Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our Spiritual Tracback

I have a new smart watch that helps keep track of my runs, biking, swimming and many other activities. One of the many features that I love is one called tracback. When traveling or visiting my children and grandchildren I go for a run and if I am not familiar with the area and get confused when I turn around and head back to my starting point. The trackback feature will tell me exactly where I need to turn and how long it will take to get back to my destination.

The illustration on the left is what the tracback feature looks like. # 1 is my current location, #2 is the track I need to follow, and #3 is the end point or my destination. This feature has saved me from getting lost. As I progress on the track to my destination the arrow follows the track, when I get to a turn it shows me which way to turn. Once in a while I think I know where I am going and make a turn even when the tracback feature is telling me to go straight. When I do that the arrow moves off the track and is in the black area so I know that I have gone off track and need to correct my direction in order to get back on track. If I don’t make the correction, I will wander farther from the track and remain lost and will not reach my destination.

As I was thinking how cool it was to have the ability to always find my way back to where I started (as long as I followed what it said) I thought it would be nice to have a spiritual tracback app. Then the thought came to me, you do have that “app”, but it is more than just one app. We have the Holy Ghost to prompt us when we are straying from the straight and narrow path. We have the scriptures that provide us with the knowledge of how to get onto the path that will lead us to the Tree of Life and back to Heavenly Father. We have living prophets, and other leaders, who warn us of the dangers that are coming and remind us of the covenants that we have made to help us, our families, and others to get on the gospel path and the importance of staying on it. We have the temples where we go to make the covenants that will qualify us to return to Heavenly Father.

One similarity between the smart watch and our spiritual trackback is that it can be ignored. It is easy to ignore the map on my watch and think that I knew better. With spiritual matters; there are many things to prompt us when we leave the gospel path. The Holy Ghost will tell us when dangers come or if we need to turn around and change our direction. Our leaders will be there to help us make course corrections. Unlike like the little arrow on the smart watch that shows how far I have strayed from my route and what I need to do to get back on track; if we ignore the Holy Ghost, or others, when we first go off the path, the prompting will often stop. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Lehi describes a dream that he had of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life represented the the love of God and he said that it was the most precious of all things. He also saw a rod of iron and a straight and narrow path that lead to the tree. He then described what happens when we wander from that path:

And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.

And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.

 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.

 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. (1 Nephi 8:20-24)

When we ignore the warning signs from the Holy Ghost, our leaders, or the scriptures it is like the people that got lost in the mist of darkness in Lehi’s dream they lost their way and were lost. We must cling to the iron rod (the scriptures) and stay on the straight and narrow path or we will get lost in the mists of darkness (the pride of the world) and will lose our way.

The farther I get off track when running, the more difficult it is to get back on track. When I have strayed spiritually, it is never too late to make the needed course corrections. Through repentance we make the corrections in our life to get back on track. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed from our sins and forgiven and we then enter back on the straight and narrow path that leads us back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

The technological advances that have given us the ability to know how to get back to our starting point when running or biking is a great blessing in our lives but the blessing of our spiritual trackback system are even more critical and crucial in getting us back to where we started which is in heaven with our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Your comments and question are welcome.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fear Not, Doubt Not
My views on Current Politics and Religion

My thoughts today are on politics and religion; the two topics that you should never post about fearing that you will offend someone. If you will be offended by either politics or religion you might not want to read on. Hopefully you will read on and add your comments to the discussion.

I used to joke that I wanted to make a bumper sticker that read “Mormons for Hillary – Bring on the Millennium Now!” Now with Trump being the presumptive Republican nominee some Utahan’s are saying they would rather vote for Hillary than Trump so the state of Utah, one of the most Republican states in the U.S., might vote for a democrat for the first time since 1964.

Why are so many lifelong republicans willing to cross party lines and vote for a democrat? Because they can’t bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump. They see him as a spoiled child that if he doesn’t get his way he takes his ball and goes home. Not only goes home, but then demeans, cries foul and throws a temper tantrum until the veins in his face almost burst. His insults and condescending attitude are repulsive to many.

His supporters feel that because he is not a career politian and does not take money from special interests that no one can buy him. They like that he stands up to those who disagree with him, they like him because he is a businessman and knows how to fix things that are not running well or making a profit.

What do I think? I do think he is a great businessman and that experience would be beneficial to our government. I think he is an actor. He knows how and what to say to give him the headlines. Why pay for advertising when the newspapers and reporters will give it to him for free if he just stirs the pot a little – well maybe a lot. I think having Trump as the president would be like taking the school bully and making him the poster boy for the anti-bully campaign because he has experienced bullying.

I have often said that I would be willing to vote for a democrat if that person agreed with my philosophy on the purpose of our government, that they are willing to follow God’s commandments and promote laws that promote Christian values, and honor and uphold the constitution as our founding fathers established it. The only problem is I have never found a democrat that has these values and we certainly don’t have one in Hillary Clinton.

Secretary Clinton has lied so many times that she does not know when she is ling. Her involvement in the Bengasi tragedy, the email scandal, the list goes on and on. I truly believe that if she were anyone else she would have been arrested and put in prison. I cannot see any good coming from her being President of the United States. The rest of the world leaders would have less respect for her than they do for our current president.

One of my sons asked who I would vote for if it came down to a choice between Clinton and Trump? I responded that I would vote for Trump because there is no way I would ever vote for Clinton. He said what about the other party candidates? I responded that I could not vote for a third party candidate because that would be splitting the Republican vote and assure a Clinton victory. He reminded me of what President Ezra Taft Benson supposedly said about voting for the lesser of two evils:

If you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil and you will be judged for it. You should always vote for the best possible candidate, whether they have a chance of winning or not, and then, even if the worst possible candidate wins, the Lord will bless our country more because more people were willing to stand up for what is right.

That made me think about my last statement. Does my vote matter if I am only casting it for the person I think can win even if that candidate does not agree with my principles? Maybe I should not vote at all – as a protest against the lack of decent candidates? The scriptures tell us that we are to seek for honest and wise men to govern us (D&C 98:10).

I believe that the Constitution of the United States was and still is an inspired document. God, our Heavenly Father, raised up those men to do that work and establish this country and we have a responsibility to support and sustain that inspired document. (see D&C 101:80)

Elder Bryan R. Larsen, our Area Seventy, spoke in our married student ward today. He said that President Dieter F. Uchtodorf, in the April General Authority training made the statement that we did not need to fear about politics and the coming election, he said: “the Lord has a plan and that plan will be carried out no matter what happens in the next election.” What a comforting thought. The politicians will continue to promote their agendas and sin and wickedness may reign for a time but in the end the Lord will prevail and righteousness will win. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord promised:

Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sinno more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen. (D&C 6:33-37)

That is our answer. We must not fear or doubt that if we trying to do good, to keep the commandments we will be blessed and the Lord will prevail. In the end it really does not matter who the president is of the U.S. or any other country. We are to choose God and look for those that do the same to lead us. If that does not happen then the Lord will be victorious and we shall be blessed for our righteous efforts.

Your comments and questions are welcome.