Monthly Archives: October 2011

What do you do with a bishop, when he stops being a bishop?

I’m sure almost everyone has seen White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. In short, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are in the army serving under General Tom Waverly. General Waverly retires. After the war, Bing and Danny become a top song-and-dance act. At one point they find out that the General needs help and they put on a show for him with all their army buddies from before. One of the songs that is sung starts with:

What can you do with a general
When he stops being a general?
Oh, what can you do with a general who retires?

It may sound strange, but that is the song that kept playing over and over in my head the week I was released as bishop. Yes, after serving as bishop of my ward for 6 years, 2 months, 16 days, I was released. It happened a year ago today, but I’m just getting around to writing about it. I figured I’d share some of my thoughts and feelings about my time as bishop.

First off, let me tell you that I am still active, and I still love the Church. Hopefully no one is disappointed by this. There was nothing that I faced that made me question my faith. The ward is generally intact, and if anything might be a bit stronger than it was. I would have served for years less or years more if that is what was needed of me. However, with that being said, it was still very hard to be released. It had nothing to do with losing the authority and everything to do with losing the privilege of helping people one-on-one. Yes, I’m still a husband, father, friend and home teacher, but this is not what I’m talking about. Members generally love and respect their bishop. I felt this from week one. The week before I was just some guy was serving as the Elders Quorum President. The following week I was the bishop and the members immediately trusted me. They came in and confided some of their most difficult problems. They looked for counsel. They cried tears of sorrow and tears of joy. I felt like a better man literally every week I went to church. That’s what I miss. I’m now just a guy again. I help when I can, but now another man has that privilege of those experiences. I have righteous envy.

I also miss how serving as bishop helped my family. It seems counter-intuitive, but during my time as bishop we had more order in our family, and possibly more time together. I know, I know… it seems backwards. However, when I was bishop our life seemed to have more structure, which allowed us to have more time together. I was busy for 9 hours or so each Sunday, every Wednesday night, and often another evening or two each week. Yet somehow through all of that, I don’t feel that my time with my family suffered. Now that I am no longer bishop, my wife is the YW President, my responsibilities at work have increased, and the kids are getting busier. It seems that time is flying by way too quickly. We don’t have the same structure and our time together is suffering. I know that we were blessed when I was bishop so that our time together didn’t suffer. In a way, I think this is part of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood where it says that when priesthood holders are faithful in the priesthood and magnify our callings, they “are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies”(D&C 84: 33).

Lastly, I miss just being involved. It isn’t that no one cares about me, but things are happening and I don’t know about it. It seems funny to write that. It sounds like I’m gossipy or nosey. That, of course, isn’t it. When you are bishop, you’d get to see the big picture. You have a vision of what needs to be done, and you can plan for it. I’m the type of person that thinks the more you know, the more you can do. In a way, this ties in with my first point. If you don’t know things, it is hard to help.

With all of these things (and more) that I miss, there are obviously things I don’t miss. I’m quite happy to go to church at 9 am (instead of 6 am). I’m quite happy to attend limited meetings. There were obviously hard things to deal with, and in a way it is a relief to be free from some of those burdens.

So, it’s been a year now. Shortly after being released I was called to be a Stake Institute Teacher. I teach a weekly Institute class to the college-aged young adults (18-30). The class is held every Wednesday in my home and we usually have 15-20 people attend. I love it! I haven’t studied the scriptures so thoroughly in a long time. Hopefully I’m helping these young adults appreciate the scriptures more. I’m definitely learning a lot.

My wife was an unbelievable support while I was bishop. Due to my responsibilities and our young family, her church callings were a little “easier” that what she is capable of having. Now she’s the YW President, and doing a great job with the small group of girls she has to work with.

All three of my kids are under 10. It seems that they’ve survived some of my absences. Now that I am no longer bishop, I can be more involved as they grow into pre-teen and teen years.

As I said in the beginning, I love the Church. There is a woman in our ward who likes to say, “It’s a good life” I totally agree. With all of the frustrations I may have had wit the bureaucracy and other things. I still firmly believe that the church is led by good men and women who are trying to serve “with full purpose of heart” (2 Nephi 31: 13). I’ve found that any failings we may experiences are usually because we are not united. If we sustain one another and accept each other in our weaknesses, we’ll be much better off. I was by no means perfect in my service, but I hope that I did something to help the work of the Lord move forward.

Awesome Lego model of the Bountiful Utah Temple

A few days ago the Deseret News had an article about a temple made from Lego. The man was asked by the local Primary President to make a model of the temple. Well, it took it several months and used over 13,000 pieces. The end result was an absolutely amazing replica of the Bountiful Utah Temple. Here is a reduced size picture. You should read the whole article to get more details, see this picture larger, as well as a couple of other pictures.

“If It Feels Right…” – NY Times article that President Monson quoted

You may recall that President Monson quoted from a NY Times article during his Sunday morning address at General Conference. The article was by David Brooks. I haven’t really read much of his work, but I do hear him every week on NPR‘s All Things Considered (he’s a political analyst) and I enjoy hearing him. The article was about how young people today have a hard time defining what something moral is.

The article was published September 12, 2001 and is called If It Feels Right.

What’s wrong with Elder Hales?

If you saw General Conference, you definitely noticed that Elder Robert D Hales looked significantly different. He looked “puffy”, spoke from a chair, and had oxygen tubes in his nose. He didn’t say what was wrong with him. Elder Ballard and President Monson both referred to how it was nice to see him, but no one shared what was wrong.

Yesterday and today the Church News & Events page, the LDS Newsroom, and the Deseret News all posted about a statement issued by Elder Hales:

I continue to work with doctors and physical therapists to regain my strength. I am grateful for the faith and prayers that made it possible for me to participate in general conference and resume my responsibilities. I am touched by the many kind expressions of love and support shown to me and your continued prayers.

None of the three sources I mentioned talk about what the health challenges were that Elder Hales faced.

Do you think it was a good idea to post the statement, or does it lead to more questions? Part of me says they should share what is wrong with him. There are millions of people who are concerned about him, and continually using the phrase “health challenges” seems pointless. Another part of me says that it is his health, and he deserves privacy, so we should all back off. Yet another part of me says that if Elder Hales shared what is wrong with him, there would be critics of the Church who would use that as an excuse to talk about the “old men” who lead the Church and that they aren’t capable.

I’m still not settled on what I think the best way is to handle this, but I do know that I hope for the best for Elder Hales. I hope and pray that he isn’t suffering, and that he recovers.

181st Semiannual General Conference – Post-conference notes

Before General Conference starts, I always wonder how I’m going to make it through. By the time it is done, I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. There were several talks that I really enjoyed, and lots to think about it. Here are a few random notes/thoughts:

  • President Monson is a great story teller. The story he told Sunday morning was a simple story about leaving money in his pants pockets, but he made it last for 5 minutes and was suspenseful. He also seemed to be a little “wired”. It was fun to see.
  • My favourite talks were probably from Saturday afternoon. I really enjoyed Elder Andersen’s talk about having children. He said that we don’t have children because we have time, he said that is what we’ve been given time for. I also really enjoyed Elder Ardern. He spoke about time management. He said the scales of time need to be correctly balanced.
  • It was sad to see Elder Hales. I have no idea what is wrong with him, but I hope he is not suffering. President Monson’s remarks to “Bob” indicated he’s doing better. Let’s hope so!
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was fantastic as always
  • Elder Cook’s Mormon connection to the Titanic was neat
Well, I guess that is it for this conference. Stay strong, and I’ll post again soon…

Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

181st Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session

Well, here we go into the last session of conference. It has been good so far. I haven’t started to fall asleep even once :-)

Between these two sessions on Sunday, we watched several of the Mormon Messages that the Church has put out. I highly recommend The Sting of the Scorpion and Watch Your Step. Both are very powerful!


President Henry B Eyring conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Arise, O God, and Shine

Elder F Michael Watson offered the invocation

The choir sang I Feel My Savior’s Love

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • spoke about his recent trip to Russia
  • temple covenants are sacred and powerful
  • we are children of the covenant
  • He is our God, we are His people

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • What think ye of Christ?
  • When you consider all of the things the Saviour has done for us, don’t you have many reasons to come back to church?

Brother Matthew O Richardson

  • when I left my mission, my mission didn’t leave me
  • we need to be “real” in every area of our life
  • real life requires real learning which requires real teaching

The choir and congregation sang Now Let Us Rejoice

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

  • spoke about missionary work and the missionaries who serve around the world
  • missionaries are a treasure to this great church

Elder Randall K Bennett

  • he shared a story about how he almost drowned as a child
  • that day he made a poor choice that almost permanently separate him from his family
  • you can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences
  • in our choices we make every day, are we choosing eternal life
  • we essentially only have two choices
  • are you choosing to be busy and apathetic that you don’t take time to study the words of Christ?
  • are you choosing to follow the prophets or the world?
  • your eternal destiny will not be an accident. It will be a choice

Elder J Devn Cornish (President Eyring had a hard time pronouncing his name)

  • in His mercy, the God of heaven hears our prayers
  • Why would God concern himself with small things?
  • He loves us so much, what is important to us becomes important to him
  • it is contrary to the economy of heaven for God to do something for us we can do for ourselves
  • do not forget to ask the Lord to protect you and be with you
  • when we think we are too sinful to pray, that is like someone saying they are too sick to go to the doctor

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • something stirs within us when tragedy strikes innocent people.
  • why are righteous people not immune
  • we can exercise our faith
    1. God loves and understands us perfectly
    2. The atonement compensates
    3. The plan of salvation provides for eternal life
  • Cool story of missionaries cancelling trip on Titanic
  • have  a spirit of gratitude in our hearts
  • we prosper when we have the spirit in our lives
  • some challenges give us experience and purify us and prepare us to meet God
  • God has enough lifeboats for everyone

President Thomas S Monson

  • expressed gratitude and appreciation for a variety of things
  • Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face

The choir sang Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part

Elder Gregory A Schwitzer offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

181st Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Morning General Session

The Sunday morning of Genetal Conference is awesome. I’m in the Eastern time zone, so conference doesn’t start until noon. We have all morning to relax. We went for a walk in the rain, watched part of Pocahontas, and then had the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast on. We’re all set now for the first session.


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Lead Me Into Life Eternal

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah

Elder Paul K Sybrowsky offered the invocation

The choir sang Consider the Lilies

President Henry B Eyring

  • members recently did a day of service
  • spoke of the baptism commitment we read about in the Book of Mormon near the Waters of Mormon
  • charity is the pure love of Christ
  • feelings of charity can become part of your nature

Elder Robert D Hales

  • How sad to see Elder Hales to look the way he did. I wonder what is wrong with him. I don’t mean to be disrespectful in speaking about him, but his face seemed kind of “puffy”, but spoke well. He had the same small oxygen tubes that came around the side of his nose that President Packer did. It appears to be a neat contraption that hooked up to his glasses.
  • He spoke of the atonement
  • To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith
  • To wait upon the Lord is planting the seed of faith
  • Sometimes I don’t receive an answer to prayers because the Lord knows I am not ready
  • Too often we want patience, but we want it right now
  • Be kinder to one another, and kinder to ourselves
  • We are not alone in our Gethsemane
  • the Book of Mormon is either of God or of the Devil
  • feast upon the words of Christ
  • come unto Christ and be perfected in Him
  • shared a great analogy about a dot. You can draw an infinite number of lines through the point. That is the bible and different interpretations. Add a second dot, the Book of Mormon, and there is only one line between the dots.
The choir and congregation sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet
  • How do we raise girls?
  • The most important thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother
  • join with us in leading the world in returning to virtue
  • the importance of a name
  • the church was given a specific name
  • we take upon us the name of Christ
  • do we realize how blessed we are to take upon us His name? It is the only name under heaven by which man will be saved
  • went over the name of the church, and how it in some ways seems long, in another way it is a beautifully short and specific name
The choir sang I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go (the choir sang it beautifully!)

President Thomas S Monson

  • recounted how life has changed since he was born
  • along with technology changes, the morals of society have changed almost as rapidly
  • we’ve been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon as our financial capital
  • we can rely on God’s constancy
  • we need to reject anything that does not conform to our standards

The choir sang I Believe in Christ

Elder James B Martino offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: