Sunday, December 30, 2012



Sunday, December 30, 2012

It was a quiet evening in what had always been a simple corner of the field.
In one hushed moment it became a special garden place.
Now, in memory’s shrine, it shall forever remain a sacred meadow.
Upon the faint breezes of inspiration, came understanding of things there and then.

Through the strange detachment of vision’s reality, I was now but a spectator of that which I had then participated in. Through the vagueness of a hopeful faith, I glimpsed Loving Parents and an adoring son; a Father, standing near a seated boy with mighty hands placed upon the young lad’s crown; a Mother, anxiously waiting to hear the blessings from her Eternal Companion to her cherished offspring. Words clearly spoken then – come now only as impressions – perhaps someday once again to be known in purity.

“My Son:

- Parting is an essential step to eternal togetherness
- Living away from home will help you know life’s meaning
- Aloneness will heighten your desire for companionship


- Remembering will help you understand priorities
- Seeking for wise counsel will be rewarded

As well as

- Giving will bring untold riches
- Talents are given for the benefit of others
- Our help will never be further than a sincere call away

Then for just an instant, a flash of brilliance filled the vision, and I saw with clarity a loving Mother’s fingers caressing the trembling hand of her dear child. Now even the words came clear and understandable though they travelled the thin lines of vision’s web.

“My son:

- Although you do not and cannot understand fully, your Father’s words are spoken with love and mercy
- He desires only the greatest of glories for you
- He has done all to prepare the way for your return home


- Never forget that staying away until you are called is essential for your growth
- The day will come when you will realize that you have strayed from the teachings you have received in our home
- During those hurtful times, turn to your Brother and He will make you whole again
- Remember our love for you is endless and will find you even in the simplest corner of the field.”

It was a quiet evening in what had always been a simple corner of the field.
In one hushed moment it became a special garden place.
Now, in memory’s shrine, it shall forever remain a sacred meadow.
Upon the faint breezes of inspiration, came understanding of things there and then.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Kathleen and I wish each of you a Very Merry Christmas and pray that peace and joy will abide in your home always.

This week my thoughts have been centered on the night the Savior of the world came to dwell among men.

Have you ever wondered how different the history of the world would have been if the Baby Jesus had never been born? Have you ever wondered how different the world we live in would be if the Baby Jesus had never been born?
Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if the Baby Jesus had never been born?

Although my wonderings are far from exhaustive on this Theme of Themes, I offer the following as a springboard to your own wonderings.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

There would be no wondering about the Annunciation and the miraculous birth which resulted.

There would be no wondering about the Magi or the wondrous star they followed in the eastern sky which beamed down on Bethlehem.

There would be no remembrance of shepherds having heard angels sing as they tended their flocks across the arroyo from that blessed village.

There would be no shrine in Bethlehem covering the grotto where the Redeemer of mankind was once swaddled.

There would be no marveling about the One who maneuvered through life’s trials without sin, moving ever steadily toward perfection.

There would be no reading about the best and worst of man’s acts down through history having been done in His name.

There would never have been disciples willing to live to witness of His divinity and willing to die as a sealing act to their testimonies.

There would never have been a single soul expressing gratefulness for His Atonement which opened the gates unto Eternal Life.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

Our nights of December would be void of sparkle and brightness.

We would have no Black Friday, Cyber Monday nor shopping till you drop.

We would not see red suited Santas, elves dressed in green or toys fulfilling the imaginations of boys and girls of all ages.

We would not have brightly decorated trees topped with angels or stars taking center stage in our homes.

We would not have spent time adorning mantles with manger scenes or hours putting up miniature villages on table tops.

We would have no memories of overnight trips to be with family and feasting on goodies for days on end.

We would not have those sleepless nights ushering in gleeful mornings spent ripping into packages ad then marveling at how soon the anticipated moment passed.

We would not have been little shepherds tripping on lengthy robes, angels with halos askew, or boys and girls forever remembering that we were Joseph or Mary as the words of Luke were read.

We would not have joined with joyful listeners to hear seasonal choirs filling halls with carols from around the world.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

My life would have had less meaning and purpose and I would have wandered without a guiding light.

My days would have had more moments of stress and anxiety and fewer times of peace and happiness.

My feelings about marriage and family would have been altered dramatically and I might never have known the blessedness of unconditional love.

My reasoning leading to choices would have been founded on a different set of values, therefore leading to very different outcomes in my life.

My fears in life based on uncertainty would have increased and my hopes in life would have been dimmed.

My faith that in and through the Lord Jesus the Christ salvation and resurrection are a reality would not have sustained me.

I have left space between sections so that, if you wish you might add your own wonderings about how different life would be if the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night.

I would be grateful if you would include a reply to me as you add your wonderings.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Many Christmases ago we attended a concert in the Mount Rose Chapel in Reno, Nevada where once again I was reminded of how much I enjoy the traditional songs of Christmas and how I had not yet learned and sadly still don't enjoy those entries on the program which seem to be more for the vocal experience of the singers than the entertainment of the audience. At that particular conference I heard for the first time Lai Nani Jamieson and Naomi Buccumbuso sing a duet accompanied by Mildred Earl.

I don't really know if I can describe what I heard that night and on many occasions thereafter, but I’ll give it a try from my tone deaf perspective. Somehow it seemed like they were singing backup for one another. Their voices seemed to blend and complement on every note. It is what I would describe as perfect harmony. There were occasions when they were joined by Glenna Leukenga and none of the harmony was lost. I even remember times when Mildred Earl yielded the piano to someone else and the group expanded to a quartet and smoothly they all blended into harmonious wonderfulness. It was remarkable to me that none of them ever felt like they should be highlighted with a solo.

It was quite natural for me during this past Thanksgiving week which we spent with family in Reno, Nevada, to have the remembrance of how much I enjoyed these wonderful women and how well they presented every song writer’s contribution to the world. Knowing the way my mind works it was likewise not unusual that I continued to develop the theme of harmony to cover other aspects of life.

During the founding days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there was a lot of attention paid to the principle of harmony and, gratefully, many talks were recorded which addressed this subject. In many ways the scriptures approach and reinforce this concept as one of the major hurdles we were sent to the earth to master.

I remember reading about how the purpose of life was to bring our physical body into harmony with our spirit body.

I remember teaching lessons about how, since the spirit body had already chosen to follow Heavenly Father’s Eternal

Plan that if harmony would ever come about the physical body would have to change to complement what the spirit body had already become. I suspect that one of the reasons we often feel sorrow and fall short of feeling joy is because of the internal struggle between the two halves of our soul.

I remember reading about how the purpose of marriage is for men and women to become one. I remember teaching lessons about how since neither the man nor the woman were perfect; if perfect harmony were to be achieved, they would have to seek models outside of their union as examples to emulate. I suspect that one of the reasons we often fall short of oneness is that we are determined to defend what we feel is right in spite of obvious contradictions. The heartbreak of separation is almost always a result of one or both parties being unwilling to find a point where harmony exists.

I remember reading about how the purpose of the church is for the members to become as one in a society called Zion. I remember teaching lessons on the wonderful times when groups approached this harmonious level of living, if only for a season. They were described as living in the happiest of times. The fall of these short term Zion societies always came about because individuals gave into the temptation of feeling they were more important than the rest of the group. For some reason most of us feel that defending our point of view is more important than finding harmony in truth as far as we might be able to understand it. For some reason we continue to find more reasons to judge our neighbors than to edify and strengthen them. For some reason we find mortal pseudo-solutions to problems more appealing than those outlined in the Plan of Happiness. Therefore, we continue to interact with anger, mistrust and hatred, pounding our plow shares into spears and making war.

As the celebration of the birth of the Savior approaches I look forward to these few moments when we will in some way put aside some of our pettiness and let harmony ring, if only for a short season.

As we slowly drive through those specially lighted neighborhoods which every town and city seems to have, with no one zipping and no one putting the life of others in danger, just one continuous harmonious snaking of autos.

Unitedly we meander, enjoying for a moment the wondrous spectacle which surrounds us.

Once the madness of Black Friday is behind us we witness people helping their neighbors with their packages, we see people deferring to each other in lines and we see people pausing from political positions to visit about pleasanter topics.

We are amazed as we see people who are normally concerned about making sure their fashion needs are met, forgetting themselves for a moment as they search diligently to find that gift which will bring happiness to the receiver.

It is indeed a marvelously miraculous season when the traditional songs will be sung and a part of the world will momentarily move just a little closer to being in harmony. Sadly, the season will indeed be short and the discordant noises of the New Year will send us all back to the blaring bickering which keeps us far from the purposes of our existence.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Lehi, the father of the people whose history is chronicled in the Book of Mormon, in the early pages of the Book of Mormon records a revelatory dream about a tree which represents the Love of God and the pathway which one must travel to arrive at the tree and partake of its fruit. His personal account of his dream and his son Nephi’s additions to his father’s remarks have been the cause of many hours of pondering in my mind. (1 Nephi 8, 11)

One of the things I have spent some time pondering about is the path which leads to the tree. Lehi and Nephi have convinced me that there is but a single path which leads to the tree where one can partake of the overwhelming, delicious fruit which is the Love of God. However, I am equally convinced that all who find the path do not walk upon it either at the same pace, or with the same diligence, or with the same blessings, or do all share the same trials, or do all reach the tree and partake of the fruit during their mortal walk.

Let me share some of my ponderings:

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years that walk steadily toward the tree with only minor deviations - and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His love – However, there is a danger that the taste thereof will be a bit bland because of the easiness of the way – We all know that fruit is sweeter when we have paid a price to obtain it.

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years, but choose to experiment upon other paths before returning to the path and then with faulting steps continue until they partake of the fruit – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, they will have had to learn many lessons the hard way and will have denied themselves of many of the blessings of obedience – They will have moments in their maturity when they think of wasted times of ill-advised activities, which if they had not indulged, would have speeded their journey to the delicious fruit – It is possible that because of their grief the fruit may be all the sweeter.

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years, but choose to permanently wander on tangent, cloudy, muddy paths – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will someday taste of a portion His Love in ways they never imagined during mortality – However, their choices will have distanced them from the peaceful, calm, helping hand which the Lord had continually held out to them – they shall leave mortality in ignorance of how delicious the fruit would have tasted and the joy that might have been theirs.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then trod faithfully within its bounds until they arrive at the tree and partake of the fruit – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, there will be moments of reflection when they wonder why their introduction to the path did not come earlier in their lives – Then they will be content because the fruit’s sweetness forever seems to permeate their souls.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then take periodic journeys to their former haunts before finally firmly planting their paces on the path –and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, they will spend many days wondering why they could have been so foolish to have partaken of the bitter when they could have had the sweet – Then they will be grateful that they did not tarry longer pursuing worldly pseudo rewards.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then turn therefrom for the rest of their mortal sojourn – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love in ways they never reached during mortality – However, their divergence will have brought them suffering where they might have had healing, sadness when they might have felt joy and darkness when they might have had the light – when finally they are given a portion of the fruit they will be left with the wish of ‘if only’.

There are those who know of the path, but find the way too simple and choose the prideful path of the wisdom of the world – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will in ‘that day’ taste of a portion His Love – However, they will have wasted their day of probation, mistakenly thinking that the glitz, glamor and glory of the world was the true fruit which should be sought – they will then be filled with sorrow and grief and seek forgiveness for the rude and unkind words they spewed at those on the path during mortality.

There are those who spend their mortal days never knowing of the path – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – They will have suffered while wandering in whatever light they could find, but when they are brought into His Light they will be overwhelmed with the sweetness of the fruit and a flood of understanding will shower them with the rightness of His plan for them during mortality.

No matter where our lives have led or where we might now presently be, I pray that we might find the path and then follow Nephi and Moroni’s counsel.

And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.(2 Nephi 31:19, 20)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)

Sunday, December 2, 2012


There were five us in the room, consisting of me and them. Even though I had known these men for several years, some as colleagues, one as a teacher and even one I considered a close personal friend with whom I had shared parallels in our careers.

We quickly passed over a review of my dissertation as it became obvious that there was a gulf between the knowledge on the subject I had gained as a result of the extensive research I had been doing and the limited acquaintance they had from the brief perusal they had given my writings. Then THE QUESTION came! It was obvious that in their pre-oral examine consultation with each other they had decided that this would be what would determine my passing or failing the defense of my dissertation and the class work with which I had been involved over the past years.

I had prepared myself for THE QUESTION by becoming acquainted with the literature of the day on the subject and I was also well aware of the prejudices on both sides of the issue. It was that type of question that the Savior was so adept at turning back to the questioners. I well knew that no matter which side of THE QUESTION I would chose, it would lead to me having to defend it at length and I would be facing 5/1 odds as the outcome of my defense was being determined.

THE QUESTION – “Is the relationship which parents have to their children one of ownership?”

For most parents this issue doesn't cause major disturbances, it only causes occasional conflicts and adjustments as we work with schools and governments to resolve problems which our children might have as they maneuver through the ‘systems’ during their maturation processes. I knew well that the educational hierarchy looked dimly on any philosophies which would condone the parent/child relationship as one of owner and owned. I knew that governmental organizations feel that they are the ultimate determiners of the rights of those they have been elected to serve. It only takes the complaint of one neighbor to put in question the parent/child relationship. It only takes one testimony to put someone’s life into turmoil.

Gratefully, THE ANSWER to THE QUESTION which quietly squeaked from my timid lips was: this relationship isn't a matter of ownership, but one of stewardship. I was then given the opportunity, without opposition, to expand on the principle of stewardship relationships. As I slipped into my comfort zone of being the teacher in the group, the grilling subsided and when I had finished explaining what I meant by the term stewardship relationships, the grilling ceased and we spent the rest of the oral examination time chatting as colleagues and friends. In a very interesting way the temperament in the room had changed from a debate between them vs. me, to a conversation between us.

To me the Savior has left little doubt that a great deal of what we will become and be accountable for while in this probationary state can be determined by an examination of the faithfulness and fulfillment of our stewardship relationships.

In the 12th and 16th chapters of his book, Luke records the Savior’s thoughts on stewards and their stewardships.

The Savior’s greatest condemnation falls on the unfaithful steward who deliberately puts added, demeaning and cumbersome burdens on those he has been called to serve. He serves justly while the Master is present, but in his absence the unfaithful steward’s true nature comes forth. He becomes tyrannical in his relationships and deliberately goes against the counsel and commands of his Lord. The Master adamantly condemns this steward and his activities.

The Savior is almost equally condemning of the unprepared steward. This steward seems to know what is required, but fails because of inadequate and insufficient preparation. This steward failure comes not from wavering effort, but from being unprepared. Those who fall under his stewardship fail to accomplish their goals because they walk in the dark and neither knowing where to go nor what to do.

The ignorant steward finds some comfort but still must suffer the stings of the Master’s stripes, excused for not knowing. We are not told why this steward is ignorant of his duties, but those he has stewardship over have suffered because of his inadequacies. Evidently the Savior felt his ignorance could have been overcome through some personal diligence.

Only the wise steward, who has labored to be prepared and is constant and faithful in fulfilling his stewardship according to the counsel of the Master, finds himself acceptable.

There was another occasion later in life when Kathleen and I sat in a small room with someone who was making an evaluation on us which would impact the rest of our lives in ways we could not even imagine at the time. Again came A QUESTION!! This question did not come from a grilling, career determining panel, but came from a wise steward who was trying to know our capabilities to take on a stewardship of monumental responsibilities.

A QUESTION – “If I were to interview your children what kind of stewards would they say their parents are?

Our mumbled humble responses must have been somewhat adequate, because not too many days later we received our call to serve in a wondrous new land which led to opportunities to grow as stewards in a different vineyard.

We are children of divinity. We should reverence and be grateful for being part of the ultimate purpose of God’s work and glory. This understanding should be life altering and determine how we handle stewardship relationships.

We have within us the embryonic attributes of Deity. We should strive to maximize the potential gifted to us through our Eternal Parents. Our stewardship relationships may be the very foundation upon which we build our eternal existence.

Every one of us is greater and more powerful than we realize. All we need to do is call the power forth through the faithful learning and administration of our stewardships.

When the Savior declared we had been created a little lower than the angels, He was not only declaring our greatness because of our Eternal birthright, but also because of the potential of what we can become. Although we will in no way be finished when we leave this frail mortal existence, we have the responsibility to become all we can become while we are witnessing allotted sunrises and sunsets.

The Lord has given us sufficient direction to aid us in fulfilling the potential of our mortal stewardships. We should search with daily diligence to gain a greater understanding of His everlasting counsel.

The type of steward we become will largely be determined by our faithful learning and then acting as He has directed. Since the Master’s presence in our present state is glimpsed through a glass darkly, our stewardship faithfulness will be judged by how diligently we abide by His counsel during what we perceive to be His absence.

Through being faithful stewards we not only serve our fellow sojourners, we also gain enlightenment as we daily add to the discovery of the eternal us. There is indeed a large degree or majestic-ness in the formula whereby we find ourselves by losing ourselves in the service of others as we limp forward in our stewardship relationships.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


While we were in Colombia, we received an assignment from the Area Presidency to kneel in prayer with our spouse when we retired for the night and once again when we arose the next morning. Both of us having been in the habit of individual personal prayers in the morning and ‘family prayer’ at night, I remember thinking that it was kind of interesting that one had to break into the inner prayers of the soul in order to participate in these more formal offerings of gratitude and pleadings for help. Since our assignment in Colombia was to care for the safety and welfare of several hundred young men and women, as well as trying to inspire them to be inspired to do the important work they had been called to do, the prayers in my mind, heart and soul were close to being continuous.

As I started to think about the upcoming day which we annually set apart as a day to give thanks, that same feeling of interrupting an activity in order to formally do the activity came over me once again. Somehow on the Thursday next I will need to change from my regular conscious and subliminal thankfulness and move to a formal outward demonstration of the many things I am grateful for. (I am sure, somewhere or somehow, there is some logic in my musings.)

Anyway, since I can't think of how my thankfulness will change this coming Thursday I will just go through a partial list of things which I am grateful for all the days of my life.

I am grateful for the constant but growing witness, which is born to me of the Holy Spirit, that I have loving Heavenly Parents who are concerned with my progress and development during this brief mortal stay.

I am grateful for Jesus the Christ who was willing to pay the price involved with an Infinite Atonement so that The Plan of Happiness, Salvation and Exaltation might be brought to fruition for all who are willing to abide by the required conditions.

I am grateful for the words of Apostles and Prophets, which have been received through revelation and preserved as a guide and direction in instructing us how we should conduct ourselves in our daily walk.

I am grateful for a loving spouse who has spent her life helping me strive to become what I need to become, for freely sustaining and supporting my efforts and for her nurturing and nursing nature.

I am grateful for friends and loved ones who have surrounded me throughout life and given me examples and reminders of the proper ways and principles of meaningful relationships.

I am grateful to have the understanding of the importance that the roles of Father, Mother and Children play in our development and progress as we prepare to live in Infinite Eternal Families.

I am grateful for a body which has eyes to see, ears to hear and limbs which help me fulfill my daily tasks.

I am grateful when I hear of one who was blind who is now able to see, they who were deaf who now can hear, and those who now reach and run who once were unable.

I am grateful for the warmth provided by shelter and clothing.

I am grateful when warmth provided by shelter and clothing is provided for those who want.

I am grateful for the nourishment which comes from the ever flowing cornucopia of the gifts of this fertile globe.
I am grateful when these gifts are shared and bring nourishment to those who hunger.

I am grateful for the technologically advanced age in which I am privileged to live and how it miraculously brings faraway friends, loved ones and places instantly to my senses. (In a strange way this cyber space stuff seems to give me just a small glimpse of what Omnipresence might be like.)

I am grateful for the beautiful variety which blesses this planet and the many ways which we are able to appreciate it. We can circle the globe in a matter of hours. Some even have the privilege of circumnavigating the planet in minutes. In relative comfort we visit places which were either unknown or unimagined by our ancestors.

I am grateful for governments which provide safety and freedom to their citizens so that an atmosphere is provided which allows that people to fulfill the purposes of their existence.

I am grateful for each person whose nature is changed from being contentious, angry and warlike to one which is driven by publishing peace and loving their neighbor.

I am grateful for the understanding that all mankind share a universal kinship, and that the Father of us all has put us here to see if we will relate to one another lovingly or hatefully.

I am grateful for a day being set apart when we can gather with family and friends and be reminded of how grateful we should be every day of our lives.

Just a few of the wonderful parts of a grateful life!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Standing just outside the ring of dancers I was gripped by an eerie feeling as the ceremonial fire caused shadows to filter among the rocks of the conclave. With an audible sigh I felt relief come to my soul as the stadium lights caused the shadows to retreat and helped reality brighten the crevices of my vivid imagination.

Later I sat alone beside the wandering stream and contemplated my experiences with the tribal traditions at the yearly regional pow-wow. I had to wonder what strange force first inspired the ancestors to believe that they could solve their problems by dancing around them.

Crops would yield a more abundant harvest by dancing around the seedlings!

Victory in wars would be assured by adorning warriors in armor and with weapons held high dancing around in a mock battle!

Disease would be cured by donning the ceremonial mask and dancing around until the evil spirits were driven from the afflicted!

There were no problems in life which couldn’t be alleviated by ceremoniously dancing around them.

The ‘cultured modern mind’ looks at these ancient practices with a wink of the eye and a sardonic smile, casting them aside as primitive, remaining incredulous about the cause and effect relationship between dancing around one’s problems and the consequential results.

Maybe our condescending attitude comes not out of condemnation of the practice, but out of scorn for the outdated methodology. After all, have we not elevated the art or science of dancing around our problems ‘way beyond the dreams of our long ago forefathers?

Modern man dances around the fire of abortion trying to scare away the evil spirits of teenage motherhood with superficial remedies of freely administered contraceptives and sex education delivered by the uneducated. On we wildly dance, while we are being blinded by the fires of personal past indiscretions and pseudo-realism, which have cast shadows of doubt on man’s ability to be moral through self-control and self-restraint.

Leaders of nations drape themselves with stockpiles of mightier and more sophisticated weapons, researching means of bringing about death, devastation and destruction on an ever grander scale, hoping that their never ending dance will frighten their battle preparing self-declared enemies.

Stirred in our dancing we spin around driven by uncontrolled, unsuppressed desires stimulated by greed, domination and pride, having long ago lost the meaning of loving one’s neighbor.

We prepare for our daily dance by painting our faces to cover the pallor of unhealthy skin. We pop pills in an attempt to make our bodies believe that they have vitality. We bind our bodies with fine linen in an effort to appear firm. As we ever turn in place we try to stem the infirmities of the flesh with artificial remedies which ultimately can only be kept at bay through proper hygiene, nutrition and exercise.

We have been dancing so long upon the coffers of the nations that it now costs more to produce a coin than the value stamped upon it. We have staggered around the monetary printing presses, driving ourselves so deep into the coffin of debt, that values printed on currencies have become meaningless. Paying the piper with unsecured checks we have danced ourselves away from the values of prudence, patience and self-denial.

We gaily prance along, holding dearly to our personal imperfections and misguided priorities, holding to the hope that the next generation will make every movement precisely and in unison, having long ago diminished the effectiveness of example and cheapened our words with the demand that those who follow should do as we say and not as we do.

Standing just outside the ring of dancers, I am gripped with an eerie feeling as the ceremonial fire causes shadows to filter among the rocks of the conclave.

With a sigh originating deep within the recesses of my soul I pray for a portion of understanding.

When will we cease our ineffective dancing?

When will we retreat from the endless circling and walk firmly toward solutions?

When will we emerge from shifting shadows and stride confidently in truth’s bright light?

When will we still the useless motion and move forward to the beat of rightness?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1: 5.6.8)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Like they say, I would like to have a penny – with inflation make that a dollar for each time I have heard someone (insert appropriate word – wife, husband, friend, colleague, candidate or word of your choice) say ‘if you knew (him/her) like I do’. This avalanche of statements trying to let me know that what I see in whomever the remark might be being applied too, makes me wonder why is it that the person I have encountered is different than the person with whom I evidently am not acquainted.

Thankfully Halloween arrived in time to give me a possible solution to my quandary. It seems that even though we all accept the wearing of masks to disguise who we really are and therefore, have license to take on the characteristics of the mask, is understood during this spooky season. However, most of us seem to have masks and characteristics we unconsciously and automatically put on depending on the group and/or occasion with which we might be involved with.

For most of us the training for this constant changing of masks or switching of our personalities and behaviors started very early and continues throughout our lives.

Having found comfort with our favorite digit, we very early learned that there would be times when doing this activity was frowned upon when people outside the immediate family were present.

When we tagged along to the grocery store we found that the long racetrack isles were not for running even though we were outside of the house.

Entering school was a real mask changer. In this place one could not get up and move when the hardness of the seat became unbearable. It was required that we do things exactly as the teacher instructed. The cute things which were smiled and laughed at in our homes were now reasons for a visit to the principal’s office.

During the teenage years the masks had to be quickly changed when we were with friends and then quickly changed back as we returned home. Cruelly, we also discovered that certain mask changes were required depending on which friends we might be hanging with.

As the changes of maturation continued we found that masks needed to be changed when we were in church, went to a dance, were involved in a sports activity, speaking publicly or sharing a secret.

The requirement to constantly be changing masks seems endless and leaves us with little doubt why most of us, if not all, occasionally slip up and do something really stupid in the wrong place, with the wrong group or at the wrong time.

The apostle James was evidently aware of this propensity we share to act different parts in different places and his writings seem to indicate that he didn't think it was a positive characteristic. James stated his bias against the wearing of masks in these words:

He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:6)

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

I suspect the biggest danger that comes from having a closet full of masks, which we change more often than we take a drink during the day, is that there is always a danger that somewhere along the line we might lose the realization of who we really are.

Jack Rushton, a wonderful man who I hope will always consider me his friend, says that one of the greatest gifts he ever received was when he was allowed by the Lord to see, and I therefore assume, know, who he really is.

Somehow in the magnificent miracle of going through His Infinite Atonement the Lord Jesus the Christ came to know us far beyond our mask changing derived confusion allows us to know ourselves.

The Lord once told Thomas B. Marsh, I know your heart and have heard your prayers. The Lord included in this revelation some details which probably made useless several of the masks in Thomas’ closet, or at least the donning of them became silly.

Most interesting to me was the counsel he gave Thomas after revealing to him His extensive knowledge of who He knew him to be. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name. (Doctrine and Covenants 112:11)

My pondering on the masks in my closet and the counsel of the Lord to Thomas, led me to believe that the Lord might be saying – if you can ever learn to really love all your brothers and sisters the discarding of masks may follow. It may be possible that they will even fall off without our having taken any other action.

I pray and long for the day when the Lord might let me have a glimpse of who I really am. As this understanding slowly unfolds I pray that I will have the wisdom to act on the blessed revelation and go forth eliminating those masks which cause so much confusion as I interact with the various groups of my world.

Until I have this eternal perspective I hope I will be able to remove some of my masks by attempting to let my love abound unto all men.

What a wonderful, honest world it would be, if masks were only worn during the Halloween season.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


In the eleventh verse of the sixteenth Proverb we read:

A just weight and balance are the Lord’s. All the weights of the bag are his works.

In the days when these words were written it was the responsibility of the keeper of the weights to possess enough measuring tools to be able to assign a just value whenever he was called upon. Since the markets were portable and shifting, and the weights of individual merchants varied, the keeper of the weights was always nearby on market days with his true weights in a bag wandering from stall to stall. Thus both trader and buyer could be assured of a true weight of their goods.

Solomon uses the imagery of this ancient weight keeper to remind us that the Lord holds the ultimate bag of weights and measures whereby the lives of all mankind will be valued.

In his wisdom he reminds us that when we are placed on the scale of the Lord, man’s propensity toward self-deception and the delusionary dumpings of mortality will be cast aside and only the naked soul of man will placed on the scale to be weighed.

Possessions, positions and powers will be stripped and thrown upon the dross pile and man with his character alone will remain to be measured.
From His bag the Lord will draw weights for measuring wisdom, kindness, humility, faith, self-control, comfort, mercy and truth, a seemingly endless lexicon of attributes and qualities needed for one to be counted as valuable in the eyes of God.

It is doubtful in that day that we will look longingly at the mountain of minutia which we had placed so much importance upon before our passage, now seeing it cast so haphazardly aside. I suspect we will hang our heads, feeling somewhat betrayed by a world and a life which led us to believe that success would be measured by possessions, positions and powers.

Perhaps during these days when the bonnet of color is falling to the earth and the wimples of winter are coming upon us, reminding us of the freshening new beginnings of new seasons. It might also be a time when it would be well for us to take fresh stock of what we are accumulating to bring to the Master of weights and measures.

How much of what we possess will end up on the dung heap?

Will the positions we’ve clambered for be acclaimed, or lose their luster, in the illumination of His glory?

Will the powers we felt to be of such great importance seem as significant as we kneel before the King of Kings?

What will remain when all the importance of telestialness has been cast aside?

Stripped of all earthly finery, standing in immortal coverings, what will remain to be placed upon the tray to be weighed, measured and valued by the Lord?

Supporting thoughts from Proverbs 16:

13 Righteous lips are the delight of the kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

18 Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

25 There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


During the last six years as I have been working my way through the Great Books of the Western World one of the concepts which struck me forcefully and which I have returned to contemplate several times goes something like this. A real relationship with God begins when we stop trying to find Him and allow Him to find us. I have to admit that most of the time I find myself lacking in the understanding of this principle, but when I have had momentary glimpses of understanding they seem to center around having a greater understanding of who I am and what is the purpose for my existence.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. (Psalms 8: 3-6)

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)

That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:24)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16, 17)

During the seven decades of life which have been allotted to me thus far, I feel I at last I have begun to understand a little of what it means to allow God to find me:

1. My embryonic testimony is that the children of God need to feel his love.

2. My embryonic testimony is that it is not sufficient for one to love God, but they must discover, feel and embrace how much He loves them.

3. My embryonic testimony is that searching the word of the Lord strengthens ones feelings that He knows us and is aware of our needs.

4. My embryonic testimony is that those who surround us on a daily basis can either be a bridge or a mote to our triumphs or defeats depending on our perception of their actions and words.

5. My embryonic testimony is that no matter the degree of our progression we will have down days which give time to reflect on the many hurdles which we have jumped as well as a reminder that there are yet many obstacles to overcome.

6. My embryonic testimony is that there will be times when we step off the path and become muddied which is often followed by an almost immediate grateful realization for the cleansing of repentance and the Atonement.

7. My embryonic testimony is that the mortal creation needs time out from stress and worries, when they can in a state of calmness re-fresh and re-generate their energies.

8. My embryonic testimony is that the mortal body cannot be constantly against the wheel, but needs a variety in life’s activities to stimulate re-creation in the mind, body and soul.

9. My embryonic testimony is that all of us need a periodic ‘well done’ or ‘you can’ either from our fellow travelers or as a witness to our souls from the Holy Spirit to provide stimulus to take the next step.

10. My embryonic testimony is that mortality is not sufficient time to know all that needs to be known, to do all that needs to be done, to become all that we need to become.

And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1: 37-39)

One of the greatest gifts which comes to one whom God has found is that they are no longer burdened with the perception of a God who is trying to find a way to punish or bring sorrow into their lives, but are made alive in the understanding that they indeed have a Heavenly Father whose greatest desire and continual effort is spent in trying to help his children become all they can become.

We must gain a constancy of vision that Heavenly Father never brought junk into creation and that we all have an eternal responsibility to go forth with all our heart, might and strength to make sure all His work is not made vain because of our lack of effort.

We must not allow ourselves, others, nor Satan to bring to naught the combined efforts of the Eternal Purposes of Heavenly Father.

Is this then the miracle – as we come to recognize His knowledge of us (a knowledge which would be impossible for Him not to have being a Being of Omniscience) we come to know more of who we are and why we came into the world? We come to know Him as we come to know He knows us. As we begin to understand this magnificent eternal relationship will it not regenerate our remembrance of wondrous times past – enlighten our understanding of His constant attention to our daily development – give us hope of the marvelous realities of the glorious possibilities of our eternal existence.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Looking out over the vastness, the Ancient One paused in his journey to wonder if any other man had ever sat upon this peak and looked down through the forested canyons to the meadowlands stretching out below. Being so high, he felt no need to extend his hands in an attempt to touch the sky. Here so high on this uncharted trail he felt as if he had become one with the heavens, much like one feels when he enters the river to bathe.

Therefore, he simply entwined his fingers and silently gave a thought prayer to the Great Spirit for allowing him this precious experience.

Since the dawn of man, the quest for new experiences has driven some to expand their borders beyond the fences of their ancestors. Across a river – over a mountain – beyond the sea – ever pushing outward on this limited sphere until they were left with the desire to see the unseen to know the unknown while still shackled to a tiny ball in the vastness of the universe.

In the now of our existence only a select few are privileged to venture into the closest unchartered regions of space’s new frontier. I suspect these modern explorers often take time during their journeys to sit in awe as they take in the beauties of this world as it is viewed from a celestial perspective. Looking past this little orb their vision extends through the forest of stars and stretches to the endless galaxies. Truly having become one with the heavens, they are often silently left breathless while giving gratitude to the Creator for allowing them these precious moments.

What of those who unadventurously remain in the valleys below, behind their restrictive walls, planting, caring and harvesting the grain needed to sustain the explorations of dispensations? Have they no dreams of unknown lands? Do not they also desire to go where none have gone before? We share alike this thirst for water from virgin fountains. We also long for meat spiced with foreign savors. We also pine to place our feet on untrod grassy meadows.

Caution – go slow, oh man of the valley. Many have been deceived. Many have thought they might be able to accidentally find that moment when they sample the sublime existence by rushing headlong here and everywhere thinking perhaps that the busyness of doing would eventually result in some rapturous reward.

Remember – those moments of explorational grandeur have come to ancient and modern ones only after many years of dwelling and sweating in the valleys and a subsequent long climb. No one is born on the other side of their secure station.

Dream – if there is no thought of what might be beyond, there is no hope of breaching whatever confines us within our limited surroundings.

Plan – the goal must be clearly envisioned if it is to be recognized once we arrive at the mountain top. And when the summit is reached what will we do then?

Unshackle – if we are not willing to accept the surprises of new discoveries we will remain shackled no matter how far we might wander or what new lands we might discover.

Thankfulness – no matter how strong our desire to reach the highest peaks and how great our efforts which allow us to sit in the heavens, we must forever appreciate we were allowed to get there because of those laboring in the valleys with broken backs and blistered hands.

Patience – there are many cluttered, overgrown obscure steps between the valley floor and the clear extended vistas on the mountain tops. If we are willing to pay the price, having a clear vision of what we desire, we must still go forth with patience. One step – one line – another step – another line!

Integrity – many have been fooled into taking shortcuts and bypasses only to find all too late that they have gone astray and ended up in lands of cloudy vision, murky waters and superfluous petitions.

The day will come when valley workers and adventurous explorers will sit upon some golden dome and together become one with all. Then all will bow with reverence to give respect to Him who has made all things possible to those who truly seek.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


There were a few decades of my life where I had many opportunities to speak to youth groups several times a month. One of the strangest requests, for a subject to be addressed, was when I was asked to speak on Satan, the very Devil himself. I didn’t know whether to feel complimented or insulted that I was looked on as one who knew enough about Beelzebub, that I would be able to enlighten others
Examining just a few scriptural references we find him referred to as the slanderer, demon, adversary, spoiler, father of lies, and the wicked one. In Revelation 12:9 it is declared that he deceives the whole world. The prophet Lehi said in 2 Nephi 2:27 that the devil seeketh to use his power to make all men miserable like unto himself.

It seems the ultimate irony that the whole world could lie in a stupor of deception because of his lies while he constantly desires to propagate misery. If a person’s misery was forever on the increase one would think they would try to break the bonds of deception which authored their suffering. But alas, therein lays the secret of deception; to accomplish it in such a manner that the target is unaware of their increasing misery. In 2 Nephi 28:21 Nephi proclaims “He will pacify them, and lull them away into a carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”

Although I never want to be an expert on the subject, I do think it is important to pause periodically to ponder a few of the powerful deceptive tools which Satan has put in play upon the whole world and which are active today.

Deception 1
It is OK to put aside strict adherence to the principle of honesty when defending one’s political, economic or religious prejudices, especially if it strengthens my case and weakens others.

Deception 2

If others would be more civil I could easily control my emotions and would never have to worry about becoming angry.

Deception 3
Devastation, destruction and death are methods which can be used to bring peace, love and joy to the inhabitants of the world.

Deception 4

My decisions are my own and I alone will suffer the consequences; therefore, my life’s patterns should be of no concern to family, friends or

Deception 5
Those who accumulate the most stuff in life are the happiest and are the ultimate winners.

Deception 6
Everyone’s circumstance in life is a result of right or wrong choices; therefore, everyone has the individual responsibility to make the needed changes to rectify their positions.

Deception 7
Success in life comes as a result of being cleverer than your competition, even if that cleverness comes about through decisions bordering on deception.

Deception 8
Flattery is never bad since it makes others feel good and always results in an increased positive opinion of the flatterer.

Deception 9
Good and evil are relative to circumstances and it is an individual’s prerogative to determine their own standards.

Deception 10
Everyone’s birthright includes without a price to be paid, all rights, privileges and riches which all others enjoy.

Something to be aware of: There are some scriptural indications that once a person is added to the rolls of those who are deceived they themselves become propagators of deception.

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, wherefore they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven – These things should be attended to with great earnestness. (Doctrine and Covenants 123: 12-14)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The boulders in the vacant lot next to our church building in Pocatello, Idaho were so enticing to play among. The scar on the inside of my right wrist is a forever reminder that among the wonderful rocks were hazards left from carelessly tossed bottles by negligent strollers. The sound of the nearby Snake River made it easy to imagine we were exploring in a wilderness far away from home.

Climbing down the waterfall in the park across from our home in American Falls, Idaho and riding across the expanse of the park’s range on our imaginary horses as Hoot Gibson or Red Ryder filled many delightful days with my friend, Ivan Charles. Later in life it mattered little how the height of the waterfall had shrunk or the acreage of the park had diminished the fond memories remained bright.

The corner lot behind the drug store and barbershop on Willow Street in Long Beach, California became a universal field for the whole neighborhood. In season we challenged each other in games of football and baseball. Basketball was always played in one of the two driveway courts with their rickety backboards and bent rims. It was sad when our skills brought restrictions from the owners of the corner stores because of the doubles bouncing off the back walls of their establishments and we had to retreat to Lincoln elementary school down the block. There was always the core four of us to whom it mattered not at all that we went to church in congregations filled with Jews, Catholics, Methodists or Mormons.

Whether we were walking along railroad tracks or wandering the banks of the flood control we were always on our way to some far off city. Cities never reached except in our minds. When we heard them mentioned on the radio or read about them in the newspaper, they were places we had visited. Those were days when being with that special friend was always more meaningful because the joys of the moment were shared with so many.

These and many other events of my early life which happened as I grew up will never be historically significant enough to be chronicled in the archives of the great events of the American movement. Nevertheless, they are tremendously important to me and what I am today. I become increasingly convinced that what we are today is, in many ways a now statement reflecting the impact of all the then statements of our eternal yesterdays.

If today the world seems to us to be full of shut doors and critical people, it is probably due to the collection of denied opportunities from doubting and fearful stewards who have etched their prejudices upon one’s life’s journal.

However, if today’s world seems to us to be full of open doors and opportunities, it is probably due to the collection of non-preorganized opportunities provided by positive stewards who have etched their influences upon one’s life’s journal.

It is all too easy to look back on life from one’s personal perspective and say yea, thus it is – thus it should be for all. However, reality demands that there probably is no best way to grow up or one sure way to insure a life full of positive remembrances.

All of that being said, it is wonderful to look back on life with gratefulness for all the then factors which allow me now to be at peace:

Living in a time and place which provided the safety, freedom and grandeur where unsupervised memorable experiences could be enjoyed.

Blessed with parents who under-scheduled my formative years, leaving me with the free self-time which could be spent as I desired exploring the verities of my surroundings.

Having teachers who sought to stimulate minds unrestricted by mandated lesson plans, daily providing lessons which could be constantly adapted to accommodate a cornucopia of ever expanding ideas and ideals.

Attending church where values were taught which gave perimeters to life’s choices which provided the balances necessary for agency to continue and to flourish.

The world turns and the boulders, waterfalls, vacant lots and friends which are my then have hopefully become the now of another generation. I know that the world is indeed a different place than the one I grew up in when I was free to explore the hills on the west side of Pocatello, Idaho where I came to realize I had a real disdain for all snakes and most creepy crawlies.

As I watch the NOW children being rushed from league to league and lesson to lesson under the guise of giving them every opportunity to develop and advance, I can’t help but wonder when they have time to eat the figs and persimmons off the wild trees on the vacant lots of their lives. It becomes understandable why they often turn to artificial means to escape the constancy of life’s demands.

I would hope that the children of NOW might in some way find paths to explore in a land as free and grand and full of pitfalls as that of yesteryear's.

I would hope that the parents of the NOW children might un-schedule some time in their daily activities so that this generation might also have time for some self-exploration of the earth’s verities.

I would hope that the teachers of the NOW children would seek spaces within the mandated curriculum's of today, where they can stimulate their minds with ideas and ideals which will influence future generations.

I would hope that the churches of the NOW children would provide balancing perimeters from their pulpits which will insure the continuation of agency.

Hard questions arise, which need reviewing often. Perhaps providing answers wherein might lie the responsibility and legacy of history – providing the opportunity to those who follow time to explore the positive ‘thens’ which will lead to future peaceful ‘nows.’

Sunday, September 9, 2012


While reading a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball in the summer 2012 issue of BYU Magazine I was once again stirred into thinking about the purpose of life and what are some of the really important things we should be doing while in our mortal state. Quoting the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Kimball reminded us that “Man was created to dress the earth, to cultivate his mind, and to glorify God.”

Dress the Earth

Smokey the Bear will have to get the initial credit as he boldly taught us to care for the forests we had been blessed with. He growled at us and said we should always leave our camp areas cleaner than when we arrived and never forget to put out our camp fires. My parents added to the concept with their insistence that if anything was worth doing it was worth doing well. They even applied this ditty to pulling weeds in the garden and the flower beds. Kathleen continues to try to show me that the whole earth is a campground and that where ever we are and where ever we go our traces should be erased along with those thoughtlessly left by others. Even golfers are taught that repairing your own divot on the green should be accompanied by the reparation of other divots which might have been left unattended.

Interestingly, the real impact on my mind about dressing the earth as an important part of our mortal passage came while I was reading Everyman’s Talmud (there was no way I would ever be able to make it through the Talmud on my own). Anyway, while reading in Everyman’s Talmud, I was especially moved by the section which taught that the Lord, when he created the earth, deliberately left his work unfinished and then said to Adam that it was his responsibility to dress the garden. Isn’t it interesting that even the Garden of Eden which was reportedly spectacularly beautiful needed to be tended? The teachings of Judaism include the concept that the work was left unfinished with the intention that as part of their earthly probation his children would finish the work. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of each of us to make sure that our little corner of the garden is more beautiful because we dwelt upon it. The Talmud insists that there will be an accountability regarding how well we have cared for the land the Lord God has given us.

Living in Mission Viejo, California I am daily reminded about the possibilities of making the desert blossom like a rose. As I drive down the year-round flowering, vegetation lined streets I witness the fulfillment of man’s beatifying capabilities. I think dress is a very appropriate word to use in describing our responsibility toward mother earth. I envision that the Lord intended that we should dress her in the finest available trappings.

Cultivate the Mind

Ironically, it was near the end of my formal educational process while working on my Doctorate and attending a workshop in Flint, Michigan that the importance of ‘Cradle to Grave’ education finally impacted me. I have written about that experience previously, so I won’t bore those who read it previously with the details. It is sufficient to report that it was during those two weeks I committed myself to a life of cultivating the mind. Finally, after spending the first 32 years of my life in a fairly concentrated string of formal educational experiences, I then knew I had just been being taught how to learn and that now the real excitement of cultivating the mind could begin.

I don’t know to whom to give the credit, but I am sure that like most things in life it was not an original idea. When I was left to my own devices to continue my learning, it came to me that there were some areas of the endless fields before me where I would want to spend a lot of time and there were others where I would barely walk the surface. Somehow I knew I would be aided in making the decisions of whether to linger and dig deeply into a certain field or just gaze about and move on. Louis L’Amour required only a superficial glance as I worked through 91 of his books. However, my latest task of going through the ten year course of the Great Books of the Western World has kept me constantly with a shovel in my hand. Now that I am well into the 6th year of wandering through all the volumes which make up this collection I realize that there are many of the writers who have contributed to western thought which I have placed in the Louis L’Amour camp and other whose words have become like unto scripture to me.

For me, both depth of study and breadth of exploration are important to keep the cultivation of one’s mind fresh and exciting. There are studies which we do because of personal interest and others which we do because we know they will impact us in a positive way. My monthly reading of Golf Digest is an example of the former while the Scriptures and the words of the living prophets would be examples of the latter.

One of the great blessings we have been given is the ability to process symbols and words and have them formulate ideas in our minds. Like most blessings we show our greatest appreciation when we use and magnify them.

Glorify God

I could easily brush off this part of Joseph’s trilogy of reasons for our existence by simply stating who am I that I might think I could ever add glory to Him who is all glory? I could substitute praise for glory and therefore fulfill this direction though hymns and speech. Ultimately, I must come to the conclusion that if I am even remotely to be able to Glorify God it will have to be through striving to emulate His attributes, characteristics and perfections.

Just as I honor my earthly parents by holding to the good in their lives and making it part of my own, just as I show my admiration for those who have mentored me by taking from their teachings and making my life more meaningful, in this same way, it may be possible to glorify God by trying to see through the glass darkly and behold his light and allow it to shine through me.

It might just be possible that as I treat others as He would treat them, as I publish peace, as I sing and witness of Him, as I daily try to be like Him in some small way I am moving toward what Joseph said I needed to do to Glorify God.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


In light of all the superficial interest Mitt Romney’s run for president of the United States has brought about Mormons (not an officially recognized name for the Church or its adherents), I thought it would be worthwhile to reintroduce a thought I wrote many years ago while preparing for a weekly radio show called Sabbath Day Reflections. There are a few of you who have already recognized that periodically I revisit these mini radio sermons as a basis for my Thoughts for a Sabbath Day. So if you have the time and the self-published little books, I challenge you to find this one.

Anyway, some years ago I read a publication on the early life of Joseph Smith by Ernest Taves. He titled his book Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon with a subtitle of “An expose of a charismatic liar.” Taves, a psychiatrist and also a contributor to Playboy and Galaxy, came to the conclusion that Mormonism, (which I think, in this case, is a substitute word for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ) like other Christian religions, ought to modernize its doctrines and renounce the antiquated teachings of its pioneer fathers. With deep sincerity he invites Latter-day Saints “to join the rest of the world.” I guess I should be flattered that he is willing to include Latter-day Saints as part of Christianity, but becoming what he envisioned the rest of the world should be, was far from what my understanding of what defined a person as a Christian.

As I pondered his modernization of Christianity I found that in order to comply with his request the following changes would be required in my life
1. I would need to relinquish the comfort and security which comes from the knowledge of a personal Heavenly Father, believing instead in an impersonal absentee creator or some other theory which might arise about our existence.

2. I would need to move from the belief in individual accountability where everyone is responsible through their use of agency, becoming an excuse-tion-ist joining the crowd which makes up the blaming, non-guilt, non-responsible modern world.

3. Abandoning my belief in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the universal resurrection, becoming cynical about what awaits me beyond the portals of death and live with gusto as I only go around once.

4. I would need to put aside the counsel and commandments of an Omniscience Savior which defined the life which would maximize happiness in mortality and bring eternal joy, believing instead that everyone has sufficient intellect to determine the boundaries and laws of their existence without antiquated restraints.

5. I would need to repent of the understanding that before coming to mortality I rejoiced with all of Heavenly Father’s children about the possibilities awaiting me on this beautiful planet and the eventual eternalness of my existence must be wiped away and replaced with the dismal belief in the temporariness of our three score and ten years troding along earth’s muddy paths.

6. I would need to deny the existence of living prophets who are inspired by an Eternal Lord to aid the children of the earth though revelation which continually keeps them congruent with a changing world, helping them make correct and joy-producing decisions. Instead I should be content to wander through the constant decision-making processes of life using the help of less enlightened men making educated guesses.

7. I would need to put aside the organization which teaches, inspires, entertains and strengthens my posterity so that their choice to turn to using drugs, embracing immorality, unabated rebellion and ever seeking excitement might be freely lived without any mediating influences
8. I must replace the teachings of the scriptures from which I find hope for the brotherhood of man and an admonition to become my brother’s keeper and enter the concrete jungle where all are fair prey in my quest to survive and succeed.

9. Of necessity I would need to develop a political philosophy that politics are to be used for individual aggrandizement and corporate advancement and abandon my beliefs that patriotism, honor, love of freedom and peace are a preferable alternative and that governments exist to insure these privileges for all.

10. The rights to an eternal marriage which was solemnized in the Temple of the Lord must be forgotten along with the promises which bind and solidify my spouse and our posterity. In its place I could need a pre-marital divorce contract, which would ensure that my unfaithful spouse would not rip off my temporal belongings when, not if, we divorced.

I am sure that my list could extend and become more numerous if I were to continue to ponder upon what I might have to give up if I were to join the rest of the Mr. Taves’ world, but I do have my limit of 10 to contend with and my conclusions would remain. I must with clear conscience decline Mr. Taves’ invitation to join his world and with joyfulness of heart continue in my devotion to the time-proven doctrines and teachings of my pioneer fathers.

Just a personal observation: Being a devout people watcher I want to declare that over the years, since I first read Earnest Taves book, I have witnessed that most of the people I have come into contact with have rejected his modernization invitation and generally unashamedly tread the paths their forefathers trod.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


My sixth grade teacher, who was one of those who influenced my choice of careers, left a lasting impression on almost all of his students because of his rapport, enthusiasm and inventiveness in the classroom.

I remember that during one science unit we were trying to understand what caused plants to live, thrive and grow. Mister Beeson had the class set up the experiment so that we were able to watch the effect light, water and plant food would have on plants as they were exposed to various amounts of these elements. The process started with four young plants of the same variety in four different pots.

Plant A – Was named Patricia because it was to be the most spoiled plant, receiving perfectly measured amounts of light, water and plant food.

Plant B – Was named John because it was to be isolated, like some students do during recesses. It was put in the closet in the dark, but was give measured amounts of water and plant food.

Plant C – Was named Fred because it was to have nothing to do with water but was kept in the light and given plant food.

Plant D – Was eventually named Sally, as it became thinner and thinner, received light and water, but no food.

I don’t think we would have been able to name the plants in this day and age, since the names may have been attached because they resembled some characteristics of members of the class. I don’t remember for sure, but the names may have been attached by some of the insensitive boys in the class, while Mister Beeson had only labeled them with the generic A – B – C – D.

Within a very few days we were able to see the effects of the lack of even one of the essential life-giving elements upon the plants. Great sorrow came upon the class as first Fred, who dried up from thirst found his way to the garbage can. Then John, who we first saw turn from green to brownish-yellow, then became pale and wilted all alone in his dark closet was also relegated to the garbage can. Finally Sally, trying to live in soil which little by little had all the life sustaining minerals washed away, expired and was dumped. Only Patricia, who was constantly pampered with light, water and plant food, grew to become a vital plant with blooms of bright red.

Somewhere long after even Patricia had gone the way of all living things, I became aware that the Savior had taught that these three elements which are essential for all living things are also essential for the spiritual growth of those who would choose to follow Him. On different occasions He proclaimed that He was the light of the world and that from Him flowed the living waters and the bread of life.

It doesn’t take long before we observe those who absent themselves from the light, water and food of the Savior, suffer this same drying, wilting and expiring in their lives which we had seen happening to the plants in our sixth grade science experiment.

In many ways, the same sorrow I felt as I saw the demise of John, Fred and Sally, I now feel for the many I watch wandering in darkness, thirsty and hungry because they have no way to access these essential saving elements on their own. Many, like those ill-fated plants remain in this condition because those who have a bit of the Savior’s light, water and food withhold these life-giving substances. Some withhold because they lack commitment to share – others because they lack a conviction of universal brotherhood – there are those who don’t give of their light, water and food because they are selfish and don’t understand the law of heaven which declares that by giving of that which they have, much like the widow who fed Elijah, will have their own meager supply magnified.

In the experiment of life I see another group who have all the elements of life available to them, but deliberately go about, turning away from the true light, stumbling in the dimness provided by inadequate man-made artificial bulbs. They drown themselves in syrupy liquids which leave them with unquenched souls while walking along the banks of eternal rivers. They gluttonously devour the bounties of earthly harvests which blanch their bones leaving them lying upon parched deserts, bordered by waving fields of life-giving manna.

Unlike Plant A – Patricia, that ultimately came to the inevitable end of all mortal lives there is but one way to reach the full bloom of eternal lives, which comes by being illuminated by the Light of the World, by drinking deeply from the Fountain of Living Water, and by feasting upon the Bread of Life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


One of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon takes place between the years 279 BC and 124 BC during the reign of the three prophet-kings, Mosiah, his son Benjamin and his grandson Mosiah. We don’t have a lot of detail of those days, but we know they lived according to the Plan of Happiness, their leaders labored with their own hands so that the people would not be burdened and they universally arrived at a point where the Lord Omnipotent wrought a mighty change upon their hearts so that they no longer had any disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Book of Mormon – pages 140-157)

Many of the religions of the world share the belief that the purpose of mortality is to go through a refining process which prepares us to share an existence in God’s presence. For example, Judaism adheres to the principle that mortality is a time to live a life worthy of living in God’s presence and that this will best be achieved by making the world we live in a better place because we were here. In Christianity we consider success on the path which leads to this return to God’s presence is found by following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ.

I have often pondered, if I am to follow the example of Jesus Christ, how much time should I be spending on overcoming my disposition to do evil?

The New Testament is adamant about the fact that His life was a perfect walk upon the path of doing good continually. Therefore, following His example should indicate a life, which like those Nephites of old, focuses not on overcoming evil, but on doing good continually. There is also a strong indication that mere mortals will, like He, need an abundance of divine intervention to be able to approximate His accomplishment.

Somewhere during the inevitable changes which seem to occur in the religions of the world the emphasis of repentance has drifted from a concentration on putting on good attributes and characteristics to a definite emphasis on overcoming the evil tendencies of mortals. For just a few minutes I would like to consider the original process of repentance or the striving to do good continually.

1. Rather than trying not to steal, rob and cheat I will strive to be honest in all my dealings.

2. Rather than trying not to use biting, harsh, critical words I will strive to speak words which edify and build.

3. Rather than trying to overcome hate and bigotry I will strive to develop a universal love for mankind.

4. Rather than trying not to put stumbling blocks and dig pits for my neighbor I will strive to make their pathways bright and build bridges to make their journeys easier
5. Rather than trying to overcome the lusts of the flesh I will strive to demonstrate true love to all by helping them become all they can become.

6. Rather than fighting the war against the propaganda of the world of junk food I will strive to treat my body as a temple and a gift from a loving Heavenly Father.

7. Rather than trying to control anger and its attending physical calamities I will strive to keep peace and calmness in of my life.

8. Rather than trying to eliminate coveting from my life I will strive to develop a greater degree of charity toward others.

9. Rather than cursing my brother for his differences I will strive to be grateful for the synergistic gifts which I enjoy because of those differences.

10. Rather than coercion, and compulsion I will strive to teach correct principles and allow all under my stewardships the privileges, responsibilities and accountability of agency.

11. Rather than trying to overcome pride I will strive to become humble.

Ten has always been my limit when trying to demonstrate a point, but my wonderful editor wanted me to add one more. Therefore, these eleven points should be more than sufficient to clarify what I have been thinking about.

A couple of personal observations:

As I have struggled and stumbled through the phases of my life I have come to realize that overcoming the evil I have been tempted with has been mainly an independent struggle with some help from others and some help from my loving Heavenly Father. However, in those hours which I have really concentrated on doing good continually I have come to realize that this path cannot be trod without divine intervention and guidance from the Holy Spirit. After all, this gift was wrought upon those ancient Nephites, they did not gain it by themselves.

As the phases of life have multiplied and the days remaining in mortality grow much shorter than those which are past, I realize that the Lord’s admonition from the mount to become perfect even as His Father in Heaven is perfect is a task I will be trying to fulfill well into the post mortal phases of my progression.

I realize now more than ever before that waiting for my neighbor to become saintly will in no way help my personal eligibility to dwell eternally with Heavenly Father, but if this mighty change is to bear fruit it must begin with me.

It took me a long time, but I have finally come to the realization that the positive work of trying to put on the attributes and characteristics of good is a much more pleasant and peaceful journey than when I was continually trying to overcome my disposition to do evil. It really is the very key to living according to the Plan of Happiness.

May the Lord bless us all with his sustaining grace as we strive to become as He is.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Every once in a while my thoughts drift into that marvelous idealistic land of ‘what if.’ This morning at breakfast Kathleen reported that while walking yesterday the question came up, whether Mohamed was a prophet or not. We had a short discussion on the subject, but the ‘what if’ portion of my mind went into gear and I knew I had to put what was going on in my brain down on paper.

The great Nephite prophet recorded some 2560 years ago that God had declared:

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? (2 Nephi 29:7)

‘What if’ – there is a Universal Father of all mankind? ‘What if’ – He has given His word unto all His children regardless of the spot on this small planet where they might have been born? And the big ‘what if.’ ‘What if’ – His children would adhere to and live lives in accordance to his word?

As the number of times I was privileged to teach the course on World Religions multiplied the more cemented the concept of a Universal Heavenly Father of all mankind became in my soul. The more I learned, the more I came to know that the fundamental teachings of the world’s religions contained more harmonious doctrines than conflicting ideologies.

BUDDHISM: If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me” – in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease, - in those who do not harbor such thought hatred will cease. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love – this is an old rule. (Man’s Religions page 136)

TAOISM: To those who are good to me I am good’ and to those who are not good to me, I am good; - and thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere with me, I am sincere; and to those who are not sincere with me, I am also sincere; - and thus all get to be sincere. (Man’s Religions page 256)

CONFUCIANISM: Tzu-Kung asked, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (Man’s Religions Page 278)

ISLAM: There was a time, when I blamed my companion if his religion did not conform to mine; Now, however, my heart accepts every form; it is a pasture ground for gazelles, a cloister for monks, A Temple for idols and a Ka’bah for the pilgrim, that tables of the Torah and the sacred books of the Koran. Love alone is my religion. (Man’s Religion page 538)

CHRISTIANITY: “You must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind.” That is the great and first command. There is a second like it: “You must love your neighbor as you do yourself.” These two commands sum up the whole of the Law and the Prophet.

Although this sampling is small I hope it will give an idea of why I have come to believe in a Universal Father who has given his word to all his children. Although the dust of ages may have dimmed the original brightness of word, the messages to all nations continue to burn in the embers left from their foundational blaze.

For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true. (Alma 29:8)

The big ‘what if’ – What if the universal brotherhood on this earth would live in accordance with the passages quoted in this Thought? Would the relationships of the earth not be improved? Would weapons of war finally be turned into plowshares? Would the lamb finally lie down by the lion?

I know that most of my ‘what if’ moments fade in the face of reality, but forevermore I will continue to have my heart set on the fulfillment of such ‘what ifs.’

I know that as long as my personal ‘what ifs’ fall short of being ‘what is’ – the universal adherence to the word of our Heavenly Father cannot be brought to pass.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


There is a general belief that all the new stuff is better than all the old stuff.

We just bought a new refrigerator. I wonder if it will last 50 plus like the one we bought just after we got married. While we were at the store we also replaced our dishwasher which quit on us last year. I wonder if it will last the 40 plus years like the old one. We just donated our 1994 Saturn to charity. I wonder if our Prius will still be running when it is 18 years old.

I don’t intend to spend my limited thoughts on appliances and junkies, but the old stuff I really want to write about is why speaking in church has been replaced by reading, why teaching in Sunday School has been replaced by showing videos and having students read prepared statements.

I don’t know when it started; maybe it was with the advent of Teleprompters, but somewhere along the timeline of my life, eye contact and speaking what was in one’s heart got replaced by eyes glue to text resting on pulpits and reading a series of quotes which originated with someone else.

Hint # 1 – A few words spoken under the influence of the Spirit are of more value than volumes ramblingly read.

Hint # 2 – When you look into the eyes of the congregation their attention level increases dramatically.

Somewhere along the line, assigned times for speaking got lost in the necessity of reading all I have prepared as if it were my ‘last lecture.’

Hint # 1 – A double spaced type written page takes a minimum of three minutes to read. If I have 7 pages of single spaced material it will take me 42 minutes to read them.

Hint #2 – If there are three speakers assigned and only 36 minutes left in the meeting I have a maximum of 12 minutes to speak (read) my talk.

Somewhere along the line, elocution got replaced by run-on sentences, mumbling and speeding through the words on the page.

Hint # 1 – Communication only takes place if words are understood and have meaning in their context.

Hint # 2 – Speaking in church is not an intimate conversation in a car and microphones do not make up for hushed mumbled phrases.

While I have your attention let me leave the pulpit and go into the Sunday School classrooms. I don’t know when it started. Maybe it was with the mesmerizing effect of the tube or maybe it waited for flat screens. It seems that sometimes, meaningful teaching has been replaced with an attitude that baking cookies for refreshments and putting on an entertaining show were the most important attributes in the classroom.

Somewhere along the line, talented Sunday School teachers got replaced by video operators and assigners of reading from slips of paper.

Hint # 1 – Teaching is an art which when done properly will cause students to think, internalize and expand upon the original thought given by the
teacher. Without meaningful exchange between the teacher and student learning cannot exist.

Hint # 2 – Meaningful thoughtful questions about what is read or viewed are more important to the learning process than the material in the video or what is written on the slip of paper.

Somewhere along the line, audio/visual resources became time fillers rather than stimuli for learning exchanges.

Hint # 1 – Before showing any video or reading any material the teacher should ‘sign post’ what the student should look for in the video or in the written word.

Hint # 2 – After any video or reading the teacher should have follow up questions to make sure the message of the material was understood and become meaningful to the student.

Somewhere along the line, lecturing has replaced the meaningful Socratic exchanges between teachers and students.

Hint # 1 – No other method will ever replace the effect of meaningful exchange of ideas between two people.

Hint # 2 – Students will remember more about who teachers are than what they might have taught.

Well there you have it. Along with appliances and cars I believe it is strongly possible that new methodologies of speaking and teaching may not be better than the old methods.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Archaeologists are trained to make judgments about the accomplishments of ancient civilizations based on the artifacts which have survived the ravishings and rustings of time; labeling one very lengthy era as ‘Stone Age’ because of a few simple tools which have been uncovered, dated and categorized and branding another ‘Industrial’ to describe men’s actions as they began to desert their home-farms and congregate together in cities around factories in order to facilitate the production of goods.

I am among those who feel a little uneasy about the premise of archeology which records the accomplishments of mortals based on a few material droppings.

How grateful we should be that our loving Heavenly Father is not a fanatical archeologist. We should give continual thanks that He will never make sweeping generalizations about the accomplishments of His children based on the accumulations of their peers. We should find comfort knowing that each child’s life will be judged independently according to their own efforts, accomplishments and progress.

This individualistic concern of our Father in Heaven was dramatically demonstrated in the biblical history of the of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Through a vision he promised Abraham that if but tem righteous could be found in the cities, all the inhabitants would be spared for their sakes. As things turned out only the families of his cousin Lot were spared as the heavens rained fire.

It is one of the truly good news’ of the gospel, that even though we might have our time on earth in an era when mankind is practicing dehumanizing lifestyles, our worthiness for a place in God’s Kingdom will be judged solely on our personal adherence to His revealed principles.

Elijah long ago invited the people of his day to choose between Jehovah and Baal.
Just as in those long ago days, we must likewise learn to clarify righteous priorities.

We can no more walk in two divergent paths in comfort than ancient Israel could attempt to serve both false idols and the true God and still remain a covenant people.

Daily we must decide if ‘making the sale’ is more important than remaining totally honest in our dealings.
We must constantly determine whether we will fill our minds with vulgarity of dominate our thoughts with purity.

Do we interact with our fellows in shadows of the profane or do we walk well on the right side of the line of integrity?
Has the ‘social register’ become a more important gauge of our worth than the barometer which measures how well we are serving our fellows?

Joshua declared that these decisions were not to be tarried upon, but that they should be made today.

It is today that we must decide whether we desire our lives to be judged by some future digger as he examines the plastics and polyesters which have been accumulated in mountainous heaps throughout the lands.

It is today that we must live our lives with a desire to be judged by a loving Heavenly Father who will search our individual souls and with His infinite wisdom, mercy and omniscience be able to view with total clarity and absolute reality what we each have become.

We must always remember that He will never determine our level of advancement by inventorying the material stuff we had accumulated, but will scrutinize our souls to see how close we have come to emulating the attributes of our Celestial Parents.

We will find comfort that He will never look at the ‘Jones next door’ in order to determine how far I have come, but will always judge me according to my personal abilities, opportunities and progress.