Tag Archives: Church

A Place to Set Aside Your Cares

Sitting in Church today, basking in the warm, energetic feelings of our opening song, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go”, it occurred to me that I was feeling much better than I have most of this week.

It has been an incredibly busy week, but even more so, an extremely emotionally challenging week.  Not much of that was personal, but my mind and heart were bombarded by the sufferings, worries, and challenges of those around me.  I had fallen into a state of discouragement and found myself wondering how to feel better – what could I do to raise my spirits?

And now, here was the answer.  By simply doing what I have done ‘most every Sunday since the day I was born – attending church at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – my wounds were being cleansed and bound up without my even paying much attention to the process.  I was being made whole again just because I was keeping the Lord’s commandments, living my life as I should, and participating in the great blessings that He has provided for us.

Ahhh, now I feel so much better, and ready to face the world and its concerns again.

I love the Church!  🙂

Talked in Church This Sunday

Today I spoke in Church.  As I mentioned in my last post, the subject was: Christ –  The Light of the World.

Here are the basics of what I said:

This has been a beautiful week!  Being asked to talk about Christ – The Light of the World gave me a wonderful focus to my week.

I read the scriptures, searched the last General Conference talks, reviewed other resources from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had many wonderful thoughts and inspiration.

Focusing on such an uplifting topic was wonderful!

In Moroni 7:15-17 it says:

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.”

This means that the light of Christ (sometimes referred to as a conscience) is given to everyone so that we will be able to tell good from bad.  The way to tell the difference is plain, so that anyone will be able to know what is good and what is bad.

Anything that helps us to love God, want to pray to Him, or encourages us to do good to others, we know for sure those things are good and come from God.

And anything that teaches us not to believe in God, makes us not want to pray, or discourages us from doing things for others (service), we know for sure those things are not good and are from Satan.

This is the key.  Our loving Father in Heaven gave us the light of Christ and this key to understanding it so that we don’t have to wander in darkness.  It is very plain what is good and what is evil.

I was fortunate enough to have wonderful parents who loved the gospel and were very active in the Church!  They were born in Germany and lived through World War II as young children.

People there remained strong because they had the Church in their lives.  Even when they lost contact with Church Headquarters, they continued to read the scriptures and use the manuals they had to strengthen and support each other.

My mother’s strong faith and example was a strong influence in my life.  I learned what was good and have tried to hang on to that all my life.

We are so blessed in this day and age to have many, many resources for good around us.  In the world society struggles so much, and teaches many falsehoods, many of them so often that some people start thinking it sounds plausible.  We are not left to wander alone or to be tossed about with every whim that the latest fad dictates.

Heavenly Father has given us scriptures, modern-day prophets, the Church organization, and many wonderful resources.  We know who we are, who we can become, and how to get there!  We can have feelings of peace in this world and hope for great blessings in the world to come.

I am so thankful for the knowledge of the gospel that I have.  I know that God loves us, that we are His children, that He has sent us here for a glorious purpose, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has His power and authority to bind families together forever and enable us to return to live with God in His presence in peace and happiness with our family and friends for all eternity.  These blessings can be ours as we follow the principles and ordinances of Christ’s restored gospel.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Life in the Church Foyer

I got to church kind of late today for Sacrament Meeting, so went to the foyer, which is right outside the chapel.

Being the first Sunday of the month, today is Fast Sunday in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  For Fast Sunday we fast 2 meals (no food or dink) and give the money we save doing so to the Bishop (the leader of the local congregation).  This “offering” is used to help the poor in our Ward (congregation), or if not needed at that level it will be used to help the poor in a different area.  It is a wonderful part of the Lord’s plan!

Also on Fast Sunday we have a special Sacrament meeting.  Members are invited to go to the pulpit and bear (share) their testimonies.  When you are fasting there is often a special feeling you have, you feel closer to God, with a greater portion of His Holy Spirit in your heart.  Again, a wonderful part of Father’s plan.

As I listened to the testimonies that were being shared, I noticed those who were also in the foyer with me.  A young family, a couple sisters (ladies), a couple missionaries.  And after a time, members of the Ward who meet before us and were now leaving to go back home.  Lots of families, friends, children, and adults.

I realized I was watching life in that foyer.  We are a family-oriented church, so all are invited to Sacrament meeting.  Sometimes children get fussy and are taken out of the chapel to be calmed in the foyer.  Or people might arrive late and wait in the foyer for Sacrament meeting to end and to join in on the Sunday School, Priesthood, Relief Society, Young Men and Young Women, and Primary portions of the day.

I see that friends visit, teachers put last minute touches on their lessons, people make plans for the coming week, fathers play reverent finger games with toddlers, children sway with the music and learn to conduct, and babies learn to walk!

Ah, life is learned in the Church foyer!  🙂

Women’s Conference – Did You Catch It?

English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibb...

English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibbets (tibbets.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday was the women’s conference!  The General Relief Society meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Did you catch it?

I almost didn’t.  Well, almost didn’t get to the church to watch.  So I would have watched it at home on http://www.lds.org.  After waking up at 5:00am and not being able to go back to sleep, I had plenty of time to write about it.  You would think I also had plenty of time to prepare to go.

Well, luckily I got there with a few minutes to spare.  And to catch a quick bite to eat too.

The meeting was wonderful!  The choir was made up of the sister (lady) missionaries from the training center.  They looked so wonderful in their colorful blouses and dark skirts.  And they weren’t all the young 19-21 year olds.  I saw a few older women who are also now serving missions for the church.  They sounded beautiful!  The music is always a bonus at conferences.  And, they were all very nicely dressed, entirely appropriate.  You’ll never look at a sister missionary and have to ask if what she’s wearing is appropriate.  They are excellent examples of true womanhood and femininity.

The three members of the Relief Society General Presidency, Linda K. Burton, Carole M. Stephens, and Linda S. Reeves spoke.  Their messages were inspirational and enlightening!  They spoke about the importance of making and keeping covenants.  A covenant is a 2-way promise we make with Heavenly Father through the ordinances of the church.  We make certain promises, and He promises certain blessings in return.

They pointed out that as we reach out to others in love, or in concern, we are keeping the covenants we have made.  And we can teach our children that as they follow the feelings of their hearts and look to help their family or friends, especially during times of need, they are keeping the covenants they make when they are baptized at the age of 8.

Our beloved Prophet and President of the church, Thomas S. Monson, was the final speaker.  He has such great love for the sisters of the church throughout the world!  He appreciates the good that we do, our devotion, and our strength.  He spoke of his wife, who passed away a few months ago.  He misses her terribly.  “My beloved companion, my dearest friend” he called her.  Can you think of more tender feelings a man can have for his wife?  🙂  He also said it is impossible to calculate the good that has come because of the Relief Society organization.

He said we all have struggles, and sometimes fear replaces faith.  At these times remember prayer.  We were not placed here to walk alone.  God has assured us that He will be there to help us if we but ask.  Trust Him to know best how, when, where, and why to answer your prayers.  Pray and calmly wait.  And prayer is not just for times of need.  Pray always.

Also study the scriptures.  They contain the way to eternal perfection.   You will find answers to your questions in them.  You will gain a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father loves you.  That love never changes, not by your appearance, your possessions, how much money you have in the bank, your talents or abilities.  It is always there.  We do not ever walk alone.  One day you will look over your life and discover that during all the difficult times He was still there.  He prays that we will always be blessed with every good gift.

What a wonderful man he is!  And how wonderful to have a living prophet of God on the earth today.

It was a wonderful and inspirational meeting!  You can see it any time you want by going to http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/archive/general-relief-society-meeting/2013/09?cid=HPTH091213087&lang=eng (or just to http://www.lds.org and search for General Relief Society and find a list of all of them).

And let me know what you think about it!  🙂

And by the way, this next weekend is the semi-annual General Conference of the Church!  Four 2-hour sessions over 2 days filled with inspiration and hope!  Watch the same ways that the women’s conference was available!

Women’s Conference in 2 Days

Today I share with you my favorite talk from a women’s conference.  It was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd counselor in the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He is from Germany, and was the Stake President of the Frankfurt Stake while I served my mission in Darmstadt.  He is an amazing person!  I love his talks.  He is a spiritual giant.  He used to fly 747s, and he loves to compare flying to life.

But at this particular conference, he sought to comfort and strengthen the women in the Church.  His talk was entitled, “Happiness, Your Heritage”.  I love this talk because he gives advice on how women can find happiness – through creativity (creating something) and through service (doing something for someone else).  It is a true principle, and will bring happiness.

Here is his talk, given at the General Relief Society Meeting in September, 2008:

Happiness, Your Heritage

Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness.

My dear sisters, I am grateful for this, my first opportunity to speak to the women of the Church gathered together in all parts of the world. We are especially honored today with the presence of President Monson and President Eyring. The choir has touched our hearts. We have been inspired by the messages of Sister Thompson, Sister Allred, and Sister Beck.

Since learning that I would be with you today, I have thought about the many women who have shaped my life: my wonderful wife, Harriet; my mother; my mother-in-law; my sister; my daughter; my daughter-in-law; and many friends. All my life I have been surrounded by women who inspired, taught, and encouraged me. I am who I am today in large part because of these singular women. Each time I meet with the sisters of the Church, I sense that I am in the midst of similar remarkable souls. I am grateful to be here, grateful for your talents, compassion, and service. Most of all, I am grateful for who you are: treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but the differences between men and women can often be quite striking—physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. One of the best ways I can think of to illustrate this is in the way my wife and I cook a meal.

When Harriet prepares a meal, it’s a masterpiece. Her cuisine is as wide-ranging as the world, and she frequently prepares dishes from countries we have visited. The presentation of the food is awe inspiring. In fact, it often looks so beautiful that it seems a crime to eat it. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sense of taste.

But sure enough, no matter how perfect everything is, looks, and tastes, Harriet will apologize for something she thinks is imperfect. “I’m afraid I used a touch too much ginger,” she will say, or, “Next time, I think it would be better if I used a little more curry and one additional bay leaf.”

Let me contrast that with the way I cook. For the purpose of this talk, I asked Harriet to tell me what I cook best.

Her answer: fried eggs.

Sunny-side up.

But that isn’t all. I have a specialty dish called Knusperchen. The name may sound like a delicacy you might find at an exclusive restaurant. Let me share with you how to make it. You cut French bread into small slices and toast them twice.

That is the recipe!

So, between fried eggs, even when they are greasy, and Knusperchen, even when they are burned, when I cook, I feel pretty heroic.

Perhaps this contrast between my wife and me is a slight exaggeration, but it illustrates something that may extend beyond preparing meals.

To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are.

Perhaps you recognize this trait in someone you know really well.

The good news is that this also points to an admirable quality: the innate desire to please the Lord to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, it can also lead to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness.

To All Who Are Weary

Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.

I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.

I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.

These things are not insignificant.

However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.

God’s Happiness

Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.

This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?

This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.” 1

Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children” 2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 3

Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate.

The Work of Creation

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”

If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.

But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. 4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.

If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. 5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.” 6

The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.

Being Compassionate

Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” 7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” 8

When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.

As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.” 9

President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.

President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.” 10

In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.

An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord

I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” 11 Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need.

There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do.

One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that “you are … surrounded by opportunities for service. … Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.” 12 Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you.

You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” 13

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.


My dear sisters, I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good.14 I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love. 15 Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment.

As spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage.

You are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you.

Of this I testify, and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  1. Isaiah 55:9.
  2. 1 Nephi 11:17.
  3. Moses 1:39.
  4. See 2 Nephi 2:25.
  5. See D&C 46:11–12.
  6. Brigham Young, Deseret News, Aug. 8, 1860, 177.
  7. D&C 81:5.
  8. Mosiah 18:9.
  9. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 254.
  10. Lorenzo Snow, in Conference Report, Apr. 1899, 2–3.
  11.  J. M. Barrie, A Window in Thrums (1917), 137.
  12. Thomas S. Monson, “Three Goals to Guide You,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2007, 120.
  13. Matthew 23:11.
  14. See D&C 90:24
  15. See D&C 6:20.

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