Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Call from a Prophet

As missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we were called by the Lord through his prophet and assigned to serve in a specific area. Are we committed to doing our best each day to fulfill that call? Have we committed to exact obedience so we can have the Holy Ghost to guide us in our activities each day?

Gary Ames speaking to the students of BYU-Idaho reminded them of the invitation from President Thomas S. Monson in his last conference address that we should read from the Book of Mormon every day. He then asked if they were following the prophet’s call to read every day. He said that maybe we rationalize by saying: “Maybe you feel like that just isn’t the type of person you are and that you can be excused from such counsel. Maybe you just have never liked to read.” (Safety in Prophetic Counsel)

Brother Ames then tells the story of 50-year-old Eli Peirce that was called on a mission from the pulpit in general conference. Brother Peirce was not there in the tabernacle when the call came from the prophet, but a friend sent him a telegraph telling him of the call. He was in his office smoking a pipe and reading a novel when the telegraph came. He often purchased cigars a thousand and was not active in church.

Brother Peirce could have said; he was not the missionary type and would be a waist of his time. Instead as soon as the call he through away the cigars, his pipe, and the novel and went to buy some scriptures. He said: “Remarkable as it may seem . . . a thought of disregarding the call or of refusing to comply never once entered my mind. I have never, for one moment, regretted the sacrifice. . . . And now, after years have passed, I repeat, in words of soberness, that the happiest period of my life was spent in the Master’s service.”

Do we have the faith that helped Brother Peirce succeed as missionaries? Years from now will we be able to say that the happiest period of our lives was spent as a missionary? Are we willing to obey with exactness so that we will have the Holy Ghost to be with us and guide us in our labors every day?

I testify we were called by the Lord through his living prophet to serve in your particular mission for a specific purpose. I know that if we serve with full purpose of heart every day, we will be blessed to find out what that purpose is and fulfill it. I also know if we do this, our time here will be one of the happiest time of our lives.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Because of Him

For many Christian denominations we are entering the Holy Week. Today is Palm Sunday, when Christ triumphantly enters Jerusalem; Friday is Good Friday, when Christ was crucified; and Sunday is Easter Sunday, when Christ was resurrected. We celebrate all of these because of the events that happened a single week in the life of one man – Jesus Christ. His life, and especially the events of that last week, has affected the life of every person that has ever lived or will ever live on this and many other worlds. Because of him the world was created and we are here (John 1:3). Because of him, we will all live again after we die.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. Kings would show power by riding a horse into a conquering city; whereas a King would ride a donkey as a token of peace. Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace and as such riding a donkey into Jerusalem would represent peace. The people of Jerusalem cut down palm branches and spread them before him and shouted:

Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:8-9)

What happened to the people between Palm Sunday and Friday when they cried: “crucify him”? (Luke 23:21) Why would many of the same people who would worship him as their messiah turn against him and want him put to death? I would guess it is that most of both crowds had no idea who Jesus was and were just following along with those a few believers and then a few Jewish rulers that hated Jesus. We have all seen the affect a crowd can have on others as they work them into a frenzy everyone just joins in not really knowing what is going on.

Which group would we have been part of? Are we among the believers, those who cried “crucify him”, or are we another group that had no idea what was going on and did not even pay attention to all the fuss? If you have the day off work because of Good Friday or Easter, is it another day off work or do you go to your house of worship and give thanks because of life we celebrate this holy week?

Because of him all sickness and pain will be done away. Because of him, death has no victory and we will live again. Because of him, we can find happiness in this life and in the life to come. Because of him, we can be forgiven and cleansed of our sins. Everything that I am is because of him.

I invite you to come worship with us, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can find the nearest church by clicking here and putting in your address. Even if you don’t want to worship with us, please go to your church and give thanks of all you have because of him.

Please watch this 1-minute video titled “Because of Him”. Your questions and comments are always welcome. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Finding Peace in March Madness

Once again we are coming to the end of the great NCAA tournament season known as March Madness. We are down to the top two teams Virginia and Texas Tech. Along the way there were several Cinderella teams that upset the teams that were supposed to make it all the way to the end of the “big dance”. Seven of the games were decided by one or two points. Four games went into over time before a winner was decided.

I did not see all of the games during the tournament, but I did watch my share. Some games were extremely exciting, and others were well boring. Much of the madness comes from the broken brackets (the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 9.2 quintillion), lost time at work watching games (l love the “boss button” on the NCAA web site), watching players do stupid things - they are only 18-20+ year old kids what do you expect?, mistakes by referees, stupid fans, and annoying announcers and analysts.

One of the best examples of the effects of March Madness was found two years ago when 12 year old John Phillips was caught on camera having a melt down as Northwester lost their game to Gonzaga.

John Phillips, the Northwestern Crying Kid

One of the things I noticed this time was I never heard coaches or players make excuses or blame others for their loss. Maybe I just did not see the right interviews, but I did not see any. I was especially impressed by Bruce Pearl, the coach of Auburn, after their 1-point loss to Texas Tech in their semi-final game. During a post-game interview, the interviewer seemed to be trying to get the coach to blame the referee for their loss and he would not do it, taking full responsibility for Auburn’s loss. I also never hear any of the players during the tournament take credit for their victories but instead included the entire team in the win. I like the class the players and coaches showed this year.

This weekend was not only the semi finals for the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament, but it was also the 189th annual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These two events seem to come at the same time every year. I would have like to have been a fly on the wall in the room where the presiding authorities were discussing which conference they would have the priesthood meetings and which one would have the general women’s meetings. It seems the sisters won the discussion because they get to stay home and watch the semi final games while the brethren of the church attend the general priesthood session. If you want to see my solution to this problem check out one of my past blogs from April 1, 2017 “Historic Agreement between the LDS Church and the NCAA” (yes, it was an April Fools Post).

Sessions from general conference had some great advice on how to find peace in the madness of the world around us. Here are a few thoughts that impressed me:

Becky Craven, 2nd Counselor in the General Young Women’s Presidency said there is a casual way to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and there is a careful way to live it. We should not live it casually. There is no right way to not live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Brook P. Hales, of the Seventy, reminded us that sometimes our prayers are answered quickly and in the way we want. Sometimes they are not answered immediately or in the way we expect and sometimes they are not answered at all in this life. We must have faith to know the answers will eventually come.

President Eyring, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, warned us of the pattern of decline of the people after the Savior visited the people in America and they then experienced almost 200 years of peace and prosperity. The signs of decline are:

1.     Pride
2.     Classes – no longer having their goods in common
3.     Increased sin
He said that increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and his servants is the best way to counter act a society that is in decline.

Sharon L. Eubank, 2nd Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, said that Satan is trying hard to isolate us and cut us off from the source of light and wants us to think that we are the only ones that are experiencing difficulties. If we feel our flame of testimony fluttering, have faith that Christ’s light will sustain us. He is the source of truth and light.

D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said that we must do all we can to end suffering and prepare for the time when suffering will be done away when the Savior, Jesus Christ comes again.

Elder Rasband, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said that our testimony in Jesus Christ is our greatest defense again evil.

President Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, spoke in the priesthood session about the importance of repentance, that it is not a one thing and done situation. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. We need to prayerfully seek to know what is stopping us from repenting and fix it. In his Sunday address he said that salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter. If we want to have the opportunity to be with our family fall all eternity; pay the price now!

Anyone that knows me, will agree that I love everything about March Madness, at least the NCAA tournament, but I do not like that madness in the world around us. It seems that this madness is growing at an ever-increasing rate. Watching the sessions of general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps me find peace in March (and other times of the year) Madness around us. The peace that the Savior Jesus Christ can give is the only answer for the wickedness in today’s world. We can have peace now and hope that when the Savior does return the madness will end forever. Until then at least we can enjoy the madness found in March and the NCAA Tournament.

Your questions and comments are welcome.