Monday, December 17, 2012

Prince Dirghayu, Joseph in Egypt and Ammon

So, you may have noticed my posts have been infrequent.  This is due, in part, to life being so busy; but it is also due to the fact that I'm reading one of James Allen's books and taking notes on it.  I've got all my notes in a post and when I finish it, I'll publish the post.  But as I've been reading this book (Byways of Blessedness), I've come across stories he tells in the book ... such as the Convict and the Mouse, which is the previous post.  Today I came across another story: Prince Dirghayu.

Let me copy the story first and then let me note the similarities between Prince Dirghayu, Joseph in Egypt and Ammon.

There is a beautiful story of Prince Dirghayu which was told by an ancient Indian teacher to his disciples in order to impress them with the truth of the sublime precept that “hatred ceases not by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by not-hatred.” The story is as follows:- Brahmadatta, a powerful king of Benares, made war upon Dirgheti, the king of Kosala, in order to annex his kingdom, which was much smaller than his own. Dirgheti, seeing that it was impossible for him to resist the greater power of Bramhadatta, fled, and left his kingdom in his enemy’s hands. For some time he wandered from place to place in disguise, and at last settled down with his queen in an artisan’s cottage; and the queen gave birth to a son, whom they called Dirghayu.

Now, King Brahmadatta was anxious to discover the hiding-place of Dirgheti, in order to put to death the conquered king, for he thought, “Seeing that I have deprived him of his kingdom he may someday treacherously kill me If I do not kill him.”

But many years passed away, and Dirgheti devoted himself to the education of his son,. who by dilligent application, became learned and skillful and wise.

And after a time Dirgheti’s secret became known, and he, fearing that brahmadatta would discover him and slay all three, and thinking more of the life of his son than his own, sent away the prince. Soon after the exile king fell into the hands of Brahmadatta, and was, along with his queen, executed.
Now Brahmadatta thought: I have got rid of Dirgheti and his queen, but their son , Prince Dirghayu, lives, and he will be sure to contrive some means of effecting my assassination; yet he is unknown to any, and I have no means of discovering him.” So the king lived in great fear and continual distress of mind.

Soon after the execution of his parents, Dirghayu, under an assumed name, sought employment in the king’s stables, and was engaged by the master of elephants.

Dirghayu quickly endeared himself to all, and his superior abilities came at last under the notice of the king, who had the young man brought before him, and was so charmed with him that he employed him in his own castle, and he proved to be so able and diligent that the king shortly placed him in a position of great trust under himself.

One day the king went on a long hunting expedtion, and became seperated from his retinue, Dirghayu alone remaining with him. And the king, being fatigued with his exertions, lay down, and slept with his head in Dirghayu’s lap. Then Dirghayu thought: This king has greatly wronged me. He robbed my father of his kingdom, and slew my parents, and he is now entirely in my power.” And he drew his sword, thinking to slay Brahmadatta. But, remembering how his father had taught him never to seek revenge but to forgive to the uttermost, he sheathed his sword.

At last the king awoke out of a disturbed sleep, and the youth inquired of him why he looked so frightened. “My sleep”, said the king “is always restless, for I frequently dream that I am in the power of young Dirghayu and that he is alone to slay me. While lying here I again dreamed that with greater vividness than ever before and it has filled me with dread and terror.

Then the youth, drawing his sword, said: “I am Prince Dirghayu, and you are in my power: the time of vengeance has arrived.”

Then the king fell upon his knees and begged Dirghayu to spare his life. And Dirghayu said: “It is you, O King! who must spare my life. For many years you have wished to find me in order that you might kill me; and , now that you have found me, let me beg of you to grant me my life.”

And there and then did Brahmadatta and Dirghayu grant each other life, took hands, and solemnly vowed never to harm each other. And so overcome was the king by the noble and forgiving spirit of Dirghayu that he gave him his daughter in marriage, and restored to him his father’s kingdom.

Just as Dirghayu was wronged, so was Joseph.  Dirghayu had the king in his hands, ready to kill him, but he did not.  Joseph had his brothers in his hands and could do anything he wanted with them.  But neither did ill - both forgave.

The King Brahmadatta did evil by killing Dirghayu's parents, but he was later forgiven and changed for the better.  Ammon did horrible things, but was later forgiven and changed for the better.  The father of King Lamoni tried to kill Ammon and King Lamoni, but he too was forgiven and changed for the better.

Both Dirghayu and Ammon served a king who at one point tried to kill them.

King Brahmadatta begged for his life and lived.  The father of King Lamoni begged for his life and lived.  Both changed for the better.

Dirghayu leveraged the king's life to gain his own.  Ammon leveraged the king's life to gain his own as well as King Lamoni's.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Convict and the Mouse: a story of sympathy

By bestowing sympathy on others we increase our own. Sympathy given can never be wasted. Even the meanest creature will respond to its heavenly touch, for it is the universal language which all creatures understand. I have recently heard a true story of a Dartmoor convict whose terms of incarceration in various convict stations extended to over forty years. As a criminal he was considered one of the most callous and hopelessly abandoned, and the warders found him almost intractable. But one day he caught a mouse - a weak, terrified, hunted thing like himself - and its helpless frailty, and the similarity of its condition with his own, appealed to him, and started into flame the divine spark of sympathy which smoldered in his crime-hardened heart, and which no human touch had ever wakened into life.

He kept the mouse in an old boot in his cell, fed, tended, and loved it, and in his love for the weak and helpless he forgot and lost his hatred for the strong. His heart and his hand were no longer against his fellows. He became tractable and obedient to the uttermost. The warders could not understand his change; it seemed to them little short of miraculous that this most hardened of all criminals should suddenly be transformed into the likeness of a gentle, obedient child. Even the expression of his features altered remarkably: a pleasing smile began to play around the mouth which had formerly been moved to nothing better than a cruel grin, and the implacable hardness of his eyes disappeared and gave place to a soft, deep, mellow light. The criminal was a criminal no longer; he was saved, converted; clothed, and in his right mind; restored to humaneness and to humanity, and set firmly on the pathway to divinity by pitying and caring for a defenceless creature. All this was made known to the warders shortly afterwards, when, on his discharge, he took the mouse away with him.

From Byways of Blessedness by James Allen

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Real Growth in the LDS Church

Today's Elder's Quorums lesson (which I'm teaching) is from Teaching For Our Times with the focus on two talks, both from the April 2012 General Conference:
The Rescue for Real Growth by Bishop Edgley
Was It Worth It? by Elder Evans

These two talks, along with the many other talks from the April and October 2012 General Conferences are in response to the alarming trend of members leaving the Church.

Consider this quote from Elder Marlin K. Jensen, "Maybe since Kirtland, we've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy, like we're having now."  He told this to a group of Utah State students back in January of 2012.  This Reuters article summarizes the discussion held between Elder Marlin and the college students: Special Report: Mormonism besieged by the modern age.

For my lesson, which I'm calling REAL GROWTH, I plan on dividing it up into three parts:
1) on the chalk board, write a list of all less-active people in our ward - it is more of an awareness activity for members of the class (i.e. do we know who we should be rescuing?)

2) ideas, comments and discussion from Rescue for Real Growth

3) ideas, comments and discussion from Was It Worth It? which is really a talk about one's personal testimony.

Each of these parts will have a column on the chalk board.  Then I'll have a 4th column entitled "Real Growth" and I'll be writing in that column what "real growth" means.  Besides comments from the class, I will draw and share ideas from a couple of LDS links: What is Real Growth? and Worldwide Leadership Training Highlights Path to Real Growth.

Rescue For Real Growth
- one of the most meaningful and important ways to establish real growth in the Church is to reach out and rescue those who have been baptized yet are wandering in a less-active state.
- story of visiting a ward as stake president; bishop wanted to split ward; he interviewed and called a less-active member to be a stake missionary w/o knowing she was less-active
- from this he learned:
* many less-actives have loved one praying for them
* it's not easy for less-actives to just walk back into church
* some less-actives are trying and willing to come back
* many less-actives will hold callings if asked
* less-actives deserve to be treated as an equal (to an active) and to be viewed as a child of god

- we should see less-actives not only as a single child of god, but as generations of blessed lives (story of older member who fell away, came back, but now laments the inactivity of all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.)

Was It Worth It?
- our most important work is always within our own home and family.  it is within families that the church is established and real growth occurs
- attending church, fhe, prayer, scripture study, fulfill callings, visit the sick and lonely, teach, share testimony, write letters to missionaries and military service personnel, show love and forgiveness
- share the gospel with others; naturally and normally
- story of Dave; his friend was in college, returning to activity, invited Dave to the next interview with his bishop; was later baptized, married and sealed in temple.
- story of Eileen who felt inspired to send her less-active friend a book.  Eileen later learned from her friend that she too felt inspired to send a letter to the same less-active friend
- seek the spirit in inviting others; "never delay a prompting"

- growth in the number of active members
- increased faithfulness of members (daily prayer, scripture study, fhe, love at home, personal experiences with the atonement
- receive the temple blessings and covenants
- achieving the end goal of eternal life and exaltation for all of god's children requires real growth in our homes and wards
- whole families = real growth
- the making and keeping of temple covenants
- 'real growth is a constant effort, and it is a blessing that comes when we are able to save and help one another, particularly one by one.'
- we aren't just trying to get people back to church, but rather, to the temple
- real growth comes as we apply gospel principles in our daily lives

direct link to talks from 2012 Worldwide Leadership Training

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Divided States of America

I find the secession movement quite fascinating.

Let's rewind back to October 2008.  George W. Bush is president; McCain and Obama are running for president.  There is nary a thought about the Union falling apart.

November comes; Obama is elected and people are either elated about the first Black president ... or people just shake their head and know that America will be different after 4 years of Obama.

Then in December 2008 an amazing and bold prediction comes out - from a Russian academic - that America will collapse in 2010.  I noted this article on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog because of the similarities between the prediction and what happened in the Book of Mormon (see United States Divided).  If you click on the WSJ link, be sure to read the comment section as it shows a progression of "this is a bat-crazy idea!" to "wow, this Russian might be right!"

Now in November 2012, a week after the re-election of Obama, numerous states have signed a petition to peacefully secede from the Union.  Texas has accumulated the required number of petitions to have the White House formally review it and respond to it.

To put an LDS slant on all of this talk of division and secession, let me reference the I Have a Question section from the June 1976 Ensign.  In this response, Richard Bushman, Dallin H. Oaks, and Charles Didier, among others, addressed these exact same concerns.

other articles:
White House 'secede' petitions reach 675,000 signatures, 50-state participation
Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kingwood Stake "Regulations"

President Paulson spoke of a regulation throughout the church.  Here are the five regulations he wants implemented in Kingwood Stake:

1. Member Missionary Work - pray for those who are prepared, so we would be led to them.  Then pary to open our mouth.  Pray to be prompted about what we should talk to them about.  Invite.  Hour of Power every Thursday at 5:55pm.

2. Temple Worthiness Attendance - Tithing - the Lord will work your finances; protection for the family.  The plague of porn continues.  If you've dabbled in lots or a little, go see your bishop.  Lay aside the things of the world.

3. Be a Zion like People - be united, we are a family.

4. Strengthen Families - 65% of young men are attending church in our stake.  There are too many distractions.  We have to put those activities that strengthen faith, first.

5. Focus on People - Christ didn't bustle between meetings working to-do lists and multi-tasking.  Pray to find those who need us.

Final Though: make an inventory of things to repent of and then do the top 3.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quotes on Discipleship from October 2012 General Conference

I thought I'd do something a bit different this year with regard to General Conference notes.  Every time I come across a part of a talk that I think directly references true discipleship to Christ, I'll copy it here.

After some quotes, I'll add my own commentary about why I think that quote pertains to discipleship.

Elder Quentin L. Cook - Can Ye Feel So Now?
Local leaders across the world report that when viewed as a whole, Church members, especially our youth, have never been stronger. But they almost always raise two concerns: first, the challenge of increased unrighteousness in the world and, second, the apathy and lack of commitment of some members. They seek counsel about how to help members to follow the Savior and achieve a deep and lasting conversion.

While anything that lessens commitment is of consequence, two relevant challenges are both prevalent and significant. The first is unkindness, violence, and domestic abuse. The second is sexual immorality and impure thoughts. These often precede and are at the root of the choice to be less committed.

COMMENTARY: becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ requires the sacrifice of all selfish desires.  We all, for a time, can control our impulses and fleeting desires - we may stave them off for a time, but they will be back.  The only way to truly become converted to Jesus Christ is to break our hearts of all selfish desires and to have contrite spirits.  This begins with correct and pure thoughts.  As we repeatedly, and consciously think correct and pure thoughts, our base desires (apathy and sexual immorality as referenced in this talk), become dead and we can then begin on the path to sanctification.

Sister Ann M. Dibb - I Know It.  I Live It. I Love It.
One of the most effective but sometimes difficult gospel principles to apply is humility and submission to the will of God. In Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He expressed to the Father, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” This should be our prayer as well. Oftentimes, it is in these quiet, prayerful moments that we feel encircled in Heavenly Father’s love and those joyful, loving feelings are restored.

COMMENTARY: to be truly selfless, one must submit to the will of God - to have his or her will to be the will of God.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf -  Of Regrets and Resolutions
Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.

Men in particular sang this universal lament: they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the [daily] treadmill of … work.” Many had lost out on choice memories that come from spending time with family and friends. They missed developing a deep connection with those who meant the most to them.

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.

When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.

Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.

Elder L. Tom Perry - Becoming Goodly Parents
These suggestions for creating stronger family cultures work in tandem with the culture of the Church. Our strengthened family cultures will be a protection for our children from “the fiery darts of the adversary” (1 Nephi 15:24) embedded in their peer culture, the entertainment and celebrity cultures, the credit and entitlement cultures, and the Internet and media cultures to which they are constantly exposed. Strong family cultures will help our children live in the world and not become “of the world” (John 15:19).

COMMENTARY: the key thing to note here with Elder Perry's quote is the list of worldly cultures: entertainment, celebrity status, credit and entitlement, Internet and media.  All of these cultures are based on the selfish desires within us.  They all seek to gratify the self.  None, speaking generally, endorse a selfless life of discipleship to Christ.  Of course, there are media outlets and Internet sites that promote and teach discipleship, but by and large, the above cultures do not teach discipleship.  In fact, they are all the antithesis to becoming a selfless disciple of Christ.

The key question for all parents is: are you promoting a culture of discipleship or a culture of the selfish?  I would imagine there is a mixture of both in most homes; and if so, are you ensuring that the culture of discipleship is outweighing the culture of selfishness in your home?

Elder M. Russell Ballard - Be Anxiously Engaged
All of this symbolism [of the bees and beehives] attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Savior’s words are simple, yet their meaning is profound and deeply significant. We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.

When our hearts are no longer set upon the things of this world, we will no longer aspire to the honors of men or seek only to gratify our pride (see D&C 121:35–37). Rather, we take on the Christlike qualities that Jesus taught:

•We are gentle and meek and long-suffering (see DC 121:41).
• We are kind, without hypocrisy or guile (see DC 121:42).
• We feel charity toward all men (see DC 121:45).
• Our thoughts are always virtuous (see DC 121:45).
• We no longer desire to do evil (see Mosiah 5:2).
•The Holy Ghost is our constant companion, and the doctrines of the priesthood distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven (see DC 121:45–46).

COMMENTARY: Elder Ballard's talk was all about becoming a disciple of Christ.  He went to to suggest if all we do every morning in our prayer is ask in faith, who or how we can help that day, that that would change our lives and hearts significantly.

Elder Robert C. Gay -  What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for his Soul? This is the exchange the Savior is asking of us: we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances.

COMMENTARY: another good talk about what it requires to become a true disciple of Christ.  We really need to lose all the selfish desires within us to find the true and lasting happiness that discipleship in Christ offers.

Elder Scott D. Whiting - Temple Standard Like the contractor, when we become aware of elements in our own lives that are inconsistent with the teachings of the Lord, when our efforts have been less than our very best, we should move quickly to correct anything that is amiss, recognizing that we cannot hide our sins from the Lord. We need to remember that “when we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.”

I also learned that the high standards of temple building employed by this Church are a type and even a symbol of how we should be living our own lives.

We are each made of the finest materials, and we are the miraculous result of divine craftsmanship. However, as we move past the age of accountability and step onto the battlefield of sin and temptation, our own temple can become in need of renovation and repair work. Perhaps there are walls within us that are gritty and need buffing or windows of our souls that need replacement in order that we can stand in holy places. Gratefully, the temple standard that we are asked to meet is not that of perfection, although we are striving for it, but rather that we are keeping the commandments and doing our best to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that we will all endeavor to live a life worthy of the blessings of the temple by doing our best, by making the necessary improvements and eliminating flaws and imperfections so that the Spirit of God may always dwell in us.

COMMENTARY: we are commanded by the Savior Himself to "be perfect."  Only by comparing our heart's desires to that of the Lord's can we assess if we are perfect or not.  If there remains in us any selfish desires or opinions, then we have more work to do.  We can, at first, attack the symptoms of our imperfections by adhering to the commandments and not succumbing to temptations.  But if we attack the core - our hearts - and rid it of all desire for bad and replace it with a love for all that is Good and we have a will that is God's will, then we are on the path to becoming perfect, even as Christ and our Father in Heaven is perfect.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson - Brethren, We Have Work to Do
As men of the priesthood, we have an essential role to play in society, at home, and in the Church. But we must be men that women can trust, that children can trust, and that God can trust. In the Church and kingdom of God in these latter days, we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained. We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about forming families and making a real contribution in this world. We cannot afford husbands and fathers who fail to provide spiritual leadership in the home. We cannot afford to have those who exercise the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God, waste their strength in pornography or spend their lives in cyberspace (ironically being of the world, while not being in the world).

COMMENTARY: I found this talk to be quite fascinating.  While I emphatically agree with many of the recommendations he offers - especially about having self-discipline - I somewhat disagree with what is driving men to not "man up".  He seemingly buys into the premise that men are evil and horrible by nature and must be fixed.  I attribute the results of men acting the way they do today to the religion of feminisim - that the problems we see today are the result of decades of buying the feminist premise.  The premise of feminism is false and is proving the destruction of the family and much more today.  However, regardless of what is causing men to act this way, the solution to counteract this is the same: discipleship in Christ.  Men must set the narrative of true discipleship in Christ.  We must truly be selfless, in direct opposition to the extreme selfishness of feminisim.  Discipleship and selflessness truly is the answer.

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson - Be Valiant in Courage, Strength and Activity
Missionaries are taught from Preach My Gospel, “What you choose to think and do when you are alone and you believe no one is watching is a strong measure of your virtue.” Be courageous! Be strong! “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.”

COMMENTARY: as a man thinks, so he is.  As we think selflessly; we will become selfless and we become disciples of Christ.  The more our thoughts are attuned to Christ, the less power our natural desires have over us; the more we submit to the will of God.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - The Joy of the Priesthood
Christ is the source of all true priesthood authority and power on earth. It is His work, in which we are privileged to assist. “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.”

We do not act for personal gain, but rather we seek to serve and to lift up others. We lead not by force but through “persuasion, … long-suffering, … gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”   COMMENTARY: the above quote is simply a definition of selflessness.

President Henry B. Eyring -  Help Them Aim High My son has given priesthood service across three continents but most importantly in his home and within his family. He has built his life around them. He works close to home, and he often returns to join his wife and younger children at the lunch hour. His family lives very near Sister Eyring and me. They care for our yard as though it were their own. This son is living not only to qualify for eternal life but also to live surrounded eternally by grateful family members whom he is gathering around him.

Life eternal is to live in unity, in families, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Eternal life is only possible through the keys of the priesthood of God, which were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Holding that eternal goal before the youth you lead is as great a gift as you could give them. You will do it primarily by example in your own family. Those you lead may not have a family in the Church, but I challenge you to help them feel and want the love of family on both sides of the veil.

COMMENTARY: this quote provided quite a bit of comfort to me.  The nature of our life (thousands of miles away from parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins) does not allow us to serve those members of our family.  Therefore, most of our sevice is centered around our own, immediate family, our neighbors, our church friends and with those we work.

President Henry B. Eyring - Where is the Pavilion? As we do what He would have us do for His Father’s children, the Lord considers it kindness to Him, and we will feel closer to Him as we feel His love and His approval. In time we will become like Him and will think of the Judgment Day with happy anticipation.

The pavilion that seems to be hiding you from God may be fear of man rather than this desire to serve others. The Savior’s only motivation was to help people. Many of you, as I have, have felt fear in approaching someone you have offended or who has hurt you. And yet I have seen the Lord melt hearts time after time, including my own. And so I challenge you to go for the Lord to someone, despite any fear you may have, to extend love and forgiveness. I promise you that as you do, you will feel the love of the Savior for that person and His love for you, and it will not seem to come from a great distance. For you, that challenge may be in a family, it may be in a community, or it may be across a nation.

But if you go for the Lord to bless others, He will see and reward it. If you do this often enough and long enough, you will feel a change in your very nature through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Not only will you feel closer to Him, but you will also feel more and more that you are becoming like Him. Then, when you do see Him, as we all will, it will be for you as it was for Moroni when he said: “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - The First Great Commandment
COMMENTARY: I won't even try to separate out a few quotes from this talk.  Just go read the whole thing - it is all about discipleship.

Elder Robert D. Hales - Being a More Christian Christian As Christians today, we have the opportunity to act straightway, immediately, and decisively, just as Peter and Andrew did: “they forsook their nets, and followed him.” We too are called upon to leave our nets, to reject worldly habits, customs, and traditions. We are also called to forsake our sins. “When [Jesus] had called the people unto him … , he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Denying ourselves of ungodly behavior is the beginning of repentance, which brings a mighty change of heart until “we have no more disposition to do evil.”

COMMENARY: like Elder Holland's talk, Elder Hale's talked about commitment to the Savior.  This talk is another one that should be read in its entirety.

Elder Daniel L. Johnson - Becoming a True Disciple Our discipleship will be developed and proven not by the type of trials that we are faced with but how we endure them. As we have been taught by President Henry B. Eyring: “So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home” (“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2005, 38).  

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Quotes, Thoughts and Gems (QTG) Oct 1 to 7 2012

As I read and learn and do more to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, I find snippets and quotes that spur me to action or help me in time of need.  As I find these gems, I'll consolidate them into one post and then publish the post at the end of the week.  I think this method will be better than calling out specific quotes from Maxwell or Allen or others.  I can simply encapsulate all these quotes under one banner.  Then in the label section, I can tab quotes from individuals.

We bind the adversary and his mortal minions only as we bind our appetites. - Maxwell; Ensign May 1975.

The act of becoming a man or woman of Christ is an act of will and sustained desire. - Maxwell; Ensign January 1992

Actually, everything depends—initially and finally—on our desires. These shape our thought patterns. Our desires thus precede our deeds and lie at the very cores of our souls, tilting us toward or away from God (see D&C 4:3). God can “educate our desires” (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 297). Others seek to manipulate our desires. But it is we who form the desires, the “thoughts and intents of [our] hearts” (Mosiah 5:13). - Maxwell; Ensign November 1995

In reading much more James Allen material this week, I've concluded that he emphasizes over and over again this key concept: watch your thoughts as they will become your actions.

Consider this passage: The whole journey from the Kingdom of Strife to the Kingdom of Love resolves itself into a process which may be summed up in the following words: The regulation and purification of conduct. Such a process must, if assiduously pursued, necessarily lead to perfection. It will also be seen that as the man obtains the mastery over certain forces within himself, he arrives at a knowledge of all the laws which operate in the realm of those forces, and by watching the ceaseless working of cause and effect within himself, until he understands it, he then understands it in its universal adjustments in the body of humanity. (from All These Things Added)

This quote above reminded me of King Benjamin's address:  But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)

While reading some articles on the Internet this week, I came across a picture (see picture to the left) - obviously it was staged - but it does a great job of showing the beginnings of a broken heart and a contrite spirit ... or at least it shows a person with the option of choosing to have a broken heart and contrite spirit.

When I saw this picture, I remembered another quote from All These Things Added.

This feeling of "helplessness" is the prelude to one of two conditions—the man will either give up in despair, and again sink himself in the selfishness of the world, or he will search and meditate until he finds another way out of the difficulty. And that way he will find. Looking deeper and ever deeper into the things of life; reflecting, brooding, examining, and analysing; grappling with every difficulty and problem with intensity of thought, and developing day by day a profounder love of Truth—by these means his heart will grow and his comprehension expand, and at last he will realize that the way to destroy selfishness is not to try to destroy one form of it in other people, but to destroy it utterly, root and branch, in himself.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Salt of the Earth; Light of the World

Matthew 5:13-16 reads, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."

"Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

3 Nephi 12:13-16 reads, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted?  The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men."

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."

"Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel?  Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house."

"Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

This is the clarion call to all true Christians: to believe in, think about, ponder and then live and become the teachings of Christ.  By so doing, we become the salt of the earth - the saving, redeeming substance that saves and preserves.  By so doing, we become an example of Goodness and right living; an example of contentedness and peace.

As the James Allen meditation thought from today, states, "THERE is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed," and every thought that is harboured in the mind must, by virtue of the impelling force which is inherent in the universe, at last blossom into act good or bad, according to its nature."

If you light a candle (have right thoughts and desires), you cannot hide the actions those right thoughts and desires produce ... it can only be put on a candle stick.  If you build a city on a hill (think right thoughts, have right desires), then it cannot be hid - the city is there to be seen by all - everyone will see the corresponding actions to your thoughts and desires.

Monday, October 01, 2012

A Good Man

I came across James Allen many years ago ... first in reading a few of his quotes and then later in reading his book As a Man Thinketh.

A few years ago, I found a website with all this writings.  I read a few of his essays at that time, but then haven't returned to it.  Lately, I've revisted the site and have been reading quite a lot of his essays.  Once you start to read an essay, you can't stop.

The site even has a daily meditations page, where thoughts from his book of meditations are updated daily.

However, as I continue to read all his works, there are some passages that really hit home with me and I want to draw particular attention to them on this blog.

Today, I read Through the Gates of Goodness and found this passage to be very important:
"A good man is the flower of humanity, and to daily grow purer, nobler, more Godlike, by overcoming some selfish tendency, is to be continually drawing nearer to the Divine Heart. "He that would be my disciple let him deny himself daily," is a statement which none can misunderstand or misapply, howsoever he may ignore it. Nowhere in the universe is there any substitute for Goodness, and until a man has this, he has nothing worthy or enduring. To the possession of Goodness there is only one way, and that is, to give up all and everything that is opposed to Goodness. Every selfish desire must be eradicated; every impure thought must be yielded up; every clinging to opinion must be sacrificed; and it is in the doing of this that constitutes the following of Christ. That which is above all creeds, beliefs and opinions is a loving and self-sacrificing heart. The life of Jesus is a demonstration of this truth, and all His teaching is designed to bring about this holy and supreme consummation."
As I come across other passages that I find personally important, I will post them on this blog.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Drift From God in Churches

Yesterday, I read a talk given by Harold B. Lee in the October 1963 General Conference.  The talk is entitled, This is Our Gospel.  I found this talk on the LDS Scripture Citation Index site.

What caught my attention from this talk were his quotes of a couple of newspaper clippings he read. 

Below are the quotes he cited in his talk.

A short while ago in Philadelphia I was handed a clipping from a Philadelphia newspaper reporting a statement made by the Associate Secretary General of the State of Churches of the Assembly of National Churches representing thirty denominations. The article was entitled "Drift from God in Churches." I shall read but a few sentences:

"American churches in many cases were described today as being too 'public relations conscious'—more eager to please the crowd than to please God."
* * * * *

"Many churches, yielding to secular practice have become public relations conscious. There is as much if not more concern for the attractiveness of the package and the effectiveness of the marketing techniques than for the quality of the product."
* * * * *

"Modern churches too often have put the accent on secular yardsticks of success—size, statistics and outward attractiveness—rather than spiritual dedication."
* * * * *

"Many congregations would rather have a minister who is a 'good administrator and promoter' than one who is 'a loyal and humble disciple of Jesus Christ, a thinker and a fearless prophet of the sovereign and redeeming Lord.'"
* * * * *

"Too many people speak vaguely of the need of `faith and religion' rather than of the real need—of God, of a `return to the Father.'"
* * * * *

Then I picked up a clipping also while I was in Philadelphia about a year ago from Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, president of the Union Theological Seminary, in which he said this, as quoted in the paper:

"A sharp and strange contrast between the upsurge of religion and a decline in morality was noted by Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen . . .

"It is a disturbing, confounding contradiction that the revival of religion has no parallel resurgence in morality. If the complex and illusive data could be plotted on a graph, it would show curves of religious vitality and of moral health moving in opposite directions.

"Thus far, the return to religion in our day has produced no corresponding moral fruitage. It raises the question as to the quality and worth of the religion.

"Either there will be moral revival flowering from religious revival, or the latter will fritter into futility. And our final state will be a religious sterility to match the moral anarchy.

"Interest in religion appears to be at an all-time high, with church membership over 100 million, but delinquency, (I remind you) immorality, and social confusion also are at peaks."

As I made note of those articles I thought to myself, it is time for us to make a critical self-analysis of ourselves to see how much of this applies to us as a Church and to us as individuals.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Persecuted

Matthew 5:10-12 reads, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

3 Nephi 12:10-12 reads, "And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

"For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets before you."

The words and order are a bit different in these verses (between Matthew and 3 Nephi), but the ideas and concepts are the same.

Definitions ...

persecute: afflict, torture, torment; worry, badger, vex, bother, pester
revile: to assail with contemptuous or approbrious language; address or speak abusively

Observations ...

I particularly liked the sentiment of this Christian blogger, who said, "Believers who allow the corruption of the world to filter into their lives eventually become a weak testimony of Jesus Christ. Their values and behaviors run too closely alongside those whose lives are given over to all manner of selfishness and moral perversity. Christians who do not hold to their faith typically are not persecuted, for there is no reason to be. They are not making a loud enough stand against the systems of the world to merit being silenced."

"Unfortunately, when Christians lead this kind of life, they may not be experiencing adversity for the sake of the Gospel, but neither are they experiencing the blessing of living a life of genuine righteousness. Satan has no need to harass those who have strayed from the Word of God; they have already been rendered ineffective as witnesses for Christ, and therefore are no longer a spiritual threat to him."

With that said, I think it is logical to use persecution as a yard-stick to measure your own life - to see if it is righteous or not.

Harold B. Lee once noted that the evidence of a the true church is found in persecution.  He cited Matthew 5:10-12 as well as Luke 6:26, which reads, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets"  (link to his talk).

And lastly, this quote comes from a John Piper sermon from 1986:
"So we can see why a life devoted to righteousness or godliness will be persecuted or reviled or spoken against.
If you cherish chastity, your life will be an attack on people's love for free sex.
If you embrace temperance, your life will be a statement against the love of alcohol.
If you pursue self-control, your life will indict excess eating.
If you live simply and happily, you will show the folly of luxury.
If you walk humbly with your God, you will expose the evil of pride.
If you are punctual and thorough in your dealings, you will lay open the inferiority of laziness and negligence.
If you speak with compassion, you will throw callousness into sharp relief.
If you are earnest, you will make the flippant look flippant instead of clever.
And if you are spiritually minded, you will expose the worldly-mindedness of those around you."
(link to full sermon).

The point of the above is to show that by living a righteous life, you attack (stand in direct opposition to) the worldly pursuits of indulgence, luxury and pride.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9 reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

3 Nephi 12:9 reads, "And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

Just as with the "pure in heart" verse, the Book of Mormon version adds the word "all".

In my mind, a peacemaker is someone one tries to prevent fighting and quarrelling.  It is someone whose heart aches as other people contend.

The blessing for being a peacemaker is to be called a child of God (as opposed to seeing God).

In doing a little internet searching on this topic, I came across this picture:

peacemaker during Greek riots Sept 2011

This image represents a real peacemaker - someone who, individually, is trying to calm the unrest (picture source).

Do we do the same in our homes?  Do we strive to bring a voice of calm to a heated discussion?

I'm always impressed with people who can have a spirited debate, but then turn on a dime and crack a joke and essentially diffuse a volatile situation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pure in Heart

Matthew 5:8 reads, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

3 Nephi 12:8 reads, "And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

As Mormons, we often associate the concept of "pure in heart" with the concept of Zion.  We will often cite 4 Nephi 1-18 as the model for Zion and the pure in heart.  As I noted yesterday, Spencer W. Kimball gave a talk about being pure in heart.  His talk was essentially about how we, as a church, can bring about Zion on earth.  Even the Book of Mormon version of this Beatitude adds and extra word - "all".  Instead of "the pure in heart", the Book of Mormon version reads "all the pure in heart" connoting social order rather than an individual admonishment.

Today, I did a general search on this beatitude - knowing full well that most hits would not come from LDS related pages, but rather from Catholic or Protestant related pages.  I like to do this with the Beatitudes to see other opinions and insights into Christ's teachings.  This search revealed that the "pure in heart" Beatitude is more generally viewed at the individual level than at the congregation level.  It is more equated to the concept of sanctification.

The first stop in my Internet search took me to an article by Eric Simpson entitled The Pure in Heart Shall See God.  He talked about fragmented and whole hearts.  Hearts can be fragmented by many things such as serving Mammon or other desires.  While the pure in heart have hearts that are whole and that are committed and centered on Christ.  To accomplish this one must pray and fast often.  The author connected the teaching of prayer to the concept of Nepsis.  I had never heard of this before, so I searched on Nepsis.

Wikipedia's entry states, "Nepsis (or nipsis; Greek: νῆψις) is an important idea in Orthodox Christian theology, considered the hallmark of sanctity. Nepsis is a state of watchfulness or sobriety acquired following a long period of catharsis."  To me, this is essentially the concept of sanctification as taught in the LDS church.  Later in the same wiki entry on nepsis, it talks about nepsis in Eastern Christianity.  In that section it states, "As the Christian becomes purified, in time he reaches the stage of illumination. At this point, the contemplative life begins, and watchfulness takes on a whole other meaning. Ultimately, the goal of the Eastern Christian is called theosis, the "deification" of man. According to St. Athanasius and others, "God became man so man can become god.""

A search of this phrase was quite revealing.  Of course, there are a number of wiki entries, but there are also other single-page essays on this topic.  One article on The Catholic Exchange, entitled Is Man to Become God?, brings up the things I learned in my Humanities class at BYU - that the idea man could become like God was openly discussed a long, long time ago.

Practically speaking, what does all this mean?  To me, it means I am not pure in heart as I've not seen God yet.  Is it possible?  I think it is not only possible, but it is our duty to become pure in heart.  I've learned that to be pure in heart requires, first, a desire to have a pure heart.  Second, a pure heart not only is clean, but it is single to (focused only on) Christ and the glory of God.  Third, to achieve purity of heart, we must pray often, fast often, meditate, think of Christ and His teachings and strive to act in accordance with those teachings.  We are to attune our desires and will to God's desires and will.  Lastly, this process takes a lifetime of daily commitment.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nauvoo and Bishop Hill

I love the Internet and all the fascinating things you can learn from the people who post on it.

In this morning's study of the Beatitudee "blessed are the pure in heart," I was lead to a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball entitled Becoming the Pure in Heart.  In that talk, he quoted Joseph Smith who said, "the greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concentrated effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise."  I had never read that quote before and it fascinated me in light of what Obama said several weeks ago - "you didn't build that."

I searched on the Joseph Smith quote and came to this link: A Tale of Two Cities (of God): Bishop Hill and Nauvoo by Myron J. Fodge.  In this article, Fodge provides greater context of the quote used by Kimball.

The quote came from a statement by the First Presidency on January 8, 1841.

"The greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concerted effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise. The history of all past ages abundantly attests this fact. In addition to all temporal blessings, there is no other way for the Saints to be saved in these last days, [than by the gathering] as the concurrent testimony of all the holy prophets clearly proves, for it is written, 'They shall come from the east, and be gathered from the west; the north shall give up, and the south shall keep not back.' The sons of God shall be gathered from afar, and his daughters from the ends of the earth."

The statement in its entirety, can be found here.  This link notes the statement was released January 15, 1841.

The rest of the article by Fodge, is quite fascinating.  He describes the two approaches to perfection as demonstrated by the Mormons in Nauvoo and the Janssonists in Bishop Hill.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Merciful

Matthew 5:7 reads, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."

Nephi 12:7 reads, "And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

This teaching is as clear as any teaching can be; yet the practice of it can be difficult.

I won't expound on this one too much, other than to point out a recent and popular talk given in the April 2012 general conference.

The Merciful Obtain Mercy by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness

Matthew 5:6 reads, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."

Nephi 12:6 reads, "And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."

To me, hungering and thirsting for an object simply means having an intense desire for that object - really wanting it, whatever 'it' is.  So, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, means to have an intense desire to be righteous.

And what does rightous mean?  It means being upright or moral - being good, honest or fair.

The difference between the Matthew and Nephi versions is interesting.  In Matthew, those who desire righteousness are simply filled.  While in the Nephi version, they are filled with the Holy Ghost.

The phrase 'filled with the Holy Ghost' reminded me of D&C 121:45-46, which reads, "Let they bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven."

"The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever."

Now - to go down this trail a bit more - scepters are symbols of power or authority or dominion.  Therefore, it seems that if you desire (really desire) righteousness, that you will be filled with the Holy Ghost - He will be your constant companion; always there to advise and guide you.  And as He is always there to advise, guide and comfort you, your power and authority will be derived from righteousness and truth.  And since your power and authority are founded on righteousness and truth, there will be no need to compel that which is in your kingdom - all things will gravitate to you naturally.

The ultimate lesson to be learned here is to train your desires on righteousness.

Reference Links
wikipedia entry for scepter
wikipedia entry for was (a type of scepter)

Other Worthwhile Reading Material
He Hath Filled the Hungry With Good Things by Jeffry R. Holland
Nourishing the Spirit by Dallin H. Oaks
Spiritual Nutrients by James E. Faust

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Meek

Matthew 5:5 reads, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

3 Nephi 12:5 reads, "And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

It was timely that I read and studied this beatitude today.  I need much meekness - especially after a 'conversation' I had last night.

Neal A. Maxwell, who relentlessly focused on discipleship throughout his life, dissected the topic of meekness in a talk he gave just over 30 years ago today: Meekness - A Dimension of True Discipleship.

The talk should be read in its entirety - several times.  But I will copy a few poignant excerpts into this post.

"if one needs any further persuasion as to how vital this virtue is, Moroni warned, 'none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.' (Moroni 7:43-44).  If we could but believe, really believe, in the reality of that bold but accurate declaration, you and I would find ourselves focusing on the crucial rather than the marginal tasks in life!  We would then cease pursuing the lifestyles which, inevitably and irrevocably, are going out of style!"


"God, who has seen billions of spirits pass through His plan of salvation, has told us to be meek in order to enhance our enjoyment of life and our mortal education.  Will we be meek and listen to Him?  Or will we be like the Gardarene swine, that pathetic example of totus porcus - going whole hog after the trends of the moment?"


"Since God desired to have us become like Himself, He first had to make us free to learn and to experience; hence, our humility and teachability are premiere determinants of our progress and our happiness.  Agency is essential to perfectibility, and meekness is essential to the wise use of agency - and to our recovery when we have misused our agency."


"Meekness ... is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindess and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control."


"Granted, none of us likes, or should like, to be disregarded, to be silenced, to see a flawed argument prevail, or to endure gratuitous discourtesy.  But such circumstances seldom constitute that field of action from which meekness calls upon us to retire gracefully.  Unfortunately, we usually do battle, unmeekly, over far less justifiable things, such as 'turf.'


"there are some things worth being aroused about, as the Book of Mormon says, such as our families, our homes, our liberties, and our sacred religion.  (see Alma 43:45.)  But if all our anxiety amounts to is our so-called image, it's an image that needs to be displaced anyway, so that we can receive His image in our countenances. (see Alma 5:14)."


"the meek are not awestruck by the many frustrations of life; they are more easily mobilized for eternal causes and less easily immobilized by the disappointments of the day."

"Because they make fewer demands of life, the meek are less easily disappointed.  They are less concerned with their entitlements than with their assignments."

"When we are truly meek, we are not concerned with being pushed around, but are grateful to be pushed along.  When we are truly meek, we do not engage in shoulder-shrugging acceptance but in shoulder-squaring, in order that we might better bear the burdens of life and of our fellow beings."

"Meekness can also help us in coping with the injustices of life - of which there are quite a few.  By the way, will not these experiences with mortal injustices generate within us even more adoration of the perfect justice of God - another of His attributes?"


"Meekness means less concern over being taken for granted, and more concern over being taken by the hand.  Less concern over revising our own plans for us and more concern about adopting His plans for us is another sure sign of meekness."


"There are, brothers and sisters, ever so many human situtations in which the only additional time and recognition and space to be made available must come from the meek who will yield - in order to make time and recognition and space available for others.  There could be no magnanimity without humility.  Meekness is not displayed humility; it is the real thing.  True meekness is never proud of itself, never conscious of itself."


"The meek use power and authority properly, no doubt because their gentleness and meekness reflect a love unfeigned, a genuine caring.  The influence they exercise flows from a deep concern: 'No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion , by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.' (D&C 121:41)"


"even if our being meek results in our being abused in this world, we need to remember that we are being fitted for chores in another and better world - one which will be everlasting, not fleeting."


"You will see far more examples of those in desperate need of meekness than you will ever see of the truly meek being abused."


"Yes, there are real costs associated with meekness.  A significant down payment must be made.  But it can come from our sufficient supply of pride.  We must also be willing to endure the subsequent erosion of the unbecoming ego.  Furthermore, our hearts will be broken in order that they might be rebuilt.  As Ezekiel said, one's task is to 'make you a new heart and a new spirit.' (Ezekiel 18:31)  There is no way that such dismantling, such erosion, such rebuilding can occur without real cost in pain, pride, adjustments, and even some dismay.  Yet since we cannot be 'acceptable before God save [we are] meek and lowly in heart' (Moroni 7:44), the reality of that awesome requirement must be heeded!  Better to save one's soul than to save one's face."

As I read this talk, and especially toward the end, the only image in my mind was that of the Savior shrinking not before the bitter cup (see D&C 19:18).  He was given to drink and he drank ... and did not shrink.  He was meek and did His father's will.  He took it.

To play a variation on the phrase, just do it, I offer the phrase, just take it.  If you are pressed to go a mile, then go two - just take it.  If your coat is taken from you, give also your cloke.  If you are cursed, hated, abused, judged wrongly, persecuted, condemned, accused, thought ill of, pushed to your wits end ... just take it.  Did not Jesus take all of this?  Are we not to be perfect, like Jesus?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

On the Brink of a New Era of Prosperity Enabling Wider Sharing of the Gospel

In talking to my dad last week, our conversation, as often is the case, shifted to politics and the economy.  I told him my blunt opinion: that if the current policies and direction of the country are reversed and that if the energy industry is allowed to fully pursue the abundance of resources in America, that virtually all our current national problems would be solved (see recent NYTimes article on this subject.  The sentiment of the article is not unique; this opinion has been stated many times in many places.)

He responded by saying something very interesting.  He mentioned that my niece recently attended a YSA conference in California and that Elder Ballard talked about how one of the greatest challenges facing the youth today will be dealing with prosperity.  Elder Ballard also said that this new prosperity will help further spread the gospel throughout the world.

I found a video of this talk on youtube ... click this link to jump right to the point where he begins to discuss, at length, the topic of prosperity and the gospel.

"America's New Energy Reality" by Daniel Yergin

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Those Who Mourn

Matthew 5:4 reads, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."

3 Nephi 12:4 reads, "And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

When I read that beatitude, I tend to think of it as a comforting statement.  It seemingly seems to say, "I know you're in pain, but soon, you will find comfort."  It is almost a statement of reassurance to the one mourning.

But let's take a step back and look at the underlying premise of that statement.

For one to mourn, one first has to have had a desire or deep love for something.  Then, the object on which that love or desire is placed must be removed from the one desiring or loving.  Once the separation takes place and a void is left, then comes the mourning.

Is Jesus really saying, that those who are in mourning, they will find comfort in Him?  Does Christ fill the void?  I think the answer is: yes!

Whatever was lost; whatever void is in our life, Christ can fill it; Christ can comfort us.

If we mourn the death of someone close to us, Christ can comfort us.

If we mourn a lost or wayward child or loved one, Christ can comfort us - He can also rescue the wayward child!

If we "mourn" the loss of a habit we are trying to break, Christ can comfort us - He can fill the void left by the removal of addictions.  He can even heal the scars.

If we "mourn" our sins, Christ can and will comfort us.

And not only when we have lost something and are mourning can we find comfort, but we are also to mourn with those that mourn.

Mourning with those that mourn essentially means we have charity for them ... that we place ourself in their shoes and feel their mourning.

We are to mourn.
We are to seek Christ to comfort us.
We are to mourn with others that mourn.
We are to be Christ-like and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

Related scriptures:
Mosiah 18:8-9

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poor In Spirit

Recently, I've been deeply impressed to minimize the breadth of my scripture study to two things: reading the Book of Mormon and studying the New Testament.

To help with my studying of the New Testament, I decided to delve deep and truly learn and understand what the Savior taught.  Too often I have brushed over the words and have not internalized what has been taught.

As I learn and internalize, I will post my notes to this blog.

By the way, the complete Sermon on the Mount is up at  I watched all four parts this morning and was deeply moved by the production.

Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20 and 3 Nephi 12:3 all discuss the topic of the "poor in spirit"

Matthew 5:3 reads, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Luke 6:20 reads, "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of heaven."

3 Nephi 12:3 reads, "Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

If one were poor in wealth or money, that would mean that person does not have much money - they experience some degree of poverty in which their needs are not met or their needs are barely met.  They do not have much or any money in their account.

Therefore to be poor in spirit would seem to mean that ones spiritual needs are not met or are barely being met.  They do not have any or they have very little spiritual assests.  Spiritually speaking, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  In which case, if they "come unto [Jesus]" and follow his teachings, they will inheirit the kingdom of heaven.

In the October 1974 conference, Elder O. Leslie Stone gave a talk on The Beatitudes and had this to say, "What is meant by 'poor in spirit'? Is it not humility, which renders us teachable and eager to learn? They who feel themselves spiritually poor approach God, asking him to supply their needs. They who have faith in him, learn his laws and try diligently to obey him. They thus become eligible for the great blessings he has promised, including salvation, exaltation, and eternal life, which are the greatest of all the gifts of God."

I also like what the NIV Bible footnote as to say about what poor in spirit means, "poor in spirit, In contrast to the spiritually proud and self-sufficient."

To be poor in spirit means to be:
dependant on God and Jesus

Related scriptures:
Mosiah 3:19
Mosiah 4:11
Helaman 3:35

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Engaging, Capacity to Act and Feeling Love for Others

This selection comes from this talk.

6. We need always to make allowance in the kingdom for the fact that this is a divine church full of imperfect people! Indeed, “the net gathereth of every kind.” For instance, some members among us have an unfortunate and exclusionary condescension toward others, while other members have a quiet certitude that causes them to assert their testimonies humbly because the Spirit has witnessed to them; they witness to others to maintain their integrity; they tell others the truth of salvational things “as they were, as they are, and as they shall become.” These two kinds of members read the same scriptures, but one disengages, Jonah-like, almost with delight, while the other will not leave his post in “Nineveh” so long as there are any souls to be saved. Probably the differing response is rooted in the differing capacity to love. The presence of absolute truth or apocalyptic insights in one who lacks the capacity to love is likely to produce some behavioral anomalies. Love leads us into—not away from—Nineveh: into the fray, just as Jesus was involved with mankind, for as G. K. Chesterton observed, He carried his five wounds in the front of the fray.

Some want involvement without giving themselves. Some want the wonders of religion without the work—there is no way. Others want the thrills of theology without the hard doctrines—there is no way! When we are serious about change, it is “not enough to merely leave Egypt: one must also travel to the Promised Land!”

commentary: the above speaks of commitment and engaging others.  you either engage in service and the cause of helping others, or you don't.  the gospel is about action.  and what causes you to act?  keep on reading.

7. We must make place for the gospel and the Church more generously in our lives if we are to grow in our capacity to both feel and to act. Education, the media, and what we know from the scriptures have enlarged our circles of concern and feeling. But within each of our circles of concern, there is a much smaller circle of competency, and it needs to grow too.

C. S. Lewis observed, “The more often a man feels without acting, the less often he will be able to act, and in the long run, the less often he will be able to feel.” In countless ways the Church not only enlarges our circles of concern, but it also helps us to carry out the concerns we have. Significantly, Nephi, Paul, and Moroni—cultures and centuries apart—each observed that individuals and whole cultures can, by sin, reach a point where they are past feeling. Ironically, lasciviousness, which exploits sensuous feelings, results finally in a loss of a capacity to feel. In our own society the sad consequences of too much exulting in feeling—of sex divorced from love, and the emptiness of emotion without principle—will wash over us for generations. In the declining society of Moroni’s time, citizens were described as being without order, without mercy, without civilization, and past feeling after they had “lost their love, one towards another. …” (Moro. 9:5.)

commentary: love brings about wanting and desire.  love and desire should spur us to action.  but when we disassociate love and action, we begin to lose the capacity to feel.  when we don't feel, we don't care, when we don't care, we don't act and when we don't act evil triumphs.

8. We must be more quick to realize the enormous implications of the doctrine of immortality and how our knowledge of that reality will set us apart in this era. One can’t help but admire the cosmic heroism of those decent people who persist in goodness in spite of their agnosticism, but we still should see others differently because of this doctrine. Ours is no mere biological brotherhood with life as a brief encounter, but ours is a brotherhood that is fashioned in the realization that relationships will persist a million years from now, and more. Where we do not so relate to each other, we diminish the credibility of our commitment to this doctrine in the eyes of others. For a peculiar people, our friendships should be peculiarly rich.

commentary: to me, the above really hits home and answers the question - why the gospel?  if mankind is to become immortal, do we want immortal evil or immortal goodness running the universe?

In summary, we see the world, life, and death differently. This is not a random, mutant planet with people who will be enveloped in nothingness; it is a special place, a planet with a purpose, for, as Isaiah observed, the Lord created it to be inhabited. (See Isa. 45:18.)

We are all stewards, and we ought to approach this planet and its resources as carefully as Adam dressed the Garden. In seeking to establish dominion over the earth, it ought to be a righteous dominion. Still, this earth is not a place we need to be so reluctant to leave. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, Christian courage rests on a love of life that may need to take the form of a willingness to die; it is not the willingness to die that reflects a disdain or disaffection for life.

Without immortality there can be no real and lasting meaning to life. Jesus has not only immunized us against the lasting sting of the grave, but his teachings can also help us not to “look upon death with any degree of terror.” (Alma 27:28.) The same Jesus promised us, through one of his prophets, that if we could live according to his word, we would have, in this life, a knowledge of what is “just and true and render every man his due” (justice and discernment); we would live peaceably with others (peacefulness); we would rear our families without fighting and quarreling, teaching them to love one another (the capacity to love learned in happy homes); and we would care for the needy (a program for poverty). (See Mosiah 4.) In a sense, while others have the slogans, we have the solutions that, if applied, will carry us to “a state of happiness which hath no end.” (Morm. 7:7.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"A Cup of Maxwell" Series

I can't remember when it was - maybe when I was a recently returned full-time missionary - but I had this desire to read and study all the talks by Neal A. Maxwell.  The way he articulates the gospel clicks with me can causes introspection.
And so I decided to start a study series call A Cup of Maxwell in which as I read all his talks, I will copy some of the most thought and action provoking passages.

Now, all his talks deserve to be read in their entirety, and therefore, I invite the reader to click on this link or this link.

Let me kick off this series from one of his first talks ... one that I read today.

Referring to the gosple, he closed this talk with: With such a great message, can we afford not to be articulate in our homes and wherever we are? Passivity and inarticulateness about this “marvelous work and a wonder” can diminish the faith of others, for as Austin Farrer observed, “Though argument does not create belief, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced, but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it nourishes a climate in which belief may flourish.”

This is the main reason to read his talks: he articulates the "why" of the gospel so well ... and in the above quote, he articulates why we need to be able to articulate the why so well.

Friday, July 06, 2012

LDS Study Notebook and Ideas for Use

Jill and I upgraded our cell phones this week.  She went from a text phone to a smart phone and I upgraded to a bigger smart phone.  So, I've been playing w/ my new phone for the last few days.

Yesterday, I started tinkering w/ the Gospel Library app.  I set it up to synch w/ my LDS account.  As I was playing around w/ it to see how it works, an idea came to me: why not put all my scripture highlights into my virtual LDS "Study Notebook"?  I could also put a link, at the beginning of each chapter, to the respective Book of Mormon Inspection post (from my other blog).  So, as I read the Book of Mormon yesterday, I copied the highlighted parts from my physical copy to my smart phone and then synched it w/ my virtual "Study Notebook".  Unfortunately, a lot of the LDS web content was down yesterday - they must have had an outage or were performing some upgrades (more likely the former).

So, this morning I logged on to my LDS account, went to my "Study Notebook" and checked to see if my annotations were synched - they were.

Then another idea came to me: when our kids are adults or maybe when they enter seminary, I could share my virtual "Study Notebook" w/ them so they could see all the highlighted parts of my set of scriptures, along w/ the annotations I made.  Together w/ this and all my other blogs, they would have a spring board for their own study of the scriptures.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

June 3 Fast & Testimony Meeting - Wayward Children

Today's meeting was unusual and wonderful.  It all started when everyone began to realize that there was no bread for the sacrament.  Usually, someone will bring an extra loaf as backup, but today, even the backup plan failed.  So after the sacrament song, the 1st counselor got up and cracked a joke about how someone told him he needs to spice up the meeting more.  He announced that we'd proceed with the testimonies and then have the last 10 minutes for administration of the sacrament.

He then proceeded to bear his testimony about what he was fasting for that day - a wayward child.  It was a tender testimony and you could feel the anguish of his soul.  His testimony set the theme of the meeting - everyone seemed to make a remark about a wayward child.

As is usually the case when my heart beats extremely rapidly, I felt prompted to get up and bear my testimony.  Thoughts of my parents fasting and praying for my older brother entered my heart and I felt I should share my insights into the topic of wayward children.

As I bore my testimony, I was reminded of those quotes by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and President Packer.  I know those quotes had brought much peace and comfort to my parents.  I talked a bit about those quotes and the struggle my parents have had with my older brother.  Being the youngest in the family, I had a unique insight to their struggle.  Every prayer and every fast in our home always included a plea for my older brother.  I then bore my testimony of the sealing power of the Priesthood and why temple marriage is so important.

Below are the quotes I referred to above.  You can find all of the quotes in the September 2002 Ensign.

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

Brigham Young said, “Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang” (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:90–91).

Lorenzo Snow said, “If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity” (in Collected Discourses, comp. Brian H. Stuy, 5 vols. [1987–92], 3:364).

President Packer said, “The measure of our success as parents … will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.

“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.

“It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. …

“We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them” (“Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992, 68).

The last testimony of the meeting was from one of the members of the Stake Presdidency who lives in our ward.  He read a scripture from the Book of Mormon in the context of wayward children.

In 2 Nephi 10:2, it reads, "For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer."

It was a very emotional meeting and everyone's hearts were tender and they bore their testimonies.  It will be a testimony meeting I will not forget.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Recap of April 2012 Conference

Here is the re-cap of the April 2012 General Conference.  The technology of the Church is pretty incredible.  Those Church IT guys have done a tremendous job making GC available so quickly after it's over.  I remember several years ago when they first started steaming GC on-line.  Then it would take about 3 weeks for the videos or text to be available.  Now it's practically instantaneous.  The videos and mp3s are up the next day and the text is up by the Thursday after GC.

My wife and I were talking about whether we should force the kids to watch GC all day Saturday or not.  My point is that if you watch everything at once, you just don't get everything.  So we decided not to sit through all 10 hours at once.  Rather, we are going to watch one or two talks each Sunday as a family and then discuss the talk.  We did watch conference on Sunday though.

One other thought - I think I've successfully stayed awake through an entire GC once or twice in my life.  It is nearly impossible for me to sit in my living room and listen to talk after talk after talk and stay awake and alert.  I love that I can listen to or watch and read along the weeks after GC is over.  I get so much more out of the talks this way.

So BIG KUDOS to the Church IT guys!!  If tithing money is spent on this technology, then I think it is very well-spent!

President Thomas S. Monson - As We Gather Once Again
why we meet: strengthen, encouragement, comfort, build faith, to learn
if changes need to be made in your life, may you find the courage to do so
oppose evil whereever it is found
be instructed and be inspired
be filled with the Lord's spirit

President Boyd K. Packer - And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
the ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see husband and wife with their family happy at home.
too often, someone comes to me and says, "President Packer, wouldn't it be nice if ..." I usually stop them and say, "No" because I suspect what follows will be a new activity or program that is going to add the burden of time or financial means on the family."
personal application: what can i do, as scout leader, to promote family time?
the goal of scouts, according to this talk, would be to help fathers spend meaningful time with their sons - to provide opportunities to let fathers and sons learn and grow together.
if scouting becomes a burden, then it would seems it has failed the mission of "supporting the family"
if we get all the eagles scouts in the world, but no real fathers, we've accomplished nothing.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - Sacrifice
Mormon Pioneers example of sacrifices
Husband left wife and family to serve a mission
Symbols of our Christian faith (Mormons) is our daily sacrifice
Home teaching and visiting teaching
full-time missionaries (time spent to save money, actual time serving, family sacrifices time they are not with their child)
converts' sacrifices: loss of family temple service: time spent to save money to be sealed with family in temple

President Henry B. Eyring - Mountains to Climb
there are giant opportunies (challenges) to be met.
give me this mountain; give me these challenges and adversities he prayed for a challenge
1) god heard his prayer and answered it
2) he learned that a great blessing could come from adversity
repent have faith that the way through trials is the balm of gilead
foundation for faith = personal integrity (consistently choosing the right) curing that faith takes time and patience and experience

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - The Laborers in the Vineyard
do not covet, do not pout or tear others down; do not demean others to improve yourself
do not throw away your good fortune in protest of the perceived injustice - accept the good fortune (mercy from God) and rejoice in the mercy He gives to "late" repenters.
don't dwell on old issues or grievences (of self, of neighbor or even the Church)
simply accept the Atonement of Christ, don't dwell on anything else, enjoy the fellowship of the labor

accept mercy and be merciful

personal thoughts: the key premise in this parable, in my mind, is that there is a shortage of work for the laborers.  Laborers are standing around, waiting for work. The need the work or else they don't feed their families.  Anything to do for work would be great - and it doesn't matter when they get the work - they will take it first thing in the morning and work all day or take the job in the late afternoon and get something rather than nothing.  so how does this apply to our life today?  perhaps it can be said there is a shortage of "good fortune" in the world - just like there was a shortage of jobs to be done in the parable.  so, if someone is blessed with abundance from the time they were born until the time they die, that person should be grateful and thank God for what they've been blessed with.  That person should also learn not to be envious when good fortune comes to those who receive it later in life.  If they are envious of another's good fortune, despite having good fortune their entire life, they choose to experience ill feelings toward another person who has received good fortune!  As Elder Holland puts it, they drink a quart of pickle juice every time someone else receives good fortune, rather than pondering their own good fortune.

another thought: similarly to what I stated above, we can envision a person who was "born in the Church", who was faithful all his life - who went to Church, Boy Scouts, service projects, received the Priesthood - was a Deacon, Teacher, Priest, became an Elder; served a difficult mission - maybe not even baptizing a single convert; returned honorably, married in the temple; started family and continued serving faithfully day after day - week after week for his whole life.

Meanwhile, his younger brother chose the opposite all his days, indulged in all his desires rather than being obedient and serving others.  He ate, drank and was merry all the days of his life.  Then, when he reached the end of his rope, he found he was not happy.  He decided to clean up his life - it was a difficult process back into the fold.

Now they both die and are both granted eternal life - the reward of living in the presence of God for eternity.  Does the faithful brother act like the other son who is not the prodigal son?  Does he refuse eternal life because his "unfaithful" brother receives it?  Or does he act like the father and rejoice in the mercy of Christ?

Elder Robert D. Hales - Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and the Sacrifice in Service
prepare to worthily take the sacrament before coming to sacrament meeting; leave the daily work and recreation behind; do not think of worldly thoughts or concerns.  then ponder the Atonement; ponder the sacrifice of Christ
sing the sacrament hymn; listen to the sacrament prayers; partake of the emblems
seek forgiveness of sins and shortcomings of previous week; make specific commitments for the coming week.
search from the scriptures
live the gospel standards
obtain a temple recommend
gain a testimony of God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Atonement, Joseph Smith, the Restoration
sustain leaders; be kind, stand as a witness of Christ, attend Church meetings, honor covenants, be a good parent, be virtuous
assist the youth to prepare for lifelong service
learn to work; live within your means; avoid debt, save money now so that we can give full-time service later in our lives; to be able to lift others.

Elder Quentin L. Cook - In Tune with the Music of Faith
a great divide between those who love, worship and feel accountable to God and those who do not
destroyers of faith: pride, vanity & foolishness
love the Lord; love His gospel; continually try to live and share His message - especially with your families.
be in harmony with the promptings of the Spirit
observe religion in your home
strive to be a disciple of Christ
with regard to his paragraph that starts out "We recognize how busy you are"  From that paragraph, I hear "if you are serving; don't feel guilty for not serving enough"
don't judge others
rescue those who have "fallen away"
avoid being judgemental about conduct that is foolish or unwise, but is not sinful
be an example in action, not just words (as a parent to your children)
read and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon

Elder Richard G. Scott - How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life
revelation = crisp, clear and essential communication from the Holy Ghost
inspiration = series of promptings that guide us step by step toward a worthy goal
we are supposed to ask the Lord to receive revelation
fast, pray for finding scriptures that will be helpful with the answer for the question, read those scriptures, ponder, pray, write down what the Lord would have you do, pray again
don't let daily activities distract us from the spirit

Elder David A. Bednar - The Powers of Heaven
distinguishing feature of the church is priesthood (the authority of god delegated to man on earth to act in all things for the salvation of mankind)
be active in priesthood service - promote the cause of righteousness in the earth
by not doing your duties, you break your priesthood covenant
be righteous; faithful; obedient; diligent; worthy; willing to serve
lift souls, teach, testify, bless, council, advance the work of salvation
take the lead in scripture study, family prayer, fhe - be a strong leader - preside - protect

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - The Why of Priesthood Service
the why of priesthood service is to motivate others; to awaken their spirit; to inspire action
be enthusiastic about the gospel as you teach others.
let the fire of your testimony bring light and warmth and joy to the hearts of those you teach
priesthood service is to provide a vision of what it means to establish the kingdom of god on earth
building the kingdom of god on earth means building personal testimonies and strengthening families
priesthood service helps us prioritize between good, better, best - it helps us stay focused on the most important things
the most important things are: increase our love for god and our fellowmen, invigorate marriages, strengthen families and build the kingdom of god on earth
how we specifically decide on our priorities: study the scriptures, heed the prophets, hold serious and dedicated prayer
act before being acted upon; the value of an idea is in using it

President Henry B. Eyring - Families Under Covenant
four things you can do as a priesthood father to lift and lead your family home again to heaven
1. gain & keep a sure witness that the keys of the priesthood are with us & held by the president of the church - pray for that every day.
2. love your wife
3. enlist the entire family to love each other
4. discipline when needed - d&c 121:41-44

President Thomas S. Monson - Willing and Worthy to Serve
various definitions of priesthood ...
1. joseph smith - priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with god from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.
2. wilford woodruff -  the holy priesthood is the channel through which god communicates and deals with man upon the earth; and the heavenly messengers that have visited the earth to communicate with man are men who held and honored the priesthood while in the flesh; and everythign that god has caused to be done for the salvation of man, from the coming of man upon the earth to the redemption of the world, has been and will be by virtue of the everlasting priesthood.
3. joseph f. smith -  the priesthood is the power of god delegated to man by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family, in the name of the father and the son and the holy ghost, and act legitimately; not assuming that authority, nor borrowing it from generations that are dead and gone, but authority that has been given in this day in which we live by ministering angels and spirits from above, direct from the presense of almighty god.
4. john taylor - it is the governmant of god, whether on the earth or in the heavens, for it is by that power, agency, or principle that all things are governed on the earth and in the heavens, and by that power that all things are upheald and sustained.  it governs all things - it directs all things - it sustains all things - and has to do with all things that god and truth are associated with.
stories of examples of priesthood service - soldier blessing injured soldier on beach; saving his life.  writing letters of encouragement to servicemen
there are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspirt and souls to save

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - The Merciful Obtain Mercy
required to forgive all men - including ourselves
stop hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm
love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
be kind
talk peacefully with others
do good unto all men
people will be people; learn to rise above the fray, forgive and forget.  this talk had a very similar feel as elder holland's talk

Elder Russell M. Nelson - Thanks Be to God
gives thanks to god
be mindful of the various gifts from god ...
the world, the universe, his son jesus christ, our bodies, the resurrection, spiritual gifts, gospel gifts

Elder D. Todd Christofferson - The Doctrine of Christ
believe in christ; be baptized

President Thomas S. Monson - The Race of Life
personal thoughts: how often do you ask yourself: if you know you are going to die tomorrow ... in a week ... in a month ... in a year; how does that change your current priorities?
endure to the end
we have the power to (and must) think, reason and achieve
pray; listen to the holy ghost, search the scriptures; heed the prophets

Elder L. Tom Perry - The Power of Deliverance
both the people of limhi and the people of alma were delivered
both suffered
limhi's people chose to fight; alma's people chose to pray
what do you need to be delivered from?
which way is your "door" facing? to the world or to the alter of god?

Elder M. Russell Ballard - That the Lost May be Found
our liahona/gps is the holy ghost - the promptings of the holy ghost
new york times: "the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to american women under 30 occur outside of marriage"
the most important cause in our lifetime is our family
prioritize - put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home.
organize - your personal life to provide time for prayer, scripture study and family activities
teach your childen to work and give them responsibilities
marriage first, then family
read family proclamation often, understand it, follow it.

Elder Neil L. Andersen - What Thinks Christ of Me?
pay attention to who and what christ labels in the scriptures ... see 3rd paragraph in this talk
love christ, trust christ, believe christ, follow christ and you will feel his love and approval

President Thomas S. Monson - As We Close This Conference
pray always
fill your homes with love and the spirit of the lord
love your family
settle disagreements
do god's will, serve him, serve others
ponder the words you've heard from this conference