Monday, February 28, 2011

Of you it is required to forgive all men

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 64. Scriptorians will recognize several famous scriptures in this section. The scripture most people think about tithing is found in this section. In the beginning of the section the Lord reaffirms the calling of Joseph Smith and tells the Saints to not find fault with him because of his weaknesses.

The part that stood out to me is also quite well known. In verse 10 the Lord says, "I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." I have been lucky all my life to have a gift to easily forgive others. Even as a child and later a teenager, I literally found it impossible to hold grudges. I can remember multiple instances where my mother or father had made me angry and I went to bed nursing my anger and promising myself retribution and how I would never talk to them again. But when I would wake up the following morning, while I would remember what they had done to upset me, the angry feelings were always entirely gone.

Since I have had this gift all of my life it has been hard for me to understand why others would hold on to grudges and the hurt they feel. Like many other negative emotions, being unwilling to forgive others damns you. It may or may not affect the one who has wronged you to withhold your forgiveness, but it most certainly WILL hurt you and your eternal progression. It is very hard for me to understand the thought process behind most people's unwillingness to forgive or their need for certain criteria to be met.

I, of course, love my wife dearly. She however does not have my gift to forgive quite as easily as I do, but she does forgive a lot easier than most people I have met. We once took on a border to help with expenses and he ruined one of my wife's pots. When I spoke to him about it he denied ruining the pot and it only made my wife more angry. I tried my best to keep the peace telling our border that things like this happen and to not worry about it but my wife was still quite angry. When I spoke to her of forgiving him she replied that in order to forgive him, he had to acknowledge his wrong. I reminded her that acknowleding what we have done wrong is part of the repentance process and is not a prerequisite to being forgiven. The scriptures do not say forgive only those who are contrite or repentant or who seek your forgiveness. No! It says to forgive ALL men.

Thankfully my wife took my advice to heart and forgave our border and she was able to move on, but I have met SO many people who hold her outlook on things. I hear things like, "He needs to acknowledge to me what he has done wrong!". Or, "She didn't apologize to me.", or dozens of other phrases that indicate anger is being held on to inappropriately. Now on the flip side, there are those who have done things that are wrong who will not let go of the guilt, because they will not repent. I am a firm believer that guilt is a feeling to help us know that we have done something wrong so we can repent, but it serves no other purpose. I do not get guilted into doing things by others because I try and live my life in keeping with the gospel. Typically if someone tries to guilt me into doing something it only serves to anger me and cause me to dig my feet in more. I'm pretty stubborn that way.

But when we have done something wrong, it is indeed up to us to try and make restitution for what we have done. It is not a requirement for them to forgive us, but it is part of the repentance process and needs to be followed so that the Lord will forgive us our sins and we can move past the transgression we have committed. Sometimes it is just not possible for us to make restitution or perhaps so much time has passed that we feel we can't be fully forgiven of our sins. But Enos in the Book of Mormon teaches us that through the Atonement our guilt can be swept away. I have a friend. He stopped being active in the church around the time he was 15 years old and he started sinning in diverse ways. 20 years later he was ready to come back to church but was so far behind and had forgotten so much that he decided to take the missionary lessons. He really struggled with letting go of the guilt from all the wrongs he had done in those 20 years of sin. I am happy to say though that he did let go of it and is a fully active member and has been for many years now!

If you struggle with forgiving those who have wronged you, may I suggest you make it a matter of prayer. I seem to suggest that a lot for many diverse things, but the reason for that is because most of these things that we need to correct are things that the Lord can and will help us overcome. The Lord is the one who helps us overcome the natural man and become better than we are. It is through His help that we can change our very nature and learn to forgive more easily, as He does. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Personal Revelation is Sacred

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 63. As I have been saying about the Doctrine and Covenants, it was the practice of the Saints in those days to inquire of the Lord concerning all things pertaining to their salvation according to the preface to this section given by Joseph Smith.

Most of this section has to do with things we've been told before. Things such as obeying the Lord's commandments and controlling our thoughts so that we do not lust after a woman. Things that the Lord has been saying for thousands of years. The Lord also spends a good portion of this section directing the Saints on their temporal needs and wants.

The part that struck me and stayed with me though is from verse 64 where the Lord says that which cometh from above is sacred and must be spoken with care. I have heard this before, as I am sure many of you have also. Personal revelation given from the Lord, is not always meant to be shared. Sometimes it is meant to be kept close to the heart. Personal revelation is just that, it is personal and meant to be kept close to the heart and only shared with a select few. It is very similar to your patriarchal blessing in that sense. But I think it also has to do with the concept of milk before meat. A lot of people do not understand the things of the Spirit very well. They hear something on TV, or from a friend or from any number of sources and just assume it is true and it tarnishes their opinion of Latter-day Saints.

Just the other day I was talking with a friend of mine and the subject of Latter-day Saints came up and a change came over her face and she mentioned that she thought Mormons were dumb and there was no way I could possibly be one of them. I was shocked and asked what I could do to prove I was a Latter-day Saint. Her reply was to marry another woman. I then laughed and was able to explain that we do not practice plural marriage and haven't since around 1898. She was a little hesitant to believe at first since media has portrayed otherwise and I explained that while some might claim to be Latter-day Saint, any Latter-day Saint who practices plural marriage is excommunicated from the church. She was fine with it after that and I introduced her to and she was fine after that. But this is a classic example of why it is important to talk about the simple first and work your way up to the complex.

Are Latter-day Saints ashamed that once upon a time we practiced plural marriage? We shouldn't be, after all it was a commandment of the Lord. It was also a commandment of the Lord to stop. Does there need to be any more explanation than that, no, not really. Remember, we do not answer to man, we answer to God. Just as with other aspects of the Gospel in the past, all we really know is that is the way the Lord wished it done at that time and now He doesn't. There are theories enough to fill a warehouse but the fact of the matter is, we do as God directs us.

But getting back on track with our original topic, the Lord needs to know He can trust us. Or perhaps more accurately, WE need to know we can trust ourselves with the Lord's revelations. The Lord knows all about us and knows if we will keep that which is sacred to ourselves or if we will go blabbing willy nilly to every person we meet. Just as with Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his only son, Abraham needed to learn that he would do anything the Lord asked of Him. The Lord already knows how we are going to react. It truly is us that needs to learn how we will react when push comes to shove.

But as we grow closer to our goal and try our best to do that which is right in the Lord's sight, we will learn some amazing things and become more like Him. Our minds will be opened to understand the kingdom of God even further and we will have His confidence and trust like never before. He will also help us forsake the things of the world as we strive and struggle to overcome our temptations. Remember He loves us and wants us to return to Him so He will help us in anyway we will allow Him to. It's really up to us to accept that help and to decide what we want to do, if we would rather be with Him, or the world. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 62. This period of time for the early Saints seems to be an interesting time. Several of the revelations cover the exact same topics and items. It sometimes makes it a challenge to find new things to talk about on here. Today I was struck by a phrase the Lord has said many times before and repeated in this section.

In verse 7 the Lord tells the brethren that He does not care how they return home, so long as if the Lord blesses them they receive the blessing with thankfulness in their hearts. I knew a song when I was a child and I cannot remember how it goes anymore except for one line and the accompanying tune. The words that always run through my mind are "An attitude of gratitude". I have no idea how the rest of that song went but I sure do remember that line.

I have a very good friend at work that sits next to me and she and I talk everyday. Sometimes we stick to work topics, other times we talk about stuff outside of work, and sometimes we like to complain ABOUT work. Let's face it, no matter how much you love your job, everyone has bad days or days where things go wrong or employees just seem to not want to work, etc and it can make for a bad day or a bitter you. Well, like most of you I am sure, I work in the customer service industry and not only do I have to worry about my employees, I also have to worry about my customers.

My friend at work likes to describe it as "the microwave generation". They want what they want and they don't want to have to wait for it! It is a very apt description indeed. The strange/sad thing is it does not just affect those of the rising or current generation. It has infested some of the people in every generation that are on the earth. You could also describe it as a general spirit of ingratitude. I have NEVER in my life come face to face with a people so ungrateful for what they have. Now, to be fair it is not everyone at work and certainly not all of my customers, but it does seem to be a disproportionate amount!

I even find myself falling into this trap at times. What's worse, is the person I seem to have the most trouble saying thanks to for something, is my wife! Can you believe that? The person I should be saying thanks to the most in this life, besides God, and she's the one person I consistently have an issue thanking for. Now my wife and I both make a conscious effort to say thank you more often than we have in the past and it has helped tremendously and I have found myself saying thank you more often to the people who are a little less important in my life.

But it has me thinking because usually the things that I have noticed with my wife and I though is I really don't have a reason for not being more grateful to her. The times I have a problem saying thank you, it is almost physically hard or difficult, I can think of no other way to explain it honestly. But the natural man in me, I guess, takes so strong control that it is almost like trying to wade through jelly. Maybe it's like that for others? Maybe when they think that they should say thank you the natural man kicks in and feeds them lies like they deserve it anyway so they shouldn't have to say thank you, or something similar. But the fact of the matter is, we all need to say thank you.

Oddly enough the people who seem to have the hardest time saying thank you are the prideful and the rich. Generally speaking of course, I have known many wealthy people in my time that were very humble and full of gratitude. But it is strange that the prideful would have such a hard time saying thank you. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the prideful don't want to admit that they need the help? I'm not really sure. The Lord has made it clear though that He will not only have a humble people, but He will have a grateful people on top of it! But most humble people are a thankful people. I say most because I have met humble people who are not full of gratitude, although it is rare.

When is the last time you said a prayer and only thanked God for what you have? It is REALLY hard surprisingly. But it also really forces you to think about what the Lord has done for you. A final thought that I think most people may not think about too. Have you ever been late for a meeting and need to find a parking space so you say a little prayer. Then as if by magic you find one right next to you. How many in that instance will then say, "Don't worry God, I found one"? Rather shouldn't you say, "Thank you, Heavenly Father, for answering my prayer so immediately! I really appreciate it." Remember God is upset when we confess not His hand in ALL things! Food for thought. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Missionary Work is our Responsibility

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 61. This section has always made me scratch my head and wonder at the same time. The heading where it says W. W. Phelps sees a vision of Satan riding in power upon the waters. That is just creepy to me. I also find it interesting that the Lord says through John the waters were cursed. It is true that many, many people drown each and every year, however I have never attributed it to the power of the devil.

However, the Lord uses this opportunity to teach His servants a valuable lesson: you are ALWAYS on the Lord's errand. He asks them if it is expedient that they should ride down the river when people on each side of it are perishing in unbelief? How many stories have you heard of missionaries going home who even though their mission is over an they are no longer in their field take the time to teach a missionary lesson on the plane? My wife is one of them. When she was traveling home from her mission she taught 2 first discussions to passengers on the plane she was on.

But, even for those of us not on a full time mission, we promised at our baptism to stand as witnesses for Christ at all times and in all places. To me, like Paul, that means not being ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, I probably could, but I don't go shouting from the rooftops that I am a Latter-day Saint. But I also make no secret of the fact that I live different than those around me. When it comes up and is appropriate I make no secret that unlike my co-workers, I do not drink coffee, or tea, or the big one, alcohol. The alcohol statement is pretty funny because these day a lot of people will follow up my statement with, "Yeah I really don't drink much either". I always smile and let them know they misunderstood me, that I don't drink ever and never have and then I smile wider as they look at me incredulously. It never fails to amuse me that people react to me not drinking alcohol the same way as if I said that I sacrifice small animals for amusement. They just can't even wrap their minds around it. It's like I have suddenly become a foreign entity in their minds.

And perhaps I have at that. Peter, at least I'm pretty sure it was Peter, said we are a peculiar people. We are meant to stand out, it's one of the best ways to share the gospel without even having to do very much. Sharing the gospel really is as easy as living it. As most of you will also know, there are few things that feel as good as sharing the gospel with a friend and having them accept it. I've had several friends in my time listen to the missionaries and gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. And as the scriptures say if ou only bring one soul unto the Lord through all your efforts, your job with that person in the kingdom of God will be great. And if your joy will be great with one soul, just imagine how wonderful it will be with many. I had a friend once tell me to not pray for missionary moments, because they are already out there and we just have to take advantage of them. Rather pray that when they come, you will have the courage to open your mouth, and the wisdom to fill it. I've always found it to be good advice and I pass it along to all of you now. Missionary work is very important to the Lord and He will help us if we ask Him for it. Just make sure you are ready when yu do. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 60, a section given to the elders who had been sent to preach the gospel and were coming home. I was really intrigued by the part of the section where the Lord tells the elders to not hide their talents and to preach the gospel the way they had been commanded to and not to fear man.

The law of consecration is defined as using all your talents and everything the Lord has blessed you with to build up the kingdom of God. I'm also reminded of the parable of the talents. The parable of the talents is recorded in the New Testament and in it we are told by the Savior that we should not be ashamed or afraid to show our talents. Now in the story the Savior tells the talents are money, but even the Savior has told us that it is the same principle.

Everyone in this life is blessed with talents. Some are able to speak with eloquence, some are able to sing, some have a knowledge of the scriptures, and many others. Some are blessed with many talents and some with only a few. How ever everyone has at least one talent they are blessed with. Some are ashamed of their talents and try and hide them. However, the Lord is not pleased with such actions. In fact He equates it with fearing man more than God.

I have often wondered about some talents and how they can be used to build up the kingdom of God. For example, for a long time I used to wonder what the talent of singing well was for and how it could be used to build up the kingdom. However, the church frequently puts on concerts that have, in the past, touched some people's hearts so that they joined the church as a result. The Mormon Tabernacle choir comes to mind also. Some are gifted with the ability to write well and as a result should use those talents to spread the gospel through the written word. Others are gifted with the silver tongue and should use it to talk about the gospel.

There are other spiritual talents too. There is the talent to interpret scripture. There's a talent to interpret the promptings of the Spirit, I don't think I have that one. I have had many instances in my life where I have had a spiritual prompting to do something and even though I have done it, I have not recognized it as a prompting from the Spirit until much later. But there are talents to teach by the Spirit, to talk by the Spirit, by that I mean there are people who are in tune with the Spirit that the Lord can use them to teach others what the Lord would have them know without being in a formal teaching setting.

As in all other things, the Lord uses us as His instruments here on the earth to accomplish His work. We are given talents so that we can do what He needs us to do in His name. It can also enrich and bless our lives. Music is a huge part of all of our lives and all those who are blessed with a sweet sounding voice can bless the lives of all those who hear their voices. All talents are meant to be used and cultivated and used to build up the kingdom of God. As we strive to discover our talents we should work with the Lord to determine just what we can use it for to help do His work and His will. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sabbath Day and Confessing the Lord's Hand in all Things

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 59 and I have no idea where to start. This section starting at verse 7 has almost every single verse highlighted and there is SO much we could talk about. Some of what the Lord is saying we have talked about before so I don't think I will touch on it today.

The part of this section that I don't think we have dwelt on very much is the part about keeping the Sabbath day holy. I once had a friend give a talk in Sacrament meeting about the Sabbath day and he said something that has always stayed with me. He said that in our great-grandfather's time it was called the Holy Sabbath. In our grandfather's time it was the Sabbath. In our father's day it was called Sunday. And in our day it's called the weekend. We have lost our reverence for the Sabbath as a culture.

I think it is interesting that the Lord says in verse 9 that one of the purposes of the Sabbath and keeping it holy is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. And truly in this day and age of self pleasure and total disregard for the Lord and His commandments, keeping the Sabbath day holy certainly does make us different from the rest of the world. When I tell my friends, even those that go to church on Sundays, that I don't go out to eat, that I don't go out to parties, etc they look at me like I am crazy. But you know what? I really like not doing anything besides the Lord's work on Sundays. It's very relaxing.

The Lord also points out that Sunday should not be the only day we speak with the Lord. He reminds us that should be praying to Him and doing His work everyday of the week, but that the Sabbath day is the day appointed unto us to especially go to church and pay our devotions to Him and to rest from our labors. Another neat point in this section is the fact that the Lord equates fasting with rejoicing. Now that is really interesting to me. I don't know about the rest of you but I don't usually equate not eating or drinking for two straight meals with rejoicing. However, if you think about it, the opportunity to sacrifice on behalf of another, perhaps even a family member, is really unique and awesome. Talk about acting as a savior on Mount Zion! While yes we always can pray and we can promise God everything on the other person's behalf and we can hope and plead, but that's usually as far as it goes with most people. But to fast in behalf of someone, to go without sustaining fuel of the body. That is true sacrifice and that takes real love and compassion to do for someone else.

The final point I want to make from this section is one of my favorite verses in all the scriptures. In verse 21 the Lord tell us that against none is His wrath kindled save against those who confess not His hand in all things. The Lord is very big on making sure we do not take credit unto ourselves when we do something in the Lord's name. I had a discussion on Sunday with the Elder's Quorum presidency in my ward, I am the secretary for the Elder's Quorum. We were discussing if the faith of a sick person is necessary for them to be healed, what is the purpose of a priesthood blessing. We came to a consensus that the priesthood blessing is more about revealing the will of the Lord in the matter. Also, as long as he person is in tune with the Spirit, it can help tremendously in having the person get better. I told a story where I was once an instrument in God's hands with a friend of mine who had been sick for over a year and was losing all hope. My friend asked me for a blessing and the Lord was able to use me to describe the exact problem with their body to the person so that they could tell the doctor and within a matter of 3 months they were completely cured of their ailment! Now, I had no idea what the medical term for my friend's condition at the time was, I know it now, but I was able to describe it perfectly and give such a clear picture that my friend asked the doctor to look for it and sure enough it was there! But we all know it was not me. I was a conduit for the Lord in speaking to my friend, no more. How could I know what it was when I had never even heard of the condition?

The Lord allows us to assist in the salvation of others but that is all we are doing, assisting. How can we help others in their eternal journey? All that we are and can become is due to the Lord. We have done nothing and can do nothing save it is by the power of the Lord. Our very life comes from Him. It is sheer folly to think that we can do anything of ourselves. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, an Apostle, once said that the only true sacrifice we can offer up to the Lord is our will, our agency. It is the only thing that is uniquely ours. EVERYTHING else we have and are, are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Our natural talents, our intelligence, our bodies, all belong to Him and are gifts to us from Him. Only our will is wholly our own. How can we not confess His ways are just and we are nothing without Him? We are told that in time all will acknowledge His ways are just and His judgments righteous, why not start now since He asks it of us? Can we, should we, do any less that what He, our creator, has asked of us? Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be not Compelled in all Things

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 58. This section contained many mini-sections if you will where the Lord spoke on many different things to different people, but some were spoken to the whole. Those of you who attended seminary when you were younger will recognize two scripture masteries in this chapter.

The part of this section that actually stood out to me was a scripture mastery. I wanted to focus on verses 26 - 29. The Lord tells us that He does not want to command us in all things, that we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause. Lots of Latter-day Saints don't understand this principle. They want the Lord to tell them every single thing that He would have them do. Case in point, the Word of Wisdom. How many people have you heard complain that the Lord does not specifically state caffeine or how often we should be eating meat, etc? There is a reason it is called the Word of Wisdom. It is because it is a baseline and it ends with whatsoever is harmful to man should be avoided. That is not the actual wording but that is the gist of it. So, we are commanded to avoid caffeine in a sense because it is harmful to man. So are a lot of other things that are not explicitly spelled out.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that this past Sunday's Elder's Quorum lesson was on service. Our instructor read an old talk given by Dallin H. Oaks where he said we need to perform service or we will live a self centered life which is not pleasing to God. Providing service is another aspect of our lives that the Lord does not want to tell us every single time to do something for others. In fact, He prefers it if we do it on our own without His help or His prompting.

But there is a second aspect to this commandment, it is that we receive all His commandments in thanksgiving and with a cheerful heart. While the Lord does specifically state that we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, He also states a little later that we should receive His commandments with a glad heart. The Lord tells us that if we receive them with a doubtful heart and keepeth them with slothfulness the same is damned. That's very strong language, but I don't think the Lord is trying to make us afraid, I think He is merely stating a fact. The true definition of the word damn, is to halt or stop. Think of it as a dam of water, the dams job is to stop the progress of the water and keep it in place. So if a person is damned, it means their progression is halted, or held back.

This goes right along with what Elder Bednar taught at our Stake Conference last September. He stated that the reward for living commandments were more commandments. That we should find joy in living the gospel. If we don't find joy in it, then we are not progressing, meaning that we are in fact, damned. So the Lord is not trying to say, "Do this or else", quite the opposite, He is merely trying to let us know that if we want to continue to grow and be like Him, we can't be that way.

I also think that there is an aspect of the statement the Lord makes here that we are not considering. The Lord states we should not be commanded or compelled in all things. Yet, we are often times told new things to do by our prophet, that is one of the duties of a prophet. However, if you will notice that over the past 100 years, the prophets have followed a pattern. They reveal to us God's will and tell us what would be a good idea for us to do, for example, keep a year supply of food storage, get out of debt, even the Word of Wisdom started out as a word of wisdom and not a commandment. But after enough time, they stopped being suggestions and started being commands. There will always be things the prophet tells us, but they sometimes will not start out as commandments. We will be left with our agency to choose for ourselves to obey or not to obey. That is another aspect of not being commanded in all things. When the prophet says it's a good idea, it's a GREAT idea and we should listen up. When the prophet tell us he doesn't do something, that's the time to listen and emulate accordingly. We should not have to hear the words, "Thus sayeth the Lord" or "A new commandment give I unto you" to know we are hearing something we should pay attention to.

The Lord is pleased when we use our agency appropriately and for good. As He said, we should be willing to do that which is good or right without having to be compelled. If we never do anything for others unless by way of command, it is time to reexamine our lives. The Savior during His mortal life, after He started His ministry, only did those things that were necessary to keep His body alive. Otherwise He was always doing things for others. If we want to one day be like Him, then we need to start now and emulate Him NOW. Start today, make a decision to follow the advice as well as the commands of the prophet. You won't be sorry you did. Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No Man is an Island

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 57, which contains commands for several of the brethren for the building up of Zion. As I was reading this section I was thinking about several things. I was thinking about the literal gathering of Israel, how people in this last dispensation, when the church was young, were gathered together for their protection. And it surely was needed. This revelation was given in 1831 and in less than 10 years, the Saints would be driven out at gun point from the state of Missouri.

I also thought while reading this section how much the early Saints relied upon the Lord. We have already spoken on this subject and I don't really wish to expound further on it, but it never ceases to amaze me when I read the Doctrine and Covenants just how much the Lord helped the early Saints.

But what stood out most to me in this section was the phrase "no man is an island". I have no idea what the originator of that sentence means, but I have always took it to mean that we are not alone and we cannot survive on our own. We need others to help us on our way. In this section, all the people who are given commands are told to do things for reasons other than to get gain. Sidney Gilbert was commanded to open a store to raise money. W. W. Phelps was commanded to open a printing press. Now, both professions could be quite lucrative if they were to open those places of business for the purpose to get gain. But both men were commanded to do these things with the intent to further the work of the Lord.

Yesterday in Elders Quorum meeting, we had a lesson on service. The instructor started out by listing on the board who do we serve. He next asked how do we serve and finally why do we serve. As you can imagine we had all kinds of reasons up on the board. He also read a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, the first talk he gave as a general authority in the church according to the instructor, wherein he listed 6 reasons that we serve. It was a really good lesson but we never really covered how if we serve we will grow to love the people we are serving. It always blows my mind when I read horrible news stories, or more often than not, headlines, of mothers doing evil things to their children, especially infants and toddlers because they spend all their time serving the child they should be growing to love the child. Of course in this day and age where lifesyle is more important than quality of life and the mother leaves the home to work, perhaps the all important bond of mother and child is not being formed like it should be.

The reason I bring this up is because the Lord is asking these brethren to perform a great service for others. It's no different than if you were a car mechanic to the Lord telling you to open up a garage and give all your proceeds to the church. Or any other number of professions. It would be really hard to do I think. And yet that is what these men did. It's a little hard to disregard a direct commandment from the Lord. But it brings up another thought, no man, or woman, can make it on their own. Going back to our no man is an island statement, mankind needs fellow human beings to help. Just as a brand new baby needs his/her parents to assist and get through life, so too do we need other human beings to help and assist us. Despite the misnomer of "self made man", there is not a single person on this planet that has done everything for themselves. Everyone has had some kind of assistance at one point or another. But that is all part of God's plan. That is why it feels so nice to perform service for others.

As we lose ourselves in service to others, we stop worrying about the cost, both monetary and otherwise, of providing that service. We instead start worrying about the welfare of those we are serving, we start looking at them more like Christ does. And that's the way it should be since we are all working towards becoming more Christlike. After all, if you think about it, does God do anything for himself? Perhaps He does, but we don't know about it. As we grow to be more Christlike, we will want to give more and more service to those around us and we will grow in love for those we do serve too. We will grow to love them more too. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Profess vs. Confess

Today I read Docrtine and Covenants section 56. I was immediately struck by the tone of the section as soon as I started reading it. The very first line was powerful, "Hearken, O ye that profess my name, saith the Lord your God". Even before the next phrase where the Lord declared He was angry I got the feeling He was not pleased with the people. It was the word profess. I got a strong feeling that the Lord feels that the people are not sincere in their devotion to Him.

It got me thinking of the difference between the word profess and confess. Because have been told in the scriptures that every tongue will confess that the Lord is God among other things. But the word profess just gives a whole different meaning/conotation compared to confess. I looked up both words and they were very similar in definition with one exception. With the word profess, the very first definition had a negative conatation. Specifically of being insincere.

Which led to other thoughts. I served my mission in California among the Chinese speaking population as I believe I have mentioned in the past. I'm a little ashamed to admit that as missionaries when we would meet someone who said they were a Buddhist, we basically reacted as if someone had told us they were Catholic. By that I mean we assumed that they had a basic belief in God but never went to church and did not really adhere to the tennents of their belief. Now, my intent is not to bash anyone's religion. I have met good, wonderful people who attend Catholic church every single week and live the teaches of their church, but I think even they would agree with me that they are the minority.

We unfortunately live in a day and age where "being religious" does not really hold much weight anymore. Most people will tell you that they are religious, but they do not attend church. I will say though that I think it is different based on geography. Since moving down to Alabama, I have met more non-LDS people who really do attend church every Sunday. It's kinda nice actually. There are many, many more people though that consider themselves close to God and feel they are religious that would be hard pressed to tell you the last time they stepped foot into a church building and do not follow their own church's beliefs. I am by no means an expert on other church's beliefs, but I know for fact that we are not the only church that teaches no sex before marriage or not drinking to excess if at all. And yet, the LDS church is not without it's members who do not adhere to the rules although I do feel we have a higher percentage of people following the rules than average or is the new norm.

The point to all this though, is I feel that when God looks at such people if He were to describe them, I think He would use the word profess instead of confess in regards to their belief in Him. God does not want people who are idle in their worship of Him. God requires certain things from His followers and I suspect that when we do not hold up our end of the bargain, He views it as a mockery. We of course do not perceive it that way, but put yourself in His shoes. Say you had a friend, and you needed that friend's help. You ask and he says yes he will be there to help out. On the given day at the given time your friend does not show up. What's worse, when you finally catch up him, he does not feel remorse in the slightest and wonders why you are upset with him. This same friend as time goes on start's doing things that you and he promised each other you would never do, starts using bad languge, sleeping around and using drugs. Does it really sound like this person is your friend? You can't really blame Heavenly Father for getting upset with us and saying that we are professing his name instead of confessing it.

This is the reason that God proclaimed to Joseph Smith that the people drew near unto God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. As He said, as recorded in the book of John in the New Testament, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. Other scriptures urge us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. It should be no surprise if Heavenly Father does not take our commitment to Him seriously. He has already spelled out for us what it means to be true disciples to Him and if we don't do it, we should not be surprised if He does not feel we are sincere in our faith to Him. As we strive to live our lives in accordance with His teachings and true principles, I hope that you will strive to confess your belief in Him and not just profess it. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Little Children are Precious in His Sight

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 55, a section given to W. W. Phelps upon his arrival to Kirtland. I don't know about you, but every time I think about W. W. Phelps I think of the hymn "Praise to the Man" which he wrote the words to. Like so many before him, or it may have been Joseph it isn't very clear, he sought the will of the Lord concerning him.

It is sections like this that make me very glad I live in this day and age when I know what is expected of me. I already know that the Lord needs me to live a good and righteous life and to share the gospel with those around me. It is also a huge blessing to live in this day and age of technology where if there is something the Lord needs to tell His people He can tell the prophet who can then disseminate the information in a matter of a few hours if need be. For the most part though, we are asked to do the same things we have always been asked to do. When Elder Bednar visited our stake for stake conference last year, he said the reason we do not hear new things at General Conference, is because we have not yet mastered the current things being talked about. Just like with building a home, if we have not mastered the basics and built a good home for ourselves, we cannot add onto that home.

W.W. Phelps in this section is basically commanded to build up the kingdom to the Lord. He is commanded to preach, baptize, give the gift of the Holy Ghost and to teach little children in the church. I never really thought about it before, so I cannot say I have wondered, but prior to having my own daughter, I'm not sure I understood why the Lord was so concerned with teaching the little children and why he would use them in His analogies so often. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can't imagine not raising her up to be a righteous woman. Every time I see her sweet smile and listen to her laughter I think again to myself what a blessing it is to be able to raise children unto the Lord. Most people I find do not enjoy serving in the primary. I think it's because they feel isolated, I'm not sure really. I served for a year teaching the sunbeams though and it was wonderful and rewarding at the same time. To every week feel the sweet spirits of those 3 - 4 year olds was a true blessing.

I some times wonder how Heavenly Father can behold all the horrors this world has to offer. How can he watch the world with how evil it is becoming? I sometimes feel like crying at the limited things I am exposed to, when children are abused, killed for sport or drugs, when people are treated poorly and spouses abuse spouses, etc. I don't want to paint a vivid picture because I think like me you do not wish to have such scenes placed before you. But God sees it all. How does He do it? How can He view such horrors? It also gives a new appreciation for the Atonement and just what the Savior went through on our behalf. The scriptures say He felt all of our pain and our suffering.

I personally like to think that God can handle all of it, because He chooses to focus on the wonderful and the good in the world. Yes He is aware that bad things are happening, but perhaps, like us, He does not dwell on it and instead focuses on the happy. Little children are precious to the Lord and are the true treasures of the world. This is why when someone does not care for them appropriately, the Lord is so angered I think. I was talking with my wife the other day. We had met one of our neighbors and they had 3 dogs and 2 of them were rescued from families that were abusing them. I had asked my wife how someone can just treat another living thing like that? I also said that I think some people were going to be shocked when they stand before their God and are asked why they treated their pets and children the way they did. I think lots of people are going to be horrified when they see how they have lived their lives through the lens of our Lord.

If you are lucky enough to have little children entrusted to your care, treasure them and teach them the paths they should walk int his life. Remember that no lessons you teach your children will be learned so well as those taught by your actions. A child may remember that you told them to read their scriptures every day, but they will never forget that YOU read your scriptures every day. Remember that all children are the Lord's and they have been entrusted to our care for a short while, and with all our stewardship, we will be accountable for what we did during that time. Make sure you treat them well and teach them the right things. Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Obtaining Answers from the Lord

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 54, which was given because of Saints in the early days of the church not keeping the law of consecration and breaking their covenants with the Lord. It must have been tough in the early days of the church, constantly encountering new things and not sure how to handle them. It reminds me of Alma the Elder when he first encountered people breaking the commandments of the Lord and not desiring to repent. But just like prophets of old, he took his question to the Lord and asked him what he should do. Joseph Smith does the same and that of course should be our pattern to.

The phrase counsel with the Lord in all thy doings comes to mind in situations like this. Have you ever prayed and talked to the Lord like He was right there in front of you listening attentively? Have you ever stopped to listen to what He might have to say back to you? We are told that we should counsel with our Father in Heaven the same way we would counsel with our earthly father. We would not call him up and then rattle on with what we wanted and not take the time to listen to a response, but for some reason when we are talking to the one being who DOES have all the answers, that's exactly what we do.

Now, the Lord does want us to come to a decision on our own. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has a wonderful book entitled "The Lord's Way" where he talks about this very thing. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. In the book he talks about the fact that God gave us intelligence to reason for ourselves and we should use it. It is very inappropriate for us to always go to the Lord first with a problem. We should first take some time to decide how WE want to proceed with our issue and then come to Him and discuss our decision. Now, you can of course work with the Lord in discussing the issue at hand while you are working it out, but remember that when we do not follow His pattern, He reserves the right to not answer in the way we want Him to. Figure it out for yourself is an answer, just not the one we may want.

Also, answers will not always come right away. I have heard it said before that if you want to talk to God, you pray. If you want God to talk to you, you read the scriptures or listen to our modern prophets. It is really hard to obtain an answer from the Lord if you are not doing what you should be doing to get that answer. Now it is possible to get an answer without living the commandments, but it is really hard. Remember Doctrine and Covenants section 82:10 which says "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, you have no promise". Until I was an adult I took that to mean that if we were not living the commandments, we would not be blessed. But a wise college professor pointed out the error in my thinking. He said the scriptures do not say that. What they do say is that when we follow God's word, He has to help us. But when we don't it's at His discretion whether to help us or not, He doesn't have to.

The key to receiving help from the Lord most easily I feel is to first and foremost be sure what you want. There is a reason that He wants us to work it out in our minds first. That old adage be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, it is so true! I dated a wonderful girl in college but I knew almost from the start that it wasn't going to go anywhere. But I was already in love with her by that point so I kept dating her knowing I was only going to cause myself pain. When the inevitable break up came, I was really hurt. I cried for days and to make matters worse, all my friends moved away because the semester had ended. Finally I said a prayer one night telling Heavenly Father that I never wanted to feel this type of pain again and to not let me date another woman until I met my wife.

And He answered that prayer! Oh boy did He ever. From that time until I met my wife I tried to date no less than 3 girls. In all 3 cases I knew that the women had feelings for me just like I did for them, but something ALWAYS got in the way that prevented us from dating. It wasn't until I met my wife that I was able to finally date a girl again. That is why the Lord wants us to work it out first. Because He will give us our desires. So be sure it really is what you desire.

As you seek to obtain the answers from the Lord you seek, make sure you are following the established patterns the Lord has set forth and make sure that you are living a good and righteous life so that you can hear the answer that comes. Remember, the Lord WANTS to help us and 90% of the time, WE are the ones standing in the way. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forsake the World

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 53, a very short revelation given to Sidney Gilbert in letting him know what he should be doing. As with so many others, the Lord tells him that the best thing he can do is to preach unto the people of this generation. And just like He does to all the rest of us, the Lord promises him that the rest will come in time once he has been able to live these first commandments.

There is a line that stood out to me though from verse 2. In this verse the Lord tells Sidney to forsake the world. That phrase hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately asked myself, what does it mean to forsake the world? It certainly does not mean to become a hermit because the very next verse tells him to go forth and preach the gospel to mankind. So what does it mean to forsake the world?

Well I think we can answer that with another commandment that all Latter-day Saints are familiar with, the commandment to be in the world but not of the world. Last night I had a conversation with a co-worker about losing weight. I mentioned that my weakness was that I just enjoyed all the wrong things, pasta, bread, cheese and things like that. She said that she does too but that she limits them during the week and only has 1 day where she splurges on them. I then replied that I didn't have the willpower to not do that. She laughed and replied that she didn't believe me because my "don't" list is the longest she has ever seen. She is of course referring to my living the gospel. But those are easy to forsake, I have never had alcohol, coffee or tea before so in a sense I don't know what I am missing. Whether she realized it or not, she was pointing out just how different I am from the rest of the world.

We all know there is much evil in the world, things that in and of themselves are bad and have no purpose other than to lead people to do that which is wrong, things like pornography and drugs. There are also things that are not inherently evil or bad but that mankind has perverted such as alcohol or tobacco. A funny side note, I remember once talking with a friend of mine that used tobacco dip and we were talking about why was tobacco put on this earth if not for smoking and when I informed him it was a product meant to help with bruises especially with cattle he had no idea. It's just amazing how uninformed we are as a people. However, I digress.

But despite how bad these things are, they are the norm, at least here in a America. And the fact that we don't do these horrible things and aren't destroying our bodies with them, makes us different. However, forsaking the world doesn't just mean forgoing the bad things in this life, the things we have specifically been commanded not to partake of. It means to forgo ALL things that would drive away the Spirit. Certain types of music, books, TV shows, movies, conversations with others, certain friends, ANYTHING that would drive away the Spirit of the Lord, and there is a lot out there that will. And the things don't even have to necessarily have to be bad, they can just distract you. I read an article in the February Ensign where the author comments that a friend stated that if he were the devil he wouldn't bother trying to get the Latter-day Saints to commit big sins, he would just keep them busy. And he was right. The world is very appealing to the natural man and if we are not constantly on our guard, we will distract ourselves right out of the kingdom. Brigham Young is credited with saying something along the lines of that he was worried the Saints could not handle luxury.

We live in a world where there are so many options for our time and that without even really trying we can fill our days/time with so much waste. Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do is read my scriptures and post the latest post on this blog. But after that the next thing I look forward to most is playing with my 5 month old daughter and spending time with my wife. Yes there are other things I enjoy and sometimes will even be more pressing than spending time with them such as video games or reading a good book, but for the more part, I really enjoy spending time with them. But with very little effort on my part, I could easily lose sight of being a part of my daughter's childhood and spend too much time at work, or playing a video game or even reading a book in her presence instead of getting on the floor and just rolling around with her. Forsaking the world is a conscious choice we have to make each and every time a distraction comes along. Now eventually after long enough it will not be a choice anymore and will be a habit, but we have to build up to that and for whatever reason, the really great habits seem to take a LOT longer than 28 days to form! More like 28 years and it's shocking how quickly you can get rid of them for less savory ones.

Now, this life is meant to be enjoyable. Nephi taught his people that men are that they might have joy and he meant it. But our lives should not be consumed with traveling from one joy to the next. We must have all things in temperance and in the right quantities. And it's also about priorities. If you work, when you come home from work what is the first thing you do? For me it's give my wife, and daughter if she is awake, a big hug and a kiss and then clean up the house since my wife has a 5 month old and not a lot of time to pick up. Only after I make sure my girls needs are met do I start to do things for myself. On Sunday's do you prioritize going to church and doing your calling afterwards? On Super Bowl Sunday do you make Home Teaching a priority if you know your family is only available for you to visit that day that month, or do you just report you weren't able to see them?

Forsaking the world is, just like the rest of the gospel, a lifestyle. We have to consciously want to forsake the world and be a better Latter-day Saint. As we strive to overcome the world it will get easier. Remember that the Lord WANTS you to forsake the world and as such will do all in His considerable power to help you. He can even help you gain the desire to start. Remember, Alma teaches us that we only need to desire to desire in the beginning and it is enough, the Lord will make up the rest. I am living proof of how true that is. It's hard in the beginning, but like Christ said before me, it is SO worth it! Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Lord is at the Helm

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 52, a section that is mostly the Lord giving instructions to the saints about who should go on a mission where. There were a couple of things I took away from this section. The first is that the Lord is in charge of His church. He is at the helm and that is a comforting thought, at least it is to me.

It's really an amazing thing if you think about it that while President Monson, on the earth, is the head of this church, but really he is taking his direction from our Heavenly Father. The Lord is in charge of His church and He makes sure that His spokesperson, the prophet, passes along the messages that we need to be hearing. It is a comfort that our salvation is important the Lord. I know that we are told it is His work and His glory, but being human, mortal and a natural man, it is so easy to forget that God is NOT like us. And so it is a comfort to me to remember that the Lord cares whether or not I am living the gospel and whether or not living the gospel makes me happy.

On that same vein of caring about our salvation, the Lord has always been concerned with missionary work it would seem. In ancient days, the meridian of time, the early days of the church and now, He is very concerned that the message is being taught, that it is taught correctly and that His messengers go to the right places. When I was a missionary, half way through my mission we got a new mission president. In one of the first zone conferences we had after they came out to the field, they told us how missionaries are chosen as they heard it directly from, then Elder, Henry B. Eyring. It was a comfort to know that missionaries are so important that almost daily, an Apostle of the Lord spends time deciding where missionaries are going to serve. I have often wondered which Apostle looked at my picture and my application and decided I would serve a Mandarin speaking mission in Arcadia California. I suppose I will never know.

The final thought I had with this section is the Lord is once again arming His saints on how to detect unrighteous spirits and distinguish them from righteous ones. I often wonder just why the devil was so active in trying to deceive the early saints by sending spirits to impersonate angels. The conclusion I most often come to is that it is because the early saints did not know any better and he would be able to get the most bang for his buck. If he were to send unrighteous spirits now, the saints are armed with knowledge and would most likely be able to detect them fairly easily. But not only that, it was a different time back then. Just from reading the histories and the stories back then, it would seem that heavenly visitations were a very common occurrence at the time. They most certainly are not now and if a heavenly, or otherwise, messenger appeared to someone, it would be a big deal and the person might not be able to mentally take it.

I know I would be scared out of my mind if suddenly someone was in a room with me and they glowed. Although, if you notice that most of the time when an angel appears to someone, the first thing they say is "Fear not" so maybe even back then it was a very frightening experience. I'm not sure I would enjoy the experience myself, but I won't really know unless it happens to me one day.

That's all that really stood out to me today. As I have said though it is a comfort to know that the Lord is very concerned with the welfare of His children and that He wants them to all return to Him some day. I know that we all really know that, but it is easy to forget and it is nice to remember that the Lord is in charge and he cares. Try and remember that the next time you have a concern about something a Priesthood Leader has said. It could make all the difference in the world. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 51, a section given to Edward Partridge, the Bishop of the church in regards to the Saints that were coming to Ohio from the eastern states. This section is about the law of consecration and about caring for those immigrant saints. The one word that kept coming back to me as I read this section was: stewardship.

Stewardship comes from the word steward, which means to manage another person's property or affairs, particularly financial affairs, and first appeared around 900 A.D. How appropriate a word is stewardship for everything related to the gospel? We do not actually own anything and are only put in charge of it for a short period of time. Everything belongs to the Lord and we are only asked to take good care of it, including His children. Perhaps most especially His children.

The law of consecration is essentially, at its roots, recognizing that everything is the Lord's and that we don't actually own anything. You give all of your possessions to the church, the Bishop then counsels with you about the needs of you and your family and then gives you stewardship over all the property and possessions again. This is how it has always been explained to me and how I have always understood it. This is also the most efficient way for the Lord to care for His children who are doing without.

The Lord has said before that the earth has enough and to spare for all of its children, and if the people would have true charity, everyone would be taken care of. But we are not just given stewardship over material things. As we mentioned above, our children are also a stewardship that we will one day be held accountable to God for. As will all the animals we have come into contact with especially pets. All life is sacred to God and we will be held accountable to how we used or spent that life. As we talked about a few days ago, animals are meant to be used for food by mankind, but we are not to waste life for no purpose and I do believe God will hold us accountable for any animals we may have killed for sport or out of spite.

We are also given stewardship over members of the church. Bishops have stewardship over their entire ward, Stake Presidents over the stake, Elder's Quorum presidents over the Elder's quorum, home teachers over the families they are assigned. I think you get the idea. The reason President Monson is so concerned with finding those lost souls who have strayed from the fold is because he knows we will all one day stand before God and none of us want to hear Him ask us, "I put Charlie in your way to help him. Why did you not help him?". There is a movie that I really like called the Four Feathers. It is about a man from England who goes to the desert of Africa to help his friends and befriends one of the natives. At one point, the hero of the story needs to go into a prison to find his friend and the native knows that it is essentially death for him to do so and refuses to help saying that he will not be responsible for his death. The hero asks him how the other could be responsible for his death. What he didn't understand is what the native knew right away and told him many times during the movie: God put the Englishman in his way and he is thus responsible for him.

Cain once asked the Lord if he was his brother's keeper. We are not told the Lord's response but the answer is YES, you are! We are all given stewardship over the welfare of those around us and are asked by our Heavenly Father to take care of his children while He is not present. King Benjamin made this clear in his wonderful sermon found in Mosiah 4. I believe I have mentioned once that the real consequence of sin is the loss of privilege. It is a privilege to be able to help those around us and one that not everyone gets in this life. Some are meant to help, others to be helped. We all need help at one point or another in this life, even if it is just as a baby. But it is a rare and wonderful thing to be on the other end and be able to help others. I have read several stories, watched several movies and even played a few video games, where a villain has a moment of redemption before they die and they do something nice for someone else for the first time and they always remark on how nice it feels with an almost sense of awe in their voice. When we perform service for someone else, we feel the Holy Spirit and we are able to feel a bit of the love our Heavenly Father feels for them. It really is a wonderful spirit.

And if you think about it, the spirit of stewardship really is the spirit of charity. Because, like the priesthood, stewardship is all about blessing the lives of others. We are able to feel the Spirit when we give charity to someone else, but that is a blessing given to us by our Father in Heaven. As we take responsibility for those who are put in our way by God to help them in whatever way we can, we will learn the true meaning of stewardship and what the Lord expects of us. I think we will also find it's rather pleasant and not a burden at all. Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Teach and Receive by the Spirit

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 50. Before today the most I remembered about this section is it is used a lot by missionaries to teach each other, the proper way to teach those who are learning about the church. That is still the part of this section that stood out the most to me today as I re-read it but I was also struck by a few other thoughts.

At this time, the church was plagued by visions and visitations from the servants of the devil but they didn't realize that they were of the devil and were taking what they were told by these visitations and causing problems. The Lord in this section clears some of that up. However, there is more in the section that has greater application to us today.

Missionaries, at least they did when I was one 10 years ago, use verses 21 and 22 of this section to make sure that they are teaching by the Spirit. The verses state that he that teacheth by the Spirit of truth receiveth is as it is preached by the Spirit of truth. And, he tat preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and uplifted and rejoice together. What I have always understood that verse to mean is that if you are teaching by the Spirit in an appropriate fashion, then you should learn something too. We had a great example of this yesterday in the Sunday School class I was in. We were learning about when the Savior at the beginning of His ministry goes to Nazareth and reads Isaiah in the synagogue and tells the people there that He is the long awaited Messiah. Those of you familiar with the story will remember that the people become angry and then seek to cast Him off of a cliff but He of course does not allow that to happen.

The instructor asked why the people were so angry. I pointed out that it was because they knew Him, had watched Him grow up and knew His flaws, if any, and that we all might have a similar problem if a sibling or a cousin were called as the prophet. I also pointed out that they requested Jesus do the miracles he had done in Caupernum in their presence and He told them no, citing scriptural examples of prophets who in the past had only visited 1 widow out of thousands and only cleansed one leper out of hundreds and that the people might have taken offense to such statements, who knows? The instructor mentioned that he had never thought of that before. It is a perfect example of bringing in the Spirit to teach and both the student and the instructor learned something that day.

I have heard it said that if you do not have the Spirit, you should not teach the gospel, or the things of the Spirit. I don't know if that is too extreme or not to be honest. Because we need to make sure that we are giving the things of the Spirit the sacred reverence they deserve. For sure if you prepare by the Spirit and cultivate that same Spirit so it is with you when you present, you can be assured that you are teaching/presenting the things your intended audience needs to hear.

The second verse that stood out to me was verse 29 and 30 where it says that if you are cleansed from sin you shall ask whatsoever you will of the Lord and it shall be given you. However, verse 30 teaches an important principle, that if we are truly cleansed from sin, we will not ask anything thing that is contrary to the will of the Lord. That is the important part. It reminded me instantly of Helaman 10 where Nephi is given the sealing power because the Lord knows that Nephi will not ask anything that is contrary to the will of the Lord, the Lord has seen into Nephi's heart and found it to be pure and desiring only the things of the Lord. That is the goal for everyone. As we strive to overcome the sins of the natural man, we grow ever closer to our Heavenly Father little by little until one day He will say to us too that He knows we won't ask anything contrary to His will. That is the goal for me and I hope it is for all of you too. And we have ample proof in the scriptures that it is attainable in this life. It just requires a lot of dedication and work. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Marriage and the Eating of Meats

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 49, a section that was originally received and read to a local community of Shakers at Leman Copley's request who had once been a member of that community. It contains several important pieces of the gospel that are usually not talked about.

Verses 15 - 19 stood out to me in particular. In ancient days, the apostle Paul wrote and epistle to Timothy and in it, in the 4th chapter, he outlines part of the apostasy of the last days. He mentions that the two things men in the last days will teach that are not in accordance with the Lord's teachings are to abstain from marriage and to abstain from eating meat.

The Lord teaches us in this section that marriage is ordained of God. Moreover they are to become one flesh. Now what does it mean to become one flesh? How can two people become one flesh? Obviously they cannot become physically one flesh, they are two separate people. So how does a husband and a wife become one?

The same way the Father and the Son are one. They become one unit, one in purpose, one in working towards the same goal. I honestly don't understand how a family can function any other way. Think about it. If you have a mother and a father that don't see eye to eye on things and don't agree on how to raise their children, what kind of a home life is that going to provide? Yes the children might be ecstatic at first when they realize that if mom won't say yes, dad probably will, but how will they feel when the inevitable fights start happening? It will not make for love at home that is for sure.

Husband and wife owe it to their children, and themselves, to talk to each other, to plan how they will handle certain situations. I remember when my wife and I first got married we could not have children right away due to our circumstances. My wife however, despite this fact, immediately started asking me questions like, "If one of our children one day comes home drunk, how will we handle that?" and other such situations that it will be very likely that we will come across. At first I was resistant, mainly because I had not thought about it yet but my wife had and already had a game plan and she really wanted me to talk with her about it, but over time we have talked and planned about most of the important aspects of living the gospel in our home.

As we have been exposed to other situations that come up in couples around us, including my in-laws who had a late life child and are raising an 11 year old, my wife and I talk about situations that we see, how the people in question handled it, and how we desire to handle it one day if it comes up. We most likely will not be perfect in our responses, in fact I can almost guarantee that we won't be, but the point is, we are working at trying to become one and create a positive atmosphere for our children.

However, children is not the only aspect of your lives that you should be one in. Now, you do not have to like everything your spouse likes or enjoy doing all that they enjoy doing. But it is important to spend time together each day, obviously if you all are in separate states/countries/cities this is not always possible. But as we have discussed previously marriage is not meant to be two single people living together who have sex. They are meant to be each others' best friend. They are meant to grow closer together each and every day. Now I don't think you have to live in each others' back pockets, I have friends that while at work, every single break they have they call their significant other and talk to them the entire time and I personally think that is excessive, but at the same moment, you should spend more time together than just sleeping in the same bed each night.

Now, the other part of the verses that stood out to me is the abstaining from meats. Per this section of the Doctrine and Covenants and section 89, commonly called the Word of Wisdom, we learn that animals are for the use and enjoyment of man. People, or organizations, that teach that eating animals is cruel and wrong, are not in sync with the teachings of the Lord. Now, verse 21 puts it in perspective that we are NOT to abuse this right. It is against the Lord's will to kill for the sake of killing. But we are to use what the Lord has given us in thanksgiving.

Now there are people that are allergic to meat and others who do not like to kill to have food. I have friends that fall into both categories and I do not feel that they are outside the will of the Lord. But in both cases, none of my friends or acquaintances that fall in these categories, impose their ideas on others. The one who is allergic, likes meat but just can't have it. And a friend who does not desire to kill an animal for her food had no problem being with others that desire to eat meat. But for the rest of us, the Lord tells us that we are to use all He has given us in thanksgiving and use the privilege appropriately.

Marriage and the eating of meats are two things that are ordained of God that some in the world would see polluted or done away with completely. Both scriptures, 1 Timothy 4:3 and Doctrine and Covenants 49 tell us otherwise and reveal to us the will of the Lord in this matter. Both should be done in happiness and thanking the Lord for His blessings. Marriage and the gift to participate in creating life, are gifts from heaven and should be treated with the reverence and respect they deserve. As spouses learn and grow together, it will be the best times of their lives. Remember, the Lord doesn't give us anything, or command us to do anything, that isn't in our best interests. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Consecration leads to Charity

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 48 a very short section that focus on building up the kingdom of Zion and the law of consecration. As I was reading this section, I was thinking about the law of consecration, which also got me to thinking about the law of tithing as consecration is the higher form of the law of tithing and it got me to think about their purpose.

As we have discussed before now, all laws are spiritual laws, no matter how physical they may appear. On the surface, the law of consecration could indeed be a physical law, but it has very spiritual benefits. The law of consecration is described as giving everything that the Lord has or will bless you with, back to Him for the building up of Zion here on the earth. However, if you think about it, is the Lord short of money? What laughable concept! So why does He need our help to build up the kingdom? He doesn't. We need the help.

Mosiah 3:19 states that the natural man is an enemy to God. And unfortunately, as the name implies, we are all natural men. As we have discussed many times before this, we can only overcome the natural man through prayer and His help. Well, one of the easiest ways to overcome the natural man is to do that which is contrary to the natural man's instincts. For example, the natural man wants to take care of him/herself and forget about the needs of others. But such an action will not help us to overcome our temptations or the carnal desires of this life. But by rejecting such instincts, we can slowly overcome them.

As I was reading this section, where the Lord is telling them to build up the city for those Saints not yet there, I kept thinking of one word over and over again: charity. It is my opinion and thought that the law of consecration, more than anything else is meant to give us charity. Cultivating charity is the best way that I know how to overcome the natural man. That is why we do everything by service in the church and that is why the Lord asks us to live the law of tithing and in olden days, a slightly different form of the law of consecration otherwise known as the United Order.

Let's be honest with ourselves, the Lord could take care of all the needs of all the Saints everywhere in a heartbeat if that was His plan. But it is not, His plan is to use imperfect tools, us, to do His work so that the tools may slowly become more perfect and in time, much much time, they may become like He is. It's just like a parent teaching a child to work around the house. The parent could do the chore in question 10 times faster and probably much better than the child could too. So why do the parents do it? Why bother with getting the child to do the work? Because the child needs the experience and needs to learn the value of the work. And so it is with us! The Lord could do all of this, literally with perfection. We on the other hand, struggle and strive to just not mess it up too much and usually fail pretty hard at it most of the time.

But just like with our children here on the earth, we've got to keep trying until we can get it right. And that is why the Lord allows us to help and what the laws of tithing and consecration are designed to do. As we live them we grow a little closer to God and our end goal, becoming like Him! It is a slow and steady process. But just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady is what won the race. Until tomorrow!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why History is Important

Today I read section 47 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a very brief section and doesn't really cover very much, but it does cover something very important. It was a revelation given to John Whitmer about what he should be doing for the church. It seems rather interesting to me that John Whitmer needed a revelation before he would accept an appointment to the position of church historian. Perhaps it's just me, but to me that kind of makes me feel like he didn't want to do it.

However, he stated that he would obey the will of the Lord in the matter and thus this revelation came about. He did not refute the need for a historian but rather it more seems like he didn't want to be that historian. From what I remember of my church history though he did a fantastic job as the historian of the church.

History is a funny thing. You can never have a truly unbiased history, it's just not possible because it is going to be written by someone who took part in it, or watched it unfold but even they are almost always biased in some way, either they are partial to the one party or the other, etc. But, history is necessary. Without it we cannot learn about what has gone on before and all humans have an inborn desire to know the things of the past.

History is especially important to the religious for several reasons. First and foremost, scripture is history. Look at the Book of Mormon, the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants. Take the Dead Sea scrolls for example, they were scrolls written by people in Abraham's time, and some by Abraham if I remember MY history correctly. But the ancient prophets and apostles recorded their history and that is a huge chunk of what we consider to be scripture today. Kind of puts your own journal into perspective and what it might mean some day, doesn't it?

Some have said that if we do not learn from our history then we are doomed to repeat it. I say that if we do not read our history, we cannot know our future. The scriptures were given in ancient days for us, so that we might be prepared for the future, both our own individual future and the future of all mankind. The scriptures are meant to be a help to us and to help us prepare to meet God and remind us of our divine potential. That is why so many people when they hear the Gospel says that it sounds so familiar. It's because it resonates with the Spirit inside each of us and reminds us of what our goals should be. We should center our focus on Christ and the things of the Spirit. For that is what the scriptures were intended to do from the beginning. And that is why we need to read them everyday. We are strangers in a strange land and need the boost to overcome the things of this world. The scriptures provide a strength that you just can't get any place else or from anything else. They are like our spiritual clothing and just like your physical clothing you shouldn't go outside your home, or really even in your home, without it! Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Gifts of the Spirit

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 46 which is mainly about the gifts of the Spirit. However there is a part in the beginning stating that Latter-day Saints are not to forbid entry into their Sacrament meetings. In the early days of the church the Saints would only allow members of the church and people who were investigating the church with intent to join to attend one of their sacrament meetings. The Lord gave this revelation to the leaders to let them know that all are welcome, including those who are just curious. I have met several people in my day who are really strong members who just literally wandered into a church meeting one day to see what was going on.

All are welcome to our meetings and we have nothing to hide. But like Moroni 10, the bulk of this chapter is taken up by the Lord revealing the gifts of the Spirit. Most are gifts we have heard of before, but some I would not have thought of as gifts of the Spirit but rather as just talents people have. So it has me wondering, are all talents, righteous ones anyway, gifts of the Spirit? The two gifts that I'm referring to as being a little less than normal are the gift to know the differences of administration and the gift to know the diversities of operations.

It does not go into a lot of description about what these two gifts are and what they mean, but when I read/hear them, I think of those natural born leaders that just seem to have a knack for running offices and being successful in business. However, despite the church not being secular and being of the Spirit, it still has a LOT of similarities to a business or an office and a bishop is required to do a lot of managing. And I am confident that most people who have had dealings with several bishops, branch and stake presidents will agree with me, they are not all created equal. Some are masters of statistics and the wards and stakes function like well oiled machines. Where as others have opportunities for improvement, sometimes lots of them. But I had never until now considered that those people who have that gift for management received it as a gift from the Lord.

The rest of the gifts are ones we have heard of many times before and should not be a surprise to anyone really. The gift of the word of wisdom, to heal, to be healed, to work miracles, to prophesy, discerning spirits, speak in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and several others. Most of these are self explanatory, but I want to speak for just a moment on the discerning spirits gift. I wasn't quite sure what it meant, but then I noticed a footnote down at the bottom of the page that referenced the book of Moses, specifically when Moses speaks to Satan and tells him to get hence because he can discern between the Spirit and Satan.

Now, all are given the light of Christ and can tell right from wrong. All can discern when something makes them feel happy or uncomfortable. However, we read in the scriptures that sometimes the devil can disguise himself so well that even the very elect are deceived. There is even a section in the Doctrine and Covenants where it states at one time the devil transformed himself into an angel of light so convincingly that he fooled Joseph Smith and only Adam, the first man, appearing and pointing it out to Joseph saved him for the trap of the enemy. So I think that the discerning of spirits gift is like a stronger version of the light of Christ. I think you can see through the wiles of the evil one and know who to trust and see through the facade of those who would cause you harm.

All gifts come from God and all are meant to be used to bless the lives of others, much like the Priesthood. As we strive for the gifts of the Spirit, much like riches, we will find them if our intent is to use them to bless the lives of others. The Lord knows each of us better than we know ourselves. He knows if we will use His gifts appropriately or not. As our will comes closer into alignment with His, we will be blessed with more gifts, but also more responsibility to use them appropriately. And like the parable of the talents, he who uses them wisely will be blessed with more and so on and so forth. If you are blessed with gifts of the Spirit, be sure to use them appropriately and wonderful things will happen and you will be able to be an instrument in His hands! Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nature Heralds His Coming

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 45, which is a section where the Lord talks about the signs of the Second Coming of Christ. I'm pretty sure most of us are familiar with the signs that are given and what to look for when it comes to the Second Coming but the Lord repeats them all in this section.

Over the past 10 years or so, I have noticed many changes in this country. I'm sure it is is the world over, but since I have never left this country, I can only say with any degree of certainty that it is this country. I grew up in Louisville, KY which has lots of trees and forests and my parents house literally sat in a forest. It was wonderful to grow up in such a place as a child. All growing up and into my teen years, I could pretty much count on he weather being a certain way, for example, we would frequently have storms that would last all day long, or several hours at the least during the spring and summer months.

When I was an adult, after I returned from my mission I moved out west to go to school and spent a year in Rexburg, Idaho. I had never lived in such a place that was so devoid of trees before. Even Los Angeles, CA where I served my mission had more trees than Rexburg did. I did not have a car when I lived out there, but my roommates, when we would take long trips, would frequently ask me to drive. Until those experiences, I had never in my life driven anywhere, where the wind could be so forceful that it would affect the way the car drove. I bring this up because when I finally graduated from college I moved back to Kentucky, and to my horror, the wind had increased and what I had previously only encountered out west was now in my hometown also.

The weirdest thing about it was when I would talk to friends and family members about the wind increasing, they would not have noticed it until I pointed it out, and some of them not even then. I suppose it had happened so gradually they just hadn't noticed. The weather patterns seemed to have changed too. Storms were more violent but didn't last as long. Back in 2008 or 2009, Kentucky even had an earthquake! I couldn't believe it. It was a small one and my wife actually slept right through it, but I recognized it because I had experienced one when I lived in California.

Have you noticed that we are having a lot more earthquakes lately? I mean, back in 2009 we had one almost every month around the globe! Disasters are becoming so frequent that some people are actually becoming jaded to them. They hear that an earthquake happened in Samoa or India, and they don't even pause in their day. I moved to Alabama last year in January, and in one year, they have more snow storms than the last 5 years combined! The weather is definitely changing and it seems people are not putting two and two together that it means the Second Coming is approaching.

This has actually been on my mind for a long time. I just can't get over how blind people seem to be to it. They will comment on what a strange storm it was, but then go on their way. It's like they can't see the forest because all the trees are in the way! In a way, I guess that is kind of the way the Lord wants it, He does not approve of death bed confessions and I am sure that He does not want people to repent just because the signs of Christ's Second Coming are starting to appear. As we have discussed in the past, to become truly converted is to become like He is and that involves changing who we are and our very natures, which of course is not something we can do in a matter of minutes or even days.

As we study the signs of His Coming, it should be obvious that they are happening all around us. Just as the parable of the fig tree tells it's summer time when the leaves are tender, so too can we tell what is happening around us and for those with eyes to see can tell that the Second Coming is nigh. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared to meet Him and ours alone. But He gave us these signs to help us prepare so that like the 5 wise virgins, we can have oil in our lamps. I hope you are heeding them as I am so that you too may be prepared. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

According to the Laws of Man

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 44 a short section where the Lord gives instructions to the elders of the church and what He wants them to do as they go forth to preach. Most of the instructions are the same as they have been prior to this but one stood out to me above the others. As you have guessed from the title, it was the instruction to organize themselves according to the laws of man.

Sometimes I think to myself that such as statement seems kind of incongruous with living the gospel. I mean there are plenty of governments that do not allow it's members to live a life in keeping with the commandments of the Lord. Life under Nazi Germany comes to mind, or in Communist China. And yet during World War II saints that lived in Germany were still encouraged to follow the laws of the land.

However, this should not be a surprise to any who have read the Doctrine and Covenants before. Section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that the Lord brought the founding fathers together and helped them establish the Constitution of the United States of America. That should tell you right there how important it is that we uphold it and not just let it be tossed by the wayside. We need to make sure that we are being good citizens of whatever country we live in. I was talking to a friend of mine once who had an opportunity many years ago to pick up President Kimball and his wife from the local airport. As they got onto the freeway, President Kimball leaned forward in his seat and asked my friend if he was driving the speed limit. My friend replied that he was and he said President Kimball smiled, patted him on the arm and said, "Good, because the Spirit can only fly as fast as the Speed limit". Now, at the time this made quite an impression on me because the freeway my friend was talking about was only a 55 MPH freeway and I groaned imagining myself having to drive that slow on it if I were ever to pick up an apostle. But now that I am a little older I can appreciate the story a little more.

Now some might wonder why it matters if we follow the laws of the land or not, and to such people I would say that the Lord's house is a house of order. He does not just want us to break the laws of the land because first, I can't really think of any land that has laws that blatantly go against the most fundamental of commandments. I can't think of any country that has a law that says you have to kill, to steal, to commit adultery, etc. Now, there are of course instances in our history, such as we have talked about above, where such things have happened, but as a matter of course they do not. So obeying the laws of the land is just another way to help us be good. Because while we may not feel the affects of disobeying God's laws right away, we sure will feel it immediately if we steal something and get caught by the police.

Another reason we are counseled to obey the laws of the land, as we've said God's house is a house of order and He doesn't want us to get in the habit of keeping some rules but not others, at least that is my opinion. It's kind of like your Mom telling you to only obey what she tells you to do and absolutely forbidding you to obey anything your Dad tells you to do. It doesn't really make sense does it? Now there may come a time where the laws of some of the land start to become a little outlandish and perhaps God will step in and tell His Saints in those lands what to do, but until that time, it is clear, and always has been, that He desires us to obey the laws of the land in which we reside. And if the leaders of your land ever ask you to do something against the commandments, God has told us that we are not accountable and it will be held on the heads of those in authority. Great news for anyone in the military or government agencies that might be put in a situation where they are forced to take a life.

As we live a good and righteous life, living the laws of the land just comes second nature and should not be a hard thing for most. It is in keeping with the Spirit and everything we know of God's nature. Perhaps there are other reasons out there I am not thinking of, but for me, the two that I have listed are more than enough for me, hopefully they are for you too. Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spiritually Self Reliant

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 43. I often times wonder what it must have been like, living as a Saint in those early days of the the church before everything was established. Let alone without all the modern conveniences that we have today. It's really impossible to know what it is like because our minds are jaded by our modern day experiences and we can't really know what it felt like to be one of those Saints when they were confronted with something truly earth shattering.

To us in our day, we know if someone pops up saying they are the new prophet and have received revelation for the church, we know that it's false and not to even listen to them. But to be a Saint in the early days and not know that, what must it have been like to hear something like that when you were so used to hearing about new revelations from the Prophet? I suppose those who are about 50 years old, or perhaps even older, might have a slight taste of what it's like with the Salamander letter scandal that hit, I believe in the early 70's. I remember talking to my Dad about it once and he said it was a hard thing and it shook his faith for a little bit, until he was praying one night and he realized that regardless what those letters said, he had received a witness from God that the Book of Mormon is true and that's all he needed to know.

From what I know of it, some folks were not so lucky and ended up leaving the church over it all. However, like my Dad, we need to be secure in our faith, for the scriptures prophesy that there will come false Messiah's that will deceive even some of the very elect. We need to make sure that we have the lines of revelations, personal revelation, open and we are aware of how to receive an answer from our Heavenly Father to be prepared for such attacks. The things we are always told about such times when Satan will try and scam us, are to remember that the Lord does not work in secret ways. When He returns, the world will know of it. We are not to believe when we hear that He is in the desert or in the cellar or any number of other secret places. If we are living a righteous life, I imagine that if we are told such things, the Holy Ghost will immediately whisper to us that it is false and we should believe it not. So as in all things, we must make sure that we are living a righteous life and that we are spiritually prepared for such attacks.

Our bishop, just yesterday, actually talked to the ward and advised us to not neglect our spirituality when being self reliant and urged us to make sure we are prepared and asked us all to study two articles in the current, February, Ensign and think about how we can apply the principles in our own lives. We are told that if we are prepared, we shall not fear. Well that applies to temporal things and spiritual things alike. As we read our scriptures daily, as we say our prayers, as we attend our meetings and attend the temple, we build upon the rock of our Redeemer and create a more solid foundation for ourselves to make sure we are prepared against all the fiery darts of the adversary and then we need not fear. As Paul told the ancient saints in the book of Philippians, we must work out our own salvation, no one will do it for us. But we can have all the help we desire if we but ask. He is always willing to help us, because our Father in Heaven loves us and is always willing to help us return to Him, if we will only ask. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Love thy Wife/Husband with all Thine Heart

Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 42 a section that lays forth in detail the way the Lord wants His church to be run. The last half of the section deals almost exclusively how to handle members of the church that have transgressed the law. However, that is not the part of the section that stood out to me.

I took a Doctrine and Covenants course while I attended BYU and in it I remember the professor commented on verse 22 of this section stating that it was the first time in scripture that the Lord had commanded us to love anyone other than Himself. That should tell you just how important the command is to love our spouse and non other as it states.

So what does it mean to love your wife, or husband, with all they heart? To me it means that they should be the most important person in your life. More important than your best friend of the same gender as you, more important than your parents, your siblings, even your children. This person should come first and foremost in your thoughts, your actions and desires/wants. I remember hearing long ago that the way to have a happy marriage is to ALWAYS put the needs of your spouse ahead of your own. It didn't say to put them ahead of your own some of the time, or when it's convenient, or when you've gotten a full night's rest, or when you feel well, it was to ALWAYS put their needs ahead of your own.

Now, the ideal is that your spouse will do the same for you in turn. Obviously, this is not happening or we would not be having a divorce rate as high as we do. It's sad to see so many people in marriages behave selfishly. And selfish behavior can manifest itself in many, many ways. It can show up as neglect on the part of one of the spouses, contempt, infidelity or even abuse in all it's forms. I am saddened whenever I see one or more spouses behaving in any of these fashions and even more saddened to realize it could all be fixed if they would both just start living for the other instead of for each other.

My wife has a saying that I like, "Some people are married and live like they are married, whereas some are married and live instead like two single people". Now, she does not say it exactly like that, but that is the gist of what she says. Some people, like I prefer to think of my wife and I, live like we are married and enjoy each others company. However, some people are married but live more like roommates than spouses. They live separate lives, have separate bank accounts that the other doesn't see, they have their own set of friends that don't overlap, they go out without each other frequently, they are, for all intents and purposes, roommates who occasionally have sex. Such a life I do not feel is in keeping with the Lord's command to love our wife/husband with all our hearts.

The second half of the commandment is to cleave to her and none else. This I think is a lot harder to do for some and goes a lot farther than I think most people think. To cleave to someone and none else means, to me, that you are emotionally faithful to your spouse and none else. This means that you are not emotionally involved with anyone else or anything. This means no looking at pornography, no inappropriate relationships with a member of the opposite sex. This one can be tricky because you cannot stop attraction. Just because you are married, if a pretty lady walks by or a handsome man, your impulse will still be to look and you will still feel an attraction to that person.

The key is to not get attached to that person. The best rule of thumb I have ever heard is to think to yourself, if your spouse was sitting right next to you, would you be doing/saying the same things with that person? If the answer is yes, then you are safe. But if the answer is no, you have some repentance to do and you need to take a serious look at that relationship and see if there is a need to sever it completely or can you salvage it to be an appropriate one? Again, the key is to remember would your spouse be ok with the type of communication you are having with that other person. You can always ask your spouse too if you are worried you might be venturing into the wrong territory.

Now, one last thing I want to share for some reason. Perhaps it will help someone somewhere but I feel compelled to share it. I had an epiphany some years ago. I was wondering once why pornography was against the commandments and what about it was inherently wrong, because it is. Sex in itself is not wrong, as long as it is within the confines of marriage, sex is not only ok, but is necessary for a healthy marriage. So what about pornography is wrong? Then it came to me that the problem with it, is because it is not real. It does not portray sex as being an act between two people who love each other let alone are married. And the people in those films/pictures etc, are all actors anyway! Everything about it is fake. Also, it's intent is to arouse the WRONG kind of passion in us. Passion for your spouse is totally acceptable and even encouraged, but as the scripture we have been talking about states, we are to cleave only to her/him. So having that kind of passion for another is completely wrong and out of line. That is not really anything new for 90% of you that will read this I am sure, but I felt impressed to share it, so perhaps someone needed to hear it.

I can tell you that having seen broken homes, marriages, people "fall out of love" and divorce all throughout my life and the pain and hurt it causes all people even REMOTELY connected to the people it is happening to, why wouldn't you want to love your spouse and cleave to them and them alone? It makes for such a happier life and I don't know about you, I just feel complete is the best way to say it. Before I met my wife I was missing something in my life and I was painfully aware of it. I would not give her up for the world and I hope you feel that way about your spouse too! Until tomorrow.