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  1. A Cause of Much Sorrow

    February 22, 2015 by Ryan

    This week in the news  President Obama has been participating in the “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” and the threat of terrorists extremist fighting in the name of Islam. He made a point that “if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people.” Using lies and deceptions, they are seeking out young people and persuading them to their unrighteous cause. If there is a void in their lives, they seek to offer fulfillment by joining their organization.

    As I listened to this thought, the Gadianton Robbers of The Book of Mormon came to mind. From The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 1:27-29:

    27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.

    28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year they began to increase in a great degree, because there were many dissenters of the Nephites who did flee unto them, which did cause much sorrow unto those Nephites who did remain in the land.

    29 And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.

    The characters, locations, and tools are different, but the story runs parallel. In the next chapter (3 Nephi 2:11-12), we see what happened:

    11 And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them.

    12 Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty.

    The war commenced, and after a couple of years, there was still no successful resolution. Mormon’s explanation was that “because of the wickedness of the people of Nephi, and their many contentions and dissensions, the Gadianton robbers did gain many advantages over them” (3 Nephi 2:18). They could not pull it together as a people and they struggle for quite some time.

    I’m not intending to prophesy or declare that this is exactly how history will repeat itself; but I do foresee that the struggle will go on far longer than it should. As a nation today, most people are not paying any attention to this problem while they push for a redefinition of marriage; make wink-and-nod jokes about drug use and pornography; and fill their minds with entertainment glamorizing violence and sexual messages. Like the Nephite people, our nation won’t be able to come to the unity and resolve necessary – and mostly to recognize the need for repentance, and to call upon God for support – to let it happen.

    I say that because I’ve read the book and seen how it turned out the first time around.


  2. Why is Jesus Christ Important to Me and You?

    February 5, 2015 by Ryan

    A few weeks ago, I learned about a “differential” as I was reading a newspaper insert about automobiles. The writer to the advice column said that their mechanic had told them that their differential was off, and this was causing them problems with tire tread and brake pads. The writer wanted to know if he could go to the auto-parts store and buy a new differential and install it himself?

    The columnist explained that a differential is not really a single part, but a principle of physics. When a car is moving forward or backward, perfectly straight, the wheels all turn at the same speed. But if the car turns left, the left wheel has a smaller radius to complete the turn than the right wheel has, so the right wheel must move a little bit faster or else it will get dragged along. This is the differential. Wheels are connected by an axle, but by necessity they can move at independent speeds to complement each other.

    As I thought about this, I wondered two things. One: How have I lived this long and not noticed this before? Two: what gospel principle applies to this new found knowledge?

    Almost immediately, it seemed easily applicable to my marriage. A single wheel has potential to roll any direction, any speed, free and unfettered. That same tire, by itself, can’t pull as great of a load or accomplish as much. Attach that tire to an axle and give it a companion, and the two have potential to pull a load with them. As the twists and turns of life arrive, they have to adapt to them and stay synchronized with each other, make decisions together and heading in one direction in unison. There will be a differential in the relationship – sometimes one will need to move a little faster, and sometimes the other, but they will share the load and a common purpose, and accomplish something greater than the one could alone.

    I was happy with this analogy, but continued to think on it more. After all, natural laws often have relationship to eternal laws, so what else could this be compared to?

    It could also be applied, to a more imperfect extent, to being teamed up with the Lord. In St. Matthew 11: 29, Jesus commanded, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” In His time, they did not have automobiles, but they did hitch teams of horses or oxen saddled together with a harness called a yoke. This was the equivalent of an axle-of-old connecting the two animals. The same principle of a differential applied to making turns here. He said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…” Maybe this suggests that even though we cannot yet ride equally to Him, we should still make the covenants, get hitched up, and make the effort. Learn as we travel. As always, He will be our differential.

    It is also interesting, in that commandment, that it is still our choice. Unlike the animals, we are asked to take that yoke upon ourselves – to put ourselves in that position. He gives us the opportunity, figuratively, to be teamed up with him in pulling the load and accomplishing the tasks. That thought, of itself, is inspiring to dwell upon.

    My analogy is certainly not perfect, because Jesus does not simply make up the difference; He makes all of the difference. In fact, if my analogy were more literally applied to my life, my tire is sitting on a patch of ice, spinning and spinning, but never able to go anywhere of any substance without His help.

    From the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23, Nephi explained why he placed his efforts in writing the scripture and teaching his people. “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved,” and I take the liberty of adding a few extra words here, “[before, during, and] after all we can do.”

    What kind of “grace” do we receive before and during our lives? To me the primary gift of grace is the guidance and gift of the Holy Ghost – the comforter, or the Spirit of truth. We also receive the “tender mercies” of God, or the miracles that bless us day by day.

    In the Book of Mormon, Aaron, one of the sons of Mosiah, is a missionary that obtained an audience with the King of the Lamanites. After exchanging a few introductory remarks (“Do you believe in God?” and then finding out generally what the king believed and understood about God), Aaron got busy teaching. Here is how he did it. Alma 22:12: “And … when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king.” Aaron read from the scriptures. Pay attention to the topics he emphasized. Continuing verse 12: “How God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen.”

    Skip to verse 14: “And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself;” Stop. That is a very valid point to make. That is the tire spinning on ice. That demonstrates the great differential in operation between us and our God. What can we do about it then? Continuing: “but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth;” Stop. What does “and so forth” mean? Using what I know from other teachings, any time I hear about faith and repentance, it is followed by baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance in keeping the commandments. I presume that this belongs here too, but that Mormon is abbreviating the exchange to be brief in writing.

    Continuing: “and that He [Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; [I really like that phrase, the “hopes of glory” – I see that as my hope, and your hope, and your neighbor’s hope, all rolled together into one great hope!] and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.”

    Aaron placed his focus on explaining to the old king why Jesus was so important to him, and he used the scriptures to help prove his point. If we had the time here today, I’d do the same as Aaron, and read the scriptures to you. I won’t read them all, but I do want to read a few more important verses.

    From the New Testament, St. John 6:38, 40: Jesus explains, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    It is explained by Jesus even more clearly in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:14-15: “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw [or attract] all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.”

    So that verse tells us that there will be a judgment which is based upon our works. But Aaron told us earlier that “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself.” So how does that work? How can we have any hope if this is to be the case. Well, let’s keep reading one more verse:

    3 Nephi 27:16 “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled;”

    Filled with what? With grace! With “hopes of glory”

    Continuing, “and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.”

    That is the awesome opportunity! That is how it connects! That is what Jesus has done, and will do for us, if we do our part. If we follow Him and His commandments, he will hold us guiltless before our Heavenly Father at our day of judgment!

    When I think of how that day of judgment will play out, I can’t imagine any way better than how it is described in the Doctrine and Covenants section 45:3-5: “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.”

    These ideas just begin to explain why Jesus Christ is so important to me.

    As far as the grace we receive to help us during this life, here are a couple of verses:

    St. John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

    St. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    Father Lehi said it very well, as recorded in 2 Nephi 2:6-8: “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; [that describes what should be our effort to spin our wheel at and maintain the correct speed] and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.”

    In the last verse of the hymn, “With Humble Heart” by Zara Sabin goes like this:

    As I walk daily here on earth,
    Give me thy Spirit as I seek
    A change of heart, another birth,
    And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.

    When I think of how important Jesus is to me, I could claim as my own the words of the Hymn “I Stand All Amazed” by Charles H. Gabriel,

    I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
    Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
    I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
    That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
    Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
    Enough to die for me!
    Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

    Perhaps Paul said it best, as he stated simply to the Philipians (4:13): “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

    I believe and feel that way too!

    I declare it in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ, Amen!


  3. The Word of God

    September 21, 2014 by Ryan

    Some observations about “the word of God”

    • is quick and powerful (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • is sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow (Doctrine and Covenants 11:2; 33:1)
    • shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • will lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • will land a man’s soul at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:30)
    • will do good to him that walketh uprightly (Old Testament | Micah 2:7)
    • healeth the wounded soul (The Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:8)
    • is quick and powerful (Doctrine and Covenants 11:2; 33:1);
    • is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Doctrine and Covenants 33:1)

     


  4. Outrage!

    August 26, 2014 by Ryan

    Imagine that you are a school lunch cafeteria manager.

    Imagine that it is the first day of a new school year. There is confusion among everyone, as each person – student, staff, and manager – are trying to learn their roles.

    The bell rings, indicating that the last lunch service of the day is nearly over. For students, it means that they have 10 minutes to find their next class. For the lunchroom employees, this means that it is time to start cleaning up.

    Then, you, the lunchroom manager, are called to the serving line. There is a problem to deal with.

    You stop what you are doing and step forward. An eighth-grader with learning disabilities and diabetes, and her assigned aid, are standing in front of you.

    The situation is explained. The young lady was late getting to lunch because she was administering her insulin dose. The girl had reviewed the lunch menu, decided she wanted pizza, and taken the correct amount of insulin to account for the food.

    You look around. The leftover pizza, still in its boxes, have been put in the trash can.

    Lunch service is officially over.

    What would you do?

    “The girl insisted on having pizza,” said the news reporter. You, the lunchroom manager, feel compassion on the girl. It is the first day, and everyone is running around, confused and trying to find their footing in the new school year. You offer her some of the leftovers that had already been thrown away.

    All you need to do is take the top box off of the garbage can, open the box, and reveal the completely untouched pizza inside.

    Yes, you are breaking health regulations. But the young lady “insists” on being served the pizza that she had mentally and physically prepared to eat.

    If she doesn’t eat it, she goes away hungry with too much insulin in her system. If you can find an alternative option that can account for the same insulin dosage, you can offer it – but how long will that take and how effective can you be?

    Top it all off by recalling that she has less-than 10 minutes to get to her next class.

    The lunchroom manger gives her the slice of pizza. It is perfectly suitable-for-human-consumption, except for a technical rule.

    There is no pattern of misbehavior or rule breaking going on in the lunchroom. This is an isolated incident, taken out of compassion for the girl. The young lady, and her assigned aid, have presumably also learned the amount of time to plan for future lunchroom visits.

    Later, the girl off-handedly reports to a school administrator that she was served lunch out of a garbage can. It sounds disgusting and sensational to tell it that way, and so what else is a middle-schooler to do? It gets heads to turn and brings her attention.

    She also tells her mother.

    Her mother is “outraged.”

    The story is now all over the local media. The headline reads, “Parent outraged after diabetic student served pizza from trash.

    = = =

    out·rage ( ˈoutˌrāj )

    1. to arouse an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.

    I’ve heard the word “outrage” used in various forms in the news recently. One woman experienced outrage when she learned that photos of herself had been edited and were being printed in publications that she had not agreed to. Some communities felt outrage when police actions left dead people that they believe were innocent. Some nations felt outrage when other nations fired missiles into their cities, hurting innocent women and children.

    In another case, a mother experienced outrage because her daughter asked to be fed pizza for lunch, and her request was granted.

    In some cases, “outrage” may be justified because a person had no control in a situation. In other cases, the word “indignation” would be more appropriate.

    Indignation (ˌindigˈnāSHən/)

    a display of anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.

    The choice to experience either reaction is made by an individual.

    = = =

    The lunchroom manager and staff receive training, crammed into their schedules before the next day’s food preparation and service can begin, so that they can understand the rules of food handling. Even though there clearly was no misunderstanding of the rules to being with. There was a compassionate “lapse of judgment,” as a district spokesman put it.

    The girl is reassigned a new aid, one that “is medically trained and knows more about appropriate carb counts.” Presumably, this is done so that the girl can continue not learning any lesson about time management and self-accountability. She can carry on, late to lunch again-and-again in the future, this new aid can conjure up what alternate foods can be served to the girl.

    Except that the aid won’t make the food appear. The lunchroom manager will then be privileged to drop what she is doing and bring her entire attention to the girl’s needs, preparing an alternate menu as her carb-counting helper dictates.

    The girl can go and be late to her next class. It will be the lunchroom manager’s fault.

    And the parent can continue to be “outraged” over that too.

    Sounds like a great plan to me!

    = = =

    Now, what I believe should have happened. The lunchroom manager, the parent, and perhaps the principal should have met in person or over a phone call.

    The parent should have thanked the lunchroom manager for serving her child, and promised to work with her daughter to better understand her role and responsibility in being on time, or at least in sending word to the lunchroom, before the bell rings, to save her a slice of pizza.

    The lunchroom manager should have apologized for not following proper protocol and assured her that it is not her regular practice.

    All should have shaken hands and agreed to continue on with life with a cheerful attitude, kindness, and compassion for each other’s difficult roles and responsibilities.

    Having been appropriately worked out, you and I should never have read this story online, nor saw it on the evening television newscast.

    It could have been possible, if the parties chose to do so.

    Compassion motivated one party. Outrage blinded the other.


  5. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil

    August 24, 2014 by Ryan

    Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil…. (Exodus 23:2)

    The temptation to be popular may prioritize public opinion above the word of God. Political campaigns and marketing strategies widely employ public opinion polls to shape their plans. Results of those polls are informative. But they could hardly be used as grounds to justify disobedience to God’s commandments! Even if “everyone is doing it,” wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. A scriptural warning so declares: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”

    After World War I, a rather risqué song became popular. In promoting immorality, it vowed that 50 million people cannot be wrong. But in fact, 50 million people can be wrong—totally wrong. Immorality is still immorality in the eyes of God, who one day will judge all of our deeds and desires.

    – Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Let Your Faith Show,” April 2014


  6. What Is Behind Curtain Number 1?

    August 2, 2014 by Ryan

    I could be a game-show junkie. Fortunately, I don’t very often take time to watch game shows. I fear though that if I ever receive the “Game Show Network” on my TV, I’d become hooked.

    One recent morning, I had some extra time and so I picked up the remote control and a copy of The Book of Mormon. My goal was to do some reading for about 10 minutes while I waited for “Let’s Make A Deal” to begin. I tuned into my local CBS station and waited with the volume muted, as I read a little from the book.

    I was reading The Book of Ether, Chapter 12, verses 3-4, just about the time that the show began:

    … by faith all things are fulfilled – Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

    On the show, people dress in elaborate costumes, hoping to be noticed and chosen by Wayne Brady, the game show host. If picked, they are generally offered a secret prize – a small box, or an envelope. They can then choose to trade that prize away for something else (a larger box, or “what is behind curtain number 1, 2, or 3”), in the hopes that the next prize is better than the first.

    What a contrast to what I was reading. “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world.” Not vie for the attention of the host in hopes of being a handful of people noticed and picked to play along. If lucky enough to be chosen, not to then rest on the hope that they won’t get a worthless “Zonk” prize behind the curtain. Certainly not betting on the slim chance that you’ll be the one person in the auditorium able to trade away everything you have been given for a possibility of picking the “big deal of the day” worth even more (or even less, if chance is not in your favor).

    Once you have that belief, faith, and hope that God has provided some better thing for you (see New Testament | Hebrews 11:40), you gain “an anchor to the souls of men” – your own soul. That understanding works within you, and the Spirit of the Lord begins to swell within your breasts (see The Book of Mormon | Alma 32:28). With that anchor mooring your life firmly, you find that your behavior changes. You gain the realization that you don’t need to act out in competition for the attention of the world. Instead, your own inclinations change to be “always abounding in good works” – not of a desire to “level up” to a better prize, but because you feel the love of Jesus Christ and desire to “glorify God” in thanks for the gift of His atonement. You hope to reflect that love to others in your influence and bring them to the same prize.

    The love and blessings of God grow and increase. There is plenty of it to share, and everyone in the auditorium can enjoy it. When that faith and hope is placed correctly, you recognize that you don’t need to attract the attention of the host. Instead, He already sees you, knows you, and hopes that you will choose to come unto Him.

    Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen…

    Because of the faith of men

    He has shown himself unto the world,

    and glorified the name of the Father,

    and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.

    Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.

    The Book of Mormon | Ether 12:6, 8 – 9 (paragraphing and punctuation altered for better emphasis)


  7. From God’s Perspective

    January 13, 2014 by Ryan

    First of all, let me state clearly: I do not speak or think for God. I do not represent Him in any official capacity or calling. I’ve taken upon myself the covenant to remember Him, and to do my best to follow His commandments; but the evidence that I fail at this clearly shows that I yet lack the capacity to feel, understand, and love as completely and wholly as does God. In fact, Isaiah – one of the greatest and most spiritually powerful prophets to have lived and written – reported that God told him, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are … my thoughts [higher] than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). So if Isaiah was below God in intellect, I clearly am also sub-omniscience.

    Having said that, I will attempt in this post to better understand what God thinks. Ready? here I go…

     

    I suppose this line of thinking started when my car’s check engine light came on. I was frustrated by my car not working as I desired it to. The natural laws of physics were that my car had experienced typical wear-and-tear, and needed a few parts replaced and the engine needed to be tuned up. Naturally, I wanted to feel sorry for myself, because one of the two cars that I owned was giving me trouble and going to cost me some time and extra money to resolve the problems.

    About the same time that I was experiencing this trial, the largest typhoon on record struck the Philippine Island of Leyte, and directly hit the cities of Tacloban and Palo.

    These two cities have special significance for me. I lived in these two cities for two weeks, on an assignment from my work. I provided training for a team of employees. Before and after the personal visit I made, I contacted the people working there by phone, and continued to work with them from time-to-time to provide training.

    Those people had very little, and after the Typhoon most had nothing at all.

    My family slept well, our stomachs full, in a heated home.

    Their families – the survivors at least – struggled to obtain daily food that simply was not available, and slept under cover of makeshift shelters.

    I was inconvenienced by a car repair, which I actually had enough money saved to be able to afford.

    They were inconvenienced by their entire lives being uprooted.

    That thought alone humbled me.

    So it got me to thinking: The lifestyle I enjoy is full of comfort. I am surrounded by technology in buildings, transportation, communication, science, and health. I live in the most advanced age ever known. The things I enjoy today could scarcely have been imagined 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, or 6000 years ago.

    In fact, in the history of people living on this Earth, the great majority of them didn’t enjoy the comfort, peace, or technology that I do. In the course of history, most of them have struggled to eke out their existences.

    Yet in my prayers to the God that oversaw it all, I’m complaining that my second car had a problem.

    When I realized the simple comparison to my friends formerly of Tacloban, I couldn’t complain anymore.

    When I realized the comparison to my ancestors throughout history, I certainly could not complain anymore.

    Somehow, the circumstances of this Earth have been prepared to be optimal for teaching each person what God wants them to understand, and providing the mortal experience necessary.

    Some people lived through war. Others experienced horrendous abuse and inhumanity. Some had weather and storms destroy their possessions. Some experienced crippling physical and/or mental health challenges.

    In fact, everything that I currently enjoy, and that I have come to believe is “reality,” is actually a very fragile framework of society and possessions. All of it could, in an instant, be swept away by natural disaster or political upheaval.

    When that perspective was opened to me, I couldn’t complain any longer.

    Instead, I thanked my God for my particular challenge, and asked forgiveness for being so greedy and self-absorbed.

    God has seen the previous millenniums come to pass. He has known exactly what, when, why, and how those people needed to experience. He will do no less for me.

    I started to glimpse better the meaning of one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but … the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 257, 240–41.]


  8. Give Happily

    August 3, 2013 by Ryan

    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (New Testament | 2 Corinthians 9:7).

    It was early on a Saturday morning, and only my one-year-old and I were up  (the rest of the family was sleeping in). I gave him some juice, changed his diaper, and we danced together to the music in the front room.

    He acted like he was hungry, so we went to the kitchen and got an apple. He watched me as I washed it and cut a small slice. He followed me to the front room. I sat on the floor, and he sat on my lap. We both began enjoying our apples.

    He ate a small piece, obviously enjoying one of his most favorite treats. He looked me in the eyes, smiled, and held his apple up toward my lips. I smiled back and pretended to nibble his apple, then motioned that he could have it back. He smiled even bigger and took another bite of his apple slice.

    Then I thought that this is a perfect example of how we should look upon giving back to God.

    My son could clearly see that I had a bigger apple, but that didn’t bother him. He knew that I had given him his slice of apple, and that I had plenty for myself. Yet he wanted me to share his slice. He smiled as he offered it to me. He delighted when I accepted his offering. He did not expect to receive anything more in return for his gift; he was just happy to give.

    I learned a little about giving today from a 1-year-old.


  9. Redemption

    July 16, 2013 by Ryan

    As disciples of Jesus Christ, we ought to do all we can to redeem others from suffering and burdens. Even so, our greatest redemptive service will be to lead them to Christ. Without His Redemption from death and from sin, we have only a gospel of social justice. That may provide some help and reconciliation in the present, but it has no power to draw down from heaven perfect justice and infinite mercy. Ultimate redemption is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.” – Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Redemption


  10. A Still Small Voice

    June 25, 2013 by Ryan

    11 …A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

    12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

    (1 Kings 19:11-12)

    The great prophet Elijah was no stranger to communicating with the Lord.

    In the previous chapter, he had earnestly prayed and then called down fire from heaven in the presence of those who would seek to kill him. Just before the verses above, he had been miraculously provided bread and water by an angel, and then fasted in hiding for 40 days in a cave.

    The great prophet Elijah was no stranger to communicating with the Lord.

    At the end of this time of fasting, a great wind came. Elijah stayed in his cave. The wind was so fierce that the rocks broke in pieces. Yet Elijah remained put. An earthquake shook the land, and a fire followed the quaking. Elijah waited through all of this.

    Finally came that sweet, still, small voice. Elijah made his exit.

    We can learn a lot from this holy prophet. In the commotion of the world, Elijah waited steadfastly for his instructions until he heard the voice.

    With all of turmoil going on around him, it is a wonder that anyone could patiently be attuned to receive the quiet whispering from the Lord. Elijah passed that test.

    It is fair to point out that God is in control of all of those other forces. It is perfectly within His power to use the weather and the elements of the earth to send messages to his people, and sometimes He does purposefully speak with those forces.

    Usually, however, they are just part of the landscape of a tumultuous world and provide opposition and trial for people to gain experience and wisdom from.

    The Lord’s most effective message was and still is the still small voice of the Holy Ghost, which his people must patiently seek and learn how to receive.

    That voice, despite whatever else is happening around, will always provide hope, assurance, and testimony of the Living God.

    Listen for it. Learn to trust it. Respond to it.

    For the Lord is in it!