If You Knew Who You Really Are…

If you knew who you really are…

You’d forgive.
You’d love life.
You’d smile more.
You’d stop hesitating.
You’d give more freely.
You’d never doubt again.
You’d never fear the future.
You’d be willing to make the hard choices.
You’d recognize others for who they really are.
You’d be content with the reflection in the mirror.
You’d turn every day into something worth remembering.

If you knew who God really is…

You’d make every day something for the world to remember.
You’d be confident with the reflection in the mirror.
You’d see Christ in the face of everyone you meet.
You’d make the hard choices without question.
You’d be excited about the future.
Your faith would move mountains.
You’d give Him your everything.
You’d forever move forward.
You’d make people happy.
You’d radiate love.
You’d forgive all.

If you don’t know who you are, ask God, and He will show you to you. Do what He says, and He will show Himself to you.

And you’ll never be the same again.

Preparing for General Conference

 If you want a great pattern for preparing for LDS General Conference, re-read Mosiah 2. This is the chapter where King Benjamin is about to present his son as the new king and give his last sermon. But the first part of the chapter talks about how the people prepared for his talk. Check out what they did, and notice how it can apply to us as we prepare for conference:

1 And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.

The first thing they did? Show up! They came! We’ll read later that the words were written down for those who couldn’t hear, but the people didn’t wait for it to come out in the Ensign. They were present. That doesn’t mean you have to be at the conference center, but it will help a lot if you are at your TV or radio at the time it’s taking place.

3 And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses;

Obviously we don’t do animal sacrifices, but do you remember what Jesus said replaced burnt offerings? A broken heart and a contrite spirit. Approach general conference in a spirit of humility, repentance, and sacrifice, and not only will the experience be awesomer, but you’ll change what the Lord asks you during conference to change, and you’ll be what the Lord asks you to be.

4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

Carry a spirit of gratitude. If you’re struggling to feel spiritually motivated, either about the gospel or the things taught in the gospel, take a half hour and go for a walk, or find a quiet place to kneel. Pray to your Father in Heaven and just list off to Him the things you’re grateful for. “I thank thee for…” “I thank thee that…” “I’m so grateful that…”

At first it may feel forced, but keep it up until you are filled with gratitude. You’ll be amazed how powerful gratitude is in increasing spiritual desire. Approach general conference with a spirit of gratitude, and you’ll see a huge difference.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.


Involve the family. If possible, watch together, and don’t shoosh people when they interrupt to say something relevant to the talk. They are likening the words to you and your loved ones–that’s what you’re supposed to do. Experiencing conference together builds the family up, and reminds all how much the Savior is a part of your family. And, yes, conference bingo is good, too.

6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;

However you are watching, face the speaker. Face the TV, radio, or computer, where the talk is happening. Not only will it send a message to your own brain that this is important (thus helping you pay attention), but it will help others see how much you want to be involved. They are less likely to ask you to come help them clean up the garage, because they will see that doing so would interrupt. If you’re listening passively to the background radio, your likely to get distracted and/or interrupted.


8 And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.

Don’t just suck in the words and expect them to stay. Take notes! Bring a notebook, portable device, or computer to write down things that catch your attention. Even more important, write down thoughts that the Spirit gives you while you listen. That is God’s revelation to you personally. You can trust that the guidance will come, but if you have no way to record it when it happens, you’ll forget. Believe me, no matter how powerful the experience, if you don’t record it, you will forget.

If for whatever reason you can’t be present for conference, take advantage of the many means the church has provided to review it. The Internet archives are available immediately, so you don’t have to wait for the Ensign. The video is up within minutes after the session ends. The audio will be available within a day or so, and the text will be up within a week. Don’t miss conference. If you can’t attend, make sure a week doesn’t pass before you’ve watched or read the entire four sessions (or five, if you’re a guy).

Never in the history of the world has there been such remarkable tools for reviewing the words of God. Even after you do watch the whole program, either live or afterward, go back through and read more carefully. The first time through is a marathon. The second time through, go through carefully, deliberately, taking the time necessary to learn all that you can from the talks. If you have a portable device or laptop, download the audio and listen to it often. Read the words, cross-referencing with the given links.

Do these things, and this may be the best conference you’ve ever participated in.

Fish Philosophy

Imagine you are a fish in a pond.

While in school, your teacher tries to convince you that it is impossible to see through water.  Of course this seems ridiculous to you at first, but then he stirs up the mud at the bottom of the pond.  Soon the entire pond is completely clouded.  You cannot even see the fish around you or the teacher.  “See?”  Your teacher says, “you are in water and you cannot see.  Now you know that it is impossible to see through water.”

Some of you and your classmates recognize that it is not water that is blocking your vision, but the mud that your teacher spread in front of you that makes it impossible to see.  You recognize that when the mud settles, you will again be able to see again like normal, because the mud and water will again be separated.

But some of the fish begin to feel confused and lost.  In panic, they turn to the teacher for help.  The teacher replies, “The only safe place is the bottom of the pond.  At least there, you can feel something beneath you.”  They follow, because they don’t know what else to do.

As the mud settles, they are buried in the mud.  Their “new perception” that mud is the same as water is therefore confirmed in their minds, and they remain in the much ever after.

Though unhappy in their new state, they pride themselves on their new understanding, wondering how they could have ever been deluded into thinking that what they once experienced was sight.  They scoff at the fish above, swimming happily about the pond.  They mock them, telling them that their childish belief in “Clear” water is just a tradition that their parents convinced them of.  They say, “Yeah, we once thought as you do, but now we see what water really is.  Sight is an illusion.  You cannot trust your senses.  The only safe place is the bottom of the pond.”

The wise know the difference between the mud and the water.

The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord Is My Shepherd

Let me know if you guys want this made into sheet music.

Art by Maria Spencer.

Popcorn and Podcasting: Kiddoes

Kiddoes

Jenni and I have been doing our Popcorn and Podcasting LDS podcast for awhile, but we’ve been out of it for the past couple months. We’ve decided to try various topics, though, instead of having many podcasts on one topic – just to see how that goes.

This time we focused on Children

James E. Faust:

If parents do not discipline their children and teach them to obey, society may discipline them in a way neither the parents nor the children will like. Dr. Lee Salk, child psychologist, said: “The ‘do your own thing’ trend has interfered with people developing close and trusting family relationships. It tells people that they are neurotic if they feel a sense of responsibility for the feelings of other family members. People are also told to let all their feelings out, even if it is very hurtful to someone else.”

(Special Section Families, U.S. News and World Report, Inc., 16 June 1980, p. 60.) As Dr. Salk states, this is, of course, patently wrong. Without discipline and obedience in the home, the unity of the family collapses.

Anne G. Wirthlin:

Recent research on the development of a child’s brain has revealed new insights into how and when a child learns. I quote from a recent study: “From birth, a baby’s brain cells proliferate wildly, making connections that may shape a lifetime of experience. The first three years are critical” (J. Madeleine Nash, “Fertile Minds,” Time, 3 Feb. 1997, 49).

Anne G. Wirthlin, “Teaching Our Children to Love the Scriptures,” Ensign, May 1998, 9

Anne G. Wirthlin:

When first we love the Lord with all our hearts, then we can lead our children to Him in all of our interactions. They will grow in their devotion to the Lord as they see our devotion to Him. They will understand the power of prayer as they hear us pray to a loving Heavenly Father who is there listening and answering our prayers. They will understand faith as they see us live by faith. And they will learn the power of love by the kind and respectful ways that we relate to them. We cannot teach truth to our children apart from the trusting, caring relationships that we have with them. President Howard W. Hunter said, “A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child” (Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 65).

Anne G. Wirthlin, “Touch the Hearts of the Children,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 81

Neal A. Maxwell:

Children often have the “thoughts and [the] intents of [their] hearts” focused on the Master. Though not full of years, such children are full of faith! Too young for formal Church callings, they have been “called to serve” as exemplifiers, doing especially well when blessed with “goodly parents” (1 Ne. 1:1).

Just as the scriptures assure, “little children do have words given unto them many times” (Alma 32:23). For example, the resurrected Jesus revealed things to the Nephite children, who then taught adults and their parents “even greater” things than Jesus had taught (3 Ne. 26:14).

It has been a privilege to seal several adopted children to Nan and Dan Barker, now of Arizona. Some time ago Nate, then just over three, said: “Mommy, there is another little girl who is supposed to come to our family. She has dark hair and dark eyes and lives a long way from here.”

The wise mother asked, “How do you know this?”

“Jesus told me, upstairs.”

The mother noted, “We don’t have an upstairs,” but quickly sensed the significance of what had been communicated. After much travail and many prayers, the Barker family were in a sealing room in the Salt Lake Temple in the fall of 1995—where a little girl with dark hair and dark eyes, from Kazakhstan, was sealed to them for time and eternity. Inspired children still tell parents “great and marvelous things” (3 Ne. 26:14).

Benjamin Ballam is the special spina bifida child of Michael and Laurie Ballam. He has been such a blessing to them and many others. Also spiritually precocious, Benjamin is a constant source of love and reassurance. Having had 17 surgeries, resilient Benjamin knows all about hospitals and doctors. Once, when an overwhelmed attendant became vocally upset—not at Benjamin, but over stressful circumstances—little three-year-old Benjamin exemplified the words of another Benjamin about our need to be childlike and “full of love” (Mosiah 3:19). Little Benjamin reached out, tenderly patted the irritated attendant, and said, “I love you anyway.” A similar episode occurred recently in an Israeli hospital, where little Benjamin, going through a necessary but very painful procedure, used the same loving words to reassure a physician. No wonder, brothers and sisters, in certain moments we feel children are our spiritual superiors.

Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Becometh As a Child’,” Ensign, May 1996, 68

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“The most important work we can do is to help God’s children come to a full understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This I know to be true…”

(Ensign, Nov. 2000 pg. 77 – 2nd to last sentence)

Barbara B. Smith:

It might be a temptation for a working mother to plan special outings and play times as the so-called “quality” time she has with her children. But many are aware of the danger this poses in giving them a distorted picture of life by using all their time together in recreation. It is important for children to see the balance that is necessary between work and play. They need to know that special events are more meaningful when daily routines are established and when assigned duties are completed.

One grandmother helped her grandchildren learn this truth. When they came to her house she was careful to have jobs they could do together; then afterward, they played a game. Then another task was followed by another game. The children learned, as she hoped they would, the relationship between work and play and the comfortable sense of playing after work is completed.

Barbara B. Smith, “‘Her Children Arise Up, and Call Her Blessed’,” Ensign, May 1982, 79

Patricia P. Pinegar:

The blessings of parenting and helping to care for children are many. President Hinckley said: “Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood. Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, none other is so serious. To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges. The good result from such efforts becomes life’s most satisfying compensation” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 74; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 54).

Patricia P. Pinegar, “Caring for the Souls of Children,” Ensign, May 1997, 13

Elder Harold G. Hillam:

Many, perhaps most, adult members of the Church, however, find themselves in a position to teach in a more direct manner. Leaders, parents, and called teachers have the specific responsibility to constantly improve their teaching abilities so they can prepare, train, and edify those who fall within their stewardship. President David O. McKay reminded us that “the proper training of childhood is man’s most important and sacred duty” (Gospel Ideals [1953], 220). The Lord has made it clear that parents shall “teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28).

There is power in the doctrines of the Church—hence the need for us all to be ever learning and constantly fortifying ourselves spiritually. President Hinckley has said: “The forces against which we labor are tremendous. We need more than our own strength to cope with them. To all who hold positions of leadership, to the vast corps of teachers and missionaries, to heads of families, I should like to make a plea: In all you do, feed the Spirit—nourish the soul. … I am satisfied that the world is starved for spiritual food” (“Feed the Spirit—Nourish the Soul,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1967, 85–86).

Harold G. Hillam, “Teachers, the Timeless Key,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 62

Anne G. Wirthlin:

President Kimball shared vivid memories of his home when the family knelt before meals to pray, their chairs turned back from the table, dinner plates upside down. He remembers night prayers at his mother’s knee. He said, “I feel sorry for children who must learn these important lessons after they are grown, when it is so much harder” (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977, p. 31). Home can be an oasis in the world. It’s a place where every child has a right to feel safe.

Anne G. Wirthlin, “Touch the Hearts of the Children,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 81

Elder Joe Christensen:

Remember family prayer every day. With schedules as they are today, you may need to have more than one prayer. Sending your children out of the home without the spiritual protection of prayer is like sending them out into a blizzard without sufficient clothing.”

Elder Joe Christensen, Ensign Nov 1993

When the Night Came: The Meaning Behind the Music

Play Button

When the Night Came

when-the-night-came1

Enos

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

See more entries that include the Meaning behind the Music

See more entries about The Ancestor CD

To hear the music without my voice, scroll to playlist on the sidebar called, “The Ancestor CD,” and click on When the Night Came


Bookmark and Share

I Live in a Mansion

moon

talltab1I live in a mansion.  There are so many rooms, and so many doors, that it would take more than a lifetime to explore what is in them all.  From one room, I can explore the sciences, and watch the progression of the stars and planets.  I can chart the known universe and discover things that it has taken mankind centuries to understand.
talltab1 From another, I can learn the religions of the world, make connections with things divine, and come to a deeper understanding of why people are the way they are.
talltab1 From another, I can become my own symphony, and follow the practices of the master composers.  I can perfect the principles they have learned and carry them on to new levels.
talltab1 There is a room in my house where I can practice medicine and learn how the human body works.  In this room, I can also learn how to strengthen the powers within my own body through exercise, activity, proper nutrition and rest.
talltab1 In one of the larger wings of my mansion, I can enter a fantastic world with creatures and people that most people only meet in dreams and movies.  I can converse with them, and in essence, leave the world entirely through time machines and spaceships.
talltab1 I have rooms that bare the perfect resemblance of locations all around the globe.  I have been to Egypt, China, South America, and Africa without having to leave my home.
talltab1 In my favorite room, I have met the Savior and His prophets.  I have come to know God, and converse with Him regularly.  I have met Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and John the Baptist.  I have met the reformers and those who took part in the great restoration of the Gospel.
talltab1 I have visited many of the rooms in my mansion, and plan to visit many more.

talltab1 My house is small, and my means are meager.  But in every room, there are books.

How to Revolutionize the Course of the Universe

talltab1It was a very dull day at at the bookstore as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen.  One of my coworkers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.
talltab1“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”
talltab1He thought a moment.  “Got any bombs?  You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”
talltab1“That’s true.  But I don’t have any bombs.  Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time.  I need to find something good to do.”
talltab1“That’s true,” he replied.  Then we both fell back into silence.

talltab1I began thinking more about our conversation.  What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world?  What about the universe?  Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?
talltab1There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history.  But did those things change the destiny of the universe?
talltab1It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ.  Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.
talltab1Now there’s a new approach to the question.  If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress?  Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.
talltab1Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process.  I was about to get married in the temple.  I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni.  How could I do that?  That question is easy.  I could be kind and loving to her.
talltab1I looked around the store.  Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary.  Customers came in and left.  Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen.  I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night.  I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Tribute: I Love You, Dad!

Lunch Bucket and Grandpa

talltab1If someone had asked me in grade school what my dad did, I would probably have told them that my dad is a fisherman.  I didn’t know what he did for work, but I did know that he was a fisherman in his free time.  It was his favorite pastime, and he was really good at it.  He didn’t much go for worm fishing, and he certainly was never big on plopping the line in the water and sitting back waiting for the line to pull.  Dad was a fly fisher.

talltab1He loved fishing the rivers, outsmarting the fish using strategy and skill rather than passive chance.  With fly fishing on a river, the fisher must cast the line upstream, getting the fly to float unsuspectingly over the best part of the fishing hole.
talltab1Dad also tied his own flies.  This was itself quite a skill, as it took the most precise thread-work.  He had a cool fly-tying kit, as well as materials for making flies, such as threads, feathers, animal fur, or whatever was necessary for the desired effect.  The idea is to emulate as close as possible the look of a real fly.  I remember him making Cadiss flies, Mayflies, and even ants and grasshoppers.

talltab1He still fly-fishes and makes his own flies today.

talltab1I remember one particular fishing trip when I was young where we Continue reading