Monday, September 29, 2008

Financial Management

Marvin J Ashton: "The wind and waves will periodically interfere with our chosen course, even in financial matters, but the laws of the gospel can bring us back on course and guide us to peaceful waters."

We have been counseled numerous times about the need to get out of debt.

President James E Faust: “Debt is bondage because the borrower is the servant of the lender”
President Ezra Taft Benson: “No man is truly free who is in financial bondage”
President Thomas S Monson: “We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. The financial affairs of the Church are being managed in this manner,”

We are also told by Elder Ashton, in One for the Money,“money management should take precedence over money production” & “financial peace of mind is not determined by how much we make, but is dependent upon how much we spend.”

Elder Tanner in a 1979 talk entitled Constancy Amid Change, shared 5 areas in which we must be constant in our finances:
1- Pay an honest tithing- This is a discharge of a debt to the Lord
2- Live on less than you earn
3- Distinguish between needs and wants
4- Develop and live within a budget
5- Be honest in all your financial affairs

President Faust also says “some debt may be necessary, such as to acquire a home and get an education. The Lord’s counsel on the subject is to “pay the debt and release thyself from bondage” (D&C 19:35)

Consistent Counsel: The church is consistent and clear on its counsel for its members to live within their means and get out of debt. To get out of debt we must change the behavior that got us into debt. It doesn’t matter what debt reduction strategy you choose, if you fail to change your spending behavior. (Definition of insanity: Continuing the same behavior while expecting a different result)

Strategies for Debt Reduction:

*Level payments *Sell assets *Negotiate rates
*Restructure Debt *Increased payments *Do not add to debt
*Credit Counseling *Bankruptcy *Compound payments

Which strategy is best? What will work for you?

Must Do

1- Distinguish between Needs & Wants: Elder Tanner’s #3 constancy
We must be able to prioritize and cut back on unnecessary spending- if you can’t find any way to cut back spending, have a trusted friend or family member look at your spending and make suggestions.

2- Create a Budget and follow it: Do not over extend- Set a goal and target $$ for how much is responsible for you to pay in debt payments each month. Debt ratio: Lenders use a 33% debt ratio to figure how much credit/debt an individual can qualify for. (net your calculations to allow for tithing)

Annual Family income of $50,000 = $4167 monthly Gross income
$4167 - $417 (tithing) = $3750.00 adjusted gross income
$3750 X .33= $1237 in monthly debt payments ($140 diff)
$3750 - $1237 = $2513 for other monthly expenses
Debt payments include: mortgage or rent, home equity loans, auto loans, credit cards, charge cards, bank loans, student loans
Other monthly Expenses include: fast offerings, food, clothing, utilities, insurance coverage, inter-net, cell phone, gasoline, school expenses, cable TV, vehicle maintenance, etc

3- Stop adding to your debt: Enough said.

4- Choose a Strategy: This may be a combination of strategies. Know the benefits and possible pitfalls of each strategy.

5- Be Disciplined: Do not recycle debt. Often times, when the immediate pressure of debt payments is relieved, individuals return to their same spending habits, creating new debt.

6- Bail Out: If you get over your head in debt, make sure you owe so much money that the Federal Government feels they need to bail you out. Ha! Are you paying attention?

7- Live Debt Free: Tips for living debt free (

1-Remember the basics- debt HAS to be paid back
2-Write a budget
3-Keep accurate records
4-destroy extra credit cards
5-Increase credit card payments
6-Be aware of interest rates- adjustable or promotional teaser rates
7-Consolidate your debt (Short term) Control spending (long term)
8-Stash cash- if possible 3 months of accessible cash
9-Plan for retirement 1
10-The glory of compound interest- let it work for you in your savings

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Marvel

Period of Preparation:

September 21, 1823, more than 3 years since the 1st vision, Joseph Smith prayed earnestly to
- 1. know God’s purposes for him
- 2. to pray for forgiveness of sins
- 3. for a manifestation that he may know his state before God

“In answer to his prayer Joseph saw a light appear in his room that grew brighter & brighter until the room was lighter than at noonday. A heavenly messenger appeared at his bedside, standing in the air, wearing a robe of exquisite whiteness”. This messenger was Moroni.

The next day, Joseph went to the hill where the Book of Mormon plates were buried. There he met Moroni and saw the plates, but was told that he would not receive them for four years. He was to begin an important period of preparation that would make him equal to the sacred task of translating the Book of Mormon. Joseph returned to the hill each September 22 for the next four years to receive further instructions from Moroni.

From this experience we learn that Joseph was eager, patient, and humble (teachable), but that he needed to be prepared for the work he was called to do. Like Joseph, we should feel this same eagerness in serving, and we must remain humble, that we may be taught the way the Lord would have us perform His work. Just as Joseph had to be prepared for the work the Lord called him to, we also must be prepared to accomplish the work we are called to. We must be prepared to recognize the spirit so we may do things as the Lord would have them done. This is true whether we are a Bishop, a Sunday school teacher or a scout leader.

On September 22, 1827 Joseph and Emma went to the Hill. Emma waited nearby while Moroni delivered the plates into the Prophets hands.

Period of Translation:

In December 1827 Joseph & Emma moved to Harmony and the Prophet began the work of translation. Then in February 1828 Martin Harris was inspired to go to Harmony to assist Joseph as scribe.

Plates: 6 inches wide, 8 inches long, “not quite so think as common tin”, @ 6 inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed.
Urim & Thummim: Delivered to Joseph with the records were 2 transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast plate. “Through the medium of the Urim & Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God”

What role did the Urim & Thummim play in the translation of the Book of Mormon?

Neal A Maxwell- “The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process [of translation], and was deliberately reluctant to describe details.” David Whitmer observed that as the Prophet used “divine instrumentalities” provided to help him “the hieroglyphics would appear, and also the translation in the English language…in bright luminous letters”.

Martin Harris related of the seer stone: “Sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin”.
Oliver Cowdery is reported to have testified in court that the Urim and Thummim enabled Joseph “to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.”

Maxwell- “If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates” “The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial than the constant presence of opened places”.

“We do know that this faith-filled process was not easy, however. This fact was clearly demonstrated in Oliver Cowdery’s own attempt at translation”. … “Oliver failed because, lacking faith and works, he “took no thought save it was to ask”. He was not properly prepared to do it.

“Whatever the details of the process, it required Joseph’s intense, personal efforts along with the aid of the revelatory instruments. The process may have varied as Joseph’s capabilities grew, involving the work of translation.” Orson Pratt of the quorum of 12 apostles said “ Joseph told me that he used the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced at translation but that later he did not need it.”

A Marvel of Inspiration:

Marvel #1 - Speed. An estimated averate rate of 8 of our printed pages per day. The total translation time was about 65 working days. Comparison- It took more than 50 able English scholars 7 years, using previous translations, to produce the King James version of the bible- @ 1 page per day.

Marvel #2- Accuracy. Joseph rarely reviewed or revised what had already been done. Emma said “ after meals, or after interruptions, Joseph would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.

Marvel #3- Unlearned. Joseph was translating an ancient record but had no knowledge of ancient things. Early in the work Joseph came across words concerning a wall around Jerusalem and asked Emma if the city indeed had walls. She affirmed what Joseph simply hadn’t known.

Marvel #4- No reference sources. Emma Smith said “he had neither manuscript nor book to read from, and if he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me. Elizabeth Cowdrey said “Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe.” Emma also said “ Joseph dictated hour after hour with nothing between us”. None of the 12 people who participated or observed translation never mentioned Joseph’s having any reference materials present.

What do these marvels mean? The Book of Mormon came through, but not from Joseph Smith. Translation was a spiritual gift. The history and process is interesting to us and can help strengthen our testimonies, but the core of our testimony of the Book of Mormon must be based on the doctrines contained therein. The history and process by which the Book of Mormon was brought forth is truly a marvelous work and a wonder, but even more marvelous is the way lives are changed by adhering to the principles and doctrines found within the book.

What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon?

We revere Joseph Smith Jr. as a prophet who was instrumental in the Lords work of the restoration, but we worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God. As described on the title page of the Book of Mormon, the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to the “convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” The Book of Mormon is truly “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. We can come unto Him by studying the doctrines and patterning our own lives after His. We come unto Him when we accept Him as our Savior & Redeemer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Different "LDS" Jesus?

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is difficult for me to understand the charge made by other Christian denominations that Mormons are not Christian or that we believe in a different Jesus. It may seem ridiculous to the LDS, but as I learned in a recent meeting with local ministers, this belief is strong and widespread among many denominations. As LDS we cannot simply disregard the argument because we think it has no merit. If we desire and labor to change hearts and minds, we must understand the perspective of our non-LDS friends so we are able to speak to them in a language they understand.

It is suggested by “orthodox Christianity” that Mormons must believe in a different Jesus because in their view the LDS understanding of Christ and his mission is radically different from their own. So how is the LDS Jesus radically different from that of other Christians?

I had a Baptist preacher bear a powerful testimony of Christ to me and this is what he said. I am paraphrasing but these are the points he made…

Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God
He sits on the right hand of God and possesses every divine attribute
He is the creator, the Jehova of the Old Testament
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Jesus was born to a virgin, lived a perfect life, never once sinning,
He taught the gospel of His Father, He worked miracles
He died on the cross, sacrificing His life that we all may live and have eternal life
It is only through His grace that we can be saved
We must have faith in Him and accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer
He will return

He was surprised when my friend and I told him that everything he stated in his testimony is EXACTLY what we believe. I have no hesitation in echoing every bit of the testimony he bore.

If we share this testimony in Christ, what are the radical differences that are too monumental to overcome in accepting one another as Christians? Are there doctrinal differences between the LDS church and Baptists, or Methodists? Of course, there are many, but there are also many things that unite us.

It has been suggested by some in the LDS community that the theory of “another Jesus” has been promulgated as a way to exclude the LDS from acceptance among other Christian religions. For example, if a Christian holds the belief that an individual only needs to accept Christ to be saved, what of the LDS church member who also accepts Christ? Would the LDS be saved, just as the Baptist or Methodist? In this example, an LDS professing to accept Christ would be saved just as any other, unless, the Jesus Christ the LDS accepted was a different Jesus. If the LDS placed their faith in another, false Jesus, then accepting him would not benefit the LDS unto salvation.

It is possible that this represents the thinking of some of our non-LDS friends, but I think most truly believe there are major differences in doctrine that preclude the LDS from being included as Christians. In fact there are many so called orthodox Christians who would exclude many other denominations. I have read accounts of Methodists not accepting Catholics, Southern Baptists not accepting Baptists or Presbyterians as Christians, and so forth.

This is simply a form of exclusion by definition. If an individual or group controls the definition of what it means to be Christian, the only people to be accepted as Christians are those that meet their definition. If being a Christian requires an individual to believe as the Catholics, with no variance, by definition the only Christians will be Catholic. Or if a group decides that to be Christian, one must accept the Apostolic Creeds, anyone who does not accept the creeds cannot be Christian.

Some of the major differences, real or perceived, between the orthodox Christian and the LDS Christian include the following.

-The LDS accept continued revelation and scripture while orthodoxy does not allow for an open cannon of scripture. According to the orthodox, if it is not written in the Bible it is not scripture(an exception seems to be made for the creeds-although they are not stated as scripture)

-The LDS do not accept the Nicene Creed and other Apostolic Creeds which other “orthodox” Christians accept (Although there is not consensus among all denominations about which creeds must be accepted)

-LDS do not accept the notion of the Trinity- the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, all being one entity, without body parts or passions. LDS believe the Godhead to be 3 distinct personages, but all divine and one in every other way. The LDS believe in God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

-To varying levels, orthodox Christians do not accept the notion of a pre-mortal life, that we as children lived with our Father prior to this earth life. It is also in dispute among the orthodox, whether we are actual "children" of God, or merely made, like a tin soldier or a painting.

-Orthodoxy disagrees with the LDS view of eternal progression, 3 degrees of glory & eternal families

-Orthodox Christians believe the atonement involved Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. The LDS believe this as well, but also believe Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His resurrection to be critical components of the atonement.

-The LDS do not use the cross as the symbol of their religion like most orthodox. Although the LDS accept and recognize the Saviors atonement and death on the cross, the LDS prefer to focus on the ressurected Christ as the symbol, focusing on life we gain through Christ, instead of the image of His death.

-Orthodoxy believes it is only through faith on Christ that one can be saved. The LDS also believes this, however the LDS also believe that an individual expresses faith through actions. Other denominations share this view to different levels, whether they require a vocal acceptance of the Savior, or baptism, repentance, confession, keeping the 10 commandments etc. The LDS believe that although obedience and righteousness do not “earn” salvation, obedience and righteousness express faith in Christ and His redeeming sacrifice. This is the classic argument of Faith vs. works.

I am painting with a broad brush, but I believe most orthodox Christians would cite these same differences as reasons why the LDS are not Christians despite the LDS profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Of course there will be differences across denominations, as well as among individual members of each denomination. We can see there are obvious differences in doctrine but there are also many doctrinal truths, which unite us as believers in Christ.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we do not apologize for our doctrine or differences with other Christian sects. Our doctrine will not change because we want to be accepted by others. We understand we may not be accepted by orthodox Christianity, but we do no want to be misunderstood or misrepresented as non-Christian.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Misunderstanding Among Friends

We are currently experiencing great turmoil in our financial sector which reaches far beyond our nations borders. We regularly see, hear and feel the effects of war and terrorism throughout the world. Our children are bombarded constantly with inappropriate images, innuendo, jokes, peer pressure and a general cultural pressure to ignore God and his laws. Satan makes effort at every turn to discourage and divide us because he knows what is prophesied to happen in preparation for the Saviors 2nd coming. In an attempt to destroy the Savior and His people, Satan creates chaos and adopts a divide and conquer mentality among Christian denominations.

More than ever, it is critical that as Christians we find common ground and join together in purposes that will strengthen the family. These common purposes could include serving the sick and afflicted, emergency preparedness, disaster response, teaching financial independence and preparation, and combating the spiritual drift of society. It is time we concentrate on issues and beliefs that unite us instead of focusing on the differences that divide us. It is possible for different denominations to maintain doctrinal independence while working with others in a common cause.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of local ministers in an attempt to find common ground, to find ways in which we could serve together within the community to help build it into a stronger, safer place for our families. Although we had a cordial discussion, I was disappointed that these ministers were so fearful of the LDS church that they were not willing to work together in any way, not even in causes we both identify as critical needs of the community. I was even told that because of LDS belief in a “different Jesus”, and the perceived LDS exclusion of other Christians from the “Mormon Heaven”, they would not even be comfortable offering a simple prayer with us. These are fears that come from misunderstanding. Such misunderstandings keep us divided.

Even though my discussion with these ministers did not yield the result I had hoped for, I believe it was a successful failure. I failed (for now) in my attempt to build common ground and find ways to serve the community, united as Christians. But, I succeeded in opening a dialogue with these ministers. I was able to bear testimony of the Savior and His mission and kindly challenge them in their assumptions about the LDS church. I was able to provide them with literature, which defined the LDS belief in the Savior and His role in the eternal plan of happiness.

This may be a small beginning but it is an important step for me personally. One minister was open to the prospect of continued discussion, while the other stated there was no purpose in additional discussions since it was not possible for minds to be changed. I hope that minister will reconsider after reading some of the literature I provided. In any case, I will continue to build a positive relationship, and hope for the best.

In this one experience I learned a great deal. It appears that for the moment, in my little community, Satan may be finding some success in dividing Christian denominations from one another, but then again, maybe his success will come to an end with additional focus and effort by the LDS community, in building relationships of trust within the community. Relationships are not built and attitudes are not changed over night. Hopefully we can continue to find opportunities to have open, honest dialogue and maybe someday we will able to be unified in our common goals.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Zion People

Moses 7:18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations in this work is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace—a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one.

“The vision of what we are about and what should come of our labors must be kept uppermost in our minds as we learn and do our duty in the present implementation of welfare service. This applies equally to all Church activities. . . .”

In the Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young taught, “The length of time required ‘to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion’ is strictly up to us and how we live, for creating Zion ‘commences in the heart of each person.’” (9:283.)

Pure in Heart

D&C 97: 21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.

Brigham Young in 1863 said, “. . . Zion can be built up only among those who are pure in heart, not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people. Not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.

Spencer W. Kimball- “Zion is ‘every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.’ (D&C 82:19.) As I understand these matters, Zion can be established only by those who are pure in heart, and who labor for Zion, for ‘the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.’ (2 Nephi 26:31.)”

“May I suggest three fundamental things we must do if we are to ‘bring again Zion,’ three things for which we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves.

“First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind. . . . “. . . It is incumbent upon us to put away selfishness in our families, our business and professional pursuits, and our Church affairs. . . .

Be One

A house divided cannot stand. We must be unified in purpose and effort.

4 Nephi 1:17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.

“Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions. After pleading with the Saints to ‘let every man esteem his brother as himself’ (D&C 38:24), the Lord concludes his instructions on cooperation to a conference of the membership in these powerful words:

“‘Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.’ (D&C 38:27.) . . .


“Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of, the Spirit. In the Church, as in the Welfare system also, we can give expression to every ability, every righteous desire, every thoughtful impulse. Whether a volunteer, father, home teacher, bishop, or neighbor, whether a visiting teacher, mother, homemaker, or friend—there is ample opportunity to give our all. And as we give, we find that ‘sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!’ And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1978, pp. 122–24; or Ensign, May 1978, p. 81.)

No Poor Among Them

Deuteronomy 15:4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:

Remember, the Land of Zion is an inheritance to the Saints, or the people of Zion. To qualify for the inheritance there can be no poor among us. What does this mean? Will everyone be equal in possessions? Is this to be some kind of communist community?

President J. Reuben Clark said, “D&C 51:3 affirms that every man is to be ‘equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.’ Obviously, this is not a case of ‘dead level’ equality. It is ‘equality’ that will vary as much as the man’s circumstances, his family, his wants and needs, may vary.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55.)

Zion is not a communist society. Even in the early days of the united order, each individual had personal ownership of property and each family was given according to their need. To “have no poor among them” means that we watch after, serve and support all in our midst. Currently this is accomplished by donating fast offerings for the bishop to allocate as needed.

We watch after one another as we home teach, we offer service to one another so that all will have according to their needs. We may not be equal in all possessions but we must be willing to offer and give all that we have to assist the church and the people.

When we ensure there are no poor among us, when we are unified in the purposes of the Lord, and when we are willing to sacrifice all that is required of us, we may be considered a Zion people because we will be pure in heart.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prepare for the Coming of Christ

Pres. James E Faust: (New Era Mar 01) 2 Questions:

1- “Who Do You Think You Are?”
How would we respond? Husband, wife, father, mother, child of god, priesthood holder, member of the church. Do we define ourselves by occupation or hobby?
2- Who Are You (really)? Is the answer the same to both questions?
Pres Faust observes that “who you think you are and who you REALLY are can be 2 different versions of yourself”. He also says “you will be happier when the person you think you are is the person you really are”.

To be happy we must have a match between our true selves and the person we think we are. To do this we must have a clear understanding of our father in heaven and our relationship to Him. We must be pure in heart and unified with Him and His purposes.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves”. Knowing who we are- who we really are, is tied closely to knowing God, because we are His Children.

I believe the 2 most important things we can know about God are…

1- He knows each of us personally
2- He loves each of us and has provided a way for us to be happy

When we know these 2 things we can trust and love our Father in Heaven. We can have faith in Him and those He sends to do His work.

Story of Widow Woman & Elijah: 1Kings 17:8-16
Why did the Lord send Elijah to this woman? The Lord sent Elijah because He knew her need and wanted to bless her. She is a GREAT example of faithfulness, even in the face of personal distress. She is a GREAT example of how to accept a calling from a priesthood leader. She was obedient and as a result she & her son were blessed with oil and meal that did not fail. They were saved. The woman was also blessed when Elijah used his priesthood to raise her son from the dead. Heavenly Father knew her and loved her, and gave her great blessings for her faithfulness.

Sometimes it feels like we live in a world of distress & commotion… disease, plagues, famines, wars, terror, natural disasters. It has been prophesied these will occur with greater frequency prior to the 2nd coming.

D&C 45:26 “Mens hearts shall fail them”
Disease, plagues, wars, natural disasters are all out of our control, but heart failure of this kind is in our control.
Luke 21:26
Hearts fail for fear of things coming on the earth but we have been promised by the Lord in D&C 38:30 that “if we are prepared we need not fear”. If we are prepared we need not fear and if we have no fear, our hearts will not fail us.

Remember, the Lord knows each of us individually, & he loves each of us. If we know these things, we also know we can trust the Lord, and we need not fear. We can be true disciples, pure in heart and seek to sustain His will. If we do this we will have security and peace.

We must keep the commandments & serve the Lord. To do this we Must know & Trust God. We also must know our selves, our strengths & weaknesses.

The person we think we are must match the person the Lord wants us to be. He knows our true potential. We must honestly evaluate ourselves, note our strengths and weaknesses, and make the necessary changes.

We all know the parable of the 10 virgins. All were waiting for the Bridegroom but only 5 made it into the wedding party. I wonder if the 5 foolish virgins considered themselves to be unfaithful, after all they were eagerly awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom.

The 5 wise women were like the widow who served Elijah and had her “cruse of oil filled & it did not fail.”

My prayer is that our hearts will not fail us, that we will know our selves and that we will know, love and trust God and keep his commandments, that we will be prepared with oil when the Lord comes again, and that we will be counted among the 5 wise women, accepted to commune with the Lord.

Helaman 14
30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death;

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stakes of Zion

In 1838 the Lord explained that the gathering to Zion and her stakes was to be for defense and refuge from the coming storm that will be poured out on the earth (D&C 115:5-6). These commands and promises are found also in section 45. The Saints are to gather to Zion (D&C 45:64-65), a place of safety, peace, and refuge.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall”

Safety & Refuge

In late October 1838, persecution against the saints in Missouri reached a fever pitch. Once again mobs were combining and threatening the saints. Mormon leaders in outlying settlements were counseled by the prophet to gather together for safety at Far West. Some leaders followed the counsel of the prophet and gathered to Far West, but others, like Jacob Haun did not. Unfortunately, the settlement at Haun’s Mill suffered greatly because they did not gather together with the other saints for safety.

We may not currently be facing the threat of mobs, but the counsel of the prophet is still, to gather together for safety and refuge. Unlike the early days of the church, where all saints gathered to the center place of Zion, saints are encouraged to gather together in the Stakes of Zion. A stake is part of Zion. Wherever the church is organized outside the center place of Zion, a stake is organized and becomes part of Zion.

Gather Together & Prepare

Elder Bruce R. McConkie -“This then is the counsel of the Brethren: Build up Zion, but build it up in the area where God has given you birth and nationality. Build it up where he has given you citizenship, family, and friends. . . . The Saints who comprise [any] part of Zion are and should be a leavening influence for good in all these nations.”

There is great strength in being gathered together as saints, wherever we are, as we endeavor to become a Zion people. We look after each other, we strengthen each other, serve each other, we teach each other, and we are led by priesthood leaders who hold keys to direct the Lord’s work within the stakes and wards in which we live. We are taught to prepare ourselves and our families for the turmoil prophesied to come upon us. We are taught within our wards and stakes and by the prophet to prepare for things spiritually and temporally. Here are just a couple of way we have been counseled to prepare temporally.

1- get out of debt
2- maintain 1 year supply of food storage
3- prepare 72 hour kits for emergencies
4- plant a garden
5- have a reserve supply of cash

We also need to prepare spiritually for the current challenges we face as well as the challenges prophesied to come (D&C 45). This is largely what we are doing as we gather together each Sunday to worship. We are preparing and working to become a Zion people when we do our home and visiting teaching, when we care for the poor, when we study our scriptures and engage in earnest prayer, when we serve faithfully and magnify our callings, when we are unified in purpose, when we sustain our priesthood leaders, when we teach the gospel to our children, our friends and neighbors. The stakes of Zion are only strong enough to offer protection and refuge if the saints living within the stakes are striving their best to be a Zion people.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:
“The gathering of Israel and the establishment of Zion in the latter days is divided into three periods or phases. The first phase is past; we are now living in the second phase; and the third lies ahead. . . .

Phase I—From the First Vision, the setting up of the kingdom on April 6, 1830, and the coming of Moses on April 3, 1836, to the secure establishment of the Church in the United States and Canada, a period of about 125 years.

Phase II—From the creation of stakes of Zion in overseas areas, beginning in the 1950s, to the second coming of the Son of Man, a period of unknown duration.

Phase III—From our Lord’s second coming until the kingdom is perfected and the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea, and from then until the end of the Millennium, a period of 1,000 years.” (“Come: Let Israel Build Zion,” p. 115.)

Elder McConkie continued, “We have been commanded to lay the foundations of Zion and to get all things ready for the return of Him who shall again crown the Holy city with his presence and glory. . . ."

“Stakes of Zion are . . . being organized at the ends of the earth. . . . A stake of Zion is a part of Zion. You cannot create a stake of Zion without creating a part of Zion”

Strength, Safety & Peace

The Stakes of Zion organize a Zion people, or at least a people who desire and strive to be a Zion people. Even though we do not face the mobs, we do face many challenges which threaten our families, our nation and our way of life. Our children face cultural attacks of immorality. As we were reminded a few days ago on 9/11, as a nation we face vicious enemies who combine in their desire to destroy us. We face economic times that are increasingly difficult and uncertain.
We know times will be difficult, but as we gather together in the Stakes of Zion, sustain our priesthood leaders and follow their counsel, as we prepare ourselves temporally and spiritually, we can find strength, safety and peace in the Stakes of Zion.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Land of Zion- A Land of Inheritance

Land of Zion
There are many descriptions of Zion and it’s people. However, when the Lord refers to the “Land of Zion”, He is referring to the “center place” (D&C 57:3), which is Jackson County and the “region round about” (DC 101:70). Repeatedly, Missouri in general is spoken of as the land of Zion, & Jackson County and the “counties round about” are spoken of more specifically.

D&C 57
2 Wherefore, this is the a land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place;

We also know that Caldwell County (counties round about), which was created by the Missouri State legislature as a place for the saints to settle after being expelled from Jackson County, is included with Jackson county when the Lord speaks of the land of Zion.

D&C 115
6 And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.
7 Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy.

An Inheritance
Understanding the location of the land of Zion is important to the saints not only because of future prophesied events, but because it is an inheritance to the members of the church.

D&C 101
1 Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance

18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion—

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made”

Zion is a land of inheritance because the Church, with its large numbers of descendants of Joseph, inherits the blessings promised to Joseph’s posterity (Abraham 2:9–10; D&C 86:8–9). That is why the Lord has promised the latter-day Church an inheritance in the land promised to Joseph’s posterity, with its “center place” in Missouri (D&C 57:3)

Building Up the Waste Places
Although the land of Zion is an inheritance, the Lord has directed the saints to “purchase all the lands with money, which can be purchased for money, in the region round about the land which I have appointed to be the land of Zion” (D&C 101:70). It must be purchased, not taken or claimed.

The Lord spoke of two important items having to do with the establishment of Zion: the gathering of the Saints to places appointed, and the purchase of land in the region of Zion. The Lord cautioned in D&C 101:68 & 72 that the work was not to proceed with haste. Part of the difficulty experienced in the original attempt to establish Zion was caused by many Saints’ coming to Zion ill prepared. These instructions were given to the early saints and seem to apply to saints coming to Missouri today.

A Gathering?
There has been no call from the Church for the saints to gather again to Missouri. In fact, the Church’s current focus is in building up and strengthening the Stakes of Zion, which is the Church, organized in any location. But still, as the spirit has prompted many individuals and families, many saints have and are returning to the “Center Place” of Zion in Jackson County Missouri and the “counties round about”. It could be said that the trickle of saints that are returning to Missouri are involved in “building up the waste places of Zion”, preparing for the time when a trickle becomes a flood.

Many people who have moved to Missouri are asked by friends and relatives something like this… “Did I miss a big announcement?” or “Is the Lord telling you something He is not telling me?” The answers are, “No- you did not miss a big announcement but the Lord may prompt my family in a way different than yours”. Heads of families can receive personal revelation for the benefit of their families. If I am prompted to move to a different place, take a different job or pursue other different opportunities, it does not make me more special than another. It merely means what is best for my family is best for my family. What is best for another family may be different.

Be Patient
Joseph Smith said, “I know that Zion, in the due time of the Lord, will be redeemed; but how many will be the days of her purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God….. He will return her back to her inheritance”
We do not know when or even how exactly Zion will be redeemed but we can be still and trust in God and know that Zion has not moved. “Zion shall not be moved out of her place” (D&C 101:17). It is still a place of our inheritance.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Our Role in Zion?

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live."

Zion has been the focus of the prophets and saints from the beginning of time. As we learn from reading the Docterine and Covenants, it is also a focus for us in our day. The word Zion is used in many different ways, referring to the Land of Zion, the people of Zion, the Stakes of Zion and the physical location of Zion. But the importance of Zion in our daily lives can be wrapped up into one phrase, "establishing the cause of Zion".

How can we help establish the cause of Zion? We must understand the different uses of the word and what our individual role is in establishing the cause of Zion. Not only must each individual understand what his or her role is, we must also understand what our collective roles might be as families, quorums, wards, or stakes, in working toward establishing Zion according to our own stewardships.

Establishing Zion: (What we must know)
-What is the Land of Zion
-What are the Stakes of Zion
-What does it mean to be a Zion people
-What is our role in establishing the cause of Zion?

Becoming A Zion People: One Heart & One Mind- We must be unified in desire and action to th end of fulfilling the will of God (unify families and church). We must understand Heavenly Fathers expectations for us as Priesthood holders

Priesthood Duties: (Love God, Love our Neighbor)
Personal worthiness- Strengthen testimonies and love for Savior-Qualify for temple, study scriptures & pray daily
Family Duties- provide for, nurture, teach, study scriptures & pray (family & spouse) , FHE, dates with wife, Gospel Sharing home, blessings and father interviews with children, Temple attendance
Church Duties- Magnify callings and assignments (H.T.), service, preach the gospel, attend all meetings faithfully, sustain leaders, Ward Mission Plan, Family History, Study Preach my Gospel
Miscellaneous Duties- Food Storage, Plant garden, get out of debt, physical well-being

How do we do it all?
Evaluate current attitudes and activities
Consolidate Activities- Multi Task
*Pray for Guidance
*Stay Positive
Focus on improving in 1-2 areas at a time and then move on to others

Do Not Run Faster than we are Able- D&C, BofM D&C 10-4, Mosiah 4:27
The emphasis is on diligence and direction rather than on speed.

Overzealous effort without wisdom and patience leads to errors.

Pitfalls in establishing Zion- Lessons of 4th Nephi
-Beware of the adversary
-Beware of Pride
-Beware of discouragement

Be happy- Be confident- Be optimistic- Through Him, all can be accomplished.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spiritual Gifts

I have often wondered about the role of spiritual gifts in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When I think of spiritual gifts I immediately think of speaking in tongues, or receiving glorious revelations. These certainly qualify as gifts of the spirit but there are many other gifts which are less obvious.

So what is the role of spiritual gifts in the church?

We are taught in the 7th Article of Faith- “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues and so forth…”

The article of faith names some spiritual gifts, but not all.

What are the “so forth…” gifts as referred to in the 7th article of faith? In a 1987 Conference Talk entitled “There are Many Gifts” Elder Ashton spoke about some of the less conspicuous gifts, such as the gift of asking, listening, hearing, being able to weep, avoiding contention, being agreeable, looking to God for guidance, ability to ponder, and bearing mighty testimony. Even though we may not immediately think of these as spiritual gifts, these inconspicuous gifts are also valuable and should be sought after.

D&C 46:8 tells us to be not deceived and “seek earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what [purpose] they are given”.

Why are we given spiritual gifts? What is their purpose?
D&C 46:9 gives us the answer

“For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts”

Elder Melvin Arnold of the Seventy also teaches “There are many spiritual gifts… Their purpose, among other things, is to give us strength, lead us to do good, help us resist temptation, encourage and edify us, increase our own wisdom, help us judge righteously, and help us qualify for eternal life”.

In short, spiritual gifts are tools the Father gives to us to help us become what he wants us to become, that we might receive eternal life.

Challenge to Become: Elder Oaks spoke of the Challenge to Become, and shared a parable about a wealthy father who wanted to bestow all that he had upon his child, but the child had not yet developed the necessary wisdom and stature, to make use of the inheritance without wasting it. The father said to the child…

“All that I have I desire to give you-not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”

Our father desires that we become like Him. He desires to give us all that He has. To accomplish these desires He has given us spiritual gifts that we may be led to do good, resist temptation, be strengthened and edified, increase in wisdom, and ultimately help us qualify for eternal life. He wants us to give over our whole “natural self”. He wants us to become something new. He wants us to become like Christ.

CS Lewis wrote “If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.” Put another way, he says “It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.”

Becoming like our father is more than putting on a layer of paint with good works, but it is letting Christ soak into us, that we become someone new.

Quick to Observe: One inconspicuous spiritual gift which will aid us in becoming what our Father would have us become, is the gift of being “Quick To Observe”.

Mormon 1:2 “About the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me and said ‘I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe”

Because Mormon was “quick to observe” he was entrusted with the great work of keeping and compiling ancient records of the Book of Mormon, which has, and is, blessing the lives of many people throughout the world.

Elder Bednar has stated “Your future success and happiness will in large measure be determined by this spiritual capacity” of being Quick to Observe.

We know what it means to be Quick. It means we do not hesitate, procrastinate or delay.

What does it mean to Observe? There are two applicable meanings of this word.
1- to witness or notice, to look or see
2- Obey or keep, as it is used in D&C 54:6

D&C 54:6 “But blessed are they who have kept the covenant and observed the
commandment, for they shall obtain mercy”

Being Quick to Observe means we must observe what the Lord would have us do. He can tell us through promptings of the spirit or by the mouth of His anointed servants. Once we have observed we must be quick in acting, we must not delay.

Observe: To observe we must be paying attention and we must seek the will of the Lord. Hiding or shielding ourselves from the words of the Lord does not absolve us of the responsibility of following Him. We cannot refuse to read the scriptures and then claim not to have been told what He expects from us. We must be Quick to Observe.

Earring Story: A young man chose not to pursue a relationship with a young woman because she did not heed the direction of the prophet in wearing only 1 pair of ear rings. This may seem like a trivial thing & I do not mean to single out individuals who have more than 1 set of earrings.

The issue is NOT the earring. It is the willingness to be Quick to Observe the words of the prophet. All the words of prophet. When it is from the mouth of the Lord, or His anointed, obedience is never trivial.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will all find areas in our lives we can improve upon. Areas in which we need to repent and be Quick to Observe.

When He commanded us to “Be Perfect”, He meant it.

Home Teaching: For example, as priesthood holders we have the duty and assignment to home teach. How many lessons have been taught, challenges given, requests made, assignments issued concerning home teaching? How successful are we as home teachers? Are we being Quick to Observe the duties we have been taught and assigned by our Prophet, Stake President, Bishop and Priesthood leaders?

Being Quick to Observe, like other spiritual gifts can, and MUST, be developed.
When we are quick to observe our Home Teaching duties by going into a families home, teach a lesson and get to know the family through conversation and service we will grow in our ability to discern, or observe additional needs of the family by the Spirit.

President Boyd K Packer has said “If all you know is what you see with your natural eyes and hear with your natural ears, then you will not know very much”. We need to learn to discern more than what we observe naturally.

If we are to become the men and women our Father desires us to become, we must grow in our ability to observe his words and be obedient to them.

Elder Bednar says “Being Quick to Observe is an antecedent to, and is linked with the spiritual gift of discernment. And for you and me, discernment is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark”.
President Stephen Richards taught “the highest type of discernment is that which perceives in others and uncovers for them their better natures, the good inherent within them”.
President George Q Cannon taught “discernment helps us detect hidden error
and evil in others-but it is also about discerning things as they really are within us.”

Remember the reason our father gives us spiritual gifts. It is to build and uplift, to edify, and help us qualify for eternal life. It is to help us Become Christlike.

CS Lewis wrote in "Mere Christianity", “it may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad”.

This is the purpose of all spiritual gifts, whether it be a conspicuous gift like healing, prophecy, revelation, tongues or interpretation of tongues, or an inconspicuous gift such as discernment or being Quick to Observe.

Obtaining any of the many spiritual gifts can be a great strength to us and those around us. But remember- by their fruits ye shall know them.

A word of warning from Elder Dallin H Oaks. “Our strengths can be our Downfall…Humility is the catalyst for all learning, especially spiritual things”.
D&C 46:7-10 tells us to “beware, lest ye are deceived”.

D&C 112:10 “Be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answers to thy prayers”.

We must remain humble in our strengths- even in obtaining and utilizing our spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. Any gift can be corrupted by Pride.

Elder Packer warns “Satan can attack us where we think we are strong- In the very areas where we are proud of our strengths”.
2 Examples of how spiritual gifts can be corrupted: & how “Our strengths can become our Downfall” (Dallin H. Oaks, May 1995 Ensign)

1- The healer- A m an from Utah had the gift of healing. People sought him out for blessings, coming from outside of his ward and Stake. He came to travel to various communities soliciting the giving of blessings. He became a professional healer, and forgot “a spiritual gift is given to benefit the children of God, not to magnify the prominence or to gratify the ego of the person who receives it”. This man lost his gift

2- Popular Teacher- A charismatic, skilled, learned Institute teacher became very popular. He gathered a following “for the sake of riches and honor”. 2 Nephi 26:29 “Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but seek not the welfare of Zion.”

These are both examples of spiritual gifts being corrupted by pride. These individuals were impressed with themselves, simply because they were stewards of a gift, so they lost the gift. They sought the glory themselves, instead of glorifying the Father with their gift.

We should not be afraid of spiritual gifts and the strength that comes from them. We must seek these gifts earnestly but we must be humble and recognize the source of their power. We must understand their role in the Fathers plan.

We must embrace the entire gospel of Jesus Christ and keep our eyes set on Eternal Life, recognizing that it is only through the Grace of Christ that we can be saved. We must be Quick to Observe all the words of the prophets and not select doctrines or commandments we choose to follow. We must avoid being totally focused in just one area of the gospel or enamored with just one Spiritual Gift, while ignoring the fullness of the Gospel.

Incessant Tapping: Boyd K Packer has likened the gospel to a piano keyboard. He has warned that a person can be “attracted by a single key” such as a doctrine or a spiritual gift. This person will want to hear it “played over and over again… they can dull their own spiritual sensitivities and lose track that there is a fullness of the gospel, in preference to a favorite note.”

We seek for all good gifts. As we seek these gifts and are Quick to Observe, and are humble in our strengths, these great spiritual gifts will be granted to us and we will become what the Father wants us to become. These gifts will be to our personal benefit, the benefit of others, and the benefit of the Church as a whole in accomplishing our Father’s mission. We will increase in wisdom, and we will be aided in qualifying for Eternal Life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Broken Heart & A Contrite Spirit

When I was younger I used to think about ways in which I could be a hero. Protecting friends or family from a vicious animal, thwarting a criminal or heroically saving someone’s life through some act of courage & bravery.

I thought, the way to make a meaningful contribution to others was by some big, dramatic act. Through my bravery I would prove my worth to others and my valiance in serving God. I was reminded of this when I listened to Elder Cooks talk in a recent LDS Priesthood session of Conference.

Elder Quentin L. Cook:
Story of Sweetwater Rescue- Elder Cook’s great grandfather David Patten Kimball was involved in saving lives of members of the Martin & Willie Handcart companies.

“At great personal sacrifice, David and his associates helped carry many of the pioneers across the freezing, ice-filled Sweetwater. This true account greatly impressed me. I wanted to prove my devotion to the Lord through some dramatic act. Their acts of bravery were specifically to follow the prophet Brigham Young & by so doing express their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I wanted to do something dramatic because I was young and immature, and my understanding about what our Father in Heaven expects of us was immature. There is nothing wrong with being a hero to others, but it is seldom a single act courage that defines who we are. It is the development of character, over time, being obedient to both the small things & the big things if required that proves our devotion to the Lord.

We learn from the scriptures that out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

Simple Things:

Story of Naaman: Naaman was captain of the Syrian hosts and he was a leper. Naaman cam with his chariot and horses to the house of Elisha, who sent a messenger to instruct Naaman, “go and wash in the Jordan seven

(7 is often a symbolic number indicating completeness) times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee”

Naaman was offended and “went away in a rage”. One of Naaman’s servants said “if the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” Some “great thing” in this instance was extraordinarily simple and easy to do. Naaman repented, followed the prophet, washed and was healed. What did Naaman sacrifice? Pride.

“And the people spake against God, and against Moses. … “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.“Therefore the people came to Moses. … And Moses prayed for the people.“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (
Num. 21:5-8) Did they look, or did they perish?


What does the Lord ask us to sacrifice?

Broken Heart & Contrite Spirit-

Resources- Tithing and care for the poor
Time- service to others, service in callings and home teaching etc
The natural man- Submit our will to His, just as the Savior submitted His will to the Father.

Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken & contrite heart”

3 Nephi 9:19-20 “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost”.

The Lord’s people must give their hearts to God. What does this mean?
-Submit our will to the will of the Father (as Christ submitted)

Actual acts of submission may be something dramatic like the Sweetwater
Rescue, but more likely it will be something simple.

-Deep Gratitude for the Atonement of the Savior
-Repentance- a broken heart & contrite spirit is a precondition of repentance
-Being a true Disciple

Discipleship: Pres. James E. Faust
Follow the Savior in all things

1. Jesus went about doing good. We can all do something good every day if we look for opportunities.
2. Jesus was the Good Shepherd. We can seek out the lonely or afflicted, those who are less active or may need
additional support in coming unto the Savior. We can care for and befriend them. (H.T.)
3. Jesus had compassion on many. We too can have & show compassion (H.T)
4. Jesus bore witness of His divine mission and His Father’s great work. We can stand as a witness at all times.
5. Jesus invited the little children to come unto him. Our children need our attention and love as well as our care.

Pres. James E. Faust- “Many think that the price of discipleship is too costly and too burdensome. For some, it involves giving up too much. But the cross is not as heavy as it appears to be. Through obedience we acquire much greater strength to carry it.” “Discipleship brings purpose to our lives”.

We will be judged by the desires of our hearts. If our hearts are set on being a true disciple of Jesus Christ and we are willing to offer to the Lord, all that we possess and are, our hearts will be broken and our spirits contrite. We will truly understand our relationship to deity and what we must do to gain His acceptance.

The Beginning?

This blog is merely an experiment for me. I have never done a blog or kept a journal before. I sincerely hope no one wastes their time reading this. Of course you are welcome to read what you like, but please understand I am simply attempting to find a way to organize some thoughts on subjects that are interesting to me.