Thursday, October 15, 2009


"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" --Isaiah 48.10.

Damn it's hot in here!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I suppose one silver lining to my inability to sleep is I get to catch up on my scripture reading. My recent postings have all come from The Book of Mormon, because I am reading Psalms and they go on and on and on and on. (I am very behind in the Bible. Not quite sure how I will catch up. Perhaps I need to abandon my goal to read the whole standard works in one year. To catch up I would need 10+ pages a day. We'll see.)

Reading 3 Nephi it always amazes me how similar to our day that book is. It describes society's condition just prior to the Lord's first visit. Perhaps it also describes what the world will be like just before the Lord's second coming? "For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers. And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning." I work in a group that places much value in not only what you studied in college, but where you studied. "yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and other did receive great learning because of their riches." Anyone know what 4 years at Yale goes for these days? "Some were lifted up in pride and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing," Fox News, CNN, Rush Limbaugh anyone? What stood out to me while reading this particular passage this last week however, was the next part: "while others would receive railings and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God" (3 Nephi 6.11-13). Willingness to receive railings and persecutions and all manner of afflictions is not something we teach our children. How do we teach our children to not turn and revile again?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gadianton Robbers and Money

On this, the eve of September 11th, I am reminded of lessons impressed upon me 8 years ago shortly after the Trade Center's fall. With two weeks of not being able to work and then when I returned to work having a lengthened commute, I had extra time to study and ponder the scriptures. I remember one day late that September, riding the train into the city, reading The Book of Mormon and realizing that just before the coming of the Lord, terrorists known as Gadianton Robbers roamed the land. A passage I read tonight brought this to mind. "There were a certain number of dissenters from the people of Nephi... and also a certain number who were real descendents of the Lamanites, being stirred up to anger by them, or by those dissenters, therefore the commenced a war with their brethren. And they did commit murder and plunder; and then they would retreat back into the mountains, and into the wilderness and secret places, hiding themselves that they could not be discovered, receiving daily an addition to their numbers. Now behold, these robbers did make great havoc, yea, even great destruction among the people of Nephi" (Helaman 11.24-25,27).

This leads to another warning given by Samuel the Lamanite only a few years before the birth of Christ. He cautioned, "And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and ture God, that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more, because of the great curse of the land, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord" (Helaman 13.18). Not that I hid a treasure chest full of gold doubloons in my backyard and can no longer find them, but no treasure map will bring my 401K back from the red.

I take these two things, the rise of terrorists and the humbling of a wealthy nation, as signs that we are in the latter-days.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It's been a while since I've posted. This past week I just finished I Chronicles. I have to admit there wasn't really much that inspired me during my read of Chronicles. But reading it again made me think of Twitter and Facebook, where every 23 minutes people document what they just did. Not that I think these are always a wise use of time... but if some of the pointless lists captured in Chronicles are worth canonizing then perhaps I should resurrect this blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's good to be the king

I'm reading 1 Samuel right now. Definitely my favorite book in the Old Testament. I love the story of David. He is such a perfect, flawed man. But before we get to David, let's consider the social and political conditions of the time before his rise. Samuel is Judge in Israel. His sons aren't the fine upstanding young men they ought to be. And so the people clamor for a king. They don't want to be judged by priests anymore. They call for change. Here's the exact description of the referendum:

"Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." (1 Sam. 8.5)

The reasons for their change are clear: 1.) Samuel is old; 2.) his sons aren't righteous. Were those the only two reasons, I think they could possibly make a valid case against the current system. But then they add another reason, perhaps the true motive. 3.) so they can be "like all the other nations."

I wonder how this applies to us. Our political system is relatively stable, no where near as bad as many countries who still ballot stuff. I'm not sure about those hanging chads in FL or the 2004 election in OH, but I hope the system is relatively clean. It certainly has many other nations trying to emulate us. In this sense, this scripture is completely not applicable to our situation.

But really, this verse is much less about a people wanting a different political system. It's more about the people of God wanting to be like the world. In this aspect, we have much to worry about. Do I keep myself unspotted from the world? Do I need the latest gadget? The finest clothes? At what point is the money I earn more than sufficient for my needs (and a few of my wants)?

President Kimball warned us years ago:
"In spite of our delight in regarding ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord."

President Kimball goes on to describe us in terms even more appropriate today. Although not perfectly in line with my theme, I couldn't resist quoting this:
"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance... We forget that if we are righteous, the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us... or he will fight our battles for us."
("The False Gods We Worship")

So this is the charge, to leave the world... to not do things just because we want to be "like other nations." I wonder how best to avoid this?

The missing 6 weeks

So with my insomnia tonight, I managed to figure out how many days I'm behind. Only about 45! Considering all that's been going on in my life, I think that a month and a half disappearing is about right. It's not that I don't read my scriptures every day. I've been pretty good about that. It's that these days I have a hard time focusing long enough to read 7 pages a day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In those days there was no king in Israel

I'm a little behind. Life has been complicated lately. Luckily insomnia assists in catching up.

I finished Judges tonight. I must say reading the Old Testament gives me hope. The Lord managed you use Gideon, whose faith was shall we say less than unshaken, to save His people. Perhaps I, in my less than perfect faith, can also be of use to the Lord. (I should learn from Gideon's story not to turn away at the last, snared by idols.)

I also am amazed at how long the Lord stood by Samson, who was again not the epitome of righteousness your Sunday School teacher would hold up as an example. Perhaps He will stand by me as well if I had more confidence in Him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Traditions of their Fathers

Besides reading from the Bible I also try to read a page or two from the Book of Mormon every day. Tonight my reading was in Alma Chapter 17. Here Ammon and his brothers are teaching the gospel to the Lamanites, a blood-thirsty people raised from childhood to despise humanity, especially the Nephites. Verse 9 has an interesting description of this missionary work. "And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct."

Speaking of "traditions of their fathers" tonight I endured one of my teenage son's rants. He was going on about how hard his life was because of his parent's mistakes. (Since he's adopted I took no offense. Indeed his life has been challenging.) I didn't really know how to respond to him. Sure he's suffered because of his parents issues. Sure he is who he is today in large part because of them and what they did to him and what they did not do for him, what they didn't teach him. In short his father's traditions screwed him up.

But now he knows better. To some extent it's causing him even more trouble because he recognizes that he needs to change, but change is hard. The Book of Mormon recounts powerful conversion stories, wicked nations changed because one man stood up to the traditions of his father. Indeed these are inspirational. I am certain that my son can break the downward spiral that his nature and nurture have dealt him. As he does he will save entire generations to come from this negative force that has plagued him. But that doesn't mean it will be easy. I wished we got more of the details around the post conversion trials many of these changed men experienced. For surely their life was not all perfection just because they found the light.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day and Night

I've known Joshua 1.8 for years since it's a seminary scripture mastery verse. But in the past I've really only thought about the first part, the half that admonishes us to meditate on "this book of Law" both day and night. I always really glossed over the second half which is the promise.

I go to work all day, 5 days a week. Occasionally I need to sometimes work weekends too. (Luckily not that often.) Not that I'm intentionally materialistic, but our society encourages us to think about getting ahead. In truth I wonder at times what I need to do to get to the next level. I tell myself that it's so I can better care for my family. Indeed there is much truth in that excuse. But I should be honest and admit that in part I seek success as an end itself. Perhaps seeking success is not bad if done in the right way.

So how should I be seeking success? This passage in Joshua teaches that if you "observe to do according to all that is written" in the book of the law, that then "thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." I note the passage implies I will still need to work towards this prosperity. This verse is in no way the Lord's get rich quick scheme. But this does imply that rather than spending money on the next How to Get Ahead In Business book, perhaps I should just spend more time meditating on the scriptures, drawing nearer to the Lord, allowing Him to cleanse my motives, letting Him teach me what I need to become. Perhaps then I may have good success.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

40 Years of Wandering

I'm in Deuteronomy this week. In this book Moses speaks not to the people he led out of Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb), but rather to their children. Not only did the wicked, unfaithful Israelites who lacked courage to conquer Canaan wander for 40 years in the wilderness, but their children did also. Children often suffer for their parents mistakes. But the Lord in His infinite wisdom uses that suffering to His advantage.

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led the these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." (Deut. 8.2)

Reading this verse made me wonder about my own challenges in life. Rather than blame my life's difficulties on my parents or my genes or my circumstances, I should just embrace the test. I recognize that some of my challenges I've lived with throughout my life so far. And some are new, but these I will likely live with the next 40 years. Perhaps I don't need to ask why do I deserve these challenges. Is it not to prove me? To know what is in my heart?