Archive for the Category ◊ Inspirational ◊

18 Mar 2020 COVID-19 is … beautiful?
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COVID-19 CellThe COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly moving. And while it may sound odd, I am supremely grateful. It’s beautiful to see people, communities, and organizations come together in so many ways — to embrace our shared humanity.

Of course, I don’t mean to trivialize in any way the real and deep distress of so many tens of thousands of people: the families, friends, and communities of the seriously ill, dying, and dead; the crushing financial burden of income loss and uncertainty; the medical professionals (and others) working double and triple shifts; the list of hardships and significant stressors is lengthy.

But despite all of that – perhaps even because of that, to a degree – there is an awakening, a softening, a return to normalcy and goodness. COVID shines a massive spotlight on a fundamental question: what really matters to us?

Is it the latest sporting event? Is it the fashion trends of today, gone tomorrow? Is it the latest technical gadget in 4k high definition resolution? Is it the money for which we work so desperately?

Darkness Cannot Extinguish LightOr is it maybe something better, something sacred, something too often overlooked or neglected?

Is it our neighbor? Our family? Our God? Our connection to others?

In the Book of Mormon, a group of people feared greatly due to an invading army. A person of faith offered hope, he “went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but … should remember the Lord their God and He would deliver them.” And the next part, I just love: “Therefore they hushed their fears” (Mosiah 23:27–28).

This person did not hush their fears. He could not. But they did, individually and as a people. They remembered what truly matters, they remembered the teachings of their childhood, they remembered their Creator. And they hushed their own fears.

There is much about which we can be fearful. But let us remember the goodness of our Creator, the joy of each other, the love of family and companionship. And together, let us hush our fears and rejoice.


11 Jul 2011 Rare opportunity
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Several weeks ago in my previous LDS Ward I was unexpectedly asked to participate in an ordinance of significance for an individual and his family.  Specifically, I was asked to ordain someone to the office of an Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood!  How grateful I was to be where I should have been that early morning, for had I been absent the opportunity would have been lost!

For those unfamiliar with LDS theology, the Melchizedek priesthood is the authority by which God’s Prophets work miracles, from Adam down to our day.  Moreover, it is the same power necessary to qualify for and receive the fulness of blessings realized in and through additional ordinances and covenants available in God’s holy Temples.

The Smith family has been in the midst of significant changes of late (see Mrs. Smith’s blog for specifics) and I’ve neglected recording this sacred event.  My apology to the young man who requested my participation!  I felt it a sacred and solemn moment to ordain this individual an Elder and act as mouthpiece for the Lord in providing blessings and personal counsel.  Thank you, for the unexpected and special opportunity.

He is a great, faithful Elder of God, supported by his loving wife and children.  I count myself fortunate to know them and count them amongst my dear friends.

11 Apr 2011 Neutered?
 |  Category: Inspirational, Politics  | 1 Comment

Brethren, have we essentially been neutered and nullified in our Priesthood?

As I re-read Elder Ezra Taft Benson’s 1965 April General Conference address, “Not Commanded in All Things” I must admit I see much nullification in our Priesthood power (sounds reminiscent of the last several, recent Conferences…).  Does the Lord not warn that Priesthood power may be “handled only upon principles of righteousness“?  Brethren, we must awake and go forward in this great and noble cause!

In 1831 the Lord said this to his Church:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

“But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.” (D&C 58:26–29.)

. . . The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. His arguments are clever.

. . . But many of the prophecies referring to America’s preservation are conditional. That is, if we do our duty we can be preserved, and if not then we shall be destroyed. This means that a good deal of the responsibility lies with the priesthood of this Church as to what happens to America and as to how much tragedy can be avoided if we do act now.

. . . The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, not the Church. And have we elders been warned? Yes, we have.

. . . Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and world-wide mission. The war in heaven is raging on earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. . . .” (D&C 58:27–28.)

03 May 2010 Outward Appearance
 |  Category: Family, Inspirational  | 3 Comments

This post originated as a comment to Mrs. Smith.  However, as I continued I realized I didn’t want to hijack her post or blog, so I posted my comment here and provided a link.

1) Hah!  I married up, not you.

2) I see a strong, positive correlation to your description above and comparison between (a) humanity and (b) God:

(a) Humanity focuses on the trivial “outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16:7).  How to prevent war?  More armaments!  How to be attractive?  More make-up (which sounds too much like “make believe” so we call it cosmetics)!  How to be fashionable?  More toys (cars, clothing, homes, etc)!  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Humanity does not, cannot, and will not ever get to the things that really matter because the things that matter are not the outward ones.

(b) As indicated in Samuel, God looks upon, and works from, the inside.  The problem of cleaning, organizing, and governing a home will never occur from the “surface in” – the true change comes from the inside out.  To properly organize a home requires that it be “de-junked.”

While true for home organization, the principle applies elsewhere.  In spiritual terms – the things that matter most – our lives must be de-junked, too.  All the profane, useless, self-defeating, crud must be removed to allow for the “cleanliness, order, simplicity, function, [and] beauty” of our true selves, our true potential, and true destinies as divine Sons and Daughters of God  to come forth (How Firm a Foundation, 85, v. 5).  The Holy Spirit, powered by the Atonement, changes our inner selves – our very natures – to something else: the image of Christ.  It only happens from the inside –> out.

The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment.  The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature (Ezra Taft Benson, “Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

09 Apr 2010 Law of the Harvest
 |  Category: Inspirational  | 3 Comments

I’ve recently recognized that one of the adversary’s most frequently used tactics – quite successfully, too! – is perversion of the “Law of the Harvest.”  Said law essentially states that you reap that which you sow.  For instance, an apple will produce apples.  Makes sense, right?  Similarly, if you sow effective study habits, you’ll reap a better educational experience.

In both spiritual and temporal contexts, the adversary twists and distorts the Law of the Harvest to serve his purposes, as evidenced by what we colloquially call “instant gratification” or “gimme-it-now-itis.”

The Law indicates that if I sow unhealthy eating habits – i.e. excessive calories – I will reap excessive weight.  Satan seeks to manipulate us by obfuscating the  Law through introduction of something foreign, such as liposuction or so-called “miracle weight loss” pills.  Whereas the Law is absolute: if you want less weight (reaping) you must adhere to the Law that governs weight (sowing).  To do otherwise is contrary to eternal principles and ultimately will lead to negative effects, regardless of how “effective” the deceptive weight loss practice proves.

Likewise for money.  If you want to be wealthy you must sow the behavior(s) and thoughts (i.e. adherence to the Law) that governs financial independence.  Reliance on the lottery, the government, or other method(s) to generate wealth are a gross violation of the Law of the Harvest.

In spiritual terms, if I want to acquire Godly attributes, I must sow the appropriate seed(s).  It’s inconsistent with divine principles and patterns to expect, or even hope, for Godly attributes in my life without adherence to the Law that governs such attributes (a.k.a. blessings).

No wonder the adversary is so focused on perversion of the Law, since it governs every aspect of our lives.

24 Jul 2009 At the Grandparents
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We’re at Mrs. Smith’s grandparents’ farm this week.  They live in a small town in Idaho (Payette) and have an orchard.  Usually there are lots of fruits to be picked but, unfortunately, there’s little fruit this year because of late frosts, excessive magpies, and such.  It’s kind of weird because we usually help pick cherries, peaches, and other delectable fruits for resale from the farm… this year, though, there’s so little it’s heart-breaking.  🙁

For the faithful reader, this will be the first mention on my blog: last week, July 19th, I was sustained, ordained, and set apart as the Bishop of my Ward (for those unfamiliar with LDS terminology, a Ward [and Branch] is the smallest unit within a geographical make-up for the Church; Wards are units within a Stake [Branch is similiar to a Ward and is a unit within a District], and each District & Stake are included within some geographical region; although the smallest geographical area, in my mind it represents the place where the proverbial rubber meets the road, as it’s at the Ward level that individuals meet, commune, worship God, associate, live, love, learn, and experience pain – together).

I’m over-awed with the awesome (and by that I mean crushing, huge, massive, scary – not ‘cool’) responsibilities imposed on Bishops in their meager attempts to love and serve those individuals within their local geographical boundaries.  Nonetheless I thank the Lord (a) that He trusts me sufficiently, (b) provides supporting local members, (c) has given me a magnificent wife and family, and (d) has high expectations of what our Ward should – and will, God willing – be.

I hope to not let Him or those same supportive local members down!

23 Mar 2009 Draper Temple Dedication
 |  Category: Inspirational  | 1 Comment

In my post immediately prior I touched on an aspect of the gospel, the edict to be fruitful.  The command applies to all irrespective of religion, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic standing, et cetera.  All are commanded alike to be fruitful.  The percentage yield is directly proportional to one’s obedience to God’s commandments: the greater the obedience, the greater the yield.  Thus the Lord disciplines and prunes, both with the intent to increase fruitfulness in our lives.

I was certainly pruned yesterday.  I spoke in Sacrament about Temples and quoted at length from the First Presidency’s epistle to the Saints just prior to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893.  Specifically, I read how the Brethren exhorted the Saints to repentance, particularly in their relationships one with another.  How there should be no evil speaking, backbiting, pride, or “coolness” amongst the Saints, whether in the same Ward or around the world.  Moreover, the Brethren exhorted the Saints to resolve any such feelings prior to attendance at the upcoming SLC Temple dedication.

Their counsel remains equally applicable in our day – especially for those that attended yesterday’s Draper Utah Temple dedication, whether in person or via satellite broadcast.  I found myself equally under need of rebuke and repentance and felt touched (i.e. pruned) by the Master’s Hand as I wrote a letter, immediately prior to the broadcast, seeking forgiveness and declaring my appreciation and love.

A Ward member indicated she would do likewise for a father from whom she has been estranged these past twenty some years.  Surely the Lord works miracles daily – they need not always be attended by rushing winds or Angelic visitations, the glory of the dedication notwithstanding.

14 Mar 2009 Power of Personal Presence
 |  Category: Inspirational  | 1 Comment

Yesterday I blogged about some thoughts swirling around in my pea-brain.  One of those thoughts was about the power of example; specifically, how example can be so awesome that others are unable to disbelieve the truth.  I came across something today which provides direct evidence and illustration of the power of example and presence – a person’s aura, if you will:

In the presence of such persons [who enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost], one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of the sunbeam.  Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings or sympathy of spirit.  No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other in person or character; no matter if they have never spoken to each other; each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview–“Oh, what an atmosphere encircles that stranger!  How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence!  What confidence and sympathy he inspired!  His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance than a thousand written recommendations or introductory letters.”  Such is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and such are its operations when received through the lawful channel–the divine, eternal priesthood.

As Elder Pratt so eloquently states, such is the gift of the Holy Ghost, that persons so filled with the Spirit may bear witness, even unspoken, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, with such power, such presence, that it “were not possible to disbelieve.”

13 Mar 2009 Recent Thoughts
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Here’s some things that have been on my mind recently:

How imperative is revelation? Parley P. Pratt, in his Key to the Science of Theology” states:

The key to the science of theology is the key of divine revelation.  Without this key, no man, no assemblage of men, ever did or ever will know the Eternal Father or Jesus Christ.

That’s a bold statement.  Revelation, then, is the absolute, fundamental requirement to ascertain knowledge of God the Father and His Son.  And of what value is such knowledge?

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent” (John 17:3).

Here we find Apostolic witness and testimony that revelation – the key to knowledge of God and Jesus Christ – is the absolute, essential requirement for eternal life.  Without the key of revelation, the knowledge of God is lost (observe the creeds of Christendom to note the lost key of revelation and thus the lost knowledge of God).

If we – if I – am to obtain eternal life, then the only means by which that may occur is through revelation, for that is the only means by which I can come to know the Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ – the very definition of eternal life.

Lachoneus, the Chief Governor and Prophet of the Nephite people, just before the government is entirely overthrown by the Gadianton robbers prior to Christ’s death, exhorts his people to faithfulness with much diligence insomuch that they do repent en masse:

As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered. . . And so great and marvelous were the words and prophecies of Lachoneus that . . . they did exert themselves in their might” (emphasis added, 3 Nephi 3:16).

Do we – or, rather, do I – exert myself in my might?  Or am I content to put forth only a half-hearted (or less, worse yet) attempt?  Faithful reader, search the Holy scriptures for “in their might” and consider well – do you serve the Lord in your might?  I know I have sore need of improvement.

Even the Saints must needs be careful.  Near the demise of the Nephite nation, prior to the Lord’s death, Mormon records that it was the “High Priests” along with the lawyers principally responsible for murder and the government’s collapse (3 Nephi 6: 21, 27).  How so?  Because of the very antithesis of sacred Temple covenants as described in verse 28.  This was not some unknowing mistake – it was flagrant rebellion despite knowledge of truth (verse 18).  Lest we – nay, I – consider myself secure, I must needs be ever mindful and reliant on the Lord.

How is it that the people “could [not] disbelieve” the words of Nephi, the Prophet (3 Nephi 7:18)?  The scripture indicates that so great was his faith on Christ, that even angels did minister unto him daily.  But how does his faith directly influence others inasmuch that they could not disbelieve?  The only conclusion I’ve drawn thus far is that of example.  Alma tells his son Corianton that because of his actions – his example – the Zoramites would not believe his words (Alma 39: 11).

How powerful is personal example!  Wicked example can lead to disbelief in Christ, irrespective of others’ faith and testimony.  Conversely, righteous example can lead to believe – yay, to the exclusion of disbelief! – in Christ.  Though, notably, individuals may nonetheless exercise agency contrary to such knowledge, example can be so powerful, so strong, and so convincing, that it “were not possible to disbelieve.”

07 Mar 2009 Slippery riches
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Remember when the Lord warned folks throughout the scriptures that if they chose iniquity they would be cursed such that their riches would become slippery – that they would not longer be able to hold onto them?

Are we there?  If we rephrased that from “slippery riches” to decimated savings accounts, wiped out pension plans, staggering foreclosures, depressed economy, destroyed Wall Street, or other similar terms – do we now recognize the Lord’s involvement in our lives when we, as a people, turn from Him?

In Helaman 13 Mormon records some of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophesying: “Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity.

“And behold, the time cometh [and is here!] that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them” (verses 30-31).

Mormon then records how the people will lament and cry out, “O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us” (v. 33).

“Yea, we have hid up our treasures [tax shelters, CDs, mutual funds, and other investments wherein one’s riches are hidden, not readily accessible], and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land” (v. 35).

Again, why does this happen?  Because the people choose iniquity over righteousness.  They choose momentary pleasure and ease instead of lasting worth.  In fact, Samuel tells the people specifically why the land has been cursed in verse 38: “. . . for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head” (emphasis added).

Seems crystal clear to me why a land, or people, are cursed when iniquity is chosen.  One cannot choose to do evil and find happiness; the two are, by their very nature, incompatible.  Wickedness will never bring happiness – only sorrow, heartache, and misery.  While righteousness will always bring happiness.

“Why will ye die?”  (Jeremiah 27: 13; Ezekiel 18:31; 33: 11; Jacob 6: 6; Helaman 7:17).

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