Category Archives: Daily Message

What the world needs

“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.”
-Michael Josephson

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Gratitude

Thought for today:

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melody Beattie

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The Broken Man

This is why I go to church.

I have been thinking lately about this scripture:

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

What does it mean to have this kind of constant trust and dependence on the Lord?

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to spend an hour with a man I’ve known for several years. It was a quiet hour without a lot of interaction, but it touched me deeply.

Each year the little children aged 3 to 10 present a Sunday program where they sing and share short messages with the congregation.  It is one of the best Sundays of the year because we get to feel of the children’s innocent, sincere faith.  My friend and his wife have faithfully taught a group of these little ones every Sunday for as long as I can remember.

After getting my own children situated for one of their last practices, I found my friend sitting by himself in the chapel pews watching while his wife and the children settled in the choir seats behind the podium. He struggled to speak, but greeted me with a warm smile and handshake.

I met this man several years ago when he was early on in his battle with Alzheimer’s. The effects of the disease are more apparent now. He becomes easily disoriented and confused, and has a difficult time carrying on a conversation.

No one asked me to sit with him or expected it of me. His wife had placed him there within view so she could keep an eye on him while attending to the children. Initially I was planning to go to Sunday school and listen to a well prepared lesson from the New Testament, but when I shook his hand, something inside told me to stay.

The children began their practice with a song. He became excited at the singing and smiled while humming the tune. At the end of the song he leaned forward and pointed directly at his wife.  She didn’t see him immediately so he waited a minute then pointed again.  She finally saw him and returned his pointing with a smile and curt wave. Beaming from ear to ear he tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Do you know her? She’s my wife. She smiled at me.”

I told him I did know her and that she is a wonderful woman.  He smiled again and looked up at her repeating, “she is wonderful.  She’s my wife.”

As the hour went on the pattern continued.  He hummed along with the songs and made comments about how energetic and excited the children were.  Then he pointed again. Each time she smiled back and waved he proudly proclaimed that she was his wife.

At one point he struggled to ask me for directions to the bathroom.  I tried to point out the way but he was confused, so I got up and led him out of the room.  His wife stayed seated but was looking at me intently. I could see the concern on her face, a concern that has come from countless hours of worry for him.

I made a gesture to reassure her that he was OK and waited for him to come out to make sure he found his way back.  He was agitated as we took our seats and struggled for a minute to find his wife. I could see panic in his eyes until finally, with a sigh of relief, he pointed and said, “there she is, there’s my wife.” With that knowledge he settled down and was able to enjoy the singing once again.

The hour came to and end and I had to say goodbye. As I thought about it, I am sure I could have learned something wonderful from the Sunday school class but instead, I was taught by this broken man. Barely able to have a conversation, and unable to find his own way anymore, he found comfort in his wife’s smile. As long as he knew she was there he could enjoy what was going on around him. I can’t imagine a better example of complete trust and dependence.

Because of this disease he will never know what that moment meant to me and I’ll never be able to share that with him.  His wife will continue to struggle and make hard decisions, maybe even wondering if it is OK to bring him to church as often as she does.  I hope she keeps bringing him because everyone there can learn something from this broken man.

The truth is we are all broken in one way or another. For some of us, like my friend, the wounds are obvious. For others they run deep inside the hidden crevices of our souls. God uses broken, imperfect people to help His broken, imperfect children.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:

“The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”The Church is for people like you and me. The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.”

The most important lesson I learned this past Sunday did not come from the pulpit or an eloquently prepared lesson. It certainly did not come from the example of someone near perfection. It came from one of the weakest and most humble. It came from a man who is painfully succumbing to the grips of a disease that will never let him go. But even in this state, there is something all of us can learn from having him around at church. I am just grateful God opened my eyes to see His divine truth in the form of a quiet, broken man and his precious wife.

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The Blessings of Faith and Righteousness

I am looking forward to LDS General Conference this weekend and have been reading from the previous session.  I love this quote from Elder Cook:

If the grim realities you are facing at this time seem dark and heavy and almost unbearable, remember that in the soul-wrenching darkness of Gethsemane and the incomprehensible torture and pain of Calvary, the Savior accomplished the Atonement, which resolves the most terrible burdens that can occur in this life. He did it for you, and He did it for me. He did it because He loves us and because He obeys and loves His Father. We will be rescued from death—even from the depths of the sea.

Our protections in this life and for eternity will be in individual and family righteousness, Church ordinances, and following the Savior. This is our refuge from the storm.

What a blessing it is to have faith in Christ and “live after the manner of happiness”.

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Christ’s Eternal Love

I too, like Paul, am persuaded.

Romans 8:

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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The Prayer Sandwich

For family home evening #5 and #6 were excited to lead the family through the lesson they learned on Sunday. Using a peanut butter and jelly sandwich they described the pattern of prayer taught by the Lord in the New Testament. 

Bottom bread = call on Heavenly Father
Peanut butter = give thanks for blessings
Jelly = ask for the things we need
Top bread = close in the name of Jesus Christ. 

What a wonderful,  simple way to teach prayer. 

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The source of truth

When we think about it this way,  it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between light and darkness.  God is the source of all truth and light, not confusion and darkness. 

James 3:

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Lines of communication

On my way to work this morning I listened to “Keep the Lines of Communication Strong”  by President Spencer W. Kimball.  In the talk he shared this story and related it to us:

“In South America we saw once an example of broken communication lines.

We were riding far out in the northwest of Argentina. It was cattle country. The road was straight and narrow for numerous miles, and on either side was a four-wire barbed fence. Parallel to the fence line was a series of poles on which were strung the wires for telephone communication to the world. Upon each telephone pole was a crossbar, and strung from crossbar to crossbar were the communication lines.

As we traveled along where the grass had been heavy but now was burned, we found where some of the telephone poles, being in the wake of the fire, were burned off near the ground. Someone had carelessly thrown a lighted cigarette from a car window. It had ignited the grass, the telephone communications were ended or limited, and communication was down.

Nearly all the poles for a distance were scorched or burned. Some had been burned off the first few feet from the ground and were hanging by the top part in the air from the wires they were intended to support. Dangling in the air, these sagging wires had let the poles touch the ground as they were swinging in the wind, each time creating static on the line.The poles had been set to hold up the lines, but here they were sagging.

Many a time during the three years that I was in charge of the work in South America, I tried to get long-distance calls through to these distant places. When the connection was made, almost invariably there would be static, and the words were cut in two and grating sounds were heard. In my mind’s eye I could see the telephone line on the Salta Road swaying in the breeze, hitting the ground and occasionally breaking connection.”

Communication is critical in all aspects of life, but especially the spiritual.  Later in the talk President Kimball goes on to say that anytime he is approached fire help by people with doubts or difficulties he first asks about their prayers. 

How deep of a connection is it?  Is it strong and clear or burned out, and sagging with static or altogether cut?

These are important questions to ask ourselves often. 

Prayer is an important part of my life and it can be that way for anyone who sincerely desires to know God. 

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God knows you

I recently read this article about a senior missionary who was able to use his talents,  through the Lord’s inspiration,  to bless another faithful servant.  A comment at the end of the article caught my attention.  In essence, the person stated doubt about God’s interest in our individual lives and circumstances, and the degree to which He is involved.  I was immediately reminded of a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar in 2005 as a newly called Apostle. In the talk he stated:

This afternoon I want to describe and discuss a spiritual impression I received a few moments before I stepped to this pulpit during the Sunday morning session of general conference last October. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf had just finished speaking and had declared his powerful witness of the Savior. Then we all stood together to sing the intermediate hymn that previously had been announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. The intermediate hymn that morning was “Redeemer of Israel” (Hymns, no. 6).

Now, the music for the various conference sessions had been determined many weeks before—and obviously long before my new call to serve. If, however, I had been invited to suggest an intermediate hymn for that particular session of the conference—a hymn that would have been both edifying and spiritually soothing for me and for the congregation before my first address in this Conference Center—I would have selected my favorite hymn, “Redeemer of Israel.” Tears filled my eyes as I stood with you to sing that stirring hymn of the Restoration.

Near the conclusion of the singing, to my mind came this verse from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1:20).

My mind was drawn immediately to Nephi’s phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord,” and I knew in that very moment I was experiencing just such a tender mercy. A loving Savior was sending me a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance through a hymn selected weeks previously. Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them.

I know that God knows each of us personally and will be involved in specific circumstances in our lives.  I also believe that we fail to see many of those tender mercies.  Elder Bednar also said:

Each of us can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days.

I hope that you will believe in a God who knows you personally,  cares about your circumstances and is eager to send His tender mercies to you. Through your faithfulness you will be blessed to see what God has done for you and feel an even deeper and abiding love for Him. 

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The Keys to Peace, Happiness, and Equality

This evening as a family we discussed the actions of a wise king from the Book of Mormon who wanted peace, happiness, and equality among his people: Mosiah 27:2-7

2 And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God.

3 And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;

4 That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support.

5 Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God.

6 And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land.

7 And the Lord did visit them and prosper them, and they became a large and wealthy people.

Peace, happiness, and equality come when we stop persecuting, ridiculing, and judging others, aside our own pride, treat others with love and respect, and do our part to support ourselves and help our neighbors. The real beauty of this wisdom is it can be equally applied to relationships, homes, communities and nations. The path to happiness is and always will be to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-39).