Even Better Than a Utah Jazz Championship

Utah shell-shocked once more. What a gut-punch! 

I woke up so sad this morning to see the news – “historic come-back by the L.A. Clippers”… “epic collapse by the Jazz again.” 

Wasn’t this year supposed to be different? 

I don’t watch the games. Too painful for me. But I check the scores. 

And a few nights ago, I checked right before bed the latest on Game 5 of the Jazz-Clippers game – sad again to see the Jazz falling behind. After clicking off ESPN on my phone and settling into my evening prayer, I could feel a residue of real sorrow in my heart. Before I could vocalize anything, this surprisingly clear and direct impression came into my mind: 

“God doesn’t care one bit who wins this game.” 

It felt strangely reassuring. “Wow.  Okay.  So, do I really need to be so caught up in this emotionally?”  

I’ll never forget coming to my own Dad years ago in tears after Karl Malone and John Stockton had broken my little boy heart (once more) in the playoffs. I was a mess! 

My incredible father knew just what his boy needed – opening up right there on the couch to 2 Nephi 4, and paraphrasing it to tell me of a time when another boy felt really sad. Until he concluded:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.  I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of [Karl Malone]. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. 

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Kids are not fine in the modern family

From the “The Family Proclamation”:

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Come Follow Me: D&C 64-66

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 64-66
Excerpt:The Lord sent Joseph Smith to Independence, Missouri where the Lord would reveal the center city of Zion and the site for its temple complex. Many were excited, including Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery. Others, like Ezra Booth was dissatisfied with the land, insisting the saints move to more favorable farm land about 30 miles away. Joseph insisted on establishing Zion exactly where God had told him to do so.

The Colesville saints, who had moved from New York to Kirtland, where lands owned by Leman Copley were consecrated to them long enough for them to make major improvements, only to have them taken away by Copley, as he decided to leave the church and keep his farm. Again homeless, the Lord told them to accompany Joseph to Missouri, as the first saints to settle in Zion.

While there, Joseph laid a stone for the temple and they dedicated the site. The return trip in August 1831 was difficult. In moving down the Missouri River, rapids and debris became difficult. Many of the men were grumbling about Joseph’s lack of leadership and vision. Finally, Joseph ordered everyone off the river and to go on foot back to Kirtland.
In Kirtland, the complaining and arguing continued. Finally, Joseph invited all to a meeting, where he apologized along with most in the meeting. Ezra Booth, refused to attend, and began to become one of Joseph’s biggest critics in Kirtland.

Under these troubling conditions, the Lord gave Joseph these three revelations.


New Church initiative with NAACP

Today, the Church and NAACP announced a new initiative. After again denouncing racism, Pres Nelson said the relationship with the NAACP was built upon the two great commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor.

Included in the initiative are:

  1. Humanitarian efforts. The Church has pledged a $2 million per year for the next three years “to encourage service and help to those in need” and promote self-reliance.
  2. Scholarships for Black students. Latter-day Saints have committed to fund a $1 million scholarship donation per year for three years, overseen by the United Negro College Fund.
  3. A fellowship to send up to 50 students to Ghana to learn about history. The Church will donate $250,000 to create the Amos C. Brown Student Fellowship to Ghana — allowing selected students from the United States an opportunity to learn more about their heritage.

This is awesome. African Americans need help to overcome the continuing struggles from Jim Crow, poverty and, yes, slavery.

These efforts will be on top of ongoing self reliance courses and other initiatives.

To Those Who Love the Prophet, But Not the Vaccine

Note: The events of recent months have prompted some significant wrestles for faithful members of the Church with sincere questions about vaccines, even leading some to the edge of estrangement. That has compelled me to write this. Although directed primarily at Latter-day Saints cautious about some of the dominant public health messaging about COVID-19 over the last year (and sympathetic to alternative, more natural approaches to healing), I hope some of it might help foster more understanding among those who are neither of these things. Where we disagree strongly about important matters, I keep feeling like the Lord wants us to keep reaching for each other, with love, gentleness, and curiosity.

Come along with me, for a moment, on a little imaginary thought experiment. It’s General Conference, and President Nelson is mid-way through a fall 2020 message on “letting God prevail in our lives.” Then he pauses, and says the following:

As a prophet of God, I must raise my voice about another matter. We are sincerely grateful for new inventions and technological discoveries that have improved the quality of life for so many, including in matters of health. Too often, however, I fear the degree of trust we place in external interventions can unintentionally lead us to discount the Lord’s power in our lives, along with simple adjustments He can inspire us to make in order to improve our health. For instance, scripture and science are both clear on the value of improving what we eat and getting better sleep – with abundant evidence that less stress, and even a little more physical activity can help boost our immunity against disease. Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, may we relish the benefits of greater faith, and inspired daily repentance, including in how we take care of our bodies. Even when we need additional assistance from competent medical practitioners, may we continue to appreciate and explore ways to better care for the “temple of our spirits” – including in serious periods of pandemic.

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