Toddler Jesus!

Dec 25, 2019
0 min read

This was the best comment on the church’s new video The Christ Child which I highly recommend.

The characters are speaking Aramaic, the inn situation is more historically accurate and the wise men show up at the right time!

The performances are outstanding and the wise man’s reaction to Jesus is priceless. This is probably the best film that I’ve seen from the church.

You don’t see a depiction of Jesus as a toddler very often and while we know that he was a toddler, it is different seeing it depicted and wondering about what that must have been like.

What a great reminder of how our Savior came to earth in such a humble manner. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son and for all the beauty of life.

Becoming Indistractable

Dec 20, 2019
0 min read

I listened to this podcast several weeks ago because, like most people, I felt like I would get distracted often.

Nir Eyal, the author of Indistractable explains that distraction starts from within. When we feel like indulging in a distraction we should ask the question: What am I escaping from? or What is the feeling that I’m using a distraction to escape?

He further explains that every human has an inherent desire to escape discomfort. Whenever we feel physically uncomfortable, we react. When we are lonely, we check Facebook, when we are uncertain, we check Google, when we are bored, we turn on the TV, check the news or watch a movie. 

The key is learning to manage those internal triggers and he explains how this can be done in the podcast below.

I thought this was some of the most helpful and simple advice I have heard in a long time and it is definitely a great message for people of all ages to deal with the challenges of our day and time.

Here’s the audio via User Defenders Podcast:

Link to podcast website and full transcript: https://userdefenders.com/podcast/064-how-to-become-indistractable-with-nir-eyal/

Stages of Faith Notes

Dec 10, 2019
1 min read

Recently I listened to the Stages of Faith presentation again but this time with my wife and daughters and it was a wonderful experience. I wanted my wife and kids to hear these ideas to see how we can help add to their faith and help prepare them better. A comment from Zen at JRGanymede said:

“Don’t teach so clearly they can understand.
Teach so clearly they can’t misunderstand.”

I cannot recommend this presentation enough so if you haven’t listened to it yet, set aside some time and enjoy it by clicking here.

I think that the material covered there can have an incredible impact on people who are struggling or even younger people who may not understand trials or the dark night of the soul when it inevitably envelops them.

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40

Dec 8, 2019
1 min read
My Dad and I

This past week, I turned 40 years old; wow, that’s how long the Israelites wandered in the desert. The number 40 is tied to the themes of “probation, trial, and chastisement.” [1] Hopefully I am on the other side of the probation and chastisement and not just beginning them, yikes!

That got me thinking of how Lehi’s people wandered for 8 years and how “it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.” [2] That makes a lot of sense seeing how they were starting a completely new civilization in the promised land.

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Some Thoughts About Understanding What Priesthood Is

Nov 26, 2019
5 min read

The priesthood is a big topic and much has been said and written about it throughout time. It seems to me that there are a lot of misunderstandings out there about what the priesthood is.

I think there is some wisdom found in exploring some words spoken by, then President of the quorum of the twelve, Russell M. Nelson about the atonement of Jesus Christ:

It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice by shortcut phrases, such as “the Atonement” or “the enabling power of the Atonement” or “applying the Atonement” or “being strengthened by the Atonement.” These expressions present a real risk of misdirecting faith by treating the event as if it had living existence and capabilities independent of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Under the Father’s great eternal plan, it is the Savior who suffered. It is the Savior who broke the bands of death. It is the Savior who paid the price for our sins and transgressions and blots them out on condition of our repentance. It is the Savior who delivers us from physical and spiritual death.

There is no amorphous entity called “the Atonement” upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source. Sacred terms such as Atonement and Resurrection describe what the Savior did, according to the Father’s plan, so that we may live with hope in this life and gain eternal life in the world to come. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.

Russell M. Nelson

I think that similarly, we make the same error in how we talk about the priesthood. Both ‘the atonement’ and ‘the priesthood’ are not in and of themselves some amorphous entities that we ‘draw upon’ for power.

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Intelligence requires ideas to act consciously

Nov 24, 2019
1 min read
@jeremythomasphoto

This is a thought I had today as we were discussing the topic of temptation in church. I was thinking again along the lines of another recent post about the source of ideas.

Intelligence alone cannot progress without ideas. Ideas consist of information, something that has been assembled in a manner that can be comprehended. We understand God to be a source of ideas and when intelligences are aware of his ideas, they act and grow, and if they continue on this path they progress.

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Fear and Faith are Both Based on Ideas

Nov 17, 2019
0 min read

This story is from September 2015

As I went to announce to my kids that it was bedtime I noticed that two out of the three were fast asleep on the couch.

I was tired too and decided to just leave them where they lay for the night. I told the last one awake to head to bed, but she protested and asked that I move the others to the room with her because she did not want to sleep alone.

I told her she’s always wanted her own room anyway, so tonight she gets her wish!

She replied, “Well, I changed my mind!”

A light went on in my mind as I realized that she must still be afraid due to those ghost stories the kids down the street had told her earlier in the evening. 

I noted a similarity between fear and faith; they are both based on ideas. 

Ideas alone are nothing, but they lose or gain power depending on the degree of belief we choose to invest in them.

Everything Will Be Okay…

Nov 13, 2019
2 min read

Some recent quotes and ideas that I found interesting.

Everything will be okay in the end. If everything’s not okay, it’s not the end.

-via Jeremiah NTJ and Bookslinger, jrganymede.com

The discomfort one feels from the scornful mocking coming from the great and spacious building is directly proportional to the value one ascribes to their opinions.

Personal notes

2. Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]”

25. Jesus said, “Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye.”

The Gospel of Thomas
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Lectures on Faith Hardcover Edition Available for Purchase

Nov 11, 2019
0 min read

I just completed and published a 6×9″ 94-page hardcover version of the Lectures on Faith which I think is the nicest-looking edition ever made!

While you can always access this version for free at LecturesOnFaith.com, this version was created especially for study purposes and those that prefer an analog copy.

With wide margins for notes and three extra pages in the back for additional notes, this version of the Lectures on Faith is perfect for personal study or to pass along as a gift to anyone looking to discover or reignite their faith in God.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Take a peek inside:

When the opposition rejoices, it doesn’t mean they’re winning

Oct 23, 2019
5 min read

There are a lot of changes happening in the Church today, and for some, it is refreshing, but for others, it is concerning.

I have heard some explain that various groups that have criticized the Church are happy with some recent changes because they think they are getting their way; some more conservative church members agree and are upset.

Some people out there might be hearing church critics patting themselves on the back saying:

Ha! We have successfully forced the Church to change its policies because of the pressure we put on them. The Church is just a human-made organization that is losing members and money and will compromise its doctrine and principles to survive. Let’s see what else we can get them to compromise on next! #TOTALSCAM #WEKNEWIT

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Study & Share: A “Come Follow Me” Story

Oct 15, 2019
1 min read

As part of our ongoing experimentation with the Come Follow Me initiative as it pertains to home study as a family, I had a nugget of inspiration that bore some good fruit.

We had been trying to fit in a reading each night where we each read a few verses and then had family prayer.

There wasn’t much depth at all because we were trying to “get through” the scriptures before the little ones lost their patience and began to be disruptive.

The other night, I had an idea. I suggested that we should try studying on our own each day, then in the evening we could each share what we learned from our own studies.

I gave my kids two goals: 1. write down any word they don’t know the meaning of and 2. write down anything they thought was interesting.

The next night, my 12-year-old daughter eagerly revealed an entire sheet of paper filled with words and paragraphs of text. We went through and defined the words she didn’t understand and listened to her insights.

What a difference!

I love these moments that God gives us and am grateful for his hand in the little things in life that mean so much.

Blindspot: Does God Show Us Our Weaknesses Through Others?

Oct 13, 2019
1 min read
@fodelwdc

As I was pondering some scriptures today, the Spirit taught me something that caused a significant paradigm shift in my mind.

Two verses of scripture that are very meaningful to me revealed a blindspot in my perceptions of myself, others, and God. Let’s start with this verse:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 

Ether 12:27

How does God show us our weakness? I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure there is a myriad of ways that he does this, but today a new idea hit me pretty hard.

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Thoughts About Temple Recommend Interviews

Oct 7, 2019
2 min read

The Church recently released an updated/clarified version of the temple recommend interview questions.

And for the first time that I can remember, the President of the Church read them out loud over the pulpit in General Conference.

It used to be that you didn’t really have access to these questions until you were sitting with a leader in a temple recommend interview. If it had been a while since hearing them, some things may have caught you off guard.

As they seem to be made more accessible to the members, I think it would be wise for us to ponder them regularly and certainly before an interview so that we have time to prepare in any way necessary to answer with confidence.

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Highlights from October 2019 General Conference

Oct 6, 2019
6 min read

Not every speaker is represented here. There was probably a ton more that I could have included but these were some of the highlights that were particularly meaningful to me personally. I’ll include some commentary here and there at the end of each list.

Stephen W. Owen

  • “They starved to death with their stomachs full.”
  • “They went through the motions of spirituality but were not converted.”
  • This is a day of spiritual malnutrition.
  • “[Satan] is the master of distraction and author of procrastination.”

I really liked how the story of the deer eating the hay in winter can apply to us filling ourselves with things that don’t nourish. I have felt like this is a problem for many of our members for a long time, especially the youth. We feel safe and secure as members because of the church around us but we need to have a personal relationship with God that is real and living.

D. Todd Christofferson

  • Having religion or faith in God will not protect you from bad things. When our faith is strong, if bad things happen, and they will, we will be able to deal with them.

Michelle Craig

  • “Be intentional about creating time and space to hear God’s voice.”
  • “Act without delay. When you receive promptings and act with intention, the Lord can use you.”
  • “Get your errand from the Lord.” 
  • If you ask questions like that, you will feel nudges from the Holy Spirit as to who you can help.
  • “You can pray and ask the Lord for an errand.”

I need to be better about this, a lot better. I felt a call to turn to God and incorporate some of these things back into my life from her talk.

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Where Does Blessing Begin?

Sep 8, 2019
1 min read

Recently I wrote a post about how God prunes our lives when they bear fruit.

Pruning involves damaging the plant, traumatizing it, and triggering a healing response. The intent is to improve the plant in the long run so it is more fruitful.

In pondering these things I wondered where the blessing actually begins. Does it begin when the fruit is actually being eaten, or maybe a little before when the fruit is fully ripe and ready to eat? Maybe it is before that when the flower appears or maybe it begins when the pruning starts. Maybe it started long before that when it was conceived in the mind of God eons ago.

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Book of Mormon Videos Official Trailer

Sep 6, 2019
3 min read

I’m a big fan of the Book of Mormon so of course, I’m going to be interested in anything like this. It looks a little campy but trying to render scripture in film is probably an incredibly difficult challenge.

This makes me think of something Bill Watterson, the creator of my favorite comic Calvin and Hobbes, once said.

He was always really opposed to ever making a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon or movie and one reason had to do with the fact that everyone reads the characters with a voice they have created for them in their own minds.

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The Tragedy of Seeking the Unobtainable

Aug 30, 2019
1 min read

…ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.

Helaman 13:38

I was listening to the prophecy of Samuel today while driving in my car and this verse stuck out to me.

What struck me was the tragic idea of a person seeking all the days of their lives for something that would be ultimately unobtainable.

How many today are seeking for happiness in iniquity? But what is iniquity?

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines iniquity as “a particular deviation from rectitude.” But now what is rectitude?

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Getting Corrected

Aug 24, 2019
2 min read
@3alexander

How do you feel when someone corrects you? I am grateful when someone points out that my fly is down, but when the correction is about me personally, it is a bit harder to appreciate.

Intellectually, I know how important it is to accept correction. I had an experience in my first month as a missionary where my senior companion pointed out a weakness I had. I completely disagreed with him and I didn’t learn until about a year later that I was wrong and he was right. I’m not sure if I would have recognized this flaw in my thinking if he had not first corrected me.

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“There isn’t anything to be forgiven”

Aug 20, 2019
0 min read

“There is a limit to human charity,” said Lady Outram, trembling all over.

“There is,” said Father Brown dryly, “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity.

You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner.

For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce.

You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”

From a Father Brown tale, by G.K. Chesterton

Credit to Ivan Wolfe who posted this in a comment on this article over at Junior Ganymede.

Putting the “Mini” back into Ministering

Aug 17, 2019
1 min read

I came across a brother recently who mentioned that he lived in a rural area and had 13 families to minister to. He felt like this was a heavy burden to bear and was laden with guilt.

I’ve been overwhelmed at times with having many people to minister to in various callings and assignments. Sometimes you feel like you have no idea what to do and there can be a great deal of guilt.

What came to mind though are these words from Jesus that may be of help:

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