Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Greatest Among You

To be a good leader, we must serve those we lead.

But he that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.
Matthew 23:11

It was really interesting reading these verses where Jesus is talking about how the scribes and Pharisees are so outward in their religious practices. They do things “to be seen of men” (vs. 5).

In studying for my Business Management degree, and learning how business is changing, the huge leadership buzzword is “servant leadership.” Gone are the days of the iron-fisted leader who strikes fear in the hearts of all employees; who is more concerned about their reputation and financial gain than the good of the company or the employees.

Today, think about companies like Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, etc. Outwardly Christian companies who value their employees and the communities they serve.

Something else this made me think about is how messed up politics is right now.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if our government officials behaved as servants to the people –in the way they are actually supposed to be?

Christ warns us that we need to be more worried about what is in our heart when we do things and to serve and bless our fellow man. We will gain rewards in heaven. Whereas, if we seek the approval and accolades of man, that will be our reward.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jesus Wept

In John 11, the story of Lazarus, Jesus knew what was happening – Lazarus was gravely ill. When Mary and Martha sent for him, he said “This sickness is not unto death, but the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

Jesus knew Lazarus would die. 

He knew he would raise him from the dead to glorify God. 

But we see that even knowing this, he still groaned within himself and wept. This shows what a tender, kindhearted man Jesus was. He knew, but still had compassion and love for the situation at hand.

There are many times when we ‘know’ what is happening and pass things off in a logistical sort of way. It would have been totally appropriate for him to come up to Lazarus' tomb and just perform his miracle, knowing there was no need to mourn his death. 

Why mourn a death that was about to be undone? 

This teaches me that we can take time and have compassion for situations and circumstances that may seem to not really need it. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Do You Importune?

Ask, seek, and knock. (Luke 11:9-10) 

We have all heard these verses a hundred times. I learned something interesting studying the parable in verses 5-8, when the neighbor, because of his “importunity” was able to wake his friend.

Importunity – the active verb importune means “to request with urgency; to press with solicitation; to urge with frequent or unceasing application.” …

God wants us to pray, plead, implore, and importune – specifically, frequently, and sincerely. …

Don’t give up or despair, keep asking. …

Joseph Smith said:Come to God [and] weary him until he blesses you.”[1]

I never thought it would be a good thing to “importune” the Lord with things that I wanted. I guess I likened it to a pleading, whiney child, begging until they wear down the parent who caves merely






Unlike weary parents, God won’t give in and give us whatever we ask for, however, he will bless us with what he sees fit to bless us with.

If you look at the JST* on vs. 5, it says “And he said unto them, Your heavenly Father will not fail to give unto you whatever ye ask of him.”

Importune your Father in Heaven. 

He will bless you.

[1] Ogden, Skinner, Verse By Verse The New Testament, pp 388-389

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Making Faith a Choice

In my continued study of faith, I read a talk by Neil L. Anderson called Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice

I was drawn to this talk because of the concept that in my journey to gain more faith, I can be, as Elder Bednar says, an agent “to act and not merely be acted upon.”[1]

Elder Anderson says that “faith does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright.” This is wonderful. Everyone has the same opportunity to develop faith.

“Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it.
Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker.”

These two sentences hold so many keys to gaining and keeping faith throughout our lives.

1.     It is a gift from heaven
2.     It comes as we chose to believe
3.     It comes as we seek it
4.     It comes as we  hold on to it
5.     It is either growing stronger or becoming weaker

Elder Anderson gives keys to increasing faith, or helping it to grow stronger.

How we live our lives increases or diminishes our faith. Prayer, obedience, honesty, purity of thought and deed, and unselfishness increase faith.
Without these, faith diminishes.

He then references Luke 22:32, and asks “why did the Savior say to Peter, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not?’”

 31 ¶And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

He answers “because there is an adversary who delights in destroying our faith! Be relentless in protecting your faith.”

First off, verse 31 is frightening. The idea that Satan wants to sift you as wheat is chilling. Then conversely, Jesus prayed for Peter, knowing full well that Peter was about to betray him; then told him to strengthen his brethren when he himself was converted. I wonder if that was alluding to the betrayal and subsequent realization of what he had done.

Just as Satan had “a desire to have” Peter, he wants us too. I find Elder Anderson’s admonition to be “relentless” in defending our faith interesting.

One of the words defining relentless is unrelenting, which is defined as: not yielding or swerving in determination or resolution, as of or from opinions, convictions, ambitions, ideals, etc.

Not only should we work to build and strengthen our faith, but we should be unrelenting in defending it. I believe unrelenting is a very appropriate term.

Satan is ramping up his game. 

We need to ramp up ours. 

The choice really is ours.

[1] David A. Bednar, Watching With All Perseverance, April 2010 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

What Is In Your Heart?

I love the interchange in Matthew 15:1-20.

The scribes and Pharisees are giving Jesus grief that the apostles didn’t wash their hands before eating. Jesus turned it back on them and said:

“Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”


He is asking - why are you more worried about the old traditions of ritual washings than you are about the commandments of God?

He calls them hypocrites and reminds them that Elijah prophesied they say they honor God but not in their hearts. (vs. 8)

Then we come to one of the verses (vs 14) that I think shows a bit of humor on the part of Jesus when he tells the disciples:

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

In my mind it goes something like this:

 “Meh, leave em’ alone. 
*waves hand of indifference
Blind leading the blind; they’ll fall in the ditch.”

Then Jesus explains the parable he said to the scribes and Pharisees.

Basically, what you put into your mouth comes out the other end and doesn't defile you. What comes out of your mouth, on the other hand, comes from your heart and can defile you if your heart has evil thoughts.

It all comes back to what is in your heart.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Can Faith Alone Save Me?

Becoming Project Week 2

My goal this week was to study some verses I identified on Faith in the second half of the New Testament.

James 2:14-17
14.  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
15.  If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food,
16.  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17.  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

If we want our faith to be alive, we have to act. We must add works to faith. What does that mean? How can we know if our works are sufficient to keep our faith alive in Christ? I found this:

We hear much about benchmarks. A benchmark is “a standard of excellence [or] achievement … against which similar things [are] measured or judged.”10 There are four benchmarks that can help each of us know if our personal faith in Christ is being “made perfect” by our works. These benchmarks are:

1.      The choices we make
2.      The devotion we exhibit
3.      The obedience we practice
4.      The service we give”[1]

Ok, these are great benchmarks, but still, what is it we are supposed to be doing to meet these benchmarks? Peter seems to have answered the question well.

2 Peter 1:5-8, 10
5.      And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6.      And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7.      And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8.      For if things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
10.  … for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall

Although this lays it out fairly clearly, I thought it would be beneficial to make sure I really understood all these terms that are supposed to be added to faith. So, I turned to the inter-webs and got me some definitions.

First we need to be diligent in our faith:

Diligent: characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort.

The word energetic is interesting. While steady and earnest connote the turtle, slowly and determinedly plodding along, the word energetic indicates to me a frame of mind that has an excitement for the effort being made.

To faith we first add virtue:

Virtue: morally good behavior or character.

Then we need to add knowledge:

Knowledge: the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.

This suggests to me the need to continually study the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and gain experience by living in a way that this knowledge dictates.

Next we need to add temperance:

Temperance: moderation in action, thought, or feeling: restraint.

Next comes patience:

Patience: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

Yes, patience—easier said than done. My dad used to joke that he prayed to God for patience and God sent him six children. I guess we have to exercise patience while developing patience.

After patience we add godliness:

Godliness: believing in God and in the importance of living a moral life.

This definition surprised me. I thought godliness meant behaving like God. I read that the word godliness is translated from the Greek word for “piety,” which means “the quality of being religious or reverent.” Knowing this, adding godliness seems much easier than I had initially thought.

Now we add brotherly kindness. This one wasn’t so easy. Being a term and not one word to define, I had to do a little searching. After reading multiple commentaries on this term, I found one explanation: 

Brotherly kindness: after godliness (being religious or reverent), we have to add brotherly kindness so that your godliness isn’t sullen or morose, but kind and courteous.

But this seemed to be the main consensus:

Brotherly kindness: a love of those who are Christians.

Which makes the following virtue, charity, all the more important:

Charity: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.

We aren’t supposed to keep our good works just within the Christian community. We need to behave this way toward all humanity; exactly as Jesus would do.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone showed brotherly kindness to all of humanity?

[1] Bishop Keith B. McMullin, Faith and Worksin a Secular Society, BYU CES Fireside Address, Nov. 5, 2006

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

You Are Worried About a Speck of Dust?

We are learning some interesting scripture Study Skills in this class. This week I chose to use Flag Phrases. Basically, you look for certain words or phrases that draw attention to something in the verse.

Flag Phrases can be attention words, similes, absolutes, connecting words, summaries, repeated words, superlative statements etc.

I applied attention words to Matthew 7:4:

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Here, the attention word is: behold. This is telling you to pay special attention to the information that comes after.

It really changed the scripture for me!

We have all heard that verse many times. When you read the emphasis on behold, it is like he is saying to you:


Look at yourself. 

Stop judging other people and take a look at your own problems. 

You freaking have a BEAM IN YOUR EYE!!! 

And you are worried about a speck of dust???"


This showed to me the difference between merely reading the scriptures, and taking the time to slow down and study them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

If the Salt Have Lost His Savor

While reading Matthew 5:13 tonight

Matt 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted: it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

I was reminded of a quote I read in my Book of Mormon class.

“Salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination.” [1]

Another commentary on this is:

In an age before refrigerators, salt was the great preservative. In this memorable metaphor, Jesus calls his disciples salt; They would preserve his teachings and lifestyle among the peoples of the earth, but if they failed in their conscientious following of his example, they would be worthless in his kingdom and would be cast out, as useless salt is cast out.[2]

This makes it more understandable why it says “if the salt have lost HIS savour.” He is, in parable form, speaking about the apostles.

While this is a great metaphor in speaking to them, it is also a cautionary tale for us as members of the church and as Christians. It is important that we not allow “mixture and contamination” by the philosophies of men to become incorporated into the doctrine or our beliefs.

What a blessing it is to have the words of our Savior preserved for us by the hand of his disciples.

[1] Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy, April 1980 Conf.

[2] D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, Verse By Verse The New Testament, p. 182