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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Adventures In AZ -- Reunion 2018


A few months ago, my mother sent out an invitation to the family, asking us all to come down to Arizona for a reunion.

(For some reason, we always seem to do these in the heated months of the year, but I guess that’s better than not having them.)

Or maybe not!!

So, we polled our children and found that Josh and Heather (plus 4), Joel and Paula, Melissa (plus 2) and Teresa and I were willing to brave the heated wasteland of Gilbert, AZ. The others had some desires to attend but circumstances made it impossible. 

The total personages who were committed to attend were 14 when all was said and done.

A few weeks before our trek we were thinking and discussing how much it would cost to drive three vehicles down and back plus find places to stay and purchase food and other necessaries for the trip. As we added things up, I suddenly had a brilliant idea-  

Why not rent an RV and take everyone down in one vehicle? We could even avoid motel rentals if it was big enough and that would defray more expenses.

And if the unit had a stove and fridge we could take all our food with us and make it so much more cost-effective. It took a lot of discussion, but eventually we all agreed that this might be a good option for our trip.

Over the next few days I scoured the Internet for places that rented RV’s. Most were WAY too expensive but there were a few sites that seemed more reasonable.

Then I found a place that is sort of a BnB for RV's – you rent from owners who aren’t using theirs at the time. The prices were much more reasonable, so we started looking for someone in our area that was in the price range we could afford.

It took several days to find a good option – turned out to be right near where Josh lives. The rental request was placed, and the owner contacted me to make the final arrangements. We checked out the unit and it appeared to be just what we needed. It would hold all our crew (Melissa and her two had to drive separately for other reasons so we were down to 11), had enough sleeping places, and sufficient a/c to meet the needs of the AZ onslaught.


On the 31st of May we picked up the motor-home and loaded all our stuff inside for the trip. Then it was “tally-ho, and away we go.”


While the ride was a little rougher than we had been led to believe, we made good time and were having a wonderful time…… until the generator that runs the a/c began to act up. It would work for a time but then, all on its own, would shut off and not come back on. So, we turned the a/c from the front on as high as it would go and forged onward to the deserts of Arizona.

As we followed I-17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix, we had little spurts when the generator would work and help with the cooling. But it was never enough to make us comfortable – just prevented death.

We were in great anticipation of heat relief as we took highway 101 to make our way east across the valley to Gilbert.

About 20 miles from Gilbert an unusual experience occurred. I was driving in the middle lane of a large and crowded freeway (rush hour) when the engine lost power and died. You can imagine how that went over with my fellow-travelers (not the Communist kind, the Freeway kind)

There was much honking and finger-waving until I finally was able to get the vehicle started and pulled into the far-right lane.

Thankfully, the engine seemed to have recovered so we continued with our journey (and wisely we never left the slow-traffic-lane).

Ah, but all was not well. The loss of power and dead engine came back to haunt us – again and again and again – so much so that we finally decided to exit the freeway and find our way on the surface streets. Thanks Google Maps.

(By this time, we were only a few miles from Gilbert).

Now, here’s the most exciting part of this situation. Each time we started the RV, the engine would sluggishly begin to gain power and if I quickly put it in gear we could make one or two stoplights before it died.

So, put on your imagine-hat and see what we experienced.

Pull up to a stop light –

Put RV in park as it dies –

Wait until the cross-traffic seems to be stopping and then quickly start the engine

As soon as the light turns green, drop it into drive while feathering the gas so it doesn’t stall and leave you stranded in the middle of the intersection.

Then get to the next stop light and repeat.

Again

And again.

And again.


For many more miles than we like to remember.

The only way to remain sane was to laugh together.

Otherwise we would have been in tears.

Until, finally, we reached the front yard of my brother John’s house.

Thank heavens he had a large driveway, so we could get the RV off the road and out of sight.


I invite you to imagine how our family was feeling about this whole escapade.

AND,


Though we were there for a reunion, other things needed to be done.


Sorry Mom and Dad, your eldest son must go into hibernation with his phone.


Ok, enough of the pity party!!

Our next point of business was to call the owner of the RV and see what he could do to help our situation. It took some time to get him connected but when I explained what was happening I heard him say (very quietly)

Oh no, not again.


I will confess that there some thoughts that weren’t very kind going thru my mind when those words were mumbled.


Turns out he had been in Phoenix the week before and had encountered a similar problem. His mechanic diagnosed the problem as bad fuel filter and replaced it. But now he was convinced (by our situation) that there was something else.


Well, after many hours on the phone with the tow service, repair people, and various other entities, arrangements were made to have someone look at the engine. A mobile repair company came and took away the ‘bad boy’ RV and replaced the fuel PUMP (in the fuel tank) that was much harder to replace (but should have been the first choice when the problem occurred) to make it run.


And it worked.


Sadly, all the parties not of our family ignored the other gorilla in the room – the generator that runs the a/c. Despite our pleas for help in getting that repaired, no one made any effort to comply.


All these events took place from Thursday night until Saturday afternoon. That left little time for interactions with family members (unless they were helping with the situation—thanks guys) and kinda ruined the whole purpose of the reunion. I will confess that I was just a little peeved – but I was also ready to go home.


Sunday morning bloomed with heat reaching well over 100 degrees before noon. Our plan was to leave and make a mad-rush in the a/c-less RV to Flagstaff and see how we felt.


If we weren’t too miserable our intent was to go all the way home to Utah in one day. Though we had plans to visit the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, the lack of a/c was too much to make that possible.



Literally,
as we were buckling up to leave we received a call from the owner of the RV. He had been on the phone trying to find someone near us who would be willing to trade RV’s, so we could continue our vacation. After all his efforts, there was one kind soul in Tucson (about two hours away) willing to help.


We thought about it for a few minutes, took a vote, and finally decided to give it one more try.

After all, what else could happen to make things worse?


Three hours later we met this nice lady (It takes a really nice person to be so helpful) and exchanged information and RV’s –

Her RV had great a/c and was much smoother riding than the original vehicle.


We continued our vacation – Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, other sites – and finally arrived home, safe, sound, and revived by a delightful couple of days.


After some negotiation, our RV guy came to an agreement with us about how much we should pay for our adventure. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was probably more than he deserved.


Now, what is the moral of this story?

What principle of truth can we learn to make life happier?


Truth #1 – Never rent an RV from an individual – maybe not even a company.

Truth #2 – Make every effort to avoid family reunions in Arizona during the summer months. 

If you can’t, don’t drive.

That’s all the truth I can divine from this experience.

Oh wait!!

Truth #3 – It’s much better to laugh together when things are going bad.


Thanks to my wonderful family for their patience with the miserable experience I foisted upon them. 

Teresa was wonderful and Josh, Heather, Joel, Paula, and the little kids were amazing and very willing to do whatever it took to make things work.

I make one promise after all of this adventure.

I hereby, promise to never rent another RV for our family.

But I won’t promise not to buy one someday.  😊

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Captain Moroni – Warrior Christian


I have been reading the Book of Mormon since I was a boy but my real efforts to understand this powerful testimony of Christ began as a 19-yr-old missionary. Poring over it for the first time in my life, I became interested in the doctrines of Christ found in the pages of the book. Since those days, my study has helped me to see and learn many things that have improved my life.

In my early years of study I sometimes struggled with the purpose of the “war chapters” found in the book. But with age and experience (and a little effort) I have begun to see the great value in the things Mormon included in the record pertaining to war. Mormon’s life was spent in battle (he was a Nephite general at age 16) and he developed some powerful insights that can help us all prepare for the events that will surely come in our day. That is a subject I would like to address in this little missive.

As he compiled the record of the Nephites, Mormon often highlighted the attitudes and attributes of the Nephites and Lamanites. One area I have found of special interest is the attitude he takes toward the Nephite general Moroni. It is obvious to any reader that Mormon had a great respect for Moroni (so much so that he gave his own son the same name). Many of the attributes we see in the writing of Mormon about his own military experiences shadow the things he appreciated about Moroni. While a much longer paper could be made of these connections, I would like to focus on one truth Mormon highlights related to the great Captain Moroni’s righteousness.


On several occasions, Moroni found himself and his armies in precarious situations. For instance, Alma 44 covers a battle between the Nephite forces and a massive Lamanite army, led by the apostate Nephite Zerahemnah. Chosen for his hatred of the Nephites and his skill in warfare, Zerahemnah took the Lamanites to battle with the intent to destroy the whole of the Nephite nation. But a series of setbacks and missteps plunged the Lamanite army into a situation that was precarious to the degree of utter destruction.

And it came to pass that he [Moroni and his army] met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon, and his people were armed with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war. And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also were dressed with thick clothing—now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows…and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins;… (Alma 43:18-20)

Seeing the preparations of the army of Moroni, the Lamanites were afraid to engage in battle and chose to move their attack to a different part of the land – hopeful to find a less prepared enemy.
Not one to simply hope for the best, Captain Moroni acted quickly. First, he sent spies to scope out the plans of the army of Zerahemnah. Then, he called on Alma, the prophet of the Church, to ask for guidance from the God of their fathers. Alma sought help from God and was given directions to help Moroni prepare for the work of their enemies. Thus, when the Lamanites arrived at their designed battleground they found the army of the Nephites waiting to confront them. What they didn’t find was the second portion of Moroni’s army that was secreted in the valleys, waiting for them to pass by. Now the whole of the Lamanite army was surrounded by the well equipped and protected Nephite militia. The ensuing battle was a bloodbath with the Lamanites contributing most of the liquid.
As the battle raged, the leaders of the Lamanite army used every trick to inspire their men to face the well-trained and favorably suited soldiers of the armies of Moroni. And though there was some success, as the battle progressed the Lamanites found themselves being slaughtered with comparative ease. Then, at a critical point in the struggle, Moroni detected the fear and terror of his enemies. Unlike most other military leaders in a similar situation,…

…Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood. (Alma 43:54)

REALLY!! What military man would pass on the chance to decimate the enemies’ greatest asset?
Yet, that is precisely what Moroni did. And to complicate things even more, Moroni went a step further. To Zerahemnah, the leader of the Lamanites he said:

…We will not seek your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us. (Alma 44:6)

In other words, Moroni offers to free Zerahemnah and his army on a PROMISE. No other strings attached.

Understandably, the Lamanites had some difficulty accepting/believing what was happening but in the end, they agreed to surrender and live (though Zerahemnah lost a little in the process).  The ensuing events can be read in Alma 44:8-24, but this amazing experience only highlights the strength and faith of a man of war who relied on the teachings of God. He had no desire to kill or destroy – he was willing to let people live if they would just stop their destructive behavior. All he sought was peace for his people, so they could worship God and Christ as they desired.

Moroni was a great man of war, but he was a greater man of God. He worked to protect his people from destruction by their enemies but always looked to God for the way he should do his business. Is it any wonder that Mormon, a man who spent most of his life practicing warfare to protect his people, would find hope in the exploits of Moroni?

Those who read and study the word of God (whether in the Book of Mormon or other scriptures) can find instances where real men do the things of God, despite the ideas of the world. Moroni is one of those men and is an inspirational example for all who read his exploits. I understand, completely, why Mormon (nearly 500 years removed from the time of Moroni) would find strength in the faithfulness of Captain Moroni, the great Nephite leader.

If you would like to see a short video portraying this exciting experience, check out this link.

For more experiences with Moroni, check out Alma 43-63 in The Book of Mormon.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Strange Tender Mercies



“What are God’s miracles that remind you that He is close, saying, “I am right here”? Think of those times, some daily, when the Lord has acted in your life—and then acted again. Treasure them as moments the Lord has shown confidence in you and in your choices.”

This quote comes from a talk by Elder Ronald Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the last General Conference. It caught my attention because I was thinking about some things happening on a blog site I like to follow. The author is a very knowledgeable Latter-day Saint and has a plethora of followers. Most are fellow-saints who are interested in the views of the writer, but a few are more inclined to attempt to poke holes (or chasms) in the faith of believing readers with disparaging remarks and snide comments.

RANT ALERT: (It baffles me that there are people who feel their time is best spent berating others who believe differently than they do. There is no effort made to speak with kindness, or respect as you would to someone who is lost or confused about life. The sole purpose seems to “share” venom that has built up in their system and, apparently, must be released on poor unsuspecting souls (though, by now we all know what to expect). What is it that leads people like this to spend their time chasing down sites where believers – in one thing or another – share experiences, beliefs, and common interests? Is their life really that dull?)

Anyway, as I was pondering the universe and all its secrets, I had a thought that would not let go of my brain. It goes something like this:

The blogger I follow has several of those folks who like to “disagree” with him on very basic principles of truth. No amount of discussion can dissuade them from the ‘belief’ that anything put out by the author is designed to ‘destroy the world.’ It is obvious that they have no interest in trying to understand anything that is shared – and yet, they come back day after day with scorn, untruths, and taunts for those who do believe. Often, I say, “what drives them to keep coming back?”

That’s when there was a little (cause I’m not really that important) epiphany that hit me as I was out walking and thinking, related to the message of Elder Rasband.

I thought to myself, might there be a purpose in God’s plan for people like this who are always assaulting those who do not share their beliefs. Could this be one of those tender mercies Elder Rasband mentioned that our Heavenly Father is offering to them as He tries to persuade them to come back to Him. Maybe by keeping these souls connected to a source of truth (even though it is inconvenient and uncomfortable to believers and appears to be completely useless in teaching the offender) God is leaving a way open for these dissenters to eventually find the truth they purport to seek. You know, the more you hang around someone, the more they grow on you. Is it possible that the God we love could be that ‘sneaky’ with His children?

While the word sneaky does not really fit my description of our Father in Heaven, I do believe that He has plans that we cannot even begin to understand for His children. Think how he helped Zaccheus find a connection with Jesus. A man small of stature, Zaccheus had to climb a tree to get a good look at the Savior but he was also easily accessible when Jesus desired to dine with him in his home. Devious or sneaky is not an attribute I would use to describe of God or His Son, but they will always use the situations available to find ways to bless Their children.

So, I am going to take the approach that these fellows who are so rude, obnoxious, and difficult to endure on the Internet are really people who are preparing themselves for a blessing from the God of Heaven who knows them and will do all He can to bring them home.

Now, they just need to see what is available to them. 😊

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SEEING DEEPER

I have been teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ for most of my life. As a missionary, my efforts were meager, but I tried as hard as I could to stick to the truths as given in the scriptures. My knowledge of the Bible and The Book of Mormon was basic but over the years more of the truths found therein began to stand out and help in the progress to goodness.


This year is another chance to study deeper in the translated words of Mormon and the other prophets who contributed to the work. Students have been very willing to dig down and discover hidden gems of faith that invite the Holy Ghost to testify of Christ. My own study has increased, as new insights are discovered and shared with those I love.


That brings me to today’s experience.


We are working our way through the book of Alma, a conglomeration of truths/stories assembled by the prophet Mormon. Just before Christmas we spent a full day on Alma chapter 7 where the purpose and experience of the Savior’s atonement was described. The moving words of Alma help us to find comfort in the sacrifice Jesus provided for ALL of God’s children:


For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing of more importance than they all… And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:7, 11-13, emphasis added)


These wonderful verses have been a comfort to me (and many others) as I have pondered the things that happen in mortal life. And I rejoice because according to Alma, sin has an enemy that will swallow all the pain and anguish it causes – if the individual will allow Christ to be involved in the process.


I believe completly in the power of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice to change us as we seek His help, but as I studied further in the book of Alma there was another discovery that helped me anchor this truth in my heart.


In chapters 8-11 in the book of Alma, we find a story about the missionary efforts of Alma the younger, the once wayward and now repentant son of Alma, the first Chief Judge of the people in Zarahemla. Alma the younger was appointed to the Chief Judge position when his father retired. Additionally, he was also given the responsibility to guide the church as presiding priesthood leader (Prophet). His efforts to bless the people had him working hard in Zarahemla, traveling to the city of Gideon and Melek (finding much success in both) and finally arriving in the city of Ammonihah.


Alma rejected in Ammonihah

The reception in Ammonihah was ‘chilly’ – maybe even ‘frosty.’ So little success was found that Alma determined to move on to another city rather than take the abuse of the leaders. But as he made his way along the path, he was instructed to return to Ammonihah with the assurance that new circumstances would improve the outlook. Immediately, Alma turned around and entered the city by a back way. As he wandered the streets, he stumbled on a resident of the city and asked for food and lodging for the night. 


The man, Amulek (a lapsed member of the church), recognized Alma and invited him to his home for rest and refreshment. Over the next days, Alma and Amulek developed a friendship based in a common desire to serve the Lord in His work. Both men recognized that there were souls in the city who could benefit from the blessings of Christ, so they prepared to share their message – despite Alma’s previous experiences.


When the two men were prepared they went to the place where they could find people who would listen to their words. As expected, they encountered resistance from the same crowd that rejected Alma in his first attempt to teach. But with Amulek, some of the people had a little more incentive to listen to the message.

Alma and Amulek teaching Zeezrom

While probably not a polished as Alma, Amulek began his teaching stating his place in the city as a well-known citizen and recounting the conversion that brought him to his present circumstance. Various individuals asked questions of him and some attempted to trick him into making a mistake in his message, but Amulek was able to answer each question and challenge to the satisfaction of the listeners.


One of the listeners, a lawyer named Zeezrom, took another route to turn the situation to his own benefit. Offering a great deal of money, he invited Amulek to recant his testimony of Christ and the doctrines He taught. This Zeezrom was a well-spoken man who had proven his abilities to twist the truth for his own benefit. His confidence in those abilities gave him the chutzpah to stand up to Amulek’s confession of faith.


How disappointed he must have been when Amulek refused the money AND chastised him for his misbegotten plan. And his disappointment turned to fear as the missionaries taught him the true doctrine of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. In fact, the fear of destruction left Zeezrom physically weak and unable to continue his rantings against Alma and Amulek. In the end, Zeezrom recognized his own sins and the damage he had done to the faith of the people. His change of heart caused his former friends to cast him out of the city forever.


Alma and Amulek continued to preach and were eventually driven from Ammonihah, only to find Zeezrom on his death bed in another town. Laying hands on his head, Alma and Amulek healed the former enemy and raised him up off his death bed. Then they taught him the gospel and helped him enter the church of God. Zeezrom became a powerful instrument in the spreading of the doctrines of Christ among many of the Nephites.


Now, that’s a pretty common story when it comes to religious conversions. A former unbeliever becomes a believer through a spiritual experience that changes their heart (see Saul for example). But that’s only part of the message I think Mormon is trying to give us in these chapters.


If you remember, Alma 7 explained, in detail, the blessings that would be available to those who accepted the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repented of their sins. That redemption is meant for ALL of God’s children, not just a select few. In chapters 8-11 we encounter three individuals who are in varying stages of mortal life.


1.     Alma, a rebellious son of a prophet of God, has been converted and is now doing his best to repair the damage he caused in his younger days. His success is impressive, and we are all inspired by his efforts.

2.     Amulek, a ‘less-active’ member of the church, has been re-converted and invited to help bring other souls to the fountain of Christ. He was not necessarily antagonistic toward the Savior, but he was apathetic in his testimony.

3.     Zeezrom, an opponent of Christ and all He offers. This man had wealth and power as his god and tried to destroy anyone who would try to affect his plans but found peace in the teachings of Christ.

The resurrected Christ appears to the Nephites

The placement of each of these individual characters is a testament to the wisdom and inspiration of Mormon as he assembled the records. It was not by chance that the stories of Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom were given after the teachings of the Atonement of Christ. No, Mormon wanted us to see a deeper application of Christ’s work. Mormon shows us that there is every possibility, despite current circumstance, for anyone to be redeemed by the blood of Christ. 

Jesus did His work for the benefit of all His Father’s children – the rebellious, the apathetic, and the most virulent opponent – each has access to the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ as they acknowledge their need for His redemption.


This experience in my own awakening reminds me that there is a plan in place to guide us all back to our heavenly home. And the most valuable and powerful ‘tool’ is given as we access the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ which prepares us for that future day.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Important Matters

We have just finished another General Conference in the Church and it is clear to me that the world is going crazy. You would think that a Church with only 16 million members living on a planet of more than 7.5 billion (that’s approximately .2% of all the people on earth) could function without too much interference or notice by the rest of mankind. Yet, every six months, there are reminders that sharing and believing the Gospel of Christ has its costs.

Here’s an example.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Elder Dallin Oaks used his time in Conference to speak about the importance of families and the inspired nature of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” When this document was first published in 1995, many in the religious world lauded the principles of the message and appreciated the reminder, but wondered why such a thing was needed. After all, 22 years ago, nearly every Christian (and other) religion agreed with the things that were taught. But when Elder Oaks completed his talk on this important document and the even more important doctrine it teaches, there was an explosion of angst on the Internet. And not just from folks who are in opposition to the Church and its teachings!

In the passing of 22 years, a document that was once considered nicely stated but unnecessary has now become something to be ‘loathed’ because of its ‘bigotry’ and ‘unkindness.’ Many outside (and some inside) the Church have called for change in the teachings of the Church. They assert that the Church’s stand on families is oppressive and exclusionist because it does not include all “forms” of family.

Why does the Church continue to teach the “Proclamation?”

 Because the Doctrine of Christ, as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says that a family consists of a husband (male) and wife (female) who work together to raise up children in a home filled with love and the knowledge of Christ.

The doctrine of the “world” says any combination of individuals or parties can join together and create a family. It is the plan of the adversary of us all to destroy and corrupt as much of God’s truth as he can in an effort to stop the great Plan of Happiness.

And one of his best efforts, recently, has been the attack on marriage and family.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not persecute those who believe the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ in a different way than stated by Christ and His Prophets. But the church cannot allow members to adjust the doctrine to fit some personal interpretation of God’s message.

A few define this limitation on practice/doctrine as discrimination against the individual when, in fact, it is protection of basic truths in the doctrine. To allow every social, political, personal, or other belief to “water down” the doctrinal truths of the gospel is to start on the road to apostasy. This would be repeating the steps that led to the “Great Apostasy” that occurred shortly after Christ’s resurrection.

I, for one, appreciate the efforts our leaders are making to keep the doctrines pure. It is a difficult task to live in a world that, by and large, does not agree with much of what is taught. And it doesn’t help that there are factions IN the church trying to change things to meet social, political, or some personal viewpoints. That’s why it is so critical to have these semi-annual checkpoints. Even the best of us will drift off course if there are no reminders on a regular basis.

When Lehi and Nephi wrote of their vision of the Tree, both identified an Iron Rod that the seekers of the Tree and its fruit latched onto for guidance. They identified the Rod of Iron as “The Word of God.”

I fear that we sometimes forget the rod is not just the scriptures written by past prophets but is also the words of modern, living prophets who are right in the middle of the life we are living. They face the same challenges and mortal fears but they also know Whom they represent. And when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet and prayerfully define the path that is best for a particular time, they have given all who will listen and obey another length of the Rod, leading to the ultimate goal – The Tree of Eternal Life that represents the love of God and Christ.

I recognize that my own commitment to following Living Prophets is not popular with most of the world. And I will confess that, at times, it is difficult to always be strong (not because I don’t believe, but because it is hard to be unpopular ALL the time). But, thus far my vision is clear enough to allow me to see that the “prize” at the end of the ROD is worth the effort.

So, my hope for all who read this is that you will find the faith in your heart to:
#1 –Believe in Christ and the power of His atoning sacrifice.

AND

#2 – Stay with the prophets of God, no matter what the rest of mankind decides to do. You will always be safe because Jesus has promised that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve cannot lead us astray (I know some will quibble with this, but I am confident of its veracity).

The current Apostles (Elder Hales passed recently)


I am a witness of Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Kingdom of God on the earth. The teachings of the gospel of Christ will change mankind and welcome in the return of the Savior. mw

Thursday, September 28, 2017

MY SPEECH ON SPEECH

The other day I received a letter from a former student, apologizing for her behavior in a 9th grade class – one that was pretty raucous most days. I was grateful to hear from her and was pleased that she was serving a mission in a foreign country. She asked if I remembered her (yes, very distinctly) and wondered if I could forgive her (of course, I was 14 yrs. old once) for the way she acted in class so many years ago. It was a nice letter and it was easy to accept her plea and acknowledge her change in attitude.

I never disliked this young lady or any of the classmates that attended with her. By that time in my career I had stopped worrying about whether students liked me and was more focused on helping them get through the struggles of youth while trying to share a large dose of Jesus and His Atonement. To see this girl (and many others) make decisions based on their testimony of Christ is still the greatest pay for someone in my profession.

Teaching the gospel in a worldly environment is challenging under the best circumstances. Seldom do we get any support from the ‘school’, even when the majority hold the same values.
It’s not because they don’t want to be part, but it is a symptom of the world we live in today. Everyone is terrified of showing any religious inclinations for fear they will be removed from their positions or fired for “teaching/supporting religion.”

But with the loss of religious and moral principles in the schools, we have also had a loss in the basic goodness of society. The fear of retribution dampens the desire to teach appropriate conduct until we reach the point where any behavior is tolerated (look at college campuses for proof).

In some ways, the current ‘debate’ about respecting the Flag and National Anthem can find its origins in what is and isn’t taught in schools (and churches to some extent). Most schools don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance on a regular basis and I suspect that a goodly number of our students don’t know the words to the National Anthem. The proper care and display of the flag isn’t even discussed, except in some Scouting programs (witness the flying of flags at half-mast and how it is done incorrectly)

When there is no knowledge for WHY something is done, there is no respect WHEN it is done.

The fear of offending AND the desire to be offended are creating a world where people feel the need to look over their shoulders whenever they are doing something that is, in any way, public.  

I think the prophet Isaiah was speaking of this issue when he taught that in the last-days there would be many who:

… make a man an offender for a word, [laying] a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught. Isiah 29:21

Pointing out offense is easy. Learning to forgive and help others avoid real offensive behavior requires love – for the offender and the offended.

Imagine if Jesus had taken the words of the Pharisees and Sadducees personally (which was the way they were given) and used his unique abilities to strike back. Rather, He bore their behavior with humility and love and stayed focused on the task at hand. He could see the bigger picture and did not let the little things of life get in the way.

So how does that relate to the present circumstance?

People who want to find offense in their lives are going to find offense. Very little that we say will change their desire to be offended (and offense is a desire). But YOUR being offended does not mean that I must refrain from something that is dear to me. And if my actions are hard for you to understand, please let me know so I can explain my purpose. (note: I didn’t say so I would change, but I would explain).

So, when a bunch of rich kids who play games for a living decide they are too ‘cool’ to do something, I really don’t care.

Yes, it is hurts my heart to hear of it and I wish they wouldn’t do it. But, it isn’t something that is going to change me or my family and I see no need to be incensed?

Truthfully, their behavior has no bearing on my experiences in life and I suspect they will lose the desire to stand out as soon as people quit talking about it. I guess you might say I have a “laissez-faire” attitude towards things like this. Especially when they have no real bearing on anything of substance. These are just little children trying to get attention – and it’s working.

On the other hand, there are some folks who are clamoring for changes that I DO believe should be resisted. One current trend is calling out speakers/believers for ‘hate speech.’ In general, hate speech seems to be anything one body of believers (often loosely defined) finds offensive to their own ideas or practices. Somehow this term has become the rage for shutting down unwanted messages that disagree with another set of beliefs.

For example, if I am a dog lover and profess my love for the canine faction on earth, some other group will try to accuse me of ‘hate-speech’ because they think felines are better and my admiration for dogs must mean I HATE cats. In their mind, I must be stopped from ‘hate-speech’ against cats!!

The concept that a different ideology equates to hate is ridiculous. When did it become hateful to disagree with another opinion? I am a member of many organizations (official and unofficial) that have a wide variety of opinions and beliefs. But my membership in those groups does not mean I hate, or even dislike those in competing/contrasting organizations.

My heavens!! There is nothing wrong with having contrasting points of view. I recall that Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, yet they were amiable and friendly – so much so that they enjoyed having dinner together quite often.

Why does EVERYTHING need to be polarizing?

Who says it’s impossible for members of different religious parties to be friendly to one another?

What rule says that graduates from rival schools cannot be civil in their discourse?

Why can’t dog and cat lovers sit down and share a meal together?

What has happened to this world?

Have we ALL forgotten that we are children of the same God?

Maybe that IS the problem.

Each person has their own God (whether they be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, or whatever) but many have become intolerant of the individual right to choose and live in peace with their own creed.

For instance!

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). My faith is dear to me and I desire to protect the right of my children and grand-children to practice what I believe are the doctrines of Christ.

One of the truths we follow pertains to marriage as an eternal ordinance when bound by the authority of the priesthood of God. Sacred temples are built around the world where faithful members can kneel across an altar with their husband or wife and participate in a holy event that seals them as a couple for all time and eternity. This is a satisfying doctrine of the gospel of Christ as we practice our faith. I do not expect everyone to appreciate what we do but I hope that no one will decide that our practices are an indication of something not part of the experience.

What is not part of our marriage rights is any statement pertaining to the practices of others of faith.

Mormons are not saying to the rest of the world that temple marriages are more valid than those of non-Latter-day Saints. We readily acknowledge that husbands and wives who love each other and are faithful to their marriage vows will find great joy together. The children of these unions are blessed by the love they receive from their parents.

But, there is one difference between these types of marriage – we have confidence that the vows we make do not end when “death does us part.” Our faith extends through the eternal realms and promises that those who are faithful to their covenants (to God and spouse) will continue to enjoy the bliss of marriage in the next world.

We welcome any who wish to enjoy this same experience to prepare and receive as we have.

Our doctrine is not hateful.

 Teaching the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints is not ‘hate-speech.’

We do not look down on, mock, hate, belittle, or exclude others as though we stood on a lofty tower. Neither do we cast stones or aspersions toward those who do not believe as we do. We simply believe differently than others of faith and are careful to not defy God in our practices.

Latter-day Saints believe in the eternal nature of family – both the nuclear type and the world-wide version. Every person on this earth is a son or daughter of a God who loves them and wants them to be happy. Mortal death is not the dissolution of family experiences, it is a step in the eternal continuation of those relationships.

So, when disbelievers chant that Mormons are dividers and haters because they perform marriages in sacred temples, they show a complete disregard for the rights of the faithful to practice their religion.

In reality, the doctrines of the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints are (though many will scream otherwise) very inclusive. There is hope in the gospel, as taught by the LDS Church, for all who come to this ball of dirt to experience mortality. Any who desire to live with God are qualified to join and partake of His blessings.

So back to the original premise:

Being offended is a choice!!

Finding offense where none is intended is a choice!!

Looking for ways to be offended and then claiming that offense is ‘hate-speech’ is to destroy all freedom in a land where freedom is key.


Trying to control dialogue by shaming and propaganda (claiming disagreement is hateful) is the beginning of the end of free speech. The end of free speech is the doctrine of the adversary and will destroy many other freedoms as it spreads.