Sunday, December 29, 2019

Wise Men Still Seek Him Today

’Twas the night after Christmas when all through the house
Everyone was posting, and clicking their mouse
The Instagram filters were chosen with care,
In hopes that each image would soon get a share.

The children were all on the couch iPads and tablets in their hands
While images of zombies and Fortnite eat up the WiFi bands.
And mamma with her Mini and I with my Android
Updated our status and sent messages into the void.

I could go on, but I’m sure you can guess the rest of the poem. In many ways Christmas has become a time of getting lost in our gadgets, instead of spending time with family, friends and service. What did you get for Christmas is the question the children ask their friends as we spend time updating our status on Facebook and sharing images on Pintrest and Instagram. How much time was spent talking about the person whose birth we celebrate during this Christmas season? Thomas S. Monson, once said:

“The gifts so acquired are fleeting. Dolls break, dresses wear out, and fun games become boring. Pocketknives are lost, trains do nothing but go in circles, and trucks are abandoned when the batteries that power them dim and die.
“If we change but one word in our Christmas question, the outcome is vastly different. “What did you give for Christmas?” prompts stimulating thought and causes tender feelings to well up and memory’s fires to glow ever brighter.

“Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things.” (“Christmas Gifts, Christmas Blessings”, Ensign, December 1995).

What Shall I Give Christmas Music Video 

As the Christmas season ends and we look to the New Year, many of us will make resolutions of the things we hope to be able to accomplish during the New Year. Along with the diets, exercise, projects that we want to do I challenge each of us to include service as one of our resolutions. What can we do to help our neighbors, someone that is suffering, lost his or her job or a loved one, or the young mother that is overwhelmed?

President Monson in that same article tells of a family that lived in Star Valley, Wyoming long ago where the father was away from home working trying to support his family. One evening one of the boys overheard his mother praying:

‘Heavenly Father, there is no food in our house. Please, Father, touch the heart of somebody so that my children will not be hungry in the morning.’
“When she finished her prayer, she looked around and saw her son had heard; and she said to me, somewhat embarrassed, ‘Now, you run along, son. Everything will be all right.’ (“Christmas Gifts, Christmas Blessings”).

 The story continues:

“(the boy) went to bed, assured by Mother’s faith. The next morning, (the boy) was awakened by the sounds of pots and pans in the kitchen and the aroma of cooking food. I went down to the kitchen, and he said, ‘Mother, I thought you said there was no food.’
“All she said to me was, ‘Well, my boy, didn’t you think the Lord would answer my prayer?’ I received no further explanation than that.”

Years later after the boy grew up, went to college and had a family he came home and Bishop Gardner told him the rest of the story. He said:

“I had finished my chores, and we had had supper. I was sitting by the fireplace reading the newspaper. Suddenly, I heard a voice that said, “Sister Ballantyne doesn’t have any food in her house.” I thought it was my wife speaking and said, “What did you say, Mother?” She came in wiping her hands on her apron and said, “Did you call me, Father?”

“‘“No, I didn’t say anything to you, but I heard a voice which spoke to me.”

“‘“What did it say?” she asked.

“‘“It said that Sister Ballantyne didn’t have any food in her house.”

“‘“Well, then,” said Mother, “you had better put on your shoes and your coat and take some food to Sister Ballantyne.” In the dark of that winter’s night, I harnessed the team and placed in the wagon bed a sack of flour, a quarter section of beef, some bottled fruit, and loaves of newly baked bread. The weather was cold, but a warm glow filled my soul as your mother welcomed me and I presented her with the food. God had heard a mother’s prayer.’”

The scriptures tell the story of the wise men that came to see the Christ child and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Matthew tells the story:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

¶And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-11)

I hope that as the memories of this Christmas season fades that we will remember how the wise men followed the star that led them to the Christ Child and when they had found him, they presented him with their gifts. What gifts will we present to him? I do not discount the gifts that the wise men gave, but I don’t believe that Christ would have us give him material things, instead I think he would like us to give gifts of love to others, charitable service to those in need and gifts of comfort to those that need our help.

As we give of ourselves in this way we well receive the greatest gift of all from him when he says to us at the last day:

Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord…Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25: 21, 45)

I invite you to watch this 3 minute video titled “Wise Men Still Seek Him”. Are we wise enough to continue to seek him?

Your comments and questions are welcome. I would appreciate it if you would share this with your social media friends.

Wise Men Still Seek Him - Modern-Day Story of the Wise Men

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Nativity Story – Which Part Would You Be?

Like many families, one our favorite Christmas traditions was telling the nativity story by each family member, once they were old enough, acting in one of the various parts of the story. I was usually the donkey (for more reasons than being the dad – I fit the part!) that Mary rode to Bethlehem.  Our only daughter, Michelle, was always Mary. Whoever was the newest born child being baby Jesus and Michael our oldest, was normally Joseph. As our family grew or when we had visitors join us for Christmas, we were able to add the shepherds, the inn keeper, the wise men, and various animals. This was always one of the most memorable times during the Christmas season and our children loved participating in the story.

In addition to these basic roles in the nativity story, there are many other participants including Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna in the temple, the Angel Gabriel, King Herod, and many others. The nativity story also includes all that parts of the ministry of Jesus including, the disciples who followed Jesus, those who were curious, those who hated him, those who believed his testimony, those who were healed or forgiven, the Roman soldiers, those who betrayed him, and so many others.

I hope that if I had lived during that time that I would have been one of the supporting roles and not one of the detractors or one that rejected him. Because of my faith and belief in Jesus Christ now believe I would have been one of the wise men that knew of the prophecies and had come seeking to know where the King of the Jews was and then finding the child I would kneel at his feet and present him gifts. Maybe I would have been among the Shepherds tending the temple flock of sheep that to whom the Angel announced the birth of the baby and then they said: “let us go see”. I hope that I would have gone to see and then having seen testified to everyone that the prophecies were fulfilled, that the Messiah had come.

I could not see myself in the role of the detractors. I would hope that I would not have been the Innkeeper that said there was no room for Christ in his life, or those that rejected Christ because he was from Nazareth, Joseph’s son, or because he taught hard doctrine. I would not be among those that threw stones at Christ, screamed that he should be crucified, or nailed him to the cross.

I could see me being someone in the crowd that heard him and then chose to follow him, that cried to him as he passed by to stop and heal me, to eat with me, or to bless my child. There are so many ways that we allow the Savior into our lives or shut him out. Do we cry out that we should not believe him because he does not follow what we think is the “law of Moses” or are we looking for a better way to love God and our fellow men?

Having accepted the call to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ, my call is to be a witness of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Everyday I put a badge that has his name on it, close to my heart. It testifies to the world that I believe in him, that he is the Christ child that the angels announced to the shepherds and invited them to go and see. He is the Christ child that the wise men presented their gifts to. He is The Only Begotten Son of God, in the flesh. He is our Savior and Redeemer.  

My hope this Christmas season is that whatever role we choose, we choose so that our actions testify to the world that Jesus Christ was born, lived, served everyone, and was crucified so that everyone would have the opportunity to be resurrected and live again. What nativity part would you choose to play?

Your comments and questions are welcome, and I encourage you to share this with your friends and family. I invite you to click on the links below to see some of my favorite Christmas Carols and Hyms. 

Silent Night - Seven Year-old Clair Crosby accompanied by President Russell M. Nelson

The Piano Guys – “O Come, Emmanuel”

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square & David Archuleta – “Joy to the World”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Come and See

In the Gospel of St. Luke, we read the account of the angel’s announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ to the Shepherds. The angel of the Lord said: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). After the angel left the shepherds said: “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass” (Luke 2:15). The scriptures then said the they “came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16).

The shepherds not only came with haste to see the Christ child, but afterwards they then told everyone they met about it and then returned to the flocks “glorifying God for all the things that they had seen and heard” (Luke 2:20).

Later during Christ’s ministry, two disciples asked the Lord where he dwelt. His response was “come and see” (John 1:39).

During this Christmas season, in the midst of all the shopping, the parties, and the decorations are we following the example of the shepherds and going with haste to find Jesus Christ? The reason we celebrate Christmas is because of the baby that was born in Bethlehem long ago. Not only is this the most wonderful time of the year, but it is one of the busiest times and we can get caught up buying gifts and baking goodies that we forget what we are celebrating.

I would like us all to take a break from the hustle and bustle and pause next Sunday and go to church to celebrate Christmas. Show your gratitude for your Savior Jesus Christ by taking the time to worship with your neighbors and friends. I would particularly invite you to come and worship with us; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We will be having a special “Christmas” service with music and testimonies focusing on Jesus Christ. 

Like the disciples that were curious about Christ and his ministry, if you have ever wondered what our services are like; I invite you to come and see. Click on the link below for a personal invitation to come worship with us and find the nearest Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints service.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Light the World – One by One

One of the best things about a missionary here in Indiana during the Christmas season is that we can testify of Jesus Christ and invite others to join us in our celebration of the birth, the life, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know that we do this every day, but during Christmas people are more willing to listen to our message. Most days I walk the 2 ½ miles home from the mission office to our apartment. Along the way I meet a lot of people that normally I would just smile, say hi and then go on. But now I stop and ask them I can give them a card (like this). I then tell them about the video “The Christ Child” and ask if they would watch it? On the back of the card is the address to view the video, I also have my contact information and the address and time of our church. I then invite them to come and worship with us during our Christmas Service on December 22nd. Not one person has turned me down. They have all taken the card and then thanked me.

When I am in a store, I take the opportunity to hand out the cards to as many people as I can. Again, everyone takes the card and tell they will watch the video. One of the things about the people of Indiana is their love for Jesus Christ. They are believing people and love the Lord.

I would like to invite you, wherever you are to join us this Christmas season to “Light the World” one by one. You can go to and sign up for a daily suggestion on how you can participate.

I testify that the little baby whose birth we celebrate during Christmas is real. He was born as the scriptures say, his life and ministry was an example of how we should live and treat others. He was scourged and crucified so that we can be freed from the results of our sins. On the third day he broke the bands of death and was resurrected. Because of his resurrection, we will all be resurrected after we die. Because of His Atonement, we can be cleansed from our sins and return once again to dwell with our Heavenly Father as eternal families.

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that He lives, that His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is once again on the earth. I invite you to find one of our churches and come worship with us to celebrate Christmas on December 22nd.

Here is a link to one of my favorite Christmas Carols, “Mary Did You Know” by Pentatonix. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Do You Believe in Santa Clause?

As we enter the Christmas season, I would like to share some of my thoughts about Christmas and what it means to my family and me. Sometime ago I was talking to one of my grandsons who did not believe in Santa Clause. I told him I believed he was real and then put together a little booklet about some of the stories around the world about Santa Clause.  I would like to share some of those thoughts with you.

Santa Claus has many different names such as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and as Sinterklaas. Here in America we know him as Santa Claus. He lives at the North Pole with his elves and reindeer. Santa has a naughty and nice list and he takes toys to the good boys and girls in his sleigh that is pulled by eight magic reindeer. Santa is able to enter into the homes by going down the chimney. He loves eating the cookies and milk that the children leave out for him.

We are now living in the 21st Century. Some people believe the real Santa lived Seventeen hundred years ago in the 4th Century. His name was Saint Nicholas and he was a Greek Catholic Bishop of Myra. He is also the primary inspiration for the Dutch version of Santa called Sinterklass.

In the Catholic Church, St. Nicholas is the patron saint for children, sailors, and is the friend and protector of all in trouble and in need. One story of St. Nicholas tells of how he saved three children who had become lost and were captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and asks God to restore the children’s life and the three children were given back to their families. December 6th is St. Nicholas Day in many places in Europe and is a day of feasting and giving gifts.

Father Christmas was said to live in the mountains of Finland. He did not give gifts to children, but was known for his good cheer. He did not wear a red robe, but a green one.

Today’s Santa is a combination of St. Nicholas and Father Christmas. In the early 1800’s St. Nicholas’ name was changed to Sante Claus in some publications. Then in 1823 Washington Irving published “A Visit from St. Nicholas” now better known as “The Night Before Christmas”.

In 1897 a little girl wrote to the local paper and asked if Santa was real. She wrote:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon

Well the Sun Times wrote back to Virginia and said:

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love
and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies.  .  . Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.”

The Real Santa Claus

If you asked me if I believe in Santa Claus, I would answer absolutely. The “real” Santa gave us the best gift ever – His Son.

The real reason we celebrate Christmas is not because of Santa, or St. Nicholas or whatever you call him; it is to remember the birth of the baby Jesus Christ.

In the Bible, John 3:16 it says: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”. So Jesus Christ is God’s gift to us. Do you remember the story of Jesus’s birth?

The Angle of the Lord came to Mary and told her that she would have a son and she should call his name Jesus and he would be to the Son of God.

Later we are told that Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. While they were in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus

In Luke Chapters 1 & 2 we read about the Shepherds:

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

Joan M. Olenycz tells us in the December 2010 Ensign:

“Heavenly Father gave this gift to all of us, young or old, rich or poor. We did not have to search the shops for it. It did not cost a single penny. The most treasured gift of all was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. It was sent to us with love from our Heavenly Father."

Our Heavenly Father is real and so is his Son Jesus Christ. May we always remember this precious gift. My hope this Christmas season is that we will remember that the reason we celebrate Christmas because we have a loving Heavenly Father that gave us the greatest gift of all, the birth of his Son Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas to all.

Your comments and questions are welcome

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Navigating Our Mists of Darkness

On June 6, 2019 a haboob (dust storm) engulfed the town of Big Springs, Texas. You can see by the picture that it completely covered the town making it difficult to see anything. 

Photo by Jake Orin June 6, 2019

In the Book of Mormon we read of Lehi’s dream of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8). Lehi said he saw a tree that had fruit that “was desirable to make one happy, the most sweet of anything he had ever tasted”. He also saw a straight and narrow path that led to the tree. There was also a rod of iron and a river along the path.

He described one group that was trying to get to the tree and partake of the fruit. He said that they were on the path that lead to the tree but that a mist of darkness arose and “they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost (1 Nephi 8:23). I can understand that if I did not have something to cling to and a haboob like the one in Texas surrounded me, I would get lost. In the scriptures when someone wanders off the gospel path and is lost, they usually are not keeping God’s commandments or not doing the things that will keep the Holy Ghost in their lives.

Lehi also describe two other groups that managed to get through the mist of darkness safely and partook of the fruit of the tree. He said the first group on the path caught hold of the end of the iron rod and clinging to it made it through the mist of darkness and made it to the tree and partook of the fruit. But after they had partaken of the fruit, saw people in a great and spacious building. They were mocking those that were on the path and those that were at the tree partaking of the fruit. The people in this first saw the people in the building, they became ashamed and fell away. 

Lehi's Dream of the Tree of Life

The second group also caught hold on the end of the iron rod, but they held fast to it and when they got to the tree “they did fall down and partook of the fruit”. They also saw the people that were mocking them and making fun of them, “but they heeded them not”.

 Nephi, Lehi’s son, asked to know the meaning of his father’s dream and he was given was shown the same vision and then given the interpretation (1 Nephi 11 & 12). He learned that the tree of life represented the Love of God, or Jesus Christ, that the iron rod was the word of God (the scriptures), the great and spacious building was the pride of the world, the mist of darkness was the temptations of the devil, and the river was the depths of hell.

In a BYU-Idaho devotional Elder Daniel L. Johnson spoke of Lehi’s dream (Continually Holding Fast to the Rod of Iron) and compared the three groups to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said the group that were lost in the mist of darkness because they did not get grasp the iron rod. They did not read the scriptures, pray, attend church or the temple. Because they had no foundation, they became lost and fell away.

The second group, those that made it through the mist of darkness and partook of the fruit but became ashamed and fell away, did everything they needed to get to the tree and partake of the fruit. The problem with this group was that once they made it to the tree and were partaking of the fruit, they got distracted by those in the world that were mocking them. They gave in to the “temptations and attractions of the world”.

The third group held fast to the iron rod and made it to the tree. Once they got to the tree they fell down and partook of the fruit. They realized what the tree was, a representation of the Son of God. They fell down and worshiped him. They were able to partake of the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This group also saw the people in the great and spacious building that were mocking and making fun, but they heeded them not. Their testimony and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ was firm and unshaken. They continually read the scriptures and words of the living prophets, they were firm and steadfast in keeping the commandments, so their foundation was solid and when temptations came, they did not crumble and fall.

We all experience times in our lives when the mist of darkness surrounds us. We experience the loss of a loved one, we have health difficulties, we lose our job, we are criticized by others, or are accused of something we did not do. The only way to get through them is to hold fast to the iron rod; the scriptures and other basics of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We sustain our church leaders and follow their counsel. We also do not give heed to those who mock and make fun of The Church and our testimony of Jesus Christ and his atonement. Doing these things is the only safe way to stay of the path that leads to the tree of life and be able to partake of the fruit which is life as an eternal family in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

My life has been a combination of the two groups that make it to the tree. There have been times in my life when I get distracted and lose my way. I have managed to find my way back and through the atonement of Jesus Christ and back holding fast to the iron rod and partaking of the fruit. I now realize that the best way to not give into the worlds temptations is to heed them not, just ignore them. My testimony is now strong enough to withstand their mocking. I have tasted of the fruit and know that nothing compares to the sweetness of the fruit because it really does make me happy and is the most sweet of anything else there is.

I would like to hear from you on how you have navigated your mist of darkness and held fast to the iron rod until you made it to the tree of life and fell down and are partaking of the fruit. To those who are still lost in the mist of darkness, I invite you to contact me to find out what you need to do to get through it.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


GPS systems are amazing technology. I can’t imagine trying to get somewhere that I am not familiar with without a GPS system. I know for some that have always had GPS to believe it but  there was a time when we did not have it. I am old enough to remember trying to get around using paper maps and the World Atlas. Most of the time the GPS on my phone works the way it should but there have been a few times that you end up in a vacant field or you get sent to the wrong place.

Recently, while visiting Indianapolis, Indiana we wanted to go to the Central Canal Walk. The Central Canal is a 3-mile area in downtown Indianapolis that was part of a project to revitalize the downtown area and is a beautiful walk. We had no idea where we were going. When we got downtown, the GPS kept us going in a circle. It kept saying turn right on…, turn right on…, turn right on... At one point I intentionally turned left to see if it would reroute us and get us to the correct place. When it had us going in circles again, I finally stopped and asked someone where the canal was. They said it was below us! We had to park and go down some steps to get to the canal. We were in the right place, but the GPS did not know it.

A few years ago, we were in Chicago for a conference. While I was in meetings my wife wanted to go to the Museum of Science and Industry, so I programmed the GPS with the address on Lake Shore Drive and sent her off. Two hours later she called and asked how long it was supposed to take to get there and I told her about 45 minutes. She was driving on a freeway and I asked what the last exit was she remembered, she said Des Moines, Iowa! She was headed back to Salt Lake City, Utah. When she returned, I looked at the GPS and noticed that it had Lake Shore Drive, in Salt Lake City; not Chicago. I realize that the GPS was working properly and that I had not paid attention to where it was going to take her, but I thought it was crazy to have chosen the destination that it did.

Sometimes the GPS can get frustrating. If you have to stop for gas or to eat and you get off the path it has you on, it is constantly saying “rerouting” and then tells you to make a U turn or it tries to get you back on the right path. If I think that I know where to go and make a wrong turn, again the GPS says “rerouting” to get you back on track. I have often wondered if after making several wrong turns that the GPS would finally yell at me: “look if you don’t want to listen to me then why did you ask for directions? I think the GPS programmers should build in a comment after making enough wrong turns: “Hey, stupid, listen to me” and then tell you what it wants you to do.

GPS systems are polite, they don’t judge or criticize. If you ignore their directions or you make a mistake, it simply says “rerouting” and then helps you get back going in the right direction. The choices we make every day can be like a spiritual GPS system. When we make a mistake or willfully choose to leave the straight and narrow path of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Savior is there patiently waiting to “reroute” us to get back on the path that leads back to him. For most “mistakes”, other that the serious ones, there is no criticism or heckling. He is always there with outstretched arms waiting to embrace us in his love when we correct our course.

While teaching the adulterous Samaritan women at the well, he did not condemn her for her choices in her life. He taught her that he was sent to redeem her from her sins and that by accepting him as her Savior, she would have the living water that would give her everlasting life. She chose to reroute her life and follow his teachings and then helped others to do the same.

GPS systems are only effective if we choose to follow their directions. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to everyone that chooses to accept the Savior’s admonition to come follow him and do the things that he says. He is there for us to reroute us when we when we choose to deviate from the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Work of Fathers

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S. and I would like to share some of my thoughts on being a father and now a grandfather. I have been a father for 43 years and a grandfather for 17 years. A lot has changed since I became a father in the mid 70’s. Those where the days of the Walkman, 8-track tapes, and VCRs. To play video games you had to go to the Arcade where they had Pong, Pac Man, and Space Invaders. There was no Internet, cell phones, or personal computers. Apple was only a fruit and long distance calls cost a lot of money. My children had it good compared to what we had as children. We had to listen to music on records, to see a movie we had to go to a movie theater, we had one of the first TVs and it was only black and white, and even though the microwave oven was invented in 1946 we never had one. Each generation wants their children to have a better life than they had when they were growing up. 

Our children invented most of their games, playing outside in the field and trees behind our yard. We played board games like Risk, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and Life. They used their imaginations to invent places and people they would be. Today my grandchildren play many of the same games but they are now played on their tablets, phones, or computers.

Times have changed for our children and grandchildren, but fathers are still mainly concerned about the same things; providing for their family, keeping their children safe, and helping their children develop emotionally and spiritually. Many fathers spend most of their time away from their children working to provide all the things that they need. They wish they could be there more for the sports, dance recitals, camping trips, or simply just sitting and talking about the things that matter most to children. For young families, income is another thing that often is in short supply because their careers are just beginning and the wages are lower. I often wished we could figure out how to pay families a higher income during the time that children were home and there are more financial demands and less as the children leave home and there are less income needs.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” we are taught that families are the most important unit in time and eternity. We are taught the role that fathers and mothers share in raising their children.

“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.”

One of the joys of being a grandfather is that I can help my children with the struggles they are going through with their children. While not all grandparents are retired, we generally have more free time and hopefully a little more flexible income. I used to look forward to retirement because I would be able to spend more time with my grandchildren doing many of the things that I did not do because I was too busy working. I retired a year ago, but two months later accepted a call to serve as a full-time missionary with my wife. For two years we are away from our family serving in Indiana, so I am still waiting for the time when  I can spend time throwing the football with my 14-year-old grandson and playing hide and seek with my other grandchildren when I come home. I can’t wait until I can spend as much time with them as they want once I am home from my mission. We love to go camping and watching them participate in youth sports.

This is what fathers and grandfathers do. They protect, provide, teach, and help our children grow up to become parents of their own children. We all wish we had more time to spend with our children. We want the best for them. We hurt when they make the wrong choices and suffer the consequences of their choices. We suffer with them when they come home crying because someone was mean to them at school, got picked last, don’t make the team, or missed the last shot to win the game. While we feel empathy for them in these situations, we know that these experiences will help build character and as they suffer they become stronger.

The Lord speaking to Moses said: “this is my work and glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). If this is our Heavenly Father’s work, shouldn’t this be every father’s work. - to bring our children back into the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.? We are all children of our Heavenly Father and he has sent them here to live with us so that we might teach them of their royal heritage; that their destiny is to qualify to live eternally with God and Christ. We need to prepare for them to receive the saving ordinances of baptism and the temple where we are become families that last throughout all eternity.

This should be the most important work we do. We can provide a comfortable home that is safe, we can teach them the importance of hard work, and to be good citizens; but if we fail to teach our children faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism then we will fail in our primary responsibility as fathers.

Our work as fathers is never done. Even when our children are grown and leave home we still be involved in their lives encouraging them to continue to live righteously and teach their children to follow their examples. We are also there to help as much as we can and be there for our grandchildren. If Heavenly Father’s work is not done until all his children are brought back to his presence, then our work as fathers is not done until our children, grandchildren and all the generations to come have made it back to their eternal home with us.

Here is a fun video from the Skit Guys on Fatherhood.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Behold Thy Mother

Today in the United States, and 80 other countries around the world, is Mother’s Day a day for us to remember and express appreciation for our mothers. Nearly all countries celebrate Mother’s Day, some today, others on days other than the second Sunday in May. This holiday began here in the U.S through the efforts of Anna Jarvis when she wanted to recognize her mother’s efforts in caring “for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War” in 1908:

“Due to the campaign efforts of Anna Jarvis, several states officially recognized Mother's Day, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. In a thank-you note to Wilson Jarvis wrote of a “great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.” ('s_Day)

The greatest example we have about the importance of our mothers is shown by the Lord Jesus Christ and the love he had for his mother. As he hung on the cross his mother was there with others and she was weeping. In the midst of his own pain and suffering he wanted to make sure his mother was cared for. The scriptures show how much he loved his mother:

 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Jesus loved his mother and was concerned about her welfare after he was gone and made sure that she would be cared for. What have we done to make sure that our mothers have their needs provided for or are we still thinking what our mother is going to do for us?

My mother is almost 94 years old and most of her day is spent serving her grandchildren and great grandchildren. He whole life is still spent serving others when she really deserves to be pampered and taken care of. Her selfless service exemplifies the Savior’s love and I appreciate and love her for it.

Allis Potter July 2018

Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President in 2007, spoke about mothers. She said:

“Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.” (“Mothers Who Know”, Julie B. Beck, General Conference, October 2007)

I would like to share a short video that typifies what guys think of the job our wives have as mothers of our children. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Even though it was humorous, the father at the end was honest in his feelings for the hard work it is to be a mother. Being a full-time mother at the same time as being a full-time wife and often supporting a full-time job is not easy and we need to recognize what we can do to lessen the stress and contribute equally in our duties in the home and be a full-time father that she will appreciate and your children will know of your love as well. Speaking of the impact a righteous mother has on her family Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

“Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.” (“Mothers and Daughters”, M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2010)

Here is another two-minute video titled “Every Time a Child Is Born, So Is a Mother”

Here is another two-minute clip about the holy calling of motherhood:

Not only am I grateful for my mother, I am grateful for the mother of my four children. I am grateful for the sacrifice she made to bring our children into this world, to teach them to love God and the power of prayer. I am grateful that she is still making those sacrifices with our nine grandchildren. There is no other calling greater than that of a mother. In “The Family: A Proclamation To The World” is states:

“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. “

I would like to wish my mother, my wife and all mothers a happy mother’s day. I hope it will be one filled with love and gratitude for all you do. I would like to share one final video. It is a Mother’s Day Special program of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Music & The Spoken Word from May 12, 2019.