Sunday, June 23, 2013


Recently I had a non-member friend of mine tell me of an issue he was dealing with and his decision to fast. At first I was shocked, and then immediately ashamed for being shocked. Why shouldn't he be able to fast and receive the benefits? God's love and blessings are not limited to the members of the church. I assured him that there was real power in fasting, if done properly, and encouraged him to go ahead with it.

We talked a bit about the proper way to fast. He ultimately disagreed with me about the details and decided to take a different approach to his fast. His difference of opinion on the proper way to fast led me to wonder what I could find in the Bible on the subject. I did find some passages that spoke of not eating or drinking, but they also involved fasting for three or more days. Although there is some instruction on the proper attitude one must have while fasting, I couldn't find anything that really taught the proper mechanics of the fast. This is one great example of how different Christian denominations have interpreted the Bible without the benefit of divine guidance and ongoing revelation.

I suppose the most important thing is that the person fasting does it with faith to the best of his ability and understanding. I am grateful that we have modern revelation to address this and other questions regarding the correct application of gospel principles.

I regret that I didn't join him in his fast. I didn't really think about it at the time. Since then I have learned a lot about the power of group fasting. Members of our little church group often invite the rest to join in a fast they are having for one reason or another. The spirit we feel as a group during times like these is really powerful. I remember in years past when my ward would hold a group fast. It seems to me that this powerful tool available to us is used far too infrequently. I guess our pride probably prevents us from inviting others to fast with us for all except the most serious of needs. It's sad because it shouldn't be that way. I think if we want to be true members of Zion, we need to do a better job of both being willing to bear another's burdens as well as allowing the load of our own burdens to be shared with those we love.

It's a learning and growing process to be sure. I know I have a lot of room to improve in this area myself.

Friday, June 14, 2013

2012 in Review

The following are adapted excerpts from an address given in a voice of warning by President De Visser at a Stake Conference General Session on February 3, 2013. His thoughts and message struck a chord with me and I thought it was worth sharing.
Another year has come and gone, but not just any year -- it was the year 2012. A year about which much was speculated, predicted, and some would even argue prophesied. And while the most discussed prediction or prophecy -- that of the Mayans concerning the end of the world -- did not come to pass, I feel and believe that 2012 will still prove to be one of the more significant years in our life time.

Let's take a moment and look back at a few things that happened in 2012:
  • Gaza fired missiles on Jerusalem causing heightened unrest in the Middle East
  • The Director of the CIA, a man considered to be of the highest moral integrity, resigned due to improprieties and adultery
  • The UN Ambassador was instructed by the White House to cover up what happened in Libya, attempting to minimize the deaths of four Americans who were murdered
  • There was an attempt to raise taxes during the worst economic times since the great depression
  • Hurricane Sandy, called the "perfect storm" hit the east coast causing great devastation
  • Iran became closer to a nuclear weapon
  • The use of marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado
  • Some states legalized same sex marriage
  • 23 states began a petition to secede from the nation
  • Russia strengthened its coalitions with North Korea and Iran
  • Forces aligned to stop school prayer, but allowed the handing out of birth control
  • The government used tax dollars to fund abortions
  • Examples of violence, gambling, drug misuse, and infidelity were more prevalent than ever
  • Hollywood promoted parenthood without marriage
  • Education scores of our youth plummeted to their lowest levels ever
  • And finally, we were brought to the edge of the fiscal cliff
Never in my life have I witnessed a more stark difference between good and evil than I did in 2012. Never has there been a greater moral, economic, or political decline in society, than there was in 2012 and over the last few years. These climates combined, were as bad in 2012 as they have ever been in the history of the world.
For their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening with destruction, for the laws has become corrupted. (Helaman 5:2)
In 2012 the voice of the people spoke loudly and clearly as it chose:
  • Socialism over capitalism
  • Entitlements over free enterprise
  • Redistribution and regulation over self reliance
In 1976 while serving as a President of the Seventy, Neal A. Maxwell said:
I fear that as conditions worsen, many will react to the failures of too much government by calling for even more government. Then there will be more and more lifeboats launched, because fewer and fewer citizens know how to swim. Unlike some pendulums, political pendulums do not swing back automatically; they must be pushed. History is full of instances when people have waited in vain for pendulums to swing back.
In 1966 while serving as an apostle, Howard W. Hunter said:
The government will take from the "haves" and give to the "have nots". [When this happens] Both have lost their freedom. Those who "have", lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who "have not", lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got "something for nothing", and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.
From the scriptures:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
President Boyd K. Packer said:
The world is spiraling downward at an ever quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. I know of nothing in the history of the Church, or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, and even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now, they are spread across the world, and they are among us.
In the end, the only things that will matter will be our personal worthiness and our relationships, especially the one we have with the Savior. As difficult as it may be to embrace, it is simply God's plan. The moral, economic, and political conditions of the world will not, overall, get better. You and I were held back for this special time to prepare the earth for the return of the Savior. I believe many within the sound of my voice will be part of, and witnesses to, all of the events that will transpire prior to the return of the Savior.

Heber C. Kimball said:
The time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to the extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brothers and sisters, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a TEST, a TEST is coming, and who will be able to stand?
This church and each member of it has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to be temporally and spiritually prepared, and have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess these things will fall."
Brothers and sisters, the test has come. It is now upon us. No man or woman will be able to endure what is happening now, or what is ahead, if we are not temporally and spiritually prepared. If you are not, you will not stand.
I hope we're all ready. If we're not, "now is the time to prepare to meet God."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Beginnings

People talk about hitting rock bottom. That happened to me a few years ago. But despite the hardships and trials that I had, am having, and still will have to pass through, I am eternally grateful for them. Through them I was led to a spiritual awakening and a new beginning. I am looking forward with hope for a bright future that will hopefully in some way help to make up for the mistakes of my past.

I guess I never learned to stand firm in the gospel on my own. I always had family and friends around me who shared my values and faith, which made it easy to live righteously and avoid serious transgression. At least until my life began to involve others who did not share those values or faith. I guess I wasn't prepared for their introduction to my life. I wasn't prepared for how they would affect my thoughts and actions. Whether that is because I wasn't sufficiently taught, or because I wasn't sufficiently bright to learn it when I was taught (probably the latter), I was vulnerable to the trappings of the adversary's gently encircling chains. And trap me they did.

That I was granted an opportunity to break those chains through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ is the most amazing blessing I have ever experienced. My road of repentance has been, and will continue to be for a great while yet, a long and hard one. But I am eternally grateful to be on that road. Despite my circumstances, I have never felt so spiritually awakened or fulfilled as I do now.

The past three years have been a difficult but rewarding learning experience. I am learning and growing, and I hope to share some of that here, and hope that some of what I have to say will be of use to someone else. I don't have all the answers, but the answers are there for the finding.
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things--that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61)
This is a very real promise to us oft repeated by the Lord in various forms. I intend to follow His invitation and keep seeking for those answers.

This much I do know: I know that I am a child of my Heavenly Father who loves me. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the redeemer of all mankind, and my Savior. I know that he restored His priesthood authority to the earth and established his church through our first prophet of this latter-day dispensation, Joseph Smith. I am grateful for this knowledge and the direction it gives and the blessing it has been and continues to be in my life. I would be lost without it.
The gospel of Jesus Christ lights the way for all of us, I intend to follow that light back into His presence.