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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Nature of God - Richard L. Evans

“Our Father in heaven is not an umpire who is trying to count us out. He is not a competitor who is trying to outsmart us. He is not a prosecutor who is trying to convict us. He is a Loving Father who wants our happiness and eternal progress and everlasting opportunity and glorious accomplishment, and who will help us all he can if we will but give him, in our lives, the opportunity to do so with obedience and humility and faith and patience”.

Elder Richard L. Evans, October 1956 GC

Monday, November 29, 2010

Go to Sleep in Peace. God is Awake.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”

 

- Victor Hugo

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - The Story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




In the winter of 1860 Cambridge, Massachusetts captures the essence of an American Christmas. Under starry skies and between snow laden pines, proud New England houses push their way through a thick white blanket. Their yellow-orange windows like Christmas candles are reflected in the ice bound Charles River. In the silence of falling snow sleigh bells and laughter crescendo as the Longfellow family, bundled in winter wool is whistled along behind glossy horses and above them a thousand bare branches release a shower of sparkling snow. Five children giggle with delight.  And ringing down cobbled lanes, across fields and through the wooded hills and valleys are the bells. Single steeple bells and bundles of carolyn bells playing those old familiar carols that make Christmas, Christmas. To men and women of good-will everywhere this is the music of hope and peace.

The following year, 1861, America will need that music to counter the drum and bugle of civil war.  Rising from the strife are the plaintiff songs of divided families.  Songs for lively boys who steal off to war and broken young men carried back to their homes and all to often on to early graves.  Still, for the Longfellow family in Cambridge Summer comes as it always has.  For the five children outings to the seashore, long walks under leafy canopies and happy hours in the family home seem to promise that this Summer will not, cannot end.  

Then on Tuesday July 9th a fire in the Longfellow home claims the life of the childrens mother Fanny.  Trying to rescue her, her husband Henry is severely burned on his hands and face.  Three days later Fanny his beloved wife is buried on the 18th anniversary of their wedding day while he is confined to his bed fighting to live.  Fighting to want to live.  For Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as one war ranges without another rages within. 

For the next two years Christmases come and go.  Henry writes how inexpressibly sad are all the holidays.  "A Merry Christmas, say the children, but that is no more for me.  Perhaps someday God will give me peace."  And then Henry learns that his eldest son Charles, who ran away to join the army has been critically wounded in battle.  Henry rushes to Washington to bring his son home and after days of searching he finds him barely alive.  With the outbreak of war, Fanny's terrible death, and now two years later his son desperately clinging to life we should not be surprised that on Christmas day 1863 Henry reaches for his pen and writes, "it was as if an earthquake wrenched the hearthstones of a continent and in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.

When reading his words today we ask, when conflict rages and pain, loneliness and grief overwhelm us where is the music of hope and peace?  For Henry, the answer to that question has everything to do with Christmas.  After Fanny's death he had written, "so strong as the sense of her presence upon me that I should hardly be surprised to look up now and see her in the room.  Death is a beginning and not an end."  On that Christmas morning it is clear to Henry that war, injury and even death are not the end.  The rising sun turns the icing river to silver and the windows of the Longfellow home to gold.  Henry's children bundled in winter wool are whisked past snowy fields, through wooded hills and valleys - along the road to home.  They look up blinking and giggling in the falling snow and they hear the sounds that make Christmas, Christmas.  They hear the bells and from his desk Henry hears them too.  Renewed he plunges his pen into fresh ink, joyfully drawing it across a sheet of snow white paper

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

In those bells the message is clear, on Christmas day a child was born in a stable.  Of that child Henry writes, "though in a manger thou draw breath, thou art greater than life and death."  And so he is.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

As the bells ring on Henry dips his pen again and again.  Because Christmas lives on, Fanny lives on, Charles lives on, a nation lives on and we, each one of us, may each live on as well in hope and peace forever.  

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The U.S. Constitution - One Nation, Under God

The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People". The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.

The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Independence of Solitude


"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think....you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Forgivness: My Burden Was Made Light

The latest Mormon Messages feature on YouTube tells the story of Christopher Williams who lost his wife who was pregnant along with two of their children in 2007 car accident.  The driver of the car who struck them was a 17 year-old young man who was intoxicated.  President James E Faust referenced this story in his conference talk entitled The Healing Power of Forgiveness.  


“I am grateful that God allows tragedy and trials to occur in our lives.  Not because they are easy or because they are desired, but because they help us love.  That too is a wonderful blessing because I saw my brother coming to know a man of sorrow and one who was acquainted with grief.  As I have now come to understand it, this is really why I was sent here.  It has been incredibly difficult to have to learn those lessons the way that I have learned them, but I have always ended those episodes of greif with an assurance and hope that one day perhaps I shall see Him as he is.  One day, hopefully, I will be like Him.  And one day I will be with my wife again as well as the rest of my family, and that’s what keeps me going forward.”
Revelations 7
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb

15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 

16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
More information about Christopher Williams story http://bit.ly/9EKXLH and http://bit.ly/8Uacvc

Parley P. Pratt and The Book of Mormon

180 years ago this month my great-grandfathers grandfather Parley P. Pratt discovered the Book of Mormon which not only changed his life and the life of his descendants but untold millions through his teachings and example.  President Gordon B. Hinckley tells the story:

"In August of 1830, as a lay preacher, [Parley P. Pratt] was traveling from Ohio to eastern New York. At Newark, along the Erie Canal, he left the boat and walked ten miles into the country where he met a Baptist deacon by the name of Hamlin, who told him 'of a book, a strange book, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! . . . This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day. . . . Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the 'BOOK OF MORMON'—that book of books . . . which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.
" 'I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.
" 'As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists' (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 3d ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, pp. 36–37).
"Parley Pratt was then twenty-three years of age. The reading of the Book of Mormon affected him so profoundly that he was soon baptized into the Church and became one of its most effective and powerful advocates."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Laus Deo!

"In many parts of the world, including the United States, praying in public gatherings and displaying any kind of religious symbols in a public place are deemed to be unconstitutional or against the law. Considering this, I find a little-known fact very interesting: In Washington, D.C., there can never be a building of any kind of greater height than the Washington Monument. The aluminum tip of the monument is 555 feet 5.125 inches above the ground. Etched on the top of that monument, in the aluminum skin where few can see, are the Latin words Laus Deo. Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words placed at the highest point overlooking the capital city of an important nation. What do these two Latin words, composed of four syllables and only seven letters, mean? Simply, they mean “praise be to God.” Several other references to deity and to our Father in Heaven adorn this magnificent structure.


Praise be to God. Laus Deo! As we offer our individual and collective praises to a loving Father in Heaven, may we remember the true spirit of aloha as we petition Him for wisdom and judgment and as we express to Him our appreciation for His goodness and His mercy that He displays as a wise and loving Father in Heaven. President Thomas S. Monson often reminds us that “when we remember that each of us is literally a spirit son or daughter of God, we will not find it difficult to approach Him in prayer. He knows us; He loves us; He wants what is best for us.”"

Reading of the Declaration of Independence




When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Most Valuable of Talents

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

-- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Faithful Prayer of a Priesthood Leader

What every priesthood leader should pray for:
I close now with this counsel to the Lord’s priesthood servants. Ponder deeply and diligently in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Persist in prayer for the Holy Ghost to reveal to you the nature of God the Father and His Beloved Son. Plead that the Spirit will show you what the Lord wants you to do. Plan to do it. Promise Him to obey. Act with determination until you have done what He asked. And then pray to give thanks for the opportunity to serve and to know what you might do next.

I testify that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They are resurrected and glorified beings who love us and watch over us. The keys of the priesthood were restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith. They have been passed in an unbroken line to President Thomas S. Monson. Those keys are held by each of the living Apostles.

I leave you my blessing that you may come to feel by the Spirit the magnitude of the trust and promises you have received as ordained priesthood servants in the Lord’s true Church, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stay Focused on the Ultimate Goal of Eternal Life

"Over the years I have had the great privilege of playing a few holes of golf, at different times, with Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Mike Weir, and Arnold Palmer. Each of these individuals is a very impressive man and a superb golfer. A seemingly unimportant event occurred while playing with Arnold Palmer that has had a lasting and profound effect on me. Some of you may recall this story I have shared before from my mission to Australia.
After hitting our drives, I was standing near Mr. Palmer as his young caddy was describing some of the hazards of the hole we were playing. The conversation went something like this:
Young caddy to Mr. Palmer: “Sir, near the green and just to the left there is a small creek, which is just out of view, and they have let the rough on the right grow an additional two inches.”
Mr. Palmer to caddy—firmly, succinctly, but nicely: “Please, young man, do not plant in my mind what is on the left and what hazard I may face on the right. The only piece of information that is important is the distance from this ball to the flag stick.”


Too often in life we focus on what is on the left and what is on the right rather than what is straight down the middle. Former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner pointed out, “What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”16 Solving our spiritual challenges is an opportunity we can all be successful in accomplishing.
It has been said that “what we do in life echoes in eternity.”17 My young friends, may we be successful in traveling the highway of life and be the recipients of the happiness that comes from fully vesting ourselves in our Father in Heaven’s plan for us. It is a marvelous time to be alive!"