Personal Online Journal

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage"

Sometimes life gets too busy.  There have been times when I go through the motions because that is what must be done.  If I don't refresh my own well, if I don't take the time to drink deeply of the living waters, the precious plant of testimony will wilt and with continued neglect it will die.

I often think of the vision of the tree of life.  Sometimes I have found myself away from the rod.  Bumbling in the mists of darkness.  The true danger is that once blinded I may not want to return.  Doubt can be a poison that affects my spiritual reasoning so that I cannot see what is real.

This afternoon I listened to "Start Early and Be Steady" by Henry Eyring.  He gave this talk in Oct 2005.  I think about the changes that have happened in my life in the last five and a half years.  I think about several individuals and families and how their lives are so different, for what I see towards the worse.  I think about those that have remained healthy both spiritually and otherwise.  What has made the difference?  I do not know the hearts of others, but I do know mine.

Elder Eyring gave this talk several months after hurricane Katrina.  Many were in the mindset of what they could do to be physically prepared.  A few weeks ago, one of the most strong earthquakes ever recorded hit Japan.  I understand that the Japanese were more prepared than most.  Elder Eyring spoke of spiritual preparation:
That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.
...
So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.
So have I prepared?  I guess I have somewhat.  Perhaps the worst storms of my life have not yet come.  What I do know is that I want to be prepared for whatever comes.  Sister Clark on Sunday referred to this talk by Ronald Bartholomew.  He quotes Elder Ballard,
some parents become so expert at filling every physical desire for their children that they begin to suppose that all is well in this life and that their eternal stewardship is progressing right on schedule. … I believe that we must pause and take a careful inventory to determine how well our families are doing spiritually. We could ask how well are we feeding, nurturing, training, and exercising the spirits of our children; or how well have we taught, trained, loved, and inspired our children to build their spiritual muscles and strength? … Remember, eternity is now, not a vague, distant future. We prepare each day, right now, for eternal life. If we are not preparing for eternal life, we are preparing for something else, perhaps something far less.
I don't want less.  I want what Abraham wanted,
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (Abr 1:2)
So what do I do to be prepared?  I am not to trifle with sacred things, like my testimony.  I won't consider it a mere experiment I am trying out, I am to hold it dear and nourish it by the good word of God.  I am to add to my oil that cannot be bought or borrowed.  By obedience to what the Holy Ghost has confirmed to me.  I am to pray.  With earnestness, with patience, with trust.  I am to build up a hedge around my family and friends.  I am to listen to the watchmen on the tower, the Seers.  I am to rejoice in the promise and evidence of continuing revelation.

I will start early, and be steady.  I have seen the blessings of those who have.  I have seen the results of those who have not.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If everyone cared

I noticed this Nickeback song for the first time today as I brought Sam home from his baseball game.  It has great lyrics.  Now to think and act upon myself and my family, those on which I have influence.  If I cared, If my family cared.



From underneath the trees, we watch the sky
Confusing stars for satellites
I never dreamed that you'd be mine
But here we are, we're here tonight

Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"
(I'm alive)
Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

And I'm singing
Amen I, Amen I, I'm alive
Amen I, Amen I, Amen I
(I'm alive)

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along

Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"
(I'm alive)
Singing, "Amen I, I'm alive"

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died
When nobody died

And as we lie beneath the stars
We realize how small we are
If they could love like you and me
Imagine what the world could be

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

We'd see the day, we'd see the day
(When nobody died)
We'd see the day, we'd see the day
(When nobody died)
We'd see the day
(When nobody died)

Start Early and Be Steady



On Sunday, Sister Clark gave a great talk.  I think she was referencing Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady by Henry Eyring.   I loved this talk and it has been quite a while since I listened to it.  I am noting it here so I remember it with my "talks I picked" tag.  Here is a link to the MP3.

Some quotes from it:
What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.
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So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.
We are the spirit children of a Heavenly Father. He loved us aBlogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.nd He taught us before we were born into this world. He told us that He wished to give us all that He had. To qualify for that gift we had to receive mortal bodies and be tested. Because of those mortBlogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.al bodies, we would face pain, sickness, and death.
We would be subject to temptations through the desires and weaknesses that came with our mortal bodies. Subtle and powerful forces of evil would tempt us to surrender to those temptations. Life would have storms in which we would have to make choices using faith in things we could not see with our natural eyes.
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We will need to have developed and nurtured faith in Jesus Christ long before Satan hits us, as he will, with doubts and appeals to our carnal desires and with lying voices
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Let me suggest to you four settings in which to practice quick and steady obedience.
  One is the command to feast upon the word of God.
  A second is to pray always.
  A third is the commandment to be a full-tithe payer.
  And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects.
Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord’s commands.
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The best time to resist temptation is early. The best time to repent is now. The enemy of our souls will place thoughts in our minds to tempt us. We can decide early to exercise faith, to cast out evil thoughts before we act on them. And we can choose quickly to repent when we do sin, before Satan can weaken our faith and bind us. Seeking forgiveness is always better now than later.
As my father lay in his bed near death, I asked him if he didn’t think it was a time to repent and pray for forgiveness for any sins that were not yet resolved with God. He probably heard a little hint in my voice that he might fear death and the Judgment. He just chuckled quietly, smiled up at me, and said, “Oh no, Hal, I’ve been repenting as I went along.”
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Do I have Root in Myself?

Yesterday we studied the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 in Sunday school.  One phrase that stood out to me was in verses 20-21.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
To have root in myself is to provide the Lord fertile ground in my heart.  Are there parts that are hard within me?  Are the places I don't trust that the Lord can heal?

I love the song Broken by Kenneth Cope. The Lord love when we break up the soil of our heart.  When we gently plant the seed of his word into more and more areas of our soul.  That we might have joy in the growing and in the fruit his grace offers us.  Yet only I can break up the soil of my heart.  Only I can invite the Word in my soul.  The Lord will never violate the sacred boundary of the heart.  We are agents unto our selves.  Only we can do that sacred work.

The Parable of the Bicycle

Last night I shared the parable of the bicycle with our children.  I read it first when I was an older teenager.  I read Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson.  He gave a speech about it in 1990.  There was an article in the Ensign about it in 1992.  It is one of the things that truly changed my life.  Because I planted the seed it had.  I invited it into my own heart and tried its goodness.  More than any other seed in my life it has grown up to bear fruit in my life.  I know with out any doubt it is true.

Sometimes in our lives we can think that we need to be as perfect as we can be, then the Lord will save us.  It is possible to get caught up in the gospel of the checklist.  That we go down the check list and say am I reading my scriptures daily, am I have FHE every week, Do I date my wife every week?  Am I doing my home teaching?  Etc etc etc.  We can go on and on and on.

That is why I love the parable of the bicycle and the other principles that is taught by Stephen Robinson and others that teach the power of the Atonement of Christ.  He saves us before we even hear the word.  He saves us as we first hear the word.  He saves us as we decide to bring that precious seed into our heart.  He saves us as we nourish it with great care.  He saves us as we continue in persistence in caring for the tree.  He saves us when we have great joy in the fruit.

He also saves us as we get up off the ground when we fall.  Even if it is the upteen, thousand, millionth time.  He saves us when we are discouraged with "How many more times will thou forgive me for this sin?"  Or when we think "I am never going to get it all right",  I can't be a perfect Latter-day saint.  We only have to surrender our heart to Him.  We have to trust that He can do what He says He can do.  That he can make us Celestial material.  The humble in heart know that they will never be Celestial on their own.  Our own measly 61 cents will never carry us all the way.  Yet my 61 cents means a lot to me.  It means that I am fully committed to my covenant relationship with Him.

One of my sons asked me yesterday as  we were re-planting the irises  in our new flower bed, "Dad, I've been thinking lately.  When do you and mom ever find time to have fun?"  I answered, "This is fun to me.  I love to plant things and see them grow."  As I grew up I know that I thought of that as I thought of my parents.  We always seemed to be doing one project or another.  There was always work, work and more work.  As I think back on if though.  They are my best memories.  I remember building the shed with my dad.  I remember when it was so hot in the summer when my mom and us were doing the paper route that my mom got sick.  We had to pull over to the side of the road and she opened the door and she had to vomit in the road.  Did she stop? No.  We kept at it. because we were helping keep my brother out on his mission.

Is our work hard, yes.  The Lord required all from us.  He gave nothing less.  When I think of the price Jesus pays for me I am so grateful.  I want to get up and keep going.  Just thankfully do my part.  My measly 61 cent part.  The part that I have put my back and heart and soul into.  The part I hope to continue to work to freely give as my offering to the Lord.  But what happens if I only earn 60 cents.  Or my I make a bad investment or lose it because of my foolishness?  The Lord knows our hearts.  He knows what we really want.  What we have put our efforts into.  He is Just and He is Merciful.  All will be worked out.  We just need to keep getting up and humble asking for forgiveness.

If we lose sight of the saving grace of the Lord we can too easily give up.  We must be careful to retain the hope that we once held.  We must not let imperfection we find in the church from keeping us from honoring the covenants we made with God.  He is able to make us holy.

See also parable of the piano

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"Many things which they cannot understand"

I wrote in January that I did not want to stumble.  I found the following passage from Jacob 4:14 very interesting.
But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
The Jews desired for many things that they did not understand.  The Lord provided these things to them that they may stumble.  I remember reading that before and thinking how foolish they were to seek for things that they cannot understand.  I have been guilty of this.


I must be seeking for that which satisfies.  Nephi prayed that he would be strict in the plain road.  I know that satisfying understanding comes from following what I know to be true.  I am confident that those things that I cannot understand will be answered eventually.

To face the war with sin

More strength in shoulders
To face the war with sin

These lyrics fanned fire in me.  It seems that the one war it is always just to wage is with sin.


From “Fire of God”
Lighted words sent to purge my soul
Holy feeling, impressions to mark the road
There’ve been staggering signs, and I’ll watch for more.
When I’m caught up in the fire, immersed in the fire of God.

I’m living in the fire, Longing for the fire;
Swept up in the fire, can’t live without the fire

Its a power that I can’t explain; as it grows, and it shows, and it shapes my faith;
There’ve been thousands of moments I won’t deny; forged in the fire …