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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GRUDGES

I have never been one to “stew” about things or let my mind focus too much on bad events in life.

Oh, I was pretty upset with my parents when they divorced (I was six). It took a little while for me to settle down but generally I think I have learned to move on from negative experiences without too much angst.

Maybe that’s why it is difficult to understand why people keep regurgitating offenses from the past like they are a kind of badge of honor to be flaunted in the face of others. Oftentimes, it seems like they are trying to use the “offense” as a means of validating their lives instead of moving forward to new adventures.

To constantly review past offenses is painful!
It takes away from future happiness and seldom results in anything uplifting.

I mention this because of the incident, a few weeks ago, where a little girl shared her ‘testimony’ in church and was shut-down by the Bishop of her ward.

Disclaimer: As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there has never been a time when a member of any congregation I have attended has been asked to stop and sit down. There have been times when I wish it had happened!! But I have never actually witnessed the experience.

So, what would inspire the Bishop of that ward to stop the expression of testimony from that little girl?  Is he a bigot and hateful to those who claim to be different?

NO!!

The problem wasn’t the little girl. The issue was the people who were sitting in the congregation, filming the whole event for posting on the Internet. They had an agenda and the little girl was simply a pawn in their scheme.  I wonder, truth be known, if a 12-year-old little girl can really have such a deep conviction about her sexual orientation without help from someone who should know better.  Regardless, the “set-up” nature of the experience puts it in a bad light.

You see, testimony meeting is a time to share what we believe about the gospel of Christ. It is set aside, once a month, to allow faithful, struggling, and not so faithful members to stand up in front of their friends and neighbors to express their feelings about the teachings of Christ. Members are encouraged to speak from the heart and witness the truths they have learned about the doctrines and teachings of Christ in their personal mortal experience. They are given full sway to say whatever comes to their heart pertaining to things they have experienced and believe regarding their membership in God’s kingdom.

What testimony meeting IS NOT is a time to pontificate (though some do that every week), tell stories (yes we get that also), or to expound on doctrinal issues (we also get that from time-to-time).

BUT, most especially, it is NOT a time to try to share false doctrine.

Some of the messages members share can push the limits of the guidelines and the Bishop has to gauge whether to intervene or not. But there is (at least) one area where those who conduct the meetings cannot remain seated.

When a member, old or young, begins to profess as truth things that are considered false doctrine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints action must be taken. The tender testimonies of the members in the congregation are much too sacred to allow someone who is trying to lead others away to continue in their process.

I am confident that there will be few who witnessed this event who will hold the young lady totally responsible for her presentation. She has reached the age of accountability but the influence of her mother (as reported by many sources) was the main motivation for her ‘testimony’ experience.

What does her mother seek to gain?  I can only guess.

According to reliable reports, Two years ago this mother was relieved of her membership in the Church for practices or beliefs that violated her covenants as a member. Not being privy to the details, I can only guess that her experiences in the Church became a “burr in the saddle” of her journey through mortality and she concocted this plan to embarrass the Church.

Which brings me back to my opening gambit.

Why is it that people can’t let go of hurt or perceived injustices they have in their lives?

In much of society, there seems to be a need to “get even” with those who have offended. 

But what positive does it do for the offended, their families, and loved ones when they exact their payment?  Is the doctrine of the Church going to lose truth because of the drama?

Wouldn’t it be much simpler to move on and adjust to the new norm in life?

From personal experience, I can validate the benefits of giving up fretting about things over which I have little or no control. The need to ‘get even’ has never made me happier. Forgiving and moving on has ALWAYS resulted in a more comfortable experience.  I think Jesus had something going when He counseled us to forgive all, no matter what offense had been given.

I feel bad for those who can’t forgive.
The Savior said:
Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. 
(D&C 63:9-10)

Reality is that none of us know enough to NOT forgive. We cannot make the judgment necessary to determine if someone is worthy of forgiveness. Only Christ, who has suffered for all we do, has that right and the ability.

So, in that vein, I forgive the mother (and others) who used the little girl to further their own purposes. I hope she can find some peace in her heart so she can let go of the ill-will she has towards the members and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I hope there comes a day when she can see that her actions hurt no one but herself in the eternal scheme of things.

And I hope for the same when it comes to the judgment of others I have offended.

Monday, May 15, 2017

PRACTICE

Well, my long layoff seems to have affected my ability to come up with subjects to share. This is my third fourth attempt to write something meaningful and I’m afraid it won’t be much better than the first two three iterations. But I’m not giving up without a fight.

The last couple of weeks we have been covering Revelations in my class. It’s a pretty exciting book of scripture – if you are ready to learn and listen. But if it is the end of the school year and you have other things on your mind, it can be somewhat confusing (and maybe boring).

For the teacher and the student.

Not that I don’t get why some are less than interested, but when we cover the events of Christ’ Coming and the students totally miss the significance of what John is teaching – well, it is a little frustrating. It’s not like the expectation is for them to see the deeper meaning of all the prophecies but it would be nice if they actually tried to understand some of the simple things.

And I guess they do…to a certain degree. But not where I was hoping they might be when we finished our discussions. Instead, they remember that there will be earthquakes and hailstorms along with droughts and floods while most of the earth is in turmoil.
What they miss is the joyful experiences the righteous will have as they welcome the Savior back to His earthly home. All the powerful messages about redemption and renewal are lost amidst the worry/excitement over the outward disasters on the earth (and the concern for what to do after school is out).

The dragon, woman, and baby. Lot's of symbolism.


Maybe that’s a little like how we look at life on a daily basis.
It’s easy to see the challenges we face as we struggle through our probation. And the mortal nature of life invites us to justify/explain the failures that slow us in our quest for peace. These might be good things, but when they are the total focus we cheat ourselves of a better life.

To dwell on the disasters that will rend the world in the last days is to ignore the powerful spiritual experiences God promises to those who remain faithful. For every Armageddon, there are ten other events that lift and provide joy for the righteous followers of Jesus Christ.

The same is true for our daily walk.

Mishaps occur, but if they are the focus, there will be misery instead of learning. Growth comes when trials are examined, evaluated, and released as experience and not packed in our luggage. The backpack of life will weigh down the soul who chooses to retain all the negative.

To anticipate joy is to release misery. Fear is replaced as peace rises to the top of our focus. And finding and following the True God of this world (not the one who thinks he is) sets us up for the joy that is Eternal Life.


With lots of PRACTICE.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LOOK WHO'S BACK

After nearly a year’s hiatus, I have determined that it is time to renew my association with this little blog. The reasons for my absence are many and varied, but not worth speaking of in detail. Let’s just say I have had some difficulties finding time to spare for writing in general. The hope is that I can get back on a regular schedule and keep things current.

Now, some of you may wonder why I would come back at all!

It’s not like anyone really missed my messages – as witnessed by the meager number of visitors before my ‘break’. And yet, there was always an emptiness in me that yearned to go back and share more of my vision of life. Maybe it’s just so I can organize my thoughts and solidify what I feel about the world and my part in it. For whatever reason, there is an itch that needs to be scratched so here I am, scratching.

I am wont to discuss politics because so much is depressing and unsavory. The results of the last election, while not as disastrous as expected (though who knows what the future will bring), have left a nasty feeling that doesn’t appear to have an ending any time soon. The distastefulness continues to grow with each new ‘crisis’ but no one wants to find real answers to the problems. So much rhetoric and so little substance on all sides of the debate.

The best thing to report is the birth of another new grandson. William Nicolas was born to Josh and Heather last summer (I have stopped putting in dates for security reasons). He’s quite a handsome little fellow, just like his brothers and cousins. There were some difficult days early on (lots of colic) but he is a very happy boy right now. That puts our grand total for grandchildren at seventeen (that's not a number, that's a brag). How wonderful that is for a couple of old folks to enjoy.

Many of the outside activities I used to enjoy have been unavailable for a time. The Jordan River Temple has been closed for more than a year so we have nowhere to work on Wednesday night. We miss those experiences and can hardly wait for the reopening (which seems to be delayed even longer). The lack of time has curtailed any fishing experiences and with all the other events that have occurred (maybe I can get into those later) grandma and grandpa have been on the run most every day.

Last summer I was invited to participate in a teaching experience online through BYU-Idaho. For the last three terms I have ‘taught’ (mostly my job is to guide self-teaching) classes to students all around the world. My furthest student was from South Africa but there have been some from South America, England, Ireland, various parts of the U.S. and even right here in Utah. The process is interesting but the experience is delightful. My ‘students’ are from all social levels and come in a wide range of ages. The things that they accomplish are amazing and, I believe, truly inspired. If you haven’t heard about the program, check out BYU-Idaho Pathways for information.

My regular job is still the same – teaching the gospel of Christ. This year we are (almost done) focused on the New Testament. What a powerful testimony of Christ and His work as we study Him and His apostles. This is probably my 2nd favorite book of scripture (after the Book of Mormon) because it is so easy to find Jesus in the teachings. And the Savior is the whole purpose for what we do as teachers.


Well, I don’t want to wear out my welcome on my return from obscurity. The hope is that further postings will come about on a regular cycle. Who knows what that really means but we shall see. Until then, thanks for reading and take a moment to respond if you have something you think I could use. mw

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

LOOKING OUT

For some time I have been trying to find a way to express my feelings about what I see as a dangerous trend in American politics and thinking. I love my country and want it to be safe. But I also appreciate the benefits others have received from the marvelous experiment that is The United States of America, even if their origins are not the same as mine. The clamor caused by some of our political, social, and economic leaders to protect the country by testing or limiting the freedoms of specific nationalities or ethnicity is a very dangerous proposition. When we start to fiddle with the rights of citizens based on birthplace, religion, or culture we begin the journey that will result in a loss of freedom for all.

A few days ago I was pointed to a link about a group that is in such a position. The focus of the article was Scouting amongst a ‘less-than-popular’ religious group and how they have dealt with prejudices encountered. As I read their story I was impressed with the feeling of “this could easily be the story of my people, and has been in the past.” It wasn’t too many years ago my own religious faith suffered from some extreme persecution because others misinterpreted the true facts about what we believe. And now, again, I am witnessing frightening statements that echo the fearful experiences of past days.

Somehow, Americans must come to understand that there will always be groups of good people that are unpopular and feared because they are different. And there will always be politicians, teachers, business leaders, and others who will try to influence their constituents through fear and prejudice for their own personal gain. Whether it be financial, political, religious, or some other reason, these influencers have only one interest at heart --- selfish increase. And when good people let these desires of others hold sway over what they know to be correct – then we have the beginnings of captivity for all.

I am very disappointed with the direction our political, economic, and social worlds have moved in the past few decades. There is too much of self-centeredness and too little charity (in the Christian sense of the word) being offered by many who lead. The more we separate ourselves into classes (Democrat, Republican, LGBT, Straight, Christian, Muslim, etc.), the more likely we are to have fear and loathing for the other side. And fear begets fear until there is no trust left and we divide into little cliques of our own making and disassociate from the main body of the citizenry. While that may not seem a particularly bad thing, there are always consequences when we withdraw from the body of the people. Let me illustrate by referring to an experience from the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 7).

A few years before the coming of the Savior, the Nephite nation was going through a difficult time of conflict and political upheaval. An unsavory group had gained control of the government and were doing an awful job governing. It got so bad that when a secret band of men murdered the duly chosen but morally corrupt national leader the whole government fell into disarray. Confusion reigned and the citizens banded together in small groups based primarily on familial and neighborhood associations. Each group created their own set of laws based on the whims and traditions of their leaders. The only common agreement between the groups was that they would not go to war with each other – each would be allowed autonomy in their own place.

In many ways, our nation is on the brink of just such a calamity. The focus of a small minority is the personal satisfaction of their own needs and wants at the expense of the safety and protection of society. Instead of recognizing that the majority will be hurt through the unlimited exercising of individual desires (rights??), no matter how abhorrent, the vocal minority insist that everything must be recognized, legalized, and satiated. To do otherwise would be unfair to those offended.

And when new freedom is given, by law or through social edict, even more is expected. As the laws that have been traditionally obeyed in the past become less important or are eliminated, this nation begins to withdraw into little groups designed to protect the individual rights of the identified group. And the pains caused by these separations are pushed off as part of the path to progress.

When those who wish to lead this country begin to create classes of people who are desirable or politically correct, we are following the same pattern as those in ancient days. The results will be the same. Unity is founded on a mutual respect for the common good and the inalienable rights of the individual AND society. Traditionally that has included some give and take on both sides. But give and take does not mean an abdication of all that is morally right. It is wrong to judge an individual by their faith/beliefs in God. There will always be aberrations in a religious society, but to judge a whole faith by their outliers is unfair and unjust. Tolerance does not mean acceptance of behavior that is unseemly and destructive. But it does mean that we cannot judge a whole society by the misdeeds of a small minority. 

There must be a distinction.

One of the reasons for concern this election season is founded in the dilemma we are all facing. As politicians vie for our votes they say whatever they think will sway us to their side, no matter how preposterous. 

We know this and, for the most part, are not fooled by their rhetoric.

Unfortunately, this political cycle seems to have a deep thread of nastiness and a shallow basin of substance. Most of what we hear is pandering to the selfishness of the individual. It sounds good for personal reasons, but what are the costs to the ‘body politic’?  We’ve been headed down this road for quite some time, but I wonder if this might be a more dangerous trip than experienced in recent memory.

I have always had confidence in the morality and intelligence of people. Human nature is generally drawn to do that which is good. But if we begin to listen and follow the rantings of the most extreme in our citizenry, there aren’t many good thing that will come to pass. 

My hope is that people will search their hearts and find goodness in those around them. I am confident that if we will all think beyond the sound bites and placards of politicians we will see what is right and make wise decisions. It would be wonderful if people took time to converse with God on the choices they have to make and listened to His answer. It’s a sure bet that things would work out a lot nicer if they did.


Here’s to getting good answers and ignoring extremes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

WHAT I LEARNED

I have always considered myself to be fairly intelligent – maybe that is a stretch, but it has been my own belief.  Sometimes I have let that get in the way of assimilating new ideas but, overall, there has been an innate desire to learn and grow in smarts.

That’s why General Conference is one of my favorite times of year.  As Latter-day Saints, we gather twice a year to listen to our leaders share words of wisdom and encouragement to help us along our path through mortality. Throughout the past 60+ years I have found myself gleaning vast amounts of knowledge – typically spiritual but other types as well – from those whom we sustain as Prophets and leaders of the Church of Christ.  So, my intent today is to share a few things that have settled into my heart from the most recent gathering of Latter-day Saints.  Hope you enjoy this summary.
(For a more detailed look at the messages, click here)

#1 – The Lord does His work in His own way.

According to common practices in the business world, when a leader begins to show signs of diminished abilities, it is time to replace them. For many years Elder Robert D. Hales has been physically impaired from cancer and other debilitating issues. It would be a simple thing to release him from his position and replace him with someone who is younger and more physically able to serve. But that is not the Lord’s way.  Elder Hales has been allowed to stay with us, despite his struggles.


And why?  

So he could teach from the afflictions he has so patiently endured.


How we would have been deprived if we had missed the messages he has given over the years, particularly as he has shown so many signs of the illness and suffering.  I recall that in one conference he shared that he had spoken in his prayers about being released from his afflictions. He tenderly confessed to the Lord that he had learned the lesson being taught. But the answer given to him was that there was more to gain from his experiences and he needed to continue on.

Elder Robert D. Hales

So he did.

And I love him all the more because of it.

No complaining.

No cursing God.

Just ‘soldiering on’ with faith in Christ.


Selfishly, I am grateful for the faithful attitude of Elder Hales, President Monson, Elder Packer, (and others) as the ravages of life consumed them physically but increased their power spiritually while they endured “to the end.”  The example of righteous men and women, overcoming the weakness of mortality inspires all of us as we approach our own challenges in mortality.


And here’s a second example of how the Lord’s ways are not the ways of man.


Heavenly Father knows how to guide His kingdom so that the power of the Priesthood and the ordinances of salvation are offered up to as many as choose to accept. I am constantly amazed at His willingness to use ALL the resources available to spread the gospel through the world. Yes, there are challenges that must be overcome, but if the gospel is to go to everyone He can’t ignore the gifts He has given to man for that purpose.


The Father and the Son do Their work in Their own way – and that means it won’t look like what others would do.
 

And that’s a good thing.


#2 – Our priorities are not the same as God’s.

While there are so many things to worry about in life, the Lord has a habit of focusing us on the important ones.


Right now the United States is embroiled in a great political experience. Every thought seems to be on whom we should elect to help us recover from the effects of past decisions. These things are important, but I submit that they are not MOST important – or not even highly important.


Lately I have been impressed, through scripture study and listening to wise men and women, that our highest priority just might be the plight of the poor, needy, and helpless (see Ezekiel 16:49).


Political concerns are about how to prevent some of the issues caused by refugees fleeing from oppression. Statesmen debate on constructing walls or blocking the paths of suffering groups, but God is more concerned with the individual needs.


I was impressed with the response we all witnessed to the message of Elder Patrick Kearon in the Sunday afternoon session. His plea to consider the plight of refugees around the world was tender and Christ-like in its presentation.  

I would encourage you to read his message.

But the response by President Uchtdorf, immediately following, drove home the sacred nature of the counsel given.  How can we not feel the need to lift the souls of those who are suffering, through no fault of their own, through the horrendous experiences we see across the world? 


Our priorities need to align with God if we are going to become more like Him.  It’s not about who we should elect or who can do the most good for our nations. The question is, “what are we willing to do to lift those with the feeble knees and the hands outstretched in hope?”


In the final judgment, the answer to this question will carry more weight than all the other things we might think are important in life.



#3 – There is more to the Atonement of Jesus Christ than the healing of sins.

It is becoming clear to me that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the source of all that is good in this life.


Without the sacrifice of the Savior, there would be no hope for eternal joy through the cleansing of sin.


There would be no hope for healing wounds (physical, mental, or spiritual) that afflict us in life without the Priesthood of God which relies on the Atonement.

 
The One who can do all.

The nature of goodness would be greatly diminished (or even eliminated) without the sacrifice of the Savior.  Men and women, by nature, would be unable to practice or even recognize goodness around them.


Hopelessness would abound and all mankind would revert to the behavior we witness in the animal kingdom.
 

We are ‘fallen’ beings and without the influence and power of Christ’s Atonement we would sink into a state of wickedness that would preclude ever living again with God.


It is eternally clear that a proper understanding and belief in the Atonement of Christ must be part of our core if we are to find joy.



#4 – The scriptures given by God are a primary source for finding faith enough to continue on.


We have four Standard Works to rely on in the latter-days. If our daily study isn’t continued there will be a gap in our spiritual sensitivity and that will cripple us in the fight we must wage against our ‘natural man’.


 I would also include the words of living Prophets in this category. They give us the current, living word of God to guide our lives.  Their guidance and counsel point us in the direction that leads to eternal life. The human nature to think we “know better” can be corrected by listening to prophets and studying the scriptures.



#5 – Prophets are critical to maintaining a testimony of Christ.


Each time I study the scriptures (this year it’s the Old Testament) I am reminded of the need to have living prophets for guidance. As much as I love Daniel, Ezekiel, Peter, Paul, John, Nephi, and Alma they are not here today and can’t guide me the same way a living prophet can.

Pres. Monson


I’m sure John saw our day and may have even tried to warn us about some of the trials we would encounter. But it is so much better to have living prophets who can see and experience the same things we do to help us know how to respond.  The slight corrections they offer are critical to keeping us on the course that leads to peace and happiness.


Conclusion—

While my list is not complete, it gives a taste for what was given by righteous men who follow God’s commandments. My hope is that what I have shared might entice some to go check out the rest of the messages.

It will be worth the time take.





I promise.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

REAL?

It really bugs me when people who are not affiliated with an organization or entity think they can determine what said group believes or should believe. 

For instance, there are many who have decided that Muslims who practice Islam are one thing when those who are actually practitioners of the faith declare they believe something completely different.

When we begin to judge by the fringe elements of a group, the judgments we make have a tendency to be very suspect.

For instance, I am generally drawn to the Republican Party but I do not necessarily agree with ALL the precepts taught by their creed. 

Likewise, those who choose to associate with the Democratic Party are not all, in my view, “baby-killers” and Socialistic in their leanings.

I bring this up because this past weekend one of the political candidates made some disparaging remarks about a member of my faith.  The accusation stated that my fellow Latter-day Saint could not be trusted because he wasn’t ‘really’ a Mormon. 

That’s a little confusing to me because I, as a practicing Mormon, recognize the accused individual as a REAL Mormon, just as much as I claim to be one myself.

So!!  I am taking upon myself a task to remove some of the mud that has been slung and inform those who read my little missive some of what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really believe. I will try to keep it short, but you know that is difficult for me.



MORMONS BELIEVE IN CHRIST

Everything in our faith is based on the complete trust and worship we have in the Savior and His Atonement. Without Him, nothing else works. We are totally committed to following His path and living as He has suggested/commanded. We cannot get back to God, the Father, without the help and blessing of His Son. No one else can do what He has done and we look to Him as the only hope for eternal salvation and exaltation.


MORMONS BELIEVE IN THE ETERNAL NATURE OF THE FAMILY

Families are not just nice arrangements to help us get through our struggles in mortality.

Families are the foundational organization of Eternity.

God is our Father, literally, and we are trying to emulate Him by creating, raising, and binding together our families.

There is no church in heaven: only family. 

There is no government in heaven: only family.

God loves the family and invites us to use the family as a way to learn who He is and who we can be.


MORMONS BELIEVE IN UNIVERSAL SALVATION

Some may balk at this but bear with me for a moment.

We believe that all men and women are children of a loving God who has created this earth as a place to learn and grow to become like Him. He has also placed us here with the ability to make choices for ourselves (AGENCY) in HOW we will follow Him. Each choice we make will have an impact on the depth and breadth of the blessings He can provide to us when we have finished our sojourn here in mortal life.

Our time on this planet is part of The Plan of Salvation. We are not placed here ‘willy-nilly’ with no purpose or reason for existence. How we respond to the opportunities and blessings of life will be the major part of our judgment.

When we are ready for our reward, our Heavenly Father (who loves us more than we can fathom) will provide a place for us that will allow us to be happy for eternity. Every person who has ever lived on earth will be rewarded according to what they desire most. Those desires will be determined by what we desired most in mortality.

Every one of God’s children will have a place to live through eternity that will correspond with what they have shown they desired through their efforts on earth.

There are many who are limited in their abilities or opportunities to choose.

 All those considerations will be factored into their life and the Atonement of Christ will make it right for them.

NO ONE will be destroyed. We are eternal beings (see D&C 93:33).

NO ONE will reside in literal “fire and brimstone” (though others looking at those perceived therein may see it as that).

EVERYONE will accept and embrace the reward they receive because it will be exactly what they desired as they lived.

Thus, all of us will receive the salvation we most desire as witnessed by actions and beliefs during our excursion on earth.

In other words, every person who has or will live on this planet can be assured they will receive some form of eternal life – Salvation – exactly the kind they asked for through their efforts during mortal life.


MORMONS BELIEVE THERE IS HOPE, NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD

Darkness has reigned over the world for most of its existence. Every time God brings prophets and priesthood to the earth, the adversary convinces the masses to reject and destroy the message. Apostasy has run rampant ever since the days of Eden. Father Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and even Christ had to deal with the rejection of their message from the majority of the world. Christianity has never been the prevailing religion of the earth.

And it is this way today.

But we have hope in the Atoning blood of Christ. He has given Himself for ALL God’s children and, eventually, the bulk of those souls will understand and accept His precious gift. Even those who do not accept the full blessings of Christ’s sacrifice will receive greater joy because of the good that comes from His efforts.

Mormons are not afraid of the future or the events that are to come. We are confident in Christ and are prepared to accept His return and the blessings that will accompany His arrival.


MORMONS NEVER GIVE UP

This is actually a corollary to the previous truth. When there were only six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there was the belief that, with God’s guidance, the Church would grow and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy given to King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:31-45).

Since that day in 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has struggled to survive and maintain the charge given by Christ to His prophets. But we have endured. And today we are still just a small group (less than 1% of the world’s population) but we keep moving forward. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will never be the dominant faith on the earth but it will roll forth and fill the whole world with the word of God. It will be available to all of God’s children and will prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ to initiate the Millennium.


MORMONS TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER

Part of the reason for this is related to the relative size of the Church in the world. We are a small group of people, living amongst a population that is in varying degrees sensitive, apathetic, or hostile to our cause. This has resulted in our banding together in a way that, to some, may seem cliquish in nature. We tend to find many of our friends within the ranks of the Church and that can be off-putting to some. The Saints take seriously the charge found in Mosiah 18:8-9 which invites us to bear the burdens of others, mourn with those who mourn, and stand as a witness of Christ in all things.

If you are familiar at all with Latter-day Saints then you know we watch out for each other. Every one of us has specific assignments to look after individuals and families in our neighborhoods. What you may not know is that every member of the Church is invited to serve in some sort of position in the functioning of their congregations (ward or stake). These are voluntary positions and they rotate from time-to-time so everyone is allowed to have an abundance of experiences.

The purpose for all this is to provide a way to make sure everyone is remembered. From the most capable to the weakest of the Saints, we are encouraged to always be on the lookout for those in need.


CONCLUSION

Obviously, this is not all you can know about Latter-day Saints, but these few basics will give you an idea who we are. I am aware of the failings many call to mind when they speak of Mormons and I acknowledge that there are many examples of failed followers of our faith. Yet, I would hope we could be judged by the intent of our hearts and not the assumptions of our detractors.


Real Mormons are nothing more than mortal beings, attempting to live in an imperfect world while seeking for something a little better. I would ask only that we be judged by the intents of our hearts as well as the results of our actions.



And I hope those who make claims of “REALNESS” against our members can understand when we are not receptive to their classless and shameful accusations.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GAPS

I know!!

I Get IT!!

You’re wondering where I have been for the last couple of months.

I suppose I could blame the political climate and the aberration that is Donald Trump for my lack of desire to write. That would be giving too much credit to someone I won’t acknowledge has that much influence on my life.

The only clear reason I can find is an excess of effort to make my work better and a bout with some sickness for the past couple of weeks.

Though that excuse is really invalid because I seem to find time whenever I want to read a book or watch TV or any other useless habit.

Let’s just write off the past few weeks as a bump in the road of life that (I hope) won’t be repeated very often.

Sooooo! What to talk about today.

The inclination is to jump on current events but they are much too depressing right now.  Therefore, I won’t approach those subjects.

Here’s a good subject.

Jim on the left and Mike on the right.
Really cool pants -- that was the style.

The other day my cousin, Jayne White (Aunt Barbara’s daughter), posted a picture of me and my younger brother Jim. It appears to be sometime in the early sixties so we are both pretty young looking. If I were to guess, I look about 8 or 9 years old. I have stared at the picture at length, trying to divine where and when it might have been taken, but I am coming up blank. The house is not familiar though I do recognize the very fashionable attire we were wearing at the time. It doesn’t look like my Grandmother’s house (TV in the wrong place) but the clock on the TV looks like one she had. It’s very confusing and disconcerting that I can’t remember.

Probably shouldn’t be surprised.

I am 50+ years past that time and there have been lots of events since then. But we always want to believe we will remember everything, especially when given clues like this for recall.

I AM confident that Jim or one of the other members of our family will have a better recollection of the time and place.  But that is no comfort for my own lapses. Yet, I can deal with the problem.

As long as it doesn’t continue – or increase.

That’s one reason I keep this blog going. Just in case I do forget everything, there will be a small record of the experiences of life.

That’s why I also keep journals.

Well, that’s one reason. The real reason is so my grandchildren can know who I really was. Not the old, weathered grumpy guy that can’t play like he used to. Maybe with journals they will get a glimpse of the younger man that spent time in the front yard, playing football, basketball, and baseball with his children.

I suppose that’s why GAPS in my efforts are so annoying to me.

Well like Grandma says, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!”
I sure love Grandma. She’s dang smart about stuff.  And she’s in my journals a WHOLE BUNCH.


See you next time.

Friday, January 29, 2016

WHICH ONE?

I originally sat down today to write some thoughts on the candidates who are presenting themselves for the leadership of this country. My disdain for some has been expressed in past postings but there are some others that I thought needed more consideration.  Much has been said about each and I’m sure more will be forced upon us in the ensuing months. I don’t look forward to the rancor that comes with the process but I suppose that’s how it will always be. 

But, thoughts have skewed from my original intent because it has occurred to me that we are going about this all wrong. If the desire of our nation is to be free from the violence and misery that seems to be encompassing the world we must do more than ‘elect’ individuals who claim to have skills in politics, negotiation, and speechifying.  It’s wonderful that “this candidate” has experience in foreign affairs and “this other person” can work deals for the benefit of the nation, but where is the person who will look long-view and build a nation that has true lasting power.

Let me digress for a bit and set a stage for what I am thinking.  If you aren’t into lengthy treatises then this probably isn’t for you.  But if you are still hanging around, I hope what I say might have some merit.

A little over 15 years ago we experienced a terrible event that changed the way our nation functioned.  Prior to 9/11, most of us were secure in our belief that we could defend our country from attacks and destruction launched by our enemies.  But the events in New York and Pennsylvania changed the whole mindset of our citizenry. Instead of having faith in our leaders, we began to question what they had been doing while Osama-bin-Laden and his cronies were planning their murderous rampage. We questioned whether there was anyone who could have the foresight to prepare for the future attacks that surely would come.  The United States of America was in trouble and we had no idea how to fix things.

So we did what we had been taught to do.

We went to a Higher Source and pleaded for help. And we made ‘no bones’ about it. It didn’t matter what the ACLU, or the atheists, or the anti-religionists, or any other group had to say about it.  As a Nation, we fell to our knees and pleaded for help from the one source we knew would listen and give us hope.

And it worked.

Maybe too well.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that EVERY person sought help from God, but I believe there were enough engaged in seeking help to make a huge difference. My recollections are that people began to attend church and pray much more than they had in recent times.  Politicians seemed unafraid to express their hope that more would find time to worship.  We even had a President who set an example by his own actions. Overall, the feeling in America was that we had to find our way back to safety and the best way to continue was to let God lead us.

Now we are in 2016.

After more than 15 years of dealing with the aftermath of 9/11, the world we live in is very different.  Travel has changed because we need to be safe from terrorists.  Immigration, once a staple for growth, has become a hot-button issue and an economic ragdoll.  Poverty continues to plague our nation – some government caused and some from lack of response by the people.  And when was the last time we saw a major leader express the opinion that we should look to God for answers to the day’s problems. 

How quickly we seem to have forgotten.

For a moment, I would like to consider something I have always wondered about in the scriptures.  This happens in more than one place, but I will focus on a time from the Book of Mormon when similar experiences occurred.  Please bear with me because it will make sense when I’m done.

In 3 Nephi 3, there is a story about King Lachoneus who is trying to save the Nephites from destruction by the Gadianton Robbers.  These robbers were ruthless, devious, and set on the total destruction of the Nephites, much like groups we have today. Lachoneus came to the conclusion that the only way to be safe from their enemies was to gather all the Nephites into the city of Zarahemla and wait out the robbers. Collecting food and supplies for a seven year siege and reinforcing the city for protection, Lachoneus deprived the robbers of their favorite tactic: wait and pick off small groups until the whole was destroyed.  It took years of patience but eventually the Nephites in Zarahemla were successful and destroyed the wicked robbers. (I am not advocating this as a tactic against ISIS or other terrorists, it’s just part of the story).
BUT! That’s not the end of the story.
After surviving and keeping their freedom, the Nephites began to grow in numbers and found themselves doing pretty well in the ‘wealth and success’ area of life.  Their cities grew, the population expanded and there seemed to be no end to the good they would reap from their faithfulness in serving God.
Yet, only a few years after the harrowing experience with the Gadianton Robbers, things started to turn a different direction.  It began with people who had accumulated more wealth than others. 
They weren’t happy being richer – they needed to make sure everyone else knew. 
Then other groups started needing to separate themselves from the ‘masses’ by distinguishing themselves in other ways.
The end result was that a people who had survived the attacks of a vicious, death-dealing organization, eventually destroyed themselves.  And their destruction was WAY more complete than the previous threat could have imagined. 

And they did it to themselves.

In just a few short years.

I’ve always thought that was odd.  How could a people go from goodness to wickedness in such a short time? 

I think I get it now.
Seems nice but don't know enough
about him.

Ok, back to our regular discussion.

The question for our nation is not “who can we elect that will save us from our enemies”? It’s not a question of who is best prepared for the political wrangling that will occur in congress and between other nations. 

The question we should be asking is “Who is going to help us find that place where we can learn to work together and fix our problems?”

There’s only one answer that makes any sense if we want to be safe. 

Pretty sure she isn't looking for God.  What? I don't know.
We have to look to God and seek His help.  He is the only source that has no prejudices or agendas.  His efforts will always be to help His children live in peace.

If we need help, and we ask with faith, help will come. 

It only stops when we quit asking.

Oops, how did
she get here.
I don’t know enough about the current candidates for office to really have an opinion of their ability to seek heavenly help, but it seems most are not overly interested in that path.  The few who make passes at the subject seem rather timid.  And the good chunk of the vocal citizens look to be in the same position. 
I can just imagine what he would say if this subject
came up.  I don't think he can humble himself
enough to be great.

So, what is there for those who recognize the problem to do? 

Can one person or one voice really make a difference? 

Or will those who speak up be categorized as ‘fanatics’, ‘weirdos’, and ‘religious extremists’? 

I’m not sure it matters.  If our desire is to see a change in what is to happen we can’t sit by and wait.  To do so is to accept the way things are.

Such a mystery to me. Should be better than he seems.
Not sure he cares enough about
what is right -- maybe!
We have separated into different factions and are in the process of destroying all that is good in our diversity.  Our nation has abandoned many of the basic beliefs that made us great and held us together during the stormy times of the past.  Some who lead us are only interested in the comfortable positions they hold and the benefits received. The fate of the world, nation, and cities is held in the hands of people who don’t appear to ‘care’ more than a few days in the future.

I will always wonder what might have been different if he
had been elected. Not that he is perfect, but I know something
of his heart.
Tomorrow will come and this nation will still exist.  My hope is that with proper leadership it might exist for generations to come.  My fear is that we are in a downward spiral that will only end when we implode.  The way to peace has to be taken the right way.  No mortal man can do this alone.  It takes a God to keep a righteous people safe. 

Without God, there is not righteousness. 

Without righteousness, there is no peace.


As citizens we have to invite our leaders to look to the One True Source for guidance in the governing of this country.  Otherwise, the fate of The United States of America will look much like the fate of the Nephite nation (which was very similar to ancient Israel, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Egypt, Greece, etc.).

His leanings are somewhat known and the
results were surprisingly good.