Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Based on “Things as They Really Are” by Neal A Maxwell
Sacrament Talk 29 January 2012
Given by Patriarch J E Rankin


            I have the opportunity to put my eye to the lens of several astronomical telescopes and view the night sky. That experience, I think, strikes any serious scientist, no matter his or her area of research, with a feeling of unequaled wonder.

            Putting our planet in perspective, Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist wrote: “The earth is a medium-sized planet orbiting around an average star in the outer suburbs of an ordinary spiral galaxy, which is itself only one of about a million million galaxies in the observable universe.”

            When one looks at pictures of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, the breathtaking view brings to mind the Lord’s words about His having created “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). Continuing to investigate telescopic pictures of other galaxies, we can recall the divine words that “there is no end to my works” (Moses 1:38). There are nebulae, like the Doradus Nebula, which if it were as close to us as is very distant Orion, would literally cover one-fourth of the night sky. Think of the words about how God’s creations “cannot be numbered unto man, but they are numbered unto [Him]” (Moses 1:37).
            President Brigham Young said that God knows all things pertaining to this earth and “He knows all things pertaining to millions of earths like this one” (Journal of Discourses 11:41). President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in His image…” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:62).

            When we contemplate the stunning vastness, it is wise to remember “Behold…all things are created and made to bear record of me (Moses 6:63). Alma declared, “All things denote there is a God…all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). Our universe is an overwhelming one and a witnessing one!

            Reversing the lens in both reality and in thought, I have also had the tremendous opportunity to look through microscopes so powerful that can see to the atomic level. At the other end of the spectrum of size we also see divine design in the tiny but significant DNA molecule. This molecule which performs so many large chores is formed by an intricate double, intertwined helix consisting of hundreds of atoms arranged in significant governing patterns.

            The most important chemical in the world which is ever present in my work and teaching is one of the simplest—water. It is, as simply constructed as it is, unique in its properties. If it behaved like nearly every liquid in the world, when water froze to ice, it would become more dense, the solid ice sinking to the bottom of the remaining liquid pool. If this were the case, our planet would be literally a dead one, as ice would drop to the bottom of the oceans never to be warmed again, leading to the cold grip of death on the fauna and flora of our planet. One such as I who has studied literally hundreds of compounds cannot help but be amazed that such a simple molecule could be so critically different. Rather it has been designed so that its solid phase is just a little less dense than the liquid and so it floats on the surface to be the first to catch the warming rays of the sun, returning it to its life-giving liquid form.
            While I was pursuing doctorate work, I was once asked in a public church meeting by an old dedicated high priest if I actually studied chemical engineering by the Spirit. I had never pondered that thought before and it took me back. I have since concluded that that is an all-important question in light of the awesome power displayed in our natural universe.


            The Lord sees no conflict between faith and learning in any breadth of study. D&C 88:78-79, 118: “”…that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms…And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning even by study and also by faith.”

            The scriptures tell us that the Lord sees faith and learning as mutually facilitating, not separate processes.

            We are commanded to seek truth. Truth is the highly and rightly valued result of the learning process. There are however, gradations of truth. They are not of equal significance. These gradations might be represented geometrically by a wide, layered circle. You might imagine this as a layered cake with tiers that decrease in diameter from bottom to top.

            The bottom outer layer of the circle would include truths which are by definition accurate descriptions of reality. But these would be facts such as train schedules, monetary exchange rates, calendar dates, and so on. They are real. They have utility and they are relevant to our daily lives, but they often have a very short shelf life. They cannot be ignored in this world, but they are simply not on the same footing as other kinds of truth. I am sure you can think of lots of similar and probably better illustrations.

            The next concentric circle or cake layer inward would include more important truths. These are important, but not what we will call the ultimate truths. Some of these, for instance, are verifiable by the very serviceable scientific method. These truths can be very useful and valuable. For instance, in the realm of astrophysics, they tell us much about the “what” and “how” of the universe, but they cannot (and do not presume to) tell us “why” it exists.

            In this same middle layer, the suburbs of the ultimate truths, so to speak, there is a churning and revising among some of these truths. Indeed life in the suburbs may mean one can be “ever learning” but still “never able to come to a knowledge of THE truth” as Paul stated to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:7). Even so, these truths are important and valued.

            Let me give you an example from personal study. I have been preparing class notes for a course that I must teach involving one of the more exact mathematical sciences known to us, that which we call thermodynamics. It is a useful science that has been at the heart of much technological progress. Its first fundamental law states that the energy content of the universe is constant. That means simply in the words of a beginning student that “you can’t get something for nothing”. Using energy to work change in one system means that you must decrease the energy content somewhere else. The second law is even more restrictive. It deals with a property labeled entropy which describes the disorder of the universe. Clausius formulated the law in these terms: The entropy of the universe is ever increasing. In the words of that beginning student, “not only can’t you get something for nothing, you can’t even break even.” Or, “if you think things are messed up now, just wait awhile!”

            These theories organize scientific facts as we observe them and tell us that the universe is winding down, slowly but surely. All things lead to a natural death of things as we know them. Even as mankind acts to improve his environment by harnessing the forces and materials of nature, he forces an acceleration toward ultimate complete disorder where nothing can work any longer.

            Now contrast those ideas to such processes as “creation of worlds without number” or “resurrection of the body to its perfect condition.” Clearly we have much more to add to these accepted scientific truths!

            So in the very center of the circles of truth lie the “deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:10, 14). These come to us only by revelation from God, and they clearly have a greater significance than other truths and fleeting facts.

            There is constancy, not churning, among these strategic truths. These truths, for instance, are revealed from God and tell us “why” the universe exists. They are also very personal and crucial. They represent the highest order of truth.

            Stephen Hawking, displaying the meekness which is found in all great scientists, wrote: “Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, it cannot answer the question: Why does the universe bother to exist? I don’t know the answer to that. What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?.... If we do discover a complete theory….then we shall all…be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.”

            Such questions are answered only by revelation, not solely by reason. Certain high-grade knowledge, as Paul taught, can only be “spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14). Only when mind and spirit combine efforts can we penetrate the inner circle realm of truth.
            These truths are likewise verifiable. Jesus described how: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
            Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Since He has received a fullness of truth, we rightly seek to have the “mind of Christ” (D&C 93:26, I Corinthians 2:16). If we keep his commandments, the promise is that we will receive “truth and light” until we are “glorified in truth and [know] of all things” (D&C 93:28). Would either a true scholar or disciple settle for less?

            Paul L Holmer wrote, “We can also say that in living right, we will also think right.”


            The adverb “really” is used only twice in all of scripture, and then only for exceptional emphasis. In Jacob 4:13, the prophet Jacob underscored the manner in which the Spirit teaches the truth. “Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls.”

            Jacob’s declaration about truth is consistent with the definition of truth given by the Lord to Joseph Smith. “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24).

            The true religion believer is actually the ultimate realist, for he has a fully realistic view of man and of the universe. He traffics in truths that are culminating and everlasting. He believes as the Lord has said “…truth abideth and hath no end” (D&C 88:66).

            What are the special and central and overarching truths that are numbered among “things as they really are”?
1.     There is a true and living God.
2.     There is a true and living Church.
3.     There are true and living prophets.
4.     There are true and living scriptures.
It is the “living-ness” of these incredibly important realities that separates them from transitory things, from dying things, from local beliefs, or from short-lived theories that do not maintain themselves over time.


            Much of really living consists of acquiring perspective about everlasting truths so that we can manage the transitory factual things. To experience real freedom as Jesus spoke of, for “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), we must understand that certain deep truths are to be obtained only through the Spirit of our Heavenly Father. Paul stated “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:10). But “the deep things of God” are understood only as we come to know about things as they really are. Such knowledge is of inestimable worth.

            Would we ask someone who is in a jet flying over Europe to adjust to the culture and language of each country whose airspace he is over at the moment? We would not. Likewise the disciple of Christ knows in reality that he is only briefly in but not of this world; it is not his destination, for he follows the living God of the galaxies. The ways of this world are, in perspective, alien to the better world he for which he seeks to prepare. He will be truly realistic, for to be too quick to adjust and accept the ways of this world is to be maladjusted and ill prepared for the next. It is vital to know therefore about things as they really are in order to have proper perspective for our choices.
            It is vital to know that there REALLY is a God, that there REALLY is a Savior, Jesus Christ, that there REALLY is impending immortality for all men, that there REALLY will be a judgment with genuine personal accountability, and that there REALLY is purpose in life and a divine plan for happiness for man. These truths are a special kind of knowledge—“of things as they really are and of things as they really will be”—which keeps us from being tossed to and fro by mere theories. These are the truths that will make us free.

            With true perspective comes a sense of proportion about life. It helps us with our priorities. For instance, understanding a true perspective, clearly one would not forgo partaking of the sacrament because he is trying to lose weight. Yet some neglect the scriptures because they are too busy minding the cares of the world. Knowing how things really are permits us to test all mortal suppositions so we won’t be victimized by fleeting and tempting tradeoffs proffered by mortal men. Coming to see things as they really are will of course make one a member of a minority, one that is sometimes despised. We could scarcely endure taking up the crosses of the world without knowing the truth of things as they really are.
            Do you remember the great and spacious building in the Book of Mormon in Lehi’s dream? The trendy, self-congratulating multitudes mocked and pointed at those who clung to the gospel’s iron rod. A few whose hands had once grasped the iron rod ended up in the great and spacious building pointing their own gingers of scorn at former friends. Strange as it seems, the scriptures do not indicate that these individuals let go of the iron rod for any objective reasons or because they were in truth intellectually persuaded by the views of those in the building. They were simply ashamed and embarrassed to be separated from the worldly multitudes, whose contempt they could not endure. Nephi saw that “after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed” (1 Nephi 8:25).

            Being true to what we know about things as they really are takes immense integrity and constant courage. Things as they really are require the believer to be at his best—to be what he really could be, and also to understand who he or she really is.


            Amid the cosmic vastness overseen by God and Jesus, we can also have faith in their loving personal-ness. We want to be assured that God is there and also to know what He is like. We yearn to know what His and life’s purposes are. Does He really know us and really care about us individually? The reassuring reality was confirmed in Enoch’s exclamation: “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever” (Moses 7:30).
            The most important thing for meek Enoch to know was not how many worlds there were, but that God was really there! Enoch also learned that God is just, true, merciful, and kind. We have an example in the Lord. Will we follow His example?
            God is in the details of the galaxies, of the DNA molecule, but, even more importantly, He is in the details of our individual lives.


            For a disciple of Jesus Christ, academic scholarship is a form of worship. It is actually another dimension of consecration. One who seeks to be a disciple-scholar will take both scholarship and discipleship seriously and therefore likewise gospel covenants. For the disciple-scholar, the first and second great commandments frame and prioritize life. How else could one worship God with all of one’s “heart, MIND, and strength” (Luke 10:27)?

            The disciple-scholar also understands what kind of community he or she should help to build. Its citizens openly and genuinely desire to be called God’s people. They are not secret disciples, but bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that morn, comfort those in need of comfort, and witness for God at all times, and in all places, and in all things (Mosiah 18:8-9). Intellectual pride reflects the way of hell, not of heaven. It is no wonder that a true community of scholars would qualify to be part of the larger community of Saints.
            The disciple-scholar also understands Jesus’ style of leadership, which includes persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, pure knowledge—all being achieved without hypocrisy and guile. (D&C 121:41-42, Mosiah 3:19).
            It is meekness which facilitates working on what is lacking in each of our characters. For instance, the rich, righteous young man, otherwise clearly a high achiever, who came to Jesus asking what he might do to have eternal life, was told “One thing thou lackest” (Mark 10:21). His lack was not of marketplace business ability or of honesty in business affairs; instead, he lacked meekness. This unfortunately kept him from doing that customized thing which Jesus asked him to do—sell all that he had, give to the poor, and come follow Him. The young man lacked consecration.
            If we are to be true disciples, we can be assured that Jesus will ask us to do works and meet challenges that He has customized for us according to what we lack, each being different. As Michael Polyani noted, “To learn by example is to submit to authority”. The key attribute of the disciple-scholar is meekness.

            Ponder what Brigham Young said of his tutorial relationship with Joseph Smith: “An angel never watched [Joseph] closer than I did, and that is what has given me the knowledge I have today. I treasure it up, and ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to help my memory when information is wanted.”

            If knowledge is truly power, how can he who possesses absolute truth be considerate of others? Obviously the answer is for truth to be accompanied by love and meekness, as exemplified for us in the character of Jesus. Power is safest, therefore, with those most Christlike, and heaven’s power is accessible only to such individuals.

            Genius is safest when it is accompanied by meekness. Competency is most useful when accompanied by humility. The qualities of love, mercy, patience, meekness, and spiritual submissiveness are eternally portable. These—to the degree they are developed—will go with us through the veil of death; they will also rise with us in the resurrection.


Friday, January 27, 2012

7 UP-lifting Ways to Start Each Day

1. Wake Up!  Decide to have a good day. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalms 118:24
2. Dress Up!  The best way to dress is to put on a smile. Smiling is inexpensive way to improve your looks.
3. Shush Up!  Say nice things and learn to listen. "Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end." Proverbs 19:20
4. Stand Up!  For what you believe in! Stand for something or you will fall for anything.
5. Look Up!  To the Lord. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13
6. Reach Up!  For something higher. As Jiminy Cricket sings in "High Hopes," always try to better yourself. HAVE FAITH!
7. Lift Up!  Your prayers. Do not worry about anything; instead pray about everything.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trivia: Where Was First Copper Mined in USA?

In New Jersey! In a mine founded around 1640, in what in what is now Pahaquarry. It wasn't very successful, but another mine founded in 1712 produced enough copper to ship back to the Netherlands.


This week in YSA Institute we studied 1 Samuel 1-11. Hannah's trials to have a son and then her unselfish vow to share him with the Lord. A young Samuel who answers to the still, small voice of the Lord: "Here Am I, Lord." The Philistines' travails and curse when they steal the ark of the covenant. The pride cycle when finally the Israelites forget all their blessings from the Lord and reject Him to have a king...just like everybody else!

You can't be different
if you are the same
as everybody else! 

German Banana Bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons sour milk
1 teaspoon soda
2 cups flour
MB's Optional Enhancements:
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips
1) Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2) Combine all ingredients in order.
3) Pour batter into 2-medium greased and floured loaf pans.
4) Bake for 45 minutes or until bread tests done.
5) These loaves freeze well if wrapped tightly in foil and then wrapped in plastic freezer bag.

Tithing: A Commandment

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine 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.” (Malachi 3:10).

Mormons and the practice of tithing by
In May of 1899, a frail, kindly looking 85-year-old gentleman with white hair and a long beard stepped slowly to the pulpit in southern Utah and prepared to address the congregation.

Lorenzo Snow had become president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a year earlier, at a time when the institution was deeply in debt. The effects of the sermon he was about to preach would echo through the twentieth century and beyond.

The Mormons had known poverty often in their short, 70-year history. As they sought a place to settle and call their own, they found themselves driven from their communities time and again, abandoning homes and belongings. From Ohio to Missouri and then to Illinois, they endured hostile mobs until they finally weathered the 1,100-mile trek across the American plains to a place of safety in the Rocky Mountains. Some --too poor to buy wagons --pulled handcarts the entire distance. Many died on those seemingly endless trails.

By 1899 the church had established a foothold in the intermountain west, and its numbers had climbed to more than a quarter million. But many were still eking out their existence in rural communities, and the resources of the church were strained.

Lorenzo Snow’s sermon in the pioneer town of St. George reminded people that the ancient, biblical principle of tithing had been neglected in the church, and invited them to pay tithing and help the church out of its indebtedness. Snow would have realized as much as anyone that the church could never properly fulfill its mission of preaching the gospel and blessing the lives of millions while laboring under a burden of debt.

Snow died not long after, but the church members everywhere responded to his appeal and within a few years the church had gained a firm financial footing. The Snow sermon has become part of Mormon lore, and the principle of tithing became the church’s financial foundation. Even today, the vast majority of the church’s income comes from these member contributions.

Tithing is not unique to Mormons, of course. Many churches practice it in one form or another. Jewish observance of tithing long predates Christian communities. But in Mormon practice it is understood to mean donating “one tenth of our increase” to the service of God. At the close of the Book of Malachi, the Old Testament prophet wrote:“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine 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.” (Malachi 3:10).

The principle is simple to understand and administer. Each member, knowing their accountability to God, decides for themselves what “one tenth of their increase” means, when and how to pay it. For people on regular salaries, it is usually a tenth of their income and paid weekly or monthly. It is an honor system that works very well, because each member has a sense of consecrating a portion of his or her means to God’s work. Since the entire church depends on its members to serve as lay ministers and provide service in a myriad of ways, paying tithing is simply another private yet tangible affirmation of that spirit of sacrifice.

A former president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley, noted that the Lord’s plan for financing the church is captured in just 35 words in modern scripture. “What a contrast with the cumbersome, complex, and difficult tax codes enacted and enforced by governments,” he noted, adding, “We know that these funds are sacred. We have a compelling trust to use them carefully and wisely….I keep on the credenza in my office this genuine widow’s mite…. I keep it as a reminder of the sacrifice it represents, that we are dealing with the consecration of the widow as well as the offering of the wealthy.”

Tithes are used by the church in numerous ways. There are nearly 30,000 congregations throughout the world, and simply providing them with buildings in which to meet and classrooms to teach in absorbs a large part of the church’s income. Educational programs, including church-owned universities, also require funding, as do many other programs throughout the world.

And in addition to their tithes, most faithful members make other voluntary contributions to humanitarian aid and to the monthly “fast offering.” Fast offerings are the result of fasting for two successive meals on the first Sunday of each month, and donating the cost of the meals. Local bishops then use these funds to help the poor and needy.

In the end, tithing and other financial offerings are less about finances and more about personal attitude and commitment. It is difficult to pay tithing and be selfish at the same time. For the millions of people who participate, there is something in the act of voluntary giving that is innately enriching to the human soul.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happiness keeps you sweet.
Sorrow keeps you human.
Life keeps you humble.
Success keeps you glowing.
But only God keeps you going!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Day

Snow greeted us this morning! Happily, we have NOT seen snow here since 25 October--almost 3 months ago! We can only hope it will be another 3 months before we see it again!!

It seemed like a perfect day to make Mac & Cheese!

Mac & Cheese from Weight Watchers magazine
8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups fat-free milk
2 cups fat-free cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste
1) Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain. Run cold water over hot pasta to stop cooking.
2) Heat oil in skillet. Whisk in flour and brown for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook on medium until it boils and thickens for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add grated cheddar and blend.
3) Mix pasta and cheese sauce together and transfer to oven proof casserole dish. Bake 25 minutes or until bubbly and brown at 350 degrees.

You Hold the Key!

As the Eagles sing in "Already Gone":

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have THE KEY!"


Try it! You'll soon see your negativity will disappear and HOPE will return!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christ and Samson-Similar and Opposite

Blind Samson pulling down pillars.

Crucifixion and Last Judgment by Jan van Eyck (1420-25)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spread Kindness!

It's been said that January is the most depressing month because it's the most cloudy with short winter days. Payment is due on our extravagant Christmas purchases. Let's brighten up! In fact, let's SMILE more! Let's think more of others and less of ourselves!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First YSA Branch FHE

After block meetings this afternoon, the YSA Branch held its
first branch FHE. Dixon's brought pulled pork sandwiches
while Sister S gave talk on patriarchal blessings.

Pres Eck organized a pantomime game.

Those who were "it" had to pick someone to act out
(wordlessly) person, place or activity clues.

Each of four "it" people had to act out what
they thought they saw for "it" person after them.

By the time "it" person #3 acted out what they saw,
things got sillier and sillier!

We only had time for one round but this game is a keeper!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

1st Quarter Zone Conference

Lunch Break with Mission President and wife serenading us!
Our Mission President and his wife (and their 2 Assistants to the President) do an OUTSTANDING job every quarter for Zone Conference. They put it on over three days at three different Stake Centers for the 8 Zones in our mission. (Three different Relief Societies bring yummy lunch for all!) Our Mission President is an EXCELLENT motivational speaker and his cute, cute wife just LIGHTS UP a room! We are so grateful for their leadership!
Competition for progress and/or improvement.

Princeton 2 Ward brought sack lunches that were just right!

Elder Kakiva and Sister S share same birthday.
I told him we were twins....separated at birth.
(I don't think he 'got' my wit?!?!)

Sister Jeppson always has a GREAT game to play after lunch.
This one was a stare down!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Half Way

November 19, 1999
OUR FAVORITE missionary is our son! He was THE FIRST missionary to serve from our family. (He served in Honduras. He LOVED it!) He set the bar very high for his convert parents! This is our second mission, and like the first one, our half way mark is a time for reflection, a time to resolve to do better. The Lord has blessed us with supportive family and friends, above-average (good) health, and a desire to share our testimony of our loving Heavenly Father, his Son (our Savior) Jesus Christ and the Comforter (the Holy Ghost). It isn't easy, but it's worth it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Why of the Gospel

Sometimes, in the routine of our lives, we unintentionally overlook a vital aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ, much as one might overlook a beautiful, delicate forget-me-not. In our diligent efforts to fulfill all of the duties and obligations we take on as members of the Church, we sometimes see the gospel as a long list of tasks that we must add to our already impossibly long to-do list, as a block of time that we must somehow fit into our busy schedules. We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why.

...the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation; it is a pathway, marked by our loving Father in Heaven, leading to happiness and peace in this life and glory and inexpressible fulfillment in the life to come. The gospel is a light that penetrates mortality and illuminates the way before us.

While understanding the "what" and the "how" of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the "why." When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet.

Let us not walk the path of discipleship with our eyes on the ground, thinking only of the tasks and obligations before us. Let us not walk unaware of the beauty of the glorious earthly and spiritual landscapes that surround us.

...seek out the majesty, the beauty, and the exhilarating joy of the "why" of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The "what" and "how" of obedience mark the way and keep us on the right path. The "why" of obedience sanctifies our actions, transforming the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies our small acts of obedience into holy acts of consecration.

-President Dieter F Uchtdorf

Monday, January 9, 2012

Choose Eternal Life

Your eternal destiny will not be the result of chance but of choice. It is never too late to begin to choose eternal life!  -Randall K Bennett

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Caleb, a True Servant of God

….”From Caleb’s example we learn very important lessons. Just as Caleb had to struggle and remain true and faithful to gain his inheritance, so we must remember that, while the Lord has promised us a place in his kingdom, we must ever strive constantly and faithfully so as to be worthy to receive the reward.

“Caleb concluded his moving declaration with a request and a challenge with which my heart finds full sympathy. The Anakims, the giants, were still inhabiting the promised land, and they had to be overcome. Said Caleb, now 85 years, ‘give me this mountain’ (Joshua 14:12).

“This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us; great opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.

“Humbly, I give this pledge to the Lord and to you, my beloved brothers and sisters, fellow workers in this sacred cause of Christ: I will go forward, with faith in the God of Israel, knowing he will guide and direct us, and lead us, finally, to the accomplishment of his purposes and to our promised land and our promised blessings.” (Spencer W Kimball, Nov 1979, Ensign).

Friday, January 6, 2012

6 January 2012

6 January is a old Christian feast day that celebrates the visitation of the Magi to Baby Jesus. Forty-one years ago, I was in London, England on 6 January. Some called this day 'Epiphany', others called it 'Twelfth Night' but my favorite label was 'Three Kings Day'. I particularly liked the rich, dense cake that was served. Whoever found the baked-in bean in the cake was "king" for the day. Today I was "queen" for the day as my companion accompanied me window shopping--something he does not enjoy--and then bought me lunch! Thank you, Elder S!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year: 2012

We are so GRATEFUL to work with good-looking, talented, FUN!, humble, thoughtful, bright young single adults in East Brunswick! May your new year be filled with every GOOD thing and may you always place God first!