Monthly Archives: May 2013

I live for what happens today

A few years ago Eugene (Gene) Cernan was in Buffalo, NY for a presentation. For those who don’t know, he was the spacecraft commander of Apollo 17 1972 from December 6 to December 19 and was the last man to walk on the moon. I was listening to the local NPR station and the host asked Mr. Cernan this question:

Do you reflect on that every time you go into the night and look up at the moon and think “I was the last man to walk there”?

Mr Cernan responded in this way:

No, hardly ever, unless when someone like you asks me. I’m one of those people who don’t live in the past. I’ve got to live for the future. I tell these kids the future’s made out of dreams. I’ve still got some dreams. I’ve got a dream I want to live another 10 or 12 years and watch my grandkids grow up. I’m still flying airplanes. What I’ve done, I’ve done. I live with it. I hope my grandkids are proud of it some day, but I can’t go around with a sign around my neck saying, “Hey World, I went to the moon!” I don’t live that way. I live for what happens today and what I’m going to help make happen tomorrow. That’s what it’s all about.

Obviously we do need to remember the past (it is one of the key messages in the Book of Mormon), but I like his message of looking forward. “What am I going to help make happen tomorrow?” A very nice thought!

Our Youth/Young Single Adults and the sexualized world we live in

Over the last 2 1/2 years I’ve worked with both the Young Single Adults in my stake and the YM in my ward. With my new calling, I have responsibility over Young Single Adults. Over this time, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ponder on  what can be done to help the 12-30 age groups. On the one hand, that is a huge range, and needs obviously vary depending on the exact age of a person. On the other hand, there is indeed at least one common thing that they all have in common. There is great pressure to accept and experience sexual-related things.

I know that there has been temptation from the beginning. Whenever/wherever there is righteousness, there is going to be opposition. But it seems that one of the great vices of this generation is pornography, and the acceptance of almost any kind of sexual behaviour. I’ve read a couple of articles recently that really made me think. I don’t want to comment too much, but here are the articles along with some selected quotes:

Globe and Mail – Why won’t guys grow up? Sexual economics
Published Saturday, November 10, 2012

In economic terms, our unequal desire for sex means that, in the sexual marketplace, men are the buyers and women are the sellers. Until recently, the price was steep, up to and including a wedding ring and a promise of lifetime commitment. In my parents’ generation, the only way for a 22-year-old guy to have a lot of sex was to get married. Today, plenty of 22-year-olds can get all the sex they want for the cost of a pack of condoms…

The changes in gender politics since the 1960s have been good for both sexes. Women got something they really wanted (access to careers and money) and men got something they really wanted (more sex). But this bargain is having some unexpected consequences. Young men are in no hurry to get married. Why should they be? As my dear old dad used to say when I waltzed out the door in my miniskirt, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I hated it when he said that. But he’d grasped the central principle of sexual economics…

Dr. Baumeister’s argument is that “men will do whatever is required in order to obtain sex” – and that, historically, society has made them do quite a lot. To qualify as good marriage material, a young man used to have to show he could work hard, compete successfully, commit to family life, be a good provider and gain respect in the community. “The fact that men became useful members of society as a result of their efforts to obtain sex is not trivial,” he says.

But now, young men don’t have to do those things. Sex is readily available. According to Mark Regnerus, another expert on sexual economics, 30 per cent of young men’s sexual relationships today involve no romance at all – no hearts, no flowers, not even “Hey, what’s your name again?”

Toronto Star – Is pornography changing how teens view sex?
Published Monday, Aprril 22, 2013

“You have to ask yourself, what 15-year-old boy thinks there is a girl who wants to have sex with four boys and to what extent he thinks this is expected or normal? And you have to ask, where do they get these ideas from?” said Peter Jaffe, a professor at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University. “It’s not from sex education they are getting in school.”

One hypothesis: exposure to pornography. At no other time has pornography — including violent pornography — been so easily accessible for children of all ages. In one U.S. survey, 70 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds said they had watched porn, while a Canadian study found boys as young as 10 have experienced pornography. By the time they reached 20, the same study found it was almost impossible to find men who hadn’t viewed X-rated material.

Pornography can’t be solely blamed for what appears to be an increase in rape or sexual violence. However, academics, researchers and scientists say there is little doubt that the use of porn among teenagers is having a profound impact on their notions of normal sexual behaviour, their views on women and their ability to even identify what constitutes sexual violence…

Brain scans have also found the teenage brain is dominated by areas associated with pleasure and reward, and emotional response, perhaps explaining the emotional roller-coaster years associated with puberty.

This volatile situation taking place within the teenage brain may make it more susceptible to the lure and long-term effects of pornography, scientists believe…

As for the other side effects of pornography on society, most experts say we will have to wait and see.
“We are running a massive experiment on an entire generation of people,” Jensen said. “We are exposing them to incredible levels of this hypersexualized media with no idea of the effect. Some of what we are seeing now (with these gang-rape cases) is hinting at this.”

I know there are lots of angles from which  this can be looked at, but it seems to me that we have our impressionable youth and young adults growing up in an “anything goes” society. There is evidence that this is leading to problems, but society isn’t doing anything about it. Also, the move to gender equality (which certainly seems to be a good thing in most situations), is possibly leading to less of a need for marriage and monogamy.

I know this is a simplistic summary, but it is the way I see it. It is indeed a scary world out there! The need for parents and leaders to stay close to their children and young adults is greater than it has ever been. I think about this often and pray daily that my children will be protected from these influences.

How Salt Lake City won over Goldman Sachs

The London Telegraph has a great article about how Utah has become a friendly place for business:

Although salaries are relatively low in Salt Lake, the Mormon population, which accounts for about half of all residents, tend to be highly educated, hard-working and loyal. More than half are fluent in a second language, thanks in large part to the Latter-day Saints’ tradition of doing a two-year stint as a missionary overseas.

Youth Chosen Topic – Participation in Church

A while back I posted some notes from a discussion we had with the youth about the Word of Wisdom. We had asked them what topics they wanted to discuss, and along with Word of Wisdom, they had general questions about why they need to sing, go to seminary, etc. We combined all of those things into a topic about participation. We were going to be addressing this topic at some point, but weren’t sure when. Since I am no longer the YM President, I won’t have an opportunity to discuss this with the youth, but I figured I’d still share my notes. Remember, these are just notes. I’m sure I wasn’t going to share everything, and I would have allowed the youth to direct the discussion in a certain way if it was going well.

From the youth topic survey, people wanted to discuss:

  • skipping classes
  • getting up for seminary
  • singing in Church
    • See D&C 25:12 – the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me
      For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
    • See Mark 14:26 – Jesus and his disciples sang
      And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
  • false ideology
    • people focus too much on one thing but not another
  • what if you don’t know the church is true
    • not exactly participation, but we figured that we could cover this as part of this topic since participation is a result of and leads to stronger testimonies

What is the purpose of the Church?

  • Mosiah 18: 8-9
    And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
    Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
  • Mosiah 18: 19-21
    And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
    Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
    And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
  • 4 Nephi 1: 12
    And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.
  • Moroni 6: 5-6
    And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
    And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
  • D&C 20: 75
    It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus
  • D&C 43: 8
    And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.

3 main purposes of coming to Church

  1. Partake of the Sacrament
  2. Learn the Gospel
  3. Help others

Parking of the Sacrament

  • The bread and water help us to remember Jesus
  • We take upon ourselves His name
  • It helps us to remember Him
  • We commit to follow Him
  • Sacrament prayers are located in D&C 20: 77, 79
    O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
    O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Learn the Gospel

  • Listen to talks
  • Prepare for lessons
  • Be open to the Spirit
  • Don’t disrupt others
  • Even principles we’ve heard before can be interesting if we have the right attitude
  • Classes are as good as you make them
  • We should be edified together
    • See D&C 50: 17-25
      Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
      And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
      And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
      If it be some other way it is not of God.
      Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
      Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
      And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
      That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
      And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;

Help Others

  • Hymn 270 – I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
    • Perhaps there are things we need to do and say that will help others
  • What we say/do, how we act, and our body language has a profound impact on others

Do you know how to receive revelation? Part 3 (final part)

As mentioned previously, the May topic for Come, Follow Me is on Prophets and Revelation. I spent two weeks discussing the ideas in the “How do I receive personal revelation?” topic.

I thought the talks by Richard G Scott and David A Bednar gave some good information. Here are some quotes:

Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life,Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 45–47

When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.

There are some practical principles that enhance revelation. First, yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be eliminated, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.

Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.

Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation.

On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.

It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.

Based on this quote, I tried to emphasize the following:

  • Anger/hurt/defensiveness drive away the Spirit
  • Be cautious with humour. It was interesting that he noted that a good sense of humour (not inappropriate or too loud) helps revelation
  • Do not exaggerate things unnecessarily
  • Get a good amount of sleep and  eat well
  • That last paragraph is simple but powerful… It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit

David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87–90

He starts at the beginning of his talk and talks about light. He talks about how the sun rises and that from moment to moment we can’t tell it is brighter, but as we look back, we can obviously tell it is brighter. He then compares that turning on a light switch in a room when the room gets brighter instantly. Both are very much like revelation. Sometimes we can feel it immediately, and sometimes it slowly grows/builds.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The Holy Ghost is a revelator,” and “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 132)…

This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives…

I emphasize the phrase “apply unto it” in relation to the spirit of revelation. In the scriptures, the influence of the Holy Ghost frequently is described as “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45; see also 3 Nephi 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Helaman 5:30). Because the Spirit whispers to us gently and delicately, it is easy to understand why we should shun inappropriate media, pornography, and harmful, addictive substances and behaviors. These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously “apply unto it,” even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families…

A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing…

The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation…

I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions…

Another common experience with light helps us learn an additional truth about the “line upon line, precept upon precept” pattern of revelation. Sometimes the sun rises on a morning that is cloudy or foggy. Because of the overcast conditions, perceiving the light is more difficult, and identifying the precise moment when the sun rises over the horizon is not possible. But on such a morning we nonetheless have sufficient light to recognize a new day and to conduct our affairs.

In a similar way, we many times receive revelation without recognizing precisely how or when we are receiving revelation. An important episode from Church history illustrates this principle.

Anyway, that is probably enough. As I said in the beginning, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few weeks. I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve read and thought about and discussed. I am by no means an expert in receiving revelation, but I’m trying and asking and I have faith that the revelation does and will come.

Do you know how to receive revelation? Part 2

As I mentioned in the first part, when I was interviewed by Elder Olson and Elder Echo Hawk to be in the Stake Presidency, Elder Olson asked me if I knew how to receive revelation. That, together with the topic for May in the new youth curriculum has given me plenty to think about.

“Do you know how to receive revelation?” is kind of a tricky question. It’s like the question in the temple recommend interview that asks if you are worthy to enter the Lord’s house. If you say yes, you sound boastful. If you say no, then it’s as if something is wrong with you.

I guess the first thing to remember is that what revelation is. To me, revelation occurs any time you feel the Holy Ghost. If someone is bearing their testimony and you feel the Spirit, you have received revelation. The Spirit has let you know that what they are saying is true. This obviously isn’t revelation like Joseph Smith received, but I still consider it revelation.

If we consider revelation to be received anytime we feel the Spirit, then it doesn’t seem so daunting. So let me ask the questions again… “Do you know how to receive revelation?” The answer should be yes. You receive revelation because you keep the commandments. If you aren’t receiving revelation, you probably have some areas that need some work.

I understand that this is a very simplistic way to look at it, but this is the way I was describing it to the Priests that I was teaching the last couple of weeks. At 16, 17 or 18 years old they should be able to receive revelation. Since they are able to receive revelation, they should be receiving it often. If they are not, then they need to figure out what needs to change in their life so they can receive it.

I also want to emphasize how important it is to want revelation. We shouldn’t just wait to see if it comes. We should be seeking it out. I love D&C 42: 61:

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.

If we ask, we are promised revelation upon revelation. Good stuff!

Do you know how to receive revelation?

That was one of the questions that Elder Jeffery Olson and Elder Larry Echo Hawk asked me during my interview when our stake presidency was changed. I have thought about it every day since. I’m not sure why it has struck me as such a profound question, but it has. I have reflected on what it means, and what I can do to improve my ability to receive revelation.

I plan on a more in-depth posting on revelation soon (it is also the topic in May for the new youth curriculum), but for now I’ll post some of the questions I’ve been thinking about:

  • Do you know how to receive revelation?
  • Do you recognize revelation when it comes?
  • Are you asking for revelation?
  • It is “easy” to understand how revelation pertains to Church life, but do you understand that revelation can be received for literally EVERYTHING in your life?
  • Are you aware of the things in your life that would stop you from receiving revelation?
  • When you receive revelation, do you act on it?

As I said, I’ll have a more thorough post later, but these are some questions to get you thinking…

“Do you live the law of chastity?”

Note: I know it isn’t appropriate to share “funny” incidents from my interviews with members, but I think this one is fine to share…

So, yesterday was my first full Sunday as a counselor in the Stake Presidency. I was still in my home ward as I am still the YM President. Next week is Mother’s Day, so I’ll be in my home ward that week as well, but then will be travelling around.

Other than my normal duties as YM President, I had my first temple recommend interviews to do. The first one was at Church and it went fine.

The second interview was for my 94-year-old grandmother. She lives in a retirement home. She is bound to a wheelchair (bad knees) and gets a fair amount of help from the staff. If she gets much worse, she’ll probably have to go into a home with more care.

Anyway, I asked the questions, and she answered appropriately. However, we both couldn’t help but smile when I asked her the questions, “Do you live the law of chastity?” She just laughed a little and said, “Oh, I think so!”

One more tidbit I learned about General Authorities

One more bit of information I learned this past weekend…

General Authorities and Area Seventies are required to keep a journal. They sign an agreement that says they will keep one and that it belongs to the Church. When they pass away, their families will get a copy of the journal, but it will be redacted so any private/confidential information is removed.

Interesting stuff!

A little more about Elder Larry Echo Hawk

Over the two days of Stake Conference, I had the opportunity to speak to Elder Larry Echo Hawk several times. I was immediately impressed by his humility. If you read about what he has accomplished in his life, he is remarkably humble. He went to law school, was the Attorney General for Idaho, taught at the BYU law school, oversaw BYU’s NCAA participation, and worked in the Obama administration. However even with all that experience, he rarely brought it up.

He is a very quiet/unassuming man. During lunch on Sunday I asked him about his work in the Obama administration and he said that when he was offered the position, he originally wanted to say now. He loved his job and responsibilities at BYU and didn’t want to leave. Whomever it was that offered him the position told him that his country was calling him to service. Elder Echo Hawk’s wife said that you can’t say no to that, but Elder Echo Hawk took about 10 days to finally decide to accept it.

President Eyring is the person who called him to be a General Authority. He found out many months in advance so he had lots of time to work things out. President Eyring told him that they didn’t want the US government mad at them 🙂

Elder Echo Hawk shared some great stores/experiences of learning more about his Pawnee heritage and doing family history research. He is obviously saddened by the way his people were treated long ago, but didn’t seem to harbour any bitter feelings.

I asked if he or his family was part of the Indian Placement Program (or whatever it was called) that the Church was involved with, and he said they were not. I commented about President Kimball’s love of Native Americans, and Elder Echo Hawk said that President Kimball (at that point an Apostle) is the one who performed the sealing for him and his wife.

I have met my fair share of General Authorities in my life, but Elder Echo Hawk certainly had an impact on me. I’m sure part of it was because of the calling I received, but there was just something about him that really impressed me. There is definitely lots there that I can try to emulate.

As a final point, Elder Echo Hawk’s first General Conference address was called “Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”. He spoke about the Book of Mormon, and shared a great story of when he was a Marine.