Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thy will be done - 3 Nephi 15:11-18

11 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he said unto those twelve whom he had chosen:
12 Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.
13 And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you.
14 And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem.
15 Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land.
16 This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:
17 That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
18 And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 15:11 - 18)

My comments:
Jesus pulls his chosen disciples aside and explains to them that they are to be a light to this people. He explains that those in Jerusalem do not know about them, because of their (the people in Jerusalem) iniquity.

My favorite part of this passage is in verse 18, where the Lord states that He didn’t tell the people in Jerusalem more because He was commanded to say no more.
Everything that the Savior does is because it is His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” That was not a one time occurrence. He has completely turned His will over to His Father. Seeking to do exactly what the Father wants Him to do. There’s a profound lesson there for me.

I am expected to keep the Lord’s commandments. In similar fashion I need to be willing to say, “Not my will, but Thy will be done,” to the Savior. The unenlightened could suggest that if I’m simply doing what someone else wants then I’m a blind automaton, with no free will of my own. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My agency, my free will, to paraphrase Elder Neal A. Maxwell, is the only unique thing that is mine that I can give. Everything else that I have in life is a gift and a blessing from God. I lay my free will on the altar of sacrifice to my Lord and Savior, and by doing so, I receive it back several fold.

Let’s think about this for a second. Let’s say that I’m doing only what I want. I am trying to live as luxurious of a life as possible and enjoy the finer things of life. If I’m foolish, I buy this life with credit cards and other forms of debt. I now have to do the will of the credit card companies and banks, i.e. sacrifice other things I might want to pay them back.

Perhaps more easily seen, what if I’m addicted to drugs, gambling, pornography, alcohol, tobacco, shopping, etc? I am now a slave to my vices. My free will is no longer my own, because I have carelessly given it away and have become a slave to whatever addiction I might be struggling with. My ability to choose what I want to do with my life has been decreased by my own doing.

However, if I give my free will to my Savior, it is always mine to do with as I will. He will never take it away from me. Also, since He only wants what is best for me, by giving my will to Him, I will receive what is best for me, even though, I might think that I want other things at any given time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sure Foundation - 3 Nephi 14:21-27

Temples provide a sure foundation.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:21 - 27)

There are obvious applications of the first few verses of stating that one must belong to the true religion, and that there will be those that profess that they followed Christ, but didn’t. However, I’m concerned with how does the scripture apply to me. How do I keep myself from being in a state where I will call out, “Lord, Lord…” and then have the Lord respond as above?

A good start would be to follow the admonition in verse 23 to not, “work iniquity.” The answer comes in the verses just below. Where is my foundation? What is the rock that I need to build on? 1 Corinthians 10:4 states, “and that Rock was Christ.” Also in Ephesians 2:20 we read, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”

If I put my trust and faith in the Rock of my Redeemer, I can not fail. Alternatively, if I put my trust in my own arm, or in my own abilities, or in someone other than the Lord, I am on sandy soil.

I’m grateful to understand that I’m not expected to make it through all of life’s vicissitudes on my own. I can build my spiritual house on a sure foundation and withstand the storms that are inherent in day to day living.

As a practical application, I found this experiment on-line here “Put some sand in a bucket. Place a small block on the top of the sand, and gradually saturate the sand with water. The block still rests on the surface. Now, strike the bucket sharply, and watch the block of wood quickly drop. This is called "liquefaction". The same can happen to houses built.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Missionary e-mail 2-25-08

Hey there!
What an eventful week! Man I wish I could have more time to explain everything that happened this week. I hope I can remember all the important stuff. Well first of all, we made some killer no-bake cookies on P-day that we gave to a couple members. Everyone loved them and wants to try to make them themselves. We walked down a new street this week that we have never been on. We passed by a house and had to take a picture of what we saw inside. Inside the gate was easily the biggest dog I have ever seen in my life. Believe it or not, the tops of its ears come up to my shoulders. Its huge. I'll have to have my comp make me a copy of the picture when he develops it since I didnt have my camera on me. That and the picture of "Beethoven" the second most massive dog I have seen in my life. It is bigger than the guy the owners pay to walk him.

Monday night, we found this girl name Annie that we gave a book of mormon to and she told us she would read it. When we came back wednesday night, to our total surprise, she had read the whole book of mormon from cover to cover. She was way more open to our message after that and accepted a baptisimal date. Unfortunately, she had to go somewhere yesterday and couldnt make it to church. I hope she gets baptized soon.

Sunday was just full of miracles. We had a ton of investigators at church this week and it was a great meeting. All of our investigators loved the talks and felt the spirit. We have been working with one lady named Euvira that has had one foot in her church, one in ours. Last week, she told us she didn't want us teaching her any more and almost threw us out of her house like she did the last elders that were there. We managed to talk her into praying to find out what God wanted her to do. She made it to church and felt the spirit, asked for an interview with the bishop who gave her some advice and after church decided that she would be baptized this saturday(the 1st).

Eliana, the woman who has been hearing from the missionaries for 2 years but couldn't be baptized because of her husband, accepted a date for the 1st too. We have 5 baptisms marked for this weekend.

I got a call from the assistants to the president on saturday night at 10 PM I was worried about what the heck it could possibly be. They told me I needed to call the President the next night. It left me totally nervous wondering what it could be. When I called him last night, he told me I was being called to serve on the staff in the mission office and would be leaving on tuesday morning (tomorrow). I will be the Historian/Secretary and probably taking the place of the last elder as Zone Leader of that zone. I have to leave a whole week early to stay in the office to be shown what my new job will be. I won't even be here to help my investigators but my comp will stay with other elders from a nearby area until his new companion comes. I still have very little idea of what I will be doing but I'll be sure to write next week and explain more. To tell the truth, this isn't exactly what I wanted to do but I guess its what the Lord wants me to be doing so I'll just have to do my best. I know its kinda trunkie but this should be my second to last area. What a weird thought. Man... time flies by fast. Im at that point in my mission that I'm trying to put on the brakes to make time go a little slower so I can do everything I want but it just keeps flying on by.

Well I have to head home to start packing my bags. I have to be out the door at 7 AM tomorrow morning to head out to my new area. I love you guys tons and hope you have a great week. Tchau!

Elder Childs

Sunday, February 24, 2008

By their fruits - 3 Nephi 14: 15-20

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:15 - 20)

False prophets that come in sheep’s clothing makes me think of preachers of the word that are more concerned about themselves than about me or the Lord. They love the limelight more than He who is the Light of the world. They will devour your substance while telling you that all is well. In the end you are left spiritually starved and they move on to other targets.

I watched a video of a televangelist recently. He boasted of being a billionaire. He considered those that weren’t striving to become wealthy as idiots. He figured that hell would be full of them, and it would have to be hell to spend an eternity with people like that.

It’s funny. I don’t recall Christ being wealthy. I wonder what this pastor thinks of Him? Because when you stop to think about it, since He created the earth, He obviously knew where all of the precious metals and gemstones are. However, He wasn’t concerned about that. He was concerned about my eternal salvation and yours.

By their fruits ye shall know them. One of the things that I really like about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is the fact that it has no paid ministry. My current bishop is an accountant, and my previous one is an electrical engineer.

Why do they serve in the church then, if not for a concern for the welfare of others? They certainly don’t line their pockets with cash because of their church service. Their motivations are of love of the Lord, and a love for their fellowmen. I know them by their fruits.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

3 Nephi 14-13-14

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:13 - 14)

My comments:
From these verses it seems readily apparent to me that there are specific requirements that one must follow in order to find “life.” Couple this with Matthew 7:21-23 where it states,

“21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

and I become convinced that there are many people that think they will be saved but they have chosen the wrong path.

How do we know if we’re on the right path? Again, we can turn to the scriptures for the answer. In fact, we only need to look to the verses that just preceded these:

7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
8 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:7 - 10)

The command to pray is more frequently stressed in the scriptures than any other commandment. It does not seem reasonable to me that a loving Father in Heaven would command me so frequently to pray, if He wasn’t willing to respond. If you want to know the truth of which path to follow, ask Him that knows all things.

In my life, I have seen the hand of the Lord in many different ways speaking peace and comfort to me in times of trouble, and giving me guidance and direction when I needed it most, and was willing to humble myself before Him to ask.
May God bless you in your search for truth is my humble prayer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Roar for Powerful Words

Candace Salima just gave me the A Roar for Powerful Words award. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am now required to dispense my immense wisdom and give three writing tips, which means this should be a short post…

#1 – Don’t get discouraged. We write because we love it. There is magic in putting thoughts on paper that evoke strong emotional responses from those that read it. That and also because I haven’t yet found a good 12 step program to overcome my need to write…

I had a short story accepted for publication in a small periodical. I signed over my writes to the story and anxiously waited to see my name and words in print. The magazine went belly up and I never got published.

I submitted a short story to BYU’s Science Fiction/Fantasy magazine. The professor handed over the submissions to the students who then graded my work. It was very obvious that they enjoyed sword and sorcery fantasy. My story was about an accountant that hated his job, and his alter ego as the Faerie King. It was more cerebral than sword and sorcery. Anyway, the students, who had obviously been taught about conflict and resolution the same week they received my paper, didn’t see any conflict in the accountant, and both students let me know just how much my story sucked. Really, they hated it. Coincidentally, it was the same story that was accepted for publication by the magazine listed just above.

Oddly enough, every accountant who has seen it just loves it. Maybe I should submit it to the Journal of Accountancy.

Rejection letters are a part of the game. Grow thicker skin, or find a 12 step program to get out of writing. Oh, and if you do find one, forward me their address. Just kidding.

If you’re discouraged, submit something to the Ensign or New Era. Sure they might reject you too, but they will do it in a very loving way. I’ve never felt so good about being rejected as I did from them. Obviously, they don’t get their editorial staff from BYU’s science fiction/fantasy department.

#2 – Show your writing to more people than just your mom and your spouse. If you can, find people that really don’t know you very well and ask them to critique it, if they actually know something about writing, so much the better. I started to write a story once. 282 pages later I finished it and showed it to my dad. He loved it. His only critique was that somehow the characters didn’t come alive like they do in other books. Once I let people that knew how to write read it, I discovered that I needed to learn a little something about showing and not telling a story. If you don’t know what that last sentence means, please figure it out before you write 282 pages. If you’re Tom Clancy, you don’t need to know the difference between a passive verb and an active one, (if you’ve read his works, you know what I’m talking about). For the rest of us, it’s a good thing to know the difference. Again, it goes back to the whole show don’t tell thing.

#3 – Write what you know. My fiction writing frequently is in the fantasy genre. Do I know any elves, dragons, magicians, knights, etc? Yes, I do. I met them in The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, and many other books. Also, I work into my fantasy stories, things about my own life. As a child, I remember my grandmother bitterly complained about how my dad never once let her win in a game of checkers. Side note – my father is a rocket scientist; he is wicked smart. When I related this story to my father, he just chuckled and replied, “No, I never did.” I wrote that into one of my fantasy stories, and when I need to write about something of a competitive nature I remember that story, and the emotional context of it.

Well there are my tips, your mileage may vary.

I’m going to give this award to Jeff Lindsay (Mormanity), James Peless (This I know to be True), Mike Rogan (politicaLDS), Nichole Giles (LDS Writers Blogck), and just because I don’t always follow the rules like I’m supposed to, I’m going to give one right back to Candace Salima (Dream a little dream) because her political and religious writings are always spot on.

Why We Love Our Pets

I received this via e-mail the other day, and liked it enough to post it here. Enjoy.

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?

1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?

2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

3. Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!

4. Rottweiler: Make me.

5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!

7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.

8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.

9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb!

10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

11. Chihuahua : Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or 'We don't need no stinking light bulb.'

12. Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

13. Queensland Healer: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...then I will roll in the poo.

14. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?

Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is:
'How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?'


They help out around the house...

They protect our children...

They look out for the smaller ones...

They show us how to relax...

They 'converse' with each other.

They help you when you're down...

They are great at decorating for the Holidays.

They have 'great' expectations.

They are Patriotic.

They are happy to 'test' the water.

They know who's 'BOSS.

AND - They know when we need a good LAUGH!

It is done by moving the corners of the mouth upward.
LET ME SHOW YOU HOW.............

Missionary E-Mail 2-18-08

Hey there everyone!

Sounds like you all had an exciting week. Mine wasn't all that exciting but it was better than last week for sure!

Like I said I would, I took some photos this week to send to you guys. Nothing too exciting but hey that's all I've got. Some investigators gave us some weird fruit to eat. They were both really good. You have to cut them open and pull out the seeds with your hands then suck all the fruit off of them. Kinda weird but tasty.

The fist one is called Beribá I think.

and the one with the purple seeds
is called Cacau (or cocoa in english) apparently it is from this fruit that we get cocoa. I didn't know that. Surprisingly enough, the fruit doesnt taste anything like chocolate.

Carnaval ended last week but this week, the results from Vestibular came in. Colleges here accept people based solely on one test (kinda like the SAT or ACT) and not based on any previous achievements like in the US. Each school has a different test based on different Majors you chose. They announce the results of this test, Vestibular, on the radio, internet, TV... its a big deal. Those that pass spend the whole day partying and have a few customs that have been going on for years and years such as shaving their head, covering people with flower and eggs and just about anything else you can find in the kitchen, and of course, drinking a huge amount of beer while blaring loud music in front of their house (mainly the "I Passed Vestibular" song which gets played and repeated and gets on your nerves real fast). It was way more wild here the day the results came out than it was for Carnaval. Go figure.

Well this week was super busy. We have a ton of investigators spread out all over our area so we have to take at least one bus a day sometimes more and do a ton of walking. It all payed off though since we had a ton of people at church this week and a lot of people that will be baptized soon.

We have an investigator that I might have told you about but I don't remember. Her name is Eliana and she has been living with her husband for years, but they never got married. About 17 years ago, he got sick and his situation just got worse and worse over the years. He became paralyzed about 10 years ago and about 5 years ago turned into a total vegetable, not being able to talk, or respond in any way. Since she lived with him, she could not be baptized even though Nobody fully understood why, the mission president just refused it. For the last 2 years she has been investigating the church but finds it hard to go since she had to constantly stay home with her husband. She has already read the Book of Mormon once through and about half way again. Last week her husband passed away. Finally we will be able to help Eliana get baptized... something she has been wanting for so long.

There are several other people we are teaching like this that have had things been getting in the way of their baptism for a long time but finally are getting things resolved. One family we are teaching will finally get their divorce papers this week from a previous marriage and will be able to get married this month. We are seeing a lot of miracles like this recently and are being really blessed. With another transfer coming up soon, I am praying to not be sent away so I can see all these people we have been working with for so long finally be able to get baptized.

Well thats all for now. I love you tons and hope you all have a fantastic week!

Elder Childs

Judge not - 3 Nephi 14:1-5

1 AND now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:1 - 5)

My comments:
The significance that I get from verses 1 and 2 is the need to be tolerant and merciful. When a woman was caught in the act of adultery and brought to the Lord by her accusers, they wanted to stone her, and they wanted to know what the Lord would do with her. He said, that let him that was without sin cast the first stone, See John 8:7.

Not having reached perfection yet, who am I to cast aspersions at someone else? Who am I to talk about how great I am in comparison to anyone else?

Ironically, and unfortunately, I see this sort of unjustified judging going on amongst people of different faiths. With Mitt Romney having recently been in the Presidential race, I read several hate filled diatribes on-line, by those that claimed to be Christian espousing how evil my religion is. In retaliation, I saw too many members of my faith not willing to turn the other cheek.

Even those that were not of my faith, but took exception to how the LDS church was being impugned by so-called “Christians” had a bitter taste in their mouths about how we were portrayed. Ultimately, Christianity loses from these arguments. Non-believers might justifiably look at the hate being spewed by those that call themselves Christian and say, “If that’s Christianity, I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that included: "On the Internet, the Romney bid prompted an outpouring of broadsides against Mormonism from both the secular and religious worlds. Evangelical Christian speakers who consider it their mission to criticize Mormon beliefs lectured to church congregations across the country. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the Catholic journal First Things, wrote that a Mormon presidency would threaten Christian faiths. Atheist author Christopher Hitchens called Mormonism "a mad cult" on, and Bill Keller, a former convict who runs an online ministry in Florida, told a national radio audience that a vote for Mr. Romney was a vote for Satan."

Where religious intolerance rules, Christianity suffers.

Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). When I incorporate his teachings, like those stated in the verses above, into my life, it drives out the need to be better than anyone else. I don’t consider myself superior to others, rather I see all men as children of a loving Heavenly Father, and therefore I should extend a hand out, and a hand up, to all around me and leave the bitterness of dissent to others.

The last thing that I would want to have happen, would be to someday return to my Savior and have him call me a hypocrite because of how I judged others.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

No Sex for 30 days and Overcoming Addiction

The following article caught my eye the other day. Initially I chuckled, and then it caused me to think of some of the peripheral values/issues involved:

TAMPA - A pastor has a new challenge for his parishioners. It involves sex - a subject that may be taboo in many congregations.
The Relevant Church in Tampa's Ybor City has issued a 30-day sex challenge.

"It's going to be tempting and awkward at the same time for sure," said parishioner Brent Cayson.

Single men and women can't have sex for 30 days, and married couples are urged to have it every day.

"If you look at studies, studies say in 30 days you can develop a habit," said Pastor Paul Wirth. It definitely caught wives in the church by surprise.

"Our married people are far more fearful than our single people," said Wirth.

"Sex is about more than intercourse and that's what we're trying to tell people," said church member Jarret Haas.

Wirth has found biblical references that he says suggest Jesus disapproved of pre-marital sex and promoted sex in marriage. So, he believes people connect to God through life-long commitment.

That's why he tells his single followers to abstain, and his married followers to indulge.

My Comments:
I have to concur with Pastor Wirth that scriptures suggest that we should abstain from pre-marital physical intimacy before marriage, and that we should engage in it after marriage. In fact, the scriptures are rather blunt on the subject. No physical intimacy before marriage made # 7 on Moses’ top ten list, i.e. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Conversely, The very first commandment that the Lord gave to Adam and Eve was, “Be fruitful and multiply.” See Genesis 1:28.

That said, the single members of his, or any congregation, should abstain not just for 30 days, but until they get married. I don’t think that I want to discuss how frequently married couples should share this intimacy, I’ll leave that to them.

Is it really feasible to believe that a habit that involves such powerful physical urges as this can be made in 30 days? If I stop any particular sin, or resist any given temptation for 30 days, does that mean that I shouldn’t be troubled with it ever again?

Let me say that I see persisting in any worthwhile behavior for 30 days as a good thing. If I was an aspiring writer struggling to find time to write, do I think that it would benefit me to get up an hour earlier than normal and to focus that time on writing for 30 days? Absolutely. It would help to develop a pattern that would become easier to do over time.

However, I would suggest that ceasing sin and temptation is a different matter. As it relates to singles, I think the issue above comes closer to how to overcome addiction.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has wonderful addiction recovery programs for those that have sexual addictions, for those that have substance abuse problems, to any other kind of addiction you can think of. They have a manual to help those that desire to overcome addiction that can be found HERE.

It follows a 12 step program similar to AA and other groups. Its 12 steps are:

Step 1
Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

Step 2
Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.

Step 3
Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son,Jesus Christ.

Step 4
Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.

Step 5
Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.

Step 6
Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

Step 7
Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.

Step 8
Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

Step 9
Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

Step 10
Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

Step 11
Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power
to carry it out.

Step 12
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

As I read these steps, I am convinced that Heavenly Father and my Savior need to be part of the equation to overcome bad habits. First and foremost, I need to accept that I have an addiction, or bad habit that I want to overcome. And then, realize that reliance on the Savior is the key. One of my favorite quotes about changing behavior was made by President Boyd K. Packer, “I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior.”

I applaud Pastor Wirth’s desire to help his flock. I hope and pray that the Lord will bless them in their efforts to become more Christ-like.

More importantly, I encourage those that may be struggling with sin and temptations that seem overwhelming, to download the manual above and see if you can find value there.

For me, maybe I’ll start getting up an hour earlier each day for the next 30 days, to spend a little more time on my writing…

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

3 Nephi 13:16-21

16 Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 13:16 - 21)

My Comments:
The question I ask myself as I read this passage is, Why do we worship as we do? When that question is asked to a broad spectrum of people, it will generate many different answers. Why go to church? What do we hope to gain by doing so? When/if we go to church, what is our motivation? What should it be? Can I go to church with the hope that I will draw closer to my Heavenly Father, and at the same time, socialize with people whose company I enjoy? If I didn’t have any friends at my church should I go find another where I felt that I fit in better? If I try to find a church where people believe just as I do, does that mean that I’m trying to find a God that believes like me, instead of me trying to conform my will and thoughts to what He believes? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

3 Nephi 13:14-15

14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 13:14 - 15)

I take great comfort in this passage. Heaven knows I have a lot that needs to be forgiven. Life is a journey. My hope is that at the end of it, as I look back over the stream of time from where I began, I will see progress that I’ve made in my quest to become closer to my Savior.

I hope that I will be able to see others, as my Savior sees them, and that by so doing will be able to feel the love for them that He feels; and not just for people that treat me kindly, but for everyone.

Like most, I can look at my life and see my weaknesses and strengths. On occasion, I have tried to list the people that have been hurt because of my weaknesses. A few of them I have contacted and asked for their forgiveness. Some of them had no memory at all of things that I had been carrying around for years. All were grateful that I made the effort.

The most amazing part of this experience was every time, after I had reached out to another and asked for forgiveness, (which frequently meant I had to forgive them too) I felt the Savior’s love and calming reassurance that He was aware of who I was, and that His love and forgiveness were also available to me.

What do you have to lose, other than perhaps the burden of carrying around anger, resentment, guilt, etc. that you have carried unnecessarily for far too long? This is not a project to aimlessly run into. It will take some pondering, thought, and prayer to know how to do it correctly. As you make a list of others you have harmed, if you’re like me, you’ll see the exact same names of people that have harmed you. First, you might need to be able to forgive them for their trespasses against you. Take it to the Lord in humble and sincere prayer. The Lord teaches us to pray for our enemies. At first, I just thought that meant that I should pray, “Lord, help me to forgive so and so for what he/she did to me.” I have found my ability to forgive others is enhanced, when I pray for them as fervently as I pray for myself. Praying for your enemies means praying on their behalf for the same things that you’re praying for yourself. As you do so, you’ll be amazed at the miracle of forgiveness that will flow gently into your life.

After I was able to forgive others that offended me, it became easier for me to reach out to them and ask for their forgiveness.

A reasonable person might want to ask, Why would I want to do this? The answer is FREEDOM. Freedom from anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, guilt, shame, etc. After I figured out how to forgive others, and to ask their forgiveness, I was ready to forgive myself for some of the knuckleheaded things I’ve done. And most importantly, I was able to feel my Savior’s forgiveness and love.

This can be a difficult thing to do, but great risks bring great rewards. If anyone wants to share personal experiences about this that might help others, please do so in the comments section.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Missionary e-mail 2-11-07

Hey there everyone,
Carnaval ended... thank goodness. It was much more mild than last year but we still had to duck into other streets and alleys to avoid some large parades of people. Not too bad. The worst part was, all of our investigators were out of town or busy during canaval and it was impossible to find new investigators with everyone partying so it made the work a little tough but all in all, it was a pretty good week.

A couple miracles happened, including that a ton of people showed up to church. More people at church means more baptisms which is a good thing. We taught a man a month ago and that same week he left for Sao Paulo for a month to study. We were walking down the street this week and found him washing his car. The first thing he said to us was that he had read in the book we had left for him a month ago and wanted to go to church with us this sunday. He did. Ill keep you up to date on how that goes.

We were supposed to have a baptism this week but it fell through. The lady didnt feel ready yet and has to make the decision to leave her church to join ours. It has been hard for her but she is trying. Hopefully in a week or 2 she will make the decision and be baptized.

I know I promised you some good stories and pics and stuff this week but really, this week was pretty uneventful and nothing good to take pictures of. Ill try harder this week to come up with something good. I love you all tons and hope you have a great week. Get well soon all of you that are sick. Tchau!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Article of Faith # 13

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

(Pearl of Great Price | Articles of Faith 1:13)

Much of the sentiment from this Article of Faith comes from Philippians 4:8 where it states, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I love that the final Article of Faith is a statement of optimism. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that gives hope to all mankind. Its purpose and intent is to help raise us up and bring us closer to our Father in Heaven. The gospel of Jesus Christ is Living Water for spiritually thirsty souls. It will spring up in us as everlasting life, and will draw us to the Tree of Life, whose fruit is the greatest of all the gifts of God, see 1
Nephi 15:36
and Doctrine and Covenants 14:7

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Article of Faith # 12

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

(Pearl of Great Price | Articles of Faith 1:12)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that is important to follow the law wherever they live. Members of the church (Saints) that live in the United States, are expected to follow the laws of the United States, Saints that live in Russia are expected to follow the laws of Russia.

The church’s doctrine regarding governments can be found in Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads in part:

1 WE believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men show respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.
9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world's goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 134:1 - 10)

Finally, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is running for the office of President of the United States, I hear and read where people are worried that if he was elected that the country would then more or less be run by the church. As can be read above, particularly in verse 9, we see that would be against the church’s own doctrines. One of the fundamental pillars of our religion is the freedom to choose. We are free to choose to be members of this church and follow its teachings, and likewise, we are free to choose not to.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

3 Nephi 13:1-13

1 VERILY, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.
2 Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;
4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest thou shalt not do as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 13:1 - 6)

My comments:
As I’m going about my life trying to do good, my motivation should be, “I do what I do, because I love my Savior.” As I do that, I forget about myself, my selfish desires, my need to look good to others. I merely want to please Him.

As that becomes the motivating factor in my life, I don’t need the acclaim, thanks, glory of the world, just the quiet reassurance that my Heavenly Father and Savior love me. As I lose myself in His service, I will find a more abundant life; a life of peace and certainty.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
12 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

((Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 13:7 - 13)

My comments:
The Savior teaches the people how to pray and call on the name of the Father. He teaches His followers to be simple and sincere in their hearts and words. We’re taught to address our Father reverently, and then to ask that the Lord’s will be accomplished. I need to seek that His divine will be done, and not my sometimes selfish desires. The idea is that I get in tune with what he believes is best, and seek for that.

We’re taught to be forgiving and to remember that we’re not perfect either, therefore we should be more tolerant of the mistakes of others. As we do so, we are able to ask the Father to help us overcome our weakness and shortcomings. We end much as we began, by giving reverence to Him where all honor and glory belong.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Glenn Beck on the Passing of Gordon B. Hinckley

3 Nephi 12:43-48

43 And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;
44 But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
46 Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled.
47 Old things are done away, and all things have become new.
48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 12:43 - 48)

My Comments:
The test of true discipleship is to see others as the Savior sees them. That is frequently not a very easy thing to do. It is easy to get caught up in the cares and concerns of this world, and to feel that if someone else has harmed me, then I am justified in trying to harm them.

However, if I can see others as children of a loving God, and therefore my brothers and sisters, I will be more patient with them. I will forgive them quicker; and instead of trying to get even with those that have wronged me, I will try to lift them up out of whatever negative emotions they are experiencing.

This is easy to say, and usually more difficult to do. But as I give place in my heart for the Spirit, and enjoy His companionship, I am less likely to take offense when others do or say things, that perhaps they’ll regret later.

Though I won’t attain it in this life, I need to strive to be perfect. For me, I try to take that one day at a time. Today, I will try to live a good life. Today, I will try to be a little more patient and understanding, realizing that just like me, others go through challenges and struggles as well. Today, I will try to lift the burdens of someone else. Today, if I’m going to be successful in this effort, I will need the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, February 1, 2008

3 Nephi 12:21-26

21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.
26 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost senine. And while ye are in prison can ye pay even one senine? Verily, verily, I say unto you, Nay.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 12:21 - 26)

Anger is almost never my friend. It is an emotion that I think everyone struggles with from time to time. I can read instances in the scriptures where it talks about the Lord’s anger, and it begs the question, when is anger appropriate? Some passages of scripture that discuss anger include: (note: the “a” in these verses represents the word anger or angry)
Gen. 27:45 Until thy brother's a. turn away
Gen. 49:7 Cursed be their a.
Ex. 11:8 went out from Pharaoh in a great a.
Ex. 32:19 Moses' a. waxed hot
1 Sam. 20:30 Saul's a. was kindled against Jonathan
Ps. 37:8 cease from a., and forsake wrath
Prov. 14:17 He that is soon a. dealeth foolishly
Prov. 15:18 he that is slow to a. appeaseth strife
Prov. 16:32 slow to a. is better than the mighty
Prov. 19:11 discretion of a man deferreth his a.
Prov. 21:14 A gift in secret pacifieth a.
Prov. 22:24 Make no friendship with an a. man
Prov. 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and a. is outrageous
Eccl. 7:9 a. resteth in the bosom of fools
Matt. 5:22 a. with his brother without a cause
1 Cor. 13:5 is not easily provoked
Eph. 4:31 bitterness ... and a. ... be put away
Col. 3:8 put off all these, a., wrath, malice
Col. 3:21 provoke not your children to a.
Titus 1:7 a bishop ... not soon a.
1 Ne. 16:38 stir up their hearts to a.
2 Ne. 4:13 a. with me because of the admonitions
2 Ne. 4:29 not a. again because of mine enemies
2 Ne. 28:20 stir them up to a. against ... good
2 Ne. 28:28 a. because of the truth
2 Ne. 33:5 no man will be a.
3 Ne. 11:30 to stir up ... men with a.
Moro. 9:3 continually to a. one with another
D&C 5:8 mine a. is kindled
D&C 10:24 he stirreth up their hearts to a
See also Ex. 4:14; Deut. 1:37; 4:25; 9:18; Judg. 2:12; 1 Kgs. 15:30; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 85:4; 103:8; Isa. 1:4; 48:9; 65:3; Jer. 8:19; 32:30; Jonah 4:9; D&C 1:13; 60:2; 63:11, 32; 84:24; Moses 8:15.
These passages suggest that anger is a bad thing. But we also have these scriptures:

Ex. 4:14 anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses
Num. 14:23 (Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11; D&C 84:24) sware in my wrath, they shall not enter
Deut. 1:37 (3:26; 4:21) Lord was angry with me for your sakes
Deut. 4:25 (9:18) do evil ... provoke him to anger
Deut. 6:15 (7:4; 2 Kgs. 13:3) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled
Deut. 29:28 Lord rooted them out ... in anger
Judg. 2:12 followed other gods ... and provoked the Lord to anger
Judg. 2:14 anger of the Lord was hot against Israel
1 Kgs. 15:30 provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger
2 Kgs. 17:20 Lord rejected all the seed of Israel
2 Kgs. 22:13 wrath of the Lord ... because our fathers have not hearkened
Ps. 7:11 God is angry with the wicked every day
Ps. 85:4 cause thine anger toward us to cease
Ps. 103:9 neither will he keep his anger for ever
Isa. 1:4 provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger
Isa. 30:27 Lord cometh ... burning with his anger
Isa. 48:9 For my name's sake will I defer mine anger
Isa. 51:17 hast drunk ... the cup of his fury
Isa. 65:3 provoketh me to anger continually
Isa. 66:14 his i. toward his enemies
Jer. 7:20 mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place
Jer. 10:10 nations shall not be able to abide his i.
Jer. 32:30 provoked me to anger with the work of their hands
Ezek. 21:31 pour out mine i. upon thee
Ezek. 22:24 nor rained upon in the day of i.
Nahum 1:6 who can stand before his i.
Mark 3:5 looked round about on them with anger
John 3:36 believeth not ... the wrath of God abideth on him
Rom. 1:18 wrath of God ... against all ungodliness
Rom. 2:8 unto them that are contentious ... i. and wrath
Eph. 5:6 because of these things cometh the wrath of God
Col. 3:6 for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh
Heb. 10:27 fearful looking for of judgment and fiery i.
Rev. 14:10 wrath of God ... poured ... into the cup of his i.
Rev. 16:19 great Babylon ... the fierceness of his wrath
2 Ne. 1:17 God should come out in the fulness of his wrath
Alma 12:36 iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath
Alma 40:14 fearful looking for the fiery i. of the wrath
Ether 2:9 his wrath shall come upon them
Ether 14:25 Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath
D&C 1:13 anger of the Lord is kindled
D&C 5:8 stiffnecked generation—mine anger is kindled against them
D&C 19:20 repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power
D&C 29:17 because of the wickedness ... mine i. is full
D&C 59:21 his wrath kindled ... who confess not his hand
D&C 60:2 hide the talent ... mine anger is kindled against them
D&C 63:11 with whom God is angry he is not well pleased
D&C 63:32 I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked
D&C 93:47 must needs stand rebuked before the Lord
D&C 97:24 i. of the Lord is kindled against their abominations
D&C 109:52 may thine anger be kindled, and thine i. fall.
These passages of scripture suggest that the Lord Himself gets angry from time to time. Why is that? A careful study of the passages involved will show that when God is angry, it is because we are doing things that will ultimately damn our souls. It is His intent and desire that we do those things that will bring us joy and happiness. As we sin through our bad choices we are acting against our own best interest. We are doing something sinful because we expect it to give us short term pleasure without realizing the long term consequences of our actions. Those actions are usually motivated by pride and selfishness. As we sin, we distance ourselves from our Savior; we are rejecting the atoning sacrifice that He made for us. In effect, we are telling the Savior that we don’t care that He suffered for our sins. We don’t care that He bled from every pore, so great was His agony for our sins.

The Lord’s anger is intended to bring us back to Him. Think of how you parent a child. Typically, I have a carrot (incentive to do good) in one hand, and a stick (disincentive to do bad), in the other. I always hope that the carrot will work, but if a child is going down the wrong path, and the carrot can’t motivate the child to do what is right, then my love for the child necessitates using the stick from time to time, to get the child headed back in the direction that will ultimately lead to his/her best interests.

The challenge with us is that so often our anger isn’t motivated by love for another, rather it is usually motivated by selfishness, i.e. I’m, not getting what I want out of any given situation and it’s making me angry. When I’m angry it’s all too frequently because I’m not getting what I want, and not so much because I’m concerned that you’re doing something that will harm you. Understanding the underlying factors of anger should help us learn to control it better. As I am less focused on what I want, and more on what does the Lord want, my feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, and pride diminish and are replaced by the fruits of the spirit which are:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

(New Testament | Galatians 5:22 - 26)

What are your thoughts?