Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scripture Saturday — 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Be at peace; God is watching over you
It's easy to feel fearful about the future. There are wars all over the world. Economies are suffering. Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. Many are strangling in the webs of addiction. Families are being torn apart by the devil. Dishonesty and immorality prevail in many governments.

We all feel apprehension about these events, especially when they affect us personally. But because we have a loving Heavenly Father, we needn't feel fear about the future. As long as we are doing our best to keep the commandments and follow Him, He will watch over us. This doesn't mean we will always be kept from sickness or sorrow, but we will be kept from the consequences that afflict those who sin.

We all sin. Repentance is the power by which we obtain forgiveness for sins. God blesses us with 'power', 'love' and 'a sound mind'. These godly attributes enable us to overcome temptation and serve others. When we exercise these attributes, we discover joy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The House of the Lord

Throughout the world you can find temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—beautiful, sacred buildings where important work is performed and unrestrained peace can be felt. In temples, we can feel the spirit in a way it can't be felt anywhere else.

I've been through temples in Manti and Provo, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; Mesa, Arizona; and Nashville, Tennessee. Each of these temples, though unique in design, are the same in purpose. All of them are beautiful. Below are more pictures of beautiful temples throughout the world.

Learn more about temples by visiting these links:

Cardston Alberta Temple
Bogota Colombia Temple

Cebu City Philippines Temple

Colonia Juarez Chihuahua Mexico Temple

Guayaquil Ecuador Temple

Helsinki Finland Temple
Houston Texas Temple
Kyiv Ukraine Temple

London England Temple
Manti Utah Temple

Oakland California Temple

St. George Utah Temple
San Diego California Temple

Redlands California Temple

Panama City Panama Temple
The Hague Netherlands Temple

Vernal Utah Temple

Mesa Arizona Temple

Cochabamba Bolivia Temple

Thursday, July 28, 2011


In an increasingly busy world, it's important that we take time to enjoy simple things in life. We should take time to ponder spiritual things. We should take time to pray and read the scriptures. And we ought to take time to listen to uplifting music, marvel at art and architecture, bask in the beauty of nature, and read good literature.
'We are entitled to spend some time with ourselves in introspection.'
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) said
Our lives become extremely busy. We run from one thing to another. We wear ourselves out in thoughtless pursuit of goals which are highly ephemeral. We are entitled to spend some time with ourselves in introspection, in development. I remember my dear father when he was about the age that I am now. He lived in a home where there was a rock wall on the grounds. It was a low wall, and when the weather was warm, he would go and sit on his wall. It seemed to me he sat there for hours, thinking, meditating, pondering things that he would say and write, for he was a very gifted speaker and writer. He read much, even into his very old age. He never ceased growing. Life was for him a great adventure in thinking.
We are meant to find joy in our journey, not just the desired destination of eternal life. We are meant to love and live life richly. Happiness comes when we learn to find joy in simple things. As we make learning and serving our priorities, our lives—over time—will become deeply rewarding.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"I Choose to Be Pure"

In a world full of temptation, some youth engage in sexual immorality because they fail to comprehend the lasting consequences resulting from their behavior. Fortunately, many youth choose to remain sexually pure because they want to keep God's commandments and understand the blessings that come from doing so.

In the following video, Gladys, Claire, Omer, Conner, Pratima and Eric talk about their decision to remain sexually pure. Elaine S. Dalton, general president of the young women organization in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explains why sexual purity is so important
Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue includes modesty—in thought, language, dress, and demeanor. Virtue provides an anchor on the path leading to our Heavenly Father’s presence. The paths of virtue lead to happiness in this life and in the life to come. The paths of virtue lead to strong families. The paths of virtue contain the foundation stones for the blessings of eternity. They lead to the temple. No wonder Joseph Smith said, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Scripture Saturday — Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

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

An individual's relationship with their Father in Heaven is most precious above anything else
We cannot fully comprehend God's love for His children, but that shouldn't stop us from doing everything we can to love them. We demonstrate our love for others by serving them and helping them draw closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

An individual's relationship with their Father in Heaven is most precious above anything else. We can help others develop that relationship by being good examples and teaching them about prayer.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the most precious gift in the world—the fullness of the everlasting gospel. When we neglect to share this message for whatever reason, we are being selfish.

Feelings of love and fear cannot coexist. If we will always remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, we will have no fear when we invite others to come unto Christ.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Different People, Same Foundation

Individuality is a gift from God. We learn from the Bible and Book of Mormon that we were created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:27, Mosiah 7:27). And yet we are all so different.

Smile! You're unique!
We should cherish our unique talents, abilities and personalities. God created us the way we are for a reason. When we follow His commandments and devote our lives to serving others, we can unlock our full potential.

We may all be different, but we should all have the same foundation—Jesus Christ. Book of Mormon prophet Helaman admonished his sons to build upon the rock of their Redeemer—
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)
When we build upon the foundation of Christ, we will be strong, regardless of how different we are. In the videos below, note how different these followers of Christ are from each other. And then note the defining similarity—they are, as we are, all children of God, and they have cemented a firm foundation in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There Is Hope

Addictions come in many forms and ensnare many people. Satan has successfully entrapped people all over the world with drugs, alcohol, pornography, and other addictive habits that desensitize the individual and bring lasting sorrow and despair.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, you can break the chains of addiction
To those who suffer from any form of addiction, know that there is hope through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers a variety of tools that can facilitate the recovery process, including an adaptation of the popular 12-Step Program.

The popular phrase "Where there's a will, there's a way" really holds true. In the case of addiction, the road to recovery is difficult, but it is possible. With faith in Jesus Christ and application of His atonement, we—all of us—can be cleansed of our sins and strengthened to resist temptation.

In the video below, learn how one man, Valentin, successfully overcame his drinking habit through studying and applying the principles in the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Brother, I'm Committed"

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently shared the following story:

Two young brothers stood atop a small cliff that overlooked the pristine waters of a blue lake. This was a popular diving spot, and the brothers had often talked about making the jump—something they had seen others do.

"Brother," he said as he jumped, "I'm committed."
Although they both wanted to make the jump, neither one wanted to be first. The height of the cliff wasn’t that great, but to the two young boys, it seemed the distance increased whenever they started to lean forward—and their courage was fading fast.

Finally, one brother put one foot at the edge of the cliff and moved decisively forward. At that moment his brother whispered, “Maybe we should wait until next summer.”

The first brother’s momentum, however, was already pulling him forward. “Brother,” he responded, “I’m committed!”

He splashed into the water and surfaced quickly with a victorious shout. The second brother followed instantly. Afterward, they both laughed about the first boy’s final words before plunging into the water: “Brother, I’m committed.”

President Uchtdorf related this story to our commitment to Jesus Christ. He continues:

Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway. We all face moments of decision that change the rest of our lives. As members of the Church, we must ask ourselves, “Will I dive in or just stand at the edge? Will I step forward or merely test the temperature of the water with my toes?”

Do we study the scriptures every day, or just every now and then? Do we offer thanks in our prayers, or do we just ask for things we need? Do we keep the commandments always or only when it is convenient to? An attitude of simply "getting by" in the gospel will bring sorrow and despair. We must be committed. President Uchtdorf continues:

Being only sort of committed to the gospel can lead to frustration, unhappiness, and guilt. This should not apply to us because we are a covenant people. We make covenants with the Lord when we are baptized and when we enter the house of the Lord. Men make covenants with the Lord when they are ordained to the priesthood. Nothing can be more important than keeping a commitment we have made with the Lord.

Those who are only sort of committed may expect to only sort of receive the blessings of testimony, joy, and peace. The windows of heaven might only be sort of open to them.

Commitment requires lasting faith. We must have faith to make and stick to our decisions. When we make and keep commitments, the Lord blesses us. When we refuse to make or only halfheartedly keep commitments, we cannot receive those blessings.

I stand with President Uchtdorf in saying let us all have a firmer commitment to Christ. Miracles happen when we exercise faith in the Savior.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Believe In Christ

I have a simple yet powerful declaration to share with you: I believe in Christ.

I believe in Christ
I'm not the first to make this statement. Many around the world have deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. This collective belief only intensifies the individual statement, "I believe in Christ."

I'm reminded of the words to a familiar hymn in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How wonderful it is to know that Christ loves us, that He suffered for our sins, and that He lives again!

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I’ll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

(LDS Hymns #134; text: McConkie)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Scripture Saturday — Ether 12:27

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

Weak things become strong through the help of Jesus Christ
We are all born with certain strengths and certain weaknesses. Through hard work and determination, it's easy to make our strengths stronger. It's more difficult to develop our weaknesses.

In order to strengthen our weaknesses, we must first acknowledge that we are weak. We must rely on the Lord for His help. We have to be humble. There can be no room for pride.

We must also have faith in our Savior. Since faith and fear cannot coexist, we must dispel that and other related feelings—doubt, inadequacy, discouragement—from our lives. We must really believe that Jesus Christ can make our weaknesses strong. And we must desire strength for the right reasons—to serve others and to follow our Savior.

When we follow this scriptural pattern, we will notice we are becoming happier, stronger, better people. Our capacity to serve and to love will increase. Our ability to follow the Savior will be strengthened by our desire to do whatever He asks of us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Simple Advice

The Lord's prophet on the Earth today, President Thomas S. Monson, is well known for offering simple, profound advice. When we follow the counsel of the living prophet, we are blessed with peace and happiness. Here is some of President Monson's advice for us:
May I leave with you today a simple yet far-reaching formula to guide you in the choices of life: Fill your minds with truth.
Fill your hearts with love.
Fill your lives with service.
Thomas S. Monson
We can never go wrong when we choose to follow the Savior.
Through the years, the offices I have occupied have been decorated with lovely paintings of peaceful and pastoral scenes. However, there is one picture which always hangs on the wall which I face when seated behind my desk. It is a constant reminder of Him whom I serve, for it is a picture of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When confronted with a vexing problem or difficult decision, I always gaze at that picture of the Master and silently ask myself the question, 'What would He have me do?' No longer does indecision prevail. The way to go is clear, and the pathway before me beckons.
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.
Secure a temple recommend and regard it as a precious possession, for such it is.
We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.
Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed—the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Follow the Prophet

The Book of Mormon and Bible vividly describe what happens to those who reject the words of the living prophets:

The wicked men and women of the Earth mocked the prophet Noah for building an ark. They were destroyed by an all-consuming flood.

Wicked men and women mocked Noah. They were destroyed.
The Nephites rejected the prophet Mormon's admonition to humble themselves and follow the Lord. Their entire civilization collapsed.

The prophet Abinadi warned King Noah that he would suffer death if he chose to ignore his words. Noah was later burned at the stake after the manner in which he murdered Abinadi.

Thomas S. Monson
The Lord's prophet on the Earth today is Thomas S. Monson. When we follow his counsel, we are happy. When we disregard his counsel, we are miserable. We cannot find joy in sin.

We can find safety in the counsel of a modern prophet. God speaks to President Monson today. His guidance is tailored specifically for our needs.

You can read some of President Monson's recent counsel here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"We Are Siamese..."

I think the classic Disney movie Lady and the Tramp contributed to my dislike for cats when I was a child. I still vividly remember those two feline villains singing:
We are Siamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don't please.   
Whether they realized it or not, these mischievous kittens were teaching a profound truth. They were Siamese, and nothing anybody said could change that.
"We are Siamese if you please!"
In similar fashion, the commandments of God are commandments, whether or not we want to live them:
We are the commandments if you please. We are the commandments if you don't please.
We are commanded to be honest always, not just when it is convenient. We are commanded to worship God every day of our lives, not just when we need His help. We are commanded to live virtuous lives regardless of the temptations which surround us.

These are the commandments if you please. These are still the same commandments if you don't please.

Journalist Ted Koppel memorably stated in a 1987 Duke commencement address—
What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were.
We would do well to remember why we have commandments in the first place—for our own happiness! Too often we view commandments as unhealthy and unwanted restrictions on our otherwise free lifestyles. Those who live the commandments know that doors are opened, chains are broken, cords are slackened and clouds are dissipated when they choose to follow God's laws. Those who break commandments learn from sad experience that opportunities are jettisoned, freedoms are restricted, chains are tightened and rays of hope are darkened when they choose to disobey their Father in Heaven.

Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught this principle in beautiful simplicity—
Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10)
I testify that we find joy and peace through keeping God's commandments. I know He lives and loves us. He has given us commandments for our own happiness and safety.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shake it Off

Are you stuck in a rut? Do you feel like you're being buried with problems and concerns you cannot handle?

Allow me to share with you a story my mother shared with me—

One day a farmer´s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn´t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
The farmer decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone´s amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer´s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well, is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step upward!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scripture Saturday — 2 Nephi 27:23

"For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." (2 Nephi 27:23)

God loved us enough to send His son to die for us
In a hectic world marked by change and defined by uncertainty, isn't it reassuring to know that our Father in Heaven is unchanging? Isn't it comforting to know that our faith in Him can be certain? And isn't it lovely that He is never too busy for any of us?

God is indeed a God of miracles. He blesses us according to our faith. We recognize these blessings when we take time to think and be grateful for them. 

If we ever feel that God is too busy for us, we must stop and recognize that perhaps we have made ourselves too busy for Him. If we ever feel that He does not love us, we must treasure up His words by reading and studying the scriptures, and we must pray to Him. When we do these things, there will be no room for doubt; He loves us, and that is certain.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just Trust Him

The mark of a true follower of Christ is willingness to follow Him in all situations and circumstances.

"Come, follow me," the Savior said
Followers of Christ will keep the commandments even when those around them are taunting and jeering.

Followers of Christ will serve others even if they have difficulty finding the time or courage to do so.

Followers of Christ will remember Him throughout the week, not just on Sunday.

Followers of Christ will try their best to live as He did. They are not interested in "just getting by".

Followers of Christ will love Him and others out of the goodness of their hearts—always.

How do we become followers of Christ? The answer is simple, but the actual process is more difficult—

Just trust Him

Believe Him. Believe His word. Believe He can perform miracles. Believe He can heal your heart. Believe He will lead you even when you cannot see the way before you. Believe He knows you and wants to help you. Believe He can make more of your life than you can on your own.

Just trust Him. Trust Him every day of your life. Renew your trust in Him regularly through prayer, studying the Book of Mormon, and keeping His commandments—even the difficult ones. He will richly bless you for doing these things. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Have Hope

The world would be a pretty dark place if there wasn't any hope. It's easy to look at life through the lenses of disappointment, anger, sorrow, fear and discouragement. It's more difficult but infinitely more rewarding to look through the all-encompassing lens of hope.

Have hope, and watch your perspective of the world change
Hope inspires us to overcome what some might call 'the impossible'. Elder Steven E. Snow relates how Roger Bannister was able to accomplish an ambitious goal through hope
Roger Bannister was a medical student in England who had an ambitious hope. He desired to be the first man to run a mile (1.6 km) under four minutes. For much of the first half of the early 20th century, field and track enthusiasts had anxiously awaited the day the four-minute-mile barrier would be broken. Over the years many outstanding runners had come close, but still the four-minute barrier stood. Bannister dedicated himself to an ambitious training schedule with the hope of realizing his goal of setting a new world record. Some in the sporting community had begun to doubt whether the four-minute mile could be broken. Supposed experts had even hypothesized the human body was physiologically unable to run at such speeds over such a long distance. On a cloudy day on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister’s great hope was realized! He crossed the finish line in 3:59.4, setting a new world record. His hope to break the four-minute-mile barrier became a dream which was accomplished through training, hard work, and dedication.
Without hope, Bannister would not have developed the dedication and perseverance necessary to accomplish this goal. Hope allowed him to work hard and train with the confidence that he could break the four-minute barrier.

The scriptures define hope as the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hope for and have faith in the promise of eternal life. Hope enables us to keep God's commandments and serve those around us, even when it may be initially challenging to fulfill these obligations.

Have hope, and watch your perspective of the world change. Hope makes everything brighter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

America, the Beautiful

I am blessed to live in America, a land described in the Book of Mormon as "choice above all other lands".

Inspired by God, righteous men like George Washington established America
America was established by men and women who had a firm belief in God. For more than 200 years, America has been a bastion of freedom, a light in an otherwise dark world, an example for nations to follow. Millions have unselfishly served in the military to keep America safe. Many here worship God and keep His commandments, and He has richly blessed them.

But I worry it won't always be that way. Many in America and throughout the world are growing progressively more wicked. Far too many deny that there is a God. Many more acknowledge Him but do not keep His commandments. To the Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, God said
Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.
Repeatedly we are warned throughout the scriptures that those who do not worship God fall; nations which do not acknowledge Him perish. Fortunately, many still believe in Him, and many still serve Him.

I join with Francis Scott Key, author of The Star-Spangled Banner, in saying:
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I pray that America will continue to be a bastion of freedom, a light in an often dark world, and an example of goodness and Godliness. In this I join with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in praising America, the Beautiful.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Scripture Saturday — Mark 12:30-31

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
The ultimate expression of love was Christ's infinite atonement
The greatest commandments we have been given are to love our Savior with all of our heart and energy, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. 
When we live these important commandments, we will naturally desire to live the other commandments God has given us. Because we love our Savior, we will desire to serve Him. Because we love our neighbors, we will have patience and charity toward them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is centered on love because love is the noblest of human expressions. True love implies service, patience, kindness, gentleness and humility. It even implies a willingness to die for those we love, if necessary.
The ultimate expression of love was Jesus Christ's infinite atonement, which allows us to repent and be forgiven of our sins. Christ willingly suffered for all of our sins, pains and afflictions. How else could this be accomplished but through love?
Every day, we must make important decisionssome big and some small, but almost always of at least some consequence. If we base our decisions in love, just as the Savior would, we will find we are capable of consistently choosing what is right. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Consistently Choose the Right

Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wear rings inscribed with the letters 'CTR', which stands for 'Choose the Right'.
Choose the right—consistently
I often think of adding another 'C' to the front of that acronym—cosistently. The phrase now reads, 'Consistently Choose the Right'.

It is not enough to make one right decision. We must choose correctly every day of our lives. One prayer is not enough to get us through the evil that surrounds us. We must pray always. One hasty profession of belief in Christ is insufficient and presumptuous. We must live as He lived.

As we consistently choose the right, we will successfully overcome the temptations and pitfalls of Satan. We will experience greater joy and peace. Elder L. Tom Perry promised:
[T]he greatest joy we receive in this life is in following the Savior.