April 6, 2015

What is my Belief?

     The LDS Church does not often clarify every passage of scripture. God does not think it is best for us if he was to teach all things.
D&C 58:26
     "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward."

The church leaders clarify only what God has clarified. These clarifications didn't come all at once, and they continue to come as God continues to teach us more.

9th Article of Faith
     "We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

So what if we feel one way, but then it seems that God has clarified it differently than our belief?

Isaiah 55:8-9
     "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts"

So what should we believe?

Mosiah 4:9
     " Believe in God; Believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend"

     You may feel your religion is distancing itself from what you believe. The reality may be that you are distancing yourself from your religion because of what you believe.

November 24, 2014

Living in a World with no Breaks.

     "I just need a break" "This weeks is exhausting" "when will it end" "Just take it away" Believe it or not, we live in a world with no breaks. When we scroll through Facebook and see the lives of others as they live a perfect life with their perfect family portrait. This perfect portrait does not display real life. We should not compare our lives with the lives of others. Others are experiencing similar pains in their own life. In the last General Conference, Elder Cook spoke about thee use of social media, " A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life-- Sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume "almost exclusively... fake lives of [our] social media 'friends.'" Brooks asserts, "How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?""
     If we live life this way, we will feel unhappy in our circumstances. Perhaps we are unhappy with our current circumstances now. During these bleak times in our lives, which makes up the majority of our life, it is easy to feel ungrateful, because there seems to be nothing to be thankful for.If we remain in this state of mind, we will become consumed. There won't be light at the end of the tunnel, because life is always hard. Our tough experiences will never stop from happening. We will not catch a break. Life is hard, so deal with it. but don't deal with it alone.
     Involve Christ. Thomsas S Monson stated "He will not always take your afflictions from you, but he will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face".  The atonement of Jesus Christ builds our faith to match our circumstance. He gives us strength beyond our own. He lifts our hearts higher than we can fathom. This life is about trusting him. How can we learn to trust him if we don't rely on his strength during our circumstances. If our circumstances were simply  dissolved, there would be no need for the strength of Christ. We do now, and always will need the strength of Christ.
     While we can't catch a break from our personal environment and surroundings, we can catch a break from our feelings of exhaustion, our feelings of fatigue, our feelings of unhappiness. True happiness does not depend on our circumstances. True happiness depends on our patience. The Apostle Paul taught about patience in his epistle to Rome  "We glory in tribulations ... knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience, and experience hope". (Rom. 5:3-4)
     This is thanksgiving time, and we all look into our past to see what we are grateful for. We look at our lives now and see what we are grateful for. But what about those times when life is bleak. Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught us the important principal of being grateful in any circumstance "It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances -- Whatever they may be".  Thankfulness is not dependent on our circumstance. It doesn't depend on anything else. Thankfulness is a feeling that can be felt without attachment to anything. Don't wait for your circumstance to change, before you change yourself. Don't let your happiness depend on your circumstance.

November 13, 2014

To Follow the Prophet

What does it mean to follow the prophet?
I will tell you what it doesn't mean. It does not mean to follow blindly. It does not mean that if we stray by following the prophets counsel that the fault lies with the prophet. The prophet is truly called of God and God has promised us that he will not allow us to be lead astray. We can always trust the words of the Prophets. But remember, the only person who can receive the punishment because of our sins is our Savior Jesus Christ. He suffered all things, but only on the condition of personal repentance is our sin washed clean. This gives us a little personal responsibility doesn't it.
Now here is a shocker, We can be lead astray while following the words of the prophet. Lets find out how this is possible.
     In the most recent General Conference Elder Christopherson gave an excellent talk about being personal responsibility. He quoted true words from shakesphere

"Every subjects duty is the king's; but every subject's soul is his own".

Continuing in his conference address Elder Christopherson states

"God will not live our lives for us, nor control us as if we were his puppets... nor will his prophets accept the role as puppet master".

A quote given by Brigham Young clarifies this statement

"I do not wish any latter day saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, - the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish for them to know for themselves and understand for themselves."

One thing a prophet cannot do is provide personal understanding for each individual on the commandments and duties the Lord gives him to tell the world. That is up to us.
These quotes do not mean, nor were they meant to imply that a prophet of God in these latter days will lead us astray.
     Where we go astray while following a prophet, is not seeking for ourselves an understanding from God.
When we are given a commandment, we are to follow it. But if we do not understand why the commandment is important, it won't do the good in our lives that is needed.
     There is a SPIRIT OF THE LAW associated with every LETTER OF THE LAW. If we live life doing things only according to the letter of it, we will have a hard time keeping the spirit of it. In other words, if we merely follow the commandments we hear as they come from the mouth of the prophet, with no personal understanding of why, then keeping that commandment is hard, tedious, and consuming. This is why we are directed to seek to understand the words of the prophets, and to obey them.
 D&C 58:26
  For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

     This principle as taught by the savior himself shows us how important it really is to understand the purpose of Gods commandments. We could be going about doing all we are commanded, and still be a slothful and not a wise servant. We could keep every known commandment of the lord and receive no reward. This is how we can be lead astray while following the words of the prophets.
     When we truly understand why God commanded his prophet to say what he says, then we are able to apply the same principles to other similar aspects of our lives and apply it to similar principals. We would be using our own moral compass, acting as agents to ourselves with nobody to blame.
     It is up to us not only to follow the words of the prophets, but to understand why the words were spoken.
     Lehi was given many visions and commandments from the Lord. His entire family followed him out into the wilderness. This includes Lamen and Lemual. Can you believe that Lamen and Lemual were following the words of the Prophet! So was Nephi. But we know who was lead astray and who kept a hold of the Iron Rod.
    The difference between Lamen and Leman and Nephi was inquiring of the Lord. Nephi understood the importance of trusting the commandments of the Lord as they come from the mouth of the Prophet. He shared this with us when His father, the Prophet Lehi, commanded Nephi and his Brothers to return to their abandoned home town and acquire the scriptures to take with them. This was no easy task, and it was known to be accompanied with great risk because the scriptures were held with King Laban. King Laban was not a nice man.
Nephi Said
 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

How did Nephi have so much more faith than his brothers. He inquired of the Lord. Lehi had a dream of the tree of Life which he explained and told to his entire family.

1 Nephi Chapter 8
 36 And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision, he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord.
 37 And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.
 38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.
Lehi told this to Laman and Lemual, and prophesied many things to all his family. Laman and Lemual stopped there. Nephi, however, inquired of the Lord.

1 Nephi 10
 17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
 18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
 19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round."

Nephi understood the importance of understanding for himself. He did not doubt the words of his Father, but instead desired to know  and understand. This is something all of us should do with the words of the prophet. I think it is important to see that in the understanding the Lord gave to nephi, he explained that the Rod of Iron was the word of God. God speaks his word through his prophets. So the Rod of Iron are those who old to the words of the prophets. 
You do not read in the scriptures any account of someone hearing the words of the prophets, inquiring of the lord, only to be told contrary to the prophets. That is not the case. The reason for inquiring of the lord, is to make our keeping of the commandments more meaningful and applicable to our salvation.

October 31, 2014

Structure and Decor

     There are two important parts to a testimony in Christ and his restored doctrine. Spiritual Structure, and Spiritual Decor. Spiritual Structure is what makes sense. This includes the organization, and purpose of the Church. Spiritual Decor is what feels good. This includes personal spiritual progression and uplifting experiences associated with living Gospel Standards. With the proper spiritual structure, and the proper spiritual decor, life is more fulfilling and full of joy. Your testimony will grow stronger.
     My wife's father bought a house years ago. From the descriptions I heard, it was a wreck. It was unfinished and abandoned. Mice and spiders infested the interior of the house. It was not a pleasant environment. My wife's father bought the house because he saw something amazing. The house had a beautiful structure. The first step was to clean out the mice and spiders that infested the area. The houses interior then was finished according to its proper plans, and my wife's mother decorated the interior so beautifully. I was only able to see the home after everything was complete but it was a very inviting home, and pleasant to spend time in. We were protected from the outside, and had the many pleasantries of the home decor.
     A house can be likened to testimonies. We can have both a beautiful pleasant decor, and a sound structure. We can have a beautiful pleasant decor, and a failing structure. We can have a strong structure, and an empty house. Mice and Spiders represent the Sin we might allow into our homes from time to time. The first step to improving our testimonies, would be to rid our lives of the mice and spiders of sin.

     Again, the structure of a testimony includes what makes sense. The Organization and Purpose of the Church.  We should not build  our structure according to our own plans. Our structure should be build on the plans that our Savior has already provided. He has provided the foundation and Cornerstone of our Testimonies. It is our choice on where we build, but I would suggest building our Testimonies on Christ. An essential aspect to this foundation is found in Ephesians Chapter 2. A group of new members of the church were recently accepted through baptism. They were told

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
This is where our testimonies should be built. We should do all we can to find and strengthen our testimonies in our Saviors chosen Prophets and Apostles.
When Christ came to the earth and began to establish his church, he called and ordained his apostles through the Holy Priesthood. From there on, the church began to develop a strong structure of priesthood leadership and example. There is good reason Apostles and Prophets are specifically mentioned as part of the foundation. Christ told Peter his rock is built on a rock, and described to him what that rock is.

Matt 16

15 He saith unto them, but whom say ye that I am?
16 And Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: FOR FLESH AND BLOOD HATH NOT REVEALED IT UNTO THEE, but my Father which is in heaven.

Christ just taught Peter what revelation is. He showed Peter that he knows something beyond what he has learned from man, but that God himself taught Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Christ then goes on to teach Peter who he is, and that what he just taught him is important to the Church.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This rock that Christ referred to was Revelation from the Father. Christ understood he would not remain on the earth, and that knowledge from God was important. Christ would lead his church through revelation to his Apostles and Prophets.

There are Apostles and Prophets today, who use this Rock of Revelation to keep the Church stable. They are part of the Foundation of the Church, and should be part of the very Foundation of our Testimonies.


The interior of the structure of our testimony is important. When Christ saw the interior of the temple, and that it was not being used like it was supposed to, he cleansed the temple and rid it of all filth and uncleanliness. We can be Good and Active members of Christs church. We can know that the Apostles are the foundation. We can know that the Prophet is chosen of Christ to receive the revelation from Christ to lead the Church in the proper direction. But we are not perfect, and we sin. When we sin, it becomes part of the interior of our testimony. we become deadened to the beauty of what we have. Have you ever had company coming over, and you look around your house and see the mess. It is near impossible to look past the mess, and see the beauty of the home you live in. So the first step to strengthening our testimony should be to rid our homes of Sin. When this is accomplished, we can now decide the layout, and color coordination. This is accomplished by Reading the scriptures, and praying for divine guidance. If we do not study and pray, we will lack important knowledge that would otherwise be found. When we have a knowledge of the scriptures, our testimonies can become more organized our layout more refined. As we are questioned about the Church and its teachings, it will be easy to move around our testimony and find the proper answer. As we pray our testimonies are filled with the spirit of peace. It is the feeling that can encompass a home that has the proper color coordination.

You cannot have have a proper testimony with only the structure, or only the Decor. Do all you can to develop a testimony of Christs chosen Prophet, and Apostles. Do all you can to study and pray to fill your lives with peace.

October 13, 2014

In the World

General Conference happened last weekend! and you can look up and study the talks at (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2014/10?cid=HPTH100914477&lang=eng)

    This post is directed to members of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
     Among my favorite talks was "Loving Others and Living with Differences" by Elder Oaks. I already touched on some of the points he made in my previous post. But did everyone realize he mentioned that it was a commandment to "live in the world" ? It is easy to view "living in the world and not of the word" as meaning we are obviously forced to be in the world. Elder Oaks pointed out, however, that some church members are not "living in the world" and need to make some changed.

     He said

 "Too often non-mormons here in utah have been offended and alienated by some of our members who will not allow their children to be friends with children of other faiths. Surely we can teach our children values and standards of behavior without having them distance themselves or show disrespect to any who are different."

Christ said to the Father "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" John 17:15
Earlier in Elder Oak's talk he said the following, notice the word "Must" and not "forced". Because living out of the world is something that one living in Utah can easily achieve.

"We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, his kingdom is 'like heaven,' whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence"

He then suggests another change

"His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices."

Have friends outside of a church circle. The work of the lord is hastening. He is preparing people to learn about his gospel. It is hard to reach out to a stranger and invite them to the church, because there is no friendship there. With no friendship, the invitation will often lack the love needed. Reach out with the purpose of becoming friends, Missionary work will come as a natural side effect. Be genuine, be kind. and Start living in the world!

Condemn them or Love them

     There is a huge misconception about what Christians believe when it comes to what God said is a sin. There are those who say, "How can you love me if you condemn me?" "You are judging me because you say it is a sin!". I have a personal experience from a great individual who "de-friended" me because he declared that I must hate him if I believe that homosexual relationships are a sin. He told me that "Love cannot exist" in my belief of what God has declared as sin. Obviously, I know better, as he cannot read my mind or experience my feelings. I never condemned him in my mind. I never judged him. This is the hardest thing for someone outside Christianity to understand. I hope I can explain.
     Christ was confronted by others with a woman who had been "taken in adultery, in the very act" (John 8:4). After Christ pointed out that the others were in no position to judge, they left him alone with her. Christ then told the woman to "go and sin no more". He did not enforce the law. He did not condemn. He did not judge her to heaven or to hell. The only thing he did was acknowledge it was a sin. He understood his purpose on earth. Christ made it possible for all men to escape an eternal condemnation, to escape an eternal judgement from past mistakes, through repentance and change.
     There was one judgment, but that judgement was not on the woman, and it came with no condemnation. The judgment was what was sin. We can all follow this example, and remain firm in our beliefs by never judging an individual, while recognizing sin.
     When one understand a Christians belief in the doctrines of repentance, and the cleansing power Christ, they can begin to understand how there is no judgment or condemnation while recognizing what is sin. It is taught about when judgement occurs, and when a soul is condemned. That does not happen until after one dies and appears at the time of final judgement. This life is a time of repentance, which means it is also a time with sin. There is no escaping sin in this life, and repentance happens daily. As for condemnation, it has no place in this life on earth.  There is a time for condemnation, ant that time is between an individual and God. At that time of judgement, there are no other people condemning them, it is between them and God.
     When one feels condemned by others, because the beliefs of others conflict with their lifestyle, the only person who is condemning them are themselves. They can only be condemned by themselves. Nobody else knows the inner workings of their mind, or their future commitment. Nobody knows what knowledge they posses or sincerely believe.
     As for me, I believe that sin exists. I believe that drinking coffee is a sin! But am I condemning all of my coffee drinking friends? I have told them my beliefs with tea and coffee, and how I believe it is a sin. But none of them have felt uncomfortable drinking coffee around me. I do not condemn one in a homosexual relationship, I do not condemn the coffee drinker. But I acknowledge that I believe God has revealed that they are sin. I will not back down from my belief.
     Because everyone has the potential to be free from all condemnation no matter the past or current beliefs and practices, I can safely assume the best in them. A choose to see everyone as Sons and Daughters of God. I choose to see everyone as loved of God. I sin, I make mistakes, but I know that I am loved by God. This love is given to everyone.

June 15, 2014

Fathers Day

Today I listened to an excellent talk in our church meetings about our heavenly father and our earthly father. It got me viewing fathers day in a completely different point of view.

     How good of a father would one be if he got upset because he had to be a dad on fathers day? Fathers day has been a day for giving gifts and honoring fathers for all that they do. Sometimes fathers are catered to by giving them a day of rest from, otherwise, fatherly duties. While this is not a bad thing to do while honoring your father, a true father should not view fathers day as a day where this is expected.

    What does our Heavenly Father do on fathers day?
He teaches doctrine. He answers prayer. 
He offers more hope to those in despair.
 He comforts the weary. He strengthens the weak.
  He loves his children. He blesses the meek.

His joy is obtained from his children's success.
He upholds the good, He see's past our mess.
No rest from his love for each daughter and son.
No rest from comforting. He's never done.

He's always our father. He's always there.
His love never falters. He really does care.
Not a day goes by where joy isn't found.
No rest from his duties, One Eternal Round.

As a father, I hope to be like both my heavenly father and my earthly father. Since fathers day is about being a father, I want to remain one on that day. I hope to be there for my children every day. I hope to give the same level of guidance I received from my dad.

So as you search the scriptures and ponder the tender mercies the lord has given his children throughout time, try to be more like him and give tender mercies to your children. And whether they are smearing their food on the walls, or pushing their brother down the stairs, or whether they break into the refrigerator to mix the cool-aid with their hands. (just happened, right as I was typing this). Remember that this is the time to be a dad. This is the time to love your child. This is the time to be an example worth remembering. 

Here are some attributes of God that we can all work on
‘faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence'