Sunday, May 31, 2009

Women: Daughters of God

I'm grateful for a wonderful wife, Jean, who is an awesome mother to our three year old son, Seth. She makes me a better person - always has, always will. I appreciate her companionship, her friendship, her love and support. I am thankful that she respects me, trust me, believes in me, and stands by my side. I love her straightforward nature, her kindness, her great example of charity, and how quick she is to forgive when I (frequently) give her opportunities to do so. She is more patient than she gives herself credit for. She is talented and thoughtful and makes me laugh and smile every day. I love the fact that she loves Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and honors and respects the Priesthood. I am glad we are on the same path together, in terms of our spiritual goals and progression. I am so happy that we are sealed together for time and eternity.

Women hold a special place of honor and respect not only in my heart, but throughout the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We men of the priesthood know that we're not worth much without our women beside us. In fact, it's doctrinal.

Women of the Church belong to the world's largest women's organization, with millions of members worldwide: The Relief Society.

Additionally, women in the Church fulfill many vital roles. From
“Every willing member of the Church has many opportunities to render service, share talents, and gain new skills. Every week, women preach, teach, and lead in the Church on local and worldwide levels . . .

In addition, women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belong to and lead the Relief Society, an organization of several million women worldwide. Women also lead the Church’s Young Women organization and the Primary, an organization for teaching children. The leaders of these organizations meet regularly in executive councils to help make decisions that affect the worldwide Church. These organizations also exist on the local level, with women participating in council meetings to discuss and direct the work of the Church in local units.

A woman—the president of the Relief Society in each congregation—has a special role in working with the congregational leader, or bishop, to meet the needs of members who may struggle financially or who may face other special challenges in their lives.

[Women] also perform a vital work in nurturing and teaching in the home.”
Women, therefore have an equal but different role than men - in the Church and in families. In particular, women do not hold the priesthood. Again, I quote from
“The priesthood—the authority of God to perform ordinances and act in His name—is conferred only on worthy male members of the Church. Men who hold the priesthood have no advantage over women in qualifying for salvation or eternal life through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
I was going to quote from this talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley,
but having read it through I find it too hard to pull out a single
quote from such a great discourse on honoring the women in our lives.
Instead, I simply invite you to take five minutes and read it.
(Go check it out, then come on back and finish reading this blog post!)

Let it never be said that women hold a secondary place in the Church.

Certainly, men and women are different, with varied strengths and weaknesses in many areas - we are all diverse indeed. But as stated in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve emphasized the equality of men and women in things of the spirit: "Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness-in all these things men and women stand in the position of... equality before the Lord.

I will quote extensively now from a talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that “the world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 475). I believe that. The first time the Lord acknowledged Himself to be the Christ, it was to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He taught her about living water and proclaimed, simply, “I … am he” (John 4:26). And it was Martha to whom He proclaimed: “I am the resurrection, and the life. … And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Then, during His greatest agony as He hung on the cross, the Savior reached out to one person—His mother—when in that terrible but glorious moment He asked John the Beloved to care for her as though she were his own (see John 19:26–27).

Of this you may be certain: The Lord especially loves righteous women—women who are not only faithful but filled with faith, women who are optimistic and cheerful because they know who they are and where they are going, women who are striving to live and serve as women of God.

There are those who suggest that males are favored of the Lord because they are ordained to hold the priesthood. Anyone who believes this does not understand the great plan of happiness. The premortal and mortal natures of men and women were specified by God Himself, and it is simply not within His character to diminish the roles and responsibilities of any of His children.

As President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained, “The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 59; or “Magnifying Our Callings in the Priesthood,” Improvement Era, June 1970, 66). All of us, men and women alike, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and are entitled to personal revelation. We may all take upon us the Lord’s name, become sons and daughters of Christ, partake of the ordinances of the temple from which we emerge endowed with power, receive the fulness of the gospel, and achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom. These spiritual blessings are available to men and women alike, according to their faithfulness and their effort to receive them.”

I would also add to that list at the beginning of the quote, that it was to a woman who the resurrected Christ first appeared.

I bear my personal testimony that women are wonderful - to be treated with love, honor and respect, held in the highest regard and esteem. They are not to be objectified, demeaned, belittled, or spoken down to. They are the equal of men. That does not mean (as is so often taught in the world) that they are the same. It's so obvious that men and women are different, it should go without saying. But Satan likes to try to confuse things. To be clear, men and women are equal but different. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Different roles. (For details, check out the Proclamation on the Family.)

I love my beautiful wife, and I am so grateful for her. I am so glad that she and I and Seth (and any other children we may have) will be together forever.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I am so blessed to be the father of a truly wonderful little boy.

Seth - who will be four years old in August - has taught me so much about the relationship of our Father in Heaven with us, His children.

I think of how much I love my boy, and am reminded that Heavenly Father loves us even more. I think of how I want to protect my son and watch over him, but that I also want him to learn and do things for himself. I'm certain that Father in Heaven feels the same way about me. I see how sweet and forgiving my son is, and I am reminded of the true nature of our spirits, and what a great example that is to me. I consider how loving and sensitive Seth is, and it makes me realize how far I've fallen from that perfect innocence of extreme youth - and how I must do my best to be more like that sweet little guy - to have the faith, trust, and love of a child.

I think of how much Father loved His perfect Son. I try to comprehend how difficult it had to be to watch Jesus suffer and die for us - the rest of His children. How excruciating it had to have been to make that sacrifice. How much love both the Father and the Son have for us - it is incalculable and amazing.

I am reminded of the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed."

As my wife and I raise Seth, I frequently gain new understandings and glimpses into how our Father in Heaven thinks and feels - I come closer to Him and better understand who He is.

Being a father is such an awesome blessing, especially when I have such an angel of a son. I am grateful for my relationship with my son, and for the insight into divinity that fatherhood gives me.

I testify that our Father loves us, knows us, cares about us, and is actively engaged in our lives. His feelings for each of His children are as profound as our own feelings for our children. He wants YOU to stay in contact with Him, to follow His instructions, keep His commandments, and to be HAPPY. That is why He has given us the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Come unto Him.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

All you have to do is open the door.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Articles of Faith

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a number of core beliefs and doctrines that are listed in a document called The Articles of Faith (link).

This list is not an exhaustive list of our beliefs, but it's a great place to start. It answers a lot of the basic questions, though you may find it also raises a few. If you have any, please ask! I'll be glad to create future blog posts on those topics.

Sorry, but I have to keep this one short tonight - I'm tired and want to get a good night's sleep to start the week. (After all, getting adequate rest is a part of treating your body right.)

Have a great week!

Callings, Revisited

I posted just week before last about callings.

A couple of days later, I was released from my calling (working with the 14-15 year old boys). Then three days ago I received a new calling: I am now a ward missionary.

It will be my job to do what I talked about in LAST week's blog post: share the gospel in my own neighborhood.

I guess I must be in tune with the Spirit, or something! :)

That's all for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sharing the Gospel

The "Threefold Mission of the Church" is:
My patriarchal blessing states that I will have a role in all three, and to prepare myself for it.

The first of those, Preaching the Gospel, or "Missionary Work," is the topic of this week's post.

Have you ever come across something SO great, so wonderful, so fulfilling, that you just HAD to tell others about it - so they could share in that joy and find out for themselves how great it is? It's natural that if you've found something awesome that you would want the people you love to also be able to partake of it.

Lehi, the first prophet of the Book of Mormon and progenitor of the Nephite civilization, experienced a dream - or a vision - that spoke of that very feeling: tasting something spectacular and desiring to share it with his family. In his dream, he saw a tree, "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy":
"And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."
The whole story is found in 1 Nephi 8. It's a good read - check it out. It's one of the oft-referenced stories in the Book of Mormon.

Not only is sharing the Gospel something that one wants to do, it is also something that we are commanded to do throughout the scriptures. Jesus told Peter to "Feed my sheep" (and in case anyone missed it the first time, he said it three times in a row!). And he wasn't talking about giving grain to the livestock.

There are many ways to be a missionary. You can, of course, submit your papers (at the appropriate age), receive a call from the Prophet, and serve a full-time proselyting mission for the Church. Or you can get called as a missionary at the ward level, serving in your local community. As a home teacher, you can help folks return to church activity and the blessing of the Gospel by being their friend and providing them with Gospel messages when you visit. Or, more informally, you can reach out to people you know, give someone a Book of Mormon and invite them to church, or just be a good friend to people around you. Your example alone can go a long way. Sometimes people may just be interested to know more about your church when they see the clean, honest and upright way you live and how happy you are.

There are many opportunities to share your faith and your testimony with people. You just have to stay attuned to those opportunities, and then TAKE them when they occur.

When I joined the Church, I was 25. It was too late for me to serve a full-time mission for the Church. However, I will be able to serve a "couples" mission with my dear wife when we are older (retirement age), and in the meantime, I have this blog (and any of the aforementioned opportunities).

I testify that missionary work - sharing this glorious and wonderful gospel with those who are seeking truth - is a great cause in which every Latter-day Saint should be anxiously engaged in one way or another. It changes lives.

It is my hope that I can do some good through the missionary work of this blog.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Callings from God

Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an active - not a passive - experience. Members are encouraged and expected to serve each other.

The best way to show your love for others is to serve them. Service can be achieved through your own efforts - doing favors for others without being asked; visiting the sick, sad and lonely; bringing fresh-baked cookies to a neighbor, giving a kind word, or just helping another with their chores.

But within the context of the Church - actual Church service - the Lord calls his people to perform specific duties in particular offices. These positions are not sought by members - they are assigned by leaders who are inspired.

When your Bishop meets with you and asks you to be a Sunday School teacher, for instance, it is not the Bishop asking. Well, it is - he's the one extending the calling to you - but the calling comes from the Lord. The Bishop is the messenger, acting on behalf of the Lord.

The Bishop has the authority to call members of his ward to certain ward-level callings, such as Sunday school teachers or members of auxiliary leadership, such as primary or young men/young women programs. Certain callings in the ward are handled at the stake level - your Stake President may call you to serve, for example, as a counselor in a bishopric, or as an Elders Quorum President.

As the circle of influence of a calling increases, the calling is extended by a higher level Church authority, such as when a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles calls a new Stake President.

All things are done in order, according to a well-established pattern set by the Lord.

A member will likely serve in many different callings during their life. For example, a man may serve as an Elders Quorum President, then a Bishop, then a primary teacher, then an employment specialist, then a Mission President. A woman may serve as a Primary President, then a Sunday school teacher, then a counselor in a Relief Society presidency, then as Stake Young Womens President, then a nursery leader. A couple may choose to serve a mission together after retirement, in which case they may then receive a calling to do so.

I, myself, have served as a member of two different Elders Quorum presidencies, a Primary teacher, a Ward Mission Leader, First Counselor in a Branch Presidency (a branch is basically a small ward), and a leader of 14 and 15 year old boys, among other callings.

Callings come and go. You are called, you serve for a season ("season" being a figurative term), and then you are released (or sometimes have to be released when you move away from your current geographic area of service).

Some callings are permanent. The calling of a father, for instance, is eternal. If you are a home teacher (we'll talk about home teaching in another post), you will be a home teacher for life (even though your home teaching assignments will change from time to time). Stake Patriarchs are called for life, as are Apostles and the President of the Church.

Church service - performing a calling - is a labor of love. Diligent service brings with it great blessings - for those you serve, and for you personally. Service in a challenging calling really stretches you spiritually. It makes you grow. It keeps you on your toes. It helps you become a better person all around.

There is nothing like it.

Sometimes it can be a real challenge to deal with a release from a calling that you have loved and served in diligently. When you have a lot of responsibility, and you live up to the task, and you grow to truly love those people who you have been called to serve, it can be hard to accept when your time is up and it's time for another to serve in your place. It can actually be kind of personally devastating at first. You may feel like you're being "fired" - or that you've left things unfinished. You wonder what the Lord has in store for you next.

I've experienced this myself, and I know some good people who've also gone through it (or are going through it right now). It can leave you feeling empty and disoriented at first. But I have a testimony that callings come from God. He knows what is best for you, and what is best for everyone else. He knows who else needs the opportunity to serve, and He knows where else he needs you to serve. Change is inevitable in all but the permanent callings. The key is to trust the Lord, to know that you did your best and made a difference, and to understand that more great opportunities for service are ahead of you. The best thing to do in such a circumstance is to stay strong and true - continue to live righteously and worthy of being called to serve - and to fill the immediate void by being sure to attend the temple and love and serve your own family and friends and neighbors in unofficial capacities while you await your next calling.

And then willingly accept that next calling, ready to serve.

It amazes me that some members will refuse callings. It is simply a concept that is foreign to me. I could not imagine saying "no" to the Lord when His appointed servant calls me to serve in a calling. There's a great hymn, "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go." Here are the words to that hymn:

It may not be on the mountain’s height, or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Yours,
I’ll go where You want me to go.


I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

Perhaps today there are loving words which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin, some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if You will be my Guide, though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what You want me to say.


There’s surely somewhere a lowly place in earth’s harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor through life’s short day for Jesus, the Crucified.
So, trusting my all unto Your care, I know You always love me!
I’ll do Your will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.


And this great scripture accompanies that sentiment:
"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
1 Nephi 3:7

If you are called to serve, and you feel inadequate - not up to it - perhaps just humbled that God has put that trust in you, remember that the Lord qualifies those whom He calls. If you're not ready at the moment you are called, He'll make sure you are ready when it comes time to serve, and will help you and support you throughout your service.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the following in the Priesthood session of the October 2008 General Conference:
"You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason.
There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch.
Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way."
I testify that if you consecrate yourself to the work - to serving in the Church where and when the Lord calls you to serve (through his appointed servants) - that you and those around you will be blessed immeasurably.

I know this from personal experience and from the experience of friends and family. I know I'm far from perfect in my magnifying of Church callings, but I do try, and consider it a privilege to be called to serve the Lord in any capacity.

The work is true. The Church is true. And it only functions if we each do our part to serve and love one another, following the example of Jesus Christ.

My Family

My Family
THIS is what it's all about. (July 2013)

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