General Conference (Part 2)

Wow! What a wonderful conference! I must say, President Nelson’s last few words were quite the cliff hanger….

In case you missed conference, here’s a link: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/general-conference?cid=HP_PTH_CONF_10_6_19&lang=eng

Across all the talks, two common threads stood out to me:

  1. How to find joy.
  2. Spiritual preparation for the Second Coming.

There were so many good talks…. In the coming posts, I’ll highlight some quotes that stood out to me.

The prayer of every speaker, the hope of all who sing, the reverence of every guest—all are dedicated to inviting the Spirit of Him whose Church this is—the living Christ, the Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace.

Sisters and brothers, through the incessant din and drumbeat of our day, may we strive to see Christ at the center of our lives, of our faith, and of our service. That is where true meaning lies.

Jeffrey R. Holland, Apostle of Jesus Christ.
The Message, the Meaning, and the Multitude.


Giving our all doesn’t mean that we will be continually enveloped in blessings or always have success. But it does mean that we will have joy. Joy is not fleeting pleasure or even temporary happiness. Joy is enduring and is founded on our efforts being accepted by the Lord.3

There is no treasure, nor any hobby, nor any status, nor any social media, nor any video games, nor any sport, nor any association with a celebrity, nor anything on earth that is more precious than eternal life. So the Lord’s counsel to every person is “consider your ways.”

Are we true followers of Him who gave His all for us? He who is our Redeemer and our Advocate with the Father? He who was Himself absolutely committed in His atoning sacrifice and is so now in His love, His mercy, and His desire for us to have eternal joy? I plead with all who hear and read these words: Please, please don’t put your total commitment off until you get around to it at some nonexistent, future time.

Elder Terence M. Vinson, Presidency of the Seventy
True Disciples of the Savior.


You know that you are sons and daughters of God and that He has a work for you to do. You love God with all your “heart, might, mind and strength.”6 You keep your covenants and serve others, beginning at home. You exercise faith, repent, and improve each day, and this brings you enduring joy. You are preparing for temple blessings and other opportunities you will have as true followers of the Savior. And you are helping prepare the world for the Second Coming, inviting all to come unto Christ and receive the blessings of His Atonement.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church. He is inspiring our leaders and guiding us to the spiritual nourishment we need to survive and thrive in the latter days. That spiritual nourishment will help us be faithful and not faithless.

Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President
Be Faithful, Not Faithless.


In this conference three years ago, President Russell M. Nelson spoke of joy.2 Among other things, he said:
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!”3
Saints are those who have entered into the gospel covenant through baptism and are striving to follow Christ as His disciples.4 Thus, “the joy of the saints” denotes the joy of becoming Christlike.

Keeping the Lord’s commandments enables us more fully and more easily to feel His love. The strait and narrow path of the commandments leads directly to the tree of life, and the tree and its fruit, the sweetest and “most desirable above all things,”10 are a representation of the love of God and fill the soul “with exceedingly great joy.”11 Said the Savior:
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”12

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Apostle of Jesus Christ
The Joy of the Saints.


More to come….

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General Conference

If God could speak today, what would he say to you? What would he say about the times that we’re living in? If God called a prophet today, like Moses, what would that prophet say today?

If you’d like to know, watch General Conference.

Twice a year the Restored Church of Jesus Christ has a meeting in which the Prophet, the 12 Apostles, Relief Society members, and other church leaders speak.

If you’ve never heard the Prophet speak or a living Apostle speak, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

These men were called of God. They have the same commission and authority to speak for God as the prophets and apostles in the Bible. They are righteous men.

If you listen to them, the Holy Ghost will testify to you that the things which they are saying are true. If you were to ask God whether the things that they are saying are true, the Holy Ghost will confirm that to you as well.

You can watch General Conference from the church’s web site:
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng

Want to know watch a past talk right now? They’re on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LDSGeneralConference

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Part VII: Is God really there?

This past week, I watched “Numbered” with my wife on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. For me, it was a reminder to be grateful for what you got. I can’t imagine the suffering that those Holocaust survivors went through.

Another World War II movie that I watched this past week was “The Book Thief.” It makes one recognize that not all Germans sided with the Nazi government; There were many Germans that suffered horribly under the Nazi’s and were forced to go to war against their will.

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is another powerful movie I saw a few years ago. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to do so. It’s powerful because it helps people realize that:

Children are not born with hate in their hearts. People are taught to hate.

This past week, if you are an American, hopefully you had a moment to reflect on 9/11 about what happened that day.

I remember where I was: I was in my college apartment and was awoken by a roommate who told me that a plane hit the first tower. I watched as the second plane hit the second tower live on TV. My immediate thought was “Both those buildings are going to fall-down.” If you saw it happen, you know that words cannot fully-describe the horror and feeling of loss that was felt.

I was touched because my mom used to work once a month at the World Trade Center. One of the offices for Corporation Service Company (CSC) was on the 88th floor. I thought to myself–that could have been my mom.

I hope that, as a country, we have not forgotten the unity that we felt after 9/11.

There are truly evil people in this world. They have chosen to follow Satan. There are terrorists, murderers, and rapists. There are kidnappers and those seek to prey on children. Earthly courts will never provide proper justice. Remember what the Savior said:

Matthew Chapter 18

Whosoever therefore shall ahumble himself as this little bchild, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my aname receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall aoffend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 ¶ Woe unto the world because of aoffences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

To put that in context, remember: Each of us is a “little one”. We are all Children of God. Those who choose to do evil in this life will one-day pay for their poor choices in Hell. God will not allow any unrepentant, evil deed to go unpunished.

While this world lasts, remember this: Everything happens for a reason. Your suffering is not in vain; It has purpose.

2 Corinthians Chapter 4

14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the athanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the ainward man is renewed day by day.

17 For our light aaffliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and beternal cweight of glory;

18 While we look not at the things which are aseen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not bseen are ceternal.

If your suffering brought you closer to God, it fulfilled its purpose. We may not see or understand the “benefit” of our sufferings in this life, but know this: There is a reason for it.

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Part VI: Is God really there?

God is there. He understands what you’re going through right now.

A friend may try to comfort you and tell you “I know what you are going through”, but do they really know? I promise you that God knows. Only He can truly empathize–because only He experienced everything that you’re going through right now.

As God tests us in this life, it can be really hard to believe that everything we experience in this life is “for our good.” Just because you know the test is hard, doesn’t make the test any easier.

No matter how bad your day was today, someone had a tougher day than you: Someone had a loved one die. Someone was in a car accident. Someone lost their job. Someone lost their home. Someone did not eat.

On my dark days, I think of the Holocaust. I think of the sufferings of our Jewish Brothers and Sisters: Being separated from their families, being put in cattle cars, and being hauled off to death camps. No one can imagine the pain and suffering that they went through.

When I take a moment to reflect on their trials and compare them to my own, I walk away feeling incredibly ungrateful–that I should complain about such trivial things happening in my own life.

Lots of people try to make the argument “If God exists, why does God let bad things happen? Or, “If God exists, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Perhaps these are even questions that you’ve asked yourself.

A lot of the pain and suffering that happens in this world is a result of “Man’s inhumanity to man.” It is the sad result of people choosing to be evil, greedy, and selfish.

Please don’t fall into the camp of those who choose to blame God for the poor decisions of others. God does not start wars; People start wars.

Almost daily, we read about mass shootings. Don’t blame God. It is wrongful to blame God for the acts of an evil person. God did not pull the trigger. The person to blame for the shooting is the shooter–not God. God doesn’t shoot guns; People do.

Well, you may say “If God exists, why didn’t he intervene? Why didn’t God prevent it from happening?” That’s a fair question…and it’s not one that anyone (nor I) can give any satisfying answer to. However, I do know this….

Tragedy will test the heart of the perpetrator and the victim.

Perpetrator(s) need to repent of the thing(s) that they’ve done. They need to admit their wrong, apologize for it, make restitution for the wrong (if possible), and covenant (promise God) that they’ll never to repeat the wrong again.

However difficult, victim(s) should accept the apology of those who wronged them and forgive them. Choosing to withhold forgiveness does damage to you. It hardens your heart. You will never experience the peace that the Savior can provide until you whole-heartedly decide to forgive those that wronged you.

For weeks, months, years and, maybe even, decades, you will continue to carry hate for those who have wronged you. Long-after the perpetrator has forgotten about the whole incident, you’ll harbor hate for them.

The sooner you decide to “Let go of it”, the sooner you will start to heal and feel the Savior’s love. My advise is this: Forgive quickly.

Remember: You’re not perfect. If you want to be forgiven of the things you’ve done in your life, start forgiving others. Ask God for help to forgive. He has helped me. He will help you.

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A letter to my son….

Continuing from the last post, I just wanted to talk more about my son….

Dear Son,

I know that you’re young and you probably won’t be reading my blog for a long, long-time, because you’re just a kid and you’re busy doing “kid-things” right now (like playing Roblox and Fortnite), but I just want you to know how amazing I think you are.

Every day, I thank God that he has put you in my life. I know that things are tough without a hand. God has given everyone challenges. As you know, some people have challenges that are just more visible than others….

Your particular trial has forced you to learn patience, determination, and awareness of the feelings of those around you. Challenges make us stronger, better people.

Although I know you’ll undoubtedly have quiet moments of discouragement as you get older, I hope you realize that you have been blessed with an wonderful family, extended family, and friends that are here to bear you up.

No one is ever truly alone; God is always there if you reach-out to him in prayer.

When you were born, story of the man with the withered hand had much greater meaning to me….

Mark 3:1-5

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

And they awatched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the asabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they bheld their peace.

And when he had looked round about on them with aanger, being grieved for the bhardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

I want you to know, son, that your trial is temporary…. In the resurrection, you will be whole: You’ll have two natural hands. As written by Isaiah, the Lord will make everything right. You will be whole someday.

He will swallow up adeath in bvictory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the crebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

You are an amazing kid. I’m surprised by all the things you do…. Don’t ever give up.

God loves you. He knows what you’re going through. His angels are around you–to bear you up.

Love,

Dad

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Part V: Is God really there?

Life will kick you in the teeth. No doubt about it. Life is not easy.

If you think you’re life is easy and that you’re not being tested, rest assured, you still are…. You’re just not being tested in the way that you expected.

My son was born without a left hand.

His life is tough. It’s going to be tough. Things that you and I take for granted everyday-like tying your shoes-are very difficult for him. In today’s digital age, learning to type on a computer will be fun.

Other kids judge him. Some make fun of him. There’s nothing that he can do about that. People rudely stare at him sometimes.

This is simply a test that God wanted him to have. It is not just a test for him though. It is also a test for those whom he interacts with: Are they judging? Are they friendly? Do they make fun of him? Do they treat him any different? Will future prospective employers think less of him–that he can’t do the work of a two-handed employee? Will girls want to date him? Etc, etc, etc….

Like all tests, this test is just temporary. If not through the marvels of modern science in this life, he will have a left hand in the resurrection.

Knowing that some day, he will have that left hand gives him comfort. I know that this is true.

=====

Just in case you’re curious…. My son’s hands were on the paper because they were being measured for 3-D printed prosthetic hand.

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Post IV: Is God really there?

So, we now come to the question: If we lived with God before this life, why don’t we remember it? How does it “help us” to not remember that?

There are several reasons:

  • To develop faith in Him.
  • To test us: To see whether we are inclined to seek Him (or not).
  • For Him to know whether, He can trust us.

In grade school, would you be inclined to cheat on a test if you knew the teacher might be looking over your shoulder? Would you be more inclined to cheat if you see the teacher leave the classroom? Would you be more inclined to cheat if you see the teacher leave the classroom and you see your classmates passing around notes with the answers? Would you do what is right?–not cheat. Would you go even beyond that and discourage others from cheating?

To your classmates later dismay, it just so happens that the teacher had a video camera recording their interactions in the classroom the whole time they were gone. BUSTED!!!

Our daily test isn’t that much different…. Everyday we make decisions…. We don’t see the “Master Teacher” but He’s there. Everything we do is recorded in heaven–good and bad.

Would anyone ever do anything bad if God punished them immediately? On the other hand, would any only “do good” out of the goodness of their heart or merely out of fear of punishment?

As a Christian, our motives are wrong if we are only doing good because we want a “reward.” We should want to “do good” because we love God and we love our fellow brothers and sisters (EVERYONE).

If we develop Charity, we change. There is an internal change that happens within our soul. We become Christ-like. We become one with God. We have the same desires and thoughts as God. That’s the goal.

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Part III: Is God really there?

Today, I wanted to discuss more about why we were born into this world:

  • Why did we have to forget who we really are?
  • Why doesn’t God stop “bad things” from happening?
  • Why does God allow “bad things” to happen to “good people” and “good things” to happen to “bad people”?

Once, I heard someone on TV have the audacity to say “When this life is over, God has a he[ck] of a lot of explaining to do.”

When I heard that, I thought: “Whoa! That’s a really bold statement to make.”

The reality is “God owes you nothing!

He has already given you sufficient for your needs: He has given you your very life. The air you breath at this moment belongs to him.

God, our Father in Heaven, did not spare anything from you: He has always done everything in his power for you. He did not even spare his own Son, Jesus Christ, for you–to redeem you.

Come judgement day, we are going to be the ones with lot of explaining to do.

Before this life, we all lived with God, our Heavenly Father, our Heavenly Mother, and our all our siblings. We lived together a long time–and learned much. But, there were somethings what we could not learn in heaven….

Let’s do a thought experiment….

Imagine that God called you to become a concert violinist. You were to go the best school and learn from the best teachers with one condition: You were not allowed to touch a violin until your first concert performance.

As a result, you studied…and studied…and studied some more. You memorized all of the music and all of the chords. Finally, the night of the concern comes. The crowed is silent as you walk-out onto the stage with the spotlight fixed on you.

Finally, you get to hold a violin (which you have been studying about for eons), for the very first time. You rest it upon your shoulder as you’ve seen your teachers do countless numbers of times, you rest you bow on the strings, and try to play…. And…. And….

And…. It does not go well…. SCREECH….SCREECH….SCREEEEEEEECH.

The concert is a failure. You never learned to play the violin.

You sadly come to this stark realization:

The only way that you could have learned to play the violin is by playing the violin.

My friends, the same was true of our experience in heaven. In heaven, we studied about earth-life. We had “knowledge”–but no “experience”, no “wisdom”.

In heaven, there was no wickedness, no evil, no hatred, no jealousy, no want, no greed, no pride, no sickness, no racism, and no death. In heaven, we never experienced scarcity before. We never knew what hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, loneliness, or sadness really was because. Undoubtedly, we learned that these things existed, but we didn’t know exactly what they were–because we never experienced them.

We never fully-grasped why something so silly as printed paper (this thing we’d call “money”) would cause so many of God’s children to make so many poor decisions.

In order to “gain knowledge”, we all had to experience these things for our selves first-hand. We all had to leave heaven in order to do that.

So, now the question: “Why did we have to forget who we really are?” I’ll start to answer that in the next post…

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Part II: Is God really there?

My wife and I are always watching something on Netflix. Recently, we’ve been watching the Once Upon a Time series. We’re starting the 7th season now…. The series is really getting repetitive and is dragging-on by now….

If you’ve watched the series, you’ll know that the people in the mystical town of Storybrooke are “cursed” multiple times by several villains. When this happens, the people “forget” who they really are. They’re “asleep” in the sense that “they do not know who they really are.”

One-by-one, as they are “awoken” and remember who they really are. They then ask others, “Are you awake?”

My dear brothers and sisters, most of the world is sleeping…. Billions of people on this planet don’t know who they really are.

My fellow Christians, “We are awake.” We know why we are here. We know that Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior. We know what the purpose of life is. We have a sacred duty and responsibility to help the world know the Savior.

Furthermore, we know that Jesus Christ restored his church. Yes, that’s right, the same church, with the same authority that Jesus Christ left to his apostles when he ascended into heaven, is on the earth again.

You don’t have to believe me…. And, I don’t want you just to take my word for it. I strongly encourage you, though, to humbly ask God in prayer whether the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored.

If you are sincere, believing that God will answer your prayer, with faith in Jesus Christ, you will receive that answer from Him. You will then have a sure knowledge of this truth.

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Part I: Is God really there?

We’ll discuss the Old Testament another time…. If you’re new to this site, you probably didn’t come here looking to discuss scriptures. You probably came here looking for answers, inspiration, or help to life’s problems.

While I may not have the solution for what you’re looking for, I can point you in the right direction–to where you can get the inspiration you need. While I may not be able to help you immediately solve your problem, I may be able to help you see your problem from the proper perspective.

You may have wondered all your life:

If God exists, why can’t I see him? Why is it that everyone born into this world had to pass through a veil that keeps us from remembering our pre-mortal life with God? If the Plan of Salvation is so important, why doesn’t God announce it from the heavens?

After Jesus’s resurrection, he walked with two of his apostles on the road to Emmaus without disclosing himself to them:

Luke 24:15-16

15 And it came to pass, that, while they acommuned together and reasoned, bJesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16 But their eyes were aholden that they should not know him.

Why didn’t these two apostles recognize Jesus? Perhaps, they were too focused on getting to their destination. Perhaps, they were to focused on the luggage they were carrying. Perhaps, they were too focused on the road ahead of them.

Are you too focused on your destination? Perhaps, you’re too focused on the burdens you’re carrying? Are you too focused on the vain things of this world?

We needn’t fault the apostles for not recognizing the Savior. Do you recognize the role that the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has played in your life?

Do you know that God knows your name? He knows where and when you were born. He knows the circumstances that have lead up in your life to the point that you just read this very sentence. He is acutely aware of you and your needs.

Need help? Pray to him. Then, listen for answers. PAY ATTENTION!!! How do you feel? What thoughts come to mind. Are they positive and uplifting? That answer is a “YES!” Are they negative or confusing? That answer is a “NO!”

No answer? Keep trying. Prove to God that your serious about getting an answer. You may have to pray multiple times.

Have you tried again and again and still not received an answer? You should be happy then: God trusts you to make the right decision for yourself then. Do what you think is right.

We’ll continue this discussion in the next post….

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