Tag Archives: stake presidency

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!”

My interview with Elder Echo Hawk and our new Stake Presidency

As mentioned before, this past weekend was our Stake Conference. Our previous Stake President, David P Homer, was called to be an Area Seventy (he told us on Sunday that he had been called in November and had to keep it a secret all this time) so we needed a new Stake President. We were originally supposed to have Elder Eduardo Gavarret attend, but apparently he had visa problems, so Elder Larry Echo Hawk was asked Thursday afternoon to fill in. He attended with the already assigned Area Seventy, Elder Jeffery E Olson.
NOTE: I’ll have a posting about Elder Echo Hawk later this week.

My interview was scheduled for 9 am at the Stake Centre. I live about 45 minutes away, and was scheduled to work on Saturday, so I got up early and went to work for 6:45 am and then left just after 8 am to go to the interview. I got there just before 9 and waited/chatted with Elder Homer and the Stake Clerk.

Just as it was with Elder Russell M Nelson and Elder Gary Crittenden 5 years ago, the interview was very short. I was with them for 5 minutes max. They first asked me about men who I thought would be good candidates for the stake presidency and then they asked me some questions. They asked about my wife and my previous callings. I keep typing “they”, but it was actually just Elder Olson doing the talking. Elder Echo Hawk sat there watching and listening.

I then headed back to work and the waiting began. It is a strange process. You want your leaders to know that you are worthy, but we are certainly not looking to get the “job”. I knew the interviews were ending at around noon, so I thought if was getting called to something I’d hear within an hour or two. By the time it was pushing 2 pm I figured that they had chosen other men, and I felt fine with that. Then at about 2:15 I received a call from Elder Homer asking if it were possible for my wife and me to come back to the Stake Centre to meet with Elder Echo Hawk and Elder Olson.

We made arrangements for someone to look after our children and off we went. We got to the Stake Centre at about 3:40. I met with Elder Echo Hawk and my wife met with Elder Olson. I was asked about my worthiness and if there was anything that would lead to members of the stake not sustaining me (I still didn’t know what the position was). My wife was asked the same question, along with questions about how I treat her and our children. After that we were brought back together again and the call was extended. I was called to be the 1st Counselor in the new Stake Presidency. Without hesitation we accepted. I was surprisingly calm about it. I know it will be a lot of work, but I also know how much the Lord blessed me as a bishop, and I know He will do that again.

It was kind of funny during the rest of the afternoon/evening and Sunday morning before the business was done. Several people made a few comments to me wondering what was going to happen. I just had to kind of shrug my shoulders and brush it off. They would find out soon enough.

And so the time for the sustaining arrived, and as I’m sure it usually is, it was unanimous. We were invited to the stand to participate in the rest of the meeting. The outgoing Stake Presidency and their wives were invited to bear their testimonies, and then the incoming Stake Presidency was invited to do the same (unfortunately there wasn’t time for our wives).

After the meeting we were set apart. Elder Echo Hawk set apart the President, I was set apart by Elder Olson, and then Elder Echo Hawk set apart the 2nd Counselor.

Lastly there was a short (about 1 hour) introductory training meeting with our wives to go over the basic responsibilities and how to main balance.

It was a whirlwind of a couple of days! I feel good about things, and think we’ll be able to continue the great work that the previous presidency was able to do.

One thing that really stuck out in my mind over the two days was how many times Elder Echo Hawk and Elder Olson testified that they were there under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and that the Spirit had definitely witnessed to them what they were supposed to do. A sceptic might say that they have to say that, but it was very sincere, and the Spirit was with them as they said it. As one of the people who was chose, this was definitely very comforting.

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A report on the boundary changes

As I mentioned last week, there was a special meeting planned for this past Sunday where 4 wards would learn about some boundary changes. Our Stake President had decided that since we had General Conference and Stake Conference in the month, he wanted the Sacrament administered to (or is it for?) the members. We had 19 YM (Priests, Teachers and Deacons and a couple of adults) help do this. They passed the Sacrament to close to 400 people. It worked out well and a lot of people were appreciative that they had that opportunity.

Before getting to the changes, let me share one other thing with you… My father emailed a childhood friend who now lives in Utah (he has for decades). My dad said that they were making some changes, and this friend emailed back to say that in the last 10 years he’s been in 10 different stakes even though he hasn’t moved, and that he is now back in the original ward/stake that he was in before all of this started. The bottom line is this was a big deal for many members around here as it is the first time changes have been made in 20 years, but in some parts of the world this happens almost regularly.

So, the meeting ran like a regular sacrament meeting. The boundary changes were taken care of during the business portion near the beginning of the meeting. A counselor in the Stake Presidency announced the boundaries and then the members of the newly realigned ward were asked to sustain the changes. Opportunity was given to oppose, but no one did.

The changes were less drastic than I thought they might be. Our ward only lost a few members and didn’t gain any from any other wards. We’ll miss the members we lost greatly, but they will be well cared for in the new ward.

There were then a couple of youth speakers and all of the Bishops also had a chance to share their testimony. The Stake President was then the concluding speaker. The whole meeting lasted about  1 1/2 hours.

The greatest force for good in the world

As mentioned in my General Conference summaries, our Stake President, David P Homer, was called to be an Area Seventy. Our Stake Conference was already scheduled for the end of this month, so we will be getting a new Stake President. Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the First Quorum of the Seventy will be presiding at the Stake Conference and he will be accompanied by Elder Jeffery E Olson. I figured that since I am no longer in a bishopric that I was “off the radar”, but I received an email earlier this week requesting that I meet with them for a few minutes on the Saturday of Stake Conference. I’m not sure how I can make it work out, as I am scheduled to work that day and the person who I work with is on vacation. Oh well, somehow things will work out.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my short meeting with Elder Nelson when the Stake Presidency was reorganized the last time. I met with him for 5 minutes in the morning of the Saturday of Stake Conference. There was a form I had been given ahead of time that I was to fill out that had questions like the following:

  • Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
  • Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
  • Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  • Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  • Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
  • Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws and commandments of the gospel?
  • Do you live the law of chastity?
  • Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  • Are you a full-tithe payer?
  • Do you have prayer regularly in your home?
  • Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
  • Do you hold weekly family home evening?
  • Have you ever been divorced?
    If the answer is yes, has it been cleared by appropriate priesthood authorities where required?
    If you have ever been divorced or separated, are you presently fulfilling your obligations for the support and maintenance of your family?
  • Have you ever been subject to Church discipline?
  • If you have received your temple endowment:
    Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple?
    Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
  • Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?

There were some places to record biographical information (age, wife and children, education, occupation, etc).There was also a chance to leave some comments. I wrote the following:

I love this church, its organization, and its teachings. It has brought such joy into my life and family. I cherish the eternal relationship that I have with my family and am grateful for the priesthood keys that have allowed that to happen.

At the end of my brief interview, Elder Nelson said it was a very nice thought and that “the Church is a great force for good in the world.” He then paused, and corrected himself, “No. It is the greatest force for good in the world.” It was interesting to watch him during this brief exchange. He made an initial comment that was perfectly valid, but then almost looked troubled and corrected what he said. That second line was said with surety, and I believed him. I’m sure there are those who would disagree with the statement, but I too believe that the Church is the greatest force for good in the world!

My funny kids

On Sunday we had our Ward Conference, so the Stake Presidency, along with many other stake leaders, were there. My oldest son (10-years-old) asked me after Church if I knew the Stake President. I said yes, and he said the next time I am bishop I need to ask him for his autograph. I asked why, and he said, “because he’s the stake president!”

Funny stuff! The first thing is the “next time you’re the bishop” like he just assumed it would happen. The other thing is that he thinks the Stake President is “famous” enough to get his autograph.

I sent an email to the Stake President to let him know that, and he thought it was pretty funny. He said that years ago someone had asked him to get a General Authority to sign something (he didn’t say what it was), and the GA told him that President Hinckley had asked them not to sign things since they aren’t rock stars.

The other funny thing was on Monday at Family Home Evening. My 4-year-old daughter was in charge of the lesson so we told her to get The Friend magazine and pick something. She saw a story with a picture of Jesus and she wanted to read that. I helped her with the lesson and asked a few questions about Jesus. I started off by asking where Jesus was born. My oldest son said Jerusalem. I told him it was a very close answer, but there was specific place the scriptures mention. After a few seconds my daughter blurted out, “Agrabah!” (For those that don’t know, that where Disney’s Aladdin took place). Perhaps that is why there was a party in Agrabah 🙂

“One For The Money”

I was offline for a few days while we moved. We recently bought a second house. Some family will be living in our original house, while we moved into this other house. My family will be covering mortgage/taxes and their basic utilities, and the house remains in my name and I get the equity. Once the mortgage is paid off, they’ll just give me a bit of money to help with my other house. It was quite a decision for us to decide whether this was a risk we were willing to take, and figuring out how it would affect our finances. In the end, we obviously decided that it was worth it. It may make things tight for a short time, but in the long run, it’s better for us (we’ll have equity in two houses) as well as family (they will have a cheap place to live in the long run).

Anyway, I tell you this because at the request of the stake presidency, our ward recently had a combined MP/RS lesson on family finances. It was based on the booklet “One For The Money“, which is based on a talk by Elder Marvin J. Ashton from 1975. We gave everyone a copy of that booklet, along with a copy of the short “All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances” booklet (both are available at no charge from the Distribution Centre). I led the discussion. We read each of the 12 suggestions (but didn’t read all of the information about each one) and tried to get a discussion going. Of course, the main thing that we wanted to get out of it was practical tips on how to manage our money. What has worked for other people? How do you setup your budget? How do you stay on budget? You get the idea…

I had the Relief Society President take a few notes, and the following week we had a small handout for everyone that consisted of the following notes:


Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s points:

  1. Pay an honest tithing
  2. Learn to manage money before it manages you
  3. Learn self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters
  4. Use a budget
  5. Teach family members early the importance of working and earning
  6. Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend
  7. Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare
  8. Make education a continuing process
  9. Work toward home ownership
  10. Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program
  11. Understand the influence of external forces on family finances and investments
  12. Appropriately involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program

Notes/suggestions:

  • Financial peace of mind is not determined by how much we make, but is depended upon how much we spend – Elder Ashton
  • Just because you make more, doesn’t mean you have to spend more. Try to save a little each time you get paid, so you can build up a reserve.
  • It takes great faith to say “We can’t afford it” – Elder Hales
  • It might be obvious that we don’t need or can’t afford the big things (TV’s, stereo equipment, new computers, etc), but there are often small things we don’t need (fast food, small toys, junk food, etc).
  • Paying tithing really does open the windows of heaven.
  • Both husband and wife should work together on the family finances. This doesn’t mean they both do the exact same thing, but they both know what is going on, and both have equal say in how the money is spent.
  • Focus on needs and not wants.
  • Use a budget, including allowing each spouse to have a designated amount for themselves.
  • Participate in leisure activities (sports, movies, etc) within the bounds of your budget.
  • Each family member should be contributing in some way.
  • Make a plan to get out of debt and stick to the plan.
  • Get an appropriate amount of insurance, but don’t duplicate it. Coverage from a job, with a mortgage, or other existing coverage may be enough.
  • Accumulate food storage, grow a garden, be prepared

These few points and suggestions are not intended to be all-inclusive or exhaustive. Rather, it is hoped that a need has been brought to the surface for our serious consideration. We need to recognize and be aware of these basic guidelines for wise money management.


If you are interested, you can download the handout here.

2009 Ward Conference

This past Sunday was our annual Ward Conference. The stake presidency had decided that the theme of the conferences this year would be from Mosiah 18:21. I think the day went very well. The Primary children sang a couple of songs as prelude music, and did a great job. For the meeting, I was the first speaker, the counselor in the stake presidency over our ward was the second speaker, and the stake president was the concluding speaker. We had 173 people attend, including several non-members, and one couple that hadn’t been to church in years. This is 25-30 more than our average, so we were quite pleased. The combined MP/RS meeting was about bringing the Church out of obscurity. I spoke about missionary work, the stake RS president spoke about services, and the stake Public Affairs person spoke about being involved in the community, and the stake president summarized everything. After Church, we went and visited (prearranged) some members. I havne’t received all reports back yet, but they went also went well. It was a long day, but a good one!

In case you are interested, here is my 10-minute talk from sacrament meeting about contention…


Good morning Brothers and Sisters. It is great to see so many of you out this morning for our ward conference. I, like all of you, look forward to the messages that will be shared with us today.

I thank the Primary for their beautiful singing this morning. My kids love the song Holding hands Around the World. The words of the chorus are:

We are children holding hands around the world,
Like an army with the gospel flag unfurled.
We are led by His light,
And we love truth and right.
We are building the kingdom of God.[1]

What a beautiful message. You can imagine the strength these children will have if they keep that inspiration with them as they grow?!

When I last spoke, I mentioned that the theme of the ward conferences and of the stake this year was taken from Mosiah 18: 21.

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.[2]

My remarks this morning will focus on the first part of that verse: contention. To contend is to argue or compete over a point; to fight about something. In boxing, the person ranked just below the champion is called the #1 contender. In sports, being in contention is a good thing. It means you are trying your best and you are close to the top. Fans in those cities where teams are in contention are excited and look forward to going to the games. Fans in those cities where teams are not in contention often can’t be bothered to even go to the games. Unfortunately, in most other parts of life, the results of contention are quite the opposite. Christ plainly taught us that:

…he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.[3]

With that as a definition, it seems impossible to come up with a situation where contention would be a good thing. Contention is associated with pride. We contend with people because we are certain we are right and they are wrong. It is also associated with selfishness. We may know we are wrong, but don’t want others to be right. Sometimes we develop a sense of entitlement. Perhaps we have done something for others and feel that they now owe us, and we treat them poorly because of it. This lack of humility can damage our homes, our places of employment, and the Church. The fruits of contention are anger, hatred, yelling, and even violence. Of course, on the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit are

…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…[4]

When I was a missionary in Taiwan, we’d often hear about a Confucius saying. It was kind of a long thought, but basically it said that if we wanted to improve the country, we have to improve our states (or provinces). If we want to improve our states (or provinces), we have to improve our cities. If we want to improve our cities, we have to improve our families. And if we want to improve our families, we have to improve ourselves.

So, how do we improve ourselves, so that there is less contention in and around us? I like how it is explained in Helaman. Nephi and Lehi were teaching the people of Zarahemla. They had been cast into prison and protected in a variety of ways. The people saw the hand of God, and eventually the people responded. It says that 300 souls were influenced that day. As Nephi and Lehi continued to preach to them, it says of the people of Zarahemla, that:

… as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers.[5]

Reading it just a little differently, it says we need to lay down our weapons, lay down our hatred, and lay down the traditions of our fathers (obviously the unrighteous ones). I think it is pretty easy to visualize someone physically taking their weapons and laying them on the ground. You can imagine the hesitation… that weapon might have saved their life or the lives of their loved ones. It protected them in one way or another, but with courage and faith they put their weapons down. However, as that verse says, we also need to lay down our hatred. Imagine that the hatred and anger you have in you is something that you could actually touch or grasp. Perhaps it has become part of you, and it may hurt physically and emotionally to tear it out. It may be more difficult to rid yourself of this, than of your physical weapons. Just as with physical weapons, our anger and bitterness may have been used as a weapon, as well. We may have used it to cover our weaknesses. It doesn’t really matter how the anger and contention started, we have to take whatever steps necessary to end it. Only then can we truly come unto Christ and partake of his goodness.[6] This may take time, but you will be successful.

One thing that may help is to replace the contention with positive things. Just as “no unclean thing can dwell with God”[7], I’d say that no clean thing can dwell with Satan. Look for the good in others. The other day I heard a report on the radio about a couple of college students who go to a street corner near their school every Wednesday for a couple of hours and give compliments. “Nice shoes. You’ve got great curly hair. I like your sweatpants. I like your smile.” One of the students said,

Days when it’s raining, and days when it’s absolutely frigid out, and people are like, man, thank you for coming out here. We’re not necessarily enjoying our time in the cold, we’re enjoying the responses we get and the interaction we receive with people.[8]

For whatever reason, these young men are trying to bring brighten the day for others. There are those that are still rude to them, but they keep doing it. Remember, just as dealing with someone who is in a bad mood can push us to be in a bad mood, dealing with someone with a bright and optimistic outlet can push us to be the same. It’s contagious!

Once we have taken these steps to improve ourselves, the next step is to improve our families. On our way to the temple on Thursday, Caroline, Marilyn, Lisa and I briefly discussed how it seems to be easier to be nice to strangers and friends than it is to our own families. The amount of time we spend together can be such a blessing, but we also see so many weaknesses and differences. The natural man let’s those differences eat away at us. Don’t let that happen.

Let me share with you one thing that we have done in our family recently. A little more than a month ago we returned from a family vacation in Florida. It was the first time that we had gone away as a family for an extended period of time. It was awesome. Our Family Home Evening lesson on the Monday following our return was about the importance of family and spending time together. We talked about the cost of the trip, and so we made a Family Fun Jar. On pay day and allowance day, we all have a chance to put some money in the jar for our next family vacation. We also discussed the type of relationship we need to have in order to have fun. Our family already had some standard rules about not hitting and listening to others, but we added a rule about not yelling. This rule even applied to Mommy and Daddy. We rarely yelled in true anger, but it definitely would get the kids attention and they would then listen. Of course, when the adults yell, the children yell as well, and we didn’t want. To encourage us to follow this new rule, we decided that our Family Fun Jar would also be a Yelling Jar. Some people have a swearing jar, and whenever they swear, they have to put money in the jar. We don’t swear, but we all would occasionally yell. At first Andrew said he was going to yell so that we could go on vacation again, but when he actually had to put money in the jar as a consequence, he quickly understood that was not what he wanted to do. I’m happy to report that in the 5 weeks we’ve been back, it is working well. We’ve all had to put in a few dollars, but overall, the contention in our home has reduced considerably. We are indeed being blessed.

If yelling isn’t a problem in your home, then you don’t have to do this. Identify where you and your family have issues, and come up with a plan to change.

It is apparent from the scriptures that there are many attributes that we should be striving to develop, but we cannot forget our responsibility to rid our lives of undesirable attributes. It is no coincidence that after Christ visited the Nephites, one of their defining characteristics was that they did not have any contention. 4 Nephi has many references to this:

…there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another

…And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land;

…And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

…And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.[9]

I do not claim to be an expert in living in peace and harmony with everyone, but I’m trying. I know although it may be hard, treating everyone with love and respect is the only way to live. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, we need:

…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks… that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.[10]

This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

——
[1] Copyright © 2001 by Janice Kapp Perry. All rights reserved.
[2] Mosiah 18: 21
[3] 3 Nephi 11:29
[4] Galatians 5: 22
[5] Helaman 5:51
[6] 2 Nephi 26:32-33
[7] 1 Nephi 10: 21
[8] “At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary” from All Things Considered, March 20, 2009, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102128212 accessed 20090321
[9] 4 Nephi 1: 2, 13, 15, 18
[10] 1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Attending Church away from “home”

I haven’t posted for a week and a half. My family went on a vacation down to Orlando. My in-laws rented a house there for a month, and we visited for 8 days. It was great. The weather was gorgeous (blue sky and 27°C/80°F every day).

We were there for one Sunday, and went to Sacrament Meeting at the Kissimmee Ward. The first thing that caught our attention was that it was our building. By that, I mean that the building was obviously built around the same time in the 50s and is the same basic building plan. I’m sure back when it was built the meetinghouse was in the middle of nowhere. Now it sits in the middle of a plaza parking lot along a major roadway.

It happened to be their ward conference that week. There were loads of people there and 8 YM (we only use 5 in our ward) passed the sacrament (I don’t know if this is normal, or if they had more because of ward conference). There were 2 speakers; a counselor in the stake presidency and the stake president. The counselor spoke about the importance of families. The stake president spoke about Proposition 8 (briefly), families, and then concluded his talk with a side note about how if you have a temple recommend and you don’t pay your tithing, you won’t have a temple recommend any more (perhaps there is a problem in Kissimmee, I don’t know).

On the one hand, attending Church in a different ward, was almost like attending Church back home (especially when the building looked the same). The hymns are the same, the way the prayers are offered are the same, etc. On the other hand, it still didn’t feel like home. The members were welcoming, but I missed my friends, associates, and others I serve with back in my home ward. There’s no place like home!