Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Yesterday at my grandson Nathan’s baptism and confirmation a young Aaronic priesthood holder gave a talk.  He seemed older than a deacon, but definitely younger than a priest, so I think he was a teacher.  He asked if we could have anything in this world what would be the most valuable gift.  He said it was the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

The prophet Joseph Smith, when asked what the biggest difference was between this church and the other Christian churches, we said it was that we had the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  This Aaronic Priesthood boy’s words prompted me to think about what a treasure this gift is.  As mentioned in the vision of the Tree of Life, we know that in this life mists of darkness surround us.  I thought about a pilot flying through a dense fog or even a storm.  What would be the most valuable instrument he could have?  It would be his radar or radio that could give him the information he needed to get through the storm safely.  This is like the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Considering what this life is all about – a testing and learning experience, which will determine options in the next life – more than all the gold or things we could have in this life, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the communicator and source of great strength, would be the most valuable.  The Holy Ghost can help us avoid trouble and mistakes.  It can guide us in our communications with others.  It can strengthen us in difficult times.  It can lead us back home to be with our Heavenly Parents.

It is not something that is just on or off.  How much worth it is depends upon our worthiness and how well we have learned to use it.  Lehi and his family had a physical manifestation of this gift in the Liahona.  It guided them in the wilderness and on the ocean.  It worked according to their faithfulness and their obedience to it.  They were not perfect in using it, as we are not, but by returning to it time and time again, repenting of their pride, etc., it guided them true to their destination.

How much do we value this priceless gift?  Do we value it enough to obey the commandments for it?  Do we value it enough to humbly repent when we need to, making us worthy to use this gift?  Do we value it enough to learn how to use it effectively?  It is much more valuable than the most powerful cell phone!  It is more energizing than the strongest battery!  It can help us see more clearly than the best optical devises!  With it we can more accurately see ourselves, our weaknesses and strengths.  It can guide us when we cannot see ahead at all.  It will bring us home!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Charles Barnes - Cooper, and Patience

While reading in a book Grandma gave me called OAK The Frame of Civilization by William Bryant Logan, I came upon a section called “Mister Cooper.”  “Mister,” a form of the word master, was a term that was applied, like Dr., Rev., Lord, etc., to those who had acquired the skill and title of what we would call a master craftsman.  It is now applied to men in general, but was once an honored, middle class title.  The author stated that Thomas Jefferson felt that government would be best trusted in the hands of these people, who had become highly and responsibly skilled, many of whom had to also become skilled in other trades such as farming to supplement their income.  In learning their trade, along with their experiences, they could be better trusted to be responsible than those of the elite or of the lower classes of people.

One of your ancestors, Charles Barnes, was one of these master coopers.  The ten pages that described in detail what went into an apprentice’s training to become a cooper and the exactness with which their goods were produced was amazing to read!  I cannot share all of that, but the final three paragraphs were gems I wanted to share.

The great thing about coopering and other crafts was that they occupied the brain, the hand, and the emotions, all at the same time.  There was a resistance to the completion of the task, and this had to be overcome by the craftsman’s know-how, a composite of his knowing, remembering, and action.  Memory, reason, and skill are God’s three gifts to human beings, and the simultaneous activity of the three might just be a requirement to become and remain a human being.

Craft is a school of patience.  Patience is what you acquire by working again and again on resistant materials.  There is never a right or wrong, only a closer and closer approach to wholly useful.

Patience is the mother of joy.  It is through patience that we can endure each other’s company long enough to love, through patience that we can cooperate in a task, through patience that we can go from abysmally bad to almost all right, through patience that we can restrain ourselves from wasting our lives in anger and disappointment.  The patient person waits, listens, expects, hopes, nurtures, cares, remembers, speaks, trusts, and is courteous.  The impatient person demands, gets angry, hurries, presumes, is careless, despairs, forgets, complains, distrusts, disrupts. (p. 181)

Some of my thoughts on this topic of patience is that it is probable that it cannot be acquired without the pain and “resistance” endemic to mortal life, which is why this is the time to prepare, for when the night comes (death), it is everlastingly too late to acquire this virtue so critical to being able to live with and like God.  (Thank goodness He has patience, or we would ALL be toast!)  When we have passed out of this life, pain and resistance are gone.  If we have acquired this virtue “…it will be well with us.”  If we have not, we will not be fit to live with those who have.

Oh, that we might spend our days seeking to learn about and acquire this virtue!  So “that we can endure each other’s company long enough to love,” cooperate in a task, change “from abysmally bad to almost all right,” (repent) and “restrain ourselves from wasting our lives in anger and disappointment.”  I’m convinced that our Heavenly Father crafts the experiences of our lives in such a way that, if we will trust in Him and keep on trying, He will build this and other vital virtues in us, and in this way bring us home to Him.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Following the Lead of the Church

I was reading in Alma 45: 23-24 last night.

23 And now it came to pass that after Helaman and his brethren had appointed priests and teachers over the churches that there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren (underlining added);
24 But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.
Then I read in the news media as well as on Facebook about the Church's warning about the Medical Marijuana Initiative, urging people against it.  This was their second warning, and it was a legal description of the problems with the initiative.  What surprised me was the people who were trying to find fault with the warning as being "shallow," "poor reasoning," and on and on.  Most of these were politically active, so-called conservatives, some of whom were even calling upon their conservative philosophy to justify their opposition to the Church's warning, and saying that it was "causing" them to support the initiative!

Boy, if the Church thinks it is so important that they issue the warning twice, I'm all for listening!  I couldn't understand why those who claim to be on "the Right" politically, in Utah, would really bad-mouth the Church's warning voice!  But then I remembered that in this day "...that man of sin (will) be revealed...." (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  The scripture is referring to Satan being revealed in the last days, but I think there may be more to this, namely that those who claim to be saints, for the gain it gets them politically, financially, or in social standing, will be shown to be what they are in this time of trial and temptation.

I can tell you, my family, that if we do not continually nourish our testimonies by reading the scriptures and prophets, keeping the commandments, repenting regularly, and giving real service, we will be vulnerable to being led about by that man of sin until we cut ourselves off from the Lord.  We do not have to be perfect to be saved from this calamity, but we DO have to be repenting and striving to become perfect - continually washing our garments in the blood of the Lamb, as the scriptures put it, to take away the stains of the world from our hearts.

Please be humble (teachable), avoiding contentions, working to wash our souls, that the blood the Lamb of God shed might purify us eventually, allowing us to come back to the Father of us all, whom we so loved while in His presence, and with whom we would be eternally pained to be shut out from.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April Conference 2018

I was asked yesterday what callings I have had that no longer exist.  I was called as a statistical clerk as a freshman at BYU.  This should have only been given to an elder, which they thought I was, until I asked to be ordained an elder!.  I fulfilled that calling for two semesters before my mission.  Got all my reports in on time.  That calling disappeared when computers began to be used.  I have been a High Priest Group Leader twice and an assistant twice.  I have been a home teacher.  This weekend has made all of these callings obsolete.

I was ordained a High Priest when I was called as the Stake Clerk.  Now that calling will not even be part of the High Priest quorum, nor will ward clerks or executive secretaries, both of which I have been.  The only calling I've had that would be in that quorum now, was the three years I served in a student ward bishopric (well, I was a high councilor for two weeks before that calling came).

Another subject, I used to think repentance was for when you did something very serious.  I have now come to see that the atonement, including repentance, should be used constantly.  We should be repenting often - of things we say and realize we shouldn't have said them.  Thoughtless acts, selfish acts, and even thoughts that we know Father in Heaven would not want us to think about.  And things we should do and haven't done.

We should keep on repenting, even when falling back at times, until we finally conquer them.  If we keep up on our prayers, scripture reading - including conference talks, and trying to stay close to God, He will bring us there, even if we have to suffer some things to get there - which by the way is all worth it.  If we hang with Him, even when we start to sink in the waves, He WILL pull us through.  He will not give up on us, even when we would give up on ourselves.

Please keep trying in the battlefield of life.  I want you there in the next life.  Sometimes the only reason I have kept on in my own trials is because of you.  I want each of you.  I want us to be together as families.  The saints are the sinners that keep on trying!

What a marvelous and exciting time we live in!  How blessed we are to see it and be in the thick of it!  Write it down.  Write down your thoughts of this weekend.  I just finished.  I want my descendants to be able to see it through my eyes, and know me connected with the events of the day.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is the only Savior there is.

The light of the Savior, Jesus Christ, comes with all people when they are born into this world.  It gently beckons to more light and truth.  As you act in accordance with this light and truth, it will guide you into more light.  Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and by following His words as revealed through His prophets and apostles, the Lord can cleanse and purify us and lead us to all truth.

Sometimes we lack the faith to help this along, by working only toward what we think we need or want and not trusting that He will stay with us, heal us when hurt, and cleanse us from our sins.  Like a little child, who is afraid of the pain required to pull out a sliver, we too resist having sins and impurities pulled from our souls, because there is a certain amount of discomfort and even pain required.  If we trust Him, however, the pain will go away, and we will be left happier.  He understands the hurt and is patient with us.  As long as we continue to strive to improve, talking with Heavenly Father in prayer, feasting on His words in the scriptures and General Conference, He will gradually change and purify our hearts, that we no longer desire evil and gain control over both our spirits and bodies.

I bear testimony that He is really there.  He did overcome all.  He loves us, knows us individually, and works to bring us back, if we will have the faith, or even the desire to have faith in Him.  He is more powerful than all the evil in the world.  He knows and provides the way.  Usually the only way to fully come to appreciate this is through experiencing difficult times and pain, physical or spiritual.  Don't let that cause you to let go of Him.  He knows what you specifically need and will provide only what you are capable of experiencing.  He, like His and our Father in Heaven, is the kind of person I want to be with and become like.  His only desire, which is the will of the Father, is to bring us back to our Father in Heaven.  I want to be cleansed by Him and purified by Him, so that I finally want only what is good and right, and I have gained the strength to always act accordingly.  This is my testimony of Him, that I share in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hang in there. Keep repenting and forgiving

My prayer for my family and their families is that we will all repent and forgive, repent and forgive, over and over in our families and marriages.  Have faith.  It will work out.  Be constant to our Father in Heaven and His Son.  Keep getting up when you fail, even when you think you will never be what you want to be.  He will get you there – eventually.  I know that with all my heart.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


There once was a great emperor who, unlike most emperors, was both just and merciful.  He had a very large family.  As the children began reaching adulthood, he wanted them to help him rule the empire by appointing them kings or queens over different regions within the empire.  However he didn’t want them to become tyrants or rebels with their power.  So he sent his oldest, and most trusted son to build a university in a foreign country far from home and who commissioned professors to both teach and test his children when they came of age.

There were the usual subjects of math, science, literature, technical skills, etc.  But unbeknownst to the children, he also directed the professors to provide situations where the children could be observed interacting with the other students to test them in regards to how they treated others when they had some power given to them.  If they proved that they could handle power and had control of their emotions and passions, these children would be appointed kings and queens over portions of the kingdom.  Those who did not prove themselves were appointed other tasks when they returned home and lived comfortably, but were not given power within the empire.

You and I are those children.  We are at the university (Earth) now, and because it is so far away and we have been here so long, we don’t remember home.  We only know the university (Earth) life.  This past year in my upper class studies I have been enrolled in a class not of my choosing called cancer.  I have studied topics such as fear, self-pity, hopelessness, pain, patience, and endurance.  I have been given riddles to solve, such as “Why should I be subjected to this trial when I have spent my life trying to live well both temporally and spiritually?  I have served others and learned to live by truth.  Why do I now have to suffer this pain and reduction in power and freedom?”

I have studied the best books for learning about these topics, and I have gone to the sources of power and energy (scriptures and words of the prophets) needed to fight the inner battles associated with these topics.  I have become aware that no matter how hard the courses, or how difficult the lessons, there are professors both seen and unseen (ancestors) who are watching out for us.  It appears that I am about to complete this course, though I do not know if I will be re-enrolled at some point in the future.  I do have some ribbons and decorations, called scars, which have been awarded for, and are proof of, my participation in these battles.

It is my hope that you and I may, with help from these professors and the builder (Jesus) of the university (Earth), be able to build and prove our worthiness, that each of us might be appointed a kingdom of our own, where we may begin our own eternal families and become like our parents, the Emperor and Empress of Heaven.

When we understand these things, it colors how, and on what, we focus our efforts.  It changes how we feel about others and our desires.  It strengthens us in difficult times to press forward in doing what’s right, to examine and improve ourselves, and to resist the mocking of the world.  It becomes a shield and a compass to us in the battle of life.  That understanding only comes with study, service, prayer, and time.