Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Date Night: The Commandment

image We are all aware that when Moses first ascended that sacred mountain on his 40-year trek with the Children of Israel, he came down with the higher law.

Yet upon his delayed return, the Children of Israel fell back on old habits and began to worship dumb idols. As a result, they got the lower law.

Well, lucky for us, Christ fulfilled the lower law and enabled us to live under the higher law, the one Moses threw the ground and broke. image

Chief among the higher law is the commandment to freely and willingly participate in Ward Date Night. This commandment was again emphasized in D&C 139:1 which I would share as a link but the Church has not yet posted it.

I gently remind you of this because our next Ward Date Night is this Saturday. It will be a most awesome adventure and one you will not want miss. Because we are a more liberal ward, we can even accommodate those of you in exclusive or engaged relationships which means all can participate.

If you have not signed up, please contact Susie Peterson as soon as possible. You won’t want to miss this.

Here are the details:

When it starts Saturday, July 28 at 7:00 up.m.
Where to meet Centennial Courtyard but will end up at the Little Theater in the Wilk
What to bring Your assigned date and a great, creative attitude
Will there be food? Of course, but only refreshments, not dinner


Sunday School – July 29

image The reading assignment for Gospel Doctrine is:

Lesson 31: Firm in the Faith of Christ

Please take a few minutes to click link and read through the lesson to better prepare for discussion in class.

If you click the Listen link, you can actually have some friendly man read the lesson synopsis to you. How cool is that?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Talent Show Cancelled

image With Pioneer Day around the corner and many people out of town, the Social Committee decided to cancel the ward talent show. However, we do have whispers of a great activity coming up next weekend. Stay tuned…

Relieving Stress Through Service

image There is a lot of stress in our ward as people prepare for finals, weddings, moving, and getting that first real job. The Relief Society Compassionate Service Committee has found a great stress reliever. They are promoting the Secret Good Samaritan program.

Each willing participant will draw a name at random. They will then seek to provide the person they chose small and simple random acts of kindness for the next two weeks.

Many of you have already filled out a questionnaire which will help in deciding the type ofimage random acts of kindness will be most appreciated. But you are not bound to that list. You can do any small and simple random act of kindness.

Christ taught that when we lose ourselves in the service of others we will only find who we really are. Please contact Madison Mercer as soon as possible to make this program a great success.

Family History Trip

image The family history committee is planning a trip to the family history center in Salt Lake. We're planning it for Saturday August 4. We are thinking of leaving at 10:00 a.m. and coming back around 2:00 p.m.. Please let Kiersten Cragun know if you plan to attend.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roses: The Mystery of Reading Minds

Many of you know that I spend several hours with engaged couples preparing them for marriage. But it dawned on me that many of the concepts we review in those discussions can prove helpful for relationships at their early stages. So, from time to time I will present concepts that I feel can benefit a wider, not yet engaged, audience.

To make this less preachy and more enjoyable, I will try to pull from my personalimage experiences to allow you to laugh at me as much as my wife does. The first topic I’d like to present is the impossibility of reading each other’s minds.

One of the earliest challenges usually faced in budding relationships is the false assumption that the other person thinks just like you do. Believe me, if you assume the guys and girls should think alike you are in for a great disappointment. Let me explain.

image When we first got married, I made a lot of decisions based on assumptions. For example, I assumed that all girls love roses. So whenever there as an event that demanded flowers, I would always get roses. After many years of blissfully thinking that I was me most in-tuned husband on the planet, Sister Heiss politely said: “ You know, I am really not a big fan of roses. I really like carnations.”

Carnations? I didn’t even know what a carnation was, and this was way before one couldimage Google such things.

image Well, as the next flower occasion came, I remembered that she didn’t like roses, but I couldn’t remember what flower she did like. You see, I grew up thinking a carnation was a brand of milk. So, after giving her a series of  daisies, mums, and other non-roses, she took me to a flower shop and showed me what a carnation looked like.

Yeah, I’m slow…

So, as we analyze this simple situation I can see two problem. First, I simply made an assumption that my wife would like roses. I never asked. I just assumed. Second, my wife could have made her flower preference known much earlier to have saved years of unwanted roses.

image The issue could have easily been resolved through communication. Instead we both assumed the other would instinctively know what to do.

When you join the great adventure or a relationship, you need to try your hardest to avoid assuming you understand each other. You don’t. To avoid unnecessary stress, I strongly encourage you to find inventive ways to clearly communicate what your expectation are.

Now don’t be demanding. Rather, be open and patient. For example, if you like flowers, notes, candy, or other small and simple things, then tell him. If you like to celebrate imagenoteworthy events, then let him know, If you struggle with thinking up original things to do, then tell her.

In my opinion, the best way to break down the walls that keep us apart is to  communicate. The best way to buttress those walls is to assume you know what he or she is thinking.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Doctrine of Christ – The Fifth Cornerstone

In the previous post, I discussed the four cornerstones of the Doctrine of Christ and that viewing them as steps on the staircase didn’t do them justice. This is so because the Brethren see them as eternal concepts. So we need a new analogy.

To make this paradigm shift, we must add a fifth cornerstone – enduring to the end. We are all familiar with the concept that we must keep the commandments and then endure to the end to gain eternal life (D&C 14:7). When we add enduring then we need a new analogy to better grasp the eternal nature of the Doctrine of Christ.

clip_image002President Heaton used the analogy of a nut on a bolt. As you exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you twist the nut a quarter rotation. Your faith leads to a desire to repent as we see with King Lamoni (Alma 18:41) and his father (Alma 22:18) as they learn about Christ for first time. The desire to repent, or to align your will with the will of God, allows you to turn the not another quarter rotation.

After experiencing the cleansing power of the atonement in our lives we either seek to be baptized, or use the sacrament to remember the covenants made at baptism. So, we turn the nut on more quarter rotation.

Finally, because we have faith, we are repenting, and we are reminded of our baptismal convents, we position ourselves to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Then we turn the nut one more quarter turn.

Endurance comes when we recognize that we constantly fall short because of our mortalclip_image004 nature (2 Nephi 4:17-31) Simply because you turned the nut on the bolt a full rotation does not mean you are done. Rather, trials and challenges will force us to renew our faith in Christ. Our constant struggles to be like Him will remind us of our need to repent. Repentance is augmented by taking the sacrament. Then the still small voice of the sprit will remind us that God loves us enough to sacrifice His Son on our behalf (John 17:3).

So, by adding endurance as the fifth cornerstone, we can find great joy in a deeper understanding and the liberating power of the Doctrine of Christ.

The Doctrine of Christ – The Four Cornerstones

The Nephites were notorious for looking beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14). This meant they would focus more on issues and doctrines that may have been inviting or intriguing but would not bring them closer to God. You see, the sole purpose of the doctrine is to help us come to know the Father and the Son (John 17:3) so we can draw closer to them, thereby allowing them to draw closer to us (D&C 88:63).

image Christ knew the people’s tendency to drift towards the doctrinal unessential. He had personally witnessed, time and time again, how this desire to delve into the mysteries always led to deep divisions, disputations, and contentions (3 Nephi 11:29). I feel it is for this reason that one of the first things the resurrected Lord provided the people, when he personally visited them, were the four cornerstones of His doctrine (3 Nephi 11:35-40). These four cornerstones, which represent the Doctrine of Christ are:

  1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
  2. Repentance
  3. Baptism
  4. Gift of the Holy Ghost

When President Heaton discussed the Brethren’s new emphasis on the Doctrine ofimage Christ, he mentioned that for years, the church as taught these doctrines to be as steps on a staircase leading to eternal life. We would teach that faith leads to repentance, repentance leads to baptism, and that baptism leads to the gift of the Holy Ghost.

While this may be a somewhat accurate analogy, President Heaton felt that it misrepresents the eternal nature of these four cornerstones. I add that when we view these cornerstones as distinct steps, we miss the point and find ourselves prone to look beyond the mark. Why?

Because we are only baptized receive of the gift of the Holy Ghost once. So that leads us to think that when we have made it to the waters of baptism we are done. If the Brethren are seeking to make the Doctrine of Christ a key emphasis, then the four step analogy cannot work. The means the Doctrine of Christ is not a series of events; rather they must become a way of life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ward Chess Tournament

image Austin Pearce, the official ward chess master, is organizing a chess tournament for those who think they can beat him. Here are the details:

Date Tuesday, July 17
Time 7:00 p.m.
Where Interview Rooms in the New Building (MSB)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Doctrine of Christ

image We have the rare opportunity in this stake to have President Richard Heaton as a member of our Stake Presidency. As a handful of you know, President Heaton is the director of the MTC and in that capacity he has his finger on the pulse of the leadership of the church.

Last Sunday, in our Stake Bishop’s meeting, President Heaton shared with us some  imagecritical counsel that was presented by the Brethren to the new mission presidents. They call this focus the Doctrine of Christ.This counsel is nothing new. But it shows the direction that President Monson is pushing the church. This gives us the opportunity to see if we are aligned with that direction.

Through this next series of blog post, I will share with you what President Heaton relayed to the Bishops and give my commentary. I urge you to ponder these thoughts and in your personal study time, seek to gain greater clarity about how this direction will impact you and what course corrections you may need to make.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby Benjamin is Home!

To all those who participated in the fasting and prayers on behalf of our tiny grandson, we thank you. Today, after five long weeks in the hospital,the miracle was complete. He came home!!!


Upcoming Stake Activities

Please make note of the following and try to attend those where you can.

Prospective Missionary Fireside
Sunday, July 8
4:15-5:00 pm
image   Engaged Couples Fireside
Sunday, July 15
New Building on 9th
Blood Drive
Saturday, August 1
4:00-8:00 pm
WSC Garden Room


Friday, July 6, 2012

Relief Society Retreat

Please remember that tonight is the Relief Society Retreat. Here are the details:


Date Friday, July 6
Time 5:30 p.m. Leave from Centennial
  6:30 p.m. Dinner
Where Shaunzi Byron’s home at 50W 650N Lindon
What Dinner, activities, program, and fun

  Hope to see you all there.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Understanding Covenants, Part 3

So, after that last lengthy post, let’s see if we can conclude with this segment.

image What we discovered was that at times is seems like God is absent when it comes to Him doing His part in keeping covenants. As a reminder, we left the Children of God in bondage for what to them seemed to be for no reason at all. God is quite good at keeping us guessing at times.

But as their story concludes, we will see that God purposely arranged this awful situation to teach them and to teach us the personal nature of a covenant. The story ends with God not freeing the people from their awful plight at first. Rather, He miraculously lifts all their burdens that they did not feel them upon their backs. This is the key.

When we make a covenant with God, all we need to do is prove faithful in keeping that covenant and God will always lift the burden of that commandment or covenant so that we can succeed. Isn’t this exactly what missionaries promise their investigators as they struggle to keep the new commandments that are required to be baptized?

A covenant, then, binds us in a very personal way to God. He creates the condition forimage the covenant, we prove faithful, and He lifts the burden so that we can succeed. This is the very foundation of how God brings to pass our immortality and eternal life.

So, when you ponder the covenants we have made, or soon will make, you must look for those small and simple ways God lifts your burdens so that you can succeed. This is what King Benjamin taught his people and is the critical component in recognizing the love God has for you. Most important, this will help you better understand your individual worth.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Understanding Covenants, Part 2

So, with the foundation of a covenant being two willing and reliable partners, and if we are less than reliable partners in covenants that are eternal, why, would God insist on making covenants with us? The Book of Mormon can help us understand this important question.

All Book of Mormon prophets clearly taught that the Nephites and Lamanites were a covenant people. The covenant God made with them was that if they kept the commandments they would prosper in the land. Seems simple enough. But, as we all know, they constantly struggled with the simplicity of that covenant.

After the Nephites fled the Land of Nephi for Zarahemla, there was a man named Zeniff who had a strong desire to move back to the land of his forefathers, even though the Lamanites now ruled over it.

King Laman granted Zeniff and his people their request so now we have a small group of Nephites willingly surrounded by Lamanites. As was common for Nephites, they began to prosper, for they were keeping the commandments. Then Zeniff died.

imageHis son, Noah, took over and this is where things got interesting. Noah saw his new  found power as an opportunity and quickly led his people, who were once very righteous, into iniquity. He did not do this alone. He has a cadre of loyalists that helped him subvert the commandments. Chief among them were Amulon and Alma.

Soon, God sent Abinidi to call the people to repentance. Alma imagebelieved and Amulon did not. Alma pled to the king to release Abinidi, Amulon demanded the king kill both Alma and Abinidi. Abinidi was killed and Alma fled.

imageAlma hid for a time and was not only able to fully repent of his sins, which were many, but  also became the vehicle to restore the gospel. As Alma’s movement grew, Amulon and Noah sought to kill all who believed. So, as happens so often in the Book of Mormon, Alma was warned to flee from those seeking to destroy him and to take the believers to a new land.

Alma and his followers arrived at a new place and called it the Land of Helam. Once their,  the sought to keep God’s commandments and they begin to prosper just as God promised in His covenant.

Well, as the Children of God were prospering in the Land of Helam, things are not going  imageto well for Noah and Amulon. Noah is killed by a mutiny among his followers and Amulon is forced to flee. Amulon and his gang kidnap a handful of Lamanite daughters and are later discovered by a lost Lamanite army.

As this army makes its way back to the Land of Nephi, they happened upon the Children of God in the Land of Helam. (Are you keeping all this straight?) Now we have a unhappy reunion of Alma and Amulon, two former friends now on the opposite side of the spiritual spectrum.

Somehow, Amulon convinced the main body of the Lamanite army to leave for a while and he becomes the dictator of the Land of Helam. To get back at Alma and his followers, Amulon enslaves them and places imageimpossible burdens on the people. So difficult were these burdens that the people couldn't withstand it forcing them to cry unto God.

What would you pray for if you were one of these Children of God. Obviously, you would remind God of the covenant He made. They were keeping the commandments but God did not seem to be doing his part for the deal. They were not prospering in the land.

So, didn’t we say that God was a reliable partner? Why were these righteous people abandoned by God?