Friday, August 21, 2009

Making Our Loads Lighter

Last night I had a dream that was very realistic (unusual for me!) and the message of the dream was actually part of it.

I dreamed that I was driving a big new pickup truck (okay, not very realistic!). The truck was pulling a fairly large trailer similar to a horse trailer. I arrived at a bridge and had to stop because the load I was carrying was too heavy. Whoever was in charge told me that I needed to get rid of things that really didn't matter. I pulled things from various nooks and crannies in the truck and tossed them over my shoulder.

Everytime I thought I was finished, the man would shake his head and tell me to remove more stuff. As I was removing all the junk from the truck, the thought went through my mind that this was an allegory to life:

Oftentimes we are carrying heavy loads in our lives. They might be spiritual loads for which we need to repent or forgive, or they might be physical loads due to having too much and we may need to simplify. Either way, there really is no reason to carry so much - it makes life difficult and we often suffer unnecessarily because of it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Predicting the Future

One of my most favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is about a young shepherd boy named Santiago who is on a quest to follow his dream. At one point in the story he meets a seer and wishes to be told his future. The seer wisely told him:

"If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise. If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur."

I think the advice that followed was even more important:

"When people consult me, it's not that I'm reading the future; I am guessing at the future. The future belongs to God, and it is only He who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstance. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity."

This also reminds me of a song by Janice Kapp Perry:

I see an old woman rocking there.
The sun shining softly on her silver hair.
I wonder the secrets she holds deep inside,
Is she smiling or hiding a tear in her eye?
She watches our day as her story unfolds
For you see, she is you grown old.

And with every decision you make today,
You’re creating the woman you’ll be someday.
Just for now the old woman depends on you,
She waits and she watches
As you make her dream come true.
Be kind to the woman waiting there
For time passes swiftly and you must prepare,
Hold fasts to the values more precious than gold.
And you’ll bless the old woman who waits down the road.

She watches our day as her story unfolds,
For you see, She is you grown old
Only you can decide her eternal role.
Just for now the old woman depends on you
She waits and she watches
As you make her dreams come true.

Be watchful Young Woman, Chose well today.
Remember to live for the woman, You’ll be someday!


Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered

Here is a talk by President James E. Faust from the April 2003 General Conference. It has a great message for all parents.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Fall is fast approaching. I love fall with the crunch of dried leaves under my feet as I walk around the block enjoying the cool crisp air that smells of falling leaves and just a hint of wood burning stoves.

Fall always makes me hungry for stews, pumpkin pies, and homemade ginger snap cookies.

It is also a time of harvest. The farmers are gathering in their crops, the home gardener is enjoying his fruits and vegetables, and many homes are filled with the smells and sounds of canning and drying.

It reminds me of a scripture in D&C 12:3 "Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God." (also repeated in D&C 4:4, and 14:3 - so I figure it must be pretty important)

I have heard this scripture used most often with missionary work, but I want to take a slightly different twist on it.

The field that is ready to harvest is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we want to reap the blessings of the gospel then we need to put forth the effort that is required for those blessings.

The farmer cannot reap the benefits of his crops unless he goes into the field and does the work of gathering in the crops.

The gardener cannot reap the benefits of his plants unless he goes out into his garden and picks the produce.

And so we must go into the garden of the gospel and work in order to receive the blessings.

The scripture says that we need to reap while the day lasts. I think this means all day long - or without ceasing. It must be a continued effort.

Have you ever tasted a tomato straight out of the garden? The flavor is indescribably delicious. In comparison, a store-bought tomato has no more flavor than a piece of paper. Store-bought produce has to be picked before it is fully ripe and can never reach that full flavor.

What I'm trying to say is, the richest harvest comes straight from the field or garden. The heart of the gospel contains the full flavor and can be enjoyed by all who desire and are willing to "thrust in the sickle".

Why be satisfied with mediocre produce. Begin to enjoy the full flavor today!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


In Luke 5:31-32 Jesus said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Repentance is open to EVERYONE. Christ atoned for ALL of our sins, and we can be forgiven if we are willing to repent.

We are all in need of the forgiving power of the Atonement.

My understanding is that Christ is the only one who has the power to forgive sins because He already paid the price for them - justice was paid in full, and Christ can now show mercy to those who repent and their debt has already been paid.

Yet we are commanded "to forgive all men." (D&C 64:8-11)

It isn't even a requirement for the offender to have repented in order for us to forgive him/her. We don't make the sin go away when we forgive - only Christ can do that. When we forgive we aren't saying that we condone the sin. I don't completely understand it, but I do know that because my vision is extremely limited I cannot honestly judge another - "Let God judge" (D&C 64:11) I think this is part of why we need to forgive. I also know that the greater sin lies with the person who does not forgive. (D&C 64:9)

When the woman was taken in the act of adlutery and brought before Christ, He said, "He that is without sin among you, Let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7) He didn't say, "He who has never committed adultery cast the first stone." This tells me that we do not have the right to condemn others for their sins - even if we are free from the sin ourselves.

"Succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (D&C 81:5)

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Late last night we were driving home from Boise. It seemed like we would never get home, but we kept driving forward and eventually we did arrive.

I thought about how this compares to life - If we keep moving forward we will eventually reach our destination as long as we are on the right road. Maybe more accurately put - we will eventually reach the destination for the road that we are on. If we want a certain destination, then we'd better make sure we are on the road that leads there.

There is a song from My Turn on Earth that says something like this:

  • If you choose the very first step on the road, you also choose the last - so if you don't like the end of the road, you better back up - you know you better back up fast.

We get to choose every step we take down a road, but we do not get to choose where the road takes us. The destination for each road has already been predetermined. You can't take a road to Rigby and expect to end up in Hawaii.

Take a look at the road you are now traveling. Will it take you where you want to go?

If you're on the right road, keep moving forward and have an enjoyable trip.

If you're not on the right road, then STOP! It won't do any good to continue traveling on the wrong road. Ask for directions if you need help finding the right one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Boiled Frog

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.

But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant,and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.

This story has often been used to illustrate how people are led to commit sins. If you are living a righteous life and someone asks you to rob a bank, you would, of course, not do it. But if you start out committing somewhat smaller sins like cheating on a test, telling little white lies, or whatever, pretty soon these smaller sins don't seem so bad and worse ones are compounded on them until when someone makes the suggestion to rob a bank, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing - or you just don't care anymore.

This, of course, is just one example. I don't know anyone who has ever robbed a bank, nor do I know anyone who knows anyone who has, but there are many many other examples of sins that do effect my life, the life of my loved ones, and others I know.

I want to add a twist to the story that might bring it into even more perspective.

Suppose the frog is someone's pet. I'll call this someone Fred to make the story easier to tell. The frog has jumped into the pot of cool water and is happily swimming around. Fred is looking frantically around the house for his pet frog. It doesn't occur to him to look in the pot until it is almost too late.

When Fred finally discovers his frog in the water, the frog is barely alive. Fred dearly loves his little pet and is quite upset at finding him in this predicament.

Should he watch him perish while thinking - You stupid frog. Why did you jump in the water? Well, it was your choice. You're the one who is going to have to suffer.

Should he reach in the boiling water, pull the frog out, and try and rescue it?

Should he just give up and walk away?

It may be easy to say that he should reach in and rescue the frog while there is still a chance that he might live. I would agree. But how often do we opt for the other two choices with the frogs in our lives? It's something to think about.

Let's not wait until it is too late to rescue the frog's in our lives.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Broken Things to Mend"

My thoughts today come from the book "Broken Things to Mend" by Jeffrey R. Holland. Quotations come directly from his book. I also want to tie it in to the things I talked about yesterday.

This book was written "for those who feel their lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair." If we break the moral laws in severe enough degrees, we most likely will feel a great deal of despair, we may feel that there is no hope for us - that we are broken beyond repair, we may even feel that we deserve the darkness we now find ourselves in. It is not true. There is always hope.

It is my belief that the moral laws that govern all of us here on earth come from God. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suppose that the remedy for breaking these laws also comes from God.

He said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

(A yoke provides a distribution of weight between the two animals yoked together so that they can share in the burden. When we come to Christ, we take upon us His yoke, and he helps carry our burdens. He is even capable of carrying the entire load.)

The way to Christ is outlined in the following steps: (If you do not believe in Christ but want to find your way out of despair from breaking the moral laws that apply to all of us, these are still the steps to take).

Step 1: Have a desire

Step 2: Change anything you can change with yourself that may be part of the problem. (Repent.) Remember that you do not need to do this alone. Turn to those people who truly love you. Change is not easy, but it is possible.

Step 3: Begin doing those things which are right - obey the moral laws. Learn about Christ and His teachings.

"I testify that the Savior's Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappoinments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair."

"Whatever your distress, please don't give up and please don't yield to fear."

"If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

C.S. Lewis and the Human Law of Nature

Author C.S. Lewis made some very compelling arguments for the existence of a law of human nature or a moral law which is the law of decent behavior. The law exists for all people regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of them.

There are two types of natural laws - the kind of laws we have no choice to obey like the laws of gravity and aging and the kind of laws where we can choose whether or not to obey them. The law of human nature or moral law is the latter.

Selfishness is an example that goes against the moral law. Think of people you know who are selfish. Do you admire them? Do others admire them? My guess is that you can think of people who are selfish, but you cannot think of anyone who admires them for their selfishness. They may have other qualities that can be admired, but their selfishness is never admired.

According to Lewis, if anyone argues that there really is no such thing as a moral law, they will soon disprove their own theory. They may break a promise to you and justify their actions based on their belief that there is no moral law, but as soon as you break a promise to them, they will cry that it is unfair. Unfair based on what?

Moral laws are truths that we have no ability to change. We can only choose to obey or disobey, but we cannot change them.

Nobody ever obeys these laws completely. There are always excuses available for why we did not obey. Lewis says, "I do not succeed in keeping the law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm."

The fact that we make excuses is proof that we believe very strongly in these laws.

"The truth is, we believe in decency so much - we feel the Rule of law pressing on us so - that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility."

I find it interesting that we only make excuses for our bad behavior but not for our good behavior.