*Original post found here*

I have four sons. Ever since my boys were little, I tried to prepare them for serving a mission for our church. Its what we do. It’s in our culture. This is something our church asks from each worthy young man at age 18. (Young women are also able to serve but they are not under the same mandate as our young men.) So, our boys, as they grow into men, plan to serve. Missionaries (usually) earn the money for their mission themselves, they spend night and day serving God, they leave behind girlfriends, scholarships and cars. And they are always so excited to finally get to be a full time missionary.

But nobody talks about what to do when things go differently than planned. It’s actually not a very comfortable topic. Maybe its just because not everyone knows how to handle it. So, lets lay it out there. Sometimes, missions end much earlier than anyone ever planned. Both of my sons who have served came home early; each with an honorable release, but each, at least partially, feeling like they failed.

Cognitively, they understand what supportive family, friends and ward members tell them. “You did your best.”  “God loves you anyway.”  “Your mission just looks different than everyone else’s.” Etcetera.

It’s a struggle. Its something that, I believe, they will ache over for some time. However, even in this trial – and it IS a trial for those who go through it – God did not leave us without an example.

Remember Alma the Younger? You can find his story in the Book of Mormon beginning in Mosiah chapter 27. His father, having been converted by the words of Abinidi, became the leader of Christ’s church. It must have been so hard for Alma Sr. to watch his son and four of his buddies do everything they could to destroy the very church he had helped build. These young men worked tirelessly to hinder the growth of the church… until an angel of God stopped them. Alma the Younger and his friends all had a miraculous change of heart and, consequently, wanted to repair the damage they had done. So, with more zeal than they had before, they went about to repair the harm they had wrought upon the church.

These were men who, with a changed heart, wanted to preach the gospel. The four friends of Alma the Younger were sons of the righteous King Mosiah. They wanted to serve a mission to the Lamanites – who, at that time were violent, wicked and hostile. After much pleading with their father, he finally agreed that they could serve that mission. The Sons of Mosiah, as they are often called, were incredible missionaries. They baptized multitudes of people. Often, converting whole kingdoms. Entire cities would believe in their words. What they accomplished was nothing short of miraculous.

When you hear people recount this story, they always assume Alma the Younger was with them in the mission field. But guess what? He stayed behind. He stayed with his father and accepted the appointment of Chief Judge from the people. So, even though he went on, after his conversion, to be a great leader, he did not serve a mission at the same time, or even in the same way as his buddies.

And yet, when we think of Alma the Younger, not one person would think of him less than his peers. He is counted as a great missionary, a great leader. Now, I don’t know why he stayed behind while his friends went to serve. But I imagine, it was a little difficult to hear of the amazing experiences his friends were having without wishing he were there too.

Alma the Younger went on to have incredible experiences of his own. He served a mission later with his own sons but his path did not look like his friends. I am convinced, however, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some people are called to serve a mission like the Sons of Mosiah and some are called to serve like Alma the Younger. Thank goodness Heavenly Father looks on our hearts and knows our desires. Thank goodness He knows what we need most.

The Lord has an individual road map for each of us. Sometimes it doesn’t look like we expected it would look. Often it is different than what we planned. And, it almost never is the same as a friend’s road map. But always, His path for us will be the best. It will bring us to the greatest possible happiness.

So, for my two beautiful boys, who had to end their mission early and to every missionary who’s heart still longs to be in the mission field, I urge you to remember success is not measured by what you have planned. It is measured by how you respond to what the Lord has planned.

*find me at www.deliberatediscipleship.com.

Three Sunday afternoon thoughts

Here are just a few thought’s I’ve had this Sunday afternoon, they are in no particular order.

Thought One: I posted a meme with a quote by Pres. Howard W. Hunter on the Millennial Star Facebook page a few weeks ago which said, “We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving.”

Along the lines of forgiveness and kindness, in my Gospel Doctrine class today I included a story of Edward Partridge, the first bishop of the Church. He was one of the leaders of the Church in Missouri and in charge of helping people settle into land and life there. He was a target of mob violence and suffered a tarring and feathering. He said of the incident,

“I told [the mob] that the Saints had suffered persecution in all ages of the world; that I had done nothing which ought to offend anyone; that if they abused me, they would abuse an innocent person; that I was willing to suffer for the sake of Christ; but, to leave the country, I was not then willing to consent to it. I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness, that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched as I thought; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else” (Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chapter 4).

In the age of social media mob violence, we need to be kinder, gentler and more forgiving of each other. We will be more effective as Latter-day Saints by being kinder to people than by being argumentative and rude. Continue reading

#LDSconf General Conference – Mar 25, ’17, Women’s Session

President Bonnie L. Oscarson [Young Woman General President] will be conducting this meeting.

President Oscarson: We are grateful to be gathered in the Conference Center. We hope you feel of our love for you. The First Presidency, adivisors, and the presidencies and boards for the Relief Society, Young Women’s Organization, and Primary are present on the stand.

The music will be provided by Relief Society sisters from Brigham Young University

Choir: Come, O, Thou King of Kings

Opening Prayer:

Choir: I Feel My Savior’s Love

Continue reading

Book Review: Changed Through His Grace by Brad Wilcox

Book Review: Changed Through His Grace, by Brad Wilcox

The first time I heard of Brad Wilcox was Christmas time, 1978. I was at the Missionary Training Center, preparing to serve in Bolivia. My girlfriend was attending BYU and dropped off a gift for me: The Super Baruba Success Book, by Brad Wilcox. Wilcox is a few months younger than me, so he published this book prior to serving his own mission. The only thing I can remember about the book is a personal anecdote, where Wilcox talks about using a locker room shower for several weeks that delivered only cold water. Eventually, it occurred to him that the other showers provided hot water and he made the switch.

Since then, Wilcox has thrilled young people in the Church with his personal stories that deliver messages that relevant to them. I know of several LDS youth who have returned from Especially For Youth conferences bubbling over with enthusiasm for the gospel because something Brother Wilcox said stirred them.

Changed Through His Grace is not directed specifically towards youth, but retains the frequent anecdotes that make Wilcox so popular as a speaker and author in the Church. The book speaks briefly on one important component of Grace, how it ties in to the atonement of Christ, and how it is the power that changes us.

The book begins by explaining that grace and salvation are neither brought about by the cheap grace of some Christian faiths, nor by earning it by our own works. Wilcox suggests a middle path, where we are saved by Christ’s grace, but we must embrace that grace, allowing it to change us into holy and sanctified children of God.

The book focuses less on how Christ can transform us, and more on how we can access His power in our lives. This includes discussions on commandments, ordinances and covenants, including those made at baptism, the Sacrament, and in temple.

One interesting thought Wilcox shared concerns the Parable of the Talents. He suggests we view talents as if they were books given by the Lord to us to use. The books are freely given, but only are of use if we crack the covers and read them. Only then can the books enrich and change us. For those who have read the books given them, the Lord welcomes them to his Master Library. The individual who tosses his one book in the trash or allows it to collect dust and cobwebs, has not benefited nor appreciated from the gift. His book is taken away and given to another.  Though a terrific analogy, I would have loved to see Wilcox develop this idea more: do I only need to read the books/talents given me, or does quality count as much as or more than quantity read?

I encountered such moments several times in the book. Wilcox would make a very astute observation and then hurry off to his next point, rather than slow down and delve into the various facets of the subject. Still, for a primer, it holds many gems and anecdotes that will keep the reader engaged with the text.

This is a wonderful book for helping the average LDS Christian understand how the grace of Christ works in our personal lives, and how we can use Christ’s grace to become Christlike. It is a great beginning to understanding what grace is, how it changes us, and how it brings joy, peace, and hope to us.

Available March 27,2017 at Deseret Book, Amazon.com, and other retailers

Review: Beauty and the Beast

Following on Disney’s 2015 live-action Cinderella, we now have a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, which opened on March 17, 2017.

For those who are not familiar with Disney’s treatment of the story, it is worthwhile seeing the animated version before seeing the live-action film. While the live-action film is not slavishly faithful to the earlier animated film, it is fun to see how certain iconic scenes were rendered with real people. Alternately, one can review the details of the original story, though this could lead to dissatisfaction with the way the story has changed for our modern time. [spoilers] Continue reading