Sunday, December 28, 2014

WHERE ART THOU? (Genesis 3:9)

Shortly before Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden following their transgression, they were summoned by the Lord and asked the question, ‘where art thou?’

Immediately one is struck with the wonderment, why an all knowing God would have need of such a query. Likewise, I do not believe that Adam’s superficial answer about hiding himself because he was naked was the ultimate point of the question.

I believe that it is entirely possible that the Lord was indicating to Adam that it would be a good thing to pause
occasionally and take an inventory of where he was in fulfilling his purposes for existence.

Once I started to understand the Spanish language beyond the burrito and taco level, one of the insights reading the scriptures in Spanish helped me realize, was that being naked was indicative of being without knowledge and when the Lord put coats of skin upon Adam and Eve it was symbolic of Him giving them the gift of being able to gain knowledge, understanding and eventually wisdom.

When we begin to understand the purposes of our existence, and after an honest assessment of the subject, we should eventually come to realize that learning how to relate to others with the pure love of a disciple of Christ and gaining knowledge, understanding and wisdom are found at the very top of the mortal quest list.

Most of the time, knowing where one is in relation to a desired goal, seems to be resolved most easily when people can identify points of reference outside of themselves.

Ancient mariners found their locations in the vast oceans by fixing their attention on distant stars.

Modern cars equipped with GPS triangulate their present position with other known positions which are continually bouncing information off of not so distant satellites.

When one compares the accuracy of ancient mariners using distant stars and that obtained by the marvels of the GPS, the comparison is like comparing crossing the continental United States in a covered wagon to flying across the continent in a jet airplane. A mariner would never have been able to tell how far a golfer was from the pin on the green by using the stars, but with an instrument which fits on one’s wrist, which communicates with those satellites in the not to distant sky, the modern golfer can instantaneously know within inches how far he is from the pin on the green of any course in the United States.

It is entirely probable that we can only make accurate judgments of ‘where we are’ by using gauges outside of ourselves.

It is also probable that it wouldn't be as accurate to use objects which are too far away or with which we have no expertise, when we are trying to know ‘where we are.’

A person in a beginning Spanish class might come to a discouraging conclusion if they were to compare their mastery of the language with someone whose primary language was Spanish. They would be able to get a clearer vision of ‘where they are’ if they were to make their comparison with someone closer to their own circumstances. I think this would be true with most any field one is trying to master. (We will eliminate prodigies from the discussion at this point!)

Since there is no one closer to oneself than oneself, it may stand to reason that an honest self-evaluation in terms of where I have been, where I am and where I wish to be might be the best barometer available.

That student in the beginning Spanish class would do well to confine the measurement of their progress to what they knew when beginning the course compared to what they know at the time they are making the evaluation.

The reason the scales we use need to be consistent and honest is that if we are constantly adjusting the measurements there is no way we can measure real progress. Many a mariner would have been drowned in the deep if the stars were constantly shifting position. Many a golfer would be frustrated even to a greater degree than they usually are if the GPS were constantly changing the distance which constitutes a yard.

One day when I was trying to search out ‘where I was’ temporally as well as spiritually, I was abruptly reminded of how quickly the points of reference which surround us can be altered and changed. Right in front of me the bumper sticker on the car read ‘don't follow me, I’m lost.’

Since I have had the luxury during my retirement years of investigating the philosophies of men through the ages, it has become very apparent their ideas are constantly shifting like the sands of the deserts, as the wind blows in one direction one day and another the next.

It has become very obvious during the first six years of my ten year project of reading the Great Books of the Western World that using the philosophies of men would be a poor measuring rod if I were to find constancy in measuring my personal progress.

Perhaps, if we are to find those fixed reference points which will help us identify where we are, we too must look to the Heavens.

Perhaps if I keep my eye singular to the Heavens long enough I will be able to get a true bearing of where I am.

Perhaps in my neophyte efforts if I could find my bearings by fixing my gaze on closer references such as the scriptures and prophets I would have fewer days when I feel lost.

Perhaps if my prayers became true communication, I would have a better understanding of the measurements I should be using to know ‘where I am.’

The great advantage that ancient mariners had over the modern use of GPS satellite systems is that the stars stay in the universe, whereas satellites burn out and spin out of orbit and eventually burn up in earth’s atmosphere.

If we are to avoid the certain destruction which comes to everyone who has never had the faintest idea where they have been, where they are or where they are going, we must tie our lives to a fixed reference point outside of ourselves which is constant and reliable. I have found the word of God to be as constant as the North Star, as everlasting as the constellations. Therefore, when I begin to wonder where I am I return to the word of God and begin to understand anew ‘where I am.’

Sunday, December 21, 2014


One of my favorite stories from Christmas’ past is the one whose authorship has been lost, but the message continues to be found anew in people’s hearts annually. When I was searching for the author of this story I even found an Islamic version. It was almost word for word the same except the names had been changed and Paul didn't take the street urchin for a ride.

There weren't many years when I was teaching for the Church Education system that I didn't read this story to the students.

Since those who read my weekly Thoughts are now the only ones who resemble students in my life, I wanted to share it with you as a special Christmas Gift.

A friend of mine named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.

Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy, I wish ..." He hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.
"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"

"Oh yes, I'd love that."

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.

He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it ... then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what "It is more blessed to give..." means!

Many times as I have pondered upon this delightful story I and have stopped to meditate I have made the obvious connection and realized that we all have A BROTHER LIKE THAT who has given us much more than a shiny new car.

The Christ Child was:

Born to bring light and life unto all the world

Born to change the hearts of men

Born to publish peace

Born to scatter seeds of joy

Born to bring light that eyes would see beauty

Born to show the way back home

Born to bring Eternal Life

I am so grateful for the Christmas Season and I pray that this year we will all have a stirring within us which stimulates a desire to become A BROTHER LIKE THAT.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I have always been drawn to the mellower sounds of music. In my classical likings I much prefer the sweeter sounds of Verdi to the heaviness of Wagner. Zamfir hums to my soul with greater resonance than Armstrong.

Yes, and I can even say that I much preferred the calmness of the crooning of Nat King Cole to most of the ranting’s of the Beatles. Therefore, it should not surprise those who share my musical tastes, and maybe my time frame, that there was a time when a group of Brigham Young University singers, who called themselves the Lettermen, gained the status of ‘favorite of mine’ during my third and fourth decades of life.

The Lettermen had a very popular rendition of “I Believe” which I enjoyed because of its mellowness, but also because of the message it contained. The words of the verse reminded us of how things created testify and bear witness of the Creator.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe…

In a very similar manner, I am grateful that the symbols found in the stories of the birth of the Christ Child are a natural part of our daily lives. They become constant and continual reminders that the Savior of the world has come to earth.

Unlike our varying tastes in music, the events of the Savior’s birth are timeless and cross cultures in such a way that they can bring understanding to all who see and hear.

Even a casual glace at the status updates on Face Book should be enough to remind us that the coming of a newborn baby is such a joyous and oft-repeated miracle, that with no effort at all, we can daily recall our memories of the miraculous birth of the Christ Child.

Likewise, social media frequently inundates us with sights and sounds of contented animals as they receive loving attention and the simplest of life’s necessities, which can, if we so desire, bring to remembrance the circumstances of that eventful night. That night when the King of Kings was born into the world in the company of the humblest of His creations.

The changing, wondrous mixture of clouds, sunlight and moisture which fill our days and the moon lit night's which make heavy our eyelids, should stir our souls into daily remembrance of the Creator born into the world as the Christ Child.

We can be reminded on those rare night's when nearsighted suburban dwellers escape the interfering illumination of city lights and when they can enjoy the brilliant array in the heavens as far off stars show their luster. With just a little imagination we can once again be with the centuries of mariners and explorers who used these special beacons to take them to their desired destinations, much like those ancient Wise men from the east used that special singular star to guide them to Bethlehem.

The shepherds minding their flocks were privileged to hear and see the heaven-sent hosts proclaiming the one time great event. In like manner, as we go about our various vocations, we should understand that even in the pursuit of one’s temporal welfare we can be in tune to spiritual messages of inspiration and joy.

Gifts were brought and laid beside the manger, bringing happiness to giver and receiver. Opportunities abound in our lives where we can be strengthened and reminded through the same soul-building process of being a generous giver and a reverent receiver.

Christmas coming only once a year may be a catchy phrase which plays on our minds. But our wise and Eternal Father seems to have directed the events of His Son’s birth in such a way that those who diligently seek would find a constancy of reminders of the Christ Child’s birth surrounding them.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky

Every time they see the first star bright
Or hear the lowing of a lamb
Or touched by inspiration’s insight

Every time a candle is blown
Or gifts are opened
Or I greet a new day
Then I know why, I believe…

Every day, in every way and in every place, I am reminded once again that Mary did indeed find favor and the Christ Child which is the Savior, Creator and Lord was born that day, and brought the message of good tidings, the way of great joy, the hope of peace on earth, and the admonition that we are to have good will to toward men.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Monday, August 11, 2014: Old teachers are hard to keep silent – they don't go away – they just create a new classroom!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014: Stepping stones of feeling sorry for yourself – will never put you on a pathway to happiness!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014: Although we might not immediately be aware of results which come from praying for help and blessings – we will almost always receive a reminder of how we wish our lives could be and at least a little corner of our heart will be lifted as we acknowledge blessings already received!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014: No matter how long cucumbers are kept bottled up in plain water they will never become pickles - Likewise, we need a little spice in our lives to become what we were intended to become!!

Friday, August 15, 2014: Gertrude Stein wrote – a rose is a rose is a rose – but if she were alive today she would witness – if any society exists long enough, it will destroy the beauty of its language with double entendre!!

Monday, August 25, 2014: If there is a more difficult way to accomplish a task – we will eventually discover it!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014: Re-creation is the purpose of recreation!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014: Everything in life has a price – you will always get what you bargain for!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014: Claiming to be religious without living the principle of charity - is like claiming to be a canary when you have neither feathers nor wings!!

Friday, August 29, 2014: Claiming to be religious without being a forgiving person – is like claiming to be a fish when you have no fins or cannot live in water!!

Monday, September 01, 2014: Claiming to be religious without striving for universal love – is like claiming to be a lamb when you have no wool and cannot baa!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014: Claiming to be religious without being kind – is like claiming to be a kangaroo when you can't hop and have no pouch!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014: Even though we sometimes wish for a personal GPS which would enlighten us about our future destinations – we should realize – the price might be a loss of a lot of excitement and learning during our journey!!

Thursday, September 04, 2014: If you add enough sugar the sourest of lemons can be made to taste good – but making it sweet doesn't mean it will be good for you!!

Friday, September 05, 2014: Sooner or later I have to accept the fact that I am what I am because of the choices I have made – I am the only one responsible and accountable for who I have become!!

Monday, September 08, 2014: It shouldn't take a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to remind us to be thankful!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014: Our days should be made special because we make them so – not because of what we see on a calendar or personal schedule!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014: A smile on someone’s face does not always mean that they are happy – however, it is difficult for a happy person not to have a smile on their face!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014: Chickens peck at the weak spots of those who share their roost!!

Friday, September 12, 2014: Friendships can be very fragile – they need to be wrapped in lots of layers of warmth, kindness, honesty and love!!

Monday, September 15, 2014: Be advised that you should enjoy all things bright and beautiful – before your senses begin to dim!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014: An open wallet policy – does not necessarily make one a good father!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014: Memorials should be reserved for those who spent their lives building – not for those who spent their lives destroying!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014: There are times when asking a lot of questions – can spoil a beautiful moment!!

Friday, September 19, 2014: Your world is different than mine – because it is made up of the things you have chosen to see and what you have allowed into your mind!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I was musing over some past writings and came across one which reminded me of an evening when I was working with our fourth son, Brendan, as he was memorizing some lines from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice.

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes, ’tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings: but mercy is above the sceptre sway: it is enthroned in the hearts of kings: it is an attribute to God himself: and earthly power doth then show likest God’s mercy season’s justice.

Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation.

We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”

(Act IV Scene 1)

I have always appreciated words of wisdom well written, but as I listened to Brendan repeat these melodic phrases over and over, Shakespeare’s message sang powerfully into my soul.

I had taught and believed for some time the reality of the Savior’s atoning act, but on this evening the power of His grace and the futility of all I do, without that merciful act, resounded to the core of my existence. My search for salvation was totally dependent on the submission of the Son to the will of the Father.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved , after all we can do. (Book of Mormon – 2nd Nephi 25:23)

What an enlightening discovery that giving mercy is the use of power, a power which generates greater power. Satan has labored to persuade man that it is through dominance and force that we gain power over others. The truth which rings in our hearts is that we gain real power when we free others from obligations and burdens which might encumber their relationship with us.

Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. (Book of Mormon – Jacob 4:7)

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul. (Old Testament – Proverbs 11:17)

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged. (Old Testament – Proverbs 16:6)

Can it be, that in the same merciful way the Savior became the master of all mankind, to a much lesser degree we gain a portion of this peculiar power by lightening the burdens of our neighbors through our miniscule merciful means.

I suspect, if we totally understood the extent of the change which would come upon our lives as we learn to emulate and exercise our pittance of the quality of mercy, we would study about mercy, we would practice mercy and we would gratefully receive the mercy extended to us from others.

My prayer is that, not only during this season when thankful words spill forth as if supplied by an everlasting horn of plenty, but each day as the morning sun wakes us to another day and as we joy in the privileges and opportunities of each day, and again as we prepare to lay our heads on freshened pillows we will remember:

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes, ’tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings: but mercy is above the sceptre sway: it is enthroned in the hearts of kings: it is an attribute to God himself: and earthly power doth then show likest God’s mercy season’s justice.

Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation.

We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”

(Act IV Scene 1)

Sunday, November 23, 2014


In the talk which made up last week’s Thought, President Benson reminded us that “Unity is impossible for a proud people, and unless we are one, we are not the Lord’s.

Before we get too far along in discussing some possible resolutions for what President Benson called the universal sin of mankind, let me remind you of my pre mission relationships with the small group of Mexican Americans who attended Garden Grove Union High School in the latter part of the 1950’s. At best it would be described as indifference, but it would probably more properly be defined as disdain.

I hasten to tell you that prior to entering the mission field in Northern Mexico, I had spent six months at Fort Ord, California. During that long and illustrious active duty career I was taken under the wing of a Master Sargent whose heritage was from Mexico. My prejudices had been softened by this good man, but in no way was I wiped clean of the pride in my Mormon whiteness.

I likewise hasten to inform you that in the empty nest part of our marital life together I have been accused by my dear eternal companion of having a positive prejudice towards my Central and South American brothers and sisters. What can I say; I am still a work in progress.

Once the miracle of being able to stammer in Spanish had occurred, along with a more friendly relationship with the doctrines of the gospel and the scriptures, it became obvious as I was teaching the beloved people of Mexico (as I recall it took about 1 ½ weeks for them to become beloved) it became most apparent who was the student and who was the teacher in our relationships.

One of the important doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct beings. (John 17: 11, 21, 22) But in the teaching of this doctrine it was also very essential to understand in what way they are one. That being, that they were one in all the attributes, characteristic and perfections which attend the office of Deity.

Over the years I have become aware that it is this oneness which President Benson indicated was the antithesis of pride and the only solution to the calamities which attend the prejudices which result from a people blinded by pride.

I think I have been around long enough to guess what just went through your minds. Here we go with a dreamer of impossible dreams, spouting idealism's which can never be obtained.

Just a quick reminder:

The people of Enoch became one – a people of Zion. (Moses 7:18)

King Benjamin led a people who were wrought upon by the Spirit so powerfully that they had no disposition to do evil. (Mosiah 5)

Fourth Nephi is a short historical record of a large nation or humans who became one and maintained their oneness for three generation.

I suspect when all the books come forth from the dust and are opened to our understanding these groups will be added upon and we will realize that the possibility of becoming one having eschewed the sin of pride, has transformed many of our brothers and sisters into Zion-like societies during the time that the sons of God have resided hereon.

Doctrine and Covenants section 105 verses 4-5 give us a quick primer on how to put off pride and put on the attributes and characteristics necessary for us to overcome our prejudices and become ‘everyone, brothers and sisters all.’ “Ye are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; and Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.”

Well, why didn't you just say so – how could anything be easier – all we have to do is live by same laws which God’s live by.

I don't even pretend to know even a few of the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom, but in my elementary stages of learning about that law I have come to understand a few things that I need to be working at rather constantly.

I also hasten to say that I have come to realize that the only person who I have any real chance of changing is I.

A few behaviors I can get started on which I feel I can control if I so desire:

Love my brothers and sisters for what they are and not what I feel they should be

Be aware when others say things about their brothers and sisters that they couldn't possibly know to be true

Be careful not to say anything about my brothers and sisters that I couldn't possibly know to be true

Even when I know something is true – if it is going to be hurtful to a brother or sister – maybe I should hold my tongue

Be more aware of actions and intents – rather than on ethnicity, social status or power rankings

Never forget that it is kindness that turneth away wrath not anger

Be quicker to judge and change my own behavior and less demanding that my brothers and sisters be more diligent in changing theirs

Try to have my actions controlled by love and not by anger

Some advanced behaviors I can be aware of and work on when I am feeling especially spiritually strong:

Live by every word of God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness

Sincerely petition my Father in Heaven for his help in putting some of his attributes and characteristics into my life

Try to be more aware when His counsel comes through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit

Replace my pride with humility

Look for opportunities to be charitable

Live so that once in a while someone will see the light of Christ which I am trying to hold up

Work more consistently on acquiring the attributes of – merciful, publisher of peace, pure in heart, meek, virtuous, temperate, patient and diligent

I am pretty certain that I will not live to see the lamb lay down with the lion, but in the mean time I can try just a little bit harder to make sure I am not about the business of putting rocks and shads in the path of ‘everyone, my brothers and sisters all.’

Sunday, November 16, 2014


For part two of the principle of the Universal Brotherhood of mankind, which has become an important part of what I am and what I wish to become, I share with you some excerpts from a landmark talk given by Ezra Taft Benson, who was then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the General Conference held in April of 1989. (To be able to read this entire talk – including the scriptural references – it can be found in the May, 1989 Ensign)

Beware of Pride

The Doctrine and Covenants tells us that the Book of Mormon is the “record of a fallen people.” Why did they fall? This is one of the major messages of the Book of Mormon. Mormon gives the answer in the closing chapters of the book in these words: “Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction.” And then, lest we miss that momentous Book of Mormon message from that fallen people, the Lord warns us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.”

Three times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord uses the phrase “beware of pride,” including a warning to the second elder of the Church, Oliver Cowdery, and to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet.

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby.

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”

Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.

Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them.

The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. “What will men think of me?” weighs heavier than “What will God think of me?”

Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did “always those things” that pleased God. Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?

When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod.

Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.

Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. “How everything affects me” is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking.

Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.

Contention in our families drives the Spirit of the Lord away. It also drives many of our family members away. Contention ranges from a hostile spoken word to worldwide conflicts. The scriptures tell us that “only by pride cometh contention.”

The scriptures testify that the proud are easily offended and hold grudges. They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures.

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”

Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression. The proud are not easily taught. They won’t change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies they have been wrong.

Pride adversely affects all our relationships—our relationship with God and His servants, between husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student, and all mankind. Our degree of pride determines how we treat our God and our brothers and sisters. Christ wants to lift us to where He is. Do we desire to do the same for others?

Pride fades our feelings of son ship to God and brotherhood to man. It separates and divides us by “ranks,” according to our “riches” and our “chances for learning.” Unity is impossible for a proud people, and unless we are one we are not the Lord’s.

Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice.

Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.

We must yield “to the enticing’s of the Holy Spirit,” put off the prideful “natural man,” become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,” and become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble.”

That we may do so and go on to fulfill our divine destiny is my fervent prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I don't know if it is the contentedness which seems to have filled my soul during my eighth decade of life or if it is the fact that I don't have a stoop to sit and ponder on, (that is a porch for you young folks who might be reading this and have no idea what a stoop is – that would probably mean everyone under the age of 40), but I’ve become comfortable with spending a few hours each day reading what is happening in the lives of friends through the medium of Face Book
Are you ready – here comes the ‘but’!

I find that a day seldom passes:

Where my contentedness is not rudely interrupted by some form of contention

Where the counsel of prophets has been ignored and people refuse to disagree without being disagreeable

Where different opinions on political principles seems to give license to spew forth personal character offenses upon others rather than seeking for a common ground to stand upon

Where religious differences determine the value or lack thereof of a person’s words and life

Where differences of pigmentation are referred to negatively rather than the beauty which comes from variety

Where differences of life styles and physical characteristics are spoken of in biblical terms, reserved in former times for lepers, forever broadening the gap between neighbors, rather than following the counsel of prophets that we are to be continually seeking for inclusion

I have lost the reference, but I know it can be found in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “It grieves us that there is no fuller fellowship; if one member suffers we all feel it; by union of feeling we obtain power with God.”

When I was in High School in Garden Grove, California, the dominant clique was white. I use the word dominant, but there were definite schisms within the dominant group. There were rich kids, popular kids, middle class kids, poor kids, hoods and sissies, who all fell under the umbrella of the dominant white group. Members of our small Mormon kids group at times were included in one of the other white sub groups and at other times were excluded. However, we in no way suffered the damnation of exclusion which the Latino and Asian students had to endure.

There was a time when one of my best friends was a brilliant Asian young man. Occasionally, I would be with him when some ugly epithet spewed from the mouth of one of the dominant group. The irony was that his family was the largest land owner in the area served by Garden Grove Union High School and probably much wealthier than any of those who prided themselves as being in the rich kids sub group of the dominant white group.

There were several times during my four years of high school when war was declared in the parking lot adjacent to the school. In those days there was always room in the parking lot for war, because there were few students who had a car or who were able to drive their parent’s car to school. Anyway, the participants on one side of the war varied from hoods, to jocks, to etc., but the participants on the other side of the war were always the Latino group. The lopsidedness of the participants made it so that the relatively small group of Latinos who were part of the Argonauts in those days eventually had to band together as they went from class to class and to and from school.

I tell you this sad tale of my high school years, so that you will understand two things. First, I never once went out of my way to befriend or even say anything nice about anyone in the Latino group and, second, I wondered about the inspiration connected with my call to serve in the Northern Mexico Mission when I was 19.

I am sure that it is because of the time I spent as a young man and the time Kathleen and I were privileged to serve in Colombia as not so young people that my prejudices have evolved to be so strong when it comes to the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of the inhabitants of this small sphere.

I am grateful that I daily understand and appreciate more the words of the well-traveled Will Rogers when he said ‘he never met a man he didn’t like.’

(To be continued)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


There is still time to order your copies of Thoughts for 100 Sabbath Days by going to and searching the book by its title. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014: Rejection should seldom be the barometer by which truth is measured!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014: Soap – Use frequently to remove the grime of daily living!!
Repentance – Use frequently to remove the stain of errant choices!!

Friday, June 27, 2014: Those who measure their importance in life by their material accumulations – have probably missed the real purpose of existence!!

Monday, June 30, 2014: The bumper sticker reads - a bad day at golf is better than a good day at work – maybe there should be and asterisk statement which says - * a bad day of golf is a bad day!!

Tuesday, July, 1, 2014: The philosophies of men will never be profound enough to change Eternal truths!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014: The fountain of pure revealed Truth dispenses a very small stream – which has a tendency to become contaminated as it flows through mortal minds!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014: As the years multiply – pain and stiffness will become a lingering reminder of the glorious days of your youthful agile athletic life!!

Friday, July 4, 2014: Whether you had glorious days of a youthful agile athletic life or not – pain and stiffness WILL become a lingering reminder that your years have multiplied!!

Monday, July 7, 2014: Although a great shot may result in a par – most pars are a result of a series of good shots!! I think there may be a broader lesson for life – I hope you can discover it!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014: Life becomes real when we finally realize – that wealth, position and popularity do not define a fulfilled life!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: During ones experienced season of life – one of the things which fill you with happiness is looking back on life and reviewing all the joy which came from being able to do things in the season thereof!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: Trying to force joy by doing things after their season has passed – results in frustration and pain!!
63. Thursday, July 17, 2014: We should all be grateful that memories linger – when functional ability no longer allows repetition!!

Friday, July 18, 2014: Enjoy every minute of every day - there comes a time when the days speed by so rapidly that it becomes more difficult to notice the wonders of the passing moments!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: True love should not be easily turned away because of the mistakes of those we love!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: When we really try to eliminate mistakes – it is a demonstration of true love!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014: Ultimately it is our own decision as to the places we go and the people we choose to go with!!

Friday, July 25, 2014: Where we decide to go today and the people we go with - will have a tremendous impact on future places we go and the people with whom we go!!

Monday, July 28, 2014: The difference between a professional golfer’s game and the game of a geezer golfer is about the same as the difference between love and attraction – they both have some things in common, but the end result is like comparing the Grand Canyon to a wallow!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014: I am sure you have noted that questions answered always seem to create more questions – hence small children are right on when they forever continue to ask 'WHY??'!!

Monday, August 4, 2014: There are many ideas our brains come up with which need to pass through our hearts before we speak or act!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014: Warning!! – Kindness is a disease which can be quickly spread!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014: If you have recently been infected with kindness – keep spreading it by giving someone a hug!!

Thursday, August 07, 2014: One must be cautious when approaching someone who combines meaningful listening skills with sincere hugging – they may get infected with terminal kindness!!

Friday, August 08, 2014: Everyone should be aware that when they meet someone who has an understanding heart, meaningful listening skills and who also gives sincere hugs – they are in danger of being infected with the life changing disease of kindness!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I can't recall exactly, but I suspect my father wasn't much more than a decade older than my current age when he said to me, ‘You know you live all your life and then the time comes when you would just as soon do something else.” As we witnessed my mother in her last two years of mortality it was very evident she was very anxious to be doing something else.

I suspect that as time slips rapidly by I am coming to understand more clearly why he was able to be so casual about that eminent time in all our lives when the mortal slips into the immortal state. There are however, still days when I think I have just begun to be able to grasp a glimmer of what he was expressing as the light was slipping from his eyes. I know that now that much more of my mortal existence lies in the past than in the future, three things seem to be happening all at the same time.

The joys and sorrows of the past daily become more of a vague reality.

The moments of today slip by more rapidly and quickly join the forgotten moments of yesterday.

That which is yet to come becomes more important as each day takes its place in the pages of my personal history.

This phenomenon seems to have been going on for as long as Heavenly Father’s children have been passing their probationary state on this orb and probably on orbs now made eternal which preceded our sphere’s organization.

The Book of Mormon prophets in one way or another spoke to their progeny about these ‘last days of mortality’ just as my father had confided in me. I recently reviewed a few of their parting words and at this time of my life find them refreshing and encouraging.

Jacob to his family – The time passed away as it were unto us a dream… (Jacob 7:26)
As father Alma, the High Priest of the Nephites’ life, was slipping away he spoke to his people – We looked forward with an eye of faith and a view of this body raised in immortality… Prepare quickly for the hour is at hand… (Alma 5:15, 5:29)

None of us should be surprised when we are fortunate to enjoy the blessings of living in a time when the age of our mortal span is extended by the miracles of our times, to find that as time slips silently by, that that part of our lives which lies in the past becomes but a dream as life’s moments fade quickly and our greater reality lies in what enlightened vision shows lies ahead.

Our reality becomes more and more filled with the certainty of life after life and we see more clearly the actuality of immortality. A teaching of a personal resurrection, which was long ago planted as a tender seed of hope, has now been nourished by the development of faith and has sprung into a tree upon which the fruit of the certainty of eternal life is ripening.

I am grateful that I have lived sufficiently beyond my three score and ten and have arrived at the point, in my mortal progression just as did my father and Jacob and Alma, when the grave becomes less a dreaded concern and the reality of the angel’s words to the women at the empty tomb begin to press upon the senses as ultimate truth. Why seek ye the living among the dead. He is not here, but is risen… (Luke 24:6) Without laboring the many testimonies which have been given, we will add just one more from the latter days. This is the testimony last of all, that he lives! For we saw Him… (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22, 23)

Likewise, I am grateful I have come to realize that one cannot have a testimony of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ settle upon them without sooner or later coming to recognize that because he broke the bands of death, all shall be made alive in Him and the day will come when this mortal will surely put on immortality.

It is a great blessing and should fill each soul which comes to know with comfort, that this mortal span was always meant to be temporary and transitory. One of the great assurances which we all may receive through the teachings of the Savior, is that just as embryo grows into babe, child passes into puberty and the proverbial strings of a mother’s apron begin to loosen, we must also in the process of the passages of life, become less attached to this world and gain the liberating understanding which allows us to willingly put off mortality and look forward to the endless state of immortality.

May we always keep in the forefront of our thoughts that it is by and through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus the Christ that eternal existence is made a reality.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Moses at the burning bush was admonished to remove his shoes because the ground upon which he stood was Holy.

The Tabernacle and Temple in the days of Moses had a set apart room which was called the Holy Place.

Israel was designated to become a Holy Nation that they might worship the Lord on the Holy Mount.

Paul wrote to the Romans and told them that the Temple of God is holy and then added which Temple ye are.

Joseph Smith was told the disciples of the Lord are to stand in Holy Places and are not to be moved.

Joseph was also told that little children are Holy.

From the Bible Dictionary of the King James edition, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we find the following words which are used to define Holy:

Things or places that are set apart for a sacred purpose.

A holy person was one who held a sacred office.

The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah.

The word holy came to refer to moral character.

In the writings of the prophets it is clearly laid down that the value of worship in the eyes of God depends on the personal character of the worshiper.

My personal pondering on the meaning of Holy has brought me to believe:

It is our noble quest to seek out and find Holy Places.

It is our noble duty to stand on Holy ground
It is our noble calling to help create Holy nations.

Noble quest to seek out and find Holy Places

I really had no idea and my preparation for what was about to happen to me had to have been scant and inadequate, but I will long remember the first time I was struck with the feeling that I was standing in a Holy Place. I was fifteen years and a couple of months old, when I took my first Temple trip with the youth from the Garden Grove Stake. Those who knew me would never have suspected that I could enjoy spiritual feelings and; therefore, out of embarrassment I was never able to share the feelings I had experienced when I entered the waters of baptism in the Mesa, Arizona Temple to be baptized in behalf of someone who hadn't had the opportunity while in mortality. I knew then and I still know today that on that day I stood in a Holy Place.

Another remembrance came many years later when Kathleen and I were blessed to take a tour of the Holy Lands with some of our Church Education colleagues. I was sitting on a large rock in a grove of trees just south of where the Jordon River leaves the Sea of Galilee and begins its journey to the Dead Sea. My timid-ness about sharing spiritual insights and feelings had long since become a thing of my lost youth, and I did and have since shared with many the overwhelming feeling I had sitting in that peaceful setting of being in a very Holy Place.

Many times our seeking is too forced and bears little fruit. Sometimes we lack the understanding of how we should be seeking, but we must understand that it is our Heavenly Father who is in charge of such sacred events, and in those moments when we may even be least expecting them, He will shower us with His Holy Spirit and we will know our search of a Holy Place has borne fruit.

Noble duty to stand on Holy ground

When walking had become difficult and staying alert was a task, my father would make his way to the St. George, Utah Temple four days a week to stand in proxy for someone in that Holy Place. He taught me that he had chosen that in those days of faltering he could do one thing very well and that was to stand in Holy Places.

When I was a very green missionary serving in Ciudad Valles, Mexico, my companion and I would, the first Sunday of each month take a bus ride to a small mountain village named Tancanuitz. There was a family who had returned there after working in Detroit, Michigan for some years and we would go and hold services with them. They held services without us on the other Sundays of the month. I was struck when we arrived at their humble home to find that there was a room which they had dedicated for and was only used for these Sunday meetings. I didn't have to be very observant to realize that this room which was never used by the family during the week for their daily activities, was by far the best room in their home. It was a Holy Place where on Sundays or any day of the week they could go and stand on Holy Ground.

I don't believe it is necessary to go to a Temple built by pioneer fathers or even to have a designated room where we can go to stand on Holy Ground, but I believe it is within the reach of each of us to make the ground upon which we stand Holy. I am grateful for the reminder which Kathleen often brings to me, as she prays, how grateful we are to be able to enjoy the peace which exists in our home and makes it a place of Holy Ground.

Noble calling to help create Holy nations

I will always be grateful for the privileges and opportunities which I have enjoyed in life which have made it a rather easy task to be daily involved in the processes which publish peace and remind us of the importance of living lives based on moral character. Besides the 55 years I was involved in teaching the gospel of the Lord on a daily basis, I was able to serve full time missions as a youth in Mexico and then with Kathleen in Colombia when we weren't all that young. I have also received callings in the church which have demanded my constant sharing of the word. I don't know if any have been affected by all these opportunities I have enjoyed, but I continue to have the hope that if I labor all the days of my life and bring save it be one soul… I will have joy.

With all the pluses my privileges have brought to my life, I hasten to remind myself and all others that the most important work we do in striving to create Holy Nations is within the walls of our homes. Nothing I do will be of more importance than creating a place of holiness for Kathleen, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I don't know what the count would be now, but when my grandfather Law was in his 90s back in the 1960s, he estimated his direct descendants to number more than 500. If he were to take a count now he would indeed be viewing a nation. He created a Nation and now whether we choose to stand in Holy Places and make the ground upon which we stand Holy and continue the increase of that Nation is not only part of our birthright, but also our purpose.

It is our noble quest to seek out and find Holy Places.

It is our noble duty to stand on Holy ground.

It is our noble calling to help create Holy nations.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus; saying, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him and set him in the midst of them. Verily I say unto you, except you become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever then shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18: 2-4)

Since the Savior declared it to be so, it must be so that the humility we see in children is a quality we should strive to emulate. Many have equated this quality with our ability to be teachable. Likewise, there is little doubt that if we are not teachable we will fall far short of living the Lord’s teachings.

During my mortal sojourn, other insights have been brought to my consciousness of how the lives of children can light the way in which we should travel if we are to draw closer to emulating the life of ‘The Child.’ Wouldn't it be interesting if one day we find out that it was indeed Jesus the Christ who we were being admonished to become as? After all, did he not have to humble Himself below all in order to learn all His Father had sent him to learn?

Before I drift too far afield from my original thought, let me return to little children in general and the additional qualities we should be seeing in their examples and how we might go about acquiring them.

I believe it was just after our family had returned from visiting some relatives whom we had not seen for several years. During our visits to their home, their youngest daughter, just having celebrated her second birthday, frequently found herself on my knee. Though the vocabulary we used was elementary our conversations were enjoyable and my being was filled with warmth and tenderness. As we were standing in the doorway saying our goodbyes, I felt her little arms encircle my leg in a tender hug. Her father standing nearby took her in his arms and while touching her face said, “I’m really going to have to watch you; you really warm up to people too quickly.”

We all understand the concern behind this caring fathers comment for the safety of his daughter, but isn't it also a rather sad comment on our society that in order for our children to survive we must teach them to replace their natural propensity to trust with mistrust, their natural friendly tendencies are replaced by cautiousness and neighbors must be treated as strangers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if parent and child’s roles were reversed and adults would learn to trust more, be friendlier and treat strangers like neighbors, as they see their offspring do so naturally?

Another event took place on a golf course in small mountain town. At that time the community was supported by retired people who had come to live there to find peace in their final phase of life. As I annually returned there over the years it was becoming more and more obvious that so many people had come to find peace in that mountain retreat that it was no longer to be found.

Anyway, there I go wandering off in my thoughts again. There was one year early on, before the dooming migration, when I was making this pilgrimage with my companions, that we wondered aloud what made this particular annual excursion so special. The following differences from our daily walks were noted. The people were open to strangers. There was a palatable absence of competiveness. There was an evident feeling that harmonious relationships were more important than the gathering of a greater pile of material goods. It seemed as if all we met in the community had returned to their primeval state of childhood and as we greeted them they made us feel encircled with the same loving tenderness which I had enjoyed with my small two-year-old niece. They had come full circle and had cast off the telestial inhibitions which we so often acquire as a shield against unknown fears.

The last insight of how children or ‘The Child’ can be our teacher came when I was watching the movie E. T. with my own children for the first time. As we watched Elliot and E. T. grow from frightened strangers to having a mutual admiration and gaining a bonding spirit which would show its fulfillment when Elliot tries to help E. T. return home, through my mind came the thought, ‘were it only so with all of us.’ As we watched the people of the world who had not bonded with E. T. react to the discovery of an alien being, we realized that the ‘sad’ norm was one of acting toward one another with suspicion, exploitation and greed. The one sensitive scientist said it best, as he bent near the young earthling who was suffering as his extra-terrestrial friend was passing away, ‘I’m glad you found him first.’ The rest of his thought was unspoken, but understood: ‘rather than the mature adults of society.’

I think we should all be paying attention to the little children and ‘The Child,’ and all who emulate them, so that we can learn those lessons which are of most importance in life.

Then were there brought unto Him little children, that he should put His hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them; but Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19: 13-14)

Sunday, September 28, 2014


My good friend and oft times mentor, Paul Maddox, a short time back sent me a quote by D. H. Lawrence which pretty much sums up my philosophy on gaining a testimony of truths, or as some would want to say, coming to understand what I truly value in life.

A man has no religion who has not slowly and painfully gathered one together, adding to it, shaping it; and one’s religion is never complete and final it seems, but must always be undergoing modification.

As an adult, I don't ever remember really enjoying the discomforts of camping; however, there was a time when a priesthood calling I had required me to voluntarily spend one week each summer at Bucks Lake, California, with a horde of girls 12-18. The girls were challenge enough, but the adult sister leaders seemed particularly bent on making sure my nights were sleepless and my days were full of anxiety.

I tried all kinds of devices to make my six year annual trial more pleasant. I took a van with a pull down bed, but the girls and their leaders found delight in taking shifts to keep it rocking during the night. I tried having to return to Reno, Nevada, to take care of some urgent church business, only to return to the lake to find my tent and camping stuff on a raft in the middle of the lake. We posted signs of the presence of bears, hoping this would keep them huddled securely in their tents.

The only solution I ever saw which really worked was one used by a golfing buddy, Terry Drake, who also had a priesthood assignment which put him in the position of being an involuntary volunteer. Terry would rent a room in a lodge at the other end of the lake and there he slept very well. At the time I was relentless in telling him what an absolute coward he was, but upon further review I now see the genius of his method.

Anyway, back to the point of Lawrence’s statement. Usually at the fireside on the last night of camp the girls and leaders were given the opportunity to share their testimonies. Frequently their words would include some all-encompassing statement about the level of their belief, such as, ‘I believe with every fiber of my being…’ or ‘without a shadow of doubt…’ I knew the probability was that they were repeating phrases they had heard from parents or others, without realizing the profundity of belief and the responsibility which attended what they were saying.

Presently, after the passage of many years, which included only one brief week of camping for a family reunion and was only attempted after the forest service gave assurance that there were facilities in the camp (this facility thing remains a cross I have to bear even to this day), I have come to the following conclusions concerning knowledge, understanding, testimony, belief, conversion, conviction and commitment.

Since belief and testimony are limited to one’s level of knowledge and understanding, it would seem only a God who has omniscience is capable of having an all-consuming testimony.
Since all mortals fall far short of even having a primary degree of knowledge and understanding they are universally incapable of having a sure testimony of all things.
That we may have a limited testimony of finite number of things, but are tremendously limited by our lack of knowledge and understanding.
That our level of testimony is borne more through actions than words and in a very real way is a surer measure of where we are in our search for the confirmation of our beliefs.
That Brigham Young was right when he inferred that it could be millions upon millions of years after he left mortality before he approached where God is in knowledge and understanding.
That the very idea of having a complete testimony proves to be a limiting factor on the growth of knowledge, understand and, therefore, a firmer testimony.
That a testimony is a living thing and should be nourished and strengthened daily by study, prayer and righteous living.
That the more dedicated I am to living the principles I testify to be true, the surer my witness will become.
That the more I study and expand my knowledge base I will likewise be expanding those concepts I will be capable of testifying to be true as far as I understand them.
That when the fibers of our bodies return to dust and we can no longer cast a shadow we will still be in the quest of developing our testimonies and striving for perfection.

I suspect when the veil is rent and we all see and discern more clearly, we will also be able to speak with greater clarity, and understand one another more soundly. In the meantime we will all continue trying to express our testimonies in the best way we can, be more accepting of how others express their beliefs and strive each day to live just a little bit closer to the level of understanding we currently have.

My personal testimony is that camping is something one does of necessity, not something one does for enjoyment.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I remind you that I have never claimed to have an original thought in all my life, so any similarity you find between the sayings I share here and those you might previously have heard is innocent but hardly accidental.

Thursday, May 15, 2014: Some things are hard to wash out of your life no matter how strong the soap!!

Friday, May 16, 2014: Sow gratitude and you will reap happiness!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014: A sure way to have a lot of unhappy days – is to put the responsibility for your happiness on others!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014: Keep trying – most of the important games we play in mortality only end when the clock runs down!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014: Sharing, service, love, kindness are all elements which help your garden of happiness blossom!!

Friday, May 23, 2014: There are few times in life when having a 'hockey puck' in your life will make you happy!!

Monday, May 26, 2014: Whoever thought it would be easier to shoot your age as you got older didn't understand anything about geezer golf!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014: Having a sweet ride through life usually only happens when you have your sweetheart by your side!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014: If the only close shave you have had in life was with a razor – add that to the list of blessings which have been sent your way!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014: Like too much rain turns into a flood – Many times in life too much of a good thing can be disastrous!!
Friday, May 30, 2014: Every pain in the neck isn't caused by aging!!

Monday, June 2, 2014: Just because you finally made the green doesn't guarantee everything will be smooth!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014: Repeating something over and over does not necessarily increase its importance – it could just be a case of age related memory loss!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014: Faith is the foundation of Conversion – Knowledge is the foundation of Commitment!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014: If you want to be known as a fountain of foolish words – ridicule that which you do not understand!!

Friday, June 6, 2014: Actions are more likely to reveal a person’s true beliefs – than their words!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014: If you want to see more beauty today – expand your idea of what is beautiful!!

Friday, June 13, 2014: There are people who are like crows – they have a certain beauty which diminishes rapidly when they start making noises!!

Monday, June, 16, 2014: Put your bad shots behind you – it will increase your chances of a good shot the next time you swing!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014: I really tried – but – I can never think of a Crow as being as beautiful as a Snowy White Egret!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014: Some people are like Snowy White Egrets – we don't appreciate their true beauty until they fly away!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014: Paintings which catch a moment of man’s and nature’s beauty – much like a photograph – have always resonated with me more than those which represent a world – where the artist is painting to a song I neither recognize nor understand!!

Friday, June 20, 2014: My ears and my soul have taught me – there is a big difference between screaming and singing!!

Monday, June 23, 2014: I am pretty sure Deity cares very little about how one plays golf – I am not quite as sure the Devil is so inclined to absent himself from the Course!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014: The sincerity of sacrifice is measured by the absence of Me and the presence of You!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014


The other day I was mentally reviewing the fifty plus years I had spent teaching in the Education System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As I mystically traveled through that majority period of my life, there were many years which were shrouded in a pretty dense haze, but there were also moments which were drenched with brightness in my mind.

In 1965 there was a young man named John who dropped by after school one day at the Kearns Stake Center where Brother Darrell Parks and I taught seminary to the ninth graders attending Kearns Junior High School. We were studying the Book of Mormon and the lesson that day had been on 4th Nephi and some of the latter-day revelations which talked about a Zion society built on the foundation of Celestial Law.

Evidently John had spent some time since our class pondering on the benefits and beauty of being able to live in such a community. His question to me was, “Why can't a group of people just get together and go up in the mountains and isolate themselves from all the corruption of the world and become a Zion society?”

I could tell he was really anxious about the issue, so we spent a wonderful hour together exploring the whys and why nots of his question.

The exact words we exchanged are contained in that dense haze I spoke of before, but having passed over the subject of a Zion society many times during those fifty years my hope would be that we covered some of the following concepts.

There are Seers who report of having been given glances into Heavenly Father’s Celestial World and then scantily reported on what their spiritual eyes had beheld. I am certain that no matter how exhaustingly we exercised our Telestial minds we would always fall short of catching the vision of how wondrous it really is. We do know that the beings that are eligible to reside there have taken on, through their own efforts and determination and having been added upon by a large helping of the Grace of God, the perfected attributes and characteristics of Godliness. Since us mortals without exception fall woefully short of such a standard, it would seem that no matter how long we separate ourselves away in the mountains we will, under present circumstances, never make of this earth a Celestial World.

In two instances in the scriptures we read of nations who have become Zion. One is spoken of in the Pearl of Great Price. Evidently, the prophet Enoch, after working with a group of people for centuries and after the Lord had separated them from all outside contact and distraction, was able to raise up a people who had one heart and one mind. Hearts which no longer had any disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. Minds where every thought was righteous, words were pure and actions were edifying. Then in 4th Nephi, the Book of Mormon speaks of another group who, after having been taught and converted by the resurrected Jesus Christ, became a Zion Nation. The Enoch groups had to be taken from this earth in order to preserve their righteousness; the Book of Mormon group was only able to continue as a Zion Nation into the third generation. Since not even the most righteous of us are going to be able to continue to work with each other as mortals for centuries and since none of us has the power to convert ourselves or others as did our Savior, we might conclude that as of now, becoming a Zion Nation might be a bit out of reach. Evidently there is no mountain high enough on this earth, where mortals can escape others and themselves in order to maintain the standards necessary for the perpetuation of a Zion Nation.

Along with many other revelations, Joseph Smith outlined the city plot and government of a City of Zion. During his short life and for some years after his life there were various attempts to build such a place and inhabit it with a people who would become Zion. The fatal error which seemed to show its serpented head soon after the first spade had entered fertile soil in each new place, was that the people who migrated to that place expected the place to make them Zion and they would therefore become a City of Zion. But alas, since they remained far short of the perfection referred by the Lord in his Sermon on the Mount and their hearts were still far from Him, these attempts were condemned to failure even before they had their meager goods stored on their wagon. So John, it seems that that heart we take to the mountain will be the same heart which others must deal with in our isolated new home.

As we continue to narrow our hopes of Zion, we take a quick peek at what the Latter Day Prophets hold up to us as a conceivable, achievable goal; a Zion Home. This idea hit John rather hard, since one of the reasons he had pondered on the possibility of a mountain retreat, was that he could not imagine that such a goal could be reached in the walls of his family’s house. Rather than Zion Homes, he felt surrounded with people living in houses which were occupied by inhabitants interacting in very dysfunctional ways. Houses where people were quick to put the blame for their own shortcomings on every other resident, but were extremely slow to take responsibility and be accountable for their disharmonizing words and actions. Houses where personal needs far eclipsed the needs of those who shared those walls. Even in small groups he witnessed a void between what he had quietly been taught in class that morning and the din of people who were far from being of one heart and one mind. His sincere remedy was that perhaps by escaping to the mountain he might have a chance of establishing a Zion Home. Sadly, he was left with trying to choose angels from among mortals.

One principle which we spoke of that day did shine brightly out of the haze and came clearly to my mind. I remember feeling that sensation which manifests itself in my being when a truth becomes mine and which I still hold to be true to this day. No one has the power to keep me from a constant effort to try to inch forward on my quest of putting on the perfections, attributes and characteristics of Godliness and hopefully, with the help of a Loving Heavenly Father those inches will somehow add up to feet. Thus, the Lord’s mountain is the only one I must climb and is the only path I can take to move closer to being a Zion Person.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


During the wonderful years we spent in Reno, Nevada, which was before the ‘Biggest Little City in the World’ had the ‘Biggest Little Temple in the World (our eldest son Cevin pointed that out when he was helping with the construction because they enclosed the entrance patio making it slightly larger than other small temples), we had to make the trip over Donner Pass to attend the Oakland, California Temple. Gratefully, this was long after the ill-fated Donner Party had struggled over that pass in October of 1846 through April of 1847. It should be noted that there were times when we were unable to go to the Temple and times when our return was delayed because of weather, even with the beautiful interstate having replaced the unbroken trails of yesteryears.

Anyway, on one of our trips Kathleen was doing some research for a presentation she was giving and was reading quotes from the modern day apostles. We were about half way through our three hour trek from Reno to Oakland when she turned to me and remarked that a strange thing was happening in her mind. She said that as she read silently the words of Elders Boyd K. Packer and Bruce R. McConkie, in her mind she was hearing their intonations and their phrasing of the words she was reading. It seemed to her it was as though she was actually hearing their voices as if they were speaking to her.

As we discussed this phenomenon we were both able to recall several times when this same ‘voices out of the printed word’ had happened to us in in the past. Subsequently, when discussing this strange happening with others, I discovered that it was a very common sensation. During our discussion, I think we simultaneously came to the realization of a gospel principle which we previously hadn't understood. It is always a wonderful moment when the glass darkly becomes clearer.

In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Savior gives the parable of the Good Shepherd, where he tries to teach us that the Shepherd knows His sheep so well that He can call them by name and they will respond. He also says that the sheep know the Shepherd so well that they can distinguish His voice from any would-be imposter. The Shepherds voice would be familiar and would bring a positive response while the sheep would flee from the voice of a stranger.

I have been puzzled by the ability some of the Good Shepherd’s sheep have to hear and respond to his voice while others, maybe even a great majority of the sheep wandering in the hills of the world, seldom have the opportunity of being enfolded in His caring arms and having His voice soothe away their cares.
After our discussion on the ‘voices out of the printed word’ Kathleen went back to her reading and my mind was drawn to a scripture in the 18th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. When I got home I looked it up and the words I was thinking of were in the 34th through the 36th verses: These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify that they are of me and not of men. For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you, for they are given by my spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another, and save it were by my power you could not have them. Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.

The prompting Kathleen had received had turned the key. It seems that if I have frequently heard someone speak or sing, whenever I read their words or poetry or even just the title of one of the songs they made popular, their voices come into my mind, even to the degree that their performance comes alive.

The verses I referred to earlier in the Doctrine and Covenants seem to indicate that the reverse of this phenomenon is also true. Evidently, a human sheep can, through constant and continual reading of a person’s words, become so familiar with the phrasing and mannerisms of speech that the reading of the word becomes as if they are hearing the actual voice. The scripture also leads us to understand that when we hear the actual voice of the person’s words we have been reading we will recognize their voice from the familiarity we have gained while reading their words.

I have read several studies of how computers can identify writers by the patterns they establish in their writings. We have all been amazed as we were introduced to the app on smart phones which can identify a song and the performer of that song immediately. Just this last week, I saw a commercial for a new app which will identify any movie which might be playing on the television or over the internet. It doesn't seem to matter what verse might be being sung or what scene in the movie might be playing the apps can immediately give you the name of the song or the movie. It isn't much of a stretch to believe that if we sheep can develop a machine which has this capability that the ’developer sheep’ of that machine may have even greater capabilities when it comes to identifying sounds or recognizing live voices from words they have read on the printed page.

I personally know many sheep that, after only a few words, can recognize the speaker as Hamlet or Macbeth and can tell you what scene the words were spoken of and, of course, know that he who penned the words was William Shakespeare. Sadly, many of these sheep would be sent into a stammering fit if they were asked to identify the reference of a verse of scripture or whether they had ever heard the still small voice of the Savior or the Holy Spirit.

I suspect, if we sheep really understood the power of voice recognition it would become the greatest of motivators for us to be constantly reading the scriptures. I believe that that sheep who has been diligently reading the words of the True Shepherd, when He calls his name, will recognize His voice and respond to His call.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


It has taken me a long time, but I think I finally have figured out why my father grew more and more silent as he grew older.

I will blame but a small portion of his propensity towards silence on his decreased hearing ability. I think the main reason he was reluctant to speak much in his last few years was because he no longer understood the meaning of the words he had used throughout his life.

Since he is no longer here to explain his trend toward muteness I will have to use my own extended experience to try to bring meaning to man’s march towards respectful silence.

When I was a very young child the distinction between good and bad words was easily identified, especially in the presence of my mother. When an unacceptable word was said it was immediately identified by a threat of having my mouth washed out with soap. Time has dulled my memory so that I can't recall if that threat was ever put into action or not, hopefully the threat was sufficient to ease the tension brought on by the utterance of the bad word.

During elementary school and through most of my teen years I came to understand that there were safe zones where a boy could speak bad words and zones where great caution had to be taken.

1. The playground away from the school yard monitors was safe while the classroom was off limits for questionable language.
2. Scout meetings at the church house was definitely not a safe zone while scout camp seemed to be the safest place for boldly having ones speech liberally sprinkled with bad words.
3. Under ones breath was safe while vocalization was not.
4. The boy’s locker room was safe but the band room was forbidden territory for bad words.
5. Athletic fields and courts were havens for bad words while Sunday School classes were out of bounds.
6. It was always safer to say bad words with male companions, and disrespectful when the group was joined by the female variety of the species.
7. Sergeants could use bad words, but privates could not.

I think you get the idea that freedom of speech was clearly defined by words being good or bad by when those words could safely be spoken and where and with whom one might presently be.

I went on a church mission to Northern Mexico when I was 19 years old and when I returned I thought things remained pretty much status quo.

However, when I enrolled in a college speech class shortly after returning home, I realized that somehow a built in monitor had infected my body while in Mexico. I now no longer found a great personal need to be aware of where I was or who was in the group, bad words were no longer part of my vocabulary. I remember in the class a young woman referred to a certain part on the back side of her body with a four letter word. There was a consensus in the class that it would have been better if she were to have chosen a less offensive word. A four letter word which today, I have to frequently remind my young grandchildren, is not to be used in their grandparent’s home.

When our children grew to be in their teens, it was a constant battle for them to have to update their ole fogie father on what fowl or animal names could be used in polite society in order to avoid knowing glances from listeners.

During the time Kathleen and I spent in Colombia the language changed to such an extent that when we returned to the United States of America and took up residence in Southern California, in was a daily battle to keep from using words which once referred to beach footwear, but now were used to describe scanty panties, along with a whole list of words which now had double meanings and if they had not entered the bad category they were at least shady.

Now that I am retired and most of my vocabulary updating comes from cable or wireless devices, I have found that there seems to be a race (I would say rat race, but I am afraid that I might be politically incorrect) to see who can find another filthy meaning for words which at one time were used with preciseness of meaning and carried no danger of having a mouth foaming from suds.

In the days of our biblical first parents, their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. (Pearl of Great Price – Moses 6:6) Adam called every living thing by the name thereof. (Old Testament – Genesis 2:19) Then the language became confounded and the people became scattered among the nations. (Old Testament – Genesis11:9) I heard a language which I understood not. (Old Testament – Psalms 81:5) Their language became corrupted. (Book of Mormon – Omni 1:17) For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. (Old Testament – Zephaniah 3:9)

I know my scriptural account is a small sampling, but, alas in the column of ‘nothing new under the sun’ we see that what has happened to our language is but a repetition of what has happened among the nations during recorded history. There seems to be a strong connection between the corruption of a language and minds and virtues and the downfall of societies and governments. If what I have seen happening during my lifetime is indeed the corruption of our national language… Hopefully, we will modify our destructive behavior before divine intervention is needed.

Meanwhile like my father and his father before him, I will find contentment in keeping my mouth shut and being thought a fool rather than opening it and removing all doubt.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Long ago Charles Karault had a television show which many of us old timers enjoyed, called ‘On the Road.’ I remember one episode which spring boarded me into some joy-filled moments of reflection. On this particular road trip Karault was visiting a falconry. After showing us all the feeding, training and breeding techniques which were involved with these wonderful birds, he asked the falconer, why he worked with falcons rather that some other kind of bird. The falconer replied without hesitation, ‘birds flap, falcons fly!’

As I pondered his words I came to the conclusion that there may also be a third type of fowl. Since then I have added fourth and fifth categories. My typing of birds now includes those which soar, those which migrate, those which fly, those which flap and those which scratch. As my thoughts continued to wander, I wondered if we could also fit most people into one or more of those categories. I suspect none of us fits perfectly into any of those categories and I further suspect that there are times in our lives when we are spending time soaring and others when we are scratching. We probably do a lot of situational sliding from one type of fowl to another.


Are those ground-locked birds which carry such illustrious titles as chicken, turkey and ostrich. There may have been a time when they were flappers, but because of gluttony or having their wings clipped they have become accustomed and content to spend their days scratching and then when not scratching they sleep. They spend their days with their beaks in the mud working mightily to get something into their stomachs. They live for what they discover while scratching, and become disposable when they either no longer produce or have maximized their volume. They may be dressed in great finery and be called peacock, but when all is said and done they are scratchers with a very limited life and very narrow vision.


Are those birds which indeed have the advantage where expanded vistas can be enjoyed, but they are so busy getting to where they want to go that they take little time to enjoy the trip. Once they arrive at their intended destination, they take a quick breath and then they are off to somewhere else they need to be. They are ever going and never being. Their possibilities seem unlimited, but they become confused by mistaking ends and means of life’s purposes. The king of all flappers, in the end, is much like the scratcher. The darting hummingbird is in constant motion, but accomplishes little more than eating enough to give it the strength to flap.


Are those birds which have developed to the degree where they have come to understand that besides having a means to gain sustenance the beauty of the flight is also part of existence. There are times when the experience of the moment should be enjoyed and life sustaining efforts put off and delayed. They understand yesterday and tomorrow have, and will bring, their own rewards, but today this field, this view, is theirs to explore, contemplate and behold.


Are those birds which change with the weather, willing to travel thousands of miles in order to avoid the discomfort of being too hot or too cold. They are well known on both ends of their journeys, but never completely involved in either homeland. They enjoy where they are until the going gets difficult and then they are off to find a more comfortable place.


Are those birds who have gained the ability to expand their vision beyond horizons which other birds don’t even dream about. They understand that substance is a means to an end and not an end in itself. They eat so that they can soar and soar so that they can sustain life. They have become all that others wish to be and they wish all others could be as they are. They are limited by duty and honor, but never feel less because of their loyalty to their family.

These classifications of fowl become especially important as we contemplate how they relate to the five great areas of relationships we need to work on during the short mortal span we are given.

My relationship to mother earth and my physical surroundings.
My relationship with myself, growing to appreciate and know who I am.
My relationship in my community and how I treat those who share my little space.
My contributive relationships which oft times requires sacrifice of personal comfort.
My relationship with the Heavens and those who dwell there.

A scratcher will use the plenty of the earth, never replacing, never replanting. They are forever using until when life is over a path of desolation is left as a reminder of lustful scratching.

The flapper is forever looking at tomorrow, seldom pausing today long enough to realize the goodness of the moment. They wonder about how good tomorrow will be… Where they will be tomorrow… What will they be doing tomorrow? They marvel at how far away tomorrow always seems. Sadly, tomorrow never arrives and today was never enjoyed.

The flyer comes to know that there is more to life than sustenance, but is never quite capable of seeing beyond the limits of their surroundings. They become territorial and prejudicial and find all things different than themselves annoying and to be mistrusted and used only when it is for their own good. They live a life which is constantly narrowing and tightening rather than expanding.

The migrators are forever in a state of self-satisfaction, but after their much scurrying hither and yon, they find that they have left little as a contribution to the welfare of their fellow men, who, after all, were there only to be enjoyed and then quickly forgotten when out of sight.

The soarer sees the whole of the earth as a creation of the Creator and all who dwell thereon as equals trying to understand the purpose of being one of the created. They care for the earth as a trusted steward, always leaving the ground more productive and fertile than when they arrived. They understand that today is a gift given so they might know themselves better and to come to understand their place in life more clearly from an eternal view. They view their relationships with universal brothers and sisters as a sacred responsibility, constantly helping each neighbor become all they can become. Their words are sincere as they interact with their fellows and their Heavenly Father.

We may find it tiring and difficult as we try to convince a scratcher that there is indeed a way to find greater joy and see greater vistas of life. We may find roadblocks thrown up as flappers, well entrenched in justifying and defending their way of life, ward off our attempts. We can only hold out a carrot of possibilities to flyers and migrators who may resist our every effort. After all, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the power of change is strictly reserved to the individual whether they choose to discover and grow or continue to be content to scratch.

The beauty of our Heavenly Father’s plan is not found in how many people accept and wonder at the painting we present to them, but is to be found in the time we took to paint the picture and the reason we had for taking the time.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Just a reminder my book Thoughts for 100 Sabbath Days can be ordered on

I have to confess that it was while I was listening to General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that for some reason I started writing down little sayings which kept popping into my mind. Actually, it was just after I had applied some sports cream to my neck and then finished the task I had gone into the bathroom to do. Two days later I decided to start sharing these ditties on Face Book.

After two plus months of sharing I realized that the vast majority of my friends probably haven't had the _________ (fill in appropriate word or phrase – blessing, plague, annoyance, amusement, boredom) of reading these sayings of mine, since many of you who receive my email blast are not on Face Book or do not visit that site very often.

An appropriate disclaimer must be attached: As I have stated before, I am absolutely sure that all of my thoughts have been stimulated by some previous learning experience in my life and, therefore, I claim that whatever I share is that which comes out of my mind when I begin to write and I further claim zero belief that in any way it contains original thought.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014: It doesn't make sense to buy a car if the payments are so high that you can't afford gas!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014: Disappointment will be yours – when you discover your children consider your treasures to be trash!!

Friday, April 11, 2014: Always apply sports cream after going to the bathroom not before!!

Monday, April 14, 2014: One should smell lots of flowers early in life – our ability to smell diminishes as we age, along with many other bodily functions!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014: There comes a time in life when knowing the final score is all that one needs!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014: Although the expression of love for another may change, it does not necessarily alter its depth!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014: Enjoy exotic foods while you can before they become an enemy to your digestive system!!

Friday, April 18, 2014: After handling jalapeno peppers, always wash your hands before touching your eyes!!

Monday, April 21, 2014: Man caves with big screen HD televisions = hideaways where men who are embarrassed to be seen crying in public can watch chick flicks!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014: WARNING!! – Animal movies like Bambi, Old Yeller and The Yearling will also cause moisture to gather on lower eye lids and spill over!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014: The surefire recipe for having a bummer of a day is to spend it thinking about all the things you hate about your life!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014: On the other hand: If you want to have a joyous day – spend it thinking about all the things you love about your life!!

Friday, April 25, 2014: Why is it that during our youth, when days go slowly by, most tasks can be quickly done - while during our advanced years, when days speed quickly by, most tasks take forever to do??

Monday, April 28, 2014: With the multiplication of ones days – one finds weather to be less of a measure of a good day - that is unless one was scheduled to play geezer golf!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014: It is people, not knives, who determine whether it is fingers or carrots that get cut!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014: Having a few close friends is easy – just be mean and disagreeable to everyone you meet - there really are very few who will tolerate such behavior for very long!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014: Saying you are sorry is only meaningful if our words and actions are different in the future!!

Friday, May 2, 2014: Sugar coated cereal does not sweeten sour milk!!

Monday, May 5, 2014: Demonstrating and practicing are better ways of mentoring than lecturing!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014: DISCIPLINE – DEDICATION – DETERMINATION – are as important to the learning process as teachers and books!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014: Lackluster praying quickly turns into braying!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014: Tragedy quickly turns braying into praying!!

Friday, May 9, 2014: If you really want to be able to share something - plant zucchini!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014: Be active and doing while you can – there will be plenty of time for sitting and contemplating later in life!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014: Even round balls don't always bounce the way you wanted or thought they would bounce!!