Monday, July 30, 2012

Quote of the Day: Pres. Thomas S. Monson

I really love this quote by Pres. Monson that was shared in the book, "Daughters in My Kingdom". To me, this is the very heart of true charity.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson:

“I consider charity—or ‘the pure love of Christ’—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.

“I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.

“There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.

“Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing, the unfortunate one may be benefited. …

“Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.

“Charity, that pure love of Christ, is manifest when a group of young women from a singles ward travels hundreds of miles to attend the funeral services for the mother of one of their Relief Society sisters. Charity is shown when devoted visiting teachers return month after month, year after year to the same uninterested, somewhat critical sister. It is evident when an elderly widow is remembered and taken to ward functions and to Relief Society activities. It is felt when the sister sitting alone in Relief Society receives the invitation, ‘Come—sit by us.’

“In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.

“Charity has been defined as ‘the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,’ the ‘pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].’

“‘Charity never faileth.’ May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Being Mormon, and Being Friendly

I read a comment on another blog that said that Mormons are not friendly to women, gays, and Jews. I wanted to respond, but this blog post had probably 1000 comments, and I felt my reply would just get lost in the midst. I also wasn't sure the author of the blog would appreciate this discussion, which veered greatly from her original topic. I decided that even though they most likely won't read my blog, I would respond here anyway.

First of all I must add my disclaimer that not all members of our church are friendly. We all have personal weaknesses. We have high standards in our church, but not everyone has grown sufficiently to live up to them. I can only give general observations, because for every group that is friendly, someone can surely give an example of someone in our church who isn't. But if everyone lived up to our beliefs, we would all be friendly.

Are "Mormons" unfriendly to women? Some people think that because women in our church don't hold the Priesthood, that church leadership is being chauvinistic. But what they must understand is that we believe this to be God's policy, not man's. In fact, if given the chance, I'm sure the male leadership of the church would be more than willing to hand over the reigns. Those who have served in our church will freely admit that it is a lot of work. It is also a lay leadership, and their service isn't compensated monetarily. Why would a man give up his free time to serve in the church if he isn't compensated with money? It comes from obedience, and out of a desire to serve God. But it is a LOT of work, and I'm sure they would be happy to share the load. But as it is, women in our church are given GREAT responsibility. We serve in many different positions, and are also not paid for our time. I think almost every woman in the church would agree that we have plenty of work to do already, and aren't interested in taking any of the Priesthood positions.

I personally have served in many different positions in the church, and have found the men to be extremely respectful. They have respected my opinions, and have asked me to freely share my opinions. They have always been grateful for my service, and have expressed that gratitude often. I have sat in the counsels of the Priesthood, and have been asked to give my input. One church leader even said that women were the "crowning creation". (Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley "The women in our lives" October 2004) If that isn't woman friendly, I don't know what is.

Are "Mormons" friendly to gays? I can tell you personally that I know several gay members, and from what I have seen, everyone is friendly to them. That doesn't mean we accept their lifestyle. In fact, a gay lifestyle goes against the teachings of our church. But we believe they are our spirit brothers and sisters, and we accept them as such. We do not accept same sex marriage, but we accept those of same gender attraction. Our church guidelines do not allow someone who is having sex with a members of the opposite sex to be a member of the church. But we still welcome them to attend our Sunday church meetings. We also do not believe that someone should have sex with someone of the opposite sex unless they are married to them. If those people disobey this commandment, they too can have their membership taken away. But they are also still welcome to attend our Sunday meetings. This isn't a matter of being friendly or not friendly, it is a matter of rules and God's law.

Are "Mormons" friendly to Jews? I think before I can answer that, I must comment that I think that there are many Christians who dislike Jews because of the crucifixion of Christ. In our religion, we believe that the Jews really are a covenant people of God, and that the promises made to them in the Bible will be fulfilled. I have posted before an article by Ezra Taft Benson that really sums up our views of the Jewish people. Personally, I think holding a grudge against the Jewish people is like holding a grudge against all caucasians because of their ancestor's practice of slavery. Those who committed the offenses should be the ones punished, not their posterity forever after.

I hope that people will think more carefully before making blanket statements about our religion. We are not all the same, even though we share the same beliefs. Some of us are better at living our religion than others. That doesn't detract from the truthfulness of what we believe. I hope that everyone who attends our meetings will feel welcome, and that those who are interested to learn more will ask us, instead of listening to those who aren't well informed about us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Conference Messages: The Merciful Obtain Mercy

Second Counselor in the First Presidency
April 2012 General Conference

My dear brothers and sisters, not long ago I received a letter from a concerned mother who pleaded for a general conference talk on a topic that would specifically benefit her two children. A rift had grown between them, and they had stopped speaking to each other. The mother was heartbroken. In the letter she assured me that a general conference message on this topic would reconcile her children, and all would be well.

This good sister’s sincere and heartfelt plea was just one of several promptings I have received over these last months that I should say a few words today on a topic that is a growing concern—not only for a worried mother but for many in the Church and, indeed, the world.

I am impressed by the faith of this loving mother that a general conference talk could help heal the relationship between her children. I am sure that her confidence was not so much in the abilities of the speakers but in “the virtue of the word of God,” which has a “more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than … anything else.”1 Dear sister, I pray that the Spirit will touch your children’s hearts.

When Relationships Go Bad
Strained and broken relationships are as old as humankind itself. Ancient Cain was the first who allowed the cancer of bitterness and malice to canker his heart. He tilled the ground of his soul with envy and hatred and allowed these feelings to ripen until he did the unthinkable—murdering his own brother and becoming, in the process, the father of Satan’s lies.2

Since those first days the spirit of envy and hatred has led to some of the most tragic stories in history. It turned Saul against David, the sons of Jacob against their brother Joseph, Laman and Lemuel against Nephi, and Amalickiah against Moroni.

I imagine that every person on earth has been affected in some way by the destructive spirit of contention, resentment, and revenge. Perhaps there are even times when we recognize this spirit in ourselves. When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment.

The Doctrine
Of course, we know this is wrong. The doctrine is clear. We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ’s Atonement is infinite and eternal. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others. Jesus taught: “Forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not … [stands] condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin”3 and “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”4

Of course, these words seem perfectly reasonable—when applied to someone else. We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when others judge and hold grudges. And we certainly don’t like it when people judge us.

But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said that those who pass judgment on others are “inexcusable.” The moment we judge someone else, he explained, we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin.5 Refusing to forgive is a grievous sin—one the Savior warned against. Jesus’s own disciples had “sought occasion against [each other] and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.”6

Our Savior has spoken so clearly on this subject that there is little room for private interpretation. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive,” but then He said, “… of you it is required to forgive all men.”7

May I add a footnote here? When the Lord requires that we forgive all men, that includes forgiving ourselves. Sometimes, of all the people in the world, the one who is the hardest to forgive—as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness—is the person looking back at us in the mirror.

The Bottom Line
This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?

The Love of God
Is this difficult to do?

Yes, of course.

Forgiving ourselves and others is not easy. In fact, for most of us it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking—even a change of heart. But there is good news. This “mighty change”8 of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives.

How is it done? Through the love of God.

When our hearts are filled with the love of God, something good and pure happens to us. We “keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.”9

The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade.

As always, Christ is our exemplar. In His teachings as in His life, He showed us the way. He forgave the wicked, the vulgar, and those who sought to hurt and to do Him harm.

Jesus said it is easy to love those who love us; even the wicked can do that. But Jesus Christ taught a higher law. His words echo through the centuries and are meant for us today. They are meant for all who desire to be His disciples. They are meant for you and me: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”10

When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake [forgave us].”11

The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.

The Way of the Disciple
My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:

Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?

Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?

Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?

Do you secretly envy another?

Do you wish to cause harm to someone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!

In a world of accusations and unfriendliness, it is easy to gather and cast stones. But before we do so, let us remember the words of the One who is our Master and model: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”12

Brothers and sisters, let us put down our stones.

Let us be kind.

Let us forgive.

Let us talk peacefully with each other.

Let the love of God fill our hearts.

“Let us do good unto all men.”13

The Savior promised: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. … For with the same measure that [you use] it shall be measured to you again.”14

Shouldn’t this promise be enough to always focus our efforts on acts of kindness, forgiveness, and charity instead of on any negative behavior?

Let us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, return good for evil.15 Let us not seek revenge or allow our wrath to overcome us.

“For it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. …

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”16

Remember: in the end, it is the merciful who obtain mercy.17

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wherever we may be, let us be known as a people who “have love one to another.”18

Love One Another
Brothers and sisters, there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.

We are not perfect.

The people around us are not perfect.19 People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.

Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.

Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.

Lay your burden at the Savior’s feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ’s Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another.

The merciful will obtain mercy.

Of this I testify in the name of the One who loved so well and so completely that He gave His life for us, His friends—in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.


1. Alma 31:5.

2. See Moses 5:16–32.

3. Doctrine and Covenants 64:9.

4. Matthew 5:7.

5. See Romans 2:1.

6. Doctrine and Covenants 64:8.

7. Doctrine and Covenants 64:10; emphasis added.

8. Mosiah 5:2.

9. 1 John 5:3–4.

10. Matthew 5:44; see also verses 45–47.

11. Ephesians 4:32.

12. John 8:7.

13. Galatians 6:10.

14. Luke 6:38.

15. See Matthew 5:39–41.

16. Romans 12:19–21.

17. See Matthew 5:7.

18. John 13:35.

19. See Romans 3:23.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book of Mormon Sampler: Mosiah 2:17

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Mosiah 2:17

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Warnings From the Book of Mormon

Throughout the Book of Mormon, we find hints that it was written for our day. Many of the experiences related in the Book of Mormon mirror the things we experience in modern day. The Book of Mormon is actually a condensed version of many ancient records that were kept. The compiler, a prophet named Mormon, included those stories and experiences that he felt would be of most benefit for us today. That compilation was ultimately hid up for the Lord to bring forth at a later day. As we read the Book of Mormon, we can ask ourselves why Mormon chose to include the particular stories we are reading. Many of them really are similar to what we are experiencing in today's society.

Today in our Sunday school class, our teacher taught us about one of these accounts, that very much resembles the attitude of the world today. He taught us about a man called Korihor, who was an "anti-christ". The term "anti-christ" refers to anyone or any group that fights against the church of God. The LDS "Guide to the scriptures" gives this definition: "Anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ. John the Revelator described the antichrist as a deceiver (1 Jn. 2:18–22; 4:3–6; 2 Jn. 1:7). The great antichrist is Lucifer, but he has many assistants, both spirit beings and mortals."

It was interesting to me to contrast the story of Korihor with the philosophies of the world today. Korihor began to preach his anti-christianity to the people in the ancient America. See if any of these tactics sound familiar.


He began by attacking their belief that Christ would be born to save the world. (This happened about 76-74 B.C.) He said, "O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come." (Alma 30:13) Does that sound familiar today? Korihor went on to say, " 14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. 15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ." (Alma 30:14-15)


Korihor went on to say, "Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so." (Alma 30:16) How many times have we heard athiests say that we have been brainwashed by our parents? This is a common tactic of those who are anti-christ.


Korihor went on to try to convince the people that there is no such thing as evil. He taught, similarly to the world today, that every person should be able to live how they want, and no one should judge them for it:

"And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime. And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof." (Alma 30:17,18)


When confronted by the leaders of the church, Korihor went on to make his case that the Christians were just brainwashed by their leaders and parents.

"And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges. Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be." (Alma 30: 27,28)

This particular account of Korihor goes on to tell how he was confounded by the preaching of Alma. Alma taught with the spirit, and was able to catch him in his deceit. While this may not always happen today, still this account in the Book of Mormon gives us a typical scenario that could happen today. It is a warning for us, so that we won't fall in to the trap of listening to those kinds of arguments. Alma's replies to Korihor help us to stay strong in the face of opposition. Alma replied to him, "...Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come. And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only. But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true? Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God." (Alma 30:39-42)

I find it a great blessing that the Book of Mormon includes accounts that are applicable for our lives today. I would like to explore more of these situations in future posts. The Book of Mormon really was written for our day. Together with the Bible, it gives us great guidance and spiritual help in these tumultuous times.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Inside the Holiest Room in an LDS Temple

The following clip is from a Barbara Walters special about how different religions view the afterlife. Although this is a short clip, I thought it explained our position well. This is a great chance to see inside one of our temples.

Just as with our view of the heaven where God dwells, not everyone is allowed to enter the temple. Usually there is an open house before a temple is dedicated for church use. During the open house, the general public is invited to tour the temple. But once it is dedicated, only those who meet qualifications for worthiness are allowed to enter.
The temple is filled with symbolism, and one of the great symbolisms we find is the very principle that only those who are found worthy are allowed to enter. This mirrors our view of the highest heaven. We believe that each of us will be judged by how we lived our lives, and will be allowed to enter the heaven of which we have been found worthy. That worthiness is acquired through repentance, which is only available through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

One thing that struck me in watching this video is that although the temple is a very beautiful place, there is nothing that you could see from the video that shows the true nature of the spiritual experience to be had there. This is because our worship there is a private matter, and is based more on our own personal attention and reverence, than on some outward performances. So although the video may show merely a beautiful room, it doesn't show the many prayers that are silently offered there, or the meaningful thoughts of our Savior that are experienced.

The temple, and what goes on inside isn't meant to be a secret kept from all, but is a sacred experience that can only be appreciated by those who are fully prepared, and in a spiritual state that would allow them to gain from the experience. That is why there are standards for worthiness required for those who want to enter. But all are invited to achieve those standards, and all who do will be given the opportunity to enter.

I hope you enjoy a few peaks at one of the holiest places on earth:

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