True Conversion

As a disciple of Christ, one of my goals in life is to become converted to the Gospel. I don’t mean that I’ve joined a particular church and pay tithes and offerings.  I mean I desire to become truly converted.  But what does this entail?  A quick Internet search yields many pages that list qualities and characteristics of true conversion.  I have read through many of these lists and have compiled my own characteristics of true conversion.

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www.azquotes.com/quote/479831

I believe that True Conversion manifests itself by:

 

  • Striving to be different from the world
  • Showing great love and compassion toward others
  • Standing as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things and in all places
  • Desiring to be an instrument in the hands of God
  • Having no desire to sin
  • Seeking after righteousness
  • Praying always
  • Pondering the Word of the Lord frequently
  • Demonstrating gratitude, even in the face of adversity
  • Enduring all things to receive Exaltation

There are many other things a true convert will show, but these items sum it up for me (at least at this point in my life). Now for some details regarding each of these items.

Striving to be different from the world

“…ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darknessinto his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis added).

“…Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people” (Exodus 19:4, emphasis added).

As we obey the commandments of God, we become different from the world…we set ourselves apart from our neighbors as something unique, something special. This then opens many doors for us.  Sometimes it opens the door to missionary work–as people notice our differences, we have opportunities to testify of Christ.  Other times it opens the door to ridicule–then we have the opportunity to learn patience and long suffering.

Showing great love and compassion toward others

We are commanded to show love and compassion toward others.  When Christ walked upon the Earth, he went about showing love to everyone–those who were easy to love like his disciples…and those who were shunned by society like the lepers. One time, he was asked what the greatest commandment was.  His answer? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Having this great love is so important that Paul later teaches this lesson: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Without Charity, we are nothing.  Without a love for our fellow man, we are nothing.

Standing as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places

The Book of Mormon Prophet Alma taught his people repentance, redemption, and faith. Then he presented this proposition to them: “Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:7-10).

When we are truly converted, there will be no time or circumstance we find ourselves in which we are not willing to testify of Christ.

Desiring to be an instrument in the hands of God

For this quality, I want to share a parable.

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:20-22).

As we purge from ourselves unrighteous thoughts and behaviors, we become an instrument ready for the Lord to use to further his work.  We become, in the words of Alma, “instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work” (Alma 26:3).

see also “Become an Instrument in the Hands of God

Having no desire to sin

The people of King Benjamin, once they were taught the gospel, all declared to King Benjamin that they had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). When we are truly converted, we lose our desire to sin.  This doesn’t mean the temptations will all go away, simply that the temptations are no longer desirable to us.

Seeking after righteousness

The 13th Article of Faith declares: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” I also like the description given in Psalm 42:1-2. “As the [deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”

Perhaps most beautifully are the words of the Savior himself. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). I do not think it is an accident that Christ uses the words “hunger” and “thirst”.  We are told elsewhere to “feast on the words of Christ.”  We also literally “eat” and “drink” in commemoration of his Atoning Sacrifice.  Righteousness is found in the Savior and we are to seek it out.

Praying always

This is one of my favorites because it gives me a communication path to my Father in Heaven.  It lets me know that not only can I pray, but that I am commanded to pray. In Ephesians 6, Paul teaches us about the Armor of God.  After we put on the whole armor of God, we are then told to “[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and [watch] thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught:

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Nephi 32:8-9).

Pondering the Word of the Lord frequently

I hope that when I one day stand face-to-face with the Lord, I will recognize his voice.  In order to be ready to recognize his voice, I have to know what it sounds like.  I can learn this by studying his words in the Holy Scriptures.  There’s something very special about the words of Christ that are recorded in the Holy Bible and in the Book of Mormon.  They teach us directly from the Savior–no intermediary.  As we come to know these words, we’ll be ready to listen to the Savior when we meet him.

Demonstrating gratitude, even in the face of adversity

This characteristic isn’t an easy one.  Perhaps the best known Bible story on adversity and gratitude is Job.  Here is a man who lost everything…and yet still showed gratitude. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith these words: “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19).

see also “Grateful in Any Circumstance

Enduring all things to receive Exaltation

Finally, we must remember that this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.  This life is part of the journey to eternity…it is not the destination.  When we die, we will be Resurrected…either to eternal glory or eternal damnation.  The choices we make now, the actions we take each day, will determine our eternal reward.

As I said in a previous post, families are eternal. But in order to be with our family throughout all eternity, we must strive toward that eternity together.  We have to be ready and willing to endure all things here and now so that we can receive all things later. When things get tough and we think we’re at the end of our patience and hope, we can find solace in the words of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8).

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Families are Forever

Reunion 2016.jpgThis weekend, I was able to attend the 2nd Annual Family Reunion for my side of the family.  I was reminded of the principle of Eternal Families by a phrase stenciled on my cousins living room:

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It is the last line that I wish to discuss in this post. “Families are Forever.”  I once went to a friends wedding–it was a wonderful day with a beautiful bride.  When it came time for the couple to make their vows, I was struck when the preacher said “You are now husband and wife. Married forever till death do you part.”  How can a couple be married forever while at the same time be married till death do you part?  That contradiction didn’t make sense in my mind.  In addition, why would God put us in family units only to let them go away when we die?  As I’ve learned more, I’ve come to realize that God’s plan isn’t that the family relationship (husband-wife, parent-child, etc) end at death! God’s plan is that the family can be eternal!

Jesus Christ gave power to His disciples to seal families together forever when He said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). This sealing power is found in the Holy Temple.

I enjoyed reading this talk on Eternal Marriage by Elder Howard.  I can’t help but wonder how many of the social problems we see manifest around us today could be avoided if society returned to a time when the family was important.   In fact, I can’t help but believe that many of the social ills we face today aren’t the result of a single thing…lack of respect for authority.

I believe that the prevalence of drugs, abuse of others, and the lack of civility is the direct result of children not being taught to respect authority…and that teaching is best done in the home.  “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). In Mormon’s last epistle to his son, Moroni, he describes the wicked nature of the people.  Then he asks this poignant question:

“O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization–(and only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people) but O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination–How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?” (Moroni 9:11-13).

This passages teaches two principles: 1) it doesn’t take long for a society to go from righteous and pleasant to wicked and awful 2) society can’t expect blessings from God if we sin against His laws. Even though we live in a society that is forgetting all that is sacred, we can (and must) do our part in living the commandments of Jesus Christ.  As we do so, we will be blessed. If we want to make a change in the world…if we want to change the course that this Nation is currently…then we must start with ourselves.  And that start is to realize that the importance of the family. This message comes through in this video called “Families can be Together Forever.”

The bottom line is this…God’s Plan of Salvation not only includes the principle of family…it is centered around the principle of family. Next to the Holy Temple, the home should be the most sacred place for your family.  It is where we go to learn.  It is where we go to get away from the influences of the world.  It is where we go to feel the Spirit and feel love.

I know that Families can be together forever. If you doubt my words, watch this video to see another witness of this principle.

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www.smallandsimpletruths.com

Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor

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240 years ago, 56 men gathered in a room to put the finishing touches on a document they had spent the previous 19 days working on.  These men were’t a rag-tag group of disgruntled whiners who were upset because someone offended them.  They were well-to-do professionals who saw consistent abuses by their government and determined to make it right. And so they penned these words:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Declaration of Independence

Paul Harvey once spoke on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  It is well worth the 10 minutes of your life to hear their resolve.

Life is all about making and following through with commitments. Sometimes these are rather straightforward (I daresay, simple) commitments while other times, these commitments, like those made by the Founding Fathers, are extremely difficult.  Nevertheless, it is through our resolve that we make a difference in life.

What frustrates me is that I continually fall short on keeping my resolve with regards to things I know I need to do: read my scriptures, pray as a family, exercise, write in my journal, etc. I think this is where the concept of “enduring to the end” comes into play.  Heavenly Father knew from the beginning that man would find it difficult to follow through on commitments.  He even came up with a method to help us get back on the wagon when we fell off…repentance! Now, I’m not saying that every time we fail to hold strong to our resolve we commit sin, but I am saying that there are times when failing to stay strong to our commitments is a sin.


Now for the big question…now for the reason for this post…

What is your resolve?  For what are you willing to sign your name and pledge your life, fortune, and sacred honor?

If you do not know, then you need to find out. To go through this life without something to commit to, is to sail the seas with only a mast–no cloth.  Furthermore, our resolve extends to everything we do in this life.  Our commitment defines our character…who we are.  It used to be that when a man shook hands, he gave his word.  Is that true for you?  Is your word something people can believe?

Greater Love Hath No Man Than This…

Memorial Day is our opportunity to honor those individuals who gave their life in the service of our country.  It is a day to celebrate the freedom which has been paid for with blood.  It is the day to remember that God alone leads this Nation and will continue to lead this Nation as we remember Him…or in the words of George Washington, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” Today is my tribute to those who have “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and are now “dancing the skies on laughter-silvered wings” (High Flight).

As we celebrate this weekend, it is worth remembering the words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Another speech worthy of our study is Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech given 23 March 1775.  Somedays I worry that the passion, dedication, and patriotism demonstrated by Patrick Henry has gone from our country…then I visit one of our Military cemeteries and I see Patrick Henry’s commitment etched in stone on marker after marker.


At my 20th class reunion, they shared a video tribute to the thirteen classmates I went to school with. Today, I want to share my thoughts regarding these men who sacrificed all so I could raise my children in a free country.

One of these men I knew very well…David Weber.  I’ll never forget the day he died…28 January 1994.  Dave loved to fly and was sitting back seat of a tow plane when the pilot suffered a massive heart attack and sent the plane into a nose dive.  Dave tried to recover the aircraft, but was not successful.  I went to his funeral in Star Valley, Wyoming–met his brother who was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Eric Das.  He was shot down over Iraq on 3 August 2003 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his Weapons Officer, William Watkins (they were the 27th and 28th casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried in Arlington).

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General Jumper, Chief of Staff, USAF, salutes at the funeral of Eric Das

Ed Wooten.  He never knew the impact he had on my life. Our interaction was but a few short weeks, but those few weeks changed the course of my life and solidified my commitment to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Scheer and I spent 6 weeks together in Basic Training and then a year together in our first Squadron, the Phantoms of 24.  He died on 25 Feb 2004 when his A-10 crashed while on a training mission in Alaska.

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Jon Scheer is in the back row, second from the left

I didn’t know Frank Bryant while we were at school, but his death was particularly poignant for me.  He died 27 April 2011 at the hands of an Afghan in the middle of staff meeting at Kabul International Airport.  Like Frank, I sat in many staff meetings in Afghanistan in that same area during my deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.  I walked an through several Afghan National Army bases and was concerned at times for my safety.  Perhaps I should have been even more concerned than I was.


Let us never forget the men who died to keep us free.

Furthermore, let us ever live with honor, courage, and love in their memory.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Leaves of Three…

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Image from www.kidshealth.org

Many people recognize poison ivy by the phrase “leaves of three, leave it be.” On the campout yesterday, one of the young men was looking at a plant and said “I see a poison ivy plant, it has three leaves…wait a minute, I think this might be a 3-leaf clover.”  I asked him if he knew how to tell the difference and he started to describe the physical characteristics of poison ivy.  When he was finished, I told him an easier way was to pick the plant, rub it on his skin and wait a day.  If he was itchy, it was poison ivy.

 

So how can we recognize danger when it comes into our life?  How we can know when something or someone is trying to lead us down the wrong path?  There are four things we must do:

  1. Know where we want to go
  2. Recognize the signs of evil and danger
  3. Demonstrate courage to chose the right
  4. Have the tenacity to endure to the end

First, we have to know where we want to go. The purpose of this life is to gain experience, receive a mortal body, and demonstrate our willingness to follow the commandments of God.  Along the way, most of us will have the opportunity receive an education, have a career, marry, and raise a family.  All of these things can help us on the path back to our Father in Heaven.  If you don’t know what you want out of life, it is impossible to make choices to get there.

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.'”In Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road. She asks the cat “Which road do I take?” To which the cat replied “Where do you want to go?”  – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Second, we have to recognize the signs of evil and danger.  Satan desires one thing–to frustrate the work of the Lord.  He does everything he can to destroy the creations of God.  However, he doesn’t typically work in bold, in-your-face manifestations.  Instead, he is very subtle and sly.  He is a patient being…able to bide his time to strike his fatal blow.  Nephi describes Satan’s efforts like this: “[Satan] will pacify, and lull [man] away into carnal security…and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 32:21 emphasis added).

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Nephi describes these efforts of Satan as a flaxen cord.  A flaxen cord is a cord made of many small threads.  Think about how easy it is to break a single piece of thread.  Now consider the difficulty in breaking a rope consisting of 20, 40, or even 100 threads.  This is how Satan leads us to hell…one sin at a time.  If we do not recognize the danger signs of sin quickly and break those things which would tie us down, we can soon become overwhelmed and feel helpless.  You have to recognize the signs of evil and danger.

Marijuana is sometimes called a gateway drug.  It doesn’t have the same effects as crack, meth, or heroine…but it can lead to abuse of these drugs as addicts become used to the effects of one, lesser drug, and give it up for progressively stronger drugs.

Likewise, happily married men don’t typically decide one day to have an affair.  Instead, they are lead gradually to that fatal act by first viewing “harmless” pornography or casually observing other women (remember David and Bathsheba). There is danger in “just looking”!

Third, we have to demonstrate the courage to choose the right.  Joshua famously declared “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  It is easy to make this declaration from the safety of the pulpit or our home.  Do we have the courage to make this declaration reality in our lives? When we leave our home each morning, are we ready to “serve the Lord” all day and in all things?

It gets even more difficult to choose the right when others around us…particularly those we respect…are making poor choices.

Fourth, we have to have the tenacity to endure to the end. Paul records in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” True success in life isn’t about winning individual battles, true success in life is about finishing the course…it’s about winning the war.  Satan would see us destroyed by sin; led to that action by subtle temptations and poor choices.  We have to share the same passion to defeat Satan that the people of Limhi showed in their fight agains the Lamanites.  “…They fought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children; therefore they exerted themselves and like dragons did they fight” (Mosiah 20:11).

This life isn’t going to be easy, but we conquer evil by:

  1. knowing where we want to go
  2. recognizing the signs of evil and danger
  3. showing courage to chose the right
  4. having the tenacity to endure to the end

 

How do we do this?  How can we follow this prescribed course?  It goes back to the Sunday School answers…

  • go to church
  • read the scriptures
  • pray
  • listen to your parents
  • follow the teachings of Jesus Christ

I don’t want to over simplify, but it really is this easy.  If you want to know the voice of the Good Shepherd, then you have to study the voice of the Good Shepherd.  If you want to return to live with your Heavenly Father, then you have to practice living a celestial life now.  If you want to be happy tomorrow, then you need to try to be happy today.  Our actions are all interconnected.  We determine our future by every action we take in the present.

Mother, Mum, Mommy

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A Hen Gathers Her Chicks (image from ldsmag.com)

Some of these blogs are easy to write and some are more difficult.  You would think this topic would be easy to write about…mothers.  It’s difficult because words fail to adequately describe the importance of mothers in our life. As a child, the most important woman in my life was my mother.  She was always there to protect me, take care of me, and teach me.  I like the image of a hen gathering her chicks…it reminds me of my mother and how she was always there to take care of me.

 

I will never forget a visit my mother made to my home while I was stationed in South Korea.  We took a day trip to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.  Our guide briefed us “if you hear gunfire while we are in the DMZ, you need to run to the bus immediately.  As soon as most of you are here, we will leave.”  Notice he said most, not all.  I was immediately tormented.  What if something happens and my mother isn’t in the group that makes it to the bus before it leaves?  Fortunately, our visit was uneventful–there was no gunfire.

IMG_3997Now, some counsel for my children.  At some point in your life, you will leave home and
venture through life on your own.  As you do so, I admonish you to never forget your mother.  You will have many friends come and go.  You’ll have roommates that will be become best friends…and then fade away.  You will even find other woman who stand in the role of a mother-away-from-home.  But you will never have another mother.  She will be a constant in your life.  She should hold the preeminent place of honor in your life. The First Presidency said, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels” (Conference Report October 1942, 12-13, quoted in Strengthening the Family).

I appreciated what one of the speakers (Keith Chapman) said at church yesterday.  He said he knew the mothers in our congregation were good women because of their fruit.  He sees the goodness of the mothers reflected in the lives of their children. I know the mother of my children is a good and honorable woman because I see it in her fruit…I see her goodness in our children.

Let me now give tribute to the mother of my children. She is the giver of life to my offspring.  She is the nurturer of truth to the future.  She is the defender of virtue and the teacher of honor. She is the vessel of beauty that brightens our home. She is the light of the spirit that leads our family to eternity.

In all my life, I’ve only been ready to fight someone once.  One time in 40 years, I’ve taken my coat off, thrown it on the ground, and prepared to throw a punch.  The occasion…someone offended my wife.  I’ll never forget the change in the man I was facing when he realized that his arrogant position was no longer tenable in my life…something was going to change.  Fortunately, he raised his hands, backed down, and walked away.

Captain Moroni called his people to battle with these words on the Title of Liberty: “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12).

Let no man offend the mother of my children lest he desire to receive my wrath and my fury!

The Importance of a Budget

Few things are more exciting than getting your first job.  There is a feeling of independence, maturity, and responsibility that comes with donning a uniform, clocking in, and serving others.  One of the most exciting parts of getting a job is getting a paycheck! Your own money!  It is easy to spend that paycheck on things that make you happy (this is the voice of experience speaking).  I submit that buying things that make you happy is a legitimate part working; however, with a paycheck comes some obligations. I’d like to share my thoughts on how to best use those precious pay checks.

You must have a budget.  You must write that budget down on a piece of paper (or on a spreadsheet in the computer).  A budget in your head is nothing more than a dream! US News and World Report states 5 reasons you need a budget:

  1. To set and reach financial goals. Once you understand the overall picture of your finances–specifically, identifying how money flows in and out of your life–you can better see how to reach your financial goals.
  2. To spend according to your priorities. If you’re in the dark about how much you spend and where you spend it, changing you habits will be difficult. And even if you’re financially comfortable, a budget can help you identify unnecessary expenditures and deduce ways to redirect funds towards your priorities.
  3. To build wealth. Once you have a clear view of your overall financial picture, you can shift your focus to aggressively eliminating debts and building wealth.
  4. To plan for retirement. Though technically an aspect of building wealth, retirement planning is so vital to your future that it warrants special attention. A recent Harris poll showed that 34 percent of Americans have no retirement savings, and many of those that do have a retirement fund don’t contribute enough.
  5. For peace of mind. If you don’t have a budget, you might not know whether you can afford a new flat-screen TV, a new car, or any other major purchase. In fact, if your finances are one big mystery, your mere desire for an item might alone justify the expense.

US News and World Report

Spend less than you make.  Consumer debt will lead you down a path of bondage.  Remember that “the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). You will never become wealthy (or have feel the associated feeling of financial peace) if you spend more than you make.

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screenshot captured from www.moolanomy.com

Pay an honest tithing.  “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malichi 3:10).  Tithing is a temporal commandment with temporal and spiritual blessings.

quote-bednar-nauvoo-temple-1173257-mobile.jpg

What is an honest tithe?  It is 10% of your interest and increase.

Elder John A. Widtsoe explained: “Tithing means one-tenth. Those who give less do not really pay tithing; they are lesser contributors to the Latter-day cause of the Lord. Tithing means one-tenth of a person’s income, interest, or increase. The merchant should pay tithing upon the net income of his business, the farmer upon the net income of his farming operations; the wage earner or salaried man upon the wage or salary earned by him. Out of the remaining nine-tenths he pays his current expenses…etc. To deduct living costs…and similar expenses from the income and pay tithing upon the remainder does not conform to the Lord’s commandment. Under such a system most people would show nothing on which to pay tithing. There is really no place for quibbling on this point. Tithing should be given upon the basis of our full earned income. If the nature of a business requires special interpretation, the tithe payer should consult the father of his ward, the bishop.” (emphasis addedEvidences and Reconciliations,2:86, quoted in D&C Student Manual)

Save for a rainy day. You should save at least 10% of your paycheck for a rainy day. When you are younger and have less financial obligations, you could easily double that savings to 20%. Many financial experts agree that a wise steward will have 3 months of income saved for a rainy day.

Prepare for future obligations. There are some things you know that you will want to do with your life: college, mission, car, trips, etc.  If you save for these events, then you’ll be able to accomplish them without acquiring debt. Again, I lean on the magic number of 10% for this area of the budget.

Have fun (and be responsible).  You worked hard for your money…now enjoy it! Buy a book, see a movie, go on a date.  Do something that makes you happy.  Money won’t buy happiness, but it doesn’t hurt to have some lying around.


One of the financial experts I respect is Dave Ramsey.  Here is a graphic from his website regarding a good budget breakdown:

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screenshot captured from www.daveramsey.com

Notice the column for charity comes first (that is tithing).  Second is savings (always pay yourself before you pay “the man.” Next is housing at 25%, then utilities, transportation, and medical. At the end of the month, you’ll still be left with 33% of your budget.


Resources

The Plan of Salvation

meme-stars-nephi-1218001-mobile.jpgThe Plan of Salvation is the fundamental principle upon which this life is predicated. Everything we do, everything we are, all hinges upon upon this plan. Jesus Christ himself described the Plan of Salvation.  So what is the Plan of Salvation?  Put succinctly, the Plan of Salvation is God’s plan for man.  It is his method of redeeming us from the fallen state in which we now live so that we can live in an exalted state with Him. I believe the Plan of Salvation consists of 3 main parts:

  • the Creation
  • the Fall
  • the Atonement

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). We all know the rest of the that story…God spent the next 5 days creating the plants, animals, and lastly, man & woman.  Adam and Eve lived in a place called Eden, but were unable to have children.  There had to be a change wrought upon them to allow them to fulfill the purpose of this life.  Eve then made one of the greatest decisions ever made–to partake of the forbidden fruit so that all of mankind could be born into this life. This was the Fall.  It was a fall from the presence of God into a world filled with the desires of the natural man. The only way to redeem mankind from the fall was through an atoning sacrifice.  There had to be One who could save us from sin–that was Jesus Christ. I think the Plan of Salvation is much more personal than we think though.  Consider it this way:

  • the Creation: I was created.  I was first created as a spirit, then my physical body was created.  As a child, I lived in a state of innocence.
  • the Fall: At some point in my life, I sinned.  That sin forced me to leave my state of innocence and enter the world of repentance and forgiveness. By the doctrine I believe, this transition happens for most people when they turn 8 years old…when they reach the age of accountability.
  • the Atonement: I cannot Atone for my own sins, but I can allow the Atonement to take away my sins.  However, I must take action…I have to consciously choose to follow Jesus Christ.  I must allow myself to be saved by his blood.

meme-success-following-plan-scott-1324265-mobile.jpgIt is by following these steps that the Plan of Salvation turns from something that occurred thousands of years ago into something that happens every day as I repent and seek forgiveness for my sins.  By following these steps, the Plan of Salvation becomes something personal to me, something I must do in order to be redeemed from my fallen state. In order to make the Atonement effective in our lives, there are a several things we must do:

  1. Accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior
  2. Receive the Saving Ordinances
  3. Repent (continuously)
  4. Obey the commandments and strive to become like the Savior

The Plan of Salvation is discussed throughout the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  It is also referred to as

  • The Plan of the Great Creator
  • The Plan of Redemption
  • The Plan of the Eternal God
  • The Plan of Restoration
  • The Plan of Mercy
  • The Plan of Happiness
  • The Plan of Our God

The clearest, most succinct description of the Plan of Salvation is found in Moses 6:55-62.

55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. 56 And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment. 57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. 58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: 59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; 60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; 61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. 62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

What are the doctrines we learn from this relatively short passage?

  1. The Lord speaks to his children. (“And the Lord spake unto Adam”) He spoke to Adam, he spoke to Moses, he spoke to Lehi, he spoke to Joseph Smith, and he can speak to me. What do I need to do in order to place myself in a position to hear the Lord? What do I need to adjust to bring my life into harmony with his will?
  2. Children are conceived in sin. (“Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin”) This isn’t principle of original sin, rather, it teaches that children come into a world filled with evil and sin. Therefore are children “conceived in sin.” This principle is best taught by looking at D&C 93:38 “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.” Moroni also deemed this principle of such importance, that he recorded an entire chapter (in an epistle from his father) regarding infant baptism. “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8)
  3. Men have a tendency to sin. (“even so when they being to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts”) I wonder if this is similar to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which basically says that all things are breaking down and being less organized, to the point where only chaos will remain. I feel there is a tie to our heart “breaking down” to a less organized, chaotic state.
  4. There must be opposition in all things. (“they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. And it is given unto them to know good from evil”) Lehi taught “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11).
  5. We are responsible for our own decisions. (“wherefore they are agents unto themselves”) No one can make us do anything. There are times when we give up our agency by making certain decisions. For example, violating the law is usually a decision we make that leads to bondage.
  6. God gave commandments. (“I have given unto you another law and commandment”)
  7. Parents are to teach the gospel to their children (“wherefore teach it unto your children”) See D&C 68:25
  8. All men must repent. (“all men, everywhere must repent or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God”)
  9. No unclean thing can dwell with God. (“for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence”)
  10. Transgression led to the fall. (“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall”)
  11. The fall led to death. (“which fall bringeth death”)
  12. We must be baptized in order to return to heaven. (“by the water ye keep the commandment”)
  13. The Atonement enables man to be clean from sin. (“be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin”)
  14. The reward is eternal life and immortal glory. (“enjoy…eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory”)

see also:

Cell phones, iPads, Kindles, and more

FullSizeRender.jpgI remember clearly growing up in an age where our TV received 4 channels (2, 7, 16, & 22).  It was big news when Fox started up (channel 45) and we had 5 channels to choose from!  Because we lived in the country, the cable company hadn’t yet laid cable down our road.  I suppose satellite TV was an option, but it wasn’t one that was entertained by my parents.

I also remember buying my first cell phone in 2000.  We lived in Germany and thought it might be prudent to have a cell phone for emergencies.  It worked well enough…although we were forever low on minutes (it was a pay-as-you-go phone).  When we left Europe for Nebraska, we tried the cell phone only route with good success.  In fact, we’ve really only had cell phones since we moved to Nebraska.

Today, cell phones are more powerful than the computers used to launch Neil Armstrong to the moon! Back in my youth, pornography was something that you saw only when you managed to get your hands on a hand-me-down dirty magazine.  Today, pornography pops up in Google results during the most innocuous search requests.


One of the questions I enjoy pondering is why we are so blessed today?  We do we have so many labor-saving devices? I believe the answer is so we have more time to do the things which matter most. Sister Susa Young Gates  once asked her father [Brigham Young]:

“how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventions of labor-saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord”  (quoted in Meeting the Needs of a Worldwide Church)

I was amazed the other day to discover the Family Search App for my iPhone.  Once I logged into the app, my entire family tree was immediately accessible.  I was able to access census and other records. I could add pictures to family records.  It was truly amazing to me how easy family history work had just become!  In very little time, I discovered family members who were previously missing from my tree.

With these great inventions come great responsibility and great danger.


As I look around me, I see a society that is becoming disengaged. In January 2011, a woman fell into a fountain while using a phone.  In February 2015, a man missed a humpback whale because he was texting.  In December 2015, a man walked off a cliff in California while looking at his phone. Here is a good report on walking while distracted. Here is another video on the dangers of driving while distracted. I submit to you, however, there is an even more dangerous phenomena occurring with cell phone and other mobile devices.  I call it “Distracted Worship.”

Elder Oaks spoke of this in October 2008:

During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others…Young people, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations. When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it.

Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Idle WorshipSeven years later, Elder Oaks spoke again on the dangers of distracted worship in a talk about the Parable of the Sower:

If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule.

Being an advisor to the Young Men at Church, I hear many reasons why they are on their phones at church. One of the most common reasons is that class is boring.  I would be a hypocrite if I denied that sometimes I’m bored in Sunday School.  I’d be lying if I said I never used my mobile device in class to distract myself from a lesson that 1) I already heard 2) I thought didn’t apply to me or 3) I felt I could teach better.  I also know that each of these excuses are just that…excuses.


What then do we do when we are in a situation where we are bored?  How do we handle sitting at church when the speakers and teachers lecture instead of teach? I found some great advice in an article titled “Never have a Boring Church Class Again.”  Allow me to summarize the main points. When you find yourself in a boring class, you could:

  • Ask yourself why you come to church
  • Treat your gospel education like building a fire…piece by piece
  • Take it Personally
  • Find the Gems
  • Don’t let it end too soon
  • Take action on what you learn

Someone once asked President Spencer W. Kimball what he did when he was in a boring Sacrament meeting.  He replied “I don’t know, I’ve never been in one.”  I don’t think he’s heard some of the same speakers I’ve heard!  Seriously though, I have to wonder if he didn’t take to heart the counsel in the article I just quoted, particularly the lines of “take it personally,” “find the gems” and “take action on what you learn.”


So what can we do to combat the negative influences of mobile devices and encouraging positive behavior? Here are some things I’ve tried (with varying amounts of success).

Have a media fast. Every now and then, my family goes on a media fast.  We put all our devices away and force ourselves to interact with each other.  We play games, take walks, and talk.  It isn’t always easy.  Here is a picture of my youngest son putting the Kindle in the box for the evening. It wasn’t long before he got over the missing Kindle and had a great time with the family.

Media Fast.jpg

Line up the devices on the chalk board. Occasionally, I will have all the young men in my class at church put their devices on the chalk board.  This forces them to revert to *gasp* hard copy Scriptures!  I understand the ease of looking up scriptures on my mobile device, but I also appreciate the feel of the Book in my hand as I read the Word of God.

Use Airplane mode at Church. If you can’t get yourself to put away your device at church, you could at least put your device in airplane mode.  This way you’ll be able to access the scriptures, lesson manual and other pertinent information without being distracted by Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Set boundaries. Science tells us we shouldn’t let our children eat unlimited amounts of sugar, or stay up all night playing.  Likewise, we shouldn’t let our children have unlimited access to mobile devices or technology.  Set a time limit on screen time and restrict access to inappropriate sites.

Trust, but verify. It is my opinion that I have a right and a duty as a parent to monitor the sites my children visit on the Internet.  I have a right and a duty to scan through text messages, e-mails, and other communication.  I call this “Good Parenting.”

Use a gospel-themed lock screen and wallpaper. I find it much harder to do something bad with my mobile device when the first thing I see on the screen is the Temple of the Lord. If you need suggestions for good lock screens, you might try looking here or here.

This video shows that part of the problem is that we (parents) sometimes act like buffoons around technology and mobile devices. Although there are times I want to react like this woman, I realize there is value with these devices.  For instance, LDS missionaries are beginning to use iPads to teach the Gospel.  The Church has published a variety of apps to strengthen those searching for Christ. We need to make technology and mobile devices “our servants, not our masters. For example, if later tonight you share inspiring thoughts from this devotional on social media, your smartphone is a servant. If you randomly surf the Internet, your smartphone is a master” (Make Technology your Servant, not your Master).


Mobile Devices can have a wonderful place in our lives. They allow us to communicate with family and friends.  They allow us access to more information than we can ever hope to understand.  The help us save time so we can do more of the Lord’s work.  We must remember and give respect to these devices for the power they hold.  If you are with family or friends, then put down your mobile device and be present. Remember that…

Distracted driving can lead to physical death.

Distracted worship can lead spiritual death.  


see also:

Fight the New Drug

Overcoming Pornography

Archway Counseling and Wellness

Stupid criminals caught by mobile devices

7 More Stupid Criminals

Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Quotes on Technology

To Be Edified and Rejoice Together

Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ has established the order of His church on the Earth today. This includes the role of Seventy, Apostle, and Prophet. Every six months, we have an opportunity to sit at the feet of these men and hear the word of the Lord. At this conference, we were taught about Jesus Christ, forgiveness, family councils, eternal families, priesthood power, rescuing the lost, the Sacrament, and so many other topics.  I heard words that apply to my life–I felt inspired. I know that we all can feel inspired, motivated, and uplifted as we listen to a prophet’s voice.

Today, I want to share with my family some of the counsel I heard at the latest General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–this is what I heard, it may not be phrased exactly as it was spoken.

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President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency

president-henry-b-eyring-lds-462519-mobile.jpgIn the parable of the sower, the seed is the word of God, the soil is the heart of the person who hears the word of God.  We can choose over the next few days to soften our hearts and hear the word of God and therefore grow and be fruitful through the words, songs, and prayers of this Conference. The Gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to active participants…it isn’t enough to simply be present, we must be willing to to action.

Sister Durham, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency

The home is the best immersion setting to learn spiritual things.  Consider the story of Samuel–it is our role as parents to help our children learn to recognize the voice of the Lord in their lives.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, of the Seventy

We all face real setbacks and challenges in this life.  When these happen, what is our immediate response?  Do we doubt our faith and blame others…or do we remember who we are…children of God? Unfortunately, the world has so many distractions that cause to first to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God.  Do I know who I am?  Do I know that I am a Child of God?

Elder Gary A. Stevenson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

gary-e-stevenson-apostle-1655147-mobile.jpgHe opened with a story about losing his car keys while skiing.  I was taken back 25 years to a time when my sister and I were skiing in the mountains of Colorado and discovered that we had lost the car keys sometime during the day (I’ll share that story another day). Elder Stevenson’s point was that a car has great potential, but with keys, is useless.  Likewise the Priesthood of God has great potential, but is limited without keys of authority.  There are 3 ways we can find the keys of the Priesthood:

  1. Prepare for Missionary Service
  2. Attend the Temple
  3. Go Forward with Faith

Elder Duncan, of the Seventy

It’s not up to us to demand justice when we forgive.  Remember that we are all Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential. If you’re having trouble forgiving another person (or yourself), then ask God for help.  Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge.


Elder Dale G. Renlund, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

dale-renlund-portrait-apostle-1658852-mobile.jpgThe greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.  That is why the Church system of welfare encourages people to go to family first when they need assistance. This same concept applies spiritually.  The greater the distance between God and myself, the more I am likely to feel entitled to blessings, etc.  The closer I am to God, the more likely I am to realize the profound sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the more likely I am to feel it a blessing to receive grace. The best way to draw closer to the Savior is by preparing for the Sacrament each week. Finally, we each need to prepare for hard days.  The parable of the wise and foolish man doesn’t say “if the winds blow” it says “when the winds blow.”  Everyone will face challenges and hardships in life.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Restoration began with a youth asking a question.  Having questions isn’t a bad thing, we just need to ask the right source for the answers. The Prophets and Apostles today have been warning us of:ronald-rasband-apostle-portrait-1604101-mobile.jpg

  • casual Sabbath-day observance
  • threats to the family
  • assaults on religious freedom
  • disputing latter-day revelation

Am I listening?  Am I taking action?

Elder Melvyn B. Arnold, of the Seventy

There are four principles in the concept of going to the rescue (of those who have fallen away):

  1. Don’t delay going to the rescue
  2. Never give up
  3. How great shall be your joy if you bring save it be one soul unto Christ
  4. No matter our age, we are all called to go to the rescue

Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostleselder-david-a-bednar-lds-190782-mobile.jpg

The Holy Ghost burns the dross and evil from the human soul. The ordinances of baptism by immersion, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament are not isolated and discrete events; rather, they are elements in an interrelated and additive pattern of redemptive progress.

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Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There are four types of family councils we need to know, understand, and use:

 

  1. Full family council: consists of all members of a family and are used to discuss general issues pertaining to the family, scheduling events, or other decisions that need broad acceptance/support
  2. Executive family council: consists of husband and wife and is used to discuss the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of each member of the family as well as the relationship between husband and wife. Never retire for bed without first kneeling together, holding hands in prayer
  3. Limited family council: consists of mother, father, and a child; is used to help a child make important decisions before they face the decision; also used to establish goals and objectives and is a time to listen to the serious concerns and challenges a child may face
  4. One-on-one family council: consists of two members of a family and often “just happens” as family members drive places, work together, or simply need to talk

There was a time when the walls of our home provided all the defense we needed…those days are gone.  We need to be actively engaged to defending our family.

elder-russell-m-nelson-lds-190786-mobilePresident Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There is power in the Priesthood.  Only a man who has paid the price to develop priesthood power will be able to keep his family safe now and through eternity. Do I commune with God? Do I feast on the scriptures? Do I worship in the temple regularly? Do I ask questions about what I want to learn? Most importantly, do I cherish my wife and her council?

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President

We hear the promises of the Temple, that families can be together forever, but do I believe it?  If I do believe it, then I need to be grateful for that promise and do everything I can to make it effective in my life

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell

The dial on the wheel of sorrow will eventually point at each of us.  At some point, all must experience sorrow.  What is important is how we deal with that sorrow.  The key is to find the peace the Savior offers us. We can do this by learning of him, listening to his words, then walking in the meekness of his Spirit.

Elder Christofferson

elder-d-todd-christofferson-lds-560237-mobileThe highest role of a man is husband and father; society today is very ambivalent toward fathers.  Young Men, prepare now by diligent education, positive associations, learning about healthy relationships (in person); live your life so that as a man, you’ll bring honor to marriage and your children.  We all wish we were better fathers, but we must press on; think first of the happiness and well-being of others; despite our inadequacies, Heavenly Father will magnify our efforts

Elder Cookelder-quentin-l-cook-lds-447914-mobile

Each of us needs to see ourself in the Temple.  Until you’ve entered the house of the Lord, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer.  The crowning blessings are those blessings received in the Temple of God.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidencypresident-dieter-f-uchtdorf-lds-495749-mobile.jpg

Families are meant to be eternal.  They are the order of heaven…an echo of a celestial pattern and an emulation of God’s eternal family.  Relationships begin to break when we stop looking at the good and begin to notice the faults.  We need to pull the weeds and water the flowers.  He was 4 years old when the city of Dresden was destroyed by bombs.  Over the past 70 years, the people of Dresden have rebuilt their city into a beautiful place.  If man can take the ruins of a city and build a new, glorious city; how much more able is God able to take the ruins of a mans life and build a new, glorious life. The sheep is worth of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd; he knows when we are lost, he knows where we are, he knows how to find us and how to bring us back to the fold. German author Erich Kästner said: “Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es”– “There is nothing good unless we do it”

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President Thomas S. Monson, Prophet

There is a very real power in the Priesthood.  We must remember that Priesthood power is predicated upon righteous living and will go away if we try to force others to do things.

When Alice came to the fork in the road, she asked the Cheshire Cat which way to go.  “Where do you want to go?” asked the Car. “I don’t know” replied Alice.  “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

We are different from Alice because we know where we want to go.  May we choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.  Above all, whether we make one choice or another, as long as we choose Christ, we’ll always be right


I believe the important thing about General Conference is what we do once it is over.  We should study this counsel not once, but many times over the next six months.  These aren’t just idle words, this is what the servants of the Lord are saying to us…today.  If we are to draw closer to our Father in Heaven, if we are to be more like the Savior, Jesus Christ, then we need to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit when it speaks.  In order to do this we need first, to “open our ears” and hear the word of the Lord. Then we need to “gird up our loins” and take upon us the full armor of God.  Finally (and most importantly) we need to take action.

#LDSConf