Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sons of God, Saviors of Men

A gentleman left some comments on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog for Mosiah 5 & 6. I wanted to take more room to respond to his comments, so I thought I'd post it here.

His last comment said,
I have a friend who claims that Mormons are not Christian because we don't
believe in the true Christ. This stems from his belief in the Nature of God and the nature of man. I believe we are divine beings, literal spirit children of Heavenly Father. He claims that while we are Gods "creations," we are not children of God until after we accept Christ as our savior. Then we are saved, and we become his sons. He uses this scripture in John (John 1:12) as a reference for this. I see how you differentiate between children of God and sons of God. Is there any scholarly evidence to back up this interpretation, or is this one of the times that personal revelation is required to understand the scripture?

I did some searching to back up the notion that we can become sons of Gods ... like The Son of God; a different distinction from children of God.

Here is another scripture that sheds more light on this concept: D&C 103:9-10 "For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men."

Saviors of men ... was not Christ the Savior of men? And here in the D&C we find that to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth means to be saviors of men.

Here's another quote from a general authority of the Church. “In our preexistent state … we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. … We agreed … to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work” (John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189). (see Carlos E. Asay, “Salt of the Earth: Savor of Men and Saviors of Men,” Ensign, May 1980, 42)

Another quote from Joseph Smith, "If the Saints are not to reign, for what purpose are they crowned? In an exhortation of the Lord to a certain Church in Asia, which was built up in the days of the Apostles, unto whom He communicated His word on that occasion by His servant John, He says, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." And again, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne" (see Rev. 3). And again, it is written, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:2, 3). How is it that these old Apostles should say so much on the subject of the coming of Christ? He certainly had once come; but Paul says, To all who love His appearing, shall be given the crown: and John says, When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. Can we mistake such language as this? Do we not offer violence to our own good judgment when we deny the second coming of the Messiah? When has He partaken of the fruit of the vine new with His ancient Apostles in His Father's kingdom, as He promised He would just before he was crucified? In Paul's epistle to the Philippians (3:20, 21) he says: "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." We find another promise to individuals living in the church at Sardis who had not defiled their garments: "And they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels." (see this site for an on-line version of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

Like I said, we are all literally children of God. But to be reborn ... to become a true disciple of Christ means that we must do as Christ did. Search out all of Neal A. Maxwell's talks on discipleship and read those over and over again. You'll begin to get the notion of what it means to become a son of God like The Son of God. It takes the teaching of "I'm trying to be like Jesus" to a whole new level. And when you read Moroni 7:26 & 48 as well as 1 John 3:1-2 they take on a higher meaning.

I believe anyone who sincerely follows the path of discipleship can receive the second comforter and when he or she see Christ, he or she shall be like Him. I believe it can happen in this life or the next or at Judgement day. We each of different timelines according to the Lord, but I believe it can happen.

I hope I explained this notion better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On Facial Hair

So during the Thanksgiving holiday, the topic of facial hair was brought up. Since I wear a beard ... goatee ... or whatever it is called, I have a hot opinion on the subject. Somewhere in my lifetime, I heard a quote from a general authority that essentially said if Jesus were to come to earth today, he would be clean shaven and would wear a business suit. To which my reply to that is "shave Jesus." Let's shave him in all our paintings or at least let's paint him clean shaven and in a business suit ... white shirt, tie and all and let that painting replace our Dell Parson (?) painting.

Here are some prevous discussions on this subject that have gone around the Mormon blogosphere the last few years:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"Come to Zion"

Sometimes talks seem generic to me. It seems that I've read this topic a thousand times and now I have to hear it again. When I get in that mindset, I tend to glaze over the content instead of trying to get something from it. Elder Christofferson's talk is one of those for me. But I paused while I read the talk and tried to ask myself what he was trying to say ... to rephrase what he said. I think I got something out of it.

In descibing how we can "establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes" he offered three things we must do. We must be unified, become holy, and care for the poor.


After reading and thinking about what he said regarding unity, it seems to me that we have to attain a higher conciousness in our social relationships to establish and keep that unity. First of all, we must overcome our contentions with others ... in our marriages, families and church groups. I think a lot of times we have to swallow our pride and seek the guidance of the Spirit to understand the will of the Lord. We ought to follow the guidance of our bishops and leaders and be willing to accept their decisions. Sometimes we have to get things "out in the open" and talk through problems that cause contention. Through a spirit of love and understanding we can work through problems and "overcome jarrings, contentions, envyings, and strifes" (D&C 101:6)

But unity does not stop there. Even tougher is "getting on the same page" and staying there. This requires tremendous effort and persistent work ... especially in marriage. We have to not only do our part of the work, but we must understand our spouse's part and be willing to help him or her. Again, this requires truly understanding one another's needs and making an effort to fulfill those needs. His example of the Modovan saints illustrates this point.


His comments on holiness seem to speak at the individual level. Each of us is responsible for saying our own prayers, reading our own scriptures and purifying ourselves. This can only be done by the individual. I think a large part of this is giving one's will to the Lord. As we become holy individually, we become a holy people.

Caring for the Poor

As we have just celebrated Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the true story of Thanksgiving. William Bradford and the pilgrims made a compact that they would all work together on the land and then share in their fruits. But some were lazy and did not produce as much. Some took more than they produced. Those who did produce begrudged those who did not work. The system failed. Bradford started from scratch and divided the land among the survivors. They were to each own their lot of land and be responsible for that lot. Whatever they grew, they could keep. They could also sell their excess in a market. This new system worked and the pilgrims had abundance ... indeed they had so much, they shared with the native Indians.

“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

“Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment” (D&C 104:17–18; see also D&C 56:16–17).

The Church has a good system today. Everyone pays ten percent of their income and we all contribute fast offerings. The Chuch is able to do much because individual members are willing to provide for themselves and are still able to have abundance with which they can impart to the Church.

Additonal reading:
D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 37–40

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"The Ministry of Angels"

It seemed to me that this General Conference had a lot of references to angels. Elder Holland's entire talk was about angels.

Elder Holland's talks are powerful and emotional. Reading them is good and well, but to listen to him deliver it really carries the Spirit into one's heart.

This talk has become more meaningful to me since I broke my finger last week. As I've grown older, I've noticed and acknowledged that I am easily prone to bouts of depression. I feel isolated and alone. So when Elder Holland mentioned Lehi describing himself in "a dark and dreary waste" I somewhat understood how he might have felt. Elder Holland goes on to say "In the course of life all of us spend time in 'dark and dreary' places, wildernesses, circumstances of sorrow or fear or discouragement." After breaking my finger, the air from my sails and drive to move forward have faded and I feel that loneliness. Such distress over such a small digit.

But I testify that over these last few days and in anticipation of my surgery, angels have ministered to me too. After a troublesome, sleepless night followed by an early alarm clock to remind me to get up to go to work, I arrived at the office and later checked my email to find an angelic note from my wife. On another day, I stopped to chat with our security guard. He is an older man and is always kind enough to chat with me. After talking with him, I felt less focused on my pinkie. At home there are four little angels (five if you consider dogs to be angels) who have showed sympathy and love and who have given kisses and hugs. Those have done more to heal than anything the doctor has done or will do. As chance would have it, my mother-in-law is visiting us for the week. She has been so cheerful and upbeat after I've come home from a 12-hour shift. Her positive attitude and cheerfulness has helped me be less grumbly.

I am such a selfish lug. All that has happened this last week and listening to Elder Holland's talk, has made me realize that there are many others suffering far worse than I. What am I doing to be an angel to them?

Additional reading:
"The Ministry of Angels" Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
"Coming Home" Clyn D. Barrus, “Coming Home,” Friend, Apr 1995, 2

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Come What May and Love It"

I love Elder Wirthlin's talks. He doesn't deliver them spectacularly, but when you read them, they are marvelous. This talk was no exception.


When our kids get upset about something, we try to take the edge off the situation by making it light. Sometimes it backfires, but a lot of times it seems to work. Sometimes a lot of memories are made by turning a bitter moment into a happy memory.

Eternal Perspective

If we keep things in an eternal perspective, we see trials and adversities in proper perspective.

Princial of Compensation

Elder Wirthlin said, "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss." My seminary teacher Keith Rasmussen had a favorite saying in dealing with how we are sometimes treated by others because of our religious beliefs. He said, "we will pay in this life and they will pay in the next." I always wondered about that doctrine, but Elder Wirthlin seems to make it legitimate.

Trust in God and His Son

He typed a little note to his daughter that said, "put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him." One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

As the title reminds us, we can face any adveristy and overcome it. Our attitudes are what make the difference between leading a bitter life or a life of happiness.

Read the entire talk: Come What May, and Love It

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


There were a couple of parts I particularly liked about Elder Uchtdorf's talk on hope.

He said, "The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.

"Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear."

It is always easier to despair than to hope. What takes real courage is to hope in the face of despair.

Another thing he said that I liked was, "The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light."

On a related note, there is this thought in chess that is taught by a chess instructor named Dan Heisman. He calls it the theory of infinite resistance. Basically, it means that even if you are losing in a game, you do your best until you are mated. Can we do apply this to our lives? When things are dark and gloomy, we can still hope for the best and do our best. If we are overcome, then we know we did our best to survive. If we overcome the trial, then we will be that much stronger.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Book of Mormon

In his talk, Elder Aidukaitis shared how his father joined the Church after he came to know the Book of Mormon was true.

He also cited a couple of quotes that I had not heard before. The first is in Preach My Gospel. It says, "the Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is [the] most powerful resource in conversion." ([2004], 104)

I love the Book of Mormon. I love it because the Holy Ghost has testified the truthfulness of it to me. As I've said on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog, even if all the "evidence" in the world came out against the Book of Mormon, I'd still love the book and live the teachings found within. Reading it has changed my life and the life of many others.

The other quote was from President Hinckley. “Those who have read [the Book of Mormon] prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power. . . .

“. . . Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts . . . the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, June 1988, 6)

Will you read the Book of Mormon today?

Additional Reading:
Book of Mormon Inspection
Because My Father Read the Book of Mormon by Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Settle this in your hearts"

Elder Neil L. Anderson said, "Brothers and sisters, we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty. Jesus said, “Settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.” (see footnote Luke 14:27b) (You Know Enough by Elder Neil L. Andersen)

In those times of "spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation" our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ increases. We come to know of the reality of a Living God who hears and answers and prayers. We come to know that Jesus Christ indeed lives and will come to the earth again. We come to know that the prophets speak with God and know God's will for us.

I can't see how we have those moments if we are not studying and pondering the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets. Each of us must make the time to quietly and reverently sit and read and study and ponder ... so that we can "settle these things in our hearts"

In these perilious times, the saving forces will be the testimony of individual members and the Priesthood.

Are we shoring up our testimonies?

Additional reading:
Luke 21:14
Larry W. Gibbons, “Wherefore, Settle This in Your Hearts,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 102–4
James E. Faust, “The Forces That Will Save Us,” Ensign, Jan 2007, 4–9

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Simple Life

I've always tried to advocate the simple life. Some might see me as lazy or shy or too laid back, but what my aim has always been is to lead a simple life.

Being the youngest in my family, I got to see my parents in a different light than my brothers and sisters. They live a simple life.

During the cold falls and winters of the Idaho Oregon area, my dad would always concern himself with having enough wood to burn in his fireplace. He loved to start a fire and enjoy the warmth it produced.

I also remember him sitting in the rocking chair by the window either at night or the late afternoon reading his scriptures.

The TV never blared in our home. Nor did the radio. We did not own a Nintendo or any game consoles. It was a reverent home. You could hear the clock ticking if you listened ... and it wasn't hard.

I've read Walden. The biggest impression I got when I read that book was the quietness of life. I think what Thoreau felt living on Walden Pond was very similar to what I felt in my home growing up.

Today, with four little ones, church callings, work, school functions, homework, church functions, limitless entertainment in the form of TV, game systems, cell phones, the Internet and music, the quietness of life can get lost. And with it the simplicity. We lose focus. We get distracted. Our minds grow numb. We don't feel at peace.

And so, using Elder Perry's talk for a guideline, we can (and should) ask ourselves these questions ...

What are we doing to simplify our life? Are we eating as we should? Do we get enough exercise? Do we keep our appearance clean and modest? Are we getting and staying out of debt? Do we manage our finances well? Do we feed our spirits? Do we pray earnestly and search the scriptures and living oracles? Do we take time to sit and reflect in quiet moments?

What are you going to do about it now?

Further reading: Let Him Do It with Simplicity by Elder L. Tom Perry

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Oct 2008 General Conference Notes: Sun PM Session

*Personal commentary, thoughts and inspirations are underlined

Elder Boyd K. Packer

The saints celebrated the nation's freedom despite the persecution they faced by that same government. The saints knew the Lord told them that we believe in being subject to kings ... etc.

Rather than consumed with revenge, the Saints were anchored in revelation.

The leaders of the Church are prepared through the decades to lead the Church.

"Today the sun never sets on congregations of Latter-day Saints."

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Men and women are that they might have joy. That joy comes when we choose the right.

Patterns of the shopper

Some shoppers study ... the best, quality. Some are bargain shoppers ... and find that what they buy don't last. Then there are those who steal what they want.

Marriage is of God. It is sacred.

Salvation is an individual matter. Exaltation is a family matter. The earth was created and this Church was formed so that families can be created, formed and sealed. Marriage is a divine commandment.

"All covenants, contracts, obligations ... that are not made ... are of no efficacy ... when men are dead" These truths are absolute.

No blessings with held from His faithful saints (to those who go unmarried).

Minimize personal demands, maximize loving unselfishness.

As with the pattern of the shopper, we can choose what type of marriage we will have. The best choice is the celestial marriage. If a lesser choice is taken, you can still "upgrade"

Brother William D. Oswald

He shared story of his grand-daughters learning to jump rope. Once they learned the fundamentals they were able to successfully jump.

We all have the responsibility to learn the basic principals of teachings. This can be done by watching other teachers and learning from the World Wide Broadcast on teaching (Feb 2007?)

We can learn from Jesus ... the master teacher.

1) Show love to those you teach and call them by name.
2) Teach from the scriptures.
3) Encourage the pondering of Gospel truths.

Elder Cabaret(?) and Elder (?)

Elder Quentin L. Cook

I had to take a call and take care of some business during the last three talks. I'll have to go back and watch these talks later.

President Thomas S. Monson

Heavenly Father is aware of the challenges we face in the world today.

May we be good citizens in the nations in which we live.

May we be men and women of honesty and integrity.

Contributions to the Church help us respond to disasters throughout the world.

May we be mindful of the needs of those around us and be willing to lend a helping hand.

Continuous revelation is the lifeblood of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Faustus: "There is a more searing anguish than fire - eternal exile from God"

Oct 2008 General Conference Notes: Sun AM Session

*Personal commentary, thoughts and inspirations are underlined

President Henry B. Eyring

Message of unity. The Lord's prophets have always called for unity. The challenge to maintain it will grow difficult. We are doing well as a people.

Our hearts will be knit together in unity (see Mosiah 18:21)

We should pray and ask for the blessing of unity. God's desire is to grant us this blessing. We must seek it and qualify for it.

We can receive guidance and encouragement from the story of Alma the Elder and those who followed him. "One eye, one faith, one baptism ... hearts knit together" (Mosiah 18:21)

When testimony of Christ is born, the Spirit testifies the truth of it and our hearts become knit together.

We need to be humble to be united. Pride is the enemy of unity.

Ask help from God to help others see common ground ... to be a peacemaker.

We need to speak well of each other. Sometimes we must judge others. Most of the time we have a choice. If you can't say anything good about a person, don't say anything at all. We can choose to "step away" from sowing seeds of dissension.

The saints can accomplish anything when our hearts are unified.

The unity we now experience will increase.

Elder Robert D. Hales

Why would someone want to attack us when we have taken upon us the name of Christ? We may feel inclined, when our faith is attacked, to "put up our dukes" and attack back. But we should prayerfully respond. Study the way Christ responded to various attacks on him.

To love our enemies ... that takes faith and strength and Christian courage.

True disciples of Christ see opportunities in opposition. Example: Abinadi & Alma.

As true disciples, seek guidance from the spirit ... seek to give customize counsel when we respond. We must never become contentious, but by the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) Quiet confidence, not boastful pride. We should be guileless.

In some instances, we are better off just walking away and avoiding the situation all together. Some people bait us to leave the high ground. Do not leave it ... it is the safe ground ... where the truth and light is. Lehonti was coaxed to come down from the mount and was poisoned by degrees (see Alma 47) Some want us to enter a theological scrum. "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down" (Nehemiah 6:3). Muster Christian courage and move on.

To those who would argue, we must love them no matter what.

Bishop Keith B. McMullin

We are all children of our Heavenly Father. We are to love our "neighbor." Everyone is our neighbor.

By fasting and donating a fast offering, we serve our neighbors. It is heaven's help in a practical way.

We are commanded to pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ. Heavely Father answers all sincere prayers. Priesthood blessings are another form of prayer. The story of Janice who was run over by a bus. She was given a blessing to fully recover and lead a normal life. She is now a grandmother and has not suffered single effect from that accident.

We must be careful in the use of Christ's name.

Sister Elaine S. Dalton

A call to virtue. A pattern of thought and behavior based on high standards. Accumulation of 1000s of daily actions. Quiet dignity and inner strength.

Lehonti was well positioned on the mount. But after 4 tries, Lehonti came down and was poisoned by degrees.

We must return to virtue ... return to strict to training. The will to win is the will to prepare.

I was inspired this morning while driving to work to dig up my old "Putnam Papers" I wrote and put together while on my mission. I was truly inspired to remember those words I wrote to myself 11 years ago. I am reviewing them now and will continue to review them. This is my return to virtue.

"When He shall appear, we shall be like him" (Moroni 7:48)

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Joseph Smith was aware that that Saints would be driven to the Rocky Mountains where they would become a great people. The Church has grown from small numbers to the great organization it is today.

There really isn't a whole lot to note about Elder Ballad's talk. He did a review of the growth of the history of the Church. It is amazing to listen how far the Church has come. In 22 years, we'll see the 200th anniversary of the Church. Can you imagine what will happen between today and 2030? What marvelous times we live in.

The works and the designs and purposes of God cannot be frustrated.

The Lord isn't asking us to load up a handcart ... but to shore up our faith. Not to walk across a nation, but to cross the street. Not a martyr's death, but a disciple's life.

We must carry on the rich tradition of those who have established this church. Our testimonies must run deep.

President Thomas S. Monson

Nothing is as constant as change. We must always deal with change.

This life is short. The longer we live, the more we realize how brief this life is. We also learn what is most important. Find joy in the journey now.

"If you pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find that you've collected a lot of empty yesterdays."

Do all that you can in providing pleasant memories for the future. Do not let stresses get in the way of what is most important. What is most important is those who are around us. We won't regret hugs, and wishes of love. But we will regret missed opportunities of hugs and wishes of love.

One day, each of us will run out of tomorrows.

He spoke of Borghild Dahl who faced vision problems early in life. But she endured and had a desire to learn and participate. She lead a wonderful life, received an education and eventually had her vision restored. She expressed these words after receiving her sight: "Dear father in heaven. I thank thee. I thank thee"

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God" The story of the 10 lepers.

Christ taught us how to live.

I've always loved listening to President Monson and his tender stories. I simply forget to take notes when listening to him. His talks are flashy, but make you quietly ponder the teachings of the Savior. He weaves the teachings of the Savior so beautifully into his talks. What a wonderful talk!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oct 2008 General Conference Notes: Priesthood Session

*Personal commentary, thoughts and inspirations are underlined

One other note ... for the other sessions I was able to listen and type my notes. During the Priesthood session, I had to hand write my notes and I'm just not as fast writing as I am typing, so my notes are a little less copious.

Elder Richard G. Scott

We should feel deeply humble to hold the Priesthood, especially when we consider how few men have held the Priesthood through the ages.

Jesus Christ is the perfect role model. He humbly served others without thought to himself.

Private Priesthood Interview

Are you holy & worthy to hold the Priesthood?
How often do you use it?
Are you private thoughts whole? Do you eleveate your mind?
Do you control what enters your eyes and mind?
Are you mentally and physically faithful to your wife?
Are you kind and supportive to your wife and family?
Do you lead your family in FHE, prayer?
Do you tell your wife that you love her?

How Priesthood Should be Used to Bless Others

We should have an equal partnership with wife.

Widows in need.

Some women are short-changed. A son or Priesthood holder carries more weight than a woman. This should not be! No unrighteous dominion (D&C 121:37, 39).

The most splendid, extreme creation is the woman. Of all creations, none is more beautiful. He quoted President Hinckley "Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth. God will hold us accountable if we neglect His daughters. He has given us a great and compelling trust. May we be faithful to that trust." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Responsibility to Our Young Women,” Ensign, Sep 1988, 8)

Is it no wonder, then, that one of Satan's most powerful tools is that of degrading women in the media available to virtually anyone today ... especially p****ography.

Express your gratitude often to your mother, wife ... be tender and appreciative.

The Priesthood is to be used not kept. Have I ever freely offered to give a blessing to anyone? We always seem to wait until called upon to give blessings. Can we not be angels too?

He quoted President Hunter. "As special witnesses of our Savior, we have been given the awesome assignment to administer the affairs of his church and kingdom and to minister to his daughters and his sons wherever they are on the face of the earth. By reason of our call to testify, govern, and minister, it is required of us that despite age, infirmity, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy, we do the work he has given us to do, to the last breath of our lives." (Howard W. Hunter, “To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov 1992, 95)

Elder Jay E. Jensen

Arms of safety is the Savior's love (see Alma 34:16)

A girl fell from a lookout point above the Grand Canyon. A 19-year old boy named Ian, who had been trained in emergency recues, immediately knew what to do. The girl was able to climb up a little bit, but was now stuck again. Ian climbed down to where she was and held her in his arms until the rescue teams could help them.

He reference the section heading of D&C 110 "Visions manifested to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3, 1836. HC 2: 435–436. The occasion was that of a Sabbath day meeting. The Prophet prefaces his record of the manifestations with these words: “In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us.”

There is too much informality and casual dress in those who administer the sacrament.

True servants of Jesus Christ are properly dressed.

Elder James J. Hamula

The war in heaven was instigated by Satan. This war continues on the earth today. Blood and horror fill the earth. We are in the final day. This time, the restoration of the Church will triumph.

Some of the most valient and noble are on the earth today. Young men are the valient and noble. Satan knows his time is short and is using all tools to prevent the noble from keeping the commandments of God.

Today and days to come are perilous.

We should not fear, but be sober. We should exercise good judgement and have measured conduct.

There is one way to overcome Satan. It is through the blood of the Lamb ... faith in Jesus Christ ... testimony of the Gosepl and consecration of self to the work (see D&C 88)

Three things to do:
1) Do as Joseph Smith and pray privately and regularly ... this will inspire revelation.
2) Learn to hear the voice of the Lord ... you must be still in your mind.
3) Obey the word of the Lord as it is given to you.

"stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" (see Exodus 14:13, 2 Chronicles 20:17, D&C 123:17)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Some members had the task of moving a grand piano from the chapel to the cultural hall. They tried all sorts of methods, but could not do it. Then one brother suggested, "stand close together and lift where you stand" Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Some struggle ... two ways.
1) Some seek to lead and seek a crown of power.
2) Some seek to hide and seek a cave ... they are too busy.

Some turn down callings, while some accept and do not magnify them.

The root cause of these problems is the same for both --> selfishness

The opposite of selfishness is charity.

The Lord is pleased with the humble servant. One such servant was John Roe Moyle. He was a stone mason. He walked six hours from his house to work on the Salt Lake Temple. One day on his farm, a cow kicked him in the leg. The leg had to be amputated. He survived and healed. When he was well enough, he began carving a wooden leg. Eventually he built up his endurance to walk the 22 miles to the temple despite the pain it caused him.

Do you care more for the kingdom of God or for yourself?

In the story, the piano is the Lord's work, therefore, no one does it alone. We all do it together.

President Henry B. Eyring

Each of us is asked to stretch our limit. The more faithful service you give, the more the Lord asks of you.

You push muscles to the point of exhaustion in order to build them up.

You can't do this work by yourself. "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88)

Confidence replaces doubt.

"The promise of angels to bear you up is real."

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

"And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:16-17)

More references to angels ... this conference is talking a lot about angels. Are more and more coming in these Latter Days?

President Thomas S. Monson

He received a call from the MTC president regaring an elder who was determined to go home because he could not learn Spanish. President Monson suggested to the MTC president that he send the elder to a Japanese class and then have him report back at noon. After the elder attended the Japanese class, he reported that he could learn Spanish!

We must feed those who go through rough times. We must be prudent in our spending.

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

3 Imperatives for our Considertion

1) Learn what we should learn.

Paul taught, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." (Philippians 3:13-15)

Paul taught the Hebrews, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The Priesthood is the power of God delegated to man. It is the perfect plan of service.

He who neglects it shall not be counted worthy to stand. Use it or lose it.

2) Do what we should do

D&C 107:99-100... let every man learn his duty. Put forth your best effort. There are eternal consequences to our actions. John Taylor quote ... you will be held responsible for those you could have saved.

3) Be what we should be

"be thou an example of the believes, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (2 Timothy 4:12)

Man must seek that power which is higher than him.

"What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Nephi 27:27)

The hireling fleeth. The shepard does not, but lays down his life for the sheep.

Bro. Borrup (sp?) was part of a bomber crew over the Pacific in WWII. He knew he would be called to be a part of a sorty and he knew they would be shot down. Sure enough, they were shot down. He tried to inflate his raft, but it wouldn't inflate. He was drowning. He passed out. He woke up, pled to God and the raft inflated. They floated for 3 days with no food or water. They saw a submarine go by one day. The next day they saw it again. They knew it was going to leave the area. Then a thought came to his head ... use the Priesthood to command the submarine to stop. He spoke the words and it stopped. The captain was in awe. They weren't even looking for the downed crew.

So my notes weren't necessarily less copius. I guess I was able to write a lot. I filled in the gaps too as I remember things.

Oct 2008 General Conference Notes: Sat PM Session

*Personal commentary, thoughts and inspirations are underlined.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Everyone has experience joy and happiness as well as trials and sorrow. "Come what may and love it." How we react to adversity in large part contributes to our happiness or sadness.

Laugh - "Learn to laugh." He shared experiences with family travels about how they got lost. They did not get angry, but laughed. The blind date and babysitter mix-up story ... very funny!

Seek for the eternal - You may feel singled out and ask "why me?" Everyone must experience sorrow. Examples: Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Joseph, Emma. These times help us have increased compassion and understanding for others. "Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment." (D&C 121:7)

Understand the principal of compensation - That which is taken away will eventually be returned a hundred fold. His autistic grandson has been a challenge, but he also has been a great joy. In playing baseball, he'd watch the baseball roll by, but then pull another out of his pocket and throw it to the pitcher!

Put our trust in our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ - He wants us to be happy and successful. He will comfort and uphold us. "The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best and he will do the rest."

Adversity can be a blessing in our lives. "Come what may and love it."

Elder Jeffery R. Holland

Perhaps the most difficult thing for Adam and Eve was not having to face the physical trials, but not being able to live in the presence of God. In times of special needs, God sent angels.

From the beginning, God has sent angels to us.

Just like Lehi, we will all spend time in darkness and gloom. Macro concerns turn into micro concerns for our family. "I testify that angels are still sent to help us." Even the son of God had need of comfort from angels.

Pray always and be believing and walk uprightly. The latter-days are not a time to fear and tremble ... they are a time to remember and keep our covenants.

Story of his friend Quinn D. Berris (sp?). During the spring flood season, the kids were never to cross the flood plain to seek the cattle. Young seven-year-old Quinn knowing his rare night at the movies was at risk when he saw the cows weren't there, decided to go after the cows himself ... across the river. He urged his horse into the river. The horse's head barely cleared the water. The current completely covered Bro. Barris. When the horse cleared the other bank, he knew he was in deep trouble. It was dark. He was wet, cold, lost and afraid. He began to pray. He begged for forgiveness over and over again. When he looked up, he saw a figure dressed in white walking toward him. He felt it must be an angel. He didn't move or make a sound. Would the Lord really send an angel to me who had been disobedient. "'Son, I've been looking for you.' In the darkness, I recognized the voice of my father. 'I was worried. I'm glad I found you.'" He later learned that his father removed his clothes and tied his shoes around his neck and braved the river to rescue his son.

"God never leaves us alone." We may feel distanced from God ... sometimes of our own making. Even then, the Father of us all is watching and assisting and sending angels.

"I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." (D&C 84:88)

May we be more believing in angels and be more angel-like.

Elder Evans?

Story of his 8-year-old daughter was asked what the difference is between her religion and others? We have to study so much!

Except you become as a child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Savior's teachings are adapted to everyone ... anyone can understand the Gospel.

The Little Prince ... people can grow 5000 roses in a garden and know not what they seek. But what they seek can be found in a single rose and a little water.

Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge

There is only one way to happiness. He offers a well of living water. He is the bread of life. He is the light of the world. He is the only way back to our Father in Heaven.

Everything depends on getting and keeping the Holy Ghost in our life. We do this by always remembering Him and keeping His commandments. "What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I."

While the standard of the Lord is the highest, don't ever think that it can only be achieved by a select few who are most able. The higher the standard, the fewer capable ... this is NOT the case. The Lord's standard is achievable by everyone ... not that we are able, but that He is able and He can make us able.

The Lord's way is not hard. Life is hard, but it is also simple. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power or we can go some other way and go it alone without support from the Lord. Which way is easier? Get on the path and never, ever give up.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Zion is both a place and a people. Are we faithful in establishing Zion on the earth today? Are we establishing Zion in our homes, wards and stakes?

We must be unified in heart and mind - Are we free from strife and contention? Do we forgive all? We must reach out to those who have fallen from our ranks. We invite all to come back. Story of Moldovans who attended a regional conference. They determined to split up and attend all the classes so that they could take notes and then share them with each other and with the members back in Moldova. This is the spirit of one heart and mind.

Individually and collectively, we must be a holy people - Lord warned early saints of their lustful desires ... this was during a much holier time compared to our Ipod, TV, sexually filled society. We cannot keep a summer cottage in Babylon!

We must care for poor and needy - If we do not impart to the poor and needy, we will look up and plead with the wicked in the last day. Today we impart to the poor and needy through tithes and offerings. We each need evaluate our capacity to maximize helping the poor and minimizing our covetousness. Story of Brother Johnson who cut his table in half to make two tables ... one to keep and the other to help a refugee Vietnamese family living in a trailer.

Elder David A. Bednar

Building on his last conference talk, he will offer three additional principals and that will help us have more meaningful prayers.

1) Prayer becomes more meaningful when we counsel with the lord in all our doings.

All things were created spiritually before they were created naturally. Meaningful morning prayer is a spiritual creation of the actual creation of the actions of the day. We can counsel with the Lord to overcome our weaknesses and seek the Lord's help in overcoming them. As we go about our day, we should continually keep a prayer in our heart and our prayers will be answered. When we recognize that we have been reminded and helped, we offer a prayer of gratitude. At the end of the day, we thank the Lord for His help and seek forgiveness and seek His guidance for what we can do better the next day. We arise the next morning and repeat the process.

As we remember our relationship with deity and remember this admonition .. "Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. ." (Alma 37:36-37)

2) Prayer becomes more meaningful when we express gratitude.

Sister Bednar was asked by a General Authority to give a prayer of gratitude, asking nothing, despite having been just informed of a friend who had passed away. She heeded this counsel and their hearts were swollen with gratitude.

Periodically when we pray, we should only give thanks and ask for nothing.

3) Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and with a sincere heart.

Example of Lehi ... he learned of the future destruction of Jerusalem. He prayed for his people. As a result, he received a vision. His heart was full. His vision came in response to a prayer for others. Jesus also prayed for the apostles and saints.

Do our families and those we serve feel and hear our prayers for them?

Heavenly Father hears and answers every earnest prayer. Revelation is real.

Oct 2008 General Conference Notes: Sat AM Session

*Personal commentary, thoughts and inspirations are underlined.

President Thomas S. Monson

128 temples in the world. Five more temples to be built:

Calgary, Canada; Cordoba, Argentina; Kansas City, United States; Philadelphia, United States; Rome, Italy (gasps from audience).

Pray for the opening of those areas in which the Church is not currently operating.

Elder L. Tom Perry

Patterns of life's tests; ups and downs ... we sometimes experience stress. Our challenge is to endure these tough times with optimism.

"We know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and the best is yet to come."

Thoreau's Walden ... the simple life. There were only 4 things a man needs food clothing shelter fuel


D&C 88:15 - spirit and body= soul of man. D&C 89 - word of wisdom. For the Strength of Youth - observe WoW, eat nutritious food, exercise, get enough sleep. Do not abuse drugs, prescription medication, household chemicals


Simple and modest clothing. It sends a message to others, affects the way we act around others. Very casual dress is followed by casual manners. Some dress and get the "wrong kind of attention" Fashion-conscious mockers in great and spacious building ... others felt ashamed and were lost because of the mockers.


The current housing crisis. DO NOT live beyond your means ... a message regularly given in General Conference. Do not run into debt. The majority of our troubles are because of lack of heed to this counsel. Live within income, stay out of debt, save for a rainy day. Well-managed families do not pay interest, they earn it.

Amen to this!! We have little debt, but we can do a lot better in our finances, food storage and savings.


Walden discussed biological fuel. Perry discusses spiritual fuel. Acquire knowledge of god's eternal plan, surrender our will to Gods.

May we earnestly seek to simplify our lives.

I want to re-read "Walden" Does our life style need simplification?

Sister Allred

The Lord's church has the responsibility to teach the gospel in the world. The blessings of the gospel have touched 4 generations of her family. Each family has served missions who in turn have had a positive impact on many, many others.

How can I assist in missionary work? First have a clear understanding that God loves all his children. Second, learn that the message of the Christ and the Restoration is the most important message. Be a good example. Live a gospel-centered life. Be specific in your efforts. Prepare kids for missionary service. Invite friends to activities. Go with missionaries on visits. Invite people to family history centers. Share your beliefs. Send letters to full-time missionaries.

I need to pray for more missionary opportunities. Jill is such a good example of missionary work.

Elder Neil Anderson

"You don't know everything, but you know enough." Our spiritual journey is a process of a lifetime. Foundation of faith in Jesus Christ ... baptism, Holy Ghost, repentance, prayer, Book of Mormon ... we remain steady and patient. You don't know everything, but you know enough to keep the commandments.

Missionary about to leave. Talked about a life full of challenges. He didn't know if God even loved him. "You do know God loves you." He bowed his head and cried. "I do know it" That knowledge was enough to keep him on his mission.

We each have moments of strength and inspiration that sink deep. These times can be spiritual storage ... Jesus Christ: "settle this in your hearts" (Luke 21:14) So true ... do we stop and think to use this reservoir more often? Do we seek opportunities to replenish it as often as possible?

We have enormous spiritual reservoirs at our disposal. "Be not afraid, only believe"

"We come to know what we already knew."

Faith of Child

Story of Hadly the little girl who was born deaf. She saw a boy with no legs and asked her mom why. Heavenly Father makes everyone special. Hadly told boy that she is deaf and then testified to him that one day he will have legs and she will be able to hear.

Elder Marcos Aidukaitis

The faith of his father is a great example to Marcos. His father was able to go through difficult times because he read the Book of Mormon regularly. The Book of Mormon combined with the Spirit is the most powerful resource to conversion.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

We live in the perilous times spoken of by Paul. How can we have the Spirit to guide our choices and keep us on the path? "Go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments ... " By participating in the sacrament, we will always have the Spirit with us.

Wilford Woodruff ... the Spirit is the greatest gift than can be bestowed on man.

Some in the rising generation have not yet come to understand the significance of this meeting and the important of individual reverence in this meeting.

How we should prepare to take the sacrament

Elder Nelson taught the priesthood leaders how to plan and conduct sac. meetings. We bring a broken heart and contrite spirit. It is the highlight of our Sabbath day. Prelude music is subdued. No communication ... prayerful meditation.

We should have a broken heart and contrite spirit.

How we dress is important. It is like going to the temple.

We should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially if it interferes with others. Not a time to read books/magazines. Not a time for texting or whispering. We promise to ALWAYS remember him. How sad that some violate this during the sac.

Music - everyone should join in the singing. This music is for worship, not performance.

How can we get our kids to understand these principals? I need to get off this shift schedule so I can consistently help teach this to the kids.

To those who officiate the sacrament

Speak slowly and clearly when saying the sacred prayers. Those who officiate the sac should be clean. They should dress appropriately. All should be well-groomed and modestly dressed. Elder Holland: white shirt for deacons, teachers, priests who administer the sacrament.

Administered by those who hold/exercise the keys to this ordinance

This is why we don't hold sacrament meetings in homes and family reunions.

Choir is singing

the last 90 minutes have flown by. I've not been this attentive to Gen Conf since before we had kids! Ironically, I am working the day shift and it is a quiet day. Typing up my notes has helped me focus on the speakers' messages too.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

He is telling the story of how his family fled Czechoslovakia. On a train trip, she left her kids on the train to get some food. When she returned, the train was gone! I can't imagine the horror she felt. She prayed and ran from track to track and train to train and finally found her 4 children. He wondered how she overcame the fear and despair on that cold winter night.

The Infinite Power of Hope

Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool of faith, hope and charity. Hope is a principal of promise and a commandment.

Why is there despair? There must be opposition in all things.

What is hope? This hope of which is speaks transcends the trivial. Confidence if we live according to God's laws, we will receive the blessings. It is believe and expecting our prayers will be answered. Optimism, enthusiasm, patience perseverance. A hope glorifying God with goods works. Patience to bear our afflictions.

Things hoped for: future events. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we will live forever. We can be cleansed of our sins. The Savior is the author of our salvation.

Things we hope in: sustain us in our daily walk. They uphold us in our trails. We hope in Jesus Christ. In times of distress, we can hope that things will work together for our good as we keep the commandments.

We cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk ... one step at a time. Pray daily, pay tithes and live the gospel more perfectly. There will be times where everything around us is dark, but within us we find an invincible summer. The brighter our hope, the greater our faith.

This is what I feel whenever I contemplate my career or our kids growing up in this wicked world or when I think of the perilous times that are yet ahead. I know things will get much, much darker before they get brighter. But in my heart of hearts, I know that things will get brighter. We have so much to hope for. It is easy to despair. But we must always hope and have faith.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Description of Jesus Christ

I'm not sure where I got this handout, but I found it in a study bible I sometimes use. The handout is entitled "DESCRIPTION OF JESUS CHRIST" Given to Antoine R. Ivins by Oscar W. McConkie

This is what it says:

The following is engraved on a copper plate, which was found in an antique vase of white marble, during excavation in the city of Azuilla, in the kingdom of Naples, in the year 1825. It was discovered by the Commission of Arts attached to the French armies. At the excavation of Naples it was found enclosed in a box of ebony in the sacristry of Courtroom. Mr. Drennon, of the Commission of Arts, caused a model to be made of the plate. At the sale of his collection of curiosities, it was bought by Lord Howard for 5,844 francs, about $1,215.

Letter from Publius Lentulus to the Senate of Rome, concerning Jesus Christ. It being the usual custom of Roman Governors to advise the senate and people of such material things as happen in their respective provinces in the days of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar, he wrote the following epistle to the Senate concerning our Savior:

"Conscript Fathers: There has appeared amongst us, in these days, a man of great virtue named Jesus Christ, who is yet living amongst us, and of the people is accepted as a prophet of truth, but his disciples call him the Son of God. A man of stature somewhat tall and comely, with a very reverent countenance, such as the beholder may both love and fear. His hair of the color of filbert, full ripe, and lain to his ears, but thence downward it is more orient, curling and waving about his shoulders. In the midst of his head is a seam, or partition, of his hair, after the manner of the Nazerites. His forehead is plain and very delicate. His face without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red. His nose and mouth so formed that nothing can be reprehended. His beard thickish, in color like his hair, and forked. His look innocent and mature. His eyes clear and quick. In reproving he is terrible, in admonishing courteous and fair-spoken, pleasant in conversation, mixed with gravity. It cannot be remembered that any have ever seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep. In proportion of body most excellent. His hands and arms most delectable to behold. In speaking very temperate, modest, and wise. A man of singular beauty, surpassing the children of men."
A Google search of the words "copper plate azuilla" directs to a book with this description.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reverence Invites Revelation

While reading blogs this morning, I read one author's account of his early morning. At the top of his post, he wrote a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods."

The author then related his early morning routine of getting up early in the morning and hearing the sound of silence. He read a bit in the quiet and then went on a jog ... all in silence. He then gave some tips how to get that quiet time into your daily routine. You can read the whole post here.

Anyway ... the quote from Emerson rings true. I seemed to remember a talk about reverence and revelation. So I did a search on and found a talk by President Packer entitled "Reverence Invites Revelation" (Ensign, Nov 1991, 21)

In his talk he said, "Inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings. Such words as quiet, still, peaceable, Comforter abound in the scriptures: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10; italics added.) And the promise, “You shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 36:2; italics added.)

Elijah felt a great wind, an earthquake, a fire. The Lord was not in any of them; then came “a still small voice.” (1 Kgs. 19:12.)

Helaman said of that voice of revelation, “It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.” (Hel. 5:30.)

It was Nephi who reminded his brothers that an angel “hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (1 Ne. 17:45; italics added.)

The talk is very good and I encourage you to take some time to read it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Five Tithing Talks in a Row

I'm working the night shift this weekend. So on Sundays I miss our church meetings which start at 9am. Today I was able to attend the other ward that meets in our chapel at 1pm.

All four talks today were about tithing. That makes 5 talks in row on tithing I've heard in that chapel. Obviously this is coming from the stake president (since he spoke about it last week). I wonder if he and the bishops are seeing a trend in the stake.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Journal Entry on Tithing

After I posted that story on tithing, I remembered writing in my journal some thoughts on the subject. I finally found that journal entry.

Here is what I wrote on tithing March 3, 2003:

I wanted to include a bit of my testimony about tithing in this journal this evening. Over the weekend, I was working on our budget and trying to figure out how to pay off our credit card bill. This bill had been growing since November of last year. Jill and I are convinced that we do not want this type of thing to happen again this year. So, I was working on our budget and trying to figure out how to better handle it so that we are saving a sufficient amount of money to support ourselves.

After the budget was finished, I noticed that tithing is our largest bill next to our mortgage. The little evil thought crept into my mind about what we could do with that extra $560 each month. But quickly, I reminded myself (or it was the Spirit who reminded me) that I should think of all the blessings we’ve received from paying a full and honest tithe.

Going through this little trial made me realize that I needed to re-strengthen my testimony concerning tithing. So, on Sunday morning, I looked up many verses on tithing and read several talks from General Authorities about tithing. One of the best scriptures on tithing is in Malichi 3:8-10 and 3 Nephi 24:8-10. I also found a reference to Psalms 73. In this Psalm, he talks about how the wicked prosper in the face of defying God (Psalms 73:3, 12).

Sometimes, this is how I feel about tithing. When I see a coworker buying a brand new BMW or Dodge Ram truck, I ask myself where in the world does he get the money from. Then when I see our budget, I understand that many people don’t pay tithing and they “prosper.” But, the Psalm goes on to say that those people will eventually “pay.” Perhaps they will not pay in this life, but they will pay in the next.

Of the talks I read, I particularly enjoyed the faith-promoting stories told of saints who were faced with either paying their mortgage or paying their tithing. Others were faced with either buying food or paying tithing. One particular sister had a choice to pay tithing or go buy a sack of flower to feed her orphaned children. She and her kids decided to pay tithing. So she walked a few miles to the Bishop’s storehouse and paid the tithing. When she arrived home, she found a stock of food sitting on her doorstep, including a sack of flour. A note stated that her late husband had done some work for the local grocer and that the grocer had not paid him for his labor. The groceries were a payment for her husband’s work.

Now, we are not living check to check. We have a good budget where we have money left over each month (if we stay on budget) and we are saving plenty for us and for our kids. My test is to continue to pay an honest and full tithe and to make a generous contribution to the fast offering fund. All that we have is from the Lord. We are simply stewards.

I hope I remember this and I hope that Jill and I will strive to live a good life by focusing on the things that matter rather than striving to become so wealthy that we have to build new barns (or houses) to hold all of our possessions. Just as Jesus taught in a parable, the man who lays up treasures for himself on this earth and then eats, drinks and is merry for the rest of his days, will be damned. First seek the kingdom of God, and then all things will be added to you.

I know tithing is a true and just law. I love the law of tithing. I love to pay my tithing every two weeks. I feel good after I hand that envelop to the Bishop. The Lord has blessed us abundantly. Emma and Ben have beds to sleep in, they have blankets, clothes, food, drink and lots of toys! We have a good home and our health is good too. We have been truly blessed!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tithing Story

I don't have much time this morning to post an in-depth devotional on tithing, but I wanted to share a story our stake president shared yesterday in our ward conference.

I'm not sure where he heard the story. But there was a temple open house and a Jewish rabbi went to attend. He was so impressed with the feelings he felt there that he went back to his congregation and preached to them the importance of tithing. His point was that the reason he felt the Spirit in the "living temple" was because the people (the members of the Church) actually paid their tithing. He taught his congregation that tithing has been a commandment a long, long time ... even preceding Moses and he admonished them to pay a full tithe.

It was a very interesting story ... especially the point that we will have the Spirit of the Lord with us if we pay it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

It's Worth It

The radio turned on at 5:23am. Opening my eyes felt like pulling apart two freshly glued pieces of paper. The breeze from the fan seemed to instantly dry my already dried out eyes. I had a choice before me ... get up to play some basketball or smack the clock radio, roll over and fall back asleep.

I know from past experience that I should never think about this decision while in bed. I know that I should quickly get up and get into the bathroom where I can turn on the light and wake up.

I force myself to do it. I throw the covers off and put my feet on the ground. I know I've won.

After I arrive at the gym and have played the first game of basketball, I sit on the floor, wiping my face with a towel and realize how much fun it is playing early morning basketball. It is good to think about this because I am reinforcing my resolve to get up in those first few critical minutes after the alarm radio turns on.

Like scripture study, like prayer, like attending the temple ... I've found that when I've taken that first step, the rest becomes easy and I enjoy it and am glad to have done it. But it all needs reinforcing ... we need to remember why we are doing what we should be doing - because we find joy in it. This will help us make the initial step when it is time to get up to exercise or to pray or to study or to attend the temple or to do whatever we should be doing but don't exactly "feel like doing it."

I remember reading a quote by Brigham Young on the topic of prayer. He said,

Some of the brethren come to me and say, “Brother Brigham, is it my duty to pray when I have not one particle of the spirit of prayer in me?” True, at times, men are perplexed and full of care and trouble, their ploughs and other implements are out of order, their animals have strayed and a thousand things perplex them; yet our judgment teaches us that it is our duty to pray, whether we are particularly in the spirit of praying or not. My doctrine is, it is your duty to pray; and when the time for prayer comes, John should say, “This is the place and this is the time to pray; knees bend down upon the floor, and do so at once.” But John said, “I do not want to pray; I do not feel like it.” Knees get down, I say; and down bend the knees, and he begins to think and reflect. Can you say anything? Can you not say, God have mercy on me a sinner? Yes, he can do this, if he can rise up and curse his neighbor for some ill deeds. Now, John, open your mouth and say, Lord, have mercy upon me. “But I do not feel the spirit of prayer.” That does not excuse you, for you know what your duty is (DBY, 45). “Chapter 6: The Communication between God and Man,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 41

So the next time you're faced with something you don't feel like doing, but you know you should, just do it ... take the first step; take the plunge and the rest will follow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Willing Heart

After reading my cousin's wife's post about Helman 6:36, I wrote some additional commentary on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog ... you can read the whole entry here.

This is what I added:

Hardened vs. Willing Heart

This morning, I read a blog post by my cousin's wife about her thoughts on Helaman 6:36. She had some really good insight into this verse. So I read Helaman 6:36 as well as the preceding two verses.

Mormon contrasts the hardened Nephites with the willing Lamanites. Helaman 6:34-36 says, "And thus we see that the Nephites did begin to dwindle in unbelief, and grow in wickedness and abominations, while the Lamanites began to grow exceedingly in the knowledge of their God; yea, they did begin to keep his statutes and commandments, and to walk in truth and uprightness before him.

"And thus we see that the Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw from the Nephites, because of the wickedness and the hardness of their hearts.

"And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words."

She cross-referenced the word "willingness" to Exodus 25:2 and 2 Corinthians 8:12. Then she noted that "willingly" in Exodus 25:2 is cross-referenced to the Topical Guide entry of Initiative. She comments, "Do I take the initiative to ask and find out what the Lord wants, rather then wait till the last minute and decide to follow him when things get difficult, or complain and make excuses? I have experienced both scenarios and I can say that I have felt the blessings of taking the initiative and being willing. Not only do I experience great blessings but my faith is strengthened."

Regarding taking the initiative in keeping the commandment and following the will of God, there are two people who are great examples of keeping this counsel … President Henry B. Eyring and our current stake president Gary Riding.

When President Eyring was called to the Apostleship, there was an article in the September 1995 Ensign that talked about his life. There are two sentences I remember from this article. In talking about his father Matthew Eyring said, "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.” (Gerald N. Lund, “Elder Henry B. Eyring: Molded by ‘Defining Influences’,” Ensign, Sep 1995, 10)

I am such a laid back person that I’m afraid I feel pretty content with what I have been blessed with. But after rereading part of that quote and also what my cousin's wife said, I wonder how many blessings the Lord has for my family and me that I have not asked for. In her post she says, "I think sometimes it is easy to say, "I don't want any more or I have all that I need." I have met many people who have said this. When we have a willing mind, then I believe our minds are enlightened and the power of the Spirit is able to expand our learning and knowledge."

The other person who I think takes the initiative is our stake president Gary Riding. I have heard him speak on more than one occasion of how he prays for guidance from the Lord. Like President Eyring, he specifically asks the Lord what he needs to do that day … who he can serve. Then he would proceed to give examples of how his prayers have been answered.

One example of his that I remember is when he was jogging through the park and came across a man who seemed to be in mental anguish. President Riding felt inspired to stop and talk to the man. I don't remember all the details, but I think the man was having some marital and other problems in his life. A missionary moment ensued and the man was later baptized. After President Riding finished his talk, the man stood up and testified how his life was changed because of President Riding's prayers and his willingness to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

So I guess the personal application here is that I need to be more earnest in my prayers, have a willing heart … be willing to accept the Lord's will and then do it, and then be diligent in seeking the Lord's will through daily and constant prayer. Then I need to recognize and heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost through the course of the day. And in order to recognize those promptings, I need to listen. In the July 2008 Ensign in another article about President Eyring, he teaches, "The key to hearing those answers and knowing that God has an interest in our lives, he says, is to develop a listening ear. “We’ve got to be quiet and listen. In my life, when I have failed to receive a clear feeling or have missed the voice of the Spirit, it is because I was too busy, too noisy inside, and too full of my own world.” (Robert D. Hales, “President Henry B. Eyring: Called of God,” Ensign, Jul 2008, 8–15)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Prayer: ASK

Today was High Counselor Sunday. As kids, we used to call it Dry Counselor Sunday because the High Counselor usually gave a boring talk. But today's speaker was anything but dry. In fact, it was one of the best talks I've heard in a Sacrament meeting in recent memory.

His subject, given from the Stake President, was prayer. He structured his talk around an acronym ... A.S.K.

When we pray, we should:

A - be ALONE. He mentioned that when Joseph Smith went to inquire of the Lord, he went to the woods to be entirely alone. As the Savior taught in 3 Nephi 13:6, we should enter into our closets and shut the door to be alone. I think we are asked to pray in private so that we are honest in our prayers ... so that we feel we can say and express anything to our Heavenly Father.

S - SPEAK. When we pray, we should not keep the words in our minds. Although we can say a prayer in our hearts anytime, when we pray privately in our closets, we should pray out loud. He again referenced the First Vision and mentioned that Joseph Smith, when he entered the woods to pray, had never prayed out loud before. I've prayed out loud before as well as prayed in my mind and there is a distinct difference between the two. When I pray out loud, hearing myself speak to Heavenly Father is more sincere and humbling.

K - KNEEL. When we pray privately, we should kneel as an act of reverence to the Lord. I remember as a missionary we would put our flip flops on the floor and kneel on them because the cement was so hard. But now that I live in a carpeted home, I find myself not kneeling in personal prayer so often.

Amen - Another point he discussed in his talk was that when we say "amen" we are saying we agree with what was said. He discussed that fact that we need to say "amen" with faith. He suggested that when we say "amen" we should add a few words in our mind ... "go to work." So when we say amen, in our heart and mind, we should be saying "I agree to go to work." By doing this, we will exercise our faith more. I think it was President Hinckley (although I may be wrong on that) who said "pray as if everything depends on God and then work as if everything depends on you."

It was a great talk on prayer. I really needed to hear those words of counsel today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit

Recently, I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting. I was assigned the topic of a Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit. I delivered this talk on May 25, 2008.


My wife and I met in Spanish class. She came running down the hallway to introduce herself to me. I reciprocated by offering to help her with her paper (I felt she needed some help and I had some ulterior motives). Our teacher’s name was Bruce Lee. We were married in 1998, had our first, Emma in 2000, then Ben in 2002, Erick in 2004 and Camille in 2006.

In the summer of 1998, I picked up an extra job working in the Laundromat as a “mangler.” I sacrificed my time to earn the money to buy an engagement ring for Jill. I’m glad I sacrificed for her … she was and is worth it.


In ancient times, the Lord commanded that Adam and his posterity offer sacrifices. Moses 5:5-8 teaches us about this. (Read the scripture and commentate)

I’m sure for them, it was indeed a sacrifice to offer up the fruits of their labors to the Lord much like it is for us as we pay our tithing today.

Joseph Smith taught us about sacrifice too. He said, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (see Guide to the Scriptures Sacrifice).

The scriptures are full of examples of sacrifice, both of the Savior’s great sacrifice and of others’. We read of Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice and of the saints crossing the plains and building up the kingdom of God on the earth. One of my personal favorite examples is that of the brazen serpent that Moses raised in the wilderness for the children of Israel. They were bitten by fiery serpents. Moses provided a means for them to be healed. They had to get off their beds and looked up the brazen serpent. Those who made that small sacrifice were healed while those who did not died.

What Christ Taught of Sacrifice

Christ taught us what we are to sacrifice. He did away with burnt offerings and instructed us to sacrifice something different.

3 Nephi 9:20 teaches us what we are to offer as a sacrifice (broken heart and contrite spirit … read the scripture and commentate).


The Guide to the Scriptures defines Broken Heart: “To have a broken heart is to be humble, contrite, repentant, and meek - that is, receptive to the will of God.”

To me, the idea of a broken heart is easy to understand. We all have had our hearts broken or we know someone whose heart has been broken. When we see others suffering, it breaks our heart. We are humbled and we have pain in our hearts.

Contrite is a little more subtle. I have never really known what contrite means. So I looked up the definition.

1. caused by or showing sincere remorse
2. filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement; penitent
3. filling regret and sorrow for one's sins or offenses; penitent
4. contritus, literally "worn out, ground to pieces"5. thoroughly bruised or broken
6. broken down with grief and penitence; deeply sorrowful for sin because it is displeasing to God
7. to rub down, to wear out, used until so common as to have lost novelty or interest, hackneyed, stale.
In this light, we understand that our spirits are to be worn out or ground to pieces.

We have all heard the story of the sculptor who after having finished his work of art saw that it had a crack in it. Knowing that it wasn’t perfect, he decided to start over. He broke it to pieces, grounded those to smaller pieces and the added water. Once he did that, the sculpture became clay again and he was able to re-make the work of art.

The gospel application is obvious. We are to break our hearts as he broke the sculpture. We are to have contrite or ground or worn out spirits as the sculpture is ground down. We are to be baptized as the hardened clay is softened by water.

How do we break our hearts and become contrite?
I see two ways in which our hearts are broken and our spirits become contrite.

One, we can lead a life of sin to the point that we are lost. We ended up having no where to turn but to God. Our hearts are truly broken and as a lost child, we submit to anyone who will help us find our way home.

The second way is to humble ourselves by striving to break our own hearts and being contrite.

The way to do this is to same list found on our list of Sunday School answers. We pray, we read the scriptures and meditate on them. We have gratitude in our hearts and express that gratitude in prayer. We serve others. As we do these basic things, we become more humble and willing to serve God. We begin to yield our hearts to God.

As Elder Maxwell taught us of discipleship, there really is only one thing that we truly posses that we can give to God and that is our will, our heart. (see Neal A. Maxwell, “Insights from My Life,” Ensign, Aug 2000, 7 where he says, “I am going to preach a hard doctrine to you now. The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him. And that hard doctrine lies at the center of discipleship. There is a part of us that is ultimately sovereign, the mind and heart, where we really do decide which way to go and what to do. And when we submit to His will, then we’ve really given Him the one final thing He asks of us. And the other things are not very, very important. It is the only possession we have that we can give, and there is no lessening of our agency as a result. Instead, what we see is a flowering of our talents and more and more surges of joy. Submission to Him is the only form of submission that is completely safe.”)

As we become more willing to give ourselves and our hearts to God, the more we become sanctified.

Helaman 3:35 describes this process as it happened to the Nephites and Lamanites (read and commentate).

End with your testimony.



D&C 56:17-18Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!

But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the dearth shall be theirs.

3 Nephi 9:20And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Psalms 34:18
The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalms 51:17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

2 Nephi 2:7Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

2 Nephi 4:32May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite!

Helaman 8:15And as many as should look upon that serpent should alive, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.

3 Nephi 12:19And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled.

D&C 20:37And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

Guide to the Scriptures
Broken heart - To have a broken heart is to be humble, contrite, repentant, and meek - that is, receptive to the will of God.

1. caused by or showing sincere remorse
2. filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement; penitent
3. filling regret and sorrow for one's sins or offenses; penitent
4. contritus, literally "worn out, ground to pieces"
5. thoroughly bruised or broken
6. broken down with grief and penitence; deeply sorrowful for sin because it is displeasing to God
7. to rub down, to wear out, used until so common as to have lost novelty or interest, hackneyed, stale.

Bruce D. Porter, “A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 31–32
"When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master."

"When we yield our hearts to the Lord, the attractions of the world simply lose their luster."

Object lesson: take come "soft" clay and some "hard" clay. Can hard clay be broken, ground down, added to some water and made malleable?

Gerald N. Lund, “Opening Our Hearts,” Ensign, May 2008, 32–34