Tribulations contemplated….

An excerpt of an e-mail with friends about tribulation and the different ways people deal with it.

After thinking about excommunicated Bishop Young, your Steve, and Uncle (that is what I will call him, your friend’s uncle) this is what I have come up with.  I think I hinted at some of it.

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father.  And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Ne 2:12).

People murmur because they know not God.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (Philip 2:14).

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; belessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:21-22).

The Lord gives, and he takes away.  Nowhere am I aware that the promise is given that our family will not wander.  It is not given that they have not their agency or the natural course of events don’t take place.  All people get sick, all have sufferings, all have difficulties; no matter how faithful they are.  Look at Christ, look at Joseph Smith, look at Joseph of old, look at Job, and the list goes on.

So I have been thinking about this quite a bit, obviously as I e-mailed you about it.

“And when the people complained it displeased the Lord; and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Num 11:1).

In reading the whole eleventh chapter of Numbers I think of these people I know.  They want meat, they want water, they want this, and they want that.  It just never is good enough for them.  Then when something goes wrong, they are the first ones to point a finger.  It doesn’t seem like it is God to me.  Seems like it is the person.  I mean, we are talking of Israel here, keeping the law of Moses here and very strict.  Even they in the midst of obedience seems to have something awry and still struggle.

I have come to personally believe that being righteous does not remove bad things from happening.  It in a sense takes you above the low, mean, and doggerel.  It gives the buena vista, the grand picture.  Bad things still happen.  Not that I am righteous by any means, but look at my life.  Look at my family.  Not that we are saints, but we are no more sinners than the rest, but we have our share of woes.  Don’t we all.  It is all how we view them.  Do we live by faith?

If we don’t know or understand the Lord’s way, then we complain and murmur.  It is just a given.  When we seek the Lord and his ways, then we live by the comforter, and knowing all will workout.  Peace innervates our lives.

This hit home tonight in reading the scriptures.  “His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.  From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.  For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.  Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”

So, those who are faithful and serve God, they will have their reward, and will be filled with peace and light.  What is more is how the Lord continues.  “And to them shall I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.  Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.  And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.  For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:3-10).

I think that is easily applicable to Bishop Young, Brother Steve, and Uncle.  Those who are faithful and serve God (faithful and serve!) will be filled with peace and light.  They will know the mysteries, and I think that includes the mysteries of their family.  FOR MANY GENERATIONS, their wisdom shall be great.

Remember, those who know the dealings of that God who created them will not murmur.  So, if they were living the above, not only would they know concerning their family, but they would know the mysteries of God and not be murmuring and complaining to begin with.  Their family’s apostasy/inadequacies would be viewed in the proper perspective.

What is more, don’t forget this promise, “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance” (Alma 26:22).

It seems to me that if we are faithful, repenting, and praying continually without ceasing, our family would not go astray.  However, if they did, we would have the mysteries revealed unto us, at least that all would be well and we are doing what we can.

Divorces take two, so it may not have been his fault he was divorced.  It may not have been his fault that his children divorced.  But if he really had a burning testimony, his covenants would have kept him from leaving the church.  Perhaps this was his trial to test his faith.  “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son” (D&C 101:4).  It seems Uncle lost his chastening and trying, for when he came to offer up his family on the altar, he fell away into forbidden paths and was lost.

I am surprised how many people seem to be outwardly doing what they are supposed to, but then don’t do the basics.  Like the whole praying and scripture study.  “They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble” (D&C 101:7).

Your friend recited off his accomplishments like they were credits to be raked in for the redemption when needed.  That is not the way it works.  It is what we become, not what we have done.  The Lord tests us when we have nothing to rest on.  The church exacerbated the problems, that shows he and her family were not viewing this with an eye to faith.  Doesn’t matter which church for that matter.  “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:3).  He seems a little frustrated in his work, who was he working for?  If he was working for God, he obviously wasn’t in constant communication otherwise he would have known for what purpose, or that this was the Lord’s purpose.  How narrow sighted to blame the loss of his own eternity on the church or his family.  The Lord giveth and he taketh away.  The promise is that we may have these things in eternity, I know nowhere the promise is that we have the promise to keep them while in this life.  “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt 19:29).  We have to be willing to give them all up at any time.

So, now that I have thoroughly torn the person apart, what does an outsider say?  Well this seems the given of missionary work.  What do we say to anyone anywhere?  “And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.  And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:30-31).  “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.  Amen” (D&C 15:6).

Why is it that we feel we have to convince people of the truth?  Why do we feel we need to coax people into repentance?  Isn’t that the Spirit’s job?  Aren’t we to work by the patterns of the spirit?  Just tell it like it is?  He needs to repent and come back to the Savior.  Back to the Lord’s supper table, the Sacrament.  He needs to return and keep the covenants he made, or make them.  He needs to believe the gospel and walk in its light.  Who cares if his wife and family go to hell.  That is their choice.  We can only do so much.  We can warn them and carry the spirit to them as well.  That is between the Lord and them.

“Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.  Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 29:4-5).  We are to raise our voice and declare it.  How many missionaries ruined a convert by trying to convince them?  Get the Spirit to manifest to them, then you have got something.  Then the fun things happen.  “If it be some other way it is not of God”

Anyhow, it seems obvious what it is we must do.  Live and continue to be examples of the Savior.  That is it.  The issue is on his side.  The church, the prophets, the scriptures, the word (Spirit, revelation, even Christ) have been neglected in these individual’s lives.  “And all they who receive the oracles (this is more than just a person, it is the instruments, the wisdom, the whole apparatus of the church) of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house (and the family in the house)” (D&C 90:5).

Let our friends be our lesson.  Let us learn from their example.  Let us do what they have not done, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness, shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

“Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering out of the hands of their enemies (which he has promised to some extent); softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.  And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him” (Hel 12:2-3).

Not so much that the difficulties don’t come and go, but more our recognition of their passing.  Are we Teflon individuals spiritually, or do they increase and increase our drag until we fall to the earth from our lofty spheres of flying with angels?  The rugged terrain is always there, just how we endure it.

So what must we all do?  Live the gospel.  Read daily.  Pray morning, noon, and night.  Attend our church meetings.  Keep the Sabbath.  Maintain and keep the Spirit.

The old cry comes up incessantly, “it is so hard to do!”  Well, as long as we are that weak in faith, that is how long we will continue with the struggles and not have the mysteries continually lain before our eyes.  It is our decision.

One last thought that just popped in.  Uncle needs to be careful that he is doing his part with the Lord, and not just leaving the rest to family, friends, and ward members.  Perhaps part of the problem is he left the Lord out too much in his dealings.  “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; and enquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (1 Chr 10:13-14).

We must be careful we do not do the same thing.  We can discuss this all the day long, but we must make sure we are keeping the word of the Lord, and seeking our counsel first to the Lord.  Then to our friends.  This applies to us, and to Uncle.

Good night.

27 Aug Talk

Since there are those who wish to know about the talk on Sunday, here you go. This is the outline of quotes I had on Saturday night. I completely reordered and changed emphasis of the talk after Sunday morning prayers. I used the scripture, Jacob 4:6-8, for the scripture and about continuing revelation. The power that comes to us through the word. That power is to be used in the mission of the church, including the three part break down of that mission, and then moved into the role that priesthood has in it. So hand in hand, I only gave 1/3 of what is here in the outline, and it was by no means all at the beginning. Due to time constraints, at about the 20 minute mark I was only getting into the priesthood part, and had to end. So, I really only spoke about faith, power, and the mission of the church, with a few hints at the role of the priesthood, but by no means whatsoever doing it justice. In fact, I don’t feel I even tied in the priesthood because of my trying to insert it and end. Throughout the talk I emphasized parts of Jacob 4:6-8 (which was quite powerful because I had it memorized) and finished with it as well.Perfecting the Saints/Priesthood

D&C 19:31-32 “And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but hou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost. Behold, this is a great and the last commandment which I shall give unto you concerning this matter, for this shall suffice for thy daily walk, even unto the end of thy life.”

D&C 6:9 “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.”

D&C 15:6 “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.”

D&C 19:4 “And surely every man (or woman) must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.”

D&C 29:49 “And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?”

President Ezra Taft Benson, “The grand mission of the church is accomplished by proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead”

Often wondered, can one be done with the exclusion of another? These are all parts of the mission to bring souls to Christ. We cannot achieve the whole, without doing all the parts.

James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

D&C 50:28 “But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin. And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.”

President Brigham Young: Some of you may ask, is there a single ordinance to be dispensed with? Is there one of the commandments that God has enjoined upon the people, that he will excuse them from obeying? Not one, no matter how trifling or small in our own estimation. No matter if we esteem them non-essential, or least or last of all the commandments of the house of God, we under obligation to observe them.

All parts of the mission of the church are constantly before us.

President Brigham Young: I never passed John Wesley’s church in London without stopping to look at it. Was he a good man? Yes, I suppose him to have been, by all accounts, as good as ever walked on this earth, according to this knowledge. Has he obtained a rest? Yes, and greater than ever entered his mind to expect, and so have thousands of others of the various religious denominations. Why could he not build up the kingdom of God on the earth? He had not the Priesthood; that was all the difficulty he labored under. Had the Priesthood been conferred upon him, he would have built up the kingdom of God in his day as it is now being built up. He would have introduced the ordinances, powers, grades, and quorums of the Priesthood. But, not holding the Priesthood, he could not do it (JD 7:5)

What is the Priesthood? Power of God given to man? What does that mean?

D&C 84:33, 35-39 “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.”

When we receive this priesthood, we also receive the father’s kingdom, which means we receive his work. If we do not his work, we receive not his kingdom. The work of God is to bring the power of the atonement into the lives of his children.

President Joseph Smith: God imself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.

President Gordon B. Hinckley: The cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth. If we are to build that Zion of which the prophets have spoken and of which the Lord has given mighty promise, we must set aside our consuming selfishness. We must rise above our love for comfort and ease, and in the very process of effort and struggle, even in our extremity, we shall become better acquainted with our God.

We need to be humble!

President Ezra Taft Benson: God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.

We need to put first things first!

President Brigham Young: Stop! Wait! When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food…bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this?…this is the counsel I have for the Latter-day Saints today. Stop! Do not be in a hurry…you are in too much of a hurry, you do not go to meeting enough, you do not read the scriptures enough, you do not meditate enough, you are all the time on the wing, and in such a hurry that you do not know what to do first…Let me reduce this to a simple saying, one of the most simple and homely that can be used ‘keep your dish right side up’ so that when the shower of porridge does come you can catch your dish full.”

We need to learn our duty!

President Joseph F. Smith: We expect to see the day, if we live long enough,…when every council of the Priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will understand its duty, will assume its own responsibility,…to the uttermost, according to the intelligence and ability possessed by it. When that day shall come there will not be so much necessity for work that is now being done by the auxiliary organizations, because it will be done by the regular quorums of the Priesthood. The Lord designed and comprehended it from the beginning, and He has made every provision in the Church whereby every need may be met and satisfied through the regular organizations of the Priesthood (CR, Apr 1906, 3).

We need to have the Spirit!

(Feb 1847) President Joseph Smith to President Brigham Young: Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you how to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other Spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right.

We need to accept our callings!

President Brigham Young: Do you suppose that after a man has refused to fulfill his calling, he can maintain the Spirit of truth and stand? He cannot? They say they believe Joseph Smith was a prophet raised up to establish the work of the last days, and bring forth the Book of Mormon, and thus they deceived.

We need to recognize our Priesthood leaders and have a testimony of them!

President Brigham Young: I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way? Let every man and woman, know by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates or not (JD 9:150).

The Priesthood holds the power of eternity!

President Joseph Fielding Smith: There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith…no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God (DoS, v1, pg 180).

President Brigham Young: No man or woman in the dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith Junior as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are (JD 7:289).

President Brigham Young: Madam, I have this day examined the records of baptisms for the remission of sins in the church of Jesus Chrsit of Latter-day Saints, and not being able to find the name of Elizabeth Green recorded therein, I was saved the necessity of erasing your name therefrom. You may therefore consider your sins have not been remitted you and you may consequently enjoy the benefits therefrom.

President Harold B. Lee: Now…remember, that the most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you will do within the walls of your own home. Home teaching, bishopric’s work, and other Church duties are all important, but the most important work is within the walls of your home (Strengthening the Home movie text, pg 7)

President Hugh B. Brown: The very foundation of the kingdom of God, of righteousness, of progress, of development, of eternal life, and eternal increase in the kingdom of God is laid in the divinely ordained home (CR, 2 Oct 1966, pg 103-4).

Our family is formally extended through the duty of the Priesthood, not a calling, of home teaching!

President Harold B. Lee: Maybe the home teacher should be charged more clearly to describe his mission to watch over and to strengthen to see that members do their duty…They think themselves as teachers of the Gospel message only. Maybe we ought to be calling them home guardians or sentinels and to report their stewardship to the fathers of the ward. We must do something to change the emphasis from teaching to guardians, ‘watching over the church kind of concept.’ Until we get that into our minds, we are not going to do the kind of home teaching that is going to get results.

Spencer W. Kimball: Is it any wonder that the organization and work of the Church and its priesthood in this day are patterned after the keys it possesses? We are a missionary Church, participating to the fullest possible extent in the gathering of Israel. We are a Church founded upon families; a Church that takes care of its own, stressing the economic, intellectual, and spiritual development of its families and individual members in preparation for salvation in the kingdom of heaven. And we are a Church that is actively engaged in temple and genealogy work for ourselves and for the infinite numbers of our Father’s children who have the promise, but not as yet the opportunity, for the ordinances of salvation. This is a work that makes even more meaningful the great corresponding missionary work being carried out in the spirit world. (Ensign, Jan 1977, 3)

Traveling to Virginia Day #3

Yep, another day on the travel route ending in Virginia.
This morning we arose at the home of Joseph and Alyson Shepperd, but we were alone.  Now if you want to know kindness, they gave up their bed and slept on cushions on the living room floor for us.  If that is not sacrifice for your brother I do not know what is.  That is true religion! 
When we awoke, they had already left for work.  We were tired enough that we slept in until about 9:30.  We arose and got ready for the day and finally headed out a little after 10:00.
We made our way to Liberty, Missouri which was near.  We paid a visit to the Liberty Jail and went through the visitors center there.  It was a good tour and then we watched the new Joseph Smith movie.  It was very, very good.  I was really moved by it.  What it especially powerful is parts of the film that are depicted, we were actually on site.  It was moving to realize you were
only feet away from where the actual events occurred. 
After Liberty we headed off to the temple site at Independence, Missouri.  I have to admit, I like attending the spot, but I have never cared much for the visitor centers there.  The Community of Christ visitor centers are hollow, and it seems like the LDS one’s cover only superficially, or skirt around what is really there.  While I have great respect for the site, I just feel that nothing
is really worthy of the site that is currently present.  Perhaps someday.  I surely hope so.
We took Noland road out, hopped back on I-70 and headed south to Branson.  We stopped, ate, picked up some fuel, shopped for souvenirs and headed the rest of the way.  For some reason or another I felt really tense and really wanted to get to our destination, especially where it was so close. 
Passing near Collins, Missouri I started watching out for the road to get to my cousin’s home.  I knew it was in Humansville (actually Arnica) and should visit.  Well, I took M, when I should have taken N, and ended up 20 miles off the mark.  For nearly 3 hours we searched before we finally found my families home.  When I did find a signal to call, I phoned Bryan, Amanda’s Dad, to ask for direction.  He told us we were supposed to be going off of N rather than M, so we backtracked and headed off that direction.  But before he could have mentioned AA to me, if he would have, we lost our signal.  So we wandered for a long time before we figured out we also needed AA.  When I finally found what was familiar, then we got lost in the maze of roads on their property!  Ugh.  By the time we were there, the sun was getting closer to setting so now I was antsy to get going so we could get out of the country before having to wander all night.   Nonetheless, Tammy was taking her family to Stockton for fireworks so we were able to follow her out. 
We ended up showing at Branson a several hours late.  Jason and Mara Hughes still had the chili on for us and we enjoyed a meal with them.  We ate and visited until about midnight thirty.  We then headed off to Andy and Becky Hughes house to stay the night.  We stayed up and visited with them until 2:00 AM about everything from birth control the Liken the Scripture movies and people we know in them.  Funny where people you know end up.
Anyhow, it is time to crash for the day.  Tomorrow (now today) is our day of rest.

Updates

Sorry, I have not been on for a little.  The internet at our house has been a bit hit and miss.  Since we free load from the neighbors, I have nothing to complain about.  Our other neighbors had a really good signal, but then they moved.  So now we rely on a much weaker signal.  I have decided that someday when I get wireless, I will not put on a password so others may use it as well.  I don’t see why people want to keep it locked up anyway.  Not like we are hurting for speed or anything.
Well, as for the update on life.  Things are going well.  I have started working for my Uncle Larry in Preston again spraying lawns.  I am doing it on Saturdays.  I have very much enjoyed it in the past, and once again am doing so.  I sprayed the last two weekends, and look forward to this weekend.  It is good to be out with the people, in such a beautiful place.  The valley where Malad, Grace, and Preston (I know this one is Cache Valley) are all so beautiful.  Plus the people in general are the salt of the earth.  Who could ask for more than that.  While I am looking at going to law school, I find myself second guessing.  Why not just move back to Preston and be content there?  But then the reminder comes, gain as much education as you can.  So, why not.  I can get my law degree, head back home to Idaho, and work the spraying business a day a week or so.  Who knows.
I have to admit, it is such a great time to think and ponder.  I stopped at Red Rock Pass, near Oxford, on the way back to Preston the other day.  It is a favorite spot of mine.  I visited the little cemetery out back, and there is Jefferson Hunt buried.  He has gone like every other man, but he did something noble with his life.  Yes, he has credits enough to have me know his name as a founder and builder, but he was a good man.  Funny how his posterity would come to personally bless my life.  Senator Smith is a descendent of his.  Yet, this great man, spiritual and societal, lies in the earth, in a very humble location.  In the middle of nowhere, not even a maintained cemetery.  Somehow, I find that inspiring.  I also visited my great grandparents graves at Whitney, and there lies a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of God.  Even the prophets are laid low in the earth.  This man, Ezra Taft Benson, also was a well known man for his role as Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower.  There are other great men who were well known in their generation, who are now buried in those cemeteries, even amongst the most humble of others.  They lay right beside them.  Yet, these men left an influence.  Jefferson Hunt will be remembered by his posterity for his efforts and example.  President Benson’s influence is great, and will never cease because of his noble willingness to follow the Lord.  I have been the grave of many great men, but their name is almost forgotten, and continues to diminish.  But those who are righteous will never be lost.  Their influence will only increase.  Some greater than others, but as one star differeth from another….
Well, I love life.  Amanda and I are exceedingly blessed.  I pray it will continue.
I will make a last comment.  I have been reading Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman.  While I am very impressed with his scholar capacity, and his great time, I will admit there are some serious errors in the book.  He has written of Joseph Smith and has diminished him.  I will have to write more on this later.  I have some quotes by Brigham that bite Brother Bushman and his perspective of Joseph.  When I have them with me, I will share them.

February’s ending

Life continues to go on.  Things are going very well here in Provo, Utah.  Amanda and I are enjoying life and keeping busy.  I am working full time at Meier and Frank and enjoying my time there.  I look forward to each day and every day is different.  Amanda has just switched from DownEast Outfitters to Dillards.  I agree with many things at Dillards but admit we are much more human at Meier and Frank.  Macy’s Regional Representatives visited the store yesterday and they were very kind, willing to listen, and easy to get along with.  It was an enjoyable experience.  Things are laid back and good at M&F.  Dillards has this rule that if you are tardy 8 times in 6 months, you are fired.  Ouch!  Aren’t we humans? not machines?  Amanda keeps busy with school.  She had a chemistry test today that she was not very excited about.  On the way home, she doesn’t feel she did very well.  I am continuing with my LSAT Course.  I am feeling more confident in the possibilities with the test, but still am not showing the improvements I would like to see.  Soon enough, I hope.  We finished Numbers just a day or two ago.  We are now reading on in Deuteronomy, which is one of my favorite books of the entire Bible.  I love how personable Moses is and feel like I am sitting in a General Conference talk with it.  We are ahead of the reading for Sunday School, but will lose ground as the year goes on.  We will finish in November, but at some points will even be behind where the Gospel Doctrine class is.  Oh well.  Tonight we finish 2 Nephi.  We will finish the Book of Mormon in September.  It will be good to finish that early.  We will have an opportunity to read some other books that we agree on.  I would like to read the history of Joseph Smith by his mother together.  We will see what books Amanda has in mind.  Jesus the Christ sounds good, or Articles of Faith, or perhaps some of the manuals for Priesthood/Relief Society.
Anyhow, I am rambling on about what is happening in life.  Thought you would all like to know a few things and what is going on in my head and with Amanda.
One question that I am researching lately is this.  In a conversation with a friend, we had talked about capital punishment and the comment was brought up, “That is part of the Mosaic Law” and no longer applies.  Ringing in my mind was the line about the savior fulfilling, not destroying or removing.  The whole law was to point us to Christ, so is it all bad.  Is the entire Spirit of the Law void?  I do not believe so.  It seems to me that if the Mosaic Law were all void and null, then the 10 commandments would not have been repeated over and over in every other book of scripture.  Other than their performances and ordinances, it seems that it all still applies.  I keep reading and wondering.  That is one thing I am pondering about.  We shall see.  If it is still applicable, then that changes my view of government in a couple of ways.  The setup and functioning of government is changed in some ways.  It does not change or alter anything in the church, in fact, to me it seems to fortify it a great number of times.  I believe the Book of Mormon is vital to the church, but I believe the same of the Bible.  One is a restoration scripture, and vital to our times, but the other is vital to providing background and foundation on which the Book of Mormon builds.  Knowing and reading the Old Testament fortifies the teachings and application of the Book of Mormon.  Anyhow, this is one current subject of learning.
Lately I have also been wondering about family history.  There are many aspects of it that seem to strike me a little more forcefully.  Especially as I stumbled upon several albums which belonged to my Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother.  It has been very revealing.  It is amazing the power of a picture.  I have gone around and visited a load of family members, especially older members, to find out who some of the photos are.  There are probably two dozen photos which nobody is old enough to recognize.  Which I find is really sad.  These are interesting photos.  I have gone through and scanned all of them and have been e-mailing them out to family members.  I hope they are valuing what I am sending.  I may at some later point when I am done with them, post them all here on the blog.  We will see.  There are quite a few and it may take too much time.  We will see.
Well, I have to be going.  Life is great.  We are very abundantly blessed.  We are very fortunate.  I hope it continues.  Oh, Amanda has been accepted to University of Maryland-Baltimore.  We await word from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Also, Amanda and I have accepted a calling to team teach in primary.  The 5-6 years old if I remember right.

Ask and ye shall receive…

Ask and ye shall receive, perhaps not at that moment, perhaps later, but you will always receive the intentions of your hearts.

Well, here is a story of such.  To cut the extra details, one day the interns had Soda with the Senator.  We all were able to ask one question, and then we were to have like a general overall question.  Nobody came up with the biggie, so I proposed one we had all talked about.  Let’s ask the Senator if he will arrange for us to go up inside the dome of the United States Capitol.  Well, we went into the meeting, and I got in a bit of trouble, but I asked it.  I was in trouble because we found out the Member of Congress has to do it themselves.  This would be a scheduling nightmare for the Senator.  Well, we all understood and went our ways.

Well, the time for our internship was winding down.  On the Thursday before I was to come home, the Senator asked me to escort him to the floor.  We walked along, he gave me a Christmas present, and gave me some advice.  The advice came from his personal experience as a husband, and also from his experience as a Bishop.  He then with excitement announced that he had arranged that he could take us into the dome of the Capitol.  It would be the next day at three PM.  Well, obviously I was excited, but it just so happened, that I was leaving the next day.  I informed him of this and he said he was most sorry.  He had made this happen mostly for me and that he was sorry he waited too long.

Well, let me tell you, the office was excited.  The lowly intern, asked an unaskable question, and they were now benefiting.  They promised to think of me, they promised to take pictures of the expedition.  You will notice that there are some new photos in the ‘Leaving DC’ gallery.  That is what those photos are containing.  The staff’s pictures of the Senator’s personal tour of the Capitol Dome!  Enjoy them.  There is a classic of looking down into the Capitol Rotunda.  There are pictures that include the Senator.  Enjoy.

There is a little more to the story.  The next day, I am filling out a marriage application in the Salt Lake City Clerk’s office.  My phone rings.  On the other end, I hear Gavin Bruce announce he was speaking to me from the top of the United States Capitol Dome overlooking the city.  In the background Senator Smith bellows, ‘Wish you were here Paul’.  I was so completely jealous.  Greg, Gavin, Steve, and others all sent emails afterward thanking me.  Apparently the Senator at every high point in the tour commented something like, ‘I think Paul would have enjoyed this’.  Oh well.  As they were telling it to me in the Clerk’s office, Amanda caught my attention and pointed out a sign that said thank you for not using cell phones.  The folks to our side looked like they would appreciate my obedience.  I finished our conversation, and again felt left out of the chance of a lifetime!

I want to say here, that I hope someday, somehow, I will again have the chance to ascend to the top of one of our country’s most prized possessions.  A place that only 535 people have permission to go, a few caretakers, a few construction workers and cleaners, and those who are personally escorted by one of those people.  Someday……..

The Approach

Everyone keeps asking me if I am nervous and anxious about what is coming.  Well, honestly, much to everyone’s dismay, I am completely calm about all of this.  I am reminded of the classic Smith saying, I am as calm as a summer’s morning.  Now, that does not include the preceding sentence about being a lamb going to the slaughter.  Some might say that, but I most surely do not.  It must be admitted that my still being here in Washington DC and not seeing anything leading up to it might be helping.  We are within a week.  I feel no apprehension at all.
On another note, yesterday I walked out of the elevator reading a letter and accidentally ran into a man.  He fell backwards and against the wall.  I apologized and helped him into the elevator.  It was only as I walked down the hall I realized it was Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.  It made me feel bad.
I will definitely miss Washington DC.  It is such a beautiful city.  I imagine the feeling here is like the first visitors would have been to Rome, London, Paris, or some of the other ancient magnificent cities.  Plus there is a certain ability to keep learning here that I enjoy.  Many other jobs are not so requiring on a person to continue to learn.