from A Prayer for the Children by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for our fifth Sunday lesson in August.
Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn’t want to stifle anyone’s freedom to think otherwise. No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don’t seem to know where to anchor their own boat. Isaiah once used a variation on such imagery when he said of unbelievers, “[Their] tacklings are loosed; they could not . . . strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail.” Isaiah 33:23
Nephi-like, might we ask ourselves what our children know? From us? Personally? Do our children know that we love the scriptures? Do they see us reading them and marking them and clinging to them in daily life? Have our children ever unexpectedly opened a closed door and found us on our knees in prayer? Have they heard us not only pray with them but also pray for them out of nothing more than sheer parental love? Do our children know we believe in fasting as something more than an obligatory first-Sunday-of-the-month hardship? Do they know that we have fasted for them and for their future on days about which they knew nothing? Do they know we love being in the temple, not least because it provides a bond to them that neither death nor the legions of hell can break? Do they know we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are, for their willingness to accept callings they did not seek in order to preserve a standard of righteousness they did not create? Do those children know that we love God with all our heart and that we long to see the face—and fall at the feet—of His Only Begotten Son? I pray that they know this.
This talk reminds me of a story my dad often told me. His grandma lived next door to him as a teenager. One day as he was visiting with her she asked him if he had a testimony. He responded in a somewhat affirmative. She said to him that until he had a testimony of his very own. She wanted him to know that she knew.

I am beginning to carry this tradition on to my children. There are many things I do not know. At the root of it all, I know my parents love me. They have been good examples of what a disciple of Jesus is. Because of their model, I wanted to know for myself. I know that as I have practiced the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have overflowed with happiness. My mind is clear. I am confident in all my doings. In short I have come to know as I know day from night that God lives (Mor 7:15). Jesus is His Son and my personal Savior. Joseph Smith was his prophet. Thomas S. Monson is his prophet today.

My knowledge comes from doing His will (John 7:17). Trying the word He has given me. The fruits of exercising my faith have been the proof. I hope to live my testimony by being increasingly constant in following the promptings I seek from Him.

Elder Holland related, "Elder Neal Maxwell once said to me in a hallway conversation, 'There didn’t seem to be any problem with conformity the day the Red Sea opened.' " I hope to by humble and reduce my need to be humbled as Israel was. To lead my children to the source so they need not look elsewhere for their thirst.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Ask in Faith and Act"

David Bednar gave a great talk in April about asking in faith. It was easy for me to get his message because he repeated it so often. As you see below in italics, there are at least 32 times he repeated the principle "Ask in Faith and Act".

what we know is not always reflected in what we do
Ask in Faith and Act *
not only express but to do
plead and to perform
communicate and to act
that I might know which to join
now but also on what was to be done!
“Which church is right?”...“Which church should I join?”
True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action.
faith [is] the first principle in revealed religion” ... “the principle of action in all intelligent beings”
Thus, “faith without works is dead”
faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also
faith in Christ leads to righteous action
Understanding that faith is a principle of action and of power
holy communication and consecrated work *
prayer, as “a form of work
prayer, after we say “amen,” by acting
Asking in faith requires honesty, effort, commitment, and persistence.
you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!
pray with the expectation to act and not just to express
Asking for courage and boldness to open our mouths
Entreating Heavenly Father to help us identify
Pledging to do
Praying fervently for the strength to act
Gratitude would be expressed, ...And then the consecrated work of that prayer
same pattern of holy communication and consecrated work *
prayer becomes meaningful as we ask in faith and act *
pray in faith about our divinely given mandate to proclaim the gospelif he would like to pray with her... they needed to continue to act

*=Phrase written or spoken twice
More thought I liked:
After the Trial of Our Faith persevering through the trial of our faith
“dispute not because [we] see not, for [we] receive no witness until after the trial of [our] faith” (Ether 12:6).
the healing of this 13-year-old boy did not occur until after their faith [was demonstrated]
Not My Will, but Thine, Be Done -recognizing and accepting the will of God in our lives

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"If you Believe in Love"

On the way to work this morning I listened to If you Believe in Love from Colette Call's Power in His Touch album. I was moved more this morning by this song than by many times as I listen to the scriptures during my commute.

I can't find anywhere with lyrics. Here are some of them that touched me.
Can you believe in a Love so strong
It carries you through every day
Can you believe that one night so long ago
A Child was born, the Savior came

Nothing can take this light
You will be strong enough
If you believe in Love
It carried to my heart the message of Moroni 7:47-48 (emphasis added)
if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Inexhaustible Gospel - behaving and knowing are inseparably linked

I just listened to "The Inexhaustible Gospel" a talk given by Neal A. Maxwell as a BYU devotional 18 Aug 1992 (text, media). It has been sitting on my iPod for months now. I woke up in the middle of the night so I decided to take a walk and listen to it.

Elder Maxwell has such a way with words. There is enough inspiration in this talk for many many blog entries. Inexhaustible.

For the last several months, I have been trying to keep in my mind what the word gospel means. In Mormon culture, gospel is sometimes loosely used to refer to the Mormon way of life, or any number of many teachings of the LDS church. It is helpful to me to remember that it means the good news from God. The central teaching of the LDS church. That Jesus is my Savior if I will have Him to be so. If I will enter into the agreement He offers. The phrase, Inexhaustible Gospel means more to me in this light. I am energized when I think about being saved.

Neal Maxwell describes how behaving and knowing play in the process of being saved.
gaining knowledge and becoming more Christlike "are two aspects of a single process" (Warner, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 4, p. 1490). This process is part of being "valiant" in our testimony of Jesus. Thus, while we are saved no faster than we gain a certain type of knowledge, it is also the case, as Richard Bushman has observed, that we will gain knowledge no faster than we are saved (Teachings, p. 217). So we have a fundamentally different understanding of knowledge and truth--behaving and knowing are inseparably linked. (emphasis added by me)
This truth that particularly interests me. My wife likes to tell the story of one night when I was falling to sleep as we prayed together. I said, "let us take in information as the air flows". I love information. I love learning all sorts of things. I often let this distract me from the weightier matters. Weightier matters sounds more interesting than it often is. The weightier matters sometimes is to change a diaper, to focus my energy to finishing a project for work. To be happy as I make lunch for my children 10 minutes before I want to leave for church. (Because I had not planned well for lunch.) As I do what I know is right in the moment I am in, I gain access to knowing. More, I become as that Savior is, step by step. I gain access to the help and joy and happiness He has.

Neal Maxwell states this principle again in relation to wisdom:
In gospel wisdom, knowing and behaving are irrevocably linked!

One basic limitation of worldly wisdom is its lack of longitudinality and of precious perspective. Worldly wisdom cannot "see afar off," and, without a spiritual memory, past mistakes are repeated; folly is resumed! Winston Churchill chose, by the way, as the motto for his last volume of World War II history these words:

"How the Great Democracies Triumphed, and so Were able to Resume the Follies Which Had so Nearly Cost Them Their Life." [Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, vol. 6, Triumph and Tragedy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1953), p. ix]
Maxwell further describes this kind of discipleship as orthodoxy, "Ultimate orthodoxy--and orthodoxy isn't a popular word nowadays--is expressed in the Christlike life that involves both mind and behavior." Later he continues,
How intellectually amazing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is! The gospel is truly inexhaustible! It is marvelous! It is a wonder!

Yet orthodoxy is required to keep all these truths in essential balance. In orthodoxy lies real safety and real felicity! Flowing from orthodoxy is not only correctness but happiness.
It is in the doing that I become safely and permanently saved. By persisting in doing good, I gain integrity. It becomes part of my character. If I persist in learning His law, I come to understand how inadequate I am in doing it. I call upon His name as Alma did and He saves me. I am only required to do my best. I continue to call upon Him. I work hard. I rest and study and do all things in balance and order. I continue to cry unto Him and he saves me. When I stumble, He is there for me.

Minute after minute, hour, day, month and decade, I call upon His name. I renew my promises to Him each week. He fulfills His part of our bargain. As I continue to repent, my life fills with more joy and meaning. Intellectually, physically, emotionally and in all ways, he makes my life more enriched and satisfying. Bit by bit, He and I whittle away all that is not holy. All that prevents fullness of laughing and smiling.

That is enough for now. It is getting light outside and there are other things I am to be doing. I will list below more quotes from Neal Maxwell's talk. Perhaps I will write more about them later.

Brilliance, by itself, is not wholeness, nor happiness. Knowledge, if possessed for its own sake and unapplied, leaves one's life unadorned. A Church member, for instance, might describe the Lord's doctrines but not qualify to enter the Lord's house. One could produce much brilliant commentary without being exemplary. One might be intellectually brilliant but Bohemian in behavior. One might use his knowledge to seek preeminence or dominion.
Truth includes, but is not limited to, knowledge that corresponds to reality--things as they were, things as they are, and things as they will be (Jacob 4:13; D&C 93:24). Gospel truth is "morally richer," therefore, than the world's definition of truth, as Terry Warner has written (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 4 [New York: Macmillan Co., 1992], p. 1490).
you and I should be fully qualified and certified in traditional education and its processes for yet another very good reason: bilinguality. The men and women of Christ should be truly educated and articulate as to secular knowledge but should also be educated and articulate in the things of the Spirit!
What does it mean to despise the shame of the world? (2 Nephi 9:18)
"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" (T. S. Eliot, The Rock [1934], I).
I have always had a special appreciation for my friends who, though resolutely irreligious themselves, were not scoffers. Instead, though doubtless puzzled by me and their other religious friends, they were nevertheless respectful. I admire the day-to-day decency of such men and women. Though detached from theology, their decency is commendable.
"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." [Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (New York: Ballantine Books, 1965), p. 190]
He closes, "by speaking further of Jesus, our Perfect Shepherd".

Sunday, July 20, 2008

But If Not

I was reading the lesson I think we have in priesthood today, Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death. I thought of a talk given recently in General Conference that references Daniel chapter 3.
Centuries ago, Daniel and his young associates were suddenly thrust from security into the world—a world foreign and intimidating. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down and worship a golden image set up by the king, a furious Nebuchadnezzar told them that if they would not worship as commanded, they would immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

The three young men quickly and confidently responded, “If it be so [if you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand.” That sounds like my eighth-grade kind of faith. But then they demonstrated that they fully understood what faith is. They continued, “But if not, … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Dan. 3:18 That is a statement of true faith.

They knew that they could trust God—even if things didn’t turn out the way they hoped. They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than an acknowledgment that God lives. Faith is total trust in Him.

Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew they could always rely on Him because they knew His plan, and they knew that He does not change. They knew, as we know, that mortality is not an accident of nature. It is a brief segment of the great plan of our loving Father in Heaven to make it possible for us, His sons and daughters, to achieve the same blessings He enjoys, if we are willing.

They knew, as we know, that in our premortal life, we were instructed by Him as to the purpose of mortality: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”

So there we have it—it’s a test. The world is a testing place for mortal men and women. When we understand that it’s all a test, administered by our Heavenly Father, who wants us to trust in Him and to allow Him to help us, we can then see everything more clearly.

His work and His glory, He told us, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” He has already achieved godhood. Now His only objective is to help us—to enable us to return to Him and be like Him and live His kind of life eternally.

Knowing all this, it was not difficult for those three young Hebrews to make their decision. They would follow God; they would exercise faith in Him. He would deliver them, but if not—and we know the rest of the story. (Dennis E. Simmons, “But If Not …,” Ensign, May 2004, 73. Bold added by Rich)

There is another GC article that also references "But if not".
Too often we offer our prayer or perform our administration and then wait nervously to see whether our request will be granted, as though approval would provide needed evidence of His existence. That is not faith! Faith is, quite simply, a confidence in the Lord. In Mormon’s words, it is “a firm mind in every form of godliness” (Moro. 7:30; emphasis added). The three Hebrew magistrates expressed trust that the Lord would deliver them from the fiery furnace, “but if not,” they said to the king, “we [still] will not serve thy gods” (Dan. 3:18; emphasis added). Significantly, not three but four men were seen in the midst of the flames, and “the form of the fourth [was] like the Son of God” (Dan. 3:25). (Lance B. Wickman, “But If Not,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 30)
Update 2011-05-17
As I was searching for this talk I found out that Martin Luther King Jr. had given a speech on was seems like the same theme.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Power...given by God so universally"

What power was Jeffrey R. Holland speaking of?
I submit to you that no power, priesthood or otherwise, is given by God so universally to so many with virtually no control over its use except self-control. And I submit to you that you will ever be more like God at any other time in this life than when you are expressing that particular power. (Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments. BYU Devotional. 12 January 1988.)

This is one of the quotes one of my favorite people has on the inside of her kitchen cabinet door.

This puts in perspective the patriarchal order for me. Yes the man is the head of the home (not the neck). Yet he cannot excercise this, one of the most sacred and potent of powers, without a woman. We excercise it most strongly when the man and woman are married. When they are committed to each other. When they have made solemn commitments to God.

All of us will be held accountable for how we excercise the power of life within us. A man and woman who make covenants with God and to each other has the benefit of His power to fulfill the raising of the children in a Christlike home. To pass on a legacy worthy of Him.

I know that I cannot live up to this standard. I must do my best and leave the rest to His grace. I must call upon Him before I can even have the hope of doing His work in my home.

There is so much joy in raising children. I say often that one of the wisest things God did for us is allow us to become parents. How better to give us perspective; to let us know how it is like for him? We are responsible for children with their own wills. We can learn how to lead and inspire them to live according to the plan of happiness.

Now to attend to the little one in my lap.

Friday, July 04, 2008

LDS Ordinances

Here is a reference I found useful.

“Chapter 21: Ordinances,” Gospel Fundamentals, 115

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inspired Family Planning

Today I found an "I Have a Question" article from the Aug 1979 Ensign. The question was "Is it our understanding that we are to propagate children as long and as frequently as the human body will permit? Is there not any kind of 'gospel family-planning,' for lack of a better way to say it?"

There is a part in it that is in line with a discussion we had in our ward in a fireside we had before our 2007 Ward Conference. The stake presidency was there and was taking questions about church policy. They were answering them from the General Handbook of Instruction. It is funny how many times the answer was, pray about it together.

I recall a President of the Church, now deceased, who visited his daughter in the hospital following a miscarriage.
She was the mother of eight children and was in her early forties. She asked, "Father, may I quit now?" His response was, "Don't ask me. That decision is between you, your husband, and your Father in Heaven. If you two can face him with a good conscience and can say you have done the best you could, that you have really tried, then you may quit. But, that is between you and him. I have enough problems of my own to talk over with him when we meet!" So it is clear to me that the decisions regarding our children, when to have them, their number, and all related matters and questions can only be made after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer.
(Homer Ellsworth "I Have a Question," Ensign, Aug 1979, 23–25)

Keep in mind that the "I Have a Question" articles always has had a disclaimer at the top like "Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy." That being said, these sources have been a welcome confirmation to me as to the principles behind inspired family planning.

The short answer I give to people when they ask "Are you going to have more?" is "We'll see". It is something to be considered carefully, "after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer".

My wife has been much more inspired as we have considered "Do we have more?" I always wanted a lot of children. Yet when the time came, almost always there was some consideration keeping me from wanting to. Can I provide for them physically, emotionally, etc.? I remember one such time when my wife felt like it was time to stop preventing. I said that I would go pray about it. I went in the other room to kneel. I was not there 1 or 2 minutes when I felt foolish. I knew the answer was that there were more to come for our family. My selfish reservations did not stack up.

The Lord does not want us to run faster than we have strength. Yet in more than one passage, this counsel is followed by "be diligent" (Mosiah 4:27, D&C 10:4). The Lord lives in a state of unending happiness. As we trust in Him and seek His counsel, as we seek answers to difficult questions, seeking answers with the determination to follow, we will be led to the kind of happiness He enjoys.

- Jul 2015

We claim the privilege of choosing the number of children we have according the dictates of our own conscience and allow all parents the same privilege let them have or not have who they may.

Friday, May 30, 2008

which easily doth beset me

God does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. I must repent of all my sins to return to Him. In the words of President Hinckley, I must do my best to follow Jesus. That means to do my best in each moment of my life. I will admit, I do not always do my best. Sometimes I am willful, rebellious and even downright belligerent.

Where does that place me? Am I to be damned? Perhaps if I continue down that path of rebellion. To insist that God do things on my timetable. To throw a fit when things don't turn out the way I want.

There is joy in salvation of God. Salvation that occurs right now. The one that immediately comes to me as I turn my heart to Him. By my own free will, surrender anything that keeps me from communion with Him. Give up anything that would keep me from benefiting from living a life as He would.

How does this transformation take place? Immediately, yes, there are moments when I feel contrition. I feel His love as I recommit to do better. I am empowered by his Grace. He says to me, "Go and sin no more". Then there is the everyday fulfilling of my promise. Did I do a little better today than yesterday? Do I have the integrity to admit when I messed up to those involved? How long do I take to repent? Is it a matter of seconds, minutes, days, decades?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed. I feel there is too much to do. I cannot fulfill all my commitments. I do best at these times to remember to do something good. If I cannot do everything, do something. Make myself busy keeping my word.

As I listened to Alma 7, I thought about these things.
Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism
The phrase "which doth easily beset" caught in my mind. I remembered that I need to prioritize my repentance. Work on the things that most easily trip me up. Improve on those things that help me to improve in other things. Things such as communion in prayer. Searching the scriptures. Having a meaningful sacrament. Improving my relationships with my wife and children.

When I am feeling down, it gives me hope when I think of doing one thing. One thing to improve. One thing to be busy about. I often think of the scripture at D&C 123:17. To cheerfully do.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God and for his arm to be revealed
When I do my best, I feel confident that the Lord will protect me spiritually. If need be, legions of angels are at my need to bear me up. To strengthen me as the Savior was in Gethsemane. He asked for and received the help he needed. Elisha asked the Lord to open the eyes of his servant so he might see the physical protection the Lord provided 1 Kings 6:15-17.
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"sin wickedly cloaked in the robes of piety"

I relate too well to Albert in The Holy Secret. It hit me when I read the phrase, "sin wickedly cloaked in the robes of piety" (p 134). He said it when he pushed too far teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He appropriately prayed silently, immediately, "Help me to love him, Father - to love him more than knowledge". To love your (child, student, anyone you happen to be talking to when on the sacred ground of repentance and forgiveness) more than being the sage.

James Ferrell says it again succinctly, "No heartache will be soothed by one who merely spouts doctrine at another's pain, even if the doctrine is true". He has a footnote there to D&C 50:17-18, "Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God" (emphasis added).

It has been pointed out to me recently that how I communicate is more important than the words sometimes. Am I speaking to ensure they know I am right? Do I seek to understand before seeking to be understood? Do I admit my fault in the argument we had? Being "right" about a doctrine is trumped by my approach, if I come in with six shooters blazing. Better to be kind. Try to encourage contrition in the speaker and the hearer. Acknowledge my position as beggar before the Lord. Both become hearers of the Spirit. Both are edified and rejoice because of the grace God offers us. The grace we immediately feel because our wills are given to Him. We glory in the healing we feel.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jesus has cleaned up a lot of messes after me

In the last 18 hours one of my kids has had some bowel issues. Not fun to clean up. Something occurred to me during the first episode. Jesus has cleaned up a lot of messes after me. Even when I did my best to help, I just spread the mess around.

It was much easier to deal with the yuck with this in mind.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home

I already got a response to my last posting. She said she had been thinking of sharing the (LDS) gospel to some relatives. I then thought of this from Elder Ballard's Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home talk, "Our love for the Lord and appreciation for the Restoration of the gospel are all the motivation we need to share what gives us much joy and happiness" mp3

The best thing I can do the share the gospel is share the joy it brings my life. I do not have to hold back a spiritual experience just because the person I am talking to is not a Latter-Day Christian. Certainly, I will not cast pearls before those who will mock me. There are many good people in my life that are not Mormon.

I can enrich my own life and relationships by being willing to be more vulnerable to my kind neighbors. It is best if I truly abandon a salesman like motive when I share. Share for sharing sake. More importantly, listen with the idea to understand. Trust salvation to God.

Today I invite you to relax and set aside your concerns and focus instead on your love for the Lord, your testimony of His eternal reality, and your gratitude for all He has done for you. If you are truly motivated by love and testimony and gratitude, you will quite naturally do all that you can to assist the Lord in “[bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39) of our Father’s children. In fact, it would be impossible to keep you from doing it.

Convicted and Civil

Last night I attended "A Conversation Between a Mormon & an Evangelical" a public lecture with Dr. Robert L. Millet and Rev. Gregory C. V. Johnson at the Tempe Institute of Religion at ASU.

I cannot express how much I enjoyed it. They spoke of "convicted civility" a phrase they got from Richard J. Mouw. It means that I can retain the convictions of my beliefs and allow a close friend of mine to keep his and yet we can have a rich and rewarding relationship. Where the goal is not conversion but understanding. Not score keeping but increased curiosity. It reminds me of a phrase from Jeffrey R. Holland's recent talk “My Words . . . Never Cease” where he stated the LDS claim that we are Christians "respectfully but resolutely". I would have no problem with an evangelical sharing his beliefs with me. Done respectfully yet passionately.

How is this possible? I saw in this 2 hour presentation good-natured joking and teasing between the two of them. They said that their relationship was based on many lunches. Bro Millet said you can say that our relationship is founded on a lot of salad. Rev Johnson then said "and a little bit of pasta in the case of Bob".

By their own description, this was not a Rodney King "Can't we just all get along" kind of relationship. They asked each other hard questions. Bro Millet related a story of another time they shared this presentation. A person asked Bro Millet, "Don't Mormons believe in a different Jesus than we do?" Bro Millet had just finished writing a book on this theme. He was so full of ideas yet his tongue didn't move. In the pause his friend Rev. Johnson said, "Can I take this?" Bro Millet happily conceded. "I wonder if you might change how you ask that question. What if you asked instead 'What do you believe about Jesus?'" He went on to say how the first question is a conversation stopper. Then second a conversation starter.

When they passed out 4x5 cards I was so excited. I thought, "what can I ask these guys?" I wrote. "Rev. Johnson, would you introduce me to someone (an evangelical) in the northwest Phoenix Valley who would like to have lunch with me?" I grew up in the Phoenix area. In high school I had some very good evangelical friends. I was very saddened when I felt my relationship with them had to stop because we could not bridge the gap in our theology. They were very good people. I would expect they still are.

Bro Millet shared a story at the end where he read Just As I Am, Billy Graham's autobiography. At the end he was emotionally moved. He expressed to his wife his conviction that God had used Rev Graham to move His work forward on earth. He quoted Elder Orson F. Whitney of the quorum of the twelve apostles who spoke in the April 1928 General Conference, "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. … They are our partners in a certain sense."

This reminded me of my good evangelical friends in high school. There is no doubt for me that God moved in their lives. They were completely committed to moral chastity among many in the school who would have persuaded them otherwise. They were kind. They looked for ways to uplift others. Their works are the fruit. They demonstrated to me the Grace of God they had received.

Here is a YouTube video, "Standing Together: Is Anybody Listening?" with both Reverend Johnson and Brother Millet. I recommend it. Here is a summary about what is different about the "Faith Dialogue" Greg Johnson wants to foster. Here is an article written by Robert L. Millet. He tells a story that I think is helpful.
On this particular night, the first question asked by someone in the audience was on DNA and the Book of Mormon. I made a brief comment and indicated that a more detailed (and informed) response would be forthcoming in a journal article from a BYU biologist. There were many hands in the air at this point. I called on a woman close to the front of the church. Her question was, "How do you deal with the Adam-God doctrine?"

I responded, "Thank you for that question. It gives me an opportunity to explain a principle early in our exchange that will lay the foundation for other things to be said." I took a few moments to address the questions, "What is our doctrine? What do we teach today?" I indicated that if some teaching or idea was not in the standard works, not among official declarations or proclamations, was not taught currently by living apostles or prophets in general conference or other official gatherings, or was not in the general handbooks or official curriculum of the Church, it is probably not a part of the doctrine or teachings of the Church.

I was surprised when my pastor friend then said to the group: "Are you listening to Bob? Do you hear what he is saying? This is important! It's time for us to stop criticizing Latter-day Saints on matters they don't even teach today." At this point in the meeting, two things happened: first, the number of hands went down, and second, the tone of the meeting changed quite dramatically. The questions were not baiting or challenging ones but rather were efforts to clarify. For example, the last question asked was by a middle-aged man: "I for one would like to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you have done here tonight. This thrills my soul. I think this is what Jesus would do. I have lived in Utah for many years, and I have many LDS friends. We get along okay; we don't fight and quarrel over religious matters. But we really don't talk with one another about the things that matter most to us—that is, our faith. I don't plan to become a Latter-day Saint, and I'm certain my Mormon friends don't plan to become Evangelical, but I would like to find more effective ways to talk heart to heart. Could you two make a few suggestions on how we can deepen and sweeten our relationships with our LDS neighbors?"

At that point, I sensed that we had somehow gotten through to some of the audience. Richard Mouw, one of my Evangelical friends,has suggested the need for "convicted civility," the challenge to be true to our own faith and not compromise one whit of our doctrine and way of life, and at the same time strive to better understand and respect our neighbors who are of another religious persuasion.
I remember a neighbor of mine. One who just a few weeks ago politely said they are not interested in learning more about the LDS church. I think I will print out a copy of this and give it to him. What a radical idea! Friends who only try to understand, to be neighborly. Who leave the converting to God.

Now a final note to the friend of Greg Johnson. The one who he said he would introduce me to. I am looking forward to lunch :)

Update Sep 2014

Here is an example of one of their conversations from June 13th, 2012. "Talking Past Each Other"

Friday, April 25, 2008

What happens to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ?

I just found this clip of Oprah Winfrey asking essentially this question.
Do you think if you are somewhere on the planet and you never hear the name of Jesus but yet you live with a loving heart. You lived as Jesus would have had you to live. You lived for the same purpose that Jesus came to the planet, to teach us all. But you are in some remote part of the earth and you never heard the name of Jesus. You cannot get to heaven you think? ... Does God care about your heart or does God care that you called His Son Jesus?
There is an answer. From here is an explanation.
Heavenly Father knew that many of His children would never have an opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ during their lives and that others would choose not to follow Him. Because He loves His children and is just, God provided a way for those in the spirit world to learn about His plan, have faith in Jesus Christ, and repent. Those who choose to accept and follow Jesus Christ will have peace and rest.
There is also a video from a member from London.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"I am able to make you holy"

I discovered "I am able to make you holy" (D&C 60:7) on one of the pages before The Holy Secret starts. My wife and I are looking forward to reading it together. We loved The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Hearts and Homes. It changed my perception of some of the choices I make.

Christ truly is mighty to save.

Studied and Taught

"Studied and taught" stood out to me as I listened to Mosiah recently. Abinadi used it to describe the focus of the wicked priests and King Noah on iniquity.
And now I read unto you the remainder of the commandments of God, for I perceive that they are not written in your hearts; I perceive that ye have studied and taught iniquity the most part of your lives. (Mosiah 13:11)

I teach my children more by what I do than what I say. Last Sunday our High Councilor told a story. He was doing yard work in his back yard with his little son. He wanted to turn on his sprinkler but the switch for it was on the other side of the lawn. He explained carefully to his son to stay by the house and he would be right back. That way his son would not get wet. Even though he was sure his son understood him, he followed his dad to the sprinkler switch.

Sometimes our kids may not fully understand the consequences when we instruct them with words. Or perhaps our kids love us so much, they want to be with us so they follow. To be sure little children and older and adult children easily see an example. When dad loses his temper while getting the kids ready for church, what is the lesson most impressed on their mind that day? Or perhaps dad has a good day. In spite of the chaos he feels while eating dinner and conducting scripture study, he keeps his cool. He appropriately disciplines his children in a way they feel respected.

He goes the whole evening
governing by kindness and never by force,
All cheering and bright, like the sun in its course;
Obedience will spring from each child with a bound,
And brotherhood flourish the household around

That was a little poetry. We have watched Disney's Movie Enchanted twice so far this week. My wife enchanted me long ago towards happy musicals. "That's How You Know" is a great example of a fun musical number we love. My wife is rubbing off on me.

I can replace taught in the scripture with practiced. If I go my whole life incrementally improving. If I persist in doing good. Be determined in changing my nature by partnering with my Master. My nature will be changed. My hope that I can live the gospel of Jesus Christ will increase. I am gradually gaining "an actual knowledge that the course of life which [I am] pursuing, is according to [God's] will" (Lectures of Faith 3:2-3). I can become a "man who receiveth salvation"

There is a calculus that occurs in my life whether I want it to or not. I eventually get what I want. The trick is to choose that which will bring lasting happiness instead of only immediate pleasure. If I keep practicing good and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I will prevail. He is mighty to save. He has said, "I am able to make you holy" (D&C 60:7) *

Update Feb 2015
This passage brought the lesson of this post back to my mind.
Matt 7:22-23 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
It does not matter what works I do in the name of the Lord if I am studying, teaching, practicing and working iniquity. The spirit will guide me in knowing what that is. I should focus on listening to those whisperings with the intention of following it. Even if it is a stretch for me to do it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My best effort to that which is most important

This idea keeps coming back to me. I am filled with inspiration, energy and talent when I put my best effort towards that which is most important. This is the essence of seeking the Lord early Proverbs 8:17.

For me lately it means doing first in the day the most important things. Feasting upon the Word. Sometimes keeping the radio off as I drive to work so I can consider the day. Attacking the most difficult tasks at work first while I am fresh.

When I am on a roll I may get distracted. I must be determined to accomplish very important tasks.

Strength I Want and Peace I Need

There is something about the songs on Cherie Call's album, He Gives Flowers To Everyone.
Because there's strength I want and there's peace I need
In the words I say, in the things I read
From the clothes I wear to the place I choose to sleep
Everything goes back to these promises I keep
I feel strength in these words. Power to overcome. That power comes from choosing to preserve my connection to God. He always is faithful to the promises He makes me. When I choose to keep turning towards him, His blessings activate. I have faith in God because I have come to learn He is always good. I want His strength in my life. I need His peace to balance the chaos I experience.

So what is it He asks of me? He asks me to promise to never sin again. Is that possible? Yes it is. Yet He is also merciful allowing me to renew my baptismal covenant each week. That brings me to a favorite scripture, "let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

Cheerfully do. It is a mouthful. He only requires the best we can give. And then returns blessings an hundredfold. The strength I show God is by the promises I keep. It is by calling on His name that I can have the strength to keep my covenants. Then rising and doing all the lies in my power.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Come Along

My wife found a great hymn some time ago as she sat down to play our piano. It is #244 in the LDS Hymnal, Come Along, Come Along.
Let us govern by kindness and never by force,
All cheering and bright, like the sun in its course;
Obedience will spring from each heart with a bound,
And brotherhood flourish the wide world around.
Leading by persuasion is very effective. The rest of the verses are also good and its tune is cheerful.

Monday, March 17, 2008

‘Yes, but I am clean—I am clean!’

Today I was reading a technical article on the divide between the idealists who want strict compliance from the applications and the pragmatists who want to ensure the ease of use for older applications. It reminded me of this story of Joseph F. Smith quoted by Gordon B Hinckley.
“I was very much oppressed [when I was] on a mission. I was almost naked and entirely friendless, except [for] the friendship of a poor, benighted … people. I felt as if I was so debased in my condition of poverty, lack of intelligence and knowledge, just a boy, that I hardly dared look a … man in the face.

“While in that condition I dreamed [one night] that I was on a journey, and I was impressed that I ought to hurry—hurry with all my might, for fear I might be too late. I rushed on my way as fast as I possibly could, and I was only conscious of having just a little bundle, a handkerchief with a small bundle wrapped in it. I did not realize … what it was, when I was hurrying as fast as I could; but finally I came to a wonderful mansion. … I thought I knew that was my destination. As I passed towards it, as fast as I could, I saw a notice [which read B-A-T-H], ‘Bath.’ I turned aside quickly and went into the bath and washed myself clean. I opened up this little bundle that I had, and there was [some] white, clean [clothing], a thing I had not seen for a long time, because the people I was with did not think very much of making things exceedingly clean. But my [clothing was] clean, and I put [it] on. Then I rushed to what appeared to be a great opening, or door. I knocked and the door opened, and the man who stood there was the Prophet Joseph Smith. He looked at me a little reprovingly, and the first words he said: ‘Joseph, you are late.’ Yet I took confidence and [replied]:

“‘Yes, but I am clean—I am clean!’"
God is in His heaven where no unclean thing can come. So he offers His Son as the mediator between justice and mercy. I am grateful that God allows a way for me to be reconciled to His standards.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pay It Forward

Because of the miracle of Clean Films I watched Pay It Forward. When looking up a reference to the film, I noticed a foundation developed by the author of the book "to bring the message from her novel to classrooms across the country"

This movie came to my mind as I listened to Mosiah chapter 4 this morning. It was in this chapter that I first came to learn of the principle of pay it forward. When Jesus rescues me from the consequences of my sin he does not ask that I pay it back. He asks me to pay it forward.

"this is the man who receiveth salvation"

On my way into work I listened to Mosiah chapter 4. When I got to verse 7 my mind turned to the few men and women that I know personally that fit this description. I thought of my father and my father-in-law, then their wives. These are the caliber of my family. Are they perfect? No. Have the collective years, months and days they have on earth qualified them to meet the standard Mosiah describes. I think so. Does that exclude them from the possibility of really messing up? No, but according to the character they have demonstrated, they will not. That is the nature and stability of a saved person. Thanks and Glory be to God.
My friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people, I would again call your attention, that ye may hear and understand the remainder of my words which I shall speak unto you.
5 For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—
6 I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
7 I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
8 And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Statistical Comparisons of Religious Traditions

I found this page from The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life in this story at

There are some interesting statistics, maps and comparisons to other religious traditions.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

God is the Gardener (Hugh B. Brown)

God is the Gardener (Hugh B. Brown)
Hugh B. Brown, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
BYU Graduation, May 1968
“Some of you, as you go forward, are going to meet with disappointments. Perhaps many disappointments. Some of them crucial. Sometimes you will wonder whether He has forgotten you. Sometimes you may even wonder if He lives and where He’s gone. But in these times when so many are saying God is dead, and when so many are denying His existence, I think I could not leave with you a better message than this: God is aware of you, individually. He knows who you are and what you are. And furthermore, He knows what you are capable of becoming.”

Download MP3 (28:53 min, 8.3MB)

The Currant Bush
Story of the currant bush, as published in the New Era.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Succession in the Presidency

I friend of mine who is a member of the LDS church asked me who was going to be the next President of the church. It will be Thomas Monson. He is the most senior apostle. The best and most current description of this process is at the LDS Newsroom, Succession in the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More quotes below.

Brent L. Top and Lawrence R. Flake, "'The Kingdom of God Will Roll On': Succession in the Presidency," Ensign, Aug. 1996, 22

Bruce McConkie said,
He is always the senior Apostle, the presiding Apostle, the presiding high priest, the presiding elder. He alone can give direction to all others, direction from which none is exempt.

Thus, the keys, though vested in all of the Twelve, are used by any one of them to a limited degree only, unless and until one of them attains that seniority which makes him the Lord’s anointed on earth.
Bruce R. McConkie, "The Keys of the Kingdom" Ensign, May 1983, 21

Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Joseph Smith III Document and the Keys of the Kingdom," Ensign, May 1981, 20

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B Hinckley Remembered by the Press

I heard this as I drove into work on NPR. Positive reflections on Gordon B. Hinckley. You can listen to it on the site.

Mormon Leader Gordon B. Hinckley Dies at 97 by Howard Berkes

It was Hinckley's "candor," [Mike] Wallace told NPR, "his willingness to entertain any question, no matter how difficult or, perhaps embarrassing," that charmed Wallace.
"He was just absolutely open with me," Wallace said. "It became quite clear that there was a great deal in the Mormon religion that I genuinely admired."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"should he be cut off while in the thought"

A good friend of mine called me this morning. We talked about this passage,

"Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell." Moroni 8:14. The phrase, "should he be cut off while in the thought" stood out as a little different. To be condemned to hell because of the thought you had when you die.

The thought that immediately came to mind was a question. If instead of dying in the moment of that thought, what would happen if I continued to live? What happens if we continue to believe a false teaching? Perhaps Mormon had in mind someone or ones that deliberately chose against what they knew to be true. Certainly that could bring about the strong language he used. He says later in the chapter that his people were "denying the Holy Ghost".

One consequence is the darkening or blurring of the mind. An angel told Nephi that the temptations of the devil, "blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men." 1 Nephi 12:17. C.S.Lewis said:
the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either. (Mere Christianity. p88. Found at
This blindness keeps us from blessings God wants us to have. "To be damned is to be stopped or held back from blessings we might have received...When we sin, we prevent our own progress." ("Lesson 8: The Three Kingdoms of Glory". Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual.) Perhaps the consequence of holding onto false teachings is the same whether you remain in this life or the next. The vital difference is that this life affords us a better chance for change.

We are taught that we will be judged by our thoughts 1, 2, 3 . Proverbs 23 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he". Charles A. Hall provided me a memorable way to link my thoughts with my ultimate destination: "We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny" (The Home Book of Quotations, sel. Burton Stevenson [1934], 845.) (Found in "Our Actions Determine Our Character". Wayne S. Peterson. Ensign. Nov 2001.)

My wife once related to me something she had learned. There is a strain in western thought to want to assign _the_ explanation, the one interpretation. Those from the middle and far east seem to be more open to many meanings. That does not mean that there all interpretations are equally true. It does mean that there can be more than one true interpretation. I find this especially to be true when applying scripture to my own life. As I work out "what does this mean for my life today, this week." What I have gathered here may be one correct interpretation.