23 Mar 2009 Children that will not sleep
 |  Category: Family  | 1 Comment

Why – why will my youngest child, Mr. Eagle, not sleep?

I understand there is a difference, from the Lord’s perspective, between “disciplining” and “pruning.”  The former is the result of sin, the ever-increasing discipline of the Lord intended to invite the individual unto repentance – to become fruitful instead of barren.  The latter is intended to promote growth (just like a tree, bush, or plant is pruned), to become like the Savior – in essence, to become more fruitful.  I get the concept: the one is because you’re doing something wrong and need to do something right, and the other is because you’re doing something “righter” but still not perfect.

And yet the symptom of both, disciplining and pruning, is the same – pain!  It hurts to have one’s proverbial branches snipped, rough sharp edges grounded smooth, or smacked in the head with a 2×4 (pick your analogy).  Whether due to sin or to promote growth, both hurt!

I don’t know into which category children that don’t sleep falls for me, but this child’s lack of sleep is quickly becoming painful.  😐

17 Mar 2009 Surprise!
 |  Category: Family  | 1 Comment

Mrs. Smith and the kiddies are due home any minute from their trip to San Diego. Although I missed my brother-in-law’s wedding, which is a bummer, I (a) got a lot of stuff done at work, (b) a lot of personal progress, and (c) the house is cleaner, I think, than it’s ever been since we’ve owned it (not including the brief period it was empty before all our… uh… “stuff” arrived).

Sorry faithful reader, I don’t have a camera to capture Mrs. Smith’s, or the kids’, reactions. You’ll have to imagine the surpise, delight, and ectasy of the moment. Perhaps Mrs. Smith will immortalize it later. If not, stay tuned to her blog, as I’m sure she’ll have some great photos forthcoming! 🙂

15 Mar 2009 Bachelorhood stinks
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The wife and kiddies have been in San Diego since Thursday and won’t be back until Tuesday late. Although there are moments I enjoy the solitude, I openly admit I miss them terribly. In fact, and this will likely be a shocker to anyone that knows me, I cried the first night they were gone.

Perhaps there’s some of you who now think, “What’s the big deal, baby? They’ll be back!” And yes, it’s true, they’ll be back – but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, now. Once the screaming/yelling/fighting and such starts up, here at home again, I may need an occasional reminder about what, precisely, I missed — but right now, anyway, the silence is deafening.

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
 |  Category: Inspirational  | No Comments

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.”

09 Mar 2009 Family gathering
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I’m down at my folks house in Saratoga Springs. I’m not sure exactly how many munchkins there are running around, but I bet my grandparents feel every jostle, scream, and noise! Hehe. Dinner was nice. I’m not looking forward to the drive back home, though, given the near-whiteout conditions – maybe it will clear up some before we leave.

What I wanted to highlight, though, is the cotton candy machine my parents have. I’ve not used it since I was a kid, before my mission. I saw it in their cupboard today and just had to have one… so I did. I introduced Cinderalla to the wonders of cotton candy. Doodle didn’t want to try it – poor boy doesn’t know what he’s missing. Mrs. Smith, grandma, and others enjoyed it, though. As did I. 😀

07 Mar 2009 Slippery riches
 |  Category: Inspirational  | No Comments

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).

07 Mar 2009 WordPressMU upgrade!
 |  Category: Miscellaneous  | No Comments

I’m sure Mrs. Smith is happy. I’ve upgraded our WordPress installation to a newer release, so she can enjoy all the features she’s wanted.

I don’t know that it will change appearance for the casual reader; but for those that have additional access (authors, editors, et al) you’ll notice changes throughout the back-end. Happy blogging! 😀

06 Mar 2009 sweet affirmation
 |  Category: Inspirational, Miscellaneous  | No Comments

In Helaman 10, Mormon records the Lord’s dealings with the Prophet Nephi and the people in general.  Mormon records Nephi’s righteousness and how he has sought the Lord’s will and to keep His commandments at all times, irrespective of what personal danger or discomfort it may impose.  And, because of this [Nephi’s unwearyingness], the Lord gives Nephi tremendous spiritual blessings, including the sealing power.  This particular entry from Mormon has always caught my attention in past readings because of Nephi’s faithfulness and the evidence of why he was given the sealing power.  The Lord makes very clear why Nephi was so richly blessed – and, by extension, how each of us can be equally blessed when we’re equally obedient, faithful, and committed.

Something else caught my eye this time, though, in a way I’d not considered previously.  Specifically, the last part of verse 5: “… behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will” (emphasis added).

I’ve always read that as a sweet affirmation of the Lord, that Nephi had proven himself sufficiently, through prior trials, that he would do whatsoever the Lord commanded him (which is, afterall, the express purpose for which we’ve come to mortality – D&C 84:44).  I still think that’s an appropriate and a correct reading of the verse.  After all, in many other revelations the Lord has declared similarly, that each individual must prove worthy (not because we are capable alone, without the grace of Christ- but rather, that we’re willing to persevere with faith in Christ despite our weaknesses) and that, once we’ve done so, we qualify for blessings beyond comprehension (i.e. calling and election, visions of eternities, second Comforter, et cetera).

This time I understood it to be a dual-purpose statement: (1) an affirmation of prior performance, and (2) a commandment.  The Lord did both simultaneosuly – isn’t He clever?  He commanded Nephi that he should “not ask that which is contrary to [God’s] will” and concurrently bolstered Nephi’s faith that He was supremely, yea divinely confident that His power, especially the sealing power, would not be abused.

It’s a wise and loving (and clever!) parent that can command a child not to do something and at the same time provide confidence, assurance, and encouragement to that same child that (s)he is trusted with immeasurable power.

05 Mar 2009 Hushing one’s fears
 |  Category: Family, Inspirational, Miscellaneous  | No Comments

So a few months back I read something in the book of Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, which has stuck with me and I think of from time to time.  It takes place shortly after Alma (the Elder, a Nephite Prophet), leads a few hundred souls away from the wicked King Noah’s clutches.  Alma refuses the people’s voice desirous that he should be their King, continuing instead “merely” as the High Priest.

Alma also admonishes the people that it’s not good to have a King because of the great wickedness a King may cause the people to commit (unless it could be guaranteed the King would always be righteous, which is never the King when not dealing with God as the King).  Alma has some great words on the subject: “I desire that ye should stand fast in that liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you” (Mosiah 23:13).  Alma exhorts them to many things pertaining to their freedom, all of which I commend to the reader and which is something worthy of considerable discussion in its own right.  But that’s not the part I wanted to discuss tonight.

Reading along farther, starting in verse 25, the Lamanite army, lost after seeking Limhi’s people, stumbles across Alma and his followers in their city of Helam.  Naturally, the Nephites fled from the adjoining fields into the relative safety of the city.  Mormon records that they were “much afrightened” because of the Lamanites (verse 26).

With faith in an omnipotent God at his side, Alma boldly exhorts them “that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them” (verse 27, emphasis added).  How did the people respond?  This is the part I love – for some reason I still don’t understand yet it speaks to my soul:

“Therefore, they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord” (verse 28, emphasis added).  The citizens responded with equal boldness and faith in their Lord, and Priesthood leader, that He would in fact preserve them if they but excercised sufficient faith.  And, as always, the Lord responded according to their faith and their lives were spared.

I think the lesson is equally applicable in our lives.  Although I don’t live in a war zone (and I recognize many Saints around the world do!), I can likewise hush my fears and exercise faith in the Lord’s (a) capacity, (b) desire, and (c) willingness to bless my life.  Whether it’s fears about being a poor father, inadequacies in my calling, temperment, love toward others, et cetera, I can likewise “hush” my fears and trust the Lord to step in with His grace.

OK, so it’s not likely a huge eye opener for anyone -nor, really, for me- but there’s something about the way it’s documented, perhaps even the poetry of the statement to “hush” one’s fears (and I’m not into poetry!), something just makes me tingle.

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