Monthly Archives: January 2015

Maintaining a Spirit of Hope and Optimism

portrait-of-christ-carl-bloch-1246790-galleryIt’s a “New Year,” a time for thinking about how we might consider adjusting our lives to live with more purpose and meaning. When we live in a world seemingly dominated by negative news coming from every direction, living with faith sufficient to maintain a spirit of hope and optimism can become a non-stop challenge. Looking for more “positives” in our lives, while standing firm in our convictions and beliefs, isn’t an easy task. But when it’s achieved, we can become a more powerful people, filled with mental, physical, and spiritual strength.

When I had the calling of ward organist for many years, I always made sure that the hymn, “Come, Let Us Anew,” (hymn # 217), was on the sacrament program for the first Sunday of the new year, to be sung as the opening hymn. The first line talks about how as the year rolls by we should be thinking about our journey’s pursuit—why we are here in mortality. It also talks about how we should “never stand still until the Master appears.”

Never standing still obviously means we have a lot to do, especially as members of the Church. Forget inertia, and there is no time for the lackadaisical, or the lukewarm. Defending our beliefs will take all the courage we can gather, as in some circles what we believe has become the subject of increased levels of ridicule and scorn, the level of vehemence rising in its impassioned intensity and fervor. Continue reading

Religious Freedom and Discrimination Press Conference

LDS News Conference LGBTThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held an historic press conference via the Mormon Newsroom this morning in order to discuss the issues of balance of freedom of religion with that of discrimination for other groups, including LGBT.  Sister Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participated in this news conference.

Sister Marriott explained that differences between various groups lead to tensions.  All should be included in national debate, and national debate should lead to compromise. Past treatment of LGBT is wrong.  God is loving and merciful, and He expects us to treat one another with love.  The Church has supported laws that protect the rights of LGBT in housing and employment and continues to do so. Continue reading

Gospel Questions and How They Are Answered

one-way-sign-845356-galleryThe question of the day seems to be whether it’s all right to have gospel questions, or not. Some of us get nervous to “question;” others wonder just how much of the “mysteries of the gospel” we’re allowed to share in order to answer those questions.

While reading Lehi’s and Nephi’s accounts of the same vision, I am amazed at the new ideas that hit me that lead to deeper discussions of discovery. Have you ever noticed that Lehi and Nephi actually saw (or maybe—recorded) different things?

Lehi gives us a straightforward account of his dream, but it’s Nephi who gives us details. Is it that they had different questions, so received different answers? Possibly Nephi just noticed different things because of his interest or personality? Neither one of their records contradicttreeoflife one another, yet they are unique and personal.

I always found it interesting that when the Holy Ghost is opening up this vision to Nephi, He says, “Look!” It is up to Nephi to see, and interpret what he is seeing. Nephi is never told what to see, or how to interpret it. Nephi sees the birth of the Savior, something that isn’t going to happen for another 600, or so, years. Nothing like it has ever happened before, yet he sees and interprets it the way he can understand through the revelation he is receiving. The Spirit never tells him what to see, how to interpret it, and He never corrects Nephi. Continue reading

How Often Should I Repent?

woman-praying-268581-galleryAs members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we partake of the sacrament weekly.  This is our opportunity to repent of any wrongdoing and renew our baptismal covenants.  Occasionally, it is good to ask ourselves, “Has this become rote?”  Are we really coming to the sacrament table with a humble heart ready to truly repent of our wrongdoing?  In reality, we should be repenting every single day.

The power of repentance can change lives.  We know that it does because all of us have had times in our lives when we have truly humbled ourselves and repented of egregious errors—but we often neglect the little everyday mistakes.  Simply by being mortal, we make mistakes all the time.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t personally have cause to repent of something.  The repentance process is a great blessing to us.  Are we truly taking advantage of that blessing? Continue reading

Excommunications and Crises of Faith

DC 134.10With another high profile disciplinary meeting, and possible excommunication on the horizon this week, there are some things that we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints need to remember. This is applicable to those who consider themselves “mainstream” or “conservative” and those that consider themselves, “liberal,” “progressive,” “uncorrelated,” and so on.

The Church gets to make up the rules that govern itself — as does any church. For Mormons, those rules come from the Lord via His prophet. As members of the Church we should have a testimony of the declaration found in Doctrine & Covenants 1:38, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” The prophet speaks for the Lord in all things. The Church gets to set up the rules and terms of membership. If you are a temple attending member of the Church, every other year, when you go in to renew your temple recommend, you have the chance to declare your belief in these things. Continue reading

Building a Testimony On Shaky Ground vs. A Firm Foundation

These days, we can get overloaded with information about the gospel from many different sources, especially online. The catch is knowing who and what information we can trust when we want to build our testimonies on a firm foundation. Do we fall into the trap of accepting everything a blogger, reporter, podcaster or author says about the Church, just because it’s out there? Do we get caught up in believing self-appointed teachers who may or may not have pure motives? How can we become better, more critical and cautious consumers of information, especially when it comes to what we read or hear about the gospel?

These are questions that we probably should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. LDS blogger J. Max Wilson, was featured in an excellent two-part RiseUp podcast on FairMormon. The title of the first podcast is “Building a Testimony on a Sure Foundation.” With permission from the author and the good people over at FairMormon, I’ve compiled some of the main points in an effort to help us know how to become better at discerning between good and not-so-good gospel-related information online. I also recommend listening to the the podcast in its entirety.

Here are a few of the main points from Part 1 that really stood out to me: Continue reading

Endowed With Knowledge

ask seek knock meme copy“The temple endowment was given by revelation. Thus, it is best understood by revelation, prayerfully sought with a sincere heart”. (Russell M Nelson, April 2001 General Conference)

The word endowment means gift. As we take out our endowments and return each time to do the work for the dead, we ought to be seeking for the knowledge offered there. Diligently keeping our temple covenants, asking, seeking, and knocking will open our minds and bring us to a firm understanding of our Heavenly Father and His plan for us.

 Many of us go to the Temple seeking answers to personal questions and help in our daily lives. Certainly, we can and should look for those answers within those sacred walls, but we should not let those questions keep us from the spiritual knowledge the Lord intends to impart to us. Continue reading

Follow the Prophet

MonsonFollowing the prophet is not something I take lightly.  Recently, I read a few blog posts on the internet that bothered me a bit.  The writer of these posts proclaimed to have a testimony of The Book of Mormon, a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  However, he says he does not have a testimony of current living prophets.  In addition, his posts try to convince his readers that living prophets don’t exist.

In an attempt to understand this man, I reached out a few days ago to the readers of our Mormon Women Stand Facebook page.  I posed the following questions to our readers:

1) Is it easier to teach children to follow the prophet, or to follow the prophet yourself?

2) Is it easier to teach children to follow the prophet when you are following the prophet yourself?

3) Is it easier to follow ancient prophets, or modern-day prophets?

4) Is it easier to follow one prophet over another?

5) If you have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the prophet Joseph Smith, which includes the principle of ongoing revelation, is it possible to not have a testimony of living prophets?

Our Mormon Women Stand readers never disappoint, and quite a few people engaged in the conversation.  The comments gave me a lot to consider, and I learned a few things. Continue reading

An Attitude Like Unto Nephi

NefiIt’s the New Year and we are all trying to come up with new goals to ignore, rationalize, and trample all over. Come on, admit it! We all do it. We want to be better people …. but not really; at least, not bad enough. Oh, to have an attitude like unto Nephi.

And the truth is we accomplish many things throughout the year that we never even dreamed of, and we rarely give ourselves any credit. A few years ago, I decided not to make any “New Year’s Resolutions” and instead, at the end of the year, I wrote up a list of all the things I had accomplished during that year. This activity was much more satisfying than any I had done before. We are typically better people than we think we are.

Recently, I rediscovered a diagram and a list of scriptures that I had forgotten I put on theBofMfoils inside of the cover of my Book of Mormon. Sorry, I don’t know what teacher gave these inspired thoughts, but I suspect it was S. Michael Wilcox.

The diagram spells out a number of “foils,” or comparisons, between Nephi and Laman and the attitudes each represents.

On this diagram, you can see how incident after incident Nephi (and good ole’ Sam—who most of us resemble, because most of us aren’t leaders, but we are good, strong, and righteous followers) chose to obey even when things didn’t work out so well and even when there wasn’t much reward in it at the time. Continue reading