Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Recent Conversion Story

Every once in a while, I do a blog search for the phrase "Book of Mormon" Most of the links it returns are positive meaning they're pro-BoM. Today I ran accross this little conversion story:

After much soul searching, scripture reading, and prayer Ive decided to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ive came along way in my search for Truth. I was an atheist working at a group home for at risk youth working the night shift. I had a young kid that would relive past molestations when he slept at night. I called out for God to help him. That was around six years ago and from that time on I have been studying the Bible and trying to find God's will for my life. I have went through different stages on my quest. I studied "Things that Differ" and "The Plot" at one point. And attended a few Baptist Churches. Then I saw the power of God in a "Oneness" Church called Truth Tabernacle. I went there for a year learning all I could. Finally one day helping my Dad clean out his house I came upon a Book of Mormon. He told me to throw it away, but I asked for it instead. He gave it to me and I started reading it. I liked it so much I orderded a Triple Combination off of ebay and was reading a lot every night at work. I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true, and felt a warmth descend on me. A few days later the missionaries were out tracking and happened upon my house. It was two sister missionaries. They said that they were not going to come inside because I have a fenced in yard and a dog. But one of the sisters felt the Holy Ghost leading her and told the other sister that they had to knock on my door. I had no idea that Mormons came door to door at the time and was shocked that they had come to my house. I thought they were local church members but later found out they came from California and Idaho to Indiana to teach the Gospel. This was in November of last year. I have went to Church, had many lessons by a few different missionaries, ate and had classes with other members. Fought with my parents and girlfriend over going to the Mormon Church. After much pondering and study I can no longer deny the testimony in my heart. The Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, Gordon Hinckley is the Prophet today, and Jesus Christ is the head of the LDS Church. I have a deep desire to be baptized, and to follow the commandments of the Lord. I pray that everyone on this board gives the Book of Mormon a read through and prays about it. The Church of Christ has been Restored. God is Good.

It's interesting to note that the author is from Indiana. Perhaps the Book of Mormon his dad had in the garage came from Bookslinger whose blog (Flooding the Earth With the Book of Mormon) is about how he distributes dozens (if not hundreds) of copies of the Book of Mormon ... Bookslinger lives in Indiana.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

D-Day Prayer and Title of Liberty

I'm not a history buff, but I do enjoy history. For a few years, I really got into World War II history. Even today, when I'm flipping through channels, I often stop on the History channel when there is a WWII documentary on it.

However, in all my reading about D-Day and the War, I never heard or read FDR's prayer he gave on June 6, 1944. The beginning of the prayer reminded me of Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty, which said, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." (Alma 46:12)

Here is FDR's prayer:

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The LDS Genesis Group

I've been a member of the Church my whole life (30+ years) and I've at least heard of many of the less known aspects of Church History and things about the Church. But today I stumbled on something I never knew existed ... the LDS Genesis Group. This is basically a support group for Black members of the Church. It appears to be wholly sanctioned by the Church.

You learn something new every day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Elder David B. Haight's Testimony

I came across a powerful talk today. I cannot understand how I've never read this talk before. This October 1989 General Conference talk by Elder Haight, entitled The Sacrament- and the Sacrifice, is as clear of a testimony of Christ as I have ever heard. Many seem to be familiar with Elder McConkie's last talk in General Conference, in April 1985, perhaps because it was indeed his last, but this talk by Elder Haight is the clearest witness of Christ I've ever read. I wish it were in MP3 format so I could hear it delivered as it was intended.

I do not know all the details, but Elder Haight had experienced a stroke or heart attack or something and had to be taken to the hospital. Some surgery was performed and during this time he had visions.

Consider this paragraph from his talk:

I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere. During the hours and days that followed, there was impressed again and again upon my mind the eternal mission and exalted position of the Son of Man. I witness to you that He is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, Savior to all, Redeemer of all mankind, Bestower of infinite love, mercy, and forgiveness, the Light and Life of the world. I knew this truth before—I had never doubted nor wondered. But now I knew, because of the impressions of the Spirit upon my heart and soul, these divine truths in a most unusual way.

To have your spirtual cup refilled, go read Elder Haight's talk as well as Elder McConkie's. As you read them, consider what an Apostle is ... a special witness of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Choices and Direction

Every day we make choices. Many of the choices we make have nothing to do with our spirituality - should we eat mashed potatoes or yams? Should I wear my black shoes or my brown shoes? It really makes no difference when it comes to our eternal salvation.

Other choices do make a difference, however. Should I watch the basketball game or go play outside with my kids? I'm so tired ... should I pray before going to bed or just go to bed and pray in the morning? These may seem small at the time, but they can have greater consequences.

So in all our decision making, we need to make sure our choices push us towards perfection ... towards the standard ... towards the Savior and our Heavenly Father.

Indeed we may miss an evening prayer or reading our scriptures for a day and we can rebound and say our prayers and read our scriptures the next day. But as soon as we become relaxed in the small things, we become more relaxed in the bigger things and we soon find ourselves on the slippery slope. Therefore, the more buffer we can put between ourselves and the edge of the slippery slope, the better off we are. And if at any time we find ourselves an inch closer than we ought to be, then we need to re-distance ourselves and redouble our vigilence.

I am reminded of a little story Elder Packer told several years ago.

"The story is told of a king who was choosing between two drivers for his coach. He ordered each of them to drive his coach down a steep, winding road cut into a high cliff.

"The first driver came down slowly, hugging the wall of the cliff. The second driver demonstrated great talent and ability. He raced down the mountain, with the coach so close at times that half the wheel was off the edge of the cliff.

"The king was very thoughtful, then wisely chose the first man to drive his coach. It is best to stay on the safe side of things." (Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17)

So many in the world today "live on the edge" and are confident that they can veer so close yet not fall off. They seek to maximize how far they can "push it" to the edge and not fall off.

We too must maximize, but not to see how close we can come to the edge, but how far we can stay away from it. Interestingly enough, there is an edge or line on one side of the spiritual spectrum while on the opposite side lies a vast eternity of progression. So we really cannot maximize our length from the edge because there is no end. (see D&C 132:20)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Stars of the Heaven, Sands of the Sea

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" - Genesis 22:17

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


On a hot summer Sunday afternoon after attending church meetings, my missionary companion and I walked home and ate dinner. After dinner, I was sitting on a bench, sweating and listening to the crowd of people watching and playing a soccor game across the street. In my boredom and restlessness, I reached to the side of the bench and found the June 1996 Ensign. I opened it and began to read.

The article I turned to was entitled "Becoming a Disciple" by Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

Reading that article was a "defining moment" in my life.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been listening to the General Conference talks from this last April as well as some talks by Elder Maxwell I downloaded from BYU's Speeches site. I found that two of these talks by Elder Maxwell were published in the Ensign. Both talks often refer to discipleship. I found that listening to these talks was much more powerful than reading them.

Neal A. Maxwell, “The Pathway of Discipleship,” Ensign, Sep 1998, 7
Neal A. Maxwell, “Insights from My Life,” Ensign, Aug 2000, 7

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April 15th - Talk on Fellowshipping

Last night I got a call from Brother White. I'm giving a talk in church on April 15th. The topic is Fellowshipping. I'll capture my preparation for my talk on this blog.

Ten Tips for Terrific Talks

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 104 (BASIS)

Dallin H. Oaks, “The Role of Members in Conversion,” Ensign, Mar 2003, 52–58

Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Perfect Brightness of Hope: To New Members of the Church,” Ensign, Oct 2006, 2–5

Jeffrey R. Holland, “What I Wish Every New Member Knew—and Every Longtime Member Remembered,” Ensign, Oct 2006, 10–16

Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 7 ... some parts useful

M. Russell Ballard, “The Hand of Fellowship,” Ensign, Nov 1988, 28 last few paragraphs ... quote

Here's the full talk ...

Sunday April 15, 2007

I know most of us have young families and it is difficult to listen in church sometimes, but I humbly ask that you listen and prayerfully consider the topic I'll be discussing today.

Personal Story

Over seven years ago, I moved my family and me here to Texas after graduating from college. I had never been to Texas and I had never been a full-time employee … it truly was a challenging time in my life. But I was optimistic and willing to work. One of the first challenges I had was to sit at a desk for over 8 hours a day. I wasn't used to full-time work … I was used to going to class, attending study sessions, working part-time, playing basketball and a variety of activities throughout the day. Taking on a full-time job changed all of that.

The next challenge I had was learning my new job. I had never even heard of some of the technology I was supposed to learn. At times, in those early days of my career, I became discouraged and felt lost in a sea of IT analysts.

But all of that changed with time and with help from my colleagues. I was assigned a mentor … someone to show me the ropes and teach me my new job. His name was Tim. Tim was patient and willing to work with me. He taught me, showed me how to perform my duties and often liked to "chew the fat" with me. A few months into my new job and many mistakes later, I felt a renewed commitment to tackle my assignment. Soon I was given more liberties in my job and I was no longer a weight on Tim and my other team mates. I was an asset and I was productive.

Why have I told you this story? I've told you this story because I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or in other words, I am not a convert. I told you this story because I do not know what it is like to be a convert in the Church. I have tried to imagine what it would be like and the closest thing I could think of was my experience at the beginning of my career.

If you are still confused, let me read you a quote from President Hinckley from a talk he delivered back in 1999. He said,

I received the other day a very interesting letter. It was written by a woman who joined the Church a year ago. She writes:

“My journey into the Church was unique and quite challenging. This past year has been the hardest year that I have ever lived in my life. It has also been the most rewarding. As a new member, I continue to be challenged every day.”

She goes on to say that when she joined the Church she did not feel support from the
leadership in her ward. Her bishop seemed indifferent to her as a new member. Rebuffed, as she felt, she turned back to her mission president, who opened opportunities for her.

She states that “Church members don’t know what it is like to be a new member of the Church. Therefore, it’s almost impossible for them to know how to support us.”

(President Hinckley goes on to say,)

I challenge you, my brothers and sisters, that if you do not know what it is like, you try to imagine what it is like. It can be terribly lonely. It can be disappointing. It can be frightening. We of this Church are far more different from the world than we are prone to think we are. This woman goes on: “When we as investigators become members of the Church, we are surprised to discover that we have entered into a completely foreign world, a world that has its own traditions, culture, and language. We discover that there is no one person or no one place of reference that we can turn to for guidance in our trip into this new world. At first the trip is exciting, our
mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger. And it’s at these stages of frustration and anger that we leave. We go back to the world from which we came, where we knew who we were, where we contributed, and where we could speak the language.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 104)

In his talk, President Hinckley went on to remind us that every new convert needs three things:

1. A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer questions who will understand his problems.

2. An assignment

3. To be nourished by the good word of God or in other words to become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society or the Young Women or Young Men or the Sunday School or the Primary.

Today I wish to speak of the first and the last things to which President Hinckley refers. I wish to speak of fellowshipping.

Examples From the Book of Mormon

I would like to share with you today some examples of fellowshipping in the scriptures.

The People of Alma

In Mosiah we read of the story of Alma and his rebellion against the wicked King Noah. He taught the gospel to those would listen. Alma and his followers gathered themselves together near the waters of Mormon. There, near the waters of Mormon in the forest of Mormon, Alma taught them about fellowshipping.

Listen to what he taught them, "And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21)

He further instructed them, "And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together." (Mosiah 18:25)

As a ward and stake, are our hearts "knit together in unity and love one towards another?" How can we knit our hearts in unity without getting to know each other and serving our brothers and sisters?

Do we "gather" not only our own families to church, but those families we home and visit teach? Do we extend invitations to our families to come to church to be taught and to worship?

Alma and Amulek

Many years later, the son of Alma whose name was also Alma re-entered the wicked city of Ammonihah. He had been fasting many days. He asked a man he encountered to give him some food. This man's name was Amulek. Amulek took Alma into his home and gave him food. Thus began a friendship that would last many years.

Alma "tarried many days with Amulek before he began to preach unto the people. (Alma 8:27) During this time, Alma blessed and taught Amulek and his family.

The time came to leave Amulek's home and go out and preach to the people. Alma and Amulek experienced harsh persecution. Eventually they were bound with strong cords, cast into prison, stripped of their clothes and physically abused. They were also forced to watch those precious converts whom they had taught be thrown into a raging fire … along with their records and scriptures (Alma 14:8). Amulek tried to persuade Alma to let him and Alma "exercise the power of God" to save these people, but Alma responded that the Spirit constrained him from doing so. Elder Eyring suggested once that perhaps some of these women and children burning in this fire were a part of Amulek's family.

Alma and Amulek are miraculously delivered from captivity by the hand of the Lord and here is what is significant about this friendship … Alma and Amulek's friendship did not end after these horrific events occured. Listen to these insightful verses. "Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of the God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and kindred … Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations and strengthened him in the Lord (Alma 15:16, 18).

Do we not have brothers and sisters in our ward and stake who have forsaken all for the word of God? Does not your heart go out to those who feel alone and need and yearn for someone to take them in?

We Must Be a True Friend

Being a true friend to someone who needs our friendship is sometimes not easy. We ought not to treat those whom we home teach as merely objects of our duty. Elder Oaks learned this lesson:

I was assigned to visit a less-active member, a successful professional many years older than I. Looking back on my actions, I realize that I had very little loving concern for the man I visited. I acted out of duty, with a desire to report 100 percent on my home teaching. One evening, close to the end of a month, I phoned to ask if my companion and I could come right over and visit him. His chastening reply taught me an unforgettable lesson.

“No, I don’t believe I want you to come over this evening,” he said. “I’m tired. I’ve
already dressed for bed. I am reading, and I am just not willing to be interrupted so that you can report 100 percent on your home teaching this month.” That reply still stings me because I knew he had sensed my selfish motivation. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 7)

The standard we must aim for is the Lord. Our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to come unto him. If at any time you begin to forget that you are your brother's keeper and that your love for him is waning, then remember these words of Elder Holland's. In teaching us about the nature of God, Elder Holland said,

Looking out on the events of almost any day, God replies: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands. … I gave unto them … [a]commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me,
their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. … Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” (Moses 7:29-33, 37)

That single, riveting scene does more to teach the true nature of God than any theological treatise could ever convey. It also helps us understand much more emphatically that vivid moment in the Book of Mormon allegory of the olive tree, when after digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41; see also Jacob 5:47, 49)

What to Do

Now, I'm not going to provide a list of things you can do to fellowship in our ward and stake and in our missionary efforts. My only suggestion for us all is found in Moroni 7:45-47. Please get your scriptures and look up Moroni 7:45-47 and read these powerful verses with me (WAIT FOR EVERYONE TO FIND IT). Go ahead, I'll wait for everyone to find it.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not
in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, 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.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

If you and I can strive to be charitable and if we earnestly pray for it every time we kneel in prayer individually and with our families and prayerfully consider the needs of our brothers and sisters in our ward, then we will make strides in genuine fellowshipping.


In conclusion, I would encourage you to do two things today, tomorrow and the rest of the week.

First, prayerfully study Moroni 7:45-47. Study it during your personal scripture time. Study it as a family. Think of ways you can make charity your strength in terms of fellowshipping.

Second, in those quite moments when you are praying and meditating each day, please consider the counsel President Hinckley offered to put yourself in the shoes of new converts. And I would extend that to say, put yourself in the shoes of those whom you home and visit teach as well as other members in our ward who need our friendship and love.

As we do these things in "wisdom and order" we will be blessed, our families will be blessed and the work in building up the kingdom of God on the earth will move forward.

I know that the things that I have shared with you today are true. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that our prophet Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God and I am thankful for him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"12 Ways to Share the Gospel on the Internet"

From the More Good Foundation blog (see post here):

  1. Answer a Question at Yahoo! Answers
  2. Blog your testimony in your mission language
  3. Blog what you learned in Sunday School
  4. Edit or
  5. Link to good websites (not just
  6. Podcast your parents and grandparents
  7. Post mission and wedding photos on Flickr
  8. Post your testimony on
  9. Post your video testimony on YouTube
  10. Share your beliefs in a Facebook Note
  11. Tell someone in Second Life about the Church
  12. Volunteer with the More Good Foundation

Thursday, March 15, 2007

General Conference

Just as I have posted my thoughts and feelings about the living prophets, I listen to a wonderful talk about the importance of heeding those living oracles. After writing the Mosiah 2 post, I decided to do something about my lack of studying the conference talks.

Today's technology has blessed us with so many ways of accessing the living prophets. The General Conference pages on have each talk in varous formats ... text, audio and visual. The audio component of each talk is downloadable. So I downloaded all the talks (except the Priesthood session because they don't have .mp3s for those) and I burned them onto a CD. My car stero plays .mp3s and so now I instead of listening to talk radio or music, I listen to the prophets. And what a blessing it has been these last couple of weeks. The Spirit has been in my life a lot more now because of me listening to those talks.

This morning I finished listening to all the talks. Elder Holland's talk was a perfect bookend to the October General Conference. He spoke of how General Conference is not only for members of the Church but for the entire world. He said of the General Conferences,

they declare eagerly and unequivocally that there is again a living prophet on the earth speaking in the name of the Lord. And how we need such guidance! Our times are turbulent and difficult. We see wars internationally and distress domestically. Neighbors all around us face personal heartaches and family sorrows. Legions know fear and troubles of a hundred kinds. This reminds us that when those mists of darkness enveloped the travelers in Lehi's vision of the tree of life, it enveloped all of the participants—the righteous as well as the unrighteous, the young along with the elderly, the new convert and seasoned member alike. In that allegory all face opposition and travail, and only the rod of iron—the declared word of God—can bring them safely through. We all need that rod. We all need that word. No one is safe without it, for in its absence any can "[fall] away into forbidden paths and [be] lost," as the record says.4 How grateful we are to have heard God's voice and felt the strength of that iron rod in this conference these past two days.

I am looking forward to listening to General Conference again in a couple of weeks. The Spirit indeed fills our lives when we listen to General Conference.

As I listented to Elder Holland and then President Hinckley conclude the October 2006 conference, my heart strings were pulled a little bit ... much like they are pulled when you have to go home from a family reunion ... you are sad to leave your loved ones, but you know you'll see them again. But again, technology saved the day and my mp3 player looped my CD as I listened again to President Hinckley's opening remarks!

As a side note, there are many, many talks on the Internet in mp3 format. BYU Speeches has many devotionals in mp3 format ... if I just take the time to rip and burn these files to CD, I doubt I'll ever listen to the radio in the car again!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Testimony About Prophets

I just finished posting over on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog (Mosiah 8) in which I referred to my feelings about the hymn "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" and the time President Hinckley visited Guatemala. As I wrote that post and thought about those experiences I've had, my heart was full and the Spirit bore testimony to me again of the truthfulness of our living prophets.

My earliest interaction with a prophet was with Bruce R. McConkie when he visited our town to organize a new stake. I remember reaching out to shake his hand, along with all the other people trying to do the same thing. It was exhilerating to shake the hand of a prophet of God. Why did I want to shake the hand of a prophet? Because as a young child, I was taught that prophets are men of God meaning they speak with God and they know His will concerning us. I am grateful to my parents for instilling within me a solid understanding of the valuable mission or the living prophets.

Years later as a young freshman at BYU preparing to depart on a mission to Guatemala, I was watching General Conference in the lobby of one of the dorms (DT). For a long time, President Benson was sick and subsequently did not speak in General Conference. He passed away May 30, 1994. In the October 1994 conference, we were able to listen to the Prophet speak again. I don't really remember the topic, but what has always stood out in my mind was how wonderful it was to have the prophet speak to us. President Hunter's service as President was short and he passed away March 3, 1995.

President Hinckley became president of the Church and Elder Eyring was called to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. A few months later in the summer of 1995, Elder Eyring spoke to us missionaries in the MTC. I was sitting to the left of the podium about 5 or 6 rows back. Elder Eyring delivered a powerful sermon at the end of which he bore his testimony. As he bore his testimony, he voice became very emotional. I noticed his wife, at this point, lowered her head, overcome with emtion as well. The Spirit was strong and at that point I knew that Elder Eyring was a true witness of the Living Christ. I have never forgotton that day nor will I ever forget it. The Spirit touched my spirit in such a way that I will never forget those feelings I felt.

Towards the end of serving a mission, President Hinckley visited Central America. He went to Guatemala in December 1996. It was a historical occasion. The members in the area in which I was serving were very excited. We worked hard with the local leadership to arrange for buses to transport the members to Guatemala City to listen to the prophet.

The day before he spoke to the members, President Hinckley spoke to the missionaries. The day was gorgeous ... big billowy clouds with rays of sunlight shining. We met in a stake center and the building was filled to capacity. President Hinckley spoke of John O'donnal and his efforts in establishing the Church in Guatemala. It was inspiring to sit at the prophet's feet and learn from him. Elder Nelson also spoke to the missionaries.

The next day we attended the meeting where all the members of Guatemala had a chance to listen to a prophet's voice. It was a happy and sad moment seeing President Hinckley wave his white handkerchief as he exited the stadium.

As a student at BYU, I had a many opportunites to listen to the Apostles and Prophets. But the stories I've related have always been special to me and have defined my testimony with regards to the living prophets.

I know that President Hinckley is truly called of God and he is a prophet today. My life has been blessed by following the counsels of the prophets. If the whole world would listen to the prophet and obey his counsels, there would be more love, peace and spirituality in our societies and less hate.

I truly am thankful for a prophet!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Be Ready to Share

When the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, Utah, many members had a chance to explain our beliefs to others who were curious. Sometimes any publicity is good publicity.

This year and next year we'll be seeing and hearing a lot more about the former governor of Massachusettes Mitt Romney. Today, Drudge had a link to a NY Times about an article that discussed Romney's religion as an issue.

So be prepared to field questions about Mormonism during this presidential election cycle.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Web Participation

I took two negotiation classes in my MBA program. One of the repeating lessons I learned from those two classes as well as from another class is the importance of sharing information and knowledge.

For example, in a managing teams class demonstation, we played this game where half a dozen teams or so were "countries" and each contry's goal was to maximize on their gains. We did this by trading cards. Each card had some tid-bit of information. Anyway, the gist of it was that every nation only had a small part of information. Everyone was so concerned about giving away too much information that we all horded it. By the end of the class, a few of us convinced the majority of the nations to begin sharing information. By then, though, time had expired and the demonstation was over. If we had been quicker to share information, many of the groups would have been close to maximizing their profits.

Today I read a post over at the blog for the More Good Foundation. The point of the post was to convince members of the Church to participate in the Internet. I wholly agree with this. Just as in the real World, if we sit back and do nothing, the tides of evil will wash over us. But if we add our voice to the collective choir, then our voice will be louder than the dischord of evil.

So how does this relate to my point about sharing information? I think that the more we share our testimonies and what we are learning from the Gospel, the more likly someone who is "surfing" will stumble on your site and have a spark of interest ignite within himself. Your sharing might help a friend or a family member who reads your blog or your testimony ... just think testimony meeting. We share, we feel the Spirit, we grow.

Friday, February 02, 2007


I'm sure you've heard the analogy many, many times. Faith is like train travelling in the dark of night. The conductor only needs to drive the train to the edge of his light ... once he gets there, the light extends out further. James E. Talmage called this The Parable of the Owl Express.

Well today I had a similiar experience while driving into work. I live in Texas where the winters are mild. Snow and ice storms are rare. When we have one, usually the highways snarl to a halt with all the accidents. So people will usually stay home on those days. Every year, we see about one such winter storm.

Today we had our 3rd winter storm of the year and it brought the most snow ... at least in the north part of the DFW metroplex. As I stepped outside, I saw the ground and cars covered with two inches of snow. Normally I would stay home and work from home. But today I really needed to be in the office. I was a bit worried about how my 20 mile commute would go. But I cleaned off the ice and crept out of the driveway and on to the highways. The ice wasn't too bad, but the commute was slow. All along the way I kept saying to myself that if I could just get to the next stop light or next exit, then I'd reassess the situation. If all was OK, then I'd continue. If not, then I'd turn around. I did not know what lay ahead for me. I just kept going forward.

By the time I passed the airport, the roads were less icy and traffic was able to pass more quickly. By the time I was half way to work, the roads were completly dry and I was able to drive the speed limit without worrying about ice.

At work, everything was dry ... no ice or snow. It was crazy to think that such a big snow storm hit the area just 20 miles north. Had I stayed home, I would have never known that the commute would be OK. I would have been paralyzed by fear. But instead, I walked by faith as it were and I arrived at my destination without incident.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Seeking the Spirit

As I've discussed over at my Book of Mormon Inspection blog, I started writing my thoughts about each chapter I read when I was a missionary. Now I'm posting them and sharing them with the Internet world. Some entries were better than others. Sometimes I'd get so caught up in what I was going to write rather than on learning. When I focused on feeling the Spirit and learning something, then the writing part was really easy. And so it went that if I didn't focus on what I was getting out of the scriptures, my entries were poor. But when I really focused on learning from the scriptures, I found that I thought of many things I wanted to write about.

The same thing happened today at lunch. As usual, I read a chapter and then write some commentary on it or how I can apply the teachings to my life. After reading 2 Nephi 15, I didn't really get much out of it. I read a few things from the gospel library as well as, but I wasn't feeling inspired. But I thought some more and waited for the feeling to come. As I reviewed 2 Nephi 15:4, Elder Holland's talk came to mind. I didn't remember what talk it was or which General Conference it was, rather I remembered the feeling I had when I first listened to that talk. The Spirit made such an impression on my spirit that I've not fogotten it. And so I went and found the talk and read it over again and felt the same spirit as when I first heard it.

We can't simply expect to have spiritual experiences come to us every day. Sometimes they will, but more often than not, we must seek them out. If we exercise a little faith, then those experiences will come every day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Family

Our sacrament meeting talks were about the family and what we can do to strengthen our families.

The first talk was by a young woman who comes from a large family. She is the oldest at 19 and her youngest sibling is 3. What touched me from her talk was the love she has for her parents and younger brothers and sisters. She mentioned in her talk how her younger brother's favorite book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and how he will go to every person in the house and ask each one of them to read the book to him. Mostly he gets replies that they are busy. But one of her sisters always drops anything that she is doing and reads to him whenever he asks her. It was a very touching story. How un-selfish an act to stop whatever you are doing to read to a child.

I am the youngest of 7 children in my family and I can remember feeling loved by my parents and older brothers and sisters. My most fondest childhood memories are with family. I feel that because of those happy times, I am a better husband and father. Because I felt love in my parent's home, I desire to create that love in my home today. Part of my patriarchal blessing counsels me to appreciate and keep strong the bonds within my family because they will be important to me througout the eternities.

I've always taken the importance of family for granted. Knowing that family is important was always a given growing up. So in 1995, I was a bit non-plussed about the Proclamation on the Family. I really didn't understand the importance of that document at the time. As I look back, I think I didn't realize at the time how the family was under attack. It wasn't until I had my own family did I realize the importance of that document.

When people find out that we have 4 children, they are usually taken aback. The first question from their mouth is "are you done?" And I agree with a gentleman I spoke with yesterday who said that there was a time when a family of 4 children was considered average or below average. Now, 4 children is "big" by today's standards.

How the world's troubles would begin to vanish if everyone began to focus more on repairing and building a strong family. Would it hurt to drop what you are doing and read a book to your child? It might be fun to take your kids to the park or play toys with them. Why not pass something you love onto your children ... if you love to play chess, as I do, then spend time with your kids playing chess. Take your kids to the gym and play basketball. Go jump on the trampoline with them the next time you're outside. Teach them how to play catch or ride a bicycle. Say you're sorry if you lose your temper in front of them. Work with them ... help them to clean the kitchen or rake leaves. Read the scriptures and pray with them every day. Sit down with them and work on their homework together. Sing a song to them. Laugh with them. Tell them you love them ... very often. Hug them and kiss them on their cheeks. Let them hug and kiss you on your cheeks. Be the best Dad and Mom to your kids and they will grow up with a healthy sense of what a righteous family is all about.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blow by Blow, Brick by Brick

When I was in the MTC, one of my teachers counseled us to strive to have a spritual experience every day. Sometimes the experiences would be big, but many times they would be regular experiences ... such as when we read the scriptures. But the point is to strive to have those spiritual experiences every day.

Later on in my mission, I came accross a quote by Og Mandino. I've kept this quote with me over the years and I've found that it has helped me a lot when trying to focus on a goal. I think the quote can apply to striving to have spiritual experiences every day.

Henceforth, I will consider each day's effort as but one blow of my blade against a mighty oak. The first blow may cause not a tremor in the wood, nor the second, nor the third. Each blow, of itself, may be trifling, and seem of no consequence. Yet from childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it will be with my efforts of today.

I will be liken to the rain drop which washes away the mountain; the ant who devours a tiger; the star which brightens the earth; the slave who builds a pyramid. I will build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.

Consistency is the key. If we strive to feel the Spirit every day, then the Spirit will eventually fill our lives and we will be guided more easily to do our Father in Heaven's will. And just as with anything else in life, if we don't practice (whatever we're trying to get better at), then we won't succeed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spiritual Improvement

Sunday School and Elder's Quorum meetings were really good yesterday. I taught Gospel Doctrine again. We finally have a teacher called and he'll begin next week. But while I had the chance, I taught Gospel Doctrine. Class participation was pretty good. I felt pretty good about how the lesson was going, but it seemed to be hobbling along. Then one sister gave this great comment to a question I posed. We were discussing the mission of John the Baptist and how we can apply what he did to our own lives. The comment she made was that we need to find our own calling in life. Of course she elaborated more than that, but the essence was really good. From there I bore my testimony about how not only should we "do" all the Sunday School answers (pray, read the scriptures, temple attendance, go to church, serve, etc.) but that we should specifically ask Heavenly Father what it is we need to say or do with regard to our families and those over whom we have a responsibility.

For example, we can pray about what we should say in our lesson to our families that we visit and teach. We can pray to know whose life we can touch that day. I told the class of an article I read by Elder Eyring when I was a missionary about how he would pray every morning to know whose life he could touch that day. I just went and found the article. Elder Eyring's son said, “Something that we all feel about Dad is that he has the ability to make us feel that we are valuable people. He always makes me want to try harder. My father has told us that there are two things that he prays for every night. The first is, ‘What blessings do I have that I am not aware of?’ and the second is, ‘Whom can I help?’ And,” Matthew adds, “Dad says there has never been a day that his prayers haven’t been answered.” (Ensign, September 1995, 10) So Sunday School went well and I felt the Spirit.

Elder's Quorum was really good too. The teacher was really animated (he's a great person!). Anyway, we got into a discussion about what we need to overcome in this life. He gave this pretty good analogy. He said that life is like walking up an escalator that is going down. If we stand still, then we'll go down. If we walk or run the other direction, then we'll overcome the downward pull of the "natural man." What I really liked is when he said that know what our temptations are and if we know what they are, then we know how to overcome them and then it is simply a matter of doing it. President Kimball was a big promoter of doing rather than knowing. Knowing is important, but doing is more important. It was a good lesson.

Our home is sold. We have a contract on a new home. It's all a matter of time and signatures now. January 31 is the big day. We're hoping to rent our place back from the new owners so that we have a bit of time to move out and clean it up. A lot of people in our ward (along with the missionaries) are going to have a great opportunity to serve at the end of the month!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Faith and Home-buying

My wife and I are in the midst of selling and buying a home. It is stressful.

At this point, we are in the option period of the contract to sell our current home. We have also made one offer on a very nice home. But at the same time, another nice home has come to our attention and we're working out some details on that home with the current owner. We may make an offer on that home too and then decide which one to purchase.

We went through this several years ago when we bought our first home. We looked at half a dozen homes before whittling the search down to two. Our home has served us very well. There have been some minor and major repairs, but we're still floating. It was a leap of faith with the first home. We had bought our first car six months before our first home and I was obsessivly worried about our finances. I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to afford a car payment and a new home. Also, we only had one child when we bought the home and so I was also concerned about being able to support a growing family. But despite all my worries, we survived.

We faithfully paid our tithing and made generous fast offerings. My paycheck gradually increased. We had our 2nd child and then our 3rd child and finally our 4th child. With the addition of our 4th, our house is quite cramped. Our 4th currently sleeps in our closet! We thought my company was going to move us with a job transfer, but the transfer never came. So we've decided that we're not going to wait for the company to decide our fate regarding a home purchase.

I made some initial calculations about how much we can afford. It wasn't until this week that I found a few flaws in my estimates. It turns out that our new mortgage will be much more than our current. As it is, our budget is very strained. I've not changed much ... I am still overly obsessive about our finances. So I've been pulling my hair out and ranting to my wife about how we might go bankrupt with this new house. But she keeps reminding me of the feeling we've had about this decision.

We've both felt that this is the right move (buying a larger home for our family). So now we just need to have faith and trust that everything will work out eventually ... just like when we fretted over buying our first home.

So I'm writing this while we're in the midst of selling and buying so that I can look back on this day and see that when we trust in the Lord, things will work out. I hope to report several months from now that all is well in our home and that our decision was indeed lead by the Spirit.

In my heart I know things will work out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Responsibility of the Tribe of Judah

In my previous post, I forgot to mention one other thing I heard yesterday at church. One of the older members of our ward bore his testimony. He's been a member many, many years and seems very knowledgeable about the Gospel.

In his testimony, he mentioned that one of his grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) recently received his patriarchal blessing. All of his sons and daughters and grandchildren and great-grandchilden have been from the tribe of Ephrium. Well, this last one is from the tribe of Judah. I assume he is not adopted because this elder brother bearing his testimony did not say anything about adoption. But the comment he made on this fact is interesting. He said that they looked up what the responsibilities of the tribe of Judah are and they found that the main responsibility is leadership in the 2nd coming.

I've been searching all over today trying to find a definitive answer, but I haven't found anything thus far. The only really helpful article I found is from the March 1971 Ensign by Ellis T. Rasmussen. In this article he mentions (at least that's how I read it) that Judah's task is to be faithful to one God and to be an example to the rest of the World. One quote from the article says,
To some extent Judah’s descendants have remained as witnesses of the power of faith and fidelity to the one God, and of the moral and ethical values and the validity of his laws for man if man will live them.

So I read that to mean that indeed, Judah has always been and will always be a leader.

If I find any other information on the topic, I'll be sure to add it to this post.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Today At Church

A lot of the times at church (Sunday meetings) I am really occupied with tending to our kids and getting things ready for my calling. I don't have a whole lot of time to focus on the spiritual. It is a sad commentary on today's church. We're so busy that we often don't make time to listen to the Spirit at church.

But other times, like today, I "get" a few things out of the meetings.

Missionary Marathon

The first one was from a sister's testimony. She ran a marathon last month. Despite being on Sunday, the marathon proved to a be a spiritual experience for her as well as a missionary opportunity. She said that she didn't know anyone at the race and it was at mile 7 before she talked to anyone. This other lady jogged up next to the sister and they started talking. By mile 21, they had had a somewhat deep conversation about religion. The sister was able to tell this other lady about the LDS church. The other lady was so impressed that she decided to check out when she got home that day. It was a really neat testimony and I learned that no matter what you're doing or where you are, there are missionary opportunities to be had.


The second significant event happened in Priesthood. Sunday School was good too, but since I was teaching and was so nervous, I don't remember a whole lot. But in Priesthood meeting, we were discussing a talk given by President Faust. His talk was entitled "Spiritual Nutrients." One of the nutrients is service. The teacher gave this example of when he was a teenager about how they gathered a bunch of food and gifts and then took them to an orphanage south of Tiajuana, Mexico. As soon as he mentioned that, I remembered the time I went to TJ.

It was my first Christmas home from my mission. I served in Central America and learned to speak Spanish. I was in San Diego for Christmas with my brother and his family. One day we rounded up a ton of gifts and then drove to TJ to an orphanage. I remember crossing the border and then seeing all the Latin buildings ... it was like I was back in Central America. We arrived at the orphanage and distributed the gifts and then sat around and played with and talked to the kids. I remember holding a few younger kids and reading them some books in Spanish. My brother and his wife speak Spanish too, so it was really neat for all of us to speak freely with those orphans and nuns who ran it.

But that memory lit a small fire in my heart. I remembered how much fun it was to serve others and to see the smiles on their faces. That memory gave me more desires to find opportunities to serve.

Today was a good day at Church.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Purpose of This Blog

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I kept a Book of Mormon commentary journal. Every time I read through the Book of Mormon, I revise my commentary on it. This time through the Book of Mormon, I am posting my commentary on a blog. There have been many times that I have wanted to post my thoughts about a gospel topic or something that I thought of that does not fit into my Book of Mormon blog. This blog will capture these thoughts.

Also, there are times when I study a topic and write up notes on it. This blog will be a place where I can share my thoughts and learnings on a gosepel topic. This blog will also be a forum for feedback and discussion on these thoughts and topics (if I have any readers out there).

The name of this blog, Spiritual North, is derived from a talk by Elder Robert D. Hales from the October 1994 General Conference. In that talks he states,
"Individual testimonies are the foundation and strength of the Church. Our testimony provides a guiding light that leads to a commitment which directs our conduct and our way of life. Our testimony is true north on a spiritual compass. It is a moving force that cannot be seen but can truly be felt. It is a burning within that tells us what is right."