The small bus that served as both hearse and family transport vehicle slowed to a stop in the middle of the cemetery. My first observation was how lovely it was, in a wild unkept sort of way. We stood on the road as the small wooden casket was pulled from the bus floor and lowered onto a cart. We walked behind the caretakers as the cart was pushed away from the bus and into the plots.
As we walked we passed several small picnic type tables along the road. Chad and I wondered to each other what the purpose of those might be. Continue reading →
For the past three weeks, I have been in Europe where life is quite different from America. For starters, Europeans don’t understand why Americans like so much ice and air conditioning. Nevertheless, they politely accept our barbaric ways.
Europeans are either extremely religious (it varies between personal devotion and traditional behavior) or not religious at all. Either belief makes missionary work very difficult. But, Mormons have not come to play, they have come to save. The saints who are there are strong, the missionaries are fierce, and visitors come and go, shining their light at a steady flow. All are human saviors.
My thoughts have run deep as I ponder what it’s like to live my religion in a place so full of monuments, idols, gold, and ritual. As I read the talks in this session, my thoughts easily tied into the impressions I observed these past three weeks.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
“Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
I recently came across an opinion that believed that enduring to the end contradicts happiness. This opinion believed that one can’t be happy while enduring; therefore, one must choose, and happiness (the world’s definition of happiness) is the better choice. Sentiments like this one are quite common today. Happiness has been redefined to meet the world’s standards. And according to the world, happiness redefined trumps following the Lord’s commandments.
I’m sure that most of us have listened to or read phrases such as, “Doing (fill-in-a-choice-contrary-to-the-commandments) makes me happy, and God just wants me to be happy” or “God would rather see me happy than force me to (fill-in-a-commandment-that-they-are-avoiding).” Of course our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. The Plan of Salvation is also called The Plan of Happiness, and throughout the scriptures the message of the gospel is commonly referred to as “glad tidings.” But this idea that the world’s version of happiness is the kind of happiness that God intends for us is a lie perpetuated by Satan. Satan wants us to think that the temptations he is throwing at us will lead to true happiness. But that is not true. What leads us to true happiness can be found in the words of the scriptures and our modern day prophets, not in the philosophies of men.
This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning session of April 1976.
We talk about the work of God, but what exactly are we doing about it? Below is a list from Robert L. Simpson, who spoke on “These Four Things.” He didn’t just talk about the work of God, he asked us to remember our vow when we promised we would actually perform the work necessary to bring salvation to all of Heavenly Father’s children.
First, the obligation to prepare one’s self and one’s immediate family for the presence of the Lord;
He explains how important it is to take care of one’s own spirituality first. We have to complete our own ordinances first. We have to know and understand the doctrines of Jesus Christ’s saving gospel first. We have to commit to righteous living first if we are ever to convince anyone else.
If you’ll recall this past conference, Pres. Russell M. Nelson challenged all of us to “consecrate a portion of [our] time each week to study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.” After completing his own challenge he said, “I am a different man!” (Apr. 2017)
Though I’ve been sealed to him for over 38 years, I came to understand, in a heartbeat, that his heart is my heart – literally – the moment the doctor informed us that Bob was in cardiac arrest and would need to be transferred immediately to another hospital. He was in pain. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. It felt like we were in the Twilight Zone. This can’t be happening. He’s too young (61) and in excellent physical condition. He’s that guy who’s never taken a break from physical activity since his high school basketball days. Among his greatest joys in life is still being able to take on some of the local high school basketball team players at the gym and occasionally beating them at 21. Which is exactly what he had just done, when he arrived home a little after 11 pm that fateful night.
I followed the ambulance the entire way to Temecula Valley Hospital where the cardiac team was waiting to take him immediately into the Cath Lab. The moment I understood the gravity of what was happening, prior to him being transferred, I left the ER so that I could get cell phone reception. In shock, I called my oldest daughter Jennette who lives nearby to tell her what was happening, but mostly to asked her to send her husband to administer a priesthood blessing. I barely made it through that conversation. My faith was in the knowledge of God’s Plan and I knew that Bob’s life was in His Hands – above all others. Continue reading →
In it, he prophesied that “attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase.”
Then he named the sort of women needed to withstand these attacks. He said, “we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.”
There are five main traits, President Nelson told that women they need to have:
Women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.
Women who can detect deception in all of its forms.
Women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers
Women who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.
Women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.
Myself, like many others, have probably asked how. “How can I become that woman?” After some pondering and visits to the temple, these are my initial answers to how we can become the women President Nelson described: Continue reading →
It has been my experience that those I personally know who struggle with the SSM attitudes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are those whose testimonies are not firm in the doctrine of the family. As bold a statement as this may be, I have seen it proven time and time again by what I have seen and what the Brethren have taught in General Conference for years. If we don’t hold firm to the family doctrine of the Church, we may be swayed.
We’ve been warned that we are in danger of falling away from the Church if we don’t put our faith in Jesus Christ; that we must read the Book of Mormon regularly and how vital it is to have regular, sincere prayer in order to be guided by the Holy Ghost. I have also come to learn that the people I know personally who have struggled with this debate are not following the prophets who have raised these warnings.
There is so much temptation in the world today. I often wonder how anyone can possibly go unscathed from the many cunning ways that Satan lures us into his seductive web of enticing experiences, both physical and spiritual. We must be ever-vigilant in recognizing and turning away from everything that would cause the Spirit to flee from our lives. We can never kid ourselves into believing that some things just aren’t that bad, especially if everyone is seemingly engaging in them and there isn’t immediate harm. If we find ourselves comfortable in our sins or find ourselves in “good” company as we partake, it’s probably a good time for a reality check. This is exactly what I felt Sister Linda S. Reeves provided for the women of the Church in her recent address in the General Women’s Session of Conference titled “Worthy of our Promised Blessings”. Continue reading →
Are we tired yet of fornication before marriage and infidelity after marriage? The media would have us believe it’s natural, or that men and women are not made to be monogamous. We’ve heard all the reasons out there, but I like the way that Dr. Scott Haltzman, a therapist and expert on marriage, challenges this notion:
“Infidelity is not a victimless act. The decision to have an affair involves a secret choice made by one person to rob another person of what is rightfully his or hers: fidelity. It is an act that includes lying, family neglect and often the theft of time and money.
Does that sound harsh? It ought to. Sociology experts and evolutionary psychologists can argue all day long as to whether monogamy is natural or whether it is reasonable for anyone to keep unrealistic vows made in earnest. While the data on the prevalence of infidelity is daunting (about 40 percent of couples will be affected by an affair), the majority of married people have never had affairs. It’s amazing all the “unnatural” things humans can do when they put their minds to it!
So if you’re surprised at the moral outrage against infidelity, you shouldn’t be. Plain and simple, it’s wrong.”