10 November 2019

Remembering Him Daily

This is the talk I gave today in our stake conference:


Good morning my dear brothers and sisters; it is a joy to be with you as a congregation of disciples of Jesus Christ. He said that when two or more are gathered together, he is in the midst of us. It’s especially nice today to be with a larger crowd than I normally am with. There is strength in numbers!  I pray that we will feel His presence and be taught by the Holy Ghost.

We are a covenant making and keeping people. We make covenants at baptism and renew those covenants each time we worthily partake of the Sacrament. We make more covenants in the temple and remember them each time we participate again in those ordinances on behalf of someone else.

Does making and keeping covenants show in our appearance? Missionaries of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ are recognizable the world over by their black name tags. What about the rest of us? Without the distinctive black name tags is it easy to recognize us as followers of the Savior?   

As covenant disciples of Christ we should look different, act different, and be different from the world. We are called to be a peculiar, meaning special, exceptional, or set apart, people of God.

That we are followers of Christ should be obvious from the way we speak, interact with clerks, waiters, or others around us, the way we drive, the way we work, the way we share and volunteer, the way we dress, and the entertainment we choose. We should be known as courteous, thoughtful, kind, helpful, obedient to laws, generous, honest, modest, and virtuous because we have taken upon us His name and covenanted to remember Him always.

In the October 2017 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson said:
“There is nothing easy or automatic about becoming such powerful disciples. Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought.”

So how can we do it? Primary children sing, “If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?” Perhaps we all need to sing that regularly, and imagine the Savior with us, watching our actions and hearing our words.

A popular question in Christian circles, when facing a situation or need, is: What would Jesus do? Frankly, that question makes me uncomfortable because I can’t do what Jesus did. I don’t have the ability to read minds and hearts; I don’t have the power to heal all manner of sicknesses, and I don’t have the authority to raise the dead.

No, the question I’d rather ask myself is: “What has Jesus asked me to do?” He has asked me to treat others the way I want to be treated.

Am I courteous to other drivers? Am I patient behind the fumbling person at the checkout counter? Am I cheerful and kind to the clerk in the store? Am I helpful to the parent maneuvering a stroller through a heavy door? Am I focused when listening to the prattle of little children? Do I give the benefit of a doubt to the person who hurts my feelings? Do I share my time, talents or resources without grumbling? Do I forget my tiredness and go anyway? Do I sacrifice my desires so I can serve another? It is in these and many other small ways that we remember the Savior in our daily life and show that we are trying to be like Jesus.

The Sunday School answers to the question, How can I remember Jesus daily? are exactly right. Pray, study the scriptures, and the teachings of the modern prophets and apostles, attend church, serve in my calling, minister to others. We don’t just “go to church” we live the gospel! Each day, every day.

In one of Elder David A. Bednar’s early general conference talks he told the Parable of the Pickle. Do you remember? One of the steps in transforming a cucumber into a pickle is to be immersed and saturated in a brine for a specific amount of time. He likened this to our being immersed and saturated in the gospel, being fully active and participating.

“And after we come out of the waters of baptism, our souls need to be continuously immersed in and saturated with the truth and the light of the Savior’s gospel. Sporadic and shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity.         (April 2007)

When we decide to skip meetings or activities, or we leave church early, we miss out on the strengthening and sustaining power of being with fellow saints; learning together, testifying and teaching each other, and building strong relationships with each other. It’s like pulling your phone off the charging cord when it’s at 50%. It just won’t last as long. Our spiritual battery might not last the full week either. Especially in areas where we are geographically separated we need regular time together to strengthen each other. You never know when a comment or testimony you share in the Sunday School class, Priesthood quorums or Relief Society, Young Women or Primary may be the very thing that blesses another who is struggling and needs a boost.

We remember Him when we are obedient to the commandments found in the scriptures, and to the invitations given at General Conference through modern prophets and apostles.

We remember Him when we sacrifice our worldly desires and appetites to make room for the sacred and eternal.

We remember Him when we live the Gospel by exercising faith in Him, Jesus Christ, repenting daily of our sins, then after being baptized, partaking of the sacrament weekly to renew our covenants, and by living worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost who will reveal the truth of all things to us.

We remember Him by staying morally clean, pure in thought and deed; being different from the world in our dress, our actions, and even our thoughts.

We remember Him by consecrating our time, talents, and resources to the building of His Kingdom; choosing to spend more time in the scriptures and church magazines, and less time on social media; more time in the temple and less time watching sports or other tv; more time ministering to the needs of others and less time collecting and caring for the vain things of this world.

Helaman counseled his sons:
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail. (Helaman 5:12)

Brothers and sisters, I testify that we can build our lives on the rock of our Redeemer, and as we choose to do so each day of our life, we can be strengthened and transformed to be like Him. He lives! He loves us! He will help us every step of the way.

In His holy name, Jesus Christ, amen.

28 February 2019

Notebook Tidbit

From the notebook 30 October 2016:

Teaching true doctrine is like serving a thick delicious sandwich--there are layers; it is filling to those who partake, and it's nutritious. Unlike a "twinkie" or other fake food.

21 February 2019

Part of the Sunday School Lesson I Didn't Get to Give

A big snowstorm passed through Minnesota on Sunday and our little branch cancelled church. We drove north and attended with our daughter at her ward. 

This is just an insight I gained as I pondered the lesson material, but didn't get to share with any class.


We must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God

ASK – What happens when we are “born again”?

Let’s compare a new born baby and a new born Christian.

A baby learns to walk and talk like his parents.
A Christian learns to walk and talk like Jesus

How do babies learn to walk?
They crawl, scoot, walk with assistance, then walk alone. They fall down a lot! But they never give up, they watch others and believe (have faith) that they can walk too.

How do babies learn to talk?
By listening, imitating, trying, making lots of mistakes; listening some more and never giving up.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was referring to when he commanded us to become like little children in learning to become like Him. We must keep trying and never give up; we must keep watching Him and listening to Him (by studying the scriptures and words of modern prophets), and imitating Him until His ways are internalized and become utterly effortless and natural to us.

04 February 2019

Another Nugget

From the notebook:

25 September 2016
It takes more and more to feel the thrill of an adrenaline rush; on the other hand, as we become more spiritual, it takes less and less to feel the joy of the Spirit. 


Which reminds me of something I heard while serving a mission.

"Physical anticipation is almost always greater than physical realization; spiritual realization is almost always greater than spiritual anticipation." (From a cassette tape titled '24 Hour Missionary')

01 February 2019

As We Prepare for Testimony Meeting

From the Notebook:

7 February 2016
Can we hear some testimonies instead of storymonies, health reports, lectures, talks, etc.?
We need to be strengthened by strong, firm witnesses of the truth!