Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Best Plan

Emotions run high on the ice.
There's a sport that I think is really cool.  Not a lot of people like it.  But I think it's a real good sport.  It's called curling and it's real good.  It involves two teams and it's similar to shuffleboard but it's on ice(to see more information see  At first glance, you might think that the athletes competing are simply sliding rocks toward a circle indiscriminately.  But as you watch the game continue, you realize the skill and strategy involved in this wonderful sport.  Each time the skip slides the large granite rock down the ice, he or she knows exactly where it should end up and how it should get there.  They've determined the path for the stone long before they release it onto the ice.  They take several factors into account while planning the release.  These factors include, but are not limited to, speed, angle, spin, and curvature.  These plans are there to get the rock where they want it and avoid the obstacles the other team put into place with their rocks.  There's even a few people with brooms sweeping the ice to get it to go where they want it.  These brooms can help, but without a solid release and a good plan, you'll end up in the vast multitude of failed curling prodigies.

I believe the same can be said about our journey here on earth.  We know what we all want after this life: exaltation and Eternal life with our Father in Heaven.  But that seems like a pretty big goal at times.  And if you don't have a plan with how to get there, you'll never make it.  It'll just be good intentions that never materialized.  The reason we need s solid plan is the same as the reason to have a plan in curling, our enemy has placed rocks and other obstacle in our way.  These obstacles can take the forms of temptations and difficulties.  If inspected and avoided accordingly we can not only avoid the problems associated but learn the best ways to keep us on the strait and narrow.

The good thing about all of this is we have a plan prepared for us already.  This plan was prepared before the foundation of the world and it is guaranteed to work.  God made this plan and Jesus Christ is at the center of it.  Through the atonement, Christ prepared a way for us to avoid all of the pesky obstacles that come up in our lives.  He knows exactly what we need to achieve our goals.  If we trust in Him, and live His Gospel, we're going to succeed.  Just like the United States Women's Curling team, nothing will be able to stop us!!

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen" (2 Nephi 31:20-21).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

He Lied!

The Lion King, I think, is one of the best movies I've ever seen.  But one thing I haven't realized until recently is how much it can teach us about the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I've previously spoken of the conniving Scar's plot to rise to greatness.  His plan works out pretty well, he conquers the pride and rules with an iron fist.  But he didn't plan well for the long-term well-being of himself and his hordes of hyenas.  In the years of Scar's dreadful reign things deteriorate rather quickly.  The Lionesses, who traditionally do the bulk of the hunting, refuse to supply the food for the pride.  Suddenly, all involved are left hungry and desolate.  Even the hyenas realize that all the promises Scar made are not coming to pass.  The mighty kingdom that Scar wanted to establish was never going to be fully realized.

This reminds me of another liar.  Someone who promises us wealth, success, and pleasure if we break the commandments of God and follow him.  The power of the devil is real and he can tempt us in many different ways.  One of the most powerful ways is the same way Scar convinced many African animals to follow his plan.  Satan convinces us that we'll be happier when we're not constricted by so many rules.  We start to see sin as an exercise of our freedom.  Sooner or later, though, we realize just what the lions and hyenas found out: "wickedness never was happiness".  We may find temporary satisfaction or excitement in what we do,  but it's never a good idea to break the commandments of God.  Like Scar and his hyenas we'll be left lonely and spiritually hungry.

I know that God gives us commandments for a reason.  I know from experience that God blesses the obedience of His children.  Disobedience alienates us from God and from the feelings of the Holy Spirit.  I also know that Jesus Christ, The Son of God, has prepared a way for us to receive the ultimate blessing of that obedience: Eternal Life.  We need to follow the commandments and do our part to get to that point.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Gospel Doesn't Change

This is what the old one looks like.

New Book.

Alright, I had a neat experience.  A few days ago I happened across an old book entitled Gospel Principles.  This book is what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints used in the 1970s to teach the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a Sunday School class.  Nowadays, in the same Sunday School class, we use a book called Gospel Principles.  The newest edition went into use at the beginning of the year 2010.  That was last year.  A lot has changed in all those years.  Even with the book, the cover and the pictures have changed almost 100%.  But I got to thumbing through the book.  It turns out that all the chapters of this manual are in the same order they were 40 years ago.  What impressed me more was that the words in it were almost exactly the same as the newer version.  There have been a few updates based on cultural and grammatical changes but really nothing has changed. 

It surprised me at first, but as I thought about it, it makes a lot of sense.  The gospel hasn't really changed at all.  It's still exactly what Jesus Christ taught when He was on the earth.  We could go back even further though.  Christ taught the same teachings to prophets in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.  And in our day, that gospel and all of the truths of it have been restored to the earth.

A lot has changed in the world in the past 40 years but some things will never change.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  The Principles of His gospel are set in stone and will never be altered or adulterated within His restored church.  Jesus Christ is at the head of our church and through His priesthood it is led.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Needs A Magic Lamp?!

Through the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord instucted the members of His church to "teach one another ... out of the best books" (D&C 88:118).  Lately in my blog, I've been taking a similar approach but with a slight variation.  I've been using the best movies.  And the best movies are indisputably those released by Walt Disney Pictures, particularly those relesaed in the early to mid-1990s.  In 1992 Alladin came out.  It's a great story of love and excitement.  Alladin, with the help of his monkey Abu and the trusty magic genie, eventually wins the heart of Princess Jasmine and they live happily together.

If you're familiar with the story, you know about the magic lamp.  Alladin originally gets it and, over the course of the movie, makes 3 wishes:

1. To become a prince so he can pursue a devoted spouse.
2. The saving of his own life after being attacked by Jafar and his cronies.
3. The freedom of his blue friend, the genie.

 Although one can possibly question Alladin's motives and means to the end, his wishes were more or less noble.  They were to help himself and others live a happy successful life.

However, between Alladin's second and third wishes, the evil and conspiring Jafar obtains the lamp for a time.  Jafar also makes 3 wishes with the lamp:

1. To become a Sultan, to rule the land.
2. To become a sorcerer, to widen his rule with the use of magic.
3. To become "AN ALL-POWERFUL GENIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Jafar wanted power.   All of his wishes were to gain more and more of it.  The worst part was that he was already a powerful man in the government.  But that power wasn't enough.  He never would've been satisfied with any amount of power.  His wishes were selfish and ignoble.  But eventually he got what he deserved.  With the "phenomenal cosmic powers" of a genie came the "itty-bitty living space" and the life of constant bondage.

We have a tool way cooler than a magic lamp.  It's called prayer!  God has repeatedly promised us answers to our prayers.  Jesus Christ gave the following counsel to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas:
"And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you" (3 Nephi 18:20 emphasis added).

That's cool, God will only give us stuff that is good for us to have.  It may seem like like that's not so great a thing, but think about it.  We might pray for stuff that we don't really need, or even pray for stuff that will be harmful to us or others.  But God is such a loving Heavenly Father that He won't give us that harmful stuff.  In doing this, God helps us avoid the trap that Jafar fell into.  If we just kept getting more and more power, we would never be happy with the blessings we already have.  In this way, prayer is WAY better than a lame magic lamp.  And we don't have to put up with a weird blue man with a knack for bad impersonations. 

It is my prayer that we can follow the example found in this wonderful movie.  I hope we can use our prayers to better ours and others lives and not pray for selfish, greedy purposes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hakuna Matata

"It means no worries".  I love this song.  I like the tune and the rhythmic patterns of it.  I love how Simba grows into a mature lion while walking across a log-bridge.  I love Pumba's story about his childhood woes.  But most of all, I like it's message.  When Simba heard this song, he had a lot on his mind.  His uncle had just murdered his father.  This young lion was subsequently chased out of the pride by ferocious hyenas.  The worst part was that Simba was too young and inexperienced to do anything about it.  That would be hard.  Timon and Pumba helped Simba overcome all these worries he had.  I've heard it said that "worrying will do you no good" (see here).  Dwelling on the sad events of the recent past did nothing for Simba but make him more sad.  The message of this great song helped Simba to put the worries of the past behind him and focus on the future.

Jesus Christ gave similar counsel to His followers almost 2000 years before.  After prophesying His own death and resurrection, our savior told His disciples that hard times are going to come: "In the world ye shall have tribulation".  But Christ told them how to get through the hard times: "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 emphasis added).  Jesus Christ has overcome all.  If we really focus on that, we will not find it difficult to "be of good cheer".

We all have good times and bad times in our lives.  We can spend our lives waiting for something bad to happen or we can find the good in it.  We can look back with regrets or we can use the lessons we've learned to improve our futures.  I know that if we follow Christ's counsel to "be of good cheer" our lives will better.  It may not be easier, but it'll be a whole lot more fun!

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (D&C 123:17 emphasis added)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Be Prepared

Disney's The Lion King, I've found out, has a lot of really good messages for us in it.  One thing this movie does well is illustrate the battle between good & evil.  This battle is very real.  There's one scene when Scar is leading his hyena minions in a Nazi-style march about preparation.  Scar's voice echoes in a deep baritone while the hyenas belt out the chorus in an ominous cacophony that'll make the burliest of pachyderms squeal with terror.  The song is entitled, "Be Prepared".  Scar is plotting a complete overthrow of his brother, Mufasa's kingdom.  This plan includes two murders and many lies and deceptions.  Scar is eventually successful in taking over the pride and enjoys years of dominance before Simba finally returns and claims his right to the throne.  With some simple preparation and a reasonable amount of foresight, Mufasa could've thwarted his conspiring brother's plans of wild domination.

It gets me to thinking.  In our lives, we have the same battle between good & Evil.  There are two forces always working on us.  God always compels us to do good- to repent and forsake sin, to follow His son, Jesus Christ.  Satan, on the other hand, always does his best to convince us to do wrong.  Just like the evil and aspiring Scar, Satan is always prepared to get us at our weakest point.  Just like Scar knew his brother Mufasa, the devil knows us and our weaknesses.  We have an advantage over Mufasa though; we know who the enemy is.  If we do all we can to prepare for the temptations that we know the devil will throw at us, we can avoid the catastrophes similar to those Mufasa faced.  We must follow the commandments of God in order to avoid this.  Prayer, repentance, and scripture study are crucial points in thwarting the plan of the adversary.  I know that as we do our best to "be prepared" to fight evil, God will bless us and help us in our preparation.

"Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome." (D&C 38:9 emphasis added)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Deliberate Disobedience

At one point in Disney's The Lion King, The mane (main) character, Simba really wanted to escape the confines of his father's kingdom.  He escaped with his (girl)friend Nala, to an elephant graveyard where hyenas rule and the king's dominion is limited.  You've heard the phrase, "curiosity killed the cat".  Well, in this case, it almost killed two lions and a toucan.  They end up barely escaping the wrath of the hyenas, but only with some help from Mufasa, the king.  After this incident Mufasa is chastising his son for his youthful indiscretion.  One line of his lecture always catches my attention more than any other, "You deliberately disobeyed me!".  Mufasa gave Simba explicit directions never to leave the pride.  As the king's son, Simba was guaranteed freedom and protection anywhere in his father's kingdom.  But when outside those boundaries, Simba was a huge target as the heir to the throne.

Similarly, we are "heirs of God" (Romans 8:17).  God is our father and He wants the best for us.  He wants us to be happy so He gives us commandments.  When we obey God and His commandments, we learn for ourselves the blessings that come from obedience.  But sadly, like Simba, we sometimes learn these lessons another way.  When we "deliberately disobey" the commandments of God, we learn firsthand that "wickedness never was [or is] happiness"(Alma 41:10).

Elder David A. Bednar
Most fathers, including the wise Mufasa, have their children's safety and well-being at heart when they give useful and sometimes stern counsel.  Our Father in Heaven knows what we can become, that's why He gives us these commandments.  Just like Mufasa, God wants His children to become like Him.  To accomplish this, we need to avoid dangers and pitfalls.  You could describe this as our own "elephant graveyard[s]" where Satan rules and the Holy Ghost's effect is diminished.  This could be a physical place or simply thoughts in our minds or our hearts.  Whatever the case, we must avoid these dangers at all costs if we are to fulfill our commission as "joint-heirs with Christ".

God wants the best for us.  Commandments are there to protect us and strengthen us.  When we follow the counsel of God we will learn this for ourselves.  Like Simba eventually did, we will see our potential and rise to the occasion.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All About Mormons: What Makes Them Different?

"What makes the LDS church different from other Christian churches?"

If you've ever wondered this, or even if you haven't, I'm gonna answer it.  A lot of people notice a difference in Mormons from others.  Some notice our focus on families, some our extreme zeal for sharing our faith, and others think we are weird because we don't drink, smoke, swear, or fornicate.  I'm not saying that nobody else in the world lives by those standards.  But, as a missionary, people have mentioned these differences to me. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Jesus Christ's church on the earth today.  It wasn't born from another church, it wasn't thought up by a man. God called Joseph Smith as a prophet.  Through him, God restored His church.  All of the doctrine and organization of Jesus Christ's church is now available in simplicity to all the inhabitants of the earth.  For more on this restoration, click here

The reason Mormons are different than others is because they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  We seek to understand the will of God and do our best to live accordingly. The Lord has made it known on multiple occasions that the members of His church will be a peculiar people (click here). defines "peculiar" as " distinctive in nature or character from others".  Considering that, it shouldn't be so surprising that members of Christ's modern church are are seen as being different from everyone else.

I bear witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.  It's God's kingdom on the earth.  That's what makes us different.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Up To You, Choose The Right

There were some people in the Book of Mormon named the Zoramites.  They were once righteous Nephites but they rebelled and formed their own civilization.  The worst part was in the church that they started.  They didn't let poor people come into the churches because of their clothes and poverty.  The prophet, Alma, saw a great need to teach this apostate group and bring them back to the church of God.  While talking to a bunch of these poor people, Alma said a lot of cool stuff.  He taught them how to gain a testimony and strengthen their faith.  He also shared much from the scriptures about Jesus Christ and His role in our lives.  My favorite part of what Alma taught was the last thing he said to them:

"And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen" (Alma 33:23). 

This seems like a pretty simple statement.  There aren't even any big words in it.  But it had a big impact on me when I read it.  It really shows the role of our personal agency, or freedom to choose.  Alma had just gotten done teaching these people some of the most important stuff they'd ever hear.  But Alma couldn't force these people to do what he said.  All the blessings of faith and the atonement of Christ were available to them but only on their taking advantage of it.

There's a cute little saying used in our church a lot: "Choose the Right".  Many members, especially young children, wear what is called a CTR ring.  It's simply a daily reminder to follow the commandments of God.  We recognize what Alma taught to the Zoramites.  We want to use our choices to do what is right and good.

God is willing to bless all of His children.  When we make the decision to follow God and keep His commandments, we will see these blessings in our lives.  God loves you.  We should all show our love for Him by keeping His commandments.

"And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stain Remover

Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are supposed to maintain a professional, uplifting appearance.  We often wear suits and ties to convey this (and by "often" I mean every day).   I have been wearing a white shirt every day for some time now.  These shirts, no matter how well they are made, are not the best at hiding stains.  Anything you drop, spill, or fall into, will show like an alligator in a room full of business administrators.  One of the biggest culprits is spaghetti.  The splashy, slurpy, long noodles get a lot of torque worked up and catapult that red, drippy sauce onto your neatly tailored clothing.  If not treated, the stain would last forever, never to be removed.  I've tried wearing shirts with stains on them and it's not fun.  I'm always so self-conscious; I try to cover up the stain so others don't know it's there.  It makes it more difficult to maintain that clean, modest appearance with a big spaghetti stain for all to see.

But there is good news!  The geniuses in some factory somewhere made a way for me to get rid of these stains immediately.  It comes in the form of a pen and I can take it anywhere I go!  I can just rub it on the stain and BOOM! the stain is gone.  It works like magic.  Because of this nifty contraption, I can go about my life in comfort, without trying to hide my embarrassing stain.

Because I'm a missionary, this concept reminds me of a scripture.  There's a part in The Book Of Mormon when a bunch of Lamanites (usually the bad guys) become converted to the Lord and join God's church.  The king of this people expresses their feelings about repentance: "it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain" (Alma 24:11).  When we make mistakes, or sin, it effects us tremendously.  We have feelings of guilt and shame.  These feelings put a "stain" on our hearts.  The only way to get rid of this stain is to repent and ask God for forgiveness.  When removed, we don't need to worry about hiding our sins or our past transgressions from others.  All of those bad feelings we have will be gone.  Just like that really neat pen takes the stain from my shirt, through repentance, God will take the stain from our hearts.

While this awesome pen can quickly and easily solve many problems with my white shirts, it can't do everything.  Some stains, because of the size and severity of  the stain, need further treatment.  This treatment usually takes a lot more work than the convenient pen.  Without extensive care, the shirt could be lost forever.  It's not as easy but it's just as important.  It's the same way with sins.  Repentance isn't always the easiest process.  Just like the huge stain on my shirt, a very serious sin can only be removed by much prayer and forgiveness.

Repentance is available to everybody.  The Lamanites I mentioned earlier described themselves as "the most lost of all mankind" and they were able to repent and come to the Lord.  We all make mistakes and these mistakes really can be forgiven by God!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Everyone Gets a Ring

So the NBA Finals are underway.  I, as a missionary, don't really follow current events much.  But being in the United States, I tend to get unexpected updates every now & then.  One thing that's been impossible not to hear about is the rise of the Miami Heat.  The signing of Chris Bosh and Lebron James and their spotty success with fellow all-star Dwyane Wade has been huge news throughout this whole year.  This sort of team organization has really been a trend in recent years in the NBA.  A few very good players highlight an otherwise average roster.  In fact, it's been quite a successful strategy lately, consider the recent success of the L.A. Lakers, Boston Celtics, and San Antonio Spurs.  I'm personally a fan of this kind of basketball.  I love watching multiple all-stars play off of each other's individual strengths and even take the freedoms they have to fix weaknesses in their own game.

Udonis Haslem
So I'm gonna change the subject right now but It'll make sense in the end, I promise.  There's a tradition in most major sports involving jewelry.  Each member of the winning organization that year gets a championship ring.  If the Heat take it all this year, it's not just Lebron, Chris Bosh, and D-Wade getting the ring.  Each player claims the prize.  They all have different roles in the team's success.  Not everybody is expected to take over a game in a tough situation like Lebron.  Sometimes, all you need to do is play solid defense and hit an open shot when Chris Bosh is double-teamed inside. In an ideal situation, the coach will know each player's strengths and weaknesses to put together the winning team.  But if your team comes out on top, you get the same ring that Lebron gets.

This is how it is in our journey here on Earth.  Not everybody has the same responsibilities.  God knows our talents and weaknesses.  He doesn't give us anything we can't handle.  He might make us stretch sometimes, just like guys like Udonis Haslem need to come through in some tough situations.  But one good thing is we are all on the same team.  The fullness of Joy that comes with Eternal Life is available to everyone!  And this team is going to win.  All we have to do is listen to the coach and we're on the team.  Some people , like prophets and apostles, have huge responsibilities.  And some are called simply to help others.  We all have different opportunities in life.  These opportunities don't determine if we get the ring, or Eternal life with God, but it's what we do with those chances.

I know that God lives and loves His children.  I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God.  Because of Him it is possible for us, all of God's children to return to live with Him someday.  That opportunity is available to all.  We can all join the winning team and get a ring!  We do this by living the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I leave my witness in His name, even Jesus Christ's.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Right Ones

There's a really good movie that came out in 2004 called "Miracle".  This movie takes place back in the time when hockey was cool.  It depicts the organizing, development, and eventual success of the United States men's hockey team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. This team faced a lot of adversity while looking forward to the Olympics.  But they overcame that and shocked the world when they beat the heavily favored Soviet team to advance to the Gold-Medal round, in which they defeated the Finnish team to claim the top prize.

Near the beginning of the film, the head coach, Herb Brooks, is setting the final roster in place.  One of his assistant coaches questions his decision:

"You're missing some of the best players" he says.

Herb answers back, "I'm not looking for the best players.  I'm looking for the right ones".

 Herb Brooks knew what he wanted to do with this team.  He knew what it would take to create an Olympic-ready hockey team.  He didn't take the easy way out and make it simply a test of hockey skills.  But coach Brooks examined each player's personal talents.  He made his decision to create the best team chemistry, to mix different personalities and characters.  This chemistry is what ultimately refined them and prepared them to defeat the Soviets.  It truly was a miracle.

I think there's something to learn from all of this.  I believe that God has this same attitude with His children.  Our Heavenly Father calls prophets to help teach His children here on the Earth.  These prophets are normal people who are called to a not-so-normal role.

One good example of this is Moses.  Moses said of himself that he was "slow of speech, and of a slow tongue"(Exodus 4:10).  He thought that a prophet should be able to communicate with people and he struggled with that.  Some might think that Moses wasn't the best man for the job.  But God doesn't care who "the best" people are, He just wants "the right ones".  Through an imperfect man, God miraculously led Israel out of Egypt, counseled them for forty years in the wilderness, and issued the still-relevant ten commandments.

So if you ever doubt yourself, just think about all of the imperfect people through whom God has done His bidding.  We may not be "the best" people for whatever we have to do.  But if God wants us to do something to fulfill His purposes, we are "the right ones".

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bound with the Bands

Imagine you're sitting on your couch watching TV.  You realize that you're thirsty so you want to go to the refrigerator and get a drink of cranberry juice.  But you can't move because you're wrapped up in strong bands - sort of like a mummy from the catacombs of ancient Egypt.  You would do all you could to get yourself out of those bands.  If you knew how to get those things off of you, nothing would stop you.  You would do all you could to release yourself and attain that refreshing beverage. 

We put ourselves in a similar situation when we sin.  Although it sometimes may seem otherwise, the commandments of God are in place to keep us free and happy.  When we break those commandments we are literally binding ourself in sin. I like how the Book of Mormon prophet Alma puts it, when we sin, we are "bound with the bands of iniquity" (Mosiah 23:12).  They keep us from enjoying the blessings of the gospel.  Most importantly, they keep us from having the Holy Ghost's influence in our lives.

Now let's go back to that comparison I made earlier.  Imagine there's someone who will help you out of those dreadful bands.  He's completely willing to help.  But you have to accept that help before he can.  Of course that man is the Savior Jesus Christ.  If we allow Him to help us, He will. 

So I encourage all who feel they are "bound with the bands" of sin to ask God for forgiveness.  Live the commandments and free yourself, with the help of the Lord!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

All About Mormons: Why don't they drink Coke?

"Why don't Mormons drink Coke?"

Although this question is a bit faulty, I have heard it a lot.  The rumor gets around that the LDS church doesn't let their members drink a certain carbonated soft drink.  Now I personally have never heard any official statement from the church telling us not to drink it, but I think I understand where this notion comes from.

In 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation commonly known as "The Word of Wisdom" (D&C 89).  It is a law of health received from God.  The principles taught in The Word of Wisdom outline the things we should and shouldn't take into our bodies.  In it, the Lord tells us that "hot drinks are not for the body or belly" (v. 9).  Through modern revelation we learn that the term "hot drinks" refers to coffee and tea.  Now, these substances are definitely against the Word of Wisdom and must be avoided to follow the counsel of God and His prophets.  Other than alcohol, no other drink is prohibited in the Word of Wisdom.

But, many believe we are told to abstain from coffee & tea because of the high amounts of caffeine found therein.  In addition to this many sources in and out of the LDS church have found caffeine to be a harmful and addictive substance (for examples see here & here).  But, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has never, to my knowledge, made an official statement advising us not to drink caffeinated beverages.

In short, Latter-Day saints are a health-conscious people.  Some don't drink caffeinated drinks or soda because it's simply not good for you.

If you would like to submit a question to "All About Mormons" hit me up on facebook or leave it as a comment right here on my blog!"

Friday, May 13, 2011

All About Mormons: Why go on a mission?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of the fastest-growing churches in the world.  It is continuing to grow as the truth goes to the entire world.  As a missionary, I get a lot of questions about the church.  Many people wonder about our church.  I will try to make our faith less of a mystery.  I will do this by recalling and accepting common (or maybe not so common) questions about "The Mormons".

"Why would a 19-year-old kid go on a mission for his church?"

This seemed like a good question to start with.  I've heard it more than a few times as I've met with people who don't know much about the church.  Tens of thousands of young men put off their own pursuits for two years to teach others about a church.  In today's world (especially among college-age young men) it really is quite an interesting phenomenon.  Not only is it young men, young women and senior couples also put their lives on hold to spend all their time and attention on work for their church. 

So why do they do it???

Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you why I do it.  I don't see it as a rite of passage or a way to please my parents and church leaders.  It's not simply a way to see the world or just to have fun in Montana.  I have been called by a prophet of God to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that what I am teaching others is true.  I have read the Book of Mormon, and I have prayed to know that it is true.  It is!  I have felt the love of Jesus Christ and the power of His atonement.  I know that the authority to lead Jesus Christ's church has been restored to the earth.  And as a missionary of His church, I do all I can to help others gain that knowledge and feel of that love

They should be wearing helmets.

So  the next time you see two young men in white shirts and ties walking or riding their bikes down the street, that's something to think about.  They have been called by God.

If you would like to submit a question you've heard or a question that you have, hit me up on facebook or leave it as a comment right here on my blog!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mothers Are The Best!

The coolest people in the world are loving mothers.  It's that simple.  Nothing in life can replace the support, love, and encouragement provided by the moms in the world. I know I would be lost were it not for my mother helping and supporting me along the way.  Whenever I have a tough day on my mission, I can take comfort that my mom is praying for me and wishing me the best back home.

One of Christ's last actions was an expression of love towards His earthly mother.  As Jesus was dying on the cross, He saw Mary and the apostle John standing near each other.  The Savior said to "his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:26-27).  In His hour of death, the Savior of the world recognized the importance of honoring and caring for His own mother.  

We should all follow His example.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Painted Into a Corner

Our choices determine a lot about our lives.  One wrong choice can have serious consequences.  The good news is that God has given us guidance and direction to help us make the right choices.  Through His prophets, God gives us commandments.  The Book of Mormon prophet Alma teaches us that "wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10), or in other words, when we break God's commandments, we're not happy.  When we follow the counsel of God's ancient and modern prophets, we're going to be happy.  Disobedience, however fun and exciting it seems at the time, always leads to separation from God. 

Elder Robert D. Hales of the quorum of the 12 apostles shared the following experience:

In my youth I learned an important lesson about how our actions may limit our freedom. One day my father assigned me to varnish a wooden floor. I made the choice to begin at the door and work my way into the room. When I was almost finished, I realized I had left myself no way to get out. There was no window or door on the other side. I had literally painted myself into a corner. I had no place to go. I was stuck.  (Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life, Ensign Nov. 2010)

When we make wrong choices, we paint ourselves into the corner.  But we are promised a way out.  Elder Hales relates the process of fixing this problem to repentance:

"Like repentance, turning around and walking across a newly varnished floor means more work—a lot of resanding and refinishing! Returning to the Lord isn’t easy, but it is worth it." (For the entire address see here)

Repentance is difficult.  But it is the only way to gain forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus Christ died for us and suffered for our sins.  When we earnestly seek God's forgiveness, we will want to follow His commandments.  We will make the choices to bring us closer to Him and His son Jesus Christ. 

I know that Christ came to the earth so that we can all live with God again someday.  I know that we are here to make choices.  The choices we make in this life will determine our happiness on the earth and in our life to come.  My prayer is that we can all read the scriptures and make those correct choices.

Friday, April 29, 2011


The other day my companion and I were doing some service in the community.  We were helping out somebody shovel a big pile of gravel.  We were moving the gravel, with the help of a trusty wheelbarrow to another spot around the building.  At first, the work wasn't all that difficult, just fill the wheelbarrow, roll it around, and dump it.  But as fatigue set in I became a bit discouraged.  Every time we went back to that pile of gravel, it looked exactly the same.  I didn't feel that my efforts in transporting that gravel were accomplishing a whole lot. 
I think a lot of people fall into this trap when trying to help others.  We don't see the immediate results of our efforts so we become discouraged.  Just like the gravel pile, those we are trying to help don't always look or act a whole lot different right away.  Even in our day-to-day interactions with them, we may not recognize how much we really are helping.  However, the Lord has told us to "be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work" (D&C 64:33). 

So I'll fast-forward to the end of our gravel story.  The gravel will eventually be laid out to make a walkway leading up to a doorway.  Although it doesn't seem very productive at the time, our efforts will help people comfortably get from their cars to the doorway of that building. 

I know that as we continue to help others, God will bless us.  It may be difficult or frustrating, but our efforts are appreciated.  We will come to know that "out of small things proceedeth that which is great"!  And that's a promise!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Hosanna

I love Christmas.  But I love Easter too.  Those are probably the two biggest holidays to any Christian.  The reality of the birth, atonement, and resurrection of the Savior are extremely vital pieces of information to know.  Also, in Montana, the weather around both times of the year is very similar.  I know that Christ lives!  One thing about Christmas that everyone loves is the music.  The joyous strains of that season can be heard for months.  I wish Easter could have the same feel to it.

There's a great song that can be found in the LDS Children's Songbook called Easter Hosanna. It shares the glorious message of Christ's resurrection:

The prophecies of long ago were now at last fulfilled,
When Jesus, risen from the dead, to man Himself revealed.
As He came down from heaven above, white-robed and glorified,
The people of the promised land received their Lord and cried:
Hosanna!  Blessed be the name of the Most High God!

I want to bear my witness of the Savior. He lives!  The accounts of Jesus Christ found in the New Testament are true!  He suffered for our sins.  He was cruelly arrested, tried, and beaten.  Our Lord and Redeemer was crucified and died so that we all might live!  It is through Him and only through Him that we can return to live with our Eternal Father in Heaven.  I know that this is true and that His church is restored!

To learn more about Christ's restored church, visit

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"He is Not Here, But is Risen"

Well, Easter's coming up.  Easter is awesome!  We get a chance, with all of our Christian brothers and sisters, to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.  I am grateful to know of the reality of this event nearly 2,000 years ago.   Jesus Christ really did come forth from the tomb.

I love the account in Luke:

"1. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
 2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
 3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
 4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
 5. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
 6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee" (Luke 24:1-6 italics added)

What really impresses me is how these women respond to the message from this heavenly messenger.  The scripture continues to say that "they remembered his words"(v. 8).  What a great example we can take from that!  We all can have experiences like these women.  We might not see an angel, but we can hear the Holy Ghost bear witness to us that Jesus Christ is our savior and He "is risen"!  I hope that when we feel this witness from the Holy Ghost we can "remember his words" and keep them in our hearts.  We should then remember the words of Christ and do our best to keep His commandments and live His gospel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Forgive, and Ye Shall Be Forgiven"

Forgiveness is a hard thing.  People are really mean sometimes.  It's really hard to forgive someone for doing something that makes your life difficult or inconvenient.  Trespasses against us range from the menial to the severe.  But forgiveness is essential to any disciple of Christ.

Jesus Christ shared a parable about a king and his servant.  The servant owed his king a very large debt.  The time of reckoning eventually came and the king wanted his money.  The servant begged for forgiveness.  The merciful king "was moved with compassion ... and forgave him the debt".  This is a great manifestation of the principle of forgiveness.  Just like this servant, we can be forgiven of all our sins, when we disobey God's commandments.  But the story goes on.  The forgiven servant remembered a debt one of his "fellowservants" owed him.  This debt was much smaller than the original amount owed to the king.  This unrighteous man demanded the money.  Similar to his creditor, the debtor begged for mercy, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all".  The unrighteous servant would not forgive him but "cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt".

We don't want to be like this wicked servant.  When we feel the peace and mercy of Christ's love in our lives, we should show that to others.  We should follow our Savior's example and forgive others.  We don't need to hold grudges or seek revenge.  We can know true happiness with others when we master the art of forgiveness.  In fact, to be forgiven of our own sins we must learn to forgive others.  We must school all our feelings and follow the example of our savior. 

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6: 37)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Articles of Faith #13

"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things"

So this is the last Article of Faith.  It kinda sums up everything we, as members of Jesus Christ's church, try to do and be.  We believe it is important to be a good person.  We believe in being honest and true in our dealings with our fellow men.  We believe that chastity, benevolence, and virtue should "garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly" (D&C 121: 45). In short, we believe in following the example set by Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is perfect.  Although He was tempted, He never broke God's commandments.  He was baptized by John "to fulfill all righteousness".  Christ spent his entire life going "about doing good" (Acts 10:38).  He caused the blind see, the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear.  He brought people back to life, walked on water, and miraculously fed vast multitudes.  Christ understood perfectly what His Heavenly Father expected of Him.  Our Savior showed this by taking upon Himself the sins of the world.  Just before His suffering on the cross was over he uttered the words: "it is finished" (John 19:30).  Our Lord and redeemer Jesus Christ truly finished His work on this earth. 

We believe that we need to follow Christ's example.  He did His work and we need to do ours.  He is the embodiment of faith, hope, and charity.  As members of His church we are to build those qualities in our own lives.  He spent His entire life in service to His fellowmen.  It is our purpose, as Christ's church, to provide needed help to all of God's children.  Jesus Christ set the perfect example and we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, believe we should follow Him.  Just like the original disciples, Christ invites us to follow Him
Just like our savior, we need to help others in any way we can.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.  I know that His church is restored.  God has called a prophet in these latter days.  God speaks through His prophet!  I firmly believe when we do our best to follow Christ's example "the windows of heaven" will be opened unto us.  Of this I humbly and sincerely testify.

For more on The Articles of Faith see

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Articles of Faith #12

"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law"

We firmly believe that earthly governments and authorities ought to be respected and upheld.  The Lord said, in a revelation to His prophet, that "the law of the land ... is justifiable before me" (D&C 98: 5).  We have a duty, as God's children, to live according to the law and be upstanding members of society.  In addition to simply living within the confines of the law, we believe it is important to participate in the process as much as we can.  It is important to vote on whom the "kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates" are.  We are to stand up and have our voice heard on issues of law and government.  We are to defend our rights of worship, morality, speech, and many others.  But as we do so, we are not representing the church.  We are fulfilling our duty as citizens of our respective societies.

I believe that Jesus Christ lives!  I know His church and His priesthood are restored to the earth.  I know that as we follow His example and live the laws of the land, we can be true representatives of Him.

For more on the Articles of Faith, see

Friday, April 1, 2011

Articles of Faith #11

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may"

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe in religious freedom.  We claim that right for ourselves and we don't try to stop anyone from exercising that right for themselves.  There are millions of different religious beliefs and no matter the faith, we, as a church, are accepting.  All are free to "worship how, where, or what they may". 

Now, as a missionary, I have been challenged on this point.  Some accuse me (and other missionaries) of trying to infringe upon that basic right of humanity.  They believe that we want to "force" everyone to believe what we believe.  In this I answer that we are following the example of Jesus Christ.  He did not force anyone to believe.  He did not encroach on any church's right to believe in whatever they wanted.  He simply taught the truth and invited people to accept and act on that truth.  In fact, we as missionaries, are not discouraging people to exercise their freedom of worship but actively and diligently encouraging others to use this freedom.  It is great to live in a society where we, as citizens, can gather all the information we want (scholastically and spiritually) and use that knowledge to act "according to the dictates of our own conscience".  Like Christ, we simply teach the truth and invite others to take advantage of this wonderful freedom that we have.

I know that Christ's church is restored.  I know that His priesthood is on the earth.  I know that God is merciful and will help us when we come to Him in prayer.  I pray that all can exercise their freedom of worship and do just that.