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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.






Monday, January 25, 2016

GOOD PEOPLE -- MY DAD

My Dad is one of the best men I have ever known.  I’m sure many people can express the same sentiment, and they are most likely justified in their assessment.  But for me, it is a given fact that no one has had more influence on my life than my own Father.  Maybe I can shed some light on why I feel the way I do by sharing a few experiences that have made a lasting impression.

I was six years old when my parents were divorced.  It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life (DUH!!) and very easily could have scarred me much more than it did.  But the way my father handled the whole situation left open the possibility that I would be able to recover and have a semi-normal life, in spite of the difficult circumstances. 

After the divorce, my brother and I went to live with Dad while the other two boys stayed with our mother.  At first it was like a little vacation for me but as the days moved to weeks and months, I started to resent what was happening.  After not too many months, Dad remarried and my resentment increased – this time focused on my new step-mother (another story for another day).  Soon, the other two boys joined our growing clan and a little sister was born to the new couple.  All this time, Dad was patiently waiting for me to become accustomed to things and move on with my life. 

One day, several years after the divorce, I finally got enough courage to ask what happened between my parents.  This would have been the ideal time for Dad to “lay it all out” and show me all the reasons my mom was at fault for their failures.

Instead, he quietly let me know that there were some problems, but that mom was a good person and the two of them just had issues that couldn’t be fixed.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was sacrificing his own pride and protecting my image of my mom, despite some major hurt he was suffering. 

I’m now 60+ years old and in the 54+ years since the divorce occurred, I have NEVER heard my Dad say one negative thing about my mother.  He has left it to me to determine how I will deal with that relationship.  In all those years, my decisions have been based on my own experiences and not something he tried to force on me.  I will ever be grateful for his forbearance and kindness in this matter.

Two versions of my Dad.  In the back when he remarried
and the front at his 50th Anniversary a few years ago.

Yet, there are other reasons for the designation “GOOD PEOPLE” being attached to my own Father.

Like most Dads, mine worked hard and sacrificed continually for his family.  To list all the different jobs he worked would take a whole post in itself.  Whatever the job, Dad worked hard and gave his best efforts, a trait I have tried to emulate in my own life.

With ten children, Dad suffered embarrassment over the antics of his brood (I provided many such experiences) and still exhibited love for the unique personalities that populated his home. 

(Not wanting to give too much fodder for future use, let’s just say we all provided moments (or longer) of humiliation for the head of the household).

One enduring fatherly attribute that has been a focal point of my personal life is best illustrated by a little story I have shared a few times over the years.  It goes like this:

When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was tasked with cleaning up some things around the house.  Always in a hurry, I gathered up a number of items and began to put them away where they belonged.  Hurrying down the hallway, I whipped open the bathroom door and threw a washcloth into the tub (right behind the door) and moved on.  Having gone only a step or two, I was surprised by a loud bellow, “Who threw that in here?”  Seems Dad was in the tub and I had connected with my toss of the cloth.  He called me into the room and, with a fair amount of righteous indignation, showed me the fruits of my labors. 
Unbeknownst to me, Dad was reading his scriptures as he soaked in the tub and when I tossed the cloth into the bathtub, I had knocked the scriptures (a brand new quad) out of his hands and into the water.  For many years after, I was reminded of my miscue every time we went to Church because the book expanded as it dried and was never quite the same.

As you consider that story, you might wonder what attribute I would learn from my Dad.  I promise it wasn’t anything about bathing (I never have liked taking baths – I’m more of a shower guy) and it wasn’t about paying attention to work duties. 

What stuck with me was the love my Dad had for the scriptures and his desire to be knowledgeable about the things of God.   As I grew older and had my own experiences with the Word of God, I often recalled the time and effort (with that big family and all those jobs) my Dad took to stay in touch with his Savior.  I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that may have been one of the reasons I eventually fell in love with teaching the doctrines of the gospel.

Like every person on this earth, my Dad has his “warts.”  But those imperfections are minuscule in comparison to the great work he has done in bringing up righteous children and improving the state of this world.  I love my Dad and hope that one day I can be as influential to others as he has been to me. 

I often tell my students that the one thing I always wanted to do in life was become a Dad because I had such a great example and I wanted to be like him.  I now have five children of my own with 16+ grandchildren and I love them beyond my own imagination.  All because I learned from a great man how to be a Dad.


Thanks Dad, you are my hero.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

MEEKNESS???

Politics being what they are, it is interesting to watch the debate and discussion on both sides. 


 The Democrats seek to look like they love everyone by promising to give away the whole world. 


Republicans are focused on finding a way to stop the growth of terror and taking back the White House. The result for most all the politicians is a rancorous debate that focuses on hate, fear, destruction, and destroying their opponents. 


 The situation of the world and our own political issues came into focus as I read the following quote from a wise man. Howard W. Hunter said the following: 


 And what of the meek? In a world too preoccupied with winning through intimidation and seeking to be number one, no large crowd of folk is standing in line to buy books that call for mere meekness. But the meek shall inherit the earth, a pretty impressive corporate takeover--and done without intimidation! Sooner or later, and we pray sooner than later, everyone will acknowledge that Christ’s way is not only the right way, but ultimately the only way to hope and joy. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that gentleness is better than brutality, that kindness is greater than coercion, that the soft voice turneth away wrath. In the end, and sooner than that whenever possible, we must be more like him. … 


 I am tired of brutality in speech and action. It’s discouraging to constantly see coercion used as the means for gaining an advantage. And the loud voices of the braggarts and ‘fame-seekers’ make it impossible to know who really has the ability to lead with conviction. 


 Even the intimation that a meek person should lead this nation or negotiate with the kingdoms of the world is ludicrous to many. But imagine the power that comes from finding a way to gently revolutionize the path we are taking. And consider the quiet confidence a President would need to invoke kindness and love while helping us all become better. 


 If history is correct, this is the method used by George Washington when he led the newly formed United States of America. Abraham Lincoln famously called for kindness and charity as the same nation began its reunification at the close of the Civil War. Even John Kennedy tried to present the attitude of meekness in order to heal the rifts that were beginning to tear us apart. 


 And most importantly, isn’t that the path the Savior chose? Maybe it’s something to think about as we choose leaders in the future. 


Or right now. 


 What we are doing currently has resulted in – well, let’s say, less than desirable consequences. 


 Let’s look for someone who is meek and humble but firm in his commitment to doing good. 


 Someone that will be more interested in what is right rather than what is expedient. 


 A leader that thinks more about the future than what the next poll will show. 


 I’m sure there is at least one person who fits the bill. Maybe not in the current batch of politicians from either party (but I’m willing to be proven wrong). Let’s find that person (male or female) and draft them to take up the challenge. 


It can’t be any worse than what we have to sift through at present. Or what we have had in the recent past. I would even be willing to put up a few dollars if there was someone of such character in the land. 

 Something to think about.

Friday, January 15, 2016

BEING GRANDPA

With all the failings I have as a human, father, and husband, there is one area where I am most pleased to say I try to do my very best.  It started almost 16 years ago (whoa, that’s a long time) when Bryce was born to my eldest and most favorite daughter.  For the first time, I was a grandpa!!

I had been a dad for a couple+ decades and was in love with my little – big – biggerway bigger – offspring.  I will always be grateful for their patience in teaching me how to be a better man.  

BUT, having grandchildren is a totally different experience. 

Playing 'Frozen Toes" at a Grandma
Sleepover
Maybe it’s because dads have this place in their heart for their children and the new little additions, as break-offs, increase the amount of love – sort of like addition by division (OK, I’m really bad in math and that probably makes no sense, but it does to me).

Grandkids playing with Great-Grandpa's Junk
down on the farm.
Anyway, having these little tykes (and the bigger ones too) surely makes my life more complete.



Teresa is amazing about keeping them in our daily/weekly/monthly experiences.  We have a regular weekend where a small group (small in number, not always size) comes to spend the night with Grandma and have a little fun.  


Some of them go to Home Depot for a project and as they get older we try to have an age appropriate activity they will enjoy.  There are weekends where it is a little struggle (for me) but overall, I love it as much as Grandma does (but don’t tell her cause she might think I’m getting soft).

A selfie of Matt and Grandpa at the Jazz game.
Recently, our oldest son, Josh, called and asked if I could help him with his boy.  Matt is on a Jr. Jazz team and they get to go to  the (Whatever they call it) Center where the Jazz play, for a real game.  Josh was incapacitated and wondered if I could fill in for him and I readily agreed.  I was a little worried Matt might find it boring to go somewhere with an old guy, but I needn’t have been concerned.

It's a long way from where we were to the floor.
Our seats were high up in the rafters of the arena but the Big Screen helped and Matt was enthralled with all the action.  He was thrilled to ride the train (TRAX) uptown and really loved the free hot dog and drink we got with the ticket (“Best hot dog I have ever had” he said).  I was delighted with his very mature attitude and all the questions he asked about the game, arena, players, and other things.  The night was a huge success for both of us – for different reasons – but a success nonetheless.
It was a late night for a young man.

Matt was thrilled with the program. 
Being Grandpa has many advantages but the best one is being around people who are growing up and making such a positive mark on the lives of others.  I’m not being prejudiced or proud when I state that every one of the young people who has come into our family is talented, determined, inspired, and loved in more ways than they (or we) can imagine.  Each is positive and willing to give of themselves without reservation. 
Emma dressed in her princess outfit (can't
remember which princess it is).

Grandma party where we took the kids to the water fountains.
Even Becca got in on the wetness.
As an example, Aubrey (Bryce and Ellie sometimes) sacrifices one evening a week to go with Grandma to care for Becca while Brian and Paula go on a date for the evening.  Benjamin, Katie, and Christopher are always so excited to have Grandma come for a visit, but the REALLY light up when Aubrey and Ellie or Bryce make the trip.  And it is such a blessing for Grandma to have helpers with her.


It would be easy to list every child in our brood and give examples of how they show love and are loved for/by so many others.  That is what's so gratifying to see – children of our children who have been taught the right way and are putting those teachings into action. 

More water with the kids.
I used to worry that some of my orneriness as a young dad might damage our children but what I see from them is the compassion and love they felt as they were raised by people who cared deeply for their lives.  And they have increased that love as their own children have come to their homes.  My heart is just about to burst with joy as I consider all the blessings that I receive from this gaggle of nearly perfect people.



Whod've thunk it!!


THAT’S why being Grandpa is is the best!!








Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WHY ISIS?

In a recent article, (fairly short and very enlightening) a moderate Muslim (Abdullahi Ahmen An-Na’im) opines about some of the reasons many in Islam are unable to counter the efforts of ISIS or any other radical Islamic entity.  As I read the article, I was struck by a statement this gentleman made concerning the power that some Muslims take upon themselves in proclaiming jihad.

A related difficulty in this whole discussion is that according to Sharia, jihad can only be launched by a legitimate state authority.

ISIS claims to have Islamic legitimacy, but what is the basis of that secretive claim? Who nominated them, and why and how should the Caliph of ISIS have authority over the global Muslim community?

Since this authority is based on an entirely open and free process of individual choice, ISIS’ claim may succeed to the extent it is supported by a critical mass of Muslims.

Mohammed receiving revelation from angel Gabriel
Mohammed receiving his first revelation from
Gabriel.

He seemed to be saying that those who follow the Prophet Mohammed are doing the best they can but without (for the lack of a better word) certified leadership in the religion, it is impossible to find consensus on doctrine in their faith. 
So, here we have a violent off-shoot of a worldwide religion that has taken upon themselves the authority to interpret the doctrines/principles of their faith – many times in direct contradiction to the writings of their founder – and other times against the majority of adherents.  The end result being that those who would like to see a more peaceful application of doctrines and principles are left to shake their heads and wring their hands because they CAN’T dispute the interpretation of the minority.


I imagine Paul was thinking about this predicament when he said:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Paul also said this:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Without the foundations of Apostles and Prophets, the standards, principles, doctrines, and beliefs of a religion will not survive.  They will always be affected by the reasoning of man, without the inspiration of God. 

Many religions have leaders of great strength and capability.  I am always impressed by the Pope and his caring nature that guides his people, and many of the world.  He is a good man and may have some prophetic qualities. I will leave the judgment of his calling to God. Much the same can be said for other religious leaders but, again, their position with God is difficult for me to assess.

What I do know is that we have 15 living prophets on the earth today.  They are called of God and are men who are trying very hard to listen to the word of God. 

But they ARE men!!  And, for the most part, they are old (at least by worldly standards).

So how do we know they won’t do what ISIS has done (not literally, but you know what I mean)?

Because they are not just ONE person.  Nor are they just ONE part of the faith.  No one of them has any more sway in the decision process than the other.

These are 15 experienced men who have served faithfully for the majority of their lives and still serve God and Christ.  They have been presented to the body of the Church (no secret members or surprise ordinations) and have been accepted in their roles. 

And nothing happens until they all agree unanimously in their decisions.  If only one is undecided or against the proposition, it is tabled until agreement can be found.

No harboring animosities.
No political posturing.
No pouting or name-calling.

The process makes for decisions that come a little more slowly.  Nothing rash or hurried in deciding what to do or teach.

It also makes for sound, consistent doctrine and teachings that give a solid foundation for those who believe.  There is no question when it comes to the basic principles and beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wait, I know there are some who will dispute that last statement.  We do have questions about basic things pertaining to the gospel/Church.  But the final arbiter for what is correct is always found in what the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve teach as they speak.

As an individual member, I can interpret the doctrines as I desire, but if my interpretation contradicts that of the 15 men who lead, I need to reconsider what I believe.  And as I interpret by the power of the Holy Ghost, I have discovered that my understanding will be more correct and in line with the prophets.

There must be consistency in the doctrine of any faith to maintain peace with God.  Otherwise, the results will eventually be something like what is described in the article.  Man cannot account for all the challenges that will confront religion as the world continues to spiral. 

A portrait of the First Presidency, with President Monson in a chair, President Eyring standing behind him, and President Uchtdorf seated on a bench.
The First Presidency

A portrait of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, five of them sitting in a row of chairs and the remaining seven standing behind them.
The current Quorum of the Twelve



The comfort of Prophets helps soften many of the challenges of the day.  Without Prophets, ISIS and all other ungodly entities will continue to propagate.  There is peace where there are True Prophets of God and where the people listen to their counsel.

Monday, December 14, 2015

FALL FUN & REFLECTION

Christmas is almost here so it seems like the time to share a few of our fall activities.  Nothing outstanding but things we all like to do.

A short visit to the field level
Josh called me one day and asked if I was interested in going to a football game.  Of course, I was.  We had a nice trip and I was especially surprised at how well Emma and Matt handled the game.  Impressive young people and really fun to hang with on a Saturday. 
Cosmo visited Matt and Emma and we
even got free shirts.




Our family party for November was accompanied by a little service project in Josh’s ward.  He and Heather have some friends who were in need of help so we took our whole crew down the street and frolicked in the leaves.  It was delightful to watch all the grandkids as they worked and played but focused on helping others.  It’s times like this that make an old man (and the cute young thing he married) smile in satisfaction.

If you are wondering, Josh is the supervisor -- MBA gives him
that right.
Raking is hard for little bodies.
But Joel's wife, Paula Jean endured (maroon cap).


Joel is always at his highest fashion sense
when he out amongst the people.








Lookout over the Wedge.
Our autumn adventures also included the annual trek to Grandpa Grange’s house.  I think this was the biggest group we have had in a few years.  There was horseback riding, hiking in the hills, a visit to the San Rafael Swell with all its majesty, and some repair work on Grandpa’s corral and home.  Oh, and we had some pretty good food along the way.

Teresa showing off her riding skills -- after
many years she is still pretty good.

The San Rafael River at the bottom of the canyon












Josh and Joel roofing Grandpa's corral.  There was a group on the
house but I don't have a picture.



More canyon.

Just hanging out with a great family.
Don’t know how many more of these Thanksgiving trips we will have but we are cherishing each as they come to us.  Teresa’s mom left us in May and we know it won’t be too many years before Dad goes off to be with her (I think he prefers sooner to later).  Our children and their kids have grown up going down to Huntington every year and I believe they will always remember the good feelings that accompany these excursions.

And of course, there is a project for the kids.  They are decorating
trees to put on the graves of some really special people.

Teresa and I are still relatively young but it seems many we love are starting to leave us.  Some of our good friends have lost one or both of the couple and now our own families are starting to go home.  Some days it sends me into a melancholy fugue just considering all that has happened during my time in mortality.  Then I consider the changes in the world and my personal life and recognize that God has given me a great gift.  How else can a man become what God wants him to be if there are no challenging parts to existence.

Primarily my heart is lifted by the love so many share with me.  Beginning with Teresa, and down to the last student I will ever meet, I am so blessed to know and love and be loved.  My greatest joy is our Savior and His Father.  If Teresa and I can endure and keep our wits about us, I am confident we will, one day, experience the fulfillment of the promise that says we are worthy to live with those we love the most.  The older I get, the more that means to me and the harder it drives me to try.

I hope you are coming with us – It will be no fun if anyone is missing.


Merry Christmas!!

Most of us who were there for Thanksgiving










Thursday, December 10, 2015

SOMEONE KNOWS

Recently, I was reading from the Book of Mormon as part of my nightly devotional.  Some nights my efforts are from habit more than devotion but this night I was troubled by events of the day and was seeking solace of the word in the book of Jarom.  It might seem a little unusual to look there because that is not one of the places where we seem to find deep doctrinal or spiritual enlightenment.  But it was my place of refuge that night.

An original copy of the Book of Mormon

Jarom is the great-grandson of Lehi, the prophet who initiated the events recorded in The Book of Mormon.  He (Jarom) was given the plates of Nephi by his father, Enos, and commanded to continue the record of his people.  Lamenting the struggles he witnessed among those he loved and the challenges they were having with their enemies, Jarom shared a few thoughts about God’s mercies towards the Nephites.

As a lifelong member of the LDS Faith, I have read this little book numerous times but on this night I was touched by the faith and tenderness this good man expressed as he reported their circumstances.  Likewise, I was affected by the stark reality of how much his concerns mirrored the thoughts, events, and actions of our day.  Here’s an example:

v. 3 – Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land.

We, in the Americas, live in a promised land that is reserved for those who are followers of Christ.  As taught by many prophets in scripture and in real life, we have also been warned that if we lose our focus and turn away from the Master of this earth we will lose the protection that comes with faith in Christ.

As a purveyor of the Internet and its accompanying social media, I believe it is easy to recognize that there are many who suffer from “hardness of the heart”, “deafness of the ears” and “blindness of minds”.  And yet, God has continued to be merciful unto us and is letting us work out our own path through the landmines of mortality. 

(BTW, I am not excluding myself from the descriptions above – there are times when I have fallen and continue to fall into the trap that results from a hard heart, blind mind, and stiff neck).

I suppose that is one of the things that interested me in the history Jarom was reporting.  With a gap of more than 2 millennia, it is interesting to see that his people (and he himself) were not so different than the people of our day.  They tried to be good (most of them) but often drifted into contentious experiences.  The only thing that seemed to keep them united was a desire for protection from their enemies.

That’s all well and good, you say, but what does this have to do with me and you.  Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m about to spew forth my ramblings on the subject. 

Are you ready?

OK!!

It might be obvious that Jarom is prejudiced in the way he looks at the events of his day.  He was raised in a home where revelation and prophecy were the norm and it seems his own view of life was skewed in that direction.  It was not an unusual thing for him to see and hear prophecies (his dad and grandpa were prophets) so he had some understanding of those things.  Here is how he saw his people and their response to the challenges they were confronting:

v. 4 And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked.  And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.

I believe, like Jarom recorded, that there are many who have revelations to help them know what to do in life.
Not just prophets, but good people.
Of every religion.
Who have faith in God and are doing the best they can in life.
God will make Himself known to anyone who comes to Him for help.
He doesn’t care if they know EXACTLY who He is.
He only cares that they want to know the truth He has to offer.

But Jarom was acting as a Prophet to his people so he had a deeper need to know what God wanted the Nephites of his day to do for greater protection from their enemies.  What could Jarom teach those in his stewardship that would draw them closer to God and His protective embrace?

Ta Da!! Revelation! 

That’s how God does it. 

And it was simple.

 Not new, but simple.

v. 5 – And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land.  They observed to keep the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord.  And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme.  And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

All it takes is keeping the commandments God has given with guarantees of blessings.  Basic, effective, and proven laws founded on eternal principles.  Given by those who were called of God to guide His people. 

But sometimes there has to be a little extra in the teachings.  Not doctrinally, but emphasizingly (I know, that’s not a word)!

v. 11-12 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.  And after this manner did they teach them.  And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.

Had to include this in memory of
my recent experiences. :-)

Despite the gap of 2400 years, the process today is exactly the same.  In order to find peace in our time we must follow the path given by God.  Jarom knew what he was talking about.  Mormon saw the truth of the message and included it in these sacred words from God.  The answers are there if we want them.

And prophets will also emphasize the areas where we are weak so that we might progress.  That’s why our Prophets have been doing so much to increase Sabbath Day observance.  They recognize the value it will bring to our trek in mortality.  The hearts of mortals must be ‘pricked’ often to keep them aware of their duties.  Otherwise we all drift and lose sight of the important things.

Let me be a little bold for just a moment.

There is no one on earth who deserves more attention than the prophets who speak for God. These 15 men, working together, are the only hope we have for finding the path back to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Just as Moses spoke to Israel for their benefit during the 40 year sojourn from Egypt, so we have prophets who speak during our travails through life.

They are the guides through our treacherous path of mortality.

They will help us find the way.

They are NOT infallible.  But they are united in the desire to better our lives.

And their united voice is the voice of Jesus Christ to the world.

No government program is going to change the way people pass through this existence.  We cannot legislate our way into the presence of God.

Politicians are not the answer to finding peace.  They have too many distractions and agendas.

Only One has the power to calm the storms that rage over this earth.

Thomas doubted -- but found his
way despite that moment.

Each of us is expected to find our way.  The map is available from a loving Father and His Son.  They knew we needed help and prepared enough to guide us home.  The trick is to find the manual, listen to the guides, and then follow the directions home.

Jarom got it.  I’m starting to get it.  Many of you are already well on your way. 


Happy Trails and give me a kick if you see me slacking on the road.