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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

JUDGMENT

Yesterday, it was announced that a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (the third highest quorum in the Church) was excommunicated from the Church for unspecified reasons.




It is unusual for someone in one of the senior quorums of leadership to find himself/herself in this circumstance. For members of the Church, having a trusted leader lose his/her membership can be jolting. There is an expectation that when a person reaches that level of leadership they are immune to the temptations that result in such drastic consequences.


Obviously, that is not true!


Generally, in such situations there is no mention of the offense committed by the participant but the Church (and this can only be done with the permission of the individual) felt it was important to know that this was not a case of apostasy or losing his testimony of the faith.


Sadly, the need to clarify is a symptom of the Internet age we are experiencing. So much speculation and projection takes place in these circumstances that the Church (and most likely the brother) wanted it understood that loss of faith was not the reason for the action.


That doesn’t mean that there STILL won’t be many who choose to trumpet this as exactly that!!
AHH!!, don’t we love Internet trolls!





It would be very easy to begin to come up with scenarios for why someone would lose their membership. My experience in these cases has taught me to be sensitive to the tender feelings of those who find themselves working through their quest for forgiveness.


Each of us has failings and it is not unusual to look back and say,


“How did I get here?”


Jesus taught us, “Judge not unrighteously that ye be not judged.” (JST Matt. 7:1-2) And Mormon expanded on the Savior’s words to teach us a bit more about judgment:

Mormon recording and compiling

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.


(Notice that it is not wrong to judge. But it IS wrong to judge unrighteously. So how do you do that? Here it comes.)


For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.


(The gift Mormon is teaching about is called the Light of Christ – also known as a conscience. We are all born with it – a little piece of the Divine – and as we listen to its promptings, it can guide us to make better choices – including judging correctly)


But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.


(Despite what some may say, it is pretty easy to discern good from evil. Our help comes from that spark of divinity Mormon identifies as the Light of Christ. The challenge is listening and making the correct choice in times of pressure.)


And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. (Moroni 7:15-18)


And isn’t that the challenge?


Making righteous judgment while still living as a mortal being, full of prejudices and weaknesses of our own is TOUGH.


So, when we recognize that someone has faltered in their journey through this temporal experience or we know of a person who is steeped in ‘sinfulness’, might it not be best to have compassion rather than condemnation for their challenges. Each of us has a similar path to trod and at some time we are going to need help to get through difficult times. It will be much easier to find comfort from others when we have given the same to them.


My hope for this good brother is that he will do all that is necessary to receive forgiveness for whatever misstep he has made. He is still relatively young and can find new strength through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Savior is all about forgiveness – not one is ever exempted from His influence.


AND, may we all have a prayer in our hearts and compassion for this circumstance, along with others we may know, as they navigate the road of repentance.


Don’t forget what Paul taught the Romans about our individual trek through this fallen world:

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19)


FULL DISCLOSURE:

This particular sin (judging unrighteously) is a continuing issue for me. I am working to eliminate this annoying habit from my own life. Postings like this are probably more for me than anyone else. My hope is to be less “unrighteously judgmental” when I stand before the bar of Christ. 😊

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ROOTS AND FRUITS #1


(Continuing where I left off last time…)

Kansas City, MO is about the same size as Salt Lake City, but much more difficult to navigate. Where SLC has square, even blocks that are numbered for easy identification, KC is a hodge-podge of streets and parkways that have no specific design (except to torture travelers). And when the services of Google AND Garmin are spotty …… well, life can become interesting.

So, how do you think we did getting to the airport when it came time to join our group of friends for the Workshop?
HAH!!
This was a good day for the electronic maps.
And our car was easy to return (thanks National Car Rental).
In fact, we were VERY early and had to wait in the terminal for the rest of the company.

The only struggle was waiting for all the different flights to arrive from across the country. One group was from Southern California, another arrived from Alaska, two different groups came by way of SLC, and there was one other (I don’t remember the start point) that was last of all. But eventually all the party was assembled and we boarded the bus for our excursion.

Intro --
When you gather together a large gaggle of Seminary teachers in one place you can always expect life to be interesting.

Think about it!!

Our job is to work with young people and help them learn the gospel.

That means we must be able to relate to (and sometimes emulate) them or we won’t be successful. So, the personality of a group like ours just ‘might’ have some resemblance to a high school group on a band or choir tour.

And since we are teachers -- EVERYONE has a story to tell (seldom short).

Humorous events or amazing experiences are the norm.

And, because we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are many (or slightly more) spiritual experiences shared by the attendants.

In other words, it is a raucous, unruly, tender, heavenly, and enlightening time for everyone on the bus.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With the crew assembled, our first business was to introduce all the participants. (I will skip that part because none of you really care. If you do, let me know and I will send you the roster.)

I knew a few of our fellow-travelers (sounds sort of communistic when I say it like that) but the majority were strangers. As we did the intros, our tour leader prepared us for the first site we would visit.

And, frankly, I don’t remember what it was!!

MISSOURI
OK, I just checked the itinerary and it was Independence, MO. I thought that was second but I was wrong. The visitor center was interesting and the site where the cornerstones for the temple were laid was… there. The Church doesn’t own it, but it is still visible.

 Maybe the most striking thing was the RLDS (Community of Christ) Temple. It looks sort of like a big ice cream cone.

Community of Christ Temple, Independence, MO


Side Note: The CofC folks are very kind and accommodating. We had lots of interaction with them during our days in Nauvoo, but here in Missouri, they were less visible. While we have some commonality in our origins, their belief system is VERY different than ours. I will probably try to share some of that when I get to Nauvoo with this narrative.

LIBERTY JAIL
The lateness of our start meant we had to hurry along to Liberty Jail. It was sad that this was at the beginning of the workshop because I would have liked to stay longer. The events from this site have had a profound effect on my personal life (and I suspect many others as well) and it would have been nice to sit and ponder more extensively. Still, the sacred nature of Liberty Jail (called by some, a “temple prison”) was obvious as we discussed events and teachings given by the Lord for the benefit of His people (for reference, see D&C 121-123 as a starter).

You can see that it was a long day -- we were tired. but excited to be at such a significant place.

Joseph, Hyrum, and others behind us

I don’t really remember much more of the first day – we were  tired and the bed at the hotel was very welcome.

One interesting thing about these workshops is the friendships we make as we travel together. There is a wide range of ages (we were most assuredly part of the upper-age group) and personalities but everyone works hard to make things better for their traveling companions. For instance, after the first day the directors asked if some of us would accommodate a few who had travel sickness issues. The number of volunteers exceeded the needed changes. That attitude was the defining spirit of the whole workshop. It really is nice to travel with good people who are not focused on themselves at the expense of everyone else.

KC Temple 

Day two started with a quick “drive-by” of the Kansas City Temple. Since Teresa and I had already been there, we just relaxed and let the others have the space.


Side Note: I noticed, as we made our way to Far West, MO, that the bus driver was carefully watching her GPS to make sure she got where we wanted to go. But she also had a secondary map, just in case things went awry. That made me feel better about our experiences with electronic maps.


FAR WEST AND HAWN’S MILL
Far West and Hawn’s Mill (used to be Haun’s Mill but they have discovered Jacob Hawn spelled his name with a W) have some significance to us (me) because I had relatives who died in the Hawn’s Mill massacre. David Lewis was one of the victims and was the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather, Tarlton Lewis. Jacob Hawn failed to warn the Saints to gather with the body of the Church, as Joseph had counseled him to do, and many lost their lives when a mob came and victimized them. It was a sad day in Church History and marked the beginning of the end for the Saints in Missouri.

You can see why people would want to settle in this region.
It's perfect for farming and lots of other 'pioneer' activities.



ADAM-ONDI-AHMAN
Adam-ondi-Ahman is a very special place in the history of the Church. Joseph Smith received revelation that this was the place where Adam built an altar and offered sacrifice when he and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. There’s not much here right now, but the future of this location has some amazing things to experience. I probably won’t be here on earth when it happens but just watching from the ‘sidelines’ will still be interesting.



Looking out over the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Just so we could get a feel for how much time it took for the Saints to leave Missouri and get to Illinois, we made the journey to Nauvoo in one day. Well, for the Saints it was weeks of travel but for us it was only a few hours over freeways. Guess that’s not very representative but I’m glad we didn’t have to walk.

I think I will stop here for this posting and save the rest for another day.

Some of you may be wondering about the title of this entry. I chose “Roots and Fruits” because the whole time we were on this workshop the thought kept coming to me that what these people did (the roots of my ancestry) has had a profound effect on who I am and who my future family will be (fruits). I suppose these feelings are a symptom of aging and worrying about the familial line that continues into the future, but it is also a salute to the wonderful people who paved the way for me to find peace in this mortal experience. 

They sacrificed and died (much like seeds that become plants) to open the door for me to grow in my love of Christ and His work. These people were not just pioneers in moving to new nations, they were pioneers in opening the realms of God to His children.


The work of our ancestors deserves our attention and love. I hope that what I share with this and other postings indicates how much thankfulness there is in my heart for these powerful children of God. 
And one day, I hope to be one too.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MIDWEST VACATION



The older I get, the more I wonder about how my life is connected to my ancestors and future generations. When we are young the focus of life is learning and building but as we age our desires seem to turn to those who have preceded us and the other group that is coming up behind.

For instance, one of my worries is that my grandchildren won’t remember who I am – especially the younger ones. Teresa and I spend a lot of time with all of them but I am afraid many may not remember how grandpa and grandma liked to play with them when they were little. By the time their memories can hold onto our experiences together we will be too feeble and loopy (OK, that last part is for me, not Teresa) to do anything that is exciting enough to pack away as a pleasant recollection. We will have become those “old folks who smell funny and can’t do much.”

That’s one of the reasons I try to keep some semblance of a journal – so my posterity can understand a little bit about who I really was. And these blog entries are meant to give them a view into the things that were important – to me! I figure if I write enough (even if it is boring) they will have some foundation for knowing who we were when we are gone. At least that is the idea!

So, here’s some thoughts I had as Teresa and I went on a little vacation a few weeks ago. It was partly personal and partly work related – but all of it was interesting and uplifting.

In the summer hiatus from classwork my employer offers guided workshops, for teachers and spouses, to historic sites that are important to LDS Church history. A few years ago we went on the Northeast version and had a wonderful time visiting sites in New York, Ohio, Vermont, and other church-related locations. We developed some good friendships and really enjoyed the experience – in fact, I hope we can go back to many of the sites at some future time.

A couple of summers later we were offered a chance to experience (sort of) what it would be like to make the trek to Utah from the other side of the Rocky Mountains. For a week, our group followed the Pioneer Trail that was used by the Saints as they left, what was then, the borders of the United States and moved to the frontiers of the Utah Basin. The big difference in our pioneer adventure was we made the trek in six days and had four-wheel-drive vehicles instead of wagons and oxen. Again, it was an amazing workshop and helped us understand (just a little) what it must have been like.

Well, this summer we were blessed to finally participate in the final workshop available to teachers and spouses. This adventure included visits to many of the Church History sites relating to the Missouri and Illinois experiences of the early Saints. And, as a bonus, Teresa and I went out a few days early to visit Rex and Lisa, my younger brother and his wife, in Indiana. We decided that may be the closest we get to them anytime soon so we better take advantage of the proximity of our workshop.

[For those of you who are geographically inclined, Indiana is NOT very close to Missouri, but it IS much closer than when we are in Utah.]

Having lived most of my life in the Western United States, I am very used to having mountains and deserts as the main landscape. So, when we arrived in Indiana (and the rest of the Midwest) there were some adjustments to make.

You see, everything is green.

Not just some things.

Everything was really green.

And most of the green consisted of soybeans and corn.

Lots of soybeans and corn.

Sometimes too much soybean and corn.

Image result for soybean field pictures
Soybean field -- very green
Add to that, there were no mountains anywhere!

How do you know which way to go if you don’t have mountains as a point of reference?

Even our GPS had trouble with the flatlands. (Google Fail and Garmin struggle)

Eventually, we sort of got used to the GREEN. At least Teresa did. In fact, she loved it and wished we could take some home with us. She really likes green. I guess I’m more of brown kinda guy. But that’s what makes us such a good team.

Anyway, we had a delightful visit with Rex and Lisa (and Nicholas). They are very gracious hosts and took good care of us while we were there. Here’s a few of the adventures they shared with us:


Pleasant company on the back deck
No pictures of this– sometimes I’m not really thinking clearly.

Gawking at their cool Harley.
Aren't they BAD!!?


Visiting the Indianapolis Speedway and Museum
Climbing this tower (which wasn't as hard as it might look -- or at least looked to old people).
It's called the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.




Catch and release a live turtle. Way to save the weak and suffering Nicholas!!

This is not the turtle but sort of like it.
Our little friend had been attacked and had scratches and cracks in his shell.

Real Indy Racing!! -- Almost.
Teresa learned she better watch out cause I'm coming through!


Lots of good food.

Plenty of welcome conversation.

And renewing/developing relationships that have suffered from lack of contact.

Our days with Rex and Lisa were so much fun. We are hoping they will come visit Utah soon and we can do this again (except we will host them). It does help that they have kids and family in the area so I suspect they will be out before long (or at least they hinted they would)! 😉

Saturday was spent driving from Indianapolis to Kansas City, MO. Again, the drive was extremely green but the company was so pleasant (my wife is a great traveler) that the long drive passed quickly. It’s a good thing the roads are well marked because we still had difficulties with the GPS as we ‘trekked’ across the plains of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.

After all that driving, we found our hotel and settled down for the night. A short walk in the humid weather was enough to get us motivated for a swim and an early bedtime so we would be ready for Church.

The ward we visited was about three blocks from the hotel so we opted to walk. After church, we decided to visit a ‘pioneer village’ type of place. It was free and not too far from the hotel. Reality is that it was further than we expected and all the buildings were locked up and inaccessible. Very disappointing!! So, we opted to visit the WWI Memorial in downtown Kansas City.

Cool (well actually hot and muggy) place and very interesting.

The museum was open but they wanted $16 each and would be closing in 45 minutes so we opted to walk around the outside and look at the displays. We learned a lot and enjoyed the view (despite the sweltering heat).

Now comes the exciting part of the day.

Since the GPS had worked a little better in the big city, we used it to get downtown to the memorial and we got right where we wanted to go. So, when it came time to leave, we plugged in the coordinates and started on our way to see the Kansas City Temple. The GPS got us right there and we had a pleasant visit. But then things got a little crazy (GPS and driver-wise).


There's my little sweetheart in front of the KC Temple


It should have been a simple journey back to the hotel but between the pilot thinking he knew the way without help and the GPS rerouting us a over variety of different roads, we got majorly lost! So lost that both the pilot AND co-pilot were confused and frustrated. We did eventually arrive at the hotel but nerves were frazzled and our confidence was completely shaken.
Monday morning, we decided to test our patience skills (and GPS) by going BACK to downtown KC to visit the Hallmark factory. It turned out to be one of the most interesting things we did. And Teresa found a new friend to hang with:

 
Such a contrast between these two.
Maybe that's why they can be friends.


The Hallmark people were very accommodating and even gave us a couple of small gifts for visiting. That’s another win for the travelling Whitmer’s.

That was also the end of our “self-guided” touring for this little adventure. I worry that this is already overly long for one posting so I will stop here and continue with the Workshop review at a later time.

The take-away, for me, from this part was that Teresa and I need to be more proactive in visiting with our extended family. Particularly MY siblings. The Grange kin live close by us and we see them all quite often.

But the extended Whitmer’s are all many hours away and it takes lots of time and effort to see them. YET, it is well worth the effort so we need to stop being lazy and get out on the road a little more.

And who knows, maybe if we do our part, some will return the favor and come see us in beautiful Utah. Dave and Karen came a year or so ago for a delightful few days.

We would love to have all others looking for a grand adventure come and visit. Our home is large and empty so there are plenty of places to sleep for free. Think about it and call for reservations before we get completely booked. 😊


I promise that I will finish the rest of our vacation in a short while. Just keep your eyes open for the next posting. Love you all. mw

Monday, July 31, 2017

DUNKIRK


I don’t often review movies but this past Friday I went with some work friends to see Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” While not a devotee’, I do enjoy many of his films because they seem to be thought provoking (except the Batman movies which were intense but more disturbing than provoking). The story of Dunkirk was vaguely familiar to me but many of the details had drifted from my memories. For those who are in the same boat, here is a short synopsis.

Early in the war with Germany, France and England found themselves in a precarious position. Outnumbered and outgunned, both Allied armies were retreating to the shores of Dunkirk. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were packed on the beaches, waiting for rescue in whatever form it might arrive. Many heroic events occurred and the operation was later dubbed “The Miracle of Dunkirk.”
Christopher Nolan took this uplifting and tragic story as the theme for “Dunkirk”.

Nolan's presentation of the story was unusual – there are three time-lines following different events of the battle/evacuation. Each line covers a different frame of time – an hour for the RAF fighter pilot, one long and excruciating day for rescuers in a small boat, and a traumatic week for soldiers on the beach/ship. The switching back and forth can be more than a little off-putting for viewers if they don’t pay close attention. And to make things even harder, there is very little dialogue in the film so viewers must be diligent in following what is happening.

Soldiers being helped into a fishing boat.

My first impression was one of confusion – the different points of view took some effort to understand (that’s why I share that part with you here). But the more I watched, the more it became easier to follow the story. And then the real message began to emerge.

Soldiers standing in the ocean, waiting for rescue.


In a little more than 9 days, nearly 400,000 Allied soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. Much of the success was due to the dogged perseverance of the British citizens who risked life and limb to cross the channel from England to France as rescuers of their protectors. Over those days, nearly 900 small ships, mostly private vessels, traversed the seas to ferry soldiers to larger ships that could not reach the beaches. Additionally, these same boats were repeatedly loaded with survivors and taken all the way back to English soil and safety. Of the many volunteer ships that crossed the channel, 243 were sunk by enemy fire – yet the others kept coming until the work was done.


The injured loading onto a transport

This is not a movie like the old WWII films of my younger days. There isn’t a lot of character development or interest in side stories. But it is a very powerful tale from the view of participants in the events. Some are tragic, others heroic, and the final scene with the British fighter pilot is perhaps the most touching of the whole experience. The more I ponder the time I spent in the theater, the more I appreciate what was shared.

It is interesting that Nolan would take such a chance with the presentation of this story. Most directors would rely on the charisma of the actors (Kenneth Branagh and other recognizable actors have very understated roles) and side stories to guarantee the attention of viewers but he has gone a different route. Letting events piece together the story from the choppy time-lines and spotty dialogue invites the use of the mind and emotions to confirm the power of the story. I wouldn’t want every film to go like this, but I think “Dunkirk” is a fine place to practice this little bit of magic.

A small word of caution. Some reviewers have indicated there were a couple of times when particularly offensive foul language was spoken, but I seem to have missed that – of course, my ears aren’t what they used to be – so beware. I’m looking forward to taking my wife to see this and hope she enjoys it as much as I did. What a powerful story of faith and heroism by ordinary people.
My favorite kind to know.

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