Sunday, September 15, 2013


After I baptized Seth eight days ago, we stepped out of the water and into the changing room, and I asked him how he felt. After a tepid “good,” I asked what was wrong, and he told me that now that he’s accountable, he’s concerned about his ability to keep the commandments. I briefly talked about repentance as we dried off, but it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to have our next few family home evenings continue to focus on baptism (as our previous few had) – kind of like new member discussions – and to include a special focus on repentance, and the blessings of the Atonement.

Moroni 8:10 says, in part: 
“Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin…”
Meanwhile, D&C 68:25 says: 
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
I think that as parents we often tend to focus on items 1, 3, and 4 in the First Principles of the Gospel; perhaps it’s natural since the children we are preparing for baptism are not technically in need of repentance…yet. But as soon as they come out of the water, that need begins.

So, clearly, we are to teach our children repentance. But it shouldn't be all doom and gloom; to the contrary, repentance is a most beautiful and uplifting doctrine.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Repentance is a rescuing, not a dour doctrine. It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already-good individual striving for incremental improvement.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, 
“Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life…the invitation to repent is an expression of love. When the Savior ‘began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ it was a message of love, inviting all who would to qualify to join Him ‘and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life [itself] in the world to come.’ If we do not invite others to change or if we do not demand repentance of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves. A permissive parent, an indulgent friend, a fearful Church leader are in reality more concerned about themselves than the welfare and happiness of those they could help. Yes, the call to repentance is at times regarded as intolerant or offensive and may even be resented, but guided by the Spirit, it is in reality an act of genuine caring.

I had the great blessing of serving in a branch presidency for young single adults with a branch president who understood this doctrine: as a result, we convened, on average, one church disciplinary council a month during my time serving in that calling. These were amazing opportunities to watch young single adults change their lives, be lifted from the shadows of sin, defeat and despair; be cleansed and renewed, and to turn their lives around – through the repentance process.

I testify that it is critical that we follow Christ’s admonition to “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation,” and that is most especially and critically applied to us as parents teaching our children – who should be able to take comfort in knowing that as they make mistakes, they can truly have them washed away by the Savior.

I am so grateful for repentance, for I need it (and the power of the Atonement) every day. It is my obligation and joy to now teach that principle to my wonderful son.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


My son and I have something in common: we both remember our baptisms. Mine was nearly 17 years ago in Oregon. His was yesterday, in Utah.

About to enter the waters of baptism...

Baptism is an essential saving ordinance. It is a commandment, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, set the example by being baptized Himself by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?' And Jesus answering said unto him, 'Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.' Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" - Matthew 3:13-17

My boy has been eagerly awaiting his own baptism for several years now. It is the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to baptize children when they reach the "age of accountability," which has been established via revelation to be eight years old.

My son is now old enough to understand the covenant he made with the Lord yesterday. He was able to choose for himself to be baptized, and he is now able to repent and be cleansed by the ongoing power of the Atonement. Prior to yesterday, that was not necessary:
"Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me. And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children. Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children. And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism! Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell. Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism."   -Moroni 8:8-15
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "Baptism is the gate through which all must enter to accomplish the Lord’s desire to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "When we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Taking upon us His name is one of the most significant experiences we have in life."

It was indeed a significant and wonderful day yesterday, filled with the Spirit. I love my son, and I am so grateful that I hold the priesthood and was worthy to perform this important ordinance. My only regret is that it all happened so quickly (the immersion itself) - less than a second and it was all over. I wish to savor that second in my mind and heart for eternity.

One happy boy!

I love my son, I love the Gospel, and I am pleased that I was also able to confirm him as the newest member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, confer upon him the gift of the Holy Ghost, and pronounce a blessing upon him at that time. He is a great example of love, faith, and sweetness. I know he will be blessed as he continues to grow in the gospel.

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life, ranking right up there with the day I married my lovely wife, and the day our son was born.

Baptism is awesome. I highly recommend it!

My Family

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

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