Saturday, August 26, 2017

Increase in Learning

The scriptures teach if we "teach a just man...he will increase in learning." And in another place we learn "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection." Between these two scriptures, we find the injunction to never cease learning.

I do not believe for a second that our God ever wants us to feel comfortable with the knowledge we have. He wants us to continually grow, and push our boundaries to other areas. It takes 10,000 hours to get to the very tip top of a field. It takes 20 hours to learn a skill well enough we can start self correcting. But in this time we call "mortality", it is impossible to learn everything under the sun. We just don't have the time or capacity to do so.

So what is expected of us? That we "increase in learning".

Imagine how our capacity would increase if we read one research article per week. Imagine how much knowledge we would attain if we spent 10 minutes a day reading a book instead of mindlessly tweeting, watching videos on YouTube, or browsing our news feeds. Imagine how much you would learn if you hopped onto Duolingo instead of flipping tabs.

I am not saying we should not take time to relax. Far from it. We do need time to relax; we do need breaks; we do need vacations. The institution of the Sabbath is proof enough for our need in that regard. But we, as a society, tend to be entertaining ourselves to death. With a little more effort, we could each increase in our learning.

Sure, we can fill our minds with celebrities' lives, with pop culture references, and with the latest media sound bites. And nothing is inherently wrong with that. But what could we be spending our time learning if we didn't focus on these people, things, and events, but focused on history, philosophy, and physics or economics, languages, and cultures?

I'm not saying everyone needs to go to college and get a degree, but we all can get an education through books we can get for less than $5 on Amazon, or books at the library (which is free). We can all do a little bit better to learn a little bit more and "increase in learning" spiritually and temporally every single day.

Not only should we be seeking this learning, but we should be seeking it "by study and also by faith". "Yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118). When was the last time you read a book that wasn't required? When was the last time you read the scriptures? When was the last time you read a book other than the scriptures? When was the last time you watched a YouTube video to get knowledge rather than entertainment?

If we are agents and act to gain knowledge, we will learn more than if we wait for others to teach us. We should be ever learning and ever coming to a knowledge of the truth by seeking learning by faith. This is not to say we shouldn't be skeptical while reading a scientific paper. This is not to say we should stop learning if we aren't getting any closer to the truth. We just may need to change our methods or our motivations.

Surely the Lord wants us to know all that He knows. The spirit can teach you things about your field of study that others cannot. When was the last time you asked for the spirit to be with you as you went to school? I'd recommend it; it will increase your knowledge and your faith in God. The presence of the Holy Ghost will allow you to make connections others do not yet see, and will help you develop the capacity to learn, grow, and progress line upon line, and precept on precept until we obtain a perfect knowledge of truth through the Spirit of the Lord.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Now A Glorious Morn is Breaking

We live in a truly marvelous day! A day of joy for both the living and the dead. We live in a day foretold by the prophet Isaiah: "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain."

We live in a day when Temples dot the earth. We live in a day when Missionaries are 74,000 strong. We live in a day with the scriptures readily available in the common man's tongues from English to German to American Sign Language to Tagalog. We live in a day when "A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people." We live in a day when "angels are coming to visit the earth". We live in a day of "righteousness [sent] down...of heaven, and...truth [sent] forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of [the] Only Begotten."

Indeed, we live in a day where the covenants of the Lord are being fulfilled. We live in a day where we are making the final preparations for the Savior's Return to the Earth and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is our day to rise up and meet the challenges of our day. This is the time for us to face the world and all the power of the evil one. This is a time for us to build up Zion regardless of the consequences.

The glorious morn of restoration comes upon us each day. And this day we choose. We can choose to serve the gods of the world around us, or we can choose to serve the God of Israel. We can choose to dwell within the supposed safety of Babylon or the freedom of Zion. We can choose to idly watch on as the war between good and evil rages on, or we can put on the full armor of God and stand and fight.

We are each called to the Work of Salvation for the Living and the Dead. It is a glorious morn, so rise up! We can each do a little bit more and do a little bit better each and every day. Or we can choose to push the snooze button and sleep through this great and marvelous day. I pray we don't, and that we firmly choose to get out of bed and fight for Zion each day.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

All the People Rejoiced

Almost 1000 years ago, William the Conqueror came to the Isle of Great Britain and ultimately established a monarchy of a single family that has endured those many years. Traditions have been born in this royal line in conjunction with its rule, but among the more memorable traditions involved is using music to celebrate the coronation of the new monarch. One of the most well known pieces was sung even before William the Conqueror arrived, but did not receive its "modern tune" until 1685.

The Coronation Anthem is rather short in words:
Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon King.
And all the people rejoiced, and said:
God save the King! Long live the King!
May the King live for ever,
Amen, Alleluia.
You're welcome for the cultural/history lesson, but there is a point to all of this. Zadok was the High Priest in Israel, and Nathan was a prophet. To put this into modern terms, Zadok was along the lines of an ordinance worker or the Temple President and Nathan was the Prophet of the Lord. They performed a sacred ordinance in anointing the Israel's King, but not just her King, but the King who would ultimately build up the Temple of God in their midst.

Another song at British coronations over the last century was the song "I Was Glad". The words come from the 122nd Psalm. The first verse cries out, "I was glad when they said unto me : We will go into the house of the Lord." Are we glad every time someone suggests we go to the Temple as an activity?

How do we feel when a Temple is announced? When its ground is broken? When the open house happens? When it is dedicated?

How do we feel when we enter the House of God each time? How do we feel when an ordinance is performed? Do we feel there is a reason to rejoice with every baptism? With every anointing? With every sealing?

I sure hope we feel glad! I hope we rejoice! Like the "vivats" shouted in Britain, and the "Long Live the Kings" shouted in ancient Israel, with the Temple, we have a shout to give. We shout Hosanna to God and the Lamb. These are prayers for the Most High to hear.

I previously discussed the meaning behind the Hosanna Shout. What if that were the cry of what we do every day? I am not suggesting that we literally stand up and do this sacred shout every day, that would be improper. But what if the meaning of this shout became so ingrained in our hearts and in our souls that it affected everything we do?

What if our whole mind was centered on the Work of Salvation? What if we spent our days in the Temples of God? What if we spent our days sharing the gospel with others in word and deed? What if we spent our days searching out our ancestors? What if we spent our days indexing?

In Tucson, we live in a day of Jubilee! The Temple of our Lord is come to our midst. The only remaining question is how long will this feeling of Jubilee exist? We rejoice in the Temple coming here today. How will we feel in 6 months? In a year? In a decade? Will the people still be rejoicing over this Temple, or will it merely become something that happens to be close by? I pray that we do not become complacent, but that the the glory of this day will remain in our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our actions, as we fill the House of God to capacity and continue in this Jubilee forever.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Temple, Part VII: House of God

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

Throughout the Old Testament, the Temple is repeatedly referred to as the House of the Lord. It is a sacred and special place where heaven and earth meet. It is a place where "the Son of man lay his head" (Matthew 8:20). It is a place where the people can "seek thy face, O God of Jacob" (Psalm 24:6). It is a place where "the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people" (Exodus 19:11). The Temple is this sacred place where earth and heaven meet.

As it is a place where heaven is on earth, and God is able to walk in the midst of His people, it is important that everything that passes through the threshold of the Temple is holy. This includes our own thoughts. While we may be going to the Temple because we have a challenge in our lives we are seeking greater understanding in, when we enter the Temple, our minds should be on worshiping our God and redeeming our dead. Our minds should be wholly focused on the things of the Lord.

Because the Temple is God's House, His spirit will reside there. Because the Temple is God's House, it is a place of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order because it is His House, inasmuch as it does not become defiled. Because the Temple is God's House, you will be taught. Because the Temple is God's House, we should act as if we are in His presence with deep sincere reverence and gratitude not only for all that He has done for us, not only for the ordinances, not only for the gospel, but gratitude for simply being permitted into His Holy Sanctuary.

For those who did not realize this 7 part series of posts was just one small way I was preparing myself for the coming of a House of God to Tucson, Arizona. I know the Temple can become an anchor for our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I learn each time I go, and I have been greatly anticipating this amazing event happening in just 12 days. I know many people have been anticipating this day just as much or more than I have, and my one piece of counsel is this: don't let the flame die out. Be as excited to have a House of God in your midst in one year as you are now, and the power of the Lamb will descend upon you in His Holy House.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Temple, Part VI: House of Order

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

 All the ordinances done in the church is done using the power of the priesthood. Which priesthood? Joseph Smith taught, "All priesthood is Melchizedek; but there are different portions or degrees of it." This power and this authority governs the affairs of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Everything must be done in the proper order. Anciently, this priesthood was called "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God". It is the Savior's priesthood; therefore, all things must be done in His order.

In the Temple, we learn about this order of the Holy Priesthood. And all things are done in order. Some wonder why we only let members into the Temple. It's not because we don't want outsiders to see. It's not because we feel like having major secrets to keep people interested in us. It's because there is an order that must be followed.

One cannot participate in the ordinances of the Temple without access to the Priesthood of God. Men must be ordained and have the priesthood conferred upon them to participate in any ordinances. Further, they must have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred on them to officiate in the higher ordinances of the priesthood. Men and women alike must be baptized and be worthy of the Spirit to experience these ordinances. Yes, it is exclusionary, "But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" (2 Nephi 2:24).

There is beauty and serenity in the order of the Temple. It is a protection and a refuge from the storms of life that are ever around us. By having it so structured, we know that God is never going to make any sudden changes, and will allow us to learn and to grow, and ultimately return to Him despite us slipping up.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Temple, Part V: House of Glory

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

When we speak of glory in a non-religious way, it generally relates in some way to patriotism, the military, or ancient civilizations with great military prowess. "Old Glory" is the name of the American Flag. People may picture a screeching bald eagle flying past the flag in an early morning with the brave servicemen surrounding it on the ground. And great respect is afforded to them.

The Temple, while the world would not see it as such, is in a similar situation. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed, "And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them". As the military goes through basic training and specialized training to get the image of their glory, so we too must go through the basic training (to get to the Temple) and the specialized training (in the Temple) to become fully armed with the Lord's power.

The Temple is also becomes a house of glory because it is the literal abode of Deity. Placed above the doorway of each Temple, we read:

One of the Lord's attributes is that of His glory. It is mentioned in almost every account of His post-mortal ministry. If it is truly His house and a place where He has "place to lay his head", His glory will be upon that place.

As His saints, we should remember that it is His House of Glory, and we are invited guests therein. If we go in the right mindset, we will feel of the glory and it will come upon us and we will be able to go forth, armed with the power of the Lamb of God to fight our daily battles. Clothed in the armor of God, with His glory, humble, willing servants of God can go forth in power and might to perform mighty miracles if we live up to the privilege of glory afforded in the Temple.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Temple, Part IV: House of Learning

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy taught, "If we enter the temple seeking added light and knowledge, we can learn and understand something new during the temple experience."

This does not mean that we will find some grand, marvelous truth every single time we go to the Temple; rather it means we will learn something: something about our God, something about ourselves, or something about the world around us.

This is not to say that you are guaranteed to learn something if you go to the Temple, simply because you enter the building. You learn because you are actively seeking to be taught. Of course the great and grand revelations often come in Temples, but so do the tiny ones: the ones where nobody would notice, except the most spiritually attuned individuals.

Merely being worthy to enter the House of the Lord is not all the requirements needed for this. We need to be actively seeking further light and knowledge from on high. If we are not seeking this light and truth, our progression becomes halted.

One lesson I've learned from the Temple is until we reach the Celestial World, we will constantly be learning. We will see things in new light, we will see other things for the first time. The Temple is a great place to learn, but it is also a great place to learn what to learn. It is also a great place to learn how to learn.

Imagine if every day we studied the scriptures with the same level of analysis that some seek to understand the Temple ordinances. What would we learn? Imagine if the same spiritual energy accompanied our nightly prayers as the prayers in the Temple contain. What would we learn in those prayers?

The Temple teaches us how to live Celestial Life and how to learn. It becomes our responsibility to learn both inside and outside the Temple in the same manner. In the same way a university teaches some knowledge and some skills, but mostly teaches how to learn, the Temple teaches some knowledge and some skills and teaches us how to learn. The ordinances are still important. The covenants are still necessary. But in being a House of Learning, the Lord teaches us how to learn in the Temple, and we are to apply that everywhere. If we do this, the results will be wonderful.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Temple, Part III: House of Faith

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

Temples are the great sign of the faith the Latter-day Saints hold. Faith is the reason we even build the Temples. We have faith in the Plan of our God, that He is able to do his own work. We have the faith that He wants every last person prepared to meet him with all the ordinances, and we have the faith we can do it.

Faith in the gospel and the ordinances of the Temple is what brought the early saints through bitter wind and snow. Faith in the Temple ordinances is what moves people to travel for days to go to the Temple. Faith in the Temple ordinances is what motivates people to become ordinance workers. It's what motivates men and women to make sacrifices to attend the Temple regularly, anywhere from finding child care for a couple hours to going individually for years to getting expensive travel so the entire family could go to the Temple a single time to be sealed together.

Every brick laid for a Temple is an act of faith. Every dollar donated to the Temple Construction Fund is an act of faith. Every name of an ancestor found and brought to the Temple is an act of faith. Every choice made with the Temple in mind was an act of faith. And each of these little acts of faith infuses with the Spirit of the Temple to make it a house of faith.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Temple, Part II: House of Fasting

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

 How is the Temple a house of fasting? I mean, the obvious answer is many people go to the Temple while fasting, but that's not a ton of people. There are plenty of people who go to the Temple on full stomachs. So, what does it mean?

On my mission, I came across a scripture that I fell in love with in the Doctrine & Covenants: "Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer." Fasting is a sign of our joy in receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so is the Temple.

The Temple is not a place we go flippantly. Rarely does anyone "get in the routine" of going to the Temple. It's not a "requirement" to attend after you've received your own ordinances. Every time a person goes to the Temple, it is as much a sacrifice as fasting. From the mundane rearranging schedules to go and possibly wearing nicer clothes than usual to work one day, to the daily acts of controlling the natural man from taking over so we can remain worthy, the sacrifice makes it sacred to us.

Each of us has a decision to make. How do we make the Temple a House of Fasting? Perhaps some days we could go without food or drink when we go to attend the Lord's House. Other times, we may take a break from social media for the day until we've attended. Perhaps we have a specific thing we do every day that we don't need to do that we could skip (like reading the news, practicing an instrument, or listening to music).

To make the Temple a House of Fasting is really to make sacrifices to make the Temple a more meaningful and holy experience for us as we go. What are you willing to sacrifice for the House of the Lord? Make the sacrifice, it will make the experience more sacred.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Temple, Part I: House of Prayer

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

The Temple is a house of prayer. More prayers have probably been prayed in the Temples than any other building. People go to seek guidance from the Lord through prayer, the ordinances involve prayers, every shift of Temple workers begins with a prayer. It would be a shock to me to learn that a prayer wasn't happening in the Temple when there were more than 3 people in the building than to learn a prayer was happening.

In addition, people pray for long periods for a Temple to come to their region, their land, or their city. Many temples are answers to silent prayers the people did not even know they were praying. A seldom sung hymn reads, "Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed". Each time a person travels hours or days to go to the Temple, they show their desire for the Lord's House, and that is a prayer. Each time a person thinks about the Temple, or wishes to be at the Temple more often than circumstances currently allow, that is a prayer.

The voices of the Saints ascending to God make the Temple a holy place. Without the dedicatory prayers, Temples are just random buildings. Without Saints entering there with prayerful hearts, it's just another edifice. Without the sincere desires to serve our ancestors and worship the God of Heaven in the most sublime way, it does nothing to save. But with the prayers of the Saints, uttered or unexpressed desires shown in other ways, the Temples become the beacon they are meant to be and a Light to the outcasts of Israel, living and dead.

Search for ways you can make the Temple your house of prayer consistent with your current circumstances, and the Lord will bless you.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Shadow from the Heat

One thing I have learned since moving to Arizona: it's hot here! Like super hot! Now, I already hear the chorus starting from people back home, "BUT IT'S A DRY HEAT!" To that, I have a short video clip for you to watch (starting at 4:21 for those who want to just get to the point):

Now that we got past that part, we can move on with the actual point of this post. It's hot here! It's hot enough that the heat begins to drain you, slowly but surely until you are nothing more than a puddle on the ground with some clothes floating around in it. Sometimes you just need an escape from that, so you go inside, you jump in a pool, or get in some shade (though the last one admittedly only reduces the temperature to 102°F).

Today, amid this heat, I decided to go up to the Tucson Temple...again. Yes, I know I went four times last week. Yes, I know there's 41 days til the dedication. Yes, I know I'm only on the grounds. But I love it. While walking around the grounds, I noticed the bite of the heat was lessened as I walked past the fountain.

I rather enjoyed the slightly cooler air, so I hung around the fountain for a good ten minutes. As I walked around the fountain for such an "extended" period of time, I began to notice when I was on the side of the fountain closer to the Temple, it was slightly cooler than the other side. Of course, it was because of the direction the wind was blowing, but it reminded me of a scripture in the book of Isaiah 4:
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
The world can be dangerously hot, driven by every passion under the sun. People are enslaved to their bodies and to the incitement of society. Just imagine how many people lost their tempers because the fires fueled by the media; just imagine how many people broke the law of Chastity in the fires of temptation; just imagine how many people pass through the fires of trials and afflictions. The Temple is the one place that we can go, if we are worthy, and escape the heat the world is turning on us, and remain in the cool, collected mind of discipleship as we slowly but surely turn outward and become more like the Savior.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

One Transfer

Time is a weird thing if you think about it. Sure, some measures make sense: a day is the time for the earth to rotate on its axis; a month is the time it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth (most of the time, of course there are exceptions in a solar calendar); a year is the time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. But other time measurements are a bit more arbitrary in nature: a week is 7 days; 60 minutes make up an hour; 6 weeks make up a least for Mormon Missionaries most transfers.

On my mission, at the beginning of each of these transfers, it was time to look at how I was doing as a person, as a missionary, and as a member of the church. Obviously, I was not perfect in any of these categories, so I would typically set a single goal of how I could become more like Christ in that transfer. One transfer felt long enough that I could typically make some progress towards whatever my goal was, yet short enough that I would not lose sight of the goal.

Why am I bringing up this seemingly arbitrary bit of information? Because in one transfer, the Tucson Temple will be dedicated to the Most High God!

I have taken great interest in this building since I learned I would be moving to Tucson in March of 2016. With each passing week, my excitement grew to see the Temple. I was crushed when they asked for people to not go up to the Temple grounds, so I went after dark. Since the Open House finished a week ago, I have gone up to the Temple Grounds four times. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO excited for it to be so close I can go once a week again!

But then, I recognize I am not perfect. I am not anywhere close to perfect. But God in His wisdom gives us the Temple as motivation to progress towards perfection. So, I came up with a goal to complete in this transfer until the Temple Dedication. I'm not going to tell y'all what it is; that's not the point of this. The point is, we each have a way to improve before that day when the shouts of "Hosanna!" fill the skies of Arizona. What will YOU do to improve your time in this time of jubilee?

Maybe your scripture study has not been quite up to snuff, so you'll study from their pages more. Maybe you have been putting off family history because a Temple was so far away, so you'll gather names of ancestors to perform their work when the Temple opens. Maybe you've rendered little service and will provide more service before the Temple opens. Whatever it is, I'm sure each one of us can improve our time in this one transfer until the Temple opens, and we can enter in.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Saguaro Blessings

You know that the stereotypical thing people think of when they hear the word cactus:

Image result for Saguaros

Yeah that one! It's actually incredibly rare. Saguaros are only found in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. And unless people come through Arizona central and southern Arizona, they likely have never seen one of these in real life.

The first time I remember being in the Sonoran Desert was in the summer of 2015. I dropped down into the Valley and I was amazed at the Saguaros. I would look every single one, or at least I attempted to do so. If I could have taken picture after picture of Saguaros, I would have. They are just so cool to have around, especially if you aren't used to it!

This past summer, I drove from Northern Utah to Southern Arizona moving to graduate school. I stopped at the very first Saguaro I saw to take a picture, even though it had no arms, it was merely a stalk.

Image may contain: 1 person, sky, cloud, outdoor and closeupI've now lived in the Sonoran Desert for almost 10 months. Sometimes, I catch myself not loving the Saguaros like I used to. I see them, and sometimes they seem as commonplace as a tree anywhere else. Other times, I just sit back and think of how awesome it is I'm living in the one place on earth with these majestic plants.

Now, I did not write this post simply to talk about the majesties of Saguaros. What do they mean for us? Like the Sonoran Desert, the restored Gospel and the church which espouses it is home to a relatively few number of people. People from outside the area know about bits and pieces of it, and may even enjoy trying to hold the belief, but these beliefs are only native to the Everlasting Gospel.

Without the Restoration, the following would not be restored: the necessity of baptism, Priesthood keys, Aaronic vs Melchizedek Priesthoods in roles and responsibilities, Patriarchal Blessings, the significance of the scattering and gathering of Israel, sealings, Temple Work for the Living and the Dead, Degrees of Glory, Premortality, the Plan of Redemption, the station of Mother Eve, our divine potential, the role of the Holy Ghost, the Nature of the Godhead, how to repent, The Book of Mormon, how to receive revelation, and many, many more. These blessings surround us so much, we sometimes forget how glorious they are. Like the saguaros, we can choose to constantly remain in awe or we will slide back into complacency. Let's remain in awe!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Growing up in Texas, the Temple was never a really big part of my life. It was over an hour away driving, if there was good traffic, so I only went when the youth in my ward went. I knew the Temple was important. I knew it was a good thing. I knew I wanted to enter its holy walls, but day to day, it was never a big part of my life.

My freshman year of college was basically the same boat. Though I lived in sight of the Logan Temple, and it was on my mind, I only went once or twice because I was so used to only going two to four times a year. Then I went home to Texas before the start of my mission, and received my Endowment—a sacred ordinance where we learn of God's Plan for us to return to His presence, making promises to him—in the Dallas Temple May 19, 2012.

From that time on, the Temple became more and more a part of my life. When my mission was finished, and I was going to USU again, I was going to the Temple at least once a week as a patron. I worked in the Temple twice. I made friends because of the Temple. I invited people I'd met to just go to the Temple with me. I would make occasions to go walk around the Temple grounds.

I went with my buddy Joey his first time doing Baptisms for the Dead. I did Initatories on weeks I had no time to go. Through most of this time, I would just walk the half hour to 45 minutes to get to the House of the Lord. The power of the Temple flowed into me as I did work there. 

My senior year at USU, I met Erik. For once, I found someone who loved the Temple just as much as I did. If the two of us were hanging out, chances are you could find us one of three places: campus, Pizza Pie Cafe, or a Temple. For as long as I knew Erik, whenever he saw a Temple, he would yell out, "THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE!" unless we were entering. We fed off of each others' excitement for the Temple.

I thought I would always choose to be in places very close to Temples so I could always just hop right over and not worry about time or distance or gas. But as I was applying to graduate school, I felt really drawn to the University of Arizona. While the Tucson Temple has been under construction for the past few years, it's still 75 days away from being dedicated.

I learned in this time what it means to sacrifice for the Temple. I know there's plenty of others who sacrifice much more than I do to go to the Temple just once. But I spend 2 hours driving to the Temple, 2 hours at the Temple, and 2 hours driving home from the Temple. It's not something I can use every day or even every week. It is a sweet experience attempting to find a friend who wants to go with me, and going, sometimes with someone and sometimes alone.

But in about two and a half months, I will once more be in the shadow of a Temple, and I CAN NOT WAIT!

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Broken Heart

When the Savior was resurrected, He appeared among the peoples of the American Continent. During his preaching, he commanded the people "ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart". And since that day, the command has continued. A broken heart will establish Zion; a broken heart is one yielded unto God. But why?

When the world talks about a broken heart, it's always in a negative connotation: someone broke up with you and you feel shattered to pieces, and that can be true, but just because it is true in one sense, it does not mean it's a negative thing. Really, we all experience heart ache, we all, in one way or another experience broken hearts. Think back to the last time you had a feeling like your heart was broken. How did you feel?

Honestly, it sucks. You may feel down in the dumps for a few days. You may go deeper into depression. You may question if anything will ever go right again. You sit at a point where seemingly nobody could possibly understand. And while there are other meanings for having a broken heart as a sacrifice, this broken heart provides so much insight to one meaning the Savior could have.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior went "suffering pains and afflictions...of every kind...that his bowels may be filled with mercy" (Alma 7:11-12). Truly He is "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). But the next phrase in that verse probably brings more pain to our Savior than anything else he suffered in the atonement: "we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3). Surely, us hiding from him is the last thing He wants of us. Surely He wants us to feel at home with Him.

In those days of our broken hearts, due to loss of friends, death, grief from disability, depression, mental health disorders, stress due to change, the Savior wants us to come to Him. He wants us to bring our broken heart, that He may heal us. In those times where darkness seems to surround us and demand that we surrender; in those moments when our world seems to be falling apart and our hearts torn to shreds; in those hours when the absolute last thing you want to do is make a sacrifice, that is precisely what the Lord wants you to do.

As we come to the altars with our broken hearts, and offer ourselves to Him in our moments of deepest agony, He heals us so we become far stronger than ever before. We become a little more like Him. Through bringing Him our broken hearts, we bind ourselves to Him. His servants who are already bound to Him, will bind to you to serve you, and thus we yield to God and establish Zion.

We sacrifice our broken hearts, because, in the end, when we have a broken heart, we are in our raw form. To sacrifice our broken heart, we sacrifice who we are, our very essence, and consecrate ourselves to doing what He does, living like He does, and being like He is.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" -Isaiah 58:6

It's inevitable. Every month, as the first Sunday of the month rolls around, a countless barrage of memes comes pouring out of every Mormon memes page about how awful Fast Sunday is. I get it! We as humans like bonding and laughing over things that make us unique. I know this post is not going to be something trendy that goes viral, but this is rambling I need to get off my chest.

Fasting is not a thing on our checklist. It is not shared misery. It is not something we try to avoid by breaking the emblems of the sacrament slightly larger than normal. It is a sacrifice. It is a time to develop mastery over our natural appetites. It is a time to grow nearer to God. It is a time to seek revelation.

I just find it ironic that the very thing that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for with fasting: "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." The memes and comments about hunger pains and the jokes are the modern version of disfiguring our faces so people know we fast, and it's a collective issue that HAS TO STOP!

If youfeel like these memes describe you too perfectly, I recommend studying Isaiah 58. When you truly catch the vision of the fast, you come to know how it feels when this promise is fulfilled: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward."

Is not this the fast you have chosen? If it is, wonderful! If it isn't, I exhort you to study the doctrine until fasting becomes a glorious, blissful experience for you.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"This Secret Combination...Among You" (Ether 8:24)

It's no secret to anyone who has read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ that secret combinations are incessantly discussed by the authors. While many have thought this means that a secret society is undermining the whole of society, while reading in 2 Nephi today, I had a thought of an alternative meaning to this warning.
Wherefore, for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations. Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.
These verses come in the midst of a longer discussion on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Thus, for the Atonement's covenants to be fulfilled, the Lord "must...destroy the secret works of darkness". While I do not doubt there is some very real connection to Gadianton robbers filling the judgement seats, we also know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is to work from the inside out.

What secret combinations have you established within yourself?

What secret oaths have you made with yourself? What secret signs have you made with yourself? In short, what are the things you do that keep you in the dark?

In the physical world, we understand light is more powerful than darkness. But in the spiritual world, we often bind ourselves down by false covenants to ourselves. We refuse to enter the light but sink further and further into the pits of darkness.

Obviously not every secret is an act of a secret combination. Throwing a surprise party is not going to cost you eternal salvation. But when the webs of deceit bind you from others. When you close yourself off from human interaction and become a slave to hell, you have in essence formed a secret combination. To get a false sense of "power and gain" from the secret is the issue; "when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination...among you" (Ether 8:23).

Anything done in the dark to get power or to get gain is guilty of a secret combination: Dishonesty to get gain or power; Pornography in all its devilish forms gets the gain of sexual gratification; Manipulating others by hiding  your true identity online and having them do whatever thing you desire.

I plead with all who do works in darkness, as Isaiah of old, "come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord" arm in arm to our salvation (Isaiah 2:5).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


The last couple of weeks, I've been pondering the topic of Zion. References to the holy city and God's people who dwell there fill the scriptures. The Lord again and again commands us to build up Zion, to seek for Zion, to establish Zion, and to let Zion's glory rest upon us.

We call ourselves "the Stakes of Zion", and historically called Utah "Zion" (though some missionaries from Utah lift up themselves in pride on being from "Zion"). We sing, "Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God", "Let Zion in her Beauty Rise!", "And Ephraim be crowned with his blessing in Zion". In short, the culture of the church focuses on Zion as an entity, but are we really focusing on becoming Zion? Are we focusing on preparing ourselves to receive Zion?

The "Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."1 And so great was the faith of this people that Enoch, the prophet, was endowed with the power of the Lamb to lead "the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him."2 This people was blessed with such great power, and great strength, because they sought to receive the character of Christ in word and deed, until they became purified and made holy, "for this is Zion—the pure in heart."3

In the latter days before the Savior's return, we must prepare the earth by establishing Zion, and preparing ourselves to receive Enoch's city. God himself taught what needs to happen for this preparation to be complete: "Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments."4 

The wisdom of man cannot accomplish this feat. Man's wisdom has tried to establish a utopia again and again and has failed again and again. There is no way to establish Zion while one relies on the arm of the flesh. "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself."5 Without utilizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is completely impossible to establish and maintain the cause of Zion. Without earnestly applying that atoning blood to change, grow, and take upon us the image of Christ in our countenances, we cannot create Zion, yet that is precisely what the Lord commands.

Until we have been prepared in all things to become Zion, we will fail to be ready to meet our God. Until we love one another as Christ loved, we will fail to be prepared to welcome back Enoch's city. Until we help our brothers and sisters overcome challenges, the earth will fail to be prepared to receive heaven.

Let us strive to bring about Zion with each other each day, by acting with a little more love, a little more kindness, and a little more tenderness.

Friday, February 10, 2017

God Be With You Til We Meet Again

Erik Gray and I met at a picnic with our major on September 8, 2015. I saw this guy standing awkwardly as if he knew nobody around, and I felt I should go talk with him, but I felt weird doing so, so I decided to go about my duties of making sure the picnic was all set up. While I busied myself doing other things--important, necessary things, I might add--I was given the feeling again that I needed to go talk with him. I walked up to him right as another guy was talking with him about missions, so I mentioned I went to the Washington Everett Mission. He asked, "Did you ever meet Jeff Shearer?" Jeff was my last mission companion, so naturally, we got really excited, sent him a selfie, and began chatting.

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Though I was on the audiology side of things and he was on the speech side of things, we would tease each other and had much fun together.

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He and I (along with several other friends) went to see the lights at Temple Square.

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We saw The Force Awakens together on opening night.

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We attended Aggie Basketball games together.

He took my senior photos around campus.

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We had the opportunity to go to the April 2016 Priesthood Session of General Conference.

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We attended the Temple together frequently. He claimed that I loved the Temple the second most of anyone in the world, because nobody could love the Temple as much as he could.

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We had a blast doing random, fun things like swimming after we were already too tired to stay up.

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We went on random adventures together.

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We supported each other in our faith and in everything that we did.

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We ate at Pizza Pie Cafe, probably more often than we should have, but it was our thing to do (besides going to the Temple). And I introduced him to pepperoni-bacon Alfredo Pizza.

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For Christmas, I visited him, and it was a complete surprise to him, but it was so great being able to go see him.

On February 9, 2017, he and I had 159 days of daily contact via Snapchat, and even more via other means.

On February 10, 2017, he passed away at 6:45 AM surrounded by family. His life's motto was #YOLO, and never let anything get in the way of having an adventure. He was my best friend, and no person could ever replace him. His favorite scripture is what I'm sure he'd want all of us to know now, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Erik, I love you like a brother. And you were not just "like a brother"; you were, are, and always will be a brother. I love you man! God be with you til we meet again!

Monday, January 2, 2017

To Be Like Oliver Granger

I want to be like Oliver Granger.

I'm sure most people reading this have no idea who he is or who he was. According to President Boyd K Packer, "Oliver Granger was a very ordinary man. He was mostly blind having “lost his sight by cold and exposure” (History of the Church, 4:408). The First Presidency described him as “a man of the most strict integrity and moral virtue; and in fine, to be a man of God” (History of the Church, 3:350)."

While those attributes alone (besides the being blind part) are qualities I would wish to possess, one phrase in the Doctrine and Covenants: "when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord."

This is why I want to be like him. The Lord knew Oliver Granger. He knew that when Oliver made a mistake, when he fell, he would immediately rise again. Perfection is the ultimate goal, but none of us are there right now. We should each become like Oliver Granger, and rise again quickly, so we do not lose time bumming around Babylon.

Sure, we may not feel that we are doing a lot in Zion, but by sacrificing our summer homes in Babylon, and going to the eternal city, it is enough. The sacrifices we make of our time and our desires are more pleasing that what we actually contribute sometimes. Maybe you didn't help a sister you home taught with flooding because she never had an issue; maybe you never felt you contributed that much because you were called as the sacrament greeter; maybe you couldn't serve as an ordinance worker but you faithfully attended the Temple regularly. In each of these situations, you may not have done anything glamorous, you may not have any miraculous story come from the experience, but you still sacrificed, and these small sacrifices, mostly invisible, are what carry the church.

Yes, we are a church that needs apostles and prophets, bishops and patriarchs, relief society presidents and young women's leaders, but the church is also built on nursery leaders, faithful home teachers, and men and women who compassionately serve God's children without needing an official calling. And as we serve in seemingly unremarkable ways, we help bear off the kingdom triumphantly, and carefully prepare this earth for the return of our God.

You may not be a Nephi, but you can be a Sam. You may not be a Helaman, but you can be a Shiblon. You may not be a Joseph Smith, but you can be an Oliver Granger.