Tuesday, March 31, 2015


There are many who would have doctrines and principles of the gospel that are malleable to fit the current environment.  That way believers would be popular with the current culture and avoid the struggles of being different.  All that desire to change offers is something that is opposite what God intended.

I was recently pointed to a message that explains the need for purity in what we believe.  Only part of the discourse is included below.  Please consider the message and the implications it addresses.

A little background on the author --  Elder Carlos E. Asay (formerly of the Seventy but now deceased) was a full-time missionary in Syria from 1947-50 and was very familiar with the Arab culture.  For his complete message, follow this link.

Elder Carlos E. Asay
While serving in the Middle East, I established a choice friendship with a prominent Arab official. He offered my companion and me the courtesies of his home and more. That is, he shared with us his profound wisdom and insights about religion gathered over a lifetime of living and serving. On one occasion, he expressed high regard for LDS teachings and practices. Among other things, he complimented the Church for its simplicity, the apparent purity of its doctrine, its service orientation, and the extreme devotion shown by its members. Then he questioned, “Can your faith survive the test of time?” He explained, “I would like to be around in another generation to observe your Church when it is established worldwide and broadly recognized, it is less persecuted and generally accepted, it can boast of meeting places and other evidence of affluence, and it has members of mixed backgrounds and races. If under conditions of public acceptance and prosperity you can preserve your purity of doctrine and integrity,” he added, “the truthfulness of your claims will be verified.”

I have pondered the words of my Muslim friend many times over the years. A generation has come and gone since he made his profound observation, and conditions have changed. I feel that my faith has weathered the storm and passed successfully the test of time. Yet I’m concerned about the continuing need to exercise care and to keep the waters pure. As the standards of men in the world deteriorate, we must be watchful in making certain that our attention to the standards of God does not lessen. While man’s tendency to flaunt commandments seems to increase, our allegiance to holy laws must become stronger. When men seek to pervert or contaminate the wells of living water, we must guard the springs and guarantee their purity.

Carlos E. Asay, “God’s Love for Mankind,” in Mormons and Muslims: Spiritual Foundations and Modern Manifestations, ed. Spencer J. Palmer (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University 2002), 51–61.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Passing on two items that I found interesting.
Both have their place.
Both are filled with words.
One will help you get better spiritually.
The other will help you feel better physically (humor).

The first is a quote from Elder Charles Didier of the 70 (emeritus). It is surprisingly similar to my recent diatribe on patterns.

He said:

Unfortunately, there are those who gain testimonies and then deny them and lose them. How does this happen? If you follow the steps to obtain a testimony, you do exactly the opposite to deny it or lose it. Do not pray; the door to revelation will be closed. Do not be humble but listen to your own superior voice. Do not participate in the ordinances of the gospel but follow the practices of the world. Do not follow Church leaders but be critical of them. Do not listen to prophets and follow their counsel but interpret their declarations according to your own desires. Do not obey the commandments but live according to your own appetites and desires. (CR, April 1991)

This pattern IS given for example only.  Testing or usage of this pattern will result in nothing good.

The second has made the rounds on the Internet for decades but is still mostly current.

Have fun and smile!! J

I have a spelling checker.
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished inn it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

Jerry Zar, 29 June 1992
Jerrold H. Zar
Graduate School
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
(Current mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, same university)

The above poem passes spell cheque but is full of suggestions for grammar and style.  Readers are not encouraged to use this method to write anything of value. 

This blog is not responsible for those who cannot get the humor of the posting.

Friday, March 6, 2015


One day, I got a crazy idea that I wanted to learn how to sew.  My mother didn't sew very much (who had time with all those kids around) but it looked interesting and challenging so I decided to try to make something.

Unfortunately, since I had no experience, I didn't know how to start the process.  A friend suggested I get a pattern and start there.  At the fabric store, I found a simple pattern, some material, and a few other things that seemed to be appropriate for the endeavor.

Who can interpret this stuff?
I sure couldn't.

At home, I took out the items I had purchased and began the process of learning how to sew.  While my pattern was simple, it wasn't simple enough!!  The paper for the pattern was thin and frail and easily torn and there were all these strange symbols printed on it that made no sense.  No matter how hard I tried there was no way I could interpret the markings, lines, words, or ideas the pattern and instructions were trying to convey.

As I recall, my attempt was a t-shirt kind of like this.

Eventually I just gave up and donated what was left to the thrift store.

Since that time I have learned that in order to be successful at sewing you need more than a desire and a good pattern.  You also have to know how to lay that pattern out on the material and cut it correctly.  Of even more help is to have practiced simple stitching and tailoring before embarking on a whole shirt.  Maybe I could have succeeded if I had understood the process a little better.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with patterns designed by our loving Father to guide us in our lives.  The patterns are all throughout the scriptures and words of the prophets and are found in the form of commandments.  It’s pretty easy to recognize the laws God asks us to live but we often struggle in understanding WHY God wants things a certain way?

What I have discovered is that each of the commandments our Heavenly Father gives is part of a larger, more complex pattern designed to help us achieve or obtain something beneficial for life.  And if we aren't careful and prepared for each step, we may destroy the ‘thing’ we are trying to create from the pattern.

Let me share a scriptural example of what I’m trying to convey.  It’s well-known and simple but each step, seemingly independent as a commandment,  is very clear to the reader.

At the closing of the Book of Mormon, Moroni offers a challenge for coming to know the truth of the record.  Here’s how he states it:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.  (Moron 10:3-5)

This is the Lord’s pattern for finding the truth of the Book of Mormon or anything else we want to know.

So, what’s the pattern?

And what is the expected result from following the pattern?

Step #1 Read these things – Moroni is speaking specifically about the Book of Mormon, but it could be anything we might need or want to know in our lives.  Not everything is a book so we might have to modify the word to include study, consider, or other action verbs.  The point is that we have to begin by doing whatever it takes to become acquainted with the law or principle God is offering.

Step #2 Remember – The more I study God’s plan, the more I recognize the need to remember things.  Remember that God HAS a plan.  Remember that we are THE reason for the plan.  Remember that God is doing all He can to INVITE us to become like Him.  The more we remember……the less we make the mistake of forgetting!!

Step #3 Ponder it in your hearts – Like remembering, pondering helps us focus.  To ponder is to think often and deeply about a subject.  That subject then becomes much clearer to us and we can identify truths that might have escaped notice with a more cursory glance.

Step #4 Receive these things – To receive is to take it in.  Ideas, thoughts, or truths that come from God (as we ponder or pray or study) are only valuable when we internalize them and practice what they teach. 

Step #5 Ask God in the name of Christ – Since we are focusing on learning gospel principles it is appropriate to ask our Father what He thinks.  After all, it is His work and glory (see Moses 1:39) we are experiencing.  But, we must be specific in what we ask.  Vague questions are most often answered vaguely.

Step #6 – With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ – In many ways, these three are inseparably connected to each other.  Our heart must drive the intent of our questions or we will not be sincere.  And everything we do must be grounded in an abiding faith in the Savior to be recognized by the Father.

Step #7 – He will manifest the truth of it unto you – Every good pattern has a finished product that can be seen upon completion.  In this case, the product is a testimony of truth, accompanied by a witness of the Holy Ghost.  There is no mistaking the “goods” that will be the fruit of this pattern if done in the order and manner expected.

This is only one of many patterns that God has given us for our benefit.  Others are found in the scriptures (I will list a few at the end for your perusal) and the words of living prophets.

Following each pattern, using the order given, and carefully obeying the instructions will always result in an amazing (at least by our own individual standards) experience.

Patterns are God’s way of helping us see why we should obey and how He provides the necessary attributes for returning faithfully to His presence.

Other Patterns:
Moroni 2-5 (four different patterns)
D&C 93:1
D&C 20:68-70
Matthew 5:3-10

Luke 15:3-32 (three patterns)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


If God really loves His children, why does He allow bad things to happen to them?

A true and loving God would not keep me from my family and my sweetheart simply because I didn’t have some “blessing” performed to guarantee we are “sealed.”

Why can’t you just love me for who I am and let me be happy?

As a teacher in the gospel, these are questions I hear quite often from students, parents and others.  My heart hurts for those who are sincere and simply lack the foundation to understand the truths that the scriptures teach.  I sympathize with some who, because of fear or misunderstanding, struggle to know God and His purposes.  But others, I believe, use questions like these to justify sinful behavior or ignore what they already know is true. 

Generally these types of questions are raised by individuals who do not understand the definitions of Law and Love in the context of what God is doing for His children on earth.  He has specific requirements or commandments – part of the testing He proposed in the pre-mortal life –  for His children and if we fail to heed His counsel we will find ourselves on the outside, looking in.

I quote from a message delivered by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the October General Conference of 2009.  Addressing scenarios similar to the ones I have listed, he stated:

These persons disbelieve eternal laws which they consider contrary to their concept of the effect of God’s love. Persons who take this position do not understand the nature of God’s love or the purpose of His laws and commandments. The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God’s laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love. The same should be true of parental love and rules.

When we begin to wonder about God and His love for us, maybe it is time to think about our “concept of the effect of God’s love.”  It is possible that we have misinterpreted what God has offered and what we are expecting Him to provide.

It is also telling to me that he includes the last line in his message.  There are so many instances when I see parents who are afraid or reluctant to enforce “law” with their children because they don’t want to offend.  The thought that a child should have ‘carte blanche’ in their life seems rather lame.  I have heard the following numerous times and it always causes me to wonder about the parents involved:

“Well, he/she has their agency and I have to let them do what they want.”

There is so much wrong with this attitude.  And I believe it is not so much recognition of a child’s agency as it is a parent abdicating their duties to raise-up a child in righteousness.  It IS hard to toe-the-line when it comes to raising children.  Often it IS easier to let them decide what they can do.  But when parents make the decision to become parents (whether with forethought or by accident) they fall under another of the Laws of God that requires much.  He said:

And again, inasmuch as parents have children…that teach them not to understand the doctrine… the sin be upon the heads of the parents. (D&C 68:25)

The love of a parent should not be founded on popularity. 

The Love of God is NOT!!

The only method of receiving continuing blessings from Heavenly Father (the fruits of His love) is to obey the commandments He has given.  When we love our fellowmen, God promises blessings.  When we keep the laws of morality, there are blessings that are poured out upon the obedient ones.

On the other hand, if an individual refuses to be obedient to the laws of God, they cannot expect to receive the blessings of God.

No matter how much they may beg or plead.

In that regard, God’s Love is VERY conditional.

With these ideas in mind, I would like to explore one of the questions offered in the opening of this message. 

If God really loves His children, why does He allow bad things to happen to them?

There is much in mortality that is evil and unpleasant.  Some people use their agency to rob or steal and others exercise the right to choose in more vicious ways.  As law-abiding individuals, most of us are not inclined to do evil to others.  Yet, we have to suffer the consequences of those who do.  It’s not right, is  often the cry from the offended.

And they are correct.

Could Heavenly Father stop those who perpetrate wickedness against the innocent?  If so, why doesn’t He exercise His power and save them?

The answer is YES, God has the power to stop those with evil intent from effecting their designs.  In fact, He could make it so anyone who did wrong or broke the laws of man or God would suffer the immediate consequences of their actions.

So why doesn’t He stop them and protect the innocent?

There is one good reason for His allowance.  It is to protect the gift of agency.  God is very careful with this gift and will never do anything to violate the right of His children to choose.  All must be allowed to choose for themselves how they will live.

As soon as our Father in Heaven begins limiting what one person can and cannot do do, the Laws of Agency become void.  Then Satan will have won the battle.  After all, wasn’t that his plan from the beginning?

 When God called His children to council and asked for volunteers to redeem the world from sin, it was Satan who volunteered second (after the Savior) but wanted to change things so agency was lost.  His exact statement was:

“Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1)

Notice what is lost if Satan has his way?  Not one soul shall be lost because not one soul will have a choice.  In opposition to the power of agency, the Devil proposed that all of God’s children be forced to keep the commandments and eliminate the need for agency or redemption. 

Now, that would be a lovely arrangement to enter wouldn’t it?!!

And what was the result of Lucifer’s effort to change the Plan of Salvation?

Exercising his own agency to rebel resulted in God casting Lucifer out of His presence.  One third of God’s children (those who CHOSE to follow the devil) were also required to leave the presence of God and live elsewhere.  Even in the Celestial worlds of God, agency is sacrosanct and will not be violated.  As much as it hurts, agency must be protected for each individual, no matter how they exercise that gift.

In those pre-mortal realms, it would surely have been much simpler for our Heavenly Father to require all His children to obey the Plan He proposed. The loss of 1/3 of his children must have hurt.  Many of us might have bent or tried to find some way to compromise.

He did not. 

Just as God would not force Lucifer to stop his evil plan, He will not stop those in this life who choose to do things that are against His desires – even if it hurts or destroys innocent people.  His view is much broader than what we can see and His love will make up for the deficiencies of all who suffer as a result of the bad choices of others.

What our Father will do is entice, invite, encourage, etc. every individual in this life to come back to Him and receive all that He has to offer.  That is the finest reason I can imagine for trying to do the best we can. 

And since our best isn’t nearly enough, we desperately need His Son to step in and make up for the empty spots (unfathomable numbers of them) where we cannot be fixed on our own.  That powerful, loving Friend of ours has promised that He will heal all the deficiencies this life has poured upon us. (see Alma 7:11-13)

But like all the parts of God’s Plan, there are specific requirements to receive the full benefit of His gifts. 
And so many more. 

He will not quibble with us and no amount of pleading can change His decisions once we have stated we are finished with our efforts. 

His love cannot Supersede His Laws and His Commandments.

He will always love us.  Only our lack of love can prevent Him blessing us.


Monday, March 2, 2015


Someone once said, “old age is not for sissies.”

It’s also not for the selfish.

All around me are people who are aging rapidly and sliding down the ramp that leads to the next part of our immortal existence.  It’s a little scary to witness because all I see are things that are probable in my own future. And what really worries me is that some are fully aware of their declining abilities while many others are blissfully (or otherwise) making the trek without a full quiver of senses.

I don’t know which group is more blessed.

What I do know is that the ones (in both situations) who deal best with the changes are the ones who have spent their lives finding ways to step outside themselves.  Their focus has never been on what they want – always and forever their desires have been to care for and support someone else (generally, but not always, a spouse or child).

This weekend my wife and I went to visit her parents.  Both are in their 89th year and are suffering some of the ravages of age.  Teresa’s mom has lost much of her thinking capacity and memory so it is hard for her to accept that she can’t be independent anymore.  This is the same mom who raised 6 children and took care of a home while her husband worked long hours hauling coal hundreds of miles each day.

Now she is relegated to trying to remember why she can’t see her parents and constantly wondering who that strange man is in her house.

But the weird thing is that as we sit and chat with her, her first thoughts are about how she can make us more comfortable.  And at each meal she worries that we haven’t had enough to eat so she wants to get up and fix more (which would be an interesting experience in its own right).  Everything in her nature is about what she can do for someone besides herself even when her physical and mental abilities are VERY limited.

Not to be outdone, Teresa’s dad also has to take on a different role in the family.  While he still works hard to keep money coming in, he also must take on the duties of cleaning and caring for the home.  Additionally, there are Church responsibilities and livestock to feed and nurture.  But the most difficult part may be watching this wonderful woman, his capable and willing companion whom he has trusted and loved for so many years, drift off to another world that does not (most days) include him.  His life is filled with endless tedious responsibilities and conversations that would make any sane person want to scream.  Yet, he steadily and faithfully fulfills the promises he made when he began this mortal journey – serve the sweet little girl (and she was a tiny thing when they wed) he loves and all else who come into his sphere of influence.
Phyllis Gordon Grange
about 18

All of which is done without a whimper or sound of regret.

And lest you think I am only seeing one instance of this great love, let me also mention that my own parents (slightly younger than Teresa’s but still falling into the ‘aged’ definition) have had sufficient reason to complain. But they have also followed a similar pattern in their lives.  Both suffer from severe physical maladies but have consistently sacrificed for each other, their children, and many who live in their neighborhood.  Their consistent attendance to the needs of the living and the dead (Temple work) has been a strong example to their children as they come along behind.

It is apparent to me, based on what I see in the elderly I know, that the best way to leave this life is to spend as much time as possible helping, serving, strengthening, guiding, or whatever else ‘ing’ verb you want to use.  To sit and worry about self will only make the time slow down and the misery increase.  I suppose that is what King Benjamin was advocating when he said:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

I love old people (maybe because many think I am one) and the lessons they teach.  Their experiences guide and show what happens when we do certain things.  

It’s not that hard to be old – you just live.

It is hard to age gracefully and well.  I realize I am late in learning this but I don’t think time is up yet.

Serving others makes life more enjoyable.  And it helps age to pass more pleasantly.  I know because I have good teachers.

Thanks to both moms and dads.