Personal Online Journal

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Honor People's Agency

Three principles that will help influence others for good.
Be persistent.
Be patient.
Let the person act as an agent. Don't be constantly acting upon the person as if they were an object. Some people misunderstand agency. They say, "well they have their agency. They can do what they want." Elder Bednar says this is a misunderstanding of agency.

I'll Run to My Shepherds' Side

Next Time 

Lyrics ("The Garden" by Michael McLean & Bryce Neubert. Arrangements by Greg Hansen & Dan Waldis, Sheet Music, CD)

You may think life is hard
Just because you haven't grown.
You should stay right where you are,
It's much harder up here on your own.

You can lose your way so quick
Danger awaits every turn.
Trapped inside this brush so thick
And wondering what you've learned.

The next time I think
I can stray from the fold,
I'll remember the fix
That I'm in right now.
The next time I wink
At a truth I've been told,
I'll stop in my tracks somehow.

The next time I act
Like I know it all,
The memory of this
Will come rushing in.
And when I look back
I will always recall
Just how big a fool I've been

Next time I won't get lost.
Next time I'll see the signs.
Safe in the shepherd's footsteps
And never too far behind.

Next time I won't get caught
In this tangled web of mine.
But I'm filled with fear
As night's drawing near,
There may never be next time.

The next time I'm loved
No, I won't run away
To some secret place
Where I can hide.
The next time I'm called
At the end of the day
I'll run to my shepherds' side.

Next time I won't get lost.
Next time I'll see the signs.
Safe in my shepherd's footsteps
And never too far behind.

Next time I won't get caught
In this tangled web of mine.
But I'm filled with fear
As night's drawing near
There may never be next time.

To have a Personal, Private Spiritual Experience

Elder Todd B Hansen was the visiting area authority at our stake conference recently. At one point in his talk to us he had the 12-18 year olds stand up. He asked them what they thought was the single most important thing that would keep them converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What would nurture the seeds of testimony? He didn't give the answer right away. He said that the church had spend considerable amounts of time and effort researching this question.

The answer was to have a personal, private spiritual experience. To do whatever it took to have the spirit of the Lord wash over them. What kind of things helps prompt that? Praying with real intent. Intent to follow what the Spirit tells you to do. Write it down. Have these experiences over and over. It gives us power over temptation.

It reminds me of this quote,
When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:151). (Quoted in Chapter 7: The Holy Ghost, Gospel Principles, (2011), 31–33)
It is important to note that not every experience with the Holy Ghost leaves an indelible impression. I have had some such experiences. More often than not, my experience with the Holy Ghost is like a portion of oil for my lamp. Over time you can see the results of my experiences. A full resevoir that can be drawn upon when needed.

I know others that have not felt the emotional manifestations of the Spirit. They experience it more as a clarity of mind.

It is important to recognize that many people experience the Holy Ghost in different ways. But it is vital that we become able to recognize the influence of God in our lives.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Am

I am not my depression
I am not my stretch marks
or any other part of my declining body or mind.

I am a son of Heavenly Parents.
They know me in my heart and my divine potential.
They know my pain and my heartache.
They know my missteps and my surrenders to sin.
They love me anyways.

They love me enough to let me choose.
Let me learn the hard way.

Yet they always beckon through their Firstborn. The Anointed One.
The great I AM.

Jesus came to earth to show me. To run to me when I call with
    a sincere heart with intent to follow.
Because I am done with the self-inflicted pain.
I am done with dangerous detours.

Let my heart be satisfied in the path the Lord leads me in.
To move inch by inch, mile by mile to where He is.

Not just a place but a way of being.
With only the inclination to do good to be good.
Willing to sacrifice all my sins.
Step by step, He leads me.
To freedom from the shackles.
To greater capacity to do good.

I am not my sins. I am not the desolation of the Fall.
I am a son of Divine Heavenly Parents.
They will guide me to where they are.
To live a life like them.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Missionary Discussions (1985)

The following is from a web page of a BYU faculty member on what the missionary discussions where about from about 1985 until Preach My Gospel was introduced in 1999.(

What do the missionary discussions teach?

In order to become a member of the LDS Church, generally one must go through a series of 6 lessons, or "discussions" with church missionaries. (There are another 6 lessons after one becomes a member.) Most of the discussions contain a "commitment", or challenge, for the interested party. This is consistent with Christ's statement in the Bible (John 7:16-17) "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

The 6 discussions go something like this:

1st Discussion- very basic intro to Mormon views on God, Jesus, some information on Joseph Smith, specifically his First Vision, and an introduction to the Book of Mormon (with a challenge to read some and pray to ask God if it is true).

2nd Discussion- more details on the mission of Jesus (how he overcame death and sin for us), gospel basics such as faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and a challenge to be baptized.

3rd Discussion- more on Joseph Smith, and the Restoration (restoration of divine authority, as well as restoration of the church), and a challenge to visit the local church services.

4th Discussion- The Mormon view on the purpose of life, called "The Plan of Salvation". This includes doctrine about the pre-Earth life, reasons why we are here, and what we have to look forward to in the hereafter. One focus is on the proper use of our physical bodies, and challenges to live by the Law of Chastity (no sexual immorality) and the Word of Wisdom (certain substances are proscribed) are issued.

5th Discussion- More about becoming Christ-like. An emphasis is placed on overcoming our natural selfish tendencies. Fasting is taught, with a challenge to follow the monthly fast, as well as donating "fast offerings", which are typically the monetary equivalent of the meals skipped during the fast, used to help the needy. Tithing is taught, with a challenge to live the law of tithing after joining the church.

6th Discussion- Teaches about the "three missions of the church" (perfecting the Saints, proclaiming the gospel, and redeeming the dead), and reviews the commitments required for baptism.

This version of the missionary discussions was put into place around 1985, I think. As mentioned, it is very much geared towards "commitments", or the policy of "try it-- you'll like it!"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Understanding the Importance of Scripture Study

From "Understanding the Importance of Scripture Study", Elder David A. Bednar, Ricks College Devotional, January 6, 1998, mp3, video.

"The word ponder means to consider, to contemplate, to reflect upon, or to think about. The process of pondering takes time and cannot be forced, hurried, or rushed. As described by Nephi in the verses we just read, pondering is very much related to our covenant responsibility to 'always remember him." 

"the scriptural treasures we seek in our lives cannot be borrowed or loaned or obtained second-hand. We must each learn to open the vault door by applying the principle of work."

Monday, February 16, 2015

What is Moral Agency?

From Connor Boyack
Agency requires three things: options to choose from, freedom to choose, and consequence for the choice. Like a three-legged stool, agency can be weakened or destroyed (in theory) by attacking any one of the three.
“As I read the scriptures, Satan’s plan required one of two things: Either the compulsion of … man, or else saving men in sin. I question whether the intelligence of man can be compelled. Certainly men cannot be saved in sin” (J. Reuben Clark in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, 193; quoted in "Chapter 6: Our Premortal Life", Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual [2010], 15).
What is the true nature of what Satan proposed in the premortal council?
Some ideas about what Satan proposed in the premortal world appear to come more from tradition than from actual revelation on the subject. As a result, it is helpful to return to the scriptures themselves to find out what the Lord has actually revealed on this important matter.
("Satan’s Rebellion", Ensign, Mar 2015)

Doctrines, Principles, and Applications

Brother Barber from our bishopric taught the deacons quorum today. I was impressed by the following quotes from Elder Bednar. I used this presentation to collect them

Doctrines, Principles, and Applications are the Why, What and How of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A gospel doctrine is a truth—a truth of salvation revealed by a loving Heavenly Father. Gospel doctrines are eternal, do not change, and pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of Heavenly Father's sons and daughters... Gospel doctrines answer the question of "why?" (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, (2011) p. 151-152, 154, quoted at
A gospel principle is a doctrinally based guideline for the righteous exercise of moral agency. Principles are subsets or components of broader gospel truths. Principles provide direction. Correct principles always are based upon and arise from doctrines, do not change, and answer the question of "what?" (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, (2011) p. 154-155, quoted at
Applications are the actual behaviors, action steps, practices, or procedures by which gospel doctrines and principles are enacted in our lives.  Whereas, doctrines and principles do not change, application appropriately can vary according to needs and circumstances.  Applications answer the question of “how?”  (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning” pg. 156, quoted at KeyStoneEducation)
Somehow we seem to be drawn to applications as the primary way to "fix" things, to make life better, to be "doers of the word," to achieve desired outcomes, and to help the Church operate effectively. And far too often we emphasize applications without the necessary understanding and divorced from the doctrinal context. We may focus on applications because we like to believe and feel like we are in control, because we have confidence in our own experience and expertise-"the arm of flesh" (2 Nephi 4:34)-or because we are only doing what we have seen other teachers and leaders do. We may think as we serve in a quorum or auxiliary, "I am going to make this happen; I am going to manage this the right way." We all would do well to remember that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Church, and He is able to do His own work (2 Nephi 27:20). (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, quoted at
Whatever the reasons, emphasizing applications to the exclusion of fundamental doctrines and principles does not produce spiritual power, protection, and direction.  (David Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, quoted at

"the answers always are in the doctrines and principles of the gospel" (Increase in Learning, p. xv, quoted at,

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Alma 31:5)

Monday, February 09, 2015

Sex is a sacred way to build a strong marriage

Here is the book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids.

Another great article, 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids

A helpful concept. You Have Two Brains!

I love this quote
Let’s inoculate our children against the pornography that is ubiquitous in our culture by teaching them that: 
Sex is a sacred way to build a strong marriage.
Normal sex is kind and loving.
Sex is only one part of who they are. Their intelligence, musical abilities, and all of their unique gifts are just as important to their happiness. 
These messages will counter the lies they will certainly see and hear as they grow up and are assaulted by pornography in magazines, mall ads, billboards and the internet.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Be Single to the Glory of God

The light 
    of the body is the eye:
        if therefore thine eye be single,
    thy whole body
shall be full of light.
(Matt 6:22)

I just noticed the chiasmus in this verse.

I wonder if this is how it was written originally. Or if someone else might have written it this way to help remember the lesson it teaches.

The light 
    of the body 
        is the eye:
            if therefore single 
        be thy eye,
    thy whole body
shall be full of light.

Yoda might have said it this way ;)

It is interesting to me that the words eye and single show up in the sermon on the mount as recorded in Matthew, Luke and 3 Nephi. The sermon on the mount is not recorded in Luke or John. None of the rest of the New Testament seem to talk about the eye being single. 

Revelation through Joseph Smith in The Book of Mormon and the D&C seem to further define what in particular our eye needs to be single to, "the Glory of God" (Matt 6:22-JST, Mor 8:15, D&C 4:5, D&C 82:19, D&C 59:1, D&C 88:67D&C 27:2, D&C 55:1)

The light 
    of the body is the eye:
        if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God,
    thy whole body
shall be full of light.
(Matt 6:22, JST)

The light 
    of the body 
        is the eye:
            if therefore single to the glory of God
        be thy eye,
    thy whole body
shall be full of light.
(Matt 6:22, JST Yoda form)

Friday, February 06, 2015

"It was serving that healed me"

An inspiring story that touches my heart.


Urgent versus Important

Stephanie and I talked about this quote last night.
Have you noticed that when you have determined to accomplish a very important task, many other good ideas for other things to do seem to come to your mind? If they are allowed to interfere, they will distract you from the more important objective. I have found help by writing down those thoughts as they come, promising myself that as soon as I finish the important task, I will attend to them in priority. That practice helps me stay focused on those matters which are essential. 
I believe there are times in your life when, because of your righteousness and your determination to do what is right, Satan will not be able to deflect you into serious transgression. He will switch then to the strategy of placing before you a banquet of good and worthwhile things to do, meant to distract you from those that are the most important and essential to accomplish in your life. 
Fortunately, as you pray for guidance, the Holy Ghost will help you identify those matters that are vital and necessary to accomplish above others. That means that at times you may have to set aside things that would be worthwhile and enjoyable to pursue--for those that are most vitally important for that period of your life. ("Have No Regrets" Richard G. Scott. CES Fireside, Sep 1999)
As I thought about it this morning, it made me think of something I learned from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey talks about the difference between important and urgent tasks and the matrix it creates (p 160)

I think this folds well into the thought I had a few weeks ago.
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
My pattern seems to be to try to run faster than I have strength, Then I frustrate myself by trying to do more than I am yet able to do. I become disheartened and swing way to the other side and decide to do not much at all. The Lord is telling me that the sweet spot is in the middle. To be diligent in doing and becoming good. But not to run faster than I have strength,

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

What does it mean when the scriptures refer to the "kingdom of heaven"?
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:20)
This is the verse that brought this question to my mind. In what way(s) does our righteousness need to exceed the Pharisees?

There are a lot of other references to who will be in the kingdom of heaven.

- Hard for rich men to enter the kingdom (Matt 19:23)
- Kingdom of heaven likened unto 10 virgins (Matt 25:1)
- "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven." (JST, Matt 5:21, See also Matt 5:19)
- Those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matt 5:10)
- The poor in spirit (Matt 5:3)
- Likened to the sower, the wheat and the tares, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, and the net cast into the sea (Matt 13)
- "Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven." (D&C 10:55)
- "no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins." (Alma 11:37)
- "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt 7:21)
- For those who forgive, "Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants." (Matt 18:23)
- For those who will serve him no matter when he calls them, "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard" (Matt 20:1)
- The greatest in the kindgom are as little children (Matt 18:1-5)
- "he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven." (D&C 58:2)
- "keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven." (D&C 6:37)
- "except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (3 Ne 12:20)
- "all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven" (D&C 137:10)
- "are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life." (Alma 5:28)
- Call upon the name of the Lord, Believe on the name of Jesus Christ, Lay hold upon the word of God and land your soul in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out. (Hel 3:27-30)
- "may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come" (D&C 65:6)
- "Repent, for except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven" (Alma 5:51)
- Attributes of those that will not have place in the kingdom of heaven (Alma 5:25 and before)
18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
 19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. (D&C 107:18-19)
- "ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory" (Moses 6:59)

Other sources
- "The purpose of the Church is to prepare its members to live forever in the celestial kingdom or kingdom of heaven." ("Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven — The Guide to the Scriptures")
- "Kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God. These terms are used in various combinations and with varying meanings. Generally speaking, the kingdom of God on the earth is the Church. It is a preparation for the greater kingdom—the celestial or kingdom of heaven." ("Kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God — Bible Dictionary")

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Family Proclamation Memorization Challenge

Our Stake is using the Family Proclamation for our annual theme. They have challenged us to memorize it.

Here is a mobile version that I created by copying the the text with the formatting from here into a Word document. I then used CutePDF to print it to PDF and K2pdfopt to convert it to a mobile PDF version. I had to adjust some of the fonts and such in order for it to look decent.

Here is the mobile version I came up with.

Here is an 8.5x11 version from