Friday, November 30, 2018

How Good Can I Be?

This was a video I recorded a few weeks on facebook. I wanted to post it on here because I see more international activity here on my blog than on facebook and I'm hoping to do as much good for as many people as possible.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Learning From Example

During my scripture study this morning, I was in Alma 15 where Alma and Amulek had just escaped the prison in Ammonihah and went to establish the church in Sidom. When they got there they found out that Zeezrom, having realized the error of his ways, "lay sick at Sidom with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness... and [his sins] did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat." (Alma 15:3)

I thought about that for a while and then considered the result of that kind of repentance, which it goes over in a more detail in verses 5 - 12, where "...they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him.

"And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

"And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

"And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.

"And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.

"And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

"And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.

"And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people."

The cause and effect of this story in my mind got me feeling a much greater desire to make every time I repent like this instance with Zeezrom. He felt 100% true Godly sorrow so much that he wanted to abandon his sins and received forgiveness, as President Russell M. Nelson would say, "with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air." How often is my repentance like that? How often is any of our repentance really like that? Rarely. But look at the result! That kind of repentance permanently changed Zeezrom's life for the better. Imagine how much happier we could be, how much more peace and unity with God we could have if we wanted to abandon our sins (of commission and omission) as intensely as a drowning person grasping for air!

That should be a hashtag, seriously. #repentlikeZeezrom. But on that note, why not look at other examples of gospel principles in the scriptures? Let's take a look at a few.


In the spirit of Thanksgiving week (at least for the U.S.), studying Alma 26 provides a fantastic example of humble gratitude for the blessings of missionary work, making others happy, the love and mercy of God, sacrifice and more. Here are just a few of the expressions of gratitude he gives after asking his companions, "I ask, what great blessings [God] has bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?"

Verse 3, "We have been made instrument in the hands of God to bring about this great work. Behold, thousands of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God."

Verse 12, "I know that I am nothing; as to my strength i am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in [H]is strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise [H]is name forever."

Verse 14, "Yea, we have reason to praise [H]im forever, for [H]e is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell."

Verse 17, "Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our our awful, sinful, and polluted state?" (italics added)

And all this gratitude was in spite of the mocking and ridicule his own people shot at him. He recounted it, saying "they laughed us to scorn [and] said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as [stubborn] a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the shedding of blood; whose days have been spend in the grossest iniquity...?"

This didn't deter Ammon. He was thankful for the chance and his efforts were certainly not wasted.


More commonly known as The Brother of Jared, Mohonri's story is unique in a number of ways. First, he left for the Americas even before Abram was named Abraham so he wouldn't have even had the pentateuch (five books of Moses) like the Israelites and Lehi did when Lehi left Jerusalem. All he probably had was whatever records there were at the time of God's dealings with His children from Adam up to just after Noah and the flood. He wouldn't have had nearly as many records of prophets testimonies of Jesus Christ as the Nephites had when the Jaredite nation was founded.

With that in mind, remember the story of his asking the Lord to touch the 16 stones and what unexpectedly came of that experience. When the Lord showed Mohonri His spirit body, He said to him "never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast." In fact, so great was His faith that Moroni mentioned (and keep in mind this was written after 400 A.D.)  that up to the time when Moroni wrote it, "there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared." He knew this because "the Lord [had] commanded [him] to write them..." and include them in the sealed portion of the plates Joseph Smith had.

Imagine how much faith it would take to make it so that a prophet would write about your faith "he could not be kept from beholding within the veil;" For now I merely aspire to attain this level of faith, in mind, heart and action and hope to one day get to that point.


If you've ever read the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series by Chris Heimerdinger, you may remember the part where it mentions that Garth always considered Ammon the greatest missionary of all time. I think there's a good reason for that idea being included in those books. It takes a missionary like Ammon to instill such an incredible love in a people like the converted Lamanites who were later called Ammonites. They were, as Mormon mentions, "distinguished for their zeal towards God and also towards men;...and they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence... they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them."

How many people do you know who couldn't, even if their life depended on it, lift a finger or a single word against another human being? Do you know anyone who can't stand the thought of doing or saying anything to hurt another person, even the rapist, the hater, the murderer, the pornographer, the liar, or the abuser? The Ammonites learned to love everyone to the point where, while they would never even entertain the idea of abandoning their faithful and diligent lifestyle, they also would never dream of hurting someone who hated or hurt them because of their faith.

There are a few others I can think of, but I don't have the time to go over them right now. But just think of totally Christ-like examples of other virtues and how you can exemplify those virtues in a similar way in your own life. Heck, when you share this, perhaps pick your favorite or do one of your own.

#humilitylikeKingBenjamin (Mosiah 2:10-26)
#patiencelikeAlma (Alma 14:14-end)
#obediencelikeNephi (1 Nephi 3:15; 4:6-7 and 2 Nephi 33:15)
#diligencelikeJacob (Jacob 2:9-11)
#hopelikeHelaman (Alma 58:33-37)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

We're Doing Christmas Differently This Year

This month back in November 2015 I wrote about Christmas and explained why the holiday still deserves to be treated by the mass public as the divine, special time of year it deserves to be. No matter how many people stop caring about it, there is always a reason to make a bigger deal out of Christmas.

With that in mind, this one is to explain why my wife and I are doing Christmas differently this year. Each previous year we put a big effort into make the usual things associated with Christmas special; the tree, the gifts, the music, the food and always going above and beyond our usual routine to do some extra nice things for some friends and even a few complete strangers. But this time a few things have happened recently, both horrific and beautifully amazing, that have changed our objectives in our celebration of the birth, life and mission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Big changes in life often require us to accept that certain things about ourselves - habits, beliefs, attachment to certain traditions - may not entirely align with the will of the Lord for our lives. Such has happened for us this year.

In the last few months we have upped our regular spiritual feast. Our prayers are changing to include more praise, gratitude, sorrow for sin and pleading for God to help us shift our priorities towards things that will change us into a Zion couple. Our fears about Lorraine's health have been steadily diminishing with each passing year because of the spiritual experiences we have had individually and together and we want, more than ever before, to become willing to accept whatever hard changes the Lord is going to ask us to make, to abandon whatever habit, tradition, routine or expectation He asks us to in order to become more like Him.

A few of those things we are changing this year are a part of our Christmas celebration. We'll be cutting back on how much focus we put on gifts, a tree, and "fun stuff" this year and more focus on how much we can do and be for each other and others. We'll be looking for every opportunity to brighten someone's day and #lighttheworld. Jesus made His entire life and still makes everything He does about us and giving us every opportunity to have and become the absolute best and, in doing so, gave us the best possible gift anyone ever could. So, in turn, Lorraine and I are making this Christmas about bringing others as much joy as we possibly we can and making our home a place where people can feel Jesus' love for them strongly enough that they want more than anything to know Him better and want to be like Him, no matter the cost.

How better to celebrate Him on Christmas than to be as much like Him as possible and show love to Him by loving others? We're still going to be doing something with gifting, we have decorations of up course and we did do our usual gingerbread house tradition. However, the more we talk about certain common Christmas traditions, the more I consider with brutal honesty the real reason why I like those traditions, I realize that some of them have been more for me about doing the "generally accepted, fun" Christmas thing than doing it in actual celebration of the birth of my Savior. Some traditions I know for sure are more for the sake of celebrating Him than just for fun, but others are not. In the last few weeks, I have become more willing to abandon some, change others and begin new ones as well, better ones that are more focused on Jesus Christ and helping those around me feel His love.

Just think of how much more amazing this world would be if we truly applied to following counsel from 2 Nephi 32:9 where it says "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."

This verse has always served as a reminder for me ask myself the following question with everything I do, "can I do this in Christ's name or not?" In the case of Christmas celebrations, the question changes to "is [insert tradition here] in celebration of the Savior or just because it's fun and everyone else does it?"

Being brutally honest about this question recently has actually been refreshingly awakening.

I invite you to try it as well and I look forward to seeing the positive changes that will hopefully happen within Lorraine and I and in our home. Merry Christmas everyone :)