The Fabulous (Fantastic) Four

Just something that’s been stuck in my head all week.  During sacrament last Sunday, the Bishop spoke to us about what he called:

THE FABULOUS FOUR!

I like how he put it.  It immediately got everyone’s attention and then he told it how it was…

If you are not doing these four things in your life, DO IT.  Don’t do it half way, do all of it and you will be blessed.

  1. Go to Chuch EVERY Sunday, to EVERY meeting.
    Do all three hours, don’t pick and choose.
  2. Daily Prayer
    Say your prayers daily.  Say them in the morning, at night and throughout the day.
  3. Daily Scripture Study
    As you read and study your understanding and faith will grow.
  4. Pay a Full and Honest Tithe
    “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  (3 Nephi 24:8–10; Malachi. 3:8–10)

There you have it.  The fabulous four… or what I like to call the fantastic four.  I personally feel it is wise advice in which my Bishop addressed head on.

A Humbling Fathers Day 2008

I woke up and found that my wife was sick and that she wasn’t going to make it to Church. I wanted to roll over and not go to Church either after being up late the night before. Despite my better judgment, I almost did just that – until my youngest son walked in the room and I looked at him in his sweet, big, round eyes.

At that moment I realized how important Church was and even if I didn’t want to go that moment, that it would benefit my children if I took them and if I tagged along. I felt humbled and shameful for even thinking that I should just sleep in. My priorities were jumbled. Then the verse “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3) came to my mind.

As President Gordon B. Hinckley read in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, he says:

“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

I have that duty to:

  • Rear my children in righteousness.
  • Provide for their Spiritual Needs
  • Teach them to observe the commandments of God

In this case, I should observe the Sabbath day and take my children to church. I should teach my children by living a life as an example and going to Church every Sunday. These children, are not only mine, but of the Lord. And I have been given stewardship over them.

I can remember taking my children to church by myself at least one other time back in December. It is these times I appreciate my wife herding the children in the chapel and lobby. I feel lucky that both times the kids generally behaved and didn’t give me too much of a hard time.

Picking up my boys after class had its own rewards. The happiness and smiles from their faces after being in Sunday School made it more than worth it.

Going to the Temple

I can’t remember the last time I felt the spirit so strongly.

I am so excited. My ward has been planning a trip to the temple to do baptisms for the youth and new converts. When I first heard about this, I was kind of leary about going yet. There are so many things that made me want to wait and I thought I was going to do just that. I even planned on working on the Saturday that was planned.

I believe that the hand of the Lord was influencing things today as I attended Church today. We made it just as church was beginning today. We were able to sit through and take sacrament together as a family. It was ward conference and there were sustainings and a message from our bishop.

The Bishop had a message about how we are not perfect, but if we are willing we can improve every day and also the importance of us sharing the gospel with everyone.

The new stake president (the man who asked me to speak in another ward last summer) also delivered an influencing message. How we should stop concentrating on the temporal things such as having that large home or car or watching TV and focus on our spiritual needs and how to put our Heavenly Father first.

We had a combined meeting for 2nd hour – and one of the stake councilors spoke about the importance of family and the plan of happiness / plan of salvation.

The third hour we had a combined priesthood meeting and we spoke about the needs of our significant others.

Before third hour, the brother that had baptized me approached me about going to the temple next Saturday. I thought I had already made up my mind and kindly told him I wasn’t going to. But then a feeling came over me that I should go anyway. After talking with him shortly I decided it was something I should do. Everything fell into place from here.

I was found by the Bishop’s secretary and had an appointment for after church for the temple recommend interview. I was beaming with joy at this point.

The whole day so far made me realize many things:

  • How much I love my wife and children and how I want to be with them forever.
  • The joy that comes from coming to church every week.
  • This church has brought nothing but goodness to my life.
  • This church is ABSOLUTELY the Church of Jesus Christ.

After third hour, I met up with my lovely family and asked them to wait while I talked to the Bishop.

It was a wonderful meeting, full of the spirit, I was bursting at the seams with joy. My interview went well, with the usual questions which are similar if not exactly what we are asked for our baptism interview or priesthood interviews.

There is one question that is different that came up and I was waiting for it. The Bishop asked me “Are you worthy to go to the temple?” This seems like a simple question but it is not. I realize that no unclean thing can be before the Lord, let alone enter his house. I had the feeling I should have just said yes, but with trying to be honest to myself and the Lord I said “…pretty much, 95% sure.” And why did I answer this way? Because I am not a perfect person. However, the Bishop again started to explain that part of being worthy is to be willing (note the keyword willing) to be obedient to the Lord. And I do believe I am.

“We are our own worst judge.” I said, and then I said that I am indeed worthy to enter the temple.

The Bishop also mentioned that he has noticed a change in my countenance and I was glad to hear that. I felt a change in the past few weeks. I felt a change because I’ve been doing what they always say:

  • Keep the commandments.
  • Study the scriptures daily.
  • Have family home evening.
  • Pray together as a family.
  • Pray while alone.

I testify that these things make an absolute difference. I’ve tried to follow the advice before.

Trying was bringing change and happiness in my life.

Doing, however, has brought immense joy and peace.

Even though I said I was going to work on a Saturday, I have to say that I am not. To make up for it, I will work late on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, I will rest and prepare to enter the temple and on the coming weekend I will dedicate it completely to spiritual things, which absolutely take importance above all temporal issues.

I am anticipating being dunk again. The feeling of being baptized is like none other. I was thinking since I was an Elder I could help by doing the baptisms, but I there is a policy that I have to be a member for a year and have a full temple recommend as well as being an Elder to do so. I am fine with that, I just want to help anyway that I can.

I am excited to enter the House of the Lord.

The Life of President Gordon B. Hinckley: 1910 – 2008

President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through twelve years of global expansion, has died at the age of 97.

President Hinckley was the 15th president in the 177-year history of the Church and had served as its president since 12 March 1995.

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Faith, Home Teaching, Obedience and Meekness Really Do Work

Things seem to be very difficult in my life right now with one thing after another going wrong. I’ve been depressed and stressed out. I admit, I did not want to go to Church on Sunday. The night before, I only had two hours of sleep and it was already 8:15am when I woke up. Sacrament started at 9:00am.

I almost rolled over and went back to bed, but didn’t. I felt I had to be strong, if not for myself than for my children. After an agonizing wait to get everyone ready and loaded into the minivan, we arrived at church. It was 9:30am when we arrived.

It’s a bad feeling when I miss sacrament. Something I used to view lightly when I was growing up in Catholic Church now meant so much to me. It meant that I can start over and wash away anything less than righteous from the week before. I sat in the lobby feeling empty and didn’t even try to enter the chapel.

There I sat for about ten minutes until the thought came in my head: “You can leave church, you missed sacrament anyway.” No, I couldn’t do it – I was already there and I remembered that I DO actually get something out of the other Sunday School and Priesthood Meetings. Besides, the children would learn something new and enjoy their Sabbath day. The last twenty minutes went by easier.

The Sunday School Gospel Essentials lesson was a review on the Second Coming of Christ: The signs of the second coming, the gathering of the house of Israel (the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Millennium. And there was one more thing – integrity. Then our teacher started touching points of his experiences at his caucus the day before.

Priesthood Meeting was good. We sang “I am a Child of God” as the opening song and then everyone shared their missionary stories and the bishop talked to us about fulfilling our home teaching. Both ways – meaning that if you had not been contacted by your home teacher, seek them out and get it rolling!

Afterwards, I spotted my home teaching companion and my assigned member and we scheduled an appointment. I had a home teaching appointment with my companion and family at 3:30pm.

After Priesthood Meeting, we went to Elders Quorum where we had an abbreviated lesson on God the Eternal Father and the true nature of the Godhead.

I left for home feeling like I didn’t really get anything out of Church and that my Sabbath day was wasting away.

I napped from 12:30pm until about 1:30pm and then I could not get back to sleep. I searched for and pulled out my unopened January issue of Ensign and began to read the First Presidency message to see what I would teach my family. I read it and thought I was ready to go.

My home teaching companion finally came and he met me at my house. We walked down the street to the family’s home and walked in. He saw that I had my Ensign and he was excited and he left his in the car. After some small talk, we began our lesson with my giving the invocation prayer. My companion offered me the lead and I refused. He kindly took the lead and delivered it like a professional.

After he had done his part and gone through the lesson about how Jesus Christ built bridges, I finally added in my two cent about how Obedience, Service and Prayer has helped me in the past year. There was some more small talk and then my companion gave the benediction prayer and we left. I felt enlightened and really took something away from my time at their home.

My companion and I was walking back to his car when he asked what seemed to be a routine question.

What can I do for you?

Usually I am prideful or embarrassed so I give the routine response back, “Oh nothing, we’re doing fine.” Not this time, something came over me and I humbled myself and told him.

I told him about my problems and he counseled me.

My first problem was about my expensive plumbing issues with my house. It turned out he has ownership in a plumbing company so he said he would help me.

“That’s nothing” he said, “piece of cake, if I can I’ll do the work for you and eat the cost.” He then asked again, “What else?” I hesitated for a second and then I humbled myself and continued.”

My second issue was about my mortgage situation. My ARM adjusting for the 3rd time and my payment going ridiculously high. How high? So high I could be living in a house three times the size of the one I have now.

He told me I should talk to the Bishop, if the plans that I have to fix things do not go through, perhaps it can be arranged that someone who is a mortgage expert in the stake can help me. He told me to make an appointment with the bishop.

“This is easy” he said.

“Everyone in our ward is here when you need us, this can be taken care of.”

He then looked at me again and asked me again, “What else?” My heart lightened and then continued again about another issue that has been weighing on me.

My third issue we discussed as well and he again gave me some advice and suggested that I talk to the bishop about it.

My meekness was now obvious and then he asked me again. “What else?” I replied “Nothing else.” He smiled and we talked for a while more. We then were going to part ways and instead of a shake he gives me a hug. It was just what I needed.

I really appreciate him and I hope I can somehow convey that fact and help him one day.

What else good can come from doing home teaching?

Having a home teacher!

At 6:00pm we had a dinner and family home evening scheduled at my new home teacher’s house. I am glad that we went and that they took time out to visit with us. It was very fun and we got along very well since were all pretty similar in age. It also helped that they have very loud boys as well and we felt right at home.

I really appreciate my home teacher as well, with everything he has done for us. We were on the subject of large families and I cannot forget what he said to me.

He said:

“Family is the only thing you can take with you.”

When dinner was over (it was a very good one) and it was time for Family Home Evening, he began and showed me how it was done. All the boys in the room lasted less than five minutes and then the lesson was done. I actually relieved to see it doesn’t last long for him either.
After about three very fun hours at their house we left and went back home.

When we got home I realized that I only had a total of three hours of sleep.

I quickly fell asleep feeling satisfied, content and at peace.

I can say that not giving up faith, being obedient, service, prayer and being meek do have its rewards.

Thank you, Heavenly Father.

There Is No Death: The Extraordinary True Experience

After my friend Mike came back from his mission, we ended up working at the same company and he would share bits and pieces of the LDS Church beliefs with me. I remember sitting in my office over three years ago when my friend Mike started talking about a book that he borrowed and read.

Before he even started speaking I began to have what I described at the time as just cold chills, now that I look back it was more like the spirit talking to me. I was extremely excited to hear about the book he had just read and I knew I just HAD to read it.

The name of the book is called There Is No Death: The Extraordinary True Experience by Sarah Lanelle Menet.

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I believe I read all 128 pages TWICE in one weekend, both times in one sitting. I usually don’t do that, but this book has something to it.

This is a story about a women that had a sad and abusive childhood. After attempting to commit suicide due, she leaves her body and enters the spirit world learning much about the beauty and peace that follow this life for those that have lived good lives. She then visits ‘hell’ where her abusive father resided. She learns about forgiveness and the importance of it in our lives. She returns to her body and tells her story after keeping it to herself for several years.

Menet answers many questions in her writings, such as:

  • Why we are here on earth?
  • What Deja Vu is?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Where we lived before being born?
  • What happens to us when we die and the degrees of heaven?
  • Who are guardian angels?
  • What is the basis of people claiming reincarnation?

The book does a few dark topics such as events that have happened (and haven’t happened) which will lead up to Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. However, the the positives in her book greatly outweigh the negatives.

One more note that I’d like to add – At the time of reading the book, I did not know she was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until the very end. Also, she was not a member when she had her experiences as well. She later found that the teachings of the Church matched what she had saw during her experience.

This book definitely had an impact on my life. I recommend this book to everyone, whether you are: an Investigator, a recent convert or a long-time member.

The Church Addresses Politics on YouTube

It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Church! With Mitt Romney going for President, there has been a spotlight on the Church and its members.

It looks like the Church released four videos touching on the subject of politics on YouTube. Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles appear in these videos and answer questions people may have on their mind.

What Does Church Political Neutrality Mean for Mormons?

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“Be involved, but don’t look at the Church to direct you as to how to be involved.”

Why Should Mormons Participate in the Political Process?

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“The very fundemental principal of freedom is absolutely essential for the gospel of Jesus Christ to propser.”

What is the Civic Duty of Mormons?

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“The Civic Duty of any Latter Day Saint…is to be actively involved in the political process”

Are Mormon Politicians Directed By Church Leadership?

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“We have a long record in the Church of not interferring with public officials…Politcal Candidates understand that. They don’t ever come to the Church and say ‘What Do I do?'”

You can see additional videos by visiting their profile on YouTube.

Click here to view the Official Church Profile.

Oh Bishop, My Bishop!

I admit, when I first started going to Church I wanted to call the Bishop the Warden instead. I wanted to do so only because the Church was called a Ward. It seemed fit that the Warden would be in charge of the Ward. It took me two months to get that out of my system and I’m happy to report that I never once slipped up…at least I don’t think I did.

I don’t know if my Bishop will ever know how much I admire and appreciate him. Not because he holds a prestigious title, that he presides over Sacrament or is in the highest office of the Aaronic priesthood. The reason why I appreciate him is because he is just a man. He is a man who is kind, caring, humble, sincere and the first one to admit his faults.

If I did not know him and saw him walking down the street, I would know he was a righteous man, obedient to the Lord. He is a man that has the Spirit with him, always.

I know how hard his calling can be and he does it with a smile and with all his heart. He is one of the many men in my ward that I look up to as an example of what I want to become. He is a man that has his spiritual affairs in order.

Last Sunday for Church, I caught him in his office and met with him briefly about arranging to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood since I was Sustained in the last Stake conference. When he saw me, he smiled. He shook my hand and was genuinely happy to see me. We sat in his office for a second and I told him of my plans and how I wanted my best friend to ordain me.

Afterwards, he told me how he was proud of me and put his arm around my shoulder. “How are you doing?” he asked me. “I’m trying as best as I can.” I replied. “The best you can is good enough and that is between you and the Lord.” Like many times before, he spoke about how he is not perfect, has his faults and he tries his best as well. He also spoke of the wonderful gift of the atonement and how he relies on it in his life. At that moment I felt the Spirit bring me Peace and Comfort. It washed away my feelings of inadequacies.

His kindness and humble attitude strengthened my testimony. He made my day. He made my week. Even though I thought something horrible happend less than three hours ago when a Deacon forgot to pass us the bread for Sacrament, I felt safe and set for another week.

He is just a man, but he is my Bishop. And I wish I could find a way to thank him for that.

The Lobby

I was a little disappointed on Sunday as I sat out in the lobby during Sacrament. I sat there with my family and waited with others as the bread was blessed. Afterwards, I expected a Deacon to come out the Church doors to pass Sacrament to us.

It never happened!

Usually when I am waiting for Sacrament, I have a feeling of peace and relief. It turned to horror as they began to bless the water. They forgot us! My family and three others. Even worse, a Deacon finally came out with the water tray. Everyone just took the water, except one or two people the Deacon missed again. I am just disappointed. It seemed that no one wanted to say anything for the sake of reverence. For the rest of the hour I was sad and disappointed…and little angry that I things were overlooked.

When I was passing sacrament over a month ago, I was taught how important the Sacrament Ordinance is and how we should make sure everyone has a chance take it and to be mindful and observant. I wasn’t sure what to do, to let the Bishop know we were missed or to seek out the President of the Deacons or the President of the Priests? To the readers – what are your opinions on this?

When the Deacon came around with the water tray, we took from him. My wife asked me “Does it still count?” My answer. “Yes.” But I am really not sure – I know that Sacrament is supposed to be done a certain way and we did not partake of the bread, but our intentions in being there would have to be enough. I finally found peace when a thought came to my mind – I can wait until next week. It will actually be three weeks without Sacrament since there was a Stake Conference last Sunday. It will be a very, very long week.

On another note, since I have children my wife is very helpful for tending to them during Sacrament meeting, sometimes I am guilty of letting her bear the entire burden of them. I don’t know what I would do without her, she makes things run much easier in the family. I feel I need to do better in helping and taking turns with the kids so she can get more out of Church. Maybe I am a little selfish, but I look forward to the three hours on Sunday and try to learn as much as I can in that time period.

The talks today were on repentance and I tried my best to listen to it. I couldn’t hear half the time. There were about six children in the lobby, not including my three, and some other members and the place sounded like a cafeteria with all the screaming, singing and chattering going on. The single speaker in the lobby ceiling was easily overpowered. I was annoyed at this. I try to keep it mellow when I have my kids in the lobby, if the baby starts to act up, I will actually leave the building until he calms down – as to not disturb anyone else in the lobby. It seemed no one was going to do this today.

A few months ago the Bishop talked to us about reverence and the importance of it and even more I now realize the magnitude of it. We should stay respectful of the people at Church. Sometimes people need Church more than others. At times I feel like I need Church more than another week. This time I felt I needed it more than ever. I needed time for self-reflection, learning, comfort and peace. The first hour made me feel like I was robbed from it between having half a sacrament and missing the talks.

I realize people aren’t perfect and things go wrong sometimes and forgiveness is all I can do. I did forget first hour and enjoy the second and third. I am looking forward to next week to start anew: renew that covenant, listen to those talks and avoid the lobby if I can help it.

The Growth of a True Church

I came across an amazing video on YouTube tonight and thought I’d share it with everyone. The video depicts the growth of the Church as measured by Stakes. Stakes are made up of five to twelve congregations in a geographic area.

There are over 27,000 congregations consisting of almost 13,000,000 (million!) members. Every day at least one convert baptism takes place thanks to the help of over 53,000 missionaries.

As you watch this video, think of how fast the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing and what qualities and attributes a Church would have to have in order to be accepted by so many people in less than 180 years on this Earth.

This is…

…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth… (D&C 1:30)

LDS Stake Growth 1830-2004

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