Thursday, August 2, 2012

Identity and Purpose

I've felt impressed lately concerning the importance of learning, remembering, and acting commensurately upon my true identity and purpose in life. I've found that it totally changes the way I think, act and feel. I'm happier as I do so.

I've drawn upon The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the scriptures, and other sources to come up with the following two graphics, which we've printed and mounted in our ward 3rd-hour meetings.

Although these graphics were made for an LDS audience, I suspect everyone could find some direction in them - especially in the first identity statement, whereas that applies to everyone.

Here's a great quote that pretty much sums up my feelings:
“You are all the sons and daughters of God. Your spirits were created and lived as organized intelligences before the world was. You have been blessed to have a physical body because of your obedience to certain commandments in that premortal state. You are now born into a family to which you have come, into the nations through which you have come. … 
“I would charge you to say again and again to yourselves, as the Primary organization has taught the children to sing ‘I am a [son or daughter] of God’ and by so doing, begin today to live closer to those ideals which will make your life happier and more fruitful because of an awakened realization of who you are.” 
Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1973
Identity and Purpose (for LDS males)

Identity and Purpose (for LDS females)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"The Family: A Proclamation to the World" is Increasingly Apropos

Check out the wonderful video in the link below. It's great. I've also pasted the proclamation's text below. I believe it to be truly God's wisdom.

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Keeping in God's Name

This weekend in my scripture reading, I came across the following three passages that have inspired me in my parenting, hometeaching and other calling-related responsibilities and efforts. I hope they might be helpful to you as well.

In John 17, we read Christ's prayer to his Father, shortly before his sufferings. In his prayer, among other things, he makes a report concerning his work in relation to his stewardship. He prayed, as recorded in verse 12: "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost."

Question: What does it mean to "(keep someone) in (God's) name?"

I found this verse in 1 Timothy, chapter 4 verse 6: "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained."

I found this statement in the Bible Dictionary, under the title of prayer:
Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when his words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.
In John 15 Christ teaches the apostles how to "remain" and how to not wither as figurative branches cut off from their root vine. In verse 7 he admonishes them to allow "my words abide in you."

A few weeks ago I became intrigued with a radio program on, called The Light of Men. It's a dramatized representation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. There are 11 30-minute episodes, and I got hooked. I listened to one a day, sometimes more. I loved hearing the words of the Savior in their context.

Looking back on that two-week period, I can tell that I felt differently then. I felt wiser, more sober, more enlightened, more compassionate. While those words were fresh in my mind, I suppose I might say, I felt like I more fully possessed what the Bible Dictionary passage above refers to as the "mind of Christ." It was awesome.

So what can I do, then, as a father, hometeacher or bishop to help "(keep someone) in (God's) name?" It seems that one of the main things I can do is to keep those I serve in remembrance of the words of Christ. When those words are fresh in our minds we are connected to the vine. We are "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine." Our prayers are more efficacious. Our minds are more filled with truth. Our hearts are more filled with love. Our lives are more filled with service.

If I can help those I serve do that, hopefully I can also one day report that "none of them is lost."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feasting upon the Words of Christ, Together

As members of the Provo Peak Third ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have been invited by our ward leaders to make an increased effort to improve our personal gospel study, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Part of the prescribed qualitative direction is that after praying, working, being consistent, pondering, and looking for connections, patterns and parallels, we're to record and share our findings.

In addition to preparing to share with one another the aggregate experience of this six-month endeavor on March 27th, this page will serve as a launching pad for places to share insights along the way. Please feel free to use any of the links below to share your thoughts with others.

Google Spreadsheet with Bible and Book of Mormon Comparison
This link will take you to a spreadsheet where you can contribute doctrinal parallels between the standard works.

Questions in the Scriptures
This link will take you to a spreadsheet where we're cataloging all the questions we can find in the scriptures. These questions are great for pondering, and can be a great way of engaging the Holy Spirit to open our minds to revelation.

Word/Phrase Count, by Standard Work
This spreadsheet is being used to count the number of times interesting words or phrases are used in each standard work. The second tab shows the counts as proportions of the relative totals, and contains a graph showing the distribution.

Shared Thoughts Slide-Deck: Mighty; Might; "serve with all your might"
Personalize a slide in this presentation to share your take-away's from Elder Craig C. Christensen's invitation to study the use of the term "might" in the scriptures (as found in D&C 4:2).

Shared Thoughts Slide-Deck: Scriptures that Strengthen Us During Trying Times
When Christ was suffering for the sins and injustices of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane, "an angel appeared unto him from heaven, strengthening him." (see Luke 22:43) Supposing that this angel quoted scripture to the Lord, what scripture passages do you suppose that he may have shared? Personalize a slide in the slide deck accessed by this link and share with us your thoughts, as well as which scriptures are strengthening to you during your trying moments.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Yesterday at work, I was asked to share my thoughts about how we can prepare to receive personal revelation through and during general conference this weekend. Part of my response was, "a mind with a question in it is a mind that is ready for revelation, whether it's an answer to that question or some other."

That was one of those times where I learned from what my mouth said. :)

So, now I'm thinking about questions that I could be pondering as we go into this weekend. Not doubting questions, but the type of seeking questions like a child who wants to learn more. It's certainly possible to ask and seek for knowledge faithfully; having a learner's heart, not a skeptic's heart.

This morning I've come across a scripture that corroborates this principle:
2 Nephi 32:4
"Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark."

Questions can precede and follow conference. I think I'm more prone to remember to question after the fact. This week I'm remembering the importance of pre-conference pondering and question-forming.

I hope you find success doing the same.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice

Just helping spread the word.

There's a call for videos to be used in a crowdsourced video to air before the April 2012 general conference. Film yourself enjoying general conference this upcoming weekend, and then submit them to the editors.

This should be pretty cool.

Here's a video to help you learn more, and if you're interested, go to this link for more instructions.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Constancy: President Monson on Washington Post

I think this is awesome.

The prophet authored the following wonderfully wise article concerning the lessons learned from 9/11, and it was carried on the Washington Post's On Faith section. I couldn't think of any better way of summarizing it than simply re-posting it. Enjoy.

Beginning of article:

The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.

There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.

Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.

Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.

But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.

If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.

The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.

It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm.

Monday, August 22, 2011


We had a great sacrament meeting yesterday. Part of why it was great for me was that I had family there to witness and assist with the blessing of our new daughter. The other reason was how the speakers addressed very well the topics they were assigned: humility and discipleship. It was a great meeting.

I suppose it was more meaningful for me as well because I've recently challenged myself to study the topics assigned for the next week's sacrament meeting and prepare a talk as well.

Last week as I studied the topic of humility, I found the following two resources that I thought I'd share.

The first was a Mormon Channel radio show I came across on my phone. So they have a recurring program called Q&A where they field and respond to questions related to gospel doctrine. I really enjoyed it. Episode 14 is designed to answer the general question, "what is humility?". It's a great resource.

The other is a talk that is quoted in part in the radio program. In April 2006 general conference then-Elder Henry B. Eyring offered a talk entitled As a Child which addresses very well much of the essence of the call to humility - it really is a call to be as a child. It too is a great resource.

PS - here's a bonus resource - Moroni 7:43-44:

 43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.

 44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

PSS - Another couple talks on meekness.

Elder Maxwell:

Sister Holland:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Filled, Built, and Sanctified

The other day, while reading President Thomas S. Monson's general conference address concerning LDS temples, I was struck by the evidence of a pattern that is consistent, in my opinion, between those literal temples and us, as "temples" in which the spirit of God can dwell.

Referring to the actual temples, President Monson said,
"My brothers and sisters, temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."
 My attention first went to the verbs he chose: filled, built, and sanctified. It wasn't too hard to think of scriptural language wherein these verbs are used in reference to us:

  • Filled
    • Acts 2: 4 - And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
    • Mosiah 4: 3 - And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
    • Helaman 3: 35 - Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.
  • Built (or Edified)
    • 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 - Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
    • Doctrine and Covenants 50: 22 - Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
    • Helaman 5: 12 - And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
  • Sanctified
    • John 17: 19 - And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
    • 1 Samuel 16: 5 - And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
    • Leviticus 8:10 - And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.
    • Hebrews 13: 12 - Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
    • Moses 6: 60 - For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
    • Exodus 40: 13 - And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
    • Doctrine and Covenants 88: 34 - And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
I was also impressed by his choice of words that bring about those three things: faith, fasting, trials, testimonies, sacrifice, and service. Those activities, in sum, seem to me to constitute "the good life." Can any of us say that those who elect to fill their lives with those things are not happy? The pattern seems applicable to us, and I submit it to you as very sound advice.

It's my witness and experience that those who believe and have faith in Jesus Christ and his restored Gospel, and especially those who reverently worship and serve in His holy temples, are filled with joy and spiritual enthusiasm, are built up into men and women of admirable character, and are sanctified and prepared to return home to God. They're happy.

I know that the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are literally the houses of the Lord. They are known by their fruits, and their fruits are those who regularly attend and worship therein.
  • Mosiah 2: 41 - And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9 Things Parents Must Teach

Robert Fulghum wrote a well-titled book, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Although I enjoy the reading, if I were the author I might have made the home the center for learning rather than the school, and made the parents the teachers and focused on their central role. The parents' curriculum, therefore? Below.

So, last night Jess and I were up sighing about how our children (five and three years old) will never remember all the things we're doing with them (other than by the thousands upon thousands of 21st-century digital photos and videos we're capturing). We asked one another, for example, "can you remember ever going to the grocery store with your mom?" Neither of us could. It's kind of sad - parenting is a very low fan-fare job.

(Parenthetically, the fact that we can't remember our early years and yet they are real history is an understandable and practical example that can be used to help us understand the doctrine of a real, although temporarily forgotten, pre-earth life.)

We found solace in the fact that although our kids will never remember most of the trips to the water park, the bathtimes, bedtimes, stories, meals - although they'll forget most of the outings, books, haircuts, and trips to the grocery store - they will subconsciously remember and be crucially molded by these first eight years - even especially the first three years. Our efforts are not in vain. These are the years to teach responsibility, joy, and everything else they will need to be well-functioning, self-reliant adults some day. Even though they won't remember the details, they'll remember the feeling and they'll have the habits and abilities they'll have developed.

President Thomas S. Monson recently taught this at a CES fireside:

"In the wisdom of our Heavenly Father, you and I were born into mortality and welcomed into loving families.
"I pause to let you know how much your families pray for you. They worry about you. They wonder how you’re getting along. They love you so much. Don’t disappoint them.
"The Lord tells us in the Doctrine and Covenants that during the first eight years of our lives, power is not given unto Satan to tempt us as little children (see D&C 29:46–47). We had an eight-year head start on Lucifer.
"This information was given by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith back in 1830. In our own time Dr. Glenn Doman, a renowned scholar and scientist who has almost definitely never heard of the revelation quoted, has, through his research, come to the conclusion that “a newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of [a] computer, although superior to one in almost every way.
"'What is placed in the child’s brain during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. If you put misinformation into his brain during this period, it is extremely difficult to erase it.' He believed that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years old.3"You might ask, 'Why is President Monson emphasizing this? Our first eight-year period of learning is long past.' But you, my brothers and sisters, are going to be parents one day, and you will want to emphasize the importance to your children and to your future generations of descendants of that first eight-year period."

So, what's the curriculum for parents. What are the most important things to teach? Has the Lord left us young parents alone as to what we should teach these absorbing little mimics?

Luckily, no.

Here are nine things I find in the scriptures that parents are to emphasize and teach:

  1. "We talk of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26) - If nothing else, our kids must learn from us who Jesus Christ is and what he is all about.
  2. How to have "faith in Christ" (Alma 25:16) - Similar to the former, but distinct in that this is where the rubber meets the road - where we come in. This is the only way to have any enduring hope in life.
  3. How to repent and receive forgiveness (3 Nephi 9:13-14) - Kids need to know how to reconcile themselves unto God for the future day when they will inevitably "(go) astray."
  4. The necessity and purpose of baptism (Alma 7:11-15) - Commitment to a higher standard is what I suppose brings greatest relief to parents of young adult kids who eventually leave the nest. If the child is covenanted to the Lord and takes that covenant seriously, the parents primary role is complete and the continued parenting is between the child and their Father in heaven. Take-away: the parents' job is to sheppard their children to the covenant.
  5. The necessity and purpose of the Holy Ghost (John 14:26) - The Father's special messenger assigned to help us keep our covenants and become fully converted is less useful to the children who are not taught by their parents how to hear and heed the promptings of the Spirit. With that teaching, they're protected.
  6. How to pray (Doctrine and Covenants 68:28) - Spiritually self-reliant adults who can speak to God and receive answers to their questions and support to their problems, necessarily first learned how to pray. Parents stand in the ideal position to teach this to their children (as well as model the analogous experience in day-to-day life as kids ask mom and dad for stuff all the time).
  7. How to keep the commandments (Alma 37:35) - Disobedience to God's explicitly stated laws and joy are incompatible and cannot exist in the same person at the same time, any more than light can shine without electricity or fire. Our kids must learn "wisdom while in their youth," and how can they know except someone "should guide (them)."
  8. How to keep the Sabbath day holy (Doctrine and Covenants 68:29) - Parents must teach the kids how to rest, and how to renew the covenant, else the kids will be in danger of losing their spiritual stamina.
  9. How to work (Doctrine and Covenants 68:30) - Life is work. The terms of Christian discipleship present most demanding work - at home, in the professional workplace, in the Church, and in the community. It's in the work that we find the Master: "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served...?" (Mosiah 5:13)
I'm thankful for God's involvement in our lives, especially as parents, and I'm glad my kids will at least remember something.