Monday, July 29, 2013


In recent weeks there have been reports of faithful Latter-day Saints who have discovered information on the Internet that has caused them to lose faith in the teachings and leaders of the Church.  These struggles often arise after finding out that Church leaders, past and present, were not always perfect and did not have a complete understanding of what the Lord wanted them to do.  The feeling seems to be that “if the Prophet does not always know what God wants, how can he be a prophet.”

Here’s how I see things.

Let me start by quoting Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from the last General Conference:

Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. (Lord I Believe, April 2013 GC, emphasis added)

Each of us was sent to earth as part of a plan designed to see what we desire most in eternity.  We were given talents and abilities to help us but we also inherited weakness and developed habits that inhibit our progression.  That is part of the purpose of earth life – to seek to become more than our mortal selves think possible.

Unfortunately, for many, that means learning to overcome things that are offensive to our fellow mortals.  In my own case, that includes changing some of my behaviors so I can be more humble, gentle and responsive to the needs of others.  We all have imperfections and probably should not make too much of other’s deficiencies until we have fixed our own.

When we look back at the actions of leaders – specifically Prophets and Apostles – it is wise to keep in mind that each had their own shortcomings.  Would we challenge the authority of Peter simply because he foolishly denied knowing the Savior?  Should Paul be rejected for his disobedience to the Law of Moses before Peter and the 12 authorized such action?  Imperfect men and women do imperfect things but are still viable vessels for the Lord’s work.

In modern times, Joseph Smith was known to have a temper and, at times, used his physical strength to his benefit.  The Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith and John Widstoe disagreed strongly on the subject of evolution.  The truth is that every man or woman who has had involvement with the Savior’s work has human frailties that inhibit their abilities to succeed.  And sometimes that leads them to make mistakes in judgment – but it doesn’t disqualify them from service to God.

In addition to our mortal weaknesses, we also must understand that receiving revelation is not a perfect experience.  Understanding the mind of God can be difficult because we are limited in how we perceive His desires.  When Joseph received section 132 pertaining to plural marriage, he was not expecting, nor did he completely understand, what was revealed.  This was a totally foreign concept to him and is probably why he struggled with it for more than a decade.  He made several attempts to implement the revealed doctrine but, even in his last days, was still struggling with how the doctrine should be lived. 

Did that make the revelation false?  No, but it did show that man often has a hard time understanding what it is God wants him to do. 

I suspect that if we look at our own lives we will see the same principle in our efforts to live by the revelations given to us through the Holy Ghost. 

In leadership and family responsibilities I have often prayed for guidance and felt the promptings of the Spirit to act in a certain way to solve issues or answer questions.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the application of those promptings and ideas, my own weaknesses get in the way of what the Lord was hoping would happen.  And yet, honoring my right to agency, He is always very generous with my failings and tries again to help me do what is needed.  I believe that is how He works with Living Prophets in these latter-days.

As a Church, we do not believe the Prophet is infallible.  He is a man who has been called of God and who has much experience receiving revelation from the Holy Ghost.  We believe he is the best man for the job at the present time and the man our Heavenly Father would have in that position, but he is still a man.  He may have failings that are easy to see but he is still qualified to speak for the Lord as moved on by the Holy Ghost. 

If we have doubts about the principles and doctrines he teaches, it is our duty to approach our Father in Heaven in prayer and seek personal confirmation to what he teaches.  Actually, I am grateful for the knowledge that God can take imperfect men and call them to His work to help with the salvation of all.  It means I have a chance!!!

Two questions to ask as I close this posting:

1.    Do Mormons doubt? 
Sure, and we are counseled to search out our doubts until we feel we have a good answer (D&C 88:118)

2.   Are some questions not answered? 
Again, yes, but I have faith that the day will come when God will give me all I have requested – when HE thinks it is time for me to know. 

Doubt is not a reason to abandon faith.  In fact, The Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught:

And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. (Alma 32:21)

Doubt should never overcome faith.  Faith is believing in the Savior and His work, despite any weakness or failing we experience personally or see in another.  Again to quote Elder Holland:

In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith. (ibid.)

When a choice comes between doubting and abandoning my faith or remaining faithful while I doubt, I will always choose faith despite my doubts and wait for better answers which will come at the appropriate time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


My beautiful wife and I have several friends who are in the noble years of adulthood, waiting for the time when they will pass on to a more peaceful existence.  We have loved these people for years and are saddened by the physical and mental struggles they must endure as their bodies and minds become more and more frail.  It is difficult to watch these wonderful souls fight and put up with all the challenges age offers up to them.

The question came up between us concerning WHY do we have to stay in mortality when our body begins to abandon us and bring us such misery.  When a person’s mental or physical capacities are so decimated that they don’t even know who they are or what they are doing, why can’t they just die and be on to the next part of their progression in the Plan of Salvation

Here are three reasons why I believe our Heavenly Father allows such things to happen.  You will notice some overlap between them.  If you have other reasons, please feel free to share.

1.   Mortal life in a defective body (whether from age or some other process) is still mortal life.  We shouted for joy (Job 38:4-7) when the opportunity to come to Earth was offered to us and we accepted all the challenges that mortality would present.  But if Heavenly Father set limits to how much each individual would/could suffer in this mortal sphere then the law of Agency would be violated by the very Being who created that law.  God knows that this life is temporary and the experiences we have here are to prepare us for a much more glorious life to come.  Our pains and weaknesses as mortal beings will help us to have compassion for those who follow us in the same experiences. 

2.  We have a good friend who is in a care-center because she has become too incapacitated to take care of herself.  She never married and has no family (at least none that are here) so her days are spent alone in a strange place.  Her life has had its various ups and downs but through it all she was a generous and loving friend and neighbor.  I believe that part of the reason she still hangs on is because God wants us to learn some of the skills she has shown in her life by helping her in her challenges.  We become more Christ-like as we give freely of ourselves to those in need.

3.  Lastly, the scriptures teach us something about our own desires to remain in mortality.  In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said:

For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage… (D&C 45:17)

Notice what the Lord explains about the body.  Spirits without bodies are in a form of bondage because they are not complete.  Here’s another place where Joseph was taught the same doctrine:

For man is spirit.  The elements are eternal, and spirit and element inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy; and when separated man cannot receive a fullness of joy.  (D&C 93:33-34)

And finally, President Joseph F. Smith, the nephew of Joseph Smith had a great vision of the Spirit World and was taught this, speaking of those who had died and were awaiting redemption:

For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage. (D&C 138:50)

Our souls are complete when they have a physical body connected with an eternal spirit and we don’t want to lose that experience.  Fortunately, there will come a day when we will be reunited permanently with our bodies (the resurrection) but even with that knowledge, our desire is to not be separated and we will struggle mightily to remain alive.

It’s easy for me to ponder why aged people continue to pass through this life, even with the hardships they endure – I am not old enough to worry about such things. J  But I have great faith in God and His Plan for all of us.  He does not do anything haphazardly so I trust His timing and His wisdom.  My hope is that I will have the good sense to learn all I can from the experiences I have in this second estate.  May we all follow Jesus and His Father in all we do.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Last week my dad was in the hospital for some tests and help with is breathing.  As you might expect, we were all a little worried (he is, after-all, almost 79 years old).  Fortunately, he checked out alright and has returned home to his little casita in Elfrida. 

Dad when he was young.
While this was happening I paused several times to think back on some of the things I remember about growing up with Dad.  Here are a few memories I have, in no particular order, of my dad as I grew up in his care. 

A few years after I left home.

  1.   Learning to drive that big Desoto when I was 12 so I could get mom places if she needed (she had problems and couldn't drive).  We went out into the forest in Flagstaff and he gave me a few lessons.  I could barely reach the pedals but I felt like a real big shot.

  2.  Dad used to take me with him, once in a while, when he was a salesman for a meat company.  One time we bought firecrackers and I was throwing them out the window at cars we passed.  As we passed one car I tossed the fireworks but they hit the door frame and came back in the car.  My ears didn't stop ringing for a week.

  3.  Dad didn't show emotion much but I remember him crying when he read a story that included the passing of his little sister Jane.  I was very touched by his love for someone who had been gone so long.

  4.  We always had the best garden in the neighborhood – even when we didn't have much of a yard in Flagstaff.  The neighbors were very jealous of Dad’s green thumb.

  5.  As a teen, I was not always the most intelligent person (I get it now but not then).  I was dating a young lady that was of good moral character but every night I was at her home (always with her family around) the phone would ring and someone would call out, “Mike, it’s your dad.”  I would go to the phone and hear the words, “don’t you think it’s about time to come home?”  It was extremely frustrating and embarrassing but looking back, I am very grateful because, even in my teenage brain, I knew that my dad loved me and was trying to help me be good.

Love Dad's smile!!
I love my father and have always looked up to him as an example of what a dad should be.  He encouraged me to be a man and was the guiding light for all that I have become as a father. 

Thanks dad and stay healthy so we can have you with us many more years.


Love Mike.

Friday, July 5, 2013


If your life is anything like mine, there are days when you become frustrated with your personal progress towards righteous living.  It seems like every time we make some headway towards being a better person we discover something else that needs fixing. After years of making little changes and cutting away the excess fat (figurative, not literal J for some of us) from our lives there still seems so much to do in finding the way back to God. 

I suppose that is the nature of mortal life but oftentimes it makes me crazy and other times it is just downright discouraging. 

Elder David A. Bednar

 Recently I was reviewing a message by Elder Bednar (Ensign, Nov. 2007, 80-83) entitled Clean Hands and a Pure Heart where he made the following statement:

Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take.  Preparing to walk guiltless before God is one of the primary purposes of mortality and the pursuit of a lifetime; it does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity.

Elder Bednar must be a mind reader – or maybe a prophet.  Not only is he interesting to hear but he gets how hard life can be as a Latter-day Saint.  His encouragement is to not become discouraged if it seems like we are making snail-like progress in our efforts to become better.  The process is meant to be slow – almost imperceptible – as we struggle through the experiences of mortality.  Sort of like his other message where he used pickles to show how we are changed by being immersed completely in the gospel (Ye Must Be Born Again, Ensign, May 2007, 19-22).

I LOVE dill pickles so I listened to this message!!!

But what about those little things that always seem to be hanging on to us, like barnacles on the great whale?  Is it possible to eventually overcome and find peace?

Again, quoting Elder Bednar:

I witness that the Savior will strengthen and assist us to make sustained, paced progress. The example in the Book of Mormon of “many, exceedingly great many” (Alma 13:12) in the ancient Church who were pure and spotless before God is a source of encouragement and comfort to me.  I suspect those members of the ancient Church were ordinary men and women just like you and me.  These individuals could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence, and they “were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God” (v. 12).  And these principles and this process of spiritual progress apply to each of us equally and always. (Ensign, Nov. 2007, 80-83, emphasis added)

One word stuck in my mind from this quote!!


I think that’s my weak spot.  I need to review what I let in and what I exclude and see how much of the first includes things I should abhor. 

It is little by little that good or bad becomes part of life!!!