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seek first gods kingdomToday I read a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 25:10 that jumped out at me.  The scripture is short, but powerful and important to consider:

Verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

One of the scriptures that was a cross reference to this one is found in the Bible in 2 Corinthians 6:17, which is:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

As I reflected on both of these scriptures, it reminded me of a story that my Grandfather told me.

Shortly after the depression, he and his father and brother had purchased a ranch close to Sun Valley, Idaho.  They lived in Central Utah and had been raised there, but the opportunity and growth in that area looked promising.  My grandfather had a very small family at the time and was recently married.  His father, my great-grandfather (we called him Grandpa Dough-head because he would tease us and call us little dough-heads) was very excited about the opportunity to partner with his sons and start a new adventure.

Grandpa doughhead when young

(This is a picture of my great-grandfather, Don Lyman Anderson when young)

Shortly before leaving and selling their things in Utah, my great-grandpa was called to be a bishop.  For those who do not know what this means, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) members from the congregations are called to voluntarily serve as pastors of the congregations.  One scripture that my great-grandfather lived by is the one found in Matthew 6:33 which is:

Butseek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

While his personal desire was to go to the ranch with his sons, my great-grandfather loved God and His kingdom more than the things of the world.  He told his sons to go ahead without him as he felt called to serve as the bishop of the congregation, which he faithfully did for a number of years.

Just a few years after they bought the ranch, my grandfather and great-uncle were forced to sell the ranch and go their separate ways because the ranch wasn’t producing as they had hoped and couldn’t sustain two families.

Although the ranch proved to not be successful, I think it is a great example that my great-grandpa chose to follow God regardless of the outcome.  I’m confident that he is now in a better world now as he passed away when I was 4 years old.

grandpa doughhead

(This is “Grandpa Dough-head” as I remember him when I was a little boy)

As I reflect on this story and the scriptures mentioned, I wonder how well I’m doing with not putting things of the world before the kingdom of God.  I hope that I can continue the legacy that my grandpa left and put God first and pass it down to my kids.

Do you have any personal stories that have inspired you about those who have put the kingdom of God first?

In the 1969 speech “The Loneliness of Leadership“, Gordon Hinckley discusses the loneliness that leaders feel-both spiritual leaders and secular leaders and how true leaders stand up for what they believe to be right regardless of consequences. Examples he uses include Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and recent converts to the Church who are ostracized and cast out for their belief.

He concludes with the following:

I like these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:

I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]

I think that is a promise to each of us. I believe it; I know it. I bear testimony of its truth to you this day.

After reading this, I thought about times in my life when I’ve had to stand up for what I believed to be right, according to what I felt that God had put in my heart.

Joining the Mormon Church

When I was 9 years old, my parents divorced and I moved with my mother to another state. We had been raised members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but after the divorce we gradually quit attending church.

I remember my mother inviting people over and having study sessions on why the Mormon religion is false and although I don’t think she knew I was listening, it did have an affect on me. Also, she confided in me a lot of negative information about my father that influenced my opinion of him as a person. He remained a practicing Mormon, so as a child, I blamed the Mormon church as well as all of the negative things that I heard in my home about Mormons. I hated Mormons.

At school I would bully them. Tease them. Gradually, it evolved into where I was not only teasing Mormons, but all people of faith. I was very young-11 years old- but I was getting involved in drinking, vandalism, and heading down a very negative path.

One day my mother came to me and told me that I should go and visit my father as I hadn’t seen him in 2 years because of my hatred for him and his religion. I told her I didn’t want to go, but she told me that legally I needed to and also it would be good for me. Looking back, I think she recognized a lot of the negative things in my life and thought I needed a father figure.

Before I left, she sat me down in the my bedroom that was in the garage of our old house and told me that when I visited my father that he would try and make me go to church with him. She told me that I didn’t have to go and to make sure that whatever I do I didn’t become Mormon. I looked at her confused and wondered why she would even worry about that because that was the last thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to have the 2 week trip over with.

To make a long story short, I visited my Dad. I noticed a very peaceful feeling almost immediately when I was in his home. Something I didn’t realize I had been craving. I also noticed that he wasn’t as bad as I had been told and that he was actually a very sincere and fun person to be around. He had remarried and my new step-mom was very kind and patient.

The other thing I realized was that the Mormon church wasn’t bad. In fact, I felt peace there that I hadn’t felt anywhere else (when we left the Mormon church, we went “church shopping” to a bunch of churches like Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, non-denominational, etc). After only a short time, the Holy Spirit shared with me a vision of my life and what would come of it if I stayed with my mother in that situation at the time, or moved in with my Dad. It was clear to me and I feel blessed that the Lord put it into my heart that I needed to join the Mormon church and also live with my Dad.

When I had the conversation with my mom, I knew that if I came back home with her, I was too weak at the time to stand up for what I had felt in my heart and I would fall back into my bad friends and behavior. I told her I was staying with Dad. She and I had a big blow-out conversation on the phone that ended with her telling me that if I went back to the Mormon church and my Dad she wouldn’t talk with me again. That hurt me deeply, but I knew what God had put in my heart and I had faith that I should follow that. So I chose to stay with my Dad.

Years later, after I had experienced a lot of psychological and emotional pain (which I wrote about in my book Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication), I realized I needed to make amends with my mother and forgive her. Funny thing was that she put the blame back on me by saying I imagined that she had said that. I’ve forgiven her regardless and I’m very glad that I made that difficult decision years ago because it has changed my life a lot.

Other Experiences

Since becoming a Mormon, I have had to walk a lonely road at times. I haven’t been perfect by any means, but largely the Lord has blessed me.

There were times in college when young ladies wanted to sleep with me and I turned them down because of what I believe.

There were times in Europe when I was working after having served a mission in Germany where I was ridiculed and cast out of a home I was staying in because I wouldn’t drink with them.

In my career, I’ve found that people are very accepting for the most part, of my beliefs and I’ve made some great friends as I don’t shy away from my faith, but stand up for it. I’ve found that for the most part, people are drawn to that.

Most importantly, I’ve found that I feel the Lord’s comfort and Spirit come over me in a way that I can’t describe as I’ve been all alone and decided to stand up for what I feel is right. I’ve found that Heavenly Father surrounds us with love when we do this and we come to know Him as a father more deeply in these times.

Your Turn

I’ve shared a few examples of standing up for truth and your beliefs and how God blessed my life.

I’m sure that you have some stories as well. We would all love to hear them, so please share.

There he was again, left on the outside looking into his home where his wife and children were. However, he wasn’t allowed to enter. He had come home intoxicated yet again and this time, he was afraid, his wife really meant what she said when she said she was leaving him. He looked on through the Washington rain and his face was wet, but more from his tears than from the rain. He had to do something quickly…

Fortunately, for my friend, Milt, this story has a happy ending. It is with his permission that I write this article. I feel it a blessing to have been a witness to God’s gracious hand in the life of my friend, Milton Bridges.

The story from my perspective starts in early 2013 when the Mormon sister missionaries met Milt’s wife and started teaching her. I participated frequently in teaching her. She always had a very kind and sincere heart, but it wasn’t until she began seriously studying the Book of Mormon that her heart fully turned to the Savior and she converted to the gospel in May. She had a desire to give away the ways of the world completely and follow Jesus and she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ.

She was very happy with her new faith and what it could mean to her family. The only problem was that her husband, Milt, wasn’t ready to give up his addiction to alcohol. It was in later that summer that Milt came home intoxicated for the last time.

Milt had become a friend of mine through the process of getting to know April and also as he would come and play basketball with us at the church. All of us who played ball grew to love Milt and looked forward to him coming. Sometimes, he would be a little inebriated and we could definitely smell the alcohol, but he was always welcome to come and play and we loved him.

When I received the phone call after Milt had broken down and been kicked out of his home for what he feared was the last time to see them, my heart was sad for him, but I was very happy that he had hit the bottom. This meant he was truly ready to change. He was humble and yearned for a miracle. It is at this point, in my experience, that God can work miracles in our lives. Milt asked me to come over and give him a priesthood blessing.

For those of you who are not familiar with priesthood blessings, I’ll describe it as best I can.

In the Mormon church, men are given the priesthood authority to act as a mouthpiece of God when called upon when giving a blessing. It is like in the Bible in James 5:14 when he asks if there is anyone who is sick and that if so, they should call upon the elders of the church, who will come and anoint them with oil and pray over them. There are other examples in the Bible of elders coming and “laying their hands” on people to heal them.

When I arrived to Milt’s location, he was a very broken man, but he had slim glimmer of hope. This is all that God needed. As I laid my hands on his head, the Holy Spirit moved me on what to say. I can’t remember the exact words, but the feeling I had was that if Milt spent time coming closer to God and studying his word and praying, he would be healed from his addiction.

After I gave him the blessing, he thanked me and went to a alcohol rehab center for a month.

We (those of us who were his friends in the Church) all prayed for him every day and occasionally heard from him through limited text messages.

He came out of the center and was clean and didn’t want to touch alcohol and hasn’t since. It was a miracle!

A few months later he began meeting with the missionaries and decided to be baptized. When I was getting ready to baptize him, he told me that when he was given the blessing a few months earlier, that he felt something come over him and the desire to drink was removed.

The first step in Milt’s conversion story was the healing of his alcohol addiction. The next miracle was the healing of his heart and the conversion of his soul to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been reading and praying for a few months when he realized that he had a testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized. He recognized all the blessings his family had received since his wife had joined the Church and he had seen miracles in his own personal life as well.

Me and Milt at baptism I considered it an honor when he asked if I could baptize him. I had seen everything he had to go through to get to that point and the new man that he was as he embraced the gospel was indeed a miracle.

The picture I’ve included is of me, Milt, and the Elders who taught him the lessons prior to his baptism. This is right before I baptized him.

When I see Milt with his two cute little kids and his wife at church, and when I see him passing the sacrament, I am amazed at the miracles that each and every one of us can receive if we open our hearts in humility to the Lord.

Once we are converted, we then help strengthen our brothers. Milt did exactly this and his brother, was also baptized a few weeks later. Below is a picture of Milt, his wife, kids and his brother.

Milt and family at his baptism

When I see this, the song that comes to mind is one I’ve heard at other Christian churches “Our God is an Awesome God“!

Mormon HealingRecently one of my online friends requested that I write about healing stories within the Mormon faith.

My first thought was to share the traditional stories those of us who have been around the Mormon Church for awhile have all heard.  I’m sure there are many bloggers out there who are well more versed on the history of Mormon faith healing and miracles,  but for those of you interested, there are quite a few Mormon faith healing stories of the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith.  Those of you who have stories to share on the history of healing or perhaps a relative who was miraculously healed, please share in the comment section because I know there are a lot of faith healing stories out there which would be beneficial for all of us to hear.

Also, as I researched, I found numerous inspirational stories of faith and healing from Mormons all over the world.  For example, the LDS Addictions Recovery website has some amazing testimonials of people who were on the street and totally addicted who turned their will to God and were healed.

Another miraculous healing I recently read in the very inspiring book Let it Go by Chris Williams.  This book is about Chris’s experience with a drunk driver hitting his family’s car.  Chris’s wife, unborn son, daughter, and one of his sons were instantly killed.  His other son was in very critical condition and had brain damage.  Doctors thought that he had a very slight chance of survival, and if he did survive, would have permanent brain damage.  Chris relates a story of how he felt God’s love encircle him and as he laid hands on his son to give him a blessing of healing, he felt God tell him to say his son would be completely healed.  Three weeks later, his son was o.k. and released from the hospital.

While all of these examples are awesome, and the Good Lord has shown His hand countless times, I thought that I would share a few personal stories that were very impressive for me at various stages of my life.  As I reflect on each of them, I am grateful for God’s merciful hand in my life.

I’ll start with the story of my sister being brought back to life, then share a personal story of healing within myself, and conclude with a recent story about my wife and our unborn daughter (due this June 20th).

The Day my Sister Died (and lived)

I was seven years old, but that didn’t stop my father from granting me my wish to help out on the farm.  On this particular day I was busy pulling down a 80 lb hay bales, and rolling them to the feeding trough, cutting the strings and distributing the hay for the yearling calves.  I wanted to make sure I was doing my job correctly, so I was very focused on making sure I did as my father had taught me and not clump the hay all in one spot.  Rather, spread it out evenly so all the calves could get a good meal.

My focus was suddenly snapped as I heard a shrill screaming shrieking noise that startled me.  I wondered what could be making that noise and when I looked a few hundred feet away from where I was it scared me even more.  The noise was coming from my father.  Tears were streaming down his face and he was running faster than I had ever seen him run in my life.  What was even more frightening was my little sister, who was 3 1/2 years old was laying limp and lifeless in his arms.  I dropped everything I was doing and ran towards my grandfathers house where I saw my father running.

By the time I entered the pantry my grandmother, grandfather, and father were surrounding my young sister.  She was laying in my father’s arms limp and they couldn’t find a pulse.  My grandmother had called for help and in the meantime, grandpa and dad proceeded to give her a blessing.

My father knows more precisely what was said in the blessing, but if I recall it correctly, he commanded her to be healed and promised that she would live a life of service to God.  Shortly thereafter, her pulse returned and her stay in the hospital was very short.

She was daddies little girl and always followed him around the farm wherever he went.  I’ve had conversations with him about how proud of her he was and how much he loved his little girl.  On that particular day, as he was pulling hay bales down, he didn’t realize that she had slipped out of grandpa and grandma’s home to follow him.  He pulled a line of hay from a stack that was 13 bales high, each bale weighing 80-100 lbs. which came crashing down right on top of her.  It was the first healing miracle I witnessed and it made an impression on me that the Lord can and still does work miracles through His faithful servants.

Today, my sister is one of the most dedicated and committed members of our family to the Lord, Jesus Christ as she and her husband serve as pastors and missionaries for a local Foursquare Church.  They are also beginning the process of planting a new church.  She is a sweet blessing to our family and I thank the Lord that her life was spared at that time.  Many times throughout my life she has touched me and moved me to be a better person who is more dedicated to the Lord.

My Blessing of Healing

Those of you who follow this blog know of my struggles I’ve had in the past with anxiety and depression.  Those of you who read my book know how big of a challenge it was for me to overcome anxiety and depression, especially in my personal relationships.

Shortly after I was married to my wife, I was still struggling with sever anxiety.  I was traumatized by my parents’ divorce at a young age and I still had panic that my wife may leave me or be taken away from me.

A couple weeks after we were married, I was visiting a friend of mine.  My wife was on a trip to Taiwan and I was scheduled to go visit her.  However, I was in a state of panic wondering if she would still want me knowing I was suffering so much from anxiety, etc.  I asked my friend to give me a blessing.

In the blessing, God talked to me through him.  I felt words of comfort and he also pronounced a blessing of healing, that I would be freed from anxiety.

Since that time, I have never suffered from a panic attack, which is a miracle given that I had suffered for years prior to that.  I feel the Lord’s hand in my life as I am a husband and father of two beautiful kids (soon to be three), which leads me to the final story of healing.

Healing for My Wife and Unborn Child

A few months ago my wife told me she was very weak from bleeding.  Given that she was about 15 or 16 weeks pregnant, I knew that wasn’t a good thing.  We had had a miscarriage before so I thought that perhaps this was the case.  My mind then went to the “what if” situations of if it was something more that could be wrong with her and she was bleeding internally.

As the blood kept coming, I knew we needed to do something.  I called her Dad to see if we could have him come over and watch our kids who were sleeping and then called the hospital and explained the situation.  I then had the impression to give her a blessing of healing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Mormon concept of giving a blessing, I’ll try and summarize it.  Members of the church who hold the Melchezedek Priesthood have the authority and power to act as the “voice” of God so to speak and give a blessing.  Blessings can be given for comfort, or for healing.  In the case of healing, we annoint the person receiving the blessing with consecrated oil, place our hands on their head, and then speak the words the Lord gives us.  It is a very humbling experience because going into the blessing the person doesn’t know what words are going to be given.  (Read this article for a more detailed description on blessings).

Before I started speaking the words during the blessing, the Lord’s Spirit came over me and I sensed a complete feeling of peace and that everything was going to be fine.  I knew in my heart that whatever happened would be the Lord’s will and I was prepared to accept it.

When I began speaking, I was impressed to speak the words that she would be healed and the baby would be fine.  For a split second I had a bit of doubt seeing how much she had bled (which seemed like much more compared to the miscarriage we had had), but I put the doubt out of my mind and focused on the promptings I received.

Shortly afterwards, her bleeding slowed down and we didn’t even need to go into the doctor that evening.

She is now 26 weeks along and we found out we are going to be having a little girl.

Your Stories

These are just a few “Mormon Faith Healing Stories” that I have personally witnessed in my life.  I’m positive there are many of you out there who have stories to share.  Whether you are Mormon or not, I know that the Lord can and does heal according to His will and the faith of the people receiving and/or giving the healing.  I would love if you shared some healing stories you have seen in your life.  I think it will be a great blessing to those who read this.

Heavenly-MotherA couple weeks ago I wrote about women holding the priesthood.  The discussion turned from women holding the priesthood to a lively discussion on Heavenly Mother.  Some of my Evangelical pastor friends who have followed my blog for a few years were shocked and appalled to learn that Mormons were openly discussing this.  I think they kind of also felt a “bait and switch” because this is something they hadn’t heard of before in my writings, but more importantly isn’t mentioned in Mormon books they have such as: The Book of Mormon, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Doctrine and Covenants, etc.

The reaction of my friend reminded me of a similar experience I had while I was in Germany on a Mormon mission in the mid 1990s.  As a missionary, you always are worried about what a member might say when you bring a potential convert to church with you.  There are many strange things out there that prophets have done or said over the years that some members full heartedly believe.  You invite people to visit church with the hopes that someone doesn’t say something “crazy” and scare them off.

On this particular day, it wasn’t a Mormon church member that scared our potential convert off, but a song called “O My Father“.  Part of the song discusses that there is a Mother in Heaven.  When my German friend read that verse he looked like someone had punched him in the gut as he turned and looked at me with a questioning look.  Right after the service he ran out the door and we really never saw him again after that.

With this experience in mind, and the fact that the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother isn’t official LDS doctrine, I tried to explain that to my non-Mormon friends online.

Other LDS, or Mormon, friends who follow the blog jumped in and shared quite a few recent comments made by Mormon prophets and apostles who discuss us having Heavenly Parents.  Even with all of the educating of the doctrine of having a Heavenly Mother, I have the feeling my Evangelical friends are still very uneasy with the concept.

Why Evangelicals are Shocked

I think there is an underlying reason why Evangelicals are shocked to learn of Mormons discussing having a Heavenly Mother, and that is the way Mormons view our relationship to who God is vs. how Evangelicals view our relationship to God.

In the book “How Wide the Divide?”, Stephen Robinson states the following about how Mormons view God:

Since Latter-day Saints take seriously and literally the scriptural language about becoming the children of God (Rom 8:16), it makes sense to us that the children will grow up to be like their Father.  According to Scripture, God is the Fother of spirits (Heb 12:9).  We are his offspring (Acts 17:29), and offspring grow up to be what their parents are…(How Wide the Divide, pg 80)

The Evangelical point of view of man’s relationship to God is described by Craig Blomberg  in the same book as God being the “Creator” and man being the “creatures”.  Therefore, God is like the sculptor who sculpts a statue.  Although the statue is in the image of a human, the statue does not possess the traits of a human and is a completely different creature.

I believe that Mormons who feel we are the literal offspring of God have this in mind when they discuss having a Heavenly Mother.  A very good example of this is the song I mentioned previously, “O My Father”.  A portion of the song reads:

I had learned to call the Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,

But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.

Conclusion

Mormons take the biblical scripture literally to mean that they are the offspring of God.  With that thought in mind, many Mormons assume that it is logical that God has a wife (Heavenly Mother) who conceived our spirits.  Evangelicals view man’s relationship with God much differently in the sense that God created us and formed us in His image, but we are not literal offspring of God.

If you are not a Mormon, what are your thoughts about the concept of a Heavenly Mother?

If you are a Mormon, why do you think there isn’t much discussion surrounding having a Heavenly Mother?  Do you consider the concept of having a Heavenly Mother to be speculation, or do you consider it to be an official doctrine?

For me, as a conservative Mormon guy living in Washington state, the 2012 elections were rough in a number of ways, starting from the top down:

  1. Romney lost the election.  I had spent a year volunteering for his campaign and truly thought he had a good chance of winning.  He nearly pulled it off, but him losing was like me watching the Seahawks lose in Super Bowl 40.  Not fun.
  2. Washington State legalized marijuana.  Not only for medicinal purposes, but also for daily use.
  3. Gay marriage was passed in our state as well.

All of these things hit me like a tidal wave on election night and I had a hard time sleeping as I considered my children and the hearts of people around me in society.  I wondered where we are as a society in putting God first.  Obviously, we’re not where we need to be and it scared me.

As I saw what my friends and family members where writing about on Facebook the next day, I saw quite often comments such as “I’m moving to a different country” or “I like the idea of living like the Amish do” and “Let’s move away from society and have a compound”.  These were written out of frustration and not in complete seriousness (I hope), but it caused me to think.

Do I want to raise kids in this environment?  If not, where and why would we run?

How can I support my new leaders of the country, even though I do not hold the same political views?

What do we do Now?

Other concerned citizens provided great examples of how we should unite as a nation and make the best of the situation.  Also, the scriptures have excellent recommendations too.

2 Examples

My first example is Mitt Romney.  In his  concession speech, he set a very good example of being a gracious person.  He discussed his love for country and the people who had supported him.  He gave some advice and most importantly, he told Obama that he would pray for him.

When he said this, I was very impressed.  This man (Obama) had slandered his (Romney) name up and down and painted him as a beast to the American people for most of 2012.  Obama had attacked Romney as a person, not his policies.  Romney showed what we as citizens should always remember to do and that is pray for our leaders of the country.

The next example I have is a less-known citizen in my state who was running for Congress.  His name is John Koster.  I had supported him in the elections as well.  I’ll quote some of what he said in an email I received from him today:

Like many Americans, I am stunned at the tough night so many on the conservative side had around the country on Tuesday, and that Barack Obama was re-elected as President. Sean Hannity remarked yesterday that he wondered if the “allure and appeal of socialism and redistribution of wealth has taken hold.”

I hope he is wrong.

I am equally stunned that we have legalized marijuana right here in our home state of Washington; and if the slim margin favoring the pro Referendum-74 vote holds up, we will have legalized same-sex marriages as well.

It seems obvious to me that we have swung wildly in the wrong political direction and that we are now at a point where our society WILL suffer the consequences inherent with bad law and liberal representation.

Ben Franklin challenged future generations of Americans when he said “we have given you a Republic if you can keep it”. To heed Franklin’s wise words, it will be important in the coming days that each and every one of us continues to do our part in defending the Republic – as we are likely in for some difficult times!

We must, however, keep the faith and keep our chins up. We must dig down deep and continue the battle for truth wherever possible, working to defend our values and way of life through our community involvement, church outreach, clubs and social gatherings. We must remain in the battle if we intend to win the war.

Hard as it may be at this moment, we must also pray for our leaders at all levels of government as we are commanded in the Holy Scriptures. Pray that they would govern with honesty and integrity; that they would understand and implement justice through constitutional law as endowed by our Creator.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” -1 Timothy 2:1-3

Again, I humbly thank you for your loyal support as well as your continued friendship. It has been an honor to have run for the United States Congress intent on representing people such as you. May God continue to bless this great nation and may we as a people remain worthy of those blessings for many generations to come.

Both of these men are excellent examples of how we as concerned citizens should support our leaders.  I intend to heed their advice and pray for our leaders, even if I do not support all of their views politically.

The Scriptures

As I pondered things on election night, my thoughts were turned to the scriptures.

Although society is not even close to the events that happen in the Book of Mormon, during the prophet Mormon’s life, I thought about him.  His whole society was collapsing and his people were being wiped out.  He was tempted to leave them, but he chose to fight with them and pray for them and he even gave his life along side them, never giving up hope that they would repent and turn towards God.

I also looked up scriptures in the Bible and there are numerous scriptures that talk about our role as citizens is to support our leaders of the nation, yet continue to lead moral lives and be a “light on the hill” as Jesus says.

Conclusion

While it is tempting to through up our hands when we see our society choosing paths that are not consistent to what we believe to be true, the scriptures and others around us give us good examples of what our roles truly are.  I believe that we should do all we can to raise our children up in truth and we need to do all we can to keep ourselves in line with the Lord.  At that point, we can then be used as an instrument in God’s hand to provide light and guidance to those around us.

 

I received the following from one of my old friends today:

I truly believe in the power of Prayer or otherwise I wouldn’t be posting this…. Our sweet, beautiful little angel Ashlynn is very seriously ill, we just found out today that she may have liver failure and we will be heading up to stay with her at a London Hospital to figure out what to do for her. We are completely shocked and horrified over this news. All I ask is that everyone would please say a prayer for our beautiful, beautiful baby girl, we would be forever grateful.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his daughter.  They had to try and try to get pregnant and bring her into the world and she’s only a few months old.  Please join me in praying for the little baby and his family.  Their last name is Beutler, if you want to say a specific prayer for them.

 

If you’re an NFL fan, like I am, you’ve probably been amazed by the turnaround of the Denver Broncos season since their evangelical Quarterback, Tim Tebow began starting for them.  Watching him for most of a football game is painful.  He misses passes constantly, hardly converts on 3rd downs, and overthrows his wide-receivers.  On paper his statistics from a passing perspective look awful.

Yet, somehow he keeps pulling wins out by some miracle in every game.

When he scores a touchdown, he drops to a knee and starts praying.  This is his signature thing to do and it actually has a nickname now.  People call it “Tebowing“.  Here’s an example:

Some people like it, and some people are highly annoyed by it. 

When we look in the scriptures, we see some examples of people being condemned for praying in public such as when Jesus tells us to pray in our closets rather than making it a big scene in public, but also many instances where people prayed in public such as Daniel in the Bible and Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

So where do you stand on the issue?  Do you feel it’s over the top to pray in public (i.e. “Tebowing“) or do you feel it’s o.k.? 

Cast your vote below:

While preparing to teach this week’s Sunday School lesson in 2 Corinthians, I came across a talk given by Paul Johnson, one of the Mormon Seventy, entitled “More Than Conquerors Through Him that Loved Us“.  There were a few lines in the talk that stood out to me, which I will quote:

At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. And no one is exempt, especially not Saints striving to do what’s right.

A pattern in the scriptures and in life shows that many times the darkest, most dangerous tests immediately precede remarkable events and tremendous growth. “After much tribulation come the blessings.”

As I read this, I immediately reflected on my own personal trials I’ve experienced so far in my life.  For me, the most difficult trial I’ve had so far has been overcoming addictions, anxiety, and depression, which I’ve written about here and here.  In this post, I won’t spend any more time reflecting on the trial, rather, I will discuss the blessings that came after the trial.

Although I struggled with the issues for about 15 years, the most severe part of my trial lasted about 2 1/2 years as I struggled to overcome various problems partly caused from things I did and also from things that other people did that were out of my control. 

However, as I made progress and felt the Lord’s hand guide me through the way, I came to trust in Him completely and believed that as long as I followed Him, everything would work out for my own good.  Deep down, my deepest desire was to have a healthy relationship with a good woman, but if the Lord thought it would be best not to have that, I was fine with that because I had seen what trying to do things on my own had brought me over the past 15 years. 

Over time, God granted me peace of mind and spirit.  With that came confidence in my relationship with God and also with myself.  I grew to love who I was and feel gratitude in hy heart.  Shortly after the most sever part of my trial was over, God granted me the greatest blessing in my life other than the gospel: my wife.  It came unexpected, but I thank the Lord every day for the blessing that she has been in my life.  With her in my life, I feel that I have been able to come even closer to God as we grow in love for each other each day as we raise our family to the Lord. 

I know that my trials are different than others’ trials and what appears to be a trial for one person would not be a big deal for another.  The tendency is for people to not share trials, but this online format can provide a good place to share experiences and perhaps receive some insight.  I have learned that sharing experiences helps build faith and helps us get through the trial.  If you have an experience you would like to share about overcoming a trial and the blessings you received from the Lord afterwards, or if you are currently going through a trial and need some help, please share.

Author’s note:

The day I wrote this article, I came across an amazing story of a young Cambodian boy whose father was captured and killed that escaped with his mother to the U.S. and was able to overcome issues with drugs and gangs to find God and also earn his PhD.  See below:

Today I became somewhat reminiscant of my thoughts and feelings 10 years ago during the tragic events of 9/11.  At the time, I worked for the grounds crew at BYU and rather than taking the lawn mowers out that morning, we huddled around the radio and heard the tragic news of the airplanes crashing into buildings.

Personally, I felt hollow and empty and amazed.  Later, I felt angry, helpless, and ultimately united.  I felt united with my fellow Americans as we united on many levels.  We united in a mix of emotions, but ultimately, for a few months after the events, we united in a belief in God.  In fact, some studies state that after 9/11 events, 90% of Americans identified belief in God and religion as a good thing.

Today, I personally believe that we have strayed away from this unification as a Nation under God.  In fact, we seem more divided and things seem more chaotic as we struggle with economic and financial stress as a nation and our leaders seem to shy away from openly recognizing God in rhetoric.

It reminds me of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon who were united in Christ for 400 years after Christ’s visit to them but as they became more wealthy and self-sufficient they strayed from God and were ultimately destroyed.  I fear that if we do not remember God as a nation, we will also be destroyed and we may already be decaying slowly with the debt issues, etc. we’re having.

I pray that as we reflect on 9/11 that we also reflect on the feelings of unification we all felt as we were united under God after the events of 9/11.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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