Sunday, March 27, 2011


Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

It is difficult for me to remember a time when my body’s temperature wasn’t affected to some degree by tales of those who treated others as the Lord had indicated in these defining words of how life’s relationships were to be comprised. For example, now as when I first heard the story of Damon and Pythias I feel a bit of a chill running the length of my spine. It is indeed touching to read about how one man would place his neck beneath the ax rather than see a friend die. It is no wonder to me that he who held both lives in his hands was so touched by the love offered sacrifice, he could not help but join in with his own act of love when he issued pardon to both.

As I have attempted to understand and inculcate this all-encompassing attribute upon my being I have found the journey to be long and difficult with many twists, turns and deadends. I have come to realize the almost overwhelming challenge which attends one’s efforts to go from knowing about God and coming to know God because I have moved a tiny bit closer to possessing this amazing attribute which in its perfection separates the Supreme Being from His children. As we search the scriptures we continually find the Lord admonishing us to move forward in gaining greater love for God and our neighbors.

Wherefore, the Lord, God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is LOVE. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. (2 Nephi 26:30)

And behold it is written also, that thou shalt LOVE thy neighbor and hate thy enemy; but I say unto you, LOVE your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you. (3 Nephi 12:43, 44)

But you will teach them (your children) to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to LOVE one another, and to serve one another. (Mosiah 4:15)

And he commanded them that there should be no contentions one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in LOVE one towards another. (Mosiah18:21)

Searching the scriptures makes even clearer the feebleness of my efforts as I strive to make minute movements in my efforts to increase my love quotient. More often than not I seem to leave off my reading feeling further from the goal rather than closer.

Truly, the Atonement which was given by our Savior has to be considered the ultimate expression of love for God and neighbor, but He also lived his life so that we might know in some way how to tread toward acquiring eternal attributes while yet mortal.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done… (John13:15)

It seems we are also to give appreciation and fulfill the purposes of our existence by attempting to do as He did and to live as He lived. The evidence accumulates that He lived so that we might know how to live. He has promised us not merely a pleasant philosophy of life leading to happiness, but He has also promised that assimilating His proffered way of life we will be moving ever closer to Heavenly Father and therein begin to be filled with joy. During His earthly mission Jesus the Christ seemed to be continually about His Father’s business, wherein He was working to bring about the immortality and eternal lives of His brothers and sisters. Verse after verse we see Him extending love by providing what others lacked, healing when illness lingered, forgiving when offended, restoring hope when lost, showing kindness to those who despitefully used him and finally taking all the ills and sins of mankind upon Him.

And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his LOVING kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. (1 Nephi 19:9)

Somehow the Prophet Nephi came to have a significant and personal realization of what the Lord would do for him through His condescending act of coming into mortality and becoming the ultimate guide for all mankind.

But behold the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell: I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of His LOVE. (2 Nephi 1:15)

The thought strikes me that, the more I move to where I allow the arms of His love to encircle me, the more I will be desirous of encircling others with my own weak limbs.


Sunday, March 20, 2011


I continue to believe that if I can somehow be Spirit led, my judgment of others will have a significantly better chance of being done in righteousness.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

I have also discovered that there are a few things which I can remind myself of which help me to get out of my own way and see more clearly to walk the path of a neighbor a little mile before unrationally bleating forth with some uninformed judgment:

Attempted problem solving for others is always done with profoundness by those who aren’t burdened with the actual encumbrances.

Because I have been able to overcome certain obstacles doesn’t make my journey a universal path which all should follow.

In spite of what we might read in the latest one-solution-fits-all, best-selling, talk show host recommended book, the overcoming of life’s hurdles is as varied as the number of those passing along that particular mile of their journey.

Because I have been blessed with certain tutorial experiences and have been helped to learn the designed lessons, it doesn’t mean that all will be enrolled in the same curriculum or required to incorporate the same instruction during their mortality.

Because I have made certain decisions based on the way I was led to interpret choices and view consequences, does not mean that all who find themselves at that same crossroad should turn in the same direction or continue along that same way for the same amount of time.

We often act too hastily when telling those on the other end of the continuum how to live. The poor are very adept at telling the more fortunate how to spend their money and the rich are very adept at telling the poor what they should be doing to get themselves out of their poverty.

I must never forget that the view I have of the world is limited to my own myopic vision and with my natural eye I will never see the world exactly as it is seen by my neighbor.

There is one other thought I would like to cover before leaving the concept of judging. It seems that criticism and correction made by judging is best reserved for ourselves, and then quickly followed by sincere conversations with the Lord for instructions on needed course corrections. While on the other hand, our relationships with others are to be dominated by edifying and building interactions. We are admonished to worry about keeping our own feet securely planted on the well-marked path and cease from trying to catch our neighbor in a misstep. We are counseled to make sure we are well founded upon the Chief Cornerstone and invite with kindness all to come unto Christ. We are told that we must keep our eye single to His glory and then hold up His light that others might see clearly the next step on their journey.

President Henry B. Eyring recently reminded about the spirit of a living a life that includes walking a mile in another’s shoes before making judgments. I include some excerpts from his talk:

Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed those as the first and great commandments. It is love of God that will lead us to keep His commandments. And love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him.

The joys [of life] come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is. And the sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love.

I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves. (General Conference – October 2009)

Finally some words quoted by Dallin H. Oaks in a talk given at Brigham Young University March 1, 1998:

“The great essayist William George Jordan reminded us that character cannot be judged as dress goods – by viewing a sample yard to represent a whole bolt of cloth.” (The Crown of Individuality [1909], 101–5).

In another essay he wrote: ‘There is but one quality necessary for the perfect understanding of character, one quality that, if men have it, he may dare to judge—that is, omniscience. Most people study character as a proofreader pores over a great poem: his ears are dulled to the majesty and music of the lines, his eyes are darkened to the magic imagination of the genius of the author; that proofreader is busy watching for an inverted comma, a mis-spacing, or a wrong font letter. He has an eye trained for the imperfections, the weaknesses. …

We do not need to judge nearly so much as we think we do. This is the age of snap judgments. … [We need] the courage to say, ‘I don’t know. I am waiting further evidence. I must hear both sides of the question.’ It is this suspended judgment that is the supreme form of charity.” (“The Supreme Charity of the World,” The Kingship of Self-Control 27–30).

My prayer is that before I judge another I will try to walk that mile in my neighbor’s shoes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It has been said in many lands, in many languages, written in poem and sung in song, but the first time I remember hearing the phrase was in the trial scene in the movie ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ If I close my eyes I can still hear the words of Gregory Peck echo back to my ears in his resonating tones; “you cannot judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Growing up it seemed to me I was forever receiving mixed signals on the matter of judging. I was told to judge where and with whom I would go. I was to make judgments between that which would edify and that which would tear down. It seemed wherever I turned I was hearing people tell me to make good and proper decisions about almost everything.

Then there were days when I would return home from Sunday School where I had received an animated lesson about the evil involved in making judgments.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1, 2)

When I was out with my friends and they were about to get themselves involved in an activity which I considered to be contrary to everyone’s betterment they would remind me that it was not my place to judge. I think I remember having used that line a time or two as an excuse for entering into a few things which I knew to be wrong.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37)

I seldom was with adults when they weren’t spewing out judgments with every new scene that came into view. They seemed to be especially judgmental about people or the decisions and efforts people were making. Their condemnations ran through the range of politicians to preachers, from public servants to the poor, from constructors to demolishioners, from neighbor to stranger. If one listened long enough every talent and trade, every thought and action, all things moving and motionless were brought to task with the sharp judgments of their tongues.

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. (James 4:11)

It was comforting when my gospel understanding expanded a bit and my understanding of judging was broadened somewhat. It will always be a truth, that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. I spent some meaningful time pondering such passages as:

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Corinthians 6:2)

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all. (Alma 41:14, 15)

It was especially gratifying when I was introduced to the Inspired Translation by Joseph Smith of verses in the beginning of Matthew chapter 7.

Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment. (JST Matthew 7:1, 2)

There it was! The confusion was gone. We indeed were to make judgments, but they were to be done in righteousness. I was to make judgments, but only righteously. Without belaboring the concept too much, I have come to the conclusion that if I am to judge and do it righteously I was going to need a lot of help from a source with greater understanding than I possessed.

The need for the guidance of the Holy Spirit was never felt with greater force. The need to gain greater understanding of my neighbor’s walk was never needed more.

The solution seemed to be two-fold I had to live to gain greater help from the Holy Spirit and I had to more diligently apply that that which still sounds in my ears when I close my eyes and think of that scene in the movie

To Kill a Mockingbird, “you cannot judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Fanny Esperanza Vega Stewart

When we apply ourselves to the study of scriptures, we accelerate our knowledge of God.

Kathleen W. Riley

Washing away at least one hate each day cleanses the soul and makes room for greater love.

Elisa Chadburn

If we truly sacrifice as exemplified by Abraham and taught by the prophet Joseph Smith it really does bring forth innumerable blessings from Heaven.

Joyce Woolf

Decreasing selfishness increases friendship, good will and love received.

Mary Moorhead (read it somewhere)

Happiness adds and multiplies as we divide it with others.

Kristine Tate

Negative is less than zero. Negative thoughts and words are not only of no value, but they detract from goodness and add nothing. They increase negativity.

Yan Carlos Vega Lopez

When we see our capacity to achieve just desired objectives diminished, we should give greater place to faith and dependence on the Lord, who will multiply our faculty and ability to accomplish those tasks. He will augment our virtues, give potency to our talents, and convert our debilities into strengths. Without doubt He will calculate that which we are capable of doing and help us do it, if we demonstrate our dependence on Him is infinite.

Douglas F. Higham Sr.

“We give, not because we have. We have because we give..."

"It is impossible in life to truly sacrifice--when we sacrifice, we invariably gain more than we give." (cf. Mos. 2:24)

“Sacrifice' is giving up something good for something better."

"He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it..." (Matt. 10:39)

"Paying tithes opens the windows of heaven from which blessings too numerous to count are poured." (Mal. 3:10)

"Fully submitting ourselves (our agency) to God's will does not reduce our own agency in the least." Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Leonard Eastwood

As the years of this life’s journey increases so also the increase of love for family and friends.

Tawny Wood

Happiness is a state of the heart.

Cheri Scott

Window shopping increases needs.

"Giving" money, rather than "loaning" it, decreases blood pressure and stress.

Friendship is not an equation. It requires more giving than receiving for BOTH parties involved.

Needs should be less than, or (only occasionally) equal to your paycheck.

Steve Nord

True discipleship requires giving all that we have. In return, Heavenly Father promises to us all that he hath. The exchange is finite for infinite.

Carlos Fernandez Reinberg

Living in a time when we have living prophets, Temples and the restoration of the fullness of the gospel, all of this is because of the Atonement of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nathalia Martinez Cubillo

Increasing our prayers each night increases our ability to have hope and answers from our loving Father.

Luis Enrique Perez

If we look at the strong waves of the sea with the same fearful eyes which the Apostle Peter look with, we will not only drown ourselves, but also those who are waiting to hear a voice of hope and peace from us.

Blain Andrus

Here is my contribution to the mathematics of the Gospel:

R=1∙lim ƒ(w)


The true spirit of free agency would seem to be met only by allowing Adam and Eve to have carefully weighted the alternatives and then, as representatives of all the pre-mortal spirits who chose to follow God’s plan, to have made an informed decision.

The above mathematics relates to “justification”—that the quantitative level of their wrong doing was low 9or non-existent). Thus starting with the formula R=r∙ ƒ(w) in which “R” is the quantity of deserved punishment “r” ranges from 0 to 1 9zero responsibility to full responsibility for wrong doing; “W” varies from trivial to catastrophic wrong doing; and “ƒ ( )” is a function that converts the amount of wrong doing into its just punishment, the effect of justification on Adam and Eve’s transgression for mankind can be seen in the outcome that even assuming “r” is “1,” “W” approaches zero.

If, however, one interprets the Scriptures to mean that Adam and Eve were simply tricked by Satan (see, e.g., Moses 5:10-11) then it would appear that the mathematic is:

R=0∙lim ƒ(w)


In other words, the doctrine is one of excuse versus justification.