Saturday, November 28, 2015

7 Ways To Have Your Scripture Studies Do More For You

"What do you think of your/the scriptures?"

Depending on who you ask that question, answers might vary from a plain and simple "I don't" to "they're really confusing" or "I struggle to understand them" to "I love them", "they mean everything to me" or "they're the key to my happiness".  The possible answers are endless because there is an endless variety of perspectives and personalities in this world.  I have heard so many different view points on the scriptures, what constitutes scripture, how high of a priority they should be in our lives, how they should be interpreted, etc. that I feel a desire to offer what help and perspective and I can to aid in people's understanding how to get more from the sacred records given to us by God.  Here are 7 things you can do have your scriptures studies help you.

1. Pray.  I'm not sure I can sufficiently emphasize how powerful and useful prayer can be or how undervalued and underused it is in general in society today, but it works.  I'm telling you it works.  I saw a meme on facebook a few days ago that said we should be making our prayers more specific, more detailed, more personal and more lengthy (within reason on that last one of course).  When this kind of prayer prefaces our scripture studies, miracles happen.  When we put our whole heart and soul into our prayers and speak with our Father in Heaven with intent to take seriously what the Holy Ghost would bring to our minds from the scriptures, we are endowed with the Savior's grace to understand more deeply and purely those things that God would have us do to have the highest possible level and depth of joy.

In depth, personal, detailed prayer opens the flood gates of heaven as we seek to "feast upon the words of Christ" and allows us, as we open our minds and hearts to the influence of the Holy Ghost, that "mighty change of heart" that Alma so lovingly invited us all to experience.  Once in a great while (which is not nearly often enough), I'll be praying and I'll get a little impression, just as I'm about to end a prayer, that says "are you sure that's all you want to say?" or "are you sure you're done?".  I'll think for a few seconds and realize "oh I guess there's more I need to get out."  So I'll keep going.  As I do so I become more aware of the Father's undivided attention to me as He listens and I feel my connection with Him as son to Father grow.  My mind becomes clearer and I feel a greater ability to discern what He is trying to communicate to me through the Holy Ghost.  I can promise you that as this kind of prayer becomes more a part of your life and your scriptures studies that the same thing will happen.  His love will be more obvious and your ability to understand the scriptures by the power of Holy Ghost will increase exponentially.  You will find yourself increasing in awareness and understanding, a true comprehension of the specifically tailored message God wishes to speak to you when your study your scriptures.

2. Make the scriptures a non-negotiable part of your day.  I cannot even begin to relate to the innumerable different circumstances that might make it difficult to make the scriptures a meaningful part of your day, but I know that the Son of God can and does perfectly.  When Nephi so emphatically invited us to "feast upon the words of Christ" he didn't say "unless work is just too time consuming" or "except if you have homework due tomorrow or if you're too tired or if it's too early".  You see, Satan doesn't need to get you to commit any heavy grievous sins to consider it a win for him.  All he needs to win is to make sure, now matter how minimal the success, that you are distracted in small degrees.  One day going without scripture study and he considers that a success.  Why is one day a success for him?  Because if he can convince you by any means to neglect one day of  not studying your scriptures, he'll likely be able to convince you to neglect two, and then three, and so forth.  No, I am not saying that missing one day renders you unworthy of God's love or unworthy of going to the temple.  What I am saying is that it only takes one day of neglecting your scriptures to get you started on a very dangerous path downward.

I remember a story of three truck drivers being told by... well... I don't remember which apostle it was, but that's not important.  The story goes like this.  Three truckers were being interviewed for a new job.  The first one walked into the boss's office and after a few minutes, the boss concluded the interview by asking "how close can you get a truck to the edge of a cliff without going over?"  The response was "I'd say probably 5 inches".  The boss said "Ok. Thank's for your time. I'll get back to you soon."  The next interview ended the same, with the second candidate bragging further "I can get 3 inches from the edge." Well the third man also experienced the same interview, but upon the final question he answered by saying "I like to stay as far away from the edge as I can." The boss replied with two simple words: "You're hired."

The point behind this story is to illustrate that staying as far away as possible from excuses that distance ourselves from the Lord, including negligence of scripture study, is the most likely path to happiness and safety.

3. Study the words of ancient and modern prophets.  Two words.  General Conference.  Elder Richard G. Scott so brilliantly reminded us how much of a miracle it is that we have accessibility to the scriptures that we do, "Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit."  That whole talk is chalked full of amazing insights on the value of the scriptures.  

Said the Lord "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same".  I know for certain that God will speak to your mind so that you can understand clearly how to reach the fullness of spiritual stature and happiness He has for you as your make all of the Lord's words a part of your studies as directed by the Spirit.  Heck, even books like The Continuous Atonement, The Infinite Atonement, Jesus the Christ, Drawing on the Powers of Heaven, Preach My Gospel, The Triumph of Zion and other publications by God's prophets today are good to study.  Never go without studying the standards works, mind you (especially the Book of Mormon), but we have such a variety of scripture today that there really is no excuse not to broaden our scriptural understanding by expanding our spiritual repertoire.

4. Treat your scriptures studies like you would your time in the temple.  I remember when I was serving as a full time missionary in London, Ontario and we had my companion and I and the Chinese Elders (district leader) living in our apartment.  I don't remember which of us it was that saw him, but as someone went into our walk-in closet they saw Elder Durtschi kneeling in prayer and said (after closing the door) something like "well that gives new meaning to 'when thou prayest, enter into thy closet...'".  My point in bringing this up is to emphasize that this was an excellent example of just how much his personal time with Heavenly Father meant to him.  It was critical enough to him to be completely apart from everyone and everything else when praying that he went to the greatest lengths possible to make it so.  When we study we should be giving it our undivided attention. Unplug completely from distractions and feel the power of the word of the Lord.

5. As much as possible, tune everything else in the world completely out.  Our personal and family scripture studies should be the same.  T.V.s, tablets, ipads, phones, computers, all other electronic devices (except those that must be used to study and only to study) should be off and all other distractions laid aside so that we can have the optimal environment for revelation and pure knowledge and peace from our Father in Heaven as we study His loving counsel to us.  I know kids, pets and more can be an unwavering source of difficulty when it comes to quiet, dedicated, focused time on the scriptures, but any time is better than none.  Any time with absolutely everything else in the world tuned out with just us and the scriptures is worth it.

6. Mark them or at least keep a study journal!  In the scriptures themselves, the Lord commands us: "For I command all men... that they shall write the words which I speak unto them".  There is no stipulation that says "but only if they are audible words."  When the Lord speaks to us through the Holy Ghost, He expects us to write down the impressions He gives us!  Write them in the side margins.  Perhaps, write them in a study journal, or type them.  Maybe put them in a personal journal.  But for goodness sake, write them down!  Why do you think all patriarchal blessings written down?  Why do you think prophets write revelations they receive?  I was told about a member of the Seventy had with Elder David A. Bednar where they were talking about Elder Bednar's study habits.  He talked about how many copies of the Book of Mormon he had been through, each with a different topic being marked.  The interviewer guessed he had probably hundreds of copies read through by now and said something like "I'd love to see some of the gems in those". Elder Bednar said, in essence, 'No way!  Those are my gems.  Find them on your own!"

I think that is just bang on!  It reminds me of a conversation between W. Cleon Skousen and his mission president, Elder Widtsoe.  Brother Skousen summarized it like this:

"I said, “Brother Widtsoe, can I ask you a question?” He said, “Oh, oh, yes.” For I knew I had awakened him from a reverie of meditation on something. He was a very famous scientist, by the way, brother Widtsoe. I said, “I wanted to just ask you about why the Atonement was necessary.” I said, “I accept the fact that it is but I just wondered why? I wondered what would happen, or what caused it, to have the Father require the Son to go through this.” And he said, “Elder Skousen, who asked you to ask me this question?”“Oh,” I said, “well, I, nobody. It’s my question. Nobody asked me to ask it.”He said, “I’m not asked that question very often. Do you really want to know why the Atonement was necessary?”And I said, “Well, if it’s alright.”“Yes,” he said, “it’s alright.  How badly do you want to know the answer?”And I said, “Well, I’ve – I’ve wanted to know it ever since I was a little boy.”“Alright,” he said, “You know, if people don’t ask questions, they can’t hear the answer. So, I’ll share the answer with you over a period of time.”“Oh,” I said, “I so appreciate that.” and I got out my pencil. I said, “If you’ll give me the verses and everything, I’ll write it right down here.”“Well,” he said, “I’ll tell you what to look for and I’ll tell you which standard work it’s in.” I said, “aren’t you going to give me the chapter and verse?”

He said, “I wouldn’t deprive you of the thrill of finding it.”

As is similarly implied there, those gems in Elder Bednars scriptures wouldn't mean the same to anyone else if he just shared them freely because the change of mind and heart, born of the struggle to find them and write them down cannot just be transferred to anyone else.  They have to be obtained by direct, first hand experience.  That's the way it is with any experience or knowledge.

7. Live what you learn.  No matter how wonderful or soul satisfying your scripture studies are you to, it still doesn't really mean anything unless it results in a change of heart and behavior.  I've read the Book of Mormon cover to cover probably more than 25 times now.  My mission copy looks like this:

None of that would ever make any difference for me, not one of those gems it took so many hours to find, would do me any good if I didn't go and apply all those little personalized inspirations from the Lord.  For those who know me, this will explain a lot, haha.  As the Lord Himself said: "I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth" and, I'm sure he would say, 'and liveth what he receiveth', "I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."

No matter how uplifting our studies are, of themselves, no one can justly expect to gain anything worthwhile from scripture studies, any lasting knowledge or greater understanding or peace from it, if they are not thankful for and living, to the best of their ability, the truth they already know.


I remember when an LDS member nearby here in... Brampton I think it was... rehearsed an experience to me where he was giving a ride to a muslim(?) man in his car.
The man saw a quad (if I remember right) sitting on the car floor and said to the owner something like "is that your holy book/scriptures?"
"Yes", he replied.
"Why do you just let them sit there on the ground?  Don't you think they deserve more respect?" And this coming from someone who isn't Christian to an active member of the LDS church.
To my recollection, he never did that again.

My Mission President also told me that he had made a decision years before that he would never ever set his scriptures on the ground as a sign of respect to the real value of the word of the Lord.  I never forgot that and I have made the same goal and gone further.  You can ask my wife and she'll validate this but I panic a little when either of us goes one day without getting a good study of the scriptures in.

They really do matter that much.  They should matter that much to everyone from every circumstance, every perspective and every walk of life.  The scriptures really can do that much for us if we really value and use God's word the way He intended it, so we could be happy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas Has Not Become Commercialized. Society Has.

It's the one time of year the world seems to be a little more socially healthy, when people are a little more kind in general, a little more giving, patient and loving.  Christmas is awesome.  It's the best holiday of the year bar none.  Yet so many (especially this year it seems to me) convey an attitude of diminishing Christmas because it's "too soon" or even dreading it because of all the commercialism sparked by the holiday.  This makes no sense to me if you consider what Christmas really is.

Christmas is, in part, about, as Alma said in the Book of Mormon, being "humble... submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things... diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

Honestly, I'm not sure I could possibly care less about how much stores and the media are making business off the Christmas season.  That's their business and their prerogative.  That shouldn't be, though, a reason for everyone else to buy into it or even get all up in arms about the holiday just because they are "ruining" it for some.  Yes, sometimes it gets annoying how much others try to shift the focus of Christmas away from Christ and more towards "stuff", but honestly, the responsibility is ours and ours alone to decide where our focus is centered.  Not even God, in all His majesty, might and power, will ever force the human mind and heart to feel or think anything that the individual does not choose for themselves.  He invites, always beckoning us with love.  Christ was the epitome of that very principle in this world.  It is He whose birth we celebrate this season.

No matter what anyone else does to make Christmas some kind of business gimmick, competition or contest to see who can make the biggest buck, have the coolest Christmas light display, who gave the best gift, which store had the best sale, who's the best deal finder, what it's really about is the kind of person we can become because of Christ.  It's about coming to know the Master, the ultimate celebration of the Son of God, His eternal love, ministry, life, example, sacrifice and triumph over everything that could bring us down. 

I remember the year my brother put a lot of effort into one of the best gifts he ever got me.  It was the year I discovered Jon Schmidt's piano music.  Someone wanted to see if I could learn his song "All of Me" and I loved it!  My brother found this out and, since he had known about Jon Schmidt's music before I had ever heard of him, he knew I would love a chance to play more of it.  I remember that Christmas morning when I tore the wrapping paper off of the binder in which he put all the PDF's he printed from Jon's website.  I had never seen his picture so when I saw it I didn't recognize who he was.  It was when my brother said "read the front cover" that my heart may as well have skipped a beat and, I assume, my face lit up.  It was one of the few times where I was utterly speechless with excitement.  My dad actually said "speechless, for once!" (har har dad).  I was so overcome with joy in his thoughtfulness and my mom told me later that he said my reaction was one of the best Christmas gifts he ever received.

I speak of this because it wasn't so much the materialism of the what he had bought me (though to this day I still frequently enjoy playing out of that binder), what why he did.  He knew what would mean a lot to me.  He knew that piano is one of most pronounced gifts from God to me and that the value of more means to develop that gift would have eternal value to me.  I never doubted how much he cared about me as his brother, but after that it only solidified and strengthened my trust in his concern for my happiness.  That Christmas, for me, was a powerful reminder that putting someone else's happiness ahead of our own, the way the Savior did, is really the object of the Christmas season.  It's about making Christ and mirroring His life the core of the season.  I believe I have come a long way with that in my life, and I still have a long way to go as well, but when I have actually done it right, there is nothing except divine love from God to explain the resulting joy of that kind of selflessness.

Satan is so sly with his influence over the business world and the economy.  He has had thousands of years of practice at distracting the world with a plethora of things that, in and of themselves, are completely meaningless in the scope of the individual worth of souls and the core purpose of humanity and mortality.  But, as the prophet Joseph Smith said, "The devil has no power over us, only as we permit him".  It is our choice what we make of Christmas, no matter what anyone else says or does.

Thomas S. Monson put it, as he always does, so brilliantly said:

This flawless, infinitely loving and giving man, Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, the force behind everything that is good in this world and in all the eternities to come, is where our focus should be.  We can ignore or at least not get so easily annoyed with those who elect to make their Christmas about materialism and comparison.  If you want to truly find joy in Christmas the way it was meant to be, make it that way yourself, no one else can rob that from you unless you let them.

To those who get annoyed by Christmas music, have elected to not celebrate because they don't like the commercialism identified with the season or for whatever other reason are anything but happy about Christmas, I extend the following invitation.  Get excited!  Be like Buddy the Elf!  Decorate! Give it another chance.  And another, and another, and another... because regardless of what others do or say about the Christmas season, it is for you what you make of it and it always deserves our utmost gratitude, joy and respect because of He who we celebrate during this time of year.

Spread the joy of Christ to the world by making Christmas what it was meant to be within your own heart.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Divide

"The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest."
-Dallin H. Oaks
*the picture that used to be here was deleted from it's source. I cannot remember what it said*

And there hasn't been since the beginning.  Today, as predicted by ancient and modern prophets, the state of the world is getting both better and worse than ever before.  Those who seek to live and be like Christ and have faith in Him, whether they realize it or not, are becoming so much more distinct from those who don't that it's extremely difficult to find anyone who isn't sure where they stand on any matter that is even remotely controversial.  There is a divide that began before this life between all the children of God and that divide has never been bigger than it is today.  Honestly, the difference in Christ's true followers and those who are not, as far as I have observed, is as great as the difference between this:

and this:

Or maybe more accurately, as great as the difference between this:

neuron pathways (
and this:

quasar (the largest known thing in the universe)
Yes, there is a divide among the children of God today.  I'm not talking about anything cultural, racial, social or anything like that although there are certainly radical divisions based on such today.  This divide I'm talking about is a spiritual one.  On one side are those who are truly conscious of truths that most of the public is either too afraid or too unwilling to recognize as reality because they are simply not ready for what is coming, be they members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not.  On the other side are those who, Latter-day Saint or not, have truly been paying attention - or are willing to believe those who are - to world wide social, economic, political and spiritual patterns predicted by ancient prophets and reinforced by modern prophets.  *Edit* Of course, I still hold to the truth that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only church that contains the fullness of the gospel of Christ, but being a member of it is just a small part of living that gospel. *End edit*

Most of the world is completely oblivious to it, or even how big it really is.  God is still working to bring as many as He can to the safe side with His Son Jesus Christ, but one truth every single human that has, does or will live on this earth must acknowledge at some point is that, as Neil A Maxwell said, "If in the end we do not choose Christ, it will not matter what we have chosen."  Even considering how hard it is now to come to His side when you aren't already there, if you are not on His side of the divide now, it's only going to get even harder to climb to that point the more you wait.  The longer we wait to join His ranks and separate ourselves as far as possible from Babylon (the world), the harder it will be.  The gap is only going to get wider, more pronounced for those who are paying attention and harder to see for those who's top priority isn't coming to know Him and be like Him.

So how do you know which side you're on?

I'll turn first to the scriptures for what the Savior says about this matter.  We know that those who are on His side are those who are sealed as His.  As King Benjamin puts it, "I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you His."  Said the Lord about those who do this: "They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized...who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true... they shall overcome all things... these are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people... who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all."  Doctrine and Covenants 76:51, 53, 60, 63, 66

Those are some pretty powerful words.  In the Bible, David also emphasized who these people are effectively when he said "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;..."

To me, the most simple description of someone who is on His side is someone who has, at the very core of their heart, a love for the Savior over and above all else, proven by action, a desire to do whatever He asks and a correct understanding of what that is.

I've said this before but it's worth mentioning it again.  A big change is coming to the world soon.  We don't have very long before the Lord comes to establish Zion and begin the final stages of gathering His faithful, those who have elected to turn to Him with their whole souls and be cleansed and perfected by His atoning blood.  Quoting Jack R. Christianson for the umpteenth time "Satan don't kick no dead dogs."  The path to Him, to eternal happiness, is not an easy one.  It is littered with struggles and temptations that would and will completely crush those in the world who are without Christ, but the change of heart Alma so lovingly invited us to experience in the Book of Mormon, if welcomed with open arms and a humble heart, will be the very thing over time that brings us that joy incomprehensible to us in our weakened mortal state.  A godly transformation of our very souls, accomplished by unapologetic and unwavering obedience to Christ, will put us everlastingly on His side of the divide.

Which side of the divide are you on?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Loving So Much It Hurts

Once in a while you meet someone who just loves everyone.  The kind of individual I'm talking about, however, appears to everyone else like they have severe emotional issues, is bitter, easily offended, too sensitive, uncaring, untactful, careless, etc.  Bear in mind that I am well aware that there are plenty of people who are straight up just like that.  That's just how they are in mind and heart.  But there are many in the world today who appear to be like that when, in reality, it's just a reflection of a heart so loving, so focused and consumed with the well being and happiness of humanity that they feel incapable of managing and displaying such deep feelings in a way that others perceive as such.

Whether by difficulty nearly impossible for others to comprehend, by witnessing such in the lives of others or by physical/mental/emotional conditions into which they were born or put by life, their hearts have been conditioned to love so strongly that it hurts much of the time.  They love for others so strongly, desire so emphatically for their happiness, mourn so intensely at their pain, rejoice so tremendously at their successes, worry so immensely when they make choices that hurt them, and pray so mightily for them in all areas of life that most of the time it's indescribably overwhelming.  The good in all of that makes it worth it for them, but as a result, those feelings come out in ways that look to others like something else entirely.

I love my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ and am eternally thankful for His influence in my life.  I am one of those people. No, this isn't a gripe session.  This isn't about how hard my life has been.  It's not to get people to say "Oh, poor you" or to induce a pity party.  I can't stand when people do that.  It's not just to rattle off a list of excuses for expressing ourselves ineffectively either.  My efforts in this entry are to discuss something that has been a poignant issue for many recently and, as I wrote here, will continue to become more unavoidable as time moves on: How much do we really trust in the Lord, His prophets and the way He operates His church and kingdom on this earth.

First I want to clarify, and reiterate for some who are frequent readers, a point I have often made when speaking generally about faith, church and religion.  So many today are so bent on doing what the church says to do, having faith in what the church teaches, being in good standing with the church, converting people to the church, missionaries getting lots of baptisms and more.  They are forgetting that, while none of these things are necessarily a bad thing, they are not the end goal life, but rather the means to an end.  Why does religion even matter in the first place?  Who cares if it's true and why should we care?  Because the whole purpose of our mortal existence is to become like our Father in Heaven and His Holy Son.  I recently read one persons facebook post that mentioned giving up so much and fighting so hard to be loyal to the LDS church and that he felt like, with recent events, he just could do it anymore.  My first thought was, why were you trying so hard to be loyal to the LDS church?  Mortal men act as stewards over God's church, so why would you ever want to pledge loyalty to that?  The reason we are baptised in the said church, make covenants (promises), repent/change, give up so much, work so hard and more is not to merely be in good standing with a church, but to be in good standing with Christ.  Committing to follow the words of prophets and join with His church is, to be sure, a indispensable part of showing commitment to Him, but is just that, a part.

I touched on this point to emphasize that trusting in the Lord, His prophets and the way He operates His church and kingdom is inclusive of everything we do in the church, not the other way around.

The reason I mentioned those of us who love and feel to the intensity that we do ties right into that. It hurts so much when I see people just throw their hands up in the air (proverbially or literally) and abandon the Lord's church because of "the church did this wrong" or "the church was being unfair when they said...".  This is utter nonsense and I worry about them.  The church didn't do anything wrong, prophets who act as stewards of it are simply obeying God's commands.  If someone has a problem with that they should take it up with Heavenly Father, not the church, for He, via His Son, is it's behind it all.  Someone referred to the church as the "LDS corporation."  Oh, the ignorance!  I have seen a few people, friends of mine, who I love, respect and admire - who have worked hard, sacrificed, exercised faith and built up their testimonies of Christ and His Kingdom - throw up their hands and just quit when something rocked their boat.  It hurts me to my core when I see them rob themselves of the riches of eternity by doing so.  I think I know better, after this last week and weekend, how Alma felt when he said, "And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto [the words of the prophets], and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;"

My wife and I LOVE talking to and working to help those in our ward (and investigators) who are recent converts, who, in our perception, are possibly the most ignored, the most burdened, conflicted and confused and do our best to be effective at it.  Honestly, I absolutely love it, for at least the following reasons.

1. Their problems and struggles are often so poignant that, in our love for them, our focus is instantly shifted from our problems to theirs when we really get to know them.  As weird as it may seem to some, I feel relieved and happier when this happens because there's just no feeling like the Holy Ghost helping someone else through you.  When Father in Heaven sees fit to inspire me with just the right words to get them back away from the edge of their moral or emotional cliff, no matter how small the effect, and I see the joy, relief and hope in their eyes... there's just nothing quite like it.

2. I don't know if this is exactly how it's going to be in the end, but I have always pictured us all in a lineup at an office door behind which sits our Lord and Savior as we wait for our final personal interview with Him to report on what we have become.  I REALLY DON'T WANT to be standing in that line (whether figuratively or otherwise) knowing I could have done more to contribute to their happiness and salvation. I love people.  I just do.  I love people enough that the thought of anyone being barred from the presence of God or eternal progression isn't something I can think about for more than a few seconds before pushing the thought out of my mind and giving all my mental energy to thinking of how I can help them avoid that terrifying possibility.

Dumbledore told Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that the reason he avoided Harry all year was to protect him.  He thought if he distanced himself from Harry, Voldemort would be less tempted to attack him.  He said he "cared too much" about Harry, after all Harry had been through, to do anything that he thought would cause Harry more pain.

It's the same with me.  Sometimes when I get really scared for someone's eternal well being because of choices they are making, it comes out - whether towards them or someone else - in ways that come off as really rude and insensitive.  I am well aware of this weakness in me, on occasion to the point where I'm just emotionally out of commission for a short time.

The good part to all this is as follows.  It goes right along with what I said earlier.  When Father in Heaven sees fit to inspire me with just the right words to get someone back away from the edge of their moral cliff and I see the joy, relief and hope in their eyes... there's just nothing quite like it.  The joy I find from that makes it all worth it.  I love people so much it often hurts, but that's why the Atonement of Christ is so glorious and beautiful.  As Ammon said "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

That is me in a nutshell.